Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anybody got a fiddle?

As I attempt to find a place to put my various, sometimes conflicting feelings about the disaster on the gulf coast, I read today a piece by novelist Christopher Rice, the son of Vampire Chronicles author Ann Rice, whose family has lived in New Orleans for decades. It’s noteworthy that the city has served as the backdrop and atmosphere for the stories written by both mother and son ~ a testament to the way the city becomes such an integral part of anyone who lives, or even visits there.

Christopher writes in Salon

“I am trying to find a quick and efficient method for mourning 20 years' worth of memories, and it is proving to be an impossible and irresponsible task. … Those of us who are from there are being left with a storehouse of memories that have lost their physical referents.”

The requiem for our grief has been decidedly non-musical; the din of cynical spin, finger-pointing, and diversion of blame typical of this government has all but drowned out the lamentations of the suffering people of the gulf coast region.

Chertoff and Brownie of Homeland Security and FEMA, respectively, have already begun blaming state and local officials for not calling for help earlier, not authorizing federal intervention, et cetera. Let’s nail the lid on that right now, shall we?

The Federal 2004 National Response Plan explicitly states that, at times of

any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions, the federal government pre-empts local and state government in its responsibility to act quickly.

After 9/11, the administration wisely dispensed with the formalities of deferring to local authorities (which, of course, in this case had already issued a state of emergency as early as August 26). The attempt by the spinners to blame this on the obviously overwhelmed and incompetent local authorities, doesn't fit with the Bush administration's own rules.

We also now know that the military was prepared to help before Katrina hit, according to NorthCom's Lt Commander. All they needed was a presidential go-ahead. They didn't get one.

Apparently, that permission could have been given right away, but it wasn't. Bush was on vacation, sharing some cake with John McCain, and pretending to play some guitar.

And not for nothing, I heard on Sunday about an Urban Rescue Unit from Ohio which arrived in Meridien, Mississippi in time to ride out the hurricane along with the residents, and so was on hand immediately to begin the work of helping people get out of danger.

Now how’d they do that? Magic?

The relative quiet from the opposition party seems to be thawing out also. Former President Bill Clinton is finally speaking clearly about the federal government's failure to do more for the victims of the hurricane.

"Our government failed those people in the beginning, and I take it now there is no dispute about it," Clinton said in an interview with CNN Monday. "One hundred percent of the people recognize that -- that it was a failure."

But the news isn’t all bad, my people. There’s a silver lining – apart from Trent Lott getting a new beach house.

According to at least one learned, wizened source, notably Barbara Bush, the practically toga-clad solon whose most notable pearls of wisdom are worn around her appalling turkey neck, many of these wretched, teeming, tempest-tossed refugees have been blown right into a pot of jam.

The former first lady toured the Astrodome Monday, and along the way she opined that many of the refugees from New Orleans were so poor to begin with that they ought to be pretty happy with their temporary digs in Houston. "What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in comments first aired on the public radio program "Marketplace" and reprinted by Editor & Publisher. "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

The former First Dragon could actually be heard on the video chuckling aloud as she uttered the words “you know…”

I don’t suppose the current president is entirely to blame for what he became in life if one cares to dwell for just a moment on the bizarre, contemptible, bloodless old bitch who bore him. If George W. Bush is the modern Nero, I wonder if that makes Barb the modern Agrippina? And if so, … well, I’ll leave the rest of that story alone…

So, as you join with me in trying to move through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, take comfort that nothing was anybody’s fault, there was no way to know in advance that this might happen, our government was acting on all information available at the time, our bureaucratic response was absolutely the best it could be, and besides, many of those poor people blown out of their homes by a 28-foot wall of water are probably better off now anyway.

Somebody pass me a fiddle. I feel a song comin' on...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mayor Nagin and I... Both Pissed!

Cheney is still on vacation in Wyoming. Condi just finished a shopping spree at Prada in New York. And we’ve got a C-student former cheerleader and draft dodger ostensibly in charge in D.C. Gosh, I feel good!

Everybody out there who, just before the last election, was sooooo worried about two guys kissing, or Jesus not liking embryonic stem cell research, or what-the-fuck ever flavor of the moment Rove had convinced the uptight right they need to obsess over, I hope you’re thinking about whether or not it matters who’s in charge at a given moment.

FEMA has been gutted and cannibalized by the Department of Homeland Security, and has done an abysmal job of responding to the incredibly urgent needs of the suffering people of New Orleans, but that didn’t’ stop Michael Chertoff from saying on Larry King what a bang-up job he thought they were all doing. Larry’s meds must have been kicking in, because even he was incredulous.

FEMA director Michael Brown, who up until his appointment to this job as a political reward was an estate lawyer (yup…), said to Ted Koppel Thursday night that the agency had only just learned of the presence of refugees at the New Orleans convention center, and the appalling conditions which prevailed there. Koppel looked at Brown like he’d grown an extra head, and asked him if anybody at FEMA watched television, because reporters had been on camera from the Center since Tuesday.

And… if Mary Landrieu, until recently one of my personal favorites in the Democratic party, if only because she’s about the last Democrat standing from south of Tennessee… if she opens her mealy mouth one more time and says some sycophantic shaved-ape stupid thing, I hope somebody gives her a good hard slap! Yesterday, I thought Anderson Cooper was going to be the guy to do it, God love him. What a worthless pile of goo she’s turned out to be.

At least New Orleans mayor Nagin is calling this game like he sees it. What choice does he have, we figure, because the once proud city of which he is mayor is no more… He said on the radio, and I quote… “Excuse my French, everybody in America, but I am pissed!” Apparently, he thinks the presidential fly-over planned for today does him about as much good as the White House circle jerk that’s been going down since the hurricane passed over. Hmmmm…

We can talk all day about the cause of this level of catastrophe, ending with the Bush administration’s under-funding the hurricane and flood control initiatives for southern Louisiana by 80%, and it does nothing to change the fact that it happened. But the level of ineptitude being demonstrated by government agencies attempting relief and recovery efforts in the hurricane’s aftermath is so appalling that it must be talked about, fingers pointed, blame assigned, and comeuppance meted out. And I do not mean Presidential Medals of Freedom for everybody.

When is there going to be some accountability for this puling band of suck-ups and incompetents? People are dead who shouldn’t be dead because of them, and I’m not talking about military casualties. I’m talking about people drowning, dying of exposure, insulin shock, heart failure, heat prostration, and dehydration. These are the kinds of things people die from in third world countries because of the sheer poverty and inability of their government to bring them services. Here, in the richest, most powerful democracy the world has ever known, how does this happen. How do old people die sitting in wheel chairs and lawn furniture right out in the open, and babies die in their mothers’ arms, right there on a public sidewalk? Because nobody was there to help them.

What about the looting and lawlessness? The social contract in this country for law enforcement is, basically, we’ll obey the law so long as the law protects us, and maintains order. One side of that equation breaks down, and the other follows suit. Who you gonna blame? The side that broke the contract first, that’s who gets the blame. But the President comes right out with “no tolerance for law breakers” as soon as somebody pulls his string, which is about as intelligent as anything he’s said so far, so why comment further.

I guess it’s time for Cheney to come out of his undisclosed location to tell somebody to “go fuck themselves,” and Condi can show up in her brand new shoes from Prada to take over the lying for a while, since for her, it’s about as natural as breathing is for the rest of us. That’s about all they’re going to be good for, folks.

Now does everybody agree that it kind of DOES matter who’s in charge at any given moment, because they either do something, do nothing, or do something stupid.

Does the next Republican nominee need Louisiana to win? Bush did. Will they need Mississippi to win? Bush needed it. What about Alabama? Can you imagine Alabama as a blue state? I can.

But for the immediate moment... like I said two days ago... we are so screwed.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wipe that Smirk Off Your Face, You Arrogant Prick…

I hope you all feel better. I know I do. The president has spoken to the nation during this time of unthinkable crisis, as southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Red States all, I might add, are awash in water, devastation and despair. He arrived in Washington to address the situation at least a day later than he needed to, as usual, and gave what the New York Times described as “the worst speech of his life.”

I must admit, it was an improvement over images we’ve all seen of the president blowing out birthday candles or playing guitar while the residents of the deep south fought for their lives, but once again the president squandered an opportunity to lead, or even to show compassion in any credible way.

