Thanks to McGrath over at Exploring Our Matrix for linking this. It filled me with joy.
So Obama got a question in Indiana at one point from a guy who read that Obama doesn't think we should say the pledge of allegiance and whatnot, alluding to the bizarre email campaign that states Obama's a Muslim (AKA terrorist, obviously) sleeper agent.
Obama responded that he's been saying the pledge since he was three, and you shouldn't believe everything you get emailed. For example, if someone from Nigeria is offering you a lot of money?
Don't give him your bank account number.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thanks to McGrath over at Exploring Our Matrix for linking this. It filled me with joy.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.
Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.
"We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but there is currently no law preventing that from happening," Pozas said.
Keeping apes for circuses, television commercials or filming will also be forbidden and breaking the new laws will become an offence under Spain's penal code.
Keeping an estimated 315 apes in Spanish zoos will not be illegal, but supporters of the bill say conditions will need to improve drastically in 70 percent of establishments to comply with the new law.
This is so cool. There's another sort of creature on Earth that can think, that can reason, that can read. They do these things at least as well as human children, if not better. So it's good to see them getting some legal rights somewhere.
I was linked this article today.
The gist of this recent Supreme Court decision is that the death penalty in America shouldn't be resorted to unless the crime involves espionage or treason, or the crime results in the death of the victim. The context is whether or not people who sexually abuse children should be faced with capital punishment as an option.
Now, on the one hand... if someone raped anybody that I know, I don't know that I'll be responsible for my actions in the matter. That counts both for a child and a grown adult. In that sense, I can understand why many people have a problem with this ruling. After all, it's natural to want to hurt and even eliminate someone who hurts us badly enough, and the rape of a child is not just an offense to the whole community, but downright damaging to the whole community.
But the rape of an adult woman is, too. The UN Security Council just equated it to a war crime. It happens in war because, as the article states, "rape is a deliberate war tactic meant to intimidate and destroy communities." This is coloring my reception of this ruling. As the article I first linked states, "The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman."
If we executed people who rape children but not people who rape adult women... I feel that would create a harmful double standard. To say that raping kids is morally more reprehensible than raping adult women kind of smacks of the old view that raping virgins was a grievous evil, but raping adult women (who might have had sex before) was merely rude.
Now, granted, I think raping children is weirder than raping an adult woman, but that doesn't make it worse. Just weirder. To say that an adult woman is morally more rapeable than a child really is a throwback to days that I don't think anyone wants to see us repeat. Sexual violence should be treated the same way across the board, no matter what stage of life the victim is in.
Personally I have my reservations about capital punishment in practice, but that's a topic for another day. Right now I'm concentrating on the fact that rape of adults and children is being treated the same way by our legal system, and I think that's a good thing.
I know people who can't imagine the United States committing war crimes. Some of them just don't want to know, so they stay away from any venue that might bring up evidence. Others are more resilient, viewing evidence and ignoring it.
In one conversation, I had someone demand that a major news network have covered it, because after all you can't trust anything you read online. You want CNN? You've got it.
But suddenly news networks couldn't be trusted. After all, they're secretly controlled by the liberal Jewish Illuminati, so we'd better ask soldiers who're actually on the ground. They'll know. Often the discussion stops after this link, because then we have to believe that American soldiers are just like any other soldiers. Decent humans sometimes do terrible things they wouldn't do in peacetime. We know this. It's just hard for some people to apply that to our own soldiers, to treat them like humans in addition to heroes.
But sometimes they can get past that, and then you'll hear, "Well, it wasn't ordered by the government. They wouldn't do that. It's unethical and illegal." And then you link them a few more things.
How about the fact that the US camps hid detainees (can we call them POWs yet?) from the Red Cross.
CIA's Counterterrorism Center, disclosed that detainees were moved routinely to avoid the scrutiny of the ICRC, which keeps tabs on prisoners in conflicts around the world.Whoops. Do I even have to say it. I probably do. What the hell were they hiding?
"In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Defense Department) has 'moved' them away from the attention of the ICRC," Fredman said, according to the minutes.
The administration overrode or ignored objections from all four military services and from criminal investigators, who warned that the practices would imperil their ability to prosecute the suspects. In one prophetic e-mail on Oct. 28, 2002, Mark Fallon, then the deputy commander of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, wrote a colleague: "This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of. ... Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this." The objections from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines prompted Navy Capt. Jane Dalton, legal adviser to the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to begin a review of the proposed techniques.
But Dalton, who's now retired, told the hearing Tuesday that the review was aborted quickly. Myers, she said, took her aside and told her that then-Defense Department general counsel William Haynes "does not want this ... to proceed."
Regarding the ICRC, the United States long has complained that other countries such as China or the old Soviet Union prevented independent access to prisoners or made their conditions look better when outsiders were inspecting.
Your answer is here. Retired General: Bush Administration Committed War Crimes.
A new report put out by Physicians for Human Rights documents multiple instances of torture and abuse of prisoners by American personnel at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq and in other prisons on military bases around the world. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Pentagon's investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib, minces no words in the introduction to the report:Uh oh! Looks like they're in trouble now. Believe what you want, but these war criminals know that trouble's coming. Wonder what they're gonna do to save their asses... Oh, I know!After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
Once again, this is not coming from someone that can be dismissed by Bush apologists as some wild-eyed liberal ACLU type. This is the man that the Pentagon picked to investigate a major incident of abuse. And there is more, both in Taguba's introduction to the report and in the report itself.
US asks to rewrite evidence against Guantanamo detainees ahead of court review.
The government has stood behind the evidence for years. Military review boards relied on it to justify holding hundreds of prisoners indefinitely without charge. Justice Department attorneys said it was thoroughly and fairly reviewed.
