Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Because the best way to empower women is to rob blacks of their vote.

From this entry by insomnia.

Recently, there were numerous reports in North Carolina of anonymous, caller-ID blocked robocalls in North Carolina from a black man claiming to be a "Lamont Williams", urging voters in predominantly black communities to return their voter registration form to the State Board of Elections... without voting.

Well, it turns out that these anonymous calls from a ficticious black male were made by Women's Voices Women Vote, a D.C.-based PAC which aims to boost voting among "unmarried women voters."

Unfortunately for WVWV, the State of North Carolina was able to track them down and the media attention was significant, so they put out a statement saying that it was a mistake...

Nevermind the fact that the calls are clearly illegal, as calls that use a blocked phone number and provide no contact information are a clear violation of North Carolina rules regulating "robo-calls" (N.C. General Statute 163-104(b)(1)c). It is also a Class I felony in North Carolina "to misrepresent the law to the public through mass mailing or any other means of communication where the intent and the effect is to intimidate or discourage potential voters from exercising their lawful right to vote."

... or that they're not targeting women voters with these calls, and apparently too ashamed to even identify themselves and promote their efforts to register women voters.

... or that they made the same "oops!" mistakes in Arizona, Wisconsin, and numerous other states, which led to the State of Wisconsin singling WVWV out as having "ignored or disregarded state deadlines" . . . causing "hundreds of Wisconsin voters who think they registered in advance" to not be. Jan Brewer, Arizona' Secretary of State, was even more blunt in her criticism, calling the organization's tactics "misleading and deceptive".

Of course, the unbiased nature of WVWV would be a lot easier to believe if Maggie Williams, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, wasn't one of their boardmembers.

But please, don't be swayed by the fact that the organization is run by a major Clinton donor who donated $4200 to Hillary, another $2500 to H
ILLPAC, and a whopping $5000 to Emily's List, donating to them after they publically endorsed and started campaigning for Hillary Clinton.

You could perhaps overlook the fact that despite WVWV's supposedly neutral stance on the candidates, the organization's founder practically gave an endorsement speech for Hillary Clinton at the 2007 WAND/WILL conference.

... and did I mention that the organization's Executive Director worked for Bill Clinton,"assisting in the development and implementation of all polling and focus groups done for the presidential primary and general election campaigns"?

Now, ordinarily I would say this could potentially be a mistake... but when you repeat the same mistakes over and over again, are repeatedly called on it, and not only fail to change the content of your robocall campaign, much less the timing... well, that sounds an awful lot more like a carefully-thought out voter supression tactic to me...

... with legal advice provided by Holly Schadler, "an operator for the Clinton White House", who "along with Robert Bauer and Judith Corley--two of her partners at Perkins Coie--incorporated the Back to Business Committee, set up in 1994 . . . to defend Bill and Hillary." This committee later became part of James Carville's "Education and Information Project", which performed the same function: protecting the Clintons by attacking their critics. Once again, Schadler was one of the founders of James Carville's project, willing to dedicate her time and energy to discredit and potentially run ads against an independent federal prosecutor appointed to investigate the President.

Really, this org's repeatedly "accidental" slimy acts of voter supression, combined with numerous hardcore ties to Hillary Clinton's campaign makes "Swiftboat Veterans For The Truth" look like a bunch of kids making mudpies.

For such a professionally advised organization, how could they possibly overlook the fact that they have a responsibility to the public and to the states whose laws they repeatedly violated? In what way *don't* their repeated criminal acts justify that *someone* gets thrown in jail for at *least* a few months?!

I'm including this because obviously not everyone watches my LJ friends page. Seriously, though. This guy's a great blogger, and you should all go comment on this entry over there.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What in the MOTHER FUCK.

How did I not ever hear about the Juanita Broaddrick thing? Fuckin' A. This is what I get for being in grade school during Clinton's presidency.

Juanita isn't the only one: Bill Clinton's long history of sexual violence against women dates back some 30 years

Women have been charging Bill Clinton with sexual assault since his days as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford 30 years ago.

A continuing investigation into the President's questionable sexual history reveal incidents that go back as far as Clinton's college days, with more than a dozen women claiming his sexual appetites leave little room for the word ''no.''

Juanita Broaddrick, an Arkansas nursing home operator, told NBC's Lisa Myers five weeks ago she was raped by Clinton. NBC shelved the interview, saying they were confirming all parts of the story, but finally aired it Wednesday night.

Broaddrick finally took her story to The Wall Street Journal, which published her account of the brutal rape at the hands of the future President, followed by The Washington Post and some other publications.

But Capitol Hill Blue has confirmed that Broaddrick's story is only one account of many attempted and actual sexual assaults by Clinton that go back 30 years.

SUNDAY OCT 15, 2000

As I watched Rick Lazio's interview on Fox News this morning, I felt compelled to write this open letter to you, Mrs. Clinton. Brit Hume asked Mr. Lazio's views regarding you as a person and how he perceived you as a candidate. Rick Lazio did not answer the question, but I know that I can. You know it, too.

I have no doubt that you are the same conniving, self-serving person you were twenty-two years ago when I had the misfortune to meet you. When I see you on television, campaigning for the New York senate race, I can see the same hypocrisy in your face that you displayed to me one evening in 1978. You have not changed.

I remember it as though it was yesterday. I only wish that it were yesterday and maybe there would still be time to do something about what your husband, Bill Clinton, did to me. There was a political rally for Mr. Clinton's bid for governor of Arkansas. I had obligated myself to be at this rally prior to my being assaulted by your husband in April, 1978. I had made up my mind to make an appearance and then leave as soon as the two of you arrived. This was a big mistake, but I was still in a state of shock and denial. You had questioned the gentleman who drove you and Mr. Clinton from the airport. You asked him about me and if I would be at the gathering. Do you remember? You told the driver, "Bill has talked so much about Juanita", and that you were so anxious to meet me. Well, you wasted no time. As soon as you entered the room, you came directly to me and grabbed my hand. Do you remember how you thanked me, saying "we want to thank you for everything that you do for Bill". At that point, I was pretty shaken and started to walk off. Remember how you kept a tight grip on my hand and drew closer to me? You repeated your statement, but this time with a coldness and look that I have seen many times on television in the last eight years. You said, "Everything you do for Bill". You then released your grip and I said nothing and left the gathering.

What did you mean, Hillary? Were you referring to my keeping quiet about the assault I had suffered at the hands of your husband only two weeks before? Were you warning me to continue to keep quiet? We both know the answer to that question.

Yes, I can answer Brit Hume's question. You are the same Hillary that you were twenty years ago. You are cold, calculating and self-serving. You cannot tolerate the thought that you will soon be without the power you have wielded for the last eight years. Your effort to stay in power will be at the expense of the state of New York. I only hope the voters of New York will wake up in time and realize that Hillary Clinton is not an honorable or an honest person.

