April 10, 2005

The Long Slide

  • Kill! "Florida's legislature has approved a bill that would give residents the right to open fire against anyone they perceive as a threat in public, instead of having to try to avoid a conflict as under prevailing law." Yahoo
  • Liberals Want to Kill Your Mama -- Here's the Liberal Agenda, according to an e-mailing urging the removal of the right to filibuster, which means that it takes 60% to end the debate on an issue and push it to a vote. Here is what the anti-filibusterans are trying to scare people into believing is what drives every evil liberal: 1. Approval of homosexual marriage 2. Legalizing euthanasia 3. Banning prayer in school 4. Banning the public display of the Ten Commandments 5. Banning the Pledge of Allegiance 6. Basing our laws on the laws of other nations 7. Maintaining abortion on demand 8. Forcing the Boy Scouts and similar organizations (including churches) to place homosexuals in positions of leadership 9. Complete protection for all kinds of pornography 10. Creating hate crimes laws to punish those who believe homosexuality is wrong 11. Denigrating Christianity to a secondary status 12. Making secularism the only legitimate religion
  • Letter to the Editor of the New York Times from Michael Munk: "Are only non-Christian bombers who kill and main innocent civilians entitled to be called 'terrorists'? I'm curious because Eric 'Army of God' Rudolph, a former resident of Christian Identity, is about to plead guilty to killing and wounding more than 150 people in his war against abortion and homsexuality. But nowhere in 'Suspect in blast at '96 Olympics to Plead Guilty' (A1, April 9) is there any awareness of the similarity of his chosen tactics and their results to those routinely described as 'terrorism' when carried out by other religionists." Thank you very much, Michael Munk. Good point. I'm thankful our Attorney General doesn't round up a thousand Christians and throw them in jail without charges, without the right to see an attorney. This is one very very serious group of people running this country and throwing a thousand innocent Arabs in jail was just a signal that they mean business.
  • Bush's approval ratings are as low as I can remember ever hearing of a president. The threshold of accomplishment is not very high on approval ratings. Given the history of the relationship between Bush's ratings and the 9/11 attacks, we have great reason for concern that our military may suddenly fall under another attack of nearly universal incompetence as they tell us they fell under on September 11, 2001. A caller on Air America referred to rumors that something may be planned for June. As we have seen, there is little reason to discount the vaguest of rumors in a climate like this. Bush wants those high ratings back. He wants a renewal of his chosen role as "war president." Yahoo
  • The US military has shot a CBS cameraman. Something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.
  • 66% of New Yorkers want the 9/11 investigation reopened, according to a Zogby poll. See Walden3.org
  • Check out Alex Jones' Infowars.com.
  • 911InPlaneSite.com

    April 11, 2005

  • Lie Down With Dogs -- Now the right wing is going after Justice Kennedy. Washington Post. Mark Crispin Miller writes: "According to a piece last year in Vanity Fair, it was Kennedy -- not O'Connor -- who made the crucial difference in Bush v. Gore. He strung Souter along, pretending to be on the fence, when all the while he was dealing stealthily with Scalia. He was driven not by ideology but by ambition. I can think of a few apt clichés: 'What goes around, comes around.' 'Be careful what you wish for.' 'You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.'"
  • Bush's "Christian" Blood Cult: Concerns Raised by the Vatican by Wayne Madsen in Counterpunch. "Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs, and his constant references to 'evil doers,' in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations - the anti-Christ. People close to the Pope claim that amid these concerns, the Pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations."

