Just when you thought Wordpress.com was safe, I have put up a blog there.
Onward Christian Dullards
Catch this week's premiere episode: Adventures in Grocery Shopping. Welcome to Thelma Dullard's world.
Photo: fredthompson (Toomey is on the right.)
"Those Republican Apostates" is the name of a tantrum on Townhall.com by former Club for Growth (of income inequality) President Pat Toomey where he slams Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins.
This weird rhetoric wasn't just in the headline. Here's a quote from the opinion piece. (bolding mine)
In the end, the support from the three “moderates” was crucial to passing the stimulus bill. Because of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s absence, the GOP needed only one more Senate vote to mount a sustainable filibuster. Had even one of the apostates stood strong, Republicans would have been able to fashion a genuine compromise bill.
Sound familiar? It should. San Francisco Chronicle 7/2/06 (bolding mine):
"There will be no bargaining with the crusaders and the apostates" in Iraq, bin Laden said in a clear reference to efforts by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to draw insurgent groups into negotiations and amnesty agreements with his government. "There will be no half-solutions." Al-Maliki and his appointed predecessors since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq would be punished as soon as American military forces are defeated, he said.
Pat Toomey always was a fanatic, but his rhetoric has started to resemble that of Osama bin Laden. That Toomey is the favorite to win the Republican nomination in Pennsylvania shows just how crazy that party has become.
At a time when Republicans are the most unpopular they have been at least since Watergate, perhaps the Great Depression, you would think that GOP party leaders would be trying to bring more people into the party. Not de facto GOP party chief Rush Limbaugh (CNN Politicker Blog 4/28/09):
Conservative host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday he isn't sorry to see Arlen Specter leave the GOP — and that many Republicans wish the Pennsylvania senator would take a few others with him when he goes.
"A lot of people say, 'Well, Specter, take [Sen. John] McCain with you. And his daughter [Meghan]. Take McCain and his daughter with you if you're gonna…" he told listeners, dissolving in laughter.
"…..It's ultimately good. You're weeding out people who aren't really Republicans," he said.
Of course, "Keating Five" McCain is one of the most corrupt people in the Senate, and his overall record is nutty rightist. He should fit in quite well in Gopperland, yet even he isn't crazy enough to satisfy the political bloodlust during this purge.
This is another reason to wonder if the Republican Party is going the way of the Whigs or perhaps the Mastodons.
Specter didn't jump. He was pushed.
Some examples of the people that made being a Gopper execrable for Specter:
Its not like it even matters benedict Arlen Specter after voting for the porkulus bill, and his previous libtard voting record, made him a RINO, much like Olympia Snowe, John McCain, etc. At least now its official. Spectar will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning. Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.)
The Conservative Gentleman (What an ironic blog title, BTW.)
This is why we have no respect for the elderly in this country. It is why we toss them into institutions like so much trash into a container. Men like Specter have no self-respect, thus no dignity. So desperate is he to keep his seat in the Senate he has sold his soul to the opposition, become like them, men and women without a shred of decency.
We would have respected you more, you piece of filth, if you’d said, “I relinquish all party affiliation, and will vote my conscience until the end of my term at which time I will not seek reelection.” But you could not say such a thing, you lack the courage.
Quick Daily Hits:
Specter’s departure to the Democrat party is intended to be a slap in the face, maybe a nail in the coffin, of the Republican Party. Not going to work, Arlen, because we all know who you are anyways. It’s Senators like you who have weakened the Republican Party. It’s “Republicans” like you who lose the GOP votes in national elections. We need leaders with backbone who can stand for conservative principles.
To one of the all-time hypocrites who ever made politics his career, I say, See ya, Arlen, don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out. Thanks for finally owning up to who you’ve always been anyways. If you’re going to be a pain in Republican Party’s neck anyways, it’s about time you just set up shop on the other side of the aisle.
One rightist nutjob put Specter's home address on his blog. (No, I'm not going to link to it.)
Remember when Michael Steele tried to put a reasonable facade in front of the GOP. That's over:
WASHINGTON - Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today:
"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.
Let's be honest-Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.
Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."
The claim that Specter has a "left-wing voting record" is absolutely giggle worthy.
The rightists don't realize that they are not a majority in this country. They never were. Even worse for them, the failures of the Bush regime's rightist policies have further discredited them. The AWOL Rapture has taken much of the starch out of the Christian Taliban.
Instead of trying to work with moderates, the Palin/Limbaugh Goppers are engaging in a purge. The whole thing has been started by The Club for Growth (of Income Inequality) which is mostly made up of super rich Republicans in the very same NYC that far right talkers demonize.
Could it be that the GOP is headed towards being a third party?
Mayor Bloomberg's response so far to the swine flu outbreak has been disturbingly lethargic. He's trying to downplay it instead of facing it directly, which would minimize the problem.
His lack of action on closing the New York City public schools is downright reprehensible. Closing school for a couple of weeks would hardly be the end of the world. The kids could make up the time in the summer.
Like it or not, schools generally are the main venues for the spread of colds and flu. Children are notorious for spreading diseases. Closing the schools would be a reasonable precaution that would protect the public health with little or no adverse consequences.
What we have is a failure to govern by a Mayor who is completely out of touch with what is going on in our city.