I will end by asking if you believe the statements I made on NBC Dateline when Lisa Myers asked if I had been assaulted and raped by your husband? Or perhaps, you are like Vice-President Gore and did not see the interview.

Juanita Broaddrick

Monday, April 28, 2008

Christian Tolerance: Paul's Message to the Modern Church.

Here's something I just handed in!

Book Review: Christian Tolerance: Paul's Message to the Modern Church
by me!

Robert Jewett's Christian Tolerance: Paul's Message to the Modern Church was published in 1982, and in his introduction he places his book in the political and social context of that time. In America in the 1980s, the so-called “Moral Majority” was making open inroads into politics, and as the book's editor states in the preface, attempting to corral other denominations into conforming to one vision of Christian activism. Jewett states early on that he sees Paul as “an unacknowledged ally in the quest for the foundations of a tolerant society”(10).

In light of that context, it becomes a bit easier to see why Jewett chose Romans as the centerpiece of his argument. As he states, Romans has been frequently cited by Christian figures who want to enforce their brand of Christianity on others, ignoring what Jewett feels is the true message of the letter. Worse still, the appropriation of Romans by these agents of intolerance has caused more tolerant Christians to shy away from citing some of the best evidence available that Paul wanted tolerance: Romans itself.

In arguing his case, the first thing Jewett does is essentially to define his terms. In his first chapter, “Strenuous Tolerance Flowing from Vital Faith,” he distinguishes between two kinds of tolerance. The common definition of tolerance accepted in America is similar to what Romans were inclined to accept, which means that Paul and Jewett were writing in social contexts that are at least similar in that key factor. This so-called “formal tolerance” is viewed as the grudging acceptance that others are perfectly within their rights to express their incorrect and uninformed views, though it certainly would be nicer if they expressed “correct” views. Jewett argues that at best this keeps people from persecuting each other too violently, but inevitably results in the kind of social pitfalls Rome ended up with, and that he feels America is falling into in the 1980s.

The problem with formal tolerance, according to Jewett, is that it goes no further than mere tolerance. It leaves Christians merely suffering one another instead of loving and supporting one another. In Jewett's interpretation of Paul's letter, this is quite simply not enough. He frequently cites Romans 15:7, in which Paul insists, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.”

Formal tolerance is criticized later in the book for more than “missing the point.” Jewett sees serious harm in it. Jewett describes it as “based on 'unconcern' about either the doctrinal issues or the personal convictions that lead others to disagree with us” (34). From this view, formal tolerance fosters an environment where people are encouraged simply not to care what anyone else is doing. Jewett argues that Christians can do better. This is where “strenuous tolerance” comes in.

In keeping with Paul's mission of embracing and including non-Jews in the Christian faith, Jewett argues that true tolerance must be more than a willingness to ignore people who disagree. Because Paul argues that Christians are benefiting from the loving tolerance of God, Christians must also welcome and embrace one another as partaking equally in the grace of God.

Jewett offers another dimension to this in his second chapter, “Conscience and the Measuring Rod of Faith.” Paul was writing in an environment where the word “conscience” could mean many things. It could mean anything from the ability to distinguish right from wrong to the guilt that stems from falling short of one's own standards. Neither of these definitions must be discarded, according to Jewett.

In placing a high value on the individual consciences of Christians, Paul encouraged other believers to respect and value both the ability to discern right from wrong, and the sincerity of their commitment to their own standards. Enforcing one's own standards on other Christians could do great harm in Paul's view. Even if a particular act (in Romans, eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols) is not objectively immoral, nothing good can come of forcing other Christians to act against their convictions. Individual Christians and even whole congregations must be allowed to measure the merits of their own behavior and as long as their practices are grounded in thankfulness to God no other Christian has the right to criticize them. Only when this standard is accepted, according to Jewett, can Christians truly be supportive of each other's spiritual growth.

Jewett's next chapter, “Faith Without Tolerance and Tolerance Without Faith,” is probably one of his most compelling, if only in his ability to pare down the conflicts caused by intolerant Christianity to an improperly-resolved conflict between two commandments. The First Commandment and the Second Commandment create a tension in which Christians must simultaneously hold nothing above their God and avoid boiling God down to something smaller and more intelligible (which is, as Jewett explains, the whole point of idolatrous practices in those times). Taken as broader imperatives, Christians must hold strongly to their own faith and practices without forgetting that God is too large and ineffable to be contained in any one vision of him.

This tension can be improperly resolved in two ways. The first is to err closer to the First Commandment and treat a single narrow Christian practice as the only one partaking in the grace of God. The second possible error is to be so permissive of other paths that one's own practices begin to seem like “nothing special.” Jewett does not advocate either of these resolutions, and indeed seems to argue for no resolution at all. It is this very tension which allows Christian groups to simultaneously encourage one another to grow and accept them as valid just the way they are.

Not all Christians will obviously do a very good job navigating this tricky zone between Commandments. Jewett's next chapter, “Limits of Tolerance,” offers some more guidelines. The most pressing question of this chapter is how to balance keeping some kind of orthodoxy with allowing pluralism in Christian practices? The most engaging question is "can tolerance tolerate intolerance." Jewett argues rather compellingly that it cannot, though he waxes a bit more obscurely philosophical here than might be wished.

The bare bones argument is that intolerance of certain varieties is not merely a danger to the views it denounces while benefiting from the tolerance of others. A very pressing danger is that tolerance of the intolerant allows the erosion of that core value Jewett cites as “welcoming one another.” He cites Glenn Tinder's argument that, “The principle that we are justified in being intolerant of all that destroys tolerance, and of all that destroys the conditions rendering tolerance productive of community and truth, seems to me unassailable in theory.” In practice, as Jewett mentions, Tinder understands that such lines are difficult to draw, but in theory even tolerance must sometimes call for intolerance of its enemies (99).

In practice, congregations must contend with theological diversity regularly. In “Guidelines for Tolerant Congregations,” Jewett offers a few common approaches to this diversity. The first is to avoid the issue entirely by only admitting people who seem certain to disagree on nothing of consequence. Jewett gives the example of denominations setting up churches in relatively homogeneous areas to prevent the introduction of diversity. The limitation is that it prevents anyone in the congregation from truly encountering anyone else's faith, and that is not a situation conducive to strenuous tolerance.

A less extreme approach shows up in congregations that are willing to allow diverse populations to practice with them, but are not willing to actually become involved in anything that would bring this diversity to the fore. Congregations that refuse to get involved in controversies of any kind are taking this approach, according to Jewett. This suffers from the same shortcoming as the previous one.

Jewett also presents crushing out diversity as an alternative. These congregations tend to focus heavily on doctrinal and behavioral orthodoxy, separating out believers from “others” in an effort to create a homogeneous group out of a heterogeneous one. Jewett already discussed Paul's evident discomfort with forcing Christians to act according to another's conscience, and for that reason this alternative does not seem to be in line with Paul's message either.

