Sunday, April 24, 2005
This is an actual photograph of Pope Benidict XVI and Come on---is this a Joe Pesci look-alike or what?
What you won't hear on the Sunday Morning talk shows
The first time I read this New York Sun story, I almost figured it was a put-on. I mean, it's got 'punchline' written all over it: Ted Kennedy's brother-in-law pleads guilty to political corruption related to Hillary Clinton's campaign, it's revealed that he's been a secret informant to the FBI for years, and oh, by the way, he's also under investigation for trying to lure young girls into his car using a fake police light. But it's not a joke--it's a real story.
And what a story! It's got corruption, Kennedys, secret informants, Clintons, even weird sexual allegations. You'd think it would be the lead headline from coast to coast.
But funny thing--you can't find it much of anywhere. It's nowhere to be seen at CNN.com, even on the Politics page. It's not on the front of the New York Times website, and the only mention within the site is a canned AP story.
Gee, I thought the Times was supposed to be the 'newspaper of record,' with the best reporters in the world--they couldn't even spare one of them to cover a story involving the Democratic Party's two most prominent elected officials, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton?
The Washington Post, allegedly the Times' biggest competitor for political news, doesn't mention the story at all. A search for "Raymond Reggie" at WaPo gets no relevant hits.
Golly, I wonder why not.
But have no fear, I'm sure Steve Lovelady and the Columbia Journalism review are on top of things, and will weigh in with a scathing Corey Pein condemnation in no time.
Of course, it'll be a condemnation of the Sun for daring to print the Reggie story in the first place...
A field guide to the judicial filibuster brouhaha:
- Democrats claim filibustering judges is a historic right. In fact, it was never done before 2003.
- Democrats claim Bush's judicial nominees are extremists. Not so, says self-described liberal Jonathan Turley.
- Democrats act like eliminating the filibuster will destroy the Constitution. But Democrats tried to do it themselves.
- Democrats accuse Republicans of politicizing the judiciary. Read the collusion memos and witness the Democrats' manipulation of the process.
- Democrats claim they've approved the vast majority of Bush nominees except for extremists. Not so, says the Committee for Justice.
SATIRE ALERT (FOR YOU DUMMIES WHO STILL CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT)
The Chimp that Stole Earth Day
I just can't seem to get into the Earth Day spirit this year. Between Easter, the death of Pope Torquemada and the subsequent election of Pope Hitler, the fundies have completely dominated the whole vernal equinox, turning into a great big psuedo-religious farce. I'm so burned out on religion that even the appearance in my emailbox of a very special Earth Day message from Steven Seagal failed to put me in a celebratory mood.
On the other hand, what's to celebrate, anyway? Our ecosystem is on the verge of collapse, thanks to Bush. His Big Oil Buddies are drilling in the once pristine Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. The rotting corpses of dead CIA agents are polluting the once pristine waters of the Tigris River. Carcinogens are polluting the once pristine follicles of Jane Fonda's hair. The ice caps are melting, Mt. St. Helens is erupting, and human fingers are springing out of our once pristine chili. The whole wyrld is going to hell in a non-biodegradable handbasket and that CHIMP doesn't even give a damn. One would think that SElected peeResident in thiEF could find a little time in his busy schedule to come down off the mountain and celebrate an international celebration of peace and love with the little Whos of Whoville. But then again, he probably couldn't get Pat Robertson's permission.
One thing's for certain: a President Ralph Nader would never have been so consumed by superstitious religious beliefs that he'd be afraid to wear flowers in his hair and dance naked amongst the sacred ferns with the Elders of the Olde Way. Then again, Ralph Nader doesn't get his kicks pouring barrels of arsenic into our drinking supply.
My clinical depression notwithstanding, I did get up enough gumption to participate in some Earth Day activies. Every year, a bunch of us from Tampa Bay Hemp Products and Other Shit that Makes you Go Hmmmmmmm, like to spend the day doing something to make the world a greener place for our chemically lobotomized children - although every year Bush does his best to spoil it. Last year, we planted 30 young trees along a nearby riverbank. Overnight, Republicans crept in, gnawed down every single tree, and dragged them into the river. A week later, the entire parking lot was under a foot of water. If the destruction of just 30 trees was enough to melt the ice caps and flood our parking lot, just think of what Bush's wholesale destruction of entire forests are doing to our precious planet.
This year, we decided to chase away our doldrums by marching to city hall on our lunch break and having a Prayer Circle for Peace. There's a large lawn in front of the building, and we found a nice shady spot of grass unspoiled by man. But no sooner had we assumed the lotus position than a pair of undocumented landscapers began cursing at us in español.
"I think they want to mow the lawn," said Phil from Accounting.
"Fantastic," I spat. "Can't we spend just one day out of the year without devastating our precious natural resources?"
We ignored the unbelievers and continued our ceremony.
As Earth Day tradition dictated, I handed a small box of pine cones to the person immediately to my right in the pray circle, Peter from Marketing.
"Taketh a pine cone and eateth it," I instructed him, "for it is the flesh of Gaia. He who eateth the flesh of Gaia shall have breath like an air freshener for at least 12 hours."
Pete took a pine cone and passed the box down.
After everyone had patrook of a pine cone, I handed a recycled paper cup full of yellowish liquid to the person sitting at my left, Paul from Public Relations.
"Drinketh from this cup. For it is the blood of Gaia, and he who hath drinketh the blood of Gaia shall be blessed with severe stomach cramps, followed by an ambulance ride to the emergency room, and then total enlightment."
Paul took a small sip and quickly spat it out in disgust.
"WHAT IS THIS?" he cried. "CAT PISS?"
"Close," I told him. "It's Mountain Dew. Pass it down."
After everyone had sipped from the sacred chalice, I lead a non-denominational Earth Day prayer for world peace.
"Infinite Spirit, Grandfather, Grandmother, Father Sky, Earth Mother, Great Heavenly Uncle who Lives Under the Viaduct and Reeks of Malt Liqour," I began, "We gather here today to praise your creation and open our unworthy orifices to your holy guidance. Help us to understand and achieve our place in the cosmos—not at the center of it, but a balanced and more tolerant place slightly to the left of center, where every step we take becomes a prayer carried up to your excessively pierced ears on gossamer wing. Oh great purveyor of silly hats, give us the courage to live in harmony with the vast, vibrating, and occasionaly undulating ecosystem, joyfully singing the Song of Life, available on CD and cassette at most Tower Records locations, a small portion of the proceeds going towards the preservation and maintenance of Jane Fonda's pristine hair follicles. O Wondrous Father Trees, sacred elders of a gentle race, flatulators of the precious air we breathe: give unto us your precious gifts of fruit, so that we may pelt conservative speakers with them, and in so doing nibble upon your sacred leaves of tolerance. Show us the way towards mutual interrelatedness, cosmic interdependence, and the seamless procreation of generations of drooling idiots, so that life will not end in smog-choked skies blotting out the sun, but rather in an orgasmic utopia of clean air, healthy forests, wholesome water, inexpensive abortions, socialized health care, forced labor camps..."
"And casual sex!" Jerry in Marketing interrupted.
"...and casual sex," I continued, "for all critters and sub-critters great and small. Oh blessed Mother Starshine, nurture us in your metaphorical uterus, a hollow muscular organ located in the pelvic cavity of female mammals in which the fertilized egg implants and develops, so that we may become not your exploiters, but your loyal stewards, ending the immoral and unsanctioned-by-France wars that plague our us like rug burns on our pasty white thighs, and unite the peoples of all races, religions, and sex orientations together into one unified, collective Hive Mind of Love. We pray in the name of the Creator, Gunga Galunga...gunga -- gunga galunga...goonga, galunga..."
Before I could complete the final seven stanzas of Goonga Galungas, the fascist landcapers cranked up their lawnmower and began pushing it towards our prayer circle, rivers of decimated grass clippings spewing forth from it's metallic blowhole. The other members of the circle pressed their hands to their ears and wailed in pain, the horrendous screams of thousand of blades of grass being slaughtered to much for their gentle souls to bear.
"Bloodthirsty maniacs!!!" exclaimed Doug from Accounting.
"Murdering fascists!!" screeched Marge from Human Resources.
"I'm sitting in dog poop!" blubbered Al from Shipping.
Furious, I leapt to my feet and defiantly shook my fists at the latino lawn mowing monsters.
"YE SHALL NOT PASS!!!!!" I roared.
Paralyzed with fear, they stopped the Lawnmower of Death about six inches from my Birkenstocks and stomped off. They returned minutes later with the head groundskeeper, who could have passed for a Scotsman if he had been wearing a kilt and wasn't Chinese.
