Friday, July 28, 2006
Morning Round Up (July 28th, 2006)
• Alright, so reading the WaPo article about leads me to one conclusion. We do, in fact, abuse detainees (or, at least, used to).

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees in the terrorism fight, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.


If we were talking about some random rogue troops abusing their detainees, this wouldn’t be an issue for the administration.

• Peter Beinart’s is the dumbest thing that I’ve read -- ever.

After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering. In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America's allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It's jingoism with a liberal face.

The latest example came this week when Democratic senators and House members demanded that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki either retract his criticisms of Israel or forfeit his chance to address Congress. Great idea. Maliki -- who runs a government propped up by U.S. troops -- is desperate to show Iraqis that he is not Washington's puppet. And the United States desperately needs him to succeed because, unless he gains political credibility at home, his government will have no hope of surviving on its own.


Yes, yes, I know about his book and I know that he creates these weird myths in order to prop up his thesis, but still, this doesn’t even make sense. The overall tone of the piece is that anytime Democrats take a hard stance on security, they are simply pandering to someone, somewhere. I don’t believe this for a second… really.

Also, I don’t believe that the Democrats’ demands of al-Maliki (102 nerd points for actually using jingoism in a sentence) was an overall pandering to Jews. I believe it was pandering to most American citizens… which really isn’t pandering, but doing your job. This entire country feels aligned with Israel, 110 percent (except for us random smart people), so the demands make perfect sense from a political standpoint. Besides, Democrats have always defended Israel much more than Republicans. This is nothing new.

• The WaPo got their hands on about prosecuting detainees.

Basically, it gives no safeguards to detainees (the very ones that our founding father knew we needed, in order to safeguard us from government abuse) and allows the people prosecuting them to do whatever they want, including not even allowing them to see any evidence that convicts them. So, yes, theoretically we could throw them all in jail for absolutely no reason… and no one would ever be the wiser.

Hopefully Congress isn’t dumb enough to go down this road, again.

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Midnight Round Up (July 27th, 2006)
• Another day, of Iraqis by American troops.

For more than a month after the killings, Sgt. Lemuel Lemus stuck to his story.

“Proper escalation of force was used,” he told an investigator, describing how members of his unit shot and killed three Iraqi prisoners who had lashed out at their captors and tried to escape after a raid northwest of Baghdad on May 9.

Then, on June 15, Sergeant Lemus offered a new and much darker account.

In a lengthy sworn statement, he said he had witnessed a deliberate plot by his fellow soldiers to kill the three handcuffed Iraqis and a cover-up in which one soldier cut another to bolster their story. The squad leader threatened to kill anyone who talked. Later, one guilt-stricken soldier complained of nightmares and “couldn’t stop talking” about what happened, Sergeant Lemus said.


What the hell is going on over there? I guess it makes sense that some unhinged people would be drawn to war - the whole killing while, like, stroking your nips, thing - but… this is getting ridiculous. If all these incidents turn out to be true, what is our military going to do to combat it?

• Moderate House Republicans are forcing the fringies for a vote .

There will most likely, of course, be some random poison pills added to it, for good measure -
Others suggested that the legislation could also be tied to a Republican proposal to create small-business health plans, which they say could decrease the costs of health insurance for small employers.

“It is not reasonable to increase the payroll of a small business without finding a way to decrease the expenses of small business,” said Representative Steven C. LaTourette of Ohio, another Republican behind the push for a minimum wage vote. He noted that more than 40 Democrats backed the health proposal when it was last considered, and said the Republican leadership did not intend to make the wage bill unacceptable to Democrats.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006
Ann Coulter On Hardball
Chris Matthews has devoted most of an hour of Hardball to Ann Coulter’s nasty ass. Watch the repeat on MSNBC if you have the chance, it’s some funny stuff (she actually takes questions from an audience... of people that kind of hate her).

The bitch is smart; too bad she uses her intelligence for eeeeevilllll.


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Midday Round Up (July 27th, 2006)
• According to a new , a majority of Americans (56 percent) support an Iraq timetable.

A majority of respondents, 56 percent, said they supported a timetable for a reduction in United States forces in Iraq, a question the two parties have been sparring over, with the White House and most Republicans in Congress taking the position that setting a timetable would send the wrong message. More than half of that group said they supported a withdrawal even if it meant Iraq would fall into the hands of insurgents.

Americans support the idea of putting an international peacekeeping force on the border between Israel and Lebanon to calm tensions there, the poll found, but most do not want United States troops to be a part of it.


Democrats, are you listening? Don’t be afraid to get out there and back a timetable. The right-wing spin isn’t working anymore, and we are not in the minority, as Conservatives would like the world to believe. Democrats, you represent the majority opinion in America so don’t be afraid to step up and speak for America.

• There’s an interesting article up on , detailing the way an energy company paid a scientist, who has been quite influential in confusing the country about the scientific consensus on Global Warming.


July 27, 2006 — Ever wonder why so many people still seem confused about global warming?

The answer appears to be that confusion leads to profit — especially if you're in some parts of the energy business.

One Colorado electric cooperative has openly admitted that it has paid $100,000 to a university academic who prides himself on being a global warming skeptic.

Intermountain Rural Electric Association is heavily invested in power plants that burn coal, one of the chief sources of greenhouse gasses that scientists agree is quickly pushing earth's average temperature to dangerous levels.

Scientists and consumer advocates say the co-op is trying to confuse its clients about the virtually total scientific consensus on the causes of global warming.


*Cue Conservative comments posting scientific opinion - probably from scientists who strangely (but apparently unrelated to the Global Warming debate) take money from the energy business - that Global Warming might not be real.

• Would someone like to and tell me if the worry is justified? Technomology is not.my.friend.

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Why Does The WaPo Hate America?
After Joshua Partlow’s , perhaps Conservative pundits and the Bush administration will stop painting a picture that troops are happy with this Iraq war, know what they’re fighting for, are fully behind the cause, and are, like, dancing through the fields singing motherfucking show tunes.

Some excerpts -

"It sucks. Honestly, it just feels like we're driving around waiting to get blown up. That's the most honest answer I could give you," said Spec. Tim Ivey, 28, of San Antonio, a muscular former backup fullback for Baylor University. "You lose a couple friends and it gets hard."

"No one wants to be here, you know, no one is truly enthused about what we do," said Sgt. Christopher Dugger, the squad leader. "We were excited, but then it just wears on you -- there's only so much you can take. Like me, personally, I want to fight in a war like World War II. I want to fight an enemy. And this, out here," he said, motioning around the scorched sand-and-gravel base, the rows of Humvees and barracks, toward the trash-strewn streets of Baghdad outside, "there is no enemy, it's a faceless enemy. He's out there, but he's hiding."


No one wants to be there? So, like, you aren’t all running through fields, singing the theme from The Sound Of Music, then?

"My personal opinion, I don't speak for the rest of anybody, I just speak for me personally, I think civil war is going to happen regardless," Steffey responded. "Maybe this country needs it: One side has to win. Be it Sunni, be it Shiite, one side has to win. It's apparent, these people have made it obvious they can't live in unity."