The last option is to allow differences among congregations and among individual Christians to stand as they are. Jewett, through analysis of Paul's letter to the Romans, advocates a strongly pluralistic Christianity. "Just as liberals should avoid putting pressure on conservatives to act with more freedom than their conscience allows, so conservatives should avoid pressuring liberals into accepting more restrictive standards. Each side has the obligation to see that the other side lives up to its own standards, rather than submitting to alien norms” (135). Only with this approach, Jewett argues, can Christians be supportive of one another in a way that Paul would affirm.

His conclusion, “Tolerance and Mission,” raises a tricky question and does not precisely answer it. How can a church that is strenuously tolerant of gentiles do missionary work? Is it even possible to set out with the goal of changing another person's beliefs without devaluing those beliefs in some essential way? It is a worthy topic indeed, but clearly not the topic of this book. It is only occasionally hinted at, and only as a side note. Unfortunately, in a global environment characterized by wide religious diversity, this question is so relevant that its mere mention is distracting from the evident point of this book, which is only to discuss diversity among Christians.

That is not to say that diversity among Christian groups does not deserve a central focus in discussion. This book was written during a political conservative-Christian upswing similar to the one America has been experiencing in the last few years (over two decades later). Many of the same questions arise, such as where tolerance should be aligned: with the liberals or with the conservatives. Jewett argues that it belongs to neither, and is a crucial requirement for both so that each may benefit from the perspective of the other.

It may seem obvious to some that Christians should treat each other like they're part of the same religion. After all, to a casual outside observer, Christians are quite frequently just Christians. It is hard to imagine how Christians can somehow walk away from Romans with the message that they ought to denounce other Christians.

Nonetheless, many Christian figures and denominations do just that. It is because of them that Jewett's book is necessary. The same political forces at work when Jewett wrote are still highly influential today, and that means that the position of "strenuous tolerance" among Christians still deserves to be articulated clearly (and even exhaustively, as Jewett has done).

Jewett, Robert. Christian Tolerance: Paul's Message to the Modern Church. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Flag pins>living wage.

A blog entry from one of my new favorite bloggers over at En Tequila Es Verdad

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

The Carpetbagger Report has a quick overview of "red meat" issues for both parties:

So, for Dems, throwing red meat to the base is taking on wage discrimination and insurance companies denying coverage. For Republicans, it’s constitutional amendments on gays and the flag.

Someone's priorities seem to be a little fucked up. Maybe I'm just sheltered, but I haven't had anyone tell me that they put flag protection above a livable wage. Why do people vote Republicon, again?

In related news, Republicons not only have difficulties with priorities, they seem to have a congenital inability to understand science:

Programs teaching U.S. schoolchildren to abstain from sex have not cut teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases or delayed the age at which sex begins, health groups told Congress on Wednesday.

The Bush administration, however, voiced continuing support for such programs during a hearing before a House of Representatives panel even as many Democrats called for cutting off federal money for so-called abstinence-only instruction.


Rep. John Duncan, a Tennessee Republican, said that it seems "rather elitist" that people with academic degrees in health think they know better than parents what type of sex education is appropriate. "I don't think it's something we should abandon," he said of abstinence-only funding.

That's the most entertaining definition of elitist I've heard so far. An "elitist" is someone who actually knows what the fuck they're talking about compared to, oh, say, John or Jane Public. Lemme tell you something from experience: some parents don't have the first fucking clue about what's best for their kids. They have a completely pollyanna view of what their darling angels get up to, and no amount of reality changes their minds. Back in the day when my high school classmates were trying to get AIDS education on the agenda, their parents were saying, "But our kids don't have sex." This, mind you, is when an average of five girls were running around pregnant out of a student body of 500. Females are half a given population. You do the math and tell me nobody's having sex.

But for Republicons, anyone with a better understanding of reality than them is "elitist." Feels good to be an elitist, don't it?

Speaking of the terminally reality-challenged, John McCain's cunning plan to assist struggling families in our tanking economy is - wait for it - to offer "choices" on such things as education and health care, instead of providing what he likes to call "hand-outs." He further shows his spectacular lack of common sense by making this little speech before people who wouldn't be able to afford those choices should they be presented. Carpetbagger turns him over a knee for a well-deserved spanking:

So, on the one hand, McCain wants to cut taxes dramatically to benefit “corporations and upper-income families,” and on the other, McCain wants to cut federal spending. Since spending cuts for the military and national security are off the table — indeed, he’s vowed to
increase spending on both — it would necessarily mean McCain would make billions of dollars in cuts in spending that would benefit those who aren’t in “upper-income families.”

But if you’re in Appalachia and living in poverty, forget about a “handout.” In a McCain administration, they’re reserved for the same wealthy interests that have benefited throughout the Bush years.

What’s more, in about five months, Republicans will tell these same people in impoverished areas that they shouldn’t even consider voting for Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) because what really matters are flag pins. It’s like an arsonist telling a family whose home is on fire not to trust the man outside in the firetruck.

Indeed 'tis.

Just had to pass that on.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fair Pay?

Dear Member,

We woke up this morning to an article which made us think the calendar had been switched back 50 years while we were sleeping. Yesterday, the Senate failed to pass the Fair Pay Act. What was almost worse than that defeat were the out-of-touch, misinformed -- and downright insulting -- statements about women.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who didn't even come to vote, said that instead of legislation allowing them to demand equal pay, women simply need "education and training."1 Not only is his information wrong -- women are currently paid less for the same work, even though they have the same education and training -- he's also sending a message to our nation, to our sons and daughters, that this pay gap is okay, and it's women's fault for being paid less. Not so!

We have the perfect way to show Senator McCain just how qualified we really are.

*Sign the Petition for Fair Pay & Send Senator McCain Your Resume (or thoughts on the matter) while you're at it:

When you sign the petition, you'll join us in telling Congress: "We Need Equal Pay for Equal Work -- it is good law, make it enforceable again."

(Don't have your resume perfected? At the link above, you can also write a quick note. And, you can describe your training and qualifications to bring the Senator up-to-date. Got friends and colleagues who are more than well-enough educated and trained to deserve equal pay? Tell them to send their resumes in, too!)

Women now make up 58% of college graduates and nearly half of the labor force, but still earn less pay for the same work as men. Worse yet, mothers only make 73 cents to a man's dollar, for the exact same job. College graduate, high school graduate, law school diploma, nursing degree, whatever your training; women should make equal pay for equal work.

Senator McCain's statement is a sad testament to the fact that many leaders are out of touch with the realities of working women today. Maybe as a Senator with only 16 women colleagues, he's simply out of touch with the reality that America has a broad and deep pool of highly qualified, trained, and utterly capable women. Let's remind him of that fact.

