Sunday, February 29, 2004

Natasha points to some Haiti background

Who is the Opposition? Like the so-called opposition to the Chavez government of Venezuela, Haiti's opposition represents only a small minority (8 percent of the population according to a 2000 poll). With no chance of winning through democratic elections, they rely instead on armed violence to foment a political crisis that will lead to the fall of the government. Using their international business connections, especially ties to the corporate media, the opposition has manufactured an image of itself as the true champion of democracy in Haiti.

The gangs that have placed thousands of Haitians under siege are reportedly armed with US-made M-16s, recently sent by the US to the government of the Dominican Republic.

The gangs are directly linked to two groups financed by the Bush Administration: the right-wing Convergence for Democracy and the pro-business Group of 184.

The Convergence is led by former FRAPH paramilitary leaders (including Louis Chamblain, Guy Phillipe and Jean Pierre Baptiste) who carried out the bloody 1991 coup d'etat, in which the CIA-trained and -funded FRAPH overthrew Aristide, killed 5,000 civilians and terrorized Haiti for four years.

The Convergence is supported by the Haitian elite and the leadership of the US Republican Party (through the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute).

The Group of 184 is represented by Andy Apaid, a Duvalier supporter and US citizen who obtained a Haitian passport by fraudulently claiming to have been born in Haiti. Apaid owns 15 factories in Haiti and was the main foe of Aristide's 2003 campaign to raise the minimum wage (which, at $1.60 a day, was lower than what it had been 10 years earlier).

Natasha at Pacific Views - Znet background

el - it's another conspiracy by the low-wage Republicans.

Free Lunch Conservatism

The key concept is not that Bush is a traditional small-government conservative -- which would involve difficult and politically costly policy trade-offs -- but that he and his party have consistently and unabashedly used the mechanisms of government to reward and enrich key allies, mainly business interests, wealthy individuals, and -- to a lesser extent -- religious conservatives.

The key point, as articulated by political scientist William Riker (no, not the Star Trek first officer) many years ago, is that the most efficient way to stay in power is to form a coalition of approximately 51 percent, not 90 percent. The reason is that if you plan to stay in power by distributing money from your enemies to your allies, you want to give your allies as much as you can to keep them on your side.

Many liberals have believed that Bush's deficits are designed to "starve the beast," i.e., to prevent the Democrats from spending money on egalitarian social and economic programs. What they have not sufficiently considered is that the "starve the beast" approach has another goal besides the promotion of an anti-New Deal/Great Society ideology. It seeks to keep the opposition from using the public purse in the future to create their own 51 percent coalition in the same way that Bush is now soaking (mostly) Blue states to pay (mostly) Red states. If you stop thinking about what Bush is doing in terms of ideology and start thinking about his actions in terms of pure power and how to maintain it, he doesn't seem so stupid after all.

el - I am also reading karl Roves favorite book now - The Prince. Mayberry Machiavelli's indeed, you keep pwer by awarding yourself and your allies, loudly proclaim all of your actions are for the higher good when they are to your benefit, and cut your enemies off at the knees.

US troops 'made Aristide leave'

HAITIAN leader Jean Bertrand Aristide was taken away from his home by US soldiers, it was claimed today.

A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans."

Dean's Campaign Hid A Civil War Divide and Bicker

The feuding and backbiting that plagued the Howard Dean campaign had turned utterly poisonous. Behind the facade of a successful political operation, senior officials plotted against each other, complained about the candidate and developed one searing doubt.

Dean, they concluded, did not really want to be president.

el-Kurtz's gossipy article on the chaotic struggle to control the campaign.

Added - Howard Dean - The quotes attributed to me by others in Howard Kurtz's gossipy rendition of the divisions in the Dean for America campaign are entirely false, as is the description of my reaction after losing the Iowa caucuses, before the famous speech. Moreover, it is ridiculous to believe that all of us would work so hard - and spend over $50 million dollars - if we didn't believe that I could become president and that we could change America.

The danger of using unattributed sources as Kurtz and so many others do, is that the veracity of the informants can not be evaluated. In this case Kurtz included a significant amount of material which was not true, and produced a story which was greatly exaggerated.

The Master Operator

Newsweek - You might think Ahmad Chalabi is discredited and despised. But he's still growing more powerful

Both Iraqi and U.S. officials in Baghdad say it's almost certain that on June 30, the government that does receive sovereignty—and the purse strings—will be either the current, appointed council, or some variation on it. Will Chalabi and his people still be in place, still powerful? You can just about bank on it.

The strong case for gay marriage

Conservative The Economist has supported for this for years.

It rests on equality, liberty and even society

Marriage, as it is commonly viewed in society, is more than just a legal contract. Moreover, to establish something short of real marriage for some adults would tend to undermine the notion for all. Why shouldn't everyone, in time, downgrade to civil unions? Now that really would threaten a fundamental institution of civilisation.

Kerry-Edwards over Bush-Cheney by 50% to 42%

ABC buries this way down but Bush-Cheney is in very bad shape vs. a Kerry-Edwards ticket.

At 46%, the President’s approval rating on handling Iraq is just one point above his lowest mark in this area, 45%, which he received last December just before Saddam Hussein’s capture.

A majority of Americans continues to believe the Bush Administration exaggerated the intelligence it received about weapons of mass destruction to build support for the war. 59% say the administration exaggerated intelligence findings, while a third (32%) thinks the Administration interpreted the intelligence information accurately.

Even though Americans think the administration exaggerated intelligence to build support for the war, many believe there are still weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 52% think Iraq probably does have weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. hasn’t found yet. 39% believe Iraq does not have such weapons.

Americans continue to doubt whether the outcome of the war was worth the costs. 52% say the war was not worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq, while 42% say it was worth it.

Thinking back, more Americans now say Iraq was a threat that could have been contained than one that needed immediate military action. 46% say Iraq was threat that could have been contained, and 40% say Iraq was a threat that required immediate military action. 12% say Iraq was not a threat at all.

Both Kerry and Edwards have gained in public favorability since the Democratic campaign began. More Americans hold favorable views of both men than have unfavorable ones. Meanwhile, perceptions of the President have slipped since last year. His approval rating has fallen below 50% for the first time in this poll: 47% of Americans now approve of the way the President is handling his job, while 44% disapprove.

Kerry will have a Super Tuesday.

Super Tuesday voters Kerry 61%, Edwards 15%.

Aristide quits, US and Canada send troops, Dem Critics

BBC NEWS -- Embattled Aristide quits Haiti Events unfolded quickly on Sunday when an unmarked jet carrying Mr Aristide and his security chief left Port-au-Prince airport.

It later emerged that some of about 50 US Marines guarding the American embassy had escorted him to the plane.

U.S. Forces Expected to Land in Haiti Sunday Evening

A U.S. official had said preparations were being made to fly as many as 500 Marines from North Carolina to the unsettled country.

Dem Criticism of Bush as Marines deployed to Port-au-Prince

Speaking at a televised debate ahead of Super Tuesday's clutch of key nominating contests, Kerry said Bush was "late as usual" in dealing with Haiti after months of unrest and a three-week-old open revolt against Aristide.

Kerry said although Aristide made "plenty of mistakes" and let his police run amok, Bush essentially "empowered" the anti-Aristide insurgents by calling for both sides to reach a power-sharing agreement.

"So the result is that you almost inevitably had the clash that you have today," the Massachusetts lawmaker said. "And innocent Haitians, the people of Haiti, deserved better than that over the course of the last year."

North Carolina Senator Edwards said Bush had "ignored Haiti the same way he's ignored most of the countries in this hemisphere".

"We should have been engaged over a long period of time, in a serious way, at least through diplomacy, not to allow this to get to a crisis situation where it now is.

"At its worst, they [the Bush administration] actually facilitated the ouster of Aristide. Now the proper thing to do is for America to be part of the United Nations force to secure the country."

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said successive US administrations had blocked Haiti from receiving badly needed resources through the World Bank and "almost set up a situation where Aristide had to fail."

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich supported the US call for "international intervention" in Haiti but said it needed a Department of Peace to track brewing conflicts and "intervene in a nonviolent way before it gets out of hand."

Canadian troops take Port-au-Prince airport

Defense officials have declined to respond to media reports that Canada sent a unit of its elite Joint Task Force Two commandos to Haiti in the past week.

Rational Religion and the UU Church

Peter Taylor examines religion from a Unitarian Universalist perspective.

A couple of articles I read recently on the relationship between science and religion got me thinking about the functions that religions perform, and the methods religions use to perform those functions. I offer here my own opinions about what I think are some of the more important functions and methods of religion, and their implications. By extension, I hope to answer the question of what makes for a good religion. By further extension, I hope to suggest ways to improve Unitarian Universalism (UU).

...One criterion for a good religion is that it should strike a good balance between promoting social cohesion and avoiding promoting xenophobia. A good religion should significantly encourage people to build charity hospitals and take casseroles to sick neighbors, without causing too many people to be burned at the stake or starting too many unnecessary wars.

A second criterion, closely related to the first, is that a good religion should strike a good balance between comforting people who are suffering, and avoiding dishonesty. How much deception or self-deception is too much, and how important this is relative to social cohesion, are judgment calls. In some cases, avoiding dishonesty is a simple yes or no question about telling the truth vs. lying. Is it okay to tell a comforting lie to someone who is on his deathbed? In other cases it is a question of finding a balance between keeping an open mind vs. having a mind so open that one's brains fall out. How respectful should we be towards people who take the claims of parapsychology seriously?

A third criterion for a good religion is that it should help us cope with our more troublesome psychological predispositions. One way a good religion can help us here is by offering us a rich set of stories and metaphors for understanding ourselves. It helps to be eclectic, I think, and the non-creedal nature of UUism is an advantage in this regard because it allows us to adopt ideas freely from all the other religions.

...Our real theology problem is our differences in how we want to relate to the theologies of people outside our churches, especially those who take their conjectures seriously enough to want to give them the force of law. In practice, this usually means relating to Christianity. "Conservative" UUs may regard the Unitarian (one God) and Universalist (no Hell) heresies as the authentic voice of Christianity, and want to "reclaim" the Christian tradition from its false friends. The more radical UUs (including me) regard this as both historically wrong and politically infeasible and counterproductive. There are similar divisions in our views of Paganism. Is Paganism (1) a reasonable approach to doing personal psychology, (2) a superstition to be opposed, or (3) a political weapon? (And if it is a political weapon, is it one that should be sheathed or drawn?) More generally, is UU a cave in which we hide from dangerous or unpleasant crazy people, a lamp post from which we shine our lights on them, or a first aid station where we try to help them? I think our historical relation to Christianity, our small numbers, and our lack of a creed make these sorts of issues more divisive for us than similar problems are for other churches.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Two Dead, 20 Hurt in Clashes Over Venezuela Vote

Two people were shot and killed and more than 20 injured on Friday when Venezuelan troops battled in the streets with opposition protesters who demanded that President Hugo Chavez submit to a recall vote, officials said.

Confused gunfire broke out during several hours of violent clashes that turned parts of Caracas into a debris-strewn war zone and delayed the start of an international summit on poverty hosted by Chavez.

el - No surprise that Latin America is again noted for increasing and spreading violence. The GOP hardliners and the CIA are in charge of U.S. policy again.

Deaniacs Now 'Third Force' In Democratic Party

Dean did not make a real ideological or policy contribution to the party (though his willingness to stand up to Bush played a critical role in reviving the Democrats' fighting spirit). Confessore well-summarizes Dean's lack of ideological distinctiveness:

He put forward the least radical health-care proposal of any of the five major candidates running before New Hampshire. His ideas to expand federal aid for child care and college tuition were not much more than Clinton retreads. His best-known proposal -- repealing even the middle-class tax cuts passed by Congress in 2001 and 2002 -- was notably only for its stupidity, and he likely would have dropped it had he stayed in the race.
Dean's real contribution lay in the process by which his campaign operated, especially via the internet: recruiting enthusiastic volunteers; raising huge sums of money from small donors; and generating a "movement" level of energy at the grassroots of Democratic party. By doing so, he showed the party what it was missing and how hollow Democratic party organization had become.

Therefore, if the party is to maximize its chance of winning in 2004 and, especially, build an effective majority party for the future, it will have to internalize and further develop the organizing methods of the Dean campaign. In a sense, Deanism is now a "third force" in the Democratic party, not clearly tied to either the traditional liberals or the orthodox New Democrats of the DLC. Harnessing that third force is key to the Democrats' future; neither liberals nor New Democrats should delude themselves that things can now go back to the way they were. And, for that matter, neither should John Kerry--he will need the third force's help and plenty of it to beat George Bush.

Other good stuff at the emerging Democratic majority.

California gay weddings can go on

California's Supreme Court has refused a request from the state's attorney general to halt gay weddings.

Gasoline supplies likely to shrink, prices rapidly rise

Motorists face gasoline shortages as well as record prices the next few weeks because of the skintight U.S. refining and distribution network.

The vulnerability of that network, combined with low inventories of both gasoline and the crude oil from which it's made, have the government and energy experts increasingly nervous that some places in the USA will run out of gas temporarily. An accident that has disrupted shipping on the Mississippi River and in the Gulf of Mexico could trigger shortages this week.

"It looks like the big bulk terminals in Florida are going to run out in the next few days," Tom Kloza, analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, said Wednesday. Big gasoline suppliers were warning their customers of imminent Florida shortages and reduced allocations, he said.

Is Gary Bauer's American Values Calling For Hot Lesbian Sex?

More importantly, however, the government has an obligation to promote public policy that is best for the general welfare and to discriminate against behaviors that adversely impact society and public health. Tobacco use is heavily regulated by the state and smoking is strongly discouraged. A major study conducted by Oxford University demonstrated that homosexual conduct is three times more deadly than smoking. Homosexual behavior is fraught with adverse health affects. Again, this is not opinion, but documented medical fact. Public policy must not be ignorant of medical facts associated with this lifestyle and from a public policy perspective, the behavior should not be encouraged by affording it the status of marriage.

Josh Marshall notes - Given the fact (controversial, but generally considered to be true) that lesbians have a lower incidence of sexually trasmitted diseases than either gay men or heterosexuals, by this logic, Bauer should be pushing to ban straight marriages too and only allow lesbian marriages. Perhaps he already is. He certainly wouldn't be the first straight-laced middle-aged man to have a thing for lesbians.

This little reductio ad absurdum leads to the big absurdum at the center of Bauer's silly argument: namely, that if you're really serious about reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among gay men -- rather than just bashing them -- presumeably you'd want to encourage monogamy, and thus marriage, rather than fight against it.

In fact, when you try to wrestle Bauer's foolishness and sexual authoritarianism down to some measure of reality, you realize that what he should really be calling for is something like mandatory gay marriage, ambivalence about straight marriage and more or less letting the lesbians just run wild.

2nd reason found to check woman's ring finger

Women whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers are more likely to engage in casual sex, a McMaster University psychologist claims.

Clark's findings are documented in an upcoming article in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

While arguing the ring-index ratio is valuable as an indicator of the role of prenatal hormones on later development, researchers acknowledge it is not a perfect indicator of any individual's sexual inclinations. The complexity of the factors driving sexual behavior is indicated by the fact that none of Clark's factors relating to sexual activity were correlated with one another, showing a variety of biological and cultural pathways shape the behavior.

The strongest indicator of high sexual activity, of the seven Clark studied, was the amount of money spent on alcohol.

The Powerpoint Presidency

The most remarkable thing is the form of the "memo" that is being drafted for Bush: it is a seven-page Powerpoint presentation plus nine pages of charts. 659 text words total. That's one text word for every ten billion dollars that is going to be spent on Social Security over the next decade, and one word for every hundred billion dollars that is going to be spent on Social Security over the next half century. Hell is briefing someone like George W. Bush on a complicated issue like Social Security reform. (The 2004 Economic Report of the President's discussion of Social Security reform is about 7,000 words, and it just skims the surface of the issues itself.)

When Reagan and his advisors are beginning look like wise men next to Bush and his advisors...

Was Stern suspended due to politics or taste?

