Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cleaning Up Cable TV

The FCC is waking up. They're finally gonna start doing their job. TV programming is mostly a vapid wasteland, with several huge corporations owning practically every station. Five hundred channels and there’s nothing on. It sucks.

And now, finally…oh, wait…that’s not what the FCC is worried about. Oh. The FCC is getting ready to crack down on "indecent" programming on cable TV.

Currently, indecency standards only apply to broadcast channels. Congress is considering extending these standards to include cable and satellite channels. Let’s see, a person willingly subscribes to a cable TV channel, but then this same person needs a government wetnurse to make sure this viewer won’t ever be offended by anything shown on that channel.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told Congress yesterday “parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV.” He warned that if cable providers don’t find a way to police “smut” on television, the government will.

He also said “you can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don’t want, but why should you have to?”

He really said that! The party of personal responsibility and limited government has now flipflopped to “you could block the channels you don’t want, but why should you have to?” It’s gone from pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to “Waaaaahhh! I was offended! I need to be coddled Now!”

Let’s see how far this FCC “logic” can go. I can’t stand Country and Western music. The same three chords, the same mindless redneck lyrics – I want this junk taken off the airwaves. Sure I could just change the station if a country song comes on, but why should I have to?

I can’t stand looking at the Dodge Neon with those garish, fruity colors. I want those colors banned. Sure I could avert my gaze when one of those blinding purple-pink-chartreuse cars goes by, but why should I have to?

I want the government to start paying me welfare, but the checks must be large enough to keep me in the pleasant middle-class lifestyle I’m accustomed to. Sure, I could keep working, but why should I have to?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Iraq: Exit Strategy

Since John Murtha set off a firestorm with his blunt diagnosis of the Iraqi quagmire, more and more conservative hawks have “come out.” Most senior Pentagon officials are thinking about an exit strategy rather than how to win the Iraqi war.

As Robert Dreyfuss says in this Rolling Stone article, George Bush is just about the only person in Washington these days who doesn't know that the United States has lost the war in Iraq. Top U.S. generals in Iraq are saying there’s no longer a military solution; our presence in Iraq is detrimental.

Because of our continued presence there, ethnic rivalries in Iraq are stronger than ever, and Iraq’s civil war threatens to spill over into Iran, Turkey and the entire Arab world. The groups in Iraq who hate each other all agree on one thing: they don’t want foreign troops occupying their country.

Max Cleland, former Democratic Senator from Georgia, said “the key word in 'exit strategy' is not ‘exit’ but 'strategy.’ ” Cleland is a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs and an arm in combat. He was slandered out of office by America’s most infamous chickenhawk, Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss ran a series of TV ads where Max Cleland’s picture would segue into a picture of Osama bin Laden. Too many stupid voters fell for it, and Cleland was out.

Cleland also said “we need an exit strategy that we choose – or it will certainly be chosen for us. I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends.”

The main argument for staying in Iraq is that the region is so volatile and unpredictable, it needs America’s presence to serve as a steadying hand. Bush 43 has said “this enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory.”

But more and more hardliners are thinking just the opposite: that America’s presence in Iraq is increasing the hatred and violence. General William Odom, National Security Director under President Reagan and currently affiliated with the rightwing Hudson Institute, says the longer we remain in Iraq, the more of a haven it becomes for Islamic terrorists. Our continued presence is also giving Iran more and more influence in the region.

America’s presence in Iraq is the single largest recruiting tool for Islamic terrorists. This recruiting pitch would start to evaporate after U.S. troops have pulled out.

The most popular argument against setting a timetable for withdrawal is that the insurgents could just keep a low profile until after we’ve pulled out, and then let ‘er rip. But other people are taking the opposite view: setting a timetable would force rival groups to settle their differences themselves without relying on U.S. troops. Wayne White, a former senior intelligence official on Iraq said “For better or worse, the United States has to step back and let Iraqis do it themselves.”

Another thing we need to do is (warning to conservatives: an offensive swear word will follow) – negotiate. No, not with the terrorists, but with the least radical of the groups, who probably represent most of the population. Wayne White also said “there is a whole rainbow of armed groups, including organizations that are tired of fighting and want to make a deal.”

Retired Gen. Joseph Hoar, chief of the U.S. Central Command for Bush 41, said “the reality is, you've got to talk. But this administration is so fucking stupid. They've pissed in the soup.” Hoar thinks Jordan’s King Abdullah would be a good negotiator among the United States, the interim Iraqi government and the resistance.

The Russian government has been pushing for over a year to have this type of conference. A spokesman for the Russian mission to the United Nations said “we have favored the idea of bringing in the Iraqi opposition – the patriotic, nationalist opposition. We are not talking about the jihadists, but the legitimate nationalist forces.”

The United Nations, Europe and Russia should all be involved in brokering a settlement. Max Cleland said “you need the international community to cover your rear end as you get out.”

Retired General Wesley Clark blasted the Bush administration for seeking only a military solution. He said “why are you putting all this on the military? You and your neocons, you and Dick Cheney, you got us into this. You've got to think about diplomacy.”

Clark says Syria and every other neighboring country needs to be involved in settling the conflict. He said “it’s in the interest of all these countries to want us to leave. They don't want a big conflict in the region.”

The American ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War said “the two countries we most need the help of are Syria and Iran. But instead of trying to involve them, we’re upping the ante by confronting them.”

So, is it possible that we might set a timetable for withdrawal, start negotiating and get out of this endless “stay the course” loop? Maybe the top military commanders can persuade Rumsfeld to talk sense to Bush. Karl Rove, seeing how the Iraqi quagmire is dragging down the administration, might persuade Bush of the importance of ending the war. We can hope.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Global Warming

OK, what’s your verdict on global warming? Is it just a bunch of sniveling from those ditzy treehuggers? Or is this where we’re headed?

Friday, November 25, 2005

The American Gulag

The CIA’s network of secret prisons is turning into an international scandal.

A member of the Swiss government has launched an investigation into suspicious CIA activities in Eastern Europe over the past few years. He’s tracking the history of thirty-one planes and is looking for past satellite images of various sites in Poland and Romania.

If this investigation uncovers secret facilities, the shit will hit the fan, not only for the U.S. but for any other countries that cooperated with the CIA. Any country that was housing one of the CIA’s secret detention centers could be kicked out of the 46-member Council of Europe.

Swiss Senator Dick Marty said his investigation is based on a “moral obligation” to investigate whether the CIA was using secret prisons to interrogate terrorist suspects. Marty said there’s no proof of these secret prisons, but there were “many hints, such as suspicious moving patterns of aircraft, that have to be investigated.”

The U.S. government refuses to confirm or deny the existence of these secret CIA prisons. These allegations were leaked by the Washington Post more than three weeks ago. Republicans quickly launched an investigation – not into whether the CIA was running secret torture centers. No, they just wanted to know who leaked this information to the media.

The day after the Washington Post story, Human Rights Watch said it had evidence of CIA prisons in Poland and Romania. Airports in Spain, Ireland and Cyprus may have taken part in the covert transfer of prisoners to CIA prisons.

Marty is hoping Sen. John Kerry will share any information he obtains from Rumsfeld on the existence of the CIA prisons.

So far, most of Bush’s -----“gate” scandals have been confined to domestic politics. Gulag-gate, Stalin-gate, whatever we end up calling it, might reverberate all across Europe and the Middle East.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

War on Drugs: Another Side Effect

Once upon a time, bears and cougars were the biggest dangers of hiking in national parks. Now, marijuana cultivation has gotten more prevalent inside our national parks and forests. A hiker is more and more likely to stumble on somebody’s pot plants. The results aren’t pretty.

Mexican drug cartels are often behind these operations. A lot of drug gangs have decided it’s less hassle to just grow their pot in the U.S. than to risk smuggling it over the border. Their operations have become much bolder. They used to be found in only the most remote, secluded areas. Now they’re spreading into some of our most populated national parks.

Booby traps, or armed guards, may be in store for the unlucky hiker.

The Park Service has requested more funding for drug eradication and law enforcement, but money’s tight. (Maybe Halliburton could get a no-bid $30 billion contract to clean up “the drug problem” in our parks.)

One particularly bright Congressman, Steve Pearce (R-NM), suggested that the parks use more of their scarce funds to enforce marijuana laws.

Aside from endangering hikers and rangers, these drug operations are creating fire hazards during dry seasons. They’re endangering wildlife by using pesticides, diverting streams, and illegal hunting and fishing.

So, besides draining trillions of dollars from our budget and ruining the lives of millions of victimless “criminals,” the War on Some Drugs is now threatening our national parks.

Will this insanity ever end?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Chickenhawks Swoop on John Murtha

Rep. John Murtha tells the truth about Iraq. As a reward for his honesty and candor, he gets attacked by swarms of phony swiftboat “veterans” (sure, they’re veterans, riiight) and Chickenhawks.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bush Can Run But He Can't Hide

It seems Bush just can’t get away from the Iraqi war controversy. Running away to South Korea doesn’t even help. He’s been involved in an endless tit-for-tat argument with war critics, in full view of the world.

While Bush was attending a meeting in Busan, about 4,000 Korean anti-war protestors chanted and shouted outside. While he was in Korea, Bush was informed that his Coalition of the Willing would be shrinking: South Korea will be withdrawing about a third of its troops from Iraq next year.

Then, as if the administration wasn’t having enough fun already, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced he was putting together a new grand jury. The CIA leak investigation will continue. The forecast: more political clouds lingering over the Bush Administration.

House Republicans sank to a new low yesterday (and you thought they’d already hit rock bottom). They engineered a vote on Rep. John Murtha’s proposal that we bring our troops home from Iraq. Trouble is, they twisted Murtha’s wording into a ridiculous caricature, and then voted on the caricature.

Murtha’s speech called for bringing the troops home “at the earliest practicable date” (roughly six months). He also said the U.S. should use diplomacy to establish stability in Iraq.

The Republicans re-worded it to “It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately” and then voted No. Most Democrats also voted No, showing what a stupid, meaningless stunt this “resolution” was. As Republicans are always saying about the Iraqi insurgents: “See how desperate they’ve become!”

Meanwhile, the Swiftboating of John Murtha is off to a roaring start. Remember, he’s a longtime Congressional Hawk who served 37 years in the Marine Corps. The White House released a statement comparing Murtha to Michael Moore. White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Murtha was a leftwing extremist, to the left of John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi.

Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, referring to Murtha’s speech, said “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

Ooookay. Hell, let’s cut to the chase and do their Swiftboating for them: Murtha killed John F. Kennedy, he invented AIDS and he single-handedly flew those two airliners into the World Trade Center.

For our final laugh of the day, Congress voted themselves a pay raise. Yup, our bloated, useless, underworked, overpaid “representatives” decided they’re not quite bloated enough. They need at least $165,200 a year to perform their “work,” which consists of…uhhh…just a minute, I’m checking…this might take awhile…

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bush and Cheney on the Defensive

Dick Cheney poked his head out from his secret hiding place just long enough to spew out a few soundbites.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Murtha isn’t your stereotype bleeding heart liberal. He’s been one of Congress’ biggest hawks. He had a 37-year career in the Marine Corps, including combat in both Korea and Vietnam.

Please remember those facts about him. When the Bush/Rove propaganda machine gets through swiftboating him, millions of gullible Americans will probably think he burned his draft card during the Vietnam war and his hobbies include torturing fetuses and masturbating on the Bible.

Yesterday he said “the U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home.” The Bush/Cheney hate machine roared into overdrive.

Cheney (a pampered sheltered chickenhawk) accused Democrats of losing their courage in the Iraqi war. To this, Murtha responded "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.”

Earlier, Cheney had said that Democratic critics are engaged in “one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city” in response to accusations that Bush lied to get us into the Iraqi war.

Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, said Republicans will continue their attacks on Democrats for as long as it takes to quash their offensive. He said “a charge going unanswered can be a charge that becomes conventional wisdom.” Bartlett probably didn’t catch the irony in that statement – he was describing Karl Rove's attack strategy down to a T.

John Kerry said the administration was using “exactly the kind of disgraceful fear tactic, scare tactic, exploitation” that they used to sell the war in Iraq. “They did it all through the election last year. They tried to scare Americans and did, in many cases. And they're still doing it.”

Bush also entered the slugfest from his travels in South Korea. Instead of looking diplomatic on the world stage, he’s been reduced to endless retorts of “did not,” “did too,” “he started it,” “takes one to know one”...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Puget Sound Under Assault – Again!

Last month Congress defeated (barely) an attempt to allow larger supertankers in Puget Sound. But like a cat that keeps jumping up on the table no matter how many times you push him off, our Oligarchs are again trying to jeopardize Puget Sound with larger supertankers and more risk of an oil spill.

BP America is using the threat of a 10% output reduction, and the ensuing job losses, to push for their goal of allowing more and larger tankers to use their refinery in Bellingham, WA. As far as job losses go, my guess is either A) it’s a scare tactic, or B) they’re going to eliminate those jobs anyway, after they’ve gotten their way.

In addition to a federal law that’s been in place for 28 years, BP America has been in an ongoing court battle over their refinery with Ocean Advocates, an environmental group. But it’s so much easier to just make an end run around the courts and a 28-year-old law.

BP America has instructed its favorite call girl, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), to introduce legislation allowing more and larger tankers in Puget Sound. Residents of Washington have something in common with Californians: regardless of their political views, they’re as fiercely protective of Washington’s waterways as Californians are of their coastline.

Puget Sound is Washington’s lifeblood. A major oil spill would devastate the fishing and tourism industries (not to mention the wildlife). There aren’t any multi-billion dollar lobbying groups for the fishing industry, but that doesn’t make them any less important than the oil cartel.

