Nice photo

This gem is from Minnesota Liberal's GLBT Lobby Day 2005 photos.

GOP Members of Ethics Committee on Delay payroll

Tom Delay will finally be investigated! Yay! Oh, wait a minute...half the people on the committee doing the investigating are on Delay's payroll.

Challenges for a Panel in Taking Up DeLay Case

Some Democrats and advocacy groups say the Republicans on the evenly divided committee should step aside, because they have all received money from Mr. DeLay's political organization or, in two cases, contributed to his defense fund.

Representative Joel Hefley, the Colorado Republican whom Mr. Hastert removed from the chairmanship this year, acknowledges that the Republicans have a perception problem because of the financial exchanges. But Mr. Hefley and other committee veterans say that in the past they have found that members can put aside their political interests and arrive at a fair conclusion.

"They are people of good character," Mr. Hefley said. "I think they will do a good job if they get into an investigation."

What do you want to bet that after all they make a show of investigating Delay that they slap him on the knuckles and send him back to work? Note to the Mr. Hefley: You have more than a "perception" problem. You have a real, live conflict of interest. Wouldn't anybody with a smidgen of common sense recuse thmeselves?


Al Franken heads home

It remains to be seen how viable Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman would be. It is certainly an open question whether or not or Al would win DFL endorsement. Salon does a pretty good job of examining Franken's imminent move back to the Twin Cities to set up the run, though.

No end to Bush Power Grab

The president has a plan. Oh yes he does. He won't tell me about it - or you. But it's there, buried in a 2,000 page federal budget.

He wants to hand pick a group of lobbyists and give them the power to terminate any federal agency he dislikes. Department of Education? Poof! Are the worrywarts at the EPA pestering businesses with environmental nonsense? Not to worry. Bush will just cancel the agency. Food and Drug Administration? The SEC - Who needs those guys?

Are you ready to put this much power in the hands of a team of six lobbyists led by one man? We still live in country in which it is possible to look up the federal budget online. With this one provision, Bush could end that access. The Freedom of Information Act won't mean anything if there isn't any information to free. Fight this with everything you can.


Alabama Rep. seeks to ban books by gay authors under the watchful eye of the Prez

An Alabama State Representative, Gerald Allen, has introduced legislation to ban books by gay authors from Public Schools. Mr. Allen, of course, has no concept of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press or really freedom itself as it relates to the foundation of good government. He's a true Nazi.

I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children.

This is very far afield indeed of what the American Experiment is all about. But let's be honest, there have been plenty of racist whack-jobs running around the US. And being homophopic is all the rage these days. It isn't surprising that some moral derelict will make political hay over it. I'm surprised that Michelle Bachman didn't think of it first, though. But even with all that, it's unlikely this monstrosity will get passed. But doesn't it give you just a little pause for thought that Mr. Allen is meeting with President Bush?

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."

Fascism: If you build it they will come. Well, here they are.

Powerline receives yet another "honor"

John Hinderaker wins the award forBest Meltdown from City Pages' Best of the Twin Cities 2005. Congrats!

Delay Dismay

Hastert is scrapping the ethics rules Delay rammed through earlier this year. Hold your noses folks, the stench will get mighty strong as Republicans May Clear Way for DeLay Probe.


Secret Service Records Reveal Gannon Slept Over at the White House - Often

Secret Service records raise new questions about discredited conservative reporter

Little Jeffy Gannon/Guckert seems to have been packing his footy pajamas for his pajama parties at the White House. With whom was he spending the night?

The Jihadis of Penzance

The war on terror as a Gilbert and Sullivan Libretto. From the Asia Times. Funny.


Powerline's antidote actually poison

Powerline's Scott Johnson deliberately avoids the issue of whether or not the GOP is inappropriately mixing religion and politics. He calls liberal concern over whether or not the US is veering towards a theocracy alarmist. He refers us to an article by By Michael Barone of Real Clear Politics as "an antidote to the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the left about the role of religion in our politics." Here's Barone from the article:

But whether the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy is actually a silly question. No religion is going to impose laws on an unwilling Congress or the people of this country. And we have long lived comfortably with a few trappings of religion in the public space, such as "In God We Trust" or "God save this honorable court."

The real question is whether strong religious belief is on the rise in America and the world.

How nice of him to supply this antidote to my pain. Unfortunately, it only made it worse. Note to Mr. Barone and Mr. Johson: Saying an argument is "silly" isn't an effective counter argument. Second Note: Where in the name of Teri Schiavo were you for the last couple of months? Didn't you witness the same congress I did passing laws nobody wanted for expressly religious purposes? Third Note: Religions won't impose laws on Congress. A radically religious Congress will impose laws on us.

Now, is the real question whether or not religious belief is on the rise in America and the World? I guess it is if one is concerned more with the spread of a particular religion than you are with good government. But if you are concerned with staying within the bounds of the American Experiment, the real question, the one raised by the left, is whether or not our elected leaders are putting their religion ahead of the constitution. When the majority leader, Senator Bill Frist salutes the Christian Flag then he is out of bounds. How about addressing that?

And how about this gem:

Fifty years ago, secular liberals were confident that education, urbanization and science would lead people to renounce religion. That seems to have happened, if you confine your gaze to Europe, Canada and American university faculty clubs.

This is so nonsensical it barely computes. Secular liberals (at least most of them) don't want to lead people to renounce religion any more than secular conservatives. We want to protect it. The only way to protect religion is to keep it out of the government. That's why we have - repeat after me - Freedom of Religion. Oh, I forgot. That's what you don't like.

Bolton will decrease America's Stature and Power

Move America Forward is supporting the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN with a couple of ad campaigns. The most recent targets Senator Voinavich for raising issues with the nominee. The first, at right shown at right, highlights what these folks believe they will achieve via a Bolton confirmation:

We are pleased to launch our national television ad campaign urging Americans to join our efforts to get the U.N. out of the U.S. and halt American funding of this corrupt and anti-American institution.

This assessment of the UN is consistent with Bolton's comments regarding the institution:

"There is no such thing as the United Nations ... There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interests and we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own." -Global Structures Convocation, Feb. 3 1994

The White House's insistence that Bolton is the right choice is particularly cockeyed at the most critical juncture to date in the war in Iraq. We want to hand over sovereignity, eventually, don't we? We will need allies to do that. Why is it a good idea to walk into the UN, hitch up our britches and say, "look, this is the way it's gonna be, or else." This approach will not increase US power and stature in the world. We cannot force people to cooperate via monetary or military might, not really. We cannot increase our power by holding other countries in contempt. The power of attraction is much greater than the power of promotion and coercion. Bolton's approach will result in our allies giving us a death of a thousand cuts. At every turn they will resist us, subtely, diplomatically, bureaucratically. US influence will decrease. US stature will decrease. Cooperation will decrease. The burden on all Americans, in lives and money will increase.

Bolton, by some reckoning, is a "Get-it-done" kind of guy, or a "blunt but effective" kind of guy. I like "get-it-done" kind of guys. I like them in charge of my tax dollars. Republicans consistently lay the the blame for the stalled nomination process at the feet of Democrats. That's a lie, of course. If they could convince Republicans that Bolton isn't a disaster, his confirmation would click along nicely.

But an Ambassador shouldn't be habitually undiplomatic. Republicans that haven't completely lost touch with reality know this. It creates diplomatic crisis'. Real power occurs as the result of a willing contract between leaders and those they lead. Bolton can't possibly hope to negotiate that contract on behalf of the US.


Stick a fork in Bolton, please

So now colin Powell is quietly nixing Bush's spit-in-the-eye-of-the-UN nominee John Bolton.

Bush, via company drone Scott Mclellan, is supporting his man. He would have us believe resistance is futile. Bush says Democrats are just making stuff up. Mclellan says negative characterizations of Bolton are unsubstantiated. After a slew of republicans that rose to oppose bolton, one wonders what he would consider substantiation? Video? And Cheney called for some kind of weird solidarity with Bolton. Solidarity with what? The ability to hold allies in contempt and treat those that disagree with Bolton like untrainable dogs?

I have to believe that the average moderate American doesn't really want a fire breather in the UN. Although radio shouters and talking heads wouldn't have you believe it, believing the UN should be abolished is a radical position. It's just plain common sense to belive that we will get further in the world with the help and friendship of our allies. Why have a guy representing the country that has spent his career pissing off allies?

And of course moderate Republicans are reconsidering supporting Bolton. That's really telling in an age when one would no more expect to find a republican out of lockstep with his party than you would a talking fish.

Enough already. Stick a fork in Bolton. Please.

Condi the fact fudger

In a move that is utterly consistent with the Bush administration's habit of simply eliminating the evidence of facts they don't like, Condi Rice has cancelled a 19-year-old terrorism report. The reason? It documents that more terrorist attacks occured in 2004 than in any year preceding it, including the previous record-holder, 2003.

Of course the right will accuse the left of "going negative." But it is difficult to conceive of a more cynical, negative act done for worse motives than cleansing history to protect the illusion that the emperor is clothed.


I (heart) my LJ

One of the girls at the center of the Winona vagina controversy has a Live Journal. In her LJ, Carrie Rethlefsen describes how she got in trouble for wearing the "I (heart) my vagina" pin and her ongoing protest against the school.

