Saturday, October 09, 2004

Not Without a Trace

The man who perhaps did more than any other to screw with our postmodern minds has died.

Rest in piece, Derrida.
World-renowned thinker Jacques Derrida, a charismatic philosopher who founded the school known as deconstructionism, has died, the French president's office said Saturday. He was 74.

Derrida died at a Paris hospital of pancreatic cancer, French media reported, quoting friends and admirers.

The snowy-haired French intellectual taught, and thought, on both sides of the Atlantic, and his works were translated around the world.

Provocative and as difficult to define as his favorite subject - deconstruction - Derrida e modern-day French thinker best known internationally.

``With him, France has given the world one of its greatest contemporary philosophers, one of the major figures of intellectual life of our time,'' President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, calling Derrida a ``citizen of the world.''


Democracy in Afghanistan

This is the glorious vision towards which our leader has unfailingly directed us, yes? This is what Bush has been touting, even just a few hours ago, as an example of his success in spreading democracy:
All 15 candidates running against interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai have signed an agreement boycotting the vote because of what they say is widespread fraud.

The candidates said they would not recognise the election results.

The announcement was read out on Saturday after a meeting of candidates and their representatives at the home of Abdul Satar Sirat, an Uzbek who is an ex-aide to Afghanistan's last king.

"Today's election is not a legitimate election. It should be stopped and we don't recognise the results," Mr Sirat said.

Electoral commission spokesman Aykut Tavsel said organisers were holding an urgent meeting to decide how to proceed.



The latest Bush diversion regarding the WMDs' nonexistence takes an interesting turn. That corrupt UN program was quite profitable for US oil companies:
Major American oil companies and a Texas oil investor were among those who received lucrative vouchers that enabled them to buy Iraqi oil under the United Nations oil-for-food program, according to a report prepared by the chief arms inspector for the Central Intelligence Agency.

The 918-page report says that four American oil companies - Chevron, Mobil, Texaco and Bay Oil - and three individuals including Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. of Houston were given vouchers and got 111 million barrels of oil between them from 1996 to 2003. The vouchers allowed them to profit by selling the oil or the right to trade it.

The other individuals, whose names appeared on a secret list maintained by the former Iraqi government, were Samir Vincent of Annandale, Va., and Shakir al-Khafaji of West Bloomfield, Mich., according to the report by the inspector, Charles A. Duelfer.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Bush's Closing Note

The New York Times gets it right about Bush's final answer in the debate:
Last night's format was much more suited to George Bush's talents than the hard-edged debate last week, but John Kerry still managed to goad him to irritable near-shouting at some points.

One of the uncommitted voters in the audience sensibly asked President Bush to name three mistakes he'd made in office, and what he had done to remedy the damage. Mr. Bush declined to list even one, and instead launched into an impassioned defense of the invasion of Iraq as a good idea. The president's insistence on defending his decision to go into Iraq seemed increasingly bizarre in a week when his own investigators reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction there, and when his own secretary of defense acknowledged that there was no serious evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Even worse, the president's refusal to come up with even a minor error - apart from saying that he might have made some unspecified appointments that he now regretted - underscores his inability to respond to failure in any way except by insisting over and over again that his original decision was right.


Debate Highlights

I am, of course, appalled but not surprised that the various media are calling this debate a tie, or even saying that Bush "came on strong."

To me, he seemed somewhat more coherent but vastly more shrill and aggressive to the point of rudeness. Given that Kerry has recently been leading in "likeability," I think that is a significant victory in and of itself.

Defining moments of debate:

When Bush insisted against the protestations of the moderator on rebutting Kerry. The moderator was very weak, just as was the first moderator, in enforcing his own authority in determining when the minute would be added at the end, and Bush used this to his advantage. But his insistence this time seemed petulant.

Again, Bush could not name a single thing that he has done wrong during his presidency. Shouldn't they have coached him on this by now?

Unbelievably, Bush said that he'd put a Supreme Court justice in that would vote for him.

Throughout, his tone of voice was defensive, his pitch rising at the end of every sentence. And his posture was still bad.

No wire this time, as far as I could see...


No-Fly Anarchy

I think it's just a grand idea, in a nation being terrified on a regular basis by racially-charged "terror alerts," to have a no-fly list that is arbitrary:
The U.S. government has no ``hard and fast'' rules for deciding who gets put on the secret no-fly list of terror suspects barred from boarding airliners, the Transportation Security Administration said in court papers Friday.

The 301 pages of edited documents, filed in federal court in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the secret list grew from 16 names the day of the Sept. 11 attacks to 594 by mid-December 2001.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Land of the Working Poor

One in four:

Coming next week are the results of a new study that shows - here at home - how tough a time American families are having in their never-ending struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. The White House, as deep in denial about the economy as it is about Iraq, insists that things are fine - despite the embarrassing fact that President Bush is on track to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs during his four years in office.

The study, jointly sponsored by the Annie E. Casey, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, will show that 9.2 million working families in the United States - one out of every four - earn wages that are so low they are barely able to survive financially.

"Our data is very solid and shows that this is a much bigger problem than most people imagine," said Brandon Roberts, one of the authors of the report, which is to be formally released on Tuesday. The report found that there are 20 million children in these low-income working families.


GOP: Party of Government Handouts

Not, of course, to undeserving American workers and unfortunate Americans who can't find work, but to the truly needy:

"It's Christmas in October for multinational companies and lobbyists with friends in high places," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York. "But if you are a worker concerned about manufacturing jobs moving overseas, it's still the season for Halloween horrors."

Government watchdog and deficit reduction groups expressed disappointment with the vote.

"This bill is an orgy of 276 special interest tax breaks and giveaways that amounts to a cynical attempt to bribe swing states in one of the closest elections in our nation's history. Ethanol, tobacco bailout, breaks for NASCAR -- you name it," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The major new tax break would provide $76.5 billion in relief over 10 years to manufacturers and other U.S. producers, broadly defined to include construction companies, architectural firms, film and music producers and the oil and gas industry.