He spoke for a few moments from the Rose Garden about ice and blankets, and then it happened; in the face of probably thousands dead, tens or hundreds of thousands homeless and displaced, the complete loss of a major American city and the economic center of an entire region in ruins, the President of the United States gave a nation trembling with grief, exhaustion, anticipation… a smirk. That famous smirky grin familiar to the entire world was flashed and broadcast globally as he said “make no mistake, we will get through this.” [smirk/grin/bob head stupidly…]

It reminded me of the “bring it on,” or the “dead or alive,” smirks I had already seen, but it was still the same stupid, arrogant, shit-eating grin. I’m just surprised he and Rove were able to take time away from the kegger they were throwing down in the WH bowling alley celebrating new front page headlines that didn’t say anything about Cindy Sheehan or Iraq or poll numbers.

Now I want to hear Condi and the Rumettes bragging about how many schools we’re building in Tikrit, or how we’re getting electricity restored to the Sunni Triangle when there’s no electricity to 80% of the American deep south, and all the schools there have been destroyed. I say give Halliburton the contract to rebuild southern Louisiana and Mississippi, and let the Iraqis pay somebody else to rebuild theirs, using revenue earned from selling us all their oil at twice the market rate, which is probably what will happen anyway.

Those of you who read here know of my special and personal grade of grief and anguish over the devastation in Louisiana, and how in my analysis, much of the blame for the lack of preparedness and loss of natural defense to such a disaster can be laid at the feet of government and corporate malfeasance, so I won’t belabor that again. Read below for details on that.

What I will say is this: now that the President has brought his usual brand of competence and compassion to the table, I can say without reservation that we are totally on our own here. In short – we’re screwed.

What would a real leader have done? By Tuesday of this week, a real leader who deserved to hold the office of President of these United States would have been airborne over Louisiana and Mississippi seeing for himself (or herself) the damage, displacement and despair of the citizens of his country. He (or she) would have been calling forth every available resource, both military and civilian, to help evacuate, restore order, rescue the living, and bury the dead. He (or she) would not have been blowing out birthday candles, or pretending to play guitar, mugging for the cameras, while Americans living in the path of unparalleled destruction wept, begged for help, and in some cases, lay dying in the mud.

Pray for the victims of this unthinkable disaster, both human and animal. Pray for strength in the loss of everything that’s been lost. Pray for hope in the face of black despair. And pray that we will never face another day like this one without the kind of strength and leadership that we as a nation need and deserve.

*NOTE – Please help as much as you can. Copy and past the following links -- pitch in.




Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Don't Blame Nature, New Orleans, My Home...

South Louisiana is the land of my birth, and that of my mother, and her mother, and her mother, and so on. It’s a place of strange beauty that is appreciated in the same way that one appreciates a painting by Edvard Munch; it’s so bizarre, so unreal, so “out there,” that it is beautiful in its total uniqueness. The wetlands of the mouth of the Mississippi and the Gulf coast have for thousands of years been murky with a brackish mix of water from the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, the Chattaoochee River, and the countless bayous and swamps that make up the vast system, and are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, both animal and human. It is a precious system that has nurtured its environmental biodiversity over these millennia, and for at least several hundred years, has helped to protect the city of New Orleans and other communities of southern Louisiana as one of the most effective natural defenses against hurricanes anywhere in the world.

My hometown of New Orleans, (which for purposes of this article will be shorthand for all of southern Louisiana) has weathered a number of hurricanes over the modern era, most notably, a direct hit by Hurricane Betsy, a category 5 hurricane with winds clocked at Grand Isle, just off the Louisiana Coast, at 160 miles per hour. The storm surge driven by the hurricane was largely absorbed by the wetlands south of the city before pushing across Lake Pontchartrain, which overflowed its banks and the levees and flooded the city, but water in most places only reached the eaves of the lowest-lying houses, and producing the country’s first Billion Dollar hurricane. As a child living in southern Mississippi at the time, I remember riding out hurricane Betsy, and listening to the freight train-like noise from under my grandmother’s bed, as we wondered aloud to each other about the fate of relatives living lower in her path.

This reference is important because of the comparisons which can be made to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which pounded southern Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday, and missed directly hitting New Orleans by veering just to the east at the last minute.

The wetlands that have protected the city of New Orleans for hundreds of years just aren’t what they used to be. The effects on real people’s lives of environmental stupidity and greed are right there for anybody to see. The draining of the wetlands since the 1960s, which ignored the recommendations of the Army Corps of Engineers (lengthy and expensive studies paid for by taxpayers) for the building of housing developments, commercial developments, oil and gas exploration, and highways, has had a disastrous environmental impact on the wetlands, even if measured only in the effects on wildlife and shrimping. Take into account now that the storm surge which followed Hurricane Katrina washed right across the now chopped and hacked wetlands, or what used to be the wetlands, into Lake Pontchartrain, which flooded its northern banks, broke through levees and overcame the low-lying city of New Orleans, now virtually defenseless against the fury of even a glancing blow from a category 3 hurricane.

Wrought iron balconies in the French Quarter which had stood since the 1600s have fallen into the street onto parked cars, oak trees in Jackson Square which have stood for hundreds of years in front of St. Luis Cathedral were uprooted and toppled, not to mention the devastation of countless other trees, businesses and houses across the city.

Are we to view this as simply the wrath and fury of Mother Nature or God, which is given us, as mere mortals, to endure? It wasn’t God who drained the wetlands that have protected south Louisiana for thousands of years from the fury of hurricanes past. And it wasn’t God who, in the last session of congress, cut $72.5 million from the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers, earmarked for the study of hurricane preparedness in southern Louisiana. And it certainly isn’t Mother Nature receiving the profits from all the oil and gas exploration which has been allowed time and time again in this environmentally delicate area so crucial to the security of southern Louisiana for hundreds of years.

Add to this the effects of global warming on the severity of Atlantic hurricanes, and you have a recipe for disaster which has only begun to reveal itself. The year 2004 ended as the fourth warmest year since records started being kept in 1861, with 9 of the past 10 years among the warmest on record, according to the national weather service. We know that hurricanes derive their strength and destructive power from warm water as it evaporates and transfers heat into the air. Consider this in light of the severity of the hurricanes we have experienced just in the last 10 years as compared with those for the preceding 50, and a pattern emerges of increasingly stronger and more devastating storms. Now remove the natural defenses of the southern coastal areas, which cost us billions in public and private dollars and human lives, and you get the picture.

The president promises prayer, and Federal disaster relief. If this man actually prays, I can’t imagine why he doesn’t turn to salt. As far as disaster relief, great. We’ll need it. Write some more hot checks to pay for the wages of greed drawn by fat cat oil barons and developers at the expense of one of our most unique and treasured natural landscapes. Somebody else’s children and grandchildren will pay for it long after he’s dead, and hopefully, remembered as the empty suit that he is.

Today, the streets of New Orleans run with brackish water full of sewage and chemicals, and teeming with poisonous water moccasins, fire ants, rats, nutrias and alligators, all looking for someplace to crawl up out of the toxic sludge that washes against the antebellum homes of the rich and poor alike. The legacy of my ancestral homeland has been raped and ravaged, not by nature or by God, but by a bunch of bastards. Short-sightedness, avarice, and corruption in government and big business have destroyed much of what made Louisiana the exotic, funky, beautiful place that it was created to be, and today, I weep for it. God and Mother Nature will not be blamed this time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

You may ask yourself, as I have...

How have we come to this? As I look around at my fellow Americans, I find them to be either in a place of complacency, despondency, helplessness and despair, or stubborn arrogance, false patriotism, bizarre religious zealotry and complete self-absorption.

Never before in the history of this or any nation has such all-out war been waged in the name of a people and their civic ideals, while virtually no sacrifice has been made by, or asked of, those same people other than the blood of their sons and daughters, and the treasure of their future generations. Never before in “war” time has our government responded to the crisis with tax cuts which benefit only the wealthiest Americans and American companies. No war bonds have been bought or sold; no recycling program or victory gardens. Nothing to distract a fat and lazy populace from Wal-Mart, Applebee’s, stuffed-crust pizza, Nascar or Natalee Holloway. Ask most Americans what the latest body count is of Americans who’ve died for their “freedom” in Iraq, and they’re more likely to know who was eliminated on “The Bachelor” last night.

It’s just appalling, and we should all be profoundly ashamed.

When did we decide that the lives and deaths of Americans were so much more sacred and important than the deaths of anyone else, especially if they’re brown-skinned? The deaths of Iraqi civilians, women, children, and the elderly, are so unimportant to our government that officials are forbidden from counting them. They literally do not count. But this attitude isn’t limited to Arabs.