A civil war? Surely you know nothing about what’s really going on in Iraq - you know, where you’re stationed - , because there is no civil war. It’s all terrorists trying to defeat America.

"We just receive promises around here, nothing else," Adnan, 40, told Comstock. "Three years, just promises, and promises and promises."

Comstock wrote down the words: "only promises."


Well, hey, at least we liberated you and you have promises! That’s much more than you had before. Never mind that you’re now in constant danger of dieing… it’s the price you pay for promises. Sorry.

The sad thing about this, is that the still have their spin machines in full effect.

You have to read news stories every so carefully these days. They try to lie to you, but hide the truth so that later, when criticized, they can point to a single word or two and pretend they weren't lying to your face.

And somehow, to me, this paragraph sounds made up:

He kept talking. "They say we're here and we've given them freedom, but really what is that? You know, what is freedom? You've got kids here who can't go to school. You've got people here who don't have jobs anymore. You've got people here who don't have power," he said. "You know, so yeah, they've got freedom now, but when they didn't have freedom, everybody had a job.

Everybody had a job? Like the before-the-war schoolteacher who was making about a dollar a month, who was selling his furniture to stay alive? Yeah, tell me about it. No, that doesn't sound like a soldier talking, that sounds like a reporter. Maybe it's a soldier and maybe not. And of course, Baghdad took all the power in the country before the war, letting the south rot. Now power demand is way, way up, so there are blackouts, and Baghdad shares those with the rest of the country.


That’s right, folks. This WaPo article is actually making things up and using select quotes, because… apparently right-wingers know for a fact that this isn’t the prevailing troop opinion in Iraq. Because, you know, they’ve gone there and done oh so much investigating.

And, of course, right-wingers - yes, the one’s whose job it is to make everything the Bush administration does, a positive - would never selectively quote people to try and paint a picture of high troop morale in Iraq. They are always completely honest and never out with an agenda. Never.

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Lazy Ass Morning Round Up (July 27th, 2006)
The is reporting that Senior Justice Department and intelligence officials went before Congress and argued to legalize these NSA spying programs.

Senior Justice Department and intelligence officials urged Congress yesterday to approve new laws to accommodate the government's controversial warrantless eavesdropping program.

Arguing that the 1978 law governing surveillance of terrorists is out of step with current technology, the officials, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said they previously had not sought new legislation to avoid disclosing a key part of the operation. That is the ability to intercept foreign phone calls and e-mails no matter what their destination as they pass through telecommunications facilities inside the United States, said Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency.


• If the Bush administration’s new terrorist trial plan is all kosher, then why ?


Gonzales said in defense of the proposal that it was "consistent with the rule of law" and that its conditional allowance of hearsay evidence was consistent with the practice of the international tribunals governing war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

But at a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, law professor Michael P. Scharf -- who helped draft the rules for the Yugoslav tribunal -- testified that administration officials have "painted a misleading picture" on the similarities between their plan and the tribunals' procedures.

Scharf said defendants before the tribunal were entitled in all cases to be present at trial and to know who was confronting them. Only highly trained and experienced judges can rule on the admissibility of hearsay evidence, and evidence collected through inhumane treatment falling short of torture is absolutely excluded, he said.


Hopefully they will allow opinion from Graham in this matter, because I really believe he knows much more about what to do, than anyone in the Bush administration.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Maybe Stem Cell Research Will Make It, Afterall
Now that Bush has shown himself to be nothing but the Far-Right’s bitch, through his stem cell veto, it’s good to see that more normal people are allowing this important science .

As important as this research is, it’s sad to see that the only funding is coming from a few select states as America faces a .

Republicans face a hard choice. They can either show themselves to be the party of Far-Right fringe groups, or they can show themselves to be moderate. It’s a war that’s been brewing and I can’t wait to see who falls where, because honestly, I’m not sure any Republican in Congress can appear Far-Right to voters and still be elected. The country has spoken, and they don’t want these whackos running the country, anymore.

has some coverage on how the stem cell veto has “rejuvenated the Far-Right base”.

In other words, right-wing activists, who believed after the 2004 election that GOP lawmakers would finally advance a religious right-style agenda, are now "rejuvenated" despite Republicans failing to actually accomplish anything.

What is there for the far-right to be so excited about? After ignoring the Dobson crowd for the better part of two years, Republicans have recently:
* held unsuccessful votes on gay marriage, flag burning, and the estate tax;

* ignored the base's demands and passed a popular stem-cell research bill that sparked a presidential veto;

* passed a court-stripping measure in the House that almost certainly won't even come up for a vote in the Senate;

* and successfully increased fines on broadcast indecency.

That's it. Stiffer FCC penalties and a bunch of failed measures are enough to "rejuvenate" the base?

Talk about your soft bigotry of low expectations….


I’m not sure anymore can be said….

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Even When They Get It, They Don't
Exactly how much does it suck to be a Republican? Apparently, .

It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican . And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.

Not that he necessarily wants it. "Well, you know, I don't know," the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: "To be honest with you, probably not."

The candidate gave the luncheon briefing to nine reporters from newspapers, magazines and networks under the condition that he be identified only as a GOP Senate candidate. When he was pressed to go on the record, his campaign toyed with the idea but got cold feet. He was anxious enough to air his gripes but cautious enough to avoid a public brawl with the White House.


The funniest thing about this whole “yeah I know we messed up” spiel, is that this anonymous candidate is still messing up. The biggest problem with Congressional Republicans is their failure to stand up against the Executive. They are a rubberstamp Congress, and this Republican exemplifies that perfectly through his failure to actually come out and say these things with his name attached. We have a lame duck president, yet Republicans still refuse to come out and stand up to him. Why should the voters vote anyone in who can’t even stand up against the leader of their own Party as he leads them into Hell?

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Am I The Only One Who Thinks This Immigration Bill Is Dumb?
So, what exactly do you get when the entire Republican Party is facing a great November exodus from Congress? Apparently the

In an attempt to strike a pre-election Republican compromise on immigration, two conservative lawmakers will unveil a plan today that would allow most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States a chance to work here legally, but only after the government certifies that U.S. borders have been sufficiently secured, two congressional aides said.

The proposal -- sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.) and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) -- would pressure illegal immigrants to "self-deport" to their home countries within two years of the law's enactment and apply for a new kind of visa that would allow them to return to the United States quickly and work legally if a job awaits them. They would have to work here for 17 years, however, to be eligible for U.S. citizenship.


We all know how many illegal immigrant employers are going to hold jobs so that their workers - the ones that actually decide to follow the plan - can return to their home countries and wait to come back. This solves absolutely nothing and has a total air of “wow, we need a good looking immigration bill so that the voters don’t think we’re entirely inept” to it.

Besides, isn’t immigration reform so last month?

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Saturday, July 22, 2006
Site Updates
Okay, so it’s time for a few site related items - aren’t you all happy!

• I’d like to welcome our new advertiser (found in the upper left corner under the monetized heading. You should check out their stuff. I especially like the evolution category!
• Apparently my content didn’t make Google happy and I’ve been dropped from adsense. Quite frankly, they can eat a dick up, because I will never change my content. So, you now see adbrite advertisements - I have much more freedom.
• There’s been this huge made up controversy lately about liberal blogs and their content. A huge push has come from Conservative blogs (haha, they actually have the nerve to think they have the moral high ground to call others hateful!) to label the Left as, like, potty mouthed and hateful. I really have nothing to say about that, other than fuck you.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Gay Panic!!
Legislators in California and New York are .

Lawmakers in California and New York are considering bills to deter the common courtroom strategy of making a victim's sexual orientation central to a criminal defense.

Both measures would require judges to remind jurors that bias toward the victim cannot influence their deliberations.

California's bill also would instruct juries that gay panic defenses are inconsistent with state laws protecting gays, lesbians and transgenders from discrimination.


This actually seems like a fair law to me. Lawyers should be able to use whatever defense they like, but I think a judge telling the jury that “prejudice isn’t a legal reason to kill someone” is a great idea. The ability for a murderer to go free because their lawyer played on a jury’s own prejudice is sort of sickening, not to mention a danger to society.

It was prompted by the murder of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo, a transgender teenager who was beaten and strangled in 2002 after two men with whom she'd had anal sex learned she was biologically male.


I can’t believe this has to be said, but, ummm, boys have penises and girls have vaginas, so the next time you and your buddy decide to run bustos on an underage teen, you should perhaps, you know, feel around, or something.

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The Republican War: Normal Vs. Extremists
I’m not really sure what the point of is in today’s WaPo, but it briefly touches on something that I’d like to take a bit further.

Surely it was coincidence, but I couldn't help notice that in the same week Reed lost, Graham was celebrated in a front-page New York Times profile representative of his rise to national prominence. I chatted with Graham by phone on Tuesday (as it happens, before the polls had closed in Georgia) and Graham suggested that his party needs to unlearn some of the lessons supposedly taught six years ago by his state's primary.

Republicans, he said, need to move beyond mobilizing their base "because our base isn't big enough to propel us to victory 10 years from now."

Conservatives -- of which Graham is emphatically one -- should be wary of a politics based on the idea that to satisfy your own core supporters, "the other side's got to be miserable."

"I want conservatism to be seen as a good solution to people's problems and not go the way of liberals," Graham said. "Liberalism is not a title easily worn now, and that could happen to conservatism."


At this moment in history, Republicans are at a crossroads. They can either become a pawn of their far-right base, dooming them for years to come, or they can move back towards the middle, where they will find much more success.

The question is, are there enough moderate Republicans left to take control from the extremists?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006
Judge Rejects Bush Admin's Attempt To Hide Their Actions
Well, isn’t this a ?

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge rejected on Thursday a request from the head of U.S. intelligence and other government officials to dismiss a lawsuit against AT&T which alleges the firm illegally allowed the government to monitor phone conversations and e-mail communications.

AT&T asked the court in late April to dismiss the case, and two weeks later the U.S. government also asked the federal judge to dismiss it, citing its state secrets privilege.


Just when I thought the Bush administration had successfully swept all these programs back under the rug, this happens. Perhaps they will be held accountable after all, but I still seriously doubt it.


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The Republican Iraq Shift
With midterm elections coming up, it’s no surprise that .

Republicans and some conservative Democrats who have backed the president's call to stay the course are finding it increasingly difficult to square their generally optimistic rhetoric with the grim situation on the ground in Baghdad and other cities.

"This escalating trend . . . represents the greatest danger to Iraq as it threatens to erode the government's authority," Ashraf Qazi, the U.N. envoy to Baghdad, said in a statement. "The emerging phenomenon of Iraqis killing Iraqis on a daily basis is nothing less than a catastrophe."

But it is the nature of the violence that may be forcing Republicans and some Democrats to temper their public assertions about the war -- even as they insist that the administration cannot pull out without precipitating an even worse situation. Masked attackers wielding heavy machine guns have killed Shiite mothers and children in a market and hauled Sunnis off buses to be slaughtered in broad daylight. A suicide car bomber killed 53 Tuesday in Baghdad after he beckoned a crowd of day laborers to his explosives-laden minivan.


Basically, it has become impossible for Republicans to seem optimistic about the war and get reelected. The general voting population cannot be fooled by Iraq war rhetoric - they know what’s going on, and they don’t like it.

As the civil war in Iraq continues on and American citizens realize that we fucked up, I seriously doubt that the current Iraq plan - staying there and getting killed, indefinitely - will last. We will see a shift, probably a troop withdrawal (with a “this is because the situation on the ground dictates it… not because we are giving in” tag stapled to it), in the near future.

Or maybe I’m just being optimistic.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
How I Puked In My Morning Coffee
(updated below)

USA Today has published a . On the receiving end is Sam Brownback, a far right Republican who no one in the mainstream has ever heard of.

Let me set the scene for you - an Iowa church basement (obviously not your usual church basement, where you study the bible and meet with friends and family… no, this is one of those political church basements) with many members sitting around, opining about the failure of President Bush to turn the country into a theocracy. Then, Sam Brownback walks in as some sort of Christianist savior, promising that he holds all these far right views close to his heart, implying that a vote for him will save the country from the leg humping gays and the immorals who wish to use clumps of cells to save the lives of real people.

And now I vomit.

With Christianist pandering the highest I have ever seen it in Congress, I can’t believe that some people feel that politicians are not paying enough attention to their far right agenda. I understand that none of these things are actually being made into laws - come on, does anyone really expect these radical right wing things to become law? The religious right has some power, but not that much power. The mainstream acts to check both the far right and the far left.

That paragraph was muddled, but I’m still half asleep (as you can probably tell by these weird asides. Meh)

My point, far right peeps, is that your problem isn’t that people you vote in do not pay attention to your wants. They do, but your wants are so far… like, gone from the mainstream, that the rest of the country will slap them right back down. You don’t have a politician problem, you have a people problem. Your representatives are representing you, but your numbers are not as big as you think they are.

Personally, I don’t even think it’s physically possible for the country to pay anymore attention to your agenda. Besides Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon, that’s all I see every.single.day.

UPDATE1 9:00 AM: Just so people don’t think I’m unfairly picking on the right and their out of the mainstream ideas (well, actually I am… but still), let me give you an example of one of my wishes that will never happen because it’s so far out of the mainstream.

I wish I could go to the corner gas station and buy some pot, instead of having to cross every time I want to get stoned. The mainstream will never allow this to happen, but I wish it would.

And I don’t even get that many politicians lobbying for my wishes.

The best thing I can hope for is that I won't get a ticket when I get caught. Which, around here, I won't, but they will take my pot... and then I'll be out of pot and quite unhappy.

See, we don't all get our views made into laws, because, well, all of our views are not everyone else's views.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Iraq Spinning Out Of Control
With all of the warring between Israel and Lebanon, Iraq has been all but forgotten by the 24 hour news stations, which should make the Bush administration quite happy as Iraq .

An AP count showed at least 696 Iraqis were killed in sectarian or war-related violence in the first 18 days of July. That's a sharp rise over the same period last year, when an AP count showed more than 450 Iraqis were killed.

But statistics alone cannot convey the depth of the sectarian brutality.