Sign the petition for Fair Pay, add your resume and/or comments, forward this email around to friends, and help us change this country, one leader at a time:

-- Kristin, Katie, Roz, Anita, Amy, Joan, Donna, Nanette, and the whole Team



Yesterday the Senate voted 56 Yea to 42 Nea (with 60 votes needed to pass) on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to bring this Act up for a vote again within the next year. All our voices, coming together, can help get those extra 3 votes needed to turn the tide.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831) is an important legislative "fix" to a May 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.), which severely limited the ability of victims of pay discrimination to sue and recover damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without this "fix," the impact of the Court's decision will likely be widespread, affecting pay discrimination cases under Title VII involving women and racial and ethnic minorities, as well as cases under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Basically, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a narrow "fix" to reestablish law that was in place until the U.S. Supreme Court Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision of last year. This Act stops us from losing ground on civil rights and fixes a fundamental unfairness in the workplace which many women face.


New York Times Ledbetter Article:
Washington Post Ledbetter Article:
New York Times Ledbetter Editorial:
LA Times Ledbetter Editorial:,0,6046584.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail


Alliance for Justice,
Alliance for Justice's 5 minute documentary short on Lilly:
National Women's Law Center,
National Organization for Women,

This is what I sent:

In a little over a week, I'll be the first woman in my family to graduate from college. With an archaeological field school under my belt and study abroad, I've had more education and training in my job field than any other woman in my family had in hers at my age. My parents didn't pay for my education because their parents couldn't pay for theirs, which leaves me the first to be able to get out of this stupid rut my family's been left in since the Depression.

What more do you want? Do I have to grow testicles before my job training and education begin to count?

More about John Hagee!

Dear MoveOn member,

Right-wing pastor John Hagee says Katrina was New Orleans' fault. John McCain sought out, and embraces, Hagee's support. MoveOn members are trying to deliver a petition to McCain in New Orleans just a few hours from now: will you sign?

Here's the background: McCain wants America to see him as a compassionate, mainstream politician. So he's going to New Orleans today for a photo-op in the 9th Ward.

But he's still trying to shore up his right-wing base—so this past Sunday, he again welcomed the support of right-wing evangelist John Hagee, who said "Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans."1

MoveOn members in New Orleans have organized an emergency rally outside McCain's event today. With the media looking on, they'll try to deliver our petition asking him to stop pandering to right-wing bigots like Hagee. They'll announce an up-to-the-minute number of signatures, and we'll have a real impact if we can say that hundreds of thousands have signed in only a few hours. Clicking here will add your name:

The petition reads: "John Hagee continues to blame the people of New Orleans for the catastrophe of Katrina. Senator McCain: If you reject intolerance and bigotry, reject Hagee's political support and stop courting hate-mongers like him."

This is not a gaffe or a "gotcha." Hagee has a history of bigoted comments and he stood by his New Orleans remarks just days ago.2 And McCain's strategy is intentional—he's been working hard to court far-right leaders like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee, despite their hateful views.3 Even when he was pressed about Hagee's hateful views, McCain said he was "glad to have his endorsement."4

Hagee's words matter. Katrina was a terrible reminder of the consequences of bigotry and exclusion. People without resources, without political power, literally sank beneath the waves while our government did nothing.

John McCain is relying for political support on a man who preaches bigotry and exclusion, who spreads the kind of hate that allowed Katrina to become a man-made tragedy. While the media is focused on his New Orleans visit, we need to call him on it.

The more folks who sign the petition in the next few hours, the greater our impact. Clicking here will add your name right now:

We need to let Senator McCain know that he can't use New Orleans for a photo-op while still courting the political support of hate-mongers like Hagee. New Orleans deserves better and America does, too.

Thank you very much for all you do.

–Eli, Justin, Lenore, Patrick S., Anna, and the Political Action Team
Thursday, April 24th, 2008


1. "Will MSNBC devote as much coverage to McCain's embrace of Hagee's support as it did to Obama's rejection of Farrakhan?" Media Matters, February 28th, 2008

2. "Hagee Says Hurricane Katrina Struck New Orleans 'Because it was 'Planning a Sinful Homosexual Rally,'" Think Progress, April 23, 2008

"Will MSNBC devote as much coverage to McCain's embrace of Hagee's support as it did to Obama's rejection of Farrakhan?" Media Matters, February 28th, 2008

3. "Hagee: McCain 'sought my endorsement,'" ThinkProgress, March 20th, 2008

"McCain Gets Into Bed with the Religious Right," People For the American Way, February 28th, 2008

"McCain Woos the Right, Makes Peace With Falwell," ABC News, March 26th, 2006

4. "McCain Flip-Flops In 30 Seconds: Hagee Endorsement A 'Mistake,' But 'I'm Glad To Have' It," ThinkProgress, April 21st, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Got this in my inbox... any thoughts?


*Paid for by Obama for America

Background: America's Young Workers Need Opportunity to be Restored

For too many young workers today, the American Dream seems further and further out of reach.

Despite the need for education to be successful in a "knowledge economy," our high school and college graduation rates are not growing enough. About one-fourth of our high school students don't obtain a real diploma, while less than a third eventually get a bachelor's degree. Those who grow up in affluent families are likely to attend college, while those in middle and lower-income families are much less likely to attend. In fact, the gaps in college attendance between families with more and less resources are growing larger with time. And those who do attend college, especially from less-affluent families, are taking longer to complete their degrees than ever before.[1]

These trends are driven at least partly by the dramatic growth in the costs of college tuition both at public and private universities. More and more students must juggle taking classes with working part-time or even fulltime. Financial aid is now driven less by need than in the past and the financing of Pell grants for low-income students has failed to keep up with inflation in tuition costs.

For those who never attend college, economic opportunities are diminishing. Employment rates for men with less than a college education have fallen over time. When they work, their jobs are less secure. And their earnings have fallen behind those of young workers with college degrees. At the same time, federal support for job training of these workers has fallen dramatically over time.[2] And with today's economic instability, young workers are likely to be the first to become unemployed and the last to be rehired.

These issues are as important in Indiana as anywhere in the country. Each year about 59,000 students here graduate from high school, and 45,000 try to obtain postsecondary education. They struggle each day with rising tuition costs and the challenges of getting more schooling. In the Indiana job market, over 400,000 workers aged 16 - 24 and 1.1 million aged 16 - 34 face a shrinking number of jobs, especially at good wages.

Barack Obama wants to restore meaningful opportunities to young workers and to make the American Dream achievable once again.


Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by signing into law his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of this credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of public service a year, either during the school year or over the summer months. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year's tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Increase Investments in Job Training: Obama will increase funding for federal workforce training programs. He will expand and fully fund apprenticeship programs to help worker get credentials and skills in crafts with middle-class incomes and benefits.

Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs. This will help raise the earnings of young workers.

Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Encourage Paid Leave: For young people who must balance work, schooling and parenting, Barack Obama will seek to expand the availability of parental leave. The FMLA now covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees; he will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. Obama will also expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities at school; allowing leave to be taken for purposes of caring for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault. And, as president, Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to encourage all of the states to ado pt paid-leave systems. Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.