    April 12, 2005

  • The Final Days -- According to a review by Thom Hartman of After the Empire by Emanuel Todd on Buzzflash, "In 1976 -- long before American conservatives would claim that Ronald Reagan's 1980s debt-driven massive military spending 'bankrupted' the Soviet Union -- French demographer and author Emmanuel Todd wrote a best-selling book titled La Chute Finale ('The Final Fall'), predicting the imminent fall of the USSR. He based his projection, in large part, on a careful study of the increase in infant mortality in that empire, one of the leading indicators of the health of a nation. Time proved him right, and hindsight tells us that Reagan and Bush had nothing whatever to do with the fall of the USSR, con claims notwithstanding. It rotted from within, something that I witnessed in the 1970s and 1980s visiting both the USSR and several of its captive states, and living a year in 1986-1987 within 30 miles of Soviet-dominated East Germany and Czechoslovakia. ... Now comes Emmanuel Todd to predict the fall of another empire: America. In Après l' empire ('After The Empire'), a runaway bestseller across Europe and in Japan, Todd points out that many of the same demographic and historic indicators that led him to boldly predict the looming collapse of the Soviet system can now -- with some variations that are even more alarming -- be applied to the United States. Every American should read this book.... The main thesis of Todd's book is that America is posturing, playing the role of the leader of the 'free world' and head of the new American Empire, when, in fact, we are militarily, economically, and morally bankrupt -- and the rest of the world knows it. In fact, he suggests, much of the posturing is for the consumption of the domestic American audience, as the rest of the world (with the exception of a few dependent Third World nations) knows we're already in decline and perhaps even ready to implode.
  • Inflation outpacing wages first time in 14 years, since Bush senior, as a matter of fact. Whom do they serve? LA Times
  • Kansas maniac wants all teen sex reported by social workers as “abuse.” SocialWorkers.org

    April 14, 2005

  • At the Peak, Beginning the Big Slide -- According to James Howard Kunstler in "The Long Emergency" (Rolling Stone), in 2005, we have reached peak oil production in the entire world. From here it slides downward. At the same time China and India have both rapidly matured into oil guzzlers like the U.S. We are now looking at a time when our "way of life" -- based on massive oil consumption -- is inexorably going to change radically. Hang on.

    Why did Bush encourage oil consumption by giving tax breaks for SUVs. Does he really not think beyond his oil company friend's next quarterly profit statement, and their next political contribution? Is there no thought for the emergency of the oil shortage we are now confronting?

    Kunstler: "A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago. The next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered significant news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten days. That same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because, CNN said, government data showed no signs of inflation. Note to clueless nation: Call planet Earth.

    "Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that 'people cannot stand too much reality.' What you're about to read may challenge your assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and especially the kind of world into which events are propelling us. We are in for a rough ride through uncharted territory."

  • Abortion is Murder... Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty in federal court to the deadly 1996 Olympic park bombing in Atlanta and attacks at two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub and gave a statement about why, his big moment of glory. It turns out he's just a typical Christian Right lunatic, the kind Bush caters to, just a little more twisted than the normal rank-and-file right winger. He bombed, he said, because he's opposed to abortion and gays and this "holocaust" justifies the use of force. Therefore he bombed the Olympics. Oh, by the way, sorry about "innocent civilians," he said. AOL News.

  • Does Antonin Scalia sodomize? He won't say "Close to 50 NYU law students and members of the New York community lined the sidewalk outside of Vanderbilt Hall yesterday afternoon to protest Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was being honored by a student-run law journal. Scalia visited NYU to receive an honor from the members of the NYU Annual Survey of American Law , which is dedicating their 2005 issue to Scalia... In asking about Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas and his view that privacy is not constitutionally protected, Eric Berndt, a law student, shocked the crowd by asking, 'Do you sodomize your wife?' Scalia refused to answer the question while the crowd gasped and the administrators promptly turned off Berndt's microphone. NYU News

  • Find out what the CEO makes -- AFL-CIO Paywatch

  • Citizens Unprotected -- "As they slowly hack democracy to death, we’re as alone – we citizens – as we’ve ever been, protected only by the dust-covered cliches of the nation’s founding: 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.' It’s time to blow off the dust and start paying the price. The media are not on our side. The politicians are not on our side. It’s just us, connecting the dots, fitting the fragments together, crunching the numbers, wanting to know why there were so many irregularities in the last election and why these glitches and dirty tricks and wacko numbers had not just an anti-Kerry but a racist tinge. This is not about partisan politics. It’s more like: 'Oh no, this can’t be true.'" Guerrilla News Network.

