Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rediscovering an old love

Boy. Watching Chris Matthews this morning, reacting to Bush's press conference, it looks like Chris is rediscovering that special something that made in fall in love with candidate Bush in 2000. That little something that had him constantly laughing at Gore, and in awe of the cut of Bush's flight suit.

Looks likes someone is falling in love all over again. I guess, maybe, he has decided to remain faithful until his new love, McCain, can step up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

McCain was so outraged, by what his own campaign planned and did

So horrible, what his handpicked advisors and coordinators are doing with his okay.

Crooks and Liars:
Yesterday one of the big stories was when walkie-talkie Bill Cunningham voraciously attacked Barack Obama warming up a crowd for John McCain. He was so over the top that supposedly the McMaverick campaign told John about his performance and after the crowd left—McCain apologized to Obama. Cunningham was so incensed over being repudiated by McCain that he pulled the Limbaugh trick of saying he’s now supporting Hillary Clinton.


Even if McCain wasn’t familiar with his act—his camp knows it and to tell Cunningham to go all out only means one thing—the apology was a fraud. The straight talk express is being as disingenuous here as it has been with regards to his own finance law that he’s failed to comply with. And that’s really the story here. Who cares if a wingnut walkie-talkie is upset about being dissed.

And this is the trouble. With the lobbying story, the media looked passed the hypocrisy. With this it is just about McCain's condemning, not the fact his campaign picked him to do what he did do.

I am thinking this is the theme of the medias future coverage of candidate McCain. Look at the lesser issue and the positive, and ignore the bigger issues and quandaries.

We will have to see.


They were expected to do their duty and to hand over the

Why bother? From The Washington Post:

After promising last year to search its computers for tens of thousands of e-mails sent by White House officials, the Republican National Committee has informed a House committee that it no longer plans to retrieve the communications by restoring computer backup tapes, the panel's chairman said yesterday.

The move increases the likelihood that an untold number of RNC e-mails dealing with official White House business during the first term of the Bush administration -- including many sent or received by former presidential adviser Karl Rove -- will never be recovered, said House Democrats and public records advocates.

Language Rapist

Yeah, how dare the English language change...and in a way that isn't manly to!

I love anti-feminists so much, because the jokes just write themselves.

David Gelernter from the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research has a doozy of an article up, "Feminism and the English Language." Basically, Gelernter is pissed that some words are used differently now (i.e. firefighter instead of fireman) as not to be sexist.

How can I teach my students to write decently when the English language has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Academic-Industrial Complex? Our language used to belong to all its speakers and readers and writers. But in the 1970s and '80s, arrogant ideologues began recasting English into heavy artillery to defend the borders of the New Feminist state. In consequence we have all got used to sentences where puffed-up words like "chairperson" and "humankind" strut and preen, where he-or-she's keep bashing into surrounding phrases like bumper cars and related deformities blossom like blisters; they are all markers of an epoch-making victory of propaganda over common sense.
The feminine is pissing all over his English language and he's not going to take it anymore! I love that he thinks words like 'chairperson' are "puffed up" and "strut." He might as well call the word an uppity bitch and get it over with.

Gelernter also calls feminists "language rapists" and writes that what we've done to language "skreak like fingernails on a blackboard." Which, you know, is not at all telling.

I guess is what fellows at right-wing think tanks do with their time. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go castrate some sentences before my day is through.

Pressing forward with bringing ignorance to medicine


Better women get cancer than doctors be forced to provide health care to sinners. At least, that's the sentiment of some Canadian doctors.

RH Reality Check reports that in Canada, some doctors are refusing to give unmarried women pap smears, citing religious objections. (You know, because we shouldn't be having sex to begin with.)

To look for answers, I turned to Patricia LaRue, Executive Director at Canadians for Choice, to see what she could tell me if doctors have the right to refuse ANY procedure that they see as going against their religion. She reminded me that doctors have a "conscience clause," allowing them to refuse prescriptions for birth control, abortion, and now pap smears. The conscious clause is put in place by the Canadian Medical Association so that physicians are not forced to act in any way that goes against their personal beliefs.
So a procedure many doctors press women to start having at 18 is...immoral?

Guess, this is what Christ would do...YEESCH!

Christ for Cancer

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The state of WOMAN in Afghanistan

How are things for women in Afghanistan? If you listen to the US government, things are great. Yesterday i saw the Canadian parliament on C-SPAN and they were bragging about how wonderful things were in the country, especially for women.

Someone should tell the Afghan the good news.

For a period of time, the Bush Administration promoted the war in Afghanistan as (among other things) a place where Western powers could promote better treatment for women. Visits by Laura Bush, in secure and remote bunkers far from the real world, highlighted the new Afghanistan where women were active participants in modern society. Whether there was any truth to those stories is hard to say and not even relevant considering how the forgotten country has drifted backwards in so many ways. When a country invades and occupies another country, it should be assumed that you accept responsibility for its people. The failing country has booming poppy crops, issuing death sentences for journalists and women are worse off today than even during the Taliban. We own this and it's shameful.

Grinding poverty and the escalating war is driving an increasing number of Afghan families to sell their daughters into forced marriages.

Girls as young as six are being married into a life of slavery and rape, often by multiple members of their new relatives. Banned from seeing their own parents or siblings, they are also prohibited from going to school. With little recognition of the illegality of the situation or any effective recourse, many of the victims are driven to self-immolation – burning themselves to death – or severe self-harm.

TPMtv: Mr. Clean?

The affair story was thin, thin, thin. But the lobbying shenanigans are the real deal. We look at the latest on Mr. Clean Government, John McCain, in today's episode of TPMtv ...:

Monday, February 25, 2008

With ID all you have to fear is the lies and the hyperbole.

PZ Myers:
It seems to be all over the place, with both the Discovery Institute and the various overtly (as opposed to the DI's stealthy) religious creationists. It's the one message they are all pounding out consistently.

It, of course, is the argumentum ad consequentiam, the Great Godwinization of the debate, the constant claim that Charles Darwin was the evil monster responsible for the Holocaust, all modern racism and oppression, anti-semitism, whites-only seating on buses, slavery, eugenics, abortion, man-on-pig sex, gun control, job discrimination, illegal aliens, feminism, the birth control pill, hedonism, Mexicans, atheism, hippies, and anything other than the average social mores of 1950s America, and therefore evolution is false.

Anyone with half a brain can see right through this argument: Darwin could have been a baby-raping cannibal and it wouldn't have affected the validity of his arguments one whit. That Darwin was actually a fairly conservative British gentleman who was also an abolitionist and advocate for fair treatment of all races (although, admittedly, not equality of all races) similarly doesn't affect the status of his theory, but does allow us to comfortably celebrate the man, and not just the work.



And in consideration of McCain's inability to support the troops.

Why is this acceptable?

First AP questions Obama's patriotism for not wearing cheap pins.

CNN Poll: Does Barack Obama show the proper patriotism for someone who wants to be president of the United States?

This is unforgivable. Questioning Senator Obama's patriotism? Why does CNN feel comfortable questioning Obama's patriotism? You don't see CNN questioning John McCain's patriotism, even though he let our troops down in Iraq and Afghanistan for years while they fought with insufficient manpower and equipment and VA benefits. I doubt CNN is going to be doing a poll about whether John McCain is crazy. Or how about if George Bush is still an alcoholic? The media never dares to question the integrity, the sanity, the patriotism of Republicans. God forbid. Hell, if you're the NYT, you literally pull stories that might make voters not like Republicans as much. But if you're a Democrat, the NYT, CNN, and the AP have no such problem sliming our politicians and ourparty. Oh let's do talk to about the AP. Their reporter, Nedra Pickler, writes a piece that regurgitates all the right-wing lies about Obama lacking patriotism, and what's the title of the story?
"Conservatives say Obama lacks patriotism"

How fucking dare you? Lack patriotism? What is this, the McCarthy era? AP is now willing to write any crap, so long as it's a Republican saying it about a Democrat? AP knows damn well that Obama doesn't hate America. This isn't a he-said-she-said. It's a case where AP is genuflecting to the Republicans and regurgitating their crap in a way Pickler and her fellow reporters wouldn't dare do if the victim were Republican. Has Pickler ever written a story about John McCain being insane? Being senile? Somehow I doubt it.

CNN should be ashamed of itself (and AP and the NYT are close behind). It's high time we declared war on the media and made it clear that this year if they decide to give coverage to the Republicans' swift-boating lies, then they are going to pay a huge price.
Should we think of some poll questions about CNN? Hmm?

McCain and the troops


From tomorrow's paper:

[American troops in Afghanistan] felt eclipsed by Iraq. As Sgt. Erick Gallardo put it: “We don’t get supplies, assets. We scrounge for everything and live a lot more rugged. But we know the war is here. We got unfinished business.”
How many more stories do we need about our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq being ignored by George Bush and his buddy on the Armed Services Committee, John McCain?

Heroes don't leave our soldiers "scrounging for everything." Heroes don't let hundreds of Marines be killed and injured because no one in the government wanted to the give them the armor they begged for. Heroes don't let the VA abuse our injured troops under his watch. John McCain may have been a hero 40 years ago in Vietnam. But over the past 6 years he oversaw the wholesale abandonment of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq simply because he didn't want to embarrass George Bush by doing anything to shed light on the problem in his oversight role. When our troops needed him most, John McCain played politics. The man is no hero.
All the times that troops went without, were underarmed, under protected, went in undermanned...Where was John McCain? Playing the good soldier for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

Sure he came out against Rummy, eventually. But he was silent a long time, through a lot of deaths.

What a guy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oh? I guess were all dead in 3...2...1...

Crooks and Liars:

All the GOP has left is the fear card, and that sucker is wore slam out. Bush’s trusty Supreme Court has already seen fit to throw up a firewall for the telecoms, so why is it the Republicans are still insisting on holding up the FISA bill? It’s because the Republican Party will do anything they can to keep whatever secrets are hidden in those NSA spy rooms from ever incriminating their President, even if it does mean putting our country at more risk to do so. That’s why.

Remember that yesterday, Republicans made it clear that there will be no negotiating. So either Dems give in and award the telecoms immunity for cooperating with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, or the Republicans will strive for even better produced efforts at fear-mongering.
Yeah. If things are this dire, why no ability to compromise in any way, shape and form? Can they explain why the retroactive immunity is so pivotal? Will they ever, honestly?

My God!!! McCain is Ace Rimmer! That's it!!!

McCain can do no wrong. Sorry...McCain can do no wrong? That is what I hear out of the media and conservative, the more rabid ones now - following the NYT story.

What I see mentioned sardonically on many sites questioning McCain just must be true. Or, like Chris Matthews, too many people are in line readying to kiss ass to notice reality.

He can do wrong. He is without flaw. "Gosh, what a guy!" Chris Matthews is still dreaming of fainting into his arms.



Let's step back for a moment from this particular 'misrecollection'. Watching McCain over the last couple days particularly and in general over many years, the guy really has a problem with making blanket and obviously false denials. In fact, the obviousness is often so extreme that it can't be a matter of strategy, at least not in a very thought out sense. In this case, he makes a blanket statement and there's a written record of McCain himself contradicting his statement. You'll notice also yesterday he grandly stated that he'd never spoken with the Times about the story. Then about 30 seconds later a reporter brought up the pretty obvious point that, well ... the article discusses McCain's talk with Bill Keller. And of course McCain quickly backtracks, since clearly what he had just said was completely ridiculous.

You'll also notice, though I'm not sure anyone has really made this point that clearly, that he also claimed that he and his office hadn't tried to prevent the Times from publishing the story. Well, pulling out all the stops and having all these conversations with the Times and hiring Bob Bennett to go toe to toe with them probably counts as trying to stop the story.

Then there's this video ThinkProgress came up with yesterday where McCain tells a New Hampshire townhall meeting that he says: "Everybody says that they’re against the special interests. I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to."

It's almost too ridiculous to even try refuting. Needless to say McCain gets tons of money and always has from pretty much all the same special interests that everyone else gets money from.

There's no way of getting around the fact that McCain routinely, almost constantly, issues categorical denials that are demonstrably false. The very volume and clarity of the bogusness of so many of these statements might even be viewed as his best defense.

And then from the campaign trail, even today.

We're sort of surprised no one flagged this till now.

Turns out John McCain is such a scourge of lobbyists everywhere that his senior advisor, GOP lobbyist Charlie Black, is now conducting most of his lobbying work by phone from the Straight Talk Express.

I have to confess that this new detail has vanquished my ability to snark.
Wheeling and dealing, right off of the Straight Talk Express itself. What a guy!

And in such love is the GOP that nothing really matters now, though looking at their last prime choice that is not too hard to believe, but they are just getting too obvious.

The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, Bush’s former chief speechwriter and someone who seems to take the issue of politics and morality seriously, devoted his latest column to John McCain’s Vicki Iseman controversy. Not surprisingly, the conservative columnists defends the conservative senator against the charges first raised by the NYT.

Most of the argument is about what one would expect, but I was a little surprised to see Gerson give McCain a pass on the adultery charge, even assuming the allegations are accurate.

Even if the accusation of infidelity were true, this kind of past relationship is hardly disqualifying for high office anymore, given a series of more prurient precedents. An affair between adults is a far cry from President Bill Clinton’s exploitation of an intern, which involved not merely a failure of character but also an abuse of power.
This strikes me as wrong on a few levels. Not only is the Lewinsky-Iseman comparison flawed, but Gerson’s argument turns conservative standards on morality on their ear.
Conservatives and the MSM may want to jump on board, but Howard Dean has the best reaction and thinking on this.
Via The National Journal:

Q: This whole matter, actually though, seems in a funny way to be helping Senator McCain, because the conservatives who were so skeptical about him now are rallying around him and saying he is a victim of the liberal New York Times. Isn’t this a development that could actually wind up helping John McCain?

