Tuesday, January 27, 2004


As reported in The Week, January 30 2004:
Teachers in schools across the country are introducing new jargon to students as young as 6 years old in order to comply with government-mandated curricula. As some schools, children are to write a "brief constructed response" or an "extended constructed response" instead of a paragraph or essay. Multiple-choice tests are now called "selected-response assessments." Rather than compare books, kids make "text-to-text connections." Said one Maryland high school senior: "It's like renaming a prison "The Happy Fun Place."

Monday, January 26, 2004


"Imagine no religion...it's easy if you try." It's getting harder by the day in a land ruled by theocrats.

On a political discussion list I'm on, one meathead posted yesterday some diatribe about how America was founded on religion, that on top of the Washington Monument, visible only from above, is a huge inscription "Laus Deo"--honor God or something like that. That 92% of Americans support the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. That religious inscriptions honoring God abound in our early statuary and public monument. And thus the separation of church and state is just the usual liberal...oh, need I go on. We were entreated, in typical internet bombast, to spread this religious screed to everyone we know. I wrote back:

"It's exactly because of this intertwining of church and state that the "separation" has evolved through decades of Supreme Court decisions since the monument was built and most of those inscriptions were written. As a country we recognized the need to expand upon the original amendment to prevent theocrats from creating the tyranny of the majority. We now cherish separation such that discussions about "under God" are critical to the continuance of religious freedom--and freedom from religion--whatever the outcome.

Similarly, there was nothing explicitly stated about privacy in the constitution, either, yet that concept has evolved through Supreme Court decisions to be one of the most valued aspects of our system, even if now threatened by the Patriot Act I and proposed #2.

And of course the constitution as written only allowed rich white men with property to vote. All hail the sacred writ.

It took centuries of judicial activism to create the body of law that now underpins this republic, and which we desecrate every day--especially this administration. And yes, judicial activism, that very concept that right-wingers condemn when they don't like a court decision, but which is as necessary to the creation of a free state as the first amendment. (We are reminded of Bush's unimaginable temerity and hypocrisy in his State of the Union comments about judicial activism, which of course is the reason he was standing at that podium at all.)

It doesn't matter how pious or religious you are. Who cares? That's your choice, your business. You have no God-given right to judge others who choose a different path. When you do, as you always do, you betray God, as you do this democracy. I swear these people wouldn't understand Christianity if it bit them on ass. If Christ were here today, any doubt who would do the crucifying this time?

You want to pray, acknowledge God, in a public forum, do it, but do it silently and privately. Anything else is just a thinly disguised equivalent of the antecedents of Taliban fundamentalism, or Islamic Sharia Law. How dare anyone impose their religious values or traditions on anyone else, anywhere, anytime!"

Then today The Boston Globe printed a column titled "Intolerance spans the religious divide" by Cathy Young--A contributing editor at Reason magazine (the magazine of "Free minds and free markets"--e.g., libertarian), who makes her own religion out of trying to always look at both sides of an issue while ending up chastising everyone. She seemed to think the left had gone too far criticizing Bush's public religiosity: "I happen to agree that on many occasions, President Bush has gone too far in injecting religion in his political rhetoric. But it is equally true that his critics have used and misused his faith to impugn his policies." Oh, Bush-wa.
Here's the URL for the column:

I wrote this letter to the editor in response. They didn't print it. Too much bombast, I guess.

To The Editor, Boston Globe:

Cathy Young seems to have made an illogical leap in her column on religious intolerance (January 26).
At one point she states that "I happen to agree that on many occasions, President Bush has gone too far in injecting religion in his political rhetoric." But she closes with "Lack of religious devotion should not be a basis for a smear. But neither should religious belief -- and the truth is that the intolerance of the religious right can be fully matched by that of the secular left."

While the column fails to make a compelling case to support the closing contention, any intolerance that does exist on the left is not of religion per se, but of that injection of religion where it doesn't belong.

Simply, those who try to inject religion into politics or public policy, according to our constitution, do not deserve tolerance. In fact, in defense of the constitution, it is our duty as citizens to restrain any person or institution from such behavior. We are guaranteed not only freedom of religion, but freedom from religion.

President Bush and the religious right can be as religious as they want. If they kept it to themselves, it wouldn't be anybody's business but their own. But they don't, and what Young misrepresents as intolerance is their just reward.

Saturday, January 17, 2004


I proclaim a hiatus, a caesura from negative reports. As of today, only funny or uplifting stuff. I will begin to reprint Dave Barry's columns from when he was still funny. Wait, there's that flying pig again...

