Saturday, July 30, 2005
Last Sunday, while I sat in the pew with the young one in tow, reading his books about lizards and dinosaurs and disregarding his picture missal, the monsignor gave his homily and noted the Catholic Church had announced that this is "Natural Family Planning Week." After he said this, the usual boilerplate attack ensued blaming in vitro fertilization and other methods of both conception and birth control aside from the traditional practice of intercourse between a husband and wife.
I won't turn this into an advertisement for what the Church calls "natural family planning." Part of the reason why is because, based on everything I've read and heard about it, I believe it is not a method of practicing birth control. It is a means of determining optimum conditions for conception, based on incredibly naive notions about basic female biology and assumptions that all of the mechanical elements needed on the part of a man and a woman will work perfectly every time.
Also, I should state categorically that my faith is very dear to me. I couldn't imagine my life without it. Still, I feel that I have to say something. Also, I think the Catholic Church is a wonderful institution made up of basically devout people performing great work for those who are elderly, sick, infirmed, lacking basic shelter of one type or another, struggling with birth defects or malnutrition, or any one of hundreds of other maladies, afflictions or tragic circumstances. The "bad apples," especially those that were covered up by Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, are always the ones who make the headlines, though, but that is true of human nature in general.
The Church gets a lot of things right, and telling young men and women not to have sex until marriage is the right idea (though simply proclaiming abstinence is naive...as I and others noted in "Birds, Bees, and Bush" a week or so ago, it has to be followed up with the right education about condoms and birth control). However, when it comes to giving advice about sexuality to married couples, they don't have a clue.
What prompted me to finally say something was an Email from a friend of mine announcing that a couple he and his wife are close to just had a baby girl. I know that the wife has made what I would call extraordinary sacrifices to deliver this child, including practicing methods that the Church finds abhorrent, though I hear that she is devout herself. However, the arrival of this child, as it is with any child, is a blessed miracle.
I know of many other couples (and I'm sure you do also) who have had to go to all kinds of great expense and sacrifice to either bring their own children into the world or adopt others, and though I know the Church would support these families, I just wish I heard a little more understanding about their sacrifice from the pulpit on Sundays and not blanket condemnation.
Actually, if the Church wants to make a difference on this, they could lean on their Repug politician benefactors (who, as we know, will pontificate about the sanctity of life forever, but will do everything they can to make it difficult for the child and parents to receive support by underfunding all kinds of programs to help the family, including WIC, once the child finally arrives) to hold hearings on why a married couple with the love and means to support a child has to spend thousands of dollars and travel halfway around the world or more to Russia, China, Bulgaria or other places to adopt, since the couple is automatically disqualified from doing that for a child in this country because they are anywhere from 35-40 years old.
Jobless claims up(No person is attributed anywhere in this "story." Except for the obscure reference to "government analysts," we have no idea of where this information is coming from.)
The small 5,000 rise in claims was better than the 17,000 analysts had been expecting.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week but remained at a level indicating a strong labor market.
The Labor Department reported that 310,000 newly laid off workers...(That sure is a number that gets my attention.)
...applied for jobless benefits last week. That was a small increase of 5,000 claims,...("Small" in whose estimation, I wonder?)
...but it occurred after a dramatic drop of 32,000 in the previous week and left claims at a level indicating the labor market remained healthy.(That drop could have occurred because people's unemployment benefits ran out and they've given up looking for work. Also, I don't really care if the labor market is "healthy," I care if the job market is that way. I already know there are many, many people still looking for work.)
A flurry of indicators in recent weeks have flashed signals that the economy had successfully emerged from a rough patch in the spring and was entering the second half of the year with renewed momentum.(First of all, this is too vague of a statement for me to understand what it means. Second, it is an editorial comment and does not belong in what is supposed to be a legitimate news story.)
The small 5,000 rise in claims...(Not "small" if you're a claimant, but silly me...I forget again that this type of "news" is really for the benefit of the investor class and not "John or Jane Q. Working Person"...)
...last week was better than the 17,000-claims increase that analysts had been expecting. Government analysts said that there were fewer layoffs in autos and large number of other industries (sic).(So this is what we have to live with in the Bushco era...a moderate degree of bad news that is dressed up as "success," as opposed to a full-blown disaster described as a "moderate downturn.")
(Oh, and get your calculators ready as you try to figure out this next paragraph.)
The 310,000 total claims came after 305,000 claims the previous week. Both weeks represented the lowest level for claims in the past three months. The four-week moving average for claims edged down to 318,250 from 318,500 the previous week.(And this is progress??)
Analysts said the low level of layoffs in the past two weeks...("Low" again being relative...)
...showed that the labor market was improving after extensive plant shutdowns in the auto industry in July for retooling for the new model year.(I don't work in the auto industry, but I don't know how you can "retool" your vehicles as you lay people off. I guess I just need some enlightenment on that.)
I'm still waiting for sound, serious analysis from a major news organization in this country regarding our economy and where it's going. The closest I've found so far is online from Paul Craig Roberts, who worked in the commerce department during the Reagan administration. If you have any familiarity with Roberts' work at all , you know that he is painting a very different picture from that created by the bland and confusing generalities brought to us from our dear MSM cousins.
Friday, July 29, 2005
1) I thought this was an eye-opening column by Arianna Huffington on how Judith Miller, formerly of the NY Times and currently residing in a minimum-security facility in Alexandria, Va., operated within Bushco's inner circle (Arianna Huffington's other post the prior day on Miller was a revelation also).
2) It looks like "Coingate" is truly unraveling for Tom Noe and company in Ohio (and I respected George Voinovich for standing up to John Bolton, but this doesn't make him look good at all), according to this story from Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman of the Columbia Free Press.
It never ceases to amaze me -- the results we can achieve when we work together. John and I are so grateful for your support of our "Raising the States" initiative. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to say thank you.
What a job you have done so far! With the help of our online community, John has been able to help raise over $2.9 million for Democrats in the states - and that will make a real difference on election day. John and I have written to you before about the importance of this fight: how more Democrats in state legislatures means more reforms for working Americans, and more hope for our party nationwide. Please be proud that your support has moved us forward in this fight for one America. You are on the front lines, supporting the values and the causes we share.
Thank you for being there for us, for our party, and for the hard working families of our country.
We rely on you for so much, and you always find a way to come through.
Try not to make too many bleating noises as you’re led to the slaughter, people.
Gee, I guess I’m supposed to actually like this cretin now that James Dobson and the other “pro life” crazies are upset with him, aren’t I?
Update 7/30 - I've had some time to ponder this development, and I had this thought. All of these people are cagey political animals - Santorum, DeLay, Frist, even Dubya - and I think this is a tacit admission by Frist that he knows he won't get the vote of Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, and the evangelical crazies when he runs for the Republican presidential nomination in '08 (and make no mistake...Frist wants to be president). I think he sees the handwriting on the wall because the right-wing nut jobs think he sold out on the filibuster deal a couple of months ago, though that won't prove to be much of a win for the Democrats when Roberts eventually gets to the Supreme Court. Also, though he appropriately prostrated himself to these phonies in the Terri Schiavo travesty, the person who went further than Frist was Jeb Bush, and I believe that HE is going to be "the anointed one" for the intolerant Republican right. Frist, realizing that, is going to go for the more moderate (and shrinking) faction of the Repugs, and this is a big step in that direction. I grudgingly have to admit that Frist, scary character that he is, is smart to figure this out.
It’s important to keep in mind how many of these characters came from P.R. and advertising backgrounds (Frank Luntz, Andrew Card, etc.). When asked prior to Iraq War II if Bushco was contemplating military action in the summer of 2002, Card said no because “you don’t roll out a new product in August.”
Thursday, July 28, 2005
As I read their learned and well-thought-out observations, three words that were seemingly etched in fire immediately burned into my consciousness:
DEAR GOD, NO!
I respect Al Gore a great deal. I think he has been a great public servant, and I think he is a learned man who has much that is good to contribute to the national dialogue. I also hold the organizations he represents and patronizes – most notable, Moveon.org – in high esteem.
However, if he were to run for president again as the Democratic nominee, I think it would be an awful development. The main reason why is because, in the 2000 presidential election, he showed terrible political instincts. If he had let Clinton campaign with him in any of the swing states, particularly Florida…well, I actually don’t want to think about it because the fact that we could have avoided all of the vile Bushco crap we’ve had to deal with if Gore had shown a hint of imagination makes me positively ill.
It was inconceivable to me that Gore could have stood by Clinton so steadfastly during the Ken Starr inquisition but then abandon him at the drop of a hat during the presidential campaign. Also, Gore should have slapped down the Repugs quickly after they started spreading their typical garbage, particularly their misrepresentation of Gore’s quote about the Internet (Gore meant to say that he took a lead role in funding development, which is absolutely correct…sometimes it infuriates me when Dems don’t just level with people and “talk turkey” – Gore fell victim to this, as did John Kerry last year). There was also that moment in one of the debates where Gore got in Bush’s face and tried to “stare him down,” which was positively weird.
Gore also surrounded himself with the usual coterie of DLC stooges and well-moneyed Beltway losers who were just looking to pad their resumes and didn’t exude anywhere near the fervor for his candidacy that the Clintonites did for Bill and Hillary. That was part of the reason why Gore seemed to change his approach for each of the debates, which unfortunately didn’t help him either because it looked like he was acting on the advice of his consultants and not being “natural”.
The man comes off as stiff, which probably isn’t his fault. That’s just the way some people are. He also looked like an opportunist during the 2000 Florida recount (and I’m talking about perceptions here, not reality). As soon as Cruela DeVil certified the results, it became an uphill legal battle, as we know. Gore should have just said he wanted to recount the whole damn state instead of the four Democratic counties in question. However, that whole situation was extraordinary to say the least, and he was trying to win on Repug turf. However, I believe it never should have gotten as far as it did (and as I said, if he’d campaigned with Clinton and they pretended to make nice with each other, and if they’d both told Ralph Nader to get the hell out of it…).
(oh God, I’m starting to feel queasy thinking about all of this again…)
And I like the guy! Think about how voters will feel when the right-wing echo chamber resuscitates every single Gore misrepresentation and makes up new ones (and the Swift Boat Liars will return and gladly oblige on that one).The Democrats need to show some imagination to this country on the national level. They also need to show a spine. Gore will provide the latter, but given his history, I have grave doubts that he can provide the former.
(This was also a dialogue about the media in general in this country...definitely a long one coming up here.)
I was involved in an interesting Email thread yesterday, and it started out as comments about this column from the New York Times on Tuesday.
All Ears for Tom Cruise, All Eyes on Brad PittHere are the responses from two individuals in the thread:
By Nicholas D. Kristof
Some of us in the news media have been hounding President Bush for his shameful passivity in the face of genocide in Darfur.
More than two years have passed since the beginning of what Mr. Bush acknowledges is the first genocide of the 21st century, yet Mr. Bush barely manages to get the word "Darfur" out of his mouth. Still, it seems hypocritical of me to rage about Mr. Bush's negligence, when my own beloved institution - the American media - has been at least as passive as Mr. Bush.
Condi Rice finally showed up in Darfur a few days ago, and she went out of her way to talk to rape victims and spotlight the sexual violence used to terrorize civilians. Most American television networks and cable programs haven't done that much.
Even the coverage of Ms. Rice's trip underscored our self-absorption. The manhandling of journalists accompanying Ms. Rice got more coverage than any massacre in Darfur has.
This is a column I don't want to write - we in the media business have so many critics already that I hardly need to pipe in as well. But after more than a year of seething frustration, I feel I have to.
Like many others, I drifted toward journalism partly because it seemed an opportunity to do some good. (O.K., O.K.: it was also a blast, impressed girls and offered the glory of the byline.) But to sustain the idealism in journalism - and to rebut the widespread perception that journalists are just irresponsible gossips - we need to show more interest in the first genocide of the 21st century than in the "runaway bride."
I'm outraged that one of my Times colleagues, Judith Miller, is in jail for protecting her sources. But if we journalists are to demand a legal privilege to protect our sources, we need to show that we serve the public good - which means covering genocide as seriously as we cover, say, Tom Cruise. In some ways, we've gone downhill: the American news media aren't even covering the Darfur genocide as well as we covered the Armenian genocide in 1915.
Serious newspapers have done the best job of covering Darfur, and I take my hat off to Emily Wax of The Washington Post and to several colleagues at The Times for their reporting. Time magazine gets credit for putting Darfur on its cover - but the newsweeklies should be embarrassed that better magazine coverage of Darfur has often been in Christianity Today.
The real failure has been television's. According to monitoring by the Tyndall Report, ABC News had a total of 18 minutes of the Darfur genocide in its nightly newscasts all last year - and that turns out to be a credit to Peter Jennings. NBC had only 5 minutes of coverage all last year, and CBS only 3 minutes - about a minute of coverage for every 100,000 deaths. In contrast, Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks.
Incredibly, more than two years into the genocide, NBC, aside from covering official trips, has still not bothered to send one of its own correspondents into Darfur for independent reporting.
"Generally speaking, it's been a total vacuum," said John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group, speaking of television coverage. "I blame policy makers for not making better policy, but it sure would be easier if we had more media coverage."
When I've asked television correspondents about this lapse, they've noted that visas to Sudan are difficult to get and that reporting in Darfur is expensive and dangerous. True, but TV crews could at least interview Darfur refugees in nearby Chad. After all, Diane Sawyer traveled to Africa this year - to interview Brad Pitt, underscoring the point that the networks are willing to devote resources to cover the African stories that they consider more important than genocide.
If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur. Last month, CNN, Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CBS collectively ran 55 times as many stories about Michael Jackson as they ran about genocide in Darfur.
The BBC has shown that outstanding television coverage of Darfur is possible. And, incredibly, mtvU (the MTV channel aimed at universities) has covered Darfur more seriously than any network or cable station. When MTV dispatches a crew to cover genocide and NBC doesn't, then we in journalism need to hang our heads.
So while we have every right to criticize Mr. Bush for his passivity, I hope that he criticizes us back. We've behaved as disgracefully as he has.
Person 1: That is how it works. Media brainwashes people not informing them. Most people are more interested in cheesy celebrities stories, then what is going on in the world. Most Americans don't know what Darfur is.Good points, and I don’t have any answers to those questions, except to speculate that those locations have nothing to do with what our politicians define as “protecting our national interests” (re: if they have oil, it isn’t worth the time and trouble to go get it). Also, Clinton backed off on anything to do with Africa after our Marines were shamefully killed and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
Person 2: So what is this? A 'mea culpa' beating of the chest and tearing of cloth to show shame?
What can this Times journalist tell any conscious Black person or anyone with a social conscience about the perception of any story pertaining to Black people that could show Black people to be human with human feelings, or achievers in anything besides entertainment and sports?
What can this Times journalist tell us about Earl Caldwell, a Black journalist, who worked for the Times during the turbulent 60s and early 70s who was left on his own by the managing staff of the Times when he didn't want to reveal a source? Caldwell's case that was taken to the Supreme Court is the decision that ultimately cemented the legal footing that The Times and Judith Miller can stand on today to protect her so-called sources.
How can this Times journalist be so bold as to pat his profession and employer on the back and his charlatan of a colleague, Judith Miller, when it is apparent that the Times failed to fact-check Ms. Miller's narratives when it came time to bombing Iraq.
Let's not forget the point here - the burden of guilt will never leave people who know they've done wrong. It's overdue for the Times to address their lack of reporting on Darfur. National and International organizations are denouncing that news outfit left and right.
The NY Times is considered the foremost periodical in the US and the world. Yet - you find no one reporting on the devastation happening in Haiti, no one reporting on genocide in Darfur, no one reporting on the continued uprisings in Sierra Leone, no one reporting on machinations that will spur a genocide in Ecuador, no one reporting - no one reporting.
