As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Wolf Blitzer is a f**king assclown

About 5 minutes ago on CNN, Leslie Blitzer brought on Crossfire hosts Paul Begala and Robert Novak. Both are Catholic (in fact, CNN ran this long vomit-inducing story the other day about Novakula's conversion to Catholicism, which I think included some sort of blood drinking).

Here's how Leslie introduced them (transcript from memory).

"I'm here with Paul Begala and Bob Novak, two good Catholics, well, I don't know about good, I mean, Bob Novak's a good Catholic..."

Begala actually got his back up, deconstructing Blitzer's transparent coding:

"Now wait a second, Wolf, that's offensive. I named my son John Paul after this Pope. And I'm not going to take this idea that liberals are somehow not good Catholics."

He went on to talk about how some graphic flashed on the screen during a recent CNN report said "Most Catholic positions are conservative." He rightly noted that a good many of them are also liberal (he confined it to anti-death penalty and a lack of support for the Iraq War, though there are far more).

Here was Leslie's mea culpa:

"I was just kidding, Paul. You shouldn't be so sensitive."

I want to punch that smug sonofabitch in the face. By the way Novak was smirking the whole time.

Begala was right to push back against the automatic aligning of good Catholics with conservatives, of God with the GOP. Like Sen. Obama said, "We worship an awesome God in the blue states." This is slander masquerading as conventional wisdom.


"There was a standoff and people got killed."

I've been writing this series all week, and it's generated a fair share of controversy. There have been a few posters who consider the Minutemen nonviolent protestors, patriots, and the whole enterprise a big "much ado about nothing."

I'd like them to read this report from a CBS affiliate in Phoenix.

It's clear that the Minutemen are obsessed with public relations and making their statement to the press. The entire thing is stage managed, from the wild overstatements of the number of volunteers to the "embedded" reporters everywhere. Problem is, they're not that sophisticated. Not enough to stop a simple "I-Team" investigative report. This CBS affiliate did so. They confirm the obsession with image:

A lady on Hidden cam says, "We don't want the press to find out where the information is being handed out because we'll have CNN and FOX and yeah."

To get the real story, we went undercover, camping and patrolling with the Minuteman volunteers. We blended in because we had signed up as volunteers ourselves. A woman on our Hidden Cam says, " Noon and four.. Chris will give you your assignments - probably walk you in to the spot."

Our "spot" is at the base of the Huachuca Mountains, on the side of a state highway, just south of Sierra Vista. Along with instructions on what to do if our group spots illegal immigrants, we're told something else over and over. One man says, "Don't be talking to the press. They'll misconstrue things.. not all of them, but we don't know which ones will and which ones won't."

The concern over the media is so great all of the volunteers are given these guidelines, that give suggestions for what they should say if they are interviewed. One woman says, "Economically it's ruining us. Environmentally it's ruining us." Suggestions that make it onto the major news networks.

Not surprising, here's what the Minutemen say when they're just talking to each other:

But the stories we get from our fellow volunteers when they don't know they're on camera give an uncensored version. Marc says, "You walk into a MacDonald's and you wake up and realize the entire third world is here." This Tucson resident tells us he doesn't like what Mexicans do to his neighborhood. Marc says, "It's not like these are poor immigrants are coming here for minimum wage jobs. A lot of these people have thousands of dollars in their pockets."

This couple from Georgia tells us they believe their small town is being invaded. The Georgia man says, "Until the Mexicans started moving in in '94..'95.. Dalton was about 35,000."

And then there's this, which I see as the exact reason why I've taken this issue so personally. I knew this was going to happen:

Everyone in our group - except us - is armed with handguns... as the sun goes down, problems keeping control of a group as big as the Minutemen begin to surface. Marc says, "There was a standoff and people got killed."

I don't know why the reporter doesn't expand on that. This was a TV report, so it's on tape. I'll need to track down the video.

Like I said, the real tragedies during this escapade are going to happen when the cameras aren't rolling and the reporters have gone home. Illegal immigrants aren't going to have much of an ability to appeal to US authorities. Especially dead ones. While Gilchrist and Simcox and the Minutemen may think their project is noble, it's a slippery, dangerous slope they're headed down, and if we're to believe this quote they've already begun to reach the bottom. There is murder on the border. And there are men with shotguns, NOT UNDER MINUTEMEN CONTROL:

And as the night goes on, a drama unfolds across the highway. Some of the volunteers are carrying shotguns, which is against the rules and our group leader admits: Minuteman organizers are having trouble deciding what to do about it. Adahm/John says, "(What's up with the shotgun guys? How are you going to deal with those two?) I have no idea.. that's out of my.. I don't even want to go up there." Adahm/John says, "(Well don't they have a guy like you are with us? Don't they have their?) He's not there. I can't find him." The man says, "I hope they're not drinking or anything. I didn't see any beer there."

