American Samizdat

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. *
Deeper Throat
W Mark Felt, former FBI agent, has claimed to have been 'Deep Throat' - the inside source for news articles that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. We need a new Deep Throat to lead to the resignation of President George W. Bush. We need something like a leaked memo, or blatant public lies, or a clearly fraudulent election... hmmm, maybe those aren't what we need after all. What do we need?
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:03 AM
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Monday, May 30, 2005. *

Fossils at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History have been used to prove the theory of evolution. Next month the museum will play host to a film intended to undercut evolution.

The Discovery Institute, a group in Seattle that supports an alternative theory, 'intelligent design,' is announcing on its Web site that it and the director of the museum 'are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception' on June 23 for the movie, 'The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe.'

The film is a documentary based on a 2004 book by Guillermo Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State University, and Jay W. Richards, a vice president of the Discovery Institute, that makes the case for the hand of a creator in the design of Earth and the universe.
posted by Shannon at 2:45 PM
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Sunday, May 29, 2005. *
There is significant cross-pollination between the local [Colorado Springs] evangelical groups and the Academy, to a point where cadets are reportedly cajoled, harangued and even bullied into being "saved."

[God is with us.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:50 PM
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posted by Trevor Blake at 11:56 AM
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Sign it and pass it on!

See also: AfterDowningStreet.org

posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:29 AM
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Saturday, May 28, 2005. *
"While in Israel, we met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years ago.

"One thing, however is unchanged: America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship.

"Prime Minister Sharon's leadership of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable."

"The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever."

Related: Full-page Anti-AIPAC ad in today's NY Times (PDF).
posted by New World at 2:17 PM
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Friday, May 27, 2005. *
Days after the 9-11 attacks, George W. Bush informed Americans, "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile." As a Yale history major, he ought to have known what the medieval Crusades were all about: Christians against Muslims, mostly for control of Palestine, fought with all the viciousness and duplicity reflected in the recent film "The Kingdom of Heaven." The explosive term was guaranteed to incite Muslim ire and alarm, and protests from everywhere (including the State Department, I'd imagine) caused Bush to drop it from his fevered rhetoric. But yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed a Crusade, an anti-Muslim project conducted from a Judeo-Christian command center of a particularly unholy type. No matter how much administration officials profess their respect for Islam, denying any religious character to the war, and however they express wide-eyed amazement that Muslims might misunderstand the "war on terrorism" as an anti-Muslim war, it really is a crusading "holy war."
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:37 PM
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Thursday, May 26, 2005. *
Since Newsweek and Afghanistan are in the news a lot lately, I got to thinking: Has anyone bothered to follow-up on what happened at Dasht-e Leili back in 2001? The last news I've seen on this dates back to 2002.

Newsweek, for one, ran an investigative piece in August 2002. It didn't find any evidence of American complicity in the massacre, but then again the newsmagazine didn't press the Pentagon too hard on details. Refresh your memory here.
posted by Bill at 12:32 PM
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An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.


Land of the free...
posted by m at 11:08 AM
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Helen Thomas questioning Scott McClellan:
Q The other day -- in fact, this week, you said that we, the United States, is in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we are -- that's where we currently --

Q -- in view of your credibility is already mired? How can you say that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I think everyone in this room knows that you're taking that comment out of context. There are two democratically-elected governments in Iraq and --

Q We're we invited into Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are two democratically-elected governments now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments, and we are there today --

Q You mean if they had asked us out, that we would have left?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, I'm talking about today. We are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments --

Q I'm talking about today, too.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are doing all we can to train and equip their security forces so that they can provide for their own security as they move forward on a free and democratic future.

Q Did we invade those countries?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve.


A case of "Next Question" it seems.

At least someone in the press see's the emperor and his minions buck naked.
I read this uncontested Bushism in an article concerning Hamid Karzai's request for some control of what we are to believe are heavily armed guests in Afghanistan.