That newspaper and others like it - took up two weeks going over the details of the bombing in London. Bombings are not so infrequent in Europe - why then the emphasis on the numbers dead and injured? You have more people dying and injured in non-white countries all the time...Yet no one bothers to look - why?
Here is my response to the first two responses:
Thanks very much for passing this along. The responses are excellent (reflecting the truly depressing reality, however).Person 2 responded with this:
I don't think Nicholas Kristof, who I usually respect, is trying to let himself off the hook in his comments. At least he is showing a conscience and a recognition that something is unbelievably wrong in the news business in this country. For what it's worth, I just did a Google search on Darfur, and the first article I came across, aside from a Washington Post blurb about naming a new envoy yesterday, was in The New Yorker Magazine dated last August. So far, it's the only story of any depth that I can find from a US news organization.
At times like this, I am grateful to the really good "bloggers" who are out there, such as The Daily Kos and the people at the Al Franken Show web site at Air America. These are the only places where I can find some reporting on Darfur aside from what I just mentioned.
There are all kinds of travesties in reporting out there aside from what the respondents mentioned. When I talk to people about this, I say that this all started in the 70s when news organizations had to become profit centers (which coincided with the conservative ascendancy in this country that currently subjugates us). There was a time when you would watch a network newscast and see real, live reporting from actual locations around the world, and it wasn't because some celebrity showed up there to make a movie, hunt big game, get a divorce, or whatever. It was legitimate news analysis of what was going on in that country by professional journalists who were actually there. Now, I would imagine that approximately the same amount of time is spent on Britney Spears' morning sickness as would be spent on coverage of factional infighting in Venezuela or cash outflow in Russia due to dollar appreciation against the ruble, and I don't think even turning off the damn TV in protest (which I've done, in part) would matter at this point.
Here's another one for you - did any of the TV networks report about Sir Richard Doll, the epidemiologist who first reported the link between cigarette smoking and cancer? He died a few days ago. But oh, someone found a blonde hair in Aruba that might belong to Natalee Holloway (not trying to minimize that tragedy), so guess what made the newscast instead?
(By the way, I know one of the respondents in this thread is African American and I strongly suspect that the other is also, and I am not. However, even though I am mentioning this, I consider that point to be totally irrelevant.)
The Nation, Trinity Broadcasting, The Word Network, LINK TV, WBAI, AgencePresse, AlterPress, Madre etc..have continuously reported on Darfur. There is no 'mainstream' analysis - what there is the same type of editorial-non-reporting hogwash that Kristof gave in his piece.
What is a report? I think a report is a verbal or written summary of an event that occurred. Many times, it is in a comparative manner; sometimes in a cumulative. Since no one is omnipresent - the reliance on others to coordinate their efforts to keep the general public apprised of events is more than a job - it's a de facto statement of trust.
When Corporations own media houses, like weeklies, monthlies, publishing houses, and tv/radio stations - what kind of reporting can the public receive? The journalists become mere mouthpieces. There can be no analysis. How can you talk about the greenhouse effect when your owner is Toyota Corporation? How can you criticize bias in election coverage when Rupert Murdoch is your boss? Need I go on?
Kristof is not showing conscience...Let's think about the point he's trying to make. I can't 'speak' for the man...nor can I pretend that I know it all. What then is Kristof's point?
Is he saying there should be actual reporting done in mainstream media as journalists are expected to do? Is he decrying the fact that systemic slaughter is overlooked in 'Dark' countries? Is he even hinting that the root of under reporting of actual news is due to the prostituting of the very journalistic principles that the Times and Ms. Miller are so quick to reference now that their backs are against the wall?
Person 1 responded with this:
There’s plenty of blame to go around.(I’m still checking on the Amy Goodman/George Soros thing, by the way. If I find anything, I’ll post it here.)
My contention is that there are things that the “liberal” press won’t cover, and there are things that the “conservative” press won’t cover. Many talking heads being advanced by both sides never reveal when there are PAID shills for a particular agenda. They also don’t disclose that they once worked in previous administrations. Neither “liberal” nor “conservative” media tells you that a piece of video they play during the broadcast was compiled by the PR department of some corporation, or by a government agency.
Let’s take, for example Amy Goodman, who I do credit for covering\uncovering some big stories way before the rest of the media chimed in. Why doesn’t she ever talk about Soros’ influence in her organization? Or her sweetheart deal with Pacifica? Why doesn’t the media (both liberal & conservative) not disclose that their guest so-and-so who’s the head of such-and-such organization has served in a lobbying capacity for a particular interest? Who funds their so-called think tank?
I suspect there is so much compromise and corruption in both camps that neither side really wants to go all out and attack the other. So they make their stand for their pet issues, and never really advance the national dialogue beyond sound bites.
Here is the last comment (from Person 1)
I know CNN and Atrios each had something on Latoyia Figueroa yesterday, by the way. I don’t know of any updates in that story right now.
(Person 2’s) response prompted me to do a quick search on the following sites, and here are the results of stories (see graphic at top of post). And CBS has a whole interactive section about Holloway, complete with photos, right on their main page.
We’ve all heard of Laci Peterson. Today marks only the first time I’ve seen a national news outlet mention Latoyia Figueroa, another missing pregnant woman, but from Philly. She’s been gone over a week.
I think all of this stuff is worth thinking about. I will provide any and all updates if and when I can.
(By the way, I think Tom Cruise is a dick for poking fun at psychiatry and trivializing postpartum depression, and so is anyone else who feels that way also, including Howard Stern.)
