Friday, June 26, 2009

Top Ten Reasons for Gay Marriage

I found this today and Googled it to try to find the author but couldn't. It appears to be something that is just making the rounds, but well worth it for it makes the point clearly, concisely, and with humor.

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

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Why the Main Stream Media is Dying

I recently got into a discussion with a close family member about the media. We were chatting about this and that, catching up on various family matters and he mentioned that he had recently watched Meet the Press. When I asked how he could stand to watch it, he replied that although David Gregory was no Tim Russert, he still enjoyed watching. When I then said, blehh, Russert. We got into a discussion of the merits of Russert, with him saying that Russert was a good reporter and interviewer, and me saying the he was merely a mouthpiece for the Republicans and in particular, for the Bush White House. I went into one of my rants about the mainstream media, particularly Russert, being one of the primary reasons we went to war.

He, like many of my friends and family members, chuckled, and said, "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree."

During elections, friends say that politics is just a difference of opinion - which until the past 2-3 election cycles, I was willing to admit that it was.

Now? I'm not so sure.

Certainly we are all entitled to our own opinions. We are entitled to voice them. But I find that as I get older I have little tolerance for those whose opinions are just that - opinions - based on nothing.

To me, an opinion is a preference. I like blue over green, cherry pie better than apple. I'd rather go somewhere cold than hot, north than south. I love comedy, drama, theater and film. My secret vice is reality shows, but I'd rather have my teeth pulled than watch sit-coms. Opinions that have a basis in fact, should be grounded in fact.

People used to say that Bush was the man that they'd like to have a beer with, and so voted for him because he seemed the most like them. But why would that make you want to vote for him? There was no evidence linking Osama Bin laden to Sadaam Hussein, yet over 60% of the American people believed that we went to war with Iraq because of 9/11. And still do. Before we went to war, the claims that Bush made in his State of the Union speech and that General Powell made in his speech to the UN supporting war with Iraq, were found to be false. The weapons inspectors in Iraq had found no weapons of mass destruction and in fact, requested more time to search. The "smoking gun" of attempted purchases of yellowcake from Niger and the purchase of aluminum tubes for weapons making facilities were found to be false, before we went to war.

Yet, did the mainstream media report this? Did they emphasize this? No. Whatever the Bush Administration wanted said, they said. They simply reported. They simply served as stenographers for the Administration. Rarely did they question the information they were given. Rarely did they discuss the questions brought up by others and report on the debates that were going on outside the beltway.

When we did go to war, the media wanted to ensure access, so accepted quietly the terms given to them by the military. They bowed down to the dictates of the command structure and allowed themselves to embed--thus permitting the military to screen all images and messages we saw.

When Bush was up for re-election, the media did not question his accomplishments--or lack. They simply reported what he said. Campaign reporting consisted of what each side said. When lies were told, they were repeated in the media. Bush reneged on his National Guard duty, but the media focused only on the problems with the documentation - not the facts contained therein. Swiftboaters manufactured lies out of whole cloth, but the media "reported" them without making any attempt to verify their veracity or provide information on who was providing the money for the ads they made. David Gregory said (to paraphrase) that it wasn't up to the media to question what they were told, but to report it. Excuse me?

The founders included the 1st Amendment in the Constitution for this very reason. So that the journalists would question what they were told by our politicians. So that when politicians lied, they could call them on it. Thomas Jefferson said that "A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free" meaning that the press must be able to work without hindrance from the government in order to allow the people the facts necessary to make up their own minds. Particularly in times of war. It is the role of the media to question what they are told. How are we, the people, supposed to figure out the veracity of what we are told? It is the media that has access to the politicians, to the battlefield, to the documents. It is the media that attends the hearings, the meetings, the briefings. It is the media who observe who meets with whom, who talks with whom, and who benefits from which association.

Instead, it is the media that benefits. It is the media that wants to preserve this status quo and preserve their access. The media that wants to ensure their ticket to the banquets, the dinners, the parties. The media that wants to ensure that it is their phone call that gets returned, their email that gets answered. If they ask the hard questions, question the 'facts' they are told, they put at risk the access they are given and someone else might get their seat on the campaign bus, their seat in the briefing room, and their seat at the party.

Who loses? We do. Whose fault is it? Ours. We don't pay attention. We read our gossip magazines, watch our sit-coms, don't vote, and ignore politics because it's 'boring.' We buy into the Republican mantra that government bad, taxes bad, and believe that we are not our brother's keeper. But if we pick up that phone and call 911, we demand immediate action. We demand paved streets, we demand safe skies, we demand closed borders. We demand that our government protect us, we demand that our food be cheap, safe, and plentiful. We demand that our classrooms be small, and that our children have the best teachers, books, and supplies. We demand that gang members be gotten off the streets, that drugs be gotten out of our schools, and that criminals be locked up forever. We demand a lot. We have been raised to believe that among all the rights that we are entitled to in this country, that the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, includes the right to a job, education, safety, and help when we need it.

We just don't want to pay for it. We want all of this. We demand all of this. And we continue to say, government bad, taxes bad. I would bet that a majority of the people out waving teabags voted Republican in the last election. I would bet that many, many of the people who lost their homes and jobs in the past year have been staunch Republicans for most of their lives and continue to believe that they know best how to spend their own money. I would bet that most of the people who have lost their pensions, their savings, and their homes, continue to believe that the Republican Party and the ideals of small government and low taxes is the answer.

And the media continue to tell this story. The media--owned by just a few global corporations--report the stories that support the ideology of the Republican Party. The pundits continue to talk to each other on the talk shows and 24/7 news shows, and tell us what the critical issues are, even though most of America has an entirely different agenda. They think we care about the issues they discuss, and tell each other that Americans don't want to prosecute torture (we do), that we just want to move forward (we don't), that Americans don't understand the mess on Wall Street (we do), that we can't possibly understand the historical significance of the tribal structure in Afghanistan and Pakistan (we do), and that they can continue to lie to us about what things really mean and that we won't understand--and we do.

They wonder why the newspapers are failing. They blame us pajama-clad bloggers. Their world has narrowed to Washington D.C. and a 24-hour news cycle. They debate each other and party with each other. When a new administration comes to town, they court their attention and tell them the rules to the game and how it's played. Pretty soon, campaign promises are left behind and the insider dance begins again. We lose faith in our politicians, again. It isn't the bloggers at fault. It's the media hanging fast to their status quo who have forgotten what journalism really means. If the media fails, this is why.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bozeman Requires Applicants to Give Up Social Site Passwords

Every time I think I have heard it all, I hear something new. Slowly but steadily, our constitutional rights have been eroded, and we have let them. People say either that a) if you have nothing to hide, it shouldn't matter, or b) it's worth it to keep us safe from terrorists (or whatever is the fear of the moment).

I read on L'Atelier about new rules passed by the City of Bozeman, Montana. The new employment application for city jobs includes a place to list all websites, social networking sites and forums, including but not limited to Facebook, MySpace, Google, and Yahoo, including user name and password, as a condition of application. Just to have your application processed, this section must be filled out.

I thought this was a little extreme, so did a little checking. What did I find? An article on Montana dot com has the same story.

According to the city, it's important that they hire candidates who will "ensure the public trust." City Attorney Greg Sullivan stated,

"So, we have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City," Sullivan said."

An attorney said this? Maybe he needs to read the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), or the numerous other laws relating to employment discrimination. The key point he needs to understand, is that social networking sites, websites, etc., will likely suggest race, age, and possibly sexual orientation. They very likely (and almost certainly) tell marital status, and whether or not someone has children. Disability isn't always evident, but people often join forums or other groups to network with others who share a common condition.

Interviews will obviously tell an employer your gender and possibly your age - although not always. Many people earned a degree outside of the "normal" timeline and even though applications ask for high school graduation dates, they are not required. Anything on an application that suggests age, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability does not have to be included and cannot be asked in an interview or be asked of your references.

Actually, disability does not have to be disclosed at all. Ever. Even after employment. I've had employers hand employees pages to fill out asking for an entire medical history, current diagnoses, prescriptions taken, and doctors someone is seeing. Some states have specific laws dealing with employees working with substance abuse clients, etc., but I'm talking about employment in general.

What is interesting about this story, is that:

"Article 2, Section 10 of the Montana Constitution reads "the right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest."

I'm having a hard time seeing that the City of Bozeman has a compelling state interest in checking up on what someone is posting on Facebook or what discussions they may be posting to.

If it's legal, isn't that enough? Since when does our employer get to tell us what is moral? Who gets to make that decision? By what right? What if my idea of moral is different than yours? What if I think it's immoral to kill someone by executing them, and you think it's immoral to have the state pay to house them for life instead? What if I think it's immoral to force a 9-year old to carry a child resulting from a rape by her father, and you think it's immoral to abort it? Who gets to decide? By what right? Who says?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey John McCain. You Lost.

Granted, he is a Senator, but John McCain seems to have forgotten that he lost the election. A long-term supporter of global-warming legislation, including cap and trade programs, McCain now is on the "Party of NO" bandwagon:

"Specifically, McCain opposes Obama's proposal for a "cap and trade" program, which would set limits on greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and motor vehicles. The plan, which would bring the government an estimated $650 billion, calls for a carbon auction in which polluting companies could buy carbon permits to offset their emissions. The limits get stricter over time, forcing companies to either slash their emissions or buy more permits from the government or from clean companies that don't need them."

Not realizing that it is the President who sets foreign policy, not the Senate, this morning, speaking to Margaret Carlson on Fox, he demanded that Obama "act" regarding the situation in Iran. Saying that "The administration is not going to change their policy of dialogue, etcetera, etcetera and they should be condemned."

Never mind that inserting ourselves into the situation in Iran only puts the protesters in danger (more than they might already be in). If true change is going to occur in Iran, it must come from within to be successful. In 1953, America overturned a democratically elected government. As bad as it was, Iranians believed in their government. For the first time, now they understand the true situation. It's up to them to decide what they want and ask for help if they want it, not have it imposed on them. And never mind that it's Obama's decision, not McCain's.

Leon Paneta, head of the CIA, said of former Vice President Cheney that, "It's almost as if he's wishing this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point."

McCain immediately demanded that Paneta apologize, saying that while he did not approve of the "enhanced interrogation" policies of the Bush Administration, "Never did it cross my mind that Dick Cheney would ever want an attack on the United States of America."

The Republicans are so quick to jump on statements without really listening to what was said, or the context. Paneta's statement was said after Obama's and Cheney's back to back speeches when he was ambushed by a reporter. He didn't actually say he thought Cheney wanted an attack, he said "it's almost as if ..." which changes things completely. It sounds like, it seems like, which are perfectly reasonable conclusions to reach based on the statements made by Cheney over the past weeks and months.

The Republican Party in general and John McCain specifically are in total denial. They have taken Obama's desire for bipartisanship as a sign of weakness. They forget that they lost and seem to believe that the country is really a Christian right, conservative, right-wing nation. That people really want the programs and initiatives that they espouse. They can't figure out that losing elections don't just mean they lost. Losing elections mean people don't want your ideas, your ideology. They seem to think that if they can just speak louder, spend more on advertising, make the Democrats look bad, and somehow gain seats, that everything will be all right. They are totally clueless.

And regarding this Letterman vs. Palin comedy, McCain said,

"I don't understand why Letterman would say that about a young woman. They (the Palins) deserve some kind of protection from being the butt of late-night hosts."
Umm. Maybe she should stop being a public figure and an elected official? Stop putting her kids down on her financial disclosure forms as performing official duties so she can deduct their travel? And anyway, who was that who said extremely cruel things about a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton?

Can we all say hypocrite? Can we say bitter old man who lost an election because he thought if he picked a woman running mate he could pick up the Hillary votes, and because Bill Kristol thought she was hot that he'd pick up all the Republicans who hated him? This is not a man who has a moral high ground to stand on.

McCain needs to understand that he lost. He looks pitiful when he stomps his feet and demands Obama do it his way. Obama gets to do it any way that he wants. That's what happens when you win the election.

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Jonah Goldberg, Serial Idiot Speaks Out on Iran

Oh Jonah. I hadn't paid any attention to you in years. And now, two posts in four days? What's up with that? Now you're an expert on Iran? Foreign affairs? Nation building? Obama can't win for losing with you.

Obama takes a calm, studied approach to problems. He always has. So far, it's worked out well for him and for all of us. Every crisis so far, pundits on the right and on the left have jumped in with opinions, politicians on the right and on the left have opined on what he should do - the right usually demanding some sort of military response. But Obama calmly weighs the information, studies the situation, and waits as long as possible until making a decision (well, except for Dept. of Justice rulings but that's another post altogether), and then either acts or not, makes a speech or not, or has someone say it for him. He's usually spot on in gauging the right tone to take when it comes to foreign policy matters.