  • It is time to renew freedom of speech in America, freedom of thought, to create a world literature, a world consciousness, to create a human world instead of a world made for machines. This is our opportunity, and our only hope for survival.

  • Mr. Milk Moustache Bolton, now trying to become U.S. Ambassador to the organization he despises above all else, was one of Bush's henchman in Florida in 2000, running interference and making sure not too many votes were counted. Oakland Press. See "Bush recount troops land plum D.C. jobs"

    April 21, 2005

  • An Inquiry for Truth and Justice -- A World Tribunal on Iraq will be held at the Topkapi Palace Grounds in Istanbul June 23-27. “Taking its cue from the Russell Tribunal of the late 1960s, the World Tribunal on Iraq is aimed at challenging the silence around the aggression against Iraq and seeking the truth about the war and occupation in Iraq," according to Melek Taylan, spokesperson for the WTI. "This will be a process of listening, reflection, evaluation and informed judgment based on concrete evidence.” Participants will include Dennis Halliday, former Assistant to the UN Secretary General and Director of the UN Humanitarian Aid Programme, Prof. Richard Falk, UNESCO peace prize holder and Professor of International Law, and Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraq. "The World Tribunal on Iraq is a worldwide initiative that works together in a non- hierarchical system as a horizontal network of local groups worldwide. The project consists of commissions of inquiry and sessions held around the world investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and environment (2). In these sessions, a platform was provided for people from Iraq, as well as experts and activists to articulate their concerns and demands and to present their reports."
  • New Pope, One Giant Step Backward -- German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger went into the Sistine Chapel with a flock of Cardinals and SHAZAM! emerged Pope Benedict XVI. A former member of Hitler Youth and German soldier who eventually deserted, he's been an important force in pushing the church toward focusing more on sexual issues such as abortion and birth control, while taking repressive measures against the church's involvement in liberation movements. Church leaders have been important forces in movements to overthrow dictators in Central America and the Phillippines, but this is not the kind of activities Cardinal Ratzinger wanted to see. According to Democracy Now, "He is widely viewed as a conservative theologian and a hard-line enforcer of Catholic Church doctrine. In the 1980s, Ratzinger was a fierce opponent of liberation theology. He strongly opposes abortion, an increased role of women in the church, artificial birth control and homosexuality. In 2003, Ratzinger's office issued instructions to Catholic politicians to vote against gay marriage. During last year's presidential election campaign, he advised US bishops to deny Communion to politicians who support abortion rights - who many saw as directly targeting Catholic presidential candidate, John Kerry. Ratzinger also publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey to the European Union stating that the continent is essentially Christian. At the same time, Ratzinger has been credited with being a vocal critic of war and capital punishment. Two years ago he questioned if any war could be considered a just war."
  • Nazi Pope -- According to the NY Post, "At one point, he guarded a factory where slaves from a concentration camp were forced to work. He was later shipped to Hungary, where he reportedly saw Jews persecuted. Ratzinger, a staunch conservative dubbed 'God's Rottweiler,' has said he joined the Hitler Youth when membership became compulsory. He and his brother were later drafted but deserted. The cardinal claims he never fired a shot and that resistance would have meant death. Not so, Germans from his hometown of Traunstein told The Times of London. 'It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,' recalled Elizabeth Lohner, 84. 'The Ratzingers were young — and they had made a different choice.'"