"I'm sick of chasing you hippies out of here!" he yelled at us angrily. "One of these days, you're going to pick the wrong mushroom and kill yourselves, and I'm the one who is going to get sued!"
"Peace be upon you, Earth Brother," I greeted him. "But we are not picking mushrooms. Today is Earth Day, and we have come together in fellowship and prayer. You are welcome to join us, if you like."
"Prayer?" he snorted. "This is city property! You can't pray here!"
"Worry not, Earth Brother," I assured him. "for it is not a Christian prayer. We're praying for peace and love, not war and hate."
"Doesn't matter," he snapped. "Religious activities of any kind are not permitted on city property!"
"Since when?" I asked, incredulous.
"Since this Lawrence Chomstein asshole threatened the city council with legal action if they didn't enforce the Constitutional Separation Between Church and State."
I threw my dreamcatcher to the ground. "THAT WAS FOR NATIVITY SCENES, YOU INTOLERANT BASTARD!!!"
"Nativity scenes, prayer circles. Religious activities are religious activites," he replied. "Now pick up your dreamcatchers, your bongo drums, and your pretty purple rocks and get out of here before I call the cops!"
"The cops?" Jerry in Accounts Receivable whined. "What for? I didn't do anything! I'm not with these people? I don't even know this guy!"
Somewhere in the distance, a rooster crowed.
We spent the remainder of our lunch break at Taco Bell, shovelling 79 cent tacos down our gullets and cursing George W. Bush for ruining yet another Earth Day.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Clinton would have saved Social Security
The most recent such revelation suggests that Mr. Clinton would have reformed Social Security in his second term if he had not been distracted by those dastardly and unnecessary impeachment proceedings. Such are the proclamations in a San Francisco Chronicle front-page story entitled "Social Security rehab died first under Clinton.”
To begin with, the Chronicle’s Carolyn Lochhead states that saving Social Security from imminent insolvency was a key initiative of the Clinton administration:
“'It would be unconscionable if we failed to act,’ President Bill Clinton said at a forum in 1998, when he made fixing the nation's retirement program a top priority of his second term.”
Top priority? In his 1998 State of the Union address, Mr. Clinton spent three paragraphs on Social Security out of a total of 140. That’s less than two minutes of an hour and a half speech. Is that how much time a president devotes to his top priority?
That said here was the crux of his solution presented to the nation that evening:
“Tonight, I propose that we reserve 100 percent of the surplus – that's every penny of any surplus – until we have taken all the necessary measures to strengthen the Social Security system for the 21st century.”
In his 1999 SOTU address, Clinton “increased” his focus on this “top priority” by committing ten out of 160 paragraphs to this issue, offering basically the same solution:
“Specifically, I propose that we commit 60 percent of the budget surplus for the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the private sector just as any private or state government pension would do.”
In reality, both of these proposals were red herrings, and would have had a negligible impact on Social Security’s imminent insolvency if enacted. Why? Because in the four years that our nation was supposed to be in the midst of budget surpluses “as far as the eye can see,” the actual on-budget surpluses totaled $25.9 billion. That’s it. The other $533.4 billion worth of reported unified budget surpluses during this four-year period emanated directly from off-budget trust accounts -- mostly Social Security.
Given this, Mr. Clinton’s fabulous idea was to allocate budget surpluses to Social Security that were largely already in the Social Security trust. On the streets of Manhattan, this is widely referred to as a “Three Card Monty.”
However, the most uproarious solution to this imminent crisis offered by our 42nd president came in his 2000 SOTU address wherein he committed only one sentence of his entire speech to this “top priority”:
“Tonight, I ask you to work with me to make a bipartisan down payment on Social Security reform by crediting the interest savings from debt reduction to the Social Security Trust Fund so that it will be strong and sound for the next 50 years.”
What makes this so hysterical, and somewhat insulting? Well, because there never was any debt reduction during Mr. Clinton’s second term. In fact, contrary to Democratic assertions and public opinion, the last year that America’s gross federal debt declined was 1969. As such, there wouldn’t have been any interest savings, and, therefore, wouldn’t have been one penny credited to the Social Security trust under this proposal.
I would venture a guess that, like most Americans, Ms. Lochhead was not aware of this fact. Moreover, though she suggests, as her article continues, that it was questions about Monica Lewinsky which distracted the President from keeping his focus on Social Security reform, nowhere does she address military attacks in Kosovo as the real source of this distraction.