The Catholic Church also deserves plenty of criticism for not closing its schools for a couple of weeks. It's bad enough that kids there have to worry about child molesting priests. Now, they needlessly face a deadly disease.
We don't need to panic, but our officials need to take reasonable, sensible steps to slow down this epidemic.
I just received another web award, this time the one with the best graphic I've seen thus far, the Honest Scrap Award. I got the award from John Abuzz, a blog that has an amazing ability to mellowly discuss things going on that make so many of us liberals apoplectic. I also admire the guy for passing it along, since it promotes community and solidarity among liberal bloggers.
Here's the explanation of the award.
“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”
"Scrap means left over, fragments, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. People like us need to tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will.
This gives me a chance to acknowledge more great blogs and do my little bit to link liberal and progressive bloggers. Solidarity is a concept that Americans hear little about. It's time to practice it. That's what I want to brag about.
These are in no particular order, and I have limited myself to choosing seven blogs in case I get another award in the future. (I'll put all the rules and regulations at the end.)
Genocide for Jesus
This blog does an excellent job of monitoring and debunking the activities of heterosexist religious extremists. It's a dirty job, and I'm glad I have this blog doing it for me. The blog's name rocks too.
Mock, Paper, Scissors
Skewering the annoying and hypocritical is entertaining. It can be quite informative if it is done as effectively as they Scissorheads do. All the crap that is going on makes having a good laugh quite therapeutic.
Ms. Sheehan's questioning of the bullshit we are constantly fed did not end with the war on Iraq. She is asking just the kind of questions all of us should be considering about the roles of the banksters, the broksters, and the politicians in making our society dysfunctional.
This blog is an excellent resource to keep informed on transgender issues. It also does an excellent job expressing the perfectly reasonable frustration and disappointment so many in the transgender community experience at the way conservative lgbt organizations like the HRC have thrown them under the bus. It can be painful reading at times, but non-trans queers like myself have an ethical obligation to read and pay attention anyway.
Preserve, Protect, and Defend
If you want to know why people are liberal, not just that they are liberal, this blog is a good place to start. When you read the postings there, you get at the underlying reasons for the blogger's liberal views, even when the subject is the latest thing bombarding us from the corporate media's news cycle.
This blog focuses on what is a touchy issue for many: the cruel and senseless religious faith can motivate people to do. Breaking a media taboo is one of the most important thing a blogger can do. This blog does it quite well.
Green Is the New Red
If you think you are aware of the full extent of human rights abuses started under the "war on terror," think again unless you know that environmental and animal rights activists are being included in this. Whether you agree or disagree with the views and actions of the people being targeted, conflating vandalism (or plain old dissent) with terrorism endangers anyone whose political views are outside what corporate interests consider acceptable. It also cruelly mocks the victims and families of victims of actual terrorism.
Rules and Regulations
These are the rules and the instructions for the 'chosen ones:
1.You must brag about the award
2.You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger
3.You must choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or you may improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends (hey, I haven't been actively blogging that long myself)!
4.Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Or think of it this way--show the seven random victims' names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were , prized with Honest Weblog Award. Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
5.List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on with the instructions!
Ten Things About Me
(I stuck this at the end because I figured this is the part people would find least interesting on a political blog.)
1) I adore chocolate.
2) My favorite artists (not in order): Childe Hassam, Renoir, Rachel Whiteread, René Magritte, Max Ernst, Jaspar Johns and his lover Robert Rauschenberg (I loved their work before I found out about their personal lives.), Doris Salcedo
3) I prefer men who don't shave their bodies.
4) I hate okra.
5) I wish telepathy existed but am sensible enough to acknowledge that it does not.
6) I hate websites with small font sizes even though I can read the text.
7) I hope I never have to spend time in Texas again.
8) Twitter appears to me to be the most effective boring content generator in the history of the Internet.
9) I love orchids.
10) I wish I was not allergic to dogs.
Our nation is involved in one of the deadliest wars on Earth right now, the war on Iraq. Over 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed in this war, a number that dwarfs the disturbing US death and casualty numbers. The hundreds of billions we have spent destructively in another country are a major contributing factor to our banking crisis and our deep recession.
Yet, our corporate media only mention it on an occasional basis. The economic consequences are censored from coverage entirely. We have so much media consolidation and corporate power over news content, our nation is sleepwalking through one of the biggest crimes ever committed in our name.
However, it isn't just the corporate media that are at fault. The peace movement has focused little on Iraq ever since Obama has been in the White House. Living under the delusion that the Obama Administration and the Democratic controlled Congress are friendly on peace issues, peace groups have put way too much time into pushing ever conceivable issue that interests them, ignoring the political reality that focusing on one or two issues is necessary for any progress in a hostile governmental environment.
It's as if many peace groups have decided to let President Obama put a fig leaf over the continued occupation and slaughter of the Iraqi people. They are more interest to access to politicians and getting invited to meetings than they are in stopping the Iraq War. Every day, every leader of every peace organization should be asking herself or himself the following question.
“What else can I do to stop the Iraq war?”
Blood and Oil 2 by ~shattercat on deviantART
Columbia's government carries the trappings of democracy, and the US corporate media presents that regime as a freely elected government. Never mind that political opponents are routinely detained, harassed, and even killed by the rightist government and its death squads.
