Good News from Outfront
Outfront Minnesota is keeping tabs on new legislation important to GLBT Minnesotans, and things are looking pretty decent for this legislative session. The bills up for consideration include: one that would reinstate domestic partner benefits for state employees (they were eliminated in 2003); one that would "allow" local governments to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees (currently this is not allowed); and, one that permits domestic partners to visit each other in the hospital. Not too much to ask, right? But I guess we'll have to see if Pawlenty will attach his scribble to any of 'em. My guess: probably not.
Time to spare us
It isn't unusual for Time to create a starkly different cover depending on the market. This time, it's just a little too indicative of where our heads are at. Or perhaps it's an indicator of how modern media simply fans the flames of conflict and ignorance, rather than acting as an honest broker of information. In any case, these covers leave a very bad taste in my mouth.
The rest of the world: Cover story: Talibanistan
"As Pakistan's urban middle class challenges Pervez Musharraf, Islamic militants are gathering strength in the nation's wild borderlands"
In the USA: Cover story: The Case for Teaching The Bible
Should the Holy Book be taught in public schools? Yes. It's the bedrock of Western culture. And when taught right, it's even constitutional
Oy: Beyond Quagmire
Rolling Stone has assembled a diverse panel of experts to ask the question: What's the best and worst case scenario in Iraq given that President Bush's "surge" is moving ahead?
The answers are not encouraging. Best case seems to be a consensus around the emergence of a not-so-brutal Shiite Saddam. Worst case is massive regional war, where there isn't an end to casualties. In either case, the Islamists emerge with a stronger hand and several new bases of operation.
The quote that jumped out at me was this stark statement by Gen. Tony McPeak (retired), Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War:
McPeak: This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment [laughs]. If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.
Rove to the woodshed, please
I am looking forward to this:
House OKs subpoenas for top Bush aides
Accountability is a good thing.
McCain on condoms and HIV: "You stumped me"
John McCain gave an extremely weird interview in which he demonstrated two things:
1. His utter and complete ignorance of the birds and the bees; and
2. His total willingness to toss his vaunted integrity into the dustbin in order to pander to the Christian Right.
End don't ask, don't tell
Sen Alan Simpson, ex-Republican senator from Wyoming and one of the original supporters of the nonsensical don't ask, don't tell policy has written an outstanding editorial advocating its swift demise.
Bachman requests a letter and I oblige
Michele Bachmann has stopped trying to french kiss the president long enough to cram her own foot down her throat. Our new congresswoman is feeling ree-wee, ree-wee bad. She wants us all to write good letters about her to the mean newspapers.
My congresswoman, Michele Bachman, wrote me a letter asking me to write you a postive letter (Even though it might not be legal for her to use government money to ask me to do this). I guess, she wants me to emphasize certain charactersitics about her that she thinks cast her in a positive light. I live to serve, so here goes:
Congresswoman Bachmann has 5 kids of her own and 23 foster kids. There is nothing to say about that but WOW! She also hears Jesus in her head, and is totally subservient to her husband. That is so reassuring, especially when all the religions are getting along so well. Who wants an independent thinker in office? Land-0-goshen no! When I cast my vote for a female candidate, I want to make sure that I am really casting it for her husband. Lord knows, women! HA!
And I love, no, LOVE, the fact that she doesn't "play politics with the war on terrorism" like when she claimed to have special, insidery knowledge of Iran's plan to slice up the Iraq cake. That was so special, so smart. I mean, if she has special knowledge and is giving it away in the public - she is breaking all kinds of laws to get it to John Q. Public. How cool is that? And if she is just making it up, well, who cares about ol nasty-pants Iran?
And can her obsession with gay people be a better qualification for federal office??!! NO! We don't want gay highways, or a gay post office, or gay money, or, oh! Who knows what could turn gay if we didn't have Michele's husband in there fighting the good fight through what Jesus puts in her head.
She's the best,
One of the represented
Michael Savage wants to deport Minnesota Woman
Jeez, I am jelaous of Robin Marty. She recieved personal hate email from Michael Savage!! His "Crazy Act" aint just for show, folks.
Amazing. Now she is having all kinds of fun with that. Go, Robin, Go!
The really, really good thing about our republic is that it is designed to resist the rise fascism. Even though the US is a long ways away from a fascist state, the Bush administration has displayed fascist behavior on numerous occasions. Alberto Gonzales has been one of his chief enforcers and ideological warriors. He has demonstrated his willingness to re-shape the legal tradition in the US by twisting the constitution in support of torture and scrapping the writ habeas corpus, the combination of which have the potential to turn the FBI into the United States Secret Police.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise, then, that Gonzales thinks it is perfectly acceptable to use the Patriot Act to justify secret spying on ordinary citizens. It shouldn't come as a surprise that he is clearly willing to use the enforcement arm of the US legal system to influence elections. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the entire adminsitration would view politcal purges of federal prosecutors as standard operating procedure.
