Monday, January 31, 2005

Fire! Metal!

My horoscope is getting weird:
There may be some serious miscommunication going on today, so make sure you are being honest in all your dealings with others, Cassie. Be as straightforward as possible, since issues can backfire if the truth is at all clouded. Trust and honesty are invaluable, and must be maintained at all times. Your emotions are running on high and you have the power to make lasting impressions on people today. Curb your tendency to snap at others and watch out for accidents involving fire or metal.


Now I'm going to be all paranoid of my gas fireplace.

Which, I guess, I should be all the time.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pravda?

The New York Times > Washington > Third Journalist Was Paid to Promote Bush Policies

From the article:
"The Bush administration acknowledged on Friday that it had paid a third conservative commentator, and at least two departments said they were conducting internal inquiries to see if other journalists were under government contract. The investigative arm of Congress also formally began an inquiry of its own."


From the Constitution, Article II, Section 4
"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."


Given that the president himself was not being bribed here, there may be some ambiguity. But participating in a bribe might qualify under "high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The payola scandal (and it should be just that, a scandal, lest anyone forget, YOUR tax dollars were being used to pay pundits to tell YOU what to think) is not the worst thing the Bush administration has done. But it needs to be publicized, dissected and people need to be punished.

Add to this that the pundits in question were paid to promote specific policies- No Child Left Behind (Williams), the marriage initiative to give tax breaks to married people (Gallagher) and in this case, most disturbingly, to promote a gay marriage ban that it seems the president never had any real intention of realizing (McManus)- and you have a truly contemptible, if not impeachable, offense.

What makes it bearable is watching right-wing pundits scramble to try to rationalize the whole thing.

From National Review Online, David Frum's Diary:
Was it wrong for the Department of Health and Human Services to pay an outside expert to summarize the state of research about marriage or to present that research in accessible ways? I think we’d all agree that the answer to that question is no, it was not wrong – provided that the work genuinely needed to be done (as it did in this case) and that the pay was reasonable (as it was).

Okay, then, was it wrong for that expert to write books, articles, and columns on her subject after she had earned her freelance fee from HHS? Unless it’s asserted that Gallagher’s $21,400 was supposed to support her for the rest of her life, the answer to that question also has to be no.


Uh . . . the assumption of how long the $21K was supposed to last her is pretty irrelevant. The point remains that she recieved $21,400 (A year's salary for a teacher, in many places) to provide credibility to a policy. This wasn't consultant work. This was PR. She didn't come in and advise the president on good marriage policy. She created consumer deliverables and made public appearances in defense of a partisan policy. She was not paid as a contributor. She was paid to sell this policy, and to use her "expertise" (please) like a celebrity endorsement. To sum up: if you are a "marriage expert" and a guy gives you $21,400 to talk about marriage policies, are you going to write brochures and other PR deliverables that rip apart the policies of the administration that's paying you?

Yeah, me neither.

Oh, and the Armstrong Williams case?

Check this out. The Free Republic doesn't blame Armstrong, they blame the government.
From Joseph Farah:
What is government doing using taxpayer dollars to buy influence with media people? With all the laws Williams may have broken, didn't the government officials involved break any? If not, how could that be? Is it legal for government officials to hand out taxpayer dollars to their friends as favors or rewards? Just exactly who were the people responsible for this decision? Have there been other examples of this kind of abuse of taxpayer dollars in this administration and previous ones?

These are the questions I want to see answered. And, maybe I've missed it in all the coverage, but why isn't anyone even asking these questions?


Fair enough, but there is not a single mention of Dubya's name in this one. I think we on the Left have a fairly good idea of who was signing those checks.

And of course, you can't have anyone pointing fingers at the Bush administration without some conservative telling you that it is somehow Clinton's fault.

From the National Review "Corner":
"The Clinton administration was probably even more active than the Bush administration" in distributing news segments promoting its policies, said Laurence Moskowitz, chairman and chief executive of Medialink, a major producer of promotional news segments. After the Government Accountability Office decision last spring, he said, his firm began advising government clients to disclose each tape's nature in its script.


"Probably," huh.

Once again, no proof needed, Bill lied about the fat chick (yeah, like what Republican has never lied about sleeping with a fat chick) so simply implicating him in the same crime that Bush and Co. are implicated in but with "probably even more" lies is all the Right needs to justify this kind of thing.

Off topic- my little foray onto the other side included a banner ad for "Other Singles," a personals site for conservatives. Wanna have some fun? Do a search for men 18 to 35 who are "very conservative" and consider themselves "very fashionable."

You might find a guy like "alphamale" who asks that you bear him an army of children.

Yikes.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday catblogging



This is the "cute" face. Like when she wants something.

Aljazeera.Net - British soldier regrets abuse silence

Aljazeera.Net - British soldier regrets abuse silence

Wow. This is something you won't see on CNN.

The Brits admit that detainees were treated in a matter that contradicts the Geneva Conventions.

What is it going to take for this administration to step up to the plate and do the same?

I know, I know, how charmingly idealistic of me to think that anyone in charge right now would admit a mistake if they'd stuck a fork in a socket and set their hair on fire.

They'd come up with something like "It was the right decision at the time."

By the by, this sounds familiar. From British Sergeant Tom Symon:

But he had not felt able to contradict an order from a higher officer. "In my own mind, I probably believed it was wrong, but who was I to say at the time? I was just doing what I was told," he said.


