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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Meet The New Bosses...
Betcha didn't see this one coming...

In Kut, 180km south of Baghdad, US forces replaced the police chief and his deputy with two Republican Guards, at least one of whom was a senior Ba'athist. Former officers in the Republican Guard have also been appointed to police posts in Diwaniya.

Given the reality of the situation, it's hard to blame the Americans for doing so. It's imperative to restore order and peace in these restive areas.

The point is that this is just another example of how completely bankrupt was the case for war - when push comes to shove, it's inevitable that American interests will trump any of those well-intentioned concerns for bringing 'freedom' and 'democracy' to Iraq.


More Hypocrisy From The Vatican
I generally am a strong believer in the philosophy of, "less is more". In the specific example of this blog, meaning, make a good point, state it succinctly, and let it stand on its own.

But I can't resist following up the post below, "Then and Now".

"People in Rome are becoming more and more aware that there's a problem with John Kerry, and a potential scandal with his apparent profession of his Catholic faith and some of his stances, particularly abortion." - unnamed Vatican official quoted in Time magazine

I have a difficult time taking the Vatican seriously as a moral compass, considering its role in minimizing and covering up pedophilic priest sex scandals. A Vatican spokesman last year even declared it as simply a product of an American media feeding frenzy.

Here in Phoenix, we had a notorious bishop, Thomas J. O'Brien, whose diocese was actually cited by disgraced Cardinal Law of Boston as a great dumping ground for his pedophile priests. O'Brien actively dissuaded families from reporting priests having sex with their children, to the police and for years he also moved pedophile priests to unsuspecting poor, Hispanic parishes.

Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley doggedly pursued the gallingly unrepentant O'Brien for his crimes, and ultimately forced him to sign a letter acknowledging his crimes of commission and omission, in return for granting him immunity and allowing him to continue as Bishop. A pretty good deal for him considering his crimes, and considering how harshly Arizona would punish someone who aided and abetted pedophilia were he not wearing a priestly collar.

Yet the very next day, O'Brien responded to media reports that he had acknowledged his misdeeds, by holding a press conference and declaring he had done no such thing - effectively repudiating the document to which he had just signed his name.

The only reason O'Brien is no longer Bishop of Phoenix is that 2 weeks thereafter, he ran down a pedestrian and failed to stop to render aid and assistance. He claimed he thought someone had thrown a large rock or that he had hit a dog (I wonder what St. Francis of Assisi would have to say about that lame excuse) - even though the entire passenger side of the windshield was caved in, even though he failed to contact police after being informed they were looking for him, even though he tried to get the windshield fixed before the police arrived at his house.

Had he simply stopped that fateful evening, he would have been charged with no crime. The pedestrian was intoxicated and jaywalking at the time. O'Brien was found guilty of felony hit-and-run, and received the Janklow-esque sentence of 1000 hours of community service. Recently, his lawyer attempted to get the court to give O'Brien credit for the time spent driving to and from his community service duties. (O'Brien doesn't actually drive to them, he is chauffered.) The court sensibly denied this request.

Are you disgusted yet?

George W. Bush, though not a Catholic, holds decidedly un-Catholic views on life and war. He instigated a war against Iraq which the Pope railed against quite loudly. He gleefully executed over 150 inmates during his tenure as governor of Texas. The Church of course has no ability to withhold communion from a non-Catholic; nevertheless they seem to feel no sense of hypocrisy in indirectly promoting the candidacy of Bush.

Why is the Church so obsessed with fetii, but perfectly OK with pro-death George W. Bush who kills actual, living human beings by execution and by war?

Why does the Church not remove the logs from its own eye first?

Fortunately, many American Catholics don't march in lockstep with the Vatican and are unlikely to take seriously the Church's meddling in American politics. But will pointing any of this out make any difference to hardcore Catholics, who have shown an amazing ability to apologize for the Church's innumerable shortcomings?

If one can't bring one's self to condemn an institution to which one belongs for tolerating priests who have sex with children, is there anything that would be beyond the pale?


Then and Now
In 1960, Republicans insinuated that a Catholic, Democratic candidate with the initials JFK, was unfit for the Presidency because he would do the Pope's bidding as President.