After the bombings in London this summer, our President, who was in London at the time, gave a speech in which he actually said that this is why we fight the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq; we fight them there, so we don’t have to fight them in our own streets. Apparently, if we have to fight them in the streets of London, that fits his strategy just fine, because after all, London isn’t in America.

The “great beast” that is the American people seems to have been slowly waking from its lethargic, gluttony-induced stupor, and is starting to rub the stupid out of its eyes. Most Americans polled recently understand that we were basically lied into this “war” by Bush and his neocon dinosaurs recycled from Iran-Contra, when most of them should have been indicted and locked up, thus saving us from our current Vietnam-esque nightmare. But still we are bombarded almost 24/7 on the talk and news channels with surreal logic worthy of Lewis Carroll, or better yet, George Orwell, from vile Hannity, fat, drug-addled Limbaugh, and reptilian Coulter, to name just a few, who vomit in our general direction words to the effect that “liberals hate America” and opposition to the war is tantamount to supporting the enemy and endangering the troops.

As their disgusting excrement slides slowly down the inside of my TV screen, I ask myself again… How did we come to this? How did we let this happen? Are we really this stupid?

I used to wonder when my dad would cut a yearling steer out of the herd to send to slaughter, why it put up such a fight. I mean, that steer has eaten out of a bucked held out by daddy’s own hand ever since it was weaned from its mother. It’s practically tame. But somehow, that day, I wondered if that “stupid” animal somehow knew that he was, literally, being led off to slaughter. Imagine my surprise to realize that the general awareness level in this country is way, way lower than that of one of the dumbest farm animals I’ve had the experience of growing up around.

On some level, we have Cindy Sheehan to thank for some of this. She’s the California mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, and when the president said that our troops had to stay in Iraq to finish the mission in order to honor the fallen, who had given their lives in a “noble cause,” Cindy Sheehan snapped. Now she wants to know what this “noble cause” is, and until she was forced home to the bedside of an ailing mother, she was camped on the side of the road outside Bush’s country manor in Crawford, Texas demanding an answer, and a halt to the cynical and insulting lies.

I am personally unaware of any instance in the history of our country when a president, during “war” time, can take over 300 total days of vacation, but this one has. And now, on this little 5-week junket, the president can’t take time away from fishing, bike riding, brush clearing and fund-raising long enough to stand there and let Cindy Sheehan have her say. That’s his version of bringing “honor and dignity” back to the White House.

While we wait to see what will happen to the anti-war movement in Cindy Sheehan’s absence, we still have a budget deficit exceeded only by our trade deficit -- we can think about that-- plus the highest gasoline prices ever in response to the highest crude oil prices ever.

Most analysts will tell you that these economic factors are a direct threat to national security because they endanger our ability to protect ourselves, to fuel our economy, to generate energy, to manufacture goods needed both in peacetime and wartime, and for our domestic economy to employ people so they can earn enough money to buy the products they need to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families.

Of course, these analysts aren’t on Dr. Phil, so most people don’t know about that. They do know, however, that if you’ve got a “Support Our Troops” magnet on the car, and matching U.S. flag t-shirts for yourself and all the kids that read “These Colors Don’t Run”, you’re doing all you can to “spread freedom.”

God Bless America. Whatever that means…

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Go there. Read it. Sign it. Thank you!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Howard Dean - Lightning Rod!!

I know, I've gotten lazy again, overcome, as it were, by the incredibly debilitating feeling of helplessness one gets these days, and just when you think none of the scant criticism of the theocratic Repugs is going to get any traction, along comes Howard Dean, God bless him.

Believe me, I'm quite aware of the self-flagellation going on among the Democratic leadership, scared to death they might look like they actually have a low opinion of Republicans in general, when I sure as hell do, and wish they did too, so imagine my delight when I read one of my favorite angry voices today, the Rude Pundit (www.rudepundit.blogspot.com), who I'll quote below with great relief, and absolute agreement...

"Howard Dean will fuck your shit up. Stand that motherfucker up at the gates of hell. Let that son of a bitch loose in the dainty Democratic china shop and let's break some fuckin' dishes. Howard Dean knows the score, man; he knows that the faithful, those who actually believe that the fight is not the path to surrender, want a spokesperson who's willing to pick up the unpinned grenade that just landed near him and shove it up the ass of the enemy who tossed it. Goddamn, it would have been magnificent to have seen him debate the President. On stage, Bush would have been begging for the privilege to lick the sweat off Dean's balls.

"Challenged on the Today show yesterday by Matt 'Behold My Stubbly Mane That Indicates I Am a Grown-Up' Lauer, Dean picked up Lauer, slammed him on the faux marble coffee table and whispered, calmly, in Lauer's ear that Democrats are tired of being the bottoms of the political fuck machine. He said, 'They have the agenda of the conservative Christians...the Republicans don't include people. Look, they are outside the mainstream.' And Dean wasn't afraid to invoke truly inclusive Democratic ideas: 'They have used words like quota to try to separate black from white Americans. They did scapegoat gay Americans by putting an anti-gay amendment on it--in 11 states where gay marriage is already against the law. And they are attacking immigrants. Two--two Republican congressmen, Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo, have incredible anti-immigrant legislation. This is not the way America needs to be.' Calling out motherfuckers for fucking their mothers is as brutally truthful as politics gets."

I thought I knew what we were getting with Howard Dean, and thank goodness, turns out I was right. Why speak softly and carry a big stick. Doesn't work as well as speaking LOUD, and carrying a BIGGER stick, and then not being afraid to use it.

Kudos to Howard Dean. That's my chairman.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The tale of the bug-killing cockroach...

The fact that we are even still talking about Tom Delay as though it’s possible for thinking people to come down on either side of the question seriously worries me about the media and the public’s ability to absorb and analyze information.

Apparently, it takes more than being elected to congress to turn someone into a statesman whose greatest accomplishment up to that point was the ability to kill bugs. Tom Delay is the most morally corrupt politician to hit Washington since Huey P. Long, and nobody since Nixon has shown more open contempt for the public trust, to the point that the House Ethics Committee even had to change its rules to accommodate Delay’s behavior.

Delay has shown himself to be so self-aggrandizing, self-involved and ethically rotten to the core that I can’t believe that he doesn’t actually smell. He’s an embarrassment to me as a Texan, and he should be over. In the immortal words of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, "He sho do look like plant food to me!"

Well, guess what? He isn't. The spitting, foaming wingnut alleged conservatives are already showing what they're made of. "I don't see any wavering of the support for the leader. I think a lot of members think he's taking arrows for all of us," said Rep. Roy Blunt, third-ranking among GOP leaders. Uh-huh...

And what about the sputtering threats some conservative leaders are issuing to their own rank and file? How about this plum, from Morton Blackwell, president of the scary conservative Leadership Institute:

“Any politician that hopes to have conservative support in the future better be in the forefront as we attack those who attack Tom DeLay.”

You know, I'm kind of glad so many of these freaks are hitching their wagon to Tom DeLay's star so blindly, because the media, and even Matt Drudge, seem to smell blood in the water, and as we know only too well, they love blood in the water, and they seldom care whose blood it is.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Legacy of a Pope...

Let me say first that my thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have loved and been touched by Pope John Paul II, a man of faith who understood the importance of religious dialogue, and did much to advance the cause of human rights through compassion.

That being said, I shall not be among those grieving the death of John Paul II.

The Catholic church has been guilty of open hostility toward gays and lesbians, to the point of labeling us "morally disordered" and even "evil." And for that, we have John Paul II to thank.

I recall his 1986 “Halloween” letter, which declared gays and lesbians "disordered," "self-indulgent" individuals who "threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people." This set the moral tone for millions of people the world over who believe that the Pope is God’s representative on earth. Bishops who were weak on the Pope’s position on gays were essentially marginalized. Gay Catholics who refused to abandon their faith, even as it reviled them, formed Dignity, the Catholic organization for gays and lesbians, which under John Paul II was banned from holding services in Catholic churches. Nice.

The shocking and consistent hate language aimed at gays has been particularly remarkable against the backdrop of pedophile priests, and the relentless scandals which plagued the church through the last 15 years or so, and you would think that would have a moderating effect on John Paul II’s small-minded diatribes against gay and lesbian people, 99.9% of whom have never harmed a child. But rather than strong statements condemning pedophile priests and the diocese officials who had for years tried to protect them, the Pontiff escalated his attacks against the world’s gays and lesbians.