When the oil industry was deciding on which member of their harem to use, they chose the aging, skanky, overly used and highly experienced Ted Stevens. He’s spent decades gyrating and bumping and grinding for the oilmen. He loves his work and he’s good at what he does. When the oil industry says “Spread ‘em!” Ted Stevens says “how wide, Sir?”

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) promised to filibuster this legislation.

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) said “BP mishandled this. They should have been more open. Instead, they tried to sneak it through. I would hope that Sen. Stevens doesn't try to attach this to some other piece of legislation. There need to be hearings on this. There really isn't a rush. ... It would have been better for BP people to come in and sit down with the Washington delegation and say, ‘We have a problem.’ ”

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More Republican Fun and Games with the Morning After Pill

Just when you think the rightwing nutcases controlling our government couldn’t possibly get any more sleazy and underhanded, they do. They already control the White House, both branches of Congress and the Supreme Court (i.e. most of the current justices were appointed by Republican presidents), and yet they still can’t pass their agenda without using their cowardly under-cover-of-darkness tactics.

They’re like a 300 pound bully that still can’t beat up that 90-pound weakling unless he uses a club or a knife.

The Bush Administration is again trying to squelch scientific research in order to not offend the Far Right. First they censored research linking global warming to human activity. Now we learn that FDA scientists discovered no side effects from the morning after pill, but they had to change their answer in order to please the Caliph.

If Galileo had to live under the Bush Administration, he would’ve been forced to write that the sun revolves around the Earth.

The Government Accountability Office has now confirmed what most of us have suspected. The FDA’s decision to keep the Morning After pill “on hold” ‘til doomsday was based on political pressure, not science.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said “We are deeply opposed to this subversion of science. It appears that the decision ... was preordained from the outset.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said “I can only come to one conclusion. This highly unusual case was influenced by politics from above." Murray also said "My concern is that FDA's credibility is at stake. Every American relies on that agency to be beyond suspicion."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bush Escalates the War Rhetoric (Again)

The best defense is a good offense, and Bush sure got plenty of mileage out of that truism last Friday. He used Veterans’ Day as an opportunity to attack opponents of the Iraqi war. He also pretended he was just horrified and insulted that anyone could have doubted his motives for the invasion.

He got so carried away with his attacks and pro-war rhetoric that he barely had time to mention anything about the millions of veterans who were supposed to be honored on this day. Bush continued his Karl Joseph Goebbels Rove tactic of equating criticism of the Iraqi war with “undermining and demoralizing” the troops. Referring to his critics, Bush said “these baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.”

You’d think that with the easy, cushy military “service” that Bush performed during the Vietnam war, he’d at least have some sympathy for those who didn’t get out of Vietnam or Iraq by begging Daddy to make a few phone calls. There but for the grace of his family connections…

Again today, just before leaving for an image-building trip to Asia (::smirks:: sometimes a comedy skit just writes itself), Bush got off another parting shot. He accused his critics of “sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. That is irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, whatever anyone thinks of the war in Iraq, one inescapable fact gets clearer every day: “The Army’s commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged” according to the New York Times.

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Operation Truth is a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq. He said soldiers “feel like they’re the only ones sacrificing.” Operation Truth is an advocacy group for service members and veterans. When Rieckhoff was asked what was happening with the Army, he said “the wheels are coming off.”

Rieckhoff also said soldiers are “starting to look around and say ‘you know, it’s me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.’” It sure seems that way. Some people are getting killed or wounded in Iraq; others are living uninterrupted easy lives cruising along with Support The Magnetic Ribbon Industry Support Our Troops plastered all over their vehicles. It’s too easy to be a fierce devotee of the Iraqi war without making a single sacrifice for it. People who just give lip service to supporting the war are upstanding Patriotic Americans; veterans who question the war “hate America.” Go figure.

As the motto at Operation Yellow Elephant goes: “It’s their war. Why aren’t they fighting it?”

Rieckhoff also said “As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits in economically depressed rural areas where youths’ need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war.”

And don’t forget the ever-rising maximum age for enlisting — currently 39 and climbing. At some point, retirees might be spending their golden years fighting in Iraq instead of working at McDonalds.

Operation Truth released a statement responding to Bush’s Veterans’ Day speech:

“On Veterans’ Day, the President spoke a lot about the reasons for the war in Iraq, but very little about how he plans to take care of the people fighting that war, and what the future holds for them. Those of us who fought in Iraq deserve to know why we became Veterans in the first place. On today of all days there should be consensus on the need to rise above partisan bickering over who said what in Washington and begin real investigations into prewar intelligence. It’s unfortunate that the President doesn’t think he owes that to the people who have been unwavering in their bravery while carrying out his plans.”

