Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not All Judges Are Wise

U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns is an idiot.

From Cross Purposes: Federal Court Says Christian Symbol Is Really ‘Patriotic’ by Sandhya Bathija:

Apparently, a cross, which is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, is now also a symbol of American patriotism.

At least according to a federal judge in California, who ruled yesterday that the Latin cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego is not considered a religious symbol and can be mounted on federal government land.
Read the rest here.

Henry Waxman And Blackwater

From Waxman’s Strategy for Undoing Blackwater by Matthew Schwarzfeld:

Blackwater Worldwide may have misrepresented its size to obtain small business contracts, the House oversight committee announced on Monday. The finding is the result of an investigation by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and it's just the first of three reviews of the controversial security contractor requested by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Unlike a number of investigations by the FBI and the committee itself that have focused on the conduct of Blackwater's guards in Iraq and Afghanistan -- for instance, the allegedly unprovoked shooting of Iraqi civilians -- Waxman appears to be taking a new tack: scrutinizing the contractor's employment practices to make it ineligible for future federal contracts.
Read the rest here.

The Robber Barrons Are Back

Let’s put two oil men in the White House for eight years and see what happens.

From Exxon posts new profit record by Steve Hargreaves:

Exxon Mobil once again reported the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history Thursday, posting net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter.

That profit works out to $1,485.55 a second.
The company returned $10.1 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks, 12% more than last year.

The big international oil companies have been criticized for plowing much of their profits back into stock buybacks and other programs to benefit shareholders, as opposed to exploring for more oil which could bring down the price of crude for everyone.

Critics charge the oil companies with deliberately restricting production in an attempt to keep prices high.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Be All You Can Be

This is how the army supports the troops.

From Soldier reported shocks before electrocution death:

An Army sergeant complained about faulty wiring in Iraq months before the fatal electrocution of another soldier in a shower in the same quarters, according to documents released Wednesday by a congressional committee.

Sgt. Justin Hummer filled out a work order in July 2007 that warned, “Pipes have voltage, get shocked in the shower.” Hummer told investigators from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that at least once, he had to use a wooden stick to turn off the shower “because the electrical current was so strong.”

Army records show electricians from contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root found “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices” in February 2007. In January 2008, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in a shower in the same quarters Hummer occupied the previous summer — and a follow-up investigation “found nearly all of the same problems and deficiencies that had been reported one year previously,” a committee report states.

Is There Some Way We Can Make Bush Pay For This?

Bush is responsible for this. Let’s make him pay.

From Report: U.S. 'wasted' $560 million on Iraq repairs by Joe Sterling and Adam Levine:

The United States has "wasted" more than half a billion dollars in Iraq repairing facilities that were damaged because of poor security, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction says in a report released Wednesday.

Stuart Bowen's quarterly report arrived at a price tag of $560 million by tallying the results of more than 100 audits his office has conducted.

Further billions had to be diverted from reconstruction to security because the Bush administration did not adequately foresee how volatile Iraq would be when it began rebuilding the country, the report says.

"The U.S. government did not fully anticipate or plan for the unstable working environment that faced U.S. managers when reconstruction began in Iraq," it says.
Read the rest here.

Is It News?

Yes, it is news, but you wouldn’t know it if you watch ABC, CBS, or NBC.

From CBS, NBC evening news broadcasts ignored IG report finding illegal actions in Justice Department hiring practices; ABC devoted less than 30 seconds:

Despite the potential implications for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, all three networks ignored the finding that "an experienced career terrorism prosecutor" was denied a counterterrorism assignment while "a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who officials believed was not qualified for the position" was hired instead.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's A Start

Will “Mr. Bridge to Nowhere” finally get his comeuppance?

From Alaska senator caught off guard by indictment, colleague says:

Sen. Ted Stevens was caught by surprise Tuesday by his indictment on charges that he concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and services from a company in his home state, Sen. Daniel Inouye told CNN.

"Apparently, the media knew about it before he did," Inouye said, adding he had just spoken to Stevens, a Republican from Alaska.

Stevens was meeting with Republican colleagues when the indictment was returned, and he was pulled out of the meeting, his colleague said.

"As far as he's concerned, he's not guilty. And I believe him," said Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who is one of Stevens' closest friends in the Senate.

In the indictment, Stevens is charged with lying about receiving gifts worth more than $250,000 from Veco, an Alaska-based energy company on whose behalf he intervened in Washington.
Read the rest here.

Jane Mayer

From The Battle For A Country’s Soul by Jane Mayer:

Seven years after al-Qaeda’s attacks on America, as the Bush administration slips into history, it is clear that what began on September 11, 2001, as a battle for America’s security became, and continues to be, a battle for the country’s soul.

In looking back, one of the most remarkable features of this struggle is that almost from the start, and at almost every turn along the way, the Bush administration was warned that whatever the short-term benefits of its extralegal approach to fighting terrorism, it would have tragically destructive long-term consequences both for the rule of law and America’s interests in the world. These warnings came not just from political opponents, but also from experienced allies, including the British Intelligence Service, the experts in the traditionally conservative military and the FBI, and, perhaps most surprisingly, from a series of loyal Republican lawyers inside the administration itself. The number of patriotic critics inside the administration and out who threw themselves into trying to head off what they saw as a terrible departure from America’s ideals, often at an enormous price to their own careers, is both humbling and reassuring.

Instead of heeding this well-intentioned dissent, however, the Bush administration invoked the fear flowing from the attacks on September 11 to institute a policy of deliberate cruelty that would have been unthinkable on September 10.
Read the rest here.

Jane Mayer was recently featured on Bill Moyers Journal and is the author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Two Ignorant College Professors Strut Their Stuff On Impeachment

From US Congressional Panel Hears Testimony on Case for Bush Impeachment by Dan Robinson:

Stephen Presser of Northwestern University School of Law, asserted there has been no proof that President Bush put his own interests over those of the nation. "For a president to be impeached, he must have committed some grave offense that is contrary to his oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of his country. He must put his interests above the Constitution and the laws," he said.

Jeremy Rabkin, Professor of Law at George Mason University, asserts that any impeachment effort would be unwise. "To put everything on to the somebody must pay for mistakes and impeachment is the way is to make the country ungovernable," he said.
Remind me again why Bill Clinton was impeached.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Sometimes I receive comments to something I have posted here at No Countries No Religion. Sometimes the comments make no sense to me. More often than not they are interesting. Even if I don’t agree, I appreciate the feedback. Sometimes, a comment may have a way of forcing me to think. These are the most interesting comments, even though they have a way of exhausting me.

Yesterday I asked the question Why All The Hate? This question was prompted by the recent terrorist bombings in India. The first comment I received to this post was:

Apparently, it's not just the US they hate... they hate India, they hate Israel, they hate Denmark, they hate Britain, they hate Australia...

What DON'T they hate?! I think THAT list is a lot smaller.
There is not a lot to that comment, but for some reason it is one of those ones that made me think. So I am responding to it here. It sparked some thoughts that I would like to share. Since the comment is short and I don’t want to make any assumptions I wish to make it clear that not all of what follows is a direct response to this comment.

The point made by the comment is valid, and it is a good one. The most radical of terrorists do seem to hate everyone. I’d still like to know why they do. In simple terms I’d like to see an end to all the hate and the violence that comes from it. How do we do that? By adding more violence to the mix, or by trying to find out where all the hate comes from? Logically, it seems that if we could find the cause of the hate, we could possibly stop the hate, and the violence. I know that some have said this before. I know that many consider this to be naive. In spite of that, I think that it bears repeating, and that it is the best way of trying to solve the problem.

I do not condone anger or hate. I believe that what the terrorists are doing is wrong. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to understand their motivations.

I’ll repeat the last quote from the CNN article that I previously posted:
Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility in May for near-simultaneous bomb attacks that killed 63 people in the northwest Indian city of Jaipur. In that claim, the group declared "open war" against India in retaliation for what it said were 60 years of Muslim persecution and the country's support of U.S. policies.
This is the reason that I asked: “Why do they hate the United States so much?” Also, the reference to “60 years of Muslim persecution” seems to be a direct reference to Israel. After all, they recently celebrated 60 years of their existence. The United States picked sides. The United States strongly supports Israel. The United States strongly supports violence, and has for a very long time.

Anger and hate can be misdirected. Frequently it is directed at whoever happens to be the closest. If you are a stay-at-home parent, it is likely that you have experienced misdirected anger toward your child, when you are actually angry with your spouse, or something or someone else. Your child just happens to be the closest person at the time.

India is closer than the United States. The Indian Mujahedeen, I assume, are in India. If the United States were geographically closer to them I would think that they would be bombing in United States cities as well, since they specifically mention dislike of U.S. policy.

It is extremely distressing to me as a U.S. citizen that my government is acting in ways that I view as immoral, unfair, and unlawful. So while I definitely do not deny that the terrorists seem to hate nearly everyone, as a U.S. citizen I can take part in U.S. politics in a way that may effect a change for the better.

The big question is how to stop all the violence, anger, and hate? Do we do it with more violence, anger, and hate?

In my personal life talking has proven to be the best way for me to solve problems and deal with anger. It seems to me that this would be the best way to deal with global problems of anger. Yet, the United States leadership currently opposes this, and denigrates those that propose it as a solution. Why can’t we negotiate with terrorists in this case? This is not a hostage situation. Even if talking is not the best solution why eliminate the use of it? Can’t we use all the help and resources we can find to solve the problem of global terrorism? Why must violence be the only choice?

In the United States my views on this subject are not given very much credence, in fact they are usually mocked and ridiculed. More violence has become the accepted solution. I don’t believe this is the right course of action. I believe that it will only make things worse. I don’t want things to become worse. The world is in terrible shape as it is.

The Bush Administration has elevated the status of the terrorists into something that they are not. By using the full force of the United States military and declaring war on them the Administration has given them the equivalent status of a country. Because of Bush they are bigger than they deserve to be. It is very likely, as well, that they are bigger in numbers than before Bush, but that is not what I mean here.

I believe that the reason that the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq was because the Bush Administration felt that it had to do something in response to 9/11, and they were too stupid to come up with any other ideas.

Of course, the reasons for the terrorist strikes around the world pre-date 9/11. 9/11 didn’t really change anything (only its magnitude was different), but the Bush Administration certainly did make unprecedented changes to U.S. foreign policy in how it responded to what happened on that terrible day. The United States invaded two countries that were not directly responsible. The Bush Administration wrongly took advantage of an awestruck nation and utilized the worst parts of a mob mentality. This is not a sign of strong leadership.

From an emotional viewpoint what the Bush Administration did following 9/11 may have given short-term satisfaction to some. Some of those people are now finding that satisfaction to be short-lived and not carrying over into the long-term. From a moral standpoint what the Bush Administration did was wrong. Also from an international law standpoint. From an intellectual standpoint what they did was simply stupid. They have effectively severed the use of alternative solutions to the problem of global terrorism. Violence is their solution. Torture is their solution. Eviscerating civil liberties is their solution. Secrecy is their solution. Lack of accountability is their solution. Turning the United States into a terrorist nation is their solution. These are solutions that I abhor. In fact they are not solutions at all. Not only are they morally wrong, they will simply make the problems we face worse.

The Bush Administration, and unfortunately also John McCain, are grasping at any reason they can to point to their “success.” Most of these reasons such as “the surge is working, violence in Iraq is down” are illogical and short term. For the short term violence from terrorists may be down in Iraq and the United States, but it is not in the rest of the world. I think that the United States is indirectly responsible for this violence because of its violent and oppressive foreign policies. Unfortunately citizens of countries such as India are suffering because of this.

Endless War

From Reject Endless War & Torture Cover-Up:

After years of litigation, the Supreme Court recently ruled in Boumediene v. Bush that detainees held at Guantánamo have a right to challenge their detention through habeas corpus -- the ancient freedom that protects people from being thrown in prison illegally, with no help, no end in sight and no due process.

Habeas proceedings could allow detainees to bring up the fact that the evidence that the government has against them came from hearsay, or even torture and abuse. Courts could also release people who are detained indefinitely without charge. Attorney General Michael Mukasey wants to make sure neither of these things happen.
Read the rest here.

Bible Verse For Sunday 07-27-08

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.

And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian.

Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.

So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.

And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.

And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.

And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.

And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.

And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.

And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.

And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.

And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
What the hell?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Why All The Hate?

From Blasts in Indian city kill at least 29:

At least 29 people were killed and 88 wounded in 17 blasts within a little more than an hour Saturday night in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, police and government officials said.

All metropolitan areas in India have been put on high alert.

Several media outlets and the country's Intelligence Bureau received an e-mail, purportedly from the Muslim militant group Indian Mujahedeen, warning about a possible attack. The group has claimed responsibility for two similar attacks in the past nine months in northern India.
Indian Mujahedeen claimed responsibility in May for near-simultaneous bomb attacks that killed 63 people in the northwest Indian city of Jaipur. In that claim, the group declared "open war" against India in retaliation for what it said were 60 years of Muslim persecution and the country's support of U.S. policies.
Why do they hate the United States so much?

I suggest you read Why Muslims hate the US? by Zafarul-Islam Khan if you don’t know the answer to that question, or if you think they hate us for our “freedoms.”

Bin Laden And Bush And Cheney

John McCain should add George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to his list of those who should be brought to “justice through a Nuremberg-like international trial.”

From McCain: bin Laden could face Nuremberg-like justice by Ed Homick:

Sen. John McCain on Friday said as president he would consider bringing Osama bin Laden to justice through a Nuremberg-like international trial.

He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "We have various options. The Nuremberg Trials are certainly an example of the kind of tribunal that we could move forward with. I don't think we'd have any difficulty in devising an international -- internationally supported mechanism that would mete out justice. There's no problem there."

McCain said it would be a "good thing to reveal to the world the enormity of this guy's crimes, and his intentions, which are still there."
Read the rest here.

I don't think we'd have any difficulty in devising an international -- internationally supported mechanism that would mete out justice to bin Laden, Bush and Cheney. It would be a good thing to reveal to the world the enormity of their crimes and intentions.