First came the utterly crass (but rib-fracturing funny) movie Wedding Crashers.I don't think Salazar had been elected to the U.S. Congress yet when the Repugs and their sheep followers were wearing those highly insulting band aids with a replica of what was supposed to be John Kerry's Purple Heart on them during their national hatefest/fear-and-smear show in New York City last year, but it's a shame no one in Congress took the lead at that time and made his commendable efforts unnecessary.
Then came the Web site, with its interactive crasher kit. Inside a virtual briefcase, you clicked on a microphone to say a few words at the reception. Or the guide book containing the rules (No. 27: "Don't overdrink. The machinery must work in order to close."). Or the photo of a guy on top of Mount Everest - with the face blank so you could insert your own. And for the ultimate babe magnet, a make-your-own fake Purple Heart medal.
Then came the critics.
Not the esteemed film mavens who tell us how many stars or thumbs a movie merits. But the ones who determine where the line is drawn between good and bad taste.
They had no problem with rule No. 27. But the Purple Heart?
U.S. Rep. John T. Salazar (D., Colo.) was not amused.
Neither were the Vietnam Veterans of America.
"It is unconscionable to me - and is an insult to everyone who has served the nation in the military - to trivialize the Purple Heart in this way," Thomas H. Corey, the group's president and a medal recipient, said in a statement.
New Line Cinema responded: "We understand the sensitivity regarding the medal and did not intend to make light of its significance in any way."
Jokers who wear a faux medal to up their allure factor may be risking more than just offending real-life war heroes and their families.
Salazar is working on a bill, called "the Stolen Valor Act," that would make it a crime to pretend to have earned a medal.
I’ve absolutely had it with Mike Fitzpatrick. This is about the third time I’ve contacted him about voting or not voting for something, and he’s disregarded my advice every time (David Sirota today lists the 15 DINOS – Democrats in Name Only – who voted for CAFTA in the U.S. House yesterday along with Fitzpatrick).
How dumb was I anyway to think a Repug would actually look out for me?
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
More Repug garbage (from the Air America site)…it sounds like Joe Conason has found out that Pat Roberts, Repug chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (from Kansas, where they are de-evolving even as I type this) is going to hold hearings on Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case, alleging prosecutorial misconduct (gee, funny thing…I don’t recall, in any of my civics classes growing up, any discussion telling me that this is how our government is supposed to work).
The Daily Kos reports on a Pittsburgh-area nun standing up to Scumbag Santorum (go get ‘em, s’ter!), along with declining popularity ratings for Dubya and also declining numbers for our volunteer army (a shame and a cause for concern regarding the army, but really a surprise?)
Also, go to David Sirota’s blog to find out how to contact your politicians and tell them to vote against CAFTA. I just called Fitzpatrick’s office and was greeted by a prompt and courteous aide who took my call, and the same is true for Specter – great classical “hold” music also. I don’t even bother when it comes to Mr. “It Takes A Family” (and way to come up with a thinly-veiled ripoff of Hillary Clinton’s book title and Maya Angelou also, by the way).
WASHINGTON - After coming up short for years, Congress is preparing to enact a broad energy plan that would provide generous federal subsidies to the oil and gas industries, encourage construction of nuclear power plants, and try to whet the nation's appetite for renewable fuels such as ethanol and wind power.(the legislative version of the “eminent domain” ruling I guess, not wasting any time to hop on that bandwagon…)
The mammoth bill, whose final details were being negotiated yesterday, also would give the government new power to override local objections to facilities for handling growing imports of liquefied natural gas.
"It is a darn good bill and it is going to help this country, and the sooner we get it done, the better," said Rep. Joe L. Barton (R., Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.That tells me all I need to know.
Joe Barton is an energy industry whore, sent to Washington by life forms that generate merely a momentary blip on the IQ meter. Barton, in the metaphorical sense only as far as I know, hikes up his skirt for any lobbyist in that business with a handsome campaign contribution.
I don’t always agree with Froma Harrop, the columnist for the Providence (R.I.) Journal, but I agreed with about 90-something percent of what she had to say in her most recent column about this (appears below). The only thing I really didn’t see eye to eye with her on was her assessment that Bush wants to bring democracy to the Middle East. Yeah, sure – that’s what he says, but you can’t cram that down someone’s throat and expect them to be happy about it. He wants the oil and expansion of empire and isn’t prepared to waste further calories on anything else.
It is oil's fault. The London bombings are almost surely al-Qaeda's work, which means oil paid for them. Oil keeps the Mideast backward. It funds the madrassas that fill heads with anti-West poison. And it pays the terrorists who plant bombs on European trains and drive airplanes into American buildings. It is time we did something about oil.The typical reflexive right-wing crying, name calling and faux outrage will begin momentarily.
The United States accounts for 25 percent of the world's oil consumption. We could crush oil's power to hurt us with a serious campaign to kick our fossil-fuel habit. But we don't, because we have an administration and Congress that care more about the oil industry than about us.
That said, not everyone in Washington is craven to the god of petroleum. The Senate passed an energy bill that provided real incentives for conservation and alternative sources. But little of the good stuff made it into the House version. The conferees have tried with little success to reconcile the Senate's modern vision with the House's primitive worship of fossil fuels.
We're in Iraq because of oil. That's not to say our intentions were ever to take over Iraqi oil fields. Our interest is to transform Mesopotamia and the rest of the Mideast into stable democracies. The theory is that angry theologies and genocidal tyrants frustrate economic advancement and breed dementia. Change all that, and the Mideast will become a peaceful and prosperous region.