This is turning into a pretty big story. It's now shown up on Fark, BoingBoing, and Metafilter. You can follow the desemination of the story with this Technorati search (stolen from Frozen Tundra, but modified to remove porno spam blogs).

As I predicted, some conservatives are not happy. With titles like The ACLU...It Never Ceases to Amaze Me What They WILL Support, Compared to What They WON'T Support, Crossing The Decency Line, and Well I love it too babe, Let me give it a kiss you can practically hear the sound of uncomfortably tight pants being shifted.

UPDATE: I think we'd be remiss without linking to Mitch's The Narcissism Monologues. [CO]


Welcome to the fold

A friend of mine helped create what may be Minnesota's first political podcast, at least from the Democratic side of the aisle.

Inside Minnesota Politics with Peter Idusogie

Peter has interviewed a couple of the candidates for DFL State Party Chair. Give it a listen.

Wingnuts shift uncomfortably

Cute high school girls who are proud of their sexuality, and not afraid to show it? And the ACLU is involved? Watch out for howls of protest from the right. Meanwhile, notice how the wingnuts shift uncomfortably in their seats.

Star Tribune: 2 Winona High students put free speech to the test:

Two Winona High School students have found themselves in hot water with school officials.

Why? Because after Carrie Rethlefsen attended a performance of the play "The Vagina Monologues" last month, she and Emily Nixon wore buttons to school that read: "I [heart] My Vagina."

School leaders said that the pin is inappropriate and that the discomfort it causes trumps the girls' right to free speech. The girls disagree. And despite repeated threats of suspension and expulsion, Rethlefsen has continued to wear her button.

The girls have won support from other students and community members.

More than 100 students have ordered T-shirts bearing "I [heart] My Vagina" for girls and "I Support Your Vagina" for boys.

"We can't really find out what is inappropriate about it," Rethlefsen, 18, said of the button she wears to raise awareness about women's issues. "I don't think banning things like that is appropriate."

Their case could become another test of whether high school students have the right to express their views in school. Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, has offered to help the girls.

"It's political speech," he said.

Credit Card Congress

Jonathan Alter on the bankruptcy "reform" bill, which Bush signed yesterday:

[T]his bill, like so many others moving through Congress, comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted. Worse, it provides for no distinction between those who get unlucky in Las Vegas and those who get cancer. The law was literally written by the credit-card industry, the same folks whose siren-song targeting of high-risk borrowers caused much of the bankruptcy problem in the first place. First Congress puts a half trillion in budget deficits a year on the plastic for our grandchildren to pay off. Then it sells out the average American to predatory lenders, who have the run of the place. History should remember the 109th as the Credit Card Congress.

I've heard all sorts of frightening rumors and speculation about this bill (for example, an alleged provision that debtors will be required to pay off credit card companies before they can pay new child care bills), but I really haven't had time to scour all 501 pages to confirm them. On the whole, it seem like a mistake, a new legal way to screw the poor in the name of "growth". But as the Christian Science Monitor points out, poor people ain't stupid:

"The thing that makes people file for bankruptcy is not the statute. It's lack of money, and that happens whether the bankruptcy code says X or Y," he says. "If you can't buy food, you don't worry about the niceties of the statute."

But some experts believe this new bill is going to create an even larger number of "informal bankruptcies" - people who simply move and leave no forwarding address, change their telephone numbers or hang up on creditors, and restructure their financial affairs to hide their assets.

"This new bill is erecting obstacles to formal bankruptcies so the likely response is that there will be more informal bankruptcies," says Lawrence Ausubel, an economics professor at the University of Maryland in College Park who has studied the practice of informal bankruptcies.

Even so, I see this bill as encouraging predatory lending and irresponsible credit extensions, since now it seems creditors have more ways to squeeze blood out of a stone.

I should note that this bill was sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, an active member of the Family. I'd like to see him explain to Jesus why he's fallen in love with the money changers.


Comments on the new pope

The best comment I have heard so far is that Pope Benedict XVI is John Paul II without the charisma. I do not think his doctrinaire positions are going to stem the losses of Catholics in the West to areligion or more progressive denominations. Meanwhile, "more of the same" is not going to keep Catholics in the Global South from converting to Pentecostalism. In other words, I think the Church is in trouble. But we'll see what policies he undertakes.

However, I do not think electing such a conservative pope is an aberration. It's probably the shape of things to come. As the Atlantic Monthly laid out in The Next Christianity, the major churches are growing fastest in the Global South, and these Southern Hemisphere churches are very conservative by Western standards. As northerners in Europe and America advocate for liberal reforms, the southerners who already make up the majority of the Catholic Church are intensely conservative. This is a recipe for schism.