I do recall a statement issued by U.S. Catholic bishops in 1997 which encouraged all people to reject the language of hate, with these words: "The teaching of the Church makes it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any form of injustice, oppression or violence against them." Seemed encouraging at the time, however…

The Pope remained unmoved by such sentiments. He has never been too sick or frail to attack gays. His new book, released just about the time he was recovering from his tracheotomy last month, characterizes the gay rights movement, and efforts to legitimize gay marriage, as part of an “ideology of evil” which attempts to pit “human rights against the family, and against man.”

Evil?????!!!!! God, how I longed for the pasty old hate monger to shut the hell up. Who knows how many hate crimes against gays and lesbians have been motivated and justified in the sick minds of the gay bashers by feelings of hate which have been articulated by God’s inerrant messenger on earth, the late John Paul II?

Now that he’s dead, maybe he knows exactly how much of that he was responsible for.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Couldn't stand it anymore...

I flatter myself to think anyone even noticed that I took a rather protracted break from posting in this space, but whether anybody noticed or not, I did. Frankly, dear reader, I reached a point of such frustration and despair, I just couldn't pick a topic to bitch about. Which from among the swelling ranks of lies and criminally arrogant stunts being perpetrated by Pres. Smirk, the ever vile Cheney, or their pernicious band of preening, right-wing Washington hyenas should I choose to rant about? The cabinet appointments (shudder), the judicial nominees, social security privatization, Iraq, ANWR drilling, the mounting deficit, gas prices, "freedom on the march", "town hall" meetings, Condi going to Germany wearing jack-boots? It was just too much for a while.

But finally, at long last, a dying woman in Florida has breathed new life into my disgust with the whole lot of them.

The freakish, cynical, disgusting sideshow that has ensued in the wake of the Terri Schiavo matter simply defies anything I could have imagined the uptight right to be capable of. By now I'm sure anybody reading this has heard all you want to hear, and I can add nothing new, other than to compliment Ann Coulter for actually surprising me by how friggin' bizarre she can really be, tagging the Democratic Party as the "party of death," and exhorting Jeb Bush to go in with the Florida National Guard and physically abduct Terri Schiavo from her hospital bed for her own protection. I'm sure he looked into it only to discover that the Florida National Guard are all in Iraq, spreading freedom...

All through the whole thing, what came to my mind was how truly vitriolic the public discourse in this country has become since the Rethugs came to power, especially since the 2002 mid-terms. There is no "loyal opposition" anymore. The conventional wisdom is that if you disagree with them, you're at best unpatriotic, and at worst, a terrorist. Tom DeLay, paragon of Texas virtue that he is, even called Judge Whittemore, the Florida judge who refused to order Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube put back in, a "murderer, and a terrorist." Jeez, dude. Chill!

I knew I couldn't be the only person to have noticed this marked change in our social contract, and then I read Mark Morford's latest column in the San Francisco Gate. Here's an outtake...

"There is a direct correlation between the violent and heartless tone and attitude of our country and the mental and spiritual health of its people and by way of comparison just look at the Clinton era, which brought eight years of unprecedented prosperity and peace and a nearly balanced budget and high economic flush.

"It's true. There was, we forget, a decided lack of sexual anxiety and uptight moral rigidity in the nation, minimal pseudo-religious puling from the uptight Right and much moderate lawmaking and I don't care a whit for what you say about the man's personal moral compass -- under Clinton, America had deeply supportive allies, intelligent foreign policy, more genuine concern for the planet and the health of our forests and oceans and air, and we had a president who was incredibly articulate and deeply intelligent and greatly beloved the world over and the nation enjoyed one of its most prosperous and nondivisive and peaceful periods in its history.

"And now, the exact opposite. Everywhere you look, the culture is fractured and divisive and mean. Everywhere you look it's war and pollution and more toxins, red versus blue, good versus evil, more garbage and less concern where to shove it, fewer restrictions on industrial polluters and fewer controls on corporate abuse and an administration that has so shamelessly leveraged the worst tragedy in American history to further its brutal and hawkish right-wing agenda it would embarrass Mussolini."

And there it is. The shocking truth. I unabashedly lay the blame for what's become of our social and political demeanor squarely at the feet of W and his fawning cronies. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Santorum, Frist, Gonzalez, and the rest. We'll all be long dead before even the most progressive leadership will ever be able to undo the unspeakable damage that has been done by these swaggering thugs, and not just to our civil rights, our standing in the world, our environment, and our wealth. The real damage has been to our spirit; our ability to come together and pull together as Americans; our trust of each other, and respect for each other; our ability to agree on a common goal, even if we disagree on how to get there.

They found us at peace, and flush with prosperity, and they will leave us at war on several fronts, and at war with each other, red versus blue.

Thanks a lot. Jerks.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Social Security "Crisis" My Ass…

I had planned to rif, rant, rave and foam at the mouth about the so-called Social Security Crisis that’s been invented and is being rammed down our throat by the Liar in Thief himself, but then I read Molly Ivins's syndicated column today, and realized, as usual, I couldn’t have explained it better myself, not in a million years. And she’s so much nicer about it than I would’ve been…

“Will someone explain to me what earthly good they expect to do by misleading us? …

“Resigned to the fact that Social Security will have to be dismantled because it's in such terrible, awful trouble, headed toward bankruptcy the day after tomorrow? Well, the $10 trillion in unfunded liabilities they keep talking about sure sounds like a load of trouble. Except that it's a completely phony number. Not based on what will happen in 25 years or 50 or 75, but on infinity. Forever and ever.

“President Bush says ‘the crisis is now’ and Social Security will go into the red as of 2018. Eeek, just 13 years from now -- we might actually live that long. Except... nobody else says that. The Social Security trustees, paid to be professional gloom-mongers on this subject, say it's good until 2042, and the conservative estimate by the Congressional Budget Office is 2052 -- not before Social Security goes broke, but before Social Security has to dip into its trust fund. Get a grip.”

© 2004 Creators Syndicate

As if we needed another reason to love Dolly...

Dolly Parton is refusing to comment on rumors that she slept with Burt Lancaster or her “Straight Talk” co-star James Woods. “I don’t admit or deny anything,” she told the London Guardian. “If I ain’t done something, I’m probably capable of doing it. But I never admit to certain things unless I’m caught red-handed. Now those men, if I didn’t sleep with them, I probably wanted to.”

Boy, I could get used to hearing people tell the absolute, unvarnished truth to the press, or in the alternative, just saying straight out "None of your business. Got it?" Dolly Partin just did both in the space of two sentences.

I love that brassy broad truly, madly and deeply.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Screw Virginia, where Santa Clause is probably regarded as a pedophile…

We are alerted to the following via John @ Americablog.com, and righteous indignation is called for...

It’s time Virginia felt the pinch. There really is pay-back for being a bunch of ignorant, hateful bigoted shit-bags. I’m talkin’ boycott.

From 365gay.com:

Virginia lawmakers will consider legislation to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in the new session of the legislature. Never one to be a leader, they’re lining up behing the 11 other states that beat them to it.

Another bill calls for traditional marriage to be displayed on car licenses. If passed the plates would interlocked gold wedding bands superimposed over a red heart over the legend "Traditional Marriage."

Some Democrats call the amendment repressive and unnecessary. (No shit?) Virginia already has legislation that prevents recognition of same-sex couples.

The law, passed last year, prevents the state from recognizing gay marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, and blocks any "contract or other arrangement" same-sex couples may enter into.

How the hell, and in whose world, is this constitutional?!? Anybody ever hear of freedom of contract? Freedom of association? The right to privacy? Does this cover wills, leases, powers of attorney??

Beautiful countryside in Virginia. Pity I’ll never see it again. And "no more friggin' Virginia hams" is just where it begins. Not where it ends. Join me, and BOYCOTT VIRGINIA!

So confirm the bastard. What do I care?

I still can't believe the Dems have already signaled they're going to confirm Gonzales. Have they no shame? How the Dems are giving this criminal a slide is beyond me. Torture, folks. The man is an architect of the Abu Ghraib scandal, so we make him attorney general. Orwell - or Stalin - party of one?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

From the wicked (in a good way…) pen of Michaelangelo Signorile:

“Since he's so confident labeling people based on outward characteristics, [Ken] Mehlman must understand why his being a 37-year-old "bachelor" who refuses to answer questions about his sexual orientation is a tip-off to many that he's a pathetic closet case…

“Surely Mehlman can't complain now that people are talking about his marital status and how he lives—right? Last week, the blogs were abuzz with stories about Mehlman, who refused to tell the Washington Blade when asked several weeks ago if he or others who worked in prominent positions in the campaign are gay. Reporters…have in recent days been popping the question to White House officials, now that Bush has chosen Mehlman to lead the RNC. They're apparently being told off the record by the White House that Mehlman is straight, and thus the reporters aren't running with anything. …

“Of course, if the White House or the RNC went on record saying Mehlman is straight, it would invite the media to study the issue further and report facts they may find to the contrary. By not saying anything, the White House keeps the topic off-limits entirely. The scared-shitless press corp wouldn't dare go there and thus be accused of invading Mehlman's privacy. And that still invites the question: What is the White House hiding, and why don't reporters see it as relevant to discuss in a year in which the Republicans gay-bashed their way to victory? “

Signorile goes on to explore the lightly bubbling panic at the RNC and republican circles about not only Mehlman, but others, like Dan Gurley, who oversaw vile, anti-gay mailings on behalf of the RNC during the election, and who was discovered recently to have been running online personal ads seeking multiple partner, bare-back sex with other men. Kid you not. This was reported on Blogactive.com, and Rawstory.com, which also reported that Republican Congressman David Dreier, a Bush campaign operative, had been involved in a relationship with his male chief of staff, with whom he shared a residence. No hypocrisy in the ranks, we’re sure.

The list goes on, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It puts me in mind of Dave Chappelle’s brilliant routine in which he plays a blind black man, who is a white supremacist who doesn’t know he’s black, and his friends don’t have the heart to tell him. Somebody tell these homos they’re gay, and they should take off the sheet and the hood and start walking the walk!!
My two cents worth. Nothing more.

Budgets in the news...

I took a little holiday break, but recent events got me out of my chair...

Check it out...

US tsunami disaster relief: $35 million. (source NYT)

Bush inauguration party: $40 million. (source NYT via Free Republic)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen...




George Orwell, 1984

I just haven’t been motivated enough to muster up a post lately, and you’ll have to forgive me for either being too numb to it all as a result of the constant assault of Orwellian bullshit passing for government policy lately, or just plain holiday horse-hockey fatigue.

Finally, I am moved to tears of frustration after the following two items, which I’m positive are just recently discovered lost chapters from George Orwell’s classic vision of the future, 1984. I’ll begin with SDI today, and perhaps later, or tomorrow, we’ll cover the president’s rosy opinion of Rumsfeld…

Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Test “Inconclusive”

This cold-war era boondoggle designed to provide fat-cat defense contractors with a two or three decade development and deployment hootenanny to set up a system that will defend against Soviet ICBMs. Or Chinese ICBMs. Or ICBMs from any country loony enough to launch one from its own soil. As long as that soil is far enough away to require a high trajectory and at least 20 minutes or so of flight time required to detect, verify and lock on to the target.

Of course, to build such a thing that would actually work, everyone knows, but not all who stand to make a gazillion bucks off of it will admit, is undeniably impossible. Tests conducted as recently as last week, designed to give the proponents in the administration and the Pentagon a touchstone to point to when trying to shove it through the Congressional appropriations guys, either completely missed, or failed to detect their targets and fire altogether. The tests were called “inconclusive.” Mmmm-hmmmm.

I don’t know about you, but my conclusions were pretty easy to get to. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it actually worked as it is intended to work…

It won't defend against a cheap, makeshift, short range missile launched from a cargo ship sitting 50 miles off New York. Or Florida. Or California. Or... Well, you get the point. We have so many populated areas sitting on so many miles of coastline that an adversary could choose one of the less obvious targets, such as Charleston or Boca Raton, and still kill tens of thousands.

That's how terrorism works, by the way. Don't try to kill everyone. Just kill as many as it takes to send the nation into a spasm of panic and fear. Judging by our response to the 9/11 attacks, it doesn't take much.

Want to run down some of the other things against which SDI is useless? A dirty bomb. A suitcase bomb. A cargo container bomb. A FedEx bomb. Anthrax. (Remember Anthrax? The administration doesn't, judging by the progress of the investigation into the anthrax attacks.) Poisoning water supplies. Stinger missiles. Suicide truck bombers like Tim McVeigh. The list goes on.

Yep. Eighty billion would be better spent reinforcing security in areas where an attack is more likely. That is, if you actually believe the tab for this foolishness will only be $80 billion. And if you do... maybe you thought the animalted film version of Animal Farm was a documentary?

Friday, December 10, 2004

MoveOn gettin' mouthy...

I am still SO loving the reliably brash and rowdy MoveOn.org. Like many of you, I received the email from Eli Pariser, head of MoveOn’s PAC. He summed up what many of us out here in the grass, where the “grass roots” actually are, have been feeling.

“For years, the party has been led by elite Washington insiders who are closer to corporate lobbyists than they are to the Democratic base. But we can't afford four more years of leadership by a consulting class of professional election losers."

The strongly worded, in your face, clearly kind-of-pissed-off message pointed out that the party coddled the same corporate donors that fund Republicans to bring in money at the expense of vision and integrity.

He rants on…

"In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive. Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back.."

Pariser urged MoveOn supporters to help support a DNC chair with a bold vision to represent Democrats outside Washington. Democrats will vote at their February meeting in Washington on a successor to McAuliffe. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s code for “Howard Dean.”

DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera responded with more mush-mouthed praise for Terry McAuliffe, and proceeded to take credit for the cyber-driven grass roots fundraising success this year, which can only be credited to Howard Dean and MoveOn’s early efforts which kicked it into gear. What a putz.

And frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing about Terry McAuliffee working so hard these past years for his $1 annual salary. Looking back, that’s about what it’s been worth. Look at all the money he raised. And it’s gone, and we have shit to show for it. I feel like I’m some rube who got duped into going on a casino weekend with the local bingo club, and blew the entire Christmas Club account at the craps table, and didn’t even have enough left over for a “Horseshoe Casino” T-shirt. What good is fundraising if the funds go in the crapper???

Thank you, Mr. Pariser, for your big mouth. We who are about to start throwing our weight around, too… salute you.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Donning our Gay Apparel...

Has the Human Rights Campaign finally begun to get it? Take it from someone who’s lived as an openly gay person in a rural area of a red state for many years… you don’t gain acceptance by demanding something straight people don’t understand in the first place. You win acceptance by showing them there’s nothing to be afraid of from someone who is essentially just like them, a person with a family who’s trying to make his way in the world, playing by the rules, especially the Golden Rule.

Excerpted from a New York Times piece about the Human Rights Campaign (the largest gay rights advocacy organization in the country) national meet-up in Vegas recently…

"The feeling this weekend in Las Vegas was that we had to get beyond the political and return to the personal," said Michael Berman, a Democratic lobbyist and consultant who was elected the first non-gay co-chairman of the Human Rights Campaign's board last week. "We need to reintroduce ourselves to America with the stories of our lives."

Steven Fisher, the campaign's communications director, said the group's emphasis in coming months would be on communicating the struggles of gays in their families, workplaces, churches and synagogues. The story of gay men and lesbians in the United States is often told through the prism of sensationalism and stigma, Mr. Fisher said.

"When you put a face to our issues, that's when we get support," he said. "We're not going to win at the ballot box until we start winning at the water cooler and in the church pews."

I wish I’d said that.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

And just when you thought it was going to be a slow day/week for news…

Senator/Doctor Bill Frist appeared on national television Sunday with his head up his ass (again), which apparently happened when he fell out of the stupid tree, and hit every limb on the way down…

Turns out that federally-funded abstinence programs are spreading misinformation to the nation's youth -- and sucking up $170 million in tax dollars to boot, telling the nation’s children that AIDS can be spread through tears and sweat.

Considering the fact that the Centers for Disease Control have long emphasized that HIV has never been transmitted this way, you might have thought Dr. Frist, who likes to be thought of as some kind of world AIDS funding hero in the Senate, would take the opportunity to set the record straight. You’d be wrong.

"STEPHANOPOULOS: Now you're a doctor. Do you believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

FRIST: I don't know. I can tell you --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don’t know?

FRIST: I can tell you things like, like --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Wait. Let me stop you there. You don't know that, you believe that tears and sweat might be able to transmit AIDS?

FRIST: Yeah, no, I can tell you that HIV is not very transmissible as an element, like compared to smallpox, compared to the flu, it's not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...Let me just clear this up though, do you or do you not believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?