The town of Bolinas, CA voted 314-152 to adopt the following ballot measure (the official wording): "Vote for Bolinas to be socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes to like to eat the bluberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save life, skunks, and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and make it beautiful."

The San Francisco Chronicle attributed the town's support for it to the fact that its sponsor, artist Jane "Dakar" Blethen, is a beloved, though eccentric local character.

I nominate her for a federal judicial appointment.


I just liked the alliteration in that headline.

So Bush makes a recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, to trump Democratic filibuster to one of the most reactionary, anti-choice, anti-civil rights and civil liberties nominees possible, and perhaps in history--except maybe for the other nominees being filibustered. Pickering is far worse than Thomas or Scalia. In fact, this is one of the most un-American people I have come across--among so many on the extreme right. It's almost unfathomable that Bush would push for this guy. Almost.

Here's just one of many summaries appearing on various progressive websites about this sneak attack, this one from NARAL:

"President Bush has been pushing Charles Pickering’s controversial nomination to the Fifth Circuit for several years. When the Senate was still in pro-choice hands in 2002, the Judiciary Committee defeated this nomination for good reason. In 2003, pro-choice Democrats successfully filibustered Pickering.

Pickering's lifelong role as an architect of the anti-choice movement – as well as his hostility to other established constitutional rights and liberties – drew opposition from an unprecedented coalition of pro-choice, civil-rights, labor, environmental, and gay and lesbian groups."

And as for the latter, here's what NGLTF says:

Following is a statement from National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman on the appointment of Charles Pickering:

"Wednesday, in a bald attempt to win African American votes at the expense of gay Americans, the White House told the media of their plans to unveil a $1.5 billion dollar plan to promote marriage (as if the African American and gay communities are mutually exclusive communities). Yesterday, the President laid a wreath at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, through a recess appointment, he anointed Charles Pickering to a U.S. Court of Appeals, an individual who has spent his life opposing everything Dr. King stood and fought for. This kind of hypocrisy is both breathtaking and appalling. We stand in solidarity with the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP of Mississippi and national NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and all fair-minded Americans in opposition to this action."

Any president has a right to make recess appointments. Clinton did it to circumvent opposition from the right on nominations. But of course Clinton didn't appoint an extremist condemned by every moderate to liberal social and political organization in the country, and many not so liberal.

This is simply an appalling action. Of all the cynical moves by this administration in the past month, including the aforementioned visit to the tomb of MLK (with buses lined up to block the 1000 protesters that showed up), this one takes the cake.

Every time we ask how can it get worse, it does. Every time we think it can't get more cynical, it does. Every time we think it can't get more extreme, it does. Every single goddam time.

As usual, "At long last, sir, have you no sense of decency? Have you no shame?"

Friday, January 16, 2004


A divided three-judge panel of the 11th District Ohio Court of Appeals ruled recently that a heterosexual couple may not marry under state law if one member is transsexual.

Although Jacob Nash was born female, he changed his sex in the late 1990s and obtained a revised birth certificate from his home state in Massachusetts. Nonetheless, the Ohio courts have continued to ignore this legal document in denying him the right to marry his partner, Erin Barr.

In a Dec. 31 decision, which is expected to be appealed, Judge Diane V. Grendell insisted that the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause might require Ohio to respect Nash's Massachusetts birth certificate, but it does not require Ohio to take the extra step of declaring Nash a male under Ohio law.

Instead, the judge turned to the legal authority of Webster's New College Dictionary, where she found "female" defined as "the sex that produces ova or bears young," and "male" as "the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova." Once she determined that Nash failed to meet the latter specification, she grounded the rest of her opinion in the state law that prohibits same-sex marriage.

Grendell cited a host of conservative precedents in the course of her 17-page opinion, including a dissenting opinion in a state Supreme Court case that was overwhelmingly resolved in favor of two women who sought a name change.

In another example, the judge found a quote from a Texas transgender marriage case with which to dismiss the underlying complexity of the matter before her: "We realize," wrote the Texas 4th District Court of Appeals in Littleton v. Prange, "that there are many fine metaphysical arguments lurking about here involving desire and being, the essence of life and the power of mind over physics. But courts are wise not to wander too far into the misty fields of sociological philosophy."

In contrast, Grendell's dissenting colleague, Judith Christley, wrote that advances in civil rights have "required that we rethink the long established history and origins of our prejudices. Without exception," she went on, "the continuation of those prejudices was defended in the name of natural law, the God-given order of things, and because it had always been that way. Then, as today, the defenders of the status quo always seemed to have God's lips to their ears."

--Reported by Ann Rostow, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network


We'll get there, but first:

Boston's ultra-putz Archbishop O'Malley is continuing his Jihad against family values, security for children, stable relationships, and love.

First, on Sunday he urged Catholic lawyers on Sunday to oppose gay marriage, saying the institution of marriage and the family are under assault and attorneys need to help protect them.

"The social cost of the breakdown of family life has already been enormous," O'Malley said at the annual Red Mass, which is dedicated to judges, lawyers and others in the legal system.

"It's not a question of live and let live, it's a question of right and wrong," O'Malley said.

He didn't give specifics on what the lawyers could do to protect marriage and the family.

But later, in an interview, he said: "We hope that they will use their profession and their understanding of the law to defend marriage. They're in a better position than any of us to understand what needs to be done to correct a very complicated situation that the court has put us in."

Not that complicated. Rational, caring, compassionate human beings, including the Catholic Rainbow Sash Movement, support same sex marriage and oppose these Jihads. Here's what Rainbow Sash has to say:

"Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston urged Catholic lawyers to oppose gay marriage. We will ask the Archbishop to explain in plain English how gay marriage will under mind the marriage of heterosexuals. What is troubling about the archbishop call to arms are religious figures dictating public policy. Will Archbishop O'Malley go as far as Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wisconsin who is refusing Holy Communion to Pro Choice elected officials, Bishop Burke cited Vatican doctrine, canon law and teachings by the U.S. bishops in an announcement telling diocesan priests to withhold communion from such lawmakers until they 'publicly renounce' their support of abortion rights. Will the Archbishop impose the same standard on those catholic lawyers and judges who do not agree with his opinion on matter of Gay Marriage which is also contrary to Church Law?

"The Rainbow Sash Movement would remind the Archbishop misrepresenting the facts and stereotyping a whole community of people is also a sin, we in the gay and lesbian Catholic Community recognize it as 'homophobia.' He further states 'The social cost of the breakdown of family life has already been enormous,' and just what does that have to do with legally affirming gay and lesbian families? Another question the Archbishop appears to be tap dancing around.

"Another question posed by the Archbishop was, 'What do we want to teach our young people about marriage?' The Rainbow Sash Movement would hope that he would want children to be taught to affirm the love between two adults, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or gender who have entered into loving committed relationship. The Archbishop apparently finds the children of gay and lesbian families, not as worthy of the protection of law, and must see them in a lesser light than he sees the children of heterosexual families, or he would support equal rights.

"We respect the teaching authority of the Church. Because of this, we find particularly troubling the increase in the use of violent and abusive language directed at members of the gay and lesbian community. Such language is inappropriate. Certainly the Archbishop must be aware that his language is divisive and exclusionary which is contrary to sound pastoral practice.

"Archbishop O'Malley should be preaching Recognition of the inalienable dignity of the human person is the only path toward justice and reconciliation. Instead he seeks to divide the Catholic Community.

"The RSM would remind the Archbishop we are most Catholic when we are inclusive and embracing, when we are exclusionary we do not reflect the Gospel Values of Jesus Christ.

"We call on the Archbishop Boston to apologize to those faithful gay and lesbian Catholics and their children who have been harmed by his words. Further to enter into dialogue with the gay and lesbian community of Boston to understand who your gay and lesbian neighbors are, gay baiting should have no place at the Eucharistic table."

To find out more about the Rainbow Sash Movement visit our web site at http://www.rainbowsashmovement.org.

But O'Malley is not likely to respond or care about all that, because he answers to a higher authority--not God, not Christ, but the uber-putz Pope. That's about as far as you can get from God. If these two were Muslim, they'd be Khomeini & Sons. Let's say it again--anyone with that authority and audience who tells the world not to use condoms to prevent AIDS because the virus leaks through them, well, that's far more than unacceptable ignorance or faithful adherence to dogma (what's the difference?)--it's tantamount to murder.

The only good news is that this miscreant is ready to kick the bucket any minute. And, brothers and sisters, when that happens, he's going to find a warm reception in his final destination. Extremely warm.