In Kufa, police said the suicide attacker drove to a street corner where laborers congregate, hoping someone will offer them work for the day. The driver promised jobs, filled the van, and then detonated it on a bustling street.

Sunni gunmen in Mahmoudiya sprayed the crowd of mostly Shiite shoppers Monday with automatic weapons and fired rocket-propelled grenades into the melee, according to police and survivors. In the aftermath, children lay on hospital gurneys, their legs shattered, their bodies writhing in pain.

Nearly every day, police find corpses in Baghdad streets and vacant lots, victims of death squads that hunt down members of the rival sect. The bodies often show signs of horrific torture, including holes drilled into their eyes or skulls.

As a result, many Iraqis — especially those who live in Baghdad and other religiously mixed cities — are terrified. Almost everyone seems to have a relative or acquaintance who has disappeared or died violently.


Again, can someone please tell me why our troops are putting their lives on the line to save a country from itself? We have no business getting involved with this civil war. Two factions within a foreign country, warring with each other, do not pose a threat to Americans.

I wasn’t for an immediate withdrawal before, but I’m starting to gravitate towards it. This is ridiculous.

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The WaPo Culture Wars Round Up
(Updated Below -- Updated Again -- And Again)

It must be the WaPo’s day to focus on the values war, or something, because they have a couple articles up on gay marriage and abortion. Hurray!

• The article about really has no point. I think it’s just the same piece they pull up whenever there is a gay marriage vote in Congress.

To summarize, bigots are banning gay marriage in states, but there is hope because this ingrained fear of gays is starting to erode away… as all mass prejudices do.

The reason for the article is most likely that the House will be having another Federal Gay Marriage vote today, and once again, it will most likely fail. But please, don’t let your lack of previous success keep you from getting in some great Religious Right pandering time.

• The is much more interesting and has a point.

Federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" are incorrectly telling women that abortion results in an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and deep psychological trauma, a minority congressional report charged yesterday.

The report said that 20 of 23 federally funded centers contacted by staff investigators requesting information about an unintended pregnancy were told false or misleading information about the potential risks of an abortion.


Really, anyone who has been following this knows that these centers lie (Law & Order: SVU even did a show about it, for crying out loud). It is much easier to lie than to change your position on an issue, when the facts do not support you.

Care Net's Molly Ford said the centers criticized by Waxman received federal grants for abstinence-only programs they conduct, but not for pregnancy counseling. "The funds are kept entirely separate," she said.


Read: It’s okay for us to lie, because the Government isn’t funding us for the things we lie about.

Okay, this is probably true. Legally, you probably can lie all you want, seeing as tax payers aren’t footing the bill, but ethically and morally - you know, the things that supposedly drive the anti-choice crowd - this is wrong. I know the response already, “If it helps save a baby, than it’s okay to lie”. Please. Try working in the realm of reality to get your point across.

UPDATE1 7:49 AM: I should learn to browse the whole paper before writing out a post, because I completely missed .

Basically his argument for supporting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research seems to be an obvious one: even though he believes life begins at conception (whatever that means), he believes that embryos are not more important than real live people. It seems simple enough, but it appears that some people place a higher value on embryos than they do actual people like you and me. *Shrug*

This will pass and, of course, Bush will use his first veto ever on it, where it will go back to Congress and die. It’s not really Bush’s fault he’s a moron and can’t understand science. Cocaine is an interesting drug….

UPDATE2 6:38 PM: The Senate . Now, it will go to Bush to be vetoed in fine fashion. It’s nice that our President is willing to stand up to the majority of the nation and the sick, so that the far right can be happy.

The House’s gay marriage pandering amendment . Barney Frank provided his quote of the week -

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., one of just a few openly gay members of Congress, said he took the proposal personally. "I think this is motivated, frankly, by a dislike of those of us who are gay and lesbian," he said, and he objected to "people taking batting practice with my life."


UPDATE3 9:43 PM: The WaPo has published an article opining that .

Recent Gallup polls show that a majority of Americans say such research is morally acceptable and support federal funding for it. Polls found Republicans more conflicted, with just 51 percent calling embryonic stem cell research morally acceptable and only four in 10 favoring federal funding of such research.

GOP strategists say the differences that the stem cell debate exposed doesn't make life any easier for Republicans trying to maintain their grip on Congress, especially moderates in Democratic-leaning districts.

"The focus is not on the Democrats who opposed the president on stem cells, now it's on the divisions in the Republican Party," said Tony Fabrizio, a GOP pollster.


Really, all this vote did was separate the crazier Republicans (you know, the ones who would rather give an embryo the rights of a person, instead of using them to cure diseases for the living) from the rest of the semi-crazy pack. If the average voter remembers this stem cell vote come November, I think they’ll definitely show that this sort of religious pandering will not be tolerated.

If they remember.


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Site Tweeks
I've tried to ignore the revolution that is Digg and Del.icio.us, but I've given in and added it to BTL. You'll have to register in order to add any stories from here. It's simple and easy, and with the way sites like these are going, you'll end up doing it later, anyway. Really.

Next to the comments, you'll find two links. To add a story to Digg or De.Icio.Us, simply click on their respective link and add it. It's as simple as that.

Also, I realize the FOTW poll was broken and it's now fixed. If you voted before last night, your vote got lost in the switch. Feel free to vote again.

Last comments have been added to the right sidebar. I think they should look good. I use Firefox, and you wouldn't believe the weird coding differences for Firefox and IE. Things that look good in Firefox can easily look horrible in IE. I think... I think it should be fine in all browsers, but there is no guarantee.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Republicans Caught Playing Politics
Nothing illustrates how politicians will cause a controversy for political points more than the recent Republican about Democrats using flag draped coffins in ads. You all know the story - Republicans get upset for something their opponents do, even though they do it themselves (Bush 04).

The American Prospect is reporting that during a recent interview, House Majority Leader John Boehner the GOP reasoning.

From the -
Questioned by reporters on what the difference was, Boehner seemed tongue-tied. "These were American citizens killed by terrorists. That is a very different policy issue than American soldiers dying on the battlefield protecting the rights and freedoms of American people."

"How so?" a reporter asked.

"How so? You want me to describe the difference between men and women of the military out there defending the American people, and victims - victims - of terrorist activities?" Boehner asked.

"They were both killed by opponents, right? Terrorists or Islamic insurgents?" a reporter pressed.

An exasperated Boehner said: "The World Trade Center victims were victims of a terrorist act here on our shore and I think all Americans were appalled that this did in fact happen. But I think the differences, in terms of the images, are as clear as night and day."


Not that I blame him. I wouldn’t know how to spin political attacks in a positive way, either.

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Why Are We Picking Sides?
This will be my one and only post regarding the whole Middle East conflict (unless something earth shattering happens) because, quite frankly, the whole mess is crazy as ape shit. These people have been fighting since the beginning of time and will continue to do so, probably forever, and it’s not like either side is innocent.

The point of this post is that somehow Israel Vs. Lebanon has turned into Right Vs. Left, and I think it is freakin’ retarded. I understand the reasoning for the religious right to defend Israel at all cost - they don’t want to be smited by God, or something -, but I don’t understand why liberals are defending Lebanon so strongly. Honestly, I think it’s simply because the Right is so strongly defending Israel.

Somehow, there is this groupthink that if you are a Liberal you need to come out against Israel (see: ) and if you are a Conservative you need to come out and defend Israel (see: ). For people without a vested interest in seeing a winner, it should be quite simple. Israel should defend itself against terrorist attacks, but not to the point of killing innocent civilians and bombing their infrastructures.

Personally, I’m not getting into the middle of this. I’m simply going to say that Israel needs to stop killing innocent civilians and so does Hezbollah.

The way everyone seems to be picking sides is really strange.


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Democracy Alliance For The Liberal
After reading the front page WaPo article about , a liberal donor group, a few things need to be addressed.

Democracy Alliance also has left some Washington political activists concerned about what they perceive as a distinctly liberal tilt to the group's funding decisions. Some activists said they worry that the alliance's new clout may lead to groups with a more centrist ideology becoming starved for resources.


To think that Republicans came into power by only having large centrist donors is laughable. The largest part of Republicans’ success has been their courting of the far right groups that do not hesitate to spend their money on people who they think gives them a voice. These far right groups are not moderate and have views that most moderate voters find disgusting.

The only way that this would become a problem for the Democratic Party is if they become all Republican-like, and only pander to the fringe. But, in the end, that is the Democrats holding the Democrats’ fate.

"Everything we invest in should have not just short-term impact but long-term impact and sustainability," she said. The group requires nondisclosure agreements because many donors prefer anonymity, Wade added. Some donors expressed concern about being attacked on the Web or elsewhere for their political stance; others did not want to be targeted by fundraisers.


Ugh. The far right have hijacked the word liberal, created 502 strawman arguments, and painted liberals as the worst kind of people. Hiding the fact that you are liberal just gives them power. Every time something is read by a moderate, in the newspaper, about a liberal who is fearful of public reaction for their political leanings, it gives that moderate the impression that liberals are like these shadowy people who have ideas that are just too fucked for the mainstream.

Be proud to be a liberal, and take the damn word back. Seriously.

Also, secrecy about political money is never good. Democracy Alliance must realize that they are inviting a lot of criticism due to the secrecy around their money habits. The best way to fight this criticism is to be open and not at all secretive. Come on now, haven’t we learned anything?

This group has gotten some criticism already by some prominent liberals. Personally, I’m glad this group exists to further the liberal agenda into politics and hopefully fuel the Democrats’ comeback. I do have some concerns about its secrecy, but not enough to label the group as bad. That’s some serious money that the party could definitely use to combat the far right money Republicans live off of.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006
Fuckwits Of The Week (7-9-06)





Who should be this week’s Fuckwit of the Week?



in the alleged Mahmoudiya rape case. If these charges turn out to be true, these soldiers may be some of the vilest people on earth.


for their online gambling legislation that may, or may not actually do anything.


for his NSA Wiretapping legislation, which doesn’t really do anything but legalize the current illegal program.



The poll will close on Thursday at midnight, and it located at the bottom of the right sidebar.


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The Ignored Crazy Rantings Of The Right Side
has a very good post up criticizing the lack of MSM coverage of the whacko rightwing blogs.

The extremist and increasingly deranged rhetoric and tactics found in the right-wing blogosphere -- not only among obscure bloggers but promoted and disseminated by its most-read and influential bloggers -- is, indeed, "a very common disease." When it becomes commonplace to hurl accusations of treason against domestic political opponents, or when calls for imprisonment and/or hanging of journalists and political leaders become the daily fare -- all of which is true for the pro-Bush blogosphere -- those are serious developments. And they merit discussion and examination by the media.


On the days that I’m actively blogging, I have the unfortunate task of reading the big dog rightwing blog feeds. Powerline, LGF, Malkin… all of them… have at least one daily post that is so incredibly insane, you have to wonder why they have readers. They all actively call for the hanging of political opponents, they all think that liberals love terrorists, and they all feel that Bush is God, and all the negative Bush actions are not the fault of the administration, but that of some weird nationwide liberal conspiracy to bring on the demise of America. Like I said, they are ape shit crazy.

The mainstream press ignores all of these crazy rantings and pretends that they don’t exist, yet, if Markos takes a shit, someone in the MSM, somewhere, will be writing about it. The reasoning for this total lack of rightwing acknowledgement is, quite simply, fear. The MSM, which is one of the rightwing’s biggest enemies, is afraid that if they publish news about these crazy rantings, they will appear to be, in fact, the liberal oasis that Conservatives would like you to think they are. In short, rightwing whackos get a free pass because they are feared.

I’d prefer it, personally, if the MSM really didn’t pay much attention to the blogosphere. There is nothing stranger than reading a news report about a Kos flame war, because, honestly, that isn’t news. That’s simply the internet.

This strange, unholy alliance between the left blogosphere and the MSM is a bit of our own doing, myself included. It can all be traced back to the WaPo, and their genius, but quite simple idea to include Technorati links on their news articles. Because of this, bloggers… all of us… post on WaPo stories because it drives traffic to our sites. It’s a win win situation for all involved, but now, I feel like the left blogosphere has become the news, instead of reporting the news.

If the MSM feels the need to report on left blog happenings, perhaps they should seriously focus some attention on the right side, because if a Kos flame war makes good news, I can only imagine the attention that would be paid to an article about how Malkin wants NYT reporters to be hung for treason, or how Powerline thinks that liberals are terrorists.


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Terrorism - A Republican Winner
I was 18 when 9/11 happened. I woke up - hung-over and pissed off because I had to go to work and had no weed to make my hangover go away - and watched the news for all of 5 minutes. 9/11 didn’t have an effect on me because I was young, and, quite frankly, didn’t give a shit. Five-ish years later and it still doesn’t have all that much power over me. I dare you to find any self-centered Midwest teen that really did care. I certainly didn’t know any.

The has published an article - the length of which rivals Stephen King’s It, seriously - that seems to really be about 3 separate things… all of which tells us something that we already know. National security is a winner for Republicans, everything else, not so much. Basically, 9/11 images make people like Republicans more.

All of this means one thing. We can all be assured that Republicans will be hyping everything terrorist related (Zarqawi, weird Florida gangsta/terrorists, anyone?) in the countdown to midterms. I won’t go as far as others and suggest that the Bush administration will actually commit terrorist acts in order to keep their party in power - that’s simply crazy -, but we all know that there will be a fresh spin on not so important news stories that focus on terrorism.

I don’t know about you, but I just.can’t.wait.


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Saturday, July 15, 2006
Rainbow Farm
From -

As I began to interview them, it became clear that something had changed in the greasy blue-collar boonies that were central to my own identity. Plain old cannabis had transcended its middle-finger status to become an organizing principle for a real, honest-to-god movement that blurred all political and even religious lines. Thousands of people against the drug war had gathered at Rainbow Farm — Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, New Agers, Buddhists, born-agains, Militiamen, UFO enthusiasts, local mayors, police officers, people who called themselves things like The Wood Bitches and Buzz Daily and Cockroach — the vast majority of them responsible adults with children and businesses and churches. Just as the Vietnam War became a central focus for reform movements of the 1960s and '70s, from civil rights to drugs to the new left to radical feminism, the hemp festivals at Rainbow Farm had become a catch-all for discontent. The partiers there were upset about the decay of privacy and property rights and about urine testing in the factories of Elkhart. A lot of them were people with medical conditions like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis and epilepsy who felt they had to fight the pharmaceutical companies to get cannabis restored to them as medicine. They were upset that industrial hemp was illegal even though you couldn't get high off it and it was a potential solution to a raft of environmental troubles. They were against corporate globalism.

