Occasionally, there's good news -- HOLIDAY EDITION!

Since I'm sure your head is as close to exploding as mine is with the recent news that King George has declared himself above the law without batting an eyelash, I figured now's as good a time as any to point you to a blog I've added recently to my blogroll called Rose Colored News. Their tagline says it all: "good news for progressives about politics, the environment, health, and more". As I've said, I'm an optimist by nature, so I don't do the "glass is half empty" gig very well. But I figure whether you're like me or not, we can all use regular doses of good news about battles/skirmishes we're actually winning in these dark days, when it seems like so much of the world is on the Hellbound Express.

Today's good news? Deforestation rates have decreased in the Amazon.

Oh, and in case I don't update again before, oh, June or whatever (considering my recent track record), Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzaaRamadanTetSolsticeSaturnaliaRegularDay*, everyone!

(* Those "Save Merry Christmas" dumbshits can go fuck themselves. Ho ho ho, assholes.)


Glad I partied on Friday

'Cause I knew they wouldn't waste any time making me want to puke all over again.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

I posted a quick little background on Scalito first thing this morning but of course throughout the day, I learned just how bad this horrorshow really is. It's bad. Really, really bad. Between the Frothing Freepers who're anxious for a throwdown in the Supreme Court confirmation battles and Alito doing a photo FUCKING op in front of Rosa Parks' coffin*...I'm worn out by the depth of depravity involved.

I woke up to "Breaking News" that Bush had nominated Alito, then was treated to Scalia's Mini-Me, escorted by Frist (or was that Hatch? honestly, I've tried to block out the entire memory) traipsing up to the cordoned-off pathway around her coffin, lying in state. They chatted like they were on their way to lunch, waiting in line for a table or something. Not attending a solemn pilgrimage to honor a woman worthy of their respect and reverence. I went downstairs to get ready for work with my stomach churning, bile sitting high in my throat. It was all downhill from there.

And as I said, the details flowed in all day, and that bile just rose higher and higher. He's against Family Leave. Against Racial Equality. Against Disability Equality. And against many, many other basic rights and freedoms.

And of course -- of course -- he's against the right of a woman to control her own body. It's not just the fact of it, but the breadth to which he believes that women are little more than property that's so mind-bogglingly terrifying. Think I'm exaggerating about that property thing? Then you explain to me why he voted that women should have to nofty their husbands before getting an abortion.

And don't give me that old saw about how it's "his baby, too". We're not talking about situations where people are happily married, here. The very fact that a woman might be reluctant to tell her husband that she's pregnant should clue you into that. The idea that she would have to, in effect, get his permission before terminating the pregnancy...you name me any other medical procedure where this is a requirement for a healthy adult in full control of their faculties. I can guaran-goddamn-tee you that if any man had to ask his wife's permision before getting a vasectomy, or viagra, or any other penis-centric procedure...well, that Supreme Court would be overflowing with liberals who believe a person has a right to control their own body.

But that's what this is all about, isn't it? The penis, I mean. Those who possess them have fundamental rights that cannot be taken away. (Unless, of course, you're non-white, and then all bets are off.) Not fortunate enough to be gifted with the special endowment of a penis? Well, them's the breaks, lil' miss. Guess you'd better hope you find a kind and gentle penis-possessing master who doesn't knock you around too much. 'Course, he might knock you up every chance he gets, but then, that's your whole purpose, right?

Mark this date on your computer, ladies. This is the beginning of the end of our first-class citizenship. It was a good thing while we had it. I hope maybe someday our daughters' daughters will know the freedom we tasted oh so briefly.


Wondering who this Samuel Alito fellow is and just how scary he is (because you know he has to be if he's nominated by Bush, even if you don't know anything about him)? Dark Christianity, an LJ community that tracks the Dominionist Christianity movement, has the goods. The gist: be afraid, be very afraid.

The man they call "Scalito". Oy.


Guessing Fitzgerald's Game Plan

Gadfly over at the Booman Tribune has some insight into yesterday's events and what they maytell us about future proceedings.

In short: no one at the White House, especially Darth Cheney, should breathe a sigh of relief just yet.


Happy Fitzmas!

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Vice-President's right hand man -- or, as several pundits have said repeatedly today, "Cheney's Cheney" (vomit) -- has been charged by Patrick Fitzgerald for all kinds of crazy hijinks. Five counts -- 1 count of Obstruction of Justice, 2 counts of Perjury, 2 counts of Making False Statements. Oh, that Scooter, what a rascal, what a scamp. What does the "I" in "I. Lewis Libby" stand for? "Indicted, bee-yotch!"

Ha ha I kill me.

But seriously folks. First time since the Grant Administration that a sitting White House official has been indicted. I'll save you the Wikipedia lookup...that's 130 years. In other words, first time in well over a century that a serving member of the White House has been busted for wrongdoing while in office, and that includes the Nixon Administration, people. Couldn't happen to a more deserving administration.

Wonder if he'll plead out or risk a trial. Neither option probably seems particularly appetizing, considering he'll have to hand someone juicier over in exchange for a plea -- this being a felony, after all, and the sentencing guidelines for this particular crime being especially high bars to clear -- and any trial will require calling Rove, Bolton, Hadley, and yes, Cheney, to testify under oath and causing a lot of embarrassing questions this Administration doesn't want asked to be asked. Including the Big Kahona, the Brass Ring, the Ultimate Prize: the casus belli for the Iraq War. I've already heard the questions being asked by the MSM in the last couple of days, which just goes to show that even lazy journalists can put two and two together eventually.

As for Rove...well. Like everyone, I had hoped to his name one the paper from Fitzgerald today, too, but I've decided Fitzmas is more like Hanukkah than Christmas...as Adam Sandler once sang, "instead of one day of presents, we get eight cra-azy nights!" It appears this investigation will be the gift that keeps on giving, as Rove remains under investigation. That has all kinds of delectable possibilities. (Including that he's possibly already reached a plea agreement late last night and it just hasn't been announced yet. On the delectability scale, this is lower down the list, but it does raise possibilities of its own.)

Oh, we've been good girls and boys and our stockings are chock full this year. Jeebus bless us, every one.


George Clooney: Heartthrob. Activist. Dragonslayer?

Ever since Three Kings, George Clooney has had a special little place in my heart. Today, that place just quadrupled:

"(Ann Coulter) did something to me which I would never do to her, which is question her masculinity."

Oh, how this makes me laugh. I heart you, Mr. Clooney.



Sometimes guilt can do good things.

Global Rich List


It's not February, and yet it feels like it's my birthday

Eight months ago -- the day before my birthday, in fact -- I quoted a commenter on another blog:

"Take heart. All empires contain the seed of their own undoing. The arrogance of this administration is that seed."
Well, reserve that keg and order some party platters, kids, because Festivus has come early this year and the party? It's gonna be epic, man. A sneak preview:
Kevin Drum predicted some of these, oh, about a year ago, as well as some I haven't listed here, and many, many more that are on their way. The world may be going straight to Hell in a Bottomless Handbasket, but at least we'll get some live entertainment along the way.

[*ThinkProgress has an excellent summary of all the players in the WHIG (White House Iraq Group), including their role in the whole sorry mess, what they've said on the record, and how they fit into Fitzgerald's investigation.]


What I've been up to

Have been busy getting ready for this, and will be occupado all weekend. Our little activist group is doing a poster presentation at the conference on one of our major projects, Export the Oregon Vote. Read all about it, and if you're in the Portland area, check us out at the conference.


Buy your ice skates now...

...because hell is about to freeze over:


I have a sudden powerful urge to do the Snoopy Happy Dance....


What was that seventh plague, again?*

Well, I'm still not any closer to getting my Katrina post(s) up and already, a bigger and badder hurricane is set to swoop down on a section of the Gulf and swallow it up whole.

I guess we can hope that at least some good will come from the Katrina nightmare and that everyone will take Mother Nature seriously this time.

God, let us have learned our lesson this time.

*reference here


"Their people"

Via slacktivist comes this incredible post from Big Monkey, Helpy Chalk, who interviewed the infamous mayor of Gretna, Louisiana about his decision to force people fleeing New Orleans back across the bridge, away from rescue and salvation. It's...wow. Just wow.

I think Big Monkey's take on it is the right one. From the mayor's perspective, what he did was the right thing, but as Big Monkey notes midway through, the way he words it is very telling. And slacktivist's own perspective expands on it further, on the idea that there's always room.

I think this is one of my fundamental problems with so many people I disagree with on the other side. And I'm not really talking politically, but morally, or spiritually, or...well something. Although it is interesting how much those things line up with political alignments these days. But anyway, this idea that there's always room, it's one that's as much a part of me as my eye color. And I thought for the longest time it was that way for everyone, but of course I realized it wasn't.

Which I think is why we have such a hard time overcoming that divide, because there are people on "the other side" who can't see past the bridge to the people beyond. To them, taking care of "their people" is the point, which of course misses the point..."their people" are all people. But so many of them just can't seem to see it.


The Working Society

Okay, so y’all know John Edwards was my guy during the last election. I can’t remember if I told you the whole story about why, but it boils down to the first time I heard him give his “Two Americas” speech way back in the Fall of 2003. And I still think he’ll be President some day.

Well anyway. I’m still on his mailing list and today, I received the email about his latest speech, “The Working Society”. I don’t know, maybe it’s what I needed right now, because I’ve been feeling a little low and pessimistic about the future. Or maybe I’m still hoping to find that candidate that’s going to be the bright shining star during the next election and I think he’s the one (I mean, I am and I do, but it’s entirely possible I’m not entirely realistic about his chances). But whatever the reason, it’s...well, it’s good. Really, really good. Like I’m finding again that optimism that I felt the first time I heard him speak. No, not just that, but the optimism that led me to support Gore not just in 2000, but waaaaay back in 1988, when I stumped for him the first time. In Wyoming. In high school. God, I was such a dork.

So anyway, read it. Seriously. Like now. Not only does he not run away from liberal ideas, he embraces them. Hell, he proposes new ones. Not just rhetoric and vague talking points, but actual, honest-to-god ideas and proposals and solutions. It’s too early to know if he can sustain this kind of proaction and lead the candidate field in the next couple of years, and who knows what other candidates might emerge between now and then, but for the time being...well, I'm hopeful.

Pest Control

Via Sisyphus Shrugged, we learn that tons of MREs donated by the British government to feed hungry victims of Katrina...are set to be incinerated in a big bonfire salute to the monumental evil of this Administration. That's right -- our government has decided that they'd rather put the match to tons of much-needed food generously donated by another country at its own expense rather than pass it on to the folks it was intended for, the people who have little or no access to the most basic needs of daily survival and who're entirely dependent on us to feed them.

At some point, you've got to stop thinking this is colossal incompetence. Nobody, not even the High Holy Asshats of this Administration are so fundamentally stupid on this large of a scale. This is deliberate. Everything -- everything -- this Administration has done since those first reports of Katrina's looming potential has been to actively, deliberately, purposely leave these people to die. "If the storm doesn't get 'em, the flood waters surely will, and if that doesn't, then perhaps leaving them out in the hot sun with no food or water for days will do it. And if that doesn't work, well, there's a million other ways to squish out the remaining stragglers like the bugs they are." I'm not saying they've actively planned this (at least, not at first), but in the end, does it really matter? Considering the result, the line between Conspiratorial Evil and Stunning Indifference pretty much vanishes, don't you think?