Because the Uribe regime in that country panders to US corporate interests (explaining the Bush regime's obsessive effort to try to pass a corporate controlled trade deal with them), our delightful corporate media discusses at length how the FARC rebels are involved in the drug trade, while leaving out the fact that the government there is at least as much involved.
Gee, can you imagine that?
Anyway, the Uribe dictatorship has recently been investigated by some parliamentarians from Britain's Labor Party (acting against the wishes of Gordon Brown and his cabinet ministers) and other human rights advocates. Here is their 4/11/09 press statement, sans signatories. (Hat Tip Ten Percent)
PRESS STATEMENT: JUSTICE FOR COLOMBIA DELEGATION
We are a delegation of British Parliamentarians and British, American and Canadian trade unionists, and have spent seven days here in Colombia gathering information on human and labour rights abuses. We have met a wide range of individuals and groups across Colombian society, covering civil, political, legal and military interests, including trade unions, students and teachers, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers, trade union lawyers, human rights defenders, and former FARC hostages. We have travelled to Arauca province to hear the testimonials of communities and individuals caught up in the conflict in that part of the country. We visited Buon Pastor prison in Bogota and spoke to the women political prisoners incarcerated there; we also met with Martin Sandoval, imprisoned unjustly in Arauca. We had the opportunity in speaking also with senior members of Alvaro Uribe's government and the President himself. We are grateful to all those individuals and groups who have generously given us their time.
We are shocked at what we have heard, and have no doubts on the evidence given that the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe, and the security forces, are complicit in human rights crimes. We are convinced also that the murderous activities of the paramilitary forces are condoned and actively supported by the government and army. These crimes are aggravated by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators and the failure of the legal system to prosecute the criminals and those who issue the orders.
Instead of imprisoning the real criminals, the Government has locked up trade unionists, members of the political opposition and human rights defenders like Martin Sandoval. We call for his immediate release and that of other political prisoners and trade unionists.
On our return to the United Kingdom and North America we will be calling for:
# an immediate end to all military aid and support to the Colombian Government;
# no Free Trade Agreements until human and labour rights are respected in an internationally verifiable way;
# the public exposure of multinational companies, such as for their complicity in human and labour rights violations in Colombia;
# an immediate end to the criminalisation of legitimate and democratic opposition, including Senator Piedad Cordoba, Senator Gloria Ramirez, Congressman Wilson Borja and Dr. Carlos Lozano and others;
# support for dialogue, a peace process and a humanitarian exchange;
# An end to extrajudicial executions and 'false positives' carried out by the Colombian army.
A full account of our findings and recommendations will be published in the near future.
When the rightist pundits demonize Hugo Chavez with false allegations, they seem to get their inspiration from the actual actions of the Colombian dictatorship.
National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair's efforts in a recent memo to rationalize the crimes against humanity committed by the CIA are dangerous and unAmerican. While he did try to justify ending some torture, the Obama Administration policy, other aspects of the memo have the primary effect of obstructing justice.
For instance, Blair's memo makes the dangerous and factually inaccurate claims about the efficacy of torture. CNN 4/22/09:
"High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country," retired Adm. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, said in the two-page memo dated April 16 and sent to colleagues.
Credible sources on interrogations say that torture doesn't provide accurate information. How are we going to restore the American peoples' confidence in the intelligence community when we are told such preposterous lies to the contrary.
Let's look at what actually happened. The Bush regime and CIA employees following criminal orders repeatedly tortured detainees until the torture victims said whatever the Bush regime wanted. Consider the "intelligence" gathered by the torture.
Phony Intelligence: Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party regime was aligned with Al Qaida.
Fact: The two groups were mortal enemies.
Phony Intelligence: Iraq was had chemical and biological weapons and had a nuclear weapons program.
Fact: Iraq had discarded all of their chemical and biological weapons roughly a decade before and had made no efforts whatsoever to obtain a nuclear weapons capability
Remember the fake "terror alerts" the Bush regime put out at very convenient times during the 2004 presidential campaign. Guess where the "intelligence" came from.
Torture was used by the Bush regime, the CIA, the NSA, crony contractors, and who knows who else to defraud our country into an Iraq war that has cost the lives of over 4000 US troops, an unknown number of mercenaries, and over 1.3 million Iraqis. Torturing wasn't limited to being a crime against humanity itself, it also was part of propaganda efforts to commit one of the worst crimes against humanity: a war of aggression. German generals who had nothing to do with the Holocaust were successfully prosecuted for just such war crimes after World War II.
Until everyone involved in torture is prosecuted, patriotic Americans will have no way to trust or respect the CIA.
Dennis Blair doesn't want anyone prosecuted. America needs a Director of Intelligence we can trust. Blair simply is not that person. He needs to go.
Catholic pontiff Joseph Ratzinger's habit of spewing heterosexist nonsense is not only a legitimate subject of condemnation. It also is a legitimate subject of inquiry and analysis.
The Catholic Church has changed its attitudes on the Earth revolving around the sun. It hasn't been so long since they admitted that evolution happened. Yet, they still make barbaric and superstitious claims about homosexuality.
