Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Nobody knows exactly where or when Memorial Day began. Over two dozen American cities claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. During the Civil War, groups of women in the South would decorate the graves of their war dead.

The first official observation of Memorial Day was May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890 all Northern states were observing Memorial Day.

The South didn’t recognize Memorial Day until after World War I. Before that the Southern states had various days for honoring their war dead, and they only honored Confederate soldiers. Several Southern states continue to have a separate holiday for honoring Confederate soldiers.

While you’re enjoying the 3-day weekend, partying, drinking (or whatever your drug of choice is), please remember everyone who died defending our country. Nightline will be broadcasting the names and photographs of all U.S. service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past year. The broadcast will take approximately 45 minutes.

And while we’re honoring the dead, we need to be painfully aware of the problems facing our soldiers and veterans, and how they’re being shortchanged. Regardless of political viewpoints or how one feels about the war in Iraq, our soldiers and veterans need to be rewarded for risking their lives.

Some politicians are shouting “Support Our Troops!” from the rooftops, and then are privately trying to reduce their health care and benefits. These politicians need to be pulled out from under their rock and brought squirming and blinking into the light of day. This shortchanging of our veterans is absolutely immoral and criminal and needs to be exposed.

At the Armed Forces Retirement Home, managed by the Pentagon, residents are suing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld over budget cuts which are jeopardizing their health care. They are no longer able to get medical checkups or prescriptions on site.

A spokesman for the home says the changes have improved “efficiency.” Efficiency for whom? At whose expense? A veteran of the Korean and Viet Nam wars said “When you're playing football and you get hurt, they say 'suck it up' — we're just too old to suck it up any more.” Suck it up? It’s one thing to tell a football player to suck it up, but an aging veteran of two wars? Is this how they thought they’d be rewarded for risking their lives?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an underreported but very real problem for soldiers and veterans of the Iraqi war. More than 10,000 Iraqi war veterans have sought help for this condition. Months or years of looking for unseen snipers and roadside bombers have caused mass paranoia.

One soldier returning from Iraq said: “I am getting better with crowds, but still if it is a very confined space and I am totally surrounded I have issues with that.”

Another said: “When I am in crowds I tend to watch people's hands.”

Welcome back; now suck it up. And you’d better not have incurred any debt while you were gone. The recent bankruptcy law passed by Congress and signed by Bush wipes out any and all protections from creditors that soldiers and veterans used to have. This law was written by and for the banks and credit companies. Soldiers? Veterans? What did they contribute to my campaign?

And some of the favorite targets of payday lenders (who are barely one notch above loan sharks) are military bases. Some of the politicians who scream the loudest about supporting our troops are sitting on their thumbs while these lowlife hustlers prey on military personnel, charging as much as 391% annual interest for a short term loan. Some of these loan sharks’ “customers” are desperate enough to take out a second loan to pay off the first loan, a third loan to pay off the second, etc. until they have five or six loans they’re paying off. Hundreds of dollars a month can go into this vicious circle. One loan — one desperate decision — can lead to a downward spiral.

But whenever any kind of banking “reform” comes before Congress, the money and clout of the banking industry outweighs any concern for military families. You’ll never hear a politician screaming “Support Our Bankers” in front of TV cameras, but that’s where their priorities are.

American Legion Magazine has interviews with two senators and two congressmen from the Veterans Affairs Committee. Congressman Steve Buyer, R-Indiana and Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho both give longwinded answers full of euphemisms and political doubletalk. Basically their flowery rhetoric translates into: Cost-effectiveness. Let’s spend billions to send them off to war, and then pinch pennies when they return. You’ve served your purpose — now get lost.

Congressman Lane Evans, D-Illinois says: “The budget submitted by the White House is one of the most dishonest, disingenuous and insensitive documents I've seen in over two decades in Congress. The administration's budget shortchanges the nation's sick and disabled veterans and seeks to force hundreds of thousands of additional deserving veterans out of the VA health-care system. In his State of the Union message, President Bush saluted the bravery and sacrifice of our troops and promised that a grateful country will do everything possible to help them recover. The budget he has proposed, which devastates programs for veterans, instead makes a cruel mockery of his own rhetoric.”

He also says: “The Bush administration seeks a mere 0.5 percent more for 2006 than Congress appropriated for 2005. It ignores the 13 percent to 14 percent VA testified it needs annually to maintain services at current levels.”

Senator Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawaii says: “If we don't work together to provide adequate appropriations, the shortfall is going to get worse. We are at war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The president has told us that the war on terror will not be won overnight. Every day, military men and women are returning home in need of medical care for physical as well as psychological wounds. Ultimately, many will seek VA care. The influx places even greater pressure on already-overwhelmed VA facilities and staff. Our job in Congress is to try to give VA the resources it needs to meet its obligations to veterans. The president's 2006 budget falls short.”

Congressman Evans and Senator Akaka are saying the right things. Can they (or will they) follow through?

cross-posted at Bring It On!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Evangelicals Retreating from Politics?

The cycle is beginning again. Some Evangelical leaders are questioning whether they’ve suffered from being aligned with right wing politicians. It’s time for some serious soul-searching, to decide whether their literal interpretation of the Bible has been wrongly portrayed as an ultra-conservative political movement.

As the Herman’s Hermits song went, “second verse, same as the first.”

Or think of Lucy holding the football so Charlie Brown will come running up to kick it. “Come on, Charlie Brown, I promise I won’t pull the football away this time.”

Now, is this stock-taking and soul-searching for real, or are they just pulling the latest version of their retreat-and-then-suckerpunch strategy?

40% of Evangelicals describe themselves as either Democrat or moderate. But statistics like this are reported periodically, and there always seems to be a disconnect between church members and their conservative “leaders,” who keep using a megaphone to drown out the rank and file.

Several months ago, a survey indicated that 52% of Evangelicals were very concerned about environmental issues. However, they preferred the term “creation care” so they wouldn’t be lumped together with liberals or environmentalists.

And now some of their leaders are worried about losing members because of being synonymous with the Religious Right.

The provost of a Christian college has said “Because evangelicals have been portrayed as being very, very limited in their range of societal concerns, there is an element of challenge in the evangelical community to say, ‘let’s not get caught up in narrow partisan concerns.’ Many evangelicals say they feel very alienated with the partisan rhetoric in the nation.”

He went on to say that many Evangelicals are concerned with employment, labor, housing, health care, education, human rights, racial equality and the environment.

Now this is great, if true. But this cycle keeps repeating itself. Several years ago, during that spree of African-American churches being burned, Ralph Reed (head of the Christian Coalition at the time) made lots of public outreach statements. The kiss-ass sucking-up motive was so blatant, his statements basically translated into “we’re losing the Negro vote. Here’s an opportunity.”

And more recently, one of their loudest and most ubiquitous leaders (I think it was either Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell) gave a public statement / sulking-spree about retreating from politics because of being “misunderstood” and misrepresented by the media. Ahem — how can we miss you if you won’t go away?

So if Evangelical leaders are genuinely concerned about their beliefs and convictions being “used” by right wing politicians, and wanting to re-think their political alignment, that’s great. But if this is just a political strategy — we’ve heard it all before, and we’re ready.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Social Security Solution?

Several Democratic senators have come up with a radical idea for preserving Social Security without reducing anyone’s benefits. The solution: cracking down on businesses that evade taxes. The government loses billions of dollars every year because of businesses who avoid paying the employment taxes which fund Social Security and Medicare.

Closing these loopholes would provide at least some, if not all, of the funding necessary to keep Social Security afloat. Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, said “We should not cut the benefits of any law-abiding retiree by one dime or raise the taxes of any law-abiding worker by one dime until we have done our best to ensure that all taxpayers are complying with the current tax laws.”

Businesses organized as sole proprietorships pay employment taxes on all reported profits. A business which is organized as an S corporation only pays taxes on the amount described as salary. These S corporations have become a multibillion-dollar employment tax shelter for single-owner businesses.

In the year 2000, $5.7 billion was not collected which would have been collected if S corporations were organized differently and had to pay the employment tax.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, said “I'm very troubled about the fact that a substantial number of extremely wealthy people aren't contributing their share. They are what I call the Social Security scofflaws.”

According to the chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, eliminating the $90,000 cap for taxable wages would raise $1.2 trillion over a 10-year period.

So, we have a solution; at least a partial one. Isn’t this great? Add a little fairness to the tax code, and we can save Social Security without reducing anyone’s benefits. Yeah! This is the answer. Let’s do it. What are we waiting for?

Bzzzzzzzzttt!!!! The alarm clock just went off. Reality check!! Of course the above scenario could never happen, but it was a nice dream. Making corporations pay their share of taxes instead of reducing the benefits of wage-earners and retirees — sheesh! Riiiight. That’ll happen.

With most of the U.S. Congress being the personal harem of corporations and lobbyists, what chance is there for these common sense ideas? But it was a nice idea.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Loan Sharks

Payday lenders. They claim to be offering a necessary service to middle class customers. But for some odd reason most of them are located in poor neighborhoods or next to military bases. Which middle class are they aiming for?

Every community has a very clear inverse relationship between the number of payday lenders and the number of traditional banks. Poor communities have fewer traditional banks, and they have payday lenders springing up like mushrooms. And vice versa for wealthier neighborhoods.

Payday lenders target the working poor who are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck. They offer short-term loans with annual interest rates up to 391%. And you thought extortion and mugging were illegal.

Some of their victims, er, customers end up taking out another loan to pay off the first loan, then another loan to pay off the second loan, and on and on. Eventually they can end up with five or six loans costing hundreds of dollars a month in interest and penalties.