Star Tribune: Benedict XVI: Pastor or enforcer?

Salon: "The church will continue to suffer": Father Andrew Greeley, Michael Lerner, Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Fox, Amy Sullivan, John T. McGreevy and others weigh in on the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI.

...and remember, "You may not be interested in Christianity, but Christianity is interested in you."

Update: As a born Catholic, I have been amused by the mostly Protestant religious conservatives' new-found admiration for the Church. Weren't you just telling us all that we aren't really Christians? Alicublog has been thinking along the same line, but his post on it is far more sarcastic than I could ever be:

The attraction of the True Faith for wingnuts amuses those of us born into it, though I imagine it is a deadly serious matter for the world's Hewitts, who find the mission of the Church identical to that of American conservatism -- that is, not just a containment of but an end to homosexuality, adultery, and indeed every sin but covetousness, which modern Catholicism has enshrined as a positive virtue.


Panzer Pope

It's Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

The House of Scandal

Delay's House of Scandal

See the house that Tom built.

No new union at the University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota grad students have rejected a union, again. This may have largely been due to efforts of the anti-union kids at Truth About Unionization [sic], which is dominated entirely by relatively well-paid chemistry and chemical engineering grad students. It's a frustrating day, but props to the had-working folks at GradTRAC for all their thankless efforts to get an enormous group of U. workers organized.


Minneapolis Ward 10 DFL Convention Report

I spent a rainy Saturday as a delegate for the Minneapolis 10th Ward DFL Convention. The purpose of the convention was to endorse a candidate for the open Ward 10 City Council seat and to select committee members for the City Convention. The convention ended with no endorsement, but there were some interesting maneuvers and I got a glimpse inside the mayoral campaign.

Competing for the council endorsement were Scott Persons, Allan Bernard, Gay Noble, Harry Savage, and Ralph Remington. It takes 60% of the delegates to get the endorsement. Community activist Remington had the most support (up to 44% on the fifth and last ballot) but not enough to take home the prize. He was blocked from the endorsement by supporters of Persons and Bernard, who was dropped from consideration after the 4th ballot. Noble and Savage did not have enough supporters to make a big difference. (Savage, a twenty-something conservative democrat with a penchant for insulting the audience -- and his opponents, who he called "leftist" and "Stalinist" -- wins the award for worst campaign slogan of all time: "Run with the Savage. You may not like it, but you don't have a choice.") The Minneapolis Observer has posted their account here (Damn it! Scooped by the "Old" Media! I blame Blogger for being down all day.)

With no endorsement, even the candidates who pledged to drop out if they failed to get the DFL endorsement (Bernard, Noble, and Remington) will stay in the race, which will now go to a September primary. The top two candidates will go on to the general election. It will likely be more expensive because of the failure to endorse, and I will have to deal with more phone calls.

The four serious candidates are mostly pretty similar in their views. I liked Remington because he is very energetic, believes in smart development, and supports revising the Minneapolis charter to move to a "strong mayor" system (The Star Tribune has been advocating reforms in its Minneapolis: Who's In Charge? series). Development is going to be a big wedge issue in the 10th ward race, with the other front runner Scott Persons supporting more development in Uptown, and Ralph Remington advocating smaller-scale projects.

For all the gory details including vote counts, check out the convention minutes.

Mayoral Machinations

There was also some behind-the-scenes moves in the mayoral campaign, leading up to the May 14 Minneapolis DFL City Convention. I spoke with some Rybak volunteers and they believe that McLaughlin is going to try to stop the DFL endorsement at the convention. McLaughlin has promised not to run if not endorsed, so for him, preventing the DFL from endorsing Rybak is essential for his campaign (Rybak will run regardless.). The Rybak campaign is putting up candidates for the Rules Committee to keep the rules favorable to a a Rybak endorsement. This made the ordinarily boring, uncontested nomination of rules committee members a proxy vote that tested the mayoral campaigns' organizations. At the 10th Ward convention, the Rybak Rules Committee candidates swamped the McLaughlin candidates.

However, I believe the mayoral contest will come down to no endorsement. I don't think either candidate has the 60% necessary to endorse. McLaughlin is picking up a lot of support from the "traditional" DFL like labor and Stonewall. I think that will be enough to deny Rybak the endorsement, but not necessarily clinch it for McLaughlin.

This race is really heating up. Check out the Minneapolis Observer's account of the second mayoral debate last Thursday.


Senator Frist Salutes the Christian Flag

The attack on our national identity from the Christian Right continues. Bill Frist the senate majority leader and one of the most prominent Republicans in the country is joining forces with a virulent dominionist attack on one of the pillars of american heritage and the foundation of good government - a free and independent judiciary.