...Karzai apparently fell short in his goal to persuade the United States to consult more with the Afghan government before raiding homes and villages in the search for members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In the end, he agreed in a joint declaration that he and Bush signed that "U.S. and coalition forces are to continue to have the freedom of action required to conduct appropriate military operations based on consultations and pre-agreed procedures."

"They've invited us in, and we'll consult with them in terms of how to achieve mutual goals," Bush said
posted by m at 10:21 AM
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"Right now, churches can speak out on issues and not risk their tax-exempt status. But if boosters of one bill succeed, sermons could change. Instead of talking about current events and issues and how they relate to religion, the pastor could tell you who to vote for."

There are limits and controls to funding political campaigns. There are no limits and no controls to funding religious bodies. So if you want to fund your political campaign with no limits and no controls, funnel it through religious bodies. Clear?
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:26 AM
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The influential human-rights monitoring group [Amnesty International] has criticized U.S. detention practices before. But Tuesday marked its first call to close Guantanamo, and the group used unusually sharp language in demanding an independent investigation of torture and abuse of prisoners there and at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. If U.S. officials don't act, other countries will, warned Amnesty's U.S. director, William Schultz. "The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera, because they may find themselves under arrest," he said.
posted by Trevor Blake at 7:19 AM
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Gabriela Flores sat in a South Carolina jail for four months - just for having an abortion. Last fall, the 22-year-old immigrant farm worker and mother of three from Pelion, South Carolina, became pregnant and took misoprostol, a medicine that is used in RU-486, to terminate her pregnancy. Flores' sister sent her the Cytotec tablets from Mexico. Flores is charged with violating a state ban on "illegal" abortions -- a law that is supposed to protect women from back-alley abortionists, not to send them to jail for having one. If convicted, Flores could face prison time and a costly fine. [...] The Flores case sharply reflects the racism, sexism and anti-immigrant fervor that South Carolina officials are known for. In 2001, South Carolina convicted a 24-year-old African-American woman, Regina McKnight, with homicide after her baby was stillborn - blaming her drug use for the death. She was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
posted by Trevor Blake at 6:52 AM
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Wednesday, May 25, 2005. *
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." -- President Bush
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:08 PM
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison told U.S. interrogators as early as April 2002, just three months after the first detainees arrived, that military guards abused them and desecrated the Quran, declassified FBI records say.


"Their behavior is bad," one detainee is quoted as saying of his guards during an interrogation by an FBI special agent in July 2002. "About five months ago the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Quran in the toilet."
posted by platts42 at 2:13 PM
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Tuesday, May 24, 2005. *
The Immoderate Pact Song Parody
I'm very disturbed by the judicial filibuster deal made by the Senate "moderates." So I wrote a song parody which starts like this:

The Immoderate Pact Song Parody (Sing to When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again)
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The "moderates" made a voting pact.
We're screwed, we're screwed.
The "moderates" got their power back.
We're screwed, we're screwed.
Their deal betrays our democracy.
We're stuck with dreadful nominees...

The rest of my Immoderate Pact Song Parody is here.
posted by Mad Kane at 1:18 PM
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A listing of child abusers belonging to family values party.

Best link on the page, in that it doesn't seem tragic like the others, is to an exchange between Alan Colmes and anti-abortion activist and webmaster Neal Horsley:

AC: "You had sex with animals?"

NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."

AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."

NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"

AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

snip
Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

The rest of the story is not so funny. Horsley's website The Nuremberg List gave the
contact information and photo of abortion providers, reportedly crossing their pictures out after they were killed. He currently has a extremist Christian hate site up.

Yeah, a pathetic mule fucker, Republican at that. But he advocates right wing terrorism. But we don't hear much about promoters of "righteous" Christian violence. Even when it is out and out advocated:
If you were walking down the street and you saw somebody with a knife about to cut a baby's throat open, what should you do? Should you call for a referendum on cutting babies' throats? Should you write a letter to your congressman? Vote Republican? Run to a payphone and call the police?