Sure, you can argue that these people should be more responsible and make smarter decisions. But with this kind of lending practice, one stupid move can be compounded again and again and lead to a vicious circle. And this reasoning of “they should have known better” can be carried too far. After a point, it’s like saying assault and robbery should be legal and it’s up to everybody to learn Karate and carry a gun.

Payday lenders are exempt from state and federal usury laws, and they’ve successfully fought all government attempts to rein in the sleaze factor.

They count on people’s ignorance and desperation. A spokesman for a consumer group said “their business is geared toward confusing people and trapping them in this treadmill and squeezing every dollar that they can out of them. The whole premise behind the industry is to target a certain group of people and take advantage of them.”

No wonder conservative politicians keep cutting funds for education. More uneducated people means more fodder for their corporate donors.

Military families are some of the most popular targets of these predators. If you A) support our troops, and B) claim to be a Christian, you should be outraged at this legalized thievery. Are you?

If you think the Bible was written just to condemn homosexuals and abortion, here is what the Bible says about greed and usury. Why aren’t millions of devout Christians preaching fire and brimstone at these loan sharks?

If you support our troops, maybe you could quit fondling your yellow ribbons long enough to think about the irony here. Our government spends billions drumming up wars to send our soldiers off to. Their pay is insufficient, they’re sent into battle with insufficient armor and ammunition, their VA benefits keep getting reduced and then they get preyed on by a bunch of sleazewipe loan sharks. Are the armchair generals and fire-and-brimstone preachers planning to do anything about this?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Filibuster

Yes, this is what everyone else is writing and talking about, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon. Seven Republicans of the Non-Wingnut persuasion have listened to their consciences and stood their ground. Common sense has prevailed and the rules won’t be changed in the bottom of the ninth inning. Will these senators have their careers derailed by Karl Rove? Will James Dobson still be their friend?

Bill “Video Doctor” Frist is no longer the fair-haired boy of the Religious Right. His mission was to invoke the Nuclear Option (eliminate the filibuster) and pave the way for multinational corporations and Focus on the Family to hand pick the next few Supreme Court justices.

The Far Right has spent the last several weeks spewing out propaganda about “people of faith” being attacked by activist judges and godless liberals; God wants a conservative on the Supreme Court, etc. This was supposed to lay the groundwork for Frist to step in and wipe out the filibuster. And he failed. He’ll never be president now. He’s probably gonna make a beeline for the nearest animal shelter and “adopt” a few more cats that he can vent his frustrations on.

Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor were all nominated for federal judgeships during Bush’s first term. All were filibustered, and Bush, being Bush, nominated them again for his second term. (What’s that expression about neurotics doing the same thing over and over…) This agreement means they will be named to Appeals Court vacancies. In return, future judicial nominees should “only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances.”

This is open to interpretation, but if Bush tries to nominate Pat Robertson or Kenneth Lay to the Supreme Court, this will qualify as “extraordinary circumstances.” Count on it.

The agreement was signed by 14 senators — seven from each party (including Joe Lieberman and John McCain). Frist was disappointed in the deal and made sure everyone knew he hadn’t been a party to it. “It has some good news, and it has some disappointing news and it will require careful monitoring,” he said.

Harry Reid’s reaction was: “Checks and balances have been protected. The integrity of the Supreme Court has been protected from the undue influence of the vocal, radical right wing.”

Monday, May 23, 2005

Iraqi War Continues to Unravel

Picture George W. Bush as that little Dutch Boy with his finger in the dike. Then another hole appears. And another one. And another one. What’s the poor little Trust Fund Boy supposed to do?

51% of the public thinks the Iraqi war was not worth hundreds of billions of dollars or the lives of over 1,600 American soldiers. (Too bad they didn’t decide that seven months ago.)

And now we all know that the reasons for invading Iraq were totally fabricated. Bush and his English Bitch were planning the Iraqi invasion in 2002. They conspired to fix the “intelligence” around their plan. The ever-shifting emergencies — Weapons of Mass Destruction, connections between Iraq and terrorism — were nothing more than scare tactics to whip the masses into a war whoop.

So he lied and finagled to get us embroiled in a war with a country that wasn’t a threat to us. This war has turned a budget surplus into a record deficit and killed over 1,600 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Can he keep these holes plugged up? Daddy? Karl? Uncle Dick? Oops, more water coming in.

There have been reports of sleazy recruiters, using lies and even threats to “persuade” people to sign up. Everything from covering up students’ criminal records, to providing overweight students with laxatives so they can lose enough weight to pass the physical, to threatening a student with arrest for skipping an appointment with the recruiter.

Recruiters have to meet a certain quota or they go back to the front lines (at least that’s how it was when I was in the Navy), so you almost can’t blame them for being desperate. It’s a tough sell. Who wants to have their tour of duty in Iraq “extended” indefinitely, and be sent into battle with insufficient armor and ammunition? And then finally you come home from Iraq to find you’ve lost your job and you can’t declare bankruptcy because the law just got changed so that banks can crack down on deadbeats like you.

