Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gramsci's Head is So Clean Now



A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.


Yet Another Reason...

To turn down tenure-track offers in Utah:
As states and colleges across the country review their gun policies in light of the tragedy, many in Utah are proud to have the nation's only state law that expressly allows the carrying of concealed weapons at public colleges.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Bush: I Will Always Be a Warmongering Prick

It's time to face this madman down
Bush warned Congress Friday that he will continue vetoing war spending bills as long as they contain a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.


Riding On

Ten more arrests as homophobes are confronted on their own turf:
At this year's Equality Ride across the country to challenge colleges and schools which bar LGBT students begins to wind down, 10 riders were arrested Friday after they entered the Bethany Lutheran College campus in Mankato.

The school is run by the conservative Evangelical Lutheran Synod.


Tenet Calls Bush Out

Very interesting remarks:
Ex-CIA director George Tenet has lashed out against the Bush administration in an interview broadcast on CBS' 60 Minutes, accusing it of distorting his pre-Iraq War claim that the existence of weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk."

Tenet, who called the administration's distortion "disingenuous and dishonorable," says it has resulted in the ruining of his career and reputation.

"The phrase 'slam dunk' didn't refer to whether Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs," Tenet says, according to a CBS News report. "He says he was talking about what information could be used to make that case when he uttered those words. 'We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant,'" Tenet explained.

"It's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me," the former CIA director is quoted as saying. "You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."

Tenet goes on to sharply criticize President Bush for basing his decision to go to war on the "slam dunk" statement, as well as Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for continuing to use it as a talking point.

"And the hardest part of all this has been just listening to this for almost three years, listening to the vice president go on Meet the Press on the fifth year [anniversary] of 9/11 and say, 'Well, George Tenet said slam dunk' as if he needed me to say 'slam dunk' to go to war with Iraq," Tenet was quoted.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Judge Demands That Lawyers Not Be Assholes

Any attorney that would even think of doing what this judge has forbidden should really take a long look at the sort of person he/she has become:
A federal judge Thursday issued an order to lawyers battling to prevent a Gay-Straight Organization from forming at an Okeechobee from questioning student witnesses about their sexuality.

Thursday judge Frank J. Lynch, who will hear the civil rights suit, agreed to an ACLU motion which argued that defense attorneys' questions about students' sexual orientation would lead to "annoyance, embarrassment or oppression."

Some students expected to testify in the case had expressed concerns they would be grilled by lawyers for the school district about their sexuality.

In his written ruling Lynch wrote that he did "not see why this sensitive information is necessary or even relevant to deciding the plaintiff's rights under the Equal Access Act in light of alternative sources of information regarding the club."


Well Played, Iowans

More good news
The Iowa House took a historic vote Wednesday to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians, giving approval to the measure in the waning days of this year’s session of the Iowa Legislature.

The outcome of Wednesday’s vote had been uncertain as Democratic leaders launched headlong into debate, unsure whether enough Republicans would sign on to ensure its passage.

But after a rare procedural move that required House members to stay in the chamber for the vote, 9 Republicans joined 50 Democrats to put the vote over the top on a 59-37 vote.


They Don't Grow 'Em Too Smart in Arkansas

And if I'm not evidence enough of that, Huckabee's son is:
David Huckabee, a son of former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was arrested on Thursday after trying to board an airliner with a loaded pistol, police said.

Huckabee, 26, was jailed after an X-ray of his carry-on bag revealed the weapon, identified in a police report as a Glock .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol containing eight live rounds of ammunition.


Arrest Her

Sorry, Condi, but that's just not how it works:
The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she is unwilling to answer a US House of Representatives subpoena about Iraq's pre-war weapons.

A House committee wants to question Ms Rice about a White House assertion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons.

The White House claim, now discredited, formed part of the US justification for invading Iraq in 2003.

Ms Rice said supplying written answers was the best way to pursue the issue.

She said that as President George W Bush's national security adviser at the time, she was shielded by the constitutional principle of executive privilege.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spreading Freedom

Another job well done:

All sides consider news as a weapon of war, even those professing to defend press freedom. On March 4 American soldiers ripped cameras from local reporters in Nangarhar and deleted their pictures after a convoy of marines shot at least 10 people and wounded 33 in the aftermath of a suicide attack.