Fortunately for all of us, freedom and civil rights is more than just a bit of Bush sloganeering on the way to Iraq. Most Americans take our rights seriously - particularly those people in the lower reaches of government whose job it is to enforce them. While the Bush Cabal believes they are above the law and the constitution and believe their ideological ends justify any means they choose, they have yet to realize that this is a completely foreign concept to most Americans. The idea of prosecuting voter fraud cases in order to influence elections is so starkly corrupt and so fundamentally attacks the foundation of the "Shining City on the Hill," that I believe most of us will have no problem tossing these thugs aside.
Transparency is winning. It confuses the poor totalitarian wannabes in office. Gonzalez is wielding the hatchet on his own legs. I am glad for that.
A bad 24 hours for the country
It's not whether or not we can afford to impeach Bush. It's whether or not we can afford not to. In one ugly 24 hours:
Bush administration takes six blows in a row
Thing is, it isn't really the Bush administration that is taking the blows. It's us and our country. It's hard to know which of the following sucks worse:
- Six of the eight recently fired United States Attorneys told Congressional committees that they believed they lost their jobs because they wouldn't play partisan politics in their handling of high profile political corruption cases. Some also claimed they'd been threatened by the Justice Department not to go public with their complaints.
- Nine American servicemen were killed in action Iraq.
- More than 100 Iraqi Shiites making a religious pilgrimage were killed by suicide bombers. At least 200 were injured.
- Seriously wounded soldiers told Congress about the neglect, bad housing and bureaucratic nightmares they suffered as outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington while two top army generals accepted responsibility and apologized to the soldiers and their families.
- According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, six in 10 Americans want Congress to set a time table to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2008.
- And, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and a national security aide to President George W. Bush, was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice in the case of the leak of the identity of a CIA operative in the summer of 2003.
The FOX parade of lies (partial)
This fellow has put together a wonderful collection of FAUX News screengrabs. The set illustrates the basic problem with the network. Its programs are often semi-truthful propaganda, at best. At worst, FOX cynically broadcasts infotainment bullets carefully aimed at the minds of Americans who have been brought up to believe what they see on TV.
We are not talking about the occasional slip-up. We are talking about a plan. All networks and journalists get it wrong sometimes. FOX gets it wrong on purpose so you, yes, you, think the wrong thing when you decide stuff in your own life. They are paid handsomely for it. That is egregious.
If Fox's habitual lying is egregious, its influence is doubly so. The "Foxification" of our news culture is pervasive. Agenda-filled "news" surrounds us, from Paula Zahn's hackjob on Atheists to anything by Glen Beck to our own Star-Tribune's willingness to cite Michael Brodkorb as a "conservative blogger", instead of what he is - a propagandist on the payroll of the Minnesota GOP and other republican politicians. Whether we like it or not, the paid liars can bend our ears.
Be careful out there.
The FBI: Crooks and Liars
This stuff always bums me out. The cops are supposed to be the good guys. Most of them are the good guys. Yet many of them are not: they are crooks and liars. They take the easy way out, they circumvent due process and when they get caught they lie about it. They strong arm American citizens and businesses, they violate our right to privacy and they lie about it. In 1/4 of every instance of these "national security letters" these agents acted in violation of the law! This is a failure in leadership at the FBI and more proof that the Patriot Act is ill-conceived.
Fascism is always signaled by the emergence of a secret police. The Patriot Act weakened the oversight of these law enforcement agencies in a way that even Republicans should be ashamed of. Let's put away our fear-mongering and focus our efforts on things that really fight terrorism.
Yes, Virginia, law enforcement needs oversight. Duh.
Here's an idea....
Let's restore the right of habeas corpus. Why not get back to our good ol' American roots?
FBI underreported use of USA Patriot Act
This basic principle holds true:
If you sacrifice your personal liberties to the government, you will be abused.
Newt Poop in my eyes
I will never cease to marvel at the depth of duplicity of the of those that created the schadenfreude of Bill Clinton's impeachment - the most duplicitous being one Newt Gingrich, liar extraordinaire.
And today, here he is, spilling his guts like a little Eddie Haskell in the chosen forum for unredeemed, insincere brownnosers currying favor from the ignorant- Focus on the Family. He even references God.
Gingrich had affair during Clinton probe
Here he is, arguing that night is, well, day:
Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.
The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge," the former Georgia congressman said of Clinton's 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. "I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials.