News Roundup for 4/30/09

model with ridiculously huge breasts
Carrie Prejean

-Headline of the day-
"Group paid for breast implants of beauty queen on gay marriage rampage."

I ask you, how could it not be the HotD?

The newest incarnation of Joe the Plumber, opposite marriage advocate and Miss California Carrie Prejean, is a chemo-babe. According to the report, the "Miss California organization has confirmed that it paid for the 21-year-old Prejean to receive breast implants weeks before the [Miss America] pageant."

No word on whether big fake tits are a family value. Seriously, they don't write these things down. You'd think that family values would be easy to list off anywhere, anytime, since they were handed down by the hand of God to Ronald Reagan on Mt. Sinai. But it seems that what is or isn't a family value depends on what serves the religious right's political agenda at any moment. So big fake tits are probably as wholesome and moral as Wonderbread now.

There's also no word on whether the original Joe the Plumber -- Samuel Wurzelhooper -- is considering breast implants to reinvigorate his sagging career. We can only pray he doesn't. (Raw Story)

Here's a fun game. Click on this link to the Hamilton County [Ohio] Republican Party's blog. What do you get? An error page saying, "Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Hamilton County GOP does not exist."

Now, check out the Google cache for the page and see what you see. Not surprisingly, HCRP head Alex Triantafilou seems pretty pissed that Arlen Specter has left the Republican party. The post is a little insulting maybe, but nothing out of the ordinary for a Republican party head -- being an asshole is part of the job description. So why pull the post?

Maybe this, which appeared at the top of the post, might explain it:

Arlen Specter baldDr. Evil

Hahaha! Arlen Specter's all bald and he looks like Dr. Evil! You got burned Arlen! w00t! Chromedome!

But wait, why is Arlen Specter bald in that photo? Because he almost died of freakin' cancer!

Wow. That takes a lot of the funny out of it, doesn't it? So down the memory hole goes Alex Triantafilou's post.

Remember way back when George W. Bush talked about "compassionate conservatism?" Yeah, turns out there's no such thing. (Google Cache, via reddit)

-Bonus HotD-
"What's in a name?"

That depends on whether you're just some average person on the street or the PR head of industry group who's way too paranoid about the way people use words. Said PR head is Tammy Vaasenn, Director of Operations for the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association and the words she's freaked out over are "swine" and "flu," I guess in that order.

According to the report, Vaasenn "says it's an unfortunate choice of words because there's no indication a pig gave the virus to a human. She says the 'Swine Flu' term is a bit misleading and could impact sales of pork products, even though there's no connection between the virus and pork." So WPPA wants everyone to stop saying "swine flu," because it'll get everyone thinking that bacon or pork chops are bad for you.

Yeah, think about that for a sec. It'll come to you.

Vaasenn suggests the media call it "North American influenza" or "Hybrid Influenza." I guess you could also go with H1N1 -- seeing how that's actually what it's called. But I'm guess that you can put this request in that big, long list of things that are just never going to happen. Still, if Wolf Blitzer or Bill O'Reilly start talking about the "North American influenza," you'll know they buckled under the pressure of the huge Washington powerhouse lobby that is the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association. (Wisconsin Radio Network)

A 'Big Tent' Full of Ideological Clones

Arlen Specter
The defection of Arlen Specter to the Democratic side of the aisle has set the Republican party back a bit. It's caused them to become even more of a minority in the Senate and, with the inevitable seating of Al Franken, gives them that magic 60 votes. While much has been made of the death of the Republican filibuster, it's probably a little overblown -- with Specter, we probably have someone more along the lines of a second Joe Lieberman than a second Ted Kennedy. In terms of actual, real world results, the addition of Arlen Specter to the dem lineup is more of a moral victory than anything.

But with the majority comes all the benefits. The majority party chairs all the committees and sets the agenda, the majority decides which bills even come to the floor for a vote, the majority is in the Senate's driver's seat. That advantage can't be overstated. And the Republican party is one more seat away from getting back in that seat. The already unrealistic task of taking back the Senate in 2010 just became a little more so. It's entirely possible that, throughout his first term, Barack Obama will have a majority in both houses of congress -- the House of Representatives is probably lost for Republicans for several election cycles. Retaking the Senate was the only thing they had that was close to a realistic hope.

The GOP's biggest problem here is their base. Ideological puritans, they actually greeted the news that Specter had jumped ship with joy. "The Club for Growth PAC enthusiastically endorsed Pat Toomey for Senate in Pennsylvania when Specter was pretending to be a Republican," the influential anti-tax group Club for Growth said in a statement. "Club members will be even more committed to Toomey’s candidacy now that Specter has revealed his true identity."

After actively trying to chase Specter out of the Republican party, Club for Growth now says he's "unprincipled" and "cynical" for doing exactly what they wanted him to do -- leaving the GOP.

In fact, Club for Growth has become the moderate Republican's worst enemy. A New York Times article asks, "At issue for Republicans: Broaden, or contract?" CfG votes for the latter.

With consensus growing among Republicans that the party is in its worst political position in recent memory, some conservatives applauded Specter's departure. They said it cleared the way for the party to distance itself from its record of expanding government during the Bush years and to re-emphasize the calls for tax cuts and reduced federal spending that have dominated Republican thought for more than 30 years.

"We strayed from our principles of limited government, individual responsibility and economic freedom," said Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman who is head of Club for Growth, a group that has financed primary challenges against Republicans it considers insufficiently conservative. "We have to adhere to those principles to rebuild the party. Those are the brand of the Republican Party and people feel that we betrayed the brand."

But Republican leaders in Washington argued that Republicans would be permanently marginalized unless they showed flexibility on social as well as economic issues.

Now that Republicans have become less popular than the swine flu, Chocola's answer is to become more Republican. Worse, he argues that Republicans are now hated for being like Arlen Specter. There are plenty of people to the right of Pennsylvania's Specter -- say, oh, Pennsylvania's former Senator Rick Santorum -- who lost for being exactly what the Club for Growth wants.

"If we pursue a party that has no place for someone who agrees with me 70 percent of the time, that is based on an ideological purity test rather than a coalition test, then we are going to keep losing," says South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Two recent polls show that few voters consider themselves Republican anymore. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 20% of respondents identified themselves as Republicans. A Washington Post had nearly identical findings, with 21% self-identifying as GOP. The way things are now, out of every five voters, four don't consider themselves Republicans.

"Republicans turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface, failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered," writes moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe in a NYT op-ed. "It is true that being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of 'Survivor' -- you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. But it is truly a dangerous signal that a Republican senator of nearly three decades no longer felt able to remain in the party."

"I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view..." Specter said when he made the switch. "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

There's no indication that Club for Growth and other GOP base groups are going to change their tactics any time soon. They'll remain the moderate Republican's worst enemy.

And, in doing so, they'll remain the Democratic party's best friend.


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News Roundup for 4/29/09

Drew Barrymore in 'Firestarter'
Rep. Michele Bachmann

-Headline of the day-
"Bachmann: Dem connection to outbreak 'interesting'."

America's favorite right wing lunatic, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, makes news again by engaging in paranoid lunacy -- with bonus ignorance.

According to the report, "Rep. Michele Bachmann says she finds it an 'interesting coincidence' that the last swine flu outbreaks in the US occurred under a Democratic president -- though her claim is historically inaccurate." See, the last swine flu outbreak was under Gerald Ford. So Bachmann's "Democrats are trying to kill you!" conspiracy theory has a little bit of a problem.

Not that she's actually saying that Obama's trying to kill us all -- she says she's not "blaming this on President Obama" -- it's just "interesting."

You know what else is interesting? In 2007, there were a series of fires in women's bathrooms at congressional office buildings. Michele Bachmann was in Congress at the time. Now I'm not saying that Michele Bachmann's a dangerous and insane serial arsonist, I'm just saying it's an interesting coincidence.

Really makes you think, doesn't it? (Associated Press, via reddit)

-Carrie the Pageant Girl-
Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzlebacherschmaltzenheimer isn't the only right wing pseudo-celebrity trying to milk their 15 minutes of fame into a lifetime career. Opposite-marriage advocate Carrie Prejean, Miss California, has been getting speaking gigs with wingnut groups. After telling Miss America Pageant judges about marriage in "my country" -- which I guess is the California part of America -- she quickly became a star among the Biblehumping crowd.

Even better, she's getting some sweet TV air time. According to Politico, Prejean will appear in an ad by the National Organization for Marriage (which confusingly is against marriage -- at least, the gay kind). The ad will be "the second in what the group says is a $1.5 million campaign." You remember the first ad. It featured actors who were afraid of gay storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

She's pretty, she's anti-gay-marriage, and she's... well, she's pretty. Way prettier than Plumb the Joesammer. Looks like Sam the Joewurzel may have a little trouble finding work these days.

Now he knows how Tito the Builder must feel. (Right Wing Watch)

-How to be a millionaire-
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that only 20% of respondents identify themselves as Republican. This reflects a Washington Post poll that found that only 21% of Americans call themselves Republicans.

So here's what you do. Go out with a friend and point out a random person on the street. Bet your friend a dollar that they aren't a Republican. Ask the person and there's a 4 in 5 chance you'll win the bet.

To be a millionaire, repeat this process between 1.2 and 1.3 million times -- give or take a few ten-thousand here or there. It's just that easy. (Political Wire)

On Torture: Two Plans, One Solution

The idea that there won't be some sort of investigation into the Bush administration's policy of torture is probably a fantasy. It's just too big to be ignored. While President Obama has said that he's not in favor of investigations, he hasn't done a whole lot to tamp down talk of them. The most common assessment of the reasoning behind Obama's stance is that he's afraid that it'll make it harder to get policies he wants through Congress. But this doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, since the very people who'd be most angered by torture investigations -- i.e., Republicans -- haven't been in the mood to participate in bipartisanship. For example, the stimulus bill passed through Congress with a grand total of three GOP votes; zero in the House and three in the Senate. As it is, Republicans are already doing their worst -- it's hard to imagine how it would be possible for them to be more obstructionist. The GOP actually filibustered a bill to prevent China from importing toys with lead paint. They're obstructing everything. As a result, angering the Republican party would be without any real consequence. They can fume and stomp around and throw tantrums on talking head shows, but they didn't keep any ammo in reserve. In a very real sense, they don't have anything left to threaten anyone with.

If Obama's worrying about torture investigations spoiling his new era of post-partisanship, he can stop worrying. The Republicans have no interest in it anyway.

But I suppose the Obama administration loses nothing by being standoffish about torture probes and would gain nothing by being aggressive. One way or another, it's looking more and more like it's going to happen. The direct involvement of the President isn't really required.

Still, some leadership would be nice. As it is, Congress is kind of wandering around offering competing solutions -- some good, some bad. One of these solutions will be applied and there's no guarantee that it'll be one of the good ones.

In the "good ones" category is a request for a special counsel by members of the House Judiciary Committee.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee asked attorney general Eric Holder on Tuesday to appoint a special counsel to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute Bush administration officials involved in decisions that led to torture of detainees held in counter-terrorism efforts. In a letter to Holder, the congressmen write that memos released by the Obama administration last week confirmed that legal justifications for interrogation techniques like waterboarding came from high-up administration officials.

"During your confirmation hearings, you testified that waterboarding is torture," the letter says.

"This letter makes official our views on the necessary procedure in investigating those U.S. officials who allowed or actively instructed others to commit torture," said a statement from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who along with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) were the letter's principal authors. "Because the United States is bound by its own laws and by international treaty, we are obligated to investigate and, where necessary, to prosecute those who have violated the laws against committing torture - whether by ordering it or committing it directly."

The full letter is available here [PDF].

"[T]here can be little doubt that the public interest will be served by appointment of a special counsel," the letter reads. "The authorization and use of interrogation techniques that likely amounted to torture has generated tremendous concern and outrage in this country, and has harmed our legal and moral standing in the world."

If we're going to get serious about investigating and -- if need be -- prosecuting for torture, the time to get on the stick is now. Amazingly, there's a statute of limitations for torture. And that limit is five years after the commission of the crime. It's possible to extend the statute of limitations -- or even eliminate it -- but the easier solution would be to get it done before the limit expires. Given the instances of torture that we know of, that means prosecution this year. At least, under US statute -- international law has no limitation.

Another solution is a bad one. In fact, it's exactly what you'd do if you didn't meet the statute of limitations. And that solution is Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy's "Truth Commission." A Truth Commission is a route third world nations take when prosecution has become completely impossible. It's the last resort and it's the first thing Leahy wants to try. A commission would grant immunity from prosecution to anyone testifying for anything other than perjury. After the statute of limitations expires, it'd make sense. But before then, it's a "get out of jail free" card.

And you'd think that Leahy were trying to beat the clock on the statute. He wants to have his commission pretty much yesterday.

[Raw Story:]

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) plans to proceed with a special commission to investigate alleged Bush administration abuses of power, despite lacking President Barack Obama’s support, according to a report Tuesday.


President Obama, meanwhile, has expressed disinterest in investigating the activities of his predecessor, saying it’s time for the country to move on. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), says he doesn’t want the commission to begin until an inquiry headed by Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) examines the Bush administration’s legal defenses of torture techniques.

“Leahy plans to move ahead with his proposal anyway," Politico reports. "While he has not found a GOP co-sponsor for legislation creating a truth commission, Leahy is expected to begin circulating a draft soon."

And all Leahy really needs to find to get his co-sponsor is a Republican who's not stupid. Since it's pretty obvious that hoping for no investigations at all is more than a little unrealistic, Leahy's Truth Commission is the next best thing. Once it finally sinks in on the right that a torture probe is going to happen, Leahy's proposal is going to become really popular among more realistic Republicans and even former Bush administration officials.

In the end, the best idea would be to treat this possible crime as a possible crime. This isn't some special circumstance for which the law leaves us totally unprepared. We don't have to take extra-legal measures to deal with something that the law covers very well. We don't have to pretend that the law only applies to those less powerful than former White House officials. We can do everything the way we're supposed to do it -- the way we're pretty much required to do it.