Suburban Guerrilla - I don't know if you're aware of this, but it's much more likely the real reason Howard Stern was suspended by Clear Channel was because he'd ripped into Bush that morning, quoting extensively from Al Franken's "Lying Liars."

"I might be taken off all the stations very soon, and my last words to you are 'G.W.B.,' " Stern told listeners yesterday.

"Get him out of office. I'm tellin' you, man, he's in dangerous territory [with] a religious agenda and you gotta vote him out - anyone but Bush," Stern railed.

Stern, whose raunchy wake-up show was yanked from six Clear Channel stations until, according to the company, they are "assured [it] will conform to acceptable standards of responsible broadcasting," said he fears he's history.

"It doesn't sound like I'm going to be asked back," Stern said, after playing an ominous quote from Clear Channel's CEO's testimony to a congressional indecency panel Thursday.
Remember, censorship spreads like a disease. I don't care if you don't like Howard Stern - he shouldn't be silenced. And we shouldn't be silent about it.

President Puts Politics Ahead of Science Again

Bush Ejects Two Sane People From Bioethics Council

President Bush yesterday dismissed two members of his handpicked Council on Bioethics -- a scientist and a moral philosopher who had been among the more outspoken advocates for research on human embryo cells.

In their places he appointed three new members, including a doctor who has called for more religion in public life, a political scientist who has spoken out precisely against the research that the dismissed members supported, and another who has written about the immorality of abortion and the "threats of biotechnology."

Continued Rumors About Intimate Bahamas Weekend

In the midst of rumors of scandal, Texas Governor Perry and his wife flew to the Bahamas with a select group of political and financial advisors. This has drawn criticism as the stated purpose of the trip was to discuss school finance reform. Why use campaign funds to pay for the trip and why bring political donors? Why bring some of the top GOP advisors like controversial Grover Norquist "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,"who is facing his own scandal about his business ties to Islamic terrorist groups?

Why leave the country? Was this to quietly, privately, discuss Texas' school finance reform or the governor's marital, personal finance and political reform?

Criminal Editing of the Enemy

Insane bureaucrats in the Bush administration have now classified editing as trading with the enemy. Anyone who publishes material from a country under a trade embargo is forbidden to reorder paragraphs or sentences, correct syntax or grammar, or replace "inappropriate words," according to several advisory letters from the Treasury Department in recent months. Adding illustrations is prohibited, too.

Nahid Mozaffari, a scholar and editor specializing in literature from Iran, called the implications staggering. "A story, a poem, an article on history, archaeology, linguistics, engineering, physics, mathematics, or any other area of knowledge cannot be translated, and even if submitted in English, cannot be edited in the U.S.," she said.

"This means that the publication of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian Literature that I have been editing for the last three years," she said, "would constitute aiding and abetting the enemy."

Kenneth R. Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, said the government had grown insistent on the editing ban. "Since 9/11 and since the Bush administration took office," he said, "the Treasury Department has been ramping up enforcement."

"That's censorship," said Leon Friedman, a Hofstra law professor who sometimes represents PEN. "That's a prior restraint."

Esther Allen, chairwoman of the PEN American Center's translation committee, said the rules would also appear to ban translations. "During the cold war, the idea was to let voices from behind the Iron Curtain be heard," she said. "Now that's called trading with the enemy?"

How Britain and the US keep watch on the world

From the National Security Agency's imposing headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, ringed by a double-chain fence topped by barbed wire with strands of electrified wire between them, America "bugs" the world.

Nothing politically or militarily significant, whether mentioned in a telephone call, in a conversation in the office of the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, or in a company fax or e-mail, escapes its attention.

The NSA costs at least $3.5bn a year to run. It employs at least 20,000 officers (not counting the 100,000 servicemen and civilians around the world over whom it has control). Its shredders process 40 tons of paper a day.

Its computers - measured in acres occupied by them rather than simple figures - "vacuum the entire electromagnetic spectrum", homing in on "key words" which may suggest something of interest to NSA customers is being conveyed.

el - a review of NSA without mentioning "project echelon" by name.

A Strong Rebuke To Texas Justice

Lone Star Statement ( -- THE SUPREME COURT delivered this week a well-deserved rebuke to the Texas justice system and to the federal appeals court that reviews death cases from America's most enthusiastic capital punishment state.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Looking For Dem Victory with Trepidation?

Bush has dug such a big hole that trying to get out of it, especially in the face of a Republican congress, is going to be a disaster for whoever tries it. Better to let Bush himself keep shoveling until his policies become so obviously catastrophic that the Republican party is sidelined for decades.

If a Democrat wins in 2004, will he be blamed for the almost inevitable economic collapse later this decade? Is there any way to convince Americans that our current economic policy is unsustainable aside from an almost nuclear demonstration of how bad it is?

el - I had also had those thoughts but the longer Bush is in place the worse the disaster becomes. Hoping, like FDR did after losing the VP race in 1920, that the coming disaster will discredit the GOP for decades is only a fallback hope in case you lose. The real goal is trying to correct the problems now.

Bush accused of supporting Haitian rebels

Activists at a Friday press briefing outlined what they believe to be a well-crafted plan by the Bush administration to overthrow Aristide. Former Haitian military members, drug dealers and militants were armed and trained in the Dominican Republic thanks to military support from the United States. They have now crossed the border into Haiti, activists said.

Regarding evidence linking the U.S. government with opposition forces, Kim Ives, an activist and journalist working in Haiti, said that he had proof of collaboration between Special Forces in Haiti and the Dominican military. He said the Pentagon has sent military aid to the Dominican Republic, including 20,000 M-16 rifles.

"It's not unlikely that some of those M-16s are some of the hardware we see in the hands of the rebels today," Ives said.

Pundits don't grasp how presidential system works

The structure of our electoral college method of electing the president means that each state is fought out as an individual, winner-take-all contest. That means the highest vote-getter wins 100% of the electoral votes from that state, even if they have less than a majority of the vote. And most states already are locked up for one party or the other.

That means the election will boil down to only about 15 states. And it will be a handful of undecided swing voters in those 15 states, combined with voter mobilization, that will decide the presidency. For progressives, this should be sobering, particularly when you realize those states are ones like Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Florida, and the swing voters in those states are not very progressive.

Polling from the battleground states would be more informative and revealing for the public than national polls -- just ask Al Gore why he's not president, after winning a half million more votes than Bush in 2000.

If the Democrats manage to win all the states they won in 2000 -- a very real possibility -- they only need to pick up one more state like Florida, Arkansas or Missouri to win. Candidates like Wesley Clark or John Edwards could help the Democrats win their home states of Arkansas or North Carolina. Dick Gephardt could help in Missouri, and Senator Bob Graham in Florida. So look for a candidate like them as the Democrats' vice presidential nominee.

Lane Denton gets in the Texas Sex Rumors

OpEd News gives further background on the gay rumors about Governor Perry and one of my relatives is added to the story.

It is extremely difficult to find "evidence" of extramarital affairs unless one party spills the beans or it comes out in a court divorce document.

So just because some reporters found "no evidence" to support the rumors doesn't mean the rumors do not have some basis.

The [Austin] Chronicle also pointed out how last year Perry signed the "Defense of Marriage Act," the Texas Legislature's "latest gratuitous demonstration that it believes gay and lesbian Texans deserve fewer rights than other citizens."

A blog written by Wick Allison, publisher/editor of D Magazine, a mainstream city magazine, mentioned that Geoff Connor, Perry's secretary of state and alleged playmate, threatened to track down the source of the rumor and sue. Republicans have blamed a Democratic operative in Houston. (This is from a strong Republican insider and apologist.)

A politically-connected attorney in Texas told me he has known about Perry's gay side since the 1980s. And two district judges in Odessa told him that the rumor was always there when they served in the Legislature with Perry.

I don't care if he is gay or bi or whatever, what's appalling is the hypocrisy involved - Perry is going around condemning gays and signing laws against them in public while possibly doing something different in private.

I also hear there is a court transcript or statement of facts in the Texas Court of Appeals that contains sworn testimony that former Waco Rep. Lane Denton had an encounter himself with Perry. Some reporters I know are checking on that.

