Saturday, December 29, 2007

The American Way

Exploiting horrific war for personal gain? Hurray!

GARLAND, Texas (AP) — An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

While gripping, it wasn't true — and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie.


Let's Go Crazy

Apparently, that's the Pope's underlying plan for the Church:

The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism.

Vatican chiefs are concerned at what they see as an increased interest in the occult.

They have introduced courses for priests to combat what they call the most extreme form of "Godlessness."

Each bishop is to be told to have in his diocese a number of priests trained to fight demonic possession.

The initiative was revealed by 82-year-old Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican "exorcistinchief," to the online Catholic news service Petrus.

"Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on," he said.

"Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist.

"Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil - going back to the time he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." The CDF is the oldest Vatican department and was headed by Benedict from 1982, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, until he became Pope in 2005.



I am at present sitting in the lobby/bar of the Palmer Hilton, downtown Chicago. This hotel has been operating continuously longer than any other in the country, I am told. I am also told, by means of placard, that the woman to whom this hotel was given as a wedding present was a great fan of the French Impressionists.

That explains the ceiling, then.

Meanwhile, I am taking this moment to ponder the meaning of "vacation." I most certainly have vacated my home, physically (though my mind often wanders back to worry about the welfare of the cats). But to what end?

This vacation shall witness me interacting with M's family, with various colleagues at the MLA convention, with my own family, with friends in Austin and Houston, with the city of New Orleans itself, with my sister in Lexington.

The very thought of it makes me tired, and yet awake.

My natural bent is toward misanthropy; I prefer solitude. And so, in a way, this is perfect. Driving through mile after anonymous mile in order to find myself ensnared in and enriched by interpersonal webs that are far more giving than I ever give them credit for is my own most perfect state.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

As If We Needed Yet Another Reason...

to avoid Idaho:
BOISE, Idaho - A state police academy leader has disavowed the slogan of the most recent graduating class urging one another to "go out and cause" post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each class at the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy is allowed to choose a slogan that is printed on its graduation programs, and the class of 43 graduates came up with "Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it."


Merry Xmas

And here's hoping you have a healthy new year, or you could be in trouble:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.


Monday, December 24, 2007


Knowing the ease with which Bush will throw people to the wolves when necessary, why would he not seek to cover his back?

THE CIA chief who ordered the destruction of secret videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of two top Al-Qaeda suspects has indicated he may seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the House intelligence committee.

Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy over the CIA’s use of torture, according to intelligence sources.

It has emerged that at least four White House staff were approached for advice about the tapes, including David Addington, a senior aide to Dick Cheney, the vice-president, but none has admitted to recommending their destruction.

Vincent Cannistraro, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, said it was impossible for Rodriguez to have acted on his own: “If everybody was against the decision, why in the world would Jose Rodriguez – one of the most cautious men I have ever met – have gone ahead and destroyed them?”

Can't wait to see what Rodriguez has to say.



If you think Huckabee's religious ideas are deranged (and you should), check out his insanely regressive economic agenda:
Mike Huckabee, one of the most conservative Republicans in the 2008 presidential race, has embraced one of the most radical ideas on the campaign trail: a plan to abolish all federal income and payroll taxes and replace them with a single 23% national sales tax.
Proponents of a national sales tax say it would be an improvement over the current system because it would increase the incentive to save, by taxing money spent instead of money earned.

Yeah, I'm sure low-income families will say to themselves, "Hm, due to that sales tax, I think I'll save my money this month, rather than eat and pay rent."


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Finally, Justice

As we all know, our American public schools are absolutely flush with money. It's about time they stop sitting on their vast wealth and pay up for a change:

The Bush administration yesterday eliminated about $700 million a year in Medicaid reimbursements to schools, sidestepping an attempt by Congress to block such a move.

The new rule, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is expected to save the federal government $3.6 billion over five years, transferring those costs to school districts.

Lawmakers this week passed legislation to place a six-month moratorium on Medicaid implementing the rule change, but President Bush had not signed the bill.

A wide range of medical services, such as speech and physical therapy, are furnished to students in schools. Medicaid, the government's health insurance program for the poor, will continue to pay for those services for low-income children.

But the new rule will restrict when schools can bill the federal government for clerical work associated with providing health care. For example, schools can no longer expect Medicaid reimbursement for planning student immunizations. Schools also will not get paid for transporting students getting speech or physical therapy to school or back home.


It's Almost Xmas...

do you know where your savior is
BAL HARBOUR, Fla. - A baby Jesus statue here is getting a Global Positioning System for Christmas. The statue, part of a nativity scene, will be equipped with the device after the previous statue went missing, even though it had been bolted down.

"I don't anticipate this will ever happen again," said Dina Cellini, who oversees the display, "but we may need to rely on technology to save our savior."

The Mary and Joseph statues will also be fitted with GPS devices, she said.


Good Luck with That

How many people have called for investigations of Bush? And how much has actually been done?

We are lawyers in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law…. We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws…. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight …. Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution…. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. -- American Lawyers Defending the Constitution

Over one thousand lawyers – including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein – have signed onto the above statement demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration.