Candidate Obama ran against the Iraq War, at least in the Democratic primaries. He eventually settled on a promise to bring home most of our troops in the first 16 months of his presidency. He already is breaking that promise by trying to drag the war on indefinitely.
Some would say that the facts have changed. One fact has. The US economy has collapsed, and the war on the Iraqi people is one of the most important causes of our economic meltdown. We simply cannot afford to divert hundreds of billions of dollars more towards devastating another country and slaughtering its people. The economic collapse provides a vitally important reason for ending the occupation ASAP.
There never was any legitimate to get us into the war, and there is no legitimate reason for us to stay there. Propagandists for corporate interests profiting from these crimes against humanity routinely lie and say we are "helping" the Iraqi people. You don't help people by killing, raping, and torturing them. You don't kill them by inflicting a constant barrage of damage to their infrastructure and keeping them from rebuilding their country.
The only people in Iraq that are being helped by the war are Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's recruiting and training efforts are helped enormously by this war. Ironically, Al Qaeda didn't have a significant presence in the parts of Iraq controlled by Saddam Hussein before the occupation started. Supporting the Iraq War is the practical equivalent of building a monument to the 911 hijackers.
There are no logistical reasons why our troops couldn't have all been withdrawn from Iraq by now. Such claims are slurs against our military, accusing them of the most grotesque incompetence.
There are lots of bullshit excuses for the war, but the reasons are simple. Big Oil, arms merchants, and mercenary corporations are making shitloads of money off the war and stand to make a lot more.
This war shows us that "Power, Corruption, and Lies" isn't just a New Order album title.
"Pro life" is a lie.
The same organizations that oppose abortion oppose life saving condom distribution and AIDS education programs. They oppose birth control which would prevent hundreds of millions of deaths due to starvation, malnutrition, and disease.
The "pro life" liars are also terrorists.
(LA Times 5/31/09)
The late-term abortion provider was shot at church in Wichita, Kan. A suspect was arrested three hours later about 170 miles away, police say. Tiller, 67, had been a victim of violence in the past.
Dr. George Tiller, one of the few American physicians who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in the lobby of his church today in Wichita, Kan., according to his attorneys.
This is nothing new. Anti abortion terrorists are a sadly common feature in our country. And, what they do is hardly the acts of isolated individuals.
Misogynist and racist opponents of abortion are perfectly aware of the fact that fetuses and embryos are not human beings. No sane person with an IQ over 40 genuinely believes that abortion involves taking human lives.
Of course, the bulk of the anti choice extremists are lying. They know they can't win if they admit that they want women reduced to the legal status of incubators. They know they can't win if they admit that they are trying to force white women to have more white babies.
They also know that there are some really stupid and crazy people who oppose abortion. The anti choice leaders and most of their flock are deliberately lying in hopes that some of the lunatic fringe will snap and engage in acts of terrorism.
The anti choice movement got exactly what they were aiming for today.
Dr. George Tiller was a great American and a true patriot. The anti American religious extremists who are responsible for his death pose a real threat to freedom and democracy in our country. They hate America and American values at least as much as the 911 hijackers did.
In a previous posting, I criticized the Notre Dame protesters for protesting against abortion instead of child raping priests. Instead of trying to reduce women to the legal status of incubators, they had a moral obligation to lead a major campaign for serious action in the Catholic Church against child raping priests and the clergy who protect them.
It turned out that my commentary was prescient. Three days after my post, a report in Ireland detailed massive physical abuse and rape of children in Catholic schools in that country. From Reuters 5/20/09 (Hat Tip Ten Percent):
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Priests beat and raped children during decades of abuse in Catholic-run institutions in Ireland, an official report said on Wednesday, but it stopped short of naming the perpetrators.
Orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland were places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse said in a harrowing five-volume report that took nine years to compile.
The Commission, chaired by a High Court judge, blasted successive generations of priests, nuns and Christian Brothers -- a Catholic religious order -- for beating, starving and, in some cases raping, children in Ireland's now defunct network of industrial and reformatory schools from the 1930s onwards.
An interesting aspect of the Notre Dame misogynython was that it was organized mostly by Catholic priests. It's pretty obvious now that the Catholic church leadership knew the report was coming and decided to stage a media circus to keep American eyes off of the international problem of sexual and physical abuse of children by Catholic priests.
It worked. The Irish report got far less media coverage here than it deserved, being one of the most important international news stories of May 2009.
Despite President Obama's decision to follow the Bush regime policy of covering up the photos of torture, the photos are leaking out anyway. One of the most common forms of torture practiced at Abu Ghraib is rape, and here are two links to blog postings which show the photos.
1) At Largely
Air America also is reporting that Abu Ghraib photos depict rape.
Bush's rape rooms in Iraq are infamous in the Arab and Muslim nations. Obama is trying to keep we the people of the United States of America from facing what was done in our country's name. It's all about domestic politics and our nation's grotesque acceptance of a genocidal war of aggression against the people of Iraq.
In the end, Americans are going to find out about all of what has been done.
I don't know if you have seen the ads for the so-called "Conservatives for Patients Rights" (CFPR),but the group is such an obvious astroturf organization for the HMO's and health insurers it isn't even funny. One of the rights patients obviously don't have, according to the CFPR propagandists, is healthcare.
NBC has generated considerable controversy by deciding to run 30 minutes of CFPR propaganda dressed up as a documentary. They are actually going to run an infomercial that outsleazes the ones on the most pathetic of cable networks. Even worse, they are running this nonsense after Meet the Press, in an attempt to give the HMO/insurance company phony gravitas.
Democracy for America has been promoting an open letter aimed at stopping NBC from intentionally deceiving its viewers this way. Here's the text of the letter.
This Sunday, following Meet the Press, a 30-minute “infomercial” attacking a public healthcare option is set to air on NBC. The ad is created by disgraced former hospital CEO Rick Scott and his group "Conservatives for Patients' Rights."
Rick Scott has a track record of deceit.
Scott's previous ads contained blatantly false statements and misleading excerpts of interviews with healthcare professionals. If Scott's 30-minute "documentary" contains falsehoods, NBC could be liable for an FCC violation and serious fines. Furthermore, Meet the Press needs to know that their credibility is being used by Rick Scott, and will be tarnished by the association to these swiftboat style attacks.
Lawyers from the Service Employee International Union have sent a letter to NBC demanding they don’t run the ad. It is up to us to back them up with the voices of thousands of viewers demanding action.
I've seen some of CFPR's ads. They made Karl Rove's propaganda look subtle by comparison. If you are tired of rightist bias on corporate media, here's an excellent opportunity to do something about it.
Sign the Letter!
I would also recommend contacting Meet the Press and reminding them that airing this infomercial would do irreparable damage to the reputation of that program.
If you take seriously the propaganda from the corporate media, you would think that everyone being held and tortured at Guantanamo is a dangerous terrorist. Of course, you would have thought that Iraq had WMDs before the second US/Iraq War. You also probably believed that there were terrorist links between Iraq's Arab nationalist Ba'ath Party and their mortal enemies, Al Qaeda.
When analyzing the subject of the people held without charge or trial at the gulag, it is important to look at how and why they were detained in the first place.
1) The Turn in Your Enemies for Fun and Profit Plan in Afghanistan
Most of the people picked up in Afghanistan were turned in for rewards. In any country, a policy of giving large sums of money to people in return for fingering people as "terrorists" would give dubious results. In a country which has been so heavily fractured by wars and so divided along lines of ethnicity, politics, religion, and extended family, the results would be expected to be pretty much random. However, it's a bit worse than that. The only group in Afghan society which usually observes ethnic and religious solidarity is the most numerous ethnic group, the Pashtuns. Guess which group is the base for the Taliban.
In other words, the process for picking up "terrorists" in Afghanistan was slightly less accurate than random chance. So much for the idea that most of these people rotting in the gulag are "terrorists."
2) The Post 911 Sweeps Here in the US
George W. Bush and John Ashcroft are militant, Christian fundamentalists who also are white supremacists. The sweeps after the 911 attacks of Muslim men of Middle East origin were based on racial and religious profiling. This should surprise no one given the view of Ashcroft, Bush, and so many American rightists that all Muslims of Middle Eastern origin are to be assumed to be terrorists. Again, we have a random process for selecting inmates for the gulag.
3) The Case of the Uyghurs
From Democracy Now! 2/19/09
A federal appeals court has blocked the release of seventeen Uyghur prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The group was previously ordered to be resettled with other Uyghur families in the United States. But a three-judge panel ruled District Judge Ricardo Urbina had erred in ordering their release into the US. The US government has admitted the men have been unlawfully detained but wont send them back to China where they face persecution. Emi MacLean of the Center for Constitutional Rights said, The new administration must act quickly to remedy the failings of the old. If President Obama is committed to closing Guantánamo, he must allow these stranded Uyghurs into the United States.
Both the Obama Administration and the Bush regime have admitted that these people are completely innocent. However, our creditors in China have insisted that these people not be released to any custody but theirs (so China can detain and torture them rather than the US). So, they languish in the gulag.
We need to open our eyes and pay attention to what actually is being done in our name in the Guantanamo gulag. Buying into the propaganda only makes a morally reprehensible situation seem impossible to resolve.
Here's the Mormon Church press release:
Church Response to California Supreme Court Decision on Proposition 8
SALT LAKE CITY 26 May 2009 Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court is welcome. The issue the court decided was whether California citizens validly exercised their right to amend their own constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court has overwhelmingly affirmed their action.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the deeply held feelings on both sides, but strongly affirms its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.
Accordingly, the Church stands firmly for what it believes is right for the health and well-being of society as a whole. In doing so, it once again affirms that all of us are children of God, and all deserve to be treated with respect. The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.
The demonization argument by the Mormon hate church is ironic, given they and their members spent millions to fund a campaign on Proposition 8 which deliberately demonized lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people. Equally bizarre is that a racist, sexist, and heterosexist hate group like the Mormon Church would claim that they believe that everyone deserves "to be treated with respect." Talk about practicing the polar opposite of what they preach.
A big take home lesson of all of this is that religion has absolutely no legitimate role to play in politics. The Mormon Church has deliberately violated its tax exempt status and should have it revoked.
Instead of speculating or making assumptions, why not try listening to trangender people? For instance, Erica Rose tells us what it is like for people who are not trans to assume they know what it is like for her to be transsexual. (Hat Tip Some Notes on Living)
You may also want to check out Erica Rose's YouTube Channel. Of course, listening to one transgender person is hardly listening to transgender people in general, but it's a start.
Some Notes on Living and ENDA Blog are good places to keep listening to transgender people, even when it might make you uncomfortable.
Last week there was a transparently phony "terror plot" here in NYC. Even the corporate media are starting to acknowledge that the whole thing was the invention of FBI agents sent in to infiltrate some harmless people.
This wasn't enough to frighten people into going along with keeping the Gitmo gulag open and the torture photos censored. It didn't cause everyone to shut up about calling for Bush regime officials involved in torture and the Iraq War to be prosecuted. So, step two has taken place. The intelligence services have placed in IED outside a NYC Starbucks. A report from the corporate media (NY Times 5/25/09) dutifully ignores the obvious origins of this bombing as one might expect.
If this doesn't shut people up, will the people behind all of this start killing people? How far will they take this?
One of the few decent things that President Obama has done since getting in the White House has been to support funding to close the illegal gulag in Guantanamo. (It's illegal because the only thing our treaty with Cuba allows us to do there is refuel ships and because of human rights violations there that violate international law.) So, what do the vast majority of so-called Democrats in Congress do?
They join with Republicans to block this funding.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not been alone in his disturbing desire to keep Gitmo open. However, he has pursued this with a missionary zeal, a Mormon missionary zeal, to be more specific. Reid's actions are in concert with the fanatical racism of Mormonism.
Mormons certainly have no monopoly on racism, but Mormonism is the only major church in this country to explicitly endorse white supremacy in its teachings. Mormons believe that non white people are being punished for their ancestors refusing to fight with Jesus against Lucifer before humans lived on this planet. Yes, this is crazy, but so much of religion is crazy that it shouldn't surprise you.
Ex-Mormons and other critics of that hateful cult accurately point out that Mormonism is based on plagiarized science fiction. What often gets left out is when Joseph Smith plagiarized the Book of Mormon, the late 1820s and early 1830s.
If you think that racism is bad now, the white supremacy of that era would make your hair stand on end. People of African origins were considered completely subhuman and all non white people were openly claimed to be inferior, without hesitation or apology. A major motive for this disgusting ideology was to justify slavery and trade arrangements that impoverished non-white people.
Under these circumstances, it should be no surprise that Mormon ideology is like a KKK sci fi fantasy. Equally unsurprising is that discussion of this is taboo, given the pro religion bias in our society and the corporate media. However, if you want to understand Mormonism, you have to acknowledge that it is as racist, sexist, and heterosexist as the Ku Klux Klan.
When you know that Harry Reid subscribes to this hateful ideological system, it should surprise no one that he is obsessed with continuing a gulag whose prisoners primarily suffer there based on racial profiling. One would also expect that Reid would work behind the scenes to sabotage lgbt civil rights legislation, which he has. It would be typical for a Mormon to oppose the inalienable right of women to have abortions, based on misogynistic gender role expectations. Reid does just that too.
If you wonder why Reid has been so rabid in his opposition to doing what any decent, moral human being would do on the Gitmo gulag, just look at his religious beliefs. Comprehension requires breaking the taboo of looking at religion to explain political behavior.
When anyone speaks out against a hateful and bigoted church, the conditioned reaction among so many of our society is to claim that it is bigoted or intolerant to do so. This is based on a rhetorical ploy invented by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s and picked up by Christian Right hate groups in the 80s. (The Mormons adopted it during the controversy over Prop. 8.) The claim is:
It is "intolerant" to speak out against intolerance.
Given the similar values between the Mormon Church and the Klan, it isn't exactly shocking that they use the same rhetorical ploys to defend themselves.
The privileged status of religion is so great in our society that it is considered hateful to hold churches to the same standards that any other organizations or institutions. This religious privilege harms real debate. Any privileged status for religion is inherently discriminatory against atheists as well.
Prop. 8 is hardly the only reason why people should boycott Utah and boycott Mormon businesses. There are lots of reasons for this and why the Sundance Festival should be moved out of Utah. The Mormon cult is one of the worst outgrowths of the prejudices of 19th Century America. Mormonism is a cancer on our society.
During the distorted and dishonest campaign by Dick Cheney to continue torture and indefinite detentions going, one element of it really sticks out. The corporate media are actually taking what Cheney says seriously.
Never mind that Dick Cheney got himself put in charge of the Bush regime's terrorism task force and made sure it didn't meet until October 2001. Never mind that Cheney sent our Air Force on highly distracting exercises at the same time when the Bush regime had numerous credible warnings from a variety of countries that Al Qaeda was going to stage terrorist attacks using commercial airplanes.
These facts alone should completely discredit Cheney on the subject of terrorism. There are more.
1) Cheney led a campaign of fraud and fear in order to get us into an illegal war of aggression and genocide against the Iraqi people.
2) Cheney was deeply involved in other criminal activities including, torture, illegal domestic surveillance, and detentions of innocent people without charge, much less trial.
3) Cheney had lied about the alleged effectiveness of torture on numerous occasions in the past, despite the fact that every credible source in law enforcement and anti terrorism work has made it clear that torture does not produce accurate information.
4) Cheney held secret meetings with energy company contributors on energy policy. While we don't know all the details of the meetings, we do know that an important aspect involved details on how Big Oil would carve up Iraq's oil after the War had been launched.
5) Cheney was an active member of the Project for a New American Century, which had expressed hopes that a major attack, comparable to Pearl Harbor, would be launched on the US so they could push their agenda.
A defender of the corporate media might say that Cheney is a former Vice President, so his views have to be taken seriously. Even that is factually incorrect. Dick Cheney never was legally or constitutionally this country's Vice President. He was illegally occupying the office due to two stolen elections.
There really is no excuse for the corporate media's pandering to Dick Cheney. It is a truly brazen example of the propagandistic and unreliable nature of what we are bombarded with on a regular basis.
At a time when New York is loaded with crooked banksters and brokesters guilty of defrauding investors, people with predatory adjustable rate mortgages, and the general public, what is Andrew Cuomo, our illustrious New York Attorney General doing? He's focusing on prosecuting an alleged prostitution ring that advertises on Craig's list.
You can't make this shit up.
When he ran for Attorney General, I was so furious with the Democratic Party bosses for lining up behind an empty suit like Andrew Cuomo. Yes, his father was one of the best governors in the history of this state, but that doesn't justify the son trading on a family name rather than actually having positive accomplishments of his own.
Now, our corrupt and feckless Atty. General is providing tabloid sensationalism instead of going after the Wall St. crooks. When you think of all the people who have lost their homes and jobs because of crooked banksters and brokesters, Cuomo's decision to go after victimless crime is truly reprehensible.
I usually don't blog on comments on other blogs, but this bit of brilliance in a the first paragraph of a comment on Queers United deserves to get more of a spotlight.
To the first comment: Free speech does not mean freedom from criticism. He is a hateful homophobe and we should call him out on it.
Rebecca has her own blog, City of Ladies.
There are two aspects of this that I think merit further discussion. First, I've generally noticed how the rightists feel they are entitled to be as vicious as they want to people, but they whine whenever the targets of their bigotry stand up for themselves. It is the classic bully/coward syndrome.
Also, when rightists say their free speech rights are being denied when they face criticism, they are implicitly claiming that bigots should have a monopoly on free speech. The corporate media never calls the bigots on this.
Milton Friedman's asinine extolling of the virtues of greed back in 1979 rings very hollow now. It would have equally so to someone who lived in 1932. It's truly amazing that so many Americans are so historically ignorant and poorly educated in general that they took what he and his acolytes said so seriously. Some people still do.
Friedman didn't know about the Internet, which disproves his claim that governments cannot create great human achievements. He also was wrong about Einstein. Many of Einstein's greatest achievements occurred while doing government funded research.
Friedman also was full of it on "free trade." There never has been a country that has expanded its industrial economy without massive protectionism. If you study history from a factual, rather than an ideological, perspective, you will see that. Even Great Britain, which preached the loudest for free trade during its empire, engaged in the some of the most naked protectionism in world history.
Naomi Klein also has accurately pointed out that extreme capitalism does not equal freedom, as Friedman implies. In fact, it has to be imposed with the power of the state and the force of arms, usually with governments employing torture to shut people up.
Of course, Friedman's wasn't sincere in what he was saying at all. He was not really an economist at all. He was a propagandist who got quite rich developing lies and spin to justify the brutalization of the vast majority of our society and so many others in order to benefit the super rich.
When I read that Barack Bush wants to keep the Bush regime's kangaroo courts in Gitmo, I wondered again why I bothered to vote for him in the New York primary. He's as nutty right wing as Hillary Clinton or John McCain. I really should have voted for Kucinich.
It looks like I'm not the only one offended by this Barack Bush betrayal. (From Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release 5/19/09):
"Today's announcement is an alarming development for those who expected that the Obama administration would end Bush administration's dangerous experiments with our legal system. As a candidate, President Obama condemned the existing military commissions as an overwhelming failure, and he was right to do so. He was also right to suspend the commissions within days of taking office. There is no reason to revive them now on the hope that piecemeal changes could create a legal system at Guantanamo equal to the U.S. criminal justice or courts martial systems.
"If the Obama administration has reliable evidence that anyone at Guantanamo committed an act of terrorism or a violation of the laws of war, that man should be prosecuted criminally in civilian court under our criminal laws, including the War Crimes Act, or in certain cases, in a court martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The cost to our country - diplomatically, legally and financially - of reviving the disreputable military commissions and continuing the Bush administration's tinkering with the law is simply too great.
"President Obama was elected to restore the rule of law, not continue to reinvent it. As prior military commissions demonstrated repeatedly, no matter how the rules are rewritten, any new system will be slowed by the same trial-and-error process and repeated trips to the Supreme Court that we have seen over the last several years. Any novel system is sure to stumble and fail, and in the process betray the seriousness of the issues at stake and the need to ensure fair and impartial justice. It will substantiate our allies' ongoing loss of faith in the commitment of the United States to the rule of law, and undermine their willingness to help the Obama administration close Guantanamo."
Amnesty International expressed their displeasure with this decision in their 5/19/09 press release:
President Barack Obama would be "short-changing justice" if he revives the military commissions to try Guantánamo detainees, Amnesty International has said.
"You cannot revamp a system that is, in essence, unfair," said Rob Freer, US Researcher at Amnesty International. "The US has a functioning civilian criminal justice system that is used to dealing with complex trials. This is the system that the US administration should be using for any Guantánamo detainee it decides to prosecute."
"Military commissions were conceived and developed as part of an unlawful detention regime, to facilitate convictions while minimizing judicial scrutiny of the executive’s treatment of detainees," said Rob Freer.
"No amount of tinkering with their rules can fix this discredited system. The commissions – which President Obama has himself described as an 'enormous failure' – should be scrapped."
Obama isn't just stomping on the rule of law with this attack on our Constitution, he is undermining the credibility of our political system in an incredibly dangerous way. The Bush regime launched a frontal assault on our democracy by stealing the 2000 and 2004 elections. President Obama is undermining US democracy by sending a loud and clear signal that it doesn't really matter who wins elections in a system which is corrupt to the core.
Child abuse is an issue that is very personal to me. I was the victim of non sexual child abuse growing up, and I know what that did to me. A very close friend of mine had his life destroyed by a child molester.
So, the Catholic Church's ongoing policy of protecting child raping priests triggers a lot of rage, rage that is perfectly justified. What baffles me is that most Catholics aren't outraged enough to be giving Ratzi and the rest of his molester enablers hell for it.
When I see some scumbag Catholic priest spewing hateful lies about abortion on supposed moral grounds, I am not obligated to remain silent. It's the same thing when those fascist hypocrites lie about homosexuality on nonexistent moral gounds. No Catholic leader is in any position to even discuss the morality of others while they refuse to weed out the child molesters in the Catholic Church. It is no secret that sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests is much more common than in the general population and that evil church shields them as much as they can get away with.
And, the blame doesn't just go to Ratzi and the other pieces of shit at the top of the Catholic Church. Every Catholic priest is complicit in his silence. How many have publicly demanded that Ratzi resign in disgrace for protecting child molesting priests? Name one.
Any and all efforts to defend Ratzi and the Catholic clergy function as enabling Catholic priests to go on raping kids. There are some really sick things on the Internet, but that is going to far, at least on this blog. Anyone who engages in this sickening viciousness will discover that the following three things will happen.
1) Those comments will no longer be published.
2) All future comments by that poster will be rejected.
3) Links to any blogs written by those commenters will disappear.
This goes double for trolls who pretend to be concerned about child abuse while defending the pro molestation policies of the Catholic Church or denying that they exist.