But now Iran. Protests, riots, uncertainty. Information is limited, confusing, and either manipulated by the government or received from the younger, tech-savvy pro-Mousavi side able to get information out. In the midst of this, you say:

"During the campaign you mocked those who belittled your rhetoric as "just words." Well, what you've offered so far is less than just words. You've put a fresh coat of whitewash on Iran's sham "democracy." On Monday, you proclaimed yourself "troubled" by the events in Iran, before hinting that you'd negotiate with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no matter what an investigation into his "landslide" victory found. Then there was your pre-election mumbling about "robust debate [that] hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways."

You write about the grand ideals of liberal "nation building" lost during the Bush years when the Republicans embraced the idea out of need when we went to war with Iraq. Funny. I seem to remember Bush going on, and on about the need to spread democracy throughout the Middle East (including Iran) in order to ensure peace for Israel. That all people wanted democracy and to be free (of course, they all wanted American style democracy and freedom which he must have intuited by gazing deeply into their souls).

Then you say that:

"So far, "hope and change" has meant spending trillions we do not have on expanded government we do not need. Meanwhile, the huddled masses of Iranians yearning to breathe free think hope and change means something more. But the new American colossus stands all but silent, her beacon dimmed, her luster tarnished."

"Please, Mr. President, prove me wrong. "

You don't want Mr. President to prove you wrong. He couldn't if he tried. If he did, you'd find some way to find fault and discover another test for him to fail.

The point, that you and your other villagers fail to understand, is that the reason we are well-hated in the Middle East (or were) and in much of the world is because of the George Bush's of the world and his ilk. Because of the attitude that everyone wants to be free and live in an American style democracy. This attitude that America is the greatest nation on earth doesn't play well outside our borders. It's okay for us to say it to each other. It's okay for others to say it to each other and dream about coming to America. But it's not okay for us to say it to them. It's sort of like saying to your neighbor that "my house is bigger and better and more expensive than yours." Or saying that because your house is better, you're better. It's stupid. It's not how to make friends, gain allies, or earn respect.

There is this belief amongst the villagers, the right, and the previous administration that it is somehow the duty of the U.S. to take our style of democracy out into the world. That if there is a problem, it is our duty to solve it. That if there is a war, it is our duty to fight it (or start it). That if there is a different belief system, or religion, that they are wrong, and it is our duty to correct their thinking. Not a way to win popularity contests. The conservatives still talk of America as a "melting pot" when most progressives understand that we have long since moved beyond that and embraced the concept of a plural society that values our diversity. A "salad bowl" if you will, that does not expect everyone to "melt" into a blended, homogeneous sameness but appreciates the differences that make up not only the whole of our society, but the whole of our world.

In 1953, we overturned the democratically elected government of Iran because we didn't like it. Obama didn't have to say anything about it in his speech in Egypt. They already knew it. By acknowledging it, he was saying that there was fault on both sides and it was time to move on (their fault? the hostages). Whether or not they like their government or not, Iranians have believed that they had a democracy. For the first time since 1953, they now know, that they do not.

If Obama and the other nations stay out of it and let things play out as they will, they have a better opportunity of finally resolving things for themselves. If we come on too strong, the hard right, the Mullahs, can claim that the reformists are American-backed, which at this point, they are not. They and we cannot afford for the current government to be overturned by American-backed means. Peace in the Middle East will fail if so, but has real hope of being achieved if the people of Iran are able to successfully elect a new President who has the support of the world community but was not put into power by the world community. There is a huge difference.

Read more of Jonah's column here.

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GOP Staffer Mails Racist Obama Photo

Sherri Goforth, an executive assistant for Tennessee State Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin), sent this picture out to other legislative staffers headlined "Historical Keepsake Photo."

One of the staffers who received it wasn't impressed. In fact, she and her representative boss were appalled. She said of the photo:

"I was going to post it last week but there was a death in my family and I had to think about it. Because it made me mad. But, you know, people need to know that this stuff is going on. I would be just as angry if a Democratic staffer had sent it. Dammit, Tennessee, haven't we moved past this kind of crap? I'm serious."

Ms. Goforth said that she did send the email, but then stated that:

"I went on the wrong email and I inadvertently hit the wrong button," Goforth said. "I'm very sick about it, and it's one of those things I can't change or take back."

You'll notice that she's not sick about sending the picture. She's not sick about the content of the picture. Her employer hasn't said a word (and so far, she's still employed). She's sick that she sent it to the wrong email list. That's sick all right.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Be Careful Who You Talk To

Be careful who you talk to, or write to, or call.

Marshall Pappert of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, got frustrated with the business across the street from his house, evidently the makers of ready-mix concrete. Elected by his neighbors as their spokesman, Marshall spent months writing to his elected representatives, agencies, and local burrough office trying to find out who could help with the traffic (dump trucks starting at 3am), dust, and noise.

The County Health Department finally got tired of all the letters he wrote, calling him a pest, so sent an inspector - who cited the company twice for air pollution infractions.

The Bridgeville Police Chief said his "activity" increased, and increased, and increased. Evidently most of his complaints were directed at his local burrough.

The "breaking point" though, came when Mr. Pappert left three (3) voice mails for the Burrough Manager asking her to take action or resign. She did. Take action that is. She had him arrested for harassment.

What was remarkable, was that the judge found him guilty of harassment, saying in his ruling that Marshall should have known that the burrough manager did not have the authority to act on his complaints. Never mind the fact that no one ever told him that. Never mind that the web site for the burrough states:

"...the borough manager "take[s] care of the day-to-day operations, implement[s] policy decisions and coordinate[s] activities of other Borough departments."

Amazing. Although, why should I be surprised. We allow our rights to be taken away for our security, to keep our soldiers safe, because the President says it's necessary, and then are surprised when local or state officials do something like this.

Read more about it here

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Jonah Goldberg, Another Serial Idiot. This Time On Affirmative Action

From an article he wrote in 2006, the expert in all things affirmative action, Jonah Goldberg, says of affirmative action:
"The greater irony is that it is far from clear that diversity is good for black students either." ... "Black students admitted to universities above their skill level often do poorly and fail to graduate in high numbers. UCLA law professor Richard Sander found that nearly half of black law students reside in the bottom ten percent of their law-school classes. If they went to schools one notch down, they might do far better."