A US commander later justified the deletions on the basis that "untrained" Afghans might "capture visual details that are not as they originally were". A preliminary military inquiry, publicised last week, suggested what those sensitive details could have been: contrary to the soldiers' earlier claims, investigators found that all of the killed civilians had been unarmed.


Fallon Rebels

It's rare that an acting general will call bullshit on the commander-in-chief, no matter how stupid the latter is:
The U.S. military's Central Command has stopped calling its fight with Islamist militants the "long war" and says the change reflects its aim of reducing troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan over time.

"The idea that we are going to be involved in a 'Long War', at the current level of operations, is not likely and unhelpful," Lt. Col Matt McLaughlin, a Central Command spokesman, said in an e-mail message on Tuesday.

Gen. John Abizaid, the previous head of Central Command, coined the phrase to stress that the broader conflict with militants would not end with the current wars and the term has been widely used by senior U.S. officials and commanders.

President George W. Bush used the phrase in his State of the Union address last year.

"Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy," he said.

But Abizaid's successor, Adm. William Fallon, has decided the term sends the wrong message to the Middle East, the area covered by his headquarters, by suggesting intense combat with many U.S. troops will continue there for a long time to come.

"We remain committed to our friends and allies in the region and to countering al Qaeda-inspired extremism where it manifests itself, but one of our goals is to lessen our presence over time," he said.

"We didn't feel that the term 'Long War' captured this nuance," McLaughlin said.



I tend to avoid commenting on rabid rightwing freaks because it simply feeds the fire, but this particular video from Michelle Malkin is so grotesque and weird as to demand attention.


And Now, Condi

First, they give Goodling immunity to get her to talk.

Now, they subpeona Rice.

Keep it coming, Dems!

In rapid succession, congressional committees Wednesday ramped up their investigations of the Bush administration by approving a subpoena for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and granting immunity to a key aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration's claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.


So Much for the Fifth

What will she say now?
A House committee voted Wednesday to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, a key aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. She had refused to testify, invoking her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.


Ten Easy Steps to Fascism

Not that the US has taken any of them.

Read the whole article, but the steps themselves are:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

2. Create a gulag

3. Develop a thug caste

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

5. Harass citizens' groups

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

7. Target key individuals

8. Control the press

9. Dissent equals treason

10. Suspend the rule of law


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Labor Organizer Murdered

Some people are very serious about their right to expoit immigrants:
On April 9 Santiago Rafael Cruz, a labor organizer for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), was found beaten to death in the union's office in Monterrey, Mexico. The 29-year-old former farmworker had spent his days meeting with Mexicans who planned to travel to the United States as temporary laborers, educating them about their rights.

A spokesperson for the state police force investigating the murder said that "a fight between unions" or "an internal fight" in the union was the most likely motive. But union president Baldemar Velásquez dismissed that theory as "ludicrous."

"This was a targeted act of intimidation to discourage us from doing work against all the corruption in the labor recruitment business in Mexico," Velásquez said. The Inter-American Commission recently agreed to provide protection for the union's remaining staff members.

Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, whose Ohio district includes FLOC's headquarters, endorsed the petition. She said the attack on Cruz showed the weakness of migrant labor protections under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Here you have a situation where ordinary people are fighting an extraordinary battle to enforce labor standards on the continent," she said. "Their lives are at risk and there is no legal system behind them."


Who Watches the Watchmen?

It's about time to break out the lantern and start looking for an honest man:

Karl Rove is under investigation by the executive branch. So, too, is his investigator.

On Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reported that the Office of Special Counsel, an obscure federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that is supposed to protect federal employees from prohibited personnel practices, is

preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House emails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

Rove is tied to all three elements of the OSC investigation. "We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel, told The Los Angeles Times. "We will not leave any stone unturned."

But who is Scott Bloch, and should his vow be taken at face value? The Times story did not provide background on the fellow who will be examining whether Rove and other administration officials may have violated the law by using political email accounts for White House business, by explicitly encouraging government actions for direct partisan gains, and by dismissing David Iglesias, a US attorney in New Mexico. Bloch is a George W. Bush appointee, and his recent record is not one of a relentless pursuer of government corruption and wrongdoing.


Divide and Conquer

This sort of shit
just pisses me off to no end.

Solidarity, people!
Legislation that would add crimes against gays and lesbians under federal hate crime law has come under fire from a collection of African-American leaders and a group that claims to cure "unwanted same-sex attraction' through faith.