Attorney General Holder should honor the request for a special counsel to investigate torture. And Sen. Leahy's Truth Commission should go to the backburner -- for a extra-legal commission without consequences, what's the rush? The truth will be just as true next year or ten years from now as it is today. It's not going anywhere -- it doesn't have a shelflife, it's not going to spoil. If we can't get anything other than a Truth Commission, then we start putting one together.

Until then, we really ought to do what is required of us. We really ought to obey the law.


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Specter's Move to Democrats: So What?

Campaign Buttons

By Grant Lawrence

"I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."
Republican, er I mean, Democratic Senator Arlen Specter regarding his reason for leaving the GOP.

Senator Specter is a man of principle or rather principally a political opportunist. Like every politician, Specter is concerned about keeping his political position. So not being a particularly stupid person, Specter obviously looked around, saw the collapse of the Republican Party in the Northeast , and thought that it might be a good idea for him to get on a life boat before the GOP Titanic sinks further into the deep waters of public outrage and animosity.

Specter also would have faced a difficult Republican primary in 2010 because he is seen as too moderate by the glassy eyed religious fanatics and the Teabaggers that still make up of what is left of a dying Republican Party in the United States.

So what does Specter's move to the Democratic Party mean for America?

Not much.

Although the Democrats will soon have enough votes to break a Republican filibuster with 60 seats in the Senate (after Senator Al Franken comes aboard), the difference between both parties are little more than cosmetic. Especially in the Senate, there is not much difference between the agendas of the Republicrat parties. Sure the Democrats will make legislative moves that will give the appearance of populism and change (like the Bill of Rights for Credit Card Holders legislation which merely gives consumers a little more information and notice before they get screwed), but it will be business as usual for the bankers and corporate power interests that actually run America.

Senator Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat, a Green, or resigning will not change the power dynamics in Washington.

In fact, Specter's move from Democrat (in his early career) to Republican and now back to Democrat is representative of power politics in Washington. The Military Industrial Complex power structure merely uses both parties for power and position. They pretend to endorse whichever party has some popularity and momentum, but the power structure always make sure both parties endorse their agenda. Arlen Specter is representative of this process.

News Roundup for 4/28/09

Mitch McConnell
McConnell; as weak-kneed on defense as he is weak-chinned in this photo

-Headline of the day-
"Flu or No Flu, Health Sec's Nomination Will Still Require 60 Votes, GOP Says."

Once again, the Republican party proves itself soft on national defense as they put up roadblocks to the nomination of Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. Turns out that Barack Obama -- who is pro-choice -- nominated Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas for the post. The problem? Get ready for a shock. Sebelius is pro-choice!


So Republicans, in their zeal to save little hypothetical babies, would leave us defenseless in the face of an invasion by a Mexican bacon/Chicken McNugget-hybrid virus. As Steve Benen says, "It's as if they're suffering from a pre-flu mindset." I guess they don't get that H1N1 has changed everything. Why do Republicans hate America?

Anyhoo, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell's office drew a line in the sand this morning, telling journalist Greg Sargent that the filibuster was "locked in" and dems would have to reach a 60-vote super-majority to get Sebelius behind a desk at HHS.

Somehow, I don't see that being a problem. (The Plum Line)

-You want crazy? I'll show you crazy...-
You'd have to guess that Utah County, Utah would be pretty much the center of whackjob Republican Crazyland and, depending on whether you're a "glass half full" type or a "glass is full of snakes that want to eat my eyeballs" type, you may or may not be right. Apparently, it's possible to go too far for even Utah County.

Consider this snippet from the Salt Lake Tribune about the state of the local GOP in the county:

Utah County Republicans defeated a resolution opposing well-heeled groups that a delegate claims are pushing a satanic plan to encourage illegitimate births and illegal immigration.

Don Larsen, a Springville delegate, offered the resolution, titled "Resolution opposing the Hate America anti-Christian Open Borders cabal," warning delegates that an "invisible government" comprised of left-wing foundations was pumping money into the Democratic Party to push for looser immigration laws and anti-family legislation.

Oh, it gets better.

"Larsen said Democrats get most of the votes cast by illegal immigrants and people in dysfunctional families," the article tells us. "But it's not the Democrats who are behind this strategy, Larsen said. It's the devil."

"Satan's ultimate goal is to destroy the family," Larsen said. "and these people are playing a leading part in it."

It still gets better. The resolution wasn't defeated because it was batshit crazy. No, that would be way too reasonable. According to the report, "David Rodeback, a delegate from American Fork... said the religious language Larsen used would push people away from the GOP."

It's probably a little late to worry about that now -- the time to worry about turning off voters was some time around 2006 -- but yeah, you can see Rodeback's point. We've come to expect Republicans to be squirrellier than a walnut grove, but what if voters start to see them as overly religious?

Good thing Delegate Dave stopped that ship before it sailed. (Salt Lake Tribune, via Right Wing Watch)

-Torches? Check. Pitchforks? Check.-
The defection of Sen. Arlen Specter has the Republican party in a panic, but the GOP base couldn't be happier. If the Republican electoral routs of '06 and '08 weren't purges enough, they seem hellbent on driving more moderates out of the party. Run "'good riddance' Specter" through Google's blog search and you get 2,631 hits. No doubt that number will grow as time goes on. I'd go through and quote some randomly selected rightie blogs, but I can sum it up nicely myself; "Screw off, you RiNO!"

Politico has fellow moderate GOPer Olympia Snowe's reaction to the news, "On the national level, she says, 'you haven't certainly heard warm encouraging words of how they [Republicans] view moderates. Either you are with us or against us.'"

Hey Republicans, you better drive out Snowe too. Better to have ideological party purity than any actual power. The smaller the party, the better. Screw all that "big tent" stuff -- the Republican party should be a very exclusive club.

I've even got a motto you guys can use, "If you're not crazy enough, you're not Republican enough." I encourage all Republicans to chase out all moderates from their party -- from the federal level to the city council. You can never be too careful.

The Centrist Menace is everywhere! (Think Progress)

TV News Makes You Dumb

Person with TV for headThe term "harsh interrogation techniques" is pure PR. Calling torture anything other than torture is almost an acknowledgment of criminality. It's like calling bank robbery "expedited withdrawal." You don't make up a fancy new term for something if there's nothing wrong with the old one. And what's wrong with the old term is that it describes a crime.

Likewise, the bankrobber doesn't get to argue that his program of expedited withdrawal works. The same should go for a program of "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Of course, torture doesn't work. The Bush administration's torture program turned up almost no useful intelligence and most interrogation experts agree that that information would almost certainly have been obtained without torture. Where the Bush administration turned to waterboarding and other forms of torture to interview terrorists, interrogators during WWII played chess with captured Nazis -- literally. If that didn't work, they tried Ping-Pong. "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, once told the Washington Post." [Link via Crooks and Liars]

"During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," agreed fellow interrogator George Frenkel. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity." But the Bush administration -- with some help of a media that refuses to be truthful, instead of merely factual -- has certainly compromised ours. A new headline at the Gallup website reads, "Slim Majority Wants Bush-Era Interrogations Investigated: Majority says use of harsh techniques on terrorism suspects was justified."

After reading that, I was about ready to give up on my fellow citizens. Wouldn't any torturing banana republic say torture was justified? Why didn't people see that we've compromised what it means to be American with torture?

Then I read a damned good point -- on Twitter. Usually, 140 characters isn't enough to make a solid and rational argument, but Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell posted one of the smartest observations I'd seen on the service for a good, long time. "Another Gallup poll on 'harsh' interrogation," he wrote. "Ignore all polls on this subject until they use the word 'torture.' Otherwise: meaningless."

My reaction was "now there's a damned good point." When you use the public relations term for torture, you aren't actually asking people if they think torture's OK. You're asking them if they approve of some nonexistent thing that they've been lied to about by the Bush administration. The first paragraph of Gallup's report reads:

A new Gallup Poll finds 51% of Americans in favor and 42% opposed to an investigation into the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects during the Bush administration. At the same time, 55% of Americans believe in retrospect that the use of the interrogation techniques was justified, while only 36% say it was not. Notably, a majority of those following the news about this matter "very closely" oppose an investigation and think the methods were justified.

In the entire report, the word "torture" comes up exactly once -- in the familiar "techniques that some call torture" format favored by the media. Never mind that those "some" that call it torture include US and international law.

How many of the respondents thought, "Well, as long as it's not actually torture," when they gave their answers? It's impossible to know. But the wording of the questions is clearly biased toward pro-Bush side of the argument.

Worse is the fact that the more informed you think you are, the less you actually know. 61% who said they were "following the story closely" thought these fantastical "harsh interrogation techniques" were sometimes justified and 58% of that same group oppose investigations. Given the state of our media, which relies on a less than informative "two sides to every story" reporting, this should come as no surprised. The media consistently refuses to call torture torture, opting instead for the Bush administration's invented term of "harsh interrogation techniques." What we can come away with here is that the more you watch mainstream media, the less informed you become.

This isn't the first time a similar failure of the media has come up. In 2003, the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks released a study showing that the less you knew about the arguments for invading Iraq, the more likely you were to support the invasion.

Even more interesting:

The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals' primary source of news. Those who primarily watch FOX News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.

In other words, the more you watched FOX News, the less you actually knew. And it went right down through all the TV networks. The study measured how many people believed 3 common misconceptions -- Saddam was allied with al Qaeda, that WMD had actually been found in Iraq, and that world public opinion was in favor of invading. 80% of people who got their news primarily from FOX news believed at least one of these myths, followed by 71% with CBS, 61% with ABC, 55% for NBC and CNN, 47% for print media, and 23% for NPR or PBS.

That the Bush administration authorized merely "harsh interrogation techniques" would likewise be a common misperception. I don't have any doubt at all that if the torture scandal were broken down into misconceptions and polled by media source, you'd wind up with a result similar to PIPA's in 2003 -- with TV media doing the worst job and print and public media doing the best.

In the end, Gallups' study may only tell us something we've known for five years -- and that your mom suspected when you were a kid -- the more you watch TV, the dumber you get.


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The Global Pandemic Coincidence

Henry Kissinger.

By Grant Lawrence

Now the world seems to be in a grip of a pandemic. I find it somewhat coincidental that the swine flu pandemic would arise just as the world is in the grip of a fantastic economic downturn that economists used to call depression.

At this point, know one knows for sure if the flu will be somewhat tame or kill millions of people.

But there are a couple of points worth noting.

In the future, it will be very difficult for the world to sustain a growing human population that is already approaching 7 billion people. To our present global power structure, people are looked upon as resources, just like minerals, plants, and animals. That means that to the global elite that control much of the world, people are not looked upon in terms of caring and human feeling. Rather, decisions are made in terms of costs and benefits.

The global power elite surely has done a cost-benefit analysis on the benefit of keeping so many people around and they have likely come to some understanding that there is no longer the need for that much cheap labor. The downturn in the economy means that there will no longer be a great demand for sweat shop and near slave labor, even when that labor comes at such a small cost.

In fact, a large pool of global labor will no longer be needed to be exploited now or in the long term future when there is such a decline in economic consumption. The cost-benefit analysis has likely shown the owners of the world that a large mass of people are eating more than they are worth. Or to borrow a phrase from Henry Kissinger, billions of people in an economic downturn means that we have a lot of "useless eaters" in the eyes of the global power structure.

Also technology means that less workers are needed for manufacturing, farming, and other formerly labor intensive enterprises. With a bit more ingenuity, technology can be used to make many occupations all but obsolete. This point, I am sure, has not gone unnoticed to the globalists that have mapped out their New World Order.

The solution.

I think that like any good businessmen, the power structure will follow their own cost-benefit analysis and act to reduce the human population.

Now if humanity had a somewhat enlightened and humane leadership, the masters of our world would enact certain governmental policies to help reduce human numbers. An enlightened world elite would enact sweeping social and political agendas to gradually and humanely reduce the numbers of people on the planet. Propaganda techniques would be employed to condition people to act in their own self interest and have less children. The media as well as our so-called religious leaders could be made to join in the movement for greater birth control. The power elite could make it economically difficult for people to have more than a few children. The owners of the world could enact massive education and cultural programs to demonstrate the dangers of a large human population to human survival.

Unfortunately, humanity has a ruthless, greedy, and malevolent leadership that is likely looking to gain greater power, meet their objections in a brutish way, and profit from a crisis.

That is why I am a little suspicious of this likely pandemic. It comes at a time when the world doesn't need the labor and the environmental stress of human activity is degrading the possibilities of planetary survival.

As we have seen for nearly a century, human suffering is big business and there is always a lot of money to be made in it. We have seen how our own military industrial complex has made obscene fortunes off war and war preparation. Nearly half of all of American tax dollars go to pay for past, present, and future wars, war industry, and war readiness. That is a lot of money going into the hands of the bankers and the war profiteers that run the economic machine of globalization or global empire. We have seen an intentional policy of creating and encouraging enemies so that an endless game of war and war preparedness can continue to build a vast wealth for those in power.

It is this same power structure, the military industrial complex, that controls the pharmaceutical and medical establishment. A good pandemic could not only help to reduce the population a bit but it would also be good for the bottom line. The people of the world would be needing vaccines, medicines, supplies, and medical technology to help ease the crisis. All of this would mean more profit for a very limited few.

Nearly a decade ago, a number of microbiologists began dying at an alarming rate and under strange circumstances. This could have all been coincidence, but it could have had something to do with their level of expertise and knowledge. They might have known too much and for that they may have paid for their knowledge with their lives. Perhaps their skill and knowledge would have been greatly needed during a pandemic or perhaps some helped to develop a strain of virus that could kill millions.

Of course, some of this is conjecture. But what isn't conjecture is that there is a systematic policy by world leaders to exploit and kill for profit. That is what we have seen happening to humanity through our present New World Empire and its economic arm globalization.