Dean: The conservatives are part of this culture of corruption that the Republicans have brought to Washington. Think of the Scooter Libby problem, the Alberto GonzalesDoug Feith problem. Think of all of the people in the Bush Administration that have had to leave office under a cloud — Randy Cunningham, the Republican congressman. problem, the

Well, now it looks like John McCain is part of the corruption problem in Washington…] Read on…
dday over at Digby’s place adds more:

Any Democrat going on media to talk about this story needs to follow the template of Howard Dean’s comments to the National Journal. They’re brilliant. A taste:

Dean: I have no idea whether the affair story is true or not, and I don’t care. What I do care about is John McCain — and this has been well-documented — is talking all the time about being a reformer and a maverick, and in fact, he has taken thousands of dollars from corporations, ridden on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them and get projects approved. He has tons of lobbyists on his staff. This is a guy who is very close to the lobbyist community, a guy who has been documented again and again by taking contributions and then doing favors for it. This is not a guy who is a reformer. This is a guy who has been in Washington for 25 years and wants to give us four more years of the same, and I don’t think we need that.

I broke down the interview here.

Little Johnny McCain and the Adventure with the FEC

Apparently, the mean old FEC disagrees with McCain on the rules of CAMPAIGN FINANCE. How dare they question John "Campaign Finance" McCain.

We noted this yesterday. But The Washington Post does a good job today in sizing up the situation and its possible mammoth consequences for McCain's campaign.

There are really two completely separate issues here.

First, McCain opted in to the public finance system for the primaries last year. It meant that his struggling campaign would get $5.8 million in public matching funds in March. Now that he's effectively the Republican nominee, he wants out, because the system entails a spending limit of $54 million through the end of August. He's almost spent that much already, according to the Post.

So the McCain campaign sent the Federal Election Commission a letter (pdf) earlier this month saying that he was opting out. But there's a problem. And FEC Chairman David Mason, a Republican, made it plain in his letter (pdf) yesterday: McCain can't tell the FEC that he's out of the system. He can only ask.

And the FEC, which normally has six commissioners, can't give him an answer until it has a quorum of four commissioners. It currently only has two. That's because the Senate has been deadlocked over four nominees; Democrats insist on a separate confirmation vote for vote-suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky, and Republicans insist on a single vote for all nominees.

The second issue has to do with McCain's tricky loan and whether the FEC will conclude that it locked him into the system. But for now, that's really ancillary to the first issue.

It is a serious issue. As the Post reports, "Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison."

It's really unclear as to what might happen next. McCain's lawyer says he's out of the system and that's that. It's unclear if they'll respond to Mason's letter. And it's unclear if the FEC can do anything or be forced to do anything, without the necessary quorum. It's literally an unprecedented situation.


Note: Hasen cites Mark Schmitt on a certain irony. Pretty much everyone agrees that the public financing system for the primaries is broken -- the spending limits are too low and the payouts are too late (March). As Steve Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute put it to me, the primary system in its current state is "basically only for losing candidates" -- candidates without the fundraising wherewithal to really compete.

But McCain has refused to support efforts to fix the system, so in a way, he has himself to blame for the fact that the system is so unworkable that he's possibly bent the rules to get out of it.
Mr. Honesty, Mr. Straight Talk, Mr. Clean says what to all this business?

From Reuters:

But at a campaign stop in Indiana, McCain replied with a dismissive "no" when asked if he was concerned by the FEC's letter.

"It's not a decision. It's an opinion, according to our people," he said.
See my rundown of the issue here. Essentially what McCain is saying is that since the FEC is effectively shut down, a letter from its chairman carries no weight.

It's a take that drew a sharp analogy from Republican election lawyer Jan Baran, who was quoted by The Washington Post as saying that McCain's position ""is like saying you're going to break into houses because the sheriff is out of town."

Friday, February 22, 2008

The fault is in us all, for not submitting.

PZ Myers looks at a disturbing case of attacks on women in Turkey.

What should me make of this ugly story from Turkey?

A high school senior and an elementary school student were attacked in the Mediterranean town of Mersin with strong acid spray. In two separate incidents within the same hour both girls were approached from behind by a group of young men who commented on the length of their skirts and told them it was too short. The girls were sprayed with acidic substance that burnt and melted their stockings and caused deep lacerations on the back of their legs. The girls were treated in the hospital. The police is searching for the culprits that are believed to be the same ones, in both incidents.

According to media reports, uncovered women in Mersin, who wear shorter length skirts, are in fear of similar attacks.
I understand this kind of thing is done to 'protect' the honor of women with a religious justification, but does anyone ever ask where the honor is in a group of men coming up behind young girls and scarring them with acid? Shouldn't there be some kind of deep cultural shame that their young men are being indoctrinated into growing up as bullying cowards?
This is sadly not a rare enough event. It happens all over the world where women have mistakenly thought that they had the right to choose their own outfits, and how they want to present themselves to the world. Obviously that is crazy thinking. In Iraq and Afghanistan, where we promised freedom, and particularly bragged about it for women, it is quite bad. It is quite brutal.

And there is no national defense of it. There is no cultural one. It is wrong.

McCain sets things straight...sorry he claims things and is just taken at his word.

Is it stomach flu? Food poisoning? Who knows, but it really knocks you out of it for days. That face could to.

But McCain seems to be dodging his own troubles, thanks to the disinterest and support of the media.

The story from the NYT is sketchy at best, it does point to a history of contradiction...Sorry, a further history of contradiction.

He is uncomfortably friendly with lobbyist.

Now, in politics, you can't help having lobbyist around. And with the chairing he does in commerce, it is all the more true.

Still, he has made his name...remade his name, following the Keating Five fiasco, on taking on lobbyist and pork. But he pals around in the muck, gets uncomfortably close to people who he is making decisions on, and he brings lobbyist in to help run and to advise him now.

No contradiction?

The hell...

But not to worry McCain has come out to say it is all okay. Nothing funny happen with Iseman and his lobbyist friends are cool. So the likes of Chris Matthews are mollified and want to move on.

I love that. Conservatives find the story either too old, too sordid, or too sketchy. I can't help imagining the frothing up of Joe Scarborough's or Tucker Carlson's mouth if the name attached to this story was Clinton or Obama.

Here is a TPM look at who he has around him.


But remember that the Times piece ran under the memorably lame headline, "For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk." There's a broader point there. Set aside the issue of the nature of his relationship with Iseman, and you have the undeniable conflict of McCain, the chest-beating reformer, being so undeniably close to lobbyists. That, many have pointed out, is the real story. The man who's absurdly proclaimed that "I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to" is surrounded by lobbyists.

And The Washington Post, a day after it ran its own Iseman story on page one, goes with that story on today's front page under the concise headline, "The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists."

The story involves quite a roll call:

-- "His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications."

-- "His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways."

-- "Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae."

