Sunday, September 30, 2007

Critical historical moments

An early critical test of our nation's democracy was when George Washington refused a crown. He could have been King George I of an American Kingdom. Instead, he is revered as the father of the United States of America.

Another was when Washington voluntarily relinquished his power, and the presidency of the new nation was passed to John Adams. The bloodless transfer of power was not the norm in Europe, but it became so in the new world.

We face another critical moment with inauguration day in 2009. The new president, no matter who he or she may be, and the new Congress, regardless of which party has control, must begin the immediate rollback of the previous administration's actions that have shredded this country's Constitution, beginning with the restoration of habeas corpus.

This will be the most important test our country has faced since its earliest days if it is to survive as a democracy. If we don't pass this test, then nothing else will matter. We might as well give it up now for our first king, also named George.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Silly Saturday #14


Kudos to The Friendly Atheist.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"A coup has occurred"

This is a speech by Daniel Ellsberg that I recently Stumbled at Consortium News
I'm posting it in full because I believe every word is worth reading. It's chilling. It may be prophetic.

'A Coup Has Occurred'

By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

It’s a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come together. Another 9/11 or an Iranian attack in which Iran’s reaction against Israel, against our shipping, against our troops in Iraq above all, possibly in this country, will justify the full panoply of measures that have been prepared now, legitimized, and to some extent written into law. …

This is an unusual gang, even for Republicans. [But] I think that the successors to this regime are not likely to roll back the assault on the Constitution. They will take advantage of it, they will exploit it.

Will Hillary Clinton as president decide to turn off NSA after the last five years of illegal surveillance? Will she deprive her administration her ability to protect United States citizens from possible terrorism by blinding herself and deafening herself to all that NSA can provide? I don’t think so.

Unless this somehow, by a change in our political climate, of a radical change, unless this gets rolled back in the next year or two before a new administration comes in – and there’s no move to do this at this point – unless that happens I don’t see it happening under the next administration, whether Republican or Democratic.

The Next Coup

Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That’s the next coup, that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution, … what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world – in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment.

There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most of the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use of CIA, FBI, NSA against Americans.

I could go through a list going back before this century to Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, and before that the Alien and Sedition Acts in the 18th century. I think that none of those presidents were in fact what I would call quite precisely the current administration: domestic enemies of the Constitution.

I think that none of these presidents with all their violations, which were impeachable had they been found out at the time and in nearly every case their violations were not found out until they were out of office so we didn’t have the exact challenge that we have today.

That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and others. They were impeachable, they weren’t found out in time, but I think it was not their intention to in the crisis situations that they felt justified their actions, to change our form of government.

It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had precisely that in mind since at least the early 70s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001, but have believed in Executive government, single-branch government under an Executive president – elected or not – with unrestrained powers. They did not believe in restraint.

When I say this I’m not saying they are traitors. I don’t think they have in mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power. I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they think is best for this country – but what they think is best is directly and consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country and Constitution thought.

They believe we need a different kind of government now, an Executive government essentially, rule by decree, which is what we’re getting with signing statements. Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are just saying the president says “I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law is. I legislate.”

It’s [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire control of the Executive Branch, essentially of the president. A concentration of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely what the Founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best of their ability in the Constitution.

Founders Had It Right

Now I’m appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break in tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on this point the Founders had it right.

It’s not just “our way of doing things” – it was a crucial perception on the corruption of power to anybody including Americans. On procedures and institutions that might possibly keep that power under control because the alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like Iraq, wars like the one coming.

That brings me to the second point. This Executive Branch, under specifically Bush and Cheney, despite opposition from most of the rest of the branch, even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran which even by imperialist standards, standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly everyone in the Executive Branch but most of the leaders in Congress. The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual in our establishment. …

But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that quietly, I don’t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it’s not only aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.

Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn’t, it doesn’t even make it unlikely.

That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various reasons of the Congress – Democrats and Republicans – and the public and the media, we have freed the White House – the president and the vice president – from virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.

And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy. Not entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.

And the question is what then, what can we do about this? We are heading towards an insane operation. It is not certain. It is likely. … I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.

What I’m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on Iran is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.

And … we will not succeed in moving Congress probably, and Congress probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s a very ugly, ugly prospect.