UPDATE: Yeah, read this and then convince me I'm wrong that this entire clusterfuck was deliberate.


Fuck it -- I'm back

Yes, kids... I've dusted out the corners of this poor neglected blog and shined a little daylight in. My spare time has gotten increasingly short since, oh, about May, and I've had to set aside many of my ongoing projects including this blog. Not for lack of wanting to write about the fifty-three bajillion ways my head has exploded on a daily basis, but you know how it is.

And then Katrina happened, and I descended into a funk of Gaussian proportions (I don't really know what that means, except it sounds pretty fucking horrible, right?) and turned to the blog to write about the High Holy Asshats and their Fucked-Up Passion Play of Depraved Indifference. Every day in that first week, I added dozens of must-read links to my draft and wrote pages and pages of written screaming and anger and blah-de-blah-blah. This draft-not-yet-posted-post has become downright epic in both scope and size and it's still sitting on my desktop, waiting for me to wade into the midst of it with three weeks of perspective and the slow burning inferno of primal rage to make some kind of sense of it.

Well, my life isn't looking to calm down anytime in the near future and at this rate, the thing's never going to be posted and if I keep waiting until it is to update this blog, it's going to continue to gather dust and be of no use to anyone. Just now, literally minutes ago, I just said to myself, "fuck it, time to start posting again."

So...I'm back, bitches. And I'm more pissed off than ever.


It happens again

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by today's bombings in London. I wish I had something more profound to say, but I'm utterly saddened by today's events and the ongoing realization that as long as we're fighting wars of arrogant hegemony instead of pursuing the terrorists who would do this to innocent people, we leave ourselves vulnerable to attacks like these.

May we find peace and wisdom soon.


Bush is approaching 30%, must be time to heat up the culture war

We interrupt our irregularly unscheduled break in posting to bring you a moment of wit and wisdom:

No one... I repeat, no one ever died for a flag. They may have died for freedom, which, by the way, includes... the freedom... to burn the fucking flag."- Bill Hicks

Also? If Bill Hicks were still alive, he'd say, "Shut your fucking pie hole, O'Reilly."

[The aforementioned follow-up promised in the previous post will be coming soon.]


“Here’s what you said, and here’s what you did. You were wrong. Apologize.”

Go. Read. Now. Seriously.

d r i f t g l a s s: This from Mr. Gilliard

[The reply to the "Willful Blindness" section is what I'm referring to here.]

My commentary to follow once you've completed your assignment.


I'm not a person, I'm a baby machine

The next time some right-wing freeper asshole gets all up in my face about us supposed baby-killing lefties who want nothing but an orgy of abortions, I'm going to print this story out and stuff it down his fucking piehole.

Barbarism in Texas

They're just not going to be happy until this country becomes The Handmaid's Tale in living fucking color. Goddamn fucking assholes.

I hate this country sometimes, I really do. Yeah, I said it.


"It measures everything...except that which makes life worthwhile"

One of my all-time favorite speech excerpts, and something I wish I could carry around on a big sign and plant in random places for everyone to see.

Robert F. Kennedy on what GNP means:

Below is a quote from Bobby Kennedy on what the Gross National Product means and more importantly what it does not mean. He would have a made a fine economist...

'Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

'Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.'

Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968

(Thanks to Nick Beaudrot, guesting over and Politics and War, for the reminder.)


Gettin' out while the gettin's good

A thought occurred to me recently while I was on my way home from work. There was a news report on the radio -- one of several I've heard recently -- about gas prices going up and how SUV sales are down. I've also been reading Kevin Drum's series about Peak Oil* so this had been on my mind already. Ironically (or not), I was surrounded on all sides but one by SUVs while I when this news report came on, and not the ones that are more like station wagons (Outback, CRV, etc.), either. These were the big behemoths, a Suburban (or as some online wit recently dubbed it, the Subdivision), a Navigator, and two Excursions.

Anyway, with the inevitable rise of gas prices as we reach/have reached Peak Oil, and the consequent consumer turn toward more fuel-efficient vehicles, it occurred to me that at some point, SUVs are going to be impossible to get rid of. Suppose for example that the Suburban driver I noted above decides it just costs too much to run that vehicle and decides to buy a Prius instead. He sells the Suburban, and because they're still pretty popular, it sells pretty fast and he gets what he wants out of it. A few years go by, gas prices have climbed above $4/gal. (and I'm being optimistic), and our second owner has decided it's just too expensive, he's selling it. Except by that point, most everyone has already decided the same thing. He gets hardly anything for it, or is unable to unload it entirely and left holding the bag, so to speak. It's like musical chairs, except in this version, lots and lots of people are still standing when the music stops.

That, I think, will be an unexpected and unpleasant consequence of the SUV craze. It may not happen on the timeline I've laid out -- the Suburban might change hands a couple of times more -- but it will happen, I think. If I had one, I would definitely get rid of my SUV in the next couple of years.

*The rest of the Peak Oil series is here, here, and here. UPDATE: and here.


The answer to that question you keep asking

When the talk turns political with friends and family, the question "how did the [Republicans] do this?" inevitably comes up. iThe answer, at least in my opinion, is complicated if you're not a regular blog reader, if only because it takes so much continual reading about the situation, the background, the repeated abuses of power, etc. etc. to explain that I don't even know where to start.

Thankfully, the respected Jim Vanderhai has boiled it down succintly and cuts right to the gist of the problem. This is a must read, folks:

GOP Tilting Balance Of Power to the Right

(thanks to Ezra for the tip)


Is your God so weak He needs the support of the government?

My response to the following question asked by a Canadian regarding the current fad for injecting Christianity into our governmental life (question and response originally posted in the forum where the topic first came up):

"Was not the US founded on the belief of the separation of Church and State? More and more it seems as if certain people want to reverse this."

There's no "seems" about it. Certain people are working actively to reverse it.

These certain people point to the fact that the phrase "separation of church and state" never actually appears in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. For that matter, however, neither does the word "God".

What does appear in the Constitution is the phrase "no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" and the phrase "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" is in the First Amendment.

The phrase "separation of church and state" is a term coined by Jefferson in his letter to a Baptist congregation that expressed concern over a rumor that another denomination (Congregationalists) was going to be established as the national church. His letter affirmed the fundamental right expressly given in the First Amendment.

What the fundies fail to grasp when they make their arguments about this being a Christian nation and all that other nonsensical claptrap is that freedom OF religion also means freedom FROM religion. But unfortunately, they seem to be as well acquainted with what the Consitution actually says as they are with what the Bible actually says, which is to say not at all.


Social Security and Generation X

So the Democrats are winning on the Social Security issue, which is good news. It's a non-starter for Republicans, Bush's dogged persistence in campaigning about it notwithstanding. So perhaps these thoughts aren't very timely, maybe even moot at this point. But they're on my mind so here goes.

I've been thinking a lot lately about a conversation I had a few months ago with a good friend. She's a progressive, but I think she'd agree she's financially conservative. Which is to say that although she supports and understands the need for social programs, she admits there's an inner struggle everytime she notes the withholding on her paycheck.

This is, I think, understandable and could be the Democrats' possible undoing on the issue of Social Security. I admit I also have that moment of despair when I mentally calculate the percentage the withholding takes from my paycheck and think about that brake job the Subaru needs and the huge repair job we need done on the back of the house to address the carpenter ant damage. I lay awake at night wondering how we're going to get this thing taken care of or pay for that much-needed thing, nevermind the debt that we're trying desperately to get out from under before the whole economy comes crashing down 'round our heads.

It's not that either my friend or I begrudge people the help they get through social programs -- we don't. We both know from experience what it was like when our parents couldn't make ends meet. We believe in the importance of these programs. We both manage okay and want for little, but that doesn't mean it was always that way. We might grumble a few choice words about the freeloaders gaming the system who always seem to make the news, we're intelligent and logical and know that these bad apples are hardly representative of the vast majority of people who are helped by social programs.

So why the concern? Because Republicans are targetting young professionals like us when they talk about private personal whatever retirement accounts. The fact is, it is painful. Neither of us can afford the money that's taken out of our paychecks, and I'm not talking about "afford" as in "because I need that 42 in. plasma screen". Perhaps I feel the pinch moreso than she does, if only because my husband and I are renovating an old house, but neither of us are jetting off to Europe anytime soon. From this perspective it's hard to see Social Security as the social insurance it actually is instead of the social welfare the Republicans make it out to be.

Thanks to the wealth of information about Social Security that can be found online*, I'm happy to say that I get why the Republicans are wrong, wrong, wrong on this issue. I get why Social Security is one of the most revolutionary and remarkable programs ever created and why there is no crisis. But I didn't always get it. And my good friend, progressive and intelligent and logical as she is, is as susceptible to the arguments the Republicans are making as I was.

So, while we may be winning this argument in the here and now, I'm not convinced the Republicans haven't succeeded in planting that seed of doubt in my generation's collective mind. I'm hopeful that as they learn more about it, as they see how Social Security benefits their grandparents and parents, and as they see that the big doom and gloom that's forecast by Bush et. al. can only come about if we let Bush et. al. continue to do as they have been, that the only thing wrong with the system are the people currently in charge. But now's the time for the Democrats to counteract that seed of doubt because if they don't, we're going to be having this argument again and we may not win it next time.

* Kevin Drum, over at Political Animal, was the most helpful to me in this regard, thanks to his informative posts about Social Security that took various aspects of the anti-Social Security argument and showed what's wrong with that argument in easily digestible portions. I can't recommend his posts on the subject highly enough; the following are just some he posted during the early stage of this battle:

Social Security Doom Mongering
Social Security Privatization in Pictures
Social Security: A Conversation
Two Percent of GDP
Private Accounts...A Case History


Karl, this is what happens when you deal with the devil

[Looooong overdue response to a commenter's request in the previous post for my take on the whole DeLay sitch.]

To sum up: I am gleeful. And not in a gracious way, either. Watching the self-immolation of one of the nastiest, most corrupt politicians in modern times is immensely satisfying. It certainly hasn't come soon enough, considering the damage he's done, but at least the time finally has come and his days of destruction to this nation's legislative and judicial process are finally coming to an end.

My main concern at this point is how quickly he goes down. Were it my choice, I'd like to see him circling the bowl for a good long time, well into the 2006 mid-terms, if possible. As it stands now, he's effectively quarantined -- his congressional toadies and lobbying cronies can't distance themselves fast enough and his corporate donors have all but disappeared -- so he's not wielding nearly the power through fear he did when the vast majority of the country didn't know who the hell he was. Plus, Jack Abramoff is clearly pissed that DeLay's betrayed him and is out to shiv the ol' Hammer in the back and that, coupled with the still ongoing criminal investigation by Ronnie Earle, it must be getting a little cramped on both sides over in Tommy's world.