Part of it is something that is pretty much secret to most heteros. Most Catholic priests are sexually active gay men. One weird rite of passage for so many gay Catholic men is to see a priest that sermonized against homosexuality at a gay bar, bookstore, pride celebration (frockless) or at a bathhouse. Closeted queers are often vocal in their homophobic comments, hoping that those comments will divert any questions about their sexual orientations or gender identities. Expand that to trying to keep most of a global priesthood in the closet, and you can see part of the reason why Ratzinger, regardless of what his sexual orientation actually may be, is so fanatical in his bigoted comments against the queer community.
Another reason has to do with the disturbing minority of priests who are child rapists. Ratzi and so many other Catholic clerics have tried to cover this up for years, though that strategy has backfired. Getting the flock all riled up over homosexuality or abortion is a great way to divert attention.
But, there is more to it than that. Although priests raping girls and boys both are common occurrences, raping boys gets more public attention because of our society's heterosexism and misogyny. Many of the boys used by the rapist priests are gay, which makes them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. If those boys can be convinced that being gay is wrong, they are more likely to believe that they are at fault or to feel too self conscious to go public. Even delaying the coming out process of young gay victims of priestly rape can protect the perpetrators via the statute of limitations. The repugnant reality is that the heterosexist rantings of the Catholic Church are partly designed to protect the church from the victims of its pedophile priests.
The other reason, of course, is that the Bible is homophobic, and Christianity is a homophobic religion. However, the Catholic clergy routinely reject other things in the Bible according to the dictates of the latest Pope. Their clinging to homophobic bigotry cannot be explained by the generic bigotry of Christianity alone.
Photo: Joy Weese Moll
I read the post complaining about filling out taxes at Swerve Left, and it got me thinking. He focused largely on having to pay taxes for reprehensible things. However, it got me interested in discussing why the damned forms are so complex.
Part of it probably is due to lobbying by tax preparers. I think that is especially likely here in New York where you have to add and subtract the same numbers on different pages of the forms. However, there is a bigger underlying reason why the forms are so ridiculously byzantine.
There are way too many tax breaks for the rich.
So many of the lines on the forms are either for deducting things that middle class people, not to mention poor people, cannot afford. A lot of other items are income that the government treats differently and favorably because rich people get it. Capital gains are only the most blatant area where unearned money is taxed at lower rates than money people earn by working for it.
If we had a more equitable and less corrupt political system, the rich wouldn't get away with what they are doing. In the process, filling out tax forms would much less painful and annoying.
Hat Tip to Media Crashers.
Waterboarding you can believe in? That's what Citizens for Legitimate Government called it in a recent email I received from them. I am so thoroughly disgusted with Obama for so many things I cannot imagine voting for him or any of the Democrats any time soon. Some of the other ones are:
- Continuing the Iraq War until at least the end of 2011
- Rick Warren
- Continuing the Pink Ceiling on queer cabinet appointees
- Delaying the repeal of the military ban indefinitely
- Bailing out the banksters and the broksters instead of their victims
- Continuing the practice of "extraordinary rendition" (in plain English kidnapping people and sending them to other countries to be tortured)
- Refusing to push for a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich ASAP
- Allowing a racist, misogynist, corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent jackass like Larry Summers to guide his economic policies
- Doing more to bail out banksters and broksters than auto workers
- Spending only a piddly amount on mass transit while wasting a huge amounts of money promoting Big Oil (e.g. road funding, the Iraq War)
It's time to boycott Jamaica in response to the horrifying violence against queers that goes on there, with the de facto approval of the government. OK, OK, this boycott is years overdue.
The boycott started in April in San Francisco. From PrideSource 4/9/09:
Citing a new U.S. State Department report on human rights in Jamaica, a group of San Francisco gay activists, including city Supervisor Bevan Dufty, launched a boycott of the nation March 28.
International gay human rights activists have routinely named Jamaica as one of the most homophobic nations in the world, and several of the nation's popular dancehall music stars have been blocked from performing in other countries because of lyrics that promote the killing of homosexuals.
The Department of State's "2008 Human Rights Report: Jamaica" says: "The law prohibits 'acts of gross indecency' (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between men, in public or in private, which are punishable by 10 years in prison. The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals. Police often did not investigate such incidents."
On April 15, there was a dumping of Jamaican booze at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City. Here's a brief statement from the owners of the Stonewall Inn.
“We, as the owners of the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the Gay rights movement, refuse to support, in any way, shape or form, the oppression of any people especially our gay brothers and sisters in Jamaica,” the Stonewall Inn said in its statement. “We ask all people of all walks of life to send a clear message to the Jamaican people and their government, that as long as they continue to allow and condone violence and hatred toward the Gay community, we will neither buy their products nor support their tourist trade. To do so is to tacitly support the current climate of oppression.”
I just wish all other bar owners cared about the queer community as much as these do.
Here's some video from the protest.
Jamaicans telling their own reasons for supporting the boycott are the most persuasive people on the video.
Considering how dangerous Jamaica is for queers, it is crazy for us to travel there under the current climate. If noting else, the boycott will serve to warn queers abroad not to travel there. The Boycott Jamaica website also is calling for people to boyoctt Myers Rum and Red Stripe Beer. I'm glad to support this.