We’re all too familiar with the disgraceful scandals over the past year: insufficient supplies (and inferior quality) of bullets and body armor; shortages of armored vehicles (with the manufacturer responding that they were never asked by the Pentagon to increase production); Rumsfeld dismissing a soldier’s question with “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had,” etc. There’s been too much of a disconnect between those who support this war — with rhetoric but no action — and those who are doing the fighting and dying.

Blind “patriotism” and character assassination of opponents are not the answer. There have been too many divisive slogans and talking points: “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” “you can’t be against the war and support the troops,” people who criticize the war are “demoralizing our troops” and “aiding and abetting the enemy,” etc.

The Bush Administration may or may not be guilty of manipulating pre-war intelligence, but when Congressional Republicans keep thwarting any and all attempts to investigate, they look like they’re hiding something. Almost three years ago this war was supposed to be a cakewalk that would only last a few weeks at the most, and there would be no American casualties.


Either the planners of this war are so stupid they’d get lost in a one-room apartment, or the Iraqi invasion was part of a Neocon master plan that had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or bringing democracy to Iraq. Which is it?

We need to find out how our “intelligence” and predictions could have been so wrong, and how to prevent fuckups like this from ever happening again. We need to be sure our troops have all the equipment they need while they’re over there and all the support they’ll need when they come back.

Last summer Operation Truth ran a full page newspaper ad urging Bush to ensure funding for veterans’ benefits. The ad was titled “Mr. President, you’re either with us or against us.”

cross-posted at Bring It On!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Richard Pombo Goes Down on the Mining Industry

Every time you think Richard Pombo (R-Cal.) has already dreamed up every possible method for raping the environment, he dreams up another one. So far he’s invented 690 sensuous positions for raping our national heritage, and now he’s come up with position number 691.

There’s a rumor that Hustler Magazine has a special issue just for Richard Pombo. Instead of pictures of women, it has sexy photos of canyons, forests and pristine meadows to stimulate Pombo’s kinkiest fantasies.

His latest wetdream? He wants to change an 1872 mining law to allow mining companies to stake claims on public lands. This could affect up to 20 million acres nationwide, including millions of acres in national parks and national forests.

After a mining company has purchased this parkland and extracted all the minerals, the company could sell the land to a developer. Our national parks could become full of golf courses, ski resorts, luxury hotels, you name it.

He wants to rape our national heritage.

As usual, he’s using his favorite slippery cowardly tactic with this new law: it’s an amendment to a budget bill.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.VA, said the mining provision “is one of the many ways the Republican leadership acts on behalf of special interests instead of in the best interest of the taxpayer.”

The Environmental Working Group said Pombo’s bill “could become one of the largest land giveaways in U.S. history.” See, Republicans don’t have anything against government giveaways; they only object when poor people are the recipients.

The Environmental Working Group also said “Pombo wants to sell the American West to foreign mining corporations and anyone else who can pay a fraction of the market value for this land. If Pombo’s bill passes, America’s treasured national heritage will be for sale to anyone who wants to buy it.”

A Democrat on the House Resources Committee said “they want to give away the taxpayers’ gold.”

Richard Pombo — where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when we really need him?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ahnuld: No More Heavy Lifting

What’s happened to Ahnuld? Earlier in his political career, he sponsored several ballot initiatives which were heavily disfavored by the public. He always fixed the problem by using his Action Hero charisma. He’d go out there, take his proposal “to ze peepuhl,” and the voters would end up passing the initiative by a landslide.

But this past election day, something different happened.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Religious Right: Nobody Is Safe from EVIL

The American Girl doll company is popular with conservative Christian families because of its wholesome image. The company (owned by Mattel) makes dolls which are dressed in costumes from different periods of American history.

Recently a housewife from Ft. Worth, TX found out that the American Girl company was donating $50,000 to an organization called Girls, Inc. She visited their website and discovered to her horror that Girls, Inc. was in favor of Roe vs. Wade. Not only that, but she also found out that the organization is in favor of certain rights for — Gasp! — Homasexials!!

This righteously indignant woman said “I feel like there's nowhere safe. I have to have a clear conscience.” She has spread the word among friends and associates, and now a tempest is brewing in the Decent Godfearing community.

Another Christian mother has warned that “Girls Inc. is pro-abortion and pro-contraception and pro all the other lies the secular world wants our girls to believe.”

Several Catholic schools have canceled their American Girl fashion shows, where the girls would dress up like their dolls.