Predictably the organizer Jim Gilchrist called these guys "rogue patrollers." Well, what did you expect?

Marc Cooper's article for the LA Weekly is more measured, calling the project a "flop," claiming that "very few" patrollers are armed, and calling them "a disproportionately elderly, disproportionately male, all-white crew whose most ambitious plan was to spend a day or two under an umbrella, sitting in the desert, drinking some cool ones and bitching about illegal aliens. These Minutemen are to real vigilantes — who risk getting shot at while they’re out shooting others — what the Disney Jungle Boat Ride is to Amazon exploration."

I think Cooper's being played a bit. Yes, this is a small group of knuckleheads, but that doesn't minimize the potential (or quite possibly REAL) problems. The organizers outright tell him they're spinning him IN THE ARTICLE:

If the message about border enforcement was so important, I asked him, then why didn’t he discourage his followers from bringing guns with them?

“Doesn’t this distract from your core message?” I asked.

“We’ve done this on purpose to show your bias and your vile distortions,” he answered.

“So exposing this media bias is more important than exposing the failure of border policy,” I said.

“Exactly. We don’t discourage the guns on purpose,” Simcox said. “Your reaction exposes the most extreme sort of persecution complex by the media.”

I don't think that, given this, we can believe a single word coming out of the mouths of these organizers. It's telling when the residents of the town hate the guy:

“Simcox has really turned off the whole town,” says one of the Doc Holliday impersonators with a thick Brooklyn accent. “People move here to get away from shit like his.”

Later that afternoon, I ran into Ray Borane, the much-loved and -respected mayor of Douglas, the border town that sits in the epicenter of the immigrant wave. He was just plain disgusted and couldn’t stop shaking his head. “I just wish they’d go somewhere else,” he said of the Minutemen. “As usual with this stuff, there’s more reporters than anyone else. The media has created this monster by letting Simcox create a hysteria. The fruits of this will be nothing except more aggravation. Nothing whatsoever will change here. In a few days, the media will go home and this will fizzle out.”

The mayor, as usual when it comes to all things related to the border, got it right. Unless, of course, in the next few days someone gets shot.

Someone may well HAVE been shot, Marc.

I'm going to keep my eye on this, but I'm stopping daily reports. Maybe a nice juicy weekly one would suffice.


Thursday, April 07, 2005

Catch a Falling Star

I'm sitting here editing this show about the Arnold Fitness Classic, which has quote after quote from stargazing Arnold-lovers. Apparently Kaleeforneea doesn't share the love:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's style may be getting stale.

He's too interested in PR gimmicks, many voters think, and should be putting more effort into dealing with legislators.

Fewer than half of Californians now approve of the way the governor is handling his job, a sharp decline since January.
Moreover, people think California has gotten off on the wrong track.

I don't think this is blowing smoke. Living in California, I'm seeing the tide on the Guv starting to turn, people starting to wake up from the charm offensive. I think fucking with the nurses and EMT professionals and policemen and firefighters and teachers was the last straw. Once the rank-and-file working class turns against you, there's not a lot of places to go. Especially when your entire agenda consists of repeating movie lines and calling legislators "girlie men" and generally talking down to a good portion of the Dem-identifying electorate:

Ken Khachigian, a longtime GOP strategist and speechwriter for two presidents, says Schwarzenegger "could use some fresh rhetoric. His language is getting a little overused. It was working a year ago, but this mantra about 'special interests' isn't working now….

"It's time for him to give a real thoughtful, contemplative speech about where we are in California and the obligation we have to get us back on the right track…. He can go after the Legislature, but it should be in a more high-minded, contemplative way."

Or, as former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum says, "We're looking for a governor, not a Terminator."

Asserts Claremont McKenna political scientist Jack Pitney, a former staffer for the Republican National Committee: "It was normal that the excitement of the early days wasn't going to last. People even get used to a Schwarzenegger administration.

"He's going to have to adapt. He may have to moderate his style. Use fewer [stage] gimmicks. But he's capable. That's the story of his whole career."

I agree that he's capable. Whoever wins the Democratic primary, either State Treasurer Phil Angelides or Attorney General Bill Lockyer, is going to have to run a perfect campaign to cut through the stargazing and beat him. But now it's in the realm of the possible.

Meanwhile Arnold has had to abandon his Social Security privatization-copycat proposal for state pensions. No matter. It was out there as his stated policy, and will be used in '06 in attack ads. Plus, he's not totally abandoning it:

Under pressure from firefighters and police officers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday backed off, for now, his plan to privatize California's public employee pension system.

The Republican said "misconceptions" among firefighters and police officers that privatization would strip them of death and disability benefits had come to dominate the issue.