-- "McCain recently hired Mark Buse to be his Senate chief of staff. Buse led the Commerce Committee staff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was until last fall a lobbyist for ML Strategies, representing eBay, Goldman Sachs Group, Cablevision, Tenneco and Novartis Pharmaceuticals."

-- "McCain's top fundraising official is former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), who heads a lobbying law firm called the Loeffler Group. He has counseled the Saudis as well as Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Toyota and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America."
McCain, of course, insists that he's incorruptible. During yesterday's press conference, he proclaimed “I’ve never done any favors for anybody — lobbyist or special interest group — that’s a clear, 24-year record.” Maybe he just keeps all those lobbyists around to test his fortitude.

The story is sketchy. But it points to a question of the veracity of McCain and how clean he really is.

TPM also looks at McCain's interactions with other lobbyist.

The question naturally arises whether anything is remarkable about this "champion of deregulation" responding to the desires of telecoms and media companies. Was it special attention or typical indulgence? When the Times took a look at McCain's actions as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee back in 2000, it reached the conclusion that McCain had frequently taken actions benefiting campaign contributors.

Iseman's client Paxson was a case in point. The company and its lobbyists had contributed $20,000 to McCain and flown him around on their corporate jet. And that was the obvious angle to the stories about McCain's letters to the FCC in late 1999: that Mr. Straight Talk Express and campaign finance reform was at the beck and call of special interests.

But Paxson was far from unique. The Times also reported that McCain had weighed in on behalf of Baby Bell telephone companies seeking to enter the long-distance business; two of those companies -- neither of them clients of Iseman -- had contributed a total of $167,000 to McCain.

So while The Washington Post reports that Iseman would frequently tout her access to McCain to other lobbyists, it's not clear at this point what remarkable favors that supposed access won her.

Will the media care more as summer comes? We can only hope.

But so far it is about the smear against him, and how he has made his all the more successful and greater. Way to go media.

And I love the excitement that appeared briefly over whether Obama should take public funding. Seems McCain is scared of trying to match the Obama small donation masses.

FEC reports for January were filed today. And, it's no wonder John McCain is so freaked about money for the general election. It's not about principle. He's got no fund raising capacity.

Matt Stoller has the McCain numbers. McCain's debts were more than his cash on hand. Not good for the GOP front runner. Overall, McCain raised $12.7 million in January and $48.7 million since he started his campaign. Barack Obama raised $36.7 in January alone and over $137 million since his campaign started. This month is going to break records for Obama, too.

Hasn't been much pick up in the media about McCain's paltry campaign war chest. But, it should cause them to question McCain's obsession with using public financing for the general election. The media eats it up, of course, without ever questioning McCain's motives.

Remember when the GOP used to be the party that raised the most money?
And Atrios reminds us of the old character of John McCain, not that anyone wants to dredge this up...not that either Clinton's or Obama's past will be dredged up?

Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain and Campaign Finance.

As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system. Or as a campaign finance expert who preferred to remain anonymous told me, referring to the prominent role that lobbyists have as advisers to his campaign, "This places McCain’s grandstanding on public financing in a new light. True reformers believe public financing is a way to replace the lobbyists’ influence, not a slush fund that the lobbyists use to pay off campaign debts."

Here's the back story. As of December, McCain was still enrolled in the public financing system, but had yet to actually receive any public matching funds. The Federal Election Commission had certified that the campaign would be receiving $5.8 million in public funds. But they wouldn't get that money for a couple more months. In need of even more cash beyond the $3 million loan he'd already secured from a Maryland bank (he'd taken out a life insurance policy as collateral), the McCain campaign was stuck in a bind. They needed more money, but the bank needed collateral.

The promise of those public matching funds (to the tune of more than $5 million) was the only collateral the campaign could offer. But there was a problem with that. Using that promised money as collateral would have bound McCain to the public financing system, according to FEC rules. And the McCain camp wanted to avoid that, because the system limits campaigns to spending $54 million in the primary (through August). That would mean McCain would get seriously outspent by the Democratic nominee through the summer. (McCain has separately pledged to enroll in the system for the general election; that would give him $85 million in taxpayer funds for use after the party convention through Election Day but bar other contributions.)

So here's what the McCain campaign did. They struck a deal with the bank that simultaneously allowed his campaign to secure public funds if necessary, but did not compel his campaign to stay in the public system if fundraising went well (i.e. if he won the nomination). As McCain's lawyer told the Post, "We very carefully did not do that."

He was not promising to remain in the system -- he was promising to drop out of the system, and then opt back in if things went poorly. In that event, the $5.8 million would still be waiting for him. And he'd just hang around to collect it, even if he'd gotten drubbed in New Hampshire and the following states.

You can see the agreement here. The relevant paragraph is on page two. Sizing it up, Mark Schmitt writes at Tapped:

What we know is that McCain found a way to use the public funds as an insurance policy: If he did poorly, he would use public funds to pay off his loans. If he did well, he would have the advantage of unlimited spending.

There's a reason no one's ever done anything like this. It makes a travesty of the choice inherent in voluntary public financing, between public funds and unlimited spending.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What are you saying about education?

Can someone explain to me why Republican presidential candidates are always saying completely brain dead things like this?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe in mandates. I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care and I'd like to talk just an additional minute about that. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want every American to have affordable and available education. But I'm not going to mandate that they do.

Is he planning to dismantle the public school system? It looks like we're going to have an instant replay of the memorable 2000 campaign where Junior kept saying things like "Down in Washington they're playing with social security like it's some kind of government program."

I think it's pretty clear that a majority of the American people have had enough of that.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Civil Unions


Folks have been saying this for a while. Still, rather than just asking for marriage from the beginning, I still think it's much smarter to push for civil unions, then work your way to marriage as society increasingly becomes accustomed to those civil unions (no locusts) and thus is increasingly willing to give gave couples more. It's what the religious right does all the time. They don't actually try to repeal Roe v. Wade, they slowly whittle away at it until Roe is just a shell of its former self. They gradually and incrementally approach their goal in a way that the public shrugs off and accepts because each small step doesn't seem that big a deal.

Blue Jersey blog did some great Mac vs. PC ads about this issue months ago. Check them out.


These are some witty ads that point out the ridiculous inequity of unions versuses marriage. I think it would just be better to downgrade marriage to unions and have the operate the same. Get the license, whoever you are, then if you want to marry find a priest and preacher. Then the union papers act as support in legal questions for all relations.

Evangelical creepiness

Crooks and Liars:
David Kuo is in Uganda, and he’s found that Evangelist Benny Hinn is there and actually asking poor Africans to finance his lavish lifestyle:

My only thought is that if Mr. Hinn takes so much a single Ugandan schilling from the desperately poor and sick people longing, begging, for a miracle it will make him a spiritual predator, a spiritual terrorist.
Not like he is the only evangelical heading out to poorer countries from the US. Heck, there are plenty there preying on people...even the Scientologist are situated and active screwing the populace over.



I'd say it's being generous to refer to this so-called "largest ever" recall as being half-assed. While it's good to see the USDA actually showing interest in regulation of a dodgy industry instead of the usual practice of waiting until someone gets sick or dies, ordering a "recall" and then admitting that "almost all of this product is likely to have been consumed" is not exactly impressive. How many other meat packing shops are slaughtering "downer cows" and putting the country at risk? What took so long here?

This specific shop was only discovered thanks to former workers who provided secret tapes to the Humane Society. The Bush-USDA doesn't really care what goes on, as long as the money keeps on flowing. Compassion always seems to be limited to the almighty dollar instead of consumers. You know, those 300 million people who represent 70% of the US economy. Don't they count?
This current administration has been abominable on regulation. The conservative cry is always. let business regulate itself.

Beef, Spinach, Beef, Toys, Beef...again and again. Some gets sick or dies, THEN the government reacts.

The legacy of this conservative vision. Sickness, fear, and uncertainty.

After EC again

Legislation proposed in Missouri would classify emergency contraception as an "abortion-inducing medication." Which, you know, it's not.

The bill also would protect pharmacies from lawsuits and from punishment by state regulators for refusing to sell or fill a prescription for any drug defined as triggering an abortion.

Opponents attacked the proposal as an unconstitutional restraint on reproductive freedom and an unconscionable affront to sexual assault victims. They said the bill would enshrine an inaccurate medical description in Missouri law, lead to increased numbers of abortions and leave millions of rural Missouri women without access to a safe and reliable form of birth control.
Pamela Sumners, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri said that filling prescriptions “is an essential function of your job...If you become a pharmacist, you should do your job."

And let's say it one more time: Emergency contraception is NOT abortion.

Sumners suggests contacting Representative Robert Wayne Cooper, the Health Care Policy committee chair and a doctor (so he should know better). Urge him to support sound science and women's legal right to birth control access.

For more information on the legislation, click here and here.

Trouble in the military

We have heard the stories before. Bibles handed out to soldiers sent to Afghanistan. High ranking officers talking of the coming End Times. And some of us have heard the stories of those who enlist and eagerly serve, but are made to suffer for not joining in. Being made to stand outside chapel while others are inside praying, being informed that it will impact their promotions, etc. In Colorado Springs, around and within the military apparatus there, are churches and missions and centers focused on spreading their word in the military. And they are being heard and embraced.

This is a severe the U.S. military. Not some other nation, not some other military, here, we are seeing these severe issues here. They just seem full of fear and ridiculous revulsion.

Since his last combat deployment in Iraq, Jeremy Hall has had a rough time, getting shoved and threatened by his fellow soldiers. The trouble started there when he would not pray in the mess hall.

"A senior ranking staff sergeant told me to leave and sit somewhere else because I refused to pray," Hall, a 23-year-old US army specialist, told AFP.

Later, Hall was confronted by a major for holding an authorized meeting of "atheists and freethinkers" on his base. The officer threatened to discipline him and block his re-enlistment.

"He said: 'You guys are being a problem and problems can be removed,'" Hall said. "He was yelling at us and stuff and at the very end he says, 'I really love you guys, I want you to see the light.'"


The group's founder, former Air Force lawyer Mikey Weinstein, said he has documented 6,800 testimonies by military personnel -- nearly all of them Christians -- of sometimes punitive or humiliating attempts to make them accept a fundamentalist evangelical interpretation of Christianity.


He singles out one of the major Christian groups in the military, the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF).

The group represents 15,000 US military personnel around the world, according to its director, retired Air Force general Bruce Fister.

"It is not the position of OCF to try and coerce people to believe what we believe," Fister told AFP.

OCF's aim, as stated on its website, is to achieve "a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."

It professes belief in "the eternal blessedness of the saved; and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost."

Fister emphasized the group's work to support families of soldiers deployed in the "global war on terror."

"People make mistakes. There's probably been some instances where people have wrongly spoken," he added. "We'd like them not to, but that's life."

"Our checks within our equal opportunity channels identified fewer than 100 formal complaints over a two-year period," said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.


But Weinstein argued that most personnel are "too terrified" to speak out.

"When you actually fight against them, they make your life hell," said Hall, adding he has been passed over for promotion since launching his lawsuit. "I can't get a leg up no matter what I do."

A former military chaplain of a prestigious US military college reported being prevented from leading worship after disagreeing with the fundamentalist stance of other officials.

"I am not ready to say that if someone does not profess Christ as their savior that they are going to hell ... That got a lot of people angered," the minister told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation against a spouse who is a senior officer.

"The leader of the youth group that ministered to the teens (at the academy) said that Catholics were not Christians and that Muslims hated Christians, and that created a lot of tension," the ex-chaplain added.

"As a soldier, many times you want to believe you're fighting on the right side. It's easy to kill someone if you believe that they're going to hell and that they are religiously opposed to you."
Time and again they make excuses for embracing bigotry. Can't have blacks. Can't have women. Definitely can't have homosexuals. And, all along, if you ain't on your knees praying, you aren't fit to wear the uniform. Yet when the military is forced to surrender its traditions, it has come out fine on the other side. What seems clear is that this is more an excuse to maintain the status quo, ignorance, and intolerance than it is about the best interest of the fighting forces.

In these cases it is just embarrassing to see my military cowering behind those traditions, fearful of the sight on the other side. It is sad to see the military and those claiming to support it justify rapes, beatings, murders, and suffering as an natural outcome. No. It is evidence of a flawed system.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More fun with Expelled

Ben Stein continues to trot out his film and try to build support for his ludicrious idea that scientist are a cabal denying the truth...religious truth.

He hasn't been getting good reviews.

Now they want to control what news people who see the film say...about a film trying to claims their ideas are facing censorship. We are in burning copies of Farenheit 451 territory here.

Ben Stein, Walt Ruloff, and Mark Mathis have been rattily scurrying about the country, doing press conferences and radio interviews in an attempt to boost attendance at their upcoming schlockfest, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Their schtick is to claim that academia prohibits free speech, and doesn't allow people to pursue the truth and ask questions.

There's a problem, though. In order to have a media interview, they have to let media representatives into the room. They try to deal with this problem by making them sign a non-disclosure agreement (wait…they're holding a press conference, but they don't want the press to write it up afterwards?) I'm glad to see, though, that some journalists are still willing to report on the sleazy behavior of the Expelled crew.


I have a suggestion for the Expelled PR team. Stop inviting legitimate journalists altogether — they're going to see right through your pretenses. Just invite the liars for Jesus of creationist apologetics: they don't have any objections to dishonesty and ignorance, and will write much more sympathetic reviews.


AMERICAblog: On that temper.

Republicans know they're in for trouble when the first two words of an AP profile of their candidate for president are "Temper, temper."

John McCain's temper is legendary. Now, as McCain assumes the mantle of the head of the GOP, it's becoming common knowledge.