Frist Set to Use Religious Stage on Judicial Issue

As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms.

For those of you who have been snoozing, Bush has an 88% confirmation rate for his judicial ticket. Naturally, the GOP does not accept a democratic outcome (and by that I mean an outcome that is true to the spirit of Democracy). Nothing less than 100% confirmation is acceptable to them. And now they are revealing their true colors. This isn't about this or that social issue. This is about something far more basic. It's about the role of government in our lives.

The most powerful Senator in the land is ramming his religious agenda down the throat of America. Freedom is at risk.

Dump Bachmann on the radio

I'm not sure what this "radio" thing is (apparently, it is some sort of podcast that doesn't require an iPod), but Eva Young of the Dump Bachmann blog is going to be on the radio today -- with Michele Bachmann. The broadcast is 1:00 - 2:00 PM today (i.e., about 15 minutes from now) on KKMS 980 AM, so tune in if you can.


Serving the have-mores

Attention all you competition-squashing profit-hoarding titans in the Fortune 500 companies: if you truly want to receive some flash handouts, or maybe just quietly suckle at the teat of public funding, try Wisconsin.

Tax-dodgers redux

Per Lorika's request below, here is a public list of Minnesota's delinquent taxpayers. [via Paul Demko]

Slime-mold tribute to three courageous men

Three new species of fungus-eating beetle named after Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. This is apparently a very serious tribute by conservative entomologists. Here is the citation in case anyone wants to look this stuff up at the library.

Christian flag

There have been a number of articles over the last couple of years that have begun to detail the rise of the Dominionists - people who believe that Christians have been called to take over the US Government. These people do not belive in Separation of Church and State, rather the believe the first amendment exists to clear the way for Christians to lead. They believe that Gay Sex and abortion should be a felony,that public schools should be abolished. They view themselves as a persecuted minority pitted against an aggressive, oppressive secular movement. They want to purify America and prepare it for the return of Jesus.

The most detailed is Katherin Yurica's The Despoiling of America, How George W. Bush became the head of the new American Dominionist Church/State The Guardian cast a jaundiced eye towards the movement in Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power

This month's Rolling Stone has a story on the Dominionist confab last February. I am reading along, not really learning anything new. There's Richard Land, check. There's a fountain of hypocrisy about impeaching activist judges while desperately working to appoint them. Check. There's James Kennedy giving us the fascist lowdown:

Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.


Then I get to something new. I am reading along and there it is: The really scary bit:

In the conference's opening ceremony, the Dominionists recite an oath they dream of hearing in every classroom: "I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen and coming again, with life and liberty for all who believe.

It is time for the center in this country to become passionate about holding on to everything the center stands for - The fundamental understanding of freedom that says - "I might not agree with you but I will fight to the death for your right to believe as you do." It will be a long fight and the center should give no quarter. None. Otherwise, one day a Government Preacher will stroll into your School/House/Business/Bedroom/Restaurant/Movie Theatre/Capitol/Library and demand that you pledge allegiance to the Christian flag. You will wonder how he got there.

[update: I accidentally switched off comments when I published this thing...Sorry!]


Hey, I feed the beast, so should you!

My favorite is flower-lender Jeffrey P. Van Haveren

Reminder: Drinking Liberally TONIGHT in Minneapolis

Don't forget Drinking Liberally tonight in Minneapolis, hosted by the Minnesota blogosphere's very own Robin from Power Liberal.

Wednesday April 13th, 6:00-9:00 pm
Liquor Lyles, 2000 Block, Hennepin Avenue (in the back)

I plan on dropping by around 7 or so. Hope to see you there!

Oh no!

Britney Spears is pregnant. Let the new national obsession begin.

I don't know if I can take nine more months of this (followed by a lifetime of the sure-to-be warped child's antics).

Oh please let it be Newt

Eye on '08, Newt hits Iowa, N.H.

I'd love to see a strong dem run against a guy who divorced his wife on her deathbed.

Oh joy

As if we need more evidence of the utter hypocrisy of the GOP, all but one republican voted against this bill, while all Democrats voted for it. Read this story in the Army Times:

Senate won’t add veterans’ health funds to supplemental

The amendment was blocked by a parliamentary motion from Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, who said the funding is not really an emergency need. The Senate voted in support of Cochran’s position, and then voted again when Murray tried to get the amendment approved even if the funding was not characterized as an emergency. The outcome was the same, with 54 senators voting to block funding and 46 voting to provide it.

“The administration has not asked for these funds,” Cochran said in explaining the rejection of the amendment.