However, I think it’s up to us to work to increase that small perhaps – anyway not large – possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15 months, aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.

Restoring the Republic

Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long time. And I think if we don’t get started now, it won’t be started under the next administration.

Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further coup in the face of a 9/11, another attack, is for right now, it can’t be put off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen very little…

We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to a large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, “traitor,” “weak on terrorism” – names that politicians will do anything to avoid being called.

How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can be brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn’t just doing their jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.

I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is the same oath office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the United States and every officer in the United States armed services.

And that oath is not to a Commander in Chief, which is not mentioned. It is not to a fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in Iran.

I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I was not obeying my oath which I eventually came to do.

I’ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada – who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war – is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath.

The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. Everybody under him who understands what is going on and there are myriad, are violating their oaths. And that’s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.

Congressional Courage

On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate – and frankly of the Republicans – that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be Speaker of the House and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.

I’m not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that they should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that.

Of course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but they’re acting like it’s their sole concern. Which is business as usual. “We have a majority, let’s not lose it, let’s keep it. Let’s keep those chairmanships.” Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in the last couple of years?

I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read in the Washington Post who yesterday threatened a filibuster if we … get back habeas corpus. The ruling out of habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George the First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of counter-revolution.

We need some way, and Ann Wright has one way, of sitting in, in Conyers office and getting arrested. Ray McGovern has been getting arrested, pushed out the other day for saying the simple words “swear him in” when it came to testimony.

I think we’ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth struggling for in part because it’s only with the power that the Constitution gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world from mad men in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.

And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves – they might be people who in their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere, like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relation with the president to the slightest degree.

That has to change. And it’s the example of people like those up here who somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this country and protect the world. Thank you.

Daniel Ellsberg is author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.


Japanese researchers develop transparent frogs

When I first saw this headline, I thought, "And we need these because ... ?" But it turns out we do need these - kids will no longer have to dissect frogs in biology class because they'll be able to see everything!

[Article excerpt]

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese researchers have succeeded in producing see-through frogs, letting them observe organs, blood vessels and eggs under the skin without performing dissections.

"You can see through the skin how organs grow, how cancer starts and develops," said the lead researcher Masayuki Sumida, professor at the Institute for Amphibian Biology of state-run Hiroshima University.

"You can watch organs of the same frog over its entire life as you don't have to dissect it. The researcher can also observe how toxins affect bones, livers and other organs at lower costs," he told AFP.

Later on in the article, they mention the possibility of producing "illuminating" frogs.

Transparent frogs that glow in the dark, people!

You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why has Bush reportedly advised Senators Clinton, Obama, and other Democratic candidates about sustaining the war if/when one of them comes to office?

Isn't that like telling the captain of the Titanic where the best icebergs are?

Bush says: "Don’t get yourself too locked in where you stand right now. If you end up sitting where I sit, things could change dramatically."

Which begs the question, just how delusional is he?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kitchen Sink

Thrills and chills

If you're hesitating to buy the CD because you don't care for opera, don't worry, because it doesn't matter. I'm not an opera fan, either, but like thousands of other fans have discovered, this guy's voice will send chills up your spine. He could sing the phone book and still enthrall you. I mean, here's this bloke, this bloke from Wales who worked for a cell phone company, was a cancer survivor and in debt up to his vocal cords, and now he's an international star with a world tour coming up.

Besides Nessun dorma, which you've probably already heard him sing on YouTube, the CD has Everybody Hurts - in Italiano! - and a fantastic rendition of Music of the Night. Some parts are way over-produced (shades of Phil Specter, there), but that's (sort of) understandable considering that Simon Cowell rushed to get it released. It's topped the charts in the U.K., Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark - okay, let's just say all those other places, months before it was released here, where it is now No. 1 on Amazon's Classical and Opera & Vocal lists, and No. 5 on the Pop Rock list.

You will love this CD.
The Society of Children's Books Writers & Illustrators meeting I attended over the weekend was inspiring, as usual. At every meeting, they have "brag time," which is where people who have had recent successes - meaning in the month since the last meeting - stand up and tell us all about it. I am in awe. Every month we hear about new books coming out, new contracts having been signed, awards won, and so on. Those of us who are unpublished just sit there with our mouths open. I found out that one lady, who is putting together the annual conference next month, has written 76 books, and some of them have been made into movies.

I also found out that they sent the first chapter of my YA novel, The Earthquake Doll, to a NY editor for critique (in other words, I was one of the first ten people to get the chapter out in time!) I won't have her critique until the conference, in mid-October. I have visions (some would say "delusions") of her liking the chapter so much that she will ask me to send her the full MS, and/or will know of someone who will want to see it. That's why I'm working so hard to get it (re) edited. Even if that bubble is burst, I'll at least have a polished MS to send out to ... someone ... next month. Well, first I'll have to send out the query letters to see if anyone wants to see the whole thing - this is called the query-go-round. Anyway, please wish me luck.


In the meantime, I'm one of several online people critiquing a novel written by an extremely talented young woman in SCBWI . I got to meet her for the second time over the weekend. When we saw each other this time, we hugged, and she and I both said, at the same time, "I just love you!" Awww... This gal will have no problem getting published one day. I'm sure of it.


For any LOTR fans, here's a great clip I recently Stumbled - let's call it "Advice from Boromir." Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kitchen Sink

Some random stuff:

I can't believe it. Apparently, the judge has just refused bail for Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six.

Story here.

Copyright AP.
ENA, La. - A relative of one of the Jena Six says a judge has denied bail for Mychal Bell, the only one of the teens who is jailed in the beating of a white classmate.

Attorneys would not comment because juvenile court proceedings are secret. But the father of one of Bell's co-defendants said Bell's bail request was rejected. Bell's mother left the courthouse in tears and refused to comment.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.

There simply must be a federal investigation of this. You can sign the petition here.


Scruffybutt takes me walkies every day. It's occurred to me before while watching her walk along, sniffing the ground, sometimes pausing to get a better sniff, that what she is doing, in effect, is surfing the net. Well, today I realized that when she lifts her leg to squirt on a spot, she's bookmarking it. Yeah. It's like her bookmark. (And yes, she does actually lift her leg to pee. That's just one reason we call her the Holy Terrier. She's very alpha.) Hmm. I suppose my job on these walkies, then, is to clear her cache... and take it away in a little bag. I'll be damned.


While at the store today, I needed some help selecting some cosmetics. The cosmetics lady was busy, however. That's because she and the in-house cop were flirting with each other. I was torn between interrupting them to ask for help or just letting the two alone. You know, in case it was Real Love in the Making and I might have upset some delicate cosmic, universal space-time matchmaking thingy. Because he could have, you know, been almost to the point where he would ask her out, and she would accept, and they would date for a while and then get married, and the little girl he was telling her about - the one he was trying to raise all by himself - would finally have a mommy, and then maybe even a little sister or brother on down the road, and the cosmetics lady might quit her job and become a stay-at-home mom, or heck, the cop might quit his, I mean, this is 2007, right? it could happen, only none of it would happen if I interrupted them and asked for help, so I didn't.


I felt bad about Chicken being voted off Survivor: China last night. He was a woodsman from Virginia, and yes, he was the oldest, but the kids just didn't seem to get that he might know a thing or two about how to BUILD A FUCKING SHELTER! OTOH, I'm glad it wasn't the wrestler because I think she's gonna be a contendah. I loved P.G., but they're gonna get rid of her next, I think. She has a strong work ethic, and besides, she's of Chinese heritage and she was one of the few in the whole group - both tribes included - who seemed to appreciate the fact that they were in China.


Please scroll down a bit and let me know about any conspiracy theories you think are credible, okay? Thanks. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More power than King George III of England

One of my fears is that we'll experience another 9/11 kind of event prior to the next presidential election, which could be the catalyst for at least another four years of Republican rule in the White House. It could also come from, or be blamed on Iran, putting us into a disastrous war that would make Iraqmire look like a skirmish.

But that might be the least of our problems now that Bush could literally take charge of the whole country, Congress included, in the event of a "national catastrophe," which would be defined by ... Bush. And we would have no recourse, not even to the Judiciary Branch.

This video is from a radio program where Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, predicts we may be in a police state before the '08 elections. He also believes that this may have already been in the works for a long time by the current administration.


There's a lot of speculation about whether 9/11 was an "inside job." I am not convinced, but will try to keep an open mind.

I do believe that there were cover-up conspiracies behind the Kennedy assassination and the Roswell incident.