That's not to say he still doesn't wield a considerable amount of power. The vast majority of the Republican Congress lives in fear of finding a horse head in their bed from Mr. DeLay, and though they would like nothing more than to get him off their backs so they can get on with their corrupting and/or meddling business, he's got too many of them by the nads for them to turn on him outright. He knows where too many of the bodies are buried at this point, so it's all a kind of psychotic Mexican standoff, which can be highly entertaining as long as you're not caught in the crossfire.

Which means that the longer he's still around and still in charge, the longer he hangs around their necks like lead anchors and sucks them further down to political oblivion. Some of them will remain taint free, but there are a lot that're mired almost as deep as he is. And that, my friends, is a recipe for a majority switch in the Congress.

Overly optimistic? Probably. For one thing, the Democrats need to get a whole lot better at using DeLay as a paintbrush for the entire Republican Party, to make him the face of the GOP, so that when people thing Republican Congress, they're put in mind of a slimy ex-exterminator from Texas who couldn't take a breath without doing something criminal. In other words, they need to make sure the American electorate understands that DeLay isn't an exception, but that he's representative of everything that's wrong with today's Republican Party.

At this point, I'm doubtful the Democrats are savvy enough to make the most of this opportunity. Reid's certainly been running circles around them politically over in the Senate, but Pelosi's wins haven't been as obvious (though I must say, she's been making some smart decisions of late). And anyway, Pelosi's got her hands full with the Blue Dog Democrats at the moment, so until she starts planting horse heads in a few beds, the job of painting the Republican Party with the color of DeLay is going to have to fall to other people.

I'm also intrigued how this power struggle will shake out between DeLay and Rove. Karl must surely have himself tied into a nasty snarl of a knot over this thing, because he knows DeLay is hurting them and will continue to hurt them. DeLay may be forgetting his history -- specifically, what happened to the Democrats in '94 -- but Rove got where he is by not forgetting his. Trouble is, he can't just get rid of the guy like he would anyone else, because DeLay wields as much power in the Party as Rove. The Administration may owe their political victories and survival to Rove, but the Congressional members owe their careers and fortunes (and their souls) to DeLay. And since DeLay isn't going quietly into that sweet goodnight, this thing could shape up into a right proper power struggle with lots of carnage and loud explosions. Heh. Looks like it's time to break out the popcorn.

Time will tell, of course. Anything that happens with DeLay at this point is a win for the Democrats, but whether he's gone in a month or a year, it's up to them to capitalize on it.


Kicking ass and taking names. Literally.

Since I've seen the link posted all over the lefty blogosphere, figured I might as well find out what my Unitarian Jihad Name is, too

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Plasma Rifle of Compassionate Mindfulness. What's yours?

Looks like I found my new email sig.


"I believe in God, but I'm in no hurry to meet Him."

Okay, I officially Do. Not. Get it.

So the Pope died today. I'm not a Catholic, and I've got my own issues about religion, but I certainly recognize he was a major figure and his passing represents the passing of an era.


All this drama and people wailing and carrying on about it? I don't get it.

Had this happened when the guy was younger (before his time, whatever the hell that means) and maybe died unexpectedly, or if it had been violent or something, then okay, I could see it being "tragic" or whatever, and deserving (possibly) of the wailing and carrying on. But he was blessed with a full life, did some great things with it, and is finally at peace and no longer suffering. To my mind, what more could a person want, either for themselves or those they love (or even those they don't)? We've got a totally effed up relationship with death, IMO, and spend so much time and effort lamenting and/or trying to prevent what is a natural part of life.

And another thing, since I'm on a rant anyway: the reaction by Christians, especially in this particular case for the religious leader of a large portion of a worldwide religion, particularly baffles me because hello, isn't that, like the underlying tenet of the Christian faith, i.e. that death is not the end, that salvation awaits once we've left this mortal coil? Were these people not just celebrating the Easter holiday, which commemorates the resurrection of their savior who brought to them the hope of a life everlasting? Why this aversion to embracing the eventuality of death? Hell, I don't subscribe to a Christian worldview and even I know the Scripture:

"In the way of righteousness [is] life; and [in] the pathway [thereof there is] no death." -- Proverbs 12:28

"The fear of the LORD [is] a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death." -- Proverbs 14:27

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalms 23:4
I just don't get it. Honor the guy, his memory, and his legacy. Acknowledge the passing of a man worthy of respect and admiration. Be glad he found comfort and serenity in his faith and that it may have eased the pain of his last days and that he's now in the better place he believed in.

We should all be so lucky.


2050 is the new 1850

Via Mathew Gross comes this interesting, informative, and depressing article about the coming energy crisis and its possible implications in the coming decades. Short answer: it ain't gonna be pretty. The Pacific Northwest would probably fare well in comparison to the rest of the country as the author says -- Portland, in particular, has had the foresight to restrict the city's slow gobble of outlying farmland, and we benefit from excellent growing conditions that would allow regular people like us to grow some or all of our own food.

But as a former Wyoming native, I think the speculation about the Mountain West is at least somewhat incorrect*, if only because states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are still largely rural and despite recent technological and economic advances, they lag far behind the rest of the country in terms of that kind of "progress". There's something to be said for being left behind (no, not in the fundie apocalypse sense) the march toward change and that advantage comes when the march toward changes comes crashing down around your ears.

During the whole Y2K extravaganza, most of the people in these states barely paused to concern themselves with what would happen if all the computers in the world suddenly went on a bender and started flinging airplanes into the ocean or turning ATMs into toaster ovens, or whatever the hell experts thought might happen. Not because they're a bunch of ignorant hicks or that they wouldn't be affected by it, but their daily life isn't tethered so tightly to technology. That can make life less convenient, sure, when you're talking about internet access or debit cards, but when internet access and debit cards suddenly go the way of the dodo, it's the people who depended on them overmuch that suffer far more than those who're still governed by a pioneer ethic of self-sufficiency.

(* the Western water crisis, on the other hand, is a very real and looming problem)


Who says science geeks aren't funny?

Scientific American responds to the Intelligent Design movement and the rest of the ig'nant mofos on the Religious Right. And I laugh my ass off. (Warning: drinking beverages while reading may be hazardous to your monitor's health.)

Scientific American April 2005 Letter from the Editor


"Persistent vegetative state" is the new "high school shooting spree"

Amanda over at Pandagon posts exactly the thoughts I've been having ever since I was watching the news last night (ABC -- no, I don't know why) and they said about 10 minutes in that they had breaking news and announced the school shooting in Minnesota. This wasn't local news breaking in, this was part of the regular newscast. I guess my first clue should've been that it wasn't the lede at the top of the newscast, even though it would've happened in time for them to cover it at the beginning, if only in brief.

Call it innate suspicion, but I immediately flipped through all the 24/7 networks to see what coverage it was getting. Every single one had Terry Schiavo coverage or some talking head bloviating about Terry Schiavo. That brief snippet I'd seen was the only thing I saw all night about it until the 11 o'clock local news.

Now, I'm not saying that school shootings should get the kind of sensational coverage they got back in the day. The glamorizing effect of that kind of coverage, to my mind, only made the problem worse. But. We were living in Laramie when Columbine happened and because we were about 12 miles from the Colorado border (and 120 from Denver), all but one of our "local" stations was broadcast out of Denver. I happened to be at home sick the day of the Columbine shootings and the coverage was wall-to-wall for HOURS. Local news, of course, but as soon as the national networks and cable news channels could get their units on-site, it was all Columbine, all the time. And then the two weeks of coverage, where Columbine was the lede every night and after it'd dropped off the national radar, the local news was still obsessing over it for weeks after that.

This is the first school shooting with a high body count in almost 6 years, the kind of event the media seems to crave. So the fact that it's not really getting much coverage -- let alone the wall-to-wall coverage of Columbine -- speaks volumes...about the racial disparities still so deeply ingrained in our society and the death grip the Rethugs have on the media.

The former, because the shooting happened at a Reservation high school, the shooter was a Native American (or, in wingnut parlance, "brown people"), as were his victims, presumably. Compare that with the shooting in an upper middle class suburban high school where the vast majority of the students were white, the shooters were white, and most of their victims were white. I guess that old news adage of "if it bleeds, it leads" only applies if the blood is blue and the skin is white.

I also suspect the Terry Schiavo case remains at the top because Tom Delay et al want it to remain at the top and the media are nothing if not trained circus monkeys. Delay started this whole brouhaha to get the attention off him and his ethical and legal troubles and he's not about to let some Indian kid bump off the story that's keeping his nuts out of a vice.


You can't spell "Culture of Life" without "Cult"

Up til now, I've remained silent on the whole Terry Shiavo rig-goddamn-diculousness. And I'm not going to say a whole lot about it here because frankly, I'm not sure either my keyboard or my forehead would survive the attempt. But Hunter over at Daily Kos has done a nice job of encapsulating my sentiments, complete with rampant expletives.

Because honestly, that's all that's really left to describe this freakshow. People who want to fucking worship this corpse that doesn't know it's dead, it's creepy and it's evil and it's fucking psychotic. These people are fucking psychotic.

And they run our country. You think about that.


"C'mon baby...I can change"

So last night we were watching the news on ABC. One of the first stories was about Bush nominating Bolton as the UN Ambassador (he of the "there is no UN" fame, not of the "bad music and even worse mullet" fame). They showed a clipe of Senator Reid condemning the choice and talked about how even moderate Republicans are concerned about Bush's choice and that many of them are troubled by his continued willingness to piss off the international community. But that they (the moderate Repubs) were sure that once Bolton got into office, he would change his mind about the role and importance of the UN.

Which of course prompted me to shout at the television my observation that moderate Republicans are like teenage girls who date a guy thinking they can change him. If they just love him enough, he'll turn into the man of their dreams. Jeebus, are we ever hosed.


Smackdown in the Rose City

So last night, the FAN Founders attended the foreign policy debate between Howard Dean and Richard Perle at the Schnitz. We'd gotten our tickets a couple of weeks ago as a kind of a pre-celebratory thing in anticipation of Dean's win of the Chairmanship.

Anyway, as you've no doubt seen/heard, it was quite the barn burner. And not just because of the shoe-throwing thing. (A few minutes into Perle's opening speech, some guy came down the to the stage and threw his shoes at Perle's head. The first one hit the curtain behind panel, the second hit podium and bounced off, then a couple of people/security guards wrestled the guy to the ground before he could try a third attempt.) Honestly, the shoe-throwing thing startled and disappointed me -- very not cool -- though I have to say I sympathized with the guy being so angry that he just wanted to throw things at Perle. I mean, this is one of the chief architects of the entire Iraq debacle, for the love Eru. Until I saw him in person, I'd scream at my television whenever he came on the screen so I can understand the urge. And I wouldn't be surprised if that guy's got a friend or loved one in Iraq, that's the kind of vibe I got from it. He was vocal, too -- shouted "motherfucking liar" so loud that we could still hear him long after they'd moved him out to the foyer and beyond.