The Pro-Life Action League of Chicago has called for a boycott of American Girl. This group is also planning a demonstration outside their Chicago store on the day after Thanksgiving. The demonstrators are planning to bring some of those graphic signs and pictures that anti-abortion demonstrations are famous for.

James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is now getting in on the act (of course). Some people just have waaay too much time on their hands.

The American Girl company has always prided itself on its wholesome, clean-cut image. They’ve been blindsided by this storm of outrage from some of their own customers.

They’re also not sure how appropriate an anti-abortion demonstration would be, right in front of their store and their customers. A company spokesperson said “Given this group’s focus on family values, we will find it particularly shocking and ironic if they choose to use graphic images in front of innocent little girls.”

Irony — now there’s a concept our snakehandlers and bookburners ought to try grasping.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

No Oil Drilling in ANWR (for now)

Yeeaahhh!!! The House has deleted the oil drilling provision from the budget bill. As of right now, there will be no oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

But watch your back. They’ve been drooling, champing at the bit for decades, to drill for oil in the ANWR. For the past couple of years it’s been on off on off on off yes no yes no yes no…So for now, there’ll be no drilling. But keep your guard up.

The House also deleted another amendment that would have lifted the moratorium on drilling along America’s coasts. Again, keep an eye on these sleazebags.

These drilling amendments were deleted in order to ensure passage of the budget bill. This budget takes funding away from Medicare and Medicaid in order to help finance the Iraqi quagmire, the Patriot Act, further tax cuts, etc. House leaders wanted to ensure the votes of the few moderate Republicans who were against the drilling amendments.

But drilling in ANWR and off the coasts could rear its ugly head any time, so keep an eye out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Boycott Oil Companies that Drill in ANWR

OK, the oil companies own Congress, lock stock and barrel. After years of haggling and false starts, the Senate has authorized oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Republicans had to resort to their usual bedwetting cowardly tactic of inserting the oil drilling provision into a budget bill where it couldn’t be voted down on its own merits. They know there’s no public desire to rape America’s wilderness for that last drop of oil, so their only solution is to sneak and slither into the darkest corners where nobody can see what they’re doing.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, has been one of the staunchest opponents of drilling in ANWR. She said “Using backdoor tactics to destroy America's last great wild frontier will not solve our nation's energy problems and will do nothing to lower skyrocketing gas prices.”

With few exceptions, Congress is basically the world’s most expensive whorehouse. About the only thing they’re good for is lying down and spreading their legs every time the oil industry comes a-courtin’ (and the banking industry, timber and mining interests, auto manufacturers, Halliburton…)

The oil companies own our government, but they don’t own you. Do they? Public opinion is overwhelmingly against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And now you have a chance to express this.

You can send this message to the oil companies. Tell them you will boycott any oil company that drills in the ANWR. The oil companies can bribe Congress but they can’t bribe the public.

This boycott will speak to them in the one language they understand. Please send them this message and make your voice heard. We The People have power, but only if we're willing to use it.

And thanks to The Bulldog Manifesto, Boycott Thieves, and BlogTemps for originally posting this.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Free the Internet

As you probably know, the Online Freedom of Speech Act was defeated last week in the House. Actually, it got a majority of votes, but it needed a two thirds majority to pass.

The bill seemed to have almost no opposition in committee, so the House brought it to a quick floor vote. Under this procedure there’s very little debate, and no amendments are permitted. But the bill needs a two thirds majority under this procedure.

Now there are rumblings that the bill will be voted on again under the normal procedure, with only a simple majority required. And yes, amendments will be permitted during this upcoming vote (if there is one).

Currently, bloggers don’t have the same free speech protections that “real” journalists have. You know, those “serious” reporters who say exactly what their CEOs tell them to say, and/or fill their “news” sites with the latest Brennifer and Britney gossip.

The Online Freedom of Speech Act adds this simple amendment to the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: “Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.”

This bill has now been introduced in both the Senate and House. Please click here to ask your Senators and your Representative to pass this law.

We all need this important protection. Without it, you could be unknowingly violating Federal election laws just by blogging. You thought you were just expressing your opinion, until you received a crippling fine (or worse) from the Federal Election Commission.

If you don't want this to happen, please protect yourself by sending this message to Congress. The Internet is for all of us, not just the established, bottom-line "journalists."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cheney: Fighting Desperately for the Right to Torture

The reclusive Dick Cheney (rumored to be the Vice President of the United States) has not fallen off the edge of the Earth. He still exists, and here's proof. Yes, a rare sighting indeed.

The shadowy slithery one has been working frantically behind the scenes. He’s fighting desperately for that most cherished of American freedoms: the right to tie up SUSPECTED terrorists, break their legs and zap their family jewels with ultra-high voltage.