It's about time that queers learn that education and persuasion have been insufficient in ending heterosexist oppression. We will be the international whipping boys and girls as long as we don't fight back. We should electorally punish heterosexist politicians and boycott those who oppress us, including religious hate groups like the Mormon Church.
I've read some arguments opposing the boycott. Most of their excuses are the same ones that the Reagan Administration used to oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa. When you know that history, the rhetoric of boycott opponents doesn't just employ bad logic, it's truly reprehensible.
Please visit BoycottJamaica.org!
Update 1: These comments by a hetero opponent of the boycott show why the boycott is so important and why it is crazy for queers to travel there.
So, gays plan to boycott Jamaica and they are encouraging those who love their gay friends and relatives to do the same. I had to put my frustration in writing. This is Jamaica and we are against homosexuals.
There is no if, but or maybe about it. Why are they forcing us to accept them? We do not have to. We are a Christian country and homosexuality is contrary to our practices, so why should we drop all our morals, values and religious standards just to please their forbidden choice?
Update 2: Here's a Jamaican blogger's posting in favor of the boycott.
The star hosts of CNN and MSNBC news shows have notoriously derided the tea party demonstrations around the country with reference to the practice of teabagging (which I had never heard of before they brought it up). As John noted, both networks' "journalists" used the rallies as an occasion for childish sexual innuendoes -- in the case of MSNBC, the same obscene teabag "joke" was repeated 51 times in a 13-minute segment.
The Media Research Center detailed the teabagging references in an informative press release. The Huffington Post noted the references as well as more "jokes" in the same vein (including a video of Cooper's jape, over which David Gergen cluelessly chortles).
While sitting in for Keith Olbermann on April 15, MSNBC's David Shuster packed the teabagging puns into his report on the protests. Shuster is like a juvenile student who has commandeered the loudspeaker system at his high school to commit the prank of a lifetime. Maybe it was just a case of Olbermann's writers feeding Shuster the same good stuff they usually put in Olbermann's mouth.
I encourage you to read the entire rant. It's a hoot. If you need any further incentive, the post's title is "An Obscene Insult."
TV and radio critic Bill Mann has an excellent Huntington Post article which exposes a largely unknown practice that explains part of why Rush Limbaugh is syndicated in so many markets.
It's because -- ready for this? -- Rush's show was, and presumably still is, given away for free to many local radio stations.
This shocker is because of a little-known practice in broadcast syndication called a "barter deal." (Barter deals were briefly mentioned in Michael Wolff's first-rate recent piece on Rush in Vanity Fair).
Here's how a barter deal works: To launch the show, Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks -- the same folks who syndicate wingnut du jour Glen Beck -- gave Limbaugh's three hours away -- that's right, no cash -- to local radio stations, mostly in medium and smaller markets, back in the early 1990's.
So, a local talk station got Rush's show for zilch. In exchange, Premiere took for itself much of the local station's available advertising time (roughly 15 minutes an hour) and packed the show with national ads it had already pre-sold.
Think Gold Bond Medicated Powder.
It's a very sweet deal for local radio station owners, explained Bill Exline a respected radio broker (he helped people buy and sell local stations). "Not only does the local station get three hours of free programming," Exline explained, "but that's one less local talk-show host on staff they need. It makes small- and medium-market radio properties more profitable and attractive by cutting down staff expenses."
When you have an massive corporation behind you, it's easy to do well. And, if you think that massive corporate support like this would go to a liberal talk show host, you haven't paid much attention to how corporate power has pushed a far right agenda. Even at MSNBC, things only seem so "liberal" because there is one token liberal, Rachel Maddow, and one token moderate, Keith Olbermann. The rest of that network is dominated by conservative and rightist anchors with low profiles in addition to Tweety, a conservative Phonycrat, and the fringe right Joe Scarborough. (BTW: what really did happen to Lori Klausutus?)
Syndicator chicanery of the variety exposed by Mann is only part of the problem. The other issue is the role of advertising. Advertisers, for the most part, are huge corporations with rightist Republicans as CEOs and major shareholders. Even worse, most privately held corporations are owned entirely by Gopper nutjobs.
A lot of liberals were disappointed by Al Franken's show on Air America. His centrist politics, including conservative pro war views were certainly out of step with most of the network's listeners. (I think that is why he avoided taking callers, which usually is a staple for talk radio.) Yet, even he had trouble getting advertising, even in markets where he was beating Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Really.
The sad reality is that centrist and liberal talkers don't just need to beat rightist nutjobs like Limbaugh in order to be more profitable. They have to obliterate the Goppers in the ratings just to keep up.
That's why we should laugh when Limbaugh claims that his success shows that his views enjoy gigantic popularity. Yes, Rush and his clones at Faux News may be benefiting from anti-Obama feelings on the right, but that cannot obscure us from seeing how the whole corporate media system is as fixed as pro wrestling.
Mike Prysner, Iraq vet, shows how much a point of view can change when confronted with ugly reality.
OK, here's what actually is happening with the teabagger protests.
1) Most radio stations, especially rightist talk stations, are owned by a small number of corporations.
2) Those corporations and the syndicators are owned by really, really rich people who do not pay anywhere near their fair share in taxes.