In 2004, Republicans (with the aid of the buttinsky Vatican) are insinuating that a Catholic, Democratic candidate with the initials JFK, is unfit for the Presidency because he won't do the Pope's bidding as President.

We've come a long way in 44 years, haven't we?


The Brick Testament
Stories of the Bible - told through the magic of Lego bricks.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Pat Tillman killed in Afghanistan
I'm sad today. Pat Tillman, former Arizona State football standout, has been killed in Afghanistan.

I saw Pat Tillman play at ASU. He was fantastic. He had really long hair flowing out from beneath his helmet - it was always easy to spot him on the field. He was charismatic, a dedicated player, a born leader of men. When I was a kid I used to follow Sun Devil football slavishly. That was back in the glory days of Frank Kush. ASU football really hasn't been the same since, except maybe for the tenure of Bruce Snyder (for whom Tillman played). Pat Tillman inspired me to follow ASU football again, at least while he played there.

Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Experts said he was too small to make it in the big show, but he made up for that with courage and perseverance. He played for them for 4 seasons, and was offered another contract. But instead of joining the NFL, he became an Army Ranger in the wake of 9/11. Back during WWII, it was common for athletes to postpone their career to serve their country. These days, it almost never happens. Pat Tillman was the rare exception, who passed up what would have been a lucrative football career.

Tillman never really talked much about his decision to pass up a lucrative NFL career in favor of becoming an Army Ranger. Compare his quiet, facta non dicta patriotism with the loud-mouthed, ignorant, xenophobic, wrapped-in-the-flag jingoism of certain politicians, war-blogging chickenhawks, and country music singers who've never seen a shot fired in anger. Which one is more honorable, I don't need to tell you.

You can read more about Pat Tillman here. Google his name and ASU together and browse the results for his accomplishments on the field (ASU doesn't seem to have historical data on former players at their site).

Rest in peace, Pat Tillman. You will be greatly missed but definitely not forgotten.


The Photos They Don't Want You To See

Yes I know you've probably read about it elsewhere by now, these photos improbably pried loose from our government by Russ Kick of The Memory Hole. (what an ironic name in this instance)

I'm posting the photo (hosted off my own server) to honor our fallen (the credibility-challenged Bush regime would rather you forget about them) and also as an act of defiance.

The Pentagon is pissed that this horse escaped the barn.

I think it's shameful that the Pentagon is hiding our war dead. It's like the old days when families hid their mentally and physically disabled.

Is DoD ashamed of our fallen soldiers? Why do they want them forgotten? What are they trying to hide?


Thursday, April 22, 2004

How Big Of An Asshole And Hypocrite Is Randall Terry?
Let us count the ways...

"Families," he wrote in his 1995 book "The Judgment of God," "are destroyed as a father vents his mid life crisis by abandoning his wife for a 'younger, prettier model.' "

Isn't it amusing, then, that Randall Terry left his wife Cindy in 1999 (divorced in 2000) for a much younger woman who was his personal assistant...

"My father kept saying, 'It's no one's business that I got divorced,' " Jamiel recalls."

I see. But it IS his business what women do with their uterii, or what two men or two women do with their bodies?

"I'd tell him: 'Dad, you sent out 100,000 Christmas cards with pictures of our perfect Christian family. You led Christian workshops on being a good husband. That's why people are disappointed.' "

Randall conceded that Jamiel had a point.

Now Randall plunged into his second act, as an anti-gay-rights crusader, heading an organization called Loyal Opposition.

"The Bible," Randall notes, "doesn't condemn divorce, but it does condemn homosexuality."

Actually, the Bible does condemn divorce.

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. - Luke 16:18

Other Biblical condemnations of divorce can be found in Matthew 19:11, Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:11-12, and Genesis 2:24. I think the point is made without quoting them here.

Terry recently barred one of his adopted teenage daughters from his house after she got pregnant out of wedlock for the second time. Another adopted daughter also became pregnant as a teenager and later converted to Islam, a religion Terry has described as composed of "murderers" and "terrorists."
"It's hard to point to one moment when you begin to come out to yourself," Jamiel begins his essay in the May issue of Out magazine....Before Jamiel's article could appear, Randall wrote his own, and titled it "My Prodigal Son, the Homosexual."
Sometimes he'd [Jamiel] sneak into his father's library late at night and look at his collection of books on gays and gay life (Terry maintained the collection so he could speak with authority on such questions).