They were incensed that their government was treating them like infants. Somehow, in the nonsensical and false climate of red-vs.-blue politics, the potent symbol of all their disparate anger was weed.


A longer excerpt of the book can be read on the website.

I’ve just ordered the book. Rainbow Farm was infamous in some Michigan stoner circles - not that I’d know - and it’s interesting that a book is coming out about it.

Hurray for the War on Drugs.

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Filed Under Liar
Unlike the abortion debate, where I understand the Right’s reasoning but disagree with it, I really don’t get the objection to embryonic stem cell research. Still, it’s interesting to see that the extremist groups have no problem to gain support from their followers.

The letter to the journal focused on David A. Prentice, a scientist with the conservative Family Research Council. Prentice has been an adviser to Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) -- a leader in the charge to maintain tight restrictions on the research -- and an "expert source" often cited by opponents of embryonic stem cell research.

Prentice has repeatedly claimed that adult stem cells, which can be retrieved harmlessly from adults, have at least as much medical potential as embryonic cells. He often carries a binder filled with references to scientific papers that he says prove the value of adult stem cells as treatments for at least 65 diseases.

In the letter to Science, however, three researchers went through Prentice's footnoted documentation and concluded that most of his examples are wrong.


Even if you completely disagree with embryonic stem cell research, you should still disagree with people lying to you. After all, I’ve heard rumors that God isn’t too happy about liars, either.

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Friday, July 14, 2006
The End Of Bush Freefall?
Not quite a Bush bump, but the end of a complete .

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults conducted Monday through Wednesday found that President Bush has stopped his political freefall, with his approval rating of 36 percent basically unchanged from last month. Bush received slightly higher marks for his handling of the Iraq war and the fight against terrorism, weeks after his surprise trip to Baghdad and the killing of Iraqi terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. airstrike last month.


The most interesting thing about this poll is that it questions people on local Congressional races, not an overall feeling about Congress -

The AP-Ipsos survey asked 789 registered voters if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats were favored 51 percent to 40 percent.

Not surprisingly, 81 percent of self-described liberals said they would vote for the Democrat. Among moderates, though, 56 percent backed a Democrat in their district and almost a quarter of conservatives -- 24 percent -- said they will vote Democratic.


The moderate voters are the key, and with 56 percent backing dems, there is undoubtedly some worrying in Republicans’ minds.


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Round Up (7-14-06)
*** I know I’ve been somewhat absent the last couple days. There’s a family member that was in the hospital, but all is fine now.

• I’m not really sure what will happen with the . If anything, we should get some interesting depositions, but honestly, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on. has a lot more.
• The horrible , which would basically legalize the illegal NSA spying program, doesn’t seem to be retroactive, .

Although the ACLU accuses the Specter bill of providing a "pardon" for the President's prior criminal conduct -- and also of "expressly create(ing) a retroactive exception to criminal liability when warrantless wiretapping is done at the president’s discretion" -- it seems they are criticizing the bill's recognition of the President's inherent authority to eavesdrop going forward. There is no reference to any express provision providing for retroactive de-criminalization of past violations of FISA, which leads me to believe that it is not, in fact, in this bill, or else the ACLU would emphasize it in their opposition.

I know this is all less than clear, but between figuring out which version of the bill is the current one, and which provisions it contains, the matter itself is unclear. But it seems to me now that although there is a (weak) argument to make that this bill provides retroactive legalization, it does not do so in the explicit sense that the prior Specter bill did. Instead, it merely enables the administration to claim that Congress is now recognizing the administration's inherent authority to eavesdrop -- a point which, even if true, would not (as Hamdan and Youngstown made clear) excuse the administration's exercise of that power in the face of a Congressional statute which imposes limitations on the power.


This bill is the result of an internal struggle within Specter. On one side is Specter the Republican, and on the other is Specter the Senator, trying to uphold the Constitution. Until Specter stops worrying about being a Republican and starts doing what’s right, we’ll get these half assed bills that only address one part of the problem.

UPDATE1 3:37 PM: I wonder if the person who sent is a Coulter/Malkin spawn. You know, a really crazy Conservative who really believes the rhetoric that Malkin and Coulter spew - unlike the spewers themselves- , and thus thinks that bringing violence to the Times is the best way to, like, save the country.


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Thursday, July 13, 2006
Bad Analogies or Biblically Illiterate? Why I Don't Hang With Other Progressive Christians
There's this site, called Faith in Public Life.org, and they are trying to be something like a religious Huffington Post. They have a news section and a blog section, although their current roster of bloggers is slim to none, and they sometimes go for days without a new blog thread. Today's blog post comes from the Rev. Peter Laarman. I understand the point Laarman is trying to make; he is saying that not only does torture destroy those who are tortured, it also destroys those who do the torturing. It has a corrosive effect on the morals and morale of those, including the larger society, who utilize it. I mean, remember how they used to complain about the effect Bill Clinton's blow job might have on young Americans?

Anyway, in the course of the article, Larramn writes:
[W]e seem to have forgotten [a lesson from history], we can boast all we wish about our vaunted freedom and democracy, but in the eyes of the civilized world we wear the mark of Cain.(Emphasis added)


The mark of Cain. I will direct your attention to Gen. 4:11-15 (Revised English Bible):
"Now you [Cain] are accursed and will be banished from the very ground which has opened its mouth to receive the blood you have shed. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield you its produce. You shall be a wanderer, a fugitive on the earth." Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is heavier than I can bear; now you are driving me off the land, and I must hide myself from your presence. I shall be a wanderer, a fugitive on the earh, and I can be killed at sight by anyone. The LORD answered him, "No: if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance will be exacted from him." The LORD put a mark on Cain, so that anyone happening to meet him should not kill him.(emphasis added)

So, if I understand both the Bible and Rev. Laarman correctly, because the United States has engaged in torture we are now protected from vengeance by divine decree?

I don't get it.
The House Vs. Senate - Round 2
Wow, this really must be the week for .

The problem may be the House, which has taken a harder line and clashed repeatedly with the Senate over immigration legislation, McCain's torture ban, renewal of the USA Patriot Act and budget priorities. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called House-Senate tension "the main dynamic of Congress this year."

"The House thinks the Senate is the cowardly lion, and the Senate thinks the House is the scarecrow without a brain," he said.


This whole WaPo article leaves me wondering if anything will even get done in regards to these military tribunals. The way the House is catering to Bush, I doubt it. Right now, the Senate seems to be the side that is looking out for rights, while the House just wants… to approve anything the President does.

I don’t see either side budging - especially so close to elections.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006
House Approves Online Gambling Restrictions - Yay Pandering
Now that the House has - kind of… but not really - to online gambling, maybe we won’t have to watch anymore online gambling sponsored Ben Affleck poker games on television.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House on Tuesday approved a Republican-written bill to crack down on Internet gambling, in what critics said was an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base.