But were it not for oil, that part of the world would have long ago moved toward modern economies. The people would have had no choice. They would have done it themselves. Americans would not be sending their soldiers to build democracy for them.
But the corrupting influence of oil goes on because the United States hasn't had the discipline and courage to end the oil game. The Bush administration's only energy policy is to provide new tax breaks to the drillers and open up wildlife refuges to energy companies. As national policy, it's a sideshow: The amount of oil that could be economically taken from the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is minuscule next to our energy needs.
This approach damages us because it maintains the myth that America can somehow reduce its dependency on foreign oil without giving up oil consumption. World supply and global demand ultimately set the price of oil. China's mushrooming economy alone will keep it rising. The idea that U.S. oil companies would give Americans a break on the world price because the crude came out of Alaska is utter fantasy.
The lack of will to tackle the problem lies not in the American people but in their leadership. An Associated Press poll in April asked this simple question: "Do you think George W. Bush is or is not handling the nation's energy problems effectively?" Two-thirds answered, "Is not."
Every time someone suggests programs to reduce America's oil consumption, the President says "can't do." It would harm the economy, he argues. But empowering terrorists with oil money also damages the economy.
For further reference, study the recession that intensified after the Sept. 11 attacks. Look at our limp response to something as simple as applying fuel-efficiency standards, now required on cars, to light trucks. The President and Congress quickly squelched that idea. Why? It would raise the price of SUVs, and that is purportedly more than Americans can stand.
The civilized world's struggle against terrorism is a fight against oil. We must fight it everywhere and with every weapon. That means fuel-efficient appliances, wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear energy and hybrid engines. And yes, throw in ethanol. Thanks to improved production techniques, corn-based fuel now produces more energy than is required to make it. Ethanol is a player.
The awful bombings in London - no matter who did it - remind us that terrorist attacks on the West are not one-time deals. There will be more of them, and some will happen here. And when they do, there will be more hand-wringing about our addiction to oil.
But instead of wringing hands, we could start applying elbow grease. Americans really do want to reduce their dependency on oil. They are willing - even eager - to make short-term sacrifices for this longer-term good. But they need leaders who are with them and serious about taking America out of the oil quagmire and into an enlightened age.
"He's so cute, smart and conservative, he could almost be a Stepford judge. Is Harvard hunk John Roberts too good to be true?"
Luckily, I hadn't eaten yet, or I surely would have seen my food once more in an undigested form.
It's hard to believe that this rag once carried the work of pioneering investigative journalists Bartlett and Steele, isn't it?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
While Democrats ready for the important Roberts confirmation process in Washington, there is still important work to be done to win state legislative seats for Democrats and to support those state candidates who are the future of the Democratic Party -- so we won't always be in this position in Washington. John has been on the road this past week fighting to Raise the States, so he asked me to update you on his progress and to stress again the importance of this fight.
Both of us have been so deeply touched by your enthusiasm and by the help you have given John and the Raise the States initiative, and I'm proud to report that you're already making a difference.
Since John last wrote to you, he has traveled to Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin to raise money for Democratic candidates for state legislatures. The stakes are high -- big victories would tip the scales in Missouri and Wisconsin, and wins in Oklahoma would strengthen our delicate majority there.
But we are up against a juggernaut - the special interests, corporate money and national donors that converge wherever there is a chance to pick up a seat for the GOP. In nearly every state, candidates tell John it's almost impossible to compete with this Republican fundraising machine. Our candidates don't have to match these special interests dollar for dollar; they just have to be able to get their message - our message - heard above those Republican megaphones.
If you can help John help them, we can go a long way toward leveling the playing field - and winning majorities in the legislatures of several closely divided states. Let's show our candidates that we are behind them and that, like them, we're sick and tired of watching Republican money dictate our nation's course.
We've seen enough by now to know that help will not come from Washington. Whether it's the Republicans' Social Security plan (which plans to worsen rather than improve Social Security solvency), their capitulation to credit card companies and other special interests in the new bankruptcy law, or their refusal to raise the minimum wage - they protect the interests of their wealthy friends and contributors while denying working Americans the opportunities and the dignity they deserve.
That's why we must take this battle directly to state legislatures - the grassroots of our nation's government - by working to elect more Democratic candidates! And that's why we have to succeed. Decent working people everywhere depend on us.
There's so much we can do at the state level. We can raise the minimum wage for millions of hard working Americans who've seen their buying power dwindle as the pay of corporate executives - whose companies depend on those workers -- goes up and up and up. We can begin to address the fact that 45 million Americans still don't have health insurance which means that some Americans cannot take their children to the doctor even though we live in the wealthiest nation in the world. We can create real education reform that helps our children compete for 21st century jobs because our economy and our country depend on it. And, by increasing our presence and our power at the state level, we can take the first steps toward getting our party back on top.
Thus far, John's fundraising events have been very successful, and we can feel the momentum building - but we need your help if we want to take it further. As Democrats, it's our responsibility to make our candidates viable; we should never have to watch promising Democrats lose because they didn't have the money they needed. John has worked with these candidates, and they have pledged to fight for all working Americans - so now it's our turn to fight for them. Support John as he travels the country raising money for their campaigns.
Thanks to your help, John has already raised over $1 million for our candidates - enough to make a real impact in several state campaigns. And we know John will keep on fighting as long as he is able, as long as you are right there with him.