Now that federal judges are about to review the evidence, however, the government says it needs to make changes.
The decision follows last week's Supreme Court ruling, which held that detainees have the right to challenge their detention in civilian court, not just before secret military panels.
Accountability is a bitch, innit? Wouldn't it just be awful if the government had to demonstrate their actual reasons for doing any of these things? I remain convinced that if the United States is forced to comply with its own human rights standards and pay some modicum of respect to international law... well, the terrorists will win. Right?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I would really like my American friends to read this. Because this does affect you. I shit you not, this does matter, and you will regret it if you pretend this isn't happening.
Entry from En Tequila Es Verdad (good blog if you're like me and prefer your news with a little wisecracking to make it go down easier):
Really fucking unhappy right now. Not only did Congress flush the Fourth Amendment down the loo, they seem hell-bent on shitting away what fragments of sanity they have left:Just when you thought a Congress could not debase itself any further, having just approved massive funding for the Iraq war and given the corporate criminal accomplices of Bush's attack on the Bill of Rights a free pass... along comes the mother of all insane resolutions of our time. This is even worse than the notorious Iraq War Resolution. and is likely to pass Congress like a glassful of laxatives.Yes, please do. The last fucking thing we need is another fucking unilateral war. This country's military back is broken as it is, not to mention the ethical, moral, and diplomatic concerns involved. We shouldn't be provoking a war with Iran to begin with, but to do so when we have two fucking unfinished wars on our plates - that's beyond insane. I don't think we even have a word for how batshit crazy that is.
Resolution 362 in the House (not officially named the "Iran War Resolution", but nonetheless amounting to nothing less than that)will effectively demand the US to impose a naval blockade of Iran, an act of war.
Please take action this weekend.
After all, even Bush's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff favors diplomacy:In an interview with National Journal published today, Mullen speaks favorably of directly engaging with Iran, even though he says Iran has not always shown a “propensity” for it:I'm not entirely hopeful that the voices of reason can drown out the war drums, but it's past time to try. We have a disaster on our hands now - what we'd have with a third war is catastrophe.NJ: Given Iran’s role as a spoiler in the region, and with so much now at stake for the United States, doesn’t it make sense to directly engage with Iran to discern its motives and explore potential accommodations?Mullen isn’t the only administration official who has eschewed Bush’s absolutist rhetoric in favor of a more diplomatic approach.
MULLEN: I would like to have a healthy dialogue with Iran, but many different administrations over a period of decades have been unable to achieve that. But I do think engagement would offer an opportunity, certainly, to understand each other better. That said, the Iranians have to want to talk too. It can’t just be a desire on our part. And the Iranians haven’t shown much propensity for dialogue.
As for Iran not showing much of a propensity for talking with us, who the fuck can blame them? Look at who they'd be talking to. George W. "I'll see your crazy and raise you a batshit insane" Bush.
Remember a few things in the run-up to this new war. Bush lied to get us in to the last one. He used fear and patriotism to shut down dissent. And too many of us, myself included, simply threw up our hands and didn't do a goddamned thing.
Not this time. Not another war. Listen:We need to stop House Resolution 362 in its tracks. Right now.Hear that? That's a call to arms, that is. Don't believe the lies. Don't accept another useless war pushed on you by warloving hatemongers. It's time to stop these sick fucks dead in their tracks.
And to stop or substantially slow the push for war AIPAC needs to disgraced and here's how you can help.
The key talking point : anti-Jewish attitudes have been on the rise over the past decade, both in the US and worldwide. Sure. And Pastor John Hagee, alleged friend of Jews and Israel and key AIPAC ally, AIPAC's 2007 star speaker, has helped drive that increase in anti-Jewish hatred.
Is Israel's well being the point ? Maybe. But good faith efforts towards Mideast Peace clearly are not:
IN 2003, according to this American Prospect story, the Bush Administration chose to spurn an Iranian peace offer that would have given EVERY concession the US and AIPAC now demands from Iran.
Thus, the alleged reasons for the push for a US war with Iran are probably lies. Iran was willing to concede everything - it's nuclear program, its support for Hamas and Hezzbollah...
We couldn't stop FISA, but we are fucking well not going to bend over and take this.
Let Congress know you won't tolerate it.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Like any good anthropologist, I'll start this with some things you need to know about me. Female, liberal, reasonably well-educated, and yes, I "have faith."
For many people, this comes with all sorts of assumptions about me. First, if I don't specify my faith, it is assumed I'm Christian. I could certainly pass if I wanted to benefit from the various privileges involved with the affiliation. In many discussions online I voice the Christian perspective just so that someone rational does voice it, as opposed to someone irrational or no one at all.
It's a tricky proposition, though. For all that I reject and denounce claims by Christians that religious people are some kind of hunted minority in America, I must frequently take care when allowing myself to be associated with them. Even as a lowly dhimmi under magnanimous Christian dominion who sometimes craves their privileged status... I am wary of being perceived as Christian myself.
Why? The short version is that I talk to a lot of atheists. I often find myself being "the good theist" in any discussion. The one who helps atheists feel certain in their reasonableness, because lo! Even a theist agrees with us. How wise we atheists are, and what fools these theists be.
And y'know... they are wise. Much of the time, I crave an atheist perspective. It's why I'm still happy in a relationship with someone whom I privately describe as a "born again atheist." He doesn't have any use for the supernatural in his life, and damned if he isn't still excited about his conclusion. But even here the problem occurs. Not even a week ago we had a long talk that forced me to seriously evaluate my future with a man who loves me but finds my religion difficult to value.