Instead, she conveniently chooses to omit that many people at the time felt that Clinton intentionally used problems in Kosovo and the need for U.S. involvement as a smokescreen to divert the public's attention away from his sexual indiscretions. Remember the movie Wag The Dog, Carolyn?
Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris has proffered on many occasions the real truth that the left conveniently ignores about this issue. In his view as a high-profile member of the Clinton team, the primary reason the administration moved away from any serious discussion of Social Security reform was because Clinton was advised by top Democratic leaders that he would be doing his party a huge disservice if he repaired a problem that they all needed to be able to campaign on every two years.
Of course, another truly delicious snippet of hypocrisy rests with the following obvious question that appears to have eluded Ms. Lochhead and her ilk: If Clinton was so prescient seven years ago with his concerns regarding America's largest retirement program, why are today’s Democrats trying to convince the American people that President Bush is inventing a problem that doesn't really exist?
Or, did Social Security become financially solvent the very moment Al Gore lost in 2000?
Hat tip to Noel Sheppard
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Satire Alert (For those who still can't figure it out)
Democrats: We're Spiteful and Proud of it
Nancy Pelosi: the kidney stone of American politics.
A story in Boston.com says Democrats are glowing with pride for blocking President Bush's legislative agenda:
Senior Democrats are increasingly confident that they have blocked Republicans plans for historic breakthroughs in legislation under GOP control of the White House and Congress, declaring that the Democratic strategy of unified opposition to major items on the leadership agenda has succeeded in turning Republicans against themselves.
Democratic leaders say the focus on opposition, rather than on their own legislative proposals, has allowed them to hold up President Bush's plans to remake Social Security.
In 1998, President Clinton proposed virtually the same reform program as Bush. So Democrats would rather spite the nation to deny Bush a historic breakthrough?
Children, can you say partisan? A gem:
''I'm very proud of our Democrats, because they know why they are Democrats," said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California. ''We have from the start come together as Democrats, focused on our core values which unite us as a party, and then proceeded from there. That consensus is what has kept us -- if you want to use the word 'disciplined,' but a better word in my view is 'united.' "
Put that on a bumpersticker: Democrats-- We're United for Nothing. That fits in nicely with Clinton's "Seinfeld Presidency" -- it, too, was about nothing.
SATIRE ALERT !!!
Gender Fascists Hijack Mrs. Oregon Pageant
A great big Toot o' the Hooka to Portland's Mayor Potter for his courageous stand against gender fascism by refusing to endorse the Mrs. Oregon Pageant.
In a thinly veiled attack on the Gay and Transgendered Community, the pageant has now officially restricted itself to females who were born without penises and are married to members of the Oppressor Gender. The same right-wing lunatics who are destroying America with their religious idealism have apparently hijacked the annual pageant and turned it into some sort of beauty contest.
This is nothing new. Last year, the mayor cut his vacation short over the pageant's new "No Mustaches" rule, which essentially disqualified 3/4 of Portland's female population. He sees this as just another attempt by the evangelical Christian right to shove their warped ideas about gender roles down everyone's throat. However, while I agree with his views, he's unfortunately prancing at the wrong windmill. The pageant's bigotry and intolerance are merely the unwanted stepchildren of our culture's archaic and unrealistic fascination with "beauty".
In a society where illusory concepts like "grace" and "charm" are used to define "beauty", what hope does a 300-pound belching bull dyke with Wayne Newton hair have to win the coveted crown? What chance does an androgynous meth addict with three teeth and an adam's apple the size of a grapefruit have against the anatomically correct, cookie-cutter Barbie dolls of the master race? The mayor can cry until his mascara runs, but it won't change the hegemonic stranglehold the gender purists have on our culture itself.
I'm sure that our Founding Fathers, with their powdered wigs and frilly-sleeved zoot suits, would yearn for a more inclusive pageant, one that celebrates our differences and isn't tainted by the mediocrity of established gender norms. Ideally, a diverse panel of judges comprised of angry butch lesbians and gender dysphoric hermaphrodites would judge contestants by more progressive standards of "beauty", such as Most Alluring Monobrow, Most Convincing Tracheal Shave, and Most Likely to Be a Strategically Shaved Monkey. Extra points will be given to the contestant who spits in the eye of every traditional concept of "feminine beauty", and makes Ed Asner look like the goddess Aphrodite. Then, once all beauty pageants have been liberated from the oppressive binds of conservative ideology and opened to all Americans regardless of gender or lack thereof, we will ban them entirely because they're glorified meat markets that exploit women.