3) Those owners are mad that Bush's tax cuts for the rich are going to expire.
4) The owner class orders the rightist talkers to whip their imbeciles into a frenzy.
5) Some of those imbeciles go to the teabagging protests and fight against their own economic interests.
Now, a few of the teabaggers are rich people who would benefit economically from not paying closer to their fair share in taxes, but most rich people wouldn't hang out with the poorly educated people who make up most of the teabaggers.
This has got to be some of the most pathetic Astroturf I've seen in a long time.
This posting has been submitted to the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm.
Regardless of the corporate media's lost interest in the involvement of Rick Warren in the inauguration of President Obama, the issue is still quite important. No matter how hard he tries to put a mainstream facade on his religious extremism as is the habit of Orange County, CA fundamentalists, Warren's real agenda hasn't changed.
In a previous posting, I ran this YouTube video of Warren preaching to his flock in a stadium. There, he asked them to emulate the behavior of followers of Hitler and Lenin. He then had his worshipers hold up sign saying the chant, "Whatever It Takes."
He claimed to have built a network of 400,000 churches for his "revolution." The video includes a transcript.
When you listen to Warren's speech, it is obvious that he wants to be in charge of a theocratic revolution. Do you want to live under such a regime?
Warren had way too much clout even before Obama and McCain shamelessly pandered to him during the 2008 presidential election. The Nation ran an expose of the favoritism Warren has been getting from Congress.
The California megachurch minister and opponent of gay marriage who will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration had his income tax returns audited in 1996. When the IRS tried to collect the taxes it claimed he owed, Warren went to court. Congress then passed a law granting Warren's tax deduction, pre-empting the US Court of Appeals from even taking up the case against him. The votes in the House and Senate were unanimous.
The IRS permits members of the clergy to claim exemptions for their housing. At the time of Warren's audit the amount claimed had to be "reasonable"--it shouldn't exceed the fair market value for the rental of the home. That 1996 audit concluded that Warren was deducting more than that--the IRS said he owed it $55,300. Warren challenged the IRS in tax court, arguing that his housing exemption should be unlimited.
The facts were simple: in 1993 Warren deducted $77,663, his entire Saddleback Church salary that year, as a housing expense--and paid no taxes at all on that salary. In addition, he claimed a deduction for his mortgage expenses--even though they had been covered by the salary. He made similar claims in subsequent tax returns.
Warren is an incredibly powerful man with a dangerous agenda. His speech at the inauguration have made him even more prominent and politically powerful. Warren's efforts to create a relatively harmless public image cannot be taken seriously by anyone who cares about state/church separations or the consequences of theocracy for queers, women, and non-Christians.
All anyone should need to do to see that the institution of marriage is dubious is to look at the high divorce and domestic violence rates that the institution causes. Another obvious approach is to just look around you and see how miserable most heteros are in their marriages.
Our society has so thoroughly romanticized marriage that we have completely forgotten marriage's original purpose. Marriage was originally intended to codify and enforce the status of women and children as property of men. That notion has gotten significantly less popular outside of the Christian Right and other religious extremists in our society, but the original structures of the institution are in place.
Can an institution that is designed as a property relationship really be turned into a loving, egalitarian one? Doesn't it make sense to start over?
The hateful and bigoted rhetoric of the Mormons and others who think that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman tend to make decent people want to be on the opposite side of them. Also, having two different legal standards based on sexual orientation is understandably objectionable.
When you add the highly offensive efforts of people to use the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on people who don't share them, it is easy to see why people just want to shut them up by making legal marriage an institution independent of gender.
However, the long term solution to the marriage issue is abolition of all marriage, regardless of gender. It's not an easy struggle, and it probably won't be won in my lifetime. But, challenging deeply rooted and oppressive institutions is never easy.
The early gay liberationists were strongly critical of the institution of marriage as have been many feminists over the years. However, as lgbt people have focused more on acceptance than liberation in the last decade or so, pretending that we all want to mimic heterosexual marriage has become the biggest focus of our movement, to the detriment of issues that effect far more queers. The vast majority of us will never get married, regardless of the law.
At some point, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities need to face and tell the truth about marriage.
Marriage is a violent and oppressive institution that needs to go.
Photo: NOAA Photo Library
If you think our financial markets are getting farther and farther away from sound investment and much closer to reckless speculation, this might interest you. I recently learned about an incredibly flaky financial instrument: the weather derivative. Wikipedia has a description of weather derivatives(taken today):
Weather derivatives are financial instruments that can be used by organizations or individuals as part of a risk management strategy to reduce risk associated with adverse or unexpected weather conditions. The difference from other derivatives is that the underlying asset (rain/temperature/snow) has no direct value to price the weather derivative. Farmers can use weather derivatives to hedge against poor harvests caused by drought or frost; theme parks may want to insure against rainy weekends during peak summer seasons; and gas and power companies may use heating degree days (HDD) or cooling degree days (CDD) contracts to smooth earnings. A sports event managing company may wish to hedge the loss by entering into a weather derivative contract because if it rains the day of the sporting event, fewer tickets will be sold.