"Let's pull it back and do it better," said Schwarzenegger, flanked by more than a dozen police, fire and local government leaders.

He's pulling it back until 2006 because he knows he can't win with the universally-despised privatization scheme as his legacy. But it already is. Any Democrat worth his salt will make the ad "The Governor still wants to take away your disability benefits. He's just waiting until after the election to do it."

I know one thing: Arnold won't be winning a plurality in San Francisco anytime soon. Read the link, a liveblog of Tuesday's protests in the City by the Bay. People are trying to take back the streets in California. It's a long way off, but the tide is definitely starting to turn.


Mission Creep

This is the latest in a series of reports on the Minutemen, the yahoos who've charged themselves with the project of securing the US-Mexico border.

Man Eegee had it earlier today, the news that the first of what is sure to be many altercations between the Minutemen and migrants has come to pass. Mind you that the Minutemen have said time and again that they were merely there to watch and report to the US Border Patrol.

Except when they want to embarrass a poor Mexican and take pictures of him:

TUCSON, Ariz. Apr 7, 2005 — Three volunteers patrolling the border for illegal immigrants were being investigated after a man told authorities he was held against his will and forced to pose for a picture holding a T-shirt with a mocking slogan.

Border Patrol agents called in deputies from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday afternoon to report that an immigrant was detained by three men who identified themselves as project volunteers.

Carol Capas, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said the 26-year-old Mexican man told agents he was physically restrained and forced to hold a shirt while his picture was taken and he was videotaped.

The shirt read: "Bryan Barton caught an illegal alien and all I got was this T-shirt."

Barton is one of the three volunteers. He told agents that they waved the man over to them, offered him food and water, and gave him the T-shirt and money before the Border Patrol arrived.

"All they did was provide water and wait for the Border Patrol," Minuteman spokesman Grey Deacon said. "What's the big deal?"

What's the big deal? I don't know... it's assault, let's start there, shall we? It's forced humiliation. And most important, it's just another move of the goalposts for the Minutemen, from "we won't touch the illegals" to "we'll just entice them with food and take pictures of them." The mission creep has already begun here. How much longer until "All they did was shoot at his feet to make him run back to his side of the border. What's the big deal?"

Additionally, this post by the Political State Report has a really nice roundup of things.

I've debunked the numbers that show how well the Project is "working," but lastly, consider this: the Minutemen are arrayed on 24 miles of border out of thousands. The Mexican side is desperate not to allow an international incident, and are stepping up their efforts there. The coyotes who ferry illegals across know what's up and where else to go. The US Border Patrol just added 500 agents. And futhermore, if you don't catch an illegal who crosses, how do you COUNT him? To put the rise or fall of illegal crossings solely on the Minutemen and not on all the factors designed to minimize their impact is, I think, silly.



Le Jeu Sont Fait

This post over at Kos about "The Coming Trouser War." I think this war's over, at least in the US. The January 1 lifting of quotas on textile imports, particularly Chinese ones, was just the final nail in the coffin. Since then imports of cotton trousers from China have jumped 1,521% percent; overall imports from China went up 62.5% year on year.

This means a lot to me. I come from a textile family.  My father has been in the business since he was 15, from unloading garments off trucks to running his own manufacturing business.  He's gone from seeing 60 giant sweater mills in Philadelphia to 0.  In fact, he lobbied Congress to please save the American textile industry.  He was told "we're going to have to give it up for world peace."

That was in 1979.

A friend of his recently traveled to a medium-sized city in China, less people than in Philly.  There were 235 sweater mills there.  Le jeu sont fait, to quote Ferris Bueller's principal.  The game is over.  We've laid down our arms in this trouser war, and there's nothing that will be done about it.  There are a few things that CAN be done, but by now the textile industry is too small to be saved.  It's Grover Norquist's dream realized; make the industry so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub.

Many US textiles manufacturers support CAFTA because at least they could get in on Central American manufacturing and eat into China's market share.  But that's a stopgap solution.   The real solution, according to my father, the only one that would work, is protectionism.  I have another idea, which I wrote about on this site back in January.  Tie buying American to port security.

We all know that port security is woefully incomplete. A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security shows much of the (paltry) money supplied in grants for protecting ports is squandered on low priority problems rather than actual vulnerabilities. This was at least a minor issue during the election campaign. And both candidates agreed that nuclear proliferation was the biggest issue facing American security; basically, the prospect of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. When the port and container security issue was brought up in the debates, Bush complained, "I don't know how we're going to pay for all this... there's a huge tax gap."

This was an opening that has not nearly been exploited enough. The President is unwilling to pay to protect America. Well, there are 2 solutions that don't raise taxes on ordinary Americans (not that it'd be a problem if they did; I believe my security is worth paying for):

1. Raise quotas and/or increase incentives for American manufacturers, so that we are less reliant on the nation's ports to deliver practically every good to market. This can be framed as a security issue. American manufacturing makes Americans safer. The National Association of Manufacturing could run with that one.