"But all this misses the point. Today’s diversity doctrine was contrived as a means of making racial preferences permanent. After all, affirmative action was intended as a temporary remedy for the tragic mistreatment of blacks. But as affirmative action drifted into racial preferences, it became constitutionally suspect because racial preferences are by definition discriminatory. If I give extra credit to Joe because he’s black, I’m making things just that much harder for Tom because he’s white." [emphasis added

The problem with graduating numbers and success levels, is not the fact that students are admitted above their skill level (good lord, look at George W!), but rather because of the lack of support once they get there. Tutoring, pre-admit summer programs, and mentoring available at many, many institutions are essential not just for affirmative action admits, but also for all non-traditional students and are often seen for foreign students, older returning students, and disabled students. Kind of curious then that you don't see it for students of color.

And then, of course, is the issue of temporary. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Ten years? Twenty? Who decides when we have reached parity? Is it possible that it might take two or three generations of less than stellar graduates before we have graduation levels of minority students equal to that of white males? When we have employment levels equal to that of white males? Entry (and graduation) into law and medical schools equal to that of white males? After all, the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964 and enforcement didn't begin until the feminist movement realized that they could use the act to push some of their issues, so we're talking the 1970's before anything even began to happen. For true affirmative action to work, you need at least fifty years, which we'll never see now, especially as those persons such as Judge Sotomayor who have succeeded as a a result of affirmative action are pushed back because of affirmative action.

And if things are a little harder for Tom for awhile? So what? This is a problem because? Maybe white men should have to work a little harder for awhile to understand what people of color and women have endured for hundreds of years. Just sayin'. Because this kind of thinking seems to predominate among successful, upper-class white males.

In a web conversation on June 10, 2009, still the self-styled expert on affirmative action - the topic of the moment because of the upcoming Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Jonah Goldberg is asked why discussions of race as a basis of college admissions are wrong when legacy admissions based on wealth are not? His answer?

"People say, 'well, why should we be neutral on race when people aren't neutral about whose family gave more money to a school and all the rest?' And there's a longer answer, but a short answer is simply that, you know, we fought a civil war over race. We amended the constitution a couple of times because of race. We had the civil rights act because of race. Seems to me that race is different, and that we've learned from bitter experience with lots of dead people that government getting in the business of picking winners and losers by race is a bad way to go." [emphasis added]

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Jonah ... I hate (truly I do) to bring this up, especially as I was one of the original 5 or 6 members of the original NPR forum thread "Clinton: Move On" from which the founders of MoveOn broke off and founded, well, MoveOn dot org. But, I digress again. Anyhoo. Jonah. Remember Monica? And her friend Linda Tripp? Of the infamous late night phone calls that Linda recorded? Well, Linda handed those tapes over to her friend Lucianne Goldberg, Jonah's mother who permitted then 29-year old Jonah to listen to them with her. Jonah wrote about 6,000 words about the tapes, sold it to the NY Times (who cut it to a 900 word blurb) and his career was born. Jonah was a has-been at 29, working as vice-president for his mother's minuscule publishing company. He had gone to Europe after college planning to " a starving fiction writer, but failed on both scores." Seeing a chance to stretch his 15-minutes of fame, he made the rounds of the talk shows attacking President Clinton, reportedly saying that he found being on television "seductive," until he got a job at the National Review spouting conservative talking points, which he has held onto ever since.

So, you see why I hate to even mention his name. But, he's inserted his name into the conversation as a self-styled expert on affirmative action when in actuality, he parrots talking points that he neither understands or probably, believes (until the Lewinski scandal, his best friend was "Reagan's favorite Democrat" and a Clinton supporter - he's just all about the main chance). He is afraid, as are many white men, that the things that they have, that they have not earned, will be taken away from them. So, such programs as affirmative action, designed not to take anything away from anybody but to lift others up to parity, scare the hell out of them.

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Social Capital & Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action is no longer legal—it is, in fact a dirty word, but it has reared its head as a result of the nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She has called herself an “affirmative action baby” saying that she would not have gotten into Princeton or Yale with her less than stellar scores without affirmative action. Regardless, her judicial history has been superior: whether you agree with her decisions or not, her reversal rate is one of the lowest. We all know that many of us don’t begin to come into our own until college or beyond, and that test scores—particularly for minorities 20 and 30 years ago—are not a good indicator of future performance.

I wrote a thesis a number of years ago on affirmative action so feel somewhat qualified to write on the subject. As a sociologist, I look at it as an issue of social capital. We each have a certain amount. Our social capital is accumulated from our socioeconomic strata, our geography, our own circumstances within our community and family, our intelligence, and a number of other factors that combine to produce opportunity and how we respond to that opportunity.

Imagine a white, upper middle-class, east coast white male. Mom went to Vassar, as did the other women in her family—her mother and grandmother, aunts, and sisters. Dad has a law degree from Harvard and is a partner in a top law firm. This young man will more likely than not, have music lessons, go to summer camp, belong to country clubs where he will associate with other (white) boys just like himself. At puberty, he will receive dance lessons and attend cotillion where he will learn to dance with (white) girls and have social events tailored to his age and social class.

He will play tennis, learn to sail, and will vacation in London and Paris. He’ll go to prep school, not public school, and after graduation, will attend Harvard as a legacy admit if his grades aren’t quite good enough to get him in on his own. He’ll join a fraternity—the same one his father and grandfather belonged to—and will get drunk on weekends and his father’s law firm will get him out of any legal trouble he gets into (boys will be boys after all) and pay for the abortions of the girls who get pregnant at the fraternity parties they unwisely attend.

The social capital this young man has is enormous. Both parents are college graduates so he has a large vocabulary from being exposed to educated conversation in the home. He probably had a nanny or au pair and likely was exposed to a second language (probably French) from infancy. He was probably limited in his exposure to television and if he watched, it was probably “educational” television only. His home was full of books and his parents probably subscribed to several magazines.

His schools were private, with high-caliber faculty and small teacher/student ratios and fully equipped language and science labs. With wealthy parents and the ability to travel, he was exposed to peoples and cultures that should have given him a wider perspective. However, he was also likely sheltered from contact with anyone different from himself by virtue of his wealth. Doors were opened for him as he began his career as he always knew how to dress, how to act, who to talk to, and how to talk to them. All of these factors add up to enormous social capital. This young man earned none of it.