There is nothing wrong whatsoever with abortion. It is a perfectly legitimate medical procedure, and no one has any sensible reason to object to it. It is no secret that the anti-choice leaders are lying when they say that fetuses and embryos are human lives. There is no logical basis and absolutely no scientific evidence to support that claim. It's really just a lie that is told to incite violence against abortion providers.
The real reasons why the rightists oppose abortion are misogyny and white supremacy. When the women's suffrage movement started to come into its own in this country, an anti abortion backlash occurred, even though the procedure was legal and socially acceptable in this country up until that point. By keeping women from having any control over their reproductive systems, the anti suffrage folks hoped to keep women from having any other kind of control over their own lives. To this day, keeping women down has played a key role in opposition to the right to choose on abortion.
Misogyny is not the only motive behind opposition to abortion rights here and abroad. Some Christian Right leaders such as Adolph Hitler and Pat Buchanan have openly expressed their opposition to abortion because they want or wanted to force white women to have more white babies. It is no accident that Jerry Falwell and many other anti choice leaders were actively involved in segregationism in the South. It would be naive to think that the only anti choicers who are rabid racists are the ones who openly express these views, especially in a society like ours where racists usually prefer to hide behind code words and code phrases.
Keep in mind that the largest anti choice organization, the Catholic Church, is so racist that there never has been a non white Pope.
Instead of putting all this energy into hating women and people of color, wouldn't it be great if the anti abortion extremists fought against child molesting Catholic priests? While their couldn't possibly be anything wrong with abortion, raping kids is absolutely and terribly wrong.
I sometimes think the Catholic Church hierarchy are using abortion as a distraction so people won't do something to protect Catholic children from that church and its priests who far too often rape them.
The Notre Dame protesters are failing in their responsibility to protect Catholic children by allowing themselves to be manipulated in such a transparent fashion. They really need to get a clue.
Let's look at President Obama's excuses for not supporting the only real healthcare reform proposal in Congress today, single payer.
1) Avoiding Supposed Ideological Purity:
This is a typical concern troll game. He is pretending that he cares about healthcare reform, while opposing it. The American people want real reform that gets the thieving HMOs and insurance companies out of the business, ending their practice of fraudulently denying claims for medically necessary care.
People who want real reform are not looking for ideological purity. We just want real healthcare coverage. Whenever anyone commenting on a liberal blog complains about "purity," it's just a concern troll. Now, we have a Concern Troll in Chief.
Obama cited tradition as a reason not to have single payer. Considering how many egregious traditions our country has had to overcome in the past, one would think that Obama should know better.
3) The Current System Being Such a Huge Part of the Economy:
Obama uses part of the problem as an excuse to avoid solving it. Health insurers and HMOs are so corrupt and inefficient, we are paying more of our GDP for this system which leaves so many people without healthcare when we could spend less money and provide everyone in our country care by switching to single payer.
It's official. Barack Obama is a Bush/Clinton/McCain Republican who is just a really clever concern troll. Obama hates middle class Americans as much as the rest of the Goppers.
Tell President Obama to stop being a concern troll and start working for real healthcare reform. Also, let him know that he should start prosecuting HMO and health insurance executives for fraud and murder across state lines because of their denial of claims which were not only medically necessary, but would have been life saving.
Contact the White House!
Baucus Arrests Five More Doctors, Nurses, Activists
By David Swanson
May 12, 2009, Washington, DC
Dr. Margaret Flowers, who was arrested along with seven others at the first Senate Finance Committee hearing on healthcare, just phoned me from the second one. As Chairman Max Baucus called the hearing to order, about 20 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) stood and turned their backs on the committee. Pasted on their backs were signs reading: "Nurses Say: Patients First," "Stop AHIP," (referring to health insurance lobbyists), "Pass Single Payer."
This was the second hearing at which, despite majority support for single-payer in polls, not a single advocate for single-payer was permitted to participate. The nurses were asked to leave and did so. But five people spoke up for single-payer and were arrested: Dr. Judy Desovich; DeAnn McEwen, a nurse from Longbeach Memorial Medical Center ICU; Sue Cannon, a nurse from UC-Irvine; Dr. Steven Fenichel from New York; and Jerry Call from Maine.
That's right. Ultra corrupt Senator Baucus not only won't include single payer advocates in his hearings on healthcare reform, but he also is arresting single payer advocates in the audience who are rejecting his fraudulent media circus.
Baucus has major conflicts of interest, to put it mildly. OpenSecrets.org 1/23/09:
Campaigns Donors: Despite having no serious opponent in the 2008 election cycle, Baucus raised $11.6 million for his campaign, nearly twice the amount ($6.7 million) he raised for his previous re-election bid in which he faced a challenger with some real financial clout. Most of Baucus's top 10 contributors have remained the same since the 2002 election--predominantly health and finance-related industries--but nearly all ramped up their contributions this cycle, in the midst of an economic crisis and in preparation for impending health care reform. Absent a threat to his elected office, Baucus's surge in contributions is most likely a reflection of his rise to chair of the Finance Committee, a position that many industries will need to push in order to see their desired policy changes implemented.
Since 1989, Baucus's top donors have been American International Group (AIG), Goldman Sachs and New York Life Insurance--in the 2008 election cycle alone, these companies' employees and PACs contributed $148,550 to his campaign chest. After law firms, securities and investment companies and insurance companies, the most generous industries to Baucus's campaigns have been health professionals and pharmaceuticals. The health sector has given Baucus at least $2.8 million during his career, more than any other sector with the exception of finance, insurance and real estate companies, which have given him $4.6 million.
This year Baucus is looking to spearhead some major changes in health care, including expanding both the State Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid to cover more individuals. He also supports requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance coverage, departing from President-elect Barack Obama's plan, which requires that only children be covered. In November of last year, Baucus released a 98-page "call to action," outlining his visions for a new health care system. Baucus's committee is charged with determining if such an overhaul is fiscally possible.
Industry Favors: "Amgen's political action committee contributes on a bi-partisan basis to federal and select state candidates. The members of Congress and candidates chosen for these contributions are generally supportive of important issues such as patient access to existing and future innovative products, and innovation preservation," said Kelley Davenport, director of corporate communications for Amgen, which has given Baucus $50,750 through its PAC and employees, putting the biotechnology company among his 20 most generous donors.
In other words, Baucus is bought and paid for by the same corporations in the healthcare field that are ripping off and literally killing Americans. No wonder he is doing their bidding by fighting single payer healthcare which would provide real healthcare for all Americans for less cost than the current system which provides partial healthcare to many Americans and no healthcare outside of emergency rooms for others.
The Democratic Senate caucus should be ashamed to have put a Phonycrat opponent of real healthcare reform in charge of the healthcare reform push. It makes about much sense as it would for a restaurant to put Rush Limbaugh in charge of an all you can eat buffet.
Is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dishonest or senile?
Baucus' blatant political corruption is hardly limited to sabotaging healthcare reform. Paul Craig Roberts (Information Clearing House 5/14/09 - Hat Tip Dandelion Salad) points out the role that corruption played in Baucus' opposition to a bill to help people facing foreclosure (bolding mine).
It is not difficult to understand why. Among those who defeated the homeowners bill are senators Jon Tester (Mont), Max Baucus (Mont), Blanche Lincoln (Ark), Ben Nelson (Neb), Many Landrieu (La), Tim Johnson (SD), and Arlan Specter (Pa). According to reports, the banksters have poured a half million dollars into Tester’s campaign funds. Baucus has received $3.5 million; Lincoln $1.3 million; Nelson $1.4 million; Landrieu $2 million; Johnson $2.5 million; Specter $4.5 million.
Baucus never met a bankster he didn't like.
His activities don't just threaten people who already have been screwed over by the corporations. Opposition to healthcare reform means longer lines for everyone at emergency rooms and more hospitals being forced to close down trauma centers. More foreclosures equals lower property values for all American homeowners. Besides, you never know if you will be the next person who is laid off while Baucus's AIG executive buddies get bonuses paid for with government funds.