2. Add a "security tariff" to importers, specifically designed to pay for port security grants. This will increase competitiveness from stateside manufacturers, and give multinationals less incentive to purchase/manufacture everything from overseas.

These basically play out as corporate taxes and protectionism, but tying them to national security is a way to get them sold to the public. The decline of the manufacturing base will eventually catch up with this country as it has with all consumer-based societies in history. Here's a way to stop the bleeding. Or, here's a way to strengthen ports without it being paid for by taxpayers.

I don't know, I'm working on it...


Egg, Meet Face

For a few weeks now, the wingnutosphere has being going gaga over the GOP "Talking Points" memo released by ABC News in the wake of the Schiavo mess, which claimed the issue was "a great political issue" and all that. Powerline, Rush, and all the rest were shrieking that it was fake, that Democrats wrote it to set up the GOP, that there was no way any Republican possibly wrote that. Their proof seemed to be entirely based on the fact that Schiavo was misspelled in the memo. Because you know, no Republican has ever made a typo.

Well, egg, meet wingnut faces, because a Senator's senior staffer wrote it. And now he's resigned for it.

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.

Martinez, the GOP's Senate point man on the issue, said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."

I don't expect apologies. In fact, the "Blog of the Year" Powerline skirts the issue and muddies the waters, moving on to other quibbles with the WaPo's reporting, ducking their claim that there was "no way a Republican wrote this." But we shouldn't expect apologies from those that have no shame.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I'm Blogger of the Year!

No really! The National Republican Congressional Committee just sent me a letter! All I have to do is give them $1,250 and I can pick up my award!

By the way, that's exactly what thousands of physicians have been doing over the last several years, according to ABC News:

To receive his award as "Physician of the Year," Dr. Rudolph Mueller learned he would have to make a $1,250 contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He also learned he wasn't the only "Physician of the Year."

"To actually buy your award and it's not from your peers or from your patients or from the community that you serve, it's really deceptive," said Mueller, author of "As Sick As It Gets: The Shocking Reality of America's Healthcare, A Diagnosis and Treatment Plan." "It's not being honest, it's just not right."

To see what the award process was all about, Mueller sent in his $1,250 contribution and ABC News paid for his travel to Washington for the scheduled events March 14-15, which included a tax-reform workshop as well as appearances by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and President Bush.

The Republicans, under the direction of DeLay, came up with the idea for the awards five years ago as a means of helping to raise funds for the congressional campaign efforts for their party.

A Republican congressional spokesman said DeLay stopped direct involvement in the program two years ago, but the majority leader was the guest speaker this year at the awards ceremony luncheon, giving a speech that included proposals well-tailored to the doctors' interests.

This is not really a DeLay story (he spoke at the conference, and he's no longer personally involved), but I thought it was interesting that ABC found a way to shoehorn DeLay into it.  This is why it's crucial that DeLay ISN'T run out of town on a rail... yet.  The Bugman goes with stories of Republican corruption like cotton and candy.  If we want to run a national Congressional campaign in '06, we have to put his face on it.

By the way, I thought THIS was the interesting part, and the most telling about Republicans' interest in stemming the health care crisis in America:

Mueller said most of the talk at the sessions was about marketing, lawyers and taxes, and that he was met with silence when trying to raise the issue of the lack of affordable health insurance.

"This is the real crisis," Mueller said he told the congressmen on one panel at the events. "Please, I am begging you."

The congressmen said nothing and quickly called for a question from another Physician of the Year, Mueller said.

Some of the other winners told Mueller that his $1,250 fee to the NRCC was a wise investment indeed. He should use the award as a marketing tool, they said, as an impressive honor he could tell patients. And on the Internet, ABC News found physicians across the country doing just that — listing NRCC's Physician of the Year among their honors and credentials.

If that doesn't say "Let Them Eat Cake," I don't know what does. Republicans have NO IDEAS for how to fix the health-care crisis in America. None. Why isn't THAT a commercial?


DeLay DeLay

I haven't given a full accounting of the troubles of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. I'd rather he stay right in place until 2006, frankly, when Richard Morrison blows his ass out of the water in his home district (Morrison, a relative unknown, got 45% of the vote last time around). I want DeLay right there because he is a key to nationalizing the 2006 Congressional race. Every Democrat ought to be running not against their opponent but DeLay, and the corruption he represents. That's why GOP insiders are clearly selling him out, as today's stories in the WaPo and the Grey Lady clearly show. The GOP doesn't want to be stunk up with DeLay's stink.

The fantastic Daily DeLay has covered this better than I ever could, so for DeLay news, go over there. All I have to say is that every Congressional Democratic speech in 2006 should begin with "Tom DeLay and the Republicans..." It has to be hammered into everyone's head that Tom DeLay represents the absolute dead center of the Republican Party. He is the mainstream of his party, which is why the GOP is so radical and extreme and corrupt and wrong for America.


Another Minute with the Men

Given the generally positive response I got yesterday, I'm continuing to track the reports of the Minuteman Project, a boneheaded attempt by vigilantes with guns to "nonviolently" track the US-Mexico border.

This report from a local Tuscon station confirms expectations, that this whole thing is costing a lot of local taxpayer dollars:

Agent Andrea Zortman said the Minutemen have tripped dozens of sensors along well-traveled migrant trails. The sensors are buried underground.  Zortman said the minutemen are also leaving behind fresh footprints that border patrol agents mistake for migrant prints.

"With the citizen patrol, they're leaving behind footprints in washes, along paths," Zortman said.  "Our border patrol agents follow them, only to find they're from the citizen patrol. It's a total waste of time. That agent could be doing more."

Time isn't the only issue.  The Minuteman project is costing the Cochise County Sheriff's Department $100,000 in overtime for deputies.

"We had to develop a game plan to deal with this, and we're paying a pretty big chunk of change in overtime, so we didn't have to divert resources from other needful things," said Sheriff Larry Dever.

And here's where the Minutemen go completely nuts.

Minutemen say even if they are a distraction, they're doing more good than harm by calling attention to what they call a broken border.

Yes, you see, even if we're breaking the border more and costing taxpayers lots of money and threatening an international incident, we're calling attention to the problem! That we're creating!

Fortunately, there is almost universal opprobrium about these clowns. The Miami Herald, The North County Times, The Denver Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription), and a host of other editorial boards have lambasted the group's practices.

The North County TImes op/ed is my favorite, if only for making the following points: 1) NAFTA allows the free exchange of products and capital across the border, but not labor; 2) white supremacist groups like Aryan Nation have called this project a "white pride" event; 3) Chris Simcox, head of the Minuteman Project, was CONVICTED on federal weapons charges recently.

And here's another levelheaded member of the team:

Another key figure among the so-called Minutemen is Roger Barnett, who in March 2004 kicked a woman and shouted obscenities at her while holding her at gunpoint in a remote location along the Arizona-Mexico border. In October 2004, Barnett was accused of pointing an AR-15 assault-rifle at a group of two men and three children, all U.S. citizens, because apparently Barnett confused the group with "illegal aliens."

This story from the Kansas City Star has some priceless comedy. At one point, the Minutemen thought they were under attack from a Central American gang.

Chaos and a brief comedy of errors ensued. Suddenly, volunteers hopped into their cars and led one another on an aimless flight, seeking refuge at one of their posts that wasn't even manned. Then they realized they had no command station or even a commander. The radio operator at the Minuteman headquarters wasn't responding.

The panic subsided when volunteer Darrel Wood, 44, a former Army special forces member, urged calm in the early minutes of Tuesday.

"What do you guys make of all this? Are we making a statement or are we looking like idiots?" asked Wood, a Minuteman leader and phone company field technician from Price, Utah, addressing some of the dozen journalists trailing the team. "I just hope no one gets hurt. It would be a sad thing."

I can answer that one, Darrel. You look like idiots. Like these guys:

One panicked man, about 6-foot-2 and appearing in his 50s, entered the circle and interjected: "It's kind of hard to back away from an automatic weapon.

"It's not our job to confront the worst gang in the world! I'm not going to get involved in a military operation!" the man said. "We can't see more than 50 feet, and we got people crawling up in black camouflage!"

Another suggested return fire. "If anybody fires, it's a threat upon us," he said.

Donnelly added: "Should we have a word that means `Get out!' Like `Alamo?"...

"No brag, but I wasn't scared," said Buddy Watson, 60, a retired South Carolina prison guard who now lives in Springdale, Ark., following the MS-13 incident. "I believe this is the start of something."

Left without comment. Why bother?

Even though the Minutemen are exposing themselves in all their naked racism and stupisdity, that doesn't mean others of like minds are looking at it and not liking what they see. Two articles augure the expansion of the project, into New Mexico (courtesy the horrific WorldNetDaily):

Meanwhile, Albuquerque City Councilman David Pfeffer said he wants to bring the Minuteman Project to New Mexico. Pfeffer said he wants to be personally involved in the volunteer effort to patrol the border for illegal immigrants and smugglers.

"I would be willing to get involved with an effort along New Mexico's borders," Pfeffer said.

...and Texas:

"This is what homeland security should look like from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of the Pacific Ocean," said Simcox, a newspaper owner from the nearby town of Tombstone, who was driving around inspecting the bases.

"I have been in contact with some Texans who are very interested in doing a Minuteman project there," he said. He did not identify the people or specify any dates for such a project.

And in case you're fooling yourself with the "noble cause" of these fools, read this:

Volunteer Chad Robinson, 50, of Phoenix, said he is worried about diseases that he says immigrants bring.

Finally, Media Matters informs us that Minuteman organizer James Gilchrist is upset about everybody "picking on" white supremacists:

COLMES: Recently, the white supremacy group Aryan Nation has recruited for the Minuteman Project, promoting the protest as a white pride event. This is who you're participating with here.

GILCHRIST: I have -- Alan, I have no control over someone posting an e-mail. I know what you're talking about. I've been to that Stormfront website. I have put a warning on our website -- you are not welcome here if you're a member of any supremacist group, whether it be of any color, race or creed.

Alan, there are supremacist groups out there of all races, colors and creeds. It's not just white supremacists. Why are you picking on them? There are brown. There are purple. There are red.

I know I pick on purple supremacists all the time. Jerks who think Grimace should rule the world.

OK, that's it for today. Enjoy.


God, is Bush a tool

Via The Next Hurrah, Our Leader today has apparently backed off the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution he was elected (sort of) to uphold:

To dramatize Social Security's future solvency problem, the president peered into the four-drawer ivory cabinet inside the Bureau of Public Debt office here along the Ohio River. In the second drawer was a white three-ring binder filled with pieces of paper providing physical evidence of $1.7 trillion in treasury bonds that back Social Security benefits.

"Imagine," Bush said in a speech a short time later at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. "The retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet.

"It's time to strengthen and modernize Social Security for future generations with growing assets that you can control, that you call your own — assets that the government can't take away."...

The pieces of paper Bush saw are not real Treasury securities. In today's computer age, investors no longer get honest-to-goodness Treasury bonds they can hold in their hands. However, by law, the bureau creates paper bonds to put in the file cabinet just in case anybody, like Bush, wants to see the trust fund.

While the paper IOUs are not negotiable instruments, they still represent trust fund Treasury bonds that are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

Jeez, look at all these dollar bills in my wallet. They're just pieces of paper with a bunch of words and pictures printed on them! Sure, they SAY they're worth something, and the Treasury SAYS they will back it up, but what does that really mean? I wish somebody would strengthen my wallet and turn these worthless pieces of paper into ASSETS for me!

Seriously, this is some fucked-up shit. Bush is saying that the money he's raided from the Social Security Trust Fund, money that he's used to pay for the tax cuts and the wars and the out-of-control spending, is simply gone. And he's not going to pay it back. I know this President has experience welshing on his debts and sinking corporations into financial ruin, but this is the US government we're talking about here. The "pieces of paper" in the Bureau of Public Debt are $1.7 trillion in TAXPAYER dollars, paid into the legally functioning Social Security system, GUARANTEED as benefits for future retirees. If they're worthless, Bush is essentially saying that he stole the trust fund to the tune of $1.7 trillion dollars. Third world dictators are jealous of this guy.

And by the way, it's completely illegal, in violation of the aforementioned "full faith and credit' clause of the Constitution, and will surely cause a world economic crisis if taken the wrong way, because if Bush can default on the Social Security Trust Fund, he'd be happy to do it to the Chinese and Japanese, to whom we owe far more trillions.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005


In between watching with interest the disintegration of Tom DeLay, I still bristle at what is being done in this country by those who support him, namely the far-right theocracy that can only be called "the mainstream of the GOP" at this point. Never mind the hijacking of the legislative branch to try and force the courts to save Terri Schiavo (which, by the way, was supposedly all about denying her health care); how about this movement of pharmacists denying health care to women on religious grounds?

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2005 — Pharmacy counters are emerging as the latest battleground in the culture wars. Anecdotally, an increasing number of pharmacists have been refusing to fill prescriptions for the "morning-after" pill and other birth control medication they oppose on moral or religious grounds...

Charlie Green owns two pharmacies in Stockton, Calif., that do not carry emergency contraception — a high dosage of the birth control pill that is also known as the "morning-after pill" — because those medications can remove a fertilized egg.

"Life begins in my point of view when the sperm and the egg come together, and anything that stops that continued growth or the implantation — as far is I'm concerned — takes the life of that potential human being," Green said...

Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota have laws allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group. This includes birth control pills that can also remove an egg from the uterus after fertilization but before implantation.

They call these "conscience laws," and it almost fits, because you'd have to be unconscious to permit them. It must be hard to be conservative, arguing for health care on one side, against it on the other. I can't believe we've come to this point, where pharmacists are acting like the tribal elders from "Footloose" and stepping into a woman's personal decision-making process. Last I checked, Christians were under no federal obligation to be a pharmacist if it upsets them so much. In every country on Earth save Ceaucescu-era Romania and The Vatican, birth control is pretty much settled as legal, even here.