O'Malley, on the other hand, will be with us for the time it takes for, oh, a couple of hundred gay-bashings, a couple thousand kids being emotionally damaged because their same-sex parents won't have the protection of legal (and subsequently cultural) legitimacy, thousands or other LGBT youth tormented by guilt, and more than a few loving people dying alone and in misery because their partners are not allowed to visit them in their hospital deathbeds.

Next on the Jihad to-do list, today the Boston Globe reports that "the state's four Roman Catholic bishops will mail a flier to more than a million Catholic households in Massachusetts, urging the faithful to support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The initiative, a partnership between the state's four Catholic dioceses and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the church's political advocacy arm, was announced Friday . The state's highest court ruled in November that it is unconstitutional to bar gay couples from civil marriage. Since then, O'Malley has called on priests and other Catholics to defend traditional marriage."

Traditional marriage?

"Marriage as we understand it - voluntary, monogamous, legally egalitarian, based on love, involving adults only - is a pretty recent phenomenon. For much of human history, polygyny was the rule - read your Old Testament - and in much of Africa and the Muslim world, it still is. Arranged marriages, forced marriages, child marriages, marriages predicated on the subjugation of women - gay marriage is like a fairy tale romance compared with most chapters of the history of wedlock."
- Katha Pollitt writing in The Nation, Nov. 26.]

And oh, that headline? Well, it turns out the Catholic leadership isn't the only bastion of medieval religious ignorance and savagery.

Today's Globe also reports that "The Jewish Community Relations Council, the major public policy voice of the Jewish community in Greater Boston, has voted overwhelmingly to endorse same-sex marriage.

The endorsement, by an umbrella organization representing 42 Jewish groups, is part of a growing effort by liberal religious voices to counter the strong opposition to same-sex marriage voiced by the state's Catholic bishops."

So far, so good.

But my landtsmen are not all of one mind. Some don't seem to be of any mind at all. As if wearing full beards and heavy black robes and hats in blistery summer heat, or voting Republican, weren't evidence enough, this'll do:

"The leader of the Orthodox opposition to the Jewish Community Relations Council vote, Rabbi Gershon C. Gewirtz of Young Israel synagogue in Brookline, declined to comment. The Coalition for Marriage referred calls to Rabbi Chaim Schwartz of Agudath Israel of New England, an Orthodox advocacy organization, who said, "This is an issue we believe is bringing about decadence in society." "It's not that we do not believe in the civil rights of gay couples -- we believe each person should be able to live in this great country -- but we don't believe in calling it marriage," Schwartz said. "It's morally incorrect, and what's next? Bestiality? Marrying a dog? Marrying your cat?"

Well, maybe. If my choice were Rabbi Schwartz or a dog, I'm going with the one who understands unconditional love.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

MoveOn's Bush-in-30-Seconds Contest Awards transcripts

The Drudge report printed these, with a bit of condescension and scolding in their intro:

"Celebrity activists unleashed a torrent of obscenity-laced insults and allegations against Republicans and the Bush Administration -- just a week after the site's founders apologized for posting two political messages on the Internet comparing President Bush to Hitler."

I think Margaret responds quite adequately.

The hate email to her that the Drudge excerpts generated are at:

MARGARET CHO (Comedian) --

* "Despite all of this stupid bullsh-- that the Republican National Committee, or whatever the f--- they call them, that they were saying that they're all angry about how two of these ads were comparing Bush to Hitler? I mean, out of thousands of submissions, they find two. They're like fu--ing looking for Hitler in a hawstack. You now? I mean, George Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he fu--ing applied himself." big, extended applause) "I mean he just isn't."

* "I think this last year has just proven how stupid Republicans are." (big applause)

* "For example, Judge Roy Moore, or Jay Moore or whatever, in Alabama. [inaudible] ... Ten Commandments statue stay in the lobby of a courthouse. 'You can't move the Word of God! You cannot remove the Franklin Mint edition of the Word of God!' [said in Southern accent] People are protesting there and like, I think it could have been solved so much easier if they had just placed a golden calf next to the statue and then people would have started worshipping that. And then they could have moved the Ten Commandments to Bush's office -- which he needs them, desperately. Or maybe he needs a new version of the Ten Commandments -- George W. Bush's Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal...votes. (big applause) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's...country. (big applause) Thou shalt not kill...for oil. (big applause) Thou shalt not take grammar...in vain. (big applause) I mean, whatever fu--ing happened to separation of church and state? I mean, you can't like, impose your god on my god. God has many names. God is God, God is Jehovah, God is Allah, God is Buddah, God is Beyonce. (laughter) You know, you cannot impose your God on other people. And ah, George W. Bush is coming out with the weirdest stance on same-sex marriage as well. What he says about it is, well, 'well, we're all sinners.' No we're not! Just because somebody ate an apple one time does not make us all sinners. And if it was from the tree of knowledge, I think she should have eaten more than one. (laughter) Possibly even baked a pie." (applause) "I don't understand the whole same-sex marriage thing. He was quoted by saying, 'well, you you uh, just gotta take the speck out of your own eye before you take the co-- out of your neighbor's.'" [in Southern accent] (laughter)