The House voted 317-93 to impose a ban on most forms of Internet gambling by making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. Internet gambling generates some $12 billion annually worldwide, half from American gamblers.


The whole article is filled with some great quotes:

"This is a scourge on our society. It causes innumerable problems," Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, one of the bill's sponsors, said on the House floor before the vote.


Oh no, not a scourge!!!

A spokesman for Leach, Greg Wierzynski, denied suggestions the move was politically-motivated. He noted Leach has been pushing Congress to take up the issue for many years.


Yes… and it just now happened - right before an election, I might add - to go up for a vote. No, nothing pandering about that at all.

I really don’t have anything to add to this story. The always eloquent - heh heh - Barney Frank sums it all up quite well -
"If people want to do something, and it doesn't hurt anybody else, we ought to mind our own business," Frank said on Monday. "This is a bill to tell adults not to do something because people in this body disapprove of what they do."


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Let Me See Your Grill
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ARLINGTON, Texas - The school district here has expanded its dress codes to include mouths — and earlobes.

Students may no longer wear mouth jewelry known as "grillz" — shiny teeth caps — or the earlobe-stretching practice known as "gauging."


The funniest thing about this is that you know the AP had a staff meeting, debating just how to spell “grillz”.

Writer 1: Well, it’s not even a word. Do we end it with a z or an s?
Writer 2: Well, Nelly spells it with a z.
Writer 1: Yeah, but that isn’t grammatically correct.
Writer 2: How do we know? The word doesn’t exist.
Writer 1: True dat.


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Lazy Ass Round Up (7-11-06)
Come on, I haven’t done one in days.
Left Behinds has an interesting post about homosexuality and its cause. It’s an interesting read and a pretty sound argument, if you ask me. I would like to take it a bit further, though.

Every time research gets published (and hijacked by the media, who often come to conclusions that the study actually doesn’t) that seems to point to a biological reason for homosexuality, people literally rejoice. For some reason, people who are for gay rights really want homosexuality to be biological, probably because they view that as something that you can’t change. From my point of view, if homosexuality is biological, the argument can easily be made that it is some type of defect… something that can be fixed, whereas if it is nurture based, you really can’t find the “norm”.

In my opinion - the whole debate is opinion, because no one actually knows -, homosexuality is a combination of biological and environmental factors. Basically, I believe that people can biologically have a better chance of being gay, but that your environment really dictates your sexuality. That’s not to say that gay people can change. Your personality… the shaping of who you are… is not something that can be changed. In fact, if it is nurture based, it may be impossible to change.

In the end, the causes of homosexuality should never even enter into the debate of gay rights. It doesn’t matter if people are born gay, or if it’s something that develops into their personality. I just wish people who support gay rights wouldn’t try to use the “you’re born with it” argument, because it doesn’t even matter. The point is that it exists, it’s not a choice (that much I can be sure of), and the country should not be restricting the rights of a minority.

• As a smoker (one that’s trying to quit… but can’t) .


• Every stoner’s favorite political blog, , has been . Go Wonkette (or that boy that pretends to be Wonkette) !!!


• Everyone I know does some sort of drugs. I’ve watched as some of my friends got hooked on the harder stuff, and thus screwed up their lives. Once you’re on something like Crack, you will do anything to get it.

I once lived in a part of Detroit that was literally crack town. Crackheads would, like, wait in the trees, waiting for someone to drop a dollar so they could scurry off and buy a bobo.

Needless to say, I know what drug epidemics can do to whole areas and people.

Meth, something that hasn’t hit in areas like Detroit, yet (I would know if Meth was around… someone would have offered it to me at some point), is seriously . People need to be aware of this. It’s not spreading as quickly as Crack did in the 80’s, so we still have time to combat this. Hopefully, more people will realize what’s going on and not brush this off as some short lived phase.

• The Bush administration has issued a memo stating that .

The Bush administration, in an apparent policy reversal sparked by a recent Supreme Court ruling, said today it will extend the guarantees of humane treatment specified by the Geneva Conventions to detainees in the war-on-terror.

In a memo released by the Pentagon this morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, citing the Supreme Court's decision, ordered all Pentagon personnel to "adhere to these standards" and to "promptly review" all policies and practices "to ensure that they comply with the standards" of the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3.


There are so many changes in the Bush administration policies over the last week, that… I feel we have finally accomplished something. Applying the Geneva Conventions to these prisoners is seriously a win for human rights.

UPDATE1 12:45 PM: LOL, oh noes!!! The !!!


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Is The "Do Nothing Congress" Getting It?
As midterm elections approach, it seems that Congress is finally - or at least putting on a good show - .

Five years after the attacks on the United States, the Bush administration faces the prospect of reworking key elements of its anti-terrorism effort in light of challenges from the courts, Congress and European allies crucial to counterterrorism operations.

The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee and other members of Congress have complained about not being briefed on classified surveillance programs and huge unprecedented databases used to monitor domestic and international phone calls, faxes, e-mails and bank transfers.


This article also contains what may be the quote of the week -

"We are not a parliament, and when we function like a parliament we're unfaithful to the process and our system of government," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who will preside over the Iraq hearing. "We hurt our country and both branches of government. If we had been more forceful . . . Abu Ghraib would have never happened."


The left side of the blogosphere has been calling this Congress the “do nothing Congress” for a long time, and it seems that with their jobs on the line, they’ve finally received the memo - definitely too late. If Congress would have been doing its job of oversight all along, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we’re in now. It’s ridiculous that it has taken horribly low poll numbers, a looming election, and a court decision to get their asses in gear.

Republicans, although they deserve most of the criticism here - you know, GOP and everything -, are not the only problem. Democrats should have spoken up a long time ago and taken a much harder stance against the President’s policies. Also, if Democrats hadn’t messed around for so many years by offering nothing but “not your plan” strategies, and had actually come out with some good, strong stances and ideas, we would be in a lot better shape.

As Congress attempts to reassert its power, I can only hope that it is not too late… and that voters will not forget about all the years that this Congress refused to do its job.

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There Will Be No Religious Left
Note: I know I was asked to post once a week, but I saw this story, part of an on-going thing, and I couldn't resist. I guess I want to establish my bona fides as it were. I'll try to keep it short, too; I tend to write rather long.

CBS News carried this story last night, and as it fits in well with a developing narrative from this discussion of Sen. Barack Obama I believe it is deserving of some attention. On Sen. Obama, I have already commented. On more general issues, however, I think something needs to be said. To put it simply, I don't think, despite the media's attention, and the sudden interest in Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo (both of whom have been around for a generation), that there is going to be a politically active, organized Christian left in this country the same way there is on the right. The question is one of priorities and philosophy (or perhaps theology?). The Christian right, for a generation now, has been actively organized, starting in the 1970's with direct-mail guru Paul Weyrich, up through the Christian Coalition, for the kind of political action you see, for example, over at The Daily Kos. That is, it is organized to elect candidates, to defeat other candidates, to build networks of activists who volunteer, go door to door, write letters to the editor, etc. Early on, the Christian right saw the Republican Party as a good vehicle for its political ambitions and its biggest donors - A. "Bunky" Hunt, the truck magnate and Adolph Coors, the brewer - were already huge benefactors of the Republican Party.