Douglas Feith Naked

From the July 25, 2008 transcript of Bill Moyers Journal:

REP. JERROLD NADLER: Do you believe that interrogation techniques, to which you recommended Secretary Rumsfeld, give blanket approval - stress positions, isolations, nudity, the use of dogs, the use of twenty-hour interrogations, hooding, removal of clothing, the use of detainee individual phobias, such as fear of dogs to induce stress - wouldn't that be the normal definition of anyone's concept of torture? Hasn't it always been?

DOUGLAS FEITH: I don't believe so. But especially not-

REP. JERROLD NADLER: I'm sorry. Let me rephrase that. It shouldn't be torture. Are those humane treatments that we should apply?

DOUGLAS FEITH: Okay, this - the way one could - I imagine one could apply those things in an inhumane fashion or one could apply them in a humane fashion. The general-

REP. JERROLD NADLER: How could you force someone to be naked and-

DOUGLAS FEITH: It doesn't say naked.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: And undertake 20-hour interrogations-

DOUGLAS FEITH: It doesn't say naked.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: Removal of clothing. Removal of clothing doesn't mean naked?

DOUGLAS FEITH: Removal of clothing is different from naked.


DOUGLAS FEITH: It's about removing of comfort items and of clothing that would make - the idea was to induce stress, they talked about. But one could induce - in our police stations around America every day, American citizens are subjected to stress as part of interrogations. It could be done in an inhumane way; it could be done in a humane way. The general guidance-
What the hell is this all about? Why is Feith arguing about “Removal of clothing is different from naked” when nudity was one of the interrogation techniques mentioned? (Right before “use of dogs.”) And why didn’t Jerrold Nadler simply mention that one of the interrogation techniques listed in his question was nudity, as well as removal of clothing? Then the only thing Feith could argue was that nude is different from naked.

Here is more from the same transcript:
REP. MEL WATT: I'm not arguing with you, Professor Feith. I'm just trying to get clarification of whether you were saying that there is no upward responsibility for decisions that get made. I presume the buck stops with the Commander in Chief. Is that correct?

DOUGLAS FEITH: No, the buck stops with the President. I mean, that's what Harry Truman said.

REP. MEL WATT: Okay, that wasn't a trick question. I'm just trying to get clarification on what it was you were saying.
First of all, I thought the President is the Commander in Chief. Also, I don’t believe that Harry Truman ever specifically said that the buck stops with the President, either. He did have a little sign on his desk, however.

Sometimes little details say a lot about a person. In both these examples Mr. Feith lives up to his reputation of not being very smart.

Unfortunately, both Jerrold Nadler and Mel Watt don’t come off looking very bright either.

If Feith wants to nitpick about the facts, the least he could do is get the facts right before he opens his mouth.

Déjà Vu Review

From A melange of music and message by Jon Bream:

I cry at movies. Sappy songs make me cringe, but sentimental movies cause me to tear up. I'd be ideal for a test audience for the Hallmark Channel.

To my surprise, I pulled out my hankie twice during "CSNY/Déjà Vu," the new documentary about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 2006 concert tour. I wasn't getting misty-eyed for "Wooden Ships," "Teach Your Children" or other nostalgic songs.

My eyes got wet when a California single mom talked about losing her son in the Iraq war to friendly fire. Tears of joy ran down my cheek after seeing a young Marine from Ohio play his punkish songs on acoustic guitar for his fellow soliders in Iraq and later perform them in a U.S. hotel room for an audience of one -- Neil Young, who raved about the serviceman's songwriting.
Read the rest here.

Mr. Bream concludes his review with this:
Too bad all this conflict comes too late in the film. It might have seemed manipulative to inject this controversy earlier, but, frankly, it's the only real surprise in "Déjà Vu." Otherwise, when you watch the rest of the movie, you probably realize that we have all been here before.
And that is what is truly sad. We have been down the anti-war road way too many times before.

Governor Blagojevich

Here is more information concerning my previous post about Governor Blagojevich and the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago.

From Lawsuit Lesson: Illinois Atheist Teaches Baptists About Their Heritage by Joseph L. Conn:

Does it take an atheist to teach Baptists about their own heritage?

Apparently so.

Atheist activist Rob Sherman has filed a lawsuit in Illinois state court seeking to block a $1 million government grant to Pilgrim Baptist Church. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Gov. Rod Blagojevich promised the money to the Chicago congregation after a fire damaged the church building.

But why is a church getting government money? What about the separation of church and state? Shouldn’t houses of worship be built and maintained with the voluntary donations of the faithful, not the hard-earned dollars of the taxpayers?

Well, yeah. But Blogojevich, a Democrat, was running for re-election at the time, and the promise seemed like a good idea - a little walking-around money for members of a prominent religious community.

“We all know Rod did this two months before his primary election victory over Edwin Eisendrath,” Sherman told the newspaper. “January 2006, when the fire happens, and he’s in the March primary against Eisendrath, Rod was pandering for black votes. I understand that. But you can’t have the state donating $1 million to a church. You can’t do that with tax dollars.”
Read the rest here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Such A Deal

Tax-exempt status and money from taxes all at the same time? Where do I sign up?

From Just Another Day In Illinois Politics: Governor, Atheist, School, and Church Spar Over $1 Million by Marcus Gilmer:

Governor Blagojevich is in hot water over what he deems a "bureaucratic" mistake which gave a school $1 million dollars intended for a historic, burned-down church. In the midst of his re-election campaign, Blago pledged to give $1 million to Pilgrim Baptist Church, which was destroyed by a January 2006 fire. At the time, the Loop Lab School was renting space in the church and now, Elmira Mayes, leader of the school, is contradicting Blago's claim of a mistake, saying he personally promised her money for the school.
Read the rest here.

Since when did socialist welfare for a religious building become OK?

By the way Governor Blagojevich is a Democrat.

Instead Of Calling Him Stupid…

Perhaps he just doesn’t know. That would make him ignorant, not stupid. Right? Just the kind of guy that I want to represent me. Right? Wrong!

From Embattled Rep. Young Touts Wrong Group in an Ad by Susan Davis:

Embattled Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young is airing a radio ad in his home state erroneously touting an endorsement from Taxpayers for Common Sense—one of his harshest critics. The nonpartisan watchdog group has repeatedly bashed Young’s affinity for pork-barrel projects funded by earmarks.

The group is planning a letter to Young’s campaign Friday asking him to take it off the air. A spokesman for Young’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Read the rest here.


From McCain Veers Off Script, Talks About His Cancer Battle by Elizabeth Holmes:

McCain, true to form, offered his no-pandering “straight talk,” which inevitably led to a dance for many of his answers. When asked by the moderator, former CNN anchor Paula Zahn, about his support for an increase on the federal tobacco tax, McCain turned his answer into a condemnation of government corruption.

“I don’t think I would because I don’t think the money is being spent on the state taxes right now,” McCain said. “It would have to be proven and frankly, the constitution of this Congress, they couldn’t prove it to me, ‘cause I don’t believe them. I don’t. I’ve seen corruption in Congress, OK?”

McCain, who kicked a two-pack-a-day habit some 29 years ago, continued: “I’m not for raising anybody’s taxes. I think, right now, with these economic problems we have, lower taxes is what we need.”
“I don’t think I would because I don’t think the money is being spent on the state taxes right now.” Does this sentence make any sense? Aren’t taxes money? How can you spend money on money? Perhaps it is a misprint. If it isn’t, I don’t think that it is insignificant. We do not need another president who speaks in an incoherent and confusing way.

“I think, right now, with these economic problems we have, lower taxes is what we need.” Bush has been lowering taxes since he took office, and the economy is in terrible shape. Could there be a connection? Doesn’t McCain have any new ideas?

The more he talks the more he seems to deserve the nickname of “McSame.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Bad Luck?

Is it just me, or does this make it seem like oil spills are just bad luck?

From McCain Can't Catch A Break by Michael D. Shear:

It seemed like a great way to counter Obamamania. Sen. John McCain would board a helicopter in New Orleans today, skim quickly over the Gulf of Mexico and land on an oil rig -- a made-for-TV moment to highlight his call for offshore drilling, an issue that Republicans believe will be a big winner in November.

Then came Hurricane Dolly, a Category 2 storm that made a helicopter ride impossible. And then, improbably, a 600-foot oil tanker collided with a barge on the Mississippi River, creating a 12-mile oil slick and causing diesel fumes to waft over the city's French Quarter. The trip was off.

In this campaign, it seems, McCain just can't catch a break.

Through a series of missteps, gaffes and bad luck, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has endured a difficult week in what has been a choppy campaign.

Reprehensible Irony

Perhaps Robert Novak now has some sense of how Valerie Plame Wilson feels, but I doubt it.

From Novak Says He May Have Been Used by Taegan D. Goddard:

Now he feels he's been used and that it's "pretty reprehensible."

They Don't Like Bill O'Reilly In Vermont

From Right-Wing TV Pundit O'Reilly Sticks Foot in Mouth Over Death of Vermont Girl, 12 by Skeeter Sanders:

Gibbs told reporters that O'Reilly "has no interest in telling the truth to his viewers," only in generating controversy to boost his ratings -- which have come under increasing pressure in recent months from arch-rival Keith Olbermann's talk show on MSNBC. The unabashedly liberal Olbermann has mercilessly challenged O'Reilly's credibility on the air at every opportunity.

Gibbs vowed that Vermonters won't be intimidated by O'Reilly's bombastic attacks. "What Bill O'Reilly says and does has no influence on public policy in Vermont," he said.

Readers of The Times Argus were much more blunt in their criticism of O'Reilly. In comments posted on the newspaper's Web site, Paul Parsons tore into O'Reilly's broadside.

"I am not a supporter of Douglas by any means, but this goes beyond the pale of decency," Parsons wrote. "Who is this clown [O'Reilly], who has his own issues with sexual harassment, to challenge what we do in this state? Why doesn't he run for office and then try and change somewhere to what he thinks is the right way to live?"

Wrote reader Zachary Hughes, "I have had it with Nancy Grace [who hosts a no-holds-barred criminal-justice show on CNN Headline News] and Bill-O [Olbermann's nickname for O'Reilly] trash-mouthing Vermont! How much longer is Vermont gonna take this?"
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is McCain Dumber Than Bush?

It scares me to think that John McCain has a chance of being the next president.

I didn’t think we could possibly have a president that was dumber than Bush. We shall see. So far the evidence is mounting that McCain is indeed dumber than Bush.

From McCain Admitted He Is Dumber Than Bush by Suzie-Q:

When McCain was asked last year at a Candidates@Google event how his GPA compared to President Bush’s C average at Yale, McCain offered up some straight talk, my friends:
McCain: My GPA earned me fifth from the bottom of my class at the Naval Academy status. So, the GPA was based –since that was in the Coolidge administration it was a different measurement, but I can assure you in today’s standards it would be barely passing.
For good measure, Jed adds to that a clip from a January interview with Politico’s Mike Allen where McCain admits that he’s “an illiterate” who lacks the ability to utilize decades-old technology. At least Bush knows how to use “the Google.”
I realize that this is an unfair attack on McCain. I would assume that anyone who graduates from the Naval Academy must be at least somewhat smart.

But wait, there’s more. This is harder to explain away:

From McCain again cites current events in 'Czechoslovakia' by Rebecca Sinderbrand:
For the second time in two days, John McCain has referred to current events in “Czechoslovakia” – a country that officially ceased to exist in January of 1993.
Which was preceded by (in no particular order): Purim, the Iraq/Pakistan border, and confusion about the situation in Iraq which is only, you know, one of the biggest issues of our time.

If only Bush could run as McCain’s running mate, they could use the slogan: “Dumb and dumber, guess which is which.”

A Tangled Web

My guess is that these guys (Worldwide Strategic Energy, and those connected to it) have more to do with high oil prices than Wall Street speculators do.

From McCain's senior foreign policy advisor tied to global petro-influence peddling by Lindsay Beyerstein:

John McCain's senior foreign policy adviser is a close business associate of Stephen Payne, the lobbyist caught on tape offering access to top administration officials in exchange for donations to the Bush Library.

This is explosive news because Payne's company's entire business model is international influence peddling in exchange for oil and gas leases from politically unstable and dictatorial regimes.
Read the rest here.

From Homeland Security Adviser Offering Cash-For-Access Deal Worked With McCain's Foreign Policy Adviser by Andrew Tilghman:
Before last week, we'd never heard of Worldwide Strategic Partners and Stephen Payne, the (former) Homeland Security adviser who was caught on video soliciting big donations for the future George W. Bush Presidential Library fund while offering to arrange access to top White House officials.

But Randy Scheunemann, Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser, has known him -- and been working with his business associates -- for years.
Read the rest here.

I’d like to just list a few names from these articles. They all seem to be interconnected in one way or another. John McCain, Bracewell Giuliani (yes, as in Rudy Giuliani), Colin Powell, Enron, George W. Bush, and Ahmed Chalabi. Oil and Iraq. Iraq and oil. Scum and corruption. Corruption and scum.

I searched for Stephen Payne at CNN News this morning. Here are the first four results:
Tuesday, January 23 updated Tue, January 23, 2007
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen launched an attack on the convoy of Iraq's Higher Education minister Wednesday morning as it passed through southern Baghdad, a minister's aide told CNN, killing a bodyguard and wounding another.

E-mail appeals: India updated Wed, February 23, 2005
We received thousands of e-mails in the days after December's tsunamis from people seeking news of friends and relatives in areas affected by the disaster.

showbuzz updated Wed, October 13, 2004
Matthew Perry is sweeping back to NBC, but he won't be visiting his friend "Joey."

'Chicago' and its stars glitter in Golden Globes updated Sun, March 16, 2003
"Chicago," a film about star-struck dolls and the guys in their lives, shouldered three honors Sunday night in the Golden Globe Awards, winning best actress and actor awards, plus plaudits for best musical.
In fact, none of the results had anything to do with Stephen Payne. And there were only fifteen results.