It would mean so much to both of us if we can count on your help.
This is a battle for the values we hold most dear - the dignity of hard working Americans, the power of grassroots initiatives, the resurgence of the Democratic Party, the dream of One America - and it means so much to both us to know that we have your support.
Thank you for all you've done, and all that you continue to do.
I’ve always believed that this country suffered a nervous breakdown on 9/11, and I think that awful day ended up causing the rift between what I would call the progressive, left-wing elements of the Dems and the corporate-backed DLC perpetual losers to grow into a yawning chasm.
It seems that the party is split between the foot soldiers (represented by the bloggers I mentioned above) who understand that MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY ARE SUFFERING UNDER BUSHCO and we MUST FIGHT BACK, and the DLC who seem to be still smarting from Repug propaganda that the Dems seem to lack “moral values” (whatever that means in the Repug context) and aren’t as patriotic as the Repugs (a laughable and insulting charge when you find out how many Dems have actually served this country and how many Repugs did nothing about combat but run away from it), and for that reason, just want to “go along.”
It’s going to take someone with a hell of a lot of imagination apparently on the Dem side to craft some kind of platform, agenda, “mission statement” (ugh – corporate speak!…causing negative waves….must….resist!!), or whatever the hell else you want to call it, and just say, “OK, everybody, this is the law of the land. Follow this in lockstep like the Repugs do with their program, or go home. Now, if we all agree on this, then let’s all just gather around and play nice, have a swim in the pool, maybe take a few minutes after we towel off and play with our Gameboys® with the exploding graphics of Dubya, Cheney, Rummy and Condi, and then, if we all eat our green beans for dinner, we’ll gather around the fireplaces and make S’mores.”
(Oh, OK, I threw down the gauntlet, so I might as well take a crack at this thing myself)…
It was wrong to listen to Bushco and invade Iraq solely on their word without the corroboration of Hans Blix and the UN-appointed weapons inspectors. Further, it was wrong of the US Congress to approve a resolution for Bushco to “use force,” when we never bothered to determine whether or not that meant a quick-strike military action or a declaration of war.OK, it’s not much, but it’s a start. There is much, much more that could be added to this list, but every single Dem should stand up and pledge an oath that this represents their core beliefs. That’s what the people of this country want to see – a living, breathing, viable opposition party that ACTS LIKE IT and HAS A CLUE ABOUT HOW TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES. Further, if you want evidence to see how the out-of-power party is supposed to act, all you have to do is watch the rough-and-tumble activity of British politics, which makes us all look like wusses by comparison.
It was wrong to support the so-called “Tort reform” legislation, making it harder for individuals to file class action lawsuits, and the so-called bankruptcy bill, since both those pieces of legislation are utter betrayals to our core constituency.
It is wrong to allow Bushco carte blanche to underfund our first responders in the event of another terrorist attack, as well as to continue allowing the underfunding of our schools and the pollution of our environment on behalf of Bushco’s corporate benefactors.
It is wrong to allow Bushco to pursue an economic policy that rewards corporations and CEO while casting a blind eye to working men and women in this country who must work multiple jobs, many with inadequate or no health care, in order to provide for themselves and their families.
It is wrong for Bushco and the Republican congress to totally ignore the separation of powers in our form of government, as witnessed by the intervention of Congress in the Terri Schiavo matter in which they attempted to overrule the verdict of a Florida court, and in the ruling granting Bush powers to declare a U.S. citizen an “enemy combatant” and thus ridding that person of habeas corpus and rights of due process.
Also (though this goes without saying), every Dem that has acted against what this “platform” (if you will) states should stand up and take the hit and pledge NEVER to act against it again. They and the rest of the party will be berated on cue by the Repugs and the right-wing media echo chamber, but that’s the price you pay (which is nothing compared to the price our people are paying in Iraq, after all).
There you have it. For whatever it’s worth, I’m throwing out a plan of sorts, gratis. I don’t want a dime for it. You can pay me back by winning some congressional elections, and maybe (dare I hope?) the White House in ’08.
I heard some of the photos from the cameras near the fuel tanks were truly amazing (every time I hear about fuel tanks, though, I have to admit that I cringe).
God bless our people - let them do their great work and return them home safely.
Update 8/9 - Thank God.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Did I miss anything (God, my head hurts now)…
Notice how “out of the loop” Dubya is in all this, of course. Typical.
Update 7/26: Great digging by Brendan Smith at Brandoland to come up with this link to a document from CA Rep Henry Waxman's office detailing 11 security breaches in this investigation (looks like I missed some above...oops). Also, how cool is it that human-scab-and-nude-web-poser James Guckert has gotten sucked into this?
Hypocrisies, CH 12, V7-11If I keep going with stuff like this, I guess a spit is going to get warmed up for me too...
And it came to pass that the woman Arizonan judge unburdened herself and sheddeth her cloak of righteousness that had been much afflicted by her remarks upon the Eminent Domain ruling and her decision in the holy cause of the well-moneyed oppressed in the University of Michigan law suit, though she had helped install the High Exalted Leader upon the throne of Christian domination.
And yea, upon such turn of events, the pestilence of George Soros, Moveon.org and the People For The American Way descended, and a darkness spread upon the land.
And lo, upon this blight, the clamor of millionaires and Fortune 500-company stockholders arose, and their cries of neglected return on investment touched the ears of the High Exalted Leader, and he was much afraid.