At this point most recruiters are probably wishing for an easier assignment, like selling ice at the North Pole.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to provide students’ names and addresses to recruiters; this is not sitting well with some people. Now some high schools and colleges are debating whether to even allow recruiters on campus. And the pro-war types are reacting with fury at the schools for even considering this.

Are we getting polarized yet? Soon we may have massive campus protests and riots against the war in Viet Nam, er, I mean Iraq.

Uh oh, another hole in the dike: Soldiers are going AWOL from the Iraqi war in much higher numbers than previously estimated. The official Pentagon estimate is 5,133. Unofficial estimates are much higher.

Look out, there’s more water spurting in over here: Returning soldiers are being diagnosed by the thousands with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. By one estimate, more than 10,000 soldiers have sought help for this condition. Nightmares, flashbacks — it’s Viet Nam all over again. The Viet Nam war drove Lyndon Johnson out of the White House. How much longer will Bush be able to cling?

(There used to be a joke about the flashbacks of a Viet Nam draft dodger: “You hear gunshots and you think it’s a car backfiring. And suddenly you’re back at this coffee house in Toronto.” But I digress…)

With everything unraveling around Bush, one of two scenarios is bound to happen: 1) Bush will start frantically yelling “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Or 2) Rove will invent a new hot-button issue to whip the masses into a frenzy and distract them from the Iraqi disaster.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Attacking the ACLU

Right Wing bloggers have always reminded me of a huge flock of birds. It’s something to marvel at, to see hundreds of birds swooping and diving and zigzagging in unison. But humans — at least in theory — are more individual. They’re supposed to be thinking and reasoning for themselves, not marching in lockstep.

But then, when you glimpse into the Far Right regions of the blogosphere — what have we here? Hundreds of humans, technically not joined at the hip, all swooping and diving and careening in unison.

Just a few days ago, The Flock (oops, that was the name of a dynamite Chicago rock group in the late ‘60s — I’ll call them something else), uh, the Disciples were all chanting in unison about that treasonous Newsweek article. Overnight, America’s pristine reputation was ruined by one slanderous magazine article. People who were perfectly content suddenly started rioting because of that wicked Newsweek article. Etc.

Well, they’ve zigzagged again, and now they’re fuming and foaming — together as one — about the next Burning Issue. The ACLU is trying to ruin everything this great nation stands for by — gasp! — legalizing prostitution! That’s right, the world’s oldest profession will just go quietly away if we just keep passing laws.

Who needs an intelligent debate when it’s so much more fun to just gang up on that big bad ACLU? The Disciples have locked onto a new issue and they’re ready to roll. Forward, March!

The Supreme Commander (whoever that is) has given the Order, and they are marching. Obedient little soldiers, born to obey! Vee muss carry out zee Mission!

And how much do you want to bet, the ones who are making the loudest noise about the evils of prostitution are probably drooling and fantasizing about that picture. (Yes, of course these posts are all displaying the same picture.)

Let’s play a guessing game. Think this issue will last several months, like the Terri Schiavo Show? Or just a few days like the Newsweek hysteria? And which hot-button issue will they swoop to next? Any guesses?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

American Voters are Pissed

The basic message from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is: Everything sucks. Bush’s plan to “overhaul” Social Security; Congress; the nation’s economy and general direction — a big Thumbs Down to all of them.

A majority thinks the Senate should play a role in deciding judicial nominees, and not just be a rubber stamp for the White House.

Congress got a 33% approval rating, its lowest rating in eleven years.

47% of respondents would prefer to have the Democrats controlling Congress after the 2006 mid-term elections. 40% want Republicans to maintain control. Uh oh, Karl Rove needs to get his mudslinging operation in gear. So many wedge issues, so little time.

The public is upset with Congress’ priorities. “Reforming” Social Security, Tom DeLay’s slippery behavior (and his fellow sleazebags constantly rallying around him) and Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube are not the priorities of most Americans. We have a disconnect here. American voters are much more concerned with the economy and health care.

As one of the pollsters said, “there are some core day-to-day issues that they don’t see being addressed.”

One of the Democratic pollsters cautioned that it’s much too early to predict a Democratic victory in the 2006 elections. “There is a difference between dissatisfaction and being a viable [replacement]. And we have a long way to go to 2006,” he said.

Only 20% say the economy has gotten better over the past 12 months. 51% think that toppling Saddam Hussein was not worth the costs and casualties. Only 36% support Bush’s plans for obliterating, er, I mean, “reforming” Social Security.

34% think the Senate should confirm the president’s judicial choices as long as they are competent and honest. 56% think the Senate should make its own decision about each nominee. Calling Video-Doctor Cat-Torturer Senator Frist: There’s a message for you.

Overall, 52% think the country is headed in the wrong direction. 35% think we’re on the right track.

According to one of the polltakers, these are signs of an angry electorate. “If you are a member of Congress and you got the poll back, you better be looking over your shoulder. The masses are not happy.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek: The Plot Thickens

OK, Newsweek has retracted its story. It was all just a vicious rumor. This whole notion was just unthinkable. Somebody was trying to tarnish America’s image, but it didn’t work. We can go back to business as usual now.

Seriously, if Newsweek was careless and printed a false story about Korans being flushed down toilets at Guantanamo Bay, then the person(s) in charge needs to be held accountable. Heads should roll. Newsweek’s lie caused 16 deaths. Then again, Bush’s lies have caused the deaths of over 1,600 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

Not a valid comparison, you say? Right you are.

Using a worst-case scenario, Newsweek’s lie was based on carelessness. Nobody’s accusing a Newsweek editor of thinking “I’m gonna spread this vicious rumor because I hate America.” It was a mistake. Inexcusable, but a mistake nonetheless.

Bush’s lies, on the other hand, were deliberate, meticulous down to the last detail, and planned months (if not years) in advance. The secret memo from July 2002 confirms what many people already suspected. Bush and Blair were already planning to invade Iraq; they just needed to “fit” the intelligence data to their plan.

Allegations of flushing Korans down the toilet — plus a long-running pattern of other abuses — are documented here. And the Newsweek “retraction” itself seems a little, uh, mysterious. Newsweek’s source was “a senior U.S. government official” who later “backtracked” after Newsweek printed his story. Now suddenly the source “is no longer sure.” International editors and senior government officials aren’t usually this flighty and indecisive. What gives?

My guess would be some high-level version of “intimidating a witness.” Certain VIPs are pissed off by this story, and we wouldn’t want that now, would we? I’m not saying a Newsweek editor would find a horse’s head on his pillow or anything like that, but…

Condoleezza Rice’s reaction to this whole mess was “It’s appalling that this story got out there.” It sounds like she really meant “all right, who let the cat out of the bag?”

It seems like the people making the most noise about the deaths caused by Newsweek’s “lie” are making the least noise about Bush’s lies and cover-ups and the cover-up to cover up the cover-up.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Caused A Riot

Thousands of Moslems have been protesting (and in some cases rioting) all across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Indonesia for the past few days. The protests started after Newsweek published a report of one particular interrogation/ humiliation technique practiced in Guantanamo Bay: Interrogators would flush a Koran down the toilet.

If the situation were reversed, just imagine — if it’s even possible — the reaction in this country. Just pretend for a minute: Jerry Falwell being felt up by female Moslem prison guards and then having to watch while a Bible gets flushed down the toilet. Can you say Holy War?

Now Newsweek is starting to hedge their bet and "qualify" their story. But these allegations have been leaking out since last Spring. And they go hand in hand with some of the other abuses and tortures committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

Extremists on both sides are milking this for every last drop. Radical Islamic leaders are using it to fan the flames and turn the protests into riots. And here in the U.S., the Far Right wingnuts have found another hot-button issue to get themselves worked up over.

Right wing pundits and bloggers are in their tightest lockstep formation since the Terri Schiavo case. And what are they all chanting in unison? It’s Newsweek’s fault. Newsweek caused these riots! Duuhhh!!!

It figures. Last year when the Abu Ghraib tortures were first publicized, rightwing Neanderthals were up in arms. Were they furious that some inbred prison guards were violating the Geneva Convention and putting other American soldiers at risk? Nope. They were furious at the media for airing the story.

And you remember last Fall, when a soldier in Iraq asked Rumsfeld about their substandard equipment, and Rumsfeld gave his famous response of “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.” According to the Chicken Hawks on the Far Right, the main issue was that the soldier’s question had been prompted by a reporter. So what if our soldiers are getting killed because of inferior armor — by God, a reporter snuck in there and planted this question just to embarrass Rumsfeld.

So once again, like a stampeding herd of cattle, the right wing bloggerbots are off and running. Look out; don’t get trampled. Here comes one now; and here's another one. And yet another one. Don’t worry, there're plenty of others, but after awhile one stampeding head of cattle looks pretty much like the rest of them.

So these protests and riots were all caused by a magazine article?!? These right wing dildos have such a clear grasp of cause and effect, they probably think rain is caused by wet sidewalks.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

cross-posted at Booman Tribune

Saturday, May 14, 2005

It Was All A Big Misunderstandin’

“Whah Hail, Ah didn’t mean them comminist devil-worshippin’ democrats had to leave mah church. Is that what excomupoop, uh, er, excommunicate means? There Ah go again, usin’ them big words I cain’t pronounce and don’t even know the meanin’ of.”

As you probably know by now, the Reverend Chan Chandler of East Waynesboro, NC excommunicated nine members of his church. Their unforgivable sins were: 1) voting for John Kerry; and 2) refusing to sign a document saying they had repented and now agreed with their minister’s political views.

Surely the Bible has something to say about people using their position of authority to repress other people, and then pretending they were “misunderstood” when they get called on it. If so, this self-righteous Baptist Minister is in trouble. Maybe not legal trouble, but if the Bible means anything more to him than just a club to bully people with, he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do when he goes to his reward.