(Special Help for rightwing nutcases: Note the all-caps boldfaced word SUSPECTED in the previous sentence. That’s because we’re talking about prisoners of war SUSPECTED of being terrorists. They haven’t been tried yet.)

In the past few months, Cheney has been so gung ho about the inalienable right to spreadeagle and torture, even Condoleezza Rice has started backing away from him. (She was always more attracted to Dumbya anyway.)

Are Republican lawmakers and cabinet members suddenly developing a set of principles, or are they just rats deserting a sinking ship? Who knows? In addition to Rice, acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and Elliot Abrams (one of our most rabid chickenhawks since the 1980s) are also easing away from Cheney.

Cheney’s camp is a “shrinking island,” according to a State Department official who declined to be identified.

Rice is in favor of clear guidelines on torture so that we can “get out of the detainee mess,” according to a senior official. The State Department and Pentagon are hoping to address all detainee issues at once, instead of on a piecemeal basis.

The lack of clear guidelines — with contradictory orders coming from every direction — is the root of these torture scandals. Soldiers are told to do whatever it takes to get confessions or information, and then their superiors are just shocked — shocked! — that a wayward soldier would do such things. The only solution is a uniform, clearly understood set of rules.

Cheney worked frantically to have McCain’s anti-torture amendment defeated in the Senate. Instead, the amendment was passed by a 90 to 9 vote. Now that the amendment seems to be a done deal (knock wood), Cheney’s burning issue is allowing the CIA to be exempt from these torture restrictions. However, the CIA hasn’t expressed any concerns about being exempt from the McCain amendment.

OK, why is Cheney so obsessed with performing kinky tortures on POWs? Let’s see what kind of sicko magazines he’s hiding in his closet…

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Identity Theft: A Solution! (well, sort of…)

During the past year, one American out of ten received a letter informing them that a company had lost some of their financial data. In other words “you could become a victim of Identity Theft.”

Good news! Congress is planning to fix this problem.

Now the bad news. According to Congress, Identity Theft isn’t the problem. There are about twenty states (including California) that require banks to inform customers when their financial data has been lost.

And that’s the “problem” Congress is planning to fix. If you asked most Americans whether they’re more worried about (A) Identity Theft or (B) our hardworking upstanding banks being smothered by socialist regulations, they’d probably choose (A).

But the Oligarchs who would choose (B) are the ones with the money and political clout, and they’ve instructed their Harem, er, I mean Congress, to bend over and do what they’re told.

Congress is considering the Data Accountability and Trust Act. Despite the friendly title, this law would wipe out state laws that require consumers to be informed (so they can take pre-emptive action) when their financial data has been compromised. That’s right, this law will do nothing to prevent Identity Theft. It just means banks are no longer required to warn you if your financial data has been stolen.

After all, it’s a royal pain in the butt to have to inform those whiny consumers when their lives might be turned upside down by your own mistakes. Not only that, but these state requirements have been giving consumers a glimpse into just how fragile and tenuous their financial information is. It’s more fun to cut corners and make mistakes when nobody’s looking.

Recent losses of personal financial data — and state laws requiring banks to inform consumers — have shown the public just how many “third party,” uh “subcontractor”-types are handling their credit card information and Social Security numbers. The financial industry is furious. Not about Identity Theft — about having their carelessness and incompetence brought into the limelight.

Now, because of these intrusive state laws, there are millions of pesky consumers who want the right to check their own financial records. And they want to know who knows what about them.

So, let’s see where Congress’ priorities lie: millions of American consumers fighting for their financial survival, or the whims of a few banking executives. Let‘s have a look…hmmm, this seems to be a bad time…What the F@#$%&*!!…the sounds of whips cracking…dim light, but there’re some kinky leather garments…several banking johns are in there, standing over hundreds of prostitutes Congressional Representatives who are lying there gyrating and, uhh…oh God, don’t look…

Friday, November 04, 2005

Brave Senators Stand Up to the Poor

Yesterday our brave Senators gathered up all their courage, gritted their teeth, braced themselves, and stood up to the poorest and most vulnerable American citizens.

After running up the largest deficit in our history, the Senate finally decided to start cutting costs. They’ve spent hundreds of billions financing the Iraqi quagmire. They’ve rubberstamped every multi-billion dollar giveaway to the wealthiest corporations in the world.

And now it’s time to start balancing the budget on the backs of — you guessed it.

They’ve decided to cut health care funding for the poor, elderly and disabled. This is the most shameless, cowardly, pathetic group of legislators this country’s ever seen.