Y'see, I value atheism as a "path," just as Wicca is my "path" for the moment. Many paths are religions, but not all. And they certainly don't have to involve the supernatural in order to be valuable as paths to personal growth. This is the viewpoint that governs my dealings with Christians, Muslims, atheists, whomever. It's why I can agree to disagree, because I know that what is good and right in my life may not work for them, and they'll decide better for themselves than I ever could.
The problem occurs when this same respect is not returned. The problem occurs when I feel I am bending over backward to make someone I respect and value feel respected and valued when it would be just as easy to harp on all the beautiful things I pity them for missing, only to find myself treated by atheists like a child sitting at the adults' table for the first time. Almost grown. Almost rational. Almost there. But not quite. Poor thing.
Truth be told? I don't think religion is harmful. I don't think that it damages my life to believe things that Carl Sagan (bless his soul all the same) attributed to "peasants." I think what's damaging is looking at another happy, healthy human being who is treating you with respect and demanding that they come around to your way of thinking. Just 'cuz. Never mind that if it were my time to be an atheist I would be one. Never mind that if I were not happy being Wiccan I would not be Wiccan in the first place. Never mind that most atheists these days have been disrespected and devalued by this very mindset. Some of them haven't learned a thing from it.
For many people, it's a phase that passes. The cultivated disdain for all those backward-thinking theists who haven't "gotten it" yet. Sometimes it passes, proving to be little more than the zeal of the newly-converted.
But sometimes it doesn't. And then it isn't enough that I'm the good theist. It isn't enough that I value and appreciate the atheist perspective; I must share it, or else be reduced to the status of dhimmi yet again. "You can stay. But don't talk to any of our people about your beliefs, and don't make trouble."
Well, here I am. Not making trouble.
But if there's one thing I want to leave people with, one impression I want atheists I speak with to fully internalize... it's that I'm glad you're here. You have something to offer me. But you don't know so much so perfectly that you can stop listening.
I was reading An Atheist With Gandhi earlier, and one thing struck me from a conversation between Gandhi and a dear friend of his who believed that eliminating religion would improve human life in India. I'm reproducing it because Christians aren't the only ones who can forget that cooperation can happen without total agreement.
"I see an ideal in your talk. I can neither say that my theism is right nor your atheism is wrong. We are seekers after truth. We change whenever we find ourselves in the wrong. I changed like that many times in my life. I see you are a worker. You are not a fanatic. You will change whenever you find yourself in the wrong. There is no harm as long as you are not fanatical. Whether you are in the right or I am in the right, results will prove. Then I may go your way or you may come my way; or both of us may go a third way. So go ahead with your work. I will help you, though your method is against mine."
Only days ago I worried that it wouldn't be enough to love the one I love and be loved by him, that it wouldn't be enough to respect human dignity and freedom, and that it wouldn't be enough to welcome an atheist perspective. None of these things would be enough if I carried that damning scent of theism, and no amount of respect and welcome into my life could earn me anything but disdain.
So here's my plea. I want more than tolerance, because I give you more than tolerance. Live. Love. Work. Be happy with your path, and if I ever have something to offer... I will help you, though your method is against mine. I think we've all had enough of proving ourselves to people who are certain we're "doing it wrong" just because we're doing it differently. You know as well as I do what that creates. When you choose to fuss over differences of dogma instead of working to improve the things we can agree upon, you cease to be a worker and you become a fanatic.
There's a theist here who loves you guys. Don't forget me when the fundies get you down.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Go John Cusack!
They're trying hard to fund this ad so they can get it aired during prime time. Currently in rather tight straits financially, I thought I'd at least try and get the word out. The original page is here.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Check the original page to see the image. No really.
A Hindu chaplain was called to offer a prayer at the US Senate yesterday; the response of some Christian nutbags was to slip in and disrupt the prayer because the Hindu chaplain wasn't giving his shoutout to Jesus. They were trundled out, the prayer was given, and yet, somehow, the Republic did not fall. I think we can all thank Vishnu for that.
Look, this one is simple: Some people really and truly believe that what Jesus wants is for them to be dicks to everyone who isn't their particular, mushy-headed stripe of Christian. And if it's what Jesus wants, then it can't be wrong. Now, I'm entirely sure that in their minds they can come up with a better explanation for their activities than "Jesus wants me to be a dick" -- they may actually be able to find some internal calculus that has them being a dick out of love for us godless idolaters and saving our worthless heathen souls, even -- but the rest of us can call it for what it is. And also, of course, when these Dicks for Jesus try to offer up some alternate explanation for their behavior, I think it's fair to remind them of a number of things:
1. Whatever the rationale, they're being dicks.
2. At no point in the Bible does Jesus say "be a dick in My name."
3. Lots of other Christians seem to get through life without feeling called upon to be a dick in the service of Christ.
4. Indeed, when many of these Christians discover to their dismay that they've been a dick about something, they will frequently fall to their knees and say, "Forgive me, Lord, for I have been a total dick."
5. And He does.
6. That's a hint.
Now, the chances of any of this penetrating the mental shield of righteousness is pretty low, so you shouldn't expect anything more than a slightly befuddled look that shades into the growing suspicion that they're jeopardizing their very souls conversing with one such as you, you and your heathen logic. But it's worth a try, and if it doesn't work, at least they know what you think of their somewhat less-than-Christlike behavior. Because nothing digs at the heart of a Christdick than the knowledge that someone thinks they're doing their Christianity wrong. Gets 'em all defensive and huffy, which is better than them being smug and self-righteous, in my book.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Go Sandra!Fri Jun 6, 2008 4:39am EDT
By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - America's first female Supreme Court justice unveiled a videogame project on Wednesday to teach children how courts work, saying she wanted to counter partisan criticism that judges are "godless" activists.
Sandra Day O'Connor, 78, who served as U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006, said she never imagined she would be asked to address a conference about digital gaming.