Called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, it would allow the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting cases in which violence occurs.

The measure was introduced in the Senate earlier this month (story) and in the House in March (story).

House subcommittee hearings were held last week and the subcommittee, headed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), could vote on the bill later this week.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Pastor Marvin Winans, Bishop Larry Brandon and Bishop Liston Paige, Jr. were joined at a Washington news conference on Tuesday to denounce adding gays to the hate crime bill.

The Black pastors said sexuality cannot be equated to race and civil rights.

"We stand today with many in the African-American community who also recognize that one's sexuality can be changed, but one's skin color cannot," said Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, the largest of the so-called ex-gay groups.

"We call upon Congress to promote legislation that affirms authentic equality and protects our religious freedoms." he said, adding that the legislation "says that we, as former homosexuals, are of less value and worth less legal protection now then when we were living as homosexuals."

Just so goddamned stupid.


Rudy Embraces the Fearmongering

Because I'm sure that he is just such an intense and virile man that all terrorists would turn tail and run, right?
Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“If any Republican is elected president - - and I think obviously I would be the best at this - - we will remain on offense and will anticipate what (the terrorists) will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.

And, yeah. The GOP track record for anticipating and stopping terrorist attacks is just fantastic.


And Another One Bites the Dust

Fifth staffer
pleads guilty:
A former congressional aide pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff in an influence-peddling scandal that has touched the White House, Interior Department and congressional Republicans.

The former Republican aide is the fifth congressional staffer to plead guilty in the Abramoff scandal, including two ex-aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

Zachares provided information to Abramoff about pending congressional actions on the reorganization of federal agencies into the Homeland Security Department.

In court, Zachares admitted that Abramoff and his lobbying team supplied him with $30,000 worth of tickets to sporting events and concerts on more than 40 occasions in 18 months from mid-2002 to early 2004.

Zachares accompanied Abramoff and six others including Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., on a $160,000 golf junket to Scotland in 2003, according to the conspiracy count to which Zachares pleaded guilty.


A Voice of Moral Authority

Tom DeLay:
Democratic leaders are acting like traitors by opposing the Iraq war, and President Bush must answer with a toughened stance, former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Monday.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "are getting very, very close to treason," DeLay said in a meeting with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"We have people dying," he said. "Not just our soldiers, but innocent citizens dying in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of these evil people, and you have your elected leaders making these kinds of statements that embolden the enemy. It's unbelievable."


9 More

The surge proceeds apace:
A suicide car bomber killed nine US soldiers at a military base north of Baghdad today, in one of the single deadliest insurgent attacks against American troops in the past year, the military said.


Monday, April 23, 2007

High Noon

The showdown is set
A historic veto showdown assured, Democratic leaders agreed Monday on legislation that requires the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.

"No more will Congress turn a blind eye to the Bush administration's incompetence and dishonesty," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) said in a speech in which he accused the president of living in a state of denial about events in Iraq more than four years after the U.S.-led invasion.

Bush, confident of enough votes to sustain his veto, was unambiguous in his response. "I will strongly reject an artificial timetable (for) withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job," he told reporters in the Oval Office as he met with his top Iraq commander, Gen. David Petraeus.


But They Don't Pay for Dinner on Dates

So it all evens out.


College-educated American women working full time earn dramatically less than male colleagues in the same field even just one year out of university, according to a new report.

The report, released on Monday by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, a Washington, DC-based group, said that one year after receiving a college degree, women make 80 per cent of what their male counterparts earn.


THE Nature of THE Human Being

Um, exactly which human being is that, Archbishop Amato?
The Vatican's second-highest ranking doctrinal official on Monday forcefully branded homosexual marriage an evil and denounced abortion and euthanasia as forms of "terrorism with a human face."

In an address to chaplains, Amato said newspapers and television bulletins often seemed like "a perverse film about evil." He denounced "evils that remain almost invisible" because the media presented them as "expression of human progress."

He listed these as abortion clinics, which he called "slaughterhouses of human beings," euthanasia, and "parliaments of so-called civilized nations where laws contrary to the nature of the human being are being promulgated, such as the approval of marriage between people of the same sex ..."

Also: abortion? It's not terrorism by any sane definition of the term.


Gay Singapore

Surprising good news for gay rights:
Lee Kuan Yew, the man regarded as the father of Singapore says it is time to decriminalize gay sex.