I'm reading Catch 22 right now, and I am beginning to understand the inherently paradoxical nature of military service. Despite this fellow's remorse, and his reservations about doing it, following orders is the No. 1 directive of the lower-ranking officer. Good and Evil doesn't enter into it- it's about obedience.

And what the hell was Cheney thinking? That Auschwitz had some kickass snowmobiling and he wouldn't have time to change after attending the ceremony before tearing it up on the trails?

In case you didn't see, here's the "look" that F-bomb was sporting at the Auschwitz anniversary ceremonies (this IS the kind of thing you find at CNN):


I've said it before, but even without the tawdry sex affairs, this administration has all the class of a Texas A&M kegger. Jesus Christ.

Catblogging to follow. Once my head stops reeling.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sitemeter is neat

So I got sitemeter to manage my web traffic, and it has been a most helpful little tool. For example, the searches most often resulting in a hit are the following:

yahoo: "condoleeza rice's boyfriend"
google: "laura bush's haircut"
google: "vespa, colorado"

I've gotten hits from the following domains:
usmc.mil
army.mil
halliburton.com
mit.edu
princeton.edu
yale.edu

By far the most popular time zone is Mountain/Central time in the US but central Europe is catching up and I seem to have one visitor from waaaaay out in New Zealand.

I usually don't take too much time on Vestal Vespa to talk about the blog itself, but I'm so pleased at the progress it has made this year. Thanks to everyone who has linked or been linked, for making it such a success!

And to all of those people who found me by looking for Condoleeza Rice's boyfriend or Laura Bush's hair or a Vespa dealership in Colorado, stick around. You might learn something.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Evolutionary news: 13 Democrats grow a spine

Well.

As pleased as I am that these folks- 13 of them in all- said a collective "No Dice, Dr. Rice," I'm still a wee bit pissed off by our more inexperienced Senators. Hello, Feingold and Obama, and HOLA, Ken Salazar?!?! How bad does someone have to be at their job before you call them out on it?

But I guess we'll be asking that question for oh, another four years or so.

Meantime, I'm pleased with Kerry, Boxer, et al. But I can already smell the GOP's answer to Senator Byrd's Vote. Let's see, it starts with a K, and ends with an, um, K. There's another K in there somewhere.

Funny how they used to be the ones that would say that WE race-bait?

I think what we have learned, and will continue to learn during the next four years, is that Rove's plan to play the race card and try to make these incompetent and really, in Gonzales' case, at least mildly evil, people unassailable by the Democrats will backfire. These people have a track record of spectacular failure and will continue to fail in spectacular ways. There has to be a point at which color stops entering into the equation.

At any rate- from the truly terrifying letters to the editor department:
I've recently seen several deluded letters calling President Bush a liar, simply because the liberal sheep can't remember that the President laid out fifteen, count them, fifteen seperate reasons why we should engage in Iraq. Perhaps a review of his speech of Sept. 15, 2001 would be in order, but most liberals can't distinguish the truth from lies, so perhaps it's a lost cause.

Let's see: Ted "the Swimmer" Kennedy bought his way out of a manslaughter conviction AND LIED ABOUT IT; Barbara Boxer is an obnoxious, lying bomb-thrower who finds it expedient to blatantly lie about her opponents; Joe Biden plagerized JFK during his one presidential attempt; Charles Schumer constantly lies about guns and who uses them; and there are countless others in the Democrat party who resort to falsehood and mendacity to forward their causes. Yet their followers numbly swallow everything the Dems say hook, line, and sinker, re-elect them, and never question what they are told. These are perfect candidates for a totalitarian society, because they don't have the sense to question anything their people say. Now, lying is a standard tool of many politicians on both sides. Fortunately, President Bush is not one of them, despite the ridiculous level of propaganda leveled against him..


A political party with the long-term reputation of bald-faced lies, the standard tool of the Democrats, should not be judging anyone else's honesty, since they have none, repeat NONE, themselves. And their followers, blind sheep all, should spend more time investigating their standard-bearers, so they don't continue to look like gullible chumps.


A stickler for honesty, for sure. Funny, do sheep know they are sheep?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Wayne Allard can jump up my butt

Wayne Allard- dumb as a sack of hair and twice as ugly.

I know Mr. Allard's pockets are lined by Focus on the Family money (you know, the group that thinks SpongeBob is swishifying our vulnerable youth) so he's just doing his duty here, but the truth of the matter is this: banning gay marriage will not make gay people go away, and it will not make the issue go away. Banning alcohol didn't make alcohol go away, banning black/white marriage did not make interracial couples go away and prohibiting women from voting did not make them stop trying. You cannot sustain a change in the Constitution that restricts the rights of a group.

The Constitution says nothing about gay marriage, of course, but it does say things about basic human rights. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (I know that's from the Declaration of Independence, but it is more or less expressed in similar terms in the Constitution). The Constitution says that marriage law is a state matter, not a federal one. And finally, the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of a minority in a Democracy, which by its very nature, is ruled by a majority. The Supreme Courts of Massachussets, Hawaii and Vermont don't magically morph into a clutch of "activist judges" when they approve of civil unions, they are simply interpreting the Constitution.

But Wayne will have an uphill battle in Colorado, I believe. While we are the state that passed Amendment 2 back in 1992, we have come a long way and we do have a Dem-controlled state legistlature. Additionally, libertarians in the state, as vehemently homophobic as some of them are (not all of them) are not huge fans of amending the Constitution to cut certain people out of certain rights.