How much more crap are people going to take from Baucus before there is a major grassroots campaign for him to resign from the Senate? He is corrupt to the core.
There is so much sickening crap going on it's difficult to keep up. Here are some brief summaries of why we need to change a lot more than which bought politician is in the White House.
Barack Bush (1):
From the Guardian 5/14/09
The release of more photos of prisoner abuse by US soldiers is "of no benefit" and may inflame opinion against the US, President Barack Obama has said.
The pictures were not "sensational" and every case of abuse had been dealt with by the military, with action taken where appropriate, he said.
President Obama is lying as blatantly as Karl Rove did while he is continuing the Bush Agenda. Obama also is displaying a Bush style contempt for the rule of law.
And, people wonder why so many Americans don't even bother to vote.
Ratzi Serves Up Still More Hypocrisy on His Mideast Trip
This from The Guardian 5/14/09:
Benedict's message contained little of the fraught Middle East politics that have taken a high profile on his trip so far. Instead, he spoke of the importance of the family in the Christian community and encouraged all his listeners to "reject the destructive power of hatred and prejudice, which kills men's souls before it kills their bodies".
Setting aside the fact that souls don't even exist, Ratzinger has an enormous nerve lecturing anyone else about "the destructive power of hatred and prejudice." That monster was the architect of the previous pontiff's viciously heterosexist and misogynistic policies. Ratzi continues to push those policies today. Ratzi criticizing prejudice would be like me criticizing somebody for too long of blog postings.
Bloomberg to Tenants: Drop Dead!
From the New York Times 5/5/09: (Hat Tip Rent Stabilization Association)
The board that oversees rents for New York City’s one million rent-stabilized apartments proposed a range of rent increases on Tuesday, disappointing tenants and their supporters, who say the recession warrants a rent freeze.
In a preliminary vote, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board proposed increases of 2 percent to 4.5 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent to 7.5 percent for two-year leases. Last year, the board approved its highest set of rent increases since 1989 — 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases. The board will hold two public hearings, on June 15 and June 17; it is to take a final vote at a meeting June 23.
The NY Times is a strongly anti-tenant paper which conveniently neglects to mention that the Rent Guidelines Board is made up of Bloomberg appointees who take their marching orders from city hall. These rent increases during a deep recession represent yet another attack by Michael Bloomberg on middle class and poor people in NYC. He really hates anyone who isn't rich.
Barack Bush (2):
This has to be one of the most sickening trial balloons by the Obama Administration so far. (AFP 5/14/09)
Obama mulls 'indefinite detention' of terror suspects
WASHINGTON (AFP) — As part of its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is considering holding some of the detainees indefinitely and without trial on US soil, US media reported Thursday.
President Barack Obama's "administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on US soil -- indefinitely and without trial -- as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay," The Wall Street Journal said.
I would like to think that the Wall Street Journal is lying, but I doubt it in this case. Indefinite detentions are the practices of totalitarian states like the former Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Bush regime. Truly free and democratic societies never do this. I had hoped that President Obama would at least reject the Bush regime's contempt for the rule of law, but even that appears to be too much to ask for from this Clintonian Phonycrat.
From an email I received from Progressive Democrats of America (edited):
...please don't forget to email your representative tomorrow to let them know you favor single-payer healthcare and ask them to co-sponosr HR 676. Get the details here.
...Read the the reports on the final Senate Finance Sub-committee on Healthcare hearing. Five activists were arrested, while others were outside (pictured) with PDA Advisory Board Chair Mimi Kennedy and the California Nurses Association protesting the exclusion of single-payer healthcare from the debate. Learn More.
The battle lines are drawn and we're doing our best to move single-payer healthcare forward--we appreciate your support!
If you have ever been denied coverage for healthcare you needed, you know why we need single payer healthcare to get the insurance companies and HMOs out of the business altogether.
Find and Contact the People in House and Senate Who Are Supposed to Be Representing You!
Keith Olbermann really went off the deep end this week. He actually engaged in some grandiose and nonsensical kissing of Rush Limbaugh's enormous butt. (I guess it was a pretty easy target.) He actually accused Wanda Sykes of "crossing the line" during her fabulous performance at the White House correspondents dinner. (Go to my previous posting to watch her entire performance.)
Here is the portion of the routine that reduced Keith to a state of simpering twitdom.
WANDA SYKES: Rush Limbaugh, one of your big critics. Uh, boy, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails.
You know, so you're saying, 'I hope America fails.' You're like, 'I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq.' He just wants the country to fail.
To me, that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying.
You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight.
Too much? But you're laughing inside. I know you're laughing.
Watch Olbermann and his craven guest grovel to the titanic Limbaugh (Hat Tip AKA William):
The notion that 911 is this sacred and holy event is ridiculous on so many levels. As someone who lives in NYC and who lived in DC during the attacks, I find it ridiculous that influenza kills far more Americans than terrorism, yet it's OK to joke about the flu but not about terrorism. (Monty Python's Life of Brian does a wonderful job of mocking terrorists, by the way.) It would have been one thing if Sykes' mocked the victims, but she didn't. She mocked the terrorists and Rush Limbaugh who hates America and American values at least as much as the 911 hijackers did.
But, there is a more sinister side to the fetishization of 911. It is an act of war mongers employing fear mongering to manipulate us into going along with the most monstrous of crimes.
It is a fact that the war on Iraq is a far more massive act of terrorism than the 911 attacks. (If you dispute the last sentence or find it offensive, you are suffering from both a terrible lack of intellectual and moral integrity.) The war on Iraq has resulted in the slaughter of over 1.3 million Iraqis. Fetishizing 911 has been an effective tool to get frightened Americans to look the other way from this act of genocide.
Killing is wrong. Cynically exploiting deaths in order to perpetrate more killing motivated by greed, racism, and religious prejudice is reprehensible. Keith Olbermann's craven pandering to Limbaugh only furthers the goal of the war mongers who have used these reprehensible tactics for far too long.
And right wing extremists love saying that Keith Olbermann is "liberal," when he is mushy moderate who is afraid of "crossing the line," even when the line has been drawn by war criminals who hate what this country stands for as much as Osama bin Laden.
Does Olbermann even remember that Americans fought a revolution to be free of a foreign empire?
Fuck you Keith! (And, you're not hot enough for me to mean it literally.)
From CNN 5/10/09:
AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI urged greater respect for women Sunday at a historic Mass in the Middle East.
“Sadly, this God-given role of the dignity of women has not always been understood and esteemed,” the pontiff said on his first visit to Jordan as pope.
Let's look at Ratzinger's own record on women.
1) In an effort to reduce women to the legal status of incubators, he opposes the right to choose on abortion.
2) He incites acts of terrorism against abortion providers and women who use their services by fraudulently claiming that fetus and embryos are "human lives."
3) He absolutely discriminates on the basis of sex in hiring for the Catholic priesthood.
4) He opposes birth control to try to keep women barefoot and pregnant.
It is hardly surprising that an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth is using Hitler's Big Lie tactics, claiming that abortion takes human lives, to further Hitler's anti-choice agenda on abortion. Given their far right bias, it also is not surprising that the corporate media let Ratzinger get away with all of this.
With so many Catholic priests traveling to the Middle East, I hope the people there know to hide their children.
From the Greenpeace Staff Blog 5/8/09:
Sec. Salazar has announced he won't rescind the "polar bear special rule," which exempts global warming from protections afforded polar bears by the Endangered Species Act. If we're going to save the polar bears and stop global warming, we can't let Salazar off the hook for this travesty. Please call Sec. Salazar today and tell him how disappointed you are.