The so-called religious left, however, has totally different priorities. They want to feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the forgotten in prison, hospice care, AIDS clinics, demand racial justice, and an end to the madness in Iraq. Since the days of the Civil Rights movement and before, they have had no interest in serious organizing (one of the constant complaints against MLK, Jr.), but in acting, in doing. There is no time, indeed no desire, to organize, to raise money to support candidates, to oppose other candidates, when the needs in the world are so immense. Lobby on behalf of particular issues? You bet. Preach from the pulpit and print books and pamphlets demanding action? Absolutely. Put together a functioning organization that actively seeks to elect candidates of a particular party? Never, for the very good reason that those who are part of what the media calls the religious left honor and support the separation of church and state in this country and they see advocating partisan politics as a violation of that separation. We might wish it were otherwise, but these folks, evangelicals and Unitarians, Jews, Muslims, and Baha'i, all have different, and it seems to me, much better priorities: they don't want to Christianize the country, they just want to help the victims of a society grown increasingly hard toward the have-nots.

UPDATE: I feel like a prophet. Or perhaps a smart blogger. What follows is a small excerpt from Adele Stan:
Ever since the rise of the religious right, liberals have longed for a religious counterpart on the left. But that notion was always dubious, and the recent turmoil within the Episcopal Church should put ut to rest for good.
- - - -
Liberal values represent the essence of the world's great religions. At the root of all of the great faiths are fundamental beliefs in compassion, justice, love, and charity. We have the right - dare I say the duty? - to express ourselves as moral agents without the impramtur of ecclesiastical authority.


I'll just say, in passing, that I said it first.
Meh
I'm not a fan of IE, and I never use it when I'm on my main computer. I logged on to the site this morning using my laptop (and thus IE) and realized that the right sidebar doesn't look right when using Explorer. See why I hate IE?

I think I have it fixed. If the site design looks sort of off to you - it should have two sidebars and a main post area in the middle - please let me know and tell me what browser you're using.

UPDATE1: 10:23 AM

Technology is not my friend. I wonder if the design problems have less to do with the browser and more to do with screen size. I really don't know... but if you use something other than IE or Firefox, or have a really small screen, the layout may be a bit messed up (the right sidebar not where it belongs).
Monday, July 10, 2006
A Welcome
I would like to welcome Geoffrey Kruse-Safford as a contributor to Burn The Liberals. He is the editor of - his site’s RSS syndication can be seen on the right sidebar - and should add a great Christian perspective to the site.

Or at least act as a check to my craziness when I’m like drunk and throwing things at the blog walls.

Welcome to the site.


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Hello, my name is . . .
My name is Geoffrey and I have been invited by the owner of this site to contribute. My own blog is here and I urge, I implore, I beg you to go there once you have finished here. I have been asked to write on religious issues from a progressive perspective. I will admit that I often feel like a toad at several garden parties; as a devout Christian, I am sometimes uncomfortable around screeching libs who demand God not be mentioned lest their ears fall off. On the other hand, as someone who is so far left I walk in circles, I often feel as if others view my faith as fake, a put-on, a show. Actually, my faith and my political views are intertwined, and I cannot, and would not, separate them. I am a Christian because I am progressive, and I am progressive because I am a Christian.

Having put that right up front, I want to say something general about religious language and public discourse. In the essay, "Religion as Conversation Stopper", in his book Philosophy and Social Hope, philosopher Richard Rorty takes up the issue of using faith-language in political debate. Rorty sees no sense, for either conservatives or liberals to insist that saying, "I hold thus-and-such political opinion", is enough. He sees it, as the title of his essay suggests, as a conversation stopper, precisely because it is not so much a reason as it is a simple assertion. While his dialogue partner in this, Cornel West, is someone I admire a great deal, and whose faith commitments I cannot deny, I give the argument here to Rorty. We Christians should not expect to be exempt from criticism for our political views simply because we are Christian. We need good reasons, sound reasons, reasons accessible to anyone for the positions we take.

All this says, I think, that I will do my best to be honest about both my faith and the perspective from which I come, but I will not attempt to hide behind some rhetorical veil of religious gobbledygook that only the initiated can understand. If you disagree with me, fine. I love a good argument. Please don't disagree with me, though, because I am a Christian and that's all, though. I will never simply give "Because I believe it," as answer to any question. Hold me to that, and we'll have fun and all learn some things.


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Court Rules Jefferson Raid Was Legal
A federal judge that the FBI raid on Jefferson’s office was legal.

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson's office.

In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismissed arguments that the first-ever raid on a congressman's office violated the Constitution's protections against intials.

"Congress' capacity to function effectively is not threatened by permitting congressional offices to be searched pursuant to validly issued search warrants," said Hogan, who had approved the FBI's request to conduct the overnight search of Jefferson's office.


Congressional leaders coming out against this raid was a bad move, and I’m glad a judge has settled this. Congress is not above the law, and if a warrant is issued, there is no reason why their offices should not be able to be searched.

Hopefully this issue will be dropped and Democrats will do the right thing and come out against Jefferson. He should also do the right thing and step down until this has all been sorted out. The Democratic Party, using the “culture of corruption” political argument for midterms, cannot afford to pussy out and not pressure Jefferson.

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Christianists - America's Worst Nightmare
Reading about really cements my belief in Christianists.

Through the WaPo’s highlighting of certain cases the Alliance Defense Fund takes on and the selected quotes by its members, I get the strong impression that the ADF believes Christians possess the moral authority to dictate all US actions, even if that means the trampling of the Constitution. They hide this - probably because if our citizens realized the truth, they’d becompletely fearful of the ADF - by claiming - in true nuttery fashion - that Christians are a persecuted supermajority in America.

People with more “mainstream” thinking processes are probably wondering what I mean, because come one, Christians are a peaceful lot who want this great, moral utopia. The problem with that thinking is that I view the Christianist agenda (no rights for homosexuals, no rights to abortion, Christian branding on all things public, no stem cell research, limited free speech, weird sexual laws, strange dictation of science by an unscientific committee… you know, the Christianist agenda) to be quite immoral, according to my own moral code, as well as the spirit of freedom that the United States is based upon.

In debate, the biggest argument that Christianists use to support their rights-limiting stances, is that in America, the minority controls the will of the majority. The problem with this argument is that the majority does not have the ability to remove the rights of the minority. By defending this concept, the minority is restricting the will of the majority, but that will, the will to control the minority, is not protected in the United States. The Constitution protects certain rights, and even if the majority wished to remove certain rights from a minority, the may not, and stopping them from doing so isn’t removing their rights. They never had that right of control, in the first place.

Damn, did that even make any sense?

When the courts bitchslap these groups, telling them that their stances are wrong under US law, they cry “liberal bias”. I don’t know if they are crazy, if they really believe what they say, or if it’s all a game to gain support, but these groups will never admit that they are wrong, because in their minds, America is a Christian nation, not a free nation with a Christian population.

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