They’re sort of like a high school student who’s constantly getting dissed, ignored and shat on. He’s walking around thinking “I’m just worthless. I don’t count for anything. I might as well just — Wait…Yeah! Here comes that 105-pound scrawny nerd who walks with a limp and wears thick glasses. I’m gonna kick his ass. Then I’ll feel good about myself. I AM somebody!”

Besides making cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, this bill also permits oil drilling in an Alaskan wilderness area — something Republicans have been wetdreaming about for decades.

When combined with the scheduled $70 billion tax cut, this “cost-cutting” measure will still increase the deficit.

When this bill goes to the House, some changes are possible. The brave members of the House are hoping to look even tougher than the Senate and make even deeper cuts. They’ll probably try to reduce funding for food stamps (which were left untouched by the Senate) as well as making even steeper cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.

There’s a chance the House will delete the provision for oil drilling in the Alaska wilderness area. Don’t worry, they didn’t suddenly turn into a bunch of tree huggers or anything like that. Eliminating the provision for oil drilling might be one way to gain a few moderate votes in favor of the budget cuts.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tom DeLay: Phantom Pain

The House of Representatives is undergoing the same phantom pain that befalls accident victims and wounded soldiers. The diseased, gangrenous bodypart (Tom DeLay) has been amputated, and yet you'd swear it was still here.

Because of his indictment, The Hammeroid officially stepped down on 9/28 from his leadership post. And yet…he’s still using an office in the leadership suite, he’s still presiding over meetings with committee chairmen and he still lobbies members during key votes.

He also continues to maintain the House schedule, and he’s still sending memos to representatives. And on his most recent court appearances in Austin two weeks ago he was accompanied by three bodyguards from the Capitol Hill police force.

He’s kind of like Bruce Willis in that move where he doesn’t know he’s dead.

Uh…Hellooo!!!! Sleazeball!! Go!! You’ve been amputated. Exorcised. Hit the road. Better yet, start practicing some role-playing as the abused wife. It’ll be good training for your upcoming prison stint.

DeLay’s continued presence in the House is causing dissent within the ranks. Some reps are wearing hammer-shaped lapel pins to show their solidarity.

Others are less supportive. One House Republican — who didn’t want to be named — said “My issue is having an indicted former leader hanging around the leadership offices. This guy did so much good work getting us into the majority. Why does he want to stick around? He’s not helping us.”

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said “Tom DeLay should not be in a position of authority. He should not be calling the shots or driving the agenda, and if he is, that would be unfortunate.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Give ‘Em Hell Harry!

Yeeaahhh!!! You go Guy! It’s about time the Democrats stood up and did what they had to do.

And the Republicans are providing some hilarious entertainment with their frenzy of foot-stamping, pouting and tantrum-throwing. They’re pretending not to remember when things were turned around. From 1995 to 2000, Republicans were thwarting and blocking Clinton with every obscure parliamentary maneuver ever invented, and then some.

The Republicans have spent 4-½ years “investigating” themselves, and they keep coming to the same conclusion every time: Nobody did anything wrong and everything is just hunky-dory. Democrats finally decided that enough is enough.

As you probably know by now (since the Republican sobbing could be heard around the world), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid forced the Senate into a closed session yesterday. The session — lasting more than two hours — was to “persuade” Republicans to continue their investigation into the pre-war claims that led to the Iraqi invasion.

Democrats have been pushing for this investigation for over a year. Republicans have continued to stall and drag their feet.

We need to find out what went wrong. How did 2,000+ American soldiers get killed in a war based on lies and “misunderstandings”? Republicans are either trying to hide something, or they’re just amazingly uncurious about what happened and why.

Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq: Not Found. Ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein: Ditto. Ties between Iraq and the September 11th terrorist attacks: Ditto. Number of people held accountable for these “mistakes”: ZERO.

And yesterday’s closed session accomplished something. The Senate Intelligence Committee has agreed to launch Phase II of its investigation of pre-war intelligence claims. A 6-member task force — 3 from each party — will issue a report on the committee’s progress by November 14th.

Harry Reid said “they have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.”

Yesterday’s dose of tough love was just what the Senate needed. If the Republican “leadership” keeps dragging their feet and acting like a bunch of spoiled 3-year-olds, they’ll be treated accordingly.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ford Pinpoints the Problem

Times haven’t been good at the Ford Motor Company plant in Wayne, Michigan. This is where the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator are manufactured. With gas at almost $3 a gallon, who wants a vehicle that gets .009 miles to the gallon?

A less-informed person might think this is why the plant is suffering right now. But management officials have pinpointed the real problem. Those Goddamn lazy assembly line workers are spending too much time in the bathroom. As soon as there’s a crackdown on those long potty breaks, consumers will come swarming in and start buying every Navigator and Expedition they can get their hands on.