Saturday, September 30, 2006

What if the Christians are right?

Let's suppose that the Christians are right, and I'm going to spend eternity in hell because I don't follow their rules. I would imagine that my primary reaction, upon learning that, would be something along the lines of "Huh. I guess they were right after all." But while I'm spending the rest of time at Abu Ghraib, I mean being tortured by Beelzebub and his minions, through the pain I'll at least be able to look over at the Liar in Chief, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and all the rest of those falsely pious bastards and see the gobsmacked looks on their faces as Jesus himself shoves a red-hot poker in one side and out the other and explains the special treatment they will get for being such utter fucking hypocrites.

There are worse fates.

I'm sure it's worthless, but a letter to Tim Johnson, R-IL

Congressman Johnson,

We write you tonight regarding the seemingly expanding scandal surrounding your former colleague, Mark Foley. There are extraordinarily disturbing reports that the GOP House leadership, including the Speaker of the House and fellow Illinois representative, Dennis Hastert, knew that Foley had engaged in inappropriate behavior. If Congressman Hastert, Congressman Boehner, or anyone else knew that there were allegations, and chose not to investigate the situation further, they are guilty of putting the welfare of minors at risk. We hope that you and your fellow representatives will put party aside and recognize that no seat in Congress is so sacred that it should be used to protect those who prey upon children.

Anyone who participated in any coverups, decisions to protect Mr. Foley, or who willfully chose not to investigate in this situation does not deserve to be in our government. You owe the country better than that.

We don't expect better, but you owe it to all of us nonetheless.

Thinking or Sitting Exclusive


Here at The Thinker, we've just learned that Speaker of the House, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R- IL) did, in fact, seek counsel on how to deal with now former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), when Hastert received word months ago that Foley was engaged in inappropriate relationships with minors. He sought advice from the source he knew had the most experience in dealing with these sorts of issues.

You've got to give the Republicans credit

When they have an ethical scandal, they don't screw around with any halfway measures.

Everyone knows about Republican Congressman Mark Foley's resignation by now. He was chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children. He also had IM coversations like the following:

Maf54 (Mark Foley): You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.

Another message:

Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.

And this one:

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.

No wonder he resigned as soon as it was known.

Wait, check that. No wonder he resigned as soon as it was made public. From the Washington Post:

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy.

That's BS, Mr. Speaker, and you know it. Anyone with any sense of dignity immediately calls for an ethics investigation and/or the resignation of a Congressman who is having any kind of a sexual relationship (even if it's only online) with a minor. You have to investigate these things - corruption doesn't only come in the form of the money they use to lure your soul to hell, you know.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the House floor last night to demand an investigation into the Foley matter. But Boehner headed her off, calling on the House to refer the matter to the ethics committee, which the House promptly voted unanimously to do.

Of course Boehner did, but the real question is not what the ethics committee will do, but how much they will cover up. They're Republicans, after all. Telling the truth would be unconscionable.

h/t Daily Kos and TPM

Friday, September 29, 2006

Soon to come - "No, I swear, some of my best friends are brown!"

Let's come back to the House, Senate, and President deciding we can torture (as Barack Obama said, hopefully the courts will overturn this one, and we'll be back to the beginning). We can talk later about Macaca DeerHead. Today we'll hear from Senator Trent Lott's hair (not, as far as I can tell, from his porch).

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

"No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

Here we pause, because this is stupid. This is "go jump in a woodchipper" stupid. The real people in the real world don't talk about Iraq? You'd think they'd have learned from Bush's "I honestly don't think about him much" moment with Osama bin Laden. But no. Message to all you "in the real world". While you might think that Iraq is a big deal, it's just not. Really. Not a big deal at all - our elected officials barely talk about it. Stop obsessing about the war. You know what, if you think about the lower gas prices, you'll never notice the dead bodies (2708 Americans, and roughly 45000 Iraqis, as of this morning), and you'll feel all warm and fuzzy and Republican.


Lott went on to say he has difficulty understanding the motivations behind the violence in Iraq.

"It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist?

Why, indeed, Trent. Why did the Christians carry out the Crusades? Why do we fight over having the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why does George Allen hide his Jewish heritage? All good questions, really.

But as ignorant as that is, and as much as we should be talking about how our "leaders" are willing to ignore the dominant issue of our time, or how stupid Trent Lott is for not understanding that religion has been the cause of many, many wars throughout history, what made my wife wonder why I was cursing so loudly was his summation:

Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."




How do they tell the difference?

They all look the same to me?

Trent, you complete frickin' racist idiot, here's a little question - do the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland look a whole lot different? Would it be better if they did - then could you understand why they killed each other?

Reading this actually caused me pain. Although, thankfully, it's now okay for our government to torture people.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A billion here, a billion there.....