She said she got involved with developing the project called "Our Courts" out of concern over public ignorance about the judiciary and partisan attacks on what should be an independent institution.
"In recent years I've become increasingly concerned about vitriolic attacks by some members of Congress, some members of state legislatures and various private interest groups ... on judges," O'Connor told the Games For Change conference on using gaming technology for social improvement and education.
"We hear a great deal about judges who are activists -- godless, secular, humanists trying to impose their will on the rest of us," she said. "Now I always thought an activist judge was one who got up in the morning and went to work."
She said it was worrying to see members of the Senate requiring nominees to the Supreme Court to state how they would rule on certain cases during the confirmation process, and to see special interests trying to influence the election of state judges in states where such elections are still held.
"With partisan attacks and political pressure mounting, it's much more difficult to achieve fair and impartial judgments from the judges who are serving," O'Connor said.
She said the only way to preserve an independent judiciary was through public education, which she said was failing to produce citizens with enough knowledge about the three branches of U.S. government -- legislative, executive and judicial.
The Our Courts project will have two parts, O'Connor said. The first is on online interactive civics program designed to be used by children from 7th to 9th grades either to supplement existing courses or as a distinct unit in the curriculum.
The program, developed with Georgetown University law school and Arizona State University, will be distributed free online.
"It will allow students to engage in real legal issues," she said. Asked to give an example, she said one element would focus on a scenario of a school attempting to stop students wearing a T-shirt with a controversial slogan -- a free speech issue designed to elicit argument about the 1st Amendment.
She said the web site at www.ourcourts.org/ should have some initial material by this September and be fully operational with interactive elements a year later.
The second part of the project will be for young people to use in their free time, O'Connor said, noting that studies showed children spend around 40 hours a week using media, including computers, television, videogames or music.
"If we can capture just a little bit of that time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-'em-up video games, that's a huge step in the right direction," she said.
O'Connor said she had seen from her own grandchildren that technology was the best way to inspire children to learn and it was vital to speak to them in their own language.
Asked what videogames she has played herself, she said: "I don't play videogames. Sorry."
(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)
She needs to team up with the makers of Phoenix Wright. I will buy the crap out of that, especially if I can point at the TV with the Wiimote to object.
We all know McCain loves women. Well, as long as they're rich, beautiful, and willing to give him access to all that money they've got.
McCain's positions on women's health:
McCain opposed spending $100 million to prevent unintended and teen pregnancies.There is no reason for a woman to vote for McCain. Even if you're pro-life, consider this: McCain doesn't care enough about preventing abortion to do things that will actually prevent abortion. He doesn't care enough about women to help prevent breast cancer and cervical cancer for low-income people. In short: he doesn't care about you. And women overseas don't have it any different. The "global gag rule" tries to enforce the USA's irrational and broken women's health policies on the rest of the world.
In 2005, McCain voted NO to allocate $100 million to expand access to preventive health care services that reduce the numbers of unintended and teen pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions.
McCain opposed legislation requiring that abstinence-only programs be medically accurate and scientifically based.
McCain voted NO on legislation that would help reduce the number of teen pregnancies by providing funding for programs to teach comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality education and other programs to prevent unintended teen pregnancies.
McCain opposed Title X, the nation's family planning program.
In 1990, McCain voted NO on legislation to extend the Title X federal family planning program, which provides low-income and uninsured women and families with health care services ranging from breast and cervical cancer screening to birth control.
McCain opposed requiring insurance coverage of prescription birth control.
In 2003, McCain voted NO on legislation to improve the availability of contraceptives for women and to require insurance coverage of prescription birth control.
McCain opposes comprehensive sex education.
In an interview aboard the "Straight Talk Express," McCain struggled to answer questions about comprehensive sex education and HIV prevention. He also stated that he supported "the president's policy" on sex education.
McCain opposed repealing the "global gag rule."
In 2005, McCain voted NO on legislation to overturn the "global gag rule," which bars foreign nongovernmental organizations from receiving U.S. family planning assistance if the organization (using its own, non-U.S. funds) provides abortion services or information or advocates for pro-choice laws and policies in its own country.
McCain says Roe v. Wade was a "bad decision."
In May 2007, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Sen. McCain reiterated his support for overturning Roe v. Wade, saying, "I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that I support a woman — the, the rights of the unborn." He went on to say, "My position has been consistently in my voting record, pro-life, and I continue to maintain that position and voting record."
McCain would have signed 2006 South Dakota abortion ban
In February 2006, the Hotline reported, "According to a spokesperson, McCain 'would have signed the legislation, but would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included.'" As the New York Times' Paul Krugman points out, "That attempt at qualification makes no sense: the South Dakota law has produced national shockwaves precisely because it prohibits abortions even for victims of rape or incest."
McCain touts "pro-life" credentials at conference of FRC Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council.
At a speech at the FRC Action Voter Values Summit in October 2007, Sen. McCain said, "I have been pro-life my entire public career. I believe I am the only major candidate in either party who can make that claim."
Is that what you want, for us or for them?
It's not just women's choice issues, or women's health issues either. There's more.
McCain Voted To Cut, Eliminate, Restrict Health Insurance Coverage for Low Income Children and Pregnant Mothers At Least SIX Times. [SCR 27, Vote #76, 5/21/97; S 949, Vote #149, 6/27/97; HR 4810, Vote #204, 7/17/00; H.R. 976, Vote #307, 8/2/07; S 3, Vote #45, 3/11/03; H.R. 3963, Vote #401, 10/31/07]
Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:[Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005 ] (ontheissues.org)
- Restore education program cuts slated for vocational education, adult education, GEAR UP, and TRIO.
- Increase the maximum Pell Grant scholarship to $4,500 immediately.
- Increases future math and science teacher student loan forgiveness to $23,000.
- Pay for the education funding by closing $10.8 billion in corporate tax loopholes.
So... to the moms on my list. Is this the man you want in charge of your daughters' futures? Hasn't he done enough damage already?
According to PlannedParenthood, a lot of women don't know how much damage he's done, and will do. Check this out.
In battleground states, the situation is striking. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently polled 1,205 women in 16 likely battleground states, finding thatAll you have to do is tell people. If women know what McCain really stands for, he'll lose an incredible amount of support. It doesn't matter if they saw him on The View. He does not care about women. You're not his problem, so don't be his constituency.
- Despite his extreme voting record, 51 percent of women voters in battleground states have no idea what John McCain's positions are on women's reproductive health issues.
- Forty-nine percent of women currently backing McCain express pro-choice views, and 46 percent of women supporting McCain over Obama/Clinton want to see Roe v. Wade upheld.
- In McCain-Obama/McCain-Clinton matchups, 36 percent and 38 percent, respectively, of pro-choice McCain supporters say they are less likely to vote for McCain when told that he opposes Roe v. Wade.
A New Orleans television reporter asked John McCain at a June 4 town hall meeting in Louisiana why he had voted twice against the creation of a commission to investigate preparedness for Hurricane Katrina. McCain responded that he "supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy." That's not true.
McCain did, as the reporter said, twice vote against legislation that would have created an independent commission, much like the 9/11 Commission, to investigate the government's role in preparedness for and response to the hurricane. Here's the exchange:Reporter: Senator, Maya Rodriguez at the CBS station out of New Orleans. My understanding is you have voted twice against the creation of a commission to investigate the levee failures in New Orleans. And my question is, why have you voted against that?(snip)
McCain: I’ve supported every investigation and ways of finding out what caused the tragedy. I’ve been here to New Orleans. I’ve met with people on the ground. I’ve met with the governor. I’m not familiar with exactly what you said, but I’ve been as active as anybody in efforts to restore the city.
McCain lined up with his party at a time when the White House was being accused on all sides of withholding information from the Senate.
Before the second vote, on Feb. 2, 2006, Clinton charged: "We are seeing the administration withholding documents, testimony, and information from the ongoing investigations by the House and Senate."
McCain suggested that he was merely voting against wasteful spending. He told the Louisiana reporter that he voted against "one of the bills" because it was riddled with pork.McCain: I also voted against one of the bills that came down that was loaded with pork barrel projects that had nothing to do with New Orleans too. It had billions for projects and programs that had nothing to do with the recovery of the city of New Orleans.The Clinton amendments, however, would have provided $3 million for the investigation but no funds for anything else.
Again, guys. Not only did the government fuck up, they did their damndest to cover it. Judging by a lot of people's rosy views of the rebuilding process, they more or less succeeded.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Wow. There are evidently people who believe that Katrina victims are freeloaders who got more than enough help and should damn well have fixed their city by now. We're not just talking about the predictable sample of people who were inclined to take advantage of the nation's sympathy for their own profit. We're talking about anyone who was hit by Katrina and dares to treat it as anything worse than a minor speedbump in their lives.
The articles I find on it are old, mainly because Katrina doesn't even really get talked about anymore. We lose interest in our tragedies rather quickly these days. This article was... something special.
In the weeks after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, people across the country opened their wallets, homes and hearts to the victims. But three months after thousands of evacuees arrived in Georgia, some attitudes have shifted from compassion to something very different.
For Anna Corley, a 39-year-old communications worker from East Point, the change in attitude occurred while she was watching a television interview with a female evacuee. The woman was living in a Georgia hotel, in a room paid for by taxpayers, and complaining she wasn't getting enough help.
With that, Corley — who had donated clothes and money, and dropped off spaghetti and tomato sauce at a supermarket bin — changed her mind.
"Come on, people," Corley said. "Three months and they can't find a place to live? Oh, wait, they want to see how long Uncle Sugar will pay for it. How long did they think the gravy train ran? Have some self-respect and pride."
Katrina Aid Program is $9 Billion Short. (from May 2007)
And to think, Corley (mentioned above) was pissed that they hadn't rebuilt their lives in three months! That they hadn't rebuilt their homes and communities in a matter of months. Never mind that building a house alone can take longer than that, and never mind that thousands of people were all trying to rebuild at the same time. And never mind that people were planning on money that didn't come. As they're so often told, they need to "get over it."
Also, while we're all breathing a sigh of relief that Myanmar's junta is finally letting in foreign aid, let's remember that the USA wasn't exactly great about letting in similar help during Katrina either. What the fuck, you ask? Most Katrina Aid from Overseas Went Unclaimed (from April 2007).
The struggle to apply foreign aid in the aftermath of the hurricane, which has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $125 billion so far, is another reminder of the federal government's difficulty leading the recovery. Reports of government waste and delays or denials of assistance have surfaced repeatedly since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.
Administration officials acknowledged in February 2006 that they were ill prepared to coordinate and distribute foreign aid and that only about half the $126 million received had been put to use. Now, 20 months after Katrina, newly released documents and interviews make clear the magnitude of the troubles.
And while television sets worldwide showed images of New Orleans residents begging to be rescued from rooftops as floodwaters rose, U.S. officials turned down countless offers of allied troops and search-and-rescue teams. The most common responses: "sent letter of thanks" and "will keep offer on hand," the new documents show.
Overall, the United States declined 54 of 77 recorded aid offers from three of its staunchest allies: Canada, Britain, and Israel, according to a 40-page State Department table of the offers that had been received as of January 2006.
Hell, even Cuba offered to help. No really. We told them no, of course. We don't need help from those fucking *spit* Communists.
But this is all okay if we can just make sure the money that we've got (from acceptable domestic sources, at least) goes toward helping the victims. We can make do, and we can make the best of what we've got. Or we can get new condos in Tuscaloosa. Here's where the mismanagement comes in.
About 10 condominium projects are going up in and around Tuscaloosa, and builders are asking up to $1 million for units with granite countertops, king-size bathtubs and 'Bama decor, including crimson couches and Bear Bryant wall art.
While many of the buyers are Crimson Tide alumni or ardent football fans not entitled to any special Katrina-related tax breaks, many others are real estate investors who are purchasing the condos with plans to rent them out.
And they intend to take full advantage of the generous tax benefits available to investors under the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, or GO Zone, according to Associated Press interviews with buyers and real estate officials.
The GO Zone contains a variety of tax breaks designed to stimulate construction in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. It offers tax-free bonds to developers to finance big commercial projects like shopping centers or hotels. It also allows real estate investors who buy condos or other properties in the GO Zone to take accelerated depreciation on their purchases when they file their taxes.
The GO Zone was drawn to include the Tuscaloosa area even though it is about 200 miles from the coast and got only heavy rain and scattered wind damage from Katrina.
The condo deals are perfectly legal, and the tax breaks do not take money away from Katrina victims closer to the coast because the depreciation is wide open, with no limits per state.
But the tax breaks are galling to some community leaders, especially when red tape and disorganization have stymied the rebuilding in some of the devastated coastal areas.
"The GO Zone extends so damn far, but the people who need it the most can't take advantage of it," said John Harral, a lawyer in hard-hit Gulfport, Miss.
"It is a joke," said Tuscaloosa developer Stan Pate, who has nevertheless used GO Zone tax breaks on projects that include a new hotel and a restaurant. "It was supposed to be about getting people ... to put housing in New Orleans, Louisiana, or Biloxi, Mississippi. It was not about condos in Tuscaloosa."
Katrina Victims May Have to Repay Money. (March 2008)
Brann pointed out that 5,000 collections cases would represent a 4-percent error rate for the Road Home that is "quite good for large federal programs."
Frank Silvestri, co-chair of the Citizen's Road Home Action Team, a group that formed out of frustrations with ICF, sees it far differently.
"They want people to pay for their incompetence and their mistakes. What they need to be is aggressive about finding the underpayments," he said. "People relied, to their detriment, on their (ICFs) expertise and rebuilt their houses and now they want to squeeze this money back out of them."
Melanie Ehrlich, co-chair of Citizen's Road Home Action Team, which has documented Road Home cases that appear littered with mistakes, said she had no confidence that ICF had correctly calculated overpayments. She charged that the company was more likely using collections as retribution against people who had appealed their award amounts in effort to get the aid they deserved.
ST. LOUIS - American taxpayers would save more than $46 billion if drug addicts now in prison were instead treated, according to a study released Friday at a national convention of drug court professionals.Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars comments:
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a former U.S. drug czar, and actress Melanie Griffith joined experts in calling on lawmakers to increase funding for such courts.
"This is not a war on drugs," McCaffrey said. "This is a problem for our families in America. In order to turn drugs around in this country, we're going to have to treat those 1.5 million people who are addicted."
The study from the Urban Institute in Washington found that about 3 percent of arrested addicts are referred to a drug court, which offers supervised treatment to nonviolent offenders whose records are expunged if they complete the program.
"Most addicts need something more than being warehoused," said Judge Charles Simmons Jr., a drug court judge in Greenville, S.C. "Drug courts are putting families back together, and they are decreasing crime at a tremendous savings to taxpayers."
Housing an inmate in prison can cost up to $40,000 a year while drug court treatment costs up to $3,500 per offender a year, Simmons said.
McCaffrey said 15 years of research has yielded definitive proof that drug courts significantly reduce crime by as much as 35 percent. He said legislators and the public may get behind the system once they understand its cost savings.
"The math in unarguable," McCaffrey said. "If you want to unclog America's prisons, drug courts need to be taken to scale."
Someone else commented on Ed's entry with the following:
A guy gets arrested for drug possession, regardless of what the drug is, and often sees mandatory minimum sentences for prison time (how about 25 to life for .03 grams of meth?). Now he's got a felony on his record, he spends a year or two in prison and that makes him very difficult to employ. In many cases, a family is torn apart by this as a member goes to prison. And the person convicted is now faced with time in a brutal prison that, if he wasn't a violent person when he went in, will certainly make him one by the time he comes out.
It's insanity, an absolutely ass backwards public policy that causes far more harm to society than any good it could possibly do.
And I think that about covers it.
You must be one of those elitists, using facts and data and stuff to back up sound arguments against emotional and ineffective policies that are based on wishful thinking and people's perceptions of "sin."
When have our pandering pols ever made intelligent public policy regarding sex and drugs? A subset of our populace has a warped sense of right and wrong, and we end up with an endless and expensive war on something that doesn't fix, and typically worsens a problem. So teen pregnancy rises because of abstinence only "education," and two generations of "criminals" are created by pig-headed anti-drug laws. Both of these major public policies run entirely contrary to what the evidence demonstrates, and yet our fine fellow countrymen continue to vote for the ignoramuses who invent these moronic policies.
Why is it political suicide to stand in front of a group of voters and say, "We've lost the fake war on drugs. We need to decriminalize drugs, stop jailing people for possessing them, purge criminal records for simple possession, and spend a lot less money than it costs to incarcerate and interdict on treatment for the addicted. Drug abuse is a public health issue, not a law and order issue."
Until such time as someone can get elected who says that we are stuck with this crap.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I wanted to drop you a quick note about a major policy change here at the Democratic Party. As we move toward the general election, the Democratic Party has to be the Party of ordinary Americans, not Washington lobbyists and special interests. So, as of this morning, if you're a federal lobbyist, or if you control political action committee donations, we won't be accepting your contribution.