Lee, who served as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 and is the father of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains a powerful force in the cabinet of the city state.

Speaking at a youth rally on the weekend he said the government should not be the country's moral police, The Straits Times reports.

"If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual — because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes — you can't help it. So why should we criminalize it," Lee was quoted by the paper as saying.

Last year Singapore announced plans to decriminalize oral and anal sex for adult heterosexuals but sex between homosexuals would remain banned.

Lee said he plans to introduce amendments to bill before it comes before Parliament later this year to remove the ban on gay sex as well.

There have been growing calls in the tightly controlled nation for modernization of sex laws. That Lee has thrown his support behind repeal is seen as an indication the government would approve the revised bill.


Supporting Our Troops

Once again, not so much:
An injured soldier's disability should be determined by Veterans Affairs officials — and not the Pentagon — because the Army might be shortchanging troops, a presidential commission was told on Monday.


Critics say the Army rates its injured soldiers at a lower level of disability compared with the other armed services and the VA so it can save on the costs of disability payments.

Veterans groups urged the commission to make a change so injured soldiers aren't underpaid disability benefits.


Trying to Do the Right Thing in NY

I wish Governor Spitzer the best of luck:
New York Governor Elliott Spitzer will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to legalize same-sex marriage the New York Times reported Monday.

"The governor made a commitment to advance a program bill, and he will fulfill that commitment during this legislative session,” the governor's spokesperson, Christine Anderson told the Times.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Assholes Are Emboldened

You know what?

Fuck the NRA and all their ilk

The powerful US gun lobby, far from being weakened by last week's tragic college campus shooting, actually has emerged stronger, gun advocates said Sunday, stepping up calls for a better-armed US citizenry to prevent future attacks.

Gun rights advocates said that following last week's massacre in which 23-year old Cho Seung-Hui fatally shot 32 victims at Virginia Tech University, gun control forces will be hard pressed to make the case for tighter restrictions.

"This is a huge nail in the coffin of gun control," said Philip van Cleave president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League.

"They had gun control on campus and it got all those people killed, because nobody could defend themselves," he told AFP.

"You want people to be able to defend themselves -- always," he said.

Van Cleave said the tragedy could give a boost to a years-long effort in Virginia to pass legislation allowing students to carry weapons on campus -- especially since existing laws failed to prevent Cho's murderous rampage.



Who does the prime minister think he is, telling us what we can and cannot do in his nation's capital?
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday that he has ordered a halt to the construction of a barrier that would separate a Sunni enclave from surrounding Shiite areas in Baghdad, saying there are other ways to protect the neighborhood.

The announcement came amid fierce criticism at home over the project and while the beleaguered Shiite leader was in Cairo, Egypt, to drum up support from mostly Sunni Arab nations for his efforts to stop the rampant sectarian violence in his country.

The U.S. military announced last week that it was building a large concrete wall in the northern Azamiyah section of Baghdad in an effort to protect the minority Sunnis from attacks by Shiites living nearby.

The decision was denounced by residents and Sunni leaders who complained it would isolate their community and a large protest was scheduled for Monday in the area.


Will No One Rid Us of This Troublesome Newt?

What a moron. Why does he ever get airtime?

In the wake of the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich laid the blame for the tragedy at the feet of liberals. Here’s what he said:

“I want to say to the elite of this country - the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton…of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done, and instead foisting upon the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don’t have the courage to look at the world you have created.”

On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos asked Gingrich if he would apply those same words to the Virginia Tech tragedy. “Yes,” Gingrich said, offering a rambling, nonsensical response that segued into Don Imus and McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.

Video here.


"Integrity Problems"

They seem to afflict just about everything Bush does, so why not this too?

The U.S. Border Patrol's push to expand the number of agents on the lookout for illegal crossings has some current and former agents worried that the pressure will lead to corner cutting and will jeopardize public safety.

Raising the Border Patrol's numbers from about 12,000 to 18,000 by the end of 2008 is a key element of President Bush's plan to improve security along the border, crossed by tens of thousands of illegal immigrants each year.

The sprawling Border Patrol Academy here in southeastern New Mexico recently started launching two 50-student classes each week, compared to one class every two or three weeks before the expansion plan was announced nearly a year ago.

Some critics worry that pressure to meet the hiring goal will lead the agency to admit recruits with integrity problems.