"I looked at the pictures of shirtless men," Jamiel wrote. "I even picked up some useful knowledge about safe sex from these volumes."

Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

And what kind of a loving, forgiving Christian is Randall Terry?

Randall exhales into the phone, disgusted. "Dealing with Jamiel is like dealing with his biological mother -- you never know when he's playing you," he says. "I will tell you for sure: Jamiel's mother was a prostitute."

"God rest her soul," he adds.


Brick by brick, Randall dismantles the House of Terry. He says Jamiel has been bounced from three colleges and tries to suck up to wealthy family friends. Randall had to bar Tila from his house because, he says, "to quote an AA phrase, her life just became more and more unmanageable."

As for Ebony, she left home as a teenager and became pregnant. But their relationship is good. At least, he says, she's honest.

By the way, Terry adds, you do know that I never officially adopted her?

"The only reason you want to talk with me is because his last name is Terry. He's playing you and he's prostituting my name."

So the father talks about the son whom he raised to adulthood. In a long phone conversation, Randall Terry says his son is lost, a drug user and a liar who has written bad checks. Randall says Out magazine paid Jamiel $5,000 to write the article and become its "homosexual poster boy." Randall says the magazine's editors "put words in my son's mouth."

When his parents divorced, Randall refused to let his children speak with their grandfather for three years. At 16, Jamiel was a summer intern with the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson. Afterward, Jamiel announced that he wanted to become a chef.

His father was not amused.

"He told me I could leave his house at that very moment," Jamiel recalls. "He wanted me to be a lawyer, a judge, in the movement. He told me he'd cut me off cold if I became a chef."
"It about tore my heart out to write that column, but Jamiel prostituted my name," Randall says. "The truth is that Jamiel is not trustworthy. The truth is that his life is one long deception. May God have mercy. May Christ have mercy."

So... Randall Terry, fundamentalist Christian, divorced his wife for a younger woman, kept his children from seeing a grandparent for three years, has one son who turned out gay, another who turned out Muslim and became pregnant out of wedlock while a teenager, and another daughter who has had two children out of wedlock, and doesn't hesitate to throw his kids out of the house and commit character assassination upon them if they don't allow him to control their lives.

Not, of course, that I think there's anything wrong with being gay or having children out of wedlock or being a Muslim... just that if there is a God, She sure has a wicked sense of humor.

Read it all here in the WaPo.


FU and your H2, uncle fucka.


While Kerry Was Fighting VCs, Bush was fighting DTs
Pass it on.

(Thanks to Ricky Vandal for the inspiration, even if it was inadvertent...)


This is how KBR treats our troops
Smalfish, a commenter at Eschaton, posted a comment with a link to this LiveJournal entry by an pseudonymous female soldier serving in Iraq. This should make your blood boil.

Remember, KBR is the Kellogg, Brown and Root division of Halliburton who received a no-bid contract to carry out these wonderful privatized services, the brainchild of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. I'm hoping there's an investigation into this bullshit when all is said and done. I'm going to find a member of Congress or three to whom I can forward this.

So much for KBR showers. Some big fat asshole stopped me and reamed me out, and his attitude just fascinated me. He complained about how over-worked they were, with all these soldiers coming in. Meanwhile, a group of KBR guys played basketball in the private KBR compound, complete with not one but five barbecue grills and private rooms. And wireless internet access. And cable TV. None of the KBR people, I’d be willing to bet, has to deal with sheets of mold on their bedroom walls, and none of the KBR people has to deal with anyone in their private room, much less five anyones.