* "I mean, I'm afraid of terrorists, but I'm more afraid of the Patriot Act." (big applause)

CHUCK D (Rapper -- Public Enemy)

* Cut off, but he appears to refer to American government under Bush Administration as "cancer of civilization."

* "But truly, seriously, quite frankly, the people are smart enough to realize that the world is important and we only have one life [or right, unclear], that's tired of this bullsh--, or better than that, tired of this Bushsh--" (big applause)

* "Americanization is like McDonaldization"

* "Son of a Bush and his crew is at it again, because, we do not want 8 years run by a Colon, a Bush and a Dick." (big applause)


* "I was worried that some soldiers over in Iraq who are actually younger than I am would see some salacious report on MSNBC and think that I was attacking them and not the government that put them there. And I was afraid that Bill O'Reilly would come and, with a shotgun at my front door and shoot me for being unpatriotic. But I decided that that's actually, that fear that was silencing me is actually why it's so important that MoveOn exist and do this ad contest..."


*"I'm Al Franken. I'm here to present the funniest ad award. I'm a last-minute substitution, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was supposed to be the presenter, but unfortunately he was murdered."


*Said he had "contempt" for Bush, called him a "big fat f---ing liar."


"I think there's an impression that the armed forces is a male-dominated, hierarchal, authoritarian institution," he told The Times about his gender gap, notwithstanding the fact that the armed forces is a male-dominated, hierarchal, authoritarian institution.
--Maureen Dowd-"The Argyle General"-New York Times, January 11


Washington, D.C.--A member of a Florida commission that helps select state court judges has inappropriately asked nominees about their religious beliefs and should be removed from office, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The Miami Daily Business Review reported January 8 that Broward Judicial Nomination Commission (JNC) member O'Neal Dozier has asked several candidates for Broward County judgeships inappropriate questions about their religious beliefs, such as whether they attend church and are "God-fearing." Several of those judicial nominees complained about those types of questions.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, sent a letter to Gov. Bush today calling on him to fire Dozier.

"Dozier's overt religious bigotry is wholly unacceptable and he must no longer be allowed an official role in the selection of judges in Florida," Lynn wrote. "It is appalling that in 2004 judicial nominees are being subjected to an inquisition. Religious litmus tests are unconstitutional in America."

In addition to grilling candidates about religion, Dozier has also been accused of questioning judicial candidates about their personal lives and their stands on controversial social issues. One woman said she was asked whether she could balance her duties as a single mother of twins with her duties as a judge. Another candidate was asked his opinions on the Supreme Court's decision last summer that overturned a Texas sodomy law.

According to the Miami Daily Business Review, Dozier said such questions are appropriate. "I am totally against that ruling," he told the newspaper. "We cannot have a judge who feels sodomy is OK." Dozier has repeatedly expressed an intolerant and theocratic approach to government. According to a report in the New Times Broward-Palm Beach late last year, Dozier told a Religious Right gathering, "We as Christians must take control of the government. We should be the ones in charge of the government."

New Times said Dozier also observed that homosexuality is "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit."

According to the more recent Miami Business Review article, Dozier said, "There is no such animal as separation of church and state in the Constitution."

Dozier was appointed to the judicial nomination commission by Governor Bush, and AU's Lynn urged Bush to act quickly to remove Dozier from that official post.

"As I am sure you are aware," Lynn wrote, "state and federal law forbid religious tests for public office. In our highly pluralistic society, it is outrageous to require judicial nominees to profess certain religious beliefs, participate in religious activities or conform their lives to the tenets of a particular faith."


Al Franken announcing his upcoming radio talk show, which will launch with the new liberal talk radio network Progress Media: "My first priority is to get sued by a right-wing jerk in order to generate interest in my new show, the O’Franken Factor. Our hope is to do drug-free talk radio, although I understand it’s never been done."

Here's the full press release:

Contact: Adam Schiff
Dan Klores Communications, Inc.