Still, it doesn't help our cause when stuff like this happens. I don't think there's a lot of handwringing needed -- what's done is done -- but it certainly plays into "liberal wacko" stereotype the VRWC has built for us. Not that I give two shits about what the freepers think, but when you're playing to win, this kind of thing doesn't help.

Anyway, the debate moved apace. Howard was in fine form and didn't concede an inch to Perle. I have to give Perle his due -- he must've known the kind of hostile territory he was headed into (George the Elder once famously dubbed Portland "Little Beirut" because of the demonstrations that always happened during his visits...you can imagine what happens when anyone even remotely related to Junior shows their face in town). Doesn't make him any less of a nut-flavored whackjob, but still.

One of his various "points" that really got to me: that going into Iraq was like buying fire insurance for your house and that complaining about there being no WMD a year later is like complaining that your house didn't catch fire. I know. I know. This is the kind of insane clown logic we're dealing with here, people.

I've been thinking this over since last night. The thing is, this guy has totally drunk the Kool-Aid. He completely believes this shit, he's totally earnest and sincere about it. And he's a smart guy. Evil, but smart. So the work we've got ahead of us, the changes we have to make and the thinking we have to reverse...it's a really big job, folks. Not telling you anything you don't already know, of course, but there it is.

Which can be really disheartening at times. But the other part of last night is one of Dean's responses to something else Perle said last night. Perle had tried to slip in a little reframing by burning down a strawman argument about the Democrats that he'd constructed. And Dean totally called him out and busted his chops about it. He even said, this is the kind of thing we can't let the Republicans get away with and then he proceeded to kick his ass. I would've kissed that man if I'd had the opportunity.

Anyway, the night was great. Invigorating and enlightening, made us all ready to get back in the trenches and get back to work. There's a lot of work to be done, but we've got the right guy leading us. So be glad -- we'll persevere.


Those godless heathens

There's an article in The Nation today titled "Our Godless Constitution" making the very salient point that not only did the framers intend for there to be a separation between church and state, they -- and the rest of the country -- they emphatically affirmed this concept later on:

In 1797 our government concluded a 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or Barbary,' now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of the treaty contains these words:

"As the Government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

This document was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John Adams. It was then sent to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history. There is no record of debate or dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the Philadelphia Gazette and in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one might expect today.

The next time your favorite winger starts bloviating about the Christian foundation of this country, tell 'em to put the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli in their pipe and smoke it.


Happy Birthday to me!

Because the DNC knew it was my birthday and wanted to make sure it was a happy one, they did exactly what I wanted and elected Howard Dean to the Chairmanship of the Party. And thus in these dark times, I see a bright ray of hope.

It's time to throw our support behind him and get down to the business of taking the country back from the nut-flavored whack jobs currently in charge. Throw a little love their way to let them know you heartily approve of CHAIRMAN Howard Dean.

Contribution amount:

We got yer back, Howard.


A reminder

I know those of us on the left have experienced our moments of despair, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the evil* times in which we live. We and the things we' dearly care about -- all of them, from education to peace to the environment to women's rights and thousands more -- are under constant assault. And who hasn't checked out, at least for a bit, because it's just too much?

It's happened to all of us.

I hope we can help pick each other up, like soldiers on a forced march by the enemy, so that we find our strength in each other and together, fight back. We have no choice but to resist wtih everything we have.

Several things have prompted me to say this, but in particular Mathew Gross, who posted yesterday that he's quite simply exhausted by the mendacity of Bush and Co. One of his readers posted the following comment, and it seemed a good reminder to us all:

"Take heart. All empires contain the seed of their own undoing. The arrogance of this administration is that seed.


I heart Garrison Keillor

Ezra's got an intriguing idea or two for who could replace Mark Dayton in Minnesota in 2006. Either one sounds good to me. But I especially like the quote of Keillor's that he uses to make the point that our beloved Garrison has quite a gift for framing, a quality the Dems desperately need in their candidates these days:

"Medicare says that even though you're not working and may need special help with the ordinary business of life, you have value in this society. This is a Democratic idea. Be a howling right-winger if it gives you pleasure, but nonetheless milk comes from cows and Medicare comes from Democrats."
God bless that man.


Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse

London Yank has compiled a handy list of Bush players we've seen before. Next time one of the fundies goes on and on about the righteousness of Bush et al, I do believe I'll be forwarding this on to them.

Daily Kos :: Bush's Felon Job Placement Program


SUV drivers: consider yourselves warned

So help me god, if I ever see one of these on the street, I'm going fucking postal on the dipshit who's driving it.


60 Years Later and It's All the Same Shit

So the Democrats discovered their collective cajones in a long forgotten drawer somewhere, dusted 'em off, and strapped 'em on today. About fucking time, is all I can say about that.

Kerry and Boxer, along with 10 other Democrats and the Independent-But-For-All-Intents-And-Purposes-Democrat Jim Jeffords, voted a big fat en-oh on Condi "It was a series of actionable items" Rice. Which leaves a depressing number of Democrats still voting for her, but it's better than I would've anticipated a month ago and if it weren't for Barack Obama's "aye" vote, I'd be downright gleeful about the whole affair.

And then they passed the collective cajones on to the 8 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of whom voted an even bigger fucking EN-OH on Alberto "the Geneva Conventions are just so quaint" Gonzales. Which is good news, yes, and a step in the right goddamn direction for sure, but some of the Senators' reasons for voting against him were, seriously, not acceptable.