As usual, it was mostly bloggers and other independent news sources who gave this story its early momentum. The mainstream corporate “media” were mostly just sitting on their thumbs and drooling over their sales figures and merger plans.

And now that he’s been thrust into the spotlight, the Ayatollah Chandler is running away with his tail between his legs. It was all just a big misunderstanding, and he’s hurt that anyone could have reacted this way. Like a cockroach that scurries away when someone turns on the lights, Chandler has now gone from fire and brimstone to “I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family.” Coward.

Buh bye.

Perhaps every historical figure who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar should have a chance to rewrite history and exonerate themselves. That poor Richard Nixon had his presidency ruined by the Watergate scandal, and it wasn’t even his fault. Here’s what really happened:

Nixon was giving a rousing pep talk to Gordon Liddy and the other six Watergate burglars. He was trying to get them all fired up about defeating the Democrats in the upcoming election, and in the middle of his speech he said “this could be your big break.” And somehow those seven dunces misunderstood. They thought he was — gasp! — telling them to break into the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building. No!!!

Well, you know the rest. A decent, honest-to-a-fault president was forever scandalized and tainted because his hired help misunderstood him.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Credit Card Companies Were Right

OK, I was wrong about this bankruptcy bill that was dictated by the banking and credit industries. When the credit card johns came around waving millions of dollars, and their Congressional Harem (formerly known as senators and representatives) duly bent over and spread their cheeks, I was skeptical.

But now I realize they were right; there are some absolutely immoral, useless, blight-on-the-gene-pool deadbeats out there. And this new bankruptcy bill is exactly what we need to crack down on these lowlifes.

This is just too sleazy and underhanded for words. Who could imagine United Airlines actually being shameless and slippery enough to try declaring bankruptcy in order to get out of paying for their employees’ pensions. Every time you think our Feudal Lords couldn’t possibly sink any lower, some corporate sleazebag comes along and sinks even lower.

I’m sure this is exactly what the banking and credit industries had in mind when they pushed for this bankruptcy bill. Thanks to this new law, United Airlines employees will be able to keep their pensions after all. The top executives of United Airlines thought they could wriggle out of their responsibilities, but the banking industry has put them in their place. Nice try, Dickheads!

Again, I feel really guilty about all the names I’ve called the banking and credit industries in earlier posts. On behalf of all the grateful United Airlines employees, I think we should all……uhh……hm……wait, this can’t be right……What?!? The bankruptcy bill doesn’t apply in this case??!!??? But…

OK, this, this doesn’t make any sense. So they’re saying, uh, let me get this straight now…a family (or single person) cannot declare bankruptcy — no ifs, ands or buts. You lost your job? Too bad. You’re a victim of identity theft? Get over it. Staggering medical bills? Get a grip.

Oh, you’re a CEO with a 7-figure salary and you don’t want to sacrifice any of it for your lowly workforce? Awww, we understand. Now dry your eyes; everything’s gonna be just fine. You can declare bankruptcy and still go on about your business, and you don’t have to spend any more money on pensions for that sniveling workforce. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Economic Hit Men

John Perkins is an economist and was a high-ranking member of the international banking community. He now has a book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. The book describes how he was a highly paid professional who helped the U.S. cheat third world countries out of trillions of dollars.

Perkins began the book over 20 years ago. He says: “The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries…Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.”

The job of an economic hit man is to build up the American Empire. That means creating situations where as many resources as possible flow into our country; our corporations. This has created the largest empire in history.

He says: “It's been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men. I was very much a part of that.”

The first notch in America’s bedpost was Iran in the early 1950s. Their elected leader was overthrown and replaced with the infamous Shah of Iran. (And yes this does have a lot to do with the Iranian hostage situation 25 years later.) In this case the government was overthrown by the CIA.

The American government realized the advantages of this type of overthrow: no open warfare, no conflict with Russia or any other country who might object. The only drawback was that if some of the CIA agents were captured and exposed as U.S. government agents, things could get a little, uh, “awkward.” So after the Iranian overthrow, this type of work was done by private American companies, whose employees could not be traced to any government operation.

The most common method of this economic warfare is to grant a loan to a poor country. A huge loan, a loan way too big for that country to possibly repay. A large contractor — Bechtel, Halliburton, etc., you know the players — would get its foot in the door by building roads, power plants, whatever the country needed. The government of this country is then instructed to pay back the loan to this contractor. When the government is unable to repay the entire loan and goes into debt, the contractor has them over a barrel.

At this point we can practically blackmail the country into handing over its resources (oil, minerals, whatever) to American corporations.

And that's the pattern.

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, our government realized Saudi Arabia was the key player. The American and Saudi governments worked out a deal: the House of Saud would send most of their petro-dollars to the United States and invest them in U.S. securities. The Treasury Dept. would use the interest from these securities to hire American companies to build Saudi Arabia — new cities, new infrastructure. In return, Saudi Arabia has kept the price of oil low. Well, “low” enough to keep Americans happily buying millions of gas guzzlers.