But this is the new tactic by the right, going individually, state-to-state, with their anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-evolution, anti-science agenda, creating ballot measures or legislative initiatives that make this country a patchwork quilt resembling Dark Ages-era Europe.

I have an idea for women up against this kind of nonsense; just fill some other prescription, and when they ask you to pay for it, just say "That's all right, I'm a Christian Scientist, I don't believe in medicine, I'm not going to pay for it." If they resist, just take them to court for violating your religious beliefs. I'm sure the "out of control" judiciary will oblige you.


MinuteBrains, Part II

Look at this LA Times article on the Minuteman Project, which captures some of the inanity of this enterprise, including the completely deluded Jim Gilchrist:

"Hey, we got a fresh pair of prints here," said Gilchrist, wearing a bright flowered shirt, a canteen and a hat with a feather poking out. "I think they lay up here during the day and walk at night." The patrol meandered around scrub oak, up and down hills, and over barbed wire. Sighting an immigrant began to take on the element of spotting a rare butterfly or obscure bird species. Plans to set up an outpost fizzled when Gilchrist got a call on the radio. His face tightened.

"According to our Minutemen intelligence network, which has been flawless, there is credible evidence that two dozen Mexican nationals have assembled for the sole purpose of causing an incident that would make us look bad," Gilchrist said gravely. "They want us to open fire or assault them. The threat is very real but I can't give you my sources, which are in Mexico."

If that's not the paranoid style of American politics, I don't know what is. Also, I don't think anyone in Mexico has to conspire to make you look bad. Here's one of the Minutemen's "successes":

Not far away, the Minutemen radios were filled with excited chatter about an illegal immigrant in the area. Gilchrist drove up to an outpost, flung open the car door and shouted, "Who saw the illegal aliens?" A tall Minuteman approached.

"There are no illegals, those are our people," he said. The "immigrant" was in fact 67-year-old Dave Gessner of Fort Wayne, Ind. "I was just answering the call of nature," he said sheepishly. "Guess I won't wander off anymore."

Sounds more like "Police Squad!" than the Green Berets. Also, there's a guy from Fountain Valley who brought his kids there ON SPRING BREAK:

Chris, a 45-year-old engineer from Fountain Valley, Calif., had tied a white handkerchief onto his glasses to deflect the stinging sand. He brought his wife, twin daughters and 15-year-old son here for spring break. "The way we have been portrayed as a bunch of yahoos and rednecks, no wonder people want to kill us," he said, declining to give his full name. "I came with my family because I thought it would be great for them to see the border situation up close."

I'd like at this time to thank my family for never bringing me to the US border for a holiday.



I've been watching the updates on the Minuteman Project with a great deal of sadness. For those of you that don't know, a group of anti-immigrant volunteers have headed down to the Arizona border, brandishing weapons (for their own protection, they claim), and are out scanning the desert for potential illegal crossings. The claim is that, when they find someone, they'll simply call the US Border Patrol and alert them. Andrew Gumbel in The Independent has pooh-poohed the story, but I think he misses the point. He covers it purely from the angle of the media tiring of the overblown bluster from the Minuteman leaders:

Some, it is true, were armed with 9mm semi-automatic pistols, but most turned up with nothing more threatening than lawn-chairs.

The 1,000 people promised by the Minuteman Project's organisers ended up at just 480, the organisation said. Reporters who attended their inaugural rallies outside two Border Patrol stations in Cochise County, south of Tucson, said there were 150.

A few groups of volunteers ("patrol" would be too grand a word for it) eventually fanned out along the border on Saturday and Sunday, and one alerted the Border Patrol to suspected illegals. But mostly, media crews were left staring at each other, wondering what the fuss was about. When news of the Pope's death hit the South-west at lunchtime on Saturday, several journalists were called home, as the airwaves were bombarded instead with a non-stop diet of mourning and remembrance. As Ray Borne, the mayor of the border town of Douglas, told reporters: "This is a monster created by the media. But by Tuesday it's going to fizzle out."

When and if the media does turn a blind eye, that's when the trouble could really begin.

Illegal immigrants do indeed cross the border every day, but is there any way this kind of thing can end well? You have armed and angry (mostly) white men, recruited on the Internet, with American flags on their trucks and SUV's, using night vision scopes, holding big guns and looking across the border for brown people. Is that really how we want to run the country? With vigilante justice? Most of the stories on this note that no incidents of violence have been reported. Of course not! Who's going to report them? Illegal aliens? There isn't exactly a reporting structure for them to complain to the US government.