[1] James Heckman and Paul LaFontaine, "The American High School Graduate Rate; Trends and Levels," University of Chicago, 2007; and Maria Fitzpatrick and Sarah Turner, "Blurring the Boundary: Changes in College Participation and the Transition to Adulthood," in S. Danziger and C. Rouse eds. The Price of Independence: The Economics of Early Adulthood. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

[2] Harry Holzer and Paul Offner, "Trends in the Employment Outcomes of Young Men," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hey Howard Dean!

Just sent a message that is ostensibly to Howard Dean. Here's what I told him (or whichever aide ends up reading my message).

We have a candidate who is ahead in delegates, ahead in state contests won, and ahead in the popular vote. Sen. Clinton does have every right to stay in the race, but she does not have the right to claim that it's for the good of the Democratic party. Take a look at Sen. Clinton's website. She's doing so poorly that she doesn't even list any of her election standings on her front page. Or anywhere that I could find. Campaigns can be forgiven for hiding a lot of things, but hiding the reality of her standings from her own promoters?

McCain cannot be beaten on toughness or experience by anyone in this campaign, because nothing they can say will compete with a "When I was in Vietnam..." story. End of line. He can be beaten on the wisdom of his policies, on his disdain for huge sweeping demographics in this country. The only person running who can defeat him on that territory is Senator Obama, and the votes are showing it. When will the Democratic party figure that out?

Share your thoughts, too.

As far as I'm concerned, this is all there is to it. Clinton, as of tonight, is listing her Pennsylvania win as a turn in the tide. She's depending on this one state to stay in a race that she cannot win. Huckabee didn't even take this long to learn his lesson.

Okay, I've gotta say.

John Edwards kind of won the Colbert Report. Sir, I award you six and a half internets.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yes we are.

Relayed from a message Katloverindy sent me over Barack Obama's site:

Tuesday night Lou Dobbs polled his audience about American attitudes after dogging Barack about his bitter comments. LOL He didn't say anymore about the bitter comments after his audience said YES WE ARE BITTER! Here are the results of the CNN poll.

Which of these best describes your attitude as an American citizen?

Partisan & pitiful 2% 261

Bitter & angry 67% 8649

Independent & proud 31% 3966

Total Votes: 12876


feel free to copy and paste this message to other blogs and groups you belong to.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Was it a scratch?

Does this look like a man scratching his face, or a man giving the middle finger?

Image courtesy of

Why would I ask such a silly thing, you say? What could possibly be the relevance of such a piddling matter?

Because this is all over the news right now. Yes, real live news networks are including this in their Election 2008 coverage.

Los Angeles Times.
Fox News.
US News & World Report.

There is a reason that Americans are widely viewed internationally as uninformed. Look at what our news sources are publishing like it matters. Plz stop shaming us worldwide kthx.

10 Debate Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked

Disclaimer: I don't feel that all of these questions are of dreadful importance (the pastor issue, the adultery issue, etc.) but through all the Democratic infighting, McCain's sitting by totally clean. If he were subjected to the kind of inquiry and scrutiny that Democrats are facing, these are the issues we would be hearing about.

10 Debate Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked

1. Do you agree with Pastor John Hagee that war with Iran is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

In February, you shared a stage with Pastor John Hagee and said you were "very proud" to have his endorsement. You also called the Reverend Rod Parsley, a man who said of Islam "America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed", your "spiritual guide." Do you believe America's mission is to destroy Islam? Do you join Pastor Hagee in believing the United States must attack Iran to fulfill the biblical prophecy of Armageddon in Israel in which 144,000 Jews will be converted to Christianity and the rest killed? Is that why you joked about "bomb bomb Iran?" If not, why will you not renounce the support of Hagee and Parsley?

2. Doesn't your legendary temper make you too dangerous to be trusted with the presidency of the United States?

Your anger, even toward friends and allies, is legendary. You purportedly dropped the F-Bomb on your own GOP colleagues John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley. In the book, The Real McCain, author Cliff Schechter claims you got into a fist-fight with your fellow Arizona Republican Rick Renzi. Allegedly, you even publicly used a crude term, one which decorum and the FCC prohibit us from even saying on the air, to describe your own wife. Which if any of these episodes is untrue? Don't your anger management problems make you too dangerously unstable to be president of the United States?

3. Doesn't your confusion regarding basic facts about the war in Iraq, including repeatedly citing a nonexistent Al Qaeda-Iran alliance, make you unfit for command?

On four occasions in one month, you confused friend and foe in Iraq by describing Sunni Al Qaeda as being backed by Shiite Iran. Then you showed a misunderstanding of the U.S. chain of command when you claimed you would not back shifting forces from Iraq to Afghanistan "unless Gen. [David] Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that," a decision which Petraeus himself told you and your Senate colleagues only the week before rests not with him but with his superiors. Doesn't your lack of understanding and judgment when it comes to basic facts of America's national security disqualify you as commander-in-chief?

4. Given your past adultery, should Americans consider you a moral exemplar of family values?

You are the nominee of a Republican Party which claims to support so-called "family values." Yet you commenced an adulterous relationship with your current wife Cindy months before the dissolution of your previous marriage to your first wife Carol. Should Americans consider you to be a moral exemplar of family values?

5. Doesn't your flip-flop on Jerry Falwell being an "agent of intolerance" show your opportunistic pandering to the religious right?

In 2000, you famously called the late Jerry Falwell "an agent of intolerance," a statement which may have cost you the decisive South Carolina primary. But as you ramped up your next presidential run in 2006, you embraced Falwell and gave the commencement address at his Liberty University. When Tim Russert asked that spring if you still considered him an agent of intolerance, you said, "'no, I don't." Why shouldn't the American people consider you a flip-flopping opportunist who cynically courted the religious right to further your 2008 presidential ambitions?

6. Given your wealth and privileged upbringing, aren't you - and not Barack Obama - the elitist?

You have called Barack Obama an elitist. Yet you recently returned to your exclusive private high school, one which now costs over 38,000 dollars a year to attend. Your wife is the heiress to a beer distribution company, reputedly owns 8 homes and has a net worth well over $100 million. Your children all attended private schools, academies which also happened to be the primary beneficiaries of funds from your supposed charitable foundation. Shouldn't the American people in fact view you as the elitist, and a hypocritical one at that?

7. What is your religion, really? And has the answer in the past changed as the South Carolina primary approached?

I want to ask about your seemingly ever-changing religious beliefs. In June 2007, McClatchy reported, "McCain still calls himself an Episcopalian." In August 2007, as ABC reported, your campaign staff identified you as "Episcopalian" in a questionnaire prepared for ABC News' August 5 debate. But as the primary in evangelical-rich South Carolina neared, in September 2007 you said of your religious faith, "It plays a role in my life. By the way, I'm not Episcopalian. I'm Baptist." But in March 2008, Pastor Dan Yeary of your North Phoenix Baptist Church refused to comment on why you have refused to finally undergo a baptism ceremony. Congressional directories still list you as an Episcopalian. In the past, you've said, "When I'm asked about it, I'll be glad to discuss it." So what is your religion? And couldn't Americans be forgiven for assuming your changing faith is tied to your changing political needs?

8. Didn't President Bush betray you with his signing statement on the Detainee Treatment Act? You claim to be against torture, but aren't you a hypocrite for voting "no" on the Senate waterboaring ban?

You've said that "we can't torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured". And in December 2005, you famously reached a compromise with President Bush on the Detainee Torture Act banning cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees. But just two weeks later, President Bush issued a signing statement making it clear he would ignore the compromise you just reached. Then in February 2007, you voted "no" on a Senate bill banning waterboarding. Isn't it fair to say President Bush betrayed you with his December 30, 2005 signing statement? And isn't it fair to say you caved to the right-wing of your party on the issue in order to win the Republican nomination?

9. Why did you flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts you twice opposed? Why do you now support making them permanent for the wealthiest Americans who need them least?

You twice voted against the Bush tax cuts. Now you support making them permanent. In 2001, you said, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." Now, according to the Center for American Progress, your tax plan would cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade and "would predominantly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers, offering two new massive tax cuts for corporations and delivering 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers." Isn't it true that you flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts? Isn't it fair to say that you now favor a massive expansion of the federal budget deficit in order to fund a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans who need it least?

10. With the economy tanking, shouldn't Americans be concerned over your past statements that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should?"

Americans consistently report that the economy is the issue that concerns them most. Yet more than once, you proclaimed your ignorance when it comes to the economy. In November 2005, you told the Wall Street Journal, "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." Then in December 2007, you admitted, "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." Shouldn't the American be worried about President McCain's ability to lead the United States out of recession? Given your past statements, shouldn't the American reject out of hand your claim that "I know the economy better than Senator Clinton and Senator Obama do?"

Senator Clinton blames activist democrats for her losses...

Well, I mean, not that she's wrong. Hillary would have much more success in a country where Democrats weren't paying attention to what a scumbag she is. But what a thing to say in a political climate where increased voter turnout is supposed to be a good thing. Except, evidently, for when they vote for someone else.

Clinton trashes "activists" and MoveOn at closed-door fundraiser

" endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and It's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."

MoveOn's Eli Pariser responded:

"Senator Clinton has her facts wrong again. MoveOn never opposed the war in Afghanistan, and we set the record straight years ago when Karl Rove made the same claim. Senator Clinton's attack on our members is divisive at a time when Democrats will soon need to unify to beat Senator McCain. MoveOn is 3.2 million reliable voters and volunteers who are an important part of any winning Democratic coalition in November. They deserve better than to be dismissed using Republican talking points."

As insomnia stated in his journal:

In a newly released campaign recording today, Hillary Clinton blamed "the activist base of the Democratic Party" and for her repeated losses throughout the election, and accused both of voter intimidation.


The audio of this is available over at Huffington Post.

As a highly informed Democrat who takes an active role in my country's politics, I reject and denounce Senator Clinton's statements. This is just further evidence that Hillary Clinton will viciously attack *ANYONE* who decides for any reason that Barack Obama is the superior, more intelligent, more conservative candidate.

And no, I don't mean conservative in the sense of neoconservatives... who are, in fact, willing to disregard intelligence and common sense in order to risk everything for their hollow dreams of a global Pax Americana. I mean conservative in the best possible sense... prudence, care, and a nuanced approach to foriegn policy, rather than the kind of hamfisted hackery we've seen over the past seven years, going into not one, but *TWO* simultaneous longterm occupations, with no exit strategy for either of them.


So yes, we Democratic activists do "turn out in great numbers" to vote for Barack Obama... but we're not some kind of infestation, Senator Clinton. We're reasonable, rational Americans who are fed up with Bush-era incompetence... the kind that you bought into, hook, line, and sinker.

We're Americans, Hillary. And your belittling of Democrats who actually give a damn about their country is an elitist statement that insults us all.

Just... what. The. Hell. I strongly recommend the rest of insomnia's journal entry. For the sake of evading a "tl;dr" reaction I mercilessly and viciously cropped out lots and lots of really good stuff in there.

Theft=Highest Form of Flattery?

Relaying a link on request.

Yesterday, my pal Darren Di Lieto, from The Little Chimp Society website, emailed with some upsetting news. Turns out someone scraped the contents of his website and published it into a 350-page book being sold online for $100. You can read more on this post in Darren’s blog.

This book — which reprints without permission several dozen artist interviews which Darren had posted on the LCS blog — transcribes these interviews word-for-word, including the artwork, and was “published” under the title “Colorful Illustrations 93°C”. The book even includes a CD with all the illustrations from the book, all lifted off the site as well.


The publisher — one very fake sounding “Great Creativity organization” [sic] — is allegedly in Hong Kong, so pursuing legal action seems pretty pointless, seeing as China has such a sparkling reputation for respecting copyright law. The ISBN they provide — ISBN 978-988-98142-0-5 — is also a fake. You can easily search ISBN databases online, and this number comes up empty.

The international black market for intellectual property has done some good (see certain Thai revolutions during which the government couldn't prevent DVD footage of government massacres from being distributed), but stuff like this is still immensely frustrating. Still more frustrating are some of the comments on this blog. One girl actually posted,

perhaps, if approached, they will give you some of the money. and perhaps they are interested in future projects. theft is, after all, the highest form of flattery. regardless, you can feel proud that you have influenced another culture.

ps. i am broke, too.

And when she was told this is ridiculous and that profiting from someone else's work without crediting them--let alone paying them--is theft, she replied,

personally, i find that theft comes in a little higher on the scale, than flattery, but i am certain we can agree to differ.

That's what should really be alarming. Someone else posted that things posted in electronic format can't be copyrighted. The hell, people.

But really, China does this kind of crap all the time. I'm not sure what can be done beyond just reposting this and cluttering up search engines with bad press.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I've gotten very backlogged, so I'm obviously not doing these stories justice just by linking them all. Still! There's something to be said for relaying.

Which Democrat Has the Administrative Experience to Be An Effective President? Compare How Well They've Managed Their Campaigns

None of the presidential candidates has experience managing a large executive branch agency or serving as governor. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain have all served as legislators, but never in executive office.

The largest organization any of them have led is their respective campaigns. So if you want to learn something about how well they will manage the people in their administrations, you can learn a lot by seeing how well they have managed the people in their campaign organizations.

Obama at the Helm

Deep into a primary campaign that was supposed be over by now, Barack Obama must still answer one fundamental question. Jeremiah Wright notwithstanding, it's not whether he's too black. It's whether he's too green. Hillary Clinton has made Obama's inexperience her chief line of attack, and if she goes down, John McCain will pick up where she left off. Luckily, Obama doesn't have to rely on his legislative résumé to prove he's capable of running the government. He can point to something more germane: the way he's run his campaign.

Presidents tend to govern the way they campaigned. Jimmy Carter ran as a moralistic outsider in 1976, and he governed that way as well, refusing to compromise with a Washington establishment that he distrusted (and that distrusted him). Ronald Reagan's campaign looked harsh on paper but warm and fuzzy on TV, as did his presidency. The 1992 Clinton campaign was like the Clinton administration: brilliant and chaotic, with a penchant for near-death experiences. And the 2000 Bush campaign presaged the Bush presidency: disciplined, hierarchical, loyal and ruthless.

Of the three candidates still in the 2008 race, Obama has run the best campaign by far. McCain's was a top-heavy, slow-moving, money-hemorrhaging Hindenburg that eventually exploded, leaving the Arizona senator to resurrect his bankrupt candidacy through sheer force of will. Clinton's campaign has been marked by vicious infighting and organizational weakness, as manifested by her terrible performance in caucus states.


QUESTION: Is it appropriate for the spouse of a US senator and a presi dential candidate to be in business with the leader of a foreign country?

A foreign country that has lots of matters before the US government?

Answer: No.

Hillary and Bill Clinton's tax returns from 2000-2006 reveal that he made at least $8 million from foreign sources and another $15 million from Yucaipa, which is owned by supermarket magnate and "Friend of Bill" Ron Burkle.

It's been reported that Yucaipa manages the financial portfolio of Dubai's ruler - Emir Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum.

So how much of Bill's earnings came from Burkle really come from the Emir's petrodollars?

And what does Bill bring to Yucaipa? A rolodex of contacts made while he was president, and nothing else.

By the way, this is the same Emir who aggressively boycotts Israel and has been cited for human rights violations by the State Department.

How much did Bill get from the Emir and what did he do for it? The tax returns don't say and the Clintons aren't talking.

Obama Questions Clinton on Trade

``Here's what you can't do. You can't spend the better part of two decades campaigning for NAFTA and PNTR for China, and then come here to Pennsylvania, and tell the steelworkers you've been with them all along,'' Obama said. ``You can't say you are opposed to the Colombia Trade deal, while your key strategist is working for the Colombian government to get the deal passed.''

In response, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said, ``Senator Obama's speeches won't hide his condescending views of Americans living in small towns.''

Clinton was scheduled to address the gathering later Monday. Both candidates are hoping to secure the endorsement of the influential United Steelworkers union, which backed Democrat John Edwards before he dropped out of the race. Steelworkers president Leo Gerard introduced Obama to the crowd, saying, "We're tired, we're frustrated, we're angry and we need somebody who's going to stand up for fair trade."

In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

And! In other news (non-election-related, I swear!)

Yemeni judge dissolves 8-year-old girl's forced marriage

A Yemeni judge dissolved the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a man nearly four times her age, and the girl's lawyer said Wednesday that the court also ordered the youngster removed from the control of the father who forced her into the wedding.

The lawyer, Shatha Ali Nasser, said the girl is just one of thousands of underaged girls who have been forced into marriages in this poor tribal country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

The girl's story has drawn headlines in Yemen because she took the unusual step of seeking out a judge on her own to file for divorce.

Damn, my Livejournal friends list is creepy...

Dear "Nice Guys"

The time investment you put into stalking me does not entitle you to pussy.

Thank you,

P.S. For a more in-depth explanation, please see this.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nothing to kill or die for... and no religion too...

So the makers of Expelled! are including copyrighted material without permission and now, among other folk, Yoko Ono is "exploring" legal options over their unlicensed use of the song "Imagine."

I hope she sues, because that's going to be it for them. When Yoko Ono comes after you? The woman's dectructive without even trying (just doing an image search for her hat instantly crashed my browser; I'm not even kidding). She's like Kali. Tongue lolling out, dead babies hanging off her ears, blood everywhere, dancing on Ben Stein's chest.

I've been asked to create this image for the sake of great internet justice.

Yes, I know this is unkind and probably unfair to Mrs. Ono. But come on. Kali in a hat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


So evidently one of the top three donors in the effort to save the Brazilian rainforest is a porn site. The Brazilian government is up there, too, but a porn site?

This is just the coolest thing ever. All the profits from the membership fees for this porn site go toward rainforest preservation, and the site actually looks pretty good. The site advertises as, "The only 100% karma improving, eco porn site!"

They've got a good track record, too.

"Ellingsen reports that Fuck for Forest has raised more than $50,000 in cold, hard U.S. dollars since its launch less than a year ago, even after paying for necessities like server space and internet billing services. "We have a lot of potential," he said." (Source, from 2004.)

I love the internet so damn much.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

GTFO My Internet

A friend reminded me of something I've been intending to post about for a while.

Net Neutrality: A Tale of Two Internets

Would you pay extra for a guaranteed instant e-mail service? What about faster downloads, clearer internet phone calls and uninterrupted web-streamed broadcasts? Or, do you believe such services should be covered by the £20 per month you pay your ISP as a type of "minimum services guarantee"?

Welcome to the net neutrality debate, a squabble that could forever change our leisurely surfing habits. The idea is that with so much junk shovelled onto the internet every day, there should be a clutter-free VIP pipe that ensures faster downloads and clearer voice over IP calls. The concept has its appeals - for those who can afford it. And if America's phone companies have their way, it could be written into telecoms reforms there to establish essentially two internets - a premium network for the well-off, fabulous and beautiful - and the ordinary net for the rest of us who will presumably have to queue up to access our e-mail and Google.

Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality is “A Load of Bollocks”

Net neutrality really is the hot topic at the moment. Ignited by the Comcast fiasco, the concept of net neutrality has certainly been brought into the mainstream. Most ISPs are never quite forthcoming about their throttling, capping and otherwise interfering behavior, but that crowd certainly doesn’t include the CEO of Virgin Media, the UK’s second largest ISP.

In an interview with the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine, far from covering up their intentions, Virgin Media’s new incoming CEO Neil Berkett - who joined the Virgin Media Board just a few days ago - has launched an attack on the ideas and principles behind net neutrality.

“This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks,” he said, adding that Virgin is already in the process of doing deals to speed up the traffic of certain media providers.

There are groups out there that are claiming giving ISPs the right to regulate which sites their customers can view is a GOOD thing. Does that make any damned sense to you? It shouldn't. Because it doesn't. All it does is disenfranchise bloggers, filesharers, and basically anybody who can't afford to simultaneously pay for webspace AND bribe all the ISPs to ensure their content is let through at an equal rate.

I know that most of the people reading this aren't used to the idea that they can do anything politically, but if not you... then who? There is ONLY you. However, this isn't the first time this has happened. Internet users have stopped it before, and we have to do it again. If this kind of crap is allowed a toehold, every provider will start doing it, and the internet as we know it (a place where everyone can share information as equals) will be destroyed. But they can be stopped. has plenty of information. This is from 4 Things You Need to Know on their site.