More in the comments here on Lane's court record of gay relationships. Later, "How ironic that in conservative Texas a good chunk of our political establishment for years seems to have been gay." after mentions of the rumors about Mauro, Morales, Richards, and Dewhurst as well as the Perry and Connor stories.

Pickled Perry

Off the Kuff waits till newsprint comes out to say he doesn't believe the rumors.

God Hates Shrimp

Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver's and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye's shall be cleansed.

Leviticus 11:10-12 says:
10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Deuteronomy 14:9-10 says:
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

Wal-Mart becoming largest corporate donor

After years of little involvement in federal politics, the Arkansas-based retail giant is currently the largest corporate donor through its political action committee (PAC), having doled out nearly $1.3 million to federal candidates until the end of January, according to

85% to those low-wage Republicans.

U.S. fueled conflict in Haiti

John Kerry is pointing to the worsening crisis in Haiti as an example of failed Bush administration foreign policy.

''This administration has been engaged in very manipulative and wrongful ways,'' Kerry said. ``They have a theological and an ideological hatred for Aristide. They always have. They approached this so the insurgents were empowered by this administration.''

There has been a growing feeling that the Bush administration was determined to see Aristide go, undermining him for months with less-than-subtle propaganda.

el - Bush has refused to arm the Haitian police and CIA supported rebels are about to seize power.

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown verbally attacked a top Bush administration official during a briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday, calling the President's policy on the beleaguered nation "racist" and his representatives "a bunch of white men."

"It simply mystifies me how President Bush, a president who was selected by the Supreme Court under more than questionable circumstances (in my district alone 27,000 votes were thrown out), is telling another country that their elections were not fair and that they are therefore undeserving of aid or international recognition," Brown said.

CounterPunch - The US lawyer representing the government of Haiti charged today that the US government is directly involved in a military coup attempt against the country's democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ira Kurzban, the Miami-based attorney who has served as General Counsel to the Haitian government since 1991, said that the paramilitaries fighting to overthrow Aristide are being backed by Washington.

"I believe that this is a group that is armed by, trained by, and employed by the intelligence services of the United States," Kurzban told the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!.

Haiti: Different Coup, Same US Sponsored Paramilitary Leaders

Powell Puts Pressure on Haitian Leader To Resign

"The President of Good and Evil"

On Sale At Amazon
An ethicist looks at Bush and is appalled.

Examining public pronouncements that have rarely been subjected to ethical analysis, on topics from stem-cell research and tax cuts to Iraq and the drive for American preeminence, The President of Good and Evil reveals the president’s pattern of ethical confusion and self-contradiction. Delivering his charges in accessible, logical, and lively chapters, Singer asks whether Bush has lived up to the values so often touted in current presidential prose.


By 2010, the top 1% - who make an average of $1 million - will have received more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks, and will have received over half of all the Bush tax cuts ever passed (this might explain why four in five Americans say they have felt no tax relief). To combat this embarrassing truth, the Administration resorted to disingenuous rhetoric, citing deceptive averages [lying with statistics] to claim that its most recent tax proposal would give "91 million taxpayers an average tax cut of $1,126." Yet, these averages were artificially inflated because they included huge tax breaks to millionaires. In reality, the middle fifth of all households received just $217, with 83% of Americans getting less than the "average" – all while the Administration is effectively raising taxes on the middle class. Most shockingly, the President himself admitted that he knew he was misleading Americans by claiming the tax cuts helped average people. As he asked his economic team when they were pondering even more tax cuts, "Haven't we already given money to rich people? Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?"
-- Progress Report

Kurtzman's Gay Wedding Topical Humor

"President Bush said he was 'troubled' by gay people getting married in San Francisco. He said on important issues like this the people should make the decision, not judges. Unless of course we're choosing a president, then he prefers judges." --Jay Leno

"Some see the move as an attempt to preserve traditional values, while others see it as a cynical ploy to ensure that Vice President Dick Cheney will never have to pay for his gay daughter's wedding." —Jon Stewart, on President Bush's proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage

"President Bush said today he's troubled by all the gay marriages... He said the only time two men should ever be in bed together is if one is a lobbyist and one is a politician." —Jay Leno

"If the last two days are any indication, the race for the White House will be pretty much decided by whether two middle-aged women can open a joint checking account." —Jon Stewart

"President Bush is out of control. Now he says he doesn't even want gays to plan weddings." —Craig Kilborn

UN: Security in Iraq Getting Worse

The United Nations' special representative for Iraq said on Thursday he believed security had worsened since his previous visit to the country last July and that the U.N. would have to stay away unless it improved.

Bliss and Bigotry

I wanted to see this threat to the very foundation of civilization close up.

"We met over a noodle kugel that I made that she liked," said Deborah Gar Reichman.

I nodded. Ms. Reichman broke into a wide smile and moved forward in her chair, warming to the topic: her engagement to Shelley Curnow.

I had dropped by their third-floor walk-up in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. Very frankly, the two women did not look like revolutionaries. "We're worrying about where to register and arguing with our parents over the guests they want to invite," Ms. Reichman said.

President Bush and others are adamant in their contention that allowing two men or two women to wed would imperil the institution of marriage, which Mr. Bush described as "the most fundamental institution of civilization." The hard-liners on this issue seem convinced that something awful will be unleashed if gays are allowed to walk down the aisle and exchange vows of everlasting love. On Tuesday the president said the nation "must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America."

I kept staring at Ms. Reichman and Ms. Curnow, trying to locate the threat that others perceive in relationships like theirs. But they never came across as menacing. They just looked happy.

In a world beset by ignorance and poverty and suffering, a world wracked with wars and terror attacks and ethnic strife of every kind, it seems crazy to be twisting ourselves into knots over the desire of good men and women to transcend the prison of themselves and affirm their love for another by marrying.

That kind of desire is a good thing, isn't it?

And those of you who are already married, tell the truth: the marriage of Deborah Reichman and Shelley Curnow (planned for May 22) won't make your marriage any weaker, will it?

The opponents of gay marriage are on the wrong side of history. The interests of civilization are not served by driving mature love underground. And the interests of the United States, which is supposed to be the quintessence of a free society, are not served by enshrining bigotry in law.

Rosie O'Donnell marries girlfriend in San Francisco

"I find this proposed amendment very, very, very, very shocking. And immoral. And, you know, if civil disobedience is the way to go about change, then I think a lot of people will be going to San Francisco. And I hope they put more people on the steps to marry as many people as show up. And I hope everyone shows up."

O'Donnell and Carpenter, who have four children together, walked hand in hand down the grand marble staircase in the rotunda to thunderous applause from hundreds of spectators who came to witness the city's first celebrity same-sex wedding. O'Donnell was wearing a powder-blue blazer, black shirt and black pants; Carpenter wore a gray pantsuit.

As the San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus serenaded the couple with a few bars of "Going to the Chapel," O'Donnell smiled and said, "We really did. We got married."

O'Donnell said she decided to marry Carpenter, a former dancer and marketing director at Nickelodeon, during her recent trial in New York over the now-defunct Rosie magazine. During the case, she referred to Carpenter as her wife.

"We applied for spousal privilege and were denied it by the state. As a result, everything that I said to Kelli, every letter that I wrote her, every e-mail, every correspondence and conversation was entered into the record," O'Donnell said. "After the trial, I am now and will forever be a total proponent of gay marriage."

Are Wedding Shots Deepening the Divide?

In Search of the President's Missing Years

Complete records have never been released.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Scrawling an "Except for Homos" exception to the constitution

I'd like to point out that the atlanta journal constitution (mike l's [Luckovich] home newspaper) ran this line in their letters page today:

"Editor's note: On Wednesday, we received no letters in support of President Bush's proposed gay marriage ban amendment."

Woah. And that's after they printed this cartoon.

Austin Chronicle 'Finds No Evidence' Of Gay Sex Scandal

For the record, Naked City looked into the Perry rumors when they first surfaced some weeks ago – inevitably accompanied by the warning, "The divorce papers are being filed today!" – and found no evidence of any truth to any of them, whatsoever.

Amid much finger-pointing about who was the original source (and which political party he or she belongs to), nobody will go on the record.

We also know that numerous other reporters, from here to New York, have looked into the rumors, with, as far as we know, an identical lack of results.

el - Of course this treatment of rumors of a GOP sex scandal by the media, this is the first print or TV acknowledgement after weeks of heavy rumors, contrasts sharply with the media treatment of Democrat sex scandal rumors. Drudge, Rush, Fox News, US TV stations and London newspapers were all over a Kerry infidelity rumor with fewer facts and sources.

Rumsfeld Thanks Kazakhstan

Just like he did with Saddam, Rumsfeld shakes hands with another murdering dictator. In 15 years are we supposed to invade them?

What's Right With Kerry

While Kerry has his problems he is no George Bush as David Corn explains. "There have been times he has shown courage, devotion to justice and commitment to honesty, open government and principle-over-politics. There are few senators of whom that can be said."

Looming Fannie and Freddie Crisis

Molly Ivins - Deregulation threatens to turn the ballooning debt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into another S&L nightmare.

Seems to me Fannie and Freddie's mess is the perfect argument for government regulation, and not just of the two giant mortgage companies. These GSE's (gobbledygook for "government-sponsored entities") have been hedging their debt risks through hedge funds, which are in turn almost entirely unregulated. Greenspan warns that Fannie and Freddie's debt could soon be larger than the federal government's. Think about it. Remember what happened when one large hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, started to go under? Ooops.

You know, when a bleeding heart liberal like me has to sit around lecturing a Republican administration on fiscal responsibility, we're in a sorry pass.

Where America's white-collar jobs go: It's not just India

India may still be the world outsourcing king, the great global magnet that's attracting American and European service-industry work such as computer programming, insurance-claims processing, and call-center staffing. But a growing host of countries aims to knock India off its throne.

Pentagon - Climate Change Graver Threat Than Terrorism

Arianna Huffington on the futures study by the Pentagon.

Revolt of the Goldwater conservatives

Salon - Blumenthal - "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." In Arizona, home of American conservatism's feisty icon, independent-minded voters may have a nasty surprise for George W. Bush.

Asking for Chavez Removal Short-Circuits Democracy

Surprising NYTimes opinion.

Court Says States Need Not Finance Divinity Studies

Decision indicates Supreme Court will likely also strike down school vouchers.

$10,000 Bush National guard Award Still Unclaimed

His teeth was there - was he?

The Coming RSS Revolution

Forbes notes that you can get my headlines with a newsfeed reader.

Here is a new one I haven't tried.

Orson Scott Card Is Contemptible

I had noticed him going over the edge into petrified illogical bigotry but he really sinks over his head into the cesspool with his latest rant - we liberals are killing his marriage and family.

Gee, maybe I should tell you what I really think...

Irony Alert

At a fundraiser Monday night, Bush vowed to "extend the frontiers of liberty." But 15 hours later, he threw his support behind an amendment that would be only the second in U.S. history other than Prohibition to curtail public freedoms.

Walter Cronkite Aids Opponents of Medicare Law

Opponents of the new Medicare prescription drug law have recruited Walter Cronkite for a campaign that highlights what they see as the law's shortcomings.

Salvation Army accused of discrimination

Bush's faith-based public works prime example shows the flaws in the scheme.

Current and former Salvation Army employees sued the organization famous for its red Christmas kettles Tuesday, alleging the government-funded group preached religious and sexual intolerance to its staff.

The workers accused the Salvation Army of creating a hostile work environment for about 600 employees who provide social services for more than 2,000 children in New York state.

The charitable organization required employees to pledge to preach the Gospel, to identify their church affiliation and to authorize their religious leaders to reveal private information to the Salvation Army, according to the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union's New York chapter.

The organization receives $89 million, the bulk of its funding for child care, from the government.

One plaintiff, Margaret Geissman, said she quit her job as a human resources manager last year after she was harassed by her bosses for refusing to reveal staffers' religions and sexual orientations.

"As a Christian, I deeply resent the use of discriminatory employment practices in the name of Christianity," she said.

Bush 'wanted war in 2002'

On Sale at AmazonGeorge Bush set the US on the path to war in Iraq with a formal order signed in February 2002, more than a year before the invasion, according to a book published yesterday.

"On February 16 2002, Bush signed a secret national security council directive establishing the goals and objectives for going to war with Iraq, according to classified documents I obtained," Mr Scarborough wrote, in an account of the "global war on terrorism" as seen from the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

The next month, he writes, the head of central command, General Tommy Franks, conducted a "major Iraq war exercise code-named "Prominent Hammer", and in April he briefed the joint chiefs of staff on the invasion plan.

Ivo Daalder, an official in Bill Clinton's national security council, said a national security presidential directive was "the most formal way that decisions by the president and others are communicated to the rest of the government."

Rumsfeld's War is by Rowan Scarborough, the Pentagon correspondent for the conservative Washington Times newspaper, which is known for its contacts in the defence department's civilian leadership.

Kerry ranks 92nd in Senate for Special Interest Money

When you combine money from paid lobbyists and PACs--which makes sense, since they're both conduits for "special interests"--Kerry actually ranks ninety-second out of 100 U.S. senators. That doesn't make him pure, but it makes him purer than most serious candidates for the White House. And it puts him on a different planet from President Bush, who accepted more money from lobbyists last year alone than Kerry has in the last 15.

Big Time Propaganda

The Propaganda of William Safire - David Corn William Safire, New York Times columnist, doesn't know what he's talking (or writing) about. Who says? The New York Times. Safire's recent work--unburdened by factchecking, unchallenged by editors--shows he is more intent on manipulating than interpreting the available information. His February 11 masterpiece is evidence his commitment to scoring political points exceeds his commitment to the truth. Under the cover of opinion journalism, he is dishing out disinformation.

American propaganda in Arab media -- Baghdad Burning's Riverbend. I wish everyone could see Al-Hurra- the new 'unbiased' news network started by the Pentagon and currently being broadcast all over the Arab world. It is the visual equivalent of Sawa- the American radio station which was previously the Voice of America. The news and reports are so completely biased, they only lack George Bush and Condi Rice as anchors. We watch the reports and news briefs and snicker… it is far from subtle.

A channel like Al-Hurra may be able to convince Egyptians, for example, that everything is going great inside of Iraq, but how are you supposed to convince Iraqis of that? Just because they broadcast it hourly, it doesn't make it true. I sometimes wonder how Americans would feel if the Saudi government, for example, suddenly decided to start broadcasting an English channel with Islamic propaganda to Americans.

Important note to those of you who are going to email me: The last few days, I have received at least 3 emails saying, "I read your blog and don't agree with what you say but we have a famous saying in America- I don't agree with what you say but I'll die for your right to say it." Just a note- it's not your famous American saying, it is French and it is Voltaire's famous saying: "I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

Key Iraqi Cleric Calls for Elections by December

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, considered the leading religious leader in Iraq who had been pushing for spring elections, demanded that the elections be held by the end of 2004 and that a firm date be approved by a U.N. resolution.

Talking Point Man

Tbogg counts how many times can White House spokesman Scott McClellan say "sacred institution" in 36 minutes.

They want to convince you that voting isn't cool

Voting is for old peopleCoincidence that the owner of Urban Outfitters is a big Republican donor? (Items have now been pulled from online store.)

Friends are like bras, a good one never lets you down

Blogging and bras at Carnival of the Vanities #75.

Defiant Gray Album Downloads In Gray Area of Copyright

More than 300 Web sites and blogs staged a 24-hour online protest over a record company's efforts to stop them from offering downloadable copies of "The Grey Album." A popular underground collection of music, "The Grey Album" mixes tracks from the Beatles' classic White Album with raps from Jay-Z's latest release, "The Black Album."

Some protesters say "The Grey Album" illustrates a need for revisions in copyright law. They say that sampling should be allowed under fair use of copyrighted material, or that a system of fair compensation should be created to allow for sampling.

A slew of Cross reviews

Stations of the Crass

Do You Recognize This Jesus?

New Film May Harm Gibson’s Career

'The Passion of the Christ': Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown

’Passion’ Disturbs a Panel of Religious Leaders

All from the New York Times.

Ex-Minister Says British Spies Bugged Kofi Annan's Office

The ex-cabinet minister, Clare Short, who quit as international development secretary because of her opposition to the war, said she had seen transcripts of Mr. Annan's conversations.

"In fact," she added in a BBC radio interview, "I've had conversations with Kofi in the run-up to the war, thinking 'Oh dear, there will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and I are saying.' "

el - Ms. Short is being diplomatic. Those are American bugs and they are illegal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


“Soon after marrying, most men stop hitting on women and start shopping for furniture,” Dr. Cranborn said. “Scientifically speaking, how gay is that?”

Within ten years of marriage, Dr. Cranborn added, a significant number of married men stop having sex with women altogether.

“There’s only one way to describe someone who does not have sex with women, does not hit on women, and spends his free time shopping for furniture,” Dr. Cranborn added. “That word, to be scientific about it, is gay.”

Gay Marriage already exists - Just Ask the First Lady of Texas

Dean Urges No on Nader

The Friday Night Presidency

It is an old political tradition to dump unpopular news on Friday, because fewer people are reading newspapers or watching television news over the weekend. But the Bush administration has been using the trick so routinely that it is losing effectiveness.

Friday has become a Bush favorite both for dropping bad news and for making announcements that appeal to the president's conservative base, not necessarily the general public. -- Dana Milbank

Further down is a list of Bush or aides statements on what Bush is not and contradictions about Vietnam.

FL Sen. Graham to Endorse Kerry

Senator Bob Graham of Florida plans to endorse his colleague John F. Kerry for president next week, according to three advisers close to the senators, a move intended to strengthen the Democratic front-runner in a key electoral state, and that is likely to renew speculation about Graham as a possible vice presidential candidate.

el - Graham has great credentials - unexciting candidate.

Business Week - How the Dems did in Howard Dean


As The Washington Post reported on Feb. 11, a group called Americans for Jobs & Healthcare spent $500,000 on ads attacking Dean in the run-up to the primaries. The Post said the group was headed by David Jones, a longtime adviser to Gephardt. It said the group's spokesman was Robert Gibbs, who had previously been working for the Kerry campaign. And where did the money come from? According to the Post, disgraced former Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, a Kerry supporter, gave $50,000.

Other money, according to the Post, came from Alan Patricof, a Clark fund-raiser, and Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Corp. Schwartz is a longtime moneybag for the Democratic Establishment who had close ties to the Clinton Administration. One ad the group ran questioned Dean's foreign policy expertise and used an image of Osama bin Laden.

In one wild night, Dean had been stopped. He hadn't been allowed to try to take back the country. And, more important, he hadn't taken back the Democratic Party. It remained safe in the soft, manicured hands of the Teddy Kennedys, Bill Clintons, Terry McAuliffes, John Sweeneys, and, yes, John Kerrys of the political world. And Howard Dean became Howard the Duck.

Kerry Wins Three, Kucinich Second in Hawaii

In this Tuesday's voting, Kerry outpaced Edwards 55 percent to 30 percent with all precincts reporting in Utah. Complete returns in Idaho showed Kerry with 54 percent and Edwards with 22 percent. With 99 percent of precincts reporting in Hawaii, Kerry had 50 percent to 26 percent for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and 17 percent for Edwards. Kucinich lagged in single digits in Utah and Iowa.

Officials printed 5,000 extra ballots in Salt Lake City to accommodate the demand. "Three blocks from Temple Square and there's a giant line of Democrats," said Blake Sarlow, waiting to vote. "It's the craziest thing."

Kerry is expected to take 12 Hawaii delegates and Kucinich will take the remaining eight delegates to the national convention in Boston in July.

New York Times - Rod Paige Should Leave

The list of Mr. Paige's errors is long. Last year he said he preferred to have a child in Christian schools and suggested that Christians were morally superior to others. He was called onto the carpet this week by members of the Senate who are threatening to revisit No Child Left Behind unless the department fully enforces the law as written. Instead of dealing with central issues, the department has wasted time and money on things like making sure the districts permit the right amount of "constitutionally protected prayer."

Mr. Paige's "terrorist" remark has finally exhausted his credibility and disqualified him as a spokesman for national education policy.

Not All US Papers Were Wrong About Iraq

Starting in September of 2002 and continuing to this day, Knight Ridder aggressively pursued the failure and abuse of intelligence in making the case for the war in Iraq. Until well after Baghdad fell, it was a lonely endeavor. Other news organizations mostly amplified the Bush administration's claims that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al Qaida, even as we reported that many of the intelligence officials and military officers who were handling this top-secret information thought those claims were false or exaggerated.

[That continues,] Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel and John Walcott reported for our Sunday newspapers that the Defense Department is still paying millions of dollars to an Iraqi exile group that was the source of some of the fabricated and exaggerated intelligence President Bush used to make the case for war.

As momentum for war increased, Landay, Strobel and Walcott reported that many intelligence and military officials did not think Saddam was a growing threat. The reporters wrote that some of these officials believed that classified information was being distorted to make the argument for war. Knight Ridder stories have described Pentagon offices, staffed by hard-liners, that were created after top civilian officials pushing for war felt they weren't getting enough intelligence ammunition from the CIA and other established intelligence agencies. The offices relied heavily on information from suspect sources, such as the Iraqi National Congress, made up of exiles with their own motives for promoting a U.S. invasion.

After President Bush declared an end to major combat operations, only to be faced with a violent insurgency, Landay, Strobel and Walcott disclosed that the administration had failed to plan for a difficult post-war period.

Just a week ago, Michael Getler, the outstanding journalist who is ombudsman of The Washington Post, under the headline, "Not Everyone Was Wrong," wrote about recent coverage of intelligence failures without noting Knight Ridder's work. Under information "we now know," Mike listed without credit a story that Knight Ridder papers published on Oct. 5, 2002. He praised a recent Washington Post story on the how the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate
that was used to help make the case for war contained caveats that were ignored. What he didn't note was that on the same day many Knight Ridder papers carried a 1A story by Landay describing how that intelligence document was actually rewritten before it was released to the public to delete all the warnings about the intelligence community's lack of knowledge about Saddam's weapons programs.

Source - a memo TO: Knight Ridder Publishers, Knight Ridder Editors
FROM: Clark Hoyt [KR Washington editor]
DATE: February 23, 2004

Why the memo? - "because of those stories, many of you have been receiving letters to the editor complaining that Knight Ridder's coverage has not been sufficiently supportive of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq."

el - A good portion of the American public wants to be lied to?

Greenspan urges cuts in Social Security

Greenspan has been revealing his true colors. Remember when he seemed like such a responsible steward of the economy under Clinton? Now he keeps supporting tax cuts for the rich and cutting programs for the non-rich.

If you want your Social Security and Medicare that you have paid for to go away - vote Republican.

Canada Military Bankrupt - May Close 5 Bases

Canada's army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country.

UK Clears Translator Over US UN Spying Leak

A GCHQ translator sacked for revealing a secret e-mail has been cleared of a charge under the Official Secrets Act.

Katharine Gun, 29, from Cheltenham, claimed the e-mail was from US spies asking British officers to tap phones of nations voting on war against Iraq.

She walked free on Wednesday when the prosecution offered no evidence.

BBC political correspondent Guto Harri said a government spokesperson insisted the decision to drop the case was taken before the demand for documents was made.

The same spokesperson suggested the case might have been dropped as Mrs Gun planned to argue she leaked the e-mail to save lives from being lost in a war, something that could persuade a jury and would lead to the reputation of the Official Secrets Act being damaged.

Our correspondent said this suggested the government had made a political calculation that a random selection of a dozen jurors would be likely to be so instinctively anti-war that an acquittal would be likely.

Latest Austin Gay Guv Update

It's OK to be Gay, Guv! With Pictures! Gay demonstration in front of Austin residence had reporters but no story ran.

With gay sex scandal rumors still swirling, after a publicized night at the White House for the Governor and Mrs. Perry, they have now left the country. A few top political aides and top campaign donors will be at a secluded resort with them to "offiicially" discuss school finance reform.

" Perry, his wife, Anita, and a dozen others flew by private jet to the Abaco Islands where they held a retreat to discuss public school finance.

el - Could you call this a bedcover story?