FRIST: It would be very hard...for tears and sweat to -- I mean, you can get virus in tears and sweat. But in terms of the degree of infecting somebody, it would be very hard."

Frist not surprisingly put politics ahead of his own medical knowledge and responsibility as a physician, unless, of course, he really doesn’t know any better, which is alarmingly possible.

Now seems like a good time, as Bernice Clifton would say, to pull your coat up over your head.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I hate to say I told you so...

I’ve been saying from the git-go to anyone who would listen that this “they hate us for our freedom” bullshit the president has been projectile-vomiting at us since 9/11/02 is just that. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They could give a shit about our freedom. They hate us for our policies, namely our blind, stubborn, unquestioning support of every time Israel farts, and our military bases in Saudi Arabia. That’s about it.

A just-released report of the Defence Science Board Taskforce on Strategic Communication - the product of a Pentagon advisory panel - delivered in September, confirms this opinion. Its 102 pages were not made public in the presidential campaign, but, barely noticed by the US press, silently slipped on to a Pentagon website on Thanksgiving eve.

Sidney Blumenthal writes about this report in The Guardian, a British periodical:

“The taskforce of military, diplomatic, academic and business experts, assigned to develop strategy for communications in the "global war on terrorism", had unfettered access, denied to journalists, to the inner workings of the national security apparatus. There was no intent to contribute to public debate, much less political controversy; the report was for internal consumption only.

“…What emerges is an indictment of an expanding and unmitigated disaster based on stubborn ignorance of the world and failed concepts that bear little relation to empirical reality, except insofar as they confirm and incite gathering hatred among Muslims.

“The Bush administration, according to the defence science board, has misconceived a war on terrorism in the image of the cold war. However, the struggle is not the west versus Islam; while we blindly call this a ‘war on terrorism’, Muslims ‘ … see a history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration’ against ‘apostate’ Arab regimes allied with the US - an agenda hidden within the official rubric of a 'war on terrorism'".

“… So the US projects Iraqis and other Arabs as people to be liberated, like those ‘oppressed by Soviet rule’. And the US accepts authoritarian Arab regimes as allies against the ‘radical fighters’. All this is nothing less than a gigantic ‘strategic mistake’.

“‘There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-US groundswell among Muslim societies - except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the US so determinedly promotes and defends. … Muslims do not 'hate our freedom', but rather they hate our policies.’ As a result, jihadists have been able to transform themselves from marginal figures in the Muslim world into defenders against invasion, with a following of millions.

“‘Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim … is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none - the United States is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims ... Inevitably, therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the 'loud and clear' channel: the enemy.’

“Almost three months ago, the board delivered its report to the White House, [b]ut…it has received no word back. The report has been ignored by those to whom its recommendations are directed.

“For the Bush administration, expert analysis is extraneous, as it is making clear to national security professionals in its partisan scapegoating of the CIA. Experts can only be expert in telling the White House what it wants to hear. Expertise is valued not for the evidence it offers for correction, but for propaganda and validation. But no one, not in the White House, Congress or the dwindling coalition of the willing, can claim the catastrophe has not been foretold by the best and most objective minds commissioned by the Pentagon - perhaps for the last time.”

Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton, is Washington bureau chief of www.salon.com

Excerpted from © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004.

Your Two Cents Worth...

Think you don't have time to do anything about anything? Post to a weblog, write a letter to the editor, interrupt a fag joke? Sure you do.

I do my reading in my underwear, early in the morning, with coffee. I don't play cards or video pinball on my computer at work. I spend 12 minutes of my lunch hour eating lunch at my desk. I spend 20 minutes or so when inspiration strikes me writing this blog.

Sure you have time. Do something.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Color of Irony...

The president slips off to Canada so he can snub the Canadian Parliament, and while his back is turned, Tom Ridge says, ‘fuck this shit, I’m so outta here, sucka.” Too bad he can’t take the ridiculous to the point of being insulting “terror alert color scale” with him. His legacy? Can you say ‘duck tape, plastic and bottled water?’

And now for some irony… reported by the New York Times:

Universities are allowed to bar military recruiters from their campuses without risking the loss of federal money, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, found that educational institutions have a First Amendment right to keep military recruiters off their campuses to protest the Defense Department policy of excluding gays from military service.

The 2-to-1 decision relied in large part on a decision in 2000 by the United States Supreme Court to allow the Boy Scouts to exclude gay scoutmasters. Just as the Scouts have a First Amendment right to bar gays, the appeals court said, schools may prohibit groups that they consider discriminatory.

Can’t you just hear Thomas and Scalia screaming bloody murder.

Important to remember, however, they can ban recruiters at the university level, but not in high schools, because it's MANDATED in the No Child Left Behind Act: two visits a year per service, as well as a list with every student's name, address, and phone number.

THAT should be the main explanation for Desperate Housewives…

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Anderson Cooper's Freudian Slip...

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, ever the social gadfly these days, was stinking up the Anderson Cooper set last night, dribbling hate and Jabba juice out the corners of his mouth, when, lo and behold, Anderson developed an interesting pronoun orientation…

COOPER: But there are a lot of gay families out there, Reverend Falwell, there are a lot of gay families out there. I think there are like a million kids being raised by gay parents who say that if you want to protect families, you know, civil unions will give inheritance rights, will give Social Security, survivor benefits rights to...

FALWELL: Anderson, that's all a red herring. If you want to leave something to your cat, you can do that in your will...

COOPER: It's not a red herring. That's simply not true. It's not true. You know we pay taxes.

“We?” Anderson… we’re big fans. Welcome out.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Gay Republicans and Desperate Housewives…

Ever since 22 percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about "moral values," the Baptist ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this non-mandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies, seizing on a single over-hyped poll result, to exaggerate their clout, hoping to grab power over the culture. So now we have to listen to Jerry Falwell on Meet the Press???

The alarmingly bloated Falwell, looking like Jabba the Christian, couldn’t resist jumping on Russert during the following exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: On "Desperate Housewives," Newsweek says that the creator of "Desperate Housewives" is a conservative, gay Republican.

DR. FALWELL: Well, the fact that he's a gay Republican means he should join the Democratic Party.

Hear that, Ken Mehlman? Hear that, Matt Drudge? Hear that, Andrew Sullivan, and every other gay Republican out there? Notice there's no flexibility here. No willingness to accept or even consider other views. No room for discussion, acceptance or understanding. If you're gay - or likely even someone who believes in gay rights - there is simply no room for you at this Republican table.

Moderate Republicans (hard to believe there are any left) need to either take their party back or come to our side.

The mainstream press, itself in love with the "moral values" story line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).

Why are the Democrats not pointing this out? Are they so terrified that a Racist Radical Cleric like Dobson or Falwell will call them "unchristian" that they can't even point out facts? Let's be clear about this. In 1996, when 40 percent of Americans based their votes on "moral values," they re-elected Bill Clinton. Now that the number of Americans who base their votes on "moral values" has been cut almost in half, they selected George Bush. And this gives the Racist Radical Clerics the ability to force their "religion" down everyone's throats?

And where's the discussion over what "moral values" means to different people? I've never thought that lining your own pocket at the public's expense, lying America into a war, or stirring up hate against minority groups were American values.

Oh, and Frank Rich notes one very telling statistic: "Desperate Housewives is hardly a blue-state phenomenon. A hit everywhere, it is even a bigger hit in Oklahoma City than it is in Los Angeles, bigger in Kansas City than it is in New York."

*(Editorial cartoon © Bill Mitchell, CNN.com)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Barn Door’s Open…!

<Thanks to The Rude Pundit, we are made aware of the following…

A picture snapped of our President, crown prince of the last super-power on earth, a new presidential yacht in the offing, will of the people at his back, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, standing among Prime Ministers and Presidents, swaggering down the front steps like he just got finished dipping raisin jack out of the toilet with his bare hands, apparently … wait for it… with his FLY OPEN! Lookin’ like he just pissed against the side of the building. Yep. It’s all there in the photo. Yee-Haw!

More evidence that this country, at large, is just stupid: New polls out illustrate the point.

The latest New York Times/CBS poll says that the majority, 56% of those polled, are "optimistic" about the next four years under Bush; what is meant, exactly, by “optimistic” is unclear. It either means we might live through it, or it could mean Bush and his cronies won’t really fuck us over completely.