What are your thoughts - which events in our history (say, in the last 100 years or so) do you think involved conspiracies? If you have arguments and/or links, either for or against, and would like to share them, I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gay Old Party

Yes folks, today you get two posts. I just Stumbled this, and couldn't wait to share it!

Weird-ass Wednesday #3

Okay people, this is weird. I've been trying to follow this story, and finally I found a pic for ya.

For years, people of the Congo have talked about a species of giant chimpanzees living in the jungles that preys on large game, such as leopard. Supposedly, they have other unusual behaviors, like howling at the moon.

Because of the habitual fighting that goes on in the Congo, most scientists were unable to investigate these claims. But finally, one group did get in, and they found the giant chimps. They studied them for 18 months. This is supposed to be a picture of one that is deceased.

I haven't found an article yet verifying whether the species howls at the moon or not, but the scientists do say that the group may need to be classified as a new sub-species of chimpanzee (apparently, there are already four sub-species, so this would be a fifth.)

There is even speculation that this may not be a sub-species of chimpanzee at all, but rather a hybrid of chimpanzee and gorilla.

Their behavior differs from other chimps in that they build their sleeping nests on the ground, instead of in trees. This is probably because they are not as vulnerable to predators such as lions. It's been confirmed that the chimps do kill and eat lions, so evidently the big cats know to stay away. The chimps don't seem to perceive humans as either prey or threat.

They use tools, like other chimpanzees do, such as stripping a long branch of its leaves, then inserting the stick into a mound of termites and pulling the stick back out to lick off termites crawling on it. They've also been observed just picking up a huge chunk of the mound, taking it to a rock, and smashing it open!

Here are some links if you're interested in reading further.

Found: the giant lion-eating chimps of the magic forest

Elusive African Apes: Giant Chimps or New Species?

Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Well here's some good news

After my rather grim post the other day, here's a little ray of sunshine for you (who luvs ya, Baby?):

A Crisis of Political Faith for Evangelicals

By Shawn Zeller Mon Sep 17, 9:40 AM ET

GOP hopefuls will get no free passes this time from a religious base angered by tepid progress on its agenda

In almost every presidential election of the past three decades, social conservative and evangelical voters didn’t need anything like their own debates or special summit meetings with the candidates. That’s because their choices were so obvious early on: In 1980 there was Ronald Reagan, who coyly told the members of the evangelical Religious Roundtable that, while he understood its membership was barred from endorsing him, he felt free to endorse them. In the past two elections there was George W. Bush, who describes himself as a born-again Christian and won his second term with the support of four out of five evangelicals.

So far in the 2008 campaign, though, evangelical conservatives have been facing a very different prospect: No obviously viable candidate to rally behind and an increasingly restive mood in their ranks.

So political leaders of the religious right are stepping up efforts to find a consensus choice, starting this week by staging the first-ever Values Voter Presidential Debate for the Republican candidates. The debate, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be moderated by Joseph Farah, who edits the conservative online news site WorldNetDaily, and the questioners will include such old lions of the movement as Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum.

And next month, the Family Research Council, one of the most influential conservative advocacy groups in Washington, will hold a Values Voters Summit that at least four GOP aspirants — former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado — have pledged to attend. Afterward, the 2,000 or so council members who are expected to attend will be asked to participate in the group’s first straw poll.

But at the moment, the council’s president, Tony Perkins, says it’s shaping up to be a rather dour political season for the evangelical right. “Clearly, there is disappointment” in the movement’s ranks, he said.

With the GOP having controlled the White House and the House for the previous six years — and the Senate for the previous four — social conservatives expected much more progress on their agenda in Washington. Although they are happy that Bush has used his veto power to stop an expansion of federal stem cell research, signed a law banning the procedure opponents call “partial birth” abortion and won confirmation of two solid conservatives to the Supreme Court, the Christian right’s rank and file say they’re frustrated that Washington has not pushed for more-sweeping restrictions on abortion and gay rights.

Meanwhile, the president’s support for granting a path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally has further strained the GOP’s relations with the evangelical base — a voting bloc Perkins estimates as one-third of voters in the GOP primaries, enough to make or break any candidate. And the past year’s trio of Republican A-congressional sexual scandals — centered on Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho — has only fed the climate of disillusion. “Certainly,” Perkins said, “there is reason to be concerned about the future of the relationship” between social conservatives and the Republican Party.