Love Your Neighbor Just Like You Would Like to Love Yourself

"But the true strength of America is found in the hearts and souls of people like Travis, people who are willing to love their neighbor, just like they would like to love themselves." Bush - Feb. 9, 2004

el - that is a little more insight than I wanted to know about Dubya?

Dividing Not Uniting

With its economic policies failing to lift the economy, its Iraq policy in shambles, and its international credibility shredded by the failure to find WMD, the Bush Administration has done the only thing it knows how to do in a tight spot: head straight for the wedge issue that "satisfies the conservative base."

Despite a President having absolutely no role in the passage of a Constitutional amendment and despite opposition from many of his allies in Congress, the President, who promised to be a "uniter not a divider," yesterday announced his support for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The announcement was a dramatic election-year shift in the Administration's previous position that gay marriage was a state issue. His move to a constitutional amendment demonstrates that when the going gets tough, he caves to the right wing of his party. Four years ago, then-Gov. Bush portrayed himself as a centrist in the election. But over the course of his term, he has alienated the mainstream, polarized the population, and lost general public support, leaving him increasingly desperate to tackle issues and policies that play to his conservative base.

This is a clear reversal of previous policy. On 2/15/00, Bush said about gay marriage, "The state can do what they want to." Also, on 4/21/00 he said, "It's the right of the state to make that decision" on gay marriage, and on 5/2/00 he said gay marriage is "going to be up for cities and states to make those decisions." On 10/5/00 Cheney echoed Bush saying, "I think the fact of the matter, of course, is [same-sex marriage] is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area."

The Miami Herald asked, "With so many urgent challenges confronting the country, why would President Bush push a ban on gay marriage to the top of the national agenda? And why now?" The answer: "The president's announcement yesterday bears the unmistakable imprimatur of a political maneuver. It ill-serves the country."

The Washington Post editorialized: "it is reckless to set about amending the Constitution to ensure victory in court cases that haven't yet been filed" and "President Bush abandoned the Constitution to election-year politics."

Noting that the President's proposal would be the first Constitutional amendment limiting rights since Prohibition, a New York Times editorial said, "President Bush's amendment would be the first adopted to stigmatize and exclude a group of Americans." They added, "if Mr. Bush had been acting as a president yesterday, rather than a presidential candidate, he would have tried to guide the nation on the divisive question of what rights gay Americans have."

Center for American Progress - Progress Report

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

More on the Anti-gay Amendment

Right-wing antigay activists are scarier than left-wing pro-gay-marriage activists. Give your average American a guy screaming "God Hates Fags" versus a gay couple in business suits hoping to get married and grow old together, and I think the gay couple wins most of the time.

Apparently, one of the big threats of gay marriage is that it creates "uncertainty." He mentions other "serious consequences throughout the country" that would accrue should gays be allowed to marry, but isn't very specific -- what, a run on wedding halls?

Imagine, say, the older gay woman whose partner lays dying of cancer, pleading with her fellow citizens not to strip her of the right to be by her partner's side. Imagine the gay couple who have jointly adopted a little boy, asking that their family not be torn apart. Imagine these people talking to their friends and neighbors, and those people talking to their own.

The opponents of this amendment will be pleading for tolerance, dignity, love, and compassion; for keeping existing families together and bringing new ones into being. It will be hard to look at these ordinary men and women and see them as a threat to marriage and family. Indeed, as this progresses, I think it will become increasingly hard to look at those who favor a federal marriage amendment and not see them as a threat to marriage and family.

- Nick Confessore - TAPPED

el - as long as you don’t have to buy a present, why should you care who gets married?

Added - A declaration of war against the United States Constitution.

Never before has the United State constitution been amended to rewrite discrimination into that sacred document. It took hundreds of years to amend the constitution to do away with discrimination against African-Americans (XIII, XIV, XV) and women (XIX), and now the President of the United States, here in the twenty-first century wants to rewrite discrimination into the United States Constitution. This is not only a declaration of war against gays and lesbians, as Andrew Sullivan writes, this is a declaration of war against the United States Constitution.

Democrats - "I believe the best way to protect gays and lesbians is through civil unions," Kerry said. "I believe the issue of marriage should be left to the states"

Edwards, campaigning in Georgia, where the state legislature is debating its own ban on gay marriage, said, "I don't personally support gay marriage myself. My position has always been that it's for the states to decide."

Soldier for the Truth

After two decades in the U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, now 43, knew her career as a regional analyst was coming to an end when — in the months leading up to the war in Iraq — she felt she was being “propagandized” by her own bosses.

Shortly after her arrival, a piece of NESA was broken off, expanded and re-dubbed with the Orwellian name of the Office of Special Plans. The OSP’s task was, ostensibly, to help the Pentagon develop policy around the Iraq crisis.

She would soon conclude that the OSP — a pet project of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld — was more akin to a nerve center for what she now calls a “neoconservative coup, a hijacking of the Pentagon.”

Though a lifelong conservative, Kwiatkowski found herself appalled as the radical wing of the Bush administration, including her superiors in the Pentagon planning department, bulldozed internal dissent, overlooked its own intelligence and relentlessly pushed for confrontation with Iraq.

There you were, a career military officer, a Pentagon analyst, a conservative who had given two decades to this work. What provoked you to become first a covert and later a public dissident?

"Like most people, I’ve always thought there should be honesty in government. Working 20 years in the military, I’m sure I saw some things that were less than honest or accountable. But nothing to the degree that I saw when I joined Near East South Asia.

"This was creatively produced propaganda spread not only through the Pentagon, but across a network of policymakers — the State Department, with John Bolton; the Vice President’s Office, the very close relationship the OSP had with that office. That is not normal, that is a bypassing of normal processes. Then there was the National Security Council, with certain people who had neoconservative views; Scooter Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff; a network of think tanks who advocated neoconservative views — the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy with Frank Gaffney, the columnist Charles Krauthammer — was very reliable. So there was just not a process inside the Pentagon that should have developed good honest policy, but it was instead pushing a particular agenda; this group worked in a coordinated manner, across media and parts of the government, with their neoconservative compadres.

"We are going to invade Iraq and we are going to eliminate Saddam Hussein and we are going to have bases in Iraq. This was all a given even by the time I joined them, in May of 2002.

"There was no debate over WMD, the possible relations Saddam Hussein may have had with terrorist groups and so on. They spent their energy gathering pieces of information and creating a propaganda storyline, which is the same storyline we heard the president and Vice President Cheney tell the American people in the fall of 2002.

"The very phrases they used are coming back to haunt them because they are blatantly false and not based on any intelligence."

So you don’t think there was a genuine interest as to whether or not there really were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

"We knew. We knew from many years of both high-level surveillance and other types of shared intelligence, not to mention the information from the U.N., we knew, we knew what was left [from the Gulf War] and the viability of any of that. Bush said he didn’t know.

"The truth is, we know [Saddam] didn’t have these things. Almost a billion dollars has been spent — a billion dollars! — by David Kay’s group to search for these WMD, a total whitewash effort. They didn’t find anything, they didn’t expect to find anything."

What do you believe the real reasons were for the war?

"The neoconservatives needed to do more than just topple Saddam Hussein. They wanted to put in a government friendly to the U.S., and they wanted permanent basing in Iraq. There are several reasons why they wanted to do that. None of those reasons, of course, were presented to the American people or to Congress."

You gave your life to the military, you voted Republican for many years, you say you served in the Pentagon right up to the outbreak of war. What does it feel like to be out now, publicly denouncing your old bosses?

"Know what it feels like? It feels like duty. That’s what it feels like. I’ve thought about it many times. You know, I spent 20 years working for something that — at least under this administration — turned out to be something I wasn’t working for. I mean, these people have total disrespect for the Constitution. We swear an oath, military officers and NCOs alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. These people have no respect for the Constitution. The Congress was misled, it was lied to. At a very minimum that is a subversion of the Constitution. A pre-emptive war based on what we knew was not a pressing need is not what this country stands for."