Americans might be a little less ignorant about what is going on around them if it weren’t for that damn liberal media.

I just can't wait for the day the Supreme Court decides that John McCain will be our next president. I'm sure that McCain will end all corruption forever, or at least for the next 100 years.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just Do It

Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith say that there are Nine Reasons to Investigate War Crimes Now:

Retired General Antonio Taguba, the officer who led the Army's investigation into Abu Ghraib, recently wrote in the preface to the new report, Broken laws, Broken Lives:

"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Should those who ordered war crimes be held to account? With the conclusion of the Bush regime approaching, many people are dubious, even those horrified by Administration actions. They fear a long, divisive ordeal that could tear the country apart. They note that such division could make it far harder for the country to address the many other crises it is facing. They see the upcoming elections as a better way to set the country on a new path.
Read the rest here.

Gerald Ford used the same argument that the country would face “a long, divisive ordeal that could tear the country apart.” Ford was wrong to pardon Nixon way back when. What Bush has done is much worse than what Nixon did.

Both Bush and Congress have fallen so low in popularity that the case could easily be made that investigating the Bush administration would only bring the country together, not tear it apart.

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Mark Twain

Credits And Debits… And Volts

I marvel at the economic thinking of John McCain. Propose more debits, while continuing to call for no new credits. Will his rich wife pay for all of this?

From McCain Announces His Running Mate — The Chevy Volt by Chuck Squatriglia:

McCain's promised a $5,000 tax credit to people who buy zero-emissions cars, but since there aren't a whole lot of those on the road right now he's offering a graduated tax credit that would apply to lower-emissions cars like -- you guessed it -- the Chevy Volt.

But his biggest initiative is a $300 million prize to whoever creates a first battery with the “the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” This prize is twelve times the reward offered for capturing Osama Bin Laden, which has caused more than one would-be mercenary to switch majors from Cave Cinematography to Thermodynamics. Clearly, the presidential candidate who vowed in 2007 to "get him" has found other priorities now that it costs $75 to fill up his Cadillac CTS.
Read the rest here.

I know, I know, this may actually be a good idea. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, however. I can’t help but think that McCain is doing this as some sort of publicity stunt to call attention to himself. Vote for me and win big prizes.

And I still wonder who will pay for it. The way we’re going it will probably be the Chinese. I doubt it will be either of the McCains.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Always Look On The Bright Side

From Mayor wants Python film ban ended by Carl Yapp:

She's not the messiah, she's the mayor of Aberystwyth and she has a plan.

Sue Jones-Davies is trying to overturn a near 30-year ban imposed by the town on Monty Python's Life of Brian - the film in which she played a role.

Long before she donned her mayoral robes in the mid Wales town, she played Brian's girlfriend in the movie.

Opponents claimed it made fun of Jesus, but she says it is "amazing" that a town like hers still officially bars a movie now regarded as a comedy classic.

In 1979, however, it grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons, with critics accusing the Python team of blasphemy with its story about a Jewish man who was mistaken for the messiah and then crucified.
Read the rest here.

My favorite naughty bit from The Life of Brian:

I have a few questions about this ban. If you live in Aberystwyth and download naughty bits of The Life of Brian does Aberystwyth send jack-booted thugs to knock down your door and shoot you?

If you order the DVD of The Life of Brian and live in Aberystwyth will they crucify you?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Lesser Of Two Evils

The move I hear from Barack Obama, the more I think of him as the lesser of two evils. This morning on the television I heard him talking about wanting to move troops out of Iraq. However, instead of bringing them back to the United States where they belong, he wants to move them to Afghanistan. I am disappointed in Obama. He seems to be willing to abandon principle after principle in order to get elected as president.

Fear should not trump what is morally right. We do not belong in anyone else's country. If we have a right to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, then the French (or any other country’s) army has a right to be here in the United States.

From My Plan for Iraq by Barack Obama:

The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
Here is part of what Rob Payne says about this:
So for Obama the past is not remembered, all that exists is the here and now. We didn’t invade Iraq, lynch their leader, dismantle their government, and destroy their infrastructure. We didn’t murder them by the hundreds of thousands or send millions into exile. Quite clearly the problem all along has been that the people of Iraq have not been acting in a responsible manner. And now, at least according to Obama, we need more military, more helicopters, bombs, guns, bullets, and tanks in order to expand the war on terror into Pakistan and widen the war in Afghanistan.

So what this trip is really about is Obama needs to show us and the world that he is ready to take command of the imperial agenda and his little cock-a-doodle-do in the NYT assures the establishment that he is ready to pull the trigger. Ready, aim, fire, today Afghanistan tomorrow the world and not only will he not be afraid to slaughter and kill but he will be better and more efficient about it than his predecessor.
War is immoral. The occupation of another country is immoral. Think of all the talk you have heard about Iraq and Afghanistan for the last seven years. Rationalize this, rationalize that. Endless rationalization will never change the fact that war is immoral.

I’d like to see a president who recognized that fact, and believed it, and had the courage to act on it.

Bible Verse For Sunday 07-20-08

And the Lord spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying,

Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee

Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
What the hell?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

When The Donothingers Actually Do Something

I happen to have missed this little bit of news. I was reading the transcript for Bill Moyers Journal for July 11, 2008 and came across this:

BILL MOYERS: And after crusading for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, conservatives pushing family values turned out to be their own worst enemies. Some of their foot soldiers in politics and the religious right were outed for adultery, stalking Capitol Hill pages, soliciting sex. Believe it or not, just the other day Senator Larry Craig, who had been arrested for lewd conduct in a public bathroom, and Senator David Vitter, a strict moralist revealed to have been a frequent customer of brothels, signed on as co-sponsors of the Republicans' Marriage Protection Amendment.
I read that, and I’m thinking what is “the Republicans' Marriage Protection Amendment”? So I googled it and found out it is that stupid amendment to ban gay marriage. Obviously my brain must still be in first gear.

Let’s take a look at who else is sponsoring this Bill:

Wayne Allard (R-CO) was named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of "America's 5 Worst Senators."

Sam Brownback (R-KS) who once, while on the Senate floor, put words in the mouth (didn’t know they had one, but how else can they speak?) of an embryo: “Are you going to kill me?”

Richard Burr (R-NC) who once said of George W. Bush: "I'm not embarrassed to vote with the president 96 percent of the time. He's right that often."

Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) who once said: "We need better intelligence. If we had better intelligence in the Civil War we'd be quoting Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln."

Mike Crapo (R-ID) who managed in 2005 to receive “more than twice as much money in donations from people in the U.S. Virgin Islands than from his home state.” He does not support health care for American Veterans, but does support guns in our parks.

James DeMint (R-SC) who once said: "If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools." He later said he felt the same "if a single woman who is pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children."
Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced HIMMAA to the Senate.

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even racist conservatives don’t like him.

James Inhofe (R-OK) who once said: ”As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, ‘much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.’ I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the ‘greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,’ a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations.”

Johnny Isakson (R-GA) who once said “Robert Reich, once observed ‘most minimum wage workers aren’t poor.’ He is right.” (Yes, you guessed it, Isakson is a multi-millionaire. I'd like to call him an asshole, but I'm too polite.)