And that has led Perkins and other religious leaders to push for the closer-than-usual examination of the GOP aspirants. “What I hear and see is that if you were a Republican candidate in the past, you got a pass on close scrutiny on key issues,” Perkins said. “I don’t think that’s going to be the case anymore. They are going to have to verify their credentials in order to gain the support of social conservatives.”

While these leaders hope that a consensus candidate will emerge, they are also openly concerned that evangelicals are now in danger of fragmenting at various points on the political spectrum. That’s because more than the composition of the Republican field has changed; evangelical voters are changing as well. Some, while still traditionally conservative in their beliefs, are weary of what they see as a pattern of disrespectful treatment from GOP candidates: lip service during campaigns followed by a dim interest in their agenda once in power. But other religious voters are embracing causes not traditionally identified with American conservatism, such as global warming, human rights and poverty relief.

‘A New Guard’

This new, more tentative phase of evangelical activism also coincides with something of a leadership vacuum. Jerry Falwell, the leader of the iconic Moral Majority, died in May, and onetime presidential hopeful Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has lost almost all his political clout. Other figures are vying for a more influential voice on a bigger national stage. Among them are Perkins, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.

But none of these figures is likely to emerge as a singular leader in the mode of Falwell, for the simple reason that the future evangelical movement will probably be less unified than its predecessors. As a result, political strategists may soon have to stop thinking of “the evangelical voter” as a shorthand term for a right-leaning voting bloc. “I’m sensing the emergence of an old guard and a new guard,” said Amy E. Black, a political scientist at Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Illinois.

While the break is not exclusively along generational lines, Black says, many of her students — the school is among the most culturally conservative in the country — are more likely than their elders to question the GOP line on issues such as climate change and human rights. Many have also begun to pull away from their elders’ support for the Iraq War — and to distance themselves from President Bush as a result.

At the same time, a number of prominent evangelical leaders have successfully wedded a more liberal outlook to their religious message. Jim Wallis, the self-styled evangelical progressive who founded and edits Sojourners magazine, is a familiar leader in this leftward faction. Richard Cizik, the Washington director of the National Association of Evangelicals, has launched a high-profile initiative to publicize the importance of global warming and other environmental causes for Christian believers — provoking Perkins and other evangelical leaders to press unsuccessfully for his ouster earlier this year. More-centrist figures, such as the popular baby boomer minister Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” have staked out high-profile “social justice” mission projects. Warren has embarked on an aid initiative to transform the war-ravaged African nation of Rwanda into a “purpose-driven nation” and drew harsh criticism from religious conservatives for inviting Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a leading candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, to speak at an AIDS conference at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.

A Buyer’s Market

Even movement leaders say the upcoming flurry of candidate forums points up how the playing field has changed from the days when Reagan was the only GOP presidential candidate to court Southern Baptists — or when the 2000 campaign of Sen. John McCain of Arizona collapsed after he ran afoul of Christian conservatives.

“In Washington and outside the Beltway, it’s really a buyer’s market,” said Bob Knight, who is scheduled to speak at the council’s summit and who serves as director of the Culture and Media Institute, a socially conservative media watchdog in Washington. “We’re waiting to hear a candidate convey our message. That hasn’t happened yet, and that’s why there’s no clear choice.”

It’s not for lack of trying on the candidates’ part. Leading GOP candidates such as Romney and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee are actively vying for the evangelical vote. Even McCain, badly burned from his apostasy seven years ago, has made pronounced overtures to Christian conservatives. Still, most leading candidates have had to explain away evidence in their records suggesting that they may not, in fact, be true believers: Aside from being a Mormon, Romney was clear in his support of gay equality and abortion rights while running for governor of Massachusetts; Thompson, meanwhile, did legal work in the 1990s for an abortion rights lobbying group and has sent mixed messages regarding his views on amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Meanwhile, the early leader, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has run openly — if respectfully — out of step on many of the evangelical right’s litmus-test issues. But he is polling well among them, at about 25 percent, according to a September Washington Post/ABC poll — although the same survey showed him losing support to the just-announced Thompson. Movement leaders A-attribute A-Giuliani’s level of support to a desire among religious voters to field the strongest possible GOP candidate, whatever his views, against the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. “There’s much more opposition to Sen. Clinton than there ever was to her husband” among evangelicals, said Land of the Southern Baptists. “Rudy Giuliani has going for him the fact that he continues to be either running ahead of her or even with her.”