Quick Late Night Jokes

"They're saying in the paper today that Howard Dean could go back to Vermont and become a doctor again. You see this is where I worry that President Bush maybe doesn't understand a lot of these issues. Like today when they told Bush that Dean might work for an HMO, he said, 'Hey, as long as he doesn't marry one."' - Jay Leno

"As of midnight Thursday night, John Kerry began receiving Secret Service protection -- a three-car detail of heavily armed agents and a bulletproof limousine pulled up in front of his house and stayed there all night. You see that's what you get when you're the front-runner. Dennis Kucinich got a whistle and a can of Mace." - Jay Leno

"President Bush's dog Spot passed away. ... So they took Spot back to the ranch in Texas and they buried him on the ranch, which I thought was nice, and they buried him right next to, I believe, 10,000 Al Gore ballots." - David Letterman

Supreme Court Blocks Execution of Texas Inmate

Overrules Texas arguments that prosecutors are permitted to lie and hide evidence.

Banks maintains he is innocent, and that he was framed by lying witnesses who were bought off by the state.

Banks was able to document how prosecutors kept quiet as key witnesses against Banks lied on the stand, and how the state hid those witnesses' links to police through round after round of appeals

Bush Saying His Tax Cuts Benefit Small Business Is at Odds With IRS Data

Less than 4 percent of the small businesses and the farm returns in America are bringing in $200,000 or more where Democrats have proposed repealing tax cuts.

How's this for mixed reviews?

"Sickening death trip," "virulently anti-Semitic," "powerful," "a very great film," "sadistic" and "The Goriest Story Ever Told"

Christ! "This is the most violent film I've ever seen!"

If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic. Ebert on Mel Gibson's Passion.

Bush gets credit for the worst recovery in American history

So far it is a recovery that loses jobs.

The United States went from an average of 131.9 million jobs in 2001 to 130.4 million in 2002, and to an estimated 130.1 million in 2003. And it will need an extraordinary change to reach the 132.7 million jobs for 2004 that the economic advisers predicted -- the figure Bush declined to endorse.

Have the Perrys Patched Things Up?

Perrys spend night at the White House. There was speculation a high profile public event would be provided to shut off the rumor machine and media investigations of a sex scandal.

Perry and his wife, Anita, attended the White House state dinner that President Bush held for the governors Sunday and enjoyed Bush's hospitality in the residence.

The Texas governor did not meet with reporters during the trip.

Rod Paige on a Rampage

Houston Chronicle - Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization," taking on the 2.7-million-member National Education Association early in the presidential election year.

Later the White House issues an apology: "The secretary realized he made an inappropriate comment and he has quickly apologized."

NEA Calls for Paige's Resignation


Last April, Paige said, "The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system... That's not the case in a public school, where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."

Paige issued an "apology" saying his comment was "an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics that the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reform." In his apology Paige also accused the NEA of "fighting against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children." Paige's outrageous comments, and his subsequent "apology," raise an important question: are there legitimate criticisms of the NCLB program?

The broad goal of the NCLB program – to have all students meet a minimum standard of proficiency in core subjects – is laudable. But requiring schools to meet federally mandated standards, while pulling federal funding from those who don't [el - and inadequate funding to start with], the Administration is not providing schools with the resources to get the job done. For example, the superintendent largest school district in Utah estimates that "he will have to spend $182 million over the next 10 years to implement all the provisions of NCLB" and currently receives only $2.2 million a year in Title I federal education funding.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that a recent study shows that NCLB will soon cost $1.5 billion a year for Ohio to implement, but that state receives just $44 million in federal education funds. William Mathis, the superintendent of a Vermont district and an education finance professor at the University of Vermont called the $1.5 billion figure for NCLB implementation "actually low." Mathis added "it is an inescapable conclusion that No Child Left Behind is severely underfunded."

The lack of funding of NCLB is forcing schools to skimp on some education programs to pay for others. The WSJ reports, "gifted-education services are being cut because districts want to concentrate resources on raising lower-achieving students." At the same time, schools are hoarding high achievers who can help schools meet their NCLB goals. The result: "some educators discourage their best students from leaving, either by failing to nominate them for gifted programs, or by telling parents their children would be better off in the neighborhood schools."

Back in Arizona, a group of bipartisan legislators introduced House Bill 2696, which would stop the state from complying with the act. Gov. Napolitano is against that bill. A dozen other states are threatening to pass similar legislation. Lawmakers say there is not enough money in Washington, D.C., or the states to pay for the federal demands on students and teachers.

With his No Child Left Behind program increasingly under attack Ron Paige is turning to pushing vouchers.

Paige said the D.C. voucher program, the first of its kind to be supported by federal tax dollars, will offer "emancipation" to hundreds of poor and minority students.

He said the program that gets under way in the fall will allow those students to "throw off the chains of a school system that has not served them well."

The $13 million plan creates vouchers for at least 1,700 poor students in the nation's capital, where 65,000 children attend classes in traditional public schools.

Paige's comments reflect the latest push by the Bush administration to frame vouchers as a way to empower parents and spur competition in a public educational "monopoly." Bush is proposing $50 million for voucher programs in other communities in the next budget year.

Critics say vouchers take money from the place it is needed the most, struggling public schools, and find it galling that the education secretary helps lead the charge.

Bogged down in Iraq we have no troops for elsewhere

Haiti is the proof - This is not 1994 -- we can't load the XVIII Airborne Corps onto planes to back up any sort of diplomatic initiative in Haiti. At most, we could probably muster a MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit ~ 1,000] to send to Haiti on short notice, or perhaps a piece of a unit that's already redeployed from Iraq. But doing so would have tremendously difficult secondary and tertiary consequences for America's military that's already stretched to its breaking point. Our commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan now constrain our foreign policy to the point that we cannot consider the deployment of troops to a place like Haiti as a viable option -- there just ain't any more to give. Ironically, our commitment in Iraq may now force us to pursue an internationalist policy in Haiti, and to support the deployment of an international police force.

Bush Comes Down On Amending Constitution to Stop Love

President Bush said today he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, declaring that such a measure was the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman, which he called "the most fundamental institution of civilization."

This amendment bans marriages, civil unions, and even existing benefits to non-heterosexuals.

Reaction from Bush's most prominent internet gay supporter - NO MORE PROFOUND AN ATTACK: This president wants our families denied civil protection and civil acknowledgment. He wants us stigmatized not just by a law, not just by his inability even to call us by name, not by his minions on the religious right. He wants us stigmatized in the very founding document of America. There can be no more profound attack on a minority in the United States - or on the promise of freedom that America represents. That very tactic is so shocking in its prejudice, so clear in its intent, so extreme in its implications that it leaves people of good will little lee-way. This president has now made the Republican party an emblem of exclusion and division and intolerance. Gay people will now regard it as their enemy for generations - and rightly so. I knew this was coming, but the way in which it has been delivered and the actual fact of its occurrence is so deeply depressing it is still hard to absorb. But the result is clear, at least for those who care about the Constitution and care about civil rights. We must oppose this extremism with everything we can muster. Link to website because link to section is being hammered.

Some emails: "The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land."

"Simply put, if the United States Constitution were amended to define marriage as between a man and a woman, whatever its form, I would leave the country. I just couldn't stay...just couldn't."

"Seriously, when they have to hit you with the speech equivalent of a two by four to get your attention as to how they feel about you, you might want to rethink your party affiliation."

"I was willing to overlook so many of his deficiencies: fiscal irresponsibility, enlarging the size and scope of the federal government, inability to communicate effectively, etc., due to his determined pursuit of those terrorists and fanatics attempting to harm America and the West. However, I am now going to support the Democratic nominee and rely on the public to vociferously support and demand that a newly-elected Democratic president continue the war on terror."

Josh Marshall - The support among conservatives has taken some real hits. The White House has decided that the long-predicted rising economy won't float them through this election. The situation in Iraq looks wobbly and likely to get worse before it gets better. So deprived of the ability to run on his record he's decided to save his political hide by trying to tear the country apart over a charged and divisive social issue which is being hashed out through the political process in the states.

A couple weeks ago I said we should be on the look out for stuff like this -- not just the move on gay marriage, but the whole descent into scurrilous attacks and divisive wedge politics as the president's popularity drifts downward.