Excuse me? The administration has not asked for these funds? Can these people not think for themselves? No, they cannot. Republicans clearly cares less about the health of our veterans than they do about preventing the Democrats from notching a victory.


Dark times for workers

Here's something I noticed simply from the fact that I'm unable to buy half as much food as I did a year ago: Wages are lagging behind prices for the first time in 14 years, while corporate profits explode.

The effective 0.2-percentage-point erosion in workers' living standards occurred while the economy expanded at a healthy 4%, better than the 3% historical average.

Meanwhile, corporate profits hit record highs as companies got more productivity out of workers while keeping pay increases down.

Some see climbing profits and stagnant wages as not only unfair but also ultimately unsustainable. "Those that are baking the larger pie ought to see their slices expanding," said Jared Bernstein, an economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

Hell, I'm confident that the situation will improve, what with President Bush's crack economic team on the case!


Dobson compares Judges to KKK

On his radio broadcast today, James Dobson compared the federal judiciary to the KKK:

DOBSON: I heard a minister the other day talking about the great injustice and evil of the men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan, that roamed the country in the South, and they did great wrong to civil rights and to morality. And now we have black-robed men, and that's what you're talking about.

Now I ask you, is this really mainstream? Is this what Bush voters support? Because this is what we are getting. America has flourished, infact depends, on an independent judiciary. And here we have absolute cretins with no concept of freedom or diginty or balance advocating the destruction of one of the pillars of American government.

And oh, by the way, yes, I know that Dobson isn't elected. He's a symptom of the disease, a vile carrier of intolerance, opportunism and religious fervor. Tom Delay, Rick Santorum, John Cornyn, Sam Brownback, Richard Shelby and Minnesota's own Michelle Bachman - They are the disease. How far will Bush voters let these apparatchiks go before the kick them out of office? Pretty far, I wager. Far enough to disfigure America, anyway.

Bachman is ...Curious?

Michelle Bachman hides in bushes at last Thursday's rally in support of GLBT rights. Let's see, Flout Senate Rules, Lurk at Gay Rally...It's all in a day's work for our local gopgirlgonemad.

From Eleventh Ave. South

Bottom Line: They'd get off on a murder charge because they're bonkers

More evidence that the assumptions we once shared about the beauty of the American Way, our noble systems of checks and balances, are being strangled to death by the Christian Right was revealed on Saturday. Phyllis Schlafly and crew called for the Impeachment of Justice Kennedy during a conference called Confronting The Judicial War On Faith. Kennedy evidently practices law on for the dark side, as in he "...upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law." Oh Sweet Jesus, not foreign law.

And you know it's bad when one of the speakers calls for Stalin's final solution: "No Man. No Problem," and the little sheep applaud.

These people are straight up insane.

Gannon pang

Crooks and Liars has some priceless footage of Jeff Gannon's appearance at the National Press Club. For all you Gannon apologists out there, tune in for a visual definition of "lying clown."

Scientific American: Scientists doing the evidence dance

I don't know if anybody caught Scientific American's April editorial, but it's as good of an endictment of the Intelligent Design, Bush, Fair and Balanced Journalism as any.

There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.


In praise of celebrity economists

If "celebrity economists" have any value to the world, it's when they eject the constraints of their dismal science, clear their throats, and start influencing public opinion in ways that contribute to the common good. This is why I now love Paul Krugman, though his pro-globalism positions really used to burn me up back in the Clinton years. I've also come to love Jeffrey Sachs, whose new book The End of Poverty seems worth reading, especially now that people are paying attention to the UN Millennium Project again. In this CounterPunch interview, Sachs not only drops a handful of practical suggestions on how to start eliminating world poverty, but exorts us lazy-ass Americans to start making a difference ourselves:

Politicians in Washington think Americans don't care. I don't believe that. The Americans I know do care, but they need to tell their members of Congress that it is not a dangerous vote to support increased U.S. efforts to help the poorest of the poor in the world.

Just drop a one-sentence note to your Congressman and Senators: "This is not a dangerous vote. We want to help. It is going to make a safer world for us, and it is part of our moral and religious values. We want to be saving children if they can be saved."

The political voice is crucial because our country needs to stand up and do more than we are doing right now. Our country is not really engaged in this effort with the intensity many Americans assume we are, and certainly not at the level we have promised to be and can afford to be. Public opinion polls show Americans believe we spend 25% of our federal budget on foreign aid, when it is really less than 1%. We're providing very, very small amounts of help, much smaller than we said we would.


Power Line Rant

The Power Line boys get it from both barrels in this awesome rant by athenae.