For decades the United Nations has been critical of the United States. Not only critical, but downright antagonistic. Now President Bush has appointed a U.N. Ambassador who has been critical of the United Nations. Democrats don't like it. So ... a quick review. The United Nations slams the United States and Democrats remain silent. A U.S. diplomat criticizes the United Nations and Democrats go nuts. Would someone please explain this to me?
More Hump Day Crap
Worried About Enemy SCUBA Divers?
Don’t be. Every six months for the last few years a story comes out about AQ “frogmen” planning to conduct submerged demolition attacks on US warships, ports, and maritime facilities. They envision the climactic scene from the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball where the evil forces of SPECTRE attempt nuclear holocaust only to be foiled by 007 and what I suppose had to be SEALs in a pitched underwater battle between opposing divers. While combat swimmer operations can have an important role in a conflict between nations with significant naval forces, it is not a tactic that lends itself to terrorism.
First of all, clandestine underwater navigation is not easy. In fact, an argument can be made that ship attacks are the most technically challenging SEAL mission in our repertoire. The diving equipment is highly specialized and takes significant amounts of training to operate effectively and safely. Even with the proper equipment and training, a combat swimmer is limited by not only hard limits on dive time, but “soft” limits on the diver’s physiology and stamina. These limits could be extended if the dive was planned as a “one way trip” as is the custom of our islamofascist enemies, but finding and training people with the physical and mental abilities to carry out such a difficult attack is made terribly difficult when they are also expected to be martyrs. The longer the dive, the larger the navigational error box each “leg” of the infiltration becomes, making it harder to find the target vessel on the dive plan. When this happens, the diver’s only option is to “peek” and visually acquire the target exposing him to compromise.
Then there’s the fact that the amount of demolition that a diver can carry is obviously subject to extreme limitations. The demolition charges used by SEALs to attack enemy vessels are highly complex and must be manufactured by contractors with decades of experience and research time. You can’t just wad up a ball of C-4, slap it on the hull of the vessel, and light some time fuse with a flare underwater. Splashproof firing assemblies can be improvised, but not with the level of certainty needed for a ship attack. There are attachment issues to consider as well as anti-removal devices that must be addressed. Fully loaded out with state of the art anti-ship limpet mines, a SEAL Platoon can only hope to disable a few ships on outer moorings thus preventing an enemy fleet from leaving port for a few days to a week. Of course submersible vehicles are capable of much more, but then you’re talking about even more training, equipment, and complexity.
Finally, the REASON AQ divers would never have the sack to enter any major US port, or come near US vessels in the Persian Gulf. Scroll down to the Mk 6 dolphin program which is managed by Navy EOD. Mk 6 dolphins are a diver’s worst nightmare, and that is no understatement. These marine mammals are trained to find and attack divers that are operating in the patrol area. Imagine swimming around a US warship laden with explosives at night with ill intentions on your mind, and suddenly a 500 lb. dolphin rams into your side at full speed out of nowhere. Of course this dolphin has a nose cone attached to a .45 caliber contact initiated round for good measure. Or how about a needle connected to a CO2 cartridge that injects the diver with gas forcing him to rapidly surface? Essentially the dolphin will continue to ram the diver until he surfaces… dead or alive. At which point, the guy will either have had a stroke or heart attack, certainly several broken bones, and perhaps even be shot from the pier. These things are for real, and they don’t dick around.
After considering the cost, most terrorists would rather go with the old car bomb standby or the spray and pray at a crowded shopping mall routine. To add insult to injury, dolphins are very, shall I say, sexually aggressive by nature. Mk 6 dolphins don’t generally contain their appetites to their own species either. I’m not sure how that could be explained to Allah in the afterlife.
Hump Day Musings
John Kerry, the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam*, showed up this past Sunday at a Boston event, where he was "using crutches as he recovers from knee surgery," reports the Associated Press. He was also using emotional crutches as he recovers from last year's election:
"Last year too many people were denied their right to vote, too many who tried to vote were intimidated," the Massachusetts senator said at an event sponsored by the state League of Women Voters. . . .
Kerry also cited examples Sunday of how people were duped into not voting.
"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he said.
Where did Kerry come up with that idea about leaflets saying "Democrats on Wednesday"? Probably from this story, which appeared a week before the election:
With the knowledge that the minority vote will be crucial in the upcoming presidential election, Republican Party officials are urging blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to make their presence felt at the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3. . . .