This is an unprecedented move for a political party to make -- one that has sent shockwaves through Washington and has turned the debate on clean campaigns upside down. We've unilaterally agreed to shut lobbyists out of the process, and are we're relying on people just like you.
Just imagine what hundreds of thousands of Americans donating $20, $30, or $50 at a time can accomplish together. Imagine the signal that it sends to anyone who looks at John McCain's political machine and the special interest money it needs to fuel every move it makes.
We have a chance to change the way business is done in this country, and we're taking the lead. Will you join us and make a contribution right now to help us elect Barack Obama?
I've written before about guys like Charlie Black and Rick Davis, lobbyists who are at the highest levels of McCain's campaign. But they're just the start -- John McCain and the RNC suck up lobbyist money millions of dollars at a time.
In May, McCain had his best fundraising month of the campaign, and it was directly because he refuses to shut special interests out.
But we did, and we need your help. This is an example of the kind of White House Barack Obama would run. Make a contribution to help elect him:
I'll be in touch later about our plans for the general election, but I wanted to let you know about our policy change right away.
Interview with Advocate.com
Great interview. Here are a few of the questions. I didn't include all the good stuff, because frankly I want to leave Advocate.com with a few page hits as a tiny thanks for doing this interview.
The Advocate: Let’s start with what’s hot -- why the silence on gay issues? You’ve done only one other interview with the LGBT press. I know people wish they were hearing more from you.
Senator Obama: I don’t think it’s fair to say "silence" on gay issues. The gay press may feel like I’m not giving them enough love. But basically, all press feels that way at all times. Obviously, when you’ve got a limited amount of time, you’ve got so many outlets. We tend not to do a whole bunch of specialized press. We try to do general press for a general readership.
But I haven’t been silent on gay issues. What’s happened is, I speak oftentimes to gay issues to a public general audience. When I spoke at Ebenezer Church for King Day, I talked about the need to get over the homophobia in the African-American community; when I deliver my stump speeches routinely I talk about the way that antigay sentiment is used to divide the country and distract us from issues that we need to be working on, and I include gay constituencies as people that should be treated with full honor and respect as part of the American family.
So I actually have been much more vocal on gay issues to general audiences than any other presidential candidate probably in history. What I probably haven’t done as much as the press would like is to put out as many specialized interviews. But that has more to do with our focus on general press than it does on… I promise you, the African-American press says the same thing.
And Spanish-language [outlets] had the same gripe. Just generally, we have generally tried to speak to broader audiences. That’s all that is.
I think the underlying fear of the gay community is that if you get into office, will LGBT folks be last on the priority list?
I guess my point would be that the fact that I’m raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest that is sort of off in its own little box -- that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment. Because ultimately what that shows is that I’m not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It’s easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans.
Back to “don’t ask, don’t tell” real quick -- you’ve said before you don’t think that’s a heavy lift. Of course, it would be if you had Joint Chiefs who were against repeal. Is that something you’ll look at?
I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Obviously, there are so many issues that a member of the Joint Chiefs has to deal with, and my paramount obligation is to get the best possible people to keep America safe. But I think there’s increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy -- ya know, we’re spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn’t make us more safe, and what I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology. '
I'm sure you've all already heard this, but Obama got the Democratic nomination. I'd like to get gleeful over it, but we knew this was going to be the case months ago.
The transcript of his speech is here, and the video follows.
Dana over at En Tequila Es Verdad adds:
Last night, Obama effectively clinched the Democratic nomination, becoming the first black man to ever have a real shot at the nation's highest office. The news doesn't seem to have reached Hillary Clinton:For nearly a year and a half, the biggest hurdle between Obama and the nomination was Hillary Clinton. Now that the race is over and Obama’s the nominee, his next biggest challenge is still Hillary Clinton.
Indeed, for those of us expecting a graceful farewell speech, Clinton’s remarks were a bit of a curveball. It was almost as if news of Obama’s victory hadn’t reached them yet. McAuliffe introduced her as the “next president of the United States.” Clinton congratulated Obama, not for winning, but for running a great race. At one point she said, “No matters what happens in this race…” as if the race remains unresolved. Clinton added that she would be “consulting with supporters and party leaders, to determine how to move forward,” as if she was still pondering how to launch a comeback. Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” played as Clinton smiled and waved. The Clinton campaign sent an email to supporters referring to the campaign in the present tense.
As Dana Goldstein put it, “The more I think about it, the more it seems that Hillary’s entire speech was manufactured to rile up her supporters — instead of priming them to shift their allegiance to Obama. Yes, there’s a situation with Michigan and Florida. But is it really fair for Clinton to claim that her 18 million supporters nationwide have been made ‘invisible?’ Who’s supposed to be the bad guy here, scary Howard Dean? Clinton is offering more fighting rhetoric. But the fight should be over.”
This is getting fucking pathological. It seems the little switch in Hillary's brain marked, "You've Lost, Retreat and Fight Another Day" is broken. She's displaying the same spectacular disconnect from reality that Bush, McCain et al suffer. She really is the psycho ex-girlfriend of the Democratic Party. She's become something of a stalker. Obsessive letters and escalating odd behavior may not be far behind.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
People need to stop finding my blog by searching for "obama nicolae carpathia."
If this is how you react to a professor of Constitutional law who dares act like he's got something to say... by deciding he's the antichrist... you don't deserve a competent President. You deserve George W. Bush, elected through fraud by people like you who trust a pampered high-society dolt over anyone who carries the stink of education and intelligence.
If I didn't want a better President for myself I'd say let you idiots reap what you're sowing. Unfortunately, I won't let you take the rest of us down with you. If you want to live under religious law, I strongly suggest you move to Saudi Arabia. Leave America to those of us who believe in liberty and individual potential for greatness.
Monday, June 2, 2008
First off, I encourage everyone to go check out the Carnival of Elitist Bastards. In honor of my fellow eggheads, I figured I'd quit linkfarming for a second and actually post something I'd written myself.
As long as I can remember I read several grade levels ahead of the other kids. What's more, I remembered what I read. When I ran out of books at home I hit the encyclopedia or my little illustrated-for-kids dictionary. I was a latch-key kid without cable TV, what else was I supposed to do?
One day in class, we were in the library and the teacher asked who knew what an encyclopedia was. I raised my hand, thinking that it'd be better if someone who knew the answer did so rather than the teacher calling on someone who didn't know. I told her that it's a book or set of books containing information in alphabetical order. Some subjects, such as art or history, have their own encyclopedia.
I wouldn't remember that definition to this day if not for the reaction I got. There was no relief that the other kids didn't have to answer. They recoiled like Puritans from a suspected witch. The teacher called on me again, and again, wanting answers from me. It only made it worse. I had transgressed. It turns out that the correct response to a teacher's question is to be one of his or her hapless victims so that other students can feel a solidarity in the face of all this horrid "schooling."
It was not until I was about twelve that I learned the trick. Until then I'd doggedly read and written and answered and done my best. Until then I got it wrong. The trick is to make people laugh. It's not that making people laugh will create happiness. Primates don't always (or even often) smile because they're happy. It's to relieve tension. It's a survival skill.
If you don't make them laugh, they will hate you.
So I became something of a class clown to bridge the social gap. People had an idea that I was smart, but because I danced and jigged and used my intelligence to make their day more amusing... I was okay despite the crime of intelligence. They knew I wasn't one of them, but at least I was in their service.
That's how I got through high school, and it got me through college. It was okay for me to know a few more things than other students as long as I used that knowledge to make them laugh. Gradually I came to rely on it. It became a mode of control. I had to make people smile, had to make people laugh, had to make them feel the way I wanted them to feel. It was the only power I had.
Unfortunately this doesn't work everywhere. My mother often proclaims her great pride in me, the first woman in the family to get a college degree. I'm the good kid, the smart kid, the world traveler and scholar who's making it without help from mom and dad. And yet I know she resents me as well. As glad as she is that I've accomplished what she wanted before she got knocked up, I think she resents me for being the one who did it, for being the one who went further.
I didn't really realize it until during an argument she brought up what was evidently supposed to be an example of my withering superiority. I used the word "obelisk" to describe something while in the car with my parents, and I guess it's not the kind of word that a wise daughter uses. When they didn't know what an obelisk was, it took me a second to find some less precise way to define it. To me an obelisk is an obelisk. Eventually I think I came out with "thin pointy tower" or something.
I guess my pause was too long, expressing some deep-seated disdain for these imbeciles I was trapped in a car with. During our recent argument, my mother commented defensively, "We can't all be as brilliant as Ashley Holmes."
What's the alternative? Treat her like she's stupid? Coming from a worldview that values intellect, it's hard to imagine wanting people around you to assume you're uneducated. It's hard to imagine wanting people to err on the side of dumbing themselves down for your poor benighted overloaded mind. I knew what an obelisk was, and I assumed she knew.
Both of these social failures, one in grade school and one only months ago, stem from the same sin. I slipped up and I didn't adequately hide my intelligence. I think it was Francois de La Rochefoucauld who said, "It is a great ability to be able to conceal one's ability." Great and valued. And necessary.
So I tip my hat to Dana and the others over at the Carnival. People need a space where it's safe to be intelligent and where you can assume other people value their knowledge... and yours. It is badly needed, and until the rest of the country catches up... Blessed be the Carnival of Elitist Bastards. Bastards unite!
If you're looking for a serious pile of awesome, check out the first issue/entry/thing for the Carnival.
Here she stands in dry-dock, awaiting launch: a ship of the line, cannon gleaming, masts straight and strong: the H.M.S. Elitist Bastard, built to withstand the endless assaults of ignorance. Her mission is to seek and destroy stupidity and make the world safe for knowledge once more. Where she sails, no IDiot is safe, no ignoramus secure: she's armed to the teeth and filled with a feisty crew begging for battle.
Witness that crew now gathered together about her bow. Their cohorts gleam. Their eyes shine with the light of reason. The rattle of their cutlasses nearly drown out the screams of seabirds and the hiss of waves. All gazes fall upon John Pieret of Thoughts in a Haystack, who now lifts the champagne bottle from its case and steps forward to christen the ship. "Be All the Bastard You Can Be," he exhorts us, and breaks the bottle. Champagne sprays. Cutlasses leap into the air, cutting sunbeams into a billion rays.
Our great ship of the line slides from her dry dock into the bay, throwing up a great spray of water as Efrique of Ecstathy gives us our mission: Celebrating the Intellect. "We need smart people," he announces. "We need experts. We need people who are prepared to devote years of their lives to studying a subject." We shall go forth and make sure the world knows it.
As the gangplank is run out and we prepare to board, Paul Sunstone of Cafe Philos solemnly reminds us of what is at stake as he is Introducing the Carnival of Elitist Bastards. "An “elite” is one of the worse names you can call an American these days. It’s a word that, like communist or fascist, conjures up a visceral reaction.... Scientists and intellectuals are increasingly becoming marginalized in American society. It is that elite that is besieged. That elite that is loathed, distrusted, ridiculed and scorned." We are going forth to rescue that beleaguered elite and ensure the world does not fall prey to ignorance. It is a daunting task.
Check out the rest!