Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Monkey boy learns a new word

Dispelling as false any charges of prisoner abuse by Americans at Guantanamo Bay, monkey boy declared at a press conference today that all accusations can be narrowed down to people who haven't been tortured sufficiently to learn the truth "people who hate America."

As an aside, monkey boy gets a gold star sticker today for helping reporters learn a new word: disassemble (emphasis added):

THE PRESIDENT: Terry.

Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, recently, Amnesty International said you have established "a new gulag" of prisons around the world, beyond the reach of the law and decency. I'd like your reaction to that, and also your assessment of how it came to this, that that is a view not just held by extremists and anti-Americans, but by groups that have allied themselves with the United States government in the past -- and what the strategic impact is that in many places of the world, the United States these days, under your leadership, is no longer seen as the good guy.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is -- promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble [sic] -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is. And, you know -- yes, sir.

Junior gets an "A" for effort, but an "F" for results. He used the wrong word. He meant to say "dissemble."

Here's "dissemble" used in a new sentence:

President Bush lied dissembled when he presented to Congress, the American people, and the rest of the world, his evidence to justify a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

Is anyone in Congress saying the "I" word yet?

Army War College criticizes Bush's war strategy

The elite Army War College just issued a critical assessment of the Bush administration's military strategy in the "War on Terror":

In the three years since 9-11, the Administration has yet to arrive at a clear definition of the enemy or the aim in the War on Terrorism; to date, American policy has combined ambitious public statements with ambiguity on critical particulars. Heretofore, the costs of pursuing such ambitious but ill-defined goals have been high but tolerable. The ongoing insurgency in Iraq, however, is increasing the costs of grand strategic ambiguity to the point where fundamental choices can no longer be deferred. ...

Terrorism, after all, is a tactic, not an enemy. Taken literally, a “war on terrorism” is closer to a “war on strategic bombing” or a “war on amphibious assault” than it is to orthodox war aims or wartime grand strategies; one normally makes war on an enemy, not a method. Nor can one simply assume that anyone who uses terrorist tactics is to be the target of American war making. “Terrorism” is a diverse tactic, used by many groups in many ways to serve many different political agendas. Many of these groups and agendas pose no immediate threat to Americans. In fact, prior to 2001, it was rare for Americans to be killed by international terrorists. ...

Even in 2001, death by terrorism could be considered extremely “rare” as a source of morbidity or mortality in the population as a whole: more Americans died of peptic ulcers than were killed by terrorists in history’s worst year for terrorism against Americans. This is still too many deaths, but by how many? ...

A war that encompassed literally any group using terrorist tactics would be impossibly broad, engulfing a wide range of groups posing no meaningful threat to America. Terrorism per se thus cannot be the enemy. But it is far from clear exactly who the enemy is. The administration has made some effort to delimit the problem by adding the phrase “of global reach.” This is little help, however. In a globalized world, any terrorist with an airline ticket or an internet service provider has “global reach.” ...

An unbounded threat definition can also pose serious problems, however. Perhaps most important, it risks making unnecessary enemies, and unnecessarily expanding the hostile coalition. It does this by creating common cause among disparate terrorists and driving together groups with very different interests and agendas. ...

Among the most important responsibilities of the grand strategist is to create allies for oneself and deny them to one’s opponent. ... In a world where the interconnections among terrorist groups are ambiguous, a central aim of American strategy ought thus to be to drive wedges between these groups wherever possible to reduce, not increase, their marginal proclivity for cooperation and joint action against us. A broad but unspecific definition of the enemy that refuses to exclude any meaningful terror group could easily do just the opposite, unifying a polyglot terrorist alliance, and risking self-fulfilling prophecy by driving together groups who would otherwise have sat on the sidelines rather than making war on distant America.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Subsidized cypress mulching

While the Corps of Engineers has tried to limit cypress logging when such activities fell within their oversight, the law is not clear about the imperative of preserving cypress forests, according to a Sierra magazine article.

This fact was underscored when the Corps granted a permit to a landowner to clear 7000 acres of cypress. Concerned citizens responded by taking ownership of the campaign to save cypress, convincing towns and parishes to ban the use of cypress, and working with gardeners to offer equally effective alternatives, like pine. The next plan of attack is to get the big retail boxes to stop selling cypress mulch. Home Depot is at the top of the list. But Lowes and Wal-Mart should be approached too.

The Honey Island Group of the Sierra Club's Delta Chapter has a number of useful tips on how individual citizens can act to save cypress from being mulched, including a powerpoint presentation.

A number of municipalities and parishes on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain have banned the use of cypress mulch on the properties they manage, including Hammond, Mandeville, Covington, Ponchatoula, Slidell (informal), St. Tammany and Livingston parishes.

For those interested in lobbying the mulch companies directly here's the handy Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association directory of companies that deal in cypress.

As if the struggle against cypress logging weren't hard enough, it seems that citizens have to fight even how their tax dollars are spent. In the C.B. Forgotston mailbag, I found this letter authored by Doug Brandon on the use of Louisiana tax dollars to build a cypress mulching plant in Tensas parish for Corbitt Manufacturing. It appears that the Louisiana Department of Economic Development gave a grant of $500,000 to encourage cypress destruction for mulch:

June 13, 2002

C.B

Last week was the start of a big setback for Louisiana's wetlands and coastal zone. Don Huthchsinson personally pushed through a $500,000 grant to Corbitt Manufacturing, a cypress mulch manufacturing who is running out of raw materials in Florida. Now he wants to come to LA and profit from cutting the cypress that is just now getting back from the old clear cut days that so damaged our wetlands in the early part of the last century.

The concerns over the destruction of cypress swamps from logging operations is well documented FL. We should be doing everything in our power to guard against over harvesting our cypress trees up to the point where we might consider a ban harvesting of cypress (at least for it to be grinded up into mulch) until the results of some ongoing studies on regeneration and other issues are finished. Instead Don Hutchinson and DED is using taxpayer money to give them money to help destroy a vital resource in our wetlands. Al this while spouting off about how he is bringing high tech industries to the state. Give me a break.

The way I'm told, the grant was pushed through and funded by a slush fund that DED brass and the Governor controls. Staff members had strongly cautioned Hutchinson about adverse environmental affects and strongly urged him to stop the project. Hutchinson intimidated them into changing their analysis before the matter went for approval. All records of opposition were ordered destroyed. Senator Don Hines showed up at the review committee to lend his support. Makes you wonder if there’s a financial interest for him too.

The plant will be in Krotz Springs, so the Atchafalaya Basin can expect to be hit hard. I hope somehow, somebody can still stop this project. It's an outrage that taxpayer money is being used for this. Shame on Don Hutchinson and Senator Hines. It's time for both to go.

Finally, it's not too late to kill the Vitter provision to rollback the authority of the Corps of Engineers to control cypress logging. But more needs to be done to guarantee that cypress is protected. Louisiana needs a moratorium on cypress logging.

As I've stated rhetorically elsewhere on this blog, can anyone imagine Louisiana without a cypress swamp? It's time to do something to protect what remains.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bush to attack North Korea?

Reading between the lines of this NY Times story, I have to wonder, is the Bush administration planning a military strike against North Korea?

I found highly unusual the news that the State Department is suspending the search for remains of Americans killed in the Korean War, blaming North Korea for creating an "uncertain environment" by refusing to participate in six-party talks on its nuclear program, and withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

"It is a force-protection issue," said one military spokesman.

Here's why I wonder about a military strike: How does North Korea's nuclear program become a "force-protection issue?" I could understand if there were a concern about a troop mobilization to an area where Americans were present, or if there were intimidation of another kind against Americans. But nobody said any of these things was occurring - at least, not in the NY Times story.

Rather, it may be that the Bush administration is quietly moving Americans out of North Korea in anticipation of an attack.

Given the appalling results of the Iraq occupation, maybe Bush is thinking that a quick little tactical strike on some North Korean nuclear facilities will make him the beloved war president again, instead of the hated liar on the verge of impeachment.

Well, that might just be wishful thinking. Reports I've read recently suggest that the optimal time to take out North Korea's nuclear facilities has long passed. While Bush was thumbing his nose at North Korea, it opened up more nuclear facilities in hidden locations. There may be considerable uncertainty about where, precisely, those facilities are located now.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hands off public broadcasting

Media Matters is elevating the issue of partisan interference in public broadcasting with a campaign titled "Hands Off Public Broadcasting," asking supporters to:

Email your member of Congress asking him or her to support the Dingell/Obey letter calling for an investigation into the political influence being imposed on public broadcasting by CPB president Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

Visit Media Matters now.

Ivory-billed woodpecker, cypress logging, Corps of Engineers, & Vitter provision

Keyword analysis shows that the People Get Ready is getting a lot of hits on these issues.

Many hits are from the D.C. area. Could this be because NPR researchers were using People Get Ready for background on the battle between loggers and environmentalists in Louisiana? Whatever the case, I'm pleased that the issue is now getting the national exposure it merits.

