Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bush Thought Police Alive & Well In Georgia

Every day we are treated to new and scary ways that the powers-that-be try and make the America our founders died for unrecognizable.

According to the following AP story, a Georgia woman faces a fine for an allegedly lewd bumper sticker:

"Denise Grier, 47, of Athens was recently pulled over in suburban Atlanta's DeKalb County where she works as a nurse when a police officer spotted her bumper sticker that reads: 'I'm Tired Of All The BUSHIT.'

"The officer who stopped her thought it was lewd, and she was cited for violating a state law prohibiting lewd or profane stickers and decals on vehicles."

There is no such word as 'bushit,' so how would this ever even pass the most minimal of court tests for alleged lewdness? Still, the ACLU is stepping in on the woman's behalf.

Apparently, the 4th Amendment isn't enough, Bushies want to take away our 1st Amendment rights as well.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

AFA Attacks Fox

The AFA is apparently shameless. In the pursuit of money, they will even attack their bedmates.

Knowing full well that emotions might be running high after the recent death of a NASCAR driver (both the driver's death and the 'offending' conversation took place on Sunday....not sure of the exact timeline), the AFA is mounting an FCC attack on Fox over allowing the word "shit" to be aired. The word was uttered by a driver who had just been in a car crash.

In the same e-mail, AFA seeks donations to keep up this "worthy" effort.

Anybody who contributes to these insensitive louts needs to have their head examined. Here is the full text of the letter (sans the linkage). I have removed the e-mail address where I get their alerts for obvious reasons.

Here is the ridiculous AFA alert:

March 27, 2006

Fox allows 's' word. Take a stand for our children!

Dear xxxx (deleted),

Tired of all the profanity on TV? Want to do something about it? Here is your opportunity.

File a complaint with the FCC against Fox Network for using the "s" word.

This past Sunday afternoon, Fox network broadcast the NASCAR "Food City 500" race. During the course of the race, driver Martin Truex, Jr. crashed his car after being bumped by another driver.

Fox network aired a conversation between Truex and his crew chief, Kevin Manion. During the course of the conversation, Manion told his driver, "We missed the set-up today. It (the car) was a piece of s**t.

Fox had been warned about allowing the "s" word on the air. The network could have used a delay and bleeped the profanity. But they chose not to. The network chose to air the segment live. Millions of viewers, including children, were offended by the crude profanity.

Also, please forward this to your family and friends. Together, we can make a difference!

Take Action
Here is your opportunity to make the networks more sensitive to your concern. The FCC is willing to fine the stations, but viewers must complain! Please file a complaint with the FCC against Fox stations for the broadcast of indecent language.

Click Here to File Your Formal Complaint to the FCC Now!

If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.


Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What A Representative Iraqi Blog Is Saying

Rather than add anything, read this recent post from the blog "Baghdad Burning," as is.

It is eerily reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing that went on in Rwanda. Neighbor turning on neighbor, all because of the Islamic sect they belong to.

This is why we should always make it a habit to read the blogs coming out of Iraq. Compare the current entries with the entries from the same blog that were written at the start of our involvement there. See how those entries evolved over the past 3 years. In many cases you will see how attitudes towards us have undergone a profound change. Unfortunately, not for the better.

Baghdad Burning

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Three Years...

It has been three years since the beginning of the war that marked the end of Iraq’s independence. Three years of occupation and bloodshed.

Spring should be about renewal and rebirth. For Iraqis, spring has been about reliving painful memories and preparing for future disasters. In many ways, this year is like 2003 prior to the war when we were stocking up on fuel, water, food and first aid supplies and medications. We're doing it again this year but now we don't discuss what we're stocking up for. Bombs and B-52's are so much easier to face than other possibilities.

I don’t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I’m so tired of it all- we’re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots.

School, college and work have been on again, off again affairs. It seems for every two days of work/school, there are five days of sitting at home waiting for the situation to improve. Right now college and school are on hold because the “arba3eeniya” or the “40th Day” is coming up- more black and green flags, mobs of men in black and latmiyas. We were told the children should try going back to school next Wednesday. I say “try” because prior to the much-awaited parliamentary meeting a couple of days ago, schools were out. After the Samarra mosque bombing, schools were out. The children have been at home this year more than they’ve been in school.