    April 22, 2005

  • The Parliament of Rogues passed a budget allotting $81 billion more for Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing the total over $300 billion. AP
  • Italian Right Wing Prime Minister Berlusconi Resigns -- After his party lost 12 out of 14 regional elections. Bloomberg
  • Opus Dei and the New Pope -- Odan
  • Down Dog! Rick Santorum, the driving force behind the movement to squelch debate in the Senate, trails his emerging rival in polls by 14 points. Even too much to fix with voting machines? Seattle Pi
  • Backlash from Anti-Tax Republicans -- It sounded good at election time, but without money, state governments are falling apart. Christian Science Monitor
  • The Reverse Revolution -- Mark Fiore

    April 25, 2005

  • The Church Against the Truth -- Suppression of normal sex, suppression of the truth about criminal sex practices of priests. Though Cardinal Ratzinger has wanted to emphasize the "sexual issues" and suppress liberation movements, and maintain medieval standards in terms of use of birth control, when it comes to the church's own sexual issues -- e.g. the widespread sexual abuse by priests -- he actively took measures to prevent any inquiry into the problem. See The Observer
  • Onward Christian Soldiers -- Evangelical Christians are looking for new ways to punish judges who do not agree with them, like cutting off their funding. LA Times
  • One Small Victory for Democracy -- "The GOP leadership is still going to talk about 'activist judges.' They're still going to flood the talk-show airwaves with talk of a 'judiciary that is out of control.' They're still going to ally themselves with the worst elements of the extreme right in an effort to kill the filibuster in the Senate, so they can ram through 12 thoroughly inappropriate judicial nominees along with whatever else they feel like. The GOP leadership is still going to do that, but for the time being, it appears possible the push to take the "Nuclear Option" and get rid of the filibuster has hit the reef."William Rivers Pitt
  • Bolton Nomination "On Life Support" -- "Only a week ago, Bolton seemed assured of moving on to New York to be the ambassador who works toward Bush's wishes for major changes at the United Nations. His new assignment, however, was thrown into jeopardy last week when moderate Republican senators said new allegations about Bolton gave them cause to reconsider whether he was the right person for the job. 'This nomination is not doomed, but it's on life support and the plug may well be pulled any day,' said Allan J. Lichtman, a political history professor at American University." Associated Press

    April 27, 2005

  • Earth Calling Bush -- The Bush administration is trying to suppress a report that used to be published regularly by the State Department because it shows that terrorist attacks tripled in the year 2004. The data show that "...the number of major terrorist attacks worldwide exploded from 175 in 2003 to 625 in 2004, the highest number since the Cold War began to wane in 1985." Bush, in la-la land, says, "We've made the world safer..." The Independent
  • Arnie Update -- "In recent weeks the signs have mounted that we are witnessing the twilight of the Schwarzenegger administration. One by one, the governor's grand initiatives have come apart. The box-exploding state reorganization? Abandoned. The balanced state budget? A non-starter. Government without special interests? A joke. Bipartisanship in Sacramento? Never happened. Of his four-part 2005 reform initiative — redistricting reform, teacher pay reform, pension reform, fiscal reform — barely anything survives to place on the November ballot." LA Times
  • Secret Service records on male prostitute/phony reporter Jeff Gannon/James Guckert raise more questions. "Guckert made more than 200 appearances at the White House during his two-year tenure with the fledging conservative websites GOPUSA and Talon News, attending 155 of 196 White House press briefings. He had little to no previous journalism experience, previously worked as a male escort, and was refused a congressional press pass. Perhaps more notable than the frequency of his attendance, however, is several distinct anomalies about his visits. Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities. On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out." Raw Story
  • Real Spirituality vs the Christian Right -- Jim Wallis , author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, a founder of the Sojourners Community and editor of Sojourners Magazine, was interviewed on "Demcoracy Now". Wallis: I think it's fine for people to bring their moral conviction, even their religious conviction in the public life. King did that. I do that. The religious right does that, but when you say those who oppose us, who have a different view, are not people of faith, or Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said during the campaign, you can only vote for George W. Bush. Now they're saying you must also agree with all of his judicial nominees. Now this is really the hijacking of religion. It's making it into a partisan wedge and a weapon to divide us, not a bridge to bring us together. This is really the abuse and misuse of religion... Fundamentalism exists in all of our religious traditions, and the antidote to it, I think, is prophetic faith. The answer to bad religion, I think, is not secularism but better religion. So, how do we talk about a prophetic faith? In my Christian tradition, I want to talk about Jesus. How did Jesus become pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American? It doesn't make sense. And yet, that's what we're faced with. So, really, a rescue operation is what I think is required now, to take back our faith from those who have made it into a kind of a political weapon and a wedge. The religious right is the political seduction of religion. The religious right was the idea of the political right. They created it. There were meetings. Republican political operatives, TV preachers, a deal was made. Give me your lists. I'll make you famous. It was a Faustian bargain. But what happens is when the progressives concede the entire territory of religion and values and faith to the right, then they get to define it however they want to, and they have in this very narrow, partisan, ideological way. So that's what I want to take back here... You know, the right gets it wrong because they want to narrow all the moral values issues. There's just two: abortion, gay marriage. That's it. You know, what about 3,000 verses in the Bible on poverty. Fighting poverty is a moral value. Protecting the environment, otherwise known as God's creation, that's a moral value issue. And as you said, the ethics of war. When you go to war, how you go to war, and whether you tell the truth about going to war. These are profoundly religious matters. The left, I think, needs to recover its own progressive history, its heart and soul, its moral vocabulary and not give the right that whole territory of religion, values and politics. We can’t ever do that again. That was a mistake.