1. An Open Internet Is Vital to America.
High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury; it’s a lifeline for every American. The Internet has fueled economic growth and engaged millions in our democracy. No other tool in history has held such promise. When we block citizens from getting online or accessing the content or applications of their choice, we undermine the Internet’s vital democratic potential. We must make sure that every American can benefit from access to a fast, open and affordable Internet. We all should be free to connect to others without censorship or discrimination.

2. Consumers Don’t Have Real Broadband Choice.
The cable and phone duopoly now controls more than 95 percent of the residential broadband market in America. Moreover, a significant portion of the country has only one broadband provider to choose from — or none at all. As a result, America has fallen behind other developed nations in high-speed Internet services. A recent survey by the International Telecommunications Union shows the United States slipping to 16th in the world in broadband penetration (down from fourth in 2001). American consumers now pay far more for slower speeds than consumers in Japan, France, Denmark, South Korea and other countries. Americans must no longer be held captive by a lack of choice.

3. Phone and Cable Companies Plan to Block, Degrade and Filter Web Content.
The top executives of nearly every major telecom company have stated that they intend to start manipu-lating content on the Internet. Some are already carrying out these plans: In 2007, Comcast blocked competing content-sharing applications; Verizon blocked text messages sent by NARAL Pro-Choice America to its own members; and AT&T launched plans to filter all Web traffic for possible copyright infringements. For years, Net Neutrality prevented network operators from interfering with and discriminating against Web traffic in this way. But a 2005 FCC decision — pushed by industry lobbyists — stripped away this protection. Now it’s up to citizens to confront this rising threat and safeguard a free-flowing Internet.

4. You Can Make a Difference.
In 2006, more than 1.5 million Americans urged Congress to take a stand against Internet gatekeepers, stopping legislation that would have gutted Net Neutrality protections. Now, Reps. Ed Markey and Chip Pickering have introduced the bipartisan “Internet Freedom Preservation Act” (HR 5353), a major step toward a forward-thinking communications policy. It ensures that Net Neutrality protections apply to new broadband services. It guarantees that economic innovation and free speech will continue to flourish on the Internet by stopping would-be gatekeepers from discriminatory blocking or interfering. It also calls for a nationwide series of public hearings. By taking the debate beyond the Beltway, we have a rare opportunity to make certain that phone and cable lobbyists no longer set the agenda. Support this important bill by visiting

For those of you who live in America, here is a letter to send to your members of Congress. All you have to do is fill in your information and will send it for you. I strongly suggest you sign it.

For those of you in Europe, your first task is easy: stop giving Virgin money. Luckily the EU is in favor of Net Neutrality, so let's hope that America doesn't set a precedent that gives assholes like Berkett the room to give you inferior service.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bitterness in Rural America

Obama's "Gaffe:" Some Perspective

I had to take a second to find an article that wasn't ridiculously biased, and included analysis on both sides of this. This blog entry seems pretty good for that.

We're dealing tonight with a classic Kinsleyian "gaffe," where a candidate says what he means and then is forced to account for it. Let's separate, for the moment, the politics of Obama's words from the argument he is making.

At his San Francisco fundraiser, Obama was sketching out a variation of the Thomas Frank argument about working class voters who seem to choose candidates whose policies cut against their economic interest. In Obama's version, working class voters in the Midwest have been inured to promises of economic redress because both Democrats and Republicans promise to help and never do; since government is a source of distress in their lives, they organize their politics around more stable institutions, like churches or cultural practices, like hunting. The outlet for their economic duress is in lashing out, in giving voice to their grievances; In Obama's formulation, Republicans are especially eager and willing to exploit cultural trigger points.

"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

There is some truth to this. Even John McCain has expressed a similar sentiment about immigration politics.

But the perilous words for Obama are "bitter," "cling to," "guns" and "religion." Those disinclined to put themselves in Obama's head will read the sentences and see Obama dismissing both religion and American gun culture the opiates of the masses and suggesting that their faith and lifestyle are the product of their bitterness. Voters may believe that one's position on cultural issues is a better reflection of their inner values than one's position on economics.

The substance of what Obama said has the makings of a very good Firing Line broadcast. (Alas...)

The elite media and most Democrats will say... "yeah.. .So? Obama is simply describing world as we know it." His opponents and people who are inclined to view Obama as an elitist will say, "he is dismissing the culture and religion of working class whites."

Indeed, the responses to Obama's words have proven (to Obama allies) a part of his argument. Conservatives are already portraying Obama as liberal, elite, out of touch with the values of ordinary Americans -- exactly the type of legerdemain that Obama was pointing to.

So there's a debate to be had about substance.

But the politics are unquestionably dangerous for a candidate whose appeal depends on him transcending traditional political adjectives like "liberal" or "elite."

Despite his working class upbringing, Obama's hyperconfidence sometimes translates as holier-than-thou, elitist, aristocratic, Dukakis-esque. Republicans know that these attributes aren't popular in middle America, so they will use every opportunity to remind independents and moderates about them.

Obama's professorial disquisition at a fundraiser reinforces in real time these stereotypes. And the complexity of his subject matter does not lend itself to an easy response.

One bright spot for Obama: his campaign's response to the story was quick and strong. Obama himself extemporaneously incorporated a defense of his remarks about an hour and a half after the story broke; the Obama campaign sent reporters examples of similar comments made by Hillary Clinton; the campaign entrusted Tommy Vietor, a mid-level spokesman, to give its official response; had a more senior campaign official given the response, it would have conveyed panic.

Obama's response is as follows:

And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we’re going to make your community better. We’re going to make it right and... nothing ever happens. And of course they’re bitter. Of course they’re frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur. The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you.

And so people end up- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington.

So I made this statement– so, here’s what rich. Senator Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’ John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain—it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch?

No, I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed-up. They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

I've lived in small-town midwestern America since I was twelve. And, uh... yeah. He's in touch with me. He's in touch with the people I know who vote for officials and politicians who don't give a fuck about their economic interests simply because they've stopped trying to find politicians who care about their economic interests. The best they can do is find someone who'll let them keep their guns, who'll let them build churches on every corner so that they can turn to God to solve problems that mortals in office don't seem to be interested in fixing.

It's bitterness plain and simple to label the government as hopelessly and unfixably corrupt, and to take that one step further and deny that anyone should even try to do better. That's bitterness, and bitterness is often a natural reaction to being seriously seriously screwed over. Rather than, oh I dunno, stop screwing people over, Clinton and McCain are just denying that the bitterness is there.

So you decide for yourself who's demeaning and devaluing the feelings and experiences of rural Americans. The candidate who acknowledges that bitterness and traces it back to political injustice, or the candidates who want to hide that people are upset in the first place?

People are bitter. They are upset. Like Obama said, you would be too. Acknowledging that is not disrespectful or condescending to rural Americans. Ignoring it is.