Personally, I'm more worried about Global Warming and the rule of law than the polar bears, though I don't want them to go extinct either. It really is a shame that Salazar and the rest of the Obama administration are putting the interests of Dick Cheney's cronies in Big Oil and Big Coall above their legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act and their ethical obligations to protect the planet. This is yet another example of why we need public financing of campaigns. Bought politicians are dangerous politicians.
You can do something about this.
Making a call is easy, fast, and extremely effective. Simply follow the steps below:
1) Call (202) 208-7351 between the hours of 9am and 5pm ET. If you can't call then and don't speak to a person, skip step #2 and leave the message below.
2) The phone will be answered by a staff person in Secretary Salazar's office. Tell them your name and city and state you are calling from, and then tell the staffer you are calling to leave a message with Secretary Salazar about the Endangered Species Act and polar bears. You will then be asked if you would like to use the Interior Department's comment line, politely say no, and say that you would prefer leaving your comment with the staff person you are speaking with so that he/she can give that message to the secretary directly.
3) Leave your message. Here's a sample:
"Hi, My name is ______ and I am calling from ______. I am extremely disappointed that the Secretary did not take action to strike the polar bear special rule from the Endangered Species Act. This means that polar bears are not protected from global warming, which is the primary threat to their long term survival. Please give the Secretary the message that I am calling to express my disappointment that he did not take action to protect the polar bear from global warming."
On a completely unrelated note, there is another episode of Onward Christian Dullards: Lesbian Aunt.
Miss California and her rightist supporters are throwing fits over queers and liberal supporters discussing her hypocrisy in proclaiming religious piety as her reason for opposing same sex marriage while having posed almost naked in photos. Letters from the Sanitarium sums up the issue quite well.
Oh now you admit you're imperfect after insulting millions of people? Now you're the victim--classic martyr complex. You say that you're against gay marriage because you believe in traditional, Christian values, which say that gays are an abomination to God. Then you turn around and get offended when people look into your personal life and find things that don't match what you say and believe in? It's classic, "Do as I say and not as I do" behavior that has too often defined the Christian religion in America. We don't feel that we have to tolerate what we see as intolerance--why should we? You certainly don't tolerate the gay lifestyle so why should I tolerate that defiance when I firmly believe it stands against basic human dignity and respect?
Yes, of course you have every right to be against gay marriage but you don't then have the right to shut people up who disagree with that view and see it as an antiquated, bigoted view of the world. You don't have a right to tell people that they can't get angry at you in response. You can control your discisions in life but not the consequences. So if you want respect then you need to dish it out too. Respect doesn't come from one side--you can't insult an entire segment of the population and the many who support them and then get offended when there is blowback at you. You judge all of us "sinners" every Sunday in your churches and throughout the week in your circle of friends and then you expect us to just sit on our hands and not speak up for ourselves? Bullshit in a chef's salad my friends.
Miss California wouldn't be in so much hot water if not for how she symbolizes the whining, hypocritical behavior of bigoted religious extremists in this country. They see queers as whipping boys and girls and get offended when any of us or our supporters decide to fight back. They get so much positive reinforcement for their hate in their Christ-Marts that they actually feel entitled to it in the real world.
Personally, I'm even more bothered by the Rick Warrens of the world, the preachers who make the big money and get the big numbers of followers. They play this same game, and the corporate media try to make everyone feel sorry for them, while having absolutely no compassion for the targets of their hypocrisy and hate.
If they taught basic logic courses in high schools and made them required, the fundamentalists wouldn't be able to get away with this nonsense. Of course, corporate interests wouldn't be able to get away with their nonsense either.
Are you an atheist? Do you have a blog? Do you know about Atheist Bloggers?
Atheist Bloggers is an online community of atheists with blogs. It's a great way to learn about other Freethinkers' blogs and it can help to publicize your blog.
Check it out!
Here's my button. All you atheists go get yours.
View my page on Atheist Bloggers
The jokes about White House staff having to let Obama win at basketball were hysterical. Her jabs about Biden's loose lips were great. The Tax Ball routine was good too.
I loved the Texas, Hannity, and McCain jokes. Of course, the Limbaugh jokes were the best of the entire routine.
An irate rightist, Freedom Eden, ran a transcript on the Limbaugh part.
WANDA SYKES: Rush Limbaugh, one of your big critics. Uh, boy, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails.
You know, so you're saying, 'I hope America fails.' You're like, 'I don't care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq.' He just wants the country to fail.
To me, that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying.
You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight.
Too much? But you're laughing inside. I know you're laughing.
This was hysterical, mainly because there is a fairly large kernel of truth in it. Rush Limbaugh and others on the lunatic right fringe really do hate America and what our country stands for as much as Osama bin Laden.
The seniority system should not exist.
The seniority system is a corrupt holdover of days where political bosses had absolute power over the political process. It is undemocratic and leads to highly inappropriate people rising to positions of power. If you think it is a Democratic Party problem, remember that the Goppers follow seniority even more slavishly.
In our current political and economic context, it is even worse. The longer people are in politics, the more immersed they tend to be in the culture of wealthy and corporate corruption. In the Senate, seniority is followed more than in the House, and the Senate is so backward in so many other ways that seniority only adds to the intellectual and ethical rot.
Yet, the real issue on the question is being ignored by the corporate media who think that wealthy and powerful connections should always trump merit.
I think Tweets should be called Twits. Some of you who have read my bitchy comments in other blogs know I despise Twitter.
Twitter is the world's most popular and effective generator of boring content. It works even better than photocopying the White Pages.
I know people who have utterly fascinating blogs who put Twitting gadgets on their sidebars. The stuff on there is as interesting as watching grass grow. It's crazy.
As promised, here is some boring shit that I could be sending out to the entire world as Twits.
"I crossed my legs at work today."
"I got hungry and ate."
"I don't like hail."
"My eyes are itching from my allergies."
"I just blinked."
There is good news. Most Twitter users even get bored with their own Twits pretty quickly. (Digital Trends 4/30/09)
New data from Nielsen Online shows that Twitter has seven million hits in February this year, up from a mere half million in February 2007. But – and here’s the problem – almost two-thirds of those people only stay with the service for a month or less.
And, there was rejoicing in the land!
A rather dim prosecutor is making threats against Craigslist (TG Daily 5/6/09).
South Carolina attorney general Henry McMaster asks Craigslist to remove certain “portions” of its classifieds categories that allow for “the solicitation of prostitution and the dissemination and posting of graphic pornographic material,” which is considered a crime in the state. Craigslist has ten days to comply with the request, otherwise the site will be targeted by a criminal investigation and prosecution, McMaster said.
South Carolina is the latest state to go after Craigslist and its “Casual Encounters” section, which is believed by authorities to have become a major channel to promote prostitution. The site has been in hot water over the issue for some time, especially with the attorneys general from Missouri, Connecticut and Illinois, with whom representatives of Craigslist met yesterday to discuss the issue.
In a letter addressed to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, McMaster demands the removal of the section within ten days, until “5:00 pm EST, the close of business Friday May 15, 2009.” He claims that following a November 2008 promise the site “to install safeguards to combat unlawful activity and improve public safety” has not happened yet and that there are “indications” that Craigslist “has not installed sufficient safeguards since November to prohibit the Internet site from being used as a vehicle to advertise or solicit prostitution.” He added that “the unrestricted manner in which graphic pornographic pictures are posted and displayed by users on the craigslist site and their accessibility to minors” is also a concern.
You would think that a prosecutors would have better things to do with their time. But, with the high profile "Craigslist Killer" case, grabbing headlines is a high priority.
There's an obvious problem with these efforts to gain political traction by going after Craigslist. It's blantantly unconstitutional to prosecute them or sue them.
Efforts to get rid of prostitution also have never been effective. Those laws end up throwing sex workers in prison or extorting fines from them, but don't stop prostitutes because of the huge demand for these services. It's similar to the futility of drug laws.