    April 28, 2005

  • Same As It Ever Was -- In a classic doublespeak self-contradiction, General Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Iraq insurgency is “about where it was a year ago,” but at the same time he said the U.S. forces are “gaining ground.” What ground? According to CNN "The insurgency in Iraq is 'about where it was a year ago,' in terms of attacks, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, but he said American and Iraqi troops are gaining ground in the two-year-old conflict. Gen. Richard Myers told reporters Tuesday that the number of insurgent attacks has run between 50 and 60 a day in the past week, up from a recent average of about 40 a day.'In terms of the number of incidents, it's right about where it was a year ago,' he said. 'And weeks will differ, and months will differ a little bit. But if you look at the scope of this, over time since May of 2003, that's the conclusion you draw.'" Pretty pathetic. Let's see, if it's the same as it was a year ago, but we are gaining, that means our gains in one year add up to nothing. At that rate, our gains in 10 years, or 20, would be 10 or 20 times nothing, which is still nothing.
  • The mystery of the Democrats new spine: Robert Parry: "One explanation for the Democrats’ turnabout is the rise of progressive media, most notably progressive AM talk radio which has expanded rapidly over the past several months. Finally, Democratic leaders can go on sympathetic radio shows and make their case directly to listeners. Before, Democrats almost always would find themselves speaking in unfriendly territory. Sometimes they would appear on conservative media, such as Fox News, or they’d face mainstream pundits eager to prove they weren’t liberal by being tougher on Democrats than Republicans, the likes of NBC’s Tim Russert." ConsortiumNews
  • The Oblivious Right -- Krugman: “Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record. What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns. The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II. The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.”
  • Christian Right Microsoft -- Microsoft pays creepy religious right robot Ralph Reed $20,000 a month retainer. Americablog
  • Bloggers and the Mainstream Media -- Juan Cole "The difference, Matt, is that we are independent actors, not part of a small set of multi-billion dollar corporations. The difference is that we are not under the constraints of making a 15% profit. The difference is that we are a distributed information system, whereas MSM is like a set of stand-alone mainframes. The difference is that we can say what we damn well please. If we were the mainstream media (perhaps better thought of as corporate media), we would care if you threatened to stop reading us. Because although we might be professional news people, we would have the misfortune to be working for corporations that are mainly be about making money. We would be ordered to try to avoid saying anything too controversial (and I don't mean 'Crossfire' controversial), because we would be calculating what would bring in 15% profits per annum on our operating capital. Would hours and hours of television 'reportage' and discussion of Michael Jackson or of Terri Schiavo or Scott Peterson (remember?) bring in viewers and advertising dollars? Then that is what we would be giving the public. Bread and circuses."

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