Imagine a young girl of color. Her parents are immigrants with 5th grade educations in their home country. This young girl is raised by a single mother who works 3 jobs to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. This young girl is responsible for caring for her younger brother while mom is at work. Mom’s English is poor so she is often called on to serve as a liaison for Mom with various social service agencies, landlords, school officials, and etc.

Because Mom is poorly educated and has little English, the only work she can find is doing minimum-wage, back-breaking labor jobs—laundry, cleaning, and dishwashing. There are no relatives nearby to help with finances or babysitting. When Mom is sick, she works anyway or they go without food. She is unable to help with homework and because she has to baby-sit, this young girl often misses school. If she needs help with schoolwork, she is unable to take advantage of after-school programs that offer homework assistance. There is no television in the home and her English vocabulary is limited as she was raised with English as a second language. Her English is accent-free and she is bilingual, but this will not become an advantage until well into adulthood.

When she starts school, it will be in an inner-city school with run-down facilities, old books and equipment. Teachers are underpaid and the teacher/student ratio exceeds state standards. Teachers are inexperienced as it is difficult to get good teachers to teach in the inner city. There will be no prep school for this girl. School will be difficult as she tries to study while caring for a child, while malnourished, while tired. If she is able to go to college, it will be only if there are scholarships and student loans available, and if her grades are good enough. Without affirmative action, the likelihood of winning a scholarship is remote and there are many factors to overcome. She will have to get extremely good grades, find some way to become “well-rounded” and do community service, sports, and attract positive attention from teachers and someone in the community— preferably someone white and successful.

This girl has zero social capital. She is at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. She will be behind her peers when she begins school as she will not have the advantage of vocabulary, reading, or much understanding of the wider culture or social interactions (no television, no books, no magazines, no travel, no outings to cultural events). She will be unlikely to get much support for higher education as it is not a family tradition. At home, there is no tradition of homework, no understanding of proper rest in order to learn (and no way to provide it in any case).

When it’s time to apply to college, there will be no one to help, to open doors, or to help avoid the pitfalls and get her out of any trouble there may be (and help her avoid those fraternity parties). No one will help her get a job, pull any strings, or fight for her when she is discriminated against because of the color of her skin or the poverty of her life. This girl will face double barriers as she faces the discrimination of her color, and her sex, which is still very much a factor in our twenty-first century society.

So, affirmative action is unfair to whites? I don’t think so. It was always only designed to level the playing field. Saying that college entrance and employment should be based on merit only ignores the fact that too many of us have started from way, way behind. To say that affirmative action worked and that we’re all good is wrong. To hear the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck say that affirmative action hurts white men is laughable in the extreme. White men have had the power and control for hundreds of years, and still do.

My favorite example of why we still need affirmative action is this. Imagine a basketball game. Team A is playing Team B. Team A gets 5 players on the floor, 2 points per basket, and 2 points per foul. Team B gets 4 players, 1 point per basket, and no points per foul. At the half, Team A has 76 points, and Team B has 40. The officials talk and say, “This doesn’t seem quite fair. Let’s change the rules so that it’s equal. So, at the start of the second half, they announce that both teams get 5 players, 2 points per basket, and 2 points per foul. But, Team A still has 76 points and Team B still has 40. That’s why we need affirmative action. You don’t give someone that much of a head start and say it’s all good.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

US Soldiers Disciplined for Taser Abuse - In 2004. Today? Anything Goes.

An article from 2004 in the BBC News tells of four US soldiers charged and punished for the use of excessive force for using Taser stun guns on prisoners. Based on memorandum received under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) discovered that detainees often arrived at prisons - including Abu Ghraib - with "burn marks" on their backs. The memos detail concerns expressed by FBI and US Defense Intelligence Agency workers which they were reportedly told to keep quiet about. The ACLU states that these memos were written two months after release of the Abu Ghraib photos.

The ACLU goes on to say that a senior FBI official expressed concern in 2002 about "highly aggressive" interrogations at Guantanamo and government sanctioned abuse. Executive Director Anthony Romero of the ACLU said that, "These documents tell a damning story of sanctioned government abuse - a story the government has tried to hide and may well come back to haunt our own troops captured in Iraq."

The Pentagon reports that there have already been dozens of reviews and hearings already and seven military police and intelligence officers have been charged in this [Taser] case and one reservist is currently [2004] in jail.


On May 11, 2009, Kathryn Winkfein, age 72, was Tasered by Deputy Chris Bieze after a traffic stop. Ms. Winkfein was pulled over for driving 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. She refused to sign the ticket and was ordered out of her vehicle by the Deputy. (By the way, it is legal to refuse to sign a ticket). According to Officer Bieze, Ms. Winkfein was combative and argumentative. Although the reports are somewhat conflicting, it is apparent that at one point, while walking along the road towards Deputy Bieze's patrol car, Ms. Winkfein wandered too close to the traffic lane and Deputy Beize shoved her away from the line. She then said,

“You’re gonna shove a 72-year-old woman?” Winkfein yells at him.

“If you don’t step back, you’re gonna be Tased,” Bieze says.

That’s when Winkfein said, “Go ahead. Tase me.”

Although he had the Taser out and ready, Bieze did not use it.

“Step back or you’re gonna be Tased, ma’am,” Bieze says again.

“I dare you,” she said.

Winkfein then decided she was leaving and tried to walk back to her truck.

“I’m getting back in my car,” she said.

“You’re gonna be Tased,” Bieze said, blocking her path.

“I’m getting back in my car,” she insists.

“No, ma’am,” he says.

Deputy Bieze then Tasered Ms.Winfein with 50,000 volts. Constable Sgt. Maj. Gary Griffin of the Constable's Office defended Mr. Bieze's actions and said Ms. Winkfein was belligerent and difficult to handle.

In Pittsburgh on June 4, 2009, a high school student was tasered in the hallway of his school by a police officer because, "The kid was violating two rules — he should have been in class and he shouldn't have been talking on a cell phone" said the officer. The student will likely face several criminal charges including felony assault on a police officer. The boy was handcuffed once on the ground because he resisted, although the student claims that he was dizzy and confused after being tasered.

Then, there is the case in El Reno where despite the fact that the man was not resisting arrest but simply not compliant, he was tasered.

Even though he was wearing a Medic Alert tag identifying himself as a diabetic, and displaying all the symptoms of diabetic shock, the officers believed him to be under the influence and dragged him out of his truck and tasered him. Their justification? He failed to communicate with them. Did it occur to them that they might have a medical emergency? No, of course not. Tase first, ask questions later. This individual's blood sugar level at the time was 11. (Normal is between 75 and 150. The average is 100 and a diabetic should never get down below 80 or 85).


Recent polls have suggested that just over 50% of Americans believe that (in regards to terrorists), there may be occasions when torture is necessary. Many Americans don't believe that waterboarding, for example, is torture. We court martialed American soldiers in Vietnam for waterboarding. We jailed a deputy sheriff in Texas a few years ago for waterboarding a suspect. We executed a Japanese war criminal for waterboarding after WWII.

In 2004, at the height of the Iraq war, when the Bush Administration was using "enhanced interrogation" techniques (read waterboarding and other torture techniques) on detainees - none of whom were actually charged with anything - inappropriate use of a Taser by US soldiers was cause for discipline.

In 2009, use of Tasers by our police forces is routine. Police officers pulling school duty, there to keep our kids safe and prevent another Columbine, are enforcing cell phone rules? Instead of receiving training on conflict resolution and how to deal with difficult people, they what, just hand out Tasers to rookies? Since when is it appropriate to Taser someone because they don't want to be arrested? Or sign a ticket? Since when is it illegal to argue with the police? If someone is already on the ground, they're down! They don't need to be tasered, too. Since when is shoving anyone, much less 72-year old women okay? Why was she arrested? What was the charge? Belligerence? WTF? I'd like to see that law on the books. It is illegal to have attitude? Right.

I'm delighted that law enforcement reaches for Tasers more frequently than their guns, but using Tasers is lazy and it's dangerous. They don't know who has a medical condition exacerbated by an electrical charge. They don't learn how to negotiate and think, to use critical thinking skills. If they're not bright enough to talk someone down, they shouldn't be out on the street with a gun.

We had a situation here in my town several years ago in which the officer reached for her Taser, and grabbed her gun. She didn't realize it until she killed the individual she wanted to subdue - after a routine traffic stop in which the victim didn't cooperate fast enough or in the way that she wanted. Tasers are tools just as are guns. With the mindset that Tasers are harmless and that police have the right to instant obedience and cooperation without explanation, we will continue to have more and more stories of tragedies with Taser in the headline.

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Conservative Media Freak Out

And we all know it's not the media's fault. Congress demanded Secretary Napolitano apologize (which she did - what's up with that?) - but will they apologize now? Of course not.

The report talked about "extremists." Are these pundits calling themselves extremists? They all felt attacked. They felt that all conservatives were being attacked. But the report spoke of right-wing extremists along the lines of Timothy McVeigh. Soldiers vulnerable because of PTSD and returning to an economy with no job prospects. A rise in hate speech and fear-mongering (tea party anyone?). The report said nothing about conservatives in general, or Republicans, or conservative media. hmmmm.

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Republicans Put Security at Risk

Rep. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Joe Lieberman threw hissy fits, saying they would shut down the House & the Senate if their amendment to stop release of the torture photos didn't pass. This amendment was originally attached to the war spending supplemental. (They have since tried to attach it to everything going by - fortunately so far without success). Now Republicans are refusing to pass the supplemental because it includes cash for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) .

The White House wants the funds for the IMF included to honor its pledge to foreign leaders - in part because the US is partially responsible for the world-wide economic downturn. The Republican leadership does not want to support the IMF, saying that this money will only support state sponsored terrorism.

Yesterday, in a letter sent to Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Rep. John Boehner, Secretarys Clinton and Gates, and National Security Advisor James Jones asked that they support this bill on the grounds of national security. Saying:

"With adequate funding, the IMF will strengthen our national security by mitigating the national security crisis and inhibiting the growth of terrorist networks. We ask you for your support for this critical contribution to the IMF and the supplemental appropriations bill."

Gates is a Republican, his reasoning (and that of Clinton and Jones) makes sense. It will be pretty difficult for the Republican leadership to come up with another reason to deny passage - although I will be curious to see what they come up with.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Did Hate Speech Kill Stephen Tyrone Johns?

In April of this year, the Department of Homeland Security produced a report, leaked to the media, that detailed home-grown, terrorist threat assessments of right-wing extremists. A report on threats coming from left-wing extremists had been released in January. It should be noted that these reports had been commissioned and data collected during the Bush Administration.

The report says that conditions similar to that leading to the militia movements of the 1990's - and the Oklahoma City bombing - are occurring now. Joan Walsh in Salon quotes Susan Page from an interview on MSNBC today, saying that, "... based on history: They include a prolonged economic downturn, the demonization of immigrants, the election of the first black president, fears about losing the right to own guns, a banking crisis inciting age-old paranoia about "Jewish cabals" and the return of many veterans to the States suffering from PTSD and other conditions while getting insufficient care."

When this report on potential threats by right-wing extremists was leaked, conservative talking heads immediately took offense, somehow believing that they were being personally attacked. I'm not sure how they felt linked to extremism, but hey, if the shoe fits ....

Rush Limbaugh insisted that right-wing groups had never done anything violent (!), while Michelle Malkin, who led the charge, called the report a "piece of crap" and said it was released at this time to smear those participating in the upcoming "tea parties." Columnist Bill Kristol called it "juvenile" and Rep. Michelle Bachman said, "To me, it looks like the extremists are those running the DHS." Continuing in this vein, Newt Gingrich demanded that the person who wrote this "outrageous" memo "smearing veterans" should be fired, and Rep. John Boehner said Napolitano herself had a lot of explaining to do. Rep. Peter Burgess said that Napolitano should step down.

I wonder how many of them regret those remarks today? I wonder, after the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and the murder of the guard at the Holocaust Museum today by a white-supremacist how many of them regret those remarks today?

Words have power. In our society, there is a price to be paid for free speech. We have a violent history and we know, based on our history, that there are people in our society who walk on the edge. People who are willing to pick up a gun, willing to make a bomb, and willing to die for a cause. When our talking heads are allowed to refer to legally practicing doctors as "baby killers," and say that our President should fail, that he is worse than al Qaeda. When torture is considered okay some of the time, and the law only applies to some of the people, then it's easy to see how someone can pick up a gun and shoot up a factory, or a church, or a museum.

Did this hate speech on our televisions cause von Brunn to murder Stephen Tyrone Johns today at the Holocaust Museum? I don't know. But it certainly didn't do anything to prevent it.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Life Happened

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. Life happened. Working on some things, and some posts. I know you're out there reading these and would love feedback to know how I'm doing, so use the comments and let me know!

Will be back up to speed tomorrow.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sean Hannity Attempts to Re-Write History, Again

Sean Hannity is at it again. Fox News does it regularly, but Hannity is a master. He takes a speech by the President and cuts it to say what he wants it to say, adding his own (inflammatory) interpretation.

The speech given today in Egypt by President Obama was groundbreaking in that he made statements unprecedented in political history. He acknowledged that America overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, he committed to the need for a 2-state solution in Israel, and demanded that Israel adhere to the Roadmap to which they had previously agreed. He also demanded an end to Arab attacks on Israel and acknowledged that the previous administration had said one thing and done another leading to much of the confusion between the Israelis and Palestinians. Remarkably, Obama stated that Iraq was a war of choice, and made other statements that touched on issues that are rarely brought out so openly, so publicly, and in such a place, and before such an audience.

Reports from around the world are of Muslim audiences shocked that an American President would speak in this way--treating them as equals and worthy of respect.

Reports from around the country are of American right-wing pundits shocked that an American President would speak in this way--treating Muslim audiences with respect. Sean Hannity therefore, unable to report the truth of the speech, found it necessary to "cut and paste" to make the speech fit the interpretation he chooses to share with his audience.

Hannity states that, President Obama "decided to give 9/11 sympathizers a voice on the world stage," when in fact, the clip in its entirety shows that President Obama was condemning anyone would attempt to justify or deny the events of 9/11.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Morning Joe Doesn't Do Homework - Again

This is supposed to be a news show? They can't name one successful unionized company.

From Media Matters website. What about UPS? $3 billion last year. And GE? GE made more than $18 billion in 2008. That's more than the GDP (gross domestic product) of most of the UN nations. GE owns NBC, which owns MSNBC, which pays Joe, and Mika, and Cramer (and the union cameramen filming the show, and the union lighting guys, and the union set guys...).

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Morning Joe Pro Bono Lawyer for Abortion Doctor Killer

Prior to the murder this week of Dr.George Tiller, there have been several other murders of abortion doctors, clinic nurses and receptionists, bombings, and arsons. There are daily vigils and protests outside womens health clinics, and women seeking health care services are harassed. It is a federal crime to interfere with access to a womens health clinic, however, many law enforcement officials are as ambivalent about abortion as the general population and thus, resistant to enforcing that particular law as carefully as they should.

An article in The Village Voice provides a detailed report about a popular talking-head, MSNBC's Morning Joe Scarborough. He has an interesting history relative to abortion doctors and to abortion clinic protection. It's a history I'm sure that many of his (political) guests and listeners are unaware of, and one that he would much rather be left in the past.

Prior to becoming a talking head on the tv machine, Joe Scarborough was an attorney in Pensacola, Florida. The abortion rights movement was beginning to heat up (this was back in the early 1990's) and the first abortion doctor, Dr. David Gunn, was murdered in 1993, in Pensacola.

Guess who became the defense attorney? Joe Scarborough. Who, by the way, was not a criminal defense attorney and was not death qualified to defend what could be potentially a capital case. The defendant, Michael Griffin, had a court-appointed attorney, but Joe Scarborough stepped in, pro-bono. He later said that Michael Griffin's father was friends with his (Joe's) then wife's father (which they have neither confirmed).

Scarborough eventually brought in a criminal defense attorney and withdrew from the case. In handwritten letters to the Village Voice, Griffin (serving a life sentence) states that Scarborough tried to stay on the case despite Scarboroughs claims to the contrary.

"According to Griffin, Joe told him "several times" that he would represent him at trial and that he "had three friends still in law school who would help him," adding: "I have an exact memory on this point."

Scarborough eventually entered politics on the fame garnered from this trial. The article states that:

"His GOP opponent, Lois Benson, charged then that Scarborough "sought headlines by trying to defend Michael Griffin." ... "A University of West Florida political scientist, James Witt, told the Associated Press that abortion was "a factor" in Scarborough's win, though Scarborough insists that it wasn't."

Going on to say:

"The largest donor to Scarborough's cash-starved campaign was the National Right to Life Committee, which donated $15,210. The second-largest donor—at $8,113—was the Eagle Forum, founded by Phyllis Schlafly, the chair of the Republican National Coalition for Life."

Congress passed legislation to provide additional protection to women's health clinics only after overcoming Republican opposition.

"Within five weeks of Scarborough's arrival in Washington in 1995 (as part of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" revolution), Democrat Pat Schroeder tried to amend a law-enforcement block grant bill to permit—not mandate—the use of the funds to protect abortion clinics. Not only did Scarborough vote against that unsuccessful amendment, he opposed one introduced by a Republican that called for protecting "medical or health facilities." One legislator at the time is now a popular talking head, Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe fame on MSNBC."

No wonder Morning Joe hasn't had anything to say about the murder of Dr.Tiller. I wonder why no one has asked Morning Joe his opinion about the murder? I wonder why none of his MSNBC colleagues have asked Morning Joe for his take on the issue?

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

Dr. George Tiller was murdered on Sunday. He was in church, serving as an usher.

Church, no matter of what faith, has always been (and is always supposed to be) sanctuary. If you make it in the door, you're safe. The fight over abortion is about religion and nothing else, so for the murderer of Dr. Tiller to claim that his death is righteous and then kill him within the walls of his church, is obscene.

To hear all the right-wing pundits and conservative politicians express their polite sorrow, then deny responsibility, is heartbreaking.

They'll put on a sad face and say they certainly don't condone the murder of Dr. Tiller, but they'll be patting each other on the back when yours is turned.

The sad thing? They don't even bother to find out what they're talking about. They talk about Dr. Tiller as a "baby killer" or a "mass murderer." Bill O'Reilly has said repeatedly over the past 4 years on his nationally televised show, that Dr. Tiller for only $5,000 and for any reason, will abort a late term baby. This is a lie and Bill O'Reilly knows it's a lie. Late term abortion is illegal except in certain specific circumstances. Dr. Tiller went on trial for this very reason because people like Bill O'Reilly couldn't stand the fact that what he was doing was legal, and they wanted to stop him at any cost. He was acquitted. Here are the only reasons that Dr. Tiller would perform an abortion. These are the rules from his clinic:
Admission Criteria: In order to offer you an appointment, we require that a physician refer you to our center. In addition, we need your genetic counselor or doctor to provide us with gestational and diagnostic information regarding your pregnancy. Over the past twenty-five years, we have had experience with pregnancy terminations in such situations as anencephaly, Trisomy 13, 18, and 21, polycystic kidney disease, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, Potter's syndrome, lethal dwarfism, holoprosencephaly, anterior and posterior encephalocele, non-immune hydrops, and a variety of other very significant abnormalities.

