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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Sullivan, once more, with e-mail
"I organized my life around four institutions: my family, the Presbyterian Church, the Boy Scouts and the Republican Party. They summed up what seemed to me a sensible view of life and the world, embodying loyalty, unconditional love, a quiet, thoughtful exercise of faith, a commitment to ethical behavior, and a limited government that did the things it needed for the public good but otherwise left people alone to be all they could become and savor the victory of having done so.

Then I came out, and one by one those four institutions turned their backs on me.

My parents were embarrassed by me and stopped nearly all communication, though they said they loved me and in some way considered me part of the family.

Then my church got a new minister who had hardly arrived before he started preaching on the marriage issue and rooting out gay staff members. Commissioned a Stephen Minister, I was told I would never be assigned anyone to walk with in their troubles. But of course the church loves me and in some way considers me part of the family still.

Then the Boy Scouts went to court and said that even though I am an Eagle Scout, people like me are not good role models for the program and cannot be leaders. But of course they consider me a Scout still and are happy to ask me for my money.

And now the head of the party I've stuck with through thick and thin for 36 years says the prospect of my being able to marry is so threatening to society they have to ban it in the constitution. But the president says God loves me and I got an email from him today telling me about his campaign kickoff speech. So I guess in their compassionate conservative way the administration still thinks of me as sort of a Republican.

I don't. You can only feel the love of people and institutions who fend you off with a barge pole for so long. Today I changed my registration from Republican to independent."
I hope Republicans realize what they've lost.
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"I guess I was really naive"

Normally I wouldn't link to or even acknowledge the existence of Andrew Sullivan, but he's had a rude awakening today when Fearless Leader opted to back the Federal Marriage Amendment.
"I wonder if the Bush administration even thought about how mean-spirited this was going to appear. And how nakedly political. Some journalists are reporting that White House sources are telling them that they do not expect this to pass but they need to fire up their base. They'd go this far for purely political reasons? I guess I really was naive."
Yes, you were.

He's getting lots of e-mails and posting them.

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Etch this one in stone

We all DO realize Bush is only saying he backs a constitutional ban on gay marriage, don't we?

Like this "greatest hit" from the 2003 State of the Union -
"Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles."
And who can ever forget this one -
"And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa."
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - when Bush says he's "in favor" of something, either nothing at all will come of it, it will be underfunded or unconstitutional, or you'd better watch your wallet.

The Right will bitch, the Left will bitch, and Bush will have persuaded himself he is a "leader with vision".

And while we're all in bitching-mode, he'll sneak in something below the radar.

Nevertheless Pete at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog has the ultimate, last-word, final, nail-in-the-coffin assessment -
"Until my administration captures Osama bin-Laden, gets our military out of Iraq, and creates actual job growth, I'll be forced to freak out our indolent, Cheetoh-scarfing public by tossing around non-threats like 'steroid use in sports' and 'gay marriage.' Y'all have a good night."
And may God bless us, everyone.
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Telling it like it is


(photo shamelessly swiped from Norbizness)

At first I was appalled to hear Secretary of Education Rod Paige had referred to the National Education Association as "terrorists"

But after some reflection and medication, I realized - "Omigod, the man is RIGHT!"

I remember my third grade teacher, Miss Johnson, back in days of yesteryear, who took great delight in paddling students for any and all infractions.

Throw a spitball? Giggling in class? Miss an arithmetic problem? Over her knee you went. She used her hand only, but the woman had the hardest, boniest hands the good Lord ever put on a woman. When applied with force to a scrawny kid's bottom, they could leave welts.

Mrs. Rogers, my fifth grade teacher - psychologists would have a field day examining her. She was a square dance enthusiast, and her idea of physical activity on rainy days when she couldn't set us loose on the playground was square dancing.

Let me remind you that this was fifth grade, typically about eleven years old. First command - "boys, choose your partners". Back in those days, eleven-year-old boys would rather choose a diseased skunk for a partner than a girl.

I always ended up with Stuart, because I was the last partner chosen and Stuey was too shy to choose a partner to begin with. Stuart hadn't learned yet to appreciate the value of hygiene, had a chronic runny nose, and was a good foot shorter than I.

Then there was Coach Williamson - seventh grade biology. To him fell the unpleasant duty of explaining human reproduction to a class of snickering preteens. He didn't appreciate our snickers, nor did he appreciate gum-chewing in class.

He drew a little circle on the blackboard - about my eye level - and made me stand there with my nose stuck in the circle for a full five minutes. This only increased my snickering level, and the whole class merrily joined in. We all ended up in detention.

So, take a good look at Secretary Paige. He's about the same age as Miss Johnson, Mrs. Rogers, and Coach Williamson*. He grew up with them, was educated along with them, he probably administered corporal punishments like them, and he knows whereof he speaks. His expression perfectly demonstrates the frustrations of an educator sucked into the vortex of terrorism.

When the stink arose from the "terrorist" statement, the Bush administration issued the usual disclaimer -
An administration official said the secretary was "clearly joking" but he should not have used the "terrorist" label in taking issue with the NEA - which is not only the largest teachers union but also a major player in Democratic Party politics.
Joking, my butt. He's one of them.

*Names changed to protect the guilty
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Monday, February 23, 2004

Your tax dollars at work

Officials: U.S. still paying millions to group that provided false Iraqi intelligence
The Pentagon has set aside between $3 million and $4 million this year for the Information Collection Program of the Iraqi National Congress, or INC, led by Ahmed Chalabi, said two senior U.S. officials and a U.S. defense official.
That would be Ahmed Chalabi, the same con artist who recently told the London Daily Telegraph -
"We are heroes in error," Chalabi was quoted as saying recently in Baghdad. "As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."
That would be the Bush administration, the one that swindled our country into a war of choice.

Never mind what Junior wants. We want.

We want the names of the fools who egged you on for more and more false information and used our tax dollars to pay for crap.

And by the way, we want our money back.

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No...no!! I really don't want to think about this....

British doctors revive maggot treatment

I can hear it now......my conservative acquaintances will be saying - "Socialized medicine is so evil - they use maggots instead of antibiotics".
"People didn't like the thought of creepy-crawlies on their skin," said Tony Fowler, customer services manager at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, Wales.
No shock, Sherlock.
"But now there is a renewed interest because of the problems caused by the over-use of antibiotics, and the NHS has seen the cost-effectiveness of maggots."

Research at the Princess of Wales Hospital confirmed that placing sterile maggots on wounds could make them heal faster than conventional medicine.

The creatures devour dead, infected tissue and kill off bacteria that could block the healing process without damaging surrounding tissue, since they cannot ingest healthy flesh.
Chalk that up as one more reason to keep your flesh healthy.
Previously, patients could obtain sterile maggots only from certain hospitals and research centers.
Now, there's an idea for bringing in more American jobs....maggot farms!

Eeewww....

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Bumper sticker time



MORE
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Toys, dumb blogging and blog-whoring

Now that Haloscan - the fine folks that provide the "comments" capability - has come out with "trackback", it looks like all the smart bloggers are jumping on board.

Me - I'm a dumb blogger. It took me forever just to get "comments" enabled, and I'm still basking in the glow of that accomplishment.

I do have an "aggregator", courtesy of my internet guru Steve Bates, which notifies me when various blogs are updated. I use Bloglines - if I can install it, anyone can.

What I don't have is "Atom"; a syndication or RSS feed that would let others know when I update.

Blogger's "support" article on "Atom" is Greek to me. If someone can explain it in words of two syllables or less...in common, everyday Redneck-ese....let me know.

In the meantime, I've pretty much figured out that "trackback" isn't that different from blog-whoring....and I'm pretty good at that. If you want to leave a comment here, linking back to your own site - feel free.

Here at Collective Sigh, the old-fashioned ways of whoring still work fine. Blog-whoring, that is.

Update -After much sturm und drang, huffing & puffing, and invaluable advice from Steve, I now have the infamous trackback.

Feel free to "ping" me, though I'm still a little leery of that term. It sounds like something that might get me in trouble with John Ashcroft or Jerry Falwell or both.
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Going down with the neo-con ship?

I'm no NAFTA expert, but a quick glance around my part of the country is pretty damning. Factories are closing right and left, thousands are out of work. Businesses that depended on those workers to buy their groceries, clothing, appliances - you name it - are shutting the doors, too.

I do understand a little about "protectionism", as preached by Pat Buchanan, but don't see that as an answer.

There's got to be a fine balance somewhere; a trade policy that protects workers from the greed of corporations, yet encourages fair trading policy with the rest of the world.

I may not agree with Buchanan on much of anything, but I can't argue with this -
Seeing the devastation of NAFTA and its progeny, sensing rising opportunity in the industrial Midwest, Democrats are jumping ship on free trade. Bush, if he does not temper his enthusiasm for these one-sided trade deals, may just go down with it. If he does, one prays he will at least ensure the neoconservatives have first been locked securely in the cargo hold.
And therefore my first and last word on Ralph Nader - his influence on the Democratic race will be negligible; move on, nothing to see here.

But I wish Buchanan would run. I wouldn't vote for him, but a lot of the folks Bush is taking for granted would.

UpdateThe Beast has a great take on He Who Shall Be Ignored.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

Stupid human tricks

Too bad you have to be dead to qualify for a Darwin Award.....this fellow really deserves at least an honorable mention -

New York Driver Nabbed While Watching Porn Movie
ALBANY, N.Y. (Reuters) - Andre Gainey found out the hard way that in the state of New York it's illegal to drive while watching porn.

Police said the 35-year old man from Clifton Park, New York, was watching a adult movie called "Chocolate Foam" on Tuesday night while driving his Mercedes Benz in the town of Schenectady when he was spotted by an officer at a stop light.

Police spokesman Pete Frizoni said detectives pulled Gainey over when they saw the movie playing on screens embedded in the car's headrests. When they confronted him, they saw another screen in the passenger-side visor was facing Gainey, allowing him to watch the movie while driving.
But that wasn't the end of Andre's trouble -
Gainey was charged with a public display of offensive material, driving with a suspended license and driving while watching a television. He compounded his legal woes by giving a false name when he was fingerprinted, prompting police to add a charge of forgery.
.....and I bet he ended that cell phone conversation right before he was pulled over.

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Untouchable campaign issues

The Bush/Cheney campaign has already said they will run on Bush's proposals, not his accomplishments..

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie reiterated the theme to CNN -
"We're going to run on the president's strong and principled leadership and his positive agenda for a second term."
(Perhaps he's planning to undo the damage of his first term?)

So, check off "running on the record".

Military service? Bush might want to avoid talking about military service, especially if John Kerry is the Dem candidate. I can't see George Bush putting on any more flight suits or bragging about his honorable discharge.

Check off "military service".

Patriotism, the War on Terra? Ongoing investigations into 9/11, the outing of a CIA asset, and the still-missing WMD's...."patriotism" might not be the best path to follow.

Check off "patriotism".

The Moonie Times puts out a tentative feeler for another possibility - Marijuana taints presidential bids.

Both Kerry and Edwards have openly admitted to smoking marijuana in their younger days. Kerry first made the admission in 1990; Edwards during last November's "Rock the Vote" debate. Shame, shame!

But does Bush really want to go there? -
Mr. Bush never has directly answered questions about whether he used marijuana or other drugs.

When asked in August 1999, he replied: "I made some mistakes years ago, but I learned from my mistakes."
Check off "drug use" or anything to do with wild, irresponsible youth.

So, what's left? Gay marriages, some fringe social issues, and an obscenely stuffed treasure chest? The people most concerned with those social issues are starting to wake up and realize that jumping into bed with the Republicans hasn't gotten them anywhere.

Gary Bauer is speaking out -
"I'm not blaming the president, but religious conservatives have been doing politics for 25 years and, on every front, are worse off on things they care about," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. "The gay rights movement is more powerful, the culture is more decadent, the life of not one baby has been saved, porn is in the living room, and you can't watch the Super Bowl without your hand on the off switch."
The religious right might be beginning to realize they've been had, used, pushed aside, and taken for granted.

The Washington Times again -Evangelicals frustrated by Bush -
"It's not just economic conservatives upset by runaway federal spending that he's having trouble with. I think his biggest problem will be social conservatives who are not motivated to work for the ticket and to ensure their fellow Christians get to the polling booth," said Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute.

(snip)

With more than eight months remaining until Election Day, American Family Association founder Don Wildmon said the president "has already upset the economic conservatives, and I know the problem he is having with evangelicals. ... There is a major problem there."
Can Bush/Cheney04 get their money's worth from that overflowing campaign chest? Can non-stop advertising and photo-ops convince the evangelicals and economic conservatives a second term will satisfy both their agendas?

The grumbling from both the evangelical and economic conservative camps may mean a good half of that money will need to be spent on damage control, defending their "territory", and wooing back the voters they thought could be taken for granted.

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Baghdad By The Bay

Checking in on the Concerned Women for America for all my womanly concerns, I note that five of their six "News Flash" items are concerning gay marriage;particularly those taking place in "Baghdad By the Bay".

Jan LaRue titles her lament "I Left My Heart in San Francisco but I’m Taking It Back - Homosexual Marriage Performed in Baghdad by the Bay". I suspect they'll be glad to give it back.
If you’ve ever driven south on Highway 101 into San Francisco, you never forget it. As you round the last curve, the view takes your breath away. The awesome Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay on your left, the blue Pacific on your right and the city with all of its white buildings come into view. And you hear Tony and start singing.
Yep - she's been there. Beautiful city, spectacular scenery. I always loved the weird way the fog rolls in....socked-in, can't-see-the-hand-in-front-of-your-face, and clear blue skies around the next curve.

But Jan can't get past the News Of The Day - the gay marriages.
But then the depravity that’s tolerated and, in many instances, sanctioned by government officials brings to mind “whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.” The idyllic scene is shattered by the reality of a city with a corrupt heart.
I would have thought "Sodom" or "Gomorrah" would have been more Jan's style, but she curiously chose "Baghdad" instead.

I suspect Jan and the Concerned Women of America are on the wrong side of history on this one. And it's too bad it messes up their perception of the world around them.

Let's just hope they don't see this one - Brother, sister fight law to get married.

That should add Australia to The Axis of Evil.

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

I shall now say something nice to George Bush

Not about Bush, to Bush.

I'm sorry your dog had to be put to sleep. Been there, done that; it hurts.
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Fine weather brings out the fruitcakes

Thanks to a tip from the Beast, I see the Klan and Nazis chose to make North Carolina their rallying ground again.
We don't want gay rights for queers," Schoep, wearing a uniform with swastikas, said. "Send them all back, and send them all back to Africa."
I'm not sure why he thinks all gays should go back to Africa, but then I'm not privy to the mind-droppings of Neanderthal humanoids.

Reports I've seen gave their total strength as thirty-five out of an expected fifty. Presumably, fifteen had better things to do, or were too ashamed to show up, or maybe even had a change of heart. The others should follow their example.

I've got news for this "tough" bunch - THIS bunch could beat the crap out of you, with my blessing.

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Another senile moment

I like to seek out new blogs and commentary; new to me, at least. A good place to start is The TTLB Blogosphere Ecosystem. Begin with the "Insignificant Microbes" and work your way upward.

There are certainly some that aren't worth the pixel space (after all, you're HERE, aren't you!?), but you can find some goodies, too.

Which is how I came to Live From the Nuke-Free Zone. I sometimes add a link to the weblog and then forget to recommend it to others. And, sho' 'nuff - oops, I did it again....another senile moment.

Live From the Nuke-Free Zone is a group blog I've been enjoying recently. Katster, Zibblsnrt, Warrior Tang, Fourth Man, and Jrenken (if I've forgotten someone, let me know) all provide a well-written combination of thoughtful, wacky, discerning, and whimsical.

Stop by for a visit, leave a comment, and enjoy.

(fixed name error, 2/22/2004, 7:51 a.m.)
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Fine-tuning the art of mass distraction

From the Washington Post -
Campaign officials said in interviews that they plan substantial positive advertising about the president, focused on his proposals rather than accomplishments, when they begin spending tens of millions of dollars on the airwaves next month. But they made it clear that many of the ads will accuse the Democratic front-runner of "hypocrisy," in McKinnon's word, in part by reaching back into his early career.
I suppose that would be because his proposals sound peachy-keen, while his "accomplishments" suck.
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We see Salon is sponsoring a Caribbean cruise
Salon will set sail with our inaugural cruise to the Caribbean -- gathering Salon editors, readers and special guest speakers for a thoughtful, independent-minded, Salon-style political forum.

(snip)

You'll want to join us September 4th through the 10th for a good old fashioned salon with some of the strongest voices in progressive politics
The one cruise I've been on was spent mostly at the blackjack table, listening intently to special speaker Mr. Dealer.

Still, the Salon cruise sounds like a winner to me, blackjack or no. But alas - it's not free, so they'll have to do without my company. Perhaps they could invite someone else to make up for my absence.

I think Ann Coulter would be a good choice; special guest speaker Ann Richards could show her the true meaning of a tough broad.

Or maybe Bob Novak. I'm sure he would enjoy exchanging views with special guest speaker Joe Wilson

How about Matt Drudge? This would be an ideal opportunity to really get to know special guest speaker Sidney Blumenthal.

Now, that cruise would be worth a second mortgage on the house.

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Friday, February 20, 2004

To debate or not to debate

I've been on the e-mail list for most of the Democratic candidates for what seems like years, and on the Edwards senate list certainly for several years. After all, he's my U.S. Senator - and it's been great to have a good one for a change.

He's got a petition urging Kerry to participate in a one-on-one debate. For what it's worth, here's the link if you'd like to sign it.

I'm still undecided at this point; one day, I'm convinced Kerry and his military record is the only way to STOMP Bush, and the next day I thnk Edwards has the best chance of bringing around the "swing" voters and others who just aren't paying attention.

Edwards seems to be putting a lot of stock in this one-on-one debate, as well he should. He didn't become an extremely successful trial lawyer for nothing.

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Friday Doggie Bloggie



Andante's vicious Chihuahua herd.

From left to right - Bandit, Nicky, and Cujo

aka "The Three Stooges"

All bark, some bite, no sense whatsoever.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Action alert!

Hurry on over to beastofsound, and give him your congratulations!
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You always knew the Muppets were a librul, elitist plot



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U.S. Counting on U.N. for Help in Iraq
As it weighs a major change in how to transfer political power to Iraqis, the Bush administration is relying ever more heavily on the United Nations to help clear the remaining high hurdles ahead.

It is an ironic turn of events for an administration that worked hard to keep the United Nations role in the background in the reconstruction of Iraq after the toppling of President Saddam Hussein. Now the United States is counting on the U.N.'s influence to help reach a solution to the ever-more complex political stalemate.
That headline should probably read - "Bush Screws Up Again, Depends on Others to Bail Him Out".

Through his entire life, Bush has been handed businesses, money, prestige, plum positions and Gawd-knows-what-else solely based on his family name, powerful connections, and money.

He's screwed up every one of his opportunities, and depended on his family name, powerful connections, and money to clean up his mess.

Why should Iraq be any different?

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At long last, welcome home

Along with my morning coffee, I always have a healthy helping of Salon. Well worth the subscription, folks. Today's lead article has given me a lot of food for thought.

I was a semi-flower child who protested against the Vietnam war. I don't regret it, and still feel that it was a horrendous waste of precious human lives.

But I never - NEVER - reviled those who fought in the war. When I ran into a returned vet, they never had much to say about their experiences, and I didn't ask.

I hope none of them took my lack of curiosity as a lack of respect.....if so, wherever you are, I most humbly ask your forgiveness. You did your duty, as you saw it - whether you agreed that it should be a duty or not.

And so the lead story in Salon this morning struck a chord; Kerry vs. the chicken hawks speaks to me not so much about John Kerry, but about the silent Vietnam vets.
It was an unscripted scene, nothing like the polished photo ops the Bush team, plundering the resources of the government, liked to put together. Near the end of the Iowa caucus campaign, former Green Beret Jim Rassmann stood on a Des Moines stage and quietly described how John Kerry had saved his life in Vietnam. By the time he was finished, something remarkable had happened: a presidential challenger had, as the world watched, grown larger than the incumbent president.

But something even more important happened as well: In that moment, Vietnam veterans, with characteristic modesty, claimed their long-overdue seat at the head table of American politics. And that brought an unexpected threat to the Bush team's reelection plans, which relied on beating up liberals who didn't know how to fight back. Standing beside Kerry at campaign stops, working the phones, or simply filling the front rows, the veterans, powerless but for the witness they bore, took aim to blow those plans away.

Their presence made the election itself larger. The contest became more than a choice between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. It became a referendum on whether Vietnam still matters to us, and perhaps on whether it ever did. And thus it became our best, and perhaps last, chance to use the Vietnam War to make ourselves a better nation, rather than allow it to make us a worse one.
Welcome home, boys - and more than welcome to the political table.

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A cornered rat ain't purty

Then:
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, (University of Colorado football coach Gary) Barnett called Hnida a "distraction" for the football team and a player who was not fit for Division I football.

"It's a guy's sport, and they felt like Katie was forced on them," Barnett said. "It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful."

"You know what guys do, they respect your ability. I mean you can be 90 years old, but if you can go out and play, they respect you.

"Well, Katie was a girl. Not only was she a girl, she was terrible. And there's no other way to say it. She couldn't kick the ball through the uprights."
Now:
"I sincerely regret that yesterday, a portion of my remarks were either misinterpreted or taken, aired out of context," he said. "And I apologize for answering that question in a manner where I must have come across as insensitive.

"What I wanted to communicate, was that regardless of Katie Hnida's abilities, I wanted Katie on our football team, I wanted to give her a chance to be a part of our program. I want to reaffirm my feelings, remarks that I made yesterday: I am very sensitive to Katie's allegations, I want to do whatever I can to help Katie."
It's always "I was misinterpreted" or "aired out of context", isn't it?

How about - "I was a jerk, and I'm sorry". Brief, to the point, and factual.

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Just another brain fart from the Religious Wrong

Thanks to Rivka, blogging respectfully over at Respectful of Otters we can now turn our attention to puzzling over one of life's little ironies.

The moral arbiters, shocked - SHOCKED - by the Janet Jackson Super Boob incident and thorougly disgusted with the librul, elitist Hollywood crowd who force Tender, Impressionable Youth to watch filthy, gratuitous gory violence on the wide screen and in video games....

....will be dragging their tender, impressionable youth to an R-rated, intensely violent movie.

Sunday's sermon - "Sex Disgusting; Biblical Violence Good For You".

From USA Today -
There is plenty in the two-hour film to make children and adults alike squirm:

• Roman guards employ a "cat-o'-nine-tails" that rips the flesh from Jesus' back.

• As Jesus is being crucified, a supervisor scolds one man for not nailing his hands properly. He yanks Jesus' other hand, pulling the arm out of the socket.

• To see whether Jesus is dead, a Roman soldier pierces his side with a lance. Blood showers down on the soldier.
Forty-five minutes of it.
"The violence is necessary to understand the sacrifice Jesus made," says First Family pastor Jerry Johnston. His Baptist church has rented out a half-dozen theaters in Kansas City, Kan., and has reserved auditoriums the night of Feb. 27 for children 11 and older.

Johnston concedes they'll be disturbed by the violence. "I hope they're disturbed enough to make their peace with Jesus."
Some peace.

Just what the world needs - another generation of the violence-disturbed and inured Taliban wing of Christianity.

Poor Mel Gibson. He should have stuck to strutting around in a kilt.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Sorry - I just can't help myself

Cash Family Won't Let Song Be Used for Ad
Advertising writers in Florida were planning to pitch hemorrhoid-relief products with a commercial featuring the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire," but Cash's family said there's no way they will let it happen.
That probably should read "Cash Family Never Had Hemorrhoids"

Okay, I'll shut down the computer and go to my room now.
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We owe it all to Dean

I suppose, as A Conscientious Blogger, I should say something about Howard Dean's decision to end his presidential campaign.

In August 2002, I was still smarting from the Great Election Theft of 2000. I still am. But I was also angry over the way George Bush was mismanaging the country's business, and depressed by the way the Democrats in Congress were rolling over and playing dead.

Surfing the 'net on August 28, 2002, I found an interesting article in the Guardian - "An alternative to Bush is demanding to be heard".
Al Gore jockeys for position. Amazingly, he is the frontrunner, despite the fiasco of a campaign he ran in 2000 that let Bush in. He is hardly ever heard from, sidling away from confrontation and weighing up whether the polls will let him run. A handful of senatorial possibles - John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards - circle around, daring to say almost nothing, propelled, it seems, by terror of the Bush hard right more than the fury these incumbents deserve from any Democrat.

To find a fiercer rigour, one needs to travel north. Vermont is a small state, and its governor, Howard Dean, not yet a national figure. But he is the one declared candidate for the presidency, and is now embarked on the long haul to 2004, with a package of positions that define him as a realist but, more important, a style with the declaratory conviction that separates him from all those guarded poll-watchers. He sounds like a Clinton third wayer without the torment. Could this be the voice that, if heard often enough, will at least remind Americans that Bush's incoherent nationalism and vested interest economics are not the only message they need put up with?
I visited his website - still in it's infancy - read his positions, and liked what I read. I talked to my family and progressive-minded friends about Howard Dean.

"Who?" was the usual response.

Well, they've heard of him now. Maybe he didn't "click" with them personally, but he succeeded in making them pay attention.

We can rail against "electability" all we want, but it's just a plain, ornery fact of human nature. Some people just aren't attracted to other people.

But Howard Dean, despite any shortcomings he had on the "electability" scale, has pumped life into the Democratic party, brought new voters into the system, and put some backbone and spit into the Dems.

There's something Clinton-esque about it. Bill Clinton dared to stand up and declare his candidacy when Bush-the-Smarter had a sure lock on re-election. Howard Dean also looked America - and the other candidates - straight in the eye and said "We can win this".

When the Democrats take back the White House in November - and hell, make a grand run on the Congress, too - we can thank Howard Dean for inspiring the feisty determination that it will take to beat the Republican leviathan.

Thanks, Governor, from the bottom of my heart.

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Attack of the Scientists!

Did someone say scientists were wimps?

Via Chris C. Mooney

No less than sixty - count 'em - sixty superstars of the scientific community, including twenty Nobel Laureates, have issued a statement entitled "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making."
The document charges the Bush administration with a wholesale betrayal of science of a sort that, the signatories say, greatly exceeds any abuses that occurred under previous administrations.
Hot dog! I'm no scientist - the scientific community breathes a sigh of relief - but I know bullsh*t when I see it. And I've seen more than enough of it from the Bush administration.

Good luck getting to the on-line report...the server is clogged, CLOGGED I tell you, with the sudden increase in traffic.

In the meantime, according to Chris, here are some goodies from the report -
"Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences." And that's where our president has fundamentally fallen short: "The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle."

"In making the invalid claim that Iraq had sought to acquire aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment centrifuges, the administration disregarded the contrary assessment by experts at the Livermore, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories."
Heck, I'm not copy/pasting the whole thing. Go read it yourself - it just might make your day.

Update The NY Times piles on - Scientists Accuse White House of Distorting Facts
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My favorite charity is me

Which is the way it has to be when you're living paycheck-to-paycheck.

But my second favorite - and one that gets $10 from me every time I have it left over - is 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

What better way to thumb your nose at the Bush administration and help people the world over?
July 22, 2002 - Bowing to pressure from extreme anti-family planning organizations and ignoring its own expert panel, the Bush Administration announced today that the United States would withdraw all support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
The United States was a long-time supporter of UNFPA, which provides voluntary family planning services (including contraceptives), life-saving pre- and post- natal care, and HIV/AIDS prevention services around the world, especially in Third World countries where the need for family planning and health care is heartbreakingly critical.

When the Bush administration announced the withdrawal of $34 million in pledged support, two women were outraged and determined to do something about it.

Enter Lois Abraham of New Mexico, and Jane Roberts of California. Independently, they had the same idea....ask 34 million friends to give just one dollar each to make up the shortfall caused by Bush's broken promise.

As of February 8, 2004, 34 Million Friends of UNFPA has raised $1,859,627.10. International support is growing, with many countries of meager means pledging funds.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Somalia, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Uzbekistan have all pledged their support - their means may be meager, but their international spirit is strong.

The e-mail "update" I received today bears a bit of good news -
In late January, Congress approved $34 million for UNFPA programs. Now, the Bush Administration must decide whether to release the 2004 funding. Unfortunately, most experts anticipate that the Administration will once again withhold these funds based on disproved allegations made by anti-family planning special interests. An announcement by the Administration is expected in the coming months.

To overcome the Administration’s block on UNFPA funding, efforts continue in Congress to bring the U.S. back into the international mainstream. Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y, has crafted legislation that would allow U.S. funding to UNFPA for the exclusive purpose of preventing, treating and repairing obstetric fistula—a debilitating but easily preventable consequence of childbirth complications that affects young women in the developing world.
Keep in mind that George Bush has raised nearly a quarter billion dollars to get re-elected, but won't authorize $34 million to help alleviate global over-population and women's health problems.

If you'd like to thumb your nose at Bush, visit 34 Million Friends of UNFPA. Check out the list of contributors (I'm on it!), a state-by-state map of the number of contributors (Texas is #3, heh-heh), and read some of their success stories. And while you're at it, send them a dollar.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The fractured administration....

From Business Week -

"I am George Bush. You tried to kill my father. Prepare to die."
Sound familiar? It's based on a famous line from The Princess Bride, a gently fractured fairy tale of a movie from 1987, and I'd argue that it gets to the heart of why many Americans think George W. Bush went to war in Iraq. The Princess Bride features an accomplished swordsman named Inigo Montoya, played by Mandy Patinkin. Montoya's life mission is to track down the evildoer of a lord who killed his dad. He practices over and over the exact words he'll say when he finally confronts the villain: "I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
(more)

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All is revealed!

(Courtesy of Retrogrouch via American Footprint) -

The Bush/Cheney04 campaign strategy

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More messin' with the vets

Okay, I agree with restructuring to save money and increase efficiency. But at the moment, we are racking up injured troops by the boatload in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this point, it seems a little premature to be talking about closing or drastically downsizing VA hospitals.

From CBS -
A commission that reviewed a Bush administration proposal to overhaul Veterans Affairs health care facilities wants the government to close hospitals in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Mississippi and scale back most operations at a Texas facility.

The panel rejected the VA's proposal to close hospitals in Canandaigua, N.Y., Lexington, Ky. and Livermore, Calif., according to a copy of the commission's report obtained by The Associated Press.

The 16-member panel agreed that a new hospital should be opened in Orlando, Fla., but disagreed with opening a new hospital in Las Vegas. Instead, the commission recommended the VA continue partnering with Nellis Air Force Base for care.
Snark of the day.....

While googling around for further info, I came across the Veterans For Peace website, with a handy link that might be of interest to the White House....

Need a DD214?

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Health care - overhead and out of control

Ever been in a hospital billing office?

"Office" is quite an understatement. At our local hospital, it's located in a separate building, with probably a hundred offices.

Each office is marked with the name of the insurance provider, and the first letter of the last names covered, such as "Medicare A-B", "Medicare C-D", "Blue Cross/Blue Shield E-F" and so on.

It's a four-story building; I can't even begin to estimate how many people are employed to file claims with all the different health insurance companies.

As Paul Krugman, writing in the NY Times says -
A recent study found that private insurance companies spend 11.7 cents of every health care dollar on administrative costs, mainly advertising and underwriting, compared with 3.6 cents for Medicare and 1.3 cents for Canada's government-run system.
When you pay your health insurance premium.....assuming you have health insurance....part of that money goes to pay the salaries of the clerical workers, the building that houses the insurance company and it's upkeep, the advertising that tells us how wonderful and caring they are, and inflated executive salaries.

Just for starters, Michael McCallister - president and CEO of Humana, Inc., makes $1.65 million a year. John Rowe, chairman and CEO of Aetna pulls down a cool $6.68 million.

The health care industry is sitting on a gold mine, and they know it. Anyone who proposes changes in the way Americans pay for health care risks the wrath of their powerful lobby. Presidential candidates who advocate a single-payer system are brushed off as "fringe".

John Kerry's plan, which would allow all Americans to buy into the Federal Employees Health Care Benefits program (FEHBP), is an improvement on the haphazard, Russian-roulette system we have now. It's not enough, but perhaps would get a foot in the door toward making health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans.

(cross posted at etalkinghead

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Monday, February 16, 2004

George Bush, the last bastion in the fight against TV porn

Our local news station - FAUX affiliate, unfortunately - just reported that Franklin Graham is supporting Dubya (no surprise there) and encouraging other religious broadcasters to do so, too.

Because, according to Franklin (Billy-the-Lesser), if Bush doesn't win, we'll be bombarded with porn on TV.

Can't find a link to this on the web; but, ummm....it wouldn't be worth looking at anyway.

If you aren't convinced yet to vote Anybody But Bush, that oughtta do it.
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Five reasons I should be terrified of gay marriages

Here

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Therapeutic cloning and stem cell research, continued

For those who are interested in learning more about these related subjects, here are some pertinent links - pro and con....

Religious Tolerance.org - Therapeutic Cloning, Ethics, public opinion, Ethics, public opinion
A good place to start for definitions and various opinion.

Diabetes Daily News, Human Embryos Created Through Cloning
Contains a little more information on the South Korean process, and statement by Bush's President's Council on Bioethics.

NPR, Morning Edition with Joe Palca,Britain Pushes Forward with Stem-Cell Work
Science-In-Society award winning three-part series, contrasting research in the United States and Britain.

Newsmax, Dec. 21, 2000 - Britain OKs 'Therapeutic' Human Embryo Cloning

From Australia "The World Today" - Britain approves embryo cloning for research
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Matt, get a life

My man Matt Drudge has posted another one of his hot flashes -

KERRY MYSTERY WOMAN DATED CAMPAIGN FINANCE CHIEF!!!!

I guess that's close enough to Kerry for a Drudge-smear.

And a bit further down, in un-capitalized letters, there's a link to the statement by the lady in question.
"For the last several days I have seen Internet and tabloid rumors relating to me and Senator John Kerry. Because these stories were false, I assumed the media would ignore them. It seems that efforts to peddle these lies continue, so I feel compelled to address them. I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false. Whoever is spreading these rumors and allegations does not know me, but should know the pain they have caused me and my family. I am in Kenya with my fiance visiting his family, and we ask that the press respect our privacy and leave all of us alone."

A statement by Terry and Donna Polier, the parents of Alexandra Polier:

"We have spoken to our daughter and the allegations that have been made regarding her are completely false and unsubstantiated. We love and support her 100 percent and these unfounded rumors are hurtful to our entire family. We appreciate the way Senator Kerry has handled the situation, and intend on voting for him for president of the United States."
(emphasis mine, and intended solely to make fun of Drudge)

Directly below the link to the above statement, is Matt's last gasp at notoriety -
FLASHBACK: Dad: "I think he's a sleazeball".
Do you get the feeling Dad was probably talking about Matt Drudge?

Matt, as a favor to you, here's the next headline for you, conveniently pre-written -

I'M A TOTAL JACKASS AND TOOL OF THE REPUBLICAN SMEAR MACHINE!!!

Put one of those flashing lights next to it, just to be sure the wingnuts read it.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

.....and with that turpentine, I'd like a side order of sewage

(From the Chicago Tribune)

When it rains, EPA would let waste pour; Plan could boost dumping into lake
The Bush administration wants to make it easier for cities to release partially treated sewage during heavy rains and snowmelts, a policy shift that could boost levels of disease-causing pathogens in Lake Michigan and other waterways.

Sewage spills into the lake already are a source of E. coli and other bacterial "bugs" that frequently lead to beach closings during the summer. Chicago banned swimming at Lake Michigan beaches 130 times last year; there were 178 beach closings in Lake County.
Icky.

Stay tuned to American Footprint for all the crappy details.

The punchline?
Plant operators and business interests have continued to lobby for the practice, which they call "sewage blending."

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Yummm, gimme some of that turpentine-flavored water, please!

(or...."What a difference a couple million bucks makes")


(From the Washington Post)

I've never tried it, but I've heard absinthe tastes somewhat like turpentine.

And in the near future, absinthe may be tastier than the water from your kitchen faucet.

Just ask the folks in Santa Monica, Calif., where complaints of a turpentine taste in their drinking water has resulted in the oil industry being ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars after the gasoline additive MTBE contaminated their fair city's water supply.
"We're the poster child for MTBE, and it could take decades to clean this up," said Joseph Lawrence, the assistant city attorney.
Back in January 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency made a regulatory recommendation to the last elected President of the United States, President Bill Clinton -
It said: "The use of MTBE as an additive in gasoline presents an unreasonable risk to the environment."
Seems the MTBE's have a nasty habit of seeping into the ground water, which is worse than any beneficial effect the additive produced in cleaner air.
The EPA document went on to say that "low levels of MTBE can render drinking water supplies unpotable due to its offensive taste and odor," and the additive should be phased out over four years.

"Unlike other components of gasoline, MTBE dissolves and spreads readily in the ground water ... resists biodegradation and is more difficult and costly to remove."
Enter three big Republican campaign contributors; Texas-based Lyondell Chemical and Valero Energy, and the Huntsman companies of Salt Lake City.
The three contributed $338,000 to George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Republican Party and Republican congressional candidates in 1999 and 2000, twice what they gave Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, the three producers have given just over $1 million to Republicans.
Now you know the rest of the story.

The Bush administration obligingly let the proposed MTBE regulations fade quietly away, down into the memory hole.

The story of nasty-tasting, undrinkable water (coming soon to a water supply near you) isn't without it's moment of humor -
Huntsman spokesman Don Olsen, echoing comments by other MTBE producers, said, "We were not a huge campaign contributor and this has absolutely nothing to do with campaign donations. It has to do with good public policy."
A sense of humor and generous with their millions - for George W. Bush, it's a marriage made in heaven.
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Ruh-roh

(Via Atrios)

Not willing to sit idly by as Michael Powell and the FCC grab all the glory, the Department of Education has denied federal grant money to those who provide close-captioning for immoral, filthy, disgusting television programming.

Such as What's New, Scooby-Doo?".

Thank God the DoE is on the job, protecting the hard of hearing and deaf from the vast television wasteland and offensive programming.

From the Palm Beach Post -
"The department made its decisions based on the recommendations of a five-member panel. Who the five members are, only the government seems to know, and it isn't saying. But the shows they censored suggest a perspective that is Talibanesque."
Actually, I think we can make some pretty good guesses as to the panel's identity.

For banning Scooby-Doo, we probably can thank Senator Rick Santorum. Too much potential for man-on-dog action.

Bewitched - piece of cake; Ann Coulter. Good & beautiful witches make witches like Ann snort fire and brimstone.

I Dream of Jeannie - George W. Bush, who doesn't want comparisons to the way he's gone through life with a wink and an every-wish-is-my-command mindset.

Law & Order - Attorney General John Ashcroft. Episodes occasionally portray the feds as heavies. The Law & Order folks are lucky to still be alive and at liberty.

JAG - Honorably discharged Lt. George W. Bush.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Powderpuff Girls, and Power Rangers - Donald Rumsfeld. How dare those terrorist animators give away the latest neocon plans for new weapons and world dominion?

Judge Wapner's Animal Court - see above, Senator Rick Santorm.

The Loretta Young Show - this one had me stumped until a filmography revealed she once starred in a movie called "He Stayed For Breakfast". Obviously a case for national morals czar William Bennett.

Sanford and Son - Charles Pickering, determined to protect the deaf and hard-of-hearing from the spectacle of uppity negroes. Or perhaps the last request of Sen. Strom Thurmond.

For a list of all the "approved" and "disapproved" programs, click here, and amuse yourself.

The management of Collective Sigh suggests stations provide a little crawl across the screen when airing "disapproved" programs -

Lack of closed-captioning ordered by the Bush administration

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Saturday, February 14, 2004

Reason #11,593 to eject Bush and the Republicans

Theraputic cloning and stem cell research


She worked for over thirty years as bookkeeper at a small company. When she came home, it was to another full-time job – a farmer’s wife and the mother of several children. In all her “spare time”, she was active in her church and community, donating her time and talents to many volunteer organizations.

Retirement was just a few years away. Thanks to a frugal, simple lifestyle and a lifetime of hard work, she and her husband would be able to enjoy their “golden years in financial security. She looked forward to retiring from her bookkeeping job and spending more time with her grandchildren, volunteer work, and a little travel.

That was then – this is now. A few years before her retirement date, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

These days, she is never left alone. She depends on someone else to dress her, feed her, take her to the bathroom, and give her a bath. Her mind is still active, but her depression is profound.

Along with the ravages of Parkinson’s, she is now in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Her “golden years” have become a living hell.

Otherwise, her health is fine. She will probably live - and continue deteriorating - for many years to come.

The good news is that there IS a successful treatment. Dr. Paul Myers (associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris) and brilliantly blogging at Pharyngula, spells it out -
”One treatment that has been successful is that new dopaminergic cells can be injected into the brain; the only problem is finding a good source of such cells. With this technique, doctors could take a few cells from you, reset them to an embryonic state, stimulate them to grow into a dish full of nothing but dopaminergic cells, and inject your own tissue into your brain to correct the problem.”
There’s good news for sufferers of juvenile-onset diabetes, too. A similar procedure would restore function to the pancreas.

The bad news – these treatments hit the brickwall of “Bush Science” and the brouhaha over cloning and stem cells.

Speaking with the Guardian, Superman (the real one, Christopher Reeve) said -
'If embryonic stem-cell research had been allowed to flourish in this country,' he says, 'from its beginnings at the University of Wisconsin in 1998, I believe we'd be seeing treatments and cures by now. Including mine.' But he's working away: at state level, California recently passed a bill allowing research. 'So I have been working to introduce the same legislation in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin, with the aim of creating a grass-roots movement. And when federal legislators see the humanitarian and economic benefits, I don't think they will vote to ban it.'
In the meantime, those with debilitating diseases and injuries are doomed to what amounts to warehouse treatment.

As Reeve says -
”...they end up 'in state-run nursing homes that are little more than a human parking garage, with no physical therapy, surrounded by pensioners. They deteriorate quite quickly.'”
My friend is fortunate enough to be in her own home, with her husband as her caregiver, but the toll on him is devastating.

I can't sum it up better than Dr. Myers -
"It's yet another instance of this administration allowing the ideology of the most backwards-looking, uninformed special interest group dictate science policy, crippling one of the most advanced and productive research establishments on earth. Chalk up another boneheaded science policy decision to those morons in the Bush administration."
Chalk it up as another reason to vote Bush and the Republicans out of office in November.

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Friday, February 13, 2004

The threat of gay marriages

I'm concerned about a lot of things, I'm a woman, and I'm an American. So, I thought I should check out the website of the Concerned Women of America.

After all, who better to tell me why gay marriages and/or civil unions are a threat to my marriage and family?

The CWA has a helpful page entitled "The Real Costs of 'Gay Marriage' and Civil Unions". Let's take a look at the looming threat -
1) Further weakens the family, by creating a counterfeit variety of marriage.
When I think of a "counterfeit" marriage, it's usually a man and woman living together without the benefit of a marriage license. Which often results in a breakup or desertion, leaving the woman and any children of the union in a definitely weakened version of a family and on the public dole.
2. Entices children to experiment with homosexuality.
Going out on a limb here, but every gay person I know is the product of a loving, married heterosexual couple. I'm sure there are exceptions, but apparently the sexual orientation of the parents isn't a determining factor.

There are no statistics at all given to back up this CWA assumption, only the warning that experimenting with homosexuality can result in increased incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases and domestic violence.

I appreciate CWA's concern for my child's health, but sexually-transmitted diseases and domestic violence are hardly the sole province of homosexual relationships.
3. Puts more children at risk as adoption agencies decline to favor married homes and place more children in motherless or fatherless households
If I read this correctly, CWA says that adoption agencies will place children in motherless or fatherless homes rather than in married homes.

Truly concerned women of America should be concerned that adoption agencies will continue to place children in loving, nurturing homes, regardless of the number or sexual orientations of the parents.
4. Encourages more people to remain trapped in homosexuality rather than seek to re-channel their desires toward normal, healthy sexuality.
This, of course, is the true source of CWA's "concern" - the belief that homosexualtiy is not normal or healthy.

Even if God Himself descended from the heavens to declare homosexuality normal and healthy, there would still be people who refuse to believe it.

It's tempting to just shrug and move on, but it's worth noting that attitudes do change. It takes time - sometimes generations - and true changes don't generally occur overnight.

As ThatColoredFellow says - "My father was born in the early 1900s' in the South. He was not sure if he would see equal rights for Blacks, in his lifetime. But, they came, step by step and certainly not all at once."
5. Pits the law and government against the beliefs of millions of Massachusetts citizens who believe homosexuality is wrong.
See number four, above.

There are millions of people in the world who believe a woman's unveiled face is wrong, and still millions of people in the world who believe people of color are inferior and undeserving of equal rights.

Where law meets belief, the law must tread a fine line - respecting the rights of all citizens. Fierce belief has no such restriction.

In the meantime, I'm not in the least bit afraid that allowing gay marriages and/or civil unions poses any threat to my own marriage and family. Those who see the threat should perhaps examine their own feelings of insecurity, and strengthen their own relationships.

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Blogiversary!

Satire god Tom Burka of "Opinions You Should Have" is celebrating his first "blogiversary" today.

Go throw him some well-deserved laurels!
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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Bring them home with honor

First, the flag-draped coffins are slyly termed "transfer tubes". Then the well-deserved military honors are a no-no for the media.

But why in God's name can't they honor the living?

The Disabled American Veterans has gone on the warpath -
" How about at least 9,000 servicemen and women wounded, sickened or injured? How about 6,891 troops medically evacuated for non-combat conditions between March 19 and Oct. 30, 2003?

"There are about 2,500 combat casualties," Dave Autry said on the phone from the Disabled American Veterans offices in Washington. "The rest are attempted suicides, vehicle accidents, other accidents, illness. Something that's becoming a big concern is lesions caused by exposure to sand fleas that carry a particularly virulent bacteria."
The nature of the injury makes no difference whatsoever; these men and women did their duty, and are being denied counseling and the DAV's advice and guidance through the veteran's benefit application maze.

The Department of Defense has offered a vague "concern for privacy and security".

Privacy and security, my butt. It's their own privacy and security they're worried about - keeping the administration's folly private, and securing another election. And possibly, they don't want a deluge of applications for benefits.
"The DAV's executive director, David Gorman, who left both his legs in a stinking Southeast Asian jungle more than 30 years ago, took up the subject early last month in a letter to Secretary of Offense Donald Rumsfeld.

"For more than six decades," Gorman wrote, "the DAV has always been granted access to military hospitals so our professionally trained and fully accredited representatives could provide such crucial information and counseling to service members to help smooth their transition from military to civilian life. Sadly, that is no longer the case. The current policies of the Department of Defense citing the Privacy Act and security are preventing our skilled representatives from carrying out our congressionally chartered mission.

"At one facility in particular -- Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. -- our efforts to visit with wounded patients have been severely restricted. For example, all requests to visit patients must now be made through headquarters, which then selects the patients we may visit and strictly limits information about the patients. Even the patient's name and the nature of the injury are withheld without express permission."

All contact with patients is closely monitored, he adds. "This is particularly unnerving and inappropriate, as all conversations between a representative and client are confidential in nature.

"The American public would be outraged if these restrictions become public knowledge."
Any leader worth his salt would not send young men and women into peril without accepting the responsibility of caring for the dead and wounded.

Whether or not Geoge Bush was "AWOL" from his military obligation is a trivial matter - being AWOL from the responsibilities of a "war president" is immoral.

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Shivering, sniffling, and rambling

The weather is crummy, and so are my sinuses and throat. I blow my nose about every 30 seconds (where does all that stuff come from?). Feeling too blah to blog, though there's certainly plenty to gripe about.

Before I overdose on NyQuil and go back to bed, a few thoughts of the day.....

****

I'm enjoying watching the White House squirm and twist over the "did he or didn't he" stuff. It's not like Bush's duty (or lack of it) influenced the Vietnam war outcome, but covering up and weaseling at this point in his life speaks volumes about his character. Or lack thereof.

Democrats won't drive Bush out of the White House on the basis of what happened long ago, but maybe - just maybe - people will begin to wonder what else should be questioned.

****

I'm sorry, sort of, to see Wes Clark leave the primary race. I was one of those that was excited by the prospect of his candidacy, and even sent him a dab of money. He's a fine public speaker, and was growing as a campaigner. Just not quite ready this time, I guess.

After 34 years of service to his country, he deserves to make a little money. I hope he goes back to his business interests, but keeps his hand into the political race and continues to speak out for change.

****

Did you ever wonder if the Jackson family is the Bush administration's secret weapon? Every time the Bushies get caught screwing up, one of the Jacksons is accused of child molestation or gets clothes torn off, or whatever.

****

The rightwingers are trying to slime Kerry's anti-war activities. I'm so glad they brought that up.

Along with the decorations he won for his service in Vietnam, John Kerry should wear his subsequent anti-war stance as a badge of honor.

He served, he fought, he was wounded, he saw what was happening there, he returned to question the administration's lack of any coherent plan, and had the courage to speak out about it.

Good for him. Let the chickenhawks bring it on.

****

And finally, a friend e-mailed me a little slogan that amused me. If I don't survive this cold, here's what I want on my tombstone -
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a beautiful and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ......... WOW !!!!! What a Ride!"
Yee-haw!

****

Update - I forgot to include one of my vague Thoughts of the Day; it probably slipped my mind as I was blowing my nose.

I see "Men's Journal" magazine has included Hillary Rodham Clinton on their "Tough Guy" list. Kudos to William Safire for single-handedly putting her there.

Another Update For the definitive analysis of Scottie's twisty-squirmy press conference act, see World O' Crap.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

No pooping on Dubya's party

Forbes Magazine reports today that "'Economic leaders' who met Bush are also donors".

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me much.
"Billed by the White House as a round-table of "economic leaders" on U.S. policy, several of the CEOs who huddled with President George W. Bush on Tuesday were also major contributors to his and other Republican campaigns, records show."
A sample of the "round table of economic leaders" and their contributions to the Bush campaign war chest and other Republican causes -

Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson - $17,000
Dell CEO Michael Dell - $266,000
Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina - $2,000
General Motors Corp.'s CEO Rick Wagoner - $2,000
Marilyn Carlson Nelson of Carlson Cos. - $2,000

Among the subjects NOT discussed -

"American corporations really should start paying their fair share in taxes."

"Those tax cuts were a little over the top, Mr. President. We don't need the money, but the lower and middle classes could sure use it."

"Mr. President, if we raise the minimum wage, we can lift thousands of people out of poverty!"

"Mr. President, these hyper-inflated executive salaries are getting way out of line with the average wage of employees. We're cutting our own salaries and making sure our employees have affordable health care."

One subject really not discussed was the deficit. Perhaps everyone noted the absence of Ed McKelvey, senior economist at Goldman Sachs, who botched his chances at an invitation when he warned last year "the U.S. federal budget is out of control."

As every good member of the "Hurray For Dubya!" bunch knows, his bestest buddies tell him what he wants to hear, and nobody wants to be a party-pooper.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Service in the Guard

From guest poster - Bryan [from a report on www.wuwf.org Monday 02/09/04]

When Jason Crawford entered the National Guard he was looking for a way to pay for college, but he was also aware that in the Florida Panhandle, with understaffed sheriff's departments and hurricane season, it isn't just going to a meeting once a month and camping out for two weeks in the summer.

The members of his unit, Bravo Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 124 Infantry, are expected to wade through wetlands that harbor alligators and cottonmouths (the bears aren't all that dangerous) looking for the lost; they are expected to stand out in 60mph winds and pouring rain to direct traffic as people flee hurricanes; and they are expected to be there after the storm to help people put their lives back together.

After September 11th, they were dispatched to airports and military installations to perform guard duty, although they were infantry, not military police.

Like the others in his unit, Jason worked his life as a student at the University of West Florida around this increasingly hectic schedule and even managed to run a winning campaign to become the president of the student government.

Then in the winter of 2002 he had a new task, going to Iraq. Initially believing they were going for a few months, Bravo Company was there for a year.

Jason's next challenge came in December of 2003; he was shot in the face during an attack on his unit. He received medical attention in Iraq and stayed with his unit.

Jason came back with Sergeant stripes, a Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart, at least one service medal, and a still healing wound.

Now he has to plan for the future, beginning with his return to the University next semester. He will have to re-apply for his financial aid, see if he can find a job, and all of those other minor details of a life interrupted.

While his service in the National Guard turned out to be much different than he expected, he did his duty and isn't complaining about it.

If he runs for student president again, I don't think he will object to making his National Guard service records public, although his opponents might.

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White House Council of Economic Advisors Strikes Again

Earlier, I posted that the White House Council of Economic Advisors (sometimes known as Moe, Larry, and Curly) projected job creation of 2.6 million in 2004.

Seems we jumped the gun, and the management of Collective Sigh regrets the error. Before you go out and hang yourself, the White House has issued a revised estimate -
"In order to achieve that number, a White House source explained Tuesday, the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) is forecasting about 320,000 new jobs will be created every month this year. That would be about 3.8 million in total, or about 2.9 percent higher than the December 2003 total estimated by the Labor Department".
(Emphasis mine because, you know, I don't believe it)

As Bryan, one of my favorite commenters has said -
"They didn't say where those 2.6 million jobs would be.

Non-Taxpaying US companies will benefit and increase the salaries of non-taxpaying US executives. The stocks will increase in value for the non-taxpaying investors who will receive the tax-free dividends.

Of course, this only works until someone notices that there is no one left in the US with the money to shop in Wal-Mart."
I suspect he's exactly right, but as Moe, Larry, and Curly the White House Council of Economic Advisors says - outsourcing is good for us.

It might take the edge off a bit if some of those non-taxpaying U.S. companies, executives, and investors would pay a little bit in taxes. After all, someone has to support all those lazy slackers collecting unemployment checks. Or at least fund language courses for those who want to follow their jobs overseas.

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More damage control

In an earlier post, I said - "(Bush) blew off his flight physical. Bush was handed about $200K-worth of training at taxpayer expense, and flushed it down the toilet. Speaking as a taxpayer at the time, I want my money back."

(One of the beauties of blogging is being able to quote yourself)

The management of Collective Sigh would like to make it perfectly clear that this in no way assumes responsibility for the boy.

We thought going into the military would be good for him - teach him to accept responsibility and maybe even improve his language skills. But then some fool stuck him in a "Champagne Unit".

In fact - keep the money. Put him back in the Guard. A little extended tour of duty in Iraq might pull him through after all.

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A big, fat kiss and pat on the back

....to Richard Cohen, for telling it like it was in the Vietnam-era National Guard.
"For two years or so, I played a perfectly legal form of hooky. To show you what a mess the Guard was at the time, I even got paid for all the meetings I missed."
Exquisite timing. Sort of takes the shine off Bush's newly released pay records, huh?

Look - who cares if Bush showed up or not? Here's what bothers me -

1) Using his family name and political connections, he leap-frogged about 500 on the waiting list. That's disgusting enough, but I have wondered if any of those 500 ended up being sent home in a flag-draped coffin.

2) He blew off his flight physical. Bush was handed about $200K-worth of training at taxpayer expense, and flushed it down the toilet.

Speaking as a taxpayer at the time, I want my money back.

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Meet the Press, Romper Room, and Old Farts

I've read portions of the Feb. 8th "Meet The Press" interview here and there, which I realize is not a good way to research a post - I have the attention span of a gnat and no stomach for Bush.

But I've finally steeled myself, girded my loins, etc. to read the whole thing. So far, I've gotten all the way through the first question and "answer" - when, lo and behold! - my attention is drawn elsewhere.

"Elsewhere" is back to my childhood and the pre-school TV show "Romper Room". Fellow old-geezers and old farts might enjoy clicking that link for a trip down Memory Lane.

Incidentally, Old Fartism is not exclusive to age, race, gender, or religion. I'm a middle-aged, white Quaker female, but I easily qualify as an "Old Fart", mainly because I say so.

"Opinionated" and "Grumpy" are the main qualifications. Teenaged boys can be the biggest old farts on the block; in fact, my teenage daughter was born with it. It's all just a matter of mindset and maybe genetics.

Back to the important subject - which, at the moment is Romper Room.

Romper Room was basically a franchise; the concept was sold to different media markets, and the local station supplied their own hostess. My local market, as a pre-schooler, was the Washington D.C. area; if I remember correctly, my "hostess" was Miss Connie.

(In the finest Old Fart tradition, I can see her face plain-as-day, but am not sure of the name)

Miss Connie, in her best gentle-kindergarten-teacher, "now, boys and girls" voice, would lead a handful of squeaky-clean preschoolers in naming the days of the week, counting, singing simple songs, discussing manners ("Do-Bees" vs. "Don't Bees"), and reading a story.

They even had a milk-and-cookie break, complete with reciting "God is Great, God is good, and we thank him for our food." Then it was "Clean Up Time", and the show always ended with the hostess looking straight at the camera, saying -
"Romper Bomper Stomper Boo, Tell me, Tell me Tell me Do....Magic Mirror, tell me today, are all my friends at home at play?".
And she'd call out several common names of all the kids she "saw".
"I see Mary, and Jimmy, and Frank, and all you boys and girls out there!"
She said my name once, and I almost fainted from excitement.

My mother used it as a threat - "you know, Miss Connie can see you!!" - which was every bit as threatening as Santa Claus and God having their eyes on me. Obviously, Miss Connie left no child behind.

So, I suppose I should tie all this in with the Bush interview on Meet the Press.

Reading the answers The Leader of the World gave, I kept hearing Miss Connie's voice.
"Now boys and girls, it's time to talk about intelligence. All the Do-Bees must learn all we can about the Don't-Bees. The Don't-Bees have really good hiding places. Today, we are playing Hide And Seek! Won't that be fun? If you see a Don't-Be, what will you do?...."
And so on.

Is it just me being an old fart, or does Bush sound like he's talking to pre-schoolers? It may not always be obvious, but I can handle words with two, three, or even four syllables, and I don't consider "yeah" a sufficient answer to the Important Questions of the Day.

I understand that some people think (or were hoodwinked into thinking) that Bush is "down to earth", and "just like us". However, I still tend to think "a rising tide lifts all boats", and would prefer just a teensy bit more eloquence from our Fearless Leader.

I get the feeling Mr. Bush reached his flood-level somewhere around his Romper Room years, and has been ebbing ever since.
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Monday, February 09, 2004

Bush determined to lose election

....which is the only thing I can figure from this L.A. Times headline - "Report: Exporting Jobs Overseas Will Help U.S."

Jobs have been dropping like flies here in North Carolina, and South Carolina has it even worse. Everyone blames NAFTA and "outsourcing". Right or wrong, nobody around here will buy "Outsourcing Is Good For You".

I guess the Bushies figure we're a safe state -
"The movement of American factory jobs and white-collar work to other countries is part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time, even if it causes short-term pain and dislocation, the Bush administration said today."
It's all a part of that "creating 2.6 million jobs in 2004" fantasy, and BushCo's determination to put a cheery spin on the lousy economy.

Coming from a bunch of folks that have never felt "short term pain and dislocation" in their lives, it's pretty laughable.
"Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," said Gregory Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, which prepared the report. "More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."
I wonder if Mr. Mankiw realizes his job is "tradable" in November.....

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Reading no evil

From Howie Kurtz, we learn that "Pentagon Clip Service's Clips Clipped".

Which is just a cute, tongue-twisty way of saying that Early Bird - the clipping service "devoured by Pentagon brass, lawmakers, journalists and military personnel around the world" - has had it's wings clipped for being too fair and balanced.

Early Bird (I'd provide a link, but then I'd have to kill you), was "told to eliminate all newsmagazine articles last October -- four days after the publication of a Newsweek cover story on Iraq that included "Rummy's New Headaches" and a Time piece titled "Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?".
"A senior Pentagon official says the Early Bird staff may occasionally "get guidance to put in pieces in which the leadership made an extra effort to get the message out to show that we've had a success. It's a clipping service for our leadership. We might say, 'Hey, make sure that gets in the Bird because we want so-and-so to see it.' "
Isn't one of the current WMD theories that Saddam ordered all the stuff cooked up, and his scientists joshed along with him, cleverly hiding the fact that there were none? Like, they just told him what he wanted to hear?

Is anyone in this administration getting a dose of reality from anywhere?

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Macleans, with comments

Last week, Macleans magazine (Canadian) asked the question - "If you could, would you vote for George W. Bush in the next U.S. presidential election?".

George W. Bush lost to an unnamed opponent, 86%-14%.

Here are the responses from the (mostly) Canadian "voters". A good many of that 14% are included.

Comments making my hit parade -

My 'no' vote only tells half the story--you really should have given us another choice... something like "definitely not" or "not in this lifetime" or "when hell freezes over!"
Bob & Joan Kay, Bancroft, Ont.

Most people in America didn't vote for Bush the first time...
Katy Roberts, London, England

There wouldn't be a chance in hell that I would vote for Mr. Bush. Thanks, but I prefer world peace, not a world in pieces.
Cait Jago, Peterborough, Ont.

Sure I'd vote for him. And while I'm at it, I'd also spend all of my money, get into serious debt, pick fights with kids who are smaller than me and stick my nose in where it doesn't belong.
Cheryl, Waterloo, Ont.

I am a Republican and a Conservative, and I never thought I would want to see a Democrat in the White House. Must be getting cold in hell. The world is not as simple as it used to be and Bush has made it even more convoluted.
Pastor Rick Chase, Surrey, B.C.

Thanks for your article, "Hope You Lose, Eh." I'm glad my country has true friends who are willing to speak the truth to friends who've gone wrong.
J. R. Taylor, Washington, D.C.

Amen.

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Who needs to comment on the MTP interview?


'I'm not going to change', says Bush

(and you can't make me, so there - NYAH)

Between beastofsound and the New Zealand Herald, the only thing left to say is, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Gore"

(with a little nod of approval to those who vote-swapped or voted Nader in a "safe" state).

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From The Arizona Republic


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Ron Susskind lays it out

Susskind, author of "The Price of Loyalty", said he'd be putting all his source documents on-line.

He's a man of his word.
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Sunday, February 08, 2004

ARF?

Army (or Air?) Reserve Force - possibly the missing piece in the Resident's National Guard "fulfilled" commitment.

Kevin Drum has the documents posted....if you can contribute anything or shed some light on the discussion, get over there right away.

(Update - AIR Reserve Force - andante, 2/9/2004
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Prince Charles making surprise visit to British troops in Basra, wearing uniform he's entitled to wear, talking with the troops for six hours, and sharing a cuppa. No plastic turkeys sighted.
"Charles also discussed the political and economic problems plaguing postwar Iraq with Shi'ite clerics, Christian clergymen, the governor of Basra and a prominent tribal leader.

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Happy February 8th

Following the illustrious tradition of Happy Furry Flappy Crappy Poopie at Norbizness, here are some of the fine folks with whom I share a birthday.

Most are still living, including me.




Gary "Pretender To The Throne Of California" Coleman




Ted "It Is NOT A Toupee!" Koppel




Nick "Suave Man-About-Town" Nolte




James "Too Hot To Be Dead" Dean



Jack "Grumpier Old Felix Unger" Lemmon


<

John "You'll Never Want To Swim In The Ocean Again" Williams




Future Coulter & Ollie Storm Troopers, The Boy Scouts of America




Lana "My God, She Looks Just Like Me" Turner

Thus proving the great diversity of those born on February 8th. We're all either incredibly good-looking or exceedingly homely; abundantly talented or astoundingly inept; unbelievably intelligent or amazingly stupid.

Those of us born on the wrong side of the day still plan to celebrate another day of life.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Don't ask, don't misbehave

Cross-posted at Etalkinghead

The Secretary of Defense has properly ordered a review of sexual assaults alleged to have committed against female soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait.

Sexual assault against women in the military - and against civilians - is an ongoing problem and certainly not confined to Iraq and Kuwait. Though it will never be eliminated entirely, the Pentagon can and should take steps to deal with it as it occurs.

One investigation comes on the heels of another; the Navy's 1991"Tailhook" scandal, the U.S. Air Force Academy scandal, sexual assault charges made by Okinawan civilians; one gets the feeling these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Pentagon is to be commended for acting quickly, realizing after the Air Force Academy scandal that a cover-up only makes things worse

WomensENews reports -
"Though reports to criminal investigation authorities are difficult to find, a common estimate among advocates and health care experts is about one quarter of women in the military say they have been sexually assaulted during their careers.
Some might see the pervasive problem as opening the door to a discussion of women's role in the military. But women are not the source of the problem, any more than gays are the source of "gay bashing" or discrimination.

Military leaders (and some politicians) have argued that "allowing gay people to serve openly would harm military readiness by destroying troops' morale and disrupting order and discipline."

Dismissing women and gays from military service is obviously not the core of the problem. Order and discipline might be better preserved by improving the conduct of heterosexual men, through swift punishment for those who choose to disrupt the order.

Some have argued that the military is not the place for "social engineering". However, the military does a good job of teaching men and women to show respect for superior officers - teaching respect for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or religion should be a part of the training. That isn't "social engineering", but common sense.

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