During the last century, we have seen around 70 million people killed in wars. Most of this massive human suffering tremendously profited those in positions of power such as the capitalist robber barons and bankers. This power structure has controlled much of human activity and affairs of state for centuries.

I don't think it is too much of stretch to think that the world's power elite would like to see a good pandemic to go with their murderous wars, their exploitive labor, and their environmental degradation for maximum profit.

I guess I am cynical or a bit conspiratorial but when there is money to be made, goals to be met, and greater power to be gained then I have little trust in the present killing machine that runs much of the world. A pandemic might be highly useful to them and they may someday help initiate one. Maybe they did just that down in Mexico City.


News Roundup for 4/27/09

Totally gay

-Headline of the day-
"'Probable' swine flu case in sixth state."

And that sixth state is Michigan. According to the report, "The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were reviewing state laboratory results to confirm whether a 34-year-old woman was in fact infected with the dangerous disease."

Despite all the freaking out, the article tells us, "Most of the US victims have recovered fully after experiencing only mild symptoms," so I'm sure she'll be fine. In other words, it's the flu -- settle down. The only place it's actually been a problem is in Mexico, where the only deaths have been reported. This is probably due to intense poverty in that nation, which results in poor nutrition, and the lack of an effective health care infrastructure.

But here's the thing; you know how every time there's some big, scary disaster, the religious right are quick to say it's "God's punishment for ___?" Yeah, you're not hearing that this time.

Why? Well, the states now reporting cases are New York, California, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, and now Michigan. All states without legal same sex marriage. And today's the first day that gays can marry in Iowa. The message is clear; God is really gay and He's really pissed.

Repent and appease the wrath of the Almighty! Gay-marry someone right away.

It's your only hope... (Agence France-Presse)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, it's Fuzzy the Conciliation Caterpillar!

Fuzzy the Conciliation Caterpillar
Click for animation

Like Fuzzy, our history of torture will one day turn into a beautiful butterfly. Or something like that...

Look, I don't pretend to understand this stuff, kids. I just play the cartoons. (MarkFiore.com)

From Senator Susan Collins' (R-ME) website:

February 5, 2009

...Sen. Collins, a centrist with allies in both parties, was called to the White House Wednesday to meet with Mr. Obama. She envisions holding the cost of the stimulus package to $700 billion or less, well below the $819 billion package of tax cuts and spending the House approved last week.


After meeting with Mr. Obama, Sen. Collins expressed concern about a number of spending provisions, including $780 million for pandemic-flu preparedness. "I have no doubt that the president is willing to negotiate in good faith, that he wants to have a bipartisan bill," Sen. Collins said.

Collins succeeded. The flu-preparedness funding was stripped from the bill. Yay! In fact, she's so proud of this victory that the story's still on her site. Who foresaw a mutant bacon/Chicken McNuggets flu strain coming just months down the road?

With torture, Republicans have become soft on crime. Now, with flu creeping over our southern border, they're soft on national defense. Ironically, the GOP is slowly becoming everything they've accused Democrats of being for decades.

Why do Republicans hate America? (Office of Susan M. Collins, via reddit)

Setting fire to Paris Hilton and invading Iraq: Phobias for fun and profit


(”Let’s get those evil mothersuckers…!”)

Damn, this is silly – yet it is hard not to sympathize with the guy, Especially, if you, like me (and him) have this thing about spiders:

“A man had to be rescued after setting the front of his house on fire while trying to kill a spider with a lighter. Firefighters say the man, in his 40s, had been trying to set fire to the spider as it crawled up the front of the semi-detached property But sparks reached material behind the cladding and caused a fire within the walls, shortly before midnight. Three fire engines raced to the scene in Portsmouth, Hants, and found the man trying to put out the flames with a garden hose.”

Phobias can be so weird.

I mean, if you are in Australia, it’s perfectly normal to be wary of spiders. Hell, if you’re an Australian it would be insane not to worry about the local fauna – since about everything that swims, crawls, burrows or flies there seems to be Hell-bent on killing as many human in as many painful ways as possible.

Here in Europe though, the fear of spiders is a bit silly. If you compare the size and weight of your average house spider to that of our most anorexic of celebs, we are still, more or less, talking about Mount Everest having this thing about humans.

Of course, phobias aren’t logical. That’s the whole point of them. To ask that poor guy who set his house on fire what he got against that blameless spider wouldn’t make much sense.

Or about as much sense as asking our young George what he had against Iraq, I guess.

Which would explain quite a lot about recent history, come to think of it – and it would make a great B movie too, with John Goodman playing Bush.

Yes, it does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


(If only Hitchcock could have done the younger Bush…)

Impeaching the Torture Judge

Jay BybeeJudge Jay Bybee is lying. OK, that may not be extremely fair, but it got your attention, didn't it? The truth is that we don't know if Bybee's lying about writing a memo -- as then-assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel -- affirming the legality of the torture of suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah. He may just be negligent. We'll have to wait and see. As is usually the case with a Bush administration scandal, we have to assume that the person at the center of it is either lying or incompetent.

The memo listed ten methods of "harsh interrogation" that could be used against Zubaydah -- including slapping, "cramped confinement," stress positions, sleep deprivation, "insects placed in a confinement box," and waterboarding. The techniques would be used "in some sort of an escalating fashion, culminating with the waterboard, though not necessarily ending with this technique." When this memo was released by the Obama administration, life got a little complicated for Judge Jay Bybee. There is now a serious movement to impeach him and remove him from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

But Bybee got some friends together to tell the Washington Post the he "regrets" signing the memo -- not writing it, mind you, but signing it. See, he didn't write this memo, he says. He just signed it. Any legal scholar will tell you that signing something doesn't mean anything -- it's just something you do. It's not like signing a document means you're in agreement with it, it just means someone pointed to a blank space and said, "sign here," which you did like a good little monkey. That's why you can break your lease at any moment -- you just signed the lease, you didn't write it, so it doesn't mean crap. You aren't responsible for anything in that lease.

Legal experts, like George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, point out that this probably isn't the most ironclad argument in the world.

"This is similar to the defense that Democrats allowed [Alberto] Gonzales to make on the first torture memo at his confirmation hearing for Attorney General, to wit, he did not read an important policy memo on the commission of a war crime, he just signed it," writes Turley. "It is the empty suit defense: I really am not to blame when I sign orders or memos because I just sign things. Bybee has not spoken directly on this matter to the public, but there are now various friends saying that he would like to repudiate the memos and even denies writing the memos."

Why did Bybee sign off on a memo he didn't really agree with? Did I mention he's now Judge Jay Bybee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- a lifetime appointment second in importance only to the Supreme Court? That probably had something to do with it. Writes Adam Serwer, "Bybee knew he was breaking the law in allowing the use of torture, but you have to understand, he only did it because he really wanted to be a federal judge."

And it wasn't the first time that torture and Jay Bybee's signature showed up in the same memo. In 2004, the Washington Post published what's become widely known as the "Bybee Memo" [PDF], which argued that torture "may be justified" and that international law "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" under Bush. In fact, it argued that the classic definition of torture -- using pain to get someone to do what you want -- wasn't actually torture. Torture had to be really, really bad.

"We conclude that for an act to constitute torture as defined [by US law], it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure," the memo reads. "Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." Not that they stuck to this -- waterboarding meets even this extremely narrow definition of torture, since it impairs the bodily function of breathing to the point that the subject becomes afraid they're going to die. For the Bush administration, torture could be defined very simply -- it was that which they were not doing.

"The idea that one of the architects of this perversion of the law is now sitting on the federal bench is very troubling," says Sen. Russ Feingold. "The memos offer some of the most explicit evidence yet that Mr. Bybee and others authorized torture and they suggest that grounds for impeachment can be made."

Bybee knows the opinions in the memos are junk. That's why he running as fast as he can from ownership of them. The Washington Post piece on his "regret" over signing the newly released memo quotes him as telling friends that "the spirit of liberty has left the republic" because of what was done to prisoners like Zubaydah.

And that's real bad news for torture apologists. The person responsible for the legal opinion justifying it is now running around telling everyone that same opinion was a bunch of crap. He's trying to save his career, sure, but even the fact that his career is in danger represents a problem.

That Bybee should be impeached almost goes without saying -- he was willing to say or do anything in order to further his career. He clearly has no real interest in justice, which ought to be the primary job requirement for a federal judge. But we should be careful that he doesn't become the scapegoat, that we don't wind up punishing one man for the crimes of many. Bush's torture policy didn't begin with Jay Bybee and the scandal doesn't end there. If he is impeached, the temptation will be to drop this political hot potato and declare everything all cleared up.

But it shouldn't end there. A crime has been committed that undermines our authority on human rights and international law for decades. It has ruined our reputation as a leader in justice in the world. It will be years before we can stand up for the rule of law or the rights of man without being immediately accused of hypocrisy. This has hurt our nation in ways that will be demonstrated again and again, far into the future. It's endangered our troops in the field, by making it less likely that enemies will surrender out of fear of they'll be tortured. And it's made us less safe at home, since Bush's torture program has become a recruiting tool for terrorists.

Torture is illegal for many reasons, all of them good, and should be treated no differently than any other crime. In the US, the law should apply to all, regardless of how powerful they've become. We should make sure that the law isn't applied only to Jay Bybee.


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Scientists discover the oldest trick in the book


(No animals were harmed in the creating of this product…)

Now, we all know that it ain’t easy to be a woman. What with periods and hot flushes, giving birth and full Brazilians and men.

I sympathize. I really do but us men have our problems too. We have to shave daily; we go bald. We can’t bring home our daily quota of sabre tooth tigers and mastodons anymore to impress our women, so all we can brag about are the extra hours we make at the office and the size of our pay check.

Plus, we fall in love with our peroxide blonde, gum chewing secretaries – and even worse: with our i-Phones…

… and not to rub it in or anything but to add serious fuck-uppery to injury, even if we have a loving & patient wife (or willing typing pool type of girl) chances are we can’t get it up anymore anyway.

Still, these are the brave and as of yet early days of the 21st century. The Age of Aquarius has made way for the Day of the Scientist – and our beautiful boys and girls with the white coats have come to the rescue once more.

With a new cure for impotence, no less.

So far only tested on rats but since the ultimate beneficiaries are men, that seems a fitting enough control group:

“A new generation of anti-impotency drugs that are rubbed into the skin could prove more effective than Viagra, research indicates. Scientists in the United States have successfully tested the new technique on rats and believe it could also be used to help humans. Under the therapy, nanoparticles that release the anti-erectile chemical nitric oxide are rubbed on the problem area, and absorbed directly into the skin. Of the seven rats treated by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, five showed signs of arousal, according to results presented to the American Urological Association.”

Now, far from me to criticize our scientists but things being ‘rubbed on the problem area’…?

I think our clever white coats will find that this kind of thing has been done since the dawn of time – with fair to excellent results, as all the booming (if discrete) Thai massage outfits can testify to.

They even have come up with a word for it. Though I admit it doesn’t sound very scientific, it does hit the spot well enough.

It’s called a hand-job.

(Bad taste: I know, I know…)


When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter fucks Venus (while the vicar skates up and down the aisle in roller blades)


(Add four nails as stabilizers…)

Now, I’m an agnost, so normally I wouldn’t comment on anyone’s particular brand of faith – apart from the small observation that all of them look more than a little bit silly from the outside.

Virgin births, four-armed Goddesses of wanton destruction, holy prophets with underage wives, matzes for Easter with a plague of frog topping, dog-eyed Gods with a penchant for party-wrapped corpses…

Again, if that’s your thing, why not? As long as you are mindful enough of your neighbours to keep the noise down – which true believers tend to forget about, truth to say – but don’t expect me to join in, in any hurry.

Still, whether people ‘believe’ or not, most of us have a pretty good idea what it takes for something to be called a miracle.

For instance, despite the many tabloid stories, the majority of people would not see it as particularly miraculous if the face of Jesus appeared on yet another quattro formaggi pizza.

No, it takes a bit more to make it as a bona fide miracle. Jesus and His mama coming back to Earth again, to enter American Idol (and at least make it to the fourth round) would probably count. The planet Jupiter inviting Venus over for a civilised sherry, followed by a wild fuck, would also satisfy most bookies And Guinness Book of Records accountants – as would, in all likelihood, John McCain’s winning the presidency on his third try (with Richard Dawkins or Gore Vidal as his running mate, to win the last few nay-sayers over.)

Looking at past, reported miracles, Moses parting the Red Sea or, even more unlikely, getting the Jewish tribes to sit still long enough to come to an agreement over a whole damn book of laws and what a full kosher menu contain or nor, should surely count…

… and yes, Jesus shaking off the the dust of the cave, three days after His human pin cushion act, was pretty miraculous too, of course.

So, we all have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a true miracle – and, even more to the point, what does emphatically not.

Which, unfortunately, means that the good Reverend Roger Preece doesn’t have a prayer if he thinks his little stunts would cause the same kind of ‘astonishment’ as Jupiter and Venus bonking like horny teenagers or Jesus doing His resurrected hedgehog thing:

A vicar put his skates on to preach the Gospel in an attempt to replicate the astonishment that would have greeted Christ’s resurrection. Roger Preece, 44, has been dubbed The Rolling Reverend after skating up and down the aisle of his church in roller blades.”

(”You just say you’re out there waiting for the miracle to come”)


What is it about New Mexico and UFOs?

Landscape not far from Chaco Canyon, New Mexic...

By Grant Lawrence

As I examine the supposed UFO footage posted below. I have to ask myself, why is the Southwest and New Mexico in particular noted for its UFO activity? Admittedly, UFO sightings are increasing all over the world but New Mexico has been the birthplace of the modern UFO craze beginning with Roswell. Also reports of other UFO crashes like the one that might have occurred in Aztec, New Mexico in 1948 and the famous stories of a UFO underground base in Dulce, New Mexico makes me wonder why New Mexico is the source of such fantastic claims of of UFO activity.