Opponents argued that the oil and gas industry, which is enjoying record prices for their products, should not be included in a bill that was intended to encourage American manufacturers to keep their factories in the United States and not move them overseas.

Another controversial section of the bill would provide $42.6 billion in tax relief to multinational companies, including providing a "tax holiday" that would lower for one year the tax rate on companies returning their overseas profits to the United States.



We had plans in place, at least, to provide some humanitarian aid after our illegal and immoral invasion.

And Rumsfeld's DoD decided it was more important that they be in charge, against all common sense:
INTERFERENCE by the Pentagon delivered a massive blow to efforts to provide humanitarian relief for Iraq after last year's war, according to two US aid experts who struggled with the conflict's chaotic aftermath.

In trenchant criticism, the pair say the Department of Defence alienated aid workers, misjudged the scale of looting that wrecked Iraq's health service and sent out bureaucrats who only served to complicate matters.

The traditional American response to humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters abroad is carried out by the State Department's US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

In the months leading up to the war, these agencies trained up an 80-person team specially for Iraq, many of them with long expertise in emergencies, says the commentary, published by Frederick Burkle and Eric Noji in Saturday's Lancet.

But that initiative was hamstrung by the Pentagon which, breaking with tradition, decided to set up its own humanitarian planning team, the authors said.

That move sowed doubt and suspicion among non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in relief work, they said.

Many of these agencies distanced themselves, fearful that their reputation for neutrality would be compromised on the ground if they had to work with occupying troops, Mr Burkle and Mr Noji said.

"The situation was further complicated by the fact that the (Pentagon) humanitarian planning team, citing secrecy, refused to disclose crucial information needed for planning not only to international relief organisations but also to other US military, government and civilian agencies working on humanitarian relief," they said.

As confusion mounted between the rival State Department and Pentagon relief initiatives, the US government decided to give overall administrative control to the Department of Defence team - by now named the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA).

The big problem, though, was that Pentagon planners had not taken into account the risk of looting after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The pillaging wrecked clinics, hospitals, emptied pharmaceutical stores and destroyed laboratories, "causing the collapse of the already tottering health system", the commentary said.

That crisis was worsened by chronic insecurity, hours-long power cuts and lack of sanitation.

Meanwhile, the ORHA team that was rushed to Baghdad was mainly staffed by policy wonks, it said.


"Secure" Iraq

We cannot even keep bombs out of the most highly fortified area of Baghdad. And Bush continues to say things are going well:

Residents of the fortresslike American headquarters in Baghdad known as the Green Zone were on high alert Thursday after the discovery of a bomb there indicated that insurgents had infiltrated the village-sized, supposedly impenetrable compound.

In another brazen attack on Western targets, insurgents fired at least two rockets Thursday night at the heavily guarded compound that houses the Palestine and Sheraton hotels, home to many foreign journalists. No one was reported injured in the attack, which pierced the lower levels of the Sheraton and scattered debris throughout the atrium.


Bloody Thursday

In Egpyt.

In Baghdad.

In Kabul, the night before Afghanistan's elections.

UPDATE: And in Paris.


Okay, Now Do Something

Sure, it's gratifying to see DeLay getting slapped around a bit, but as yet it doesn't amount to a damned thing as far as punishing him or at least taking him out of power. They need to take off their kid gloves, but then those gloves were bought, in many cases, with money from DeLay:

Less than one month before Election Day, DeLay drew solid expressions of support from GOP leaders.

"Tom DeLay is a good man. He fights hard for what he believes, but he has never put personal interests ahead of the best interests of the country," Hastert said in a statement shortly after the ethics committee's latest action was announced Wednesday night.

In a letter to DeLay, the committee of five Republicans and five Democrats wrote: "In view of the number of instances to date on which the committee has found it necessary to comment on conduct in which you engaged, it is clearly necessary for you to temper your future actions" to assure full compliance with the rules.
Last week, in a separate case, the ethics committee admonished DeLay for offering to support the House candidacy of a Michigan lawmaker's son in return for the lawmaker's vote for a Medicare prescription drug benefit.


Meanwhile, from Bizarro-World

What can one say, except, "What the fuck?"
Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a report by the chief
U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, who found no evidence that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991, justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.


The Next Generation

Perhaps the worst consequence, for America at least, of the stupid and criminal invasion of Iraq is that this naked aggression has taken what was a splinter faction and exploded it into a cultural movement. And broad cultural movements can't just be blown out of existence:
Rehman's circle call themselves Jundullah (God's Army) and have close ties to al Qaeda. Most are young, educated men, whom Rehman allegedly sent to training camps in Pakistan's remote tribal areas.

Rehman doesn't fit the mold of the typical al Qaeda leader. Traditionally, most were Arabs who gained status by resisting the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Younger, educated recruits tapped for suicide missions like 9/11 typically came from Middle Eastern countries with long histories of pan-Islamic resistance. What sets this new breed apart is that they are joining from places like Pakistan, where the focus has been on regional grievances, like independence for the disputed area of Kashmir. But as the al Qaeda leadership ranks begin to thin, men like Rehman are starting to climb the ladder.

"It is a new generation of al Qaeda," says Riffat Hussain, a leading defense and security analyst based in Islamabad, Pakistan. "These are new converts to al Qaeda. They may have no links with al Qaeda in the past, but now they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause as they feel al Qaeda is the name of defiance to the West. They are young and angry, and their number has swelled in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq."


Criminal Negligence

Neither candidate did a bang-up job when taking on the AIDS question during the VP debate; both seemed more comfortable talking about "over there" AIDS as opposed to "over here" AIDS.

This is nothing new among people who write about AIDS, to be sure. But, honestly, shouldn't our present VP know something about the issue?
Turning to Vice President Dick Cheney, Ifill told him that she wanted to hear about AIDS – "and not about AIDS in China or Africa," she made clear. "[B]ut AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their

"What," she asked pointedly, "should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?"

Cheney seemed at a loss. For a few seconds, he talked about the HIV pandemic in the rest of the world. But then he actually had to admit he didn't know anything about what she was talking about.

"I had not heard those numbers, with respect to African American women," Cheney said. "I was not aware that it was that severe an epidemic there, because we have made progress in terms of the overall rate of AIDS infection."