The New York Times also examined the notorious McCain temper this weekend:

One of the trademarks of Mr. McCain’s rebel image has been his inability to cloak his emotions, especially anger. He has been prone to volcanic blowups over the years. And while he would hardly be the first president with a temper, Mr. McCain has been ever vigilant of late about resisting provocation.
Can he be vigilant til election day?

Crooks and Liars: On being specific.

When explaining his position on Iraqi reconciliation, John McCain told an audience last year, “One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit.’”

As Brendan Nyhan noted, McCain’s approach to the debate over surveillance laws is awfully similar, though less vulgar.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential hopeful, weighed in on the debate. When Mr. McCain learned that the House had voted down a 21-day extension and that the powers were likely to lapse at midnight Friday, he said: “That’s too bad. That’s very unfortunate. It’s symptomatic of the gridlock of partisanship here in the Congress.”

To break the gridlock, Mr. McCain said, “people that are patriotic Americans need to sit down together and work this out.”
Oh, is that all. Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

Remember, when McCain went after Barack Obama earlier this week, he told reporters, “I respect him and the campaign that he has run, but there’s going to come a time when we have to get into specifics.”

The irony is rich.

FISA and trust

Crooks and Liars:


President Bush and the Republicans have been doing their best to scare the pants off the American people by lying through their teeth about the current FISA legislation and the fact-challenged pundits on Fox News Sunday did their best to perpetuate those lies this morning.

The perception they’re trying to give is that if the FISA legislation isn’t passed, our intelligence community will have to shut down operations and will no longer be able to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists — which is absurd. William Kristol is dumbfounded as to why the Democrats don’t believe the president and his appointees (who cares that they have been lying to us for years?), when they say we’ll all die if this legislation isn’t passed. Luckily, Juan Williams steps in with the reality the GOP isn’t telling the public - the U.S. government can STILL do surveillance on suspected terrorists without telecom immunity.
Gosh, why won't Dems just take the president's word? I mean it is not like he has ever gone back on his word, or abused power given to negotiate to get us into a war...It's not like we have reason to doubt his sincerity...right?

Crooks and Liars goes more into how unfounded the gloom, doom, and boom of presidential claims are really.

Democratic Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed, appeared on Late Edition and did a great job of debunking the lies and spin being floated by President Bush and the GOP on FISA. As Juan Williams did earlier on Fox News Sunday, Reed makes it clear that allowing the flawed FISA legislation passed last August to lapse does not mean the U.S. can’t do surveillance on suspected terrorists.

Host Wolf Blitzer floated out the exact same argument William Kristol did on Fox, which is this notion that Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, is some sort of apolitical figure and somehow that makes him more believable. Reed shot that down, reminding Blitzer that the previous FISA laws are still in place and that U.S. intelligence can still go after suspects for several days before requesting a warrant.

Zero votes, more than zero, what's the diference?

A new look at the election results from Super Tuesday could end up giving Barack Obama a few more delegates from New York — it turns out that hundreds of voting machines in New York City initially reported zero votes for him, the New York Times reports, but those numbers are now finally coming in through a formal review.

The executive director of the city's Board of Elections said that while such counting errors often happen as a result of human error, "they're not usually that big."

Indeed, even a Hillary-supporting state Assemblyman said that a margin of 118-0 in one precinct "has to be a mistake."

Good to see the whole vote taking and counting business is being fine tuned...

Trying to be dumb

Today I gravitated towards Susan Jacoby stories both in the Times and the Post. Her new book "The Age of American Unreason" is about the anti-intellectual and anti-rational epidemics in America. Only last night we had a similar discussion with a Franco-American group over dinner. How do you move a country forward when that country is debating creationism versus evolution? We are not talking about a poor and uneducated country, but a wealthy and educated country. What still surprises me is that many of the uninterested and anti-intellectual people are educated. You don't have to be a pointy-headed intellectual to show interest in the world around us, do you?

Whether we like it (or know it) American money and influence around the world is substantial. Our decisions in Washington do have an impact yet so many care so little. It's "over there" so who cares? As a country we lack curiosity in the world around us as if it doesn't matter. USA is number 1 so who cares? How could anything possibly be any better than what we have? We tell ourselves that we are the best at everything, so it must be true. There's no country that is perfect and you find insular people everywhere but those other countries fail to have the same global influence as America. How can we be so proudly ignorant and still compete? It certainly doesn't bode well for our future economy or especially our foreign policy when we are so proud to be ignorant. As this trend continues, selling the next foreign invasion is going to even easier than Iraq.

And America is spending its capital and resources. It is trying to promote creationism, among other things, abroad. And while I return on selling democracy is so so, the creationism bit is taking roots. Perhaps we won't have to worry about the world passing us by...we'll just drag anyone who tries to pass us down with us into the muck.

Cheery thoughts.

An anthem for us.

I haven't seen or heard this in awhile, but it, sadly (?), speaks to me.

Weird Al - White & Nerdy

A little too much of it ressembles me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Pander Bear

Crooks and Liars:
The far-right Washington Times ran an item on the front page, under the headline, “McCain refuses to pander.”

  • One wonders which McCain the Washington Times is talking about. Amanda at TP noted that the Arizona senator was clearly pandering to the GOP’s conservative activists when he abandoned his previous position on waterboarding, which was only the latest in a series of recent pander-fests from the likely Republican presidential nominee.
  • Pander On Tax Cuts: In 2001, McCain was one of just two GOP senators to vote against Bush’s destructive tax cuts. Now, however, McCain makes a point of touting his support for making Bush’s tax cuts permanent.
  • Pander On Stimulus: For the past few months, McCain has been declaring that passing an economic stimulus package is at the very top of his agenda. Yet when the Senate voted earlier this month on a generous bill providing increased assistance to seniors and veterans, McCain skipped the vote. The bill fell just one vote short of passage, a victory for the far right.
  • Pander To Karl Rove: In the 2000 presidential campaign, Karl Rove launched vicious smear tactics against McCain on behalf of Bush’s campaign. Recently, however, McCain has embraced the right-wing political operative. He said that he has “always respected Karl Rove as one of the smart great political minds I think in American politics” and specifically refused to condemn Rove’s partisan smears.

Those are all excellent recent examples, but if we look back just a little bit further, Sen. McCain’s (R-Pandertown) shameless record emerges in even more detail.


Toying with us

Feministing points to the change in Texas law that now allows people to buy sex toys.

How nice of them.

The caption on a picture says it all about Texas thinking, religious thinking, and Conservative thinking.

Should buying sex toys be as easy as buying guns?

Says it all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Trouble for women

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is one screwed up, vile little backwater of a barbarous craphole. You have to read the case of Fawza Falih.

She has been condemned to death. By beheading.

She has been beaten to the point of hospitalization during her incarceration.

The authorities have a signed confession, which she has not had read to her.

She didn't read what she signed, either, because she's illiterate.

She and her representatives were not allowed to attend much of the trial.

And the crime for which she is to be executed? Witchcraft. She is accused of casting a spell that caused a man to become impotent, and threatening to cause people to be possessed by dogs.

Apparently, the spells must have worked all too well, since all the men of Saudi Arabia are now cowardly eunuchs with the souls of craven mongrels. At least, that's the only explanation I can see for their uncivilized behavior.
So she is being brutalized, being treated abominably by the courts, cops, etc...

But to just make it extra crappy and damn is because she is a witch...

SIGH...Why am I still stuck in a world built of Monty Python sketches? I mean...let us just go on to another story...

And in Kansas...that is what I said KANSAS!!!

What the heck is going on?

A Kansas Roman Catholic high school banned a female referee from officiating a boy's basketball game because as a woman, and shouldn't be put in an authority position over the boys. Yes, really.

The good thing is that Official Michelle Campbell has support behind this ridiculousness; her fellow male ref walked out with her in protest when the school told her to leave, and the Activities Association is considering banning the school itself from playing in games.

The school is operated under the Society of St. Pius X, which has the following under their "FAQs":

'Feminism refuses the true nature of woman, confuses the natural and supernatural relations between the sexes and embarks upon a deviant path at the end of which the suicide of thought and the death of womanhood is inevitable,' Father Leo Boyle answered.

On whether a wife should be submissive to her husband: 'Husbands will consequently take responsibility and leadership, even when they feel inadequate, and wives will take delight in denying their own will and obeying their husbands,' Father Peter R. Scott answered.
Hmmm...suicide of thoughts or denying of will - I vote for deviancy!
So, a school can deny women a job? (Though they are in some trouble.) Imagine if they had a policy denying a role to any Blacks, or Hispanics, or Asians, Arabs, etc. It wouldn't just be referees walking out and related associations tip toeing around. No, there would be a loud and quick reaction. Sadly misogyny is just more acceptable in society.

And, see how lucky women will feel and be in submission? Man, imagine replacing husband and wife, with Whites and [racial group], how sick you would find the line about delight in denying ones will and obeying...

How is this so different and more acceptable ? Hmm?

Some more.

It's also quite possible that her face was uncovered, that she had driven a car to the game, and that she may at some time in the past have actually played basketball in immodest clothing, against men…and she might even have won.

I'm sure that when all of the activities of this domineering Jezebel aspiring to be almost as good as a man are revealed, the upright young men of St Mary's Academy will march over and burn her.

Oh, but here's a hint for an organizations that want to exercise discriminatory policies. The local athletic organization is contemplating stripping St Mary's membership over the issue, but they have to wait on one little thing.

Gary Musselman, the association's executive director, said the organization will not make a decision until it confirms whether St. Mary's Academy has a written policy of not allowing female referees to work boys' basketball games.
Here that, administrators who want to implement racist or sexist policies? It's OK as long as you don't write them down.
Good lesson on policy. Promote bigotry by word of mouth, just like all bigoted communities do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Does Romanoff get to keep his air miles?


‘Exorcist’ Suzanne Hadwin allegedly sent her Russian spirit guide Romanoff to ‘neutralise the energy’ in a property which was said to be possessed, before carrying out an exorcism on the council house in County Durham in December.

The tenant, Sabrina Fallon, had contacted the police previously, when she heard noises coming from her loft. During a routine investigation of the property, a policeman had joked to Mrs Fallon that it might be a ghost and not an intruder, as she had first thought.

By Emma-Louise Rhodes

Shortly after this suggestion, the Fallon family decided to call upon the services of Hadwin, who promised to send her spirit guide to the property to assess the situation. Reporting back to the Fallons, the exorcist declared that there had been a murder in the house and that the ‘bad spirit’ of a dead man was the cause of the disturbance. ...

That is nice she "sends" her spirit guide. Wow, that is an easy job.

But there are BIGGER scams. She sends a spirit guide to work real estate. There are some scammers who claim to do surgery through the ether...or whatever the cons call it now.


And there are sad cases, including one where parents refused legitimate medical aid for a daughter with a brain tumor because their psychic surgeon said it was all fixed.

That is just sick!

More McCain

Well, with Romney towing the line now (And, say...What do you think? With the fate of America's future on the line if Democrats win the White House...Do you think he wants McCain to win? Or lose, so he can run in 4 years? Hmm, tough choice.) time to look some more at that hero and defender of democracy, that straight talker, John McCain.

Maverick? Moderate? Independent? Harumph!
Old habits die hard. The media has had a tough time coming to grips with the reality of John McCain 2008 — The Maverick is dead. Chris Matthews is probably the worst offender, but the media narrative that McCain is the darling of Independents has run its course and needs to be put to bed. Arianna Huffington writes the Dear John letter:

I hate to be the one to break up a love affair, especially with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but I can no longer stand idly by and watch the media and independent voters continue to throw themselves at the feet of John McCain.

The John McCain they fell in love with in 2000 — the straight-shooting, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may maverick - is no more. He’s been replaced by a born-again Bushite willing to say or do anything to win the affection of his newfound object of desire, the radical right.

So, please, stop pretending that McCain is still the dashing rebel that made knees buckle back in the day — and stop referring to him, as the New York Times did this weekend, as “moderate” and a “centrist.” Read on…

McCain stands against torture, except when he doesn't.
The Senate voted today to ban the CIA from using torture on suspected terrorists and the most famous POW in the Senate voted against the bill. The Maverick is now most assuredly dead and the betrayal is complete. The blogosphere was all over this issue, and thankfully the measure passed, but for McCain, it was a show of pure cowardice. In other words, the Senator who himself was tortured for years and has previously spoken out against it, voted to allow the use of torture on others to save his political hide and pander to a party base that despises him. Shame on you, Senator. Is this the sort of weakness you want from your Commander in Chief?

Tell me again how this no jobs, more wars, pro-torture, pro-Bush tax cuts, anti-choice, pro-surge Republican is going to draw Independents and Democrats to his side this fall? As a side note, would it surprise you that alleged Democratic caucus members Senators Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman also voted for torture today?

McCain knows all.

Speaking to reporters in Richmond, VA last night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attacked “anyone” who points out that he is “fine” with keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 100 or more years. “Anyone who worries about how long we’re in Iraq does not understand the military and does not understand war,” said McCain.

He then added that it is “really almost insulting to one’s intelligence” to question “how long we’re in Iraq” because he believes the current “strategy” is “succeeding.”

Just once, I’d like to hear McCain get confronted by this notion of the “surge succeeding”. Are we to consider the deaths of 75 people and the 83 people reported injured on Sunday alone successful? How about the threat to disband Iraqi Parliament–ostensibly the justification for the surge, to allow the government to establish itself by curtailing violence? Where’s the success, McCain?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a lot here insulting our intelligence, but it isn’t from questioning how long we should be in Iraq.
Good to know he understands war and the military for us poor dumb citizens. Isn't he so brave, strong and manly? RETCH!

And, really, let us see Blitzer or Matthews actually ask him, "How do you judge this Surge a success, especially as generally a surge recedes quickly after and not meander on...that' a flood!