And really, true Republicans shouldn't be too thrilled at the idea, either.

But let's face it- Bush has framed the debate in such a way that while he has ceded ground on the gay marriage issue, he's still got the Jesus Freaks on a short leash. How does he do it?
"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or another," Bush told reporters at a White House news conference. "And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that." October 2003


"On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America. Decisive and democratic action is needed, because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country." February 2004


"But in explaining the president's position, White House spokesman Scott McClellan insisted that while Bush backed the amendment, he would also support the rights of states to provide various partnership benefits, including civil unions. Though the news emphasis has been on the former, the practical consequences of the latter are huge."
March 2004


"In an interview on Sunday with Charles Gibson, an anchor of "Good Morning America" on ABC, Mr. Bush said, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." ABC, which broadcast part of the interview on Monday, is to broadcast the part about civil unions on Tuesday."
October 2004


"President Bush in his second term "absolutely" would push for a constitutional amendment that says marriage consists only of the union of a man and a woman, White House political adviser Karl Rove said.
Bush believes states can deal with the issue of civil unions between gay people, an arrangement that if enacted would grant same-sex partners most or all the rights available to married couples, Rove said on Fox News Sunday."
November 2004


So what does it mean if there is a ban on gay marriage, if they can still have state-sanctioned civil unions? It means that Bush has once again hoodwinked the religious right, hijacked their votes, and told them exactly what they want to hear knowing full well that he won't need to back his words with any deeds at all.

But what is, perhaps, most redeeming of this whole messy debate is that although the gay marriage vote is pretty much DOA, the religious groups who believe they have a mandate are all over the issue like Bush-- I mean, white-- on rice.

They're saying they won't back the Social Security "reform" unless Bush commits to banning gay marriage. There are two things wrong with this- first, they're basically saying they won't back one doomed issue unless another doomed issue is somehow un-doomed. Second, they're grossly, pathetically overestimating their clout within the administration.

In a confidential letter to Karl Rove, the anti-gay Arlington group wrote:
"Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue."


Again, their judgement of "public opinion" shows how little these people get out.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 60 percent of Americans support either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples

Monday, January 24, 2005

My very first troll

Being inexperienced, I first deleted his comments. Then, I thought, you know, in the interests of dialogue, I should really have left them in.

In response to my neuticles-for-your-vehicle post, he wrote:
I see...when you disagree with someone he/she is gross. You lefties are the true facists. No wonder you people keep losing elections.


And in response to my protest pictures post, he wrote:
These protesters who use and abuse the names of those killed in action by Islamofacist are doing nothing more but dishonoring them. These young men who you think your "standing up" for are actually the same as the people you scorn because they most likely voted conservative, live in a "red" state, believe in a god, and have traditional values. I remember many of us, while I was deployed to Iraq, laughed at these people.

I'm not going to feed the troll by engaging in any real back-and-forth here, but I thought these specimens should be preserved for posterity. Like putting them in my baby book or something.

Gross.

So, I come home from lunch and there's a big ass Ford 250 truck (early 80s vintage) in the parking lot next to my car. Lots of stars n stripes pinstriping, a flag moire film on the back window, flag air freshener . . . and something hanging off the trailer hitch.

I got closer, just out of morbid curiousity.

The truck had one of these charming little items hanging off the back.

I started today with a bad attitude towards men for a number of reasons. This didn't help things.

I mean, really. What kind of man feels the need to put testicles on his truck? No less, on his truck that already screams "I'm a jingoistic moron!" It's not like I have a uterus on the back of my car, or giant boobies on the front? Just what does a pair of plastic balls say about the owner of a vehicle?

So I walked back to my apartment stairs, shaking my head, wearing my "disgusted" face and this fat loser that lives downstairs is standing by his apartment door.

"Somethin' wrong with my truck?" he asks.

I roll my eyes and go upstairs. Yuck gross yuck. So know I know I live upstairs from possibly the ugliest American I've met so far. Hoo rah.

Nations Ranked as Protectors of the Environment

Index of Environmental Sustainability

Just a quickie today.

It looks like the nations who do a better job protecting the environment number 44 and include such stellar stewards of the Earth as Russia (Cherynoble, anyone?), Botswana and Japan (Japan!).

The full 2005 list is not yet online, but the 2002 listing is. Among those who do better than the US were:

Brazil
Colombia
Estonia
Peru
Laos
France
Ecuador

My point? Nations who utilize slash and burn to clear the rainforest, who use nuclear as their prime power source and nations who are still crawling out of third-world status via 40-year-old coal technologies do better than the United States.

My other point- if you have a look at the very bottom, you have nearly every OPEC member, the major oil-producing nations. Further evidence to suggest that oil is the least sustainable fuel upon which to build an economy.

Oops.

The list makes me think on a global scale, like each nation is a citizen of a city. Up at the top you have the clean-living yuppies like Finland and Norway who drive Volvos and support gay marriage and loose marijuana laws. Then you have the fat "I don't care" type countries like the U.S. and Germany who drive big trucks and sedans and eat a lot of sausage and potatoes. You still have the UK, smoking a pipe and declaring that the sun never sets! despite a rank of 91. Then you have the shifty, corrupt bad-neighborhood types at the very bottom, oil mafia gang leaders that live in the dirty part of town, the nations nobody talks to the kids about but the nations everyone has to deal with in order to get their "fix."