And it fell beholden unto him to appoint a worthy nominee to succeed the woman Arizonan judge, and this he did so, yea and verily and forthwith, reaching across the broad conservative firmament to touch the wallet in lieu of a heart of a man not unlike himself, a true believing foot soldier who had been there all along anyway.
The High Exalted Leader thus did endure questioning and sentiment averse to this, even unto sleeping a few nights on the couch at the behest of his wife.
And thus did the High Exalted Leader speak. “Behold, I have called ye forth, John Roberts, fellow middle-aged intolerant conservative shill and worthy counselor upon whose recommendations I determine the asset allocation of my stock portfolio.
Thus beginneth now the trial in front of the TV cameras among those that doth blighteth the land with fables of multi-income households, substandard wages, lack of health coverage, and employment migrating to other countries. Thou are the unbelievers, the husband of heir to ketchup and pickle fortunes, driver of automobile off Chappaquiddick Bridge, and harlot to the pretender who once sat on my throne. Yea, speaketh unto them not about Roe v. Wade, the 2000 Florida recount, and thou membership in the Federalist Society.
I cast you now unto the den of iniquity known as the U.S. Congress. Smile and nod, laugh, cajole, even picketh thy nose, but keepest thou thy silence. "
And thus did John Roberts go forward unto his confirmation hearings with the pride of arrogance, smile of deception, and the quick-fading warmth of self satisfaction.
Lector: This is a reading from the Book of Orrin
All: Thanks be to Shrub
Sunday, July 24, 2005
The circumstances surrounding the death of Richard Johnson are as mundane as they are sad.
On July 9, Johnson, his girlfriend and his cousin were emerging from a corner store near 20th and Tasker Streets in South Philly when they found their path blocked by a teenager on a bike.
Words were exchanged, but the kid eventually rode off. Johnson and his cousin escorted the girl to her bus.
After she left, the boys started to walk back to Johnson's house when the kid on the bike came back. He had a gun.
He proceeded to pump bullets into Johnson, 17, and his cousin, Christopher Little, also 17.
Police say as many as 16 shots were fired by the boy on the bike before he rode away.
Little was wounded in the buttocks and the legs, but survived. Johnson was shot in the stomach and head. He died the next day.
Richard Johnson had just graduated in June from St. Joseph's Prep. He had won an academic scholarship to St. Joseph's University. His goal in life was to become a lawyer. One of his teachers called him a "genuine soul," destined for success. Now, he is dead.
On Monday, police arrested a neighborhood kid named Alante Manigault. He is 16 years old.
His 17th birthday is Aug. 12. Alante will spend it in jail awaiting trial on a murder accusation. Odds are that he will spend his 75th birthday in jail, as well.
Police didn't find the gun used in the crime, but that's not a surprise. Guns used in a homicide - guns with a body on them, as they say in the streets - are usually sold quickly, often at a discount price.
Odds are it was a 9mm Glock or Ruger semiautomatic with an extended clip to hold extra bullets. You never know when you are going to need extra bullets.
Police call what happened to Richard Johnson a "respect killing." One kid disses another. The other kid either has or gets a gun. The next thing you know, shooting starts.
A week hardly goes by in Philadelphia without a young man - often a black man under the age of 24 - getting killed for one reason or another.
If you get the impression it's easy to get guns in Philadelphia - even if you are a teenager and it's illegal to own one - you would be right.
I'm sure that if you walked into poorer neighborhoods in the city and the kids were candid with you, most of them could tell you where to buy a street gun, how much it sells for, and give you tips on best buys.
A lot of those guns were purchased at local gun shops by straw buyers, who turn them over to illegal gun dealers, who sell them on the street.
One a month
One way to stem this practice is to limit multiple handgun sales. There is a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature to do that. It would set the limit at one handgun a month.
To the gun lobby, that is a totally unacceptable restriction. And many state legislators are whores to the National Rifle Association. The bill has been bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee.
In Pennsylvania, we can talk about the culture that creates gun violence. We can talk about stiffer sentences for those who commit a crime with guns. But, we can't talk about restricting the flow of guns. That is politically taboo.
It's also lunacy. It's as if we put every ounce of effort at treating cancer, but refused to consider any attempt at preventing cancer.
If you have this much blood on the streets, you should be willing to try anything to slow the flow.
Everyone knows you can't stop it. Murder has been with us since Cain slew Abel. But, the one-a-month restriction is a sensible and worthy experiment.
So, here is something to do in memory of Richard Johnson.
Write a letter or call state Rep. Dennis M. O'Brien (R., Phila.), who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and ask him to report out House Bill 871, the bill to limit handgun sales.
O'Brien's office number is 215-632-5150. His office address is 9811 Academy Rd., Philadelphia 19114-1715.
Personally, I wish his goals and assists totals had been better in the playoffs than the regular season, but he worked hard and played with a ton of guts. Also, you can click the link for the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank on this site and join "John LeClair's Faceoff Against Hunger," so he definitely gave back to the community, both here and in Vermont.
Anyway, I personally want to wish him good luck and say thanks for a lot of good memories on the ice.
P.S. - By the way, the Flyers wasted absolutely no time in removing LeClair from the team roster, bottom-line guys that they are. I tried to link to LeClair's career stat sheet, and it was unavailable from the team site.
Update 8/16: Good luck playing with "Rex" and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, big guy (but not against us).