Now, remember those Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? Hahahahahaha. Here’s what really happened: We tried to use the same manipulative tactics with Iraq that had worked so well with Saudi Arabia and other third world countries. And Saddam Hussein wouldn’t play. When the economic hit men aren’t able to “convince” a third world country to play ball, further steps must be taken.

The CIA can induce a coup by stirring up rebellion among the populace. This didn’t work in Iraq — Hussein’s grip was too powerful. Next step — assassinations. This didn’t work either. Hussein had too many bodyguards and a vast network of “doubles.”

When these backup plans all fail, what’s next? Military invasion. As John Perkins says: “So the third line of defense, if the economic hit men and the jackals fail, the next line of defense is our young men and women, who are sent in to die and kill, which is what we’ve obviously done in Iraq.”

Why did Perkins spend twenty years “working on” this book? The money, power and prestige were just too seductive. It was 9/11 that finally changed his mind.

He says: “But when 9/11 struck, I had a change of heart. I knew the story had to be told because what happened at 9/11 is a direct result of what the economic hit men are doing. And the only way that we're going to feel secure in this country again and that we're going to feel good about ourselves is if we use these systems we’ve put into place to create positive change around the world. I really believe we can do that. I believe the World Bank and other institutions can be turned around and do what they were originally intended to do, which is help reconstruct devastated parts of the world. Help — genuinely help poor people.”

OK, now before you come screaming into the Comment section, remember the above paragraph is a quote. I personally am not playing blame-the-victim and saying 9/11 was America’s fault. But that quote is the perspective of a high ranking American economist who was closely affiliated with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and international contractors.

Whether or not the United States should be helping poorer countries is open to debate (and not the focus of this article). But using the rest of the world as just so much chattel and raw material for America’s corporate empire is just plain wrong.

Cross-posted at Bring It On!

Monday, May 09, 2005


For the hundreds of thousands of wounded, starving refugees in Darfur, there’s good and bad news. The good news is, George W. Bush has looked up, looked over, and discovered a world out there. He’s now heard of Darfur (and it‘s not even in Texas!), and he’s taking action.

The bad news is about the "action" he's taken. Now that he’s blinked, gulped and noticed the world beyond Crawford, he’s taken the “action” of telling the Senate to cease and desist. The Senate had just passed the Darfur Accountability Act, which would freeze the assets of Darfur’s genocide leaders, and impose a no-fly zone to prevent Sudan’s army from strafing villages.

Whoa! Not so fast there. A bunch of sniveling refugees? What’s that got to do with the price of oil? The White House went from their standard Stupor mode to “Oh My God, my Bitches are doing something that doesn’t benefit my oil mentors. How many times have I gotta bitchslap those #$&*&%#s?”

The Bush administration has taken other “action” in addition to stifling the Senate. The Deputy Secretary of State is trying to backpedal on previous statements that referred to the Darfur situation as “genocide.” He also gave an “official” estimate of the death toll as between 60,000 and 160,000. Most international estimates are at least 400,000.

The genocide in Darfur is a bipartisan issue; Republicans and the Christian Right actually led the way in drumming up concern over the slaughter. So why is Bush trying to squelch the Darfur Accountability Act?

For one thing, the Sudanese government has recently increased its cooperation with the CIA in the War on Terror, and Bush doesn’t want to jeopardize their good will. Also, Bush doesn’t want to get involved in any humanitarian effort that doesn’t have a neat, quick solution. In other words, no quagmires (got one already).

Still, isn’t there a middle ground between sending in troops and just doing nothing? Freezing the assets of Darfur’s genocide leaders, and establishing an internationally-backed no fly zone, would at least mitigate the brutality of this modern day Holocaust.

Bush has a choice: make a small diplomatic effort for a cause that doesn’t benefit Halliburton or the oil companies; or go down in history as the president who did absolutely nothing while hundreds of thousands of refugees were slaughtered.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

George Will Hates Jesus

George Will's May 5th column has infuriated the Far Right. And you know how the Talibanagain Christian Right operates: you’re either with ‘em or you’re agin’ ‘em.

It all started when Bush said “If you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship.” Gasp!! Blasphemy!!

Referring to Bush’s speech, George Will wrote: “The state of America's political discourse is such that the president has felt it necessary to declare that unbelievers can be good Americans.” He pointed out that nearly 30 million Americans answered “None” in a survey asking what religion they’re affiliated with. If all of these atheistic/ agnostic/ unaffiliated Americans were relegated to one state, that state would be second only to California in population.

Will was guessing that Bush was trying to undo some of the damage caused by the Terri Schiavo media circus. He added: “he and his party seemed to have subcontracted governance to certain especially fervid religious supporters.” Yeah! Tell it like it is! Remember, this is George Will, conservative columnist; not Michael Moore or Jane Fonda or any of those godless Hollywood commies.

He also pointed out that too many Christians are “scrambling for the status of victims.” Just because the ACLU tries to prohibit Christmas displays on public property, Christians claim that they’re being “assaulted” and “persecuted.” So far I haven’t seen any restaurants that say “No Christians” or any signs saying “Christians to the back of the bus.”

But no matter how conservative you are, just try disagreeing with the Far Right on one tiny detail, and — Poof! You’re a Moonbat. A Loony Leftist. An Islamofascist.

George Will has always been independent and unaffiliated with any political group. But he’s now been officially banished from the Taliban wing of the Neanderthal party. It’s a blessing, George.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Tom DeLay: Starting to Slip?

Things are looking up for America's patriots and democracy-lovers. We The People are starting to close in on the Hammeroid. (And thank you Newsblog5000 for that new DeLay nickname.)

Thanks to 20,000 e-mails, the five corporations that have been donating to Tom DeLay’s defense fund are feeling the heat. So far Verizon, Nissan North America and American Airlines have agreed to stop contributing to the Hammeroid’s defense fund.

That leaves RJ Reynolds and Bacardi USA. Click here to send an e-mail to these two holdouts. If they think DeLay’s corrupt power and influence are more important than We The People: there are plenty of cigarette brands not affiliated with RJ Reynolds; lots of good rum out there besides Bacardi.

And still another blow to the Hammeroid: two members of the House Ethics Committee — who had been hand-picked by House Speaker Dennis Hastert — have excluded themselves for possible conflict of interest. Reason: they themselves have donated to DeLay's legal defense fund. Honesty and decency are starting to bloom.

But wait, don’t get complacent yet. Keep their feet to the fire. If you think the Hammeroid needs to be investigated, click here. This petition will demand that House Speaker Dennis Hastert appoint a Special Counsel to investigate DeLay.

We need to find out everything we can about how such a sleazebag achieved this much power, and how to avoid repeating these fascist adventures in the future. We need to do whatever it takes to prevent future Taliban wannabes from trying to take over our country.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Conservatives in favor of Rape, Incest

Have you raped and/or impregnated your teenage daughter? And now you’re worried about your rights? Don’t worry — House Republicans are looking out for you. Decent Godfearing conservatives have got your back.

The House of Representatives has passed a law making it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for purposes of obtaining an abortion (HR 748). This takes away the forbidden allure of that heathen land just over the state line where you can get an abortion without telling your parents.

The law carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $100,000 fine. You can also be sued by the girl’s parents.

OK, no surprises so far. Republicans are in control and this is what they’ve been clamoring to do since 1973.

Democrats tried to tack on several amendments to the bill; all were defeated. Again, this is just politics. The majority party likes to slamdunk a bill through Congress with no amendments from the minority party. Both parties have been guilty of this.

But, one of these amendments would have prevented the girl's father from filing a lawsuit if the girl was carrying her father's child. That’s correct. Democrats had this godless radical idea that if a man impregnates his teenage daughter, he shouldn’t then be allowed to sue the person who tries to arrange an abortion for her.

The amendment was defeated, 245 to 183. OK, so 245 members of Congress think that if a man impregnates his daughter, he should also have the right to sue anyone who tries to enable her to get an abortion. In their blind flailing against abortion, they’ve ended up protecting men who impregnate their daughters. Doesn’t the Bible have anything to say about this?!?

What part of the Bill of Rights protects fathers who impregnate their daughters? Oh, that’s right, now I remember, the Jim Bob Amendment. Sorry, I forgot.

Let’s thank the snakehandling wing of the bookburning party for yet another one of their sick, perverted stunts. Every time you think the Talibanagain Christians have hit rock bottom, they sink even further.

(Insert your favorite inbred hillbilly joke here.)

Monday, May 02, 2005

An Ostrich for President

One of the blogs on BE (SlightlyDrunk.com) has a banner that reads: “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

Does this sum up the Bush administration or what? This is George W. Bush in a nutshell. When the going gets tough, the tough go to Crawford. I forget where I heard this, but one of W.’s cabinet members said that Bush works 24/7. 24 hours a month, seven months a year.

An annual report indicates that worldwide terror attacks increased dramatically in 2004. The solution? Stop publication of the report, of course.

More and more government scientists are warning of the dangers of pollution, diminishing forests, etc. What to do? Fire those godless subversives. Replace them with politically correct “scientists” who will make the proper “discoveries”: what endangered species and vanishing wetlands really need is a huge dose of good old free enterprise.

70% of the public is against “reforming” (i.e. dismantling) Social Security? No problem. We’ll just orchestrate a few invitation-only “rallies” where everyone will spontaneously cheer for Social Security reform.

We can even stage some town hall meetings (invitation-only of course) where the softball questions will be known ahead of time, and the audience screened and vetted in advance. What do you think, Karl? Would the public actually fall for something like this?