The Border Patrol has said that they don't need the help. The numbers bear that out. The Moonie Times claims that 120 illegals have been arrested based on calls from the US Border Patrol. It's not verified by anyone, but that's great. Let's see, last year 1.15 million illegals were caught by the Border Patrol. That's 3,150 a day. The Border Patrol claims that 40% were captured in this area of Arizona. That's 1,260 a day. So thanks for your less than 10% contribution, Minutemen. Is it worth the violence you're almost sure to cause? The international incident you're sure to spark?

By the way, these bunglers in the desert are apparently also interfering in Border Patrol business by tripping sensors and disrupting operations, according to the border guards. They're forcing agents to chase false alarms.

President Bush has obliquely called the Minutemen vigilantes, but has done little to stop them. He won't disarm them because of his fealty to the NRA. How about for obstructing US government operations? Whatever the manner, getting lunatics with guns off the border sounds like a good idea to me.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Cornyn/Nichols '08

That's Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Atlanta rapist and judge killer Brian Nichols (?-GA), who apparently have a lot in common, to hear the Senator tell it:

SENATOR JOHN CORNYN: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence.

This asshat actually thinks that Brian Nichols killed a judge, not because he wanted to escape his fate, but because he was mad about the Supreme Court's decision on the juvenile death penalty. He thinks the guy that killed Judge Lefkow's husband and mother in Illinois didn't do it for revenge, but because some other judge halfway across the country ruled in favor of Terri Schiavo.

This is grounds for resignation, without a doubt. Much like Tom DeLay did with his statement after Schiavo's death ("Those repsonsible will have to answer for their behavior"), Cornyn indirectly threatened federal judges that don't go along with the Republican program. That's a federal crime.

I guess Dukakis' error with Willie Horton was merely putting him on furlough. If he rationalized Horton's rape by linking it to public anger over "activist women" everything would have been okay.


Whisper Sweet Nothings To Me, God

Via Crooks and Liars, I see Randall Terry, a guy whose stock-in-trade before two weeks ago was bombing abortion clinics and trying to kill doctors, singing a love song to Jesus at the Terri Schiavo memorial. It's about as creepy as creepy gets. Digby provides the words to this mess:

When I feel the waves crash over me
And my heart is overwhelmed with pain
Help me, find me, seek me, hide me
In the scars you bear
Caress me in your embrace
Run your fingers through my hair
I believe in you

And you read those, and you really see how sexually repressed these theocrats are. He wants God to caress him and run His fingers through his hair. One part of the late Pope's undeniable legacy is this scandal of boy-molesting in the US Catholic church, and when you have rules of chastity and celibacy, you get things like this happening. This isn't a normal dude. Normal dudes aren't asking Jesus to caress and rub them. The sexual overtones of these types of things are inevitable in a religious structure that sublimates and represses desire. I'm down with P-O-P-E (yeah, you know me), but this was one instance where he could have done a lot of good and caused a lot less heartbreak and suffering by simply modernizing the church. Randall Terry is probably beyond modernization, however.


Dirty Sanchez

Or, more to the point, lying dirty Sanchez.

Gen. Ricardo Sanchez tesified to Congress and had the following exchange with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI):

REED: General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison.

REED: Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.

Well, the ACLU got a hold of a document, sent by Gen. Sanchez, dated September 14, 2003 (fully 8 months earlier), in which he "laid out specific interrogation techniques, modeled on those used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for use by coalition forces in Iraq. These include sleep 'management,' the inducement of fear at two levels of severity, loud music and sensory agitation, and the use of canine units to 'exploit [the] Arab fear of dogs.'"

Lying to the Senate... is that perjury? I'm not sure because the Pope just died and I can only keep one thing in my head at a time. But I think it's perjury. Maybe one day some Democratic staffer will ruffle through some papers and figure it out too.

Hunter at Kos notes the up-is-down priorities of this nation:

News stories matching "ACLU + Iraq + Sanchez": 101.

News stories matching "Schiavo": 79,300


Sunday, April 03, 2005


I'm one of the few bloggers, it seems, who find the cable news focus on the Pope fully justified, or at least far more justified than a brain-damaged woman in Florida. The Pope was a defining figure of my lifetime, and I'm not even a Catholic. I agreed with him (Iraq war, anti-death penalty), disagreed with him (homosexuality, abortion, representation of women), but he had a forceful personality and a moral gravitas unlike our current leaders worldwide. I think bringing on people whose captions read "met the Pope twice" is kind of ridiculous, but the conversation about this man is one I'd rather see CNN having. It may be boring to keep showing a static shot of St. Peter's Square with thousands of tiny ants assembled, but this is an undeniably big moment. And the debate it's sparking over the role of the church in world affairs, and the move into modernism, is key.

Any guy that forgives a man who shot him, that decides to visit a Holocaust museum and apologizes for his people's role in the slaughter, was OK in my book.