In other news, it looks like Bushie's got a tough row to hoe- even within his own party.


Until next time . . .

Friday, January 21, 2005

It's their party, and they'll make you cry if they want to

Some images from the inaugural, er, festivities



A very brave and admirable law enforcement officer takes down a Code Pink protester



Mandate, huh?



As if to say, "I might be in the cheap seats, Mr. Bush, but you lost Montana and Colorado," Kerry flicks the hat of the new, DEMOCRATIC Senator, Max Baucus.


Then came the pepper spray . . .


Which hurts like a mutha.

But to sum up:


These people are the reason I still love America.




In the immortal words of Nelson Muntz: "HA ha."

Boston.com / News / Nation / Mood dampened for conservatives

Aw. Poor conservatives. They didn't know that Bush was just saying he loved them so he could get some vote nooky. They feel so used, so dirty.

Newsflash folks- now that the election's over, there's no power or money in whether or not gays are allowed to be married. And we all know-- and now you know, fundies, that Bush is only going to be proactive about things that will reward him with power and money. And you thought you were electing a "man of God."

Men of God grow up in religious traditions. They use the Lord's words to guide their words and actions. They don't use Him as a substance abuse rehabilitation program, then co-opt Him for their own power plays.

Let this be a lesson to you- be more careful about the men you trust.

Friday catblogging



Black cat, orange chair- very Halloween . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2005

OK- insert preadolescent girly squeal here

I am going to interview David Sedaris!!

Freakin' weird

Today Pill Popping Mormon Mommy (my local readership knows of whom I speak) told me that Furniture Row was opening a new store in Dacono.
"I would love that!" she said.

"Mh hmh." I said.

"Someday you will, too!" she says. Yep, certainly, one day my wits will vacate my mind and take my sense of style with it and I will rejoice at the opening of a furniture store in Redneck Capital, USA.

"Mh hmh." I said.

Then it gets real weird.

"You need to find a rich man."

As my brain was exploding in tiny mushroom clouds in my skull, I calmly told her that I don't need a rich husband.

I've told her on many occasions that I am a liberal, non-Christian who doesn't really plan on getting married.

This does not work with PPMM's Vicodin-addled, brainwashed hamsterwheel brain.

Here are a few of the inanities she has said to me in the past:

Me: "I am not a Christian."
PPMM: "That's not TRUE! You're a nice person!"

Me: "Money isn't everything." (explaining that I've taken a pay cut to work here)
PPMM: "Yes it is."

Me: "I don't know that I'll ever get married."
PPMM: *stunned silence*

Me: "I am a liberal."
PPMM: "Everyone should be conservative. Then we would all be Republicans!"

Ugh. What I really should have said when she told me I need a rich husband:

"Why? So he can buy me a convertible?"

See, PPMM is the most impulsive buyer in the world. I have seen her buy cars and cemetery plots on a whim, and as soon as I take out the office supply catalog, she has to find something else to buy. She can't NOT spend money. But then, her husband is an arrogant, dismissive prick of a Victorian patriarch who treats her like a child, her gay son is clingy and whiny enough to make Paris Hilton look like Hillary Clinton and her daughter calls daily from a dreary, Exurban hell in Texas where she has no close friends, despite the fact that she did find the sought-after "rich man." PPMM herself is a raging hypochondriac whose Vicodin intake rivals Eminem and Rush Limbaugh combined. Her faith tells her that money buys happiness- you get into Rich People's heaven. The Book of Mormon says that the poor are unresourceful and lazy.

Friends, this is a subset of the Bush Voter species in action. Driven by capitalist zeal and religious fundamentalism, she can't conceive of a single woman who is just happy with her Saab, her career and herself- sans Rich Man.

Ugh.

Speaking of the convertible, I hear it's chilly in DC- all these rail-thin Florida and Texas matrons are shivering like Chihuahuas in their fox fur coats. Poor dears. I'll think of them today while I drive with the top down in the 70-degree record highs, blaring Hail to the Thief.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Empty Nests, and Hearts

David Brooks is a tool.

Ugh. This guy . . . I can't believe that he gets paid to tell women that we should hunker down and start breeding, or by the time we're 40 we'll be hollow shadows of humans, barely able to keep our heads above the gulf of "profound, self-encompassing sadness" that we have created for ourselves.

Who is he to say that kids=happiness? Who is he to say that having children absolves you from any kind of sadness in life? Who is he to say that the best way for women to lead their lives and avoid the desperation of "Empty Nests and Hearts" is to start squeezing them out at around 23, during our most "fertile years?"

Oh, that's right. He's the genius that came up with the idea that Exurbs (far-removed suburbs of cities) are actually hotbeds of cultural and spiritual growth.

In other words, David Brooks lives in Stepford America. Where all women are perfectly content to pop out babies, all men are happy to take middle-management jobs, and all lawns are kept neat and trip. Nobody ever beats their wives, or chokes back resentment for the lives they may have had . . . Nope, the Home Depot down the street and the Starbucks at every strip mall just makes everyone as pleased as punch just to be alive and shop at Wal Mart.

And they say that WE are the idealists?

If you will excuse the colloquialism, what a turd.

This just about says it all

From Allhatnocattle.net:


Plus, it's just funny to see Bush in pimpy clothes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam

Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam:
From Common Dreams, a speech by Martin Luther King.

This part gave me goosebumps:
"The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while, the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy, and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go."


And Bush would never know what this was like, because he was never there. So he will repeat history because he has learned none of its lessons.

Monday, January 17, 2005

From the "I'll believe it when I see it" department:

The New York Times > Washington > As Rice Prepares to Move Up, Diplomacy May Be on Rise, Too

There are a couple of reasons why Ms. Rice may be trying to paint herself as a true diplomat.

1. She is, for all her educational merit, very naive.
If she really believes that diplomacy in the traditional sense is possible in an administration that has been characterized with such colloquial gems as "bring it on" and "evildoers," she is sadly mistaken. Diplomacy is defined as a system of give and take, something of a negotiation. If she can somehow magically pull off the goal she has of redeeming the global opinion of the US, I will stand corrected, but I believe that restoring any international credibility within this administration will take nothing less than a political miracle. And I don't think that Rice is even close to competent enough to pull off that political miracle.

2. She is fed up with being the administration's lap dog, and wants to create her own legacy before she becomes yet another of their scapegoats as well.
This is probable. I think that for all the hysteria that went on a while back, speculating that she was romantically involved with the president or that she was really willing to take the fall for whatever they wanted her to fall for, may have been misguided. There is a possibility that Rice sees her future role as one in which she can climb out from under the 9/11 intelligence debacle and distance herself from the last four years of failure and incompetence.

This is a long shot. But if she can pull it off, the rewards are great. If she can somehow come out of the next four years as a rebuilder and uniter of the middle east, it would help to overshadow her failures pre-9/11 and put her more on par with women like Reno and Albright. Many Republicans have begun to distance themselves from the war, and unfortunately for Condi, she can't really do that except for creating a term as SOS that she can hope to be remembered for.

If Rice can make any steps toward creating a better global perception of the US and make any measurable gains in the Middle East, I will be as happy as the next girl. But if she does, she will have to overcome tremendous resistance not only in the world at large but within the administration we now have. She has already shown that she folds under pressure, so I will be interested to see if any of the goals expressed in this article will come to fruition.

Interesting site of the week

Western Union

You can still send a telegram via Western Union. It costs a rather gulp-inducing $15, but I just find it fascinating that they still exist.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Friday catblogging



She is after a bug here- can't remember what kind of bug.

The Lutherans take one small step for Christians, on Giant Leap for Christianity

The New York Times > National > Lutherans Recommend Tolerance on Gay Policy

Wow. Lutherans? Those staid, pasty Scandinavian types that I grew up with? Yeah, Lutherans.

Crazy stuff.

What I think is important here is not to show this as a "liberal" or "progressive" step, necessarily, but a step toward continuing to interpret Christ's words in a changing world. On NPR last night they spoke to one of the ministers involved- the name escapes me- and he said that the homosexuality the Bible preaches against is in the same pages that preach against sexual deviance, but that homosexuality as it is today should not be viewed in the same way.

Leviticus preaches against all dangerous behaviors- such as eating shellfish in the years before refrigeration. But homosexuality is now understood to not be a life choice, but an inborn trait that can, and does, lead to positive, lifelong, nourishing relationships. Just as we now know that not all shellfish will kill you, we know now that gay people are like us, only different.

There are, of course, people that will continue to reject these ideas. There always have been. But I hope it won't be be too long before they are pushed to the fringe and people like Rev. Payne will become the new Christian mainstream.

Until next time . .

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

One more

Check out God's blog. He's so omniscient.

Adventures in blogsurfing

Blogs worth reading:

A Soldier's Christmas Eve.

An Iraqi girl's day to day life.

That rare bird, the Texan Liberal (coincidentally, he lives in the same Dallas Burb as a high school friend of mine, home of the baseball team he works for, the RoughRiders or something like that.

A nice girl, a very opinionated aussie.

An incredibly philosophical scientist.

Blogs not really worth reading, remarkable only for the fact that they exist:

A site devoted to Air Purifiers.

A man who knits- and isn't afraid to say so.

A 13-year old who thinks he's cool (and lists "myself" as one of his "interests")

Your average Atrios Troll. His name is Jeremy and he thinks Sean Hannity and Halo are ROCKIN!

Gotta love that "next blog" button up there at the top. Give it a spin! Wheee!

Search for WMD ends, nobody cares

In the words of The Hives, we hate to say we told you so.

But watch the Ministry of Information spin this:
We acted on faulty intelligence(*cough-onpurpose-cough*).
The WMD were never important- we were after Saddam in the interests of the Iraqui oil! I mean, people!
Well, even if he didn't HAVE weapons of mass destruction, he was after them. He had "WMD" on his grocery list, right under Munchos, Despot Daily magazine and Diet Coke.

But none of this matters, not a bit. Finding weapons or not finding weapons was never important, because War was always going to be the end result. Bush was going to get his war, and in order to do so he had to play on the fears of the American public- the ones who were so afraid of another 9/11 (doesn't help that the terrorist attack color codes always jumped when Bush's approval rates were down) that they said fine. Invade Iraq. We're afraid of Brown people and you and your dad seem to be good at killing them.

The French have to deal with a lot- they have to come to terms with thier surrender to the Nazis, to their mishandling of Vietnam prior to America's intervention. We have not been kind to the French lately. However, I think very soon the handling of Iraq will become the same kind of tragedy as the mistakes of Old Europe's colonizing powers. This will be a blight on America's history forever.

On a light note, however, or rather, a sardonic and sarcastic note (as if you would expect anything else from me), I have decided that the cultural product that best exemplifies the megalomaniacal yet misguided nature of this administration is the 1990s cartoon, "Pinky and the Brain."



See, you have this really smart mouse with a serious Napoleonic complex and a really dumb mouse that he has to partner with because they are both trapped in the same cage. Remind you of anyone?

It's pretty dead-on except Pinky is a lot more loveable than Dubya.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Non-political post for the week

So. I saw Aviator over the weekend, and it was a good flick, but one thing made me wonder- why did the name "Faith Domergue" sound familiar? In the film there was this brunette teenage jail-bait actress who was apparently on Howard Hughes' payroll (and, simply put, occasionally on Howard, too) for a time, and the name rang a bell.

It turns out Faith was the female lead in "This Island Earth," which is, of course, the subject of ridicule in the MST3K movie.

Now I have to watch it again to see if they make any Howard Hughes references.

By the way, Cate Blanchette makes WAY too good a Kate Hepburn. It's eerie, in fact.

Kelli Garner plays Faith Domergue:

The real Faith:



The real Faith:

ABC News: Quiet Protest Planned for Inauguration

ABC News: Quiet Protest Planned for Inauguration

And if you can't make it to DC, here are a few ways you can protest the coron-*ahem* inauguration:

Buy nothing.

Put these on your blog/site.

A day of fasting.

If you've got a couple of sick days lying around, take the Peace Train (I will probably really be physically ill that day anyway- it remains to be seen whether I will be able to bring myself to work or not).

Run on vapors for the day- buy no gas.

Damn, I wish I could be in New Orleans for this.

And if all else fails, just go to work, buy your gas and stay in town, but please, wear black.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Foxblocker- the V-chip for people who have free will

FOXBlocker - Keep The Radical Right Out Your Home By Filtering Out FOX News!

This is too great. It actually filters the FOX news network off of your TV and when you order it, it sends an e-mail to Fox saying that yet another member of the viewing public won't put up with their righty crap.

As entertaining as the concept is, of course, the cute little gizmo won't keep FOX's message from reaching those who love it the most. Unless, we pull a Soros and have it installed on all television sets.

Right.

The concept will sell big but nothing will change. What really should be done is that cable should offer an a la carte channel list where you can vote with your cable money (with the Foxblocker, you're still paying for your cable, and still paying for a channel you won't get) and most ignorant people, who don't really watch or read the news anyway, won't get their brains washed by Rupert Murdoch because they'd rather check the box for Speed Network, CMT and TLC and learn about motorcycles and babies and makeovers.

My roomie is considering getting cable, which costs about $70 around here (one game in town, a total monopoly) but I'm trying to strike a deal with her where I'll pay for the phone bill but not the cable bill, and we'll both use each one. I can't stand most TV so it should work out just fine. I can't deal with paying for cable- it just feels wrong when most of what's on there is stuff I won't even watch.

But, the Foxblocker is interesting only in that it will be a hot seller if only for doing automatically what all thinking people should do voluntarily- skipping right over the biased bull that's slung on FOX. Now if only there was something that would play Simpsons snippets during Cialis commercials, plastic-surgery based reality shows and the President's TV appearances. That would be cool.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday catblogging (last minute)



Audrey loves this rug.

Born-again, still didn't get it right.

From Canadian cartoonist Cam Cardow (the image is too wide to post here).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I am Deb.

Deb
Deb



Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Yahoo! News - Dems Should Object Today

Yahoo! News - Dems Should Object Today

Or should they?

This is a tricky tricky moment. The stakes are high- but folding won't necessarily do us any good, either. On one hand, I don't want Dems to roll over on this. On the other, I don't want Rove to have a field day with anyone who actually steps up and says "There was fraud. This was a false election."

There are a number of ways in which challenging Ohio could help the Democrats. For one, it would show that they do, contrary to popular belief, have a spine. The evidence that the results are not clean are not just tinfoil hat ravings of a select few. They are documented realities that everyone should face- the elected officials, the makers of the voting machines, everyone. When democracy goes down, we all go down.

Just a few of many examples of voter fraud within and without Ohio (not from the most neutral sources I'll admit, but the mainstream media seems to be allergic to these allegations):
According to freepress.org:
Also in Franklin County, a worker at the Holiday Inn observed a team of 25 people who called themselves the "Texas Strike Force" using payphones to make intimidating calls to likely voters, targeting people recently in the prison system. The "Texas Strike Force" members paid their way to Ohio, but their hotel accommodations were paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, whose headquarters is across the street. The hotel worker heard one caller threaten a likely voter with being reported to the FBI and returning to jail if he voted. Another hotel worker called the police, who came but did nothing.


From Mother Jones:
In recent years, central Ohio has been transformed from a bastion of Republicanism into a Democratic stronghold. Six of Columbus' seven city council members are Democrats, as is the city's mayor, Michael Coleman. But no Democrat has been elected to Congress from central Ohio in more than 20 years, and the area around Columbus still includes pockets where no Democrat stands a chance. One such Republican pocket is Upper Arlington, the Columbus suburb that is home to Walden "Wally" O'Dell, the chairman of the board and chief executive of Diebold. For years, O'Dell has given generously to Republican candidates. Last September, he held a packed $1,000-per-head GOP fundraiser at his 10,800-square-foot mansion. He has been feted as a guest at President Bush's Texas ranch, joining a cadre of "Pioneers and Rangers" who have pledged to raise more than $100,000 for the Bush reelection campaign. Most memorably, O'Dell last fall penned a letter pledging his commitment "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President."


From WorldNetDaily:
An as yet unidentified number of Washington state's military personnel serving overseas did not receive their ballots in time to vote. Several are documented in Robert Jamieson's column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ("In the military, out of the ballot loop," Dec. 29, 2004). As Mr. Jamieson states, "If a man or woman is willing to take a bullet for the country, his or her vote ought to count. Period."

The list of dirty tricks should repulse everyone, no matter the political inclination. The "Texas Strike Force" alone should motivate everyone (I'm looking at you, Republicans with any sense of decency) to say "we know that the results won't change, but let's at least have a look at this, for the sake of all voters. We want our victory to be a clean one, and to prove once and for all that George W. Bush is the choice of the people, not of a few zealots, cheaters and voting machine manufacturers."


I'm not holding my breath. But it may be worthwhile to send a letter to a Senator or two.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Resolution time

Ok, enough whining. This is a new year, with plenty of opportunities to make the world a better place.

So, it's time to really think about the next year and how I will live it.

First of all, I think my first resolution is to be the most responsible consumer I can be. This means a lot of research and a lot of thrift shopping and e-baying but it also means that I'll probably save money. Once you cut sweatshops out of your life, you accumulate less cheap crap.

Second, I will try to think locally more. This next election could prove to be very important, and I think that I will try to live more by the old adage: "All politics are local."

Third: I will not let the bastards get me down. I think I'm suffering from a bit of outrage fatigue. I think that thinking more in terms of local politics may help me with this but moreover, I think I need to start thinking positively. This is not the end of the world. We got through Nixon, hell, we got through Hitler, we can get through this. It is the responsibility of humanity to be more resolute than its leaders when its leaders have their heads up their asses.

Anywho- it's a beautiful snowy day here in CO, one of those where I'd really just rather be at home hibernating with the cat. Thinking positively: soon it will be Spring and I will be on a plane to NYC!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

New year, new look

Longs peak in the background, calming BLUEs to keep us all in a tranquil mood.

House Republicans realize true meaning of "moral values"

The New York Times > Washington > House G.O.P. Voids Rule It Adopted Shielding Leader

Well, that's good. I'm seeing a trend-

Paltry tsunami relief + anger from the world= 350 million in tsunami relief

Unethical DeLay law + public outcry = overturning of the DeLay law

Let's keep it up, people.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The year in review

Okay, folks. It's been a big year for all of us: let's turn to Google News to run through the happenings:

January:

Bush gives a State of the Union Address:
Americans are proving once again to be the hardest working people in the world. The American economy is growing stronger. The tax relief you passed is working.


And by "working" we mean "putting us into the second Great Depression, only this time we don't have Woody Guthrie to get us through it."

Condi Rice finally admits that the reports of Iraq's WMD were somewhat exaggerated. And yet, she still remains on the party line:
"With Saddam Hussein, we were dealing with somebody who had used weapons of mass destruction, who had attacked his neighbours twice, who was allowing terrorists to run in his country and was funding terrorists outside of his country," Ms Rice told CBS news.


Good girl. You get a treat . . . and a promotion!

Now stop humping the president's leg. Good girl.

Casualties in Iraq continue to climb. Mission accomplished?

February:


The president
calls for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:
"A county in New Mexico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. And unless action is taken, we can expect more arbitrary court decisions, more litigation, more defiance of the law by local officials, all of which adds to uncertainty."


And you simply cannot have uncertainty. This brings to mind the rambling prophet from "The Life of Brian:"
There shall in that time be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia-work base, that has an attachment. At that time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock.


We all know how Red voters hate to be confused. 'Specially when it comes to those gay folk. But honestly, the man's had 4 years to try and put this into law. If he hasn't yet, he's not going to. Memo to voters who showed up because you hate gays: You just got dogged.

March:

In a truly "let them eat cake moment," the president suggests that the answer to joblessness is . . . wait for it . . . community college!
"And so long as the community college has got able leadership, like educational entrepreneurs like Lucille, and are willing to be flexible, you can actually match people with the skills needed to work in the new jobs of the 21st century. Listen, our economy is changing. We're a productive work force. And some people need to be retrained in order to be productive workers. And the community college is a great place to do so."


Yeah- all of you electrical engineers who have been outsourced to India? Guess what? You can take a stenography or welding class at your local VoTech and it will all be wine and roses once more!

In Madrid, a bomb rips apart four commuter trains in an apparent terrorist attack. The attack is the most horrendous attack on a Western nation since 9/11. Condoleeza tells us that this is a "skirmish" in the war on terror. Those of us who can think for ourselves realize a sad fact: the war has nothing to do with terrorism.

April:

The 9/11 commission meets with the president. His answer to everything: None of your goddamned business.

May:

Rumblings begin about a Palme D'Or-winning film, which paints a none-too flattering picture of the Prez. Disney decides it's too hot for them, but the beauty part of the film industry is that there are plenty of angry liberals out on the Left coast. And so, Fahrenheit 9/11 is born.

Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller resigns the day after Poland becomes a member of the European Union. His government was the most unpopular of the nine that have ruled Poland since the fall of the communist regime in 1989. (Added so I can't be accused of forgetting Poland).

Joke: What do you call the over 75 percent of Polish residents who desire a full military pull-out from Iraq?

Answer: Exit Poles.

(From Wikipedia) In an open letter to George W. Bush more than 50 former high-ranking United States diplomats (including former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and Qatar) complain about the Bush administration's policy towards the Middle East claiming that the President's approach, and specifically his endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, is losing the U.S. "credibility, prestige and friends."

Suggested Hed: Bush to seasoned diplomats: "Eat Me."

June:

Fahrenheit 9/11 breaks the record for highest opening-weekend earnings in the United States for a documentary, earning US$23.9 million.

The thing I remember about going and seeing the movie was the fact that they had armed cops at the exits. The Patriot act in action.

Female Wal-Mart workers sign a class action discrimination suit against their employer.

Tell me again why anyone shops there?

July:

The Vatican denounces feminism, citing claims that it "blurs differences between men and women and threatens the institution of the traditional family of one man and one woman," stating that the drive for equality makes "homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality".

In this century. Just so you know.

August:

Canada's Federal justice minister Irwin Cotler announces that the federal government will no longer resist court proceedings aiming to require provincial governments to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

And then all of Canada's hetero couples get divorced and start marrying their cats and Toronto goes up in the flames of God's Wrath. Or not.

September:

Bush is spanked handily by challenger John Kerry in the first of three debates. Not like it matters. The American voter harbors a deep and abiding hatred toward people who are good at debates. Ask any junior-high debate champ.

Hurricane Ivan rips through the South. Bush gives Florida 3 billion in aid. His official statement: "who's your daddy?"

October:

Osama Bin Laden appears on a videotape on Arabic TV, once again taunting the president and threatening attacks. In his statement he says:
"We have not found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half of which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents."


You know, those idiots with the "9 out of 10 terrorists agree: anybody but Bush" T-shirts need a good swift kick to the face. Bin Laden doesn't "hate our freedom," he hates oppression. Wrap your fundie brains around that one, nutjobs.

And for some reason, this transcript didn't wind up on American TV?


November:

The election. I'm not going to say the man stole the election, but with friends like these and the gay marriage issue on the ballot in 11 states, I'm not going to say it was a clean race, either.

On the upside, Democrats gain some ground in my home state of Colorado, giving us the first Democratically-controlled state legislature in 44 years. The Republicans may have forgotten one of the primary tenets in politics: all politics are local. And if you lose a state that you've owned since the Kennedy era, you're in trouble.

Arafat dies. Bush looks at his death as an opportunity for peace. And like all opportunities for peace, he will happily ignore it.

December:

Rumsfeld dismisses the query of a soldier on the subject of armored vehicles, saying that "You go to war with the army you have, not the one you want."

Showing once again that if you poke anyone in this administration in the ribs with a hard question, they will basically tell you to go fuck yourself.

He then orders court-martials six soldiers seen pirating armor from destroyed Army vehicles. And a Merry Christmas to you too, SecDef.

Time Magazine names Bush "Person of the Year."



What a year. I'm glad to see it go.



Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sign of the future?

Japan is giving over 500 million dollars in aid money

While I'm pleased that the collective outrage of the international community has caused the Bush administration to go from $400,000 of initial aid to a pathetic $4 million to a still-pathetic $15 million, to $35 million and now, to (according to some) $450 million, I am intrigued by Japan's offer.

First of all, that $450 million of American aid is basically in lines of credit and IOUs. It's not like the US treasury just *has* that kind of money lying around earmarked for foreign national disasters. And yes, we are deploying Naval resources and troops to help out, which is great, but in the end the money is more or less imaginary. The US economy is hurting, while the Asian economy (despite tsunami-related setbacks) is recovering.

Yes, Japan is closer to the disaster, and the whole incident presents a very good opportunity mend Sino-Japanese relations (which have lately begun to crumble again). But I'm wondering if the Japanese economy is showing the early signs of emerging as one of the world's strongest.

Someone on Atrios posited that America is at a period of post-imperialistic decline. Like the great imperial powers of the past, (especially the ones Bush and his crew like to refer to as "old Europe") including Italy, Austrio-Hungary, Rome, England, France and others, we are at the point where we have definitively overreached and will now recede into a decline where nobody will care about being a superpower anymore and we will have to learn to be a part of the world again.

I hope this is true. I look forward to a world without superpowers. Although I wonder if once we're safely mired in budget crises and internal struggles if China, India and Japan will come to dominate us all.

There are several wild cards here, and I'm no economist, but the fact that oil will run out sometime in the 2040s or so (according to some estimates) is something to be considered. If you subscribe to the theory that the Iraq war and the whispers of another in Iran are just a very haphazard oil-grab, it certainly begs the question: Is it really the best plan to cling to a finite energy source and divert all of one's national military resources to protecting it? And also, what is the rest of the world doing to deal with the coming petroleum crisis while we are preoccupied in this way?

I tend to think that our efforts in Iraq and Iran will be thwarted in one way or another- probably by our own incompetence and tendency to operate on wild assumptions (they will greet us as liberators with parades and flowers!). But no empire has ever gone down quietly. Many more people will die before we convalesce into our new status as citizen-state rather than superpower.

But in a sense, I've become more of a big-picture thinker as a result of this election. We went to the museum yesterday and saw at traveling exhibit from the Cairo Museum an exhibit on the evolution of the pre-historic world. Egyptians once ruled the known world. Wyoming once had palm trees. Things change. Humanity has survived pogroms, lapses into ignorance and darkness, empires, disasters, despots, wars and plagues. We can certainly survive this.