Robert Kennedy Jr. Also to Host Show
Network Finalizes Agreement on Chicago Station

New York, January 13, 2004 - Progress Media announced today that comedian and best-selling author Al Franken will hit the airwaves to host his own radio talk show when the radio network launches. The signing of Robert Kennedy Jr. to co-host a talk show and a radio network distribution deal in Chicago were also announced. Franken’s show will air weekdays.

“Al is one of the new masters of political humor. His entertaining and insightful comedy and commentary has established him as one of the savviest and most engaging voices in America today. We are thrilled to have him aboard,” said Progress Media Chief Executive Officer, Mark Walsh.

This ends a year of speculation about whether Franken would jump into radio. “Our long national nightmare is over,” said Franken. “I’ve signed.

“My first priority is to get sued by a right wing jerk in order to generate interest in my new show, The O’Franken Factor,” Franken said. “Our hope is to do drug-free talk radio, although I understand it’s never been done.

“Quite simply, my plan is to alter the political landscape, drive this radical right-wing president from office and stand as a beacon for ordinary Americans who work hard and play by the rules. Short of that, I’d just like to get on in Albany,” added Franken.

In addition, the network is unveiling another program in its lineup. “Champions of Justice,” co-hosted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mike Papantonio, will bring a fresh and entertaining perspective to talk radio from the top legal minds in the country with a focus on informing Americans about the inner workings of corporations and how they influence our daily lives.

“I am excited to be affiliated with Progress Media, which will provide Americans a breath of fresh air and a much needed alternative to the status-quo,” said Kennedy.

“Al Franken and Robert Kennedy Jr. are important ingredients to achieving our core mission: entertaining and engaging programming,” said Walsh.

In its first major distribution announcement, Progress Media has completed a transaction with Multicultural Radio’s WNTD 950AM, a full-signal station in Chicago.

“It is an extremely significant event for Progress Media to have clearance in the third largest media market in the country" said Jon Sinton, president of the network. “Combined with other markets we are close to finalizing, Progress Media will have tremendous reach right out of the box.”

In addition, Progress Media expects to announce additional distribution deals and acquisitions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major media markets across the country.

Progress Media is led by Walsh; New York-based investor and Chairman of the Board Evan Cohen; radio pioneer Jon Sinton; Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show;” Shelly Lewis, a longtime network news producer most recently with CNN’s “American Morning;” Dave Logan, a former XM and Chicago radio executive; and Martin Kaplan, an associate dean of the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California, who will host a talk show about the news media.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as
good. Luckily, this is not difficult. (Charlotte Whitton)

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:
Alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. (Alex Levine)

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying. (Ed

What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money. (Henny Youngman)

Q. What is the difference between Michael Jackson and a grocery bag?
A. One is made of plastic and is dangerous for children to play with.... the other is used to carry groceries.


For those who haven't yet felt the Alien of Disgust burst through their chests at this transparently cynical and incredibly annoying proposal by the Smirking Chimp, I offer this palliative---Ha! There is none!

But our sources in the White House have leaked the real plan.

The timing of the fruition of the plan is not arbitrary. When the Moon is ready for human and simian (you can see it coming) habitation, the plan that Bush and his corporate masters (there's a neutral phrase) have embarked on to totally degrade the Earth environment will be completed.

And so who will be the first inhabitants of the Moon? Don't misunderestimate this team. Those of us still alive who haven't mutated into some kind of spongiform blob will be able to see, even through the haze of sulfuric acid we'll still fondly call our atmosphere, a 5000 foot tall billion-kilowatt laser/neon sign: "Welcome to Halliburton"

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Can we beat Bush? The media and the pundits, along with unindicted co-conspirators New Democrats, are declaring the front-runner Dean as unelectable.

They were saying this about Kucinich until recently. Well, they still are, but now with Dean they have a juicier victim. Kucinich was presented with this shibboleth at the recent Iowa debate, when a panelist told him that many Democrats don't think he's electable. He responded, with a chuckle, "Well, you know, I'm electable if you vote for me."

Anything can happen, but with Kerry continuing to self-destruct, and Clark still polling in at best 2nd place in most places, it sure looks like Dean will win the nomination.

So the savagery against Dean intensifies. He's too angry. He's naive. He changes his mind (the old flip-flop attack). Kerry and the other candidates continue to provide great sound bites that Karl Rove can use later on against Dean--and no doubt will.