I’m especially worried about the Arba3eeniya this year. I’m worried we’ll see more of what happened to the Askari mosque in Samarra. Most Iraqis seem to agree that the whole thing was set up by those who had most to gain by driving Iraqis apart.

I’m sitting here trying to think what makes this year, 2006, so much worse than 2005 or 2004. It’s not the outward differences- things such as electricity, water, dilapidated buildings, broken streets and ugly concrete security walls. Those things are disturbing, but they are fixable. Iraqis have proved again and again that countries can be rebuilt. No- it’s not the obvious that fills us with foreboding.

The real fear is the mentality of so many people lately- the rift that seems to have worked it’s way through the very heart of the country, dividing people. It’s disheartening to talk to acquaintances- sophisticated, civilized people- and hear how Sunnis are like this, and Shia are like that… To watch people pick up their things to move to “Sunni neighborhoods” or “Shia neighborhoods”. How did this happen?

I read constantly analyses mostly written by foreigners or Iraqis who’ve been abroad for decades talking about how there was always a divide between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq (which, ironically, only becomes apparent when you're not actually living amongst Iraqis they claim)… but how under a dictator, nobody saw it or nobody wanted to see it. That is simply not true- if there was a divide, it was between the fanatics on both ends. The extreme Shia and extreme Sunnis. Most people simply didn’t go around making friends or socializing with neighbors based on their sect. People didn't care- you could ask that question, but everyone would look at you like you were silly and rude.

I remember as a child, during a visit, I was playing outside with one of the neighbors children. Amal was exactly my age- we were even born in the same month, only three days apart. We were laughing at a silly joke and suddenly she turned and asked coyly, “Are you Sanafir or Shanakil?” I stood there, puzzled. ‘Sanafir’ is the Arabic word for “Smurfs” and ‘Shanakil” is the Arabic word for “Snorks”. I didn’t understand why she was asking me if I was a Smurf or a Snork. Apparently, it was an indirect way to ask whether I was Sunni (Sanafir) or Shia (Shanakil).

“What???” I asked, half smiling. She laughed and asked me whether I prayed with my hands to my sides or folded against my stomach. I shrugged, not very interested and a little bit ashamed to admit that I still didn’t really know how to pray properly, at the tender age of 10.

Later that evening, I sat at my aunt’s house and remember to ask my mother whether we were Smurfs or Snorks. She gave me the same blank look I had given Amal. “Mama- do we pray like THIS or like THIS?!” I got up and did both prayer positions. My mother’s eyes cleared and she shook her head and rolled her eyes at my aunt, “Why are you asking? Who wants to know?” I explained how Amal, our Shanakil neighbor, had asked me earlier that day. “Well tell Amal we’re not Shanakil and we’re not Sanafir- we’re Muslims- there’s no difference.”

It was years later before I learned that half the family were Sanafir, and the other half were Shanakil, but nobody cared. We didn’t sit around during family reunions or family dinners and argue Sunni Islam or Shia Islam. The family didn’t care about how this cousin prayed with his hands at his side and that one prayed with her hands folded across her stomach. Many Iraqis of my generation have that attitude. We were brought up to believe that people who discriminated in any way- positively or negatively- based on sect or ethnicity were backward, uneducated and uncivilized.

The thing most worrisome about the situation now, is that discrimination based on sect has become so commonplace. For the average educated Iraqi in Baghdad, there is still scorn for all the Sunni/Shia talk. Sadly though, people are being pushed into claiming to be this or that because political parties are promoting it with every speech and every newspaper- the whole ‘us’ / ‘them’. We read constantly about how ‘We Sunnis should unite with our Shia brothers…’ or how ‘We Shia should forgive our Sunni brothers…’ (note how us Sunni and Shia sisters don’t really fit into either equation at this point). Politicians and religious figures seem to forget at the end of the day that we’re all simply Iraqis.

And what role are the occupiers playing in all of this? It’s very convenient for them, I believe. It’s all very good if Iraqis are abducting and killing each other- then they can be the neutral foreign party trying to promote peace and understanding between people who, up until the occupation, were very peaceful and understanding.

Three years after the war, and we’ve managed to move backwards in a visible way, and in a not so visible way.