Cost of Iraq war nearly $2 billion a week
By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff

Read the pathetic story at the link above, but just think--TWO BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK.

And now for the comic relief

Man with 10-year erection may lose award

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A former handyman from North Providence who won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a malfunctioning penile implant may not get the money after a judge dismissed his claim. Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton on Sept. 18 granted a request by the implant manufacturer's insurer to dismiss Charles "Chick" Lennon's claim, which his lawyers say will amount to $1 million with interest. The implant has caused Lennon to have an erection for 10 years.

Walk proud Chick--walk proud.

The Dumbass Hall of Fame

A unanimous first-ballot choice here:
As a longtime subscriber to the Chicago Tribune, I have been disappointed with this page and the many unwarranted attacks on President Bush, his party and conservatives in general. I thought of canceling my subscription even though I enjoy other aspects of the paper.

I changed my mind when I realized conservatives must be aware of the warped ideas of the many confused people in our society. We need to vote for conservatives to protect us, our children and the confused.

Ben Kischner
Ah, so much dumbass, so little time. Shall we point out the Tribune's long-standing and well-deserved reputation as the best friend GOP money can buy? Should I ask how conservatives are possibly "protecting" us?

Nah, I'll just say

Jonah and the Wail

Jonah Goldberg is an editor at the National Review. I'm pretty sure that he gets to keep his job there because of his ability to butter up the boss/founder ...

"When confronted by the assertion that the Soviet Union and the United States were moral equivalents, William F. Buckley Jr. responded that if one man pushes an old lady in front of an oncoming bus and another man pushes the old lady of the way of a bus, we should not denounce them both as men who push old ladies around."

Goldberg goes on to throw Time Magazine's Andrew Sullivan under the bus as being soft on national security when he (Sullivan) dares to oppose our tactics in dealing with "high value" terrorists:

The tactic (comparing Chimpy's administration to Stalinist Russia) hasn't worked, partly because many decent Americans understand that abuse intended to foil a murder plot is not the same as torturing political dissidents...(t)he sole aim (of waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed) was to stop an ongoing murder conspiracy, which is what Al Quaeda is...

By linking our current "war on turr" to our moral superiority during the Cold War, Mr. Goldberg sees a useful entry into a defense of torture (nicely hidden in asking that our political leaders "discuss" the issue). Of course there are a couple of problems here:
First, we're not at "war" at all, and second, even when we tettered on the brink of nuclear devastation, we didn't publicly contemplate torture nor rendered for torture, our enemies - perceived or otherwise. Apparently, godless communists were higher on the food chain than today's "IslamoFascists."

In case you think I'm being unfair or alarmist, look at Goldberg's reasoning:

"In every society, murder is punished more harshly than non-lethal torture... even if I beat you for hours with a rubber hose, my punishment will be less than if I murder you, simply because it is worse to take a life than to cause pain... Yet according to the torture prohibitionists, there must be a complete ban on anything that even looks like torture, regardless of CONTEXT, even though we'd never dream of a blanket ban on killing."

I may be wrong here, but doesn't it seem to you that Goldberg is trying to justify torture as being morally superior to, oh -- MURDER???

You think maybe I have misunderstood him? Read on:

The law recognizes a host of nuances when it comes to homicide... but there is no equivalent word for murder when it comes to torture. It's always evil. Yet that's not our universal reaction. In movies and on TV, good men force evil men to give up information via methods no nicer than what the CIA is allegedly employing. If torture is a categorical evil, shouldn't we boo Jack Bauer on Fox's "24"?

Look Jonah, using a fictional TV show is all well and good, but how about this: if these "good men" should be portrayed torturing INNOCENT people, are we allowed to boo then, or do we simply shrug our shoulders and say that the ends justify the means?
You seem to indicate as much when you go on to state "calling aggressive interrogation techniques 'torture' when they're not doesn't make such techniques any worse (than aggressive)."

And I'm really surprised that you didn't go back to "Dirty Harry" and use that fictional example... here let me refresh your memory. Harry Callahan is hot on the trail of a psychopathic twisted little fuck who calls himself "Scorpio." Well, he's been wreaking havoc upon the innocent citizenry of San Francisco, tweaking Harry's nose all the while. Scorpio's latest crime is the kidnapping of an innocent young girl. He sends a gruesome missive informing the police that he's buried the girl alive with only a short supply of oxygen. Harry - through dint of investigation (and a little luck) - tracks down the evil Scorpio, wings him with a shot from his
.45 and proceeds to grind his shoe into Scorpio's wounded shoulder until he presumedly (offscreen) gives up the location of the kidnapped girl. In the next scene, a body bag is shown being carried off (presumedly holding the kidnapped girl's body).

Now here's where it gets interesting. Our next scene finds Harry in a D.A.'s office, where he's told that nearly everything he did was unconstitutional. Scorpio gets to walk. Harry can't question a suspect without "Mirandizing" that suspect. He can't grind his shoe heel into a wound in order to extract vital information - that's torture -- EVEN if his action is done with the intent of saving a life.

Perhaps Harry should have waterboarded him...

How about this for beginning the discussion Jonah. Let's allow the CIA to test these aggressive techniques on you. Then you can tell us that doing so isn't really a problem - even if the person being pummeled is completely innocent. After all, as you state in your article, "Would you rather take some lumps in a dungeon for a month or take a dirt nap forever?"

Sent to DC

Dear Senators Durbin and Obama,

We read with dismay that the House has passed the interrogation bill yesterday, which gives the President far too much latitude in what acceptable interrogation methods are. It also seems that the Senate, and specifically the Democrats in the Senate, are not doing everything they can to protect the human rights of people in our custody. Not only will this endanger our troops when captured, but its a violation of everything this country stands for. We will hold you and your fellow Democrats accountable if at the end of the process, we find out you could have done something to prevent even one person from being tortured and did not. We expect this kind of behavior from Republicans, but you are supposed to be doing better.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Damn, I'm tired of this

I am about to point out some presidential idiocy--surprise, surprise. What bothers me about this, beyond its mere repetitiveness, is the simple fact that this is MY country and MY president goes before the world and preaches a bizarre blend of nonsense and lies. I am damn tired of this embarrassing man embarrassing me.
Some people have guessed what's in the report and have concluded that going into Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree. I think it's naive. I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe.
Mr. President, need I remind you that you did not go on the "offense" against "people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm." You "offensively" invaded a country for a variety of misguided vainglorious and ideological reasons. That country had NO desire to "do us harm" because its leader, no matter how reprehensible, knew that he was on the administration's radar screen and did not seek self-destruction.
The terrorists fight us in Iraq for a reason: They want to try to stop a young democracy from developing, just like they're trying to fight another young democracy in Afghanistan.
May I again mention that you are not fighting "terrorists" in Iraq, that you are facing an indigenous opposition to your illegal invasion? That your "young democracies" in both Iraq and Afghanistan are jokes? In Iraq the militias control much of the area outside the Kurdish areas--an area where the Iraqi flag may not even be flown.
We weren't in Iraq when we got attacked on September the 11th. We weren't in Iraq, and thousands of fighters were trained in terror camps inside your country, Mr. President. We weren't in Iraq when they first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. We weren't in Iraq when they bombed the Cole. We weren't in Iraq when they blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. My judgment is, if we weren't in Iraq, they'd find some other excuse, because they have ambitions. They kill in order to achieve their objectives.

Oh my God. Has anyone EVER suggested that Iraq CAUSED terrorism? For starters, let's lump every criminal, political activist, resistance fighter and bipolar psychopath under the rubric of "terrorist." Then let's ignore the incredibly disparate causes for the cited attacks in the past and trivialize the impact of the hostilities you have generated. In effect, just because you're walking doesn't mean you aren't chewing gum.

Stop it Mr. President. You are embarrassing me, yourself--and your country.

Secretary Spellings and the attack on higher education

Following the rousing success that has been the No Child Left Behind era in American Education, the Bush Administration, through its lackey, err, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, has decided to take on higher education. Early signs are that this will be undertaken with the same forethought and success that every Bush initiative has had.

An advisory commission report sent this month to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings recommends a wide range of proposals related to the accessibility, affordability and accountability of higher education.

I agree that higher education has become prohibitively expensive in many places. When costs rise 5-10% per year, that far outpaces inflation and earnings, and many schools have priced themselves out of the running for many students. However, the cause of these increases is not often identified. It's not new buildings, or faculty salaries, or Porsches for the dean. It's health care, same as with other businesses. Health care costs rose nearly 8% again last year (and 80% since 2000), and that's directly connected with the rise of tuition and fees at colleges.

To say, on the other hand, that higher education is not accessible or accountable, is patently absurd. There are hundreds and hundreds of four-year colleges and universities in this country, and thousands of two-year community colleges. In nearly any town of any reasonable size is some sort of institution of higher learning. Distance learning is becoming more and more common (see, for example, the University of Illinois' Global Campus Initiative).

Dealing specifically with accountability, Spellings wants to:

• Provide matching grants to colleges, universities and states that collect and publicly report student learning outcomes.

• Convene a meeting with higher-education accrediting groups this year "to move toward measures that place more emphasis on learning." She says accreditation, the primary source of quality control in higher education, is focused "more on how many books are in a college library than whether students can actually understand them."

These are even more clueless than the comment about accessibility. Where I work, we are hip-deep in our every ten year reaccreditation process. We're part of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. You can read their handbook on accreditation here, but I can say unequivocally that accreditation is entirely about student learning. We are dedicating thousands of hours of work compiling hundreds of documents detailing what we expect students to learn in each course, what artifacts and data we collect to measure student learning, and what processes we have and are developing to use that data to improve our teaching and increase student learning. I could provide you with some of the number that I've written, if you're really interested. Spelling's comments are entirely non-sensical, and will do far more harm than good. I expect no less out of a Bush appointee.

A number of years ago, back when the Liar in Chief took office, I said something about how we would look back fondly on the time before Bush took office, "back when we had schools."


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All units, we have a pants on fire...

Poor George Allen.

First he's a liar, then he "finds out" he's a Jew and then he's a liar again.

The lie? He NEVER said the "N" word--ever.

Besides the eyewitness testimony to the contrary, I would call basic common sense into question. I'm supposed to believe that a senator from Virginia with a fondness for Confederate flags and nooses NEVER was cut off in traffic by a black driver and let loose an epithet? That his friends are lying? Senator, thou does't protest WAY too much.

One Sunday, two presidents

I'm sure most of you have seen or heard the smackdown that William Jefferson Clinton gave to Foxboy Chris Wallace (I miss the Big Dog...)

And then, the current [p]resident gives us this on Blitzer-a-palooza:

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war…. We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.

OK, the problem is--IT'S ON THE TV! And has someone mentioned to the [p]resident that this "enemy" is an indigenous resistance to foreign invasion and the imposition of a puppet government? And now, I just ask you to re-read this one:
Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there's a strong will for democracy
and tell me what the hell that means.

Never could have seen this one coming....

Army Extends Troops' Iraq Duty Yet Again

(AP) The Army is stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it is again extending the combat tours of thousands of soldiers beyond the promised 12 months - the second such move since August. Soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division had been expecting to return to their home base in Germany in mid-January. Instead, they will stay an extra 46 days in Iraq, until late February, the Pentagon announced Monday. The soldiers are operating in western Anbar province, one of the most violent parts of Iraq.

The Pentagon also announced that the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy to Iraq 30 days earlier than scheduled, starting in late October. The announcement did not say why the speedup was deemed necessary, but three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said it is part of a plan to beef up forces in Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi troops are struggling to contain insurgent and sectarian violence. The Pentagon said troop rotations could be changed even further "based upon changes in the security situation." Sectarian killings in Baghdad and continuing insurgent violence elsewhere in Iraq have foiled Pentagon plans to begin a troop reduction this fall.

"The Army is coming to the end of its rope in Iraq," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a private research group. "It simply does not have enough active-duty military personnel to sustain the current level of effort."

More here.

Did you buy his hair growth formula too?

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Unhappy customers who sued Dr. Phil McGraw over his now discontinued Shape Up! diet plan have reached a $10.5 million settlement agreement with the TV psychologist, an attorney for the plaintiffs said. The lawsuit, filed in 2004 on behalf of three disappointed consumers, claimed McGraw defrauded fans with his yearlong venture into the diet supplement business, making false statements about the pills.

I am SHOCKED that a weight loss scheme marketed by the svelte Dr. Phil didn't work--shocked, I say!

The Simian Boy King Talks Techie

By allowing Americans to Google their tax dollars, this new law will help taxpayers demand greater fiscal discipline.

He is so inspiring.

Speaking Volumes

Anthony Zinni, Marine Corps General (retired)

Paul Eaton, Army Major General (retired)

Gregory Newbold, Marine Corps Lieutenant General (retired)

John Batiste, Army Major General (retired)

What do these four men have in common? They are NOT doves. All four served in "leadership" positions in the Iraq Debacle. In retirement, they have come to understand that their duty as CITIZENS trumps their training to follow the chain of command. All testified before congressional committees looking into the conduct of the Debacle.

They all believe that Donald Rumsfeld is both a danger and a major doofus.

Here is a link to highlights of Batiste's testimony.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back in New Orleans

So I'm watching the pregame for tonight's Saints/Falcons game. If you pay any vague attention to sports, you know the significance of this game - the first game back in the Superdome since the catastrophe that was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

First of all, can we please all just agree that the NFL should make a contract with U2 and have them play at all big games? They were incredible in 2002, playing the Super Bowl after September 11, and along with Green Day and a brass band, kicked ass again tonight.

The media makes much of such events, and tonight is no execption. (Oh my. The elder Bush is flipping coins. I wonder where Barbara is.) They'll try to suck all the life out of the event with maudlin speeches and fancy-sounding words. Ignore them. Watch the players. Watch the fans. Look in Joe Horn's eyes, remember the words he said 13 months ago. Remember the devastation. The failures. The dead.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

From the "Duh, Ya Think?" file

Washington The war in Iraq has become the primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers are increasing faster than the United States and its allies are eliminating the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

Wow am I surprised. I NEVER would have guessed that an unprovoked invasion and occupation coupled with torture would have inflamed any opposition. Silly me!