It's all so depressingly familiar.

News of late has provided hope that Bush will finally get the same treatment from the press--and thereby the public, who seem to be programmed more than ever to believe everything the talking heads tell them--that the Democratic candidates have been getting. That is, consistent diminution of their integrity and credibility, and savage attacks on their competency, especially in foreign affairs and national security.

Bush's attacks on the environment, to benefit corporate interests, are the most blatant, the most severe, and the most successful of any president--ever. While I can't quite see how allowing skimobiles in Yellowstone benefits corporate America, there must be a constituency he needs and thus is pandering to in this regard. The recent blocking of the rescinding of that restriction by a federal judge is one small victory against many losses.

I intend to write a piece about the whole environmental devastation soon, but for now, if you can, check out the Sept 2003 issue of Vanity Fair, an article titled Sale Of The Wild. Here's the intro blurb: "Dept of the Interior employees are horrified by how Secretary Gale Norton and her powerfull deputy, J.Steven Griles, have allowed industry to exploit America's wilderness. Probing stealthy bureaucratic maneuvers and Grile's ties to coal, oil, and gas, the author finds a massive, irreversible (emphasis supplied) landgrab." This long and well-researched article is ultimately horrifying.

But none of this sticks to Bush. Like Reagan and Iran-Contra (among other impeachable and corrupt actions of that administration) the Teflon effect is in full force.

That news I mentioned? It's a multi-part story. First, it's the Paul O'Neil story. The fired former Bush Treasury Secretary revealed in a recent book by Ron Suskind, and detailed in a 60 Minutes interview Sunday, that Bush and team had begun planning for the invasion of Iraq days after the election. That Bush, in that now-famous quote going around the world, in cabinet meetings was "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people." By now you all know this and more. The BBC today did a longer story on this affair than NPR. The world is chomping at the bit for ways to nail this administration. We're with 'em.

Not surprisingly, some American pundits immediately tried to dismiss these volatile criticisms as sour grapes. O'Neil was fired, so he's angry, and this is his revenge. He was fired, basically for speaking up about his opposition to the tax cuts.

He reveals in the interview that Bush was initially against the 2nd round of cuts. Bush actually was concerned that they had already given too many cuts to the wealthy--Bush's words, not mine. This was a clear acknowledgement that the administration knew the bulk of the cuts were going to the rich, unlike their then-and-now insistence of the opposite. More lies exposed. But Rove insisted they "stick to principle" and so Bush acceded to another round of manna for the rich.

O'Neil thought this was bad policy, and said so publicly. Goodbye, O'Neil.

So now the media appears to be doing the administration's dirty work by dismissing O'Neil's reports and claims as sour grapes.

Well I say hooray for sour grapes. While I don't believe for a minute that O'Neil's motivation is what is being ascribed to him,if it were, who could blame him? And if it were, that doesn't for a second negate the veracity or integrity of his claims. If we aren't allowed to act out of anger at injustice, we are silenced.

The tactic may or may not work against Dean and O'Neil, but that won't stop the Rovians from trying. Of course, now they want to investigate O'Neil for exposing classified material. That isn't the case, as is obvious, but the administration's response to questions about whether this investigation will be seen as vindictive is,"well, we don't see it that way." Hold on, there's a pig flying outside my window.

By the way, I think this news about the clear acknowledgment that the tax cuts benefited the rich are far more important than the news of the pre-9/11 Iraq invasion plans, or that Bush was disengaged at meetings.

For one, we all know he's the tool of the puppetmasters Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld et. al. It is too simplistic to say he merely does what he's told, but we all know who's running things.

We also all know about the Iraq plans. That "news" has been all over the progressive media for over a year. In fact, we know that Perle and Wolfowitz proposed this neo-con strategy back in the Bush Pere administration, but Poppy vetoed it as too volatile--and offensive. When Bush Jr. won his coup, they immediately renewed this long-time scenario. 9/11 gave them the creds (according to them) to proceed. This is not news! It's incredible that mainstream media would try to pretend it is.

The next bit of hopeful news is the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace's report that the administration 'systematically misrepresented the threat posed Iraq's WMD and ballistic missile programs." Julian Borger, writing in the Guardian, suggests that the report, by four experts on weapons proliferation at the Endowment, "is likely to re-ignite calls for a commission to look into the government's pre-war intelligence claims."