Freedom isn't free, you miserable chickenshits. You cheer the war, you love the war, you love the troops, you support the troops. But to recognize their sacrifices would diminish your pleasure so you send the images away. You jackholes are the ones who are always bitching that the left "blames America first." You're the first to blame "the media," to blame "bias" when things don't look the way you saw them on the outside of the box. Why do you now blame the photographers who bring you images of the dead and wounded, of protest, conflict? Why don't you blame the terrorists? Why don't you go wave a little flag in the face all this carnage because certainly it's exactly the item you put your finger next to on the menu. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED. LOOK AT IT. Print out every single one of those photos and paper mama's basement with them, chickenhawks. Here's your war, in all its glory. Max your credit card out, because freedom isn't free.

I'm tired of their constant yapping about the media, especially these war reporters out in the trenches in Iraq. Do you know how many of these guys have died? They are out there every day risking their lives to bring us news about the war you started. But you only want to listen when the news is good. Tough. Here in the real world, we take the good and the bad at the same time. If you've got real information showing the media got something wrong -- and they do, we all do sometimes -- by all means, blog it. But if you are making insinuations because you don't like the stories that are getting reported, shove it.


Delay paid his wife out of his PAC

Tom Delay put his wife and daughter on the payroll of his PAC.

WASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

See ya,Tom.


Aeneas at Washington

I myself saw furious with blood
Neoptolemus, at his side the black Atridae,
Hecuba and the hundred daughters, Priam
Cut down, his filth drenching the holy fires.
In that extremity I bore me well,
A true gentleman, valorous in arms,
Distinterested and honourable. Then fled:
That was a time when civilization
Run by the few fell to the many, and
Crashed to the shout of men, the clang of arms:
Cold victualing I seized, I hoisted up
The old man my father upon my back,
In the smoke made by sea for a new world
Saving little—a mind imperishable
If time is, a love of past things tenuous
As the hesitation of receding love.

(To the reduction of uncitied littorals
We brought chiefly the vigor of prophecy,
Our hunger breeding calculation
And fixed triumphs)

                                 The thirsty dove I saw
In the glowing fields of Troy, hemp ripening
And tawny corn, the thickening Blue Grass
All lying rich forever in the green sun.
I see all things apart, the towers that men
Contrive I too contrived long, long ago.
Now I demand little. The singular passion
Abides its object and consumes desire
In the circling shadow of its appetite.
There was a time when the young eyes were slow,
Their flame steady beyond the firstling fire,

I stood in the rain, far from home at nightfall
By the Potomac, the great Dome lit the water,
The city my blood had built I knew no more
While the screech-owl whistled his new delight
Consecutively dark.

                                  Stuck in the wet mire
Four thousand leagues from the ninth buried city
I thought of Troy, what we had built her for.

                    ::Allen Tate (1936)

[n.b. it is National Poetry Month, and this astonishing poem -- where Aeneas likely symbolized an Old South shocked at the New Deal -- is ripe for irony. Thirsty doves and screech owls indeed...what was Troy built for again? Tate was not only a New Critic (which means we're invited to ram this poem through whatever contexts we see fit), but he was practically a brother to my 2nd all-time favorite poet, Hart Crane. And he was a professor at the University of Minnesota throughout the fifties and sixties: this Kentuckian was scribbling and droning on our turf, and thus deserves Gopher reclamation.]

Oh joy...

As if more evidence of incompetence were needed, there's this:

US relied on 'drunken liar' to justify war

According to a US presidential commission looking into pre-war intelligence failures, the basis for pivotal intelligence on Iraq's alleged biological weapons programmes and fleet of mobile labs was a spy described as 'crazy' by his intelligence handlers and a 'congenital liar' by his friends.

The defector, given the code-name Curveball by the CIA, has emerged as the central figure in the corruption of US intelligence estimates on Iraq. Despite considerable doubts over Curveball's credibility, his claims were included in the administration's case for war without caveat.

According to the report, the failure of US spy agencies to scrutinise his claims are the 'primary reason' that they 'fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's [biological weapons] programs'. The catalogue of failures and the gullibility of US intelligence make for darkly comic reading, even by the standards of failure detailed in previous investigations. Of all the disproven pre-war weapons claims, from aluminium centrifuge tubes to yellow cake uranium from Niger, none points to greater levels of incompetence than those found within the misadventures of Curveball.


Pope John Paul II

There are many unkind things I could say about the late Pope John Paul II, particularly regarding his ass-backward views on sexuality, reproductive rights, and women. Yet I'll always admire his stern warnings about globalism and unbridled capitalism, which (along with his media-savvy papal tactics) will hopefully be his most lasting contributions to the Catholic Church. His most thorough theological examination of capitalism and development came in his 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis, which has this to say, even before the Berlin Wall fell:

There is no justification then for despair or pessimism or inertia. Though it be with sorrow, it must be said that just as one may sin through selfishness and the desire for excessive profit and power, one may also be found wanting with regard to the urgent needs of multitudes of human beings submerged in conditions of underdevelopment, through fear, indecision and, basically, through cowardice. We are all called, indeed obliged, to face the tremendous challenge of the last decade of the second Millennium, also because the present dangers threaten everyone: a world economic crisis, a war without frontiers, without winners or losers. In the face of such a threat, the distinction between rich individuals and countries and poor individuals and countries will have little value, except that a greater responsibility rests on those who have more and can do more.

Eleven years later, he visited Cuba, one of the few remaining communist states, and had this to say:

On the other hand, some places are witnessing the resurgence of a certain capitalist neoliberalism which subordinates the human person to blind market forces, and conditions the development of peoples on those forces. From its centers of power, such neoliberalism often places unbearable burdens upon less favored countries. Hence, at times, unsustainable economic programs are imposed on nations as a condition for further assistance. In the international community, we thus see a small number of countries growing exceedingly rich at the cost of the growing impoverishment of a great number of other countries; as a result the wealthy grow ever wealthier, while the poor grow ever poorer.

Well that's why this lapsed Catholic has been able to ignore the Pope's unfounded pronouncements on sex and contraception, in the hope that his consciousness of world poverty would one day bring him to his senses.

Anyway, we Minnesotans will always hold him dear to our hearts for that moment six years ago in St. Louis, when he was presented with a hockey stick. "So I am prepared to return once more to play hockey," he mumbled loudly. "But if I will be able to, that is the question. Perhaps after this meeting, I will be a bit more ready!" Upon which the infirm old man began hobbling off stage, paused, then swung his own cane in an imaginary Gordie Howe hook check.


Lakhoff a great guru, lousy framer?

George Lakoff is all the rage in the Democratic Party these days. Perhaps his thinking deserves it. But Ezra Klein has given voice to some of my discomfort with Lakhoff. Mostly, I don't think his frames are convincing.

In presenting his case for why Howard Dean's determination to make George Lakoff the Democratic Frank Luntz is the wrong strategy, Brad Plumer forgets to mention why it's completely insane.

Geroge Lakoff -- I'm sorry to say -- is absolutely horrible at framing things. No, I mean it, the guy is atrociously fucking bad at it. He's a perfectly good guru because he understands what framing is and why it's important and I'm glad that Democrats are realizing we need to put some thought into our language, but Jesus Christ, has anybody actually read his book? He's the worst goddamn framer I've ever read. Democrats should be the nurturing parent? Are you kidding me? [via Needlenose]

It's food for thought, anyway.

Delay abuses the flag

Tom Delay is using the image of a flag at half mast to illustrate his statement about Terry Schiavo on his website. Really, this guy is just incredible. Doesn't he know what the flag at half mast means? There are laws that govern how and when the flag is to be flown at half mast. It is done by the order of Presidents and Governors.

Forget for a moment that Delay's statement actually threatens the judges that ruled, unanimously, in favor of pulling Schiavo's feeding tube. Consider that Delay is conflating Terry Schiavo with a principal figure of the United States Government, the Governor of a State, territory, or possession or a foreign dignitary. That is somehow an apt exclamation point on the unseemly orgy of Fundy Republican propaganda that has just been schmeered across our national conscience via the shell of a human that used to be Terry Schiavo. Of course, it's just business as usual for Delay. He debases all things American by just showing up to work. What a putz.


Sex ed, Bush Style - Just say no to the truth

So the government has launched an abstinence only website that is raising hackles among the reality-based crowd.

Government Web Site Telling Parents to Promote Teen Abstinence Draws Protest

An array of advocacy groups are calling on the federal government to take down one of its new Web sites, saying it presents biased and inaccurate advice to parents on how to talk to their children about sex.

Those hackles are raised for good reason. Abstinence only education raises the incidence of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. That's generally considered a bad thing. Minnesota's experiment with it failed miserably. It should also be common knowledge that in Bush's sex fantasy "Values trumps data."

It's nothing new, granted, but it is especially creepy. It means that you can't really trust information from the US Department of Health and Human Services. They have too strong of an agenda and have too clear of a history of removing, revising or just plain making up facts to fit their ideological agenda. That's a particularly hard burden for parents to bear these days, at least for parents that want to teach their kids to think.

Now they notice?

Where have these guys been? I mean, it's not like the republicans haven't been kicking people with different points of view out of their events for the last five years or anything...

Bush event exclusions ripped

Members of Congress from both parties on Thursday raised sharp questions about the exclusion of political opponents from two taxpayer-funded appearances by President Bush.