The full Senate still hasn't taken action on the Water Resources Development Act of 2005 (S.728). The last action was:

4/26/2005:
Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 93.

For readers interested in these issues who aren't from NPR, or don't listen to NPR, but found they're way here anyway, I'd like to steer you to the NPR reports on this issue:
Battle Brews over Louisiana's Cypress Trees, Morning Edition, 5/26/2005

Unlikely Ally in Fight to Save La.'s Cypress Trees, Morning Edition, 5/27/2005

NPR didn't pick up the connection between saving wetland forests and saving the ivory-billed woodpecker, but there's more on that in my previous posts on the Vitter provision:
Vitter to kill ivory-billed woodpecker once and for all

Update on Vitter provision that will endanger the ivory-billed woodpecker's habitat

The timely Louisiana Governor's Science Working Group study definitively states that wetland forests are in danger of irreversible loss if logging is allowed:
New study emphasizes wetland forest preservation

If you want to take action to save wetland forests, these organizations have taken up the issue:
The Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club

The Gulf Restoration Network

Finally, Senator Vitter is right about one thing. The law needs to be much more clear about whether logging should, or should not, be permitted in wetland forests. Even if the Vitter provision is axed from the WRDA bill, more action should be taken to protect wetland forest habitat. One solution would be a moratorium on any logging in wetland forests.

Why hydrogen?

Er...maybe because the only way to efficiently produce hydrogen is by using fossil fuels? And that's good for the oil companies.

Here's Shell explaining it to monkey boy:



Why not hydrogen? Because, contrary to monkey boy's claims, it does nothing to decrease the United States' reliance on fossil fuels.

1) You'd lose less energy if you just burned fossil fuels, according to Culture Change:

Currently, most hydrogen is produced by the treatment of methane with steam, following the formula: CH4 (g) + H2O + e > 3H2(g) + CO(g). The CO(g) in this equation is carbon monoxide gas, which is a byproduct of the reaction.

Not entered into this formula is the energy required to produce the steam, which usually comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

For this reason, we do not escape the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. We simply transfer the generation of this pollution to the hydrogen production plants. This procedure of hydrogen production also results in a severe energy loss. First we have the production of the feedstock methanol from natural gas or coal at a 32 percent to 44 percent net energy loss. Then the steam treatment process to procure the hydrogen will result in a further 35 percent energy loss.

It has often been pointed out that we have an inexhaustible supply of water from which to derive hydrogen. However, this reaction, 2H2O + e = 2H2(g) + O2(g), requires a substantial energy investment per unit of water (286kJ per mole). This energy investment is required by elementary principles of chemistry and can never be reduced.

2) Because more energy could be conserved by increasing vehicle mileage requirements, according to the National Resources Defense Council:
By 2030, when fuel cells could be more prevalent, oil savings from conventional and hybrid vehicle fuel-economy improvements are still five times as great as those from fuel cell vehicles.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ethical Marketplace

WLAE TV (32) in New Orleans airs a fantastic program, Ethical Marketplace, Thursday nights at 8:00.

I just found the program tonight, but half the season is already over.

Tonight's episode focused on fair trade businesses.

Even more exciting to me, this is the first concrete example I've seen in my community of the Media Venture Collective's vision to finance public affairs programs through donations.

Voinovich on Bolton

Here's a Republican, I daresay, I might think about voting for.

Below is an extract of written remarks Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) read before the full Senate yesterday. The typewritten word, however, doesn't fairly capture the gut-wrenching emotion in Voinoich's voice when he began to speak about his own children and grandchildren. Readers must listen to Voinovich's remarks. They can be heard about three-quarters into this NPR report.

Voinovich is absolutely right. We are fighting Al Qaida today because the Reagan administration made the wrong choices twenty years ago in support of Islamic extremists. Are we creating a situation now that will lead to more bloodshed in the next generation?

Excerpted from the Congressional Record, Sen. Voinovich:

...it is my concern that John Bolton's nomination sends a negative message to the world community and contradicts the President's efforts. In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective Ambassador to the United Nations.

One of my deepest concerns about this nomination involves the big picture of U.S. public diplomacy and the President's acknowledged need to improve it. It was not too long ago when America's love of freedom was a force of inspiration to the rest of the world, and America was admired for its democracy, generosity, and willingness to help others in need of protection. Today, the United States is criticized for what the world calls arrogance, unilateralism, for failure to listen and seek support of its friends and allies.

I think if we had a secret vote on John Bolton, he would not get 50 votes from the Senate.

And I am not the only one. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee received letters from 102 U.S. diplomats who served under administrations for both sides of the aisle saying Mr. Bolton is the wrong man for the job.

...we are considering a nominee for ambassador to the United Nations who has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, and of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves. These are the very characteristics we are trying to dispel in the court of world opinion.

I have to say that after pouring over the hundreds of pages of testimony and speaking with many individuals, I believe John Bolton would have been fired if he had worked for a major corporation. That is not the behavior of a true leader who upholds the kind of democracy President Bush is seeking to promote globally. This is not the behavior that should be endorsed as the face of the United States to the world community at the United Nations.

It, rather, is my opinion that John Bolton is the poster child of what the diplomatic corps should not be.

We are going to vote tomorrow, and I am afraid that when we go to the well, too many of my colleagues are not going to understand that this appointment is very, very important to our country. At a strategic time when we need friends all over the world, we need somebody who is going to be able to get the job done. Some of my friends say: Let it go, George. It is going to work out.

I don't want to take the risk. I came back here and ran for a second term because I am worried about my kids and my grandchildren. I just hope my colleagues will take the time before they get to this well and do some serious thinking about whether we should send John Bolton to the United Nations.

French fries protester now opposes Iraq War

You'd have to be in the UK to see this story in the Guardian:

French fries protester regrets war jibe

It was a culinary rebuke that echoed around the world, heightening the sense of tension between Washington and Paris in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But now the US politician who led the campaign to change the name of french fries to "freedom fries" has turned against the war....

Although he voted for the war, he has since become one of its most vociferous opponents on Capitol Hill, where the hallway outside his office is lined with photographs of the "faces of the fallen".

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "Congress must be told the truth."

Will the FBI be forced to retract documented claims of Koran abuse?

Today's NY Times has the story about the FBI documenting Koran abuse.

Note that the article says military investigators couldn't "substantiate the charge" of Koran abuse. How was the prisoner going to do that? And what kind of intimidation might have been used to get the prisoner to retract his statement? Maybe forcing his head in the toilet to fish for the Koran? Or maybe he decided to change his story after a little waterboarding?

WASHINGTON, May 25 - Newly released documents show that detainees at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, complained repeatedly to F.B.I. agents about disrespectful handling of the Koran by military personnel and, in one case in 2002, said they had flushed a Koran down a toilet.

The prisoners' accounts are described by the agents in detailed summaries of interrogations at Guant�namo in 2002 and 2003. The documents were among more than 300 pages turned over by the F.B.I. to the American Civil Liberties Union in recent days and publicly disclosed Wednesday.

Unlike F.B.I. documents previously disclosed in a lawsuit brought by the civil liberties union, in which agents reported that they had witnessed harsh and possibly illegal interrogation techniques, the new documents do not say the F.B.I. agents witnessed the episodes themselves. Rather, they are accounts of unsubstantiated accusations made by the prisoners during interrogation.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon dismissed the reports as containing no new evidence that abuses of the Koran had actually occurred and said that on May 14 military investigators had interviewed the prisoner who mentioned the toilet episode to the F.B.I. and that he was not able to substantiate the charge.

I'm hoping for more fireworks between Terry Moran and Scott McClellan in the White House Press Room today:

Moran: In light of the FBI documentation of Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay, including an account of a Koran being flushed down the toilet in 2002, shouldn't the White House issue an apology to people of the Muslim faith?

McClellan: Who made you president?

Of course, I doubt we'd hear Bill O'Reilly weighing in this time saying McClellan ought to be slapped for being disrespectful.

Oh well, here's yesterday's actual exchange between Moran and McClellan:
Go ahead, Terry.

Q Scott, there's an FBI memo that's been released today through a Freedom of Information request. It dates from August 23, 2002, and recounts the interrogation -- the interview of a detainee at Bagram. And in this memo, the FBI recounts that this detainee says he had nothing against the United States, but the guards in his detention facility do not treat him well, their behavior is bad; about five months ago, the guards beat the detainees and they flushed a Koran in the toilet.

Now, there has been some statements coming from some administration officials since the Newsweek retraction of its story that a Koran was flushed down the toilet, that the United States government had no knowledge of any such allegation.

MR. McCLELLAN: This is referring to a detainee, right?

Q Correct.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think what the Department of Defense has said is that they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegation.

Q At one point I believe Mr. DiRita said that there was no such allegation.

MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with the Department of Defense on his words, but I know that they have publicly said that they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegations. There have been allegations made by detainees. We know that members of al Qaeda are trained to mislead and to provide false reports. We know that's one of their tactics that they use. And so I think you have to keep that in mind, as well.