The remainder of the poll demonstrates why the majority of those polled have to be slobbering idiots. 48% believe that Bush's next four years will "divide Americans" 54% believe the economy is headed in the "wrong direction," and 52% are "uneasy" with Bush's ability to make the "right economic decisions." 48% don't believe we were right to go into Iraq, 51% are uneasy with Bush's ability to "deal wisely with international crises," 51% don't believe Iraq is even a minor part of the "war on terror," 67% believe that reducing the deficit is more important than cutting taxes, 66% believe that corporations have too much influence on the Bush administration, and on and on and on. But still, most of them are “optimistic.” You tell me what it means…

Personally, I wouldn’t trust the man to sit the right way on a toilet seat. I am, however, optimistic that we’ve seen his underwear at a national summit for the last time. This team is just too good to let that happen again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Deja vu, all over again...?

Dateline: Vienna – Shit’s hitting the fan between the U.S. and Iran over Iran’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (nuclear enrichment program), while France, Britain and Germany attempt to run interference between the two.

Sound familiar to anyone?

The Americans see the European proposal as too weak and want to include an "automatic trigger" which makes it clear that resuming any activities related to enrichment — a process of purifying uranium to fuel power plants or make weapons — would spark a referral to the U.N. Security Council and possibly sanctions.

Oh, so now sanctions DO work? Hmmm…

On Monday, Iran said it has kept a promise it made to the European Union by freezing its entire uranium enrichment program and the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, gave a cautious confirmation.

President Bush reacted to the announcement with mild skepticism. "It looks like there is some progress, but to determine whether or not the progress is real there must be verification. We look forward to seeing that verification," Bush said.

Why not send in Scott Ritter and a team of weapons inspectors, Mr. President? Oh, wait a second, they’d just say that the Iranians were telling the truth, to which you would respond “Like hell! They’re lying, naturally. We must defeat terror. Let the bombing begin.”

Or, he’d say they’re lying, to which you’d reply with the last two of those four sentences.

The European press was reporting as early as July that the CIA was preparing for a major campaign of stirring up trouble in Iran, and the Pentagon was planning massive air strikes on strategic targets on the ground. The war will be portrayed as a "people's revolution" like the failed Shia uprising in Iraq a decade ago, but it will of course be backed by the US military. The process will not begin until after the US election.

The London Times in July of this year quoted a "senior official" in the US government. The source was supposed to be anonymous, but he uses the familiar rhetoric of Paul Wolfowitz.

They lied about the reasons for the conquest of Iraq and Afghanistan, and now they expect us to believe them about Iran. Sadly, many people will do exactly that. To pursuade you to accept or tolerate what happens next in Iran, the mass media in this country will escalate their rhetoric and accusations against the Iranian regime as the pre-war propaganda campaign begins.

In case anyone wants perspective on this… Sandwiched directly between Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US government has already installed new regimes, Iran is the world's second largest source of oil. Iran is now surrounded on all sides, essentially with U.S. allies, or U.S. conquests, or governments installed by the U.S., or some combination thereof... If I'm nervous about that, imagine how jumpy the Iranians are getting.

Looks like Freedom’s on the March again. I’m thinking of going into the backyard bunker building business…

Monday, November 22, 2004

Urgent 9/11 Reforms Delayed...

It seems as though Bush & Dick are having a hard time controlling their congressional majority over there on the hill. The President promised during the election that the reforms recommended by the 9/11 commission would be passed, and he would sign them. All of them. Then he swept into office with a staggering 1% majority, bringing with him decisive majorities in both the house and senate, setting the stage for the legislative rape of 49% of the country.

Seems like getting a popular piece of legislation like the 9/11 reforms through congress should be a snap, but it’s not working out that way. In a defeat for President Bush, rebellious House Republicans on Saturday derailed legislation to overhaul the nation's intelligence agencies along lines recommended by the Sept. 11 commission.

"It's hard to reform. It's hard to make changes," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who sought unsuccessfully to persuade critics among the GOP rank and file to swing behind the measure.

Puh-leeze. What a load of horse shit. What’s so hard about it when you’re in the majority? Hmmmm?

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California boiled it down like this: "Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and the blame for this failure is theirs alone."

Hell yeah! I love watching the wheels come off the cart like this. They’re sniping at each other like a pack of hyenas shoulder deep in a zebra’s gut, and not one of them gives a crap about accomplishing anything for the country that doesn’t somehow benefit them or one of their fat-cat contributor clients. There’s a gonna be a reckoning, and I want a ringside seat.

Changing the subject…

On the subject of the Federal Marriage Amendment, I’d like to suggest a different tack; everybody write to your congressfolk and senators and demand that the amendment also ban divorce, infidelity, childlessness, and masturbation. If we’re going to defend marriage, let’s by-God defend it. Can you just imagine the conniption fits? Let’s see them come out in favor of divorce, infidelity, childlessness and masturbation… Pencils poised?

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Terrorism Blame Game, Redux...

It was so heartwarming to see Bush I and Dubya show up for Clinton’s library opening yesterday, wasn’t it? Barbara always has such a pleasant expression when she thinks she’s slumming, but even the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of Bill Clinton.

Not that about 51% of the country gives a crap, but just for fun, and once and for all, let's set the record straight about which administration did what in response to the threat of terrorist leaders, acts and groups.

Here is only part of the Clinton/Gore anti-terrorism record:

· Developed the nation's first anti-terrorism policy, and appointed first national coordinator of anti-terrorist efforts.
· Stopped cold the Al Qaeda millennium bombing plot.
· Tried to kill Osama bin Laden and disrupt Al Qaeda through preemptive strikes (efforts denounced by the G.O.P.).
· Brought perpetrators of first World Trade Center bombing and CIA killings to justice.
· Did not blame Bush I administration for first World Trade Center bombing. Instead, worked hard, even obsessively -- and successfully -- to stop future terrorist attacks.
· Named the Hart-Rudman commission to report on nature of terrorist threats and major steps to be taken to combat terrorism.

Here, in stark contrast, is part of the Bush/Cheney anti-terrorism record before September 11, 2001:

· Backed off Clinton administration's anti-terrorism efforts.
· Shelved Hart-Rudman report.
· Appointed new anti-terrorism task force under Dick Cheney. Group did not even meet before 9/11.
· Called for cuts in anti-terrorism efforts by the Department of Defense.
· Gave no priority to anti-terrorism efforts by Justice Department.
· Ignored warnings from Sandy Berger and Louis Freeh about the urgency of terrorist threats.
· Halted Predator drone tracking of Osama bin Laden.
· Did nothing in wake of August 6 C.I.A. report to president saying Al Qaeda attack almost certain.
· By failing to order any coordination of intelligence data, missed opportunity to stop the 9/11 plot as Clinton-Gore had stopped the millennium plot.
· Blamed Clinton-Gore for 9/11.

And here's the Bush/Cheney anti-terrorism record after September 11, 2001:

· Prevented a bipartisan investigation of the circumstances and intelligence failures around 9/11
· Later, when pressed into allowing an investigatory commission, the "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks", Bush appointed an alleged war criminal (Kissinger) to head it up.
· When Kissinger quit amid a storm of conflict of interest allegations, 15 months after 9/11, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks had no office, desks or even a telephone number.
· Bush/Cheney then neglected to fund the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks.
· Bush/Cheney bombed and invaded Afghanistan, and then installed an ex-employee of Unocal to govern the country, assuring that Unocal will get their long sought trans-Afgahnistan pipeline, and also assuring that the US will be even more hated in the region.
· Bush/Cheney bombed and invaded Iraq, assuring thousands of new terrorist recruits from all over the Middle East would sign up to attack the United States.
· Bush was forced by Congress, in March of 2003, to add a paltry $9 million in funding to his war budget for the commission (for comparison, the Starr/Clinton investigation cost $33.5 million and it's focus was a real estate deal gone wrong).
· Bush/Cheney pushed for additional tax reductions for the super-wealthy, unprecedented during war time, thus ensuring less funding would be available for terrorist prevention.

Like I said, not that around 51% of the country gives a shit. I know I've said it before, but this country is clearly stuck with a President who is a clear reflection of most of it's people: incurious, self-important, self-indulgent, egomaniacal, smug, vindictive, and paranoid. Let's hope the recent "purge" at the CIA isn't another bullet to add to the list of failures with real consequences above, but I fear, it will be.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Kinda Sleazzy Rice…

I can’t take credit for that one, but it was too good to pass up.