Nevertheless, this guy went on and on, taking a certain amount of pride in talking about how soon, KBR would be cutting off the unofficial Internet café and so on. The central message was the military kept doing things that KBR didn’t like. It was like some rich guy bitching about beggars stealing his trash----Oh, wait. Except we’re not supposed to be begging, because while they’re whining that they have to actually, you know, work---and work something approximating our hours----they’re not getting shot at, bombed, or attacked. As a matter of fact, we prevent those things from happening to them. And they resent the fact that they have to, you know, do stuff for us. This guy bitched about how soldiers were trying to pick up on their wireless internet signal and so on. I mean, God, after all, what’s more important here? Some soldier who’s been fighting every day in the heat, trying to get ahold of his family, or KBR’s privileges? After all, every dime they save on restricting our drinks at meal times could be profit if they could only figure out a way to give us a little bit less.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Perfectly Legal", part 1
Been reading "Perfectly Legal", but sloooooowly. For one, it's got a lot of numbers and statistics so you really have to take your time with it in order to parse what D.C. Johnston is writing. When read as bedtime reading, you don't get too far into it before falling asleep! It makes your brain work.

Secondly, it just pisses me off so much I have to put it down every few pages.

About 2 1/2 chapters into it, long story short: the richer you are the more ways you have to reduce taxes.

Wage earners have every cent they make monitored by the gummint, which makes it harder to reduce taxes. Those living off interest or investment or business income, however, have a great number of methods to manipulate how much they report to the IRS.

D.C. Johnston believes the mortgage interest deduction benefits the super-rich much, much more than the middle class. If you look solely at how big of a deduction a Bill Gates can take vs. someone like me, I guess he has a point, but the deduction is still a great boon to the middle class. Perhaps the answer is to cap the deduction. The purpose of the mortgage interest deduction is to encourage home ownership, I don't see what purpose it serves to encourage mansion and estate ownership.

Of course it's always politically difficult to cap a tax deduction, which is probably why it doesn't happen.

The book, as full of numbers and statistics as it is, is clearly written and explained, in a way that's not at all condescending. Good job, David Cay Johnston.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Terrorists Support Bush's Candidacy
Prince Bandar has cut a deal with the credibility-challenged Bush regime to pump several million more barrels of oil, thereby lowering the price of gasoline before the election.

Saudi Arabia has permitted its citizens to funnel millions of dollars to al-Qaeda and other organizations with links to militant Muslims; said money eventually finds its way to al-Qaeda as well. It's also well-known that this is part of the 'deal' the Saudis have struck with al-Qaeda, to keep terrorism out of its homeland.

Saudi Arabia is home to Wahhabism, a severe and militant strain of Islam that fosters violent hatred of America and anti-Western extremism.

15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

Therefore, terrorists have cast their lot with George W. Bush's campaign.

Remember this the next time some rightard says a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists.


Presidential Vacations: FDR vs. GWB
I've done some research, and found that FDR spent 915 of his 4423 days as President, on vacation. That is a percentage of 20.7%.

George W. Bush has spent 500 days on vacation. Today is the 1352nd day of his occupation of the White House, a percentage of 37%.

Breaking down FDR's vacation days further, before WWII (7 Dec 1941), he spent 554 days on vacation, or 17.3% of his 3200 days as President prior to that date.

Once FDR became a wartime leader, he spent 361 of his 1223 remaining days as President on vacation, or 29.5%.

FDR suffered the ravages of polio and increasingly poor health towards the end of his days while leading our country's war against both the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. Not to mention grappling with a severe economic crisis for nearly the first 9 years of his presidency. Yet he spent far less time away from work (as a percentage of his days in office).

George W. Bush, by contrast, is in excellent health from all reports. Despite his claim to being a wartime leader, he sure seems to take an inordinate amount of time off while our soldiers are dying in his FUBAR war.

What's your excuse, George?


Happy 4/20!!!




Monday, April 19, 2004

"No One Could Have Imagined" My Ass
It wasn't all that long ago that a Cessna hit the White House.

It's not the same as slamming a jetliner into a skyscraper but it is certainly in the same ballpark. We have every right to expect that our nation's leaders are competent enough to put 2 and 2 together and have the foresight to predict the possibility of this kind of calamity on a larger scale.

We have also heard for years that nuclear plant containment buildings are built to withstand impact from a jetliner.

The credibility-challenged Bush regime thinks we're a bunch of clueless sheep. They may be half-right... the half that tell pollsters they would still vote for Bush.


No FDR v GWB today, sorry
I have been VERY busy the last few days and have not had time to complete the analysis of FDR vacation days vs. GWB vacation days. So, all 3 of you who actually read this blog, sorry, but stay tuned.

Likewise the "Perfectly Legal" book...