Jon Kyl (R-AZ) was named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of "America's Best Senators." Go figure.

Pat Roberts (R-KS) who supposedly leaked classified intel hurting efforts to find Saddam Hussein.

Richard Shelby (R-AL) who also supposedly leaked classified information.

John Thune (R-SD) doesn’t like children.

Roger Wicker (R-MS) apparently accepted illegal campaign contributions.

Placing the importance of one or two religious issues above everything else and, because of that, voting for people like these is suicidal, to say the least.

Lastly, I would just like to say that this post was way too much work. That old saying about the do-nothing Congress appears to be true. Trying to find out what all of these guys have actually done was murder. Wayne Allard is the best example of a do-nothinger.

Why is it that when the donothingers actually do something it usually pisses me off?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Add Another Christian To The List

How well do Christians love their neighbor?

Some like to kill doctors. Some like to threaten biology teachers. And a certain Baptist minister likes to say disgusting and violent things about Barack Obama.

I suppose there is a reason why the television news reports (at least the ones I saw) that reported Jesse Jackson’s recent faux pas didn’t quote him verbatim.

I did not know what the fuss was about until I found the truth from Bruce.

B. Y. B.

Before Yogi Berra ("I didn't really say everything I said.") there was Ulysses S. Grant:

“I know only two tunes: One of them is 'Yankee Doodle' and the other isn't.” Ulysses S. Grant

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Cliff Notes Version Of Glenn Beck And Che Guevara T-Shirts

American Left = Terrorists


Glenn Beck on Che Guevara:

"This is a history of a failure" is how he himself described his efforts in the Congo. He was killed in Bolivia, trying to fire up another failure of a war. Earlier, he even managed to drop his gun and shoot himself in the face.

But more important than his incompetence is the fact that the man was a mass killer. Hundreds were reportedly executed on his watch, and that doesn't include the deaths incurred in the wars he was constantly trying to start. He described his maniacal lust for war in his writings, saying he savored "the acrid smell of gunpowder and blood of the enemy's death." How this guy is a hero to the anti-war crowd is truly perplexing.
Cue David Bowie.

Paul Thoreau on George W. Bush:

"This is a history of a failure" is how everyone but himself describes his efforts in Iraq, and damn near everywhere else. He wasn’t killed in Crawford or Washington, trying to fire up another failure of a war. Earlier, his Vice President even managed to not drop his gun, yet shoot his friend in the face.

But more important than his incompetence is the fact that the man was a mass killer. Hundreds were reportedly executed on his watch, and that doesn't include the deaths incurred in the wars he was constantly trying to start. He described his maniacal lust for war in his speeches, saying "Afghanistan is the most daring and ambition mission in the history of NATO." and “Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency. It is the right decision now, and it will be the right decision ever.” and “You know, the enemy hit us, and they said, oh, this great country is going to wilt. They're not great, they're weak. I like to needle them by saying, they must have been watching too much daytime TV.” How this guy is a hero to the war crowd is truly perplexing.

Now, where can I buy a Dubya t-shirt so I can infiltrate some right-wing terrorist group?

George W. Bush quotes found at

Glenn Beck Must Have A Hole In His Head

Glenn Beck must be able to open a little door on the top of his head and remove his brain. It appears to me that sometimes when he writes his CNN column his brain is in his head, and sometimes it must be sitting on his desk staring at him as he writes nonsensical garbage. His latest column is a case of the later.

In Commentary: T-shirt depicts 'pathetic and brutal legacy' Beck goes on at some length to deride Che Guevara as a violent, racist revolutionary. Makes me wonder what Mr. Beck thinks of our violent and racist founding fathers. What do we sometimes call them? Oh, yes… revolutionaries.

Mr. Beck quotes Guevara and tells us much about him without a single link to prove any of it. Except for this link, there is nothing. When I mentioned this to my wife, her response was: “It’s hard to link to your ass.” Now I know that Guevara was no saint, but the least Beck could do is give us some proof for his claims about Guevara.

Beck writes: “How Che became such a revered superhero of the hard-core left is laughable.” Again, I would like to see some proof from Mr. Beck on this claim. Superhero? I honestly don’t believe that everyone on the left sees Guevara this way. I know that I don’t. I think that the left consists of people who think independently, unlike the “ditto-heads” of the right who swallow all the latest Republican talking points without a second thought.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The President Of The United States

How important is the office of the president of the United States to us? How much do we value it?

The United States population is more than 304 million people.

304 million people to choose from, and George W. Bush is our president?

304 million people to choose from, and either Barack Obama or John McCain will be our next president. Can’t we do better than this?

The president of the United States makes $400,000 a year.

The chief executive of a Standard & Poor's 500 company makes, on average, $14.2 million a year.

What does this say about us as a nation? What does it say about how much we value the president?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that any one person is worth $400,000 a year, let alone $14.2 million.

One of the arguments for high CEO pay is that it is necessary to attract good candidates. Why this is so in this age of corrupt and incompetent CEOs is beyond me, but why isn’t the same argument used for the office of the president of the United States?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

That Whining Sound

Phil Gramm hears a whining sound. What does he decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. Bloggers hear Phil Gramm whining. What do they decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. George Will hears people whining about Phil Gramm’s whining. What does he decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. I hear all of this whining. What do I decide to do about it? Whine, baby, whine!

Here is part of the definition of the word whine from the Meriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hwīnan to whiz; akin to Old Norse hvīna to whiz
Date: 13th century

intransitive verb
1 a: to utter a high-pitched plaintive or distressed cry
From Gramm: We need more leadership, less whining by Dana Bash:
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator. "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."

Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers," he said. "Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

A McCain campaign source said that not only did Gramm not speak to the Washington Times on McCain's behalf, but the campaign also did not know he was doing it -- unlike Gramm's meeting Thursday with the Wall Street Journal, in which McCain staff were present.

Gramm called CNN to clarify his remarks before boarding a flight Thursday.

He said he was not speaking for the campaign when he made the remarks.

"I didn't claim to be representing anyone except myself," he said.

Gramm said he was not trying to insult the country's people.

"The whiners are the leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn't quite come out that way in the story," Gramm said.
Here’s where I get to whine.

My first whine is about context, more specifically the lack of it. When I first heard about Gramm’s comments it was all about the America that is in a “mental recession” and is "a nation of whiners." And that was it. My first reaction was that Gramm is an idiot. That he is out of touch with reality.

We currently are a nation of whiners and rightly so. The Bush administration has given us much to whine about. Except for the “crazy twenty-sevens” the nation has joined in a huge chorus of whines directed toward Washington that has mostly fallen on deaf ears. Which only causes us to whine more.

I think that America has lost competitiveness and is in decline. I also think that we are in a mental recession. However, I think that Gramm and I differ on what exactly that means. Why didn’t Gramm say imaginary recession? That appears to be what he really meant. I would define mental recession as mental decline. As in, we are collectively getting to be more and more stupid. And the “crazy twenty-sevens” help prove that we are. I also think that we are collectively suffering from mental depression. This is a good thing. It shows that we are sane, and looking at things realistically. It appears that Phil Gramm doesn’t think that we should be doing that. How can someone with a doctorate in economics speak so poorly? Perhaps his degree is mental, oops, I mean imaginary.

I disagree with some of what Gramm says about the media. I think the economy really is in pretty bad shape. If anything, the media didn’t report about certain things soon enough. At the same time, they do frequently foster “unnecessary anxiety.”

I disagree with what Gramm says when he tries to clarify his remarks. I don’t think that it is just the leaders who are whining. By the way, all of them should be whining about the Bush administration, but few are. I think that the American people are whining and I don’t see anything wrong with it. Is whining a word which is derogatory toward the whiner? Is that what some of this is about? Should Gramm have said bitching, moaning, belly-aching, fretting, fussing, griping, grumbling, mewling, sniveling, wailing, whimpering, or yammering? Maybe he should have said complaining. Would that have been better? Well he did use that word, but everyone is focusing on the word whining.

It seems that both the left and right have been quick to pounce on what Phil Gramm has said.

Here’s John McCain’s response:
"I don't agree with Sen. Gramm," McCain said. "I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining."
Talk about being supportive and standing by those on your side. Plus, what McCain says just seems plain wrong to me. If I had just lost my job I would be suffering a “mental recession” and necessary anxiety. Again, if what McCain really means is imaginary recession, then why not say it. Damn politicians! If I was a mother trying to find the money to educate my children I might let out a “distressed cry” now and again, and some of them would be directed toward insensitive, self-serving clods like McCain.

Here’s what the Democrats have to say:
"Sen. McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological -- now his top economic adviser and BFF, Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are 'whiners,' " said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse in a statement sent to reporters.
Did McCain ever say that “the economic problems facing Americans are psychological”? Or was that something that the DNC thinks that he said because it appears to be what Gramm said. There is a difference. I am an American “facing tough economic” times. I am also whining about it.

And I do my whining with pride. Care to whine about that?

After all of that, let’s add more context to all of this.

From Phil Gramm's Porn Stash by Max Blumenthal:
But first, Gramm returned to the Senate, where he was lobbied intensely by one of his major campaign contributors, Enron. Enron enjoyed easy access to Gramm's office; the senator's wife served on Enron's board of directors and Ken Lay was his 1992 campaign co-chair. Gramm rewarded his financial angels in 2000, slipping the "Commodity Futures Modernization Act" into a omnibus spending bill just as Congress headed off for summer vacation. His amendment instantly enabled the creation of a shadow banking system -- "weapons of financial destruction" in the words of Warren Buffet -- that directly contributed to the current mortgage foreclosure crisis. Millions of Americans have suffered as a result of Gramm's machinations.

While the destruction Gramm has caused is felt across the country, little is known about the seedy business schemes that preceded his political career. Before Gramm joined the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed to call for the defunding of the NEA, before he attacked an opponent for taking money from a gay rights group, and before he was interviewed by the white supremacist Southern Partisan magazine, Gramm was an avidly active investor in soft-core pornography movies.
Is it any wonder that so many Americans don’t vote. To do so responsibly takes a hell of a lot of work.

Let’s revisit the etymology of the word whine. Let’s all collectively pick a specific date and time, and all together take a big whiz and direct it toward Washington.

Feel like whining about my whining? The comment box is open.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Was It God?

It was yesterday at the local grocery store when it happened. It was as if some supernatural force had guided me to a display containing a stack of books, guiding my hand to pick up and look at a specific one, ignoring all the other choices. The force seemed to tell me to buy this particular book, and that’s exactly what I did. Was that you, God?

The book is by comedian Lewis Black and it’s called Me of Little Faith. In the preface Mr. Black writes:

So what am I, Lewis Black, stand-up comic and me of little faith, doing putting my two cents in about religion?

Because I think it’s taken too seriously, and anything that takes itself too seriously is open to ridicule.
Ridicule Mohammad. How dare you? We will now kill you! Ridicule the Eucharist. How dare you? We will now kill you. Ridicule the right-wing ridiculing Obama. How dare you? Well… I haven’t heard about any death threats… yet.

I wonder if the Catholics like having something in common with the Muslims, and vice versa.

The word ridicule come from the Latin word from ridiculum which means jest. This makes me think that something or someone involved in the act of ridiculing must be thought of as ridiculous by someone. Perhaps the ridiculer, perhaps the ridiculee, perhaps both.

Let me see if I understand. I mock and deride an idea because I think it is ridiculous. That means that the person holding this idea has the right to kill me. Is that correct?

I think that Lewis Black makes a good point.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We Do It Because We Can

This makes me think of George Carlin and “the Bigger Dick Theory of Foreign Policy.” If we only had a brain.

From Whither Homo Sap by Rob Payne:

Homo saps consider themselves to be soffistuhkated. After all, some of us eat caviar on Ritz crackers, can take pictures with cell phones, and drive BMWs the ultimate driving machines, yet almost everything that is going on today in our sophisticated foreign policy is about marking territory like a dog pissing on bushes. If anyone threatens our territorial rights like Iran is doing the first primal reaction is to beat our chests. I believe a lot of what drives our foreign policy is to keep other nations like China and Russia from grabbing the territory we don’t want them to have as much as anything else. This is why I have trouble believing that Homo saps are the apex of evolution as all we have aspired to do is what wild animals do, mark out and claim territory then defend it if threatened. But unlike our much more honest cousins in the wild we lie about why we do it. Christ, we’re so noble. We want everyone to have democracy, we want to free them so they can be like us or if that doesn’t work then the enemy becomes a most evil and vile thing and therefore the greatest threat to the universe that has ever existed in the entire history of Homo saps like Iran is supposed to be today.
Read the rest here.

Points And Rights And Hard Thinking And Rethinking

I sincerely hope that there are more Christians like this one.

From Questions > Answers:

Religion fascinates me, as do attacks on it, now that I accept them as a good and necessary thing rather than something to get all knee-jerky about. Fundamentalism basically trains you to just say, “I’m Right, because the Bible says so!” and either storm out of the room or add a placid, “I’ll pray for you.” Neither approach is acknowledging that the opposition has, er, a point, or even the right to one.
Read the rest here.

I have had way too much experience with the “I’m Right, because the Bible says so!” and “I’ll pray for you” ones.

Many religious people seem so threatened by any sort of skepticism concerning the notion of faith that my usual conclusion is that they actually have none and refuse to admit it.

From later on in Questions > Answers:
Wilson tends to pick and choose from the different gospels, rejecting certain things outright - Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, for instance, which does sound pretty unlikely in those days of primitive and frankly dangerous travel - yet accepting others that seem as random (his distant blood relation to John the Baptist) and even going on to build fairly extensive speculations based on the accepted “fact” (quotes because why this is somehow more probable than Bethlehem seems to be a little sketchy). In this, he’s no different from most Bible folk, who skip all sorts of things in Leviticus, like selling your daughter into slavery and sacrificing bulls, as well as verses like “Be ye separate,” which the Amish take quite literally. I prefer his approach, where the New Testament is poked and prodded and manhandled in a genuine, heartfelt search for answers rather than slapped with the bumper sticker “God Said It. I Believe It. That’s All There Is to It.” Wilson’s way forces some hard thinking and often rethinking. I like this, even if many so-called Christians seem to not just dislike it, but actively recoil at the very thought of it.
Many religious people do seem to think that it is OK to pick and choose what to believe from the Bible. In spite of the fact that they do this, they seem incapable of thinking that an atheist, like myself, could do this also. Let alone find any value in it. Whether Christ was fictional or factual is irrelevant to me. Some of the things that he supposedly said, by way of the Bible, are valid and morally correct. I don’t deny them. I like them. I also think that most of the Bible is bunk and incredibly harmful. And of course, the difference between them and me is that they are supposed to believe all of the Bible, and I have the freedom to do with the Bible as I choose.

Keep On Pushing, Dennis

No one should be above the law.

From Kucinich Pushes on Impeachment by Jason Leopold:

Congress has plenty of evidence that George W. Bush deserves impeachment for misleading the nation into war in Iraq, authorizing torture and other grave crimes, and violating the Constitution – and it is now time to act, says Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

“How many more hearings do we need to have to prove this administration has violated the Constitution, taken the law into its own hands, and condoned torture?” asked Kucinich, D-Ohio, author of some three dozen articles of impeachment.

“These articles of impeachment are about accountability,” Kucinich said in an interview. “I think our country is at risk. We’re setting a terrible precedent for future administrations if we choose to turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by this administration.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

PZ Is Hitting Nerves

And all the dialog that is ensuing is a good thing, no matter what side you are on. Here are what some bloggers are saying in response to IT'S A FRACKIN’ CRACKER.

Here is part of Mike Haubrich’s comment found in response to another comment found on Crackergate And Why PZ May Be Wrong About One Thing:

A Church which preaches the dignity of suffering over allowing people to choose suicide, or a Church which has effectively hampered stem cell research because of the favoring of blastocysts which would otherwise be discarded because of the dignity of human life, a Church which continues to lie and cover the transgressions of pedophilic priests all the while confessing grief (yet offering nothing to show that they are truly contrite) and a church which teaches that abstinence is the only form of birth control, a church that teaches that women must be put at risk of death instead of allowing for a partial-birth abortion, a church which doesn't allow women or active gays to be ordained and condemns another church for doing so in the misguided hope that some day the Anglicans will "Come back to their senses" is insane.
There is more (for those of you who have not yet had your fill of holy cracker), and I’m not saying I agree or disagree with the following:

But really people...IT IS A CRACKER!!!

The Case of the Communion Cracker III - Bill Donahue

It's a frackin' cracker! (from Pharyngula)

Pissing off the Catholics

Holy Breakfast

Body of Christ?

I will say that Pissing off the Catholics and Body of Christ? are my two favorites.

Bible Verse For Sunday 07-13-08

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
What the hell?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Worse

Pretty soon I’m going to go hide in a hole. I don’t know how much more insanity I can take.

From Get spied on without doing anything wrong by D. Parvaz:

If you're wondering how desperate of a pickle we're in in our "war on terror," check out the following item: The Department of Justice is mulling over whether to let the FBI investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents without evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, investigators would be allowed to use racial profiling, targeting, according to The Associated Press, "Muslim, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups. ... The changes would allow FBI agents to ask open-ended questions about activities of Muslim- or Arab-Americans, or investigate them if their jobs and backgrounds match trends that analysts deem suspect." Attorney General Michael Mukasey denies this is happening. Then again, just as he doesn't consider waterboarding torture, perhaps Mukasey has a new term for racial profiling ("racial recognition" would sound downright complimentary). Also, senior FBI agents and law enforcement officials spoke to the AP about the potential new guidelines, so we know it was/is being considered. Say hello to the World War II days, when just being Japanese was enough to be seen as a threat. So, we're being told that racial profiling might be allowed as a legitimate investigative tool. I guess that means all that warrantless spying on thousands of Americans, snooping through our mail and e-mail and keeping tabs on whom we call hasn't been yielding much in the way of evidence. Anyway.
Read the rest here.

What The Hell Is Wrong With Bush?

He is insane.

The man definitely has a screw loose. He definitely has no sense of humor. Humor is about funny things, not serious things. He shouldn’t just be impeached, he should be committed.

From President George Bush: 'Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter' by Robert Winnettand Urmee Khan:

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.
Read the rest here.

What Would Jesus Do?

He’d get his gun and kill all the fuckin’ atheists. That’s what.

Now they have brought out armed goons to protect that which is not real, except as some form of non-nourishing nourishment.

And Jesus said: “Bring out the armed goons to kill all who would desecrate a cracker.”

Can the world possibly get more insane?

From 'Body Of Christ" Returned To Church After Student Receives Email Threats:

One week after a University of Central Florida student snatched something sacred from church, armed UCF police officers stood guard during Sunday Mass to protect what Catholics call "The Body of Christ."
Read the rest here.

Just how powerful and all-knowing is that stupid Catholic god anyway, that he needs “armed UCF police officers” to protect "The Body of Christ"? Where are the lightening bolts and locusts? I think he’s just some old fart that has lost all his powers.

Crackers And Wafers And Rudeness, Oh My!

Some other bloggers, internetters, and unmentionables think that PZ Myers was rude or abusive to the Catholics because he “didn't accord the Eucharist proper respect.” Some think that he is a jerk. Some find his conduct reprehensible. Just what is the proper respect that an atheist should have for the Eucharist?

Here’s what Catholics believe about atheists like Mr. Myers and myself:

We will spend eternity burning in hell. They believe this just as much as they believe in transubstantiation.

How rude is that?

The god that the Catholics believe in is a fucking asshole.

How rude is that?

For a more sane perspective on all of this visit Majikthise.

The world would be a better place with no religion at all.

Blind Faith

This doesn’t sound good. Here’s what blind faith in capitalism will get you.

From Regulators seize troubled IndyMac by Catherine Clifford and Chris Isidore with Roddy Boyd:

In what could turn out to be the most expensive bank failure ever, troubled mortgage lender IndyMac Bank was taken over by federal regulators on Friday.

The operations of the Pasadena, Calif.-based bank - once one of the nation's largest home lenders - were shut down at 3 p.m. by the Office of Thrift Supervision and transferred to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

According to the FDIC, 10,000 IndyMac customers could lose as much as $500 million in uninsured deposits. The agency says the failure will cost the Deposit Insurance Fund between $4 billion and $8 billion, based on preliminary estimates.
From the same article, here’s what blind faith in government will get you.
Even efforts to prop up the bank hurt it. Last month, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a series of letters to regulators in Washington and California asking them to take steps to prevent the bank's "likely collapse." In response, about $100 million in customer deposits has been withdrawn from the bank, according to one of its filings.
Don’t get me started on what blind faith in religion will get you. That could overtax the whole intertube system. One thing it does get you is people like Bill Donohue trying to get other people fired.

Blind Faith was once a pretty good rock band, and that’s the only positive thing I’m going to say about it.