All of my life, I have been something of a sky watcher. When I was younger I spent many hours looking at the night skies of a Northwestern Ohio. I was always hoping to see something in those Mid Western skies that might confirm my belief that there was something to the UFO phenomena that some people had witnessed.

I never saw anything I couldn't explain.

But then several years ago, I moved to Northern New Mexico to work on the Navajo Reservation and I saw several fantastic UFO sightings.

I firmly believe that the US military industrial complex already has a pretty good idea of what is going on. I also believe that it is entirely possible that there has been some high level contact between Alien life and the US government.

Someday when the government decides to give us a little insight into what is going on in our skies, then maybe the UFO phenomenon will become clearer. But I am not holding my breath for the answers coming anytime soon.

So until we get a few answers, I can only guess at what is going on and continue to wonder, "What is it about New Mexico and UFOs?"

60 minutes of tape edited down to appox. 9 and half minutes. Artesia New Mexico 4/19/09 and 4/20/09. Have much more on tapes, but not as bright or interesting. Unknown objects most of the time, but once in awhile a jet or bird.

Artesia Night Sky channel:

News Roundup for 4/24/09

Michele Bachmann, looking crazy
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Crazytown)

-Headline of the day-
"Bachmann: CO2 'is a natural byproduct of nature.'"

So is ape urine, but that doesn't mean I want to drink a big glass of it.

America's favorite right wing lunatic, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, thought Earth Day would be a good time to take to the floor of the House of Representatives to defend carbon dioxide against those who would remove all of it from our atmosphere. For the record, that political movement consists of no one.

"Carbon dioxide, Mister Speaker, is a natural byproduct of nature," she said. "Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can't even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that's on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that -- that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth."

You know, there are a lot of things that are natural that aren't extremely good for you. If she has some doubts about that, I invite Shelly Bachmann to take a dip in a big pool of lava. Not being content and intimating that she had no idea what the hell she was talking about, Shelly then went on to prove it.

"The carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of the total atmosphere that's in the Earth," she said. "So if you take a pie chart, and you have all of Earth's atmosphere, carbon dioxide is perhaps three percent of that total." Actually, there's even less than that. Carbon dioxide makes up about 0.04% of the atmosphere. So, basically, Shelly's just making shit up. She didn't even bother to run her little rant through Wikipedia.

But hey, natural is natural. I encourage Rep. Michele Bachmann to feel free to eat any mushrooms she finds as she wanders through her native Minnesotan woods. They're 100% natural, so there's no way they could ever be bad for you.

Eat up, Shelly. Plenty more where those came from. (Think Progress)

-Things are tough all over-
New York Magazine is running cover story, titled "Wail of the 1%," about how tough it is for gazillionaire Wall Street types now that they've run the economy into the ground. I guess people are actually blaming them for screwing America up, when all they really did was screw America up -- while getting stupid-rich doing it.

"No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?" asks one Citigroup exec. I'll take a shot at that; because they suck at their job. In fact, the Sysco guy should make more, because he actually delivered the supplies -- you guys didn't deliver jack-bo.

"I’m not giving to charity this year!" one hedge-fund analyst yelled at the NYM reporter on the phone. "When people ask me for money, I tell them, 'If you want me to give you money, send a letter to my senator asking for my taxes to be lowered.' I feel so much less generous right now. If I have to adopt twenty poor families, I want a thank-you note and an update on their lives. At least Sally Struthers gives you an update." Hey dickless, what part of "taxpayer bailout" are you having trouble understanding? We're carrying your sorry ass.

"What's remarkable is the fact that after all the damage they've done, these execs still believe that they were entitled to everything they got, including a multi-trillion-dollar bailout from the very people they screwed," writes MoJo's James Ridgeway.

It looks like the stereotype is accurate -- Wall Street executives really are royal douchebags. (MoJo Blog)

-If FOX News had existed throughout history-
Fair and balanced...

Image of civil rights protesters being firehosed. Caption 'negroes attack police, demand special rights'

Plenty more at the site. (Punxter.com, via reddit)

I Commit a Hate Crime

Let's try a little experiment. I'm going to engage in a little anti-Christian "hate speech" and we're going to see what happens. Here we go:

Christian hate group protestsI don't approve of Christianity as a lifestyle choice. Some of them are all right, but there are others who insist on flaunting their Christian lifestyle in front of others, even going door to door, trying to convert unsuspecting people to the Christian lifestyle cause. They're in our schools, trying to indoctrinate our children into Christianity and teaching our children that Christianity is an acceptable choice, even though it's clearly not. Christians have been caught with child pornography, our prisons are filled with Christian criminals, so-called "Christian leaders" have molested children and enlisted the services of prostitutes, and Christian churches have defrauded people of their life savings.

They've created large and powerful political organizations to push their Christian agenda in Washington. They bog down our school board meetings with complaints about evolution and "un-Christian" books. They seek to rewrite the history of this country to recast it as a "Christian nation." They engage in terrorism at abortion clinics and acts of violence against gays. Hitler was a Christian. Mussolini was a Christian. We must all join together to fight this Christian menace or there's a very real danger that we may wake up one day in a country we no longer recognize.

OK. Now I should be arrested by the thought police.

Any second now... Just you wait...

Doesn't look like it's going to happen right away. Maybe the jackbooted government Stormtroopers are busy busting someone else for doing the same thing. Maybe I'll be able to finish this before they show up and take me to the re-education camp or whatever it is these government thugs do.

See, belonging to a religion, like a race and a gender, provides federally protected status. As a federally protected group, you can't say squat against them. Not a peep. Ever. If you do, the federal government comes along and shuts you down.

The only exception to this suspension of the First Amendment is during a period that legal experts refer to as "all the goddam time." I could write post after post after post of Christian bashing -- just as there are entire sites dedicated to racism or sexism or various other species of hate -- and I'm legally golden. The First Amendment doesn't protect only those opinions everyone agrees with. It protects some real offensive, insane stuff.

But that's not what some would have you believe. They'd have you believe that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HR 1913) means the end of religious speech in America, because it adds sexual orientation and gender identity to federal discrimination statutes.

If this passes, religious fanatics argue, it'll be illegal to be a religious fanatic. Mostly because, as anyone from the various wingnut branches of Christianity will tell you, Jesus was all about hating gays -- when he wasn't freaking out about abortion and evolution.

Of course, if the unconstitutionality of restricting religious opinion isn't clear enough, the text of the bill itself reads, "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Another section reads, "In a prosecution for an offense under this section, evidence of expression or association of the defendant may not be introduced as substantive evidence at trial, unless the evidence specifically relates to that offense. However, nothing in this section affects the rules of evidence governing the impeachment of a witness."

To give you an idea of how contrary to the truth the rhetoric of the religious right has become on this issue, consider this statement released by Concerned Women for America:

[E]xpanding "hate crimes" to include "sexual orientation" and gender identity could put people with traditional values directly in the crosshairs of official government policy. "Hate crimes" laws place us on a slippery slope toward religious persecution. These laws are already being employed as a tool in Brazil, Europe, Canada -- and even right here in America -- to intimidate and silence people who honor natural human sexuality and who value the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman. If a person speaks out against various sexual behaviors, that person may be accused of "hate speech," which could lead to an accusation of associations with "hate crimes."