Just any old reason, huh? And $5,000? I don't know where that number came from or if it's correct, but only someone like Bill O'Reilly would say only $5,000. To me and most of the people I know, I'd be that's a lot of money and not so easy to come up with if I found out I had a life-threatening need to have a late-term abortion right away.

I wonder how many of these right-wing pundits know someone who miscarried late in pregnancy or experienced complications during childbirth. There are many, many stories of women whose lives were saved because of late-term abortions, situations where the child was already lost and the mother would have been lost as well. I know 2. We probably all know women like this, but they rarely tell their stories. They hurt. If they've had an abortion, it's unlikely they'll speak up, especially if they've had a late-term abortion and most especially if their audience is of the Bill O'Reilly mindset. It's not baby murder. It's a medical procedure designed to save lives. As you can see from the criteria above, it is not used lightly. It is used only when the child will not live or will live in unspeakable pain (and I do not say this about disability, but about pain and suffering that cannot be eased) or to save the life of the mother which if lost, would also cause the loss of the child.

For this, Dr. Tiller died, and others before him.

Regardless of my personal feelings about abortion, to me, right to life means life is precious - all life. That means the lives of our soldiers, the lives of those on death row (many of whom are most likely innocent based on past history), and the lives of the mother. It's not up to me to tell her what to do or how to live her life. These people claiming to be pro-life aren't. When they care about stopping executions, war, and saving the lives of the mothers, and caring for the children after birth, then we can talk.

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Cheney Rewrites History, Again

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday, Richard Clarke, national security coordinator and counterterrorism specialist under Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush wrote in response to recent statements made by former Vice President Cheney.

Cheney has spoken of the necessity of going to war in Iraq, the need to use 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, and the need to develop a unique designation for 'enemy combatants' and separate facilities - Guantanamo, et. al., - in response to the horrors of 9/11. Cheney describes 9/11 as a defining moment and how the actions taken on 9/11 and after have kept America safe, going on to claim that only those actions kept us safe.

Richard Clarke has a somewhat different take. He states that:

“I believe this zeal stemmed in part from concerns about the 2004 presidential election. Many in the White House feared that their inaction prior to the attacks would be publicly detailed before the next vote -- which is why they resisted the 9/11 commission -- and that a second attack would eliminate any chance of a second Bush term. So they decided to leave no doubt that they had done everything imaginable.”

He also said, about Bush's core players, that,

“…when Bush's inner circle first really came to grips with the threat of terrorism, they did so in a state of shock -- a bad state in which to develop a coherent response. Fearful of new attacks, they authorized the most extreme measures available, without assessing whether they were really a good idea.“

He goes on to describe the scene at the White House on 9/11, and an attitude that developed then and that would continue:

“While the Pentagon was still burning, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld was in the White House suggesting an attack against Baghdad. Somehow the administration's leaders could not believe that al-Qaeda could have mounted such a devastating operation, so Iraqi involvement became the convenient explanation. Despite being told repeatedly that Iraq was not involved in 9/11, some, like Cheney, could not abandon the idea.”

Clarke lays out his argument against the need for the use of a Guantanamo, the 'enemy combatant' designations, or any of the extreme measures enacted under the Bush Administration.

“On detention, the Bush team leaped to the assumption that U.S. courts and prisons would not work. Before the terrorist attacks, the U.S. counterterrorism program of the 1990s had arrested al-Qaeda terrorists and others around the world and had a 100 percent conviction rate in the U.S. justice system. Yet the American system was abandoned, again as part of a pattern of immediately adopting the most extreme response available.”

Regarding the use of waterboarding and other 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, Clarke reports that:

“…there was the immediate and unwarranted assumption that extreme measures -- such as waterboarding one detainee 183 times -- would be the most effective.”

Clarke concluded by saying that:

"Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- but it was because they had not listened."

Dick Cheney was interviewed at the National Press Club on Monday. When asked about Richard Clarke's op-ed, he said:

"You know, Dick Clarke. Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it. The fact is that we did what we felt we had to do, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing."

When reminded of Clarke's stated warnings to the Bush Administration, Cheney then stated:

"That's not my recollection. But, I haven't read his book."

Maybe not. But you were aware of the briefings detailed in this article in TIME.

Everything is always somebody elses fault. Yet Dick Cheney is out on his speaking tour ranting at President Obama for making us less safe (even though no waterboarding has occurred in 5 years) and taking the credit for no attacks on American soil in 7 years (although the worst attack occurred under his watch). What a piece of work. Someone tell him to go away.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Kristol Wants to Nuke North Korea

The last I heard, we have a new president. That being the case, the "Bush Doctrine" is no longer operable.

The Bush Doctrine touts preemptive war as the basis of our foreign policy - get them before they get us. We all know how well that worked out, or rather, some of us know how well that worked out.

On Fox New Sunday, Bill Kristol not realizing that he's an idiot, opined--in discussing North Korea's missile launch--that,

"I don't rule out the possibility of us deciding -- and I think it might be wise for us to decide -- to knock out a few. They're apparently rolling a long-term missile to a base to test another one, long-range missile to test another one. You know, it might be worth doing some targeted air strikes to show the North Koreans, instead of always talking about, 'Gee, there could be consequences,' to show that they can't simply keep going down this path."

Also on that same program, fellow conservative Brit Hume agreed with Kristol, but didn't think Obama would do it. This follows Newt Gingrich's demands since April to attack North Korea with lasers following their first attempted rocket launch.

Kristol didn't say why it would be wise to "knock out a few," and didn't discuss the consequences to South Korea, China, and Japan--not to mention future disarmament discussions. Newt still doesn't know that we don't have lasers of the type that he wants turned on North Korea, and none of them appear to have any faith in diplomacy, witness their snide comments about "Gee, there could be consequences."

It's real easy to sit there and tear something down, to idly discuss using nuclear weapons when it isn't their decision to make nor their consequence to bear. The continuing serial stupidity of the punditry.

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