Heating degree days are one of the most common types of weather derivative. Typical terms for an HDD contract could be: for the November to March period, for each day where the temperature falls below 18 degrees Celsius keep a cumulative count of the difference between 18 degrees and the average daily temperature. Depending upon whether the option is a put option or a call option, pay out a set amount per heating degree day that the actual count differs from the strike.
The first weather derivative deal was in July 1996 when Aquila Energy structured a dual-commodity hedge for Consolidated Edison Co. The transaction involved ConEd's purchase of electric power from Aquila for the month of August. The price of the power was agreed to, but a weather clause was embedded into the contract. This clause stipulated that Aquila would pay ConEd a rebate if August turned out to be cooler than expected. The measurement of this was referenced to Cooling Degree Days measured at New York City's Central Park weather station. If total CDDs were from 0 to 10% below the expected 320, the company received no discount to the power price, but if total CDDs were 11 to 20% below normal, Con Ed would receive a $16,000 discount. Other discounted levels were worked in for even greater departures from normal.
After that humble beginning, weather derivatives slowly began trading over-the-counter in 1997. As the market for these products grew, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange introduced the first exchange-traded weather futures contracts (and corresponding options), in 1999. The CME currently trades weather derivative contracts for 18 cities in the United States, nine in Europe, six in Canada and two in Japan. Most of these contracts track cooling degree days or heating degree days, but recent additions track frost days in the Netherlands and monthly/seasonal snowfall in Boston and New York. A major early pioneer in weather derivatives was Enron Corporation, through its EnronOnline unit.
A logical thinker should note that these weather derivatives got their initial push from Enron, yes Enron.
I'm sure a blindly conservative or libertarian person would defend this as spreading risk. However, when people speculate on derivatives this flaky, its overall effect on the economy is destabilizing. When futures markets try to take on the function of the insurance industry in a crass and greedy way, it's both bizarre and dangerous. We need to strictly regulate derivatives and other dodgy financial instruments and limit the varieties that are legal.
If turning Wall St. into the Las Vegas strip only hurt wealthy investors, then no one would have a reason to care about this. But, speculation is a root cause of the huge bailouts and the economic crises we face today.
There has been a proverbial elephant in the living room of the corporate media's coverage of the Binghamton shootings: the role of the NRA and other gun control opponents in making the whole thing happen.
If our country was responsible enough to ban private gun ownership, very few of these shootings would happen. The guns simply would not be available. Yet, the corporate media censor this fact and censor that responsibility of the NRA and other gun control opponents for these shootings.
In the real world, there simply is no possible way to support private gun ownership without enabling every crime committed with guns. That includes all of the gay bashings, robberies, rapes, and murders that are committed with guns. You are putting the guns in the hands of the criminals if you support gun ownership.
In 2004, over 29,000 people in this country were killed by guns (lower statistics are generally limited to homicides or exclude suicides). To put this in perspective, this is comparable to the deaths in over nine September 11 attacks. Over 64,000 people were injured with guns.
The issue of guns being used for suicides is especially troubling. Unlike most methods of committing suicide, the rapid finality of gunshots makes it impossible for people to change their minds.
The Mumbai attacks show us that guns can be quite effective terrorist weapons. However, the level of gun terrorism on the streets of the US is far greater than that in those horrific attacks.
If you think that you are a responsible gun owner, think again. One of the main sources for guns on our streets is stolen guns. By owning guns, you are increasing the supply of illegally available guns without even realizing it.
If you wonder "what kind of people" are responsible for the Binghamton attacks and you support private ownership, you can discover what one of them is like by looking in the mirror. No matter how much you try to deny or rationalize what you are doing, you have your share of the responsibility. That doesn't just apply to the extremists at the NRA, who are playing a leading role in the slaughter. It applies to anyone who opposes banning guns.
By the way, "gun safety" is an oxymoron. All guns are dangerous. The only way to have safety from firearms is to get rid of the things.
Phony "elections" in Iraq are nothing new. Scott Ritter reported on the massive Bush regime election fraud in 2005. Now the puppet regime Iraq is continuing the tradition by engaging in massive election fraud in the regional elections that occurred earlier this year.
Do we know this because of the New York Times, the CBS Evening News, or CNN? That was a joke. They are still doing their utmost to shill for the Iraq War. That's why Alternet and other independent media are so important. From Abeer Mohammed and Neil Arun of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, we find out the following in a 3/3/09 Alternet article.
Iraq's election commission is fighting back against claims that it failed to take account of grave violations in tightly contested provincial polls.
Last week it released final results from the January 31 election, confirming Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's allies came top in ten of 14 provinces where polls were held.
It also released details of electoral violations, confirming that none of the 20 cases of serious fraud it had investigated were severe enough to affect the overall outcome.
Sound good? It shouldn't. Stalin and Hitler said that their elections were fair and free too. Later in the article, we find out what really happened.
Over the last few weeks, IWPR-trained journalists have gathered several reports of alleged violations, ranging from ballot boxes going temporarily missing to family members voting for absent relatives.
The strongest allegations of fraud so far have come from the Iraqiya list of former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
"The majority of violations occurred in Baghdad, Salahaddin and Anbar," said Ali Nesaif, a member of parliament with Allawi's list. "Some boxes were stolen from polling centers in Salahaddin as well as Diyala."
The Sadrist bloc has also voiced anger at the election commission's findings.
"We have been mistreated in this election. IHEC was not fair -- it was biased in favor of other lists," Amir Tahar al-Kinani, the leader of a list backing Sadr told IWPR.
He pointed out that initial results showed the party was in second place in Maysan province, followed by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, SIIC.
"In the final results, we dropped to third position, while SIIC took second place. How can that happen?" asked Kinani.
A list led by Ali Hatim Sulaiman, a tribal leader, was challenging initial results in Anbar, said the source.
SIIC, which currently runs Baghdad's provincial council, had reportedly contested votes in the capital.
It happened the same way that Bush "won" the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections here in the US: via fraud.
There was even open vote buying by an election observer. This sounds like a GOP wet dream.
Abu Qasim, a 44-year-old government employee in Baghdad, said he saw an election observer issuing ten U.S. dollar mobile phone cards in front of a polling station.
"When I saw this, I returned home without voting because I realised that the country is ruined and the elections don't mean anything anymore," he said.
If newspapers reported important news stories like these rather than censoring them, they wouldn't be in as big of a financial mess. Why should people pay money to be misled and defrauded?
When any politicians talk about Iraq being a "democracy," you know they are lying through their teeth. There is no democracy in Iraq. The overall level of violence is higher now than it was before the escalation due to the fact that the main source of the violence, the US military, has severely escalated its killings.
It's all a crock of shit.
A politician lying??? Oh my!!! What a shock!!!!!
President Obama told a whopper of a lie on his speech announcing his plans to drag out the war on Iraq even longer. (Democracy Now! 3/26/09)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As a candidate for president, I made clear my support for a timeline of sixteen months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we’ve made and to protect our troops. These consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next eighteen months. So let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31st, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.
The lie at the end of this about the "combat mission" ending by 8/31/10 should be easy to spot and debunk. There is simply no possible way that you can have tens of thousands of US troops occupying Iraq without them getting into combat, even if that were not the intent.
As you might expect, the military knows this and they have come up with a fig leaf. Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service told DN's audience what the actual situation is intended to be.
GARETH PORTER: Well, the evidence of this plan to continue to keep combat brigades in Iraq past the August 31st deadline is very clear from looking into the military planning that has been done with regard to the brigade combat teams, the basic combat organization of the US Army in Iraq for the past six years. So I basically began to talk to some of the people who’ve been close to the military planning, specifically in the US Army, over the past few months. And there’s no secret about this, in fact.
What’s happening is that the basic combat organization in Iraq, the brigade combat team, is going to be slightly revamped by adding a few dozen, perhaps more than that, officers who will be doing the advising and assistance directly with the Iraqi military and police, perhaps some other institutions, as well—it’s not clear—but they will be added on top of the existing brigade combat team, rather than having any fundamental change in the structure of those organizations in Iraq. So, what we have is the same combat potential, same combat organization, which will remain on the ground in Iraq.
Now, there will be some drawdown. There’s no doubt about that. But the promise that President Obama made on February 27th that all combat brigades would be withdrawn from Iraq, that simply is not true. It’s not going to happen.
I remember how the Bush regime fired or pushed into forced retirement generals who opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq (i.e. the honest generals). If Obama is getting resistance to a genuine desire to stop the war on the Iraqi people, he could easily fire General Betrayus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
People need to reinvigorate the movement to stop the Iraq War. We cannot trust or rely on Barack Obama, just as we cannot trust or rely on any politician.
If you want meaningful change, you will have to push the institutions that control this country and the people who run it to break the bad, conservative habits that are creating discrimination, stagnation, and misery.
1) Tell the Obama Administration to Make Lifting the Military Ban a Priority
Much of the debate on lifting the military ban is distorted by Bill Clinton's decision to call his version of the ban "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Under the policy, the military routinely does ask and runs witchhunts against lgbt servicemembers. Now the Republican Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced that the Obama administration will postpone ending "DADT" indefinitely, it's time to let them know that we want them to start working on this critical issue immediately.
Contact the White House:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
2. Tell Your Representatives to Support HR 676, Medicare for All
Democrats.com has a petition asking members of Congress to co-sponsor HR 676, the single payer healthcare legislation. Single payer is the only proposal in Congress that has cost savings. It also is the only one that provides real, universal healthcare to everyone because it gets HMOs and insurance companies out of insurance, and they routinely deny life saving medical care to people who have "coverage" now.
Please find out if your House Member is co-sponsoring HR 676.
If s/he hasn't, please sign the petition!
3. Tell Secretary of Agriculture to Fight Global Warming
From Care2's Petition:
But early in its tenure, the Bush administration excluded Alaska's Tongass rainforest from roadless protections. The Tongass is our nation's largest national forest and the largest remaining old-growth temperate rainforest in the world.
This spring, the selling of old growth timber in roadless areas in the Tongass is scheduled to begin. Clearcutting old growth permanently damages its habitat value for old growth dependent species and building new roads will further fragment this important ecosystem.
Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to end the Bush administration's exemption of the Tongass from the roadless rule.
There is a lot of CO2 trapped in old growth forests. Logging them reduces that, and clear cutting reduces it dramatically. Fighting Global Warming involves actions on many fronts, and this is an important one.
Please sign the petition!