Q For sure. How important is it --

MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms -- I mean in terms of if there's any abuse of detainees, we take any such allegations very seriously. And if there is abuse of detainees, we hold people to account -- you mentioned mistreatment of a detainee -- and we have done that, and we also take steps to correct any problems. And we have done that, as well.

Hmm...I don't remember any corrective action by the White House on Koran abuse...other than slamming Newsweek for publishing a claim based on an anonymous source.

People Get Ready on WTUL today

Things covered in People Get Ready on WTUL today:

John Nichols' blog in The Nation, "Limbaugh vs. Moyers", 5/23/2005 (excerpted):

Bill Moyers says that journalists have a responsibility to question those in power.

Rush Limbaugh, speaking for the economic and political elites that currently occupy positions of authority, responds by charging that Moyers is "insane."

Moyers set the stage at the National Conference for Media Reform last week, where he delivered a call for the redemption of American journalism. Though he was appearing less than a week after it had been revealed that the Bush administration ally who chairs the Corporation for Public Broadcasting had waged a secret campaign to drive him off the air, the former host of PBS's "NOW" program was calm and collected. The winner of thirty Emmy Awards reflected upon his own work and that of his colleagues on "NOW." But his real purpose was to defend the craft of journalism against the battering it has taken from those who believe reporters should be little more than stenographers to power. At a time when too many prominent journalists have accepted the diminished standards that their critics would impose upon them, Moyers raged against the dying of the light -- not so much for himself as for the Republic that will not stand without a free, skeptical and courageous press.

"We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable," Moyers explained to the 2,300 journalists, academics and activists who had gathered in St. Louis.

"One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at NOW didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news."

So when word got out that Moyers was telling the American people that they should expect more from their media than a slurry of celebrity gossip and propaganda, there was hell to pay.

Typically, Limbaugh did not attack the substance of Moyers's remarks. Rather, the viscount of viciousness devoted a substantial portion of his nationally-syndicated radio program Thursday to claiming that Moyers had come "unhinged" and that, "The things coming out of his mouth today are literally insane." The most self-absorbed personality in America media -- who regularly declares that he's got "talent on loan from God" and says, "I'm doing what I was born to do. That's host. You're doing what you were born to do. That's listen." -- even went so far as to suggest that Moyers had a messiah complex.

Let Limbaugh bellow, like the Wizard of Oz when he was trying to keep his machinery hidden. Moyers is pulling the curtain away and telling the American people what is wrong with the "rules of the game" by which so much of today's so-called "journalism" is practiced.

"These 'rules of the game' permit Washington officials to set the agenda for journalism, leaving the press all too often simply to recount what officials say instead of subjecting their words and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers, sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin, invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading," Moyers explained last week.

"I decided long ago that this wasn't healthy for democracy. I came to see that 'news is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity.'"

"Pat Mitchell Declares Independence" by John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable, 5/24/2005 (excerpted):
Public Broadcasting Service President Pat Mitchell told a National Press Club audience Tuesday that PBS "does not shrink in the face of political threats," and is more important than ever in a world where "a small number of media conglomerates make decisions based on the need to earn higher profits."

Both noncommercial TV and radio have also been under pressure from Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson to provide more conservative viewpoints to balance liberal shows. Last fall, according to Tomlinson, he and Mitchell disagreed over his plan to have an independent monitor on the content of Now with Bill Moyers.

“PBS is not the property of any single political party or activist group or foundation or funder with an agenda of any kind,” Mitchell...told her audience.

"PBS does not belong to a red or blue or purple constituency, and it does not shrink in the face of political threats. PBS has built and maintained a steadfast resolve to never give in to pressures to reflect a political agenda. That resolve is as rock solid today as it has ever been.”

Asked specifically about pressure from Tomlinson, Mitchell...insisted that PBS viewer surveys show that an overwhelming majority views PBS as a trusted source of balanced news. "The facts do not support the case [Tomlinson] makes," for liberal bias, she said.

One thing that Mitchell and Tomlinson do agree on is funding.

“Are we, as a democracy that is dependent upon having informed and engaged communities, willing to commit additional resources to ensure a vibrant, viable and independent public service media enterprise now and in the future?”

Listen to the entire Pat Mitchell National Press Club speech at NPR.ORG.

"Adelstein Attacks Covert Commercialization" by John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable, 5/24/2005 (excerpted):
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is taking aim at covert commercialization in the media.

At a speech Wednesday in Washington sponsored by the media-funded first Amendment think tank, the Media Institute, Adelstein [called] for an FCC crackdown on "payola and the acceptance of undisclosed promotions," as well as for improved disclosure on product placements."

[Adelstein's statement] comes on the heels of a speech to the Free Press media reform conference in St. Louis May 14, when Adelstein called on consumers to monitor broadcasts for plugs and to complain to the FCC if they weren't disclosed, pledging that the commission would take action.

Branding commercialism a "pernicious symptom of consolidation," he asked viewers to start recording examples of product placements, VNRs, or a news segment that looked like an ad, check and see whether there is a disclosure anywhere, and if not, file a formal complaint

Following up on Adelstein's remarks, I was driving to work yesterday, channel surfing, when I came across a commercial station where I heard one of the Gulf Coast's biggest personal injury attorneys sitting in with the dj's while they quizzed him on what people should do if they're in an accident, and he replied that people have to "know their rights." There was no mention that the guest had paid for the invitation to sit in. He clearly was not talking about music. Listeners should wonder what sort of compensation the station got for that promotion.

Follow up (not broadcast): Morris Bart is such a dork, he definitely does not have the requisite charisma to be showing up as an on-air celebrity. Not that charisma is required if quality programming is the focus - but that's not what was happening there. It was simply blatant promotion.

Pay attention. Listen in on what stations say and do. I'm particulary curious about the "synergistic" promotions for television shows and soft drinks - when, for example, a dj says he's going to get himself a Snapple when he watches the next episode of American Idol.

"Disarmament in the Senate," editorial in the NY Times, 5/25/2005 (excerpted):
If nothing else, the deal to end the Senate's "nuclear option" showdown was heartening in that it did demonstrate that moderates still exist in Washington, and actually have the capacity to work together to get things done.

[The compromise] would mean, among other things, that Janice Rogers Brown of California will be joining the critical Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Readers will recall that Justice Brown has called the New Deal a "socialist revolution" and praised a series of early 20th-century Supreme Court decisions in which worker health and safety laws were struck down as infringing on the rights of business. In her current job, she once wrote a dissent in which she claimed that ordering a rental car company supervisor to stop calling Hispanic employees by racial epithets was a violation of the company's free speech rights.

We can also expect more rulings by ethically-challenged Priscilla Owen in favor of big business, and against workers, consumers, and the injured. Owen, for example, has taken campaign contributions from Enron and Halliburton, rather than recusing herself when cases came to her court, then ruled in their favor.

And we can expect more rulings by William Pryor, who "alone among state AGs and opposed by his fellow AGs, argued that Congress lacked the power to pass laws allowing the federal government to regulate small lakes and wetlands," and who, again, "alone among state AGs and opposed by 36 of his fellow AGs, successfully argued...that victims of domestic abuse should not be allowed to sue their attackers in federal court."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

FBI records confirm Koran abuse

Newly declassified FBI documents:

Terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison told U.S. interrogators as early as April 2002, just three months after the first detainees arrived, that military guards abused them and desecrated the Quran.

"Their behavior is bad," one detainee is quoted as saying of his guards during an interrogation by an FBI special agent in July 2002. "About five months ago the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Quran in the toilet.".

But don't expect Scott McClellan to now make an apology on behalf of the White House. We're not talkin' anonymous sources anymore. We're talkin' the FBI. I guess those FBI documents don't qualify as "facts":
Separately on Wednesday, Amnesty International urged the United States to shut down the prison, calling it "the gulag of our time." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the human rights group's complaints were "unsupported by the facts" and that allegations of mistreatment were being investigated.

Will McClellan now issue an apology to the Muslim world for those FBI documents being issued before they could be confirmed?

N.C. church stands by sign saying Quran "should be flushed"

Herald-Sun:

The pastor of a small Baptist church has refused calls to take down a sign posted in front of his church reading "The Koran needs to be flushed," saying Tuesday he has nothing to apologize for.

Is this my country?

Okay...I just have to repeat something I heard because it's so f*ing stupid.

I work around a bunch of ignorant rednecks. They blow half the day pontificating about the most stupid shit.

They just came back from lunch talking about Star Wars. They're like a bunch of kids - whistling, humming the music - talking about it like it's real, how the weapons systems work, Darth Vader's powers, etc. I mean, I'm talking about guys who are well into their thirties and forties.

Let me just say that I don't think I've heard such banal talk since high school, which is about right, because these guys stopped maturing at about that age.

So, they're talking about the Death Star. They're saying that the big ships of the empire couldn't blow up a planet, but the Death Star could because it was designed for that.

And then, one of those assholes says, "Yeah, that's what we should've done to Iraq!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If troops aren't helping, they're part of the problem

Newsweek has a multimedia report by Chris Hondros who was on a photography assignment for Getty Images with a First Battalion foot patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq in January.

Warning shots were fired as a car approached. When the car failed to slow, soldiers fired directly into the front seat.

After the car rolled to a stop, there were no terrorists, no car bombs. Instead, six children were found in hysterics in the back seat; their mother and father slain in the front seat.

Haven't we caused enough suffering? It's time to bring our troops home.









Note the flashlight mounted on the end of the rifle aimed at the children.

The compromise that wasn't

Democrats conceding to allow a vote on President Bush's judicial nominees is like playing chicken with a burglar. You threaten to shoot the intruder, but he says he'll shoot back. Negotiating a truce, you say you won't shoot if he doesn't shoot. The intruder agrees, but only if you let him rob your house.

It's a non-starter. This is total capitulation to the bullying tactics of the Republicans, and will certainly mean that President Bush's nominees will be approved.

A true compromise would have been for President Bush to withdraw his unacceptable nominees. Barring that, Democratic senators should have filibustered, and more. I think they should have marched to the White House demanding an audience with Bush.

Harry Reid's relief was ironic and misplaced - the abuse of power is being tolerated:

Clearly euphoric and relieved, Mr. Reid said a message had been sent that "abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over."

Janice Rogers Brown will be confirmed to the D.C. Court of Appeals, William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Expect more rulings by ethically-challenged Owen in favor of big business, and against workers, consumers, and the injured. Owen, for example, has taken campaign contributions from Enron and Halliburton, rather than recusing herself when cases came to her court, then ruled in their favor.

Expect more rulings by "never met a federal protection he liked" Pryor, who "alone among state AGs and opposed by his fellow AGs, argued that Congress lacked the power to pass laws allowing the federal government to regulate small lakes and wetlands," and who, again, "alone among state AGs and opposed by 36 of his fellow AGs, successfully argued...that victims of domestic abuse should not be allowed to sue their attackers in federal court."

Expect more rulings by Brown in which her personal opinions become the basis for rulings, as with her view that the Roosevelt's New Deal was a "socialist revolution," and her view that it's okay to fire older workers because they're old.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Let the filibuster begin

Citizen "Fristbuster" filibuster event in New Orleans:

Please join us for the New Orleans Citizen Filibuster to Stop the
Right-Wing Power Grab!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT: Citizen Filibusters to Stop the Right-Wing Power Grab

WHERE: Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA

WHEN: Tuesday, May 24, 2005, 12:00pm - Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 12:00pm

Concerned citizens of the United States of America will be conducting
a 24 hour 'Citizen Filibuster' beginning at noon on Tuesday, May 25th
and ending at noon on Wednesday, May 25th. We are gathering to bring
attention to the serious threat being made by Senator Frist and Vice
President Cheney to our Constitutional Republic, the United States of
America. This threat - the "nuclear option" - is an attempt to change
the 200 plus year Senate rule regarding how many votes it takes to end
a filibuster, from the current 67 votes to a simple majority of 51.

Changing the rules regarding filibusters would effectively end the
Constitutional role of the Senate to check the power of the executive
and protect the minority voice in the Senate. It is apparent to us
that radical Republicans in the Senate want absolute power over our
courts in order to nominate judges who will strike down environmental
laws, the minimum wage, even our right to privacy. We know that
absolute power corrupts and regard it our patriotic duty to resist
this attempt by Senate Republicans to pander their right-wing
religious base and big corporate special interests.

We call upon our fellow constituents to join us in urging our
Louisiana State Senators to protect our system of checks and balances
by voting against the so-called "nuclear option" - the attempt to
stack the courts with extremist judges and to overturn the US
Constitution. We must not allow Senate Republicans to eliminate the
Senate's ability to advise and consent to what the Executive does.

Please join us in front of the Hale Boggs building for 24 hours of
citizen speeches and demonstrations and help end this power grab for
one-party rule.

For additional information, please contact Freddie Monroe at
504.246.2898, email: cynfgm@bellsouth.net or Andrea Garland at
504.945.0796, email: andrea@getyouracton.com or visit
GetYourActOn.com. This event is sponsored by local citizens and MoveOn
PAC.

_____________
SIGN/BANNER MAKING PARTY:

Monday, May 23rd, 7pm - 'til
at the Get Your Act On Headquarters
4108 St. Claude Avenue
New Orleans, LA
Tel: 504-945.0796

Between Mazant and France on St. Claude Ave. - for those of you who
attended last year's Get Your Act On events at the Mazant Guesthouse,
our new location is just around the corner - continue past the
guesthouse on Mazant St. until you come to St. Claude, take a right,
we are 3 doors down. The St. Claude bus stops 3 doors past our house
at France Street.

Bring poster board and markers/paint if you can, we have some
supplies. BYOB and snacks if you like - or just bring yourself!

My letter to Senator Vitter:
Senator Vitter,

Listen well: changing the Senate rules to allow ANY majority to end debate, Republican OR Democrat, takes our democracy one step closer to presidential rule by fiat.

Is the Republican party now the whiner party? With a Republican in the White House and majorities in the House and Senate, your party is acting like a minority. The Senate has approved 95 percent of President Bush's nominees. The ones he's forcing through now (especially Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown) are too radical for lifetime appointments on the federal bench.

Republicans may control the agenda, but they can't rule like this is a one-party country. It's 50-50. There is absolutely no mandate for the kind of radical change that President Bush wants.

You're on the wrong side of this issue Mr. Vitter. "Four in five Americans want the Senate to thoroughly examine the president's nominees to be federal judges - an attitude shared by a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents," according to a Friday Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

If you support the "whiner option" you'll be on the wrong side of history as well. Check your history Mr. Vitter. That's right - it's entirely appropriate to invoke the name - Adolf Hitler used Article 48 to give himself emergency powers. That was the end of the Weimar Republic. You know the rest.

Is THAT what Republicans want? If so, you will be creating a nightmare for your children and mine if you vote with your colleagues to approve the so-called "nuclear option."

Be a patriot. Stand up for democracy. Allow floor debate on President Bush's nominees.

My letter to Senator Landrieu:
Senator Landrieu,

Let the filibuster begin! If the Republicans want a fight, let's give 'em one! This is not just about judicial nominees. It's about whether the United States of America is going to remain a democracy, or become a one-party dictatorship.

Listen well: changing the Senate rules to allow ANY majority, Republican OR Democrat, takes our democracy one step closer to presidential rule by fiat.

Is the Republican party is now the whiner party? With a Republican in the White House and majorities in the House and Senate, the Republican party is acting like a minority party. The Senate has approved 95 percent of President Bush's nominees. The ones he's forcing through now (especially Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown) are too radical for lifetime appointments on the federal bench.

Republicans may control the agenda, but they can't rule like this is a one-party country. It's 50-50. There is absolutely no mandate for the kind of radical change that President Bush wants.

"Four in five Americans want the Senate to thoroughly examine the president's nominees to be federal judges - an attitude shared by a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents," according to a Friday Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Be a patriot. Stand up for democracy. Force the Republicans to allow floor debate on President Bush's nominees.

Here's that AP-Ipsos poll story in the NY Times.

Bush lied - why are Americans still dying?



Right-wing critics of Newsweek, mindless defenders of the Bush administration, are now defending the tactics used by radical Islamists who incite violence. Once upon a time, radical Islamists were criticized for using anything to foment hatred of America, and to inspire murder. Now, the right wingnuts are smokin' from the same pipe, becoming apologists for that hatred and murder, blaming the media for the President Bush's own guilt in the indiscriminate policy of extrajudicial rendering, torture, and bombing of Muslims.

Of course, it's a shame that any more need be said about President Bush's campaign of lies perpetrated on American citizens, which (as of this writing) have caused the unnecessary deaths of 1636 American soldiers, 12,350 injured Americans, and the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Furthermore, not that I need to bring any more light to the abuse of prisoners around the world in American custody, but there is again further vindication of the veracity of reports of a systematic, widespread policy of torture by the Bush administration. There can no longer be any coverup of Bush's complicity by blaming a few "bad apples" at the bottom of the chain of command.

The latest accounts of prisoner abuse reported in the press, verified in the Army's own 2000-page report of abuse in Bagram, Afghanistan, document the deaths of 2 innocent Afghanis chained to the ceiling of their cells.


[Mr. Dilawar's] legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

This is the height of hypocrisy, but nothing surprises me anymore from the lunatics who continue to support the Bush administration's treasonous, impeachable deception of American citizens.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bill O'Reilly eyes post as commissar of Newspeak

Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points (5/19/05) begins, "The battle over Newsweek's bogus Koran story continues." He then cites "elite media" stories which document the systematic abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere, claiming that these are just desperate attempts to reclaim lost esteem and place blame on the Bush administration.

No, no, no. The Bush administration isn't culpable in any of the dozens or hundreds of documented incidents of torture and abuse around the world (according to Alberto Gonzalez), and wouldn't in any event ever knowingly, say, send a person to Uzbekistan to take a dip in boiling oil without being charged with an offense. Oh...that thing called the Constitution? That's just some outdated liberal rag written a couple hundred years ago.