How the vice president managed to miss one of the most significant turns in the national HIV epidemic in the last several years is a mystery. With 40,000 new infections per year in the U.S., the virus hasn't gone away. It's just been busy making its home in the heart of the African American community.

In fact, African Americans, who make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, now represent 42 percent of all people living with AIDS and more than half of all new infections. That's hardly news; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sounding this alarm for many years. AIDS is already the leading cause of death among 24- to 44-year-old African Americans. Nearly two-thirds of new HIV cases among the 25-and-under demographic are occurring among young African Americans.


Small-Town Bravery

These days, librarians are true heroes and patriots among us. Ashcroft's beloved Patriot Act has put them on the front lines defending our civil liberties, and they are holding firm:
The FBI wants to know who checked out a book from a small library about Osama Bin Laden. But the library isn't giving out names, saying the government has no business knowing what their patrons read.

The library in Deming isn't much larger than a family home. Located in rural Whatcom County, it hardly seems the site for a showdown with the feds.

"I think we all figure it's places like the New York Library System that's going to be one of the first we hear about," said the attorney for the Whatcom County Library System, Deborra Garret.

At the center of the issue, a book titled "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America." The FBI confiscated the original book after a patron reported than some one hand wrote a bin Laden quote in the margin that read: "Let history be witness I am a criminal."

The FBI demanded to know the names and addresses of everyone who ever checked out the book.

"Libraries are a haven where people should be able to seek whatever information they want to pursue without any threat of government intervention," said Director of Whatcom County Library System, Joan Airoldi.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Life in a Police State

This story is amazing, but no longer incredible, not in Bush and Ashcroft's America:
Recently on Michael Feldman’s National Public Radio show “Whaddya Know?” a high school junior told the audience how he and his friend had recently been stopped on a city bus by the Secret Service.

The two high school students had obtained tickets from an insurance company to attend a pro-Bush campaign rally. Evidently, before the students could get off the bus, the Secret Service already knew who they were and that they had worked for John Kerry’s campaign. That was enough for the students to be labeled “national security risks.” Unless they turned around and went home, they would be arrested, warned the Secret Service agents.



It's a bad day for Bush. All of Cheney's lies last night are being taken to pieces, yet another investigation proves that Bush's WMD claims were dead wrong, and now this.
Retired CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern knows more than he can say. He won't talk, for instance, about what was discussed behind closed doors on the mornings when he would issue President George H.W. Bush his daily intelligence briefings.

McGovern spent 27 years in a position where secrecy was part of his job description. But for the last few months, he and a group of other former tight-lipped agents have been speaking out.

Now he is asking others who are still within the system to break through layers of classification to leak what McGovern said is the truth about the war in Iraq and the junior Bush administration.
He and his fellow whistleblowers call themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The group has about 45 members and has expanded since it first began in January 2003 to include not just CIA analysts but also former State Department employees and members of the FBI.
McGovern said a prostitution of the intelligence system has taken place. Some of its leaders have sold out and backed down under the pressure of the administration. Former CIA director George Tenet did not step up and explain that there was no concrete evidence to support the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he said. Real analysis would have presented inappropriate answers in the eyes of an administration that McGovern said had long before decided to go to war with Iraq.

Now, more than a year and half since the war was declared, McGovern asks his audiences, "Are we safer?"

"Unequivocally, no," he said. "We're not."
During the Vietnam War, McGovern said his colleague received a memo that directed CIA analysts not to release the numbers of armed enemies in Vietnam because the press would have a field day.

"This is what we call the smoking gun," McGovern said.

The memo was labeled classified. His friend did not leak it. McGovern could have. But instead, he told himself, "I can live through this dishonesty, keep my head down," he said. He had just been picked to go to Munich for a tour of duty. He had a great job, one in which he thought he was doing real work that was helping the country. So he stayed quiet. Now he regrets it.

Part of the message McGovern is pressing through his writing is to encourage current CIA analysts not to make his mistake. He said analysts may have many reasons not to leak - job security, a family, a mortgage.

"Do it anyway," he said. "That's the patriotic thing to do."

McGovern said such leaks could potentially affect the election. If the election is not postponed, that is. He said he thinks the groundwork already has been laid for doing so if a terrorist threat arises. The American people need to pay attention, he said, and push for it to go on.


Another Refutation

How many times does it need to be said?
Undercutting the Bush's administration's rationale for invading Iraq, the final
report of the chief U.S. arms inspector concludes that Saddam Hussein did not
vigorously pursue a program to develop weapons of mass destruction after
international inspectors left Baghdad in 1998, according to lawmakers and others
briefed on the report.

It's bad enough to invade a nation that hasn't attacked us but that is developing weapons. But to invade a nation that isn't even developing weapons? That is many times as criminal.


More Voter Fraud

First, they were misinforming Michigan voters about the registration deadline for voting in November.

Now, there's this. Forget "confusing ballots," "butterfly ballots," and "hanging chads." This is just flat-out wrong.

A lot of Michigan absentee ballot voters will be voting for Bush, whether they like it or not.

Thanks to the King of Zembla for catching this one.


DeLay's Demise

The flames keep rising all around DeLay, even though he has managed to avoid indictment thus far. As kos reports, even the conservative Judicial Watch is going after him now:
Judicial Watch, the conservative public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today called on Rep. Tom DeLay to step down as House Majority Leader in the wake of the bipartisan House Ethics Committee's recent findings that he acted improperly in attempting to win a vote from Rep. Nick Smith in exchange for endorsing Smith's son in a congressional primary. It is the second time that DeLay has been chastised by the ethics panel [...]

"Frankly, the ethics report was too kind to Mr. DeLay and the other House members implicated in the controversy. Mr. DeLay's actions in trying to trade a political endorsement for a vote were inappropriate and unacceptable, and given this grave ethical lapse, he should step down as Majority Leader. The Republican Party should not countenance its leadership violating House rules and standards of ethical behavior," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.


Going to War with the Guard

David Englin reports on what Bush's war, and how he's waging it, is doing to the Guardsmen and -women across the country who have been called upon to fight:
Relieved to be able to “speak out” now that he is no longer the commander-in-chief of the Minnesota National Guard, Ventura said reservists weren't correcly outfitted for war. “We don’t equip them as frontline combat units,” he said, yet they are being sent into frontline combat with only the equipment supplied by the people of Minnesota. He also lamented the fact that, since Guard and Reserve soldiers tend to be older, they're more likely to have families, and those families often are left behind without the comprehensive support services available on bases to the families of active-duty soldiers.

When Guard or Reserve soldiers are called up and sent overseas to fight, they have no choice but to drop everything—school, career, family—and go to war. With civilian jobs on hold, many families are forced to get by on severely reduced incomes, since family breadwinners often earn better pay and benefits in civilian life than they earn in the military. In many cases, families even have to suffer the indignity of losing their employer-based health insurance. If they are lucky, their civilian jobs will be waiting for them when they return from overseas, which is what the law requires. However, those laws were written when Guard and Reserve troops deployed for a few months here and there over the course of a couple of decades. Because of the war in Iraq, these men and women may be gone for a year or two, come home for a few months, and be called up for war again for who knows how long. Thanks to these excessive deployments and a strained economy, many employers are simply incapable of holding positions open. Add to the family separation and loss of income and benefits the constant fear that your loved one will be killed, and it is easy to understand why many families of Guard and Reserve troops find the pressure unbearable.


The Cowardly Fox

In much the same way as the ACLU defending Limbaugh's right to medical privacy despite his repeated attacks on them in the past, this incident just shows exactly how cowardly and hypocritical the right wing is--and how much more noble the left is by comparision:
The Fox News Channel ran a splashy full-page ad in our recent GOP Convention issue. In fact, Fox has bought several ads in The Nation in the last year, including our back page, leading some fifty readers to cancel their subscriptions in protest of the magazine taking what they considered tainted money.

But we stand by our advertising policy--one which starts "with the presumption that we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to those of the editors.... Blatantly misleading ads, or ads purveying harmful products will fall into a gray area of discretion, but as a general principle, we assume our readers will have sufficient knowledge to judge for themselves the merits of commonly known products (such as cigarettes)."

In contrast, Fox News seems to believe its viewers must be protected from news free of White House spin and corporate agendas. More the cowardly lion than the faux-fierce Fox, the cable news network has just rejected a sixty-second TV ad that The Nation was planning to air during the Republican National Convention.

"Nobody owns The Nation. Not Time Warner, not Murdoch," the commercial says. "So there's no corporate slant, no White House spin. Just the straight dope." FOX rejected the ad "out of hand," according to the magazine's senior vice president for circulation Art Stupar, after our ad agency sent the commercial to the network. "I find it ironic." Stupar told the New York Times, which wrote about FOX's censorship. "They are the GOP cable station, a champion of free markets, and they got spooked at the thought of running an ad that doesn't publish spin or serve the agenda of corporate conglomerates." Could mention of Mr. Murdoch have been a problem? A man who takes money from some of the worst regimes in the world can't take a few bucks from The Nation?


Democracy in Afghanistan

Last night, Cheney repeatedly spoke of how wonderful a job he and Bush have done setting up democracy in Afghanistan, a nation that will soon have its first "free and fair" elections.

The reality, as is always the case when Cheney describes anything, is rather different:
[D]espite the high hopes of many Afghans, this election, in which eighteen
candidates are running for president, is shaping up to be a sham marked by
fraud, corruption and widespread confusion about how secret balloting works.
Nationwide, there is continuing low-level violence of all sorts, from robbery to
Taliban attacks along the Pakistani border to interfactional fighting. Worst of
all is the voter intimidation and quotidian terror meted out by warlords, known
in Dari Pashto as jangsalaran. These former mujahedeen commanders rule most of
Afghanistan through a collection of semi-private fiefdoms, which allow them to
control much of the local smuggling, extortion, drug trade and now voting.


Next: Iraqi Jihad?

Given that there is not much chance that civilians will stop being killed daily anytime soon, this pronouncement doesn't bode too well:
A prominent Muslim Sunni group warned on Tuesday that a nationwide jihad,
or holy war, could be declared if the killings of innocent civilians by US and
Iraqi government forces continued.

A spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars said his
organisation condemned the weekend attack on the Sunni Triangle of Samarra,
during which civilians, including at least 23 children and 18 women, were
killed, according to the city's doctors.


You Are Out in Louisiana

So much for the forces of bigotry and hate:
A state judge on Tuesday threw out a Louisiana constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, less than three weeks after voters overwhelmingly approved it.

The judge, William A. Morvant of the 19th Judicial District Court, said the amendment was flawed because it had more than one purpose: banning not only gay marriage but also civil unions.


Not Playing Along

Tonight, for an hour and a half, Cheney kept repeating that everything was good and getting better in Iraq.

Allawi, who is actually there, isn't so sure:
In his first speech before the interim National Assembly here, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi gave a sobering account on Tuesday of the threat posed by the insurgency, saying that the country's instability is a "source of worry for many people" and that the guerrillas represent "a challenge to our will."


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Bush Flip-Flops

As it turns out, torture isn't so great after all!
President Bush today distanced himself from his administration’s quiet effort to push through a law that would make it easier to send captured terror suspects to countries where torture is used. The proposed law, recently tacked onto a much larger bill despite the fallout from last spring’s interrogation scandal, is seen as an attempt to counter a recent Supreme Court decision that would free some terror detainees being held without trial.


George W Bush Is Full of Shit

And he isn't afraid to throw that shit right in your face, even if you are the grieving mother of a soldier killed in his moronic war.

Read this. Can you believe the gall of this vile man?
Dolores Kesterson sat in her Santa Clara living room last week, tuned to the presidential debate on Iraq. It was not easy for her to watch.

She is alone, terribly alone, because of this war she never believed in.

Her only child, Erik Kesterson, died 11 months ago when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Mosul. He had graduated in the top 5 percent of his flight school class and was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. He was 29.

Dolores still cries at the memory of the day last November when an Army chaplain knocked on her door. She was thinking about it during the debate when President Bush talked about his meeting with the wife of one of the soldiers killed in Iraq.

``I wonder why the president didn't mention his meeting with Dolores Kesterson,'' she said later, with a dry chuckle. ``I wonder why he didn't mention the letter I gave him.''

Dolores met with the president in June when he was visiting Fort Lewis in Washington state to speak to the families of fallen soldiers. She went with her ex-husband and his family. She wore a locket around her neck that had a picture of her son in uniform.

She wanted to tell the president about Erik, the funny and brave wild-child who grew up determined to serve his country in the military. She wanted to tell the president what it felt like to lose him in a war fought for a lie.

Where was the evidence that Iraq had anything to do with the attacks on Sept. 11? Where were the weapons of mass destruction that were supposedly hidden in the desert?

Dolores said she was sure the president already knew her position before he walked in to meet with her that day at Fort Lewis. When he introduced himself, he stood toe-to-toe with her. ``His face was right in mine,'' she said. ``It was very clear that his attitude is `My way or the highway.' ''

But she spoke her piece. Afterward, she said the president asked her, ``Dolores, do you realize we were attacked on Sept. 11?''



Well, I guess that's what happens when you just round up a bunch of furrin lookin people and put them in cages for a couple of years for no apparent reason and with no due process for finding out what they did or did not do:
Most of the prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay are expected to be released or extradited, the deputy commander of the unit that runs the military base has said.

Brigadier-General Martin Lucenti told The Financial Times that the US did not have enough evidence to prosecute all the prisoners, alleged to be al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

"Of the 550 that we have, I would say most of them, the majority of them, will either be released or transferred to their own countries," he said.

"Most of these guys weren't fighting. They were running. Even if somebody has been found to be an enemy combatant, many of them will be released because they will be of low intelligence value and low threat status.

In other words, that's what happens under an incompetent administration.



Not only do they not know what the hell they are doing, they don't even know what the hell they are supposed to be saying on any given day. That happens commonly among compulsive liars:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday he was misunderstood when he stated hours earlier that he knew of no "strong, hard evidence" linking Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.

"I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between al Qaeda and Iraq," Rumsfeld said in a Web site statement issued following remarks he made to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday.

"Today at the Council, I even noted that 'when I'm in Washington, I pull out a piece of paper and say "I don't know, because I'm not in that business, but I'll tell you what the CIA thinks" and I read it'."


Too Little...

And a few thousand corpses too late:
THE United States did not have enough troops in Iraq immediately after the removal of Saddam Hussein and "paid a big price" for it, the former head of the US occupation there said.

L. Paul Bremer said he arrived in Iraq on May 6, 2003, to find "horrid" looting and a very unstable situation.

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Mr Bremer said during an address yesterdat in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, to an insurance group, which reported his comments.

"We never had enough troops on the ground."


My "too little, too late" quip reveals that I implicitly accepted the media spin on this story, which is that Bremer's present comments are in some way a new stance, a flip-flop if you will.

But no, he's been saying it all along. From July 1, 2003:

The top American administrator in Iraq, confronting growing anti-U.S. anger
and guerrilla-style attacks, is asking for more American troops and dozens of
U.S. officials to help speed up the restoration of order and public

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld was reviewing the request from L.
Paul Bremer, U.S. officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


What Was That Crap Giuliani Spouted?

Just after the debates, he said that Bush "talked to us" and Kerry "lectured to us." He got that backward, judging by this story:
President Bush, stung by the erosion of his lead over Sen. John Kerry in post debate polls, has abruptly scheduled a major speech for tomorrow in hopes of halting Mr. Kerry's momentum.

Failing to speak to us, Bush will lecture.


A Maggot

As anyone who has read much John Fowles will know, the term "maggot" doesn't merely apply to some wretched, parasitic, diseased thing, but rather, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, can also mean: "A whimsical, eccentric, strange, or perverse notion or idea."

And whimsically playing upon both concepts, I here diverge from my usual tiresome political rantings, and display a maggot of unknown nature and unknown outcome but of most definite origin:

In the wake of the chest CT last Friday, the sensation is that of containment, hidden containment.

I went to the American Radiological Association place, where the nurses were young to middle age and all so competent that competence stood in anyway for whatever age they may have been as they got my numbers and my letters from me with no dissent on my part. How could I, after all, dissent to process?

The process has momentum. I, at best, had drift, tending always towards an illusory state of rest. I’d been trumped.

Trumped, my drift slumped itself right down into a chair and I sat to brood on coughing too much, on coughing up small amounts of blood upon various occasions, and on the various relationships I’d been in, and which ones among them would have wound me up here.

And which would have wound me up back down at the bar or at one of four streetcorners looking for that which would have made me forget the cough for a while and wake up with it worse later, in the later that never matters.

But here, now, in the offices, it’s hidden containment. Gentle they move you from seat to seat, from the one where the needle goes in as she praises my veins and I explain that I had blood tests every month as a child to make sure the anti-asthma pills they had me on weren’t building up to kill me and she said, “Oh dear. Good veins.” “Yeah, they are,” not bad for shooting up coke with very little discomfort, I failed to add aloud.

The catheter snug in my arm, she received a jovial, well-nigh jubilant phone call which held her attentions away from me for a moment….and several….more …moments.

This has to be one of the key power standoffs. I need a procedure (just because you say I do—but that’s a whole nother story). You know that procedure. Therefore, at any moment during this procedure that i need, you have the power to introduce: Indefinite Hiatus of Varying Degrees of Insult.

This one pushed the bounds. A nagging pain from the catheter hanging out of my arm, a continued desire to be done and gone, and “my nurse” on the phone not 5 feet away plainly making plans for the evening, exchanging e-mails, and so on. Until she was ready to go again…

And what goes better with the injury of the needle and the insult of the phone than the injustice of then being told to eat a small dish of barium pudding?

I got it down. And if you know me, then that was the most astonishing sentence of this story. It might have been the most astonishing sentence even if you don’t know me. I couldn’t say.

The nurse had no idea why the iodine would make me feel warm and want to wet my pants, but she knew that it would; even when I inquired, her theories were ad hoc and none too plausible. I decided to enter the experience without her guiding words and experience the chemical injections swirling about in my blood, dancing around the comforting column of barium paste I’d built up in my esophagus, even as the partial, plastic womb of the machine taking me in with its one masculine-voiced speaker playing its magic upon me from all about, instructing me now to breath, now to not, and discs swirled mighty and unseen about my heart.

My crotch was warm. The iodine, one can only assume… Surely not the combination of iodine, and fleeting touch from young efficient women and instruction by a manly voice through a speaker on the CT machine from a man I never saw?

Surely not that, no.

“Do you feel the effects of the iodine?” She asked after I arose.

“No, no, I barely felt them at all.”

“Well, let me get that catheter out of you so you don’t take it home for a souvenir.”

“All right.” (Refraining from hypotheses about how much easier shooting up would be if she just left it.)

One more little “ow,” and, “You’re good to go.”

One more.

I was.

We'll see.


Monday, October 04, 2004

50,000 Stranded by Gaza Bloodbath

Hell on earth. I don't know what the U.S. could do about this, but I do know we are not trying to do anything, in the name of the "War on Terror":

Israeli forces have demolished the homes of hundreds of Palestinians, bulldozed swaths of agricultural land and destroyed infrastructure in their bloodiest assault on the Gaza Strip in years.

More than 70 people have died in Operation Days of Penitence, launched in northern Gaza six days ago after a Hamas rocket attack killed two Israeli children. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said that the dead included 31 civilians. Nineteen were under 18.

Most of the nine people killed yesterday were Palestinian fighters, but a teenage girl was among the dead, shot in her home. In southern Gaza Israeli forces killed a four-year-old boy in Khan Yunis refugee camp, where several Palestinian children have been shot dead in recent weeks.

Last night the Israeli army said it had killed a Palestinian gunman who had tried to infiltrate a nearby settlement. Early today an Israeli missile strike in Jabaliya killed one Palestinian militant and wounded two others.

But shielded from view is the suffering of about 50,000 Palestinians trapped in areas seized by hundreds of Israeli troops, backed by about 200 tanks and armoured vehicles.


Word from Iraq

The Guardian has printed a selection of the letters Michael Moore has received from the soldiers actually fighting the war in Iraq. Here's just one:
Dear Mr Moore,
I went to Iraq with thoughts of killing people who I thought were horrible. I was like, "Fuck Iraq, fuck these people, I hope we kill thousands." I believed my president. He was taking care of business and wasn't going to let al Qaeda push us around. I was with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. My unit was one of the first to Baghdad. I was so scared. Didn't know what to think. Seeing dead bodies for the first time. People blown in half. Little kids with no legs. It was overwhelming, the sights, sounds, fear. I was over there from Jan'03 to Aug'03. I hated every minute. It was a daily battle to keep my spirits up. I hate the army and my job. I am supposed to get out next February but will now be unable to because the asshole in the White House decided that now would be a great time to put a stop-loss in effect for the army. So I get to do a second tour in Iraq and be away from those I love again because some guy has the audacity to put others' lives on the line for his personal war. I thought we were the good guys.


Setting the Tone

On this, the last day to register to vote in November:
The deadline to register to vote was Monday and some people who showed up at the Pulaski County Courthouse got a little more then they bargained for.

The courthouse was shut down for about three hours Monday afternoon while Little Rock Police responded to bomb threat, it's the second one in the past week and it couldn't have happened on a busier day.

Monday morning people rushed in to the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office to fill out voter registration applications. Hours later, police evacuated the building after receiving a bomb threat.

For some people, what was supposed to be a quick trip, turned into a three-hour ordeal. "We’re new to the area, I registered on Friday. I just wanted to drop it off."

Dozens of people waited it out questioning why they waited until the last minute, but knowing they had to stick around to be able to have a say in this year's election. "My husband's busy all the time, now I’m stuck."


Welcome Back

The Guardian returns:
The Guardian’s international news round-up title has been re-launched in the US ahead of the presidential election as a current affairs-style magazine.

The Guardian’s international news round-up title has been re-launched in the US ahead of the presidential election as a current affairs-style magazine.


Suing for the Truth

It is, quite frankly, grotesque and immoral to fight a war and to hide the realities of that war from the people of a democracy, since the people ultimately bear responsibility:
A journalism professor sued the government Monday to force the Defense Department to release pictures of flag-draped coffins of soldiers arriving in the United States from wars overseas.

Ralph Begleiter, a professor at the University of Delaware and a former world affairs correspondent for CNN, filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of government photos and video of coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The Pentagon has refused to release those photos, saying it has begun enforcing a policy installed in 1991 intended to respect the privacy of the families of the dead soldiers.

Critics counter the government is trying to hide the human cost of the war from the public.

"They're public records," Begleiter's attorney, Daniel Mach, said in a telephone interview. "This is about the public's right to know the implications of U.S. foreign policy and to assess the price of war."

Begleiter's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, lists the Defense Department and the Air Force as defendants. A Pentagon spokeswoman declined comment on the lawsuit.


Arctic Lemmings

Okay, so we're burning way too much fossil fuel, generating millions of tons of greenhouse gasses, and melting the polar icecaps.

What does all this mean?

More oil for the taking!
Denmark aims to claim the North Pole and hunt for oil in high Arctic regions that may become more accessible because of global warming, the Science Ministry said on Monday.
"We're seeing a growing focus on and fight for the resources in the Arctic, especially as the global warming makes the region more accessible," said Samantha Smith, director of the WWF environmental group's Arctic Program.

She said nations around the Arctic should sign a treaty to regulate access to oil, fisheries and possible new shipping lanes through the Arctic as the ice retreats.

Global warming (news - web sites), blamed by scientists mainly on emissions of carbon dioxide from cars and factories, has thinned the ice and U.N. projections indicate further shrinkage in coming decades.

That's it. We deserve extinction. As a species, we are just too stupid to live.