The man helped implement torture, people. I can't help thinking he would've been just as comfortable whipping up a tidy legal brief to justify the systematic elimination of millions of people. The gulf of difference isn't all that huge, isn't even a matter of degree, really -- they both sit on the same side of the road to Hell:

Daily Kos :: Hunter Goes REALLY REALLY Postal



Freedom Action Network

As you may or may not know, my husband and I, like many of you, spent a good deal of time and money we didn’t have on political activities this last year, trying to do our part to get rid of Bush & the Right Wing Hate Machine, and we were devastated by what happened on November 2nd. But we knew we couldn’t spend the next four years like the last four, angry and frustrated and feeling helpless to stop the damage being done to the country we love.

On November 4th, I had lunch with a good friend who felt like we did, that we had to do something. We weren’t sure what it would be, what form it would take, but we were determined to be a force for change no matter how small our contribution. So we called a few friends and gathered in someone’s living room one Thursday night a couple of weeks later and talked about what we could do. Together, we became the founding members of a grassroots progressive organization called Freedom Action Network.

Over the next two months, FAN met weekly to refine ideas and goals and ready the organization for expansion to our friends, families, and anyone else interested. And January 20th, 2005, Black Thursday, is our official coming out party:

On our website, you can find out more about our organization and what we hope to accomplish. There’s also a bulletin board where you can help build a network with likeminded people by signing up as a member. On the board, you can share articles and information you think others should know about, comment about the latest FAN posting or Action Item, or learn about an issue or project that you can participate in.

In the coming days, we’ll have Action Items that you can take to make a real difference, easy things intended for people who don’t have a lot of time or money but who want to do something to help. Action Items might be a letter to write, or a message to spread, or sending stamps for a mailing campaign. On the main page, you’ll also find 5 important articles or blog posts to read in the “Around the Blogosphere” section that will change frequently.

We want you to make FAN a daily habit. Bookmark the site, make it your home page, or add it to your RSS reader. Even if you can do nothing more than check the site each day and maybe read an article from “Around the Blogosphere”, you’re doing something important by becoming armed with information you can disseminate among your daily circle. And if there’s more you can do, all the better.

If you’re in the Portland area, join us for our next meeting: Thursday, January 27th at 7 PM at the Urban & Public Affairs Building on the PSU Campus (email me at writerscramp at gmail dot com for driving directions). You’ll meet a group of smart and interesting progressives of all ages and backgrounds united by a common cause. We guarantee you’ll leave feeling energized and ready to get to work. And even if you’re not in the Portland area, there’s still work for you to do and ways for you to be involved. Just stay tuned to the FAN site to keep abreast of the latest developments.

So please…visit the site and join the fight.


Repeat after me: there is no crisis

Atrios points over to an interesting dialogue over at The Wall Street Journal Online between conservative economist Arnold Kling and progressive economist Max Sawicky about the so-called Social Security "crisis". And despite Kling's protestations to the contrary, there is no crisis.

At the bottom of the article, Max provides links to more information so that you, too, can demolish the conservative Chicken Littles with facts and economics:

The Center for Economic and Policy Research
The Economic Policy Institute's research on Social Security
The Brookings Institution
The Century Foundation
"What Stock Market Returns to Expect for the Future?"


"I might not know much about God, but we sure did build a nice cage for him." -- Homer Simpson

How succinctly Deepak Chopra boils down one of the biggest sources of many of our problems today:


CHOPRA: Actually, our image of God is outmoded anyway, whether the tsunami occurs or not. Religion has become divisive, quarrelsome and idiotic. Religion is the reason we have all this conflict in the world. We have squeezed God into the volume of a body and the span of a lifetime; given God a male identity, an ethnic background; made him a tribal chief and gone to war. Yet people are not ready to forsake their image of God.


The head, it doth explode

So by now, everyone's read, or at least heard about, the Washington Post interview with Junior (Bush Says Election Ratified Iraq Policy ). And you've no doubt read/heard the quote many times, but I'm putting it here anyway, just for effect:

"'We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections,' Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. 'The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me.' "

I have no words for this. Nor for this:

The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids. “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” the government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me.

--from Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article, "The Coming Wars"

And I've long since run out of tears for this:

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher." ...

"The disaffecion inside the Pentagon is extremeley accute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear."

The Iraqi insurgency, he says,was operating in 1-to-3 man cells a year ago, now in 10-15 man cells, and despite the harsh questioning, "we still know nothing about them...we have no tactical information.”

--from Sy Hersh's ACLU talk this summer, via The Poorman

Even if I still believed in the Biblical Christian God, I think I'd get the clue that He's deserted us.


Read this.

I guarantee this will be one of the best things you've read in a very long time. Period.

"God" is my Puppet, I shall not Want


"Wide Liberty"

Pericles over at Daily Kos does it yet again with an in-depth analysis of the myth of "activist judges" and how we can start reframing the debate. He puts forth the very simple concept of the Constitution that I think gets lost or forgotten by most of us (me included) when we contemplate and argue the Constitution*, i.e., that the Constitution isn't meant to delineate what rights the people have, but rather, what authority the government has and the requirements the government must pass in order to prove it has the authority to infringe on the assumed rights of the people. Put more simply, the people of the United States are implicitly assumed to have all God-given rights to start -- the burden is therefore on the government to prove its authority in restricting or limiting those rights, not on the people to defend them.

From this idea derives concepts like the right to privacy that aren't explicitly stated in the Constitution, from which flows so many important rulings on everything from a woman's right to choose to striking down the anti-miscegenation laws that existed until very recently in many states. These rulings speak to the heart of what the Founders intended when they created the Constitution and they're the key to understanding both how our judiciary is meant to work and how to turn the manufactured threat of "activist judges" back to our advantage.

*(Alongside your copy of The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution, and The Bill of Rights, should be a very well-worn copy of The Federalist Papers.)