Up until this week, Condoleezza Rice’s job as National Security Advisor could be described as being the President’s walking, talking pooper scooper, running along behind him picking his messes and trying to make them smell good. She seemed up to that job, kind of.

She was originally brought in to try and help the candidate bone up on the world outside of Texas, assuming she could convince him there was one, and she almost made him sound a little less like a shaved ape. Her excellent tutoring paid tremendous dividends in shining moments like Bush's 1999 interview with a Boston TV reporter, in which he was unable to name the president of Pakistan while praising the military coup which created the anonymous fellow's dictatorship.

They walked into the White House without actually winning the election in 2001, and Condi was promptly appointed to the pooper scooper job, and everybody stuck their thumbs up their asses and sat around watching football and belching smugly, and Condoleezza Rice was right by his side, whispering in his ear when he forgot important civics facts, like the name of the Queen of Bavaria or the number of states in the union, until September 11th happened.

Behind the scenes, Rice had her hands full trying to run a Cabinet full of maniacs, including Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, all of whom were constantly at each others' throats over possible strategies, and the question of just how fast the hostilities in Afghanistan could be expanded to Iraq.

When U.S. military action to topple Saddam Hussein became an inevitability (historians have identified the date as September 12, 2001), Rice also became one of the leading salespeople in charge of jamming the inexplicable war down the throats of reluctant Americans and the reluctant rest of the world too.

The rest of her history is history, but if her performance with the NSA is any indication, she won’t actually be engaging in any real diplomacy as America’s Secretary of State (I love it that the acronym is SOS…). Her chief job will be explaining and dissembling on behalf of the administration while trying to convince other nations of the world that we really, really are telling the truth this time, honestly, no crosses count, so please join this or that coalition, because you know I could just mash one button and blow your shit away if you don’t. And I keep the button right here in my purse, so you might as well sit your ass back down, get it?

Why wouldn’t anyone believe this paragon of intellect and virtue? Let me just provide one example out of many, many, many…

CLAIM: "It's not as if anybody believes that Saddam Hussein was without weapons of mass destruction." – National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 3/18/04

FACT: The Bush Administration's top weapons inspector David Kay "resigned his post in January, saying he did not believe banned stockpiles existed before the invasion" and has urged the Bush Administration to "come clean" about misleading America about the WMD threat. [Source: Chicago Tribune, 3/24/04; UK Guardian, 3/3/04]

I just can’t say enough about how confident I am…

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Please...try not to blame us.

A little noxious history… In 1993, when they were trying to end four decades of Democratic control of the House, in part by highlighting Democrats' ethical lapses, House Republicans adopted a rule stating that any leader facing criminal indictment must step down. They said at the time that they held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats like Dan Rostenkowski, who eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to prison.

Flash to present-day Washington… Last night, House Republicans proposed changing that rule to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders feeling indebted for his aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered a grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last night: "If they make this rules change, Republicans will confirm yet again that they simply do not care if their leaders are ethical. If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing."

But not surprising.

DeLay is a piece of shit, a loathsome reptile, and a "born-again Christian" (in the slobbering crazy sense). For those who don’t know, the congressman is a former insect exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas.

For those unfamiliar with the Houston suburb, Sugar Land is city of 25,000 in southeast Texas, with 65 churches (roughly one for every 385 people), which are filled on Sunday with Godly men who then go to Hooters up on the Southwest Freeway to get curb-crawlin’, screamin’ red-neck drunk while watching football and groping “waitresses.” DeLay is their congressman, and they love him because he believes, and has said publicly, that now that there’s an undisputed Republican majority, the work can begin to enshrine a “bible-based” government. You don’t have to believe me. It’s all been reported in the Houston Chronicle, a relatively conservative newspaper that refused to endorse either DeLay or Bush for re-election.

If by "bible-based" he means everybody goes to Hooters to watch football and get red-neck drunk with a bunch of cleaned-up hookers after church, it sounds like a pretty easy sell in Sugar Land.

Woo-hoo!!! Sheeee-yit!!! God bless Texas!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Fuck Norquist, We've Got Shit to Do!

I really, strongly feel the need to respond briefly to the vile and arrogant editorial by Grover Norquist on NPR’s Marketplace yesterday, and then move on to something important.

He says the the modern Democratic party is over, since the Democratic party is the party of government, and Republicans now control the government. The first thing they’re going to do is shut down the trial lawyers, which will cut off the major source of funding for the Democrats. Next, they’ll privatize Social Security and repeal the “death tax”, which will create more investors, and more family farm millionaires. Then they’ll target labor unions, which they envision will shut down more funding, and the huge organizing advantage the Democrats have enjoyed through their partnership with organized labor. Apprently, few lawyers and more investors, via Social Security privatization, means fewer democrats and more republicans.

That’s right, all you liberals. Your “party” is over. What a delusional asshole. The Republican party is, and always has been, the party of disinformation, propaganda and fear. If the Democratic party has dropped the ball on anything, and it surely has, the first and most glaring is its failure to educate the public about the issues in a way that resonates, and isn’t too complex. Can you imagine a Republican effort to educate the public about an issue in a way that bears any resemblance to sanity and reason? Can you say “creation science” and “global warming is a myth?”

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make before Grover the Wonder Prick distracted me.

Gay rights activists have been a prime metaphor for the failures which also plagued the democratic party at large, in my humble opinion. The rush to the altar, and the big push for civil unions and marriage initiatives in various states, coupled with some court rulings in our favor, scared the be-jezus out of even some moderate conservatives, and gave them the perfect, made-to-order opening for much of what happened in those 11 states that passed constitutional gay marriage bans on November 2nd.

What happened? Let’s break it down. Many activists warned that this pudding was half-baked, but it didn’t slow the crowd, rushing to the courthouse in San Francisco. Gavin Newsom meant well, God bless him, but that shit didn’t help us. You can’t start telling people there’s nothing to be scared of blah-blah-blah, because once you’ve already scared the shit out of them, they’re not listening, they’re acting on their fear.

An official at The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, meeting in St. Louis last week, said in an interview with NPR that the legislative agenda of the movement has, up to now, been at least 10 years ahead of the political and public education strategy, which is putting the cart before the horse. It should be exactly the opposite. Efforts to education politicians and the public about our issues should precede legislative strategies (trying to get laws passed) by at least 10 years if you want to see any kind of success, and it just ain’t happened.

The disappointing and dispiriting bitch slaps suffered by the gay and lesbian community in November can largely be explained by our failure to educate politicos and the public about who we are, and what we are about, and what the issues really mean, so people voted their fear, which, (Hello!!) sounds like the same thing that happened to the Democratic party nationwide on that same day.
Yes, the problem is fear. And the answer is education. I’m a metaphor for the problem faced by the gay community at large. Nobody who knows me, fears me. Apparently, lots of people who don’t know me, do.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Moderate Schmoderate….

It’s official. There is no longer any point in being a moderate Republican. They have officially become irrelevant.

Take Arlen Specter. Specter made the mistake of saying that anti-choice Bush judicial appointees would have a hard time being confirmed by the Senate. The wing-nuts on the right are now demanding that Specter lose his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Then Bill Frist shows up on the Sunday morning shows to snivel that whoever leads the Senate Judiciary Committee must agree to support the President’s judicial nominees. So much for checks and balances.

This is the face of the new Republican party. Welcome all ditto-heads, and please leave your brain at the door, if you had one with you when you got here, which remains in dispute.

I wonder if they’ve thought far enough into their imagined future to really consider the fall-out of this “we won, move to the back of the bus, and shut the hell up” playbook. Let the Republican majority purge all branches of the government of anyone who doesn't believe in the hateful, bigoted, narrow-minded, Baptist-taliban agenda. Then moderate Republicans, and the American people might wake up and realize the conservative vision of the "new" Republican party, and how things are going to shake out.

Give us Ralph Reed in a cabinet post. Let’s ram through a law that ties Federal money to prayer in schools, abstinence education, and the teaching of “creation science.” Let’s inscribe John 3:16 on Mt. Rushmore, right under W’s face. Why not move the swearing-in from the capitol steps over to Bob Jones University? Oh, and if we’re going to codify parts of the Bible, why not just go ahead and enact all of it. Too bad for Giuliani and Gingrich; they’ve had their last divorce, since it’ll be illegal now.

Get rid of all the so-called Republicans-In-Name-Only (RINO’s) who’ve been moderating the right wingers for years, and let it slide far enough to the right to scare the shit out of enough people so we can effect real change in 2006.