In the last weeks alone, thousands have died in senseless violence and the American and Iraqi army bomb Samarra as I write this. The sad thing isn’t the air raid, which is one of hundreds of air raids we’ve seen in three years- it’s the resignation in the people. They sit in their homes in Samarra because there’s no where to go. Before, we’d get refugees in Baghdad and surrounding areas… Now, Baghdadis themselves are looking for ways out of the city… out of the country. The typical Iraqi dream has become to find some safe haven abroad.

Three years later and the nightmares of bombings and of shock and awe have evolved into another sort of nightmare. The difference between now and then was that three years ago, we were still worrying about material things- possessions, houses, cars, electricity, water, fuel… It’s difficult to define what worries us most now. Even the most cynical war critics couldn't imagine the country being this bad three years after the war... Allah yistur min il rab3a (God protect us from the fourth year).

What Proof Does The NY Times Need To Call This A Civil War?

In today's NY Times there is a stunning story on the level of sectarian torture and murder currently going on in Iraq. The story, by Jeffrey Gettleman, "Bound, Blindfolded and Dead: The Face of Revenge in Baghdad," offers the following bleak picture:

"Mohannad al-Azawi had just finished sprinkling food in his bird cages at his pet shop in south Baghdad, when three carloads of gunmen pulled up. In front of a crowd, he was grabbed by his shirt and driven off.

"Mr. Azawi was among the few Sunni Arabs on the block, and, according to witnesses, when a Shiite friend tried to intervene, a gunman stuck a pistol to his head and said, 'You want us to blow your brains out, too?'

"Mr. Azawi's body was found the next morning at a sewage treatment plant. A slight man who raised nightingales, he had been hogtied, drilled with power tools and shot.

"In the last month, hundreds of men have been kidnapped, tortured and executed in Baghdad."

That gets followed, revealingly, by this line:

"As Iraqi and American leaders struggle to avert a civil war, the bodies keep piling up."

Say what? "Struggle to avert a civil war?"

Pardon me for asking, but if this isn't civil war, what is? Hundreds of kidnappings, tortures and executions isn't enough? What is the litmus test here? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

Later in the Times piece. Gettleman refers to 30 kidnapped and murdered Iraqis who had their fingers and toes sawed off. Not a civil war? Everything this correspondent writes about screams 'civil war.'

These are not isolated incidents. They are readily verified by any number of blogs coming out of Iraq, one of which I will get to in a separate post shortly. So why can't this paper, or most American media for that matter, tell it like it is? Afraid of crossing swords with White House bullies? Afraid of being branded the evil liberal media?

I can't think of any other explanation.

What Dems Must Do To Take Back Congress

Despite, encouraging poll numbers that suggest that Democrats hold a huge edge over the GOP in upcoming local races, there are several things that are imperative for the Dems to get back the House and Senate:

1) More than anything else, we have to be alert to the GOP dirty tricks at the polls. Among these problems are a way to guarantee that the vote that is cast is the one that is registered. Why is this not more of a front-and-center concern of Dem politicians? For a full airing of the most recent election fraud, please read Mark Crispin Miller's excellent book "Fooled Again."

2) Make this election about oversight, over everything else. It is relatively easy to argue that keeping GOP incumbents in power will allow George Bush to never have to answer for anything. Make this race about Bush, because, thanks to lack of accountability by his GOP cohorts, it is. Remind voters that the GOP has stalled investigation of important issues at every opportunity.

3) Ignore the comments of lame Dem consultants that argue against taking a position on anything, preferring to let the GOP shoot themselves in the foot. We must dispense with this sort of 'loser' mentality that has cost us the last 2 elections. We should not always be re-active to GOP attacks. We must be pro-active and put the GOP on the defensive. That was what Senator Russell Feingold was attempting to do with his censure proposal. My God, what are we afraid of?

If we start with the above 3 important items, we have a chance to get our country back. If we don't, do not be too surprised. Democratic leadership has constantly shown it isn't ready for prime time. If they do not wake up, if they do not win in '06, if the election results again conveniently do not match exit polls, than we must demand an entire shake-up of the Democratic party, and the whole election mindset, from top-to-bottom.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Dixie Chicks Powerful New Song

Having seen firsthand, and being morally appalled by, the blackballing of the Dixie Chicks after their criticism of George Bush, I am pleased to report that they are not just gonna "shut up and sing."

On their website you can catch their new song, "Not Ready To Make Nice," (click the hyperlink to hear it) with the following potent lyrics:

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lieberman Proposes "Short Ride" For Rape Victims

Do we need any more of a reason to support Ned Lamont against Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary? Because this self-righteous tool of the Bush Administration has just handed over another.