O'Reilly then remarks on how he'd deal with journalists who don't bow down to the Bush administration, as in the exchange in the White House press room between Scott McClellan and ABC correspondent Terry Moran (emphasis added):

These editorials sound like they're all written by the same person who says, hey, forget about the bogus story that may have killed people, the Bush administration caused everything. And that mindset is echoed by some in the electronic media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With respect, who made you the editor of "Newsweek"? Do you think it's appropriate for you at that podium speaking with the authority of the president of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would encourage them to help...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...pressuring them

MCCLELLAN: No, I'm saying we would encourage them. Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Now that was an ABC News correspondent. I would have slapped him. If I were McClellan, I would have went down and whacked him. All right? Don't use that tone with me.

Well, why stop with a slap? Why not send him to a gulag, or see if he doesn't improve his attitude after a little waterboarding?


Update:

Here's what O'Reilly isn't revealing about that McClellan/Moran barrage:
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.

And I think Newsweek can do that by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran. The military put in place policies and procedures to make sure that the Koran was handled -- or is handled with the utmost care and respect. And I think it would help to point that out, because some have taken this report -- those that are opposed to the United States -- some have taken this report and exploited it and used it to incite violence.

Q With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would encourage them to help --

Q You're pressuring them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm saying that we would encourage them --

Q It's not pressure?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, this report caused serious damage to the image of the United States abroad. And Newsweek has said that they got it wrong. I think Newsweek recognizes the responsibility they have. We appreciate the step that they took by retracting the story. Now we would encourage them to move forward and do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done by this report. And that's all I'm saying. But, no, you're absolutely right, it's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report.

1) I take Moran's reaction as one of astonishment that the White House should believe it has a role in telling the press what it should say, although it's certainly possible, given the complete capitulation of the press to the Bush administration's lies, that McClellan takes for granted the press will do what it's told.

2) Shouldn't the press turn this around and ask what the Bush administration is going to do to repair the damage that has been done by all the legitimate reports of abuse and torture? Those photos of Abu Ghraib, for example, will haunt American diplomacy in the Middle East for generations to come, yet the Bush administration still refuses to accept any blame for not defining the terms of engagement to ensure that civility in, and off, the battlefield is exercised. And what about the damage to U.S. credibility caused by the Bush administration's fixing the facts to justify an invasion of Iraq? Shouldn't there be a response to this criminal act which has caused the countless tens of thousands of Iraqis, over 1600 American soldiers, and over 12,000 American wounded?

Georgetown Books propaganda posters

After seeing these images, I think readers will appreciate why I've always loved the medium of propaganda posters. I've been having a lot of fun at the Georgetown Books web site, where posters, book covers, and advertising prints are for sale.

The almightier



The shadow in our schools



Club the democratic press


Was that intended as small or large "D" democratic? This certainly demonstrates how much the Republican party changed from the principles it forwarded at the beginning of the 20th century.

Yellow Press



Looney liberals



Bolsheviks?


That's right! As soon as your employees can wipe their...er, hands...with cushiony tissue, you're Bolshevik problems will melt away.

Virgin in khaki


Just performing a patriotic duty?

Above the law


A 1907 Puck cartoon by the great Art Young, the foremost radical cartoonist of his time. The details are gemlike: For the nobodies, it's Get off the Grass, mass arrests, beatings, and jail; for the Rockefellers in their pious posturing in the clouds above (the law), it's immunity. Any resemblance to today is purely coincidental.

Looking Backward


“Looking Backward” A Puck cartoon from 1893 with sentiments 180 degrees opposite from “The Unrestricted Dumping Ground” Judge cartoon from ten years later. This one shows an immigrant stepping off the ship, only to be greeted by the forbidding figures, in their bourgeois splendor, telling him to go back where he came from. The kicker, though, is in the shadows lurking behind those forbidding figures: It’s the representation of their own ragged selves, and their ancestors, at the time of their own arrival! The caption nicely summarizes the point: “They would close to the new-comer the bridge that carried them and their fathers over.” Sound familiar?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fox News hemorrhaging?

Another great Realitique post citing numbers from Air America's Randi Rhodes:



I've found another source for this data, presumably derived from Nielsen ratings since that's what TVNewser seems to rely upon.

What happened between October and December of 2004 to precipitate the decline in Fox News viewers? Well, I for one would like to believe that people stopped watching Fox News because they recognize the pro-Bush administration slant. Or even better, maybe people are converting over to the progressive end of the political spectrum. Did Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed outfox Fox? Or were people turning instead to blogs for news?

It's probably more likely that fewer people were watching because the November election cycle ended. Bill O'Reilly's ratings, for example, hemorrhaged after the election, as did CNN's ratings, although slightly less than Fox's. To verify that, someone would have to see if there was an increase in viewers in the run up to the November election.

I'm not up to that anymore today. For readers who like this sort of thing, there's a great Journalism.org study with demographic charts of news viewership during the 2004 campaign season.

Kill the messenger

Still more proof that the evidence of Koran abuse can be corroborated:

The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Korans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003, an ICRC spokesman said Wednesday.

This can be added to the many other instances where detainees "reported instances of their handlers sitting or standing on the Koran, throwing or kicking it in toilets, and urinating on it."

Enumerating these and other instances of Koran abuse, Molly Ivins issued a call to arms:
Seventeen people have died in these riots. They didn't die because of anything Newsweek did -- the riots were caused by what our government has done.

Get your minds around it. Our country is guilty of torture. To quote myself once more: "What are you going to do about this? It's your country, your money, your government. You own this country, you run it, you are the board of directors. They are doing this in your name. The people we elected to public office do what you want them to. Perhaps you should get in touch with them."

What everyone wants to know is why did Newsweek back down?

Joyce Marcel wrote in Common Dreams that Bush and Cheney recognize the need to discredit the press before another Woodward/Bernstein investigation brings down the White House:
With one eye firmly on Watergate, they want to discredit the press before their own dirty tricks are exposed. To that end, they have bribed columnists to create propaganda, lied their way to war, strong-armed media owners with threats and bluster, and buried as much real news as they could - for example, the public is still not allowed to see photographs of coffins coming back from Iraq.

The Light of Reason argues that the ultimate goal is censorship - denigrating the validity of the press in the eyes of the public to such an extent that it can no longer function as a counterweight to administration propaganda:
What I want to emphasize right now is the speed and ambitiousness of the propagandists’ game here. In less than a day, they have targeted all of these issues, using the Newsweek mistake (if indeed it was one) as their freshest ammunition:

— Minimizing to the point of non-existence all abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib

— Minimizing to the point of non-existence all abuse and torture at Guantanamo

— Reinforcing the idea that the mainstream media is not to be trusted on matters of national security, and that it is fundamentally anti-American

— Introducing the idea that “some people” think the media has finally gone “too far,” which carries the unavoidable implication that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!

So what is the logical result of all this? There are at least two major results, and two major goals: first, strengthening the idea that, whatever the United States does, it is always right and anyone who questions our policies is wrong, and anti-American—and if we do make any mistakes, they are trivial and barely worth mentioning, thus trying yet again to shut down all debate; and second, if the Bush supporters and warhawks had their way, censorship.

Bush the peacemaker?

Bush quotes from Issues 2000...

Bush said he'd have clearly defined military missions:

George W. Bush urged America’s servicemen and women on Saturday to "stay in the military -- there’s a new commander in chief coming. The great nation called America will be the peacemaker. I will not retreat. We cannot retreat. I will be a commander in chief who respects the men and women in uniform and makes sure they are sent abroad only on clearly defined missions."

NY Times, Aug 12, 2000

Meanwhile, the NY Times reported today that American generals in Iraq:
...pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years."

Bush said soldiers need the best support possible:
Those who man the lighthouse of freedom ask little of our nation in return. But what they ask our nation must provide: a coherent vision of America’s duties, a clear military mission in time of crisis, and, when sent in harm’s way, the best support and equipment our nation can supply. With these things, they never fail us. Without these things, we have failed them. Let us resolve never to multiply our missions while cutting our capabilities.

Memorial Day speech, Austin TX May 31, 1999

Meanwhile, soldiers may wonder why they still can't get basic armor plating for their humvees, and if granting Junior's Uncle Bucky an exclusive contract to manufacture armor plating is costing lives in Iraq.

And just when is the United States really going to be finished with this war business? The Christian Science Monitor quoted the Congressional Research Service with cost estimates through 2014:
More spending on the war is sure to come - even if the US begins to draw down troops levels. While it is difficult to estimate precisely, it is sure to be in the hundreds of billions, experts say. The Congressional Research Service pegs the cost of US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at an additional $458 billion through 2014.

Star Wars Rods From God



Maybe Air Force generals got into an early screening of Revenge of the Sith. Or it could be that they're trying to macho up the flyboy image of warriors who just push buttons, while everyone knows the real fightin's done by Marine and Army troops, up close and personal.

Whatever the case, they need to get over their hard-on to create an orbiting death star weapons system. The NY Times reported yesterday that the Air Force is now pressing to open up space to weapons they can hurtle down at any target on Earth.

Let me just start with the fact that the article appeared in the NY Times Business section. Sure, that's an editorial judgment, but the article made clear that weaponizing space would open up lot's of profitable opportunities.

The NY Times made the case that the drive to weaponize space is motivated by the failure of the missile defense program which started with Ronald Reagan's Star Wars defense shield idea (by the way - what movie did he get that idea from). What Ken Lay scam artist wouldn't like a piece of that action! Perpetual failure begets more money. After 22 years and $100 billion, the best we can do is dumb down the tests so defensive missiles have a chance to lock on to their targets. Weapons scientists are saying they think we'll need another $220 billion to $1 trillion for space-based missile defense research. The Bush administration is currently spending $10 billion a year on missile defense research.

President Bush thought he could get his "son of Star Wars" system deployed by the end of 2004, but his system is still on Sith training wheels. Only 5 of 8 tests resulted in hits, and even then, the tests were rigged. In the last test, the defensive missile didn't even get off the ground. So if, say, China hurled 8 missiles at the U.S., called us up ahead of time to tell us the launch time, speed, and trajectory, and we were really on the ball, we could fire off defensive missiles, and still lose 3 cities.

Of course, throwing money down the ol' Guantanamo Koran can doesn't make anyone safe from the assymetric threat of terrorists who could just use car bombs, or send a container ship as a nuclear Trojan horse (that would mess up a few Wal-Mart shipments).

This just proves that the Bush administration is capable of flushing down the toilet a whole lot more than the Koran. Maybe it's time to demand accountability with some "No Defense Contractor Left Behind" test standards.

PBS's Frontline web site has an April 2002 article from Technology Review in which MIT professor Theodore Postol reveals the basic flaws of missile defense and how a primitive adversary can easily defeat the system with decoys. He closes by inveighing against the belligerence and ignorance of Bush the Junior:

In the wake of the terrifying attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the entire civilized world will need to work to defeat the forces of ignorance, intolerance and destruction. In my view, the current attitude of the Bush administration that "we can go it alone" is one of the most dangerous and ill-considered security policies to be adopted and pursued by the United States in recent memory.

The current U.S. approach to missile defense is a direct outgrowth of the irrational idea that "we" can deal with the world without working with others. It is not only an irrational position when examined in terms of social realities, it is also irrational in terms of basic principles of physical science. It is sad and disturbing that the most technologically advanced and wealthy society in human history has displayed so little scientific and political leadership on matters that will almost certainly affect every aspect of global development in the 21st century.

James Clay Moltz argued in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (2003) that, notwithstanding the paucity of serious questions asked about Bush's Star Wars program, it was highly unpopular, and called upon a publicity campaign to expose its hidden pitfalls, as well as a diplomatic effort to better secure peace.

The Air Force proposal to put "shooters" in space would break President Eisenhower's pledge to leave the heavens as a "space sanctuary" free of weapons, and free of war.

As for the scrotum-hold of the military-industrial complex on the taxpayers for science fiction research boondoggles, here's just one more reminder of what President Eisenhower said in his farewell address (1961):
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Finally, many have suspected that there's something awry when people like Pat Robertson and Jeff Gannon become poster boys for the new right wing. Well (hold your sides for this one), the NY Times reported that the Air Force has nicknamed one of its space weapons "Rods From God."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Listen to Willie Fontenot segment

This is the special broadcast of People Get Ready that aired on WTUL this past Sunday.

It's not NPR (or my favorite, WPR), but since NPR didn't cover the story, this will have to do.

At just under an hour in length, the file size is 13 MB (mono 32 kbs mp3). I didn't think I could compress the file any more without losing quality.

Download or listen to it here.

Let me know if you have any problems with the file, or if you have any questions.

For more information, here are my previous posts on this issue:

Willie Fontenot forced to retire

Willie Fontenot contacts


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.



The Downing Street Memo Google Bomb

The Rycroft memo (also known as the Downing Street memo), which was recently revealed to the public, shows that in 2002 George W. Bush decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein and was planning to game the intelligence to support his decision. According to the founders, this constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. For some reason the mainstream media is not concerned with the implications of the memo. One thing we can do is to use the Google Bomb to put relevant sites at the top of a Google search (via Realitique).

Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
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Rycroft Memo

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The death of shock jock radio

Well, not yet. Just wishful thinking, but maybe someday soon.

Channel surfing on my way to work this morning, I stopped for a moment to hear Walton & Johnson's rant against federal funding to preserve records of languages which will soon become extinct, belittling the endeavor of scholars, denigrating the value of non-English-speaking cultures, and whining about their taxes being used to document and analyze, for example, Piratapuyo, a language of the Amazon.

The NEH and NSF are not even talking about trying to save the cultures. They've already written them off! All that remains is to gather up and inventory the detritus of generations of descendants and file it in a box in a warehouse.

I know...why expend even an ounce of energy tapping away at the keyboard for a pair of ignorant redneck asswipes whose own literate contribution to civilization is worth less than the stain they leave in their boxers after they blow ass.

Language is a living vessel of culture. When a language dies, so dies a culture.

Here's the NEH funding announcement:

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced that they have awarded 13 fellowships and 26 institutional grants in their Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) partnership, a new, multi-year effort to preserve records of key languages before they become extinct. More than 3,000 of the 6,000-7,000 currently used human languages are headed for oblivion, experts estimate. The new DEL awards, totaling $4.4 million, will support digital documentation work on more than 70 such languages.

"This is a rescue mission to save endangered languages," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "Language is the DNA of a culture, and it is the vehicle for the traditions, customs, stories, history, and beliefs of a people. A lost language is a lost culture. Fortunately, with the aid of modern technology and these federal funds, linguistic scholars can document and record these languages before they become extinct."

Inconceivable it would be for those asswipes to maybe talk about why these languages are being lost under the combined assaults of genocide, land encroachment, commercialization, state-sponsored cultural decimation, and corporate-sponsored intimidation and assassination.

Haven't western nations done enough to destroy indigenous cultures? Must we annihilate any record of their existence too?

A paltry $4 million spent over a number of years and disbursed to 39 projects is nothing compared to the $295 BILLION pork-laden highway bill passed by the Senate. Oh sure, monkey boy said it was too much. He's suggesting that a $284 billion bill would be more reasonable. Or, better yet, how about trimming that $400 billion plus defense budget, soon to exceed the combined expenditures of the rest of the world (something that has the ROW salivating at the prospect of getting some of those contracts).

But back to crappy radio. So after the worthless Walton & Johnson screed, the station played a promotion patting themselves on the back for having an extensive music library and playing what they want, then segwayed into another stale AC/DC song. Wow! Now that's original!

Has anyone noticed how commercial stations are starting to market themselves in a desperate attempt to keep listeners moving to other mediums. I've been hearing station promotions like "Here's another one we downloaded" before going into a repeat of the latest Gwen Stefani or Green Day.

Maybe the difference is that corporate radio owners are scared shitless about the changing media market, but they've had their heads up their asses so long collecting advertising revenue while blowing off their listeners that they don't know what alternative means anymore. When a classic rock station in New Orleans sounds exactly the same as a classic rock station in Detroit, and I can choose from a variety of programming on the internet, satellite, iPod, and soon, on cell phones, what's the point?

What's really needed is more localism. More variety. More creativity. More community involvement. Let the Clear Channel behemoths go the way of the dinosaur.

Robert McChesney, John Nichols, and Ben Scott have one of the most comprehensive articles I've read of late on the changing media market. Appearing in the May 23 issue of The Nation, the authors point to both popular and market pressures that have the potential to dramatically change radio for the better.

Polls taken just after the 2004 election demonstrate how important the issue is to progressives. Media reform was listed as the most important issue to work on, after fixing the electoral system, and more important than the Iraq War, health care, and environmental protection.

Among the changes to look for:

1) Satellite radio (which I don't like, because it's not local, it's too corporate, and it's subscription based).

2) Podcasting.

3) LPFM.

4) More internet diversity - perhaps better remote wireless equipment so you can pick things up in your car.

5) Digital radio - and sideband programming.


Endeavors underway to make broadcasters more responsive to the community:

1) The Local Community Radio Act of 2005 sponsored by Sen. John McCain, which would increase the number of LPFM licensees by removing the minimum separation between frequencies.

2) The Localism in Broadcasting Reform Act of 2005, also sponsored by McCain, which would stop the FCC from just rubberstamping license renewals by mandating a formal review of 5 percent of applications. More importantly, if any station's license is challenged, the FCC would be forced to review the licenses of ALL STATIONS OWNED BY THAT COMPANY.

3) The Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act of 2005, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), which would reduce license renewal periods, reinstate the practice of holding public hearings to evaluate whether broadcasters are meeting their public interest obligations, and restore the Fairness Doctrine.