I'm not sure what laws are already being used to "intimidate and silence people" who hate gays, since CWA releases hateful statements pretty much daily. Seems to me that if it were already illegal to "speak out against various sexual behaviors," all of these concerned women would have to be concerned behind bars. Oddly, this isn't the case.

If CWA's statement doesn't fill your daily requirement of crazy BS, Right Wing Watch has put together a whole bunch more. Turns out that if HR 1913 passes, "The so-called hate crimes bill will be used to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors, business owners, Bible teachers, Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, Christian counselors, religious broadcasters and anyone else whose actions are based upon and reflect the truths found in the Bible." Because, remember, being a Christian is about 95% hating gays -- just like Jesus did.

Of course, some of these people actually are real live, honest to goodness lunatics. They believe Satan is everywhere, since everything they oppose is "of the devil." They believe that a country with few non-Christians in its government really is persecuting Christians and trying to put churches out of business. Mostly because they're crazy.

But others just hate. They need an enemy to fight, so they can feel superior to them. And the more people they hate, the more superior they feel. And, in this battle against these enemies of their own choosing, the haters are losing. Slowly, but surely, they're becoming history. As unlikely as it seems, love really does win out over hate -- it just takes a really, really long time. In time, hating gays will seem as anachronistic and weird as hating the Irish. When that happens, the people who believe they're morally superior are exposed as morally inferior and everything they've believed -- their whole lives -- becomes a joke and a waste. They aren't fighting against the homosexual menace, they're fighting for their own relevance. And they're losing.

Meanwhile, I'm still sitting here waiting for the thought police to come and arrest me for my anti-Christian hate speech. Frankly, I'm starting to doubt it's ever going to happen. I guess federal protection doesn't work that way. It looks like the bigots will get to be just as crazy as they want to be, no matter what law gets passed.

But freedom of speech doesn't guarantee that anyone will listen. If history is any guide, in time, no one will.


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News Roundup for 4/23/09

gril and pony
Pictured, l. to r.; Sean Hannity, Winky the Pony

-Headline of the day-
"Hannity Offers To Be Waterboarded For Charity (By Charles Grodin!)."

FOX News blowhard Sean Hannity had actor Charles Grodin on his show last night. It didn't go well for Hannity, since Grodin treated him with all the seriousness that he deserves -- i.e., none. At one point, Grodin asked Sean "if he was wearing mascara and if he had any plans to marry Ann Coulter." I can answer both of those questions; yes he wears mascara and no he's not planning to marry Coulter, since that marriage would only be legal in four states.

But the real fun came when the subject of torture was raised:

GRODIN: You're for torture.

HANNITY: I am for enhanced interrogation.

GRODIN: You don't believe it's torture. Have you ever been waterboarded?

HANNITY: No, but Ollie North has.

GRODIN: Would you consent to be waterboarded? We can waterboard you?


GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it. I'll do it for the troops' families.

I'd pay to see that. For a good cause, of course. We ought to raise a shitload of money and offer it to him, just to watch Hannity beg off -- then we give it to some group supporting same sex marriage.

He know's it's torture and he's a big wuss, so there's no way he'd ever go through with it. On the off-chance that he does, I say he should be waterboarded until he swears he hates George W. Bush, admits he's a twelve-year-old girl who loves her pony, and says there's no God but Allah and Mohammed is His prophet. Then we remind him that, since waterboarding works so well, it must all be true.

Trust me, he'd cave. You wouldn't go broke betting on it. (Huffington Post)

-Honeymoon's over-
Next Wednesday will be President Barack Obama's 100th day in office, marking the end of an arbitrary "honeymoon" period that the press likes to talk about a lot, but doesn't actually mean squat. Obama's "honeymoon" has seen nationwide "tea party" protests blaming Obama for the tax rates in Bush's last budget, lunatics talking about seceding from the union, and comparisons of the president to Hitler and Stalin.

So how do the non-sanity-challenged view the president? Turns out we're all pretty happy with him. According to the report, "In a sign that Barack Obama has inspired hopes for a brighter future in the first 100 days of his presidency, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows that 48 percent of Americans believe the United States is headed in the right direction -- compared with 44 percent who disagree."

How good is this? It's "up 8 points since February and a remarkable 31 points since October, the month before Obama's election." A separate Pew poll finds Americans positive about all things Obama, from personal favorability (73%) to handling of the economy (60%).

You know what you call that? You call that hope. Suck it, you crazy teabag whiners. (Associated Press)

-It's torture!-
So sayeth House minority leader John Boehner. In celebrating the Obama honeymoon by running the president down, Boehner told reports, "They’ve decided to close the detainee base in Cuba without having any plan for what they are going to do with those terrorists who are hellbent on killing Americans, and then last week they released these memos outlining the torture techniques, and that is clearly a political decision, and ignored the advice of their director of national intelligence and their CIA director. The bigger question is, what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe? The world didn’t suddenly become safer in January of 2009."

That's 86 words of BS and "they released these memos outlining the torture techniques." That's a truth to bullshit ratio of about 1:8. And, if this actually gets any traction, he'll say that all that stuff about "torture techniques" was just a matter of misspeaking.

On those rare occasions that Boehner actually says something that's not crap, he doesn't actually mean it. Says The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, "The English language can fight back in the unlikeliest of places."

Next time you hold a press conference, don't forget to bring your Newspeak phrasebook, John. Big Brother says you've got to call it "enhanced interrogation techniques," because torture is double-plus ungood. (Raw Story)

Next week on Oprah: Hillary’s miracle Gobal Warming diet


(Only their TV ratings can tell them apart…)

First, haven’t you also often wondered, over way too many years, what Oprah could have achieved if she hadn’t spent so much of this time trying to lose weight.

All those sheer endless shows spent on miracle diets, personal chefs, unbearable optimism and hour after prime time hour of frustrated tears and quite nauseating mea culpas…

If only all this energy, measured in Kilo Jouls or otherwise, had been spent on less frivolously selfish matters.

We could have had manned rockets on Mars by now, found cures for cancer, AIDS and dandruff and harnessed the power of the sun, if only Oprah had stoically learnt to bear her harness of blubber and had focused her not inconsiderable powers on slightly more important things than trying to get into a size six cocktail dress.

Anyway, I was reminded of the big O’s massive gravitational struggles when I read the following news article:

“Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has compared the challenge of fighting climate change to her own struggle to lose weight. Speaking to State Department staff on Earth Day, Mrs Clinton said more must be done to reduce the department’s environmental footprint and conceded this was a big challenge, much like one of her personal battles.

“Often times when you face such an overwhelming challenge as global climate change, it can be somewhat daunting - it’s kind of like trying to lose weight, which I know something about. You think, oh I only have to lose X numbers of pounds but it seems like such a far away goal,” she added. “It’s kind of like world peace and so therefore why even try?”"


The road to world peace is strewn with discarded diet pills and torn little black numbers.

(Superslimmers Hillary and Oprah: Coming to save a universe near you…!)