According to The New Haven Register:

"Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for 'principled reasons' shouldn’t be forced to do so. 'In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital,' he said."

Principled reasons?

How principled is it to, in effect, tell a rape victim that she should carry the rapist's baby to term. Essentially, that is what some hospitals are doing when they refuse contraception. Why would you make a rape victim travel to a different hospital for treatment? These are 'family values?' This is 'morality?'

If it were his own daughter, I wonder if Lieberman would be so cavalier in insisting she take that "short ride" to a more friendly hospital.

What a disgusting remark to make. Maybe it is a blessing in disguise that he did not get to serve as VP.

I'll Have What Rummy Is Smoking

Considering the administration-friendly nature of the media, the fact that the majority of Americans understand the debacle of Iraq is rather encouraging. After all, it is hard to totally dismiss accounts of the daily carnage that does filter through. In fact, by virtually all accounts, the situation in Iraq borders on civil war, with the most optimistic assessments referring to a long, uphill climb to even somewhat stabilize the region.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the looking glass, we have the fantasyland known as the Bush Administration.

And what a grim fairy tale they spin.

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserts that we are doing a helluva job.

The piece is titled "What We've Gained In 3 Years In Iraq."

Right off the top, in my mind it conjures up the following; more than 2,000 of our troops killed, countless more injured and maimed, tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, record U.S. debt, collapse of American stature abroad, and so on.

But Rumsfeld has different ideas.

For example, he states "The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case."

Rummy has his stats, which would be relevant if this administration had ever presented honest facts. He writes:

"Today, some 100 Iraqi army battalions of several hundred troops each are in the fight, and 49 control their own battle space. About 75 percent of all military operations in the country include Iraqi security forces, and nearly half of those are independently Iraqi-planned, Iraqi-conducted and Iraqi-led. Iraqi security forces have a greater ability than coalition troops to detect a foreign terrorist's accent, identify local suspects and use force without increasing a feeling of occupation. It was these Iraqi forces -- not U.S. or coalition troops -- that enforced curfews and contained the violence after the attack on the Golden Dome Shrine in Samarra. To be sure, violence of various stripes continues to slow Iraq's progress. But the coalition is doing everything possible to see this effort succeed and is making adjustments as appropriate."

That is all fine and good if this sunny assessment were supported by any independent source. But it isn't. Anybody can cite some stat to support virtually any position. In this case, do we even know what these statistics and assertions honestly mean? Can we consider any alleged facts by an administration with zero credibility as truthful?

Polls have shown that the Iraqis do not want us there and that our presence could more likely lead to continued violence. Almost all accounts out of Iraq indicate that the situation is dire.

In light of this, one would think that the Bushies would focus on making adjustments to their failed policy and do what they can to mitigate further casualties.

Instead, it is the lockstep 'feel good' campaign, as if Dubya was back under a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Whatever these guys are smoking, it must be rather potent.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Democrats Shoot Themselves In Foot Again

Who needs Dick Cheney, when once again Senate Democrats have demonstrated a great capacity for inflicting injury upon their friends?

One would think that with the President's approval ratings in the tank, and his crusade to destroy civil liberties in high gear thanks to Dem capitulation, a vote to censure Bush would give Democrats a chance to make clear their displeasure.

Not this bunch.

Just like these cowards did to Rep Murtha, Dems are scurrying to have to avoid taking a principled stand on the war being waged on our civil rights.

After Senator Russ Feingold introduced a resolution calling for the censure of Bush, Senator Bill Frist, knowing the breed of coward he has been bullying, pushed to get a censure vote on the record. Predictably, the Dems freaked out and have managed to forestall such a vote. They made it very clear that they were doing so because they did not want to alienate allegedly 'swing' voters.

All these tweedle-dees did was to show just how similar they are to tweedle-dum.

It's one thing for Senator Lieberman to say he would have voted against censure. After all, Lieberman is a Republican in Democrat's clothing. But the whining and gnashing of teeth by the usual suspects in the Senate plus Pelosi's mealy-mouthed response is too much to bear. Rep. Pelosi, you are no leader.

Do Democrats have any clue about the mood of the country, or their own party for God's sake?

We need to write our senators and congresspeople now and send a message.