4) Congress is about the undertake a formal review of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and the pressure will be on to roll back the number of stations one company can own.

I think McChesney/Nichols/Scott have misplaced their loyalty to NPR, suggesting that the network ought to get more money. My own opinion is that NPR has hit the upper limit of what it is willing to do. With more money in their hands, expect more mediocre baby boomer arts and human interest stories (like the recent Robert Plant story). If anything, consideration should be given to foster more competition with NPR by helping to foster more community and college radio news programming.

Among the threats to localism in broadcasting:

1) Kevin Martin, Michael Powell's likely replacement.

2) Continued resistance by the Republican FCC to the idea of holding public hearings on FCC rule changes.

3) Republican domination of the Senate Commerce Committee, and its deference to corporate broadcasters.

But hope springs eternal. Change is possible. The millions of letters to the FCC and members of Congress after Michael Powell's FCC changed ownership rules in 2003 surprised everyone.

The strength of democracy is in the education of its people

Bill Moyers:

News is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity.

Delivering a closing address at the National Conference for Media Reform Moyers extolled the changing media landscape, beckoning a bright new future where the public controls the information they consume:
Pat Aufderheide got it right, I think, in the recent issue of In These Times when she wrote: "This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services … low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public — a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power."

But Moyers also contemplates the threat to democracy by contemporary Pharisees:
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

Calling upon citizens to take action against those dangers, Moyers closed:
We’re big kids; we can handle controversy and diversity, whether it’s political or religious points of view or two loving lesbian moms and their kids, visited by a cartoon rabbit. We are not too fragile or insecure to see America and the world entire for all their magnificent and sometimes violent confusion. "There used to be a thing or a commodity we put great store by," John Steinbeck wrote. "It was called the people."

Is it theocracy yet?

Rob over at Realitique has been following moves being made to turn the United States into a theocracy. Time permitting, I have a post coming up based on the evangelical movement in Colorado Springs - the "evangelical Vatican" - based on the May issue of Harpers. Until then, Rob recently covered the story of Rev. Chan Chandler, pastor at East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina.

Chandler resigned last week following a scandal in which he made good on a promise to kick out of the parish members who voted for John Kerry unless they repented their sins or resigned from the church.

Note to Democrats: leave your party membership cards behind when you head for the pearly gates.

Calling himself "merely the spokesperson" for "the most high," Chandler charged that Kerry was an unbeliever. Is he receiving direct communication from God? Because if he is, I want to ask him what he really thinks about people like Benny Hinn taking people's money under the charade that he can heal the sick.

Here's a precious quote from a Chandler parishioner who drank the Kool-Aid:

Chandler supporter Rhonda Trantham, 27, saw no problem with his approach. "If it's in the Bible, I believe it should be preached," she said.

Amy Sullivan at the LA Times thought that it's possible she missed the line "Thou shalt not vote Democratic" in her quick read of Leviticus, but she suggested it might be in the New Republican Standard Version of the Bible, editorializing that:
No political party gets to claim God.

What's more, Christianity teaches that no one — not Pastor Chandler or the Catholic bishops, Bill Frist or me — has the standing to judge the state of someone's soul. Jesus made this abundantly clear in the Sermon on the Mount when he warned, "Judge not, lest ye yourselves be judged."

Meanwhile, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has introduced a bill (for the sixth time) called the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act of 2005." Now before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow houses of worship to engage in "religious free exercise and free speech activities."

Of course, non-profit organizations have always had the right to free speech of any kind, but the instant they endorse a party or candidate, they get to pay taxes just like the rest of us.

When the United States does become a Republican theocracy, only Churches of the Republican Redeemer will get tax breaks. Until then, the rest of us will follow Jesus' counsel to "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give to God what is God's."

Finally, have yourself one last laugh before the Rapture comes and condemns all Democrats to fire and damnation for all eternity (courtesy of The Fishbowl):


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|W|P|111643435436752919|W|P|Listen to Willie Fontenot segment|W|P|schroeder915@gmail.com5/18/2005 01:21:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Rob|W|P|Thanks for that. I saw your previous post about the segment (or another segment), which I missed. And of course I missed Fontenot speaking at Loyola. For the record, though the list of speakers and bands I have missed is long and filled with illustrious names, I did manage to catch Cake and Margaret Cho at McAlister. So there's that. I apologize for the general irrelevancy of this comment.5/18/2005 02:11:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Schroeder|W|P|I don't head out to see music much myself anymore. It's really got to be something worthwhile to pay admission and deal with the late hours most performances run. The best thing I missed recently, because it was sold out, was Interpol.12:03 PM|W|P|Schroeder|W|P|The Rycroft memo (also known as the Downing Street memo), which was recently revealed to the public, shows that in 2002 George W. Bush decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein and was planning to game the intelligence to support his decision. According to the founders, this constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. For some reason the mainstream media is not concerned with the implications of the memo. One thing we can do is to use the Google Bomb to put relevant sites at the top of a Google search (via Realitique).

Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Downing Street Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo
Rycroft Memo|W|P|111644319304657967|W|P|The Downing Street Memo Google Bomb|W|P|schroeder915@gmail.com2:45 PM|W|P|Schroeder|W|P|Well, not yet. Just wishful thinking, but maybe someday soon.

Channel surfing on my way to work this morning, I stopped for a moment to hear Walton & Johnson's rant against federal funding to preserve records of languages which will soon become extinct, belittling the endeavor of scholars, denigrating the value of non-English-speaking cultures, and whining about their taxes being used to document and analyze, for example, Piratapuyo, a language of the Amazon.

The NEH and NSF are not even talking about trying to save the cultures. They've already written them off! All that remains is to gather up and inventory the detritus of generations of descendants and file it in a box in a warehouse.

I know...why expend even an ounce of energy tapping away at the keyboard for a pair of ignorant redneck asswipes whose own literate contribution to civilization is worth less than the stain they leave in their boxers after they blow ass.

Language is a living vessel of culture. When a language dies, so dies a culture.

Here's the NEH funding announcement:
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced that they have awarded 13 fellowships and 26 institutional grants in their Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) partnership, a new, multi-year effort to preserve records of key languages before they become extinct. More than 3,000 of the 6,000-7,000 currently used human languages are headed for oblivion, experts estimate. The new DEL awards, totaling $4.4 million, will support digital documentation work on more than 70 such languages.

"This is a rescue mission to save endangered languages," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "Language is the DNA of a culture, and it is the vehicle for the traditions, customs, stories, history, and beliefs of a people. A lost language is a lost culture. Fortunately, with the aid of modern technology and these federal funds, linguistic scholars can document and record these languages before they become extinct."

Inconceivable it would be for those asswipes to maybe talk about why these languages are being lost under the combined assaults of genocide, land encroachment, commercialization, state-sponsored cultural decimation, and corporate-sponsored intimidation and assassination.

Haven't western nations done enough to destroy indigenous cultures? Must we annihilate any record of their existence too?

A paltry $4 million spent over a number of years and disbursed to 39 projects is nothing compared to the $295 BILLION pork-laden highway bill passed by the Senate. Oh sure, monkey boy said it was too much. He's suggesting that a $284 billion bill would be more reasonable. Or, better yet, how about trimming that $400 billion plus defense budget, soon to exceed the combined expenditures of the rest of the world (something that has the ROW salivating at the prospect of getting some of those contracts).

But back to crappy radio. So after the worthless Walton & Johnson screed, the station played a promotion patting themselves on the back for having an extensive music library and playing what they want, then segwayed into another stale AC/DC song. Wow! Now that's original!

Has anyone noticed how commercial stations are starting to market themselves in a desperate attempt to keep listeners moving to other mediums. I've been hearing station promotions like "Here's another one we downloaded" before going into a repeat of the latest Gwen Stefani or Green Day.

Maybe the difference is that corporate radio owners are scared shitless about the changing media market, but they've had their heads up their asses so long collecting advertising revenue while blowing off their listeners that they don't know what alternative means anymore. When a classic rock station in New Orleans sounds exactly the same as a classic rock station in Detroit, and I can choose from a variety of programming on the internet, satellite, iPod, and soon, on cell phones, what's the point?

What's really needed is more localism. More variety. More creativity. More community involvement. Let the Clear Channel behemoths go the way of the dinosaur.

Robert McChesney, John Nichols, and Ben Scott have one of the most comprehensive articles I've read of late on the changing media market. Appearing in the May 23 issue of The Nation, the authors point to both popular and market pressures that have the potential to dramatically change radio for the better.

Polls taken just after the 2004 election demonstrate how important the issue is to progressives. Media reform was listed as the most important issue to work on, after fixing the electoral system, and more important than the Iraq War, health care, and environmental protection.

Among the changes to look for:

1) Satellite radio (which I don't like, because it's not local, it's too corporate, and it's subscription based).

2) Podcasting.

3) LPFM.

4) More internet diversity - perhaps better remote wireless equipment so you can pick things up in your car.

5) Digital radio - and sideband programming.


Endeavors underway to make broadcasters more responsive to the community:

1) The Local Community Radio Act of 2005 sponsored by Sen. John McCain, which would increase the number of LPFM licensees by removing the minimum separation between frequencies.

2) The Localism in Broadcasting Reform Act of 2005, also sponsored by McCain, which would stop the FCC from just rubberstamping license renewals by mandating a formal review of 5 percent of applications. More importantly, if any station's license is challenged, the FCC would be forced to review the licenses of ALL STATIONS OWNED BY THAT COMPANY.

3) The Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act of 2005, sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), which would reduce license renewal periods, reinstate the practice of holding public hearings to evaluate whether broadcasters are meeting their public interest obligations, and restore the Fairness Doctrine.

4) Congress is about the undertake a formal review of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and the pressure will be on to roll back the number of stations one company can own.

I think McChesney/Nichols/Scott have misplaced their loyalty to NPR, suggesting that the network ought to get more money. My own opinion is that NPR has hit the upper limit of what it is willing to do. With more money in their hands, expect more mediocre baby boomer arts and human interest stories (like the recent Robert Plant story). If anything, consideration should be given to foster more competition with NPR by helping to foster more community and college radio news programming.

Among the threats to localism in broadcasting:

1) Kevin Martin, Michael Powell's likely replacement.

2) Continued resistance by the Republican FCC to the idea of holding public hearings on FCC rule changes.

3) Republican domination of the Senate Commerce Committee, and its deference to corporate broadcasters.

But hope springs eternal. Change is possible. The millions of letters to the FCC and members of Congress after Michael Powell's FCC changed ownership rules in 2003 surprised everyone.|W|P|111637334014505187|W|P|The death of shock jock radio|W|P|schroeder915@gmail.com10:12 AM|W|P|Schroeder|W|P|Bill Moyers:
News is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity.

Delivering a closing address at the National Conference for Media Reform Moyers extolled the changing media landscape, beckoning a bright new future where the public controls the information they consume:
Pat Aufderheide got it right, I think, in the recent issue of In These Times when she wrote: "This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services … low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public — a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power."

But Moyers also contemplates the threat to democracy by contemporary Pharisees:
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

Calling upon citizens to take action against those dangers, Moyers closed:
We’re big kids; we can handle controversy and diversity, whether it’s political or religious points of view or two loving lesbian moms and their kids, visited by a cartoon rabbit. We are not too fragile or insecure to see America and the world entire for all their magnificent and sometimes violent confusion. "There used to be a thing or a commodity we put great store by," John Steinbeck wrote. "It was called the people."
|W|P|111635081218684456|W|P|The strength of democracy is in the education of its people|W|P|schroeder915@gmail.com8:11 AM|W|P|Schroeder|W|P|Rob over at Realitique has been following moves being made to turn the United States into a theocracy. Time permitting, I have a post coming up based on the evangelical movement in Colorado Springs - the "evangelical Vatican" - based on the May issue of Harpers. Until then, Rob recently covered the story of Rev. Chan Chandler, pastor at East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina.

Chandler resigned last week following a scandal in which he made good on a promise to kick out of the parish members who voted for John Kerry unless they repented their sins or resigned from the church.

Note to Democrats: leave your party membership cards behind when you head for the pearly gates.

Calling himself "merely the spokesperson" for "the most high," Chandler charged that Kerry was an unbeliever. Is he receiving direct communication from God? Because if he is, I want to ask him what he really thinks about people like Benny Hinn taking people's money under the charade that he can heal the sick.

Here's a precious quote from a Chandler parishioner who drank the Kool-Aid:
Chandler supporter Rhonda Trantham, 27, saw no problem with his approach. "If it's in the Bible, I believe it should be preached," she said.

Amy Sullivan at the LA Times thought that it's possible she missed the line "Thou shalt not vote Democratic" in her quick read of Leviticus, but she suggested it might be in the New Republican Standard Version of the Bible, editorializing that:
No political party gets to claim God.

What's more, Christianity teaches that no one — not Pastor Chandler or the Catholic bishops, Bill Frist or me — has the standing to judge the state of someone's soul. Jesus made this abundantly clear in the Sermon on the Mount when he warned, "Judge not, lest ye yourselves be judged."

Meanwhile, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has introduced a bill (for the sixth time) called the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act of 2005." Now before the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow houses of worship to engage in "religious free exercise and free speech activities."

Of course, non-profit organizations have always had the right to free speech of any kind, but the instant they endorse a party or candidate, they get to pay taxes just like the rest of us.

When the United States does become a Republican theocracy, only Churches of the Republican Redeemer will get tax breaks. Until then, the rest of us will follow Jesus' counsel to "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give to God what is God's."

Finally, have yourself one last laugh before the Rapture comes and condemns all Democrats to fire and damnation for all eternity (courtesy of The Fishbowl):

|W|P|111634830446052190|W|P|Is it theocracy yet?|W|P|schroeder915@gmail.com5/17/2005 11:41:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Dr. Truth|W|P|As usual, democrats have a firm grasp of the little picture. For years people of faith have been under fire from the radical left through their efforts to eradicate even the name of God from all public venues. As a society built on Christian beliefs, mores, and traditions, many on the far right see democrats not so much as anti-religion as anti-American.

Given the medias' penchant for seeking out only those on the extremes for coverage, they do not see democrats as mainstream, or as sharing their values. And there is ample evidence that those who control the democrat party are pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage, anti-defense, pro-big government, and for expansion of the welfare state. That generates a belief, or at a minimum the suspicion that democrats are cynics who maginfy whatever injustices do exist in an effort to manipulate the system so as to enslave the working man by virtue of wealth redistribution. Since the economic pie is finite, an economic right of one represents economic enslavement of another (see philosopher Ayn Rand, the original neo-con).

This pathetic fellow that threw all the democrats out of the church, while obviously misguided, does not represent the mainstream of those practicing religion. I notice the democrats only began demeaning people of faith when they stopped voting democrat overwhelmingly.5/18/2005 08:52:00 AM|W|P|Blogger Schroeder|W|P|Do I have to? Again?

Allow me to number among the first to quote what is sure to become one of the most memorable lines from the forthcoming "Revenge of the Sith": "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

Or, how about the revolutionary era Samuel West:
"For the civil authority to pretend to establish particular modes of faith and forms of worship, and to punish all that deviate from the standards which our superiors have set up, is attended with the most pernicious consequences to society. It cramps all free and rational inquiry, fills the world with hypocrites and superstitious bigots--nay, with infidels and skeptics; it exposes men of religion and conscience to the rage and malice of fiery, blind zealots, and dissolves every tender tie of human nature."

Dartmouth, MA, Election Sermon, 1776

Was Barry Goldwater a radical leftist when he proclaimed in 1981:
"Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives."

You see Mr. Dr. Truth (or small "t" truth as you prefer), it's not just large case "D" Democrats who oppose the introduction of religious iconography adorning the public square, it's small case "d" democrats of all ages and stripes and lots of good Christians too who oppose the self-righteous ideologues borrowing God's domain to justify imposing their self-interested POLITICAL will on the many, thus turning God's domain into a sewer of greed, vanity, and power.

I agree that the "media," in particular commercial media, likes to use self-promoting talking heads who spin all political discussion into two ideologically opposed, irreconciliable corners.

I do not agree that big "D" Democrats are (choose your words carefully Mr. Dr. truth) all pro-abortion (pro-choice), pro-same sex marriage (pro-family), anti-defense (anti-imperialist), pro-big government and pro-welfare state (the biggest part of the tax code deals specifically with tax exemptions for...yes dr. truth, it's true...BIG BUSINESS. We're talking corporate welfare!!!

The economic pie is not finite, it is growing. The question ought to be, how should that pie be distributed. We have at present in this country, indeed, a system of laws that enslaves the working man and woman, redistributing the fruits of people's labor to the wealthy, not the poor.

Why do we have poor, dr. truth. Why do people work 2 and 3 jobs in this country - work hard - and still they're poor?

Could it be that the system is rigged against them? Could it be dr. truth, that the system is rigged against average folks like you and me, and it's people like Tom Delay waving a red flag of Christianity and self-righteousness at us, while holding a sword behind their backs with which they intend to strike us.

Who benefits more from the system of laws that regulate our economy? Labor? Or big business?

How can you possibly explain a change in the tax code that allows pharmaceutical companies to re-patriate $75 billion in profits from overseas banks while paying a fraction of the normal tax. There are a number of choice words I could use for that sort of unpatriotic behavior. It's okay for those companies to enjoy all the privileges of United States society, but not to pay into the system to keep it going.

As for big "D" Democrats demeaning people of faith--let's be honest dr. "t" truth--they're demeaning people of a particularly hypocritical, hateful, notably UN-CHRISTIAN faith.

True Christians are humble in their beliefs, but bold in their gestures. Jesus was meek, but his acts were thunderous.

Beware those who claim to know and speak the big "T" Truth, dr. truth, because they're going for your wallet and your freedoms.-->