Keep in mind that much of the ranting on Craigslist is typical technophobic scapegoating. Murderers have been targeting women who are sex workers or who are perceived as sex workers for centuries. (Remember Jack the Ripper?) It isn't the new technology that is the problem.
As long as our society demonizes prostitution and prostitutes, it will justify abuse of people in this profession in the minds of people with hateful and violent tendencies. An important first step towards ending this demonization and its horrific consequences is to legalize prostitution. The last thing that is needed is for irresponsible people in law enforcement and the media to throw tantrums over this profession just to appeal to the worst in human instincts.
Ex-Christian.Net had an article by someone who is liberated from Christianity who was tired of the failure of Christians to provide evidence supporting their claims. The poster also showed an understandable lack of patience with the "you have to have faith" argument for justifying religious belief. It inspired me to write a theoretical dialogue which gives one reason why the argument doesn't work.
Believer: Better stop eating that s'more!!!!!
Believer: You are offending the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Camper: The who?
Believer: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the creator of the universe. You will roast in Hell on a stick for all eternity if you eat that s'more.
Camper: You've got to be kidding! There's no reason to believe that.
Believer: The Holy Puftpiece says it's true. That's enough reason for me.
Camper: (Giggling) Do you have any evidence of this?
Believer: You have to take it on faith.
The reality is that there isn't any more credible evidence to support Christianity than there would be for this poor theoretical believer. Yet, by the common Christian "you have to have faith" argument, you would have to accept the notion that eating s'mores would have horrible eternal consequences.
In other words, the argument fails because you can't apply it consistently.
This blog is now four years old as of yesterday. It's amazing that it has been this long. In the process, I've found out about so many other fascinating blogs. Be sure to check the Links list and the More Links section. I've uncovered some real hidden gold nuggets out there.
Thanks to all the spooks monitoring this blog for reading it.
Thanks a whole lot more to the rest of you.
The New York Times just gets more and more rightist and dishonest with each passing day. Check out this lead paragraph on an internal Justice Department investigation on the people responsible for the torture memos.
An internal Justice Department inquiry into the conduct of Bush administration lawyers who wrote secret memorandums authorizing brutal interrogations has concluded that the authors committed serious lapses of judgment but should not be criminally prosecuted, according to government officials briefed on a draft of the findings.
This is doubly dishonest.
First, the use of the spin term "brutal interrogations" is a deliberate distortion intended to avoid using the factually and legally accurate term "torture." Second, there is a consensus among credible law enforcement and intelligence professionals (Internet trolls aside) that torture is not an even remotely effective interrogation technique. Pretending that torture is a useful method of interrogation is as deliberately dishonest as pretending it is not torture.
It gets even worse.
The opinions permitted the C.I.A. to use a number of interrogation methods that human rights groups have condemned as torture, including waterboarding, wall-slamming, head-slapping and other techniques. The opinions allowed many of these practices to be used repeatedly and in combination.
Excuse me, the fact that these criminal actions are torture is not merely a view of human rights groups or any kind of faction. Facts don't stop being facts merely because they are politically inconvenient or worse for former Bush regime officials and far right ideologues at the New York Times.
Diminishing facts that cannot honestly be disputed merely as views of certain groups is downright dishonest. What's next? Is the Times going to say that 2 + 2 = 4 is something that math teachers have insisted is correct?
Newspapers are supposed to be accurate with the facts. Yet, the Timesis going out of its way to distort and spin facts for a partisan, far right political agenda. Tell me again why liberal and moderates should waste money on this garbage during a deep recession?
These comments are very uncomfortable, but there is a lot of truth to them. (From an interview by Kevin Sessums in The Daily Beast)
“I don’t think we are going to win anything federal—which is really the only important place where it counts—until a few of these Supreme Court justices expire (including that homophobe Anthony Scalia) and Obama replaces them with people sympathetic to our side,” he says. “This, of course, is by no means a sure thing. I have high hopes for Obama, but I do not feel all warm and fuzzy that he is going to be enough of a friend when push comes to shove. I hope I am wrong. I have never believed in patience, but I do not see that we have either the leaders or the troops enough—a la ACT UP—to go out there and fight. We continue to be a passive population. It drives me nuts. It has always driven me nuts. I do not think the gay population has been all that rabid for gay marriage. Note that I do not use the words ‘gay community.’ Expunge that expression from your vocabulary. We are not a community. There are too many of us to qualify for that word, which connotes something much smaller and more intimate than the huge multipeopled grab bag of our rainbow coalition.”
He goes on: “The work, as it was done for AIDS, has been done by relatively few warriors. And we are losing sight of the HIV/AIDS battle. What is not being done about HIV/AIDS in the United States is shocking. It is more than shocking. It is tragic. Three percent of the entire population of Washington, D.C., is infected. One in ten of its residents between the ages of 40 and 49 is infected. Seven percent of its male African-American population is infected. Gay politics? What gay politics? I don’t see any gay politics. I see a few lazy, torpid, unimaginative—certainly passionless—‘organizations’ that maintain they fight for us when what they do is relatively useless. It has never been otherwise. I am afraid we have never ever had a decent gay organization, outside of ACT UP, that accomplished what we need to accomplish—which is to free ourselves from the tyranny of THEM!”
I wonder what it would take to revitalize a queer movement that is so out of touch with the everyday lives of most queers.
I found Ramona's Voices because Preserve, Protect, and Defend passed along the Honest Scrap Award to her. Ramona has a nice photo button to support the Employee Free Choice Act. It inspired me to make some of my own. I encourage you to use one or make one own of your own.
Photo: Backwards Bill
Photo: Maritime Union of New Zealand
Photo: Nancy CZ
Of course, you will want to link to some place where people can take action. Here are a few options. Pick the one you like best.
http://changetowinaction.org/campaign/one_million_strong (Change to Win petition)
http://www.nea.org/home/16375.htm (National Education Association)
This show of Bill Maher's had the most bizarre booking. He put on Naomi Klein, one of the most important and influential economic thinkers of our time, with (giggle) Andrew Sullivan to discuss the economic crises. The booking made about as much sense as it would have made for a previous generation of talk show to book Jean Paul Sartre to discuss Philosophy with Tim Conway or Twiggy. The clip is worth watching just to listen to Ms. Klein. (Hat tip to Driftglass)
I stopped reading Sullivan years ago. His writing was aesthetically pleasing, but it was intellectually vapid. Even worse, Sullivan loved to pontificate on subjects he knew little about.
Aside from the fact that talk show banter can't be polished to sound nice, his appearance on the show fit the rest of the pattern. I couldn't believe how many silly far right talking points he parroted even though they had just been conclusively proven wrong.
There were claims that Sullivan made that were especially silly. Most amazingly, he blamed the financial crises on ordinary people who kept spending more money by borrowing while wages had stagnated.
One obvious problem is that he is completely ignorant of what triggered the subprime mortgage collapse. The underlying cause was the practice of the banksters to use predatory subprime mortgages to try to defraud people into giving them big down payments and then suddenly jacking up interest rates and taking away their homes.
Anyone who has a mortgage knows that the documents are written to be understood only by lawyers. I'm well educated and have an IQ of 140, yet I had trouble understanding my relatively simple fixed rate mortgage documents. I've read enough of Sullivan's columns in the past to know that he would have no hope of understanding my mortgage, much less the language used in the predatory mortgage paperwork.
Even worse, the banksters quietly changed industry practices on adjustable rate mortgages. Before, the interest rates paid on ARMs followed general interest rates, with some lag time because they weren't adjusted daily. With the predatory ARMs, the banksters slipped in huge interest rate increases, unrelated to market conditions, without warning people ahead of time.
The scam collapsed because the banksters, shock of shocks, got too greedy. One bank imitated another until lower middle class and poor people were inundated with deceptive marketing for these ripoffs. So many people had been conned (with no warning from the corporate media I might add) that the flood of foreclosures caused the housing market to collapse.
Some of the banksters realized that the whole thing was shaky and overextended before the whole thing went caput. They created novel and deceptive mortgage paper with complex structures that most of the banksters themselves didn't really understand and peddled them to speculators without providing adequate explanations.
We know what happened next.
Another problem with Sullivan's spin is that stagnating (or even declining) incomes didn't occur in a vacuum. They were the result of the same "free market" ideology and policies that Sullivan almost drooled over later in the clip. It's amazing that even when the show was taped, Sullivan was completely unaware of this.
Naomi Klein made some excellent points. The one I hadn't heard before is one I would like to mention. She asked Sullivan where in the world has the kind of "free market capitalism" that he espoused ever existed. Of course, he had no answer.
Ordinarily the silly Sullivan wouldn't bother me that much. He would just be another dim rightist hack. I know not to read his goofy columns, and wouldn't have even watched this if Naomi Klein wasn't in it.
What really galls me is that the corporate media have unilaterally chosen him as the main spokesperson for the queer community even though he is much, much more right leaning than most of us are and has internalzed homophobia issues. It's part of how the media corporations work so hard to limit the range of political thought most Americans are exposed to.
On a lighter note: I remember when I used to live in Washington, DC. When I was at the predominantly gay gym there, no hot guys cruised me one day. On that same day, Andrew Sullivan and Rich Tafel both cruised me. Ordinarily, being cruised by physically unattractive people is flattering as long as they seem like reasonably nice people. Sullivan and Tafel are far from nice people. It was one of a deluge of things that convinced me to move from DC to NYC.
Jack Kemp has just died and the corporate press are already abandoning any pretense of balance, fairness, or accuracy. This was one of the most venal hucksters in the history of American politics, yet he is being lionized.
If you recall, Kemp was the con artist who popularized the scam of "supply side economics" to the extreme right. This "theory" claimed that cutting taxes would raise revenues and living standards for the American people. When another dishonest, bought politician, Ronald Reagan, led the effort to apply this tripe, we had enormous deficits and the wages of most Americans declined as the rich got richer. One of the few honest things pappy Bush ever said was when he described it as "Voodoo Economics."
Kemp wasn't a drooling imbecile. He knew that what he was saying was downright laughable. He didn't care. He was completely bought and paid for by wealthy interests who wanted undeserved tax cuts regardless of the consequences for the country, the middle class, and the poor.
Politics and religion are the only two fields where brazen fraud doesn't get prosecuted. If Kemp had attempted to defraud the public in any other field on a comparable scale, he would have been imprisoned for years. He would have deserved it.
To put it simply, Jack Kemp was the Bernie Madoff of politics.
The corporate media also is lying feverishly when they say Kemp was "compassionate." Kemp didn't give a rat's ass about poor people. He just exploited them rhetorically to push "enterprise zones" in poor communities which made his wealthy donors wealthier but did little to employ or otherwise help the communities they exploited for the purposes of selective tax evasion. Even worse, revenues lost because of these scams resulted in services to poor people being cut. So much for "compassion."
Far from being compassionate to women, he was filled with such a vicious and compromising hatred that he actually opposed the basic human right of women to choose on abortion. He was so bigoted against atheists and non-Christians in general that he actually supported unconstitutional, coerced prayer in public schools.
Jack Kemp was a hateful and dishonest political hack without even the slightest human decency. When corporate media lionize this monster, they make it clear that they exist to push the financial agendas of the people who own them. Accurate news reporting is pretty much forbidden in the corporate spin zone.
Liberals are much more inclined to read newspapers, to try to be informed on the issues, and to read in general. Yet, the corporate media go out of their way to insult our intelligence with lies that would strain the credulity of a ten year old. If these media outlets don't start at least trying to be honest and accurate, they are going the way of the mastodons, extinct animals far to similar to the symbol of the GOP.
Update: Joe My God reminds us that Kemp also was an obsessive heterosexist bigot.
So much is going on these days, it is difficult to keep up. But, I thought this is worth mentioning even if it is a tad old.
Hillary Clinton, in her recent trip to Iraq, said exactly the opposite of what she should have said. Washington Post 4/26/09:
"I wanted to come today to repeat the commitment that President Obama and I and our government have to the people and nation of Iraq," Clinton said at a town hall-style meeting at the U.S. Embassy that was broadcast on Iraqi television.
This sounds nice, but it is just a shiny veneer on some real ugliness. Our country should be getting out of Iraq ASAP. Given what the war on Iraq is doing to hurt our economy and devastate the Iraqi economy while slaughtering the Iraqi people, we should talk about a commitment to withdraw from Iraq.
Talking about "the commitment" is disturbing, given the fact that "the commitment" has been to holding onto Iraq as an imperial colony and massacring Iraqis in the process. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis have made their desire to have our troops withdraw abundantly clear in opinion polls. This should surprise no one. Can you imagine what Americans would think if foreigners invaded our country, slaughtered over 5% of our population, and took control of our natural resources?
There also was a quote in the Post article which shows just how far corporate media outlets will go to keep us at war:
Violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically since the worst days of the war, from an average of 180 attacks daily in June 2007 to 27 a day in January, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But the death toll has spiked lately, with insurgents demonstrating that they are still able to obtain explosives and outwit Iraqi security forces.
This is such a crock. The overwhelming majority of violence in Iraq during this war has been perpetrated by US troops against the Iraqi people. Since the Escalation began, arial bombardments have increased dramatically, causing even more violence and death.
When are the corporate media going to be honest and start including US on Iraqi violence when they talk about violence in Iraq?
Obviously, this is only a small step in the larger need for our society to ban all private gun ownership. But, it is a step. From a Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence press release 4/21/09:
Washington, DC – The day after the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is poised to introduce a bill in the U.S. Senate to close the loophole that allows dangerous people to buy guns at gun shows in most U.S. states without passing a Brady background check. A new report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was also released today, making a forceful case that Brady checks should be conducted for all gun sales in America, including at gun shows.
“Ten years after two dangerous high school students exploited the gun show loophole to destroy the lives of countless fellow students in a horrific massacre, it is way past time to extend the successful Brady background check system in America to every gun sale in America,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign. “There is no rational reason why we should continue to allow a system where criminals and other dangerous people can buy guns without a background check, no questions asked. I want to applaud Senator Frank Lautenberg for the bill he is introducing today in the United States Senate to close the gun show loophole. This legislation will make it harder for dangerous people to get guns, and will be an important step towards requiring Brady background checks for all gun sales.”
The Brady report, No Check, No Gun, was released at the press conference Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) held this morning. It can be accessed online at http://www.bradycenter.org/xshare/pdf/reports/no-check-no-gun-report.pdf.
The report explains that though the Brady background check system has successfully blocked over 1.6 million prohibited purchasers from buying guns, the system has a major gap because it requires background checks only for gun sales by licensed dealers. About 40 percent of gun sales are made by unlicensed sellers without a background check to see if the purchaser is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from buying guns.
“In effect,” the report explains, “we have two gun markets: A regulated one, where buyers are checked to see if they can legally buy guns, and an unregulated one, where they are not.”
The report explains how the no-check loophole has become a supply source for criminals who want guns and for traffickers who supply criminals. Sales with no Brady check “have armed countless criminals, including the Columbine High School killers, the neo-Nazi spree killer of Ricky Byrdsong and others in Illinois and Indiana, the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooter, killers of police officers, and the notorious Mexican drug cartels. Terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, have attempted to exploit the no check loophole to amass their arsenals,” the Brady report says.
I'm sure the pro-gay bashing, robbery, rape, and murder gun extremists at the NRA won't even support this rather mild and tame legisilation.