Grow a spine, or lose our support in the primaries.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Molly Ivins Voices The Challenge

Holy mini-tremors Batman, Molly Ivins has officially done it. She lays down the guantlet and challenges progressive activists in the blogosphere to show DC insiders that, essentially, we can do the job better and more efficiently. In other words, we're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore.

Ivins asks those on the Net to unite together behind a progressive candidate. As a Senator Feingold supporter myself, I was rather excited to see him be the one Democratic senator singled out for praise.

However, I am a believer in what Ivins proposes here...rising to a challenge to become an organized and very potent force in the blogosphere. Like Ivins, I think we can raise a lot of money and find common ground. I also believe that with the level of super-achievers in cyberspace, a little bit will go a long, long way.

It's a topic I will be blogging about more in coming days.

Senator Feingold Takes Charge...Again

Once again, Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold is taking a leadership role on issues of national importance. Take, for example, his upcoming resolution to 'censure' President Bush.

According to a story from AP, "The five-page resolution to be introduced on Monday contends that Bush violated the law when, on his own, he set up the eavesdropping program within the National Security Agency in the months following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

Not surprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has essentially accused Feingold of aiding and abetting the enemy. How else does one translate the charge that the censure resolution would, according to the AP summation of his remarks, "weaken the U.S. during wartime." Your point being?

It will be interesting to see if this resolution is even allowed to be brought to the floor for debate and vote. If it is, how many Democrats will join Senator Feingold in calling for censure?

If the House Democratic response to Rep. Murtha is any indication, I would just like to say to the good Senator, 'watch your back.'

As per usual, Senator Feingold is demonstrating how to truly represent the opposition party in a way that reflects the growing outrage in this country. The alternative is to follow Clinton, Reid, Biden, Dean and gang in the charade known as GOP-lite.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why Brokeback Crashed

The loss of "Brokeback Mountain" as Best Picture at the Oscars, just like heavily favored, and openly gay actor, Sir Ian McKellen's loss for "Gods And Monsters," revealed how homophobic Hollywood is.

Don't believe me? Just rewatch the tape of Heath and Jake as presenters at the SAG Awards. A total embarrassment. As if they were ashamed they were cast as gay lovers. Maybe that is why Ang Lee chose not to mention them in his acceptance speech.

Forget the plethora of filmdom closet cases and GLAAD cocktail parties. Hollywood proved that they are as backwards as the rest of puritanical America in the face of global progression of glbt civil rights in other western nations.

You see, an image of 2 men being intimate and the reality of men being murdered solely for who they choose to love is too uncomfortable for these people to even watch. You can't vote for a film that you choose not to even see. Critics saw both and they knew which the better picture was.

So now our allegedly 'progressive' Academy voters can pat themselves on the back for honoring rap, albeit misogynist rap, and a faux 'racism' flick.

"Crash" is about as realistic as the bubble these voters house themselves in.

So is the homophobic result.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Not All Leaks Are Created Equal...And Sealing The Deal

While the White House continues to stonewall on the investigation of who compromised national security and released the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters, they do seem to have their knickers in a knot over other leaks.

According to a story in the Washington Post, "in recent weeks, dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office, who are investigating possible leaks that led to reports about secret CIA prisons and the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance program."

Hmmm, they aren't also investigating Plamegate? What a surprise.

In a signal of the upcoming wave of intimidation tactics, it was reported that "in a little-noticed case in California, FBI agents from Los Angeles have already contacted reporters at the Sacramento Bee about stories published in July that were based on sealed court documents related to a terrorism case in Lodi, according to the newspaper."

Additionally, "Bush administration officials -- who complain that reports about detainee abuse, clandestine surveillance and other topics have endangered the nation during a time of war -- have arguably taken a more aggressive approach than other recent administrations, including a clear willingness to take on journalists more directly if necessary."

We are watching a government so clothed and shrouded in secrecy that public documents that have been reclassified have been removed from the public archives.

That secrecy extends to the courts.

On the Federal Courts level, the AP reports on the unprecedented sealing of cases.

This apparently extends to locals courts as well. Today's Seattle Times refers to the plethora of inappropriately sealed court documents in the state of Washington.

The Bush Administration's legacy is not one that they will be able to look back on proudly in years to come. Unless, of course, they find a way to continue to shield the story from public view.