Freedom Is Addiction

Who could have foreseen this? Well, anyone with half a brain and an ounce of historical awareness:

Afghanistan's opium poppy crop this year is set to break all records, surging past the peak levels reported under the Taliban regime, top American and international counter-narcotics officials said.

At the same time, U.N. and U.S. officials are increasingly worried by signs of a nascent drug trade developing in Iraq, where smugglers are taking advantage of the continuing chaos and unguarded borders.

Instability in the wake of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq has resulted in one booming market for the production of drugs, and a second potential market for narcotics sale and transit, officials said."All post-conflict situations, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, are always characterized by a significant increase in addiction," said Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the United Nations' Office on Drug and Crimes.

"The problem is definitely there."


"You Forgot Poland!"

What a coincidence. Just days after Bush's repetition of Poland as a key member of our mighty coalition in Iraq, the announcement comes.

They're leaving:
Polish troops will start to withdraw from Iraq in the New Year and all will be out by the end of 2005, the country's president has promised.


The First Debate

For those of you still chuckling over what an ass W made of himself last week, go read the Democratic Underground's Debate Edition of Top Ten Conservative Idiots, featuring nobody but Bush.


Just Keep Cuttin'

And, of course, he signs the bill in a swing state, showboating for the masses whose children will be saddled with the effects of a phenomenal deficit:
President Bush signed his fourth tax cut in four years on Monday, extending three tax breaks popular with middle-class voters and reviving other tax incentives for businesses.

Bush held the bill signing ceremony at a YMCA in Iowa, one of the most contested states in this year's presidential election and one Bush lost by a razor-thin margin in 2000.

An estimated 94 million Americans will be affected by the tax relief, which keeps three middle-class tax breaks from expiring Jan. 1 and renews others for businesses. The tax cut also will swell the deficit, which is at a record high.


A Novel Approach

This is interesting. Fed up with slogging their way through the court system time and again (only to have Ashcroft swoop in whenever he takes a notion to), medical marijuana advocates are taking a more direct approach, and simply charging the DHHS with spreading false information:
Convinced they have sound science on their side, advocates for the medical use of marijuana plan to launch a novel effort today to get the federal government to ease restrictions on the illicit drug.

Americans for Safe Access, a Berkeley, Calif., coalition of patients and doctors wanting easier access to pot for research and patient use, plans to file a petition with the Department of Health and Human Services charging the agency with spreading inaccurate information about the drug's medical value.

Unlike previous efforts to ease marijuana access, which relied on the courts and have dragged on for years, the petition invokes the Data Quality Act, a little-known but powerful law that gives people the right to challenge scientific information disseminated by federal agencies. The law demands that agencies respond to petitions within two months.

The act's use by marijuana advocates represents a peculiar political twist. The act was written by a tobacco industry lobbyist and slipped into a huge piece of legislation after the 2000 election without any congressional discussion or debate. It has been used almost exclusively by corporations challenging the validity of scientific information that they fear might lead to costly regulations.



The things that the federal government has managed to get away with while holding "in trust" vast resources belonging to Native Americans for over a century are utterly shameful and repugnant.

And it's appalling that it has taken the courts this long to get around to granting common-sensical rights to the owners of these resources:
A federal judge has ruled that the government must notify American Indian landowners before it seeks to sell property from a trust it manages that collects revenue from oil, timber and grazing leases and other activities on Indian land.

It is the first time such a practice has been required, the Indians say, in the nearly 120 years that the Department of the Interior has administered the fund, called the Indian Trust.

The ruling on Wednesday is part of a complex class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell, a banker and Blackfoot from Montana, on behalf of nearly a half-million Indians who contend that during more than a century the government has cheated them of about $137 billion in royalties from the leases. The government pays beneficiaries a total of more than $500 million each year from the fund, which exceeds $3 billion dollars.

The judge handling the case, Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court here, said that the Indian landowners, who may be "fully unaware that their land is up for sale in the first place," had a right to a "full and accurate accounting, appraisal and other relevant information" about their plots, which in some cases are small interests in land that has been passed down from generation to generation.


Get On Board!

Nothing like a road trip in favor of loving, happy relationships of all sorts! Be sure to check out their site:
A caravan will set out this morning from Oakland on a cross country ride to promote marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The National Marriage Equality Express will roll across the nation for seven days, winding up in Washington for a rally a block from the Capitol where last week the House failed to garner enough votes for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

"It feels like we are in this time when we are watching the civil liberties of gay people being eroded right and left and nobody is really up in arms about it," said Davina Kotulski of Marriage Equality California, the event's main sponsor. "People do not truly understand what's at stake here."

The riders will make stops in Sacramento; Reno, Nev.; Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyo.; Denver; St. Louis; Indianapolis; Columbus and Akron, Ohio; and Pittsburgh before arriving in Washington on Oct. 11 - National Coming Out Day.

In each of the host cities, local gay rights groups have organized educational forums and other events to draw attention to the 1,138 federal rights and hundreds of state-sanctioned benefits afforded married couples that same-sex partners can't access.

The participants plan to share personal stories that illustrate the situation, from a widow who nearly lost her home to estate taxes when her partner of 21 years died of breast cancer to bi-national couples who fear they will be forced apart because their relationships aren't recognized for immigration purposes.

A retired Army staff sergeant who plans to publicly challenge the military's ban on gay service, a couple married for 40 years who have a lesbian daughter, and more than a dozen couples who got married in San Francisco this year also are among those participating.

The group will provide daily updates on their progress on their website - using a blog, pictures, and a daily video.


Fifteen Ways of Looking at Sitemeter

From No Aura.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Second-Class Citizens

Add to the long list of perfidy in Florida, the following:
County elections officials say they will not have touch-screen voting machines in place for blind voters by the November election, despite a federal judge's order.

Not enough time remains to obtain and test the machines also ordered into place for the benefit of Duval County voters with certain other disabilities before Nov. 3, according to the filing in federal court Friday.

Also filed was a sworn statement by the county's assistant elections chief saying preparations to install the machines would have had to start on Sept. 25, three days before the order was issued.

The judge's order stems from a 2001 lawsuit against Duval elections supervisor John Stafford by three disabled voters. The voters alleged the county's optical scan voting machines did not allow them to vote without the help of others.

A message left Saturday with Jacksonville Assistant General Counsel Scott Makar to determine how the disabled voters would cast their ballots was not returned.

Ari Rothman, an attorney for the American Association of People with Disabilities, said his organization will file a response to the elections officials' filing.

Paging the ADA, would the ADA please come to Florida at once, please.


Again, They Are Masters of Timing

Couldn't they have thought about possible waste and fraud before the school year began, rather than suddenly yanking expected funds and laying waste to hundreds of school budgets and course plans across the nation? Aren't adults supposed to be able to put together long-term plans that work and then implement them without such reversals? At least part of the time?

Ah, well. It's just the schools and libraries. Who needs em?
Public libraries and schools around the nation have suddenly stopped receiving any new grants from a federal program that is wrestling with new rules on how it spends $2.25 billion each year to provide high-speed Internet and telephone service.

The moratorium at what is known as the E-Rate program began two months ago, with no notice, and may last for months, causing significant hardships at schools and libraries, say state officials and executives at the company that runs the program.

The suspension came after the Federal Communications Commission, in consultation with the White House, imposed tighter spending rules that commission officials say will make it easier to detect fraud and waste in the program.

As much as $1 billion in grants the states say they expected to receive by the end of the year may be affected, one official estimate says. That has led state administrators to either take money from other educational programs or postpone paying their phone and Internet companies.

"We are fearful that they could shut down our service," said Curt Wolfe, chief information officer for North Dakota. The federal program contributes more than 60 percent of the money, or about $1.7 million a year, that pays for Internet services and to link video services for the state's 100,000 students, he said.

"If this isn't resolved this month, we're going to be in very serious trouble," he said. "We don't have extra funds to get us through this, and this is a major issue for every state."

[thanks to smalfish]


Lazy Intelligence

They are too lazy even to make up new obvious lies. Today, Rice was actually, with a straight face, bringing up those ominous aluminum tubes from so long ago:
It was asserted that Saddam had recently bought some high-strength aluminum tubing which were, "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs", according to Rice. What she was not telling us however was that there were other rationale for the tubes that were in fact more plausible and in fact that the tubes had already been discredited as being useless for nuclear weapons. When asked about it today she said, "I knew that there was a dispute. I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute". Well, allow me to clarify for you Condi.
The aluminum tubes were alleged by Condi, at the behest of Bush, to be used for the enrichment of uranium, a critical step toward building a nuclear weapon. Unfortunately for them, aluminum is not a material conducive for enriching uranium. When you combine that with the fact that the dimensions were wrong and Saddam sought no other materials which would be needed for such a venture, many logically concluded that they were purchased for 81mm artillery rockets Hussein said they were for. Of course all of this was known at the time because it was the opinion of the intelligence community that the tubes were NOT related to any nuclear aspirations. Of course the troubling thing for me is how our National Security Advisor did not know this? Compounding the problem with not knowing, Dr. Rice felt the prudent thing to do would be to spread the possibility of a “mushroom cloud” to the American people. This is the same National Security Advisor who “could not have imagined terrorists flying planes into buildings even though she had been briefed about just that.
Continuing in her talk show soiree today, Rice said, "I stand by to this day the correctness of the decision to take seriously an intelligence assessment that Saddam Hussein would likely have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade". Well, that’s sweet Condi, but asinine. Not only would Saddam not have had a nuclear weapon, it appears he would not have had any weapons at all. I do not understand where the humility in this administration resides. We have found nothing in Iraq but death.


Suppressing the Vote

Americans who don't love America enough to live here shouldn't get to vote anyway, right? They may have been poisoned by foreign ideas:
Tens of thousands of Americans living abroad may not get absentee ballots in time to vote, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Eight of fifteen swing states failed to mail absentee ballots by the September 19 cut-off date necessary to ensure that ballots are counted. Military members and their families can still obtain ballots online through the Pentagon. Fifty-eight percent of Americans owning passports - the best correlative to those living abroad - support Kerry. The armed forces generally support Bush.



The world is growing ever more nuclear, and our administration is doing nothing to stop it, other than invading non-nuclear nations, of course:
The world's stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium useable in atomic weapons are growing, despite increasing fears about the security of nuclear materials, a U.S. based think-tank says in a new report.

The estimates of civilian and military stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) -- information treated by most governments as classified -- were prepared by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), run by former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright.

"At the end of 2003, there were more than 3,700 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium -- uranium enriched to 20 percent or uranium-235 -- enough for hundreds of thousands of nuclear weapons, in about 60 countries," Albright and Kimberly Kramer wrote in an article to be published in the next issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Most of the weapons-useable material is in Russia, followed by the United States.


Protecting the Troops

Forget body armor and combat-ready Humvees, the Pentagon is too cheap even to keep our soldiers from dying in boot camp:

More than three decades ago, the Pentagon created two pills to ward off a lethal virus infecting boot-camp recruits. But defense officials abandoned the program in 1996 as too expensive. Now recruits are dying, thousands are falling ill, and the military is desperately racing to bring back a vaccine it once owned.

A top Pentagon official called it "a major screw-up," hobbling U.S. efforts to rapidly deploy troops abroad.

The respiratory virus now infects up to 2,500 service members monthly — a staggering 1 in 10 recruits — in the nation's eight basic-training centers, an analysis of military health-care records shows.


Fighting Back in the Big Easy

It's just wrong that the state hosting Southern Decadence every year should have an anti-gay marriage amendment on the books. (Not that Decadence has much to do with monogamy, I'll be the first to admit...)

(New Orleans, Louisiana) Gay rights activists on Friday brought a court challenge to the recently passed Louisiana constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriages and civil unions.

Attorney Randy Evans said the lawsuit revives several issues rejected by state courts as premature before the Sept. 18 election. (story))

The arguments include the contention that the amendment was illegally adopted by the Legislature because it included more than one purpose - banning civil unions as well as marriages - and that it was illegally placed on the ballot for a day when there was not a statewide election already scheduled.

It also mentions problems with the election in New Orleans, where voting machines were delivered late at many precincts.