Democratic Gains?

Of course, still relatively early in the campaign, some evangelicals may be picking Giuliani out of name recognition alone, or because they approve of his leadership after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and his success in helping reduce crime in New York. Perkins argues that most voters aren’t aware of his support for abortion and gay rights. But Land takes a more pessimistic view: that some in his traditional constituency are ready to set aside their strongly held views on social issues to support the most electable Republican.

Land is acutely aware of the long-term political costs of such a calculation. Giuliani as the nominee could crack the united front that backed Bush in 2004, he said, meaning that Clinton or any other Democratic nominee would then have “a license to go hunting for evangelical votes.”

That may appear to be a lost cause, given that all the Democratic contenders support, for example, abortion rights and expanded civil rights for gays and lesbians. But Black of Wheaton College says that even if evangelicals aren’t going to vote Democratic for president next year, they may still come out to vote for the socially conservative congressional candidates the party has been recruiting for swing seats.

But the bigger setback for the GOP nationally could be a replay of what happened last year, when Republicans did not give social conservatives a strong reason to turn out. “We may be at one of those crossroads where people who feel disaffected with the Republican Party are beginning to take a step back,” Black says.

Bowing Out

One figure who advocates taking several steps back from the GOP is Richard Viguerie, the political direct-mail mogul who was an architect of the religious right’s initial surge into power with the election of Ronald Reagan. “Of all the problems that conservatives have had in the last 10 to 12 years, No. 1 has been that too many of our conservative leaders have gotten too close to the Republican Party,” he said.

In a dramatic departure from his past efforts, Viguerie now argues that social conservatives should bow out of presidential politics — at least until GOP leaders have more to offer them. Scanning the Republican presidential field, he says, “Not one of them was there for us” on the key issues to social conservatives: abortion and gay rights. True conservatives “should just sit on the sidelines” during the next election, he advised.

In lieu of electoral politics, Viguerie says evangelical leaders should set up faith-based groups and other socially conservative organizations, with membership that affiliates with both parties, to press their political causes.

Land and other leaders of the evangelical right urge caution in the face of such breakaway proposals — in part by contending that Bush has not neglected their issues as much as the rank and file laments.

Perkins of late has also touted the credentials of two second-tier GOP contenders, Brownback and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, telling readers of his daily Washington e-mail updates that they are the “most religious” candidates.

And both he and Land are downplaying concerns about the conservative bona fides of Thompson and Romney. Perkins says that although there is legitimate concern about the records of both, each is working hard to win over social conservatives. If Thompson and Romney “can show the potential to stand toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton, you’re going to see Giuliani’s numbers drop,” Land said.

But it’s unlikely that any of the Republicans will re-create the strong bond that united so many evangelicals behind the incumbent president. “George W. Bush was elected as one of us,” says Black.

This story originally appeared in CQ Weekly.

[emphases mine]

After reading this, I felt just like Jon Stewart did the night he reported on Dick Cheney shooting a friend in the face - remember that? Jon reached down behind his desk and retrieved a tray. The tray held a pot of hot water, a cup and saucer, and a tin of International Flavored Coffee. There may have been a crumpet or two on the tray, as well. Yes, folks, moments like these are to be savored. Enjoy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It wouldn't surprise me if most of the liberal and moderate members of the blogosphere are experiencing PTSD* - I know I am!

Not only was the first Bush "election" stolen in a state where Bush's brother just happened to be the governor and the secretary of state his campaign manager, but the country elected him to a second term so as not to change horses in the middle of the war.

Finally we got a chance to be heard by an administration that ignored us, and last November we put the opposing party in control of Congress - in fact, Democrats were swept into office all over the country.

So what happened after November? Not much. The war still goes on. It is still funded. Neither have impeachment proceedings have been brought. Anyone who speaks out against the war and the administration is still labeled unpatriotic.

Just look at the losses our country has suffered since Bush came into office.

The tax cuts wiped out the surplus the Clinton administration left us. That was before 9/11, yet even today, people think we're in debt because of 9/11, not because of the administration's actions.

Just like even today, people still think Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

The Taliban is regaining its strength in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda now has a foothold in Iraq, a country in which it was not allowed to operate before we invaded. Osama bin Laden walks free.

The number of allied soldiers' death long ago surpassed those lost in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania.

We don't even know the number of Iraqis who have died, but it is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

Their country is trashed. Some areas get electricity maybe twice a day. Some areas don't even have potable water. We neglected our own infrastructure (Katrina, bridge collapse), and apparently intend to continue to ignore it because "no new taxes" has become a "patriotic" mantra. Now, we are spending billions to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure (which we destroyed in the first place). But guess what? The money can't be accounted for! And the work that has been done is so shoddy it has to be torn down. Oh - and there were no bids on that work, either, because it just happened to go to cronies of the Vice President of the United States.

If this was the plot of a novel, no one would believe it.

Where was I? Oh yes, losses. Let's see, habeas corpus. Who would have imagined us losing that? From the time we entered grade school, were we not taught that one reason this country was founded was so that the state couldn't lock people up without charging them with a crime? And that when they were charged with a crime, they were guaranteed legal representation? And a fair trial?

And Bush goes on TV again the other night and tells us that the surge is working, and that the progress made in Iraq is satisfactory, when every independent report shows exactly the opposite.

And they're making noises now about Iran, when our military is stretched to the breaking point!

Does anyone even mention the recommendations made by the Hamilton-Baker Report anymore? Not one of them has been followed.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. We've all blogged our hearts out over this stuff.

I will still continue because I don't know what else to do (I mean, of course, besides vote and sign petitions and call and write my senators and congresspersons and otherwise protest.)

It's just that now I realize that I'm suffering from PTSD, and I suspect that I'm not the only one. I wake up in the morning thinking about the state of this country. Just today I was saying how glad I am that I don't have children who will have to live in this fascist state that America is becoming, then immediately I felt guilty for even thinking that. Shouldn't the futures of other people's children be just as important to me? And speaking of children, I remember the soldiers over there fighting right now - they are just babies! Eighteen, nineteen years old being subjected to horrors, and for what? For the religious delusions of madmen - Bush, Rove, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and bin Laden. I lose sleep, toss and turn, I tear up over the news. I dread what new blunder Bush will make next - bomb Iran? South America? How badly will he screw up next time he needs to respond to some event, like, say, when Castro dies? And what about his Islamic counterpart, bin Laden? Is another 9/11 coming our way? And will Bush use that to seize all powers to stay in office if it does? Yes, he can do that now.

I'm not sure how coherent this post is - I started out trying to write about PTSD, then got on another rant. My point was this: Is it just me, or aren't we all suffering emotionally now that this has gone on for so many years? How is it affecting the rest of you?

*In no way do I mean to minimize the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by our soldiers returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there is no comparison to what they're experiencing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Want to Support the War?

Here's a heartwarming video for all the patriots out there who got teary-eyed by Dubya's speech tonight:

Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your S.U.V.

Oh, what's that you say? You already have a ribbon on your SUV? Gee, that's swell! Now then, dry your eyes and drive yourselves down to the recruiting office to enlist. And, take the kids with you - they can always finish college later on the GI bill!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weird-Ass Wednesday #2

My first job, one summer long ago, was interviewing customers (while they ate) at the new fast-food chain called McDonalds.

I was one of four high-school girls hired to go around to as many customers as I could get to and ask a set of questions that I carried on a clipboard. We did this for ten days. At the end of each day, a man came around and paid us in cash. We also got free lunch.

Today I can't remember a single question, but whatever they were, the people at corporate headquarters obviously paid attention to the answers!

What was your first job? Or, if you've had a strange or weird job, tell us about that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What, then, shall we do?

The candle burns in memory of those lost on 9/11,
and for the state of our country six years later.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Get Ready For More Lies

Get ready for Bu$hCo's politicalization of tomorrow's 6th anniversary of 9/11.

Get ready for the non-stop attempt to link the Iraq war with the events of 9/11, even though Iraq had nothing whatever to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Get ready for all the talk about "al-Qaeda in Iraq," even though al-Qaeda was NOT IN IRAQ until after we invaded that country.

Get ready. Barf bags recommended.

Then, for the love of Country and what's left of our Constitution, demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Bushes plan to move to Dallas

09:49 PM CDT on Saturday, September 8, 2007
By SHERRY JACOBSON / The Dallas Morning News

Even the dog walkers in Highland Park seem to know where George and Laura Bush will be moving when they leave the White House in early 2009.

"They're building a house on a piece of property around the corner," said a young woman, pointing south of Beverly Drive as she struggled to control two oversized golden retrievers.

"It's going to be a big pain in the neck with the Secret Service there all the time," she predicted of the president's future abode. "When Dick Cheney visited a home in the neighborhood last spring, even the owners couldn't get to their houses."


The location of the president's future home has become the biggest guessing game in town.

"We've been told five or six locations by people who leave cocktail parties, where everybody is talking about it," said George Patterson, Highland Park's top administrator, who professes to know nothing.


The White House, of course, wouldn't speculate on future presidential housing.

The only public confirmation that the Bushes will move back to Dallas comes from a simple quote attributed to the president in a book released last week.

"We'll have a nice place in Dallas," Mr. Bush told Robert Draper, author of the book, Dead Certain, which also noted the president's plan to run a "Freedom Institute" in Dallas that would promote democracy around the world.


Of course, it's entirely possible the Bushes have not even started their search for a new home in the Dallas area, which means that this guessing game has only just begun.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Grazie infinite

Tomcat and I had the pleasure of attending one of Pavarotti's concerts some years ago. Needless to say, it was wonderful, except for the idiot down in front who kept yelling, "Nessun Dorma!". (Did Pavarotti sing it that evening? No, and it's probably because of the idiot.) He did sing O Sole Mio, and many other favorites.

We've truly lost one of the great voices of all time.

Afterwards, while waiting for our car, we noticed that other people seemed to be getting their cars back much more quickly. Finally, the valet returned to ask Tomcat, "What kind of car did you say it was?" Well, turns out we had given him the wrong set of keys, at which point Tomcat sang, "O Silly Me-ooooooo!"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Scruffybutt Sez

By popular demand (again, ahem) I've updated my Blog.
(Um, btw, do cats come in purple?)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Wonder who the sponsor is?

I've been looking forward to this series since I first heard about it. The Geico commercials are a scream, so it's not surprising that someone pitched it to Hollywood. When it went into production I hoped that they wouldn't screw it up with asinine writing - that would be so easy to do!

I've seen the previews now (there are four of them), and this is going to be a hoot! They hired the same guy to write the scripts who wrote the commercials, for starters. The writing is brilliant and quite witty. The casting looks great, too, especially the snarky "Nick" character, who refuses to assimilate and who also happens to be smarter than anyone around him.

I can hardly wait to see the premiere, which is on Tuesday night, October 2nd.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm with Intellectually Bankrupt

Retired UK general criticizes U.S. Iraq policy
(copyright AP)

[Now there are two retired British generals weighing in. For full article, click the title.]

Some excerpts:

the current problems were predicted in 2003

Maj. Gen. Tim Cross, the most senior British officer involved in the postwar planning, said he had raised serious concerns about the possibility of Iraq falling into chaos but said former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the warnings.

"Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the postwar plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process," Cross said in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Retired Gen. Sir Mike Jackson also singled out Rumsfeld for criticism, saying his approach to the invasion was "intellectually bankrupt"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wrap your heads around this

Good morning, boys and girls!

Whilst Stumbling, I kept seeing references to the coming Singularity, which is expected to occur sometime around 2035, give/take a few years.

There doesn't seem to be much debate about whether it will happen; that seems to be foregone.

There is minor debate about when it will arrive; some say sooner, others say later.

There is some talk about what could possibly stop it (and general agreement that nothing short of a global catastrophe capable of wiping out Civilization As We Know It could stop it.)

But there is lots of discussion about what it will mean, even though, it seems that, due to the nature of the Singularity itself, the effects are unknowable.

At first, I didn't pay much attention to this because I thought all this was some kind of New Age thing, like the so-called Harmonic Convergence of yesteryear. But one evening, I decided to Google me some Singularity and see what this was all about.

I really wish I hadn't.

Surviving the Singularity

A Butlerian Jihad

The Singularity is Near

Have a nice day.