"You can't walk through a black neighborhood here in Miami without seeing our 'Don't Forget Big Wednesday!' message up on a billboard, tacked to a phone booth, or taped to a bus shelter," Monreal added. "The Republican Party has spared no expense in this endeavor."
Before Kerry embarrasses himself further, someone ought to take him aside and explain to him that the Onion is a satirical publication--as is ScrappleFace.com, which came up with the idea first.
* And who by the way promised 71 days ago to release his military records.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Here are some things to piss off everyone.
Despite repeated claims, Hanoi Jane Fonda has never apologized for her treasonous collaboration with the Vietnamese Communists. Writing that it was 'a betrayal' and 'a lapse of judgment' is a confession, not an apology.
She committed treason. She exploited and misused American POWs. She gave the North Vietnamese communists, with whom we were then at war, propaganda that American POWs endured unimaginable torture not to give them, she gave it to them for free. And, indeed, she caused the deaths of American fighting men and the deaths of our allies as well.
If you read Krugman -- read this:
9 indications that you might not be appropriate "academy" material, in Paul Krugman's estimation
- You adhere to the crazy “conservative” notion that US has been a force for good in the world
- Your quasi-retarded decision to vote for Ronald Reagan all but destroyed the last great hope for economic and social equity that was at the core of Communism.
- Your antipathy to the UN proves that you’d be unable to abide the consent-driven grievance politics so essential to the proper functioning of university humanities departments
- When you hear “Columbus Day,” you think “yay, parade!”—when what you really should be thinking is, “fucking egomaniacal Dago bastard and his band of murderous, sea-faring imperialist world destroyers!"
- You refuse to acknowledge the self-esteem-wrecking affront to the social progress of women represented in the following sentence: “Everyone should bring his baseball glove."
- Your skepticism over suggestions that Abe Lincoln was an active homosexual who spent the Civil War bedding union soldiers clarifies either a) your hateful homophobia, or b) your latent homosexuality.
- To you, a quilt holds very little social significance—though you do like the way it keeps your feet warm on those cold, winter evenings when you and your friends sit around the fire, shotgunning beer and recalling all the “wool” you “fleeced” in college.
- You refuse to say that it is NEVER okay to execute a multiple murderer, but that it’s ALWAYS okay to snuff a child in utero.
- You believe in a higher power not named “Kennedy” or “Clinton."
New media adviser for the Bush White House?:
Jim Belushi is quite the press critic. Asked by Entertainment Weekly how ABC News should fill the "Nightline" time slot when Ted Koppel retires, the ABC sitcom star says: "ABC should create another breakthrough called 'Investigate Reporters.' ... The first 10 minutes would be dedicated to retractions, the next 15 minutes to all the lives ruined by the mistakes of journalists, and the last five minutes would focus on critics and what movies and TV shows they panned ... that became hits."
Harry "Dickhead" Reid:
As the fight over Bush's nominees rages on, the rhetoric of the Democrats gets increasingly self-righteous. Lately, the rhetoric has evolved into the Democrats attacking the Senate GOP's threat to the Senate rules to ban the filibuster of judicial nominees by equating the Democrats' obstruction with checks and balances...
"When it comes down to it, stripping away these important checks and balances is about the arrogance of those in power who want to rewrite the rules so that they can get their way," Reid, D-Nev., said in his party's weekly radio address.
I am no constitutional scholar, but I do remember quite a bit from my past education on our government and Constitution. So, let me give Senator Harry Reid a lesson on checks and balances, because clearly what I remember from a high school civics class forty five (45) years ago is greater than the knowledge Reid has today.
In our system of checks and balances, the President's check over the Judicial branch of government includes the power to appoint judges. Congress's check over the President includes the confirmation of judges, which is also a check over the Judicial.
The system of checks and balances does not include a separate check by the minority party to obstruct any nominees they don't like by requiring a super majority to break a filibuster before giving a nominee an up or down vote. I can say right back to Senator Reid, "When it comes down to it, stripping away these important checks and balances is about the arrogance of those out of power who want to rewrite the rules so that they can get their way," and that would be more accurate.