Finally, an Army War College study reports that the Iraq invasion was "an unnecessary preventive war of choice" that has robbed resources and attention from the more critical fight against Al Qaeda in a hopeless US quest for absolute security. The whole story, as reported by Will Dunham of Reuters, is at the end of this post. I'm reprinting it because it has so far received little or no national coverage

And then there's the Valerie Plame incident, the investigation of which Asscroft has finally recused himself from.

While it may come to pass that any of these reports, or the aggregate of all of them, or the seeping out of the news of totality of the environmental destruction, and no doubt more exposes to come, will finally result in positive action against this administration's continued disregard for the truth, the constitution and the will of the people (and the O'Neil story still has legs), I admit to pessimism.

There are impeachable offenses here. Ultimately Clinton was impeached because he lied. The lies of this administration continue unabated, and continue to be exposed, yet so far there is no sense of national outrage among the body politic, no indication that the administration will be held accountable for its calumnies, and not a heck of a lot of diminishment of Bush's standing in the polls.

A while back the pundits we're saying that Congress had no stomach for impeachment, after the Clinton debacle, since many congresspeople, while they went along with it, did not support it (wha?) and felt the whole think was, well, icky.

A lot has happened since then. It's time to renew the calls for impeachment of this damnable president.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iraq invasion was "an unnecessary preventive war of choice" that has robbed resources and attention from the more critical fight against al Qaeda in a hopeless U.S. quest for absolute security, according to a study recently published by the U.S. Army War College.

The 56-page document written by Jeffrey Record, a veteran defense expert who serves as a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, represents a blistering assessment of what President Bush calls the U.S. global war on terrorism.

Pentagon officials on Monday said Record was entitled to his opinion, but reiterated Bush's view that Iraq is the "central front" in the war on terrorism.

Record urged U.S. leaders to refocus Bush's broad war to target Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America, and its allies. Record said the Iraq war was a detour from real anti-terrorism efforts.

Record criticized the Bush administration for lumping together al Qaeda and President Saddam Hussein's Iraq "as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat."

"This was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored critical differences between the two in character, threat level and susceptibility to U.S. deterrence and military action," Record wrote.

"The result has been an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al Qaeda," Record wrote.

Faculty at the Army War College, an academic institute run by the Army since 1901, produce analyzes of military and national security issues, with scholars encouraged to take a critical look a existing policies.

Lawrence Di Rita, the top Pentagon spokesman, said, "There's no question he's entitled to his views."

"People are publishing stuff all the time. That's the value of kind of having people throw analysis out there. You learn even from analysis you don't agree with. I don't even want to characterize it as something I don't agree with because I just haven't read it," said Di Rita, adding that he does not know if Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans to read the document.

Record faulted the administration for fusing disparate enemies such as rogue states, terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction proliferators into a monolithic threat.

In doing so, he said, the administration "may have set the United States on a course of open-ended and gratuitous conflict with states and non-state entities that pose no serious threat to the United States."

Record said the administration's declared goals "are unrealistic and condemn the United States to a hopeless quest for absolute security," as well as being fiscally, politically and militarily unsustainable.

These goals include destroying al Qaeda and other such transnational groups, making Iraq a stable democracy, bringing democracy to the rest of the autocratic Middle East, ending terrorism as a means of irregular warfare, and stopping proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to real and potential enemies, Record said.

In an interview, Record took issue with the very concept of a war on terrorism.

"Terrorism is a common noun. It's a technique. How do you make war on terrorism as opposed to specific terrorist organizations?" Record asked.

"I don't think that it is within America's power to rid the world of terrorism. ... The idea that you're going to be able to expunge this form of warfare from the world, I think, is really stretching it."

Douglas Lovelace, head of the Strategic Studies Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Record works, said the report "should enter into the debate or at least be considered by those who are formulating strategy and policy."

Saturday, January 03, 2004


Stress Management Imagery

Picture yourself near a stream.
Birds are singing in the crisp, cool mountain air.
Nothing can bother you here. No one knows this
secret place. You are in total seclusion from
that place called the world.The soothing sound
of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a
cascade of serenity. The water is clear.

You can easily make out the face of the person
whose head you're holding under the water.

There now, feeling better?


OK, so I'm a crank. But, really, why haven't we all turned into axe murderers by now.

Because the Iranian earthquake kills over 30,000 people, but one remarkable 90-year old woman is found alive after 9 days, and, see, THAT's the work of God. Kills 30,000, saves one.

It's a frickin' miracle.

"The advantage of the incomprehensible is that it never loses its freshness."
--Paul Varley