We flooded troops into Iraq to try to put out the fires of insurgency. We have temporarily staved some of it off, but it remains and it ripe to grow to the old heights. How are things going to be getting better...But Old Man McCain understands these things better than use peons...

More war and rhetoric?

Why is the neocon crowd so excited about the Arizona senator? Max Boot, an unpaid foreign policy advisor to the McCain campaign, explains.

It is hard to see how Bush could reverse this decline in America’s “fear factor” during the remaining year of his presidency. That will be the job of the next president. And who would be the most up to the task?

To answer that question, ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most. I submit it is not Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the leading candidate to scare the snot out of our enemies is a certain former aviator who has been noted for his pugnacity and his unwavering support of the American war effort in Iraq.
Kevin makes quick work of Boot’s painful perspective.

There you have it. If you think the most important aspect of a president is the ability to “scare the snot out of our enemies,” then McCain’s your guy.

Now, you might think that after seven years of trying exactly this, with only the current collapse in our fortunes to show for it, the neocon establishment might at least pause for a moment to wonder if there’s more to foreign policy than scaring the snot out of our enemies. But no. The real problem, apparently, is simply that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld administration wasn’t good enough at it. Not bellicose enough. Not unilateral enough. Not warlike enough. What America needs is someone even more bloodthirsty than the crew that got us into this mess. Time to double down, folks.
This, in a nutshell, is what McCain is offering by way of a foreign policy.
More scares and ratcheting up...maybe he'll give up another rendition of Bomb Iran, maybe he'll just order more RENDITIONS.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who you gonna drive out imaginery beasties...

POCZERNIN, Poland - This wind-swept village is bracing for an invasion of demons, thanks to a priest who believes he can defeat Satan.

The Rev. Andrzej Trojanowski, a soft-spoken Pole, plans to build a "spiritual oasis" that will serve as Europe's only center dedicated to performing exorcisms. With the blessing of the local Catholic archbishop and theological support from the Vatican, the center will aid a growing number of Poles possessed by evil forces or the devil himself, he said.

"This is my task, this is my purpose -- I want to help these people," said Trojanowski, who has worked as an exorcist for four years. "There is a group of people who cannot get relief through any other practices and who need peace."

Exorcism -- the church rite of expelling evil spirits from tortured souls -- is making a comeback in Catholic regions of Europe. Last July, more than 300 practitioners gathered in the Polish city of Czestochowa for the fourth International Congress of Exorcists.

About 70 priests serve as trained exorcists in Poland, about double the number of five years ago. An estimated 300 exorcists are active in Italy. Foremost among them: the Rev. Gabriele Amorth, 82, who performs exorcisms daily in Rome and is dean of Europe's corps of demon-battling priests.

"People don't pray anymore, they don't go to church, they don't go to confession. The devil has an easy time of it," Amorth said in an interview. "There's a lot more devil worship, people interested in satanic things and seances, and less in Jesus."



A corp of demon-battling priest?

Sure it sounds a comic book, a fantasy film, a book...but THIS...IS...REALITY...


Jankowski cited the case of a woman who asked for a divorce days after renewing her wedding vows as part of a marriage counseling program. What was suspicious, he said, was how the wife suddenly developed a passionate hatred for her husband.

"According to what I could perceive, the devil was present and acting in an obvious way," he said. "How else can you explain how a wife, in the space of a couple of weeks, could come to hate her own husband, a man who is a good person?"

Jankowski said that an archbishop granted him the authority last October to perform exorcisms and that he's been busy ever since. As for the afflicted wife? "We're still working with her," he said.

Marriage counseling = Exorcism ??? WHAT! HUH?

How could a wife come to hate her he waiting for the punch line there?

And, working with her? You mean, reminding her that the Church frowns at divorce again and again? That kind of help?


Exorcists said the people they help can be in the grip of evil to varying degrees. Only a small fraction, they said, are completely possessed by demons -- which can cause them to display inhuman strength, speak in exotic tongues, recoil in the presence of sacred objects or overpower others with a stench.

I would love to see a good video of these support these incredible displays, not hearsay, not people screaming incoherently, not a sick person pumping a lot of adrenaline...

And, frankly, if you want to an overpowering stench...AHEM...moving on...


In those cases, the exorcists must confront the devil directly, using the power of the church to order it to abandon its host. More often, however, priests perform what some of them refer to as "soft exorcisms," using prayer to rid people of evil influences that control their lives.

Ah, the power of prayer to heal...didn't the study of prayer end up none too promising?


"People are worried about the potential for crazy people coming here," said Ksawery Nyks, 50, a longtime resident. He said most people were opposed unless the church could guarantee the exorcism center would have adequate security.

I hear ya.

Scalia on why we need a Democrat nominating judges SOON.

Scalia makes an excellent point...we can't afford 4 more years of conservative judge nominations.

In an extraordinary interview with the BBC, Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the smugness and self-satisfaction of torture opponents:

In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, he said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.

"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

"I suppose it's the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?" he asked.

"It would be absurd to say you couldn't do that. And once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game.

"How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?"
We are indeed into a different game.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Being Anonymous are linked to an interesting article looking at a group called Anonymous, that has been hacking and garnering protest against the Church of Scientology. As has been pointed out to the group, Denial of Service attacks and similar acts only gets law enforcement on your back, and gives the real trouble makers the victims and apt to garner sympathy. And that should be the last thing they want.

If you are looking for an understanding of the troubles and concerns over Scientology, or the latest that they are up to try Operation: Clambake and XENU TV.

Seeing it in the stars

Nikki, the famed "psychic to the stars", maintains a list of predictions for the coming year on her website. One of her categories is the morosely named "Death Watch and Health Watch" section.

A visit to her website will lead you to believe that she predicted Heath Ledger's death. This would be a powerful demonstration of her abilities since, as far as I know, Heath had no adverse issues that predisposed him to an early and untimely death. We should all bow down to Nikki's Woo.


But I happened to give a talk last night on the Way of the Woo, and in my research, I copied Nikki's 2008 predictions two days ago. Looking at my copy, I didn't see Heath Ledger's name mentioned anywhere. So, did Nikki REALLY predict Mr. Ledger's death and just forget to put it on her website? Or did she make a Post Hoc prediction?

What's more, Nikki also removed her prediction that Angelina Jolie would be nominated for an Oscar this year. And this was AFTER the nominations had been announced. I did a comparison with her original page (thank you Google cache!) in MS Word.


But I happened to give a talk last night on the Way of the Woo, and in my research, I copied Nikki's 2008 predictions two days ago. Looking at my copy, I didn't see Heath Ledger's name mentioned anywhere. So, did Nikki REALLY predict Mr. Ledger's death and just forget to put it on her website? Or did she make a Post Hoc prediction?

What's more, Nikki also removed her prediction that Angelina Jolie would be nominated for an Oscar this year. And this was AFTER the nominations had been announced. I did a comparison with her original page (thank you Google cache!) in MS Word.


So easy to see the future when you go and write it in the future.