Yes--I'm an atheist
One atheistic tendency is to think that religious people are not only wrong, but insincere, or even liars. The feeling can be particularly strong during discussions with those who profess a literal belief that God is “everywhere,” in the sense that He’s in the room with them examining every fiber of their body and being. He sees your skeleton; has numbered every cell and atom of your body and keeps track of the most minute of changes on an instant-by-instant basis. He hears the slightest rustling of your hair and rumbling of your stomach; is simultaneously sniffing your armpits and your anus, and tastes every inch of you as surely as if He were licking you with His tongue. What’s more, He views you from every possible angle simultaneously and sees you bathed in every frequency of light, including the ultraviolet ranges that are imperceptible to human eyes.
Yet I’ve talked to enough religious people to know that they do honestly believe exactly that. They feel his presence inside and out. They know he hears their prayers as surely as if their mouths were pressed against His ear. Although unwilling to discuss some of the seedier implications of their theory (“do you truly believe his nose is up your ass?”), they refuse to concede that there are any limits to God’s perceptive abilities. To do so would deny Him the full measure of His glory.
But then again, I wonder, do they really believe this? One question to ask them is this: what would you do if a fifty-foot tall, fire-breathing Jesus suddenly materialized in your kitchen, staring at you intently? Continue to stir the Hamburger Helper and hum? No: most likely you’d jump out of your skin -- or at very least inquire of his mission, determine the purpose of His visit and what he intended to do with you.
But why the surprise? Certainly to those who are sincere about their belief in divine omnipresence, a mere physical apparition of that nature would be far less intrusive than the full-body scouring that His being administers daily. A pair of eyes staring down from several yards away is nothing compared to a God white-water rafting down your bloodstream. It’s no answer to say that there’s something out of the ordinary about God making a physical, personal appearance. Having an infinite being permeating your body is at least as odd, and if you sincerely accept that premise then a house call from Tall Jesus shouldn’t startle you anymore than a cat walking by and rubbing against your leg.
Also counting against the professed sincerity is the things people do despite their alleged conviction in His ever-pervasive presence. Most of them exercise a certain level of restraint the in company of strangers, children or their grandmothers, even if they’re away in another room. Yet they’ll curse, steal and commit adultery in full view of their God. And here again, it’s no answer to say one “forgot,” or succumbed to human weakness. If I were to thrust my head under a woman’s dress in the subway for a momentary glimpse of what God surveys eternally, she’d never forget the experience; how could anyone who for even a split-second at any time in her life believed that God was doing a complete inventory put that thought aside? And weakness is no excuse either -- even the weak exercise caution when they believe that the police are reasonably nearby.
For my part, I know that were I to find myself plucked out of bed at 3am by a pair of giant fingers, suspended over a black void and bellowed at by a supernatural spirit, I’d start behaving. That moment would be enough and He wouldn’t have to follow me around constantly. I might even tone down this blog, perhaps now and then leave the “o” out of G_d. But hasn’t happened and it never will. He isn’t everywhere. He isn’t anywhere.
Here's the point. If God is everywhere and anywhere all the time and knows everything while having a plan for everyone and every thing at all times---why can't the big guy just show up?
He isn’t everywhere. He isn’t anywhere.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Sandy Pantload Comes Clean---Sorta
SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Really, a rather sordid story of deliberate misconduct that deserves close attention:
The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.
The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an "after-action review" prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration's actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration's awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil. . .
Berger's archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al Qaeda threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive, as suggested by Berger's determination to spend hours poring over the Clarke report before his testimony.
So Berger stole, and destroyed, classified documents as part of a politically motivated cover-up. Let's just be clear about that. Criminal penalties, aside, the man's career in public life should be over, and he certainly should never have access to classified documents again. Unfortunately, the penalty he'll actually receive looks rather light -- certainly lighter than most folks who stole and destroyed classified documents would undergo. That makes it all the more important that the details of his misbehavior get plenty of attention, and that they're remembered long-term.
Martha Stewart goes to jail and Sandy gets a slap on the wrist. Can you say "What a crock of shit?"
WMD REPORT RELEASED
A presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction released its report yesterday, and the report absolves the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. It puts the blame for the bad intelligence squarely at the feet of the intelligence community.
Naturally, the left is already up in arms about the report, because it does not blame the administration for anything. The Bush-haters are out for blood, and they're upset because they're not getting it. First up with his panties in a knot is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. He complained that the report did not review how the administration used the intelligence they were given. In perhaps a breakdown in his own intelligence, Mr. Reid apparently doesn't realize that wasn't the purpose of the commission.
Next in the "Get Bush" receiving line is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She decided it was time to break out her Michael Moore talking points, saying "The president's decision to go to war in Iraq was also dead wrong — the intelligence never supported his claim that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States." Actually, that is a lie and she is a liar. But we knew that.
Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States and his neighbor. He possessed weapons of mass destruction, used them and had the capability to restart his program at any time. He also possessed nuclear technology and the capability to produce a nuclear weapon that he could then sell to terrorists.
The decision to remove him by force was the right one and the left can't stand it.
HANOI JANE COMES CLEAN
The former Mrs. Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, has come out with a new book. She is making the rounds doing publicity...and she has given an interview to '60 Minutes' that will air this Sunday. In it, she admits (sort of) that she was wrong to go to North Vietnam and visit an anti-aircraft gun site used to shoot down U.S. pilots. Well isn't that nice....but she's a bit late, don't you think?
Fonda says that her trip to the gun site some 33 years ago was a "betrayal" of the U.S. military, its soldiers and "the country that gave me privilege." She calls the picture of her sitting on the enemy gun barrel the largest lapse of judgment she can imagine. Really. So what about the whole decision to visit North Vietnam in the first place? She won't apologize for that. No, Hanoi Jane will only apologize for posing for pictures with enemy weaponry. She won't apologize for being photographed with American POWs, nor will she apologize for going on Radio Hanoi and being a propaganda mouthpiece for the Viet Cong.
Jane Fonda gave aid and comfort to the enemy of the United States during a time of war. We used to call that treason, and there are people sitting in prison for it. Somehow, Jane Fonda got away with it...and now she wants us all to relieve her of her guilty conscience.
Why transfer what has been produced by some to others when you could spread the productivity that produced this wealth, making everyone better off? Knowledge is one of the few things that can be given to others without reducing the amount you have left.
CANADA GETS IT RIGHT FOR A CHANGE
Finally a reasonable decision from our near-socialist neighbors to the north. Since the war in Iraq began two years ago, a small number of U.S. soldiers have decided that they didn't want to go to Iraq. They just didn't seem to understand that joining the U.S. armed forces meant that they might actually find themselves in harm's way. Some tried and failed to become conscientious objectors, others were just AWOL. So they fled to Canada, thinking that they would be able to hang out there and request asylum.
Well, starting last week, it's not working. U.S. Army paratrooper Jeremy Hinzman decided he was going to live in Toronto and apply for asylum, telling the Canadians that if he were to perform his duties in Iraq, he would be forced to commit atrocities against civilians. The Immigration and Refugee board didn't buy it. They singled out his stance that he would be willing to return to the Army, so long as he didn't have to serve in combat. Bad move.
The ruling from the board read, in part: "I find Mr. Hinzman's position to be inherently contradictory. Surely an intelligent young man like Mr. Hinzman, who believes the war in Iraq to be illegal, unjust and waged for economic reasons, would be unwilling to participate in any capacity, whether as combatant or noncombatant." Oops. Hinzman is going to appeal the ruling, but he probably won't get very far.
The truth is that Hinzman is a coward. Nothing more, nothing less.
The United States has an all-volunteer Army for a reason. Unless you want to face the possibility of fighting and dying in a war, don't join. Hopefully the next step will be shipping this pantywaist back to his unit to be prosecuted.
67 Days ago:
Lt. John Kerry promised Tim Russert on national television (Meet The Press) that he woud sign form 180 and release his full military record.
I [DONALD L. NELSON, CAPT, JAGC, USNR] was on active duty as a U.S. Navy lawyer when all of this was going on some 25 to 30 years ago, and so was Mark F. Sullivan, who at all relevant times was the personal lawyer to J. William Middendorf, then the Secretary of the Navy. We remember.
We are trying to break this absolutely true story nationwide, i.e., Fox News, C Span, and hopefully all the major networks. We are positive that John Kerry was one of those dishonorably dismissed from the Navy for collaborating with the Viet Cong, after he was released from active duty but still in the Navy, and for a totally unauthorized trip to Hanoi. He later got an "honorable" separation in 1978, some 12 years after joining the Navy, under President Carter's "Amnesty Program" for draft dodgers, deserters, and other malcontents who fled to Canada and Holland, among other places, to avoid military service to our country.
This is why he has refused, and continues to refuse, to release all of his Navy records: they reflect that he was Dishonorably Dismissed from the United States Naval Service. If they do not (which they do), he would have released them to the public. Again, he has not done so, because he well knows that the truth would kill his challenge to President Bush.