There is another option. You could utilize all the necessary force at your disposal to stop that baby from being butchered. That is precisely what Jim Kopp did when he shot abortionist Barnett Slepian.

Make no mistake about it, you're either on Jim's side or the side of the baby-butcher.

That last line of his has a familiar ring to it...

Be warned of the Fundamentalist Christian Right.
posted by m at 12:29 PM
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Polls
54% of Americans polled think Mr Bush is doing an overall crappy job as President according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. 60% say he is doing a badjob with the U.S economy, 67% say his scheming to privatize Social Security is wrongheaded. 60% disagree with how he is handling Iraq. Check out the link offered to see more, including some polling on our legislators

Maybe I'm to much of a thinker, but what is with this statement:
On a separate question asked of half the respondents, 48 percent said they favored the Democrats in the dispute and 40 percent favored the GOP.

How about giving us the question asked? Even in a short article it seems sensible- especially since odds are "On a separate question asked" uses more space than transparently stating the subject of the question...

George Mason University’s History News Network has found that eight in ten historians responding see the Bush presidency an overall failure.
Of 415 historians who expressed a view of President Bush’s administration to this point as a success or failure, 338 classified it as a failure and 77 as a success. (Moreover, it seems likely that at least eight of those who said it is a success were being sarcastic, since seven said Bush’s presidency is only the best since Clinton’s and one named Millard Fillmore.) Twelve percent of all the historians who responded rate the current presidency the worst in all of American history, not too far behind the 19 percent who see it at this point as an overall success.

I see the Bush presidency as a miserable failure, I feel the facts bear me out.

What do you think? A unscientific comment box poll.
posted by m at 11:25 AM
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A federal bankruptcy court on Monday approved a reorganization plan that will allow six California-based Hare Krishna temples and their affiliates to remain open while compensating members who claim they were abused at the society's schools. The plan includes $9.5 million for alleged victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse during the 1970s and 1980s at religious boarding schools run by the Hare Krishnas. A similar reorganization plan was approved May 16 in West Virginia, where temples also filed for bankruptcy.

[Because religious organizations are never to be held accountable for their actions.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 12:32 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:08 AM
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Bill Moyers says that journalists have a responsibility to question those in power.

Rush Limbaugh, speaking for the economic and political elites that currently occupy positions of authority, responds by charging that Moyers is "insane." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:01 AM
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Monday, May 23, 2005. *
Sensenbrenner's Police State
[cross-posted at Scrutiny Hooligans]


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJames Sensenbrenner wants to put you in jail if you watch someone use drugs, and you don't report this activity to the authorities within 24 hours. HR 1528 (Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005) is the punitive right's latest attempt to fight the ill-conceived War on Drugs. Increased mandatory sentences and a vast widening of offenses are contained in the bill. Here are a few samples:

- 10 year minimum sentence for anyone over the age of 21 who sells illegal drugs to someone 18-20 years old.
- Mandatory Life Sentence for anyone over the age of 21 who sells illegal drugs to someone under 18 years old.
- increasing minimum sentences for manufacturing (or trying to manufacture) drugs near a library, daycare, or game arcade
- 5 year minimum sentence for someone over age 21 who employs a minor in drug trafficking, and a mandatory life sentence for second offenders
- 5 year minimum sentence for using or distributing illegal drugs in the presence of a minor or incompetent person
- 10 year minimum sentence if you're the parent or guardian of the minor or incompetent person
- "As used in this section, the term `in or near the presence of a person' means within visual sight of such person, within any dwelling, automobile or other vehicle, or boat, in which such person is present, or within 500 feet of such person."
- 2 year minimum sentence for selling drug paraphrenalia to a minor

And here's the humdinger:

- "It shall be unlawful for any person who witnesses or learns of a violation of sections 416(b)(2), 417, 418, 419, 420, 424, or 426 to fail to report the offense to law enforcement officials within 24 hours of witnessing or learning of the violation and thereafter provide full assistance in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the person violating paragraph (a).

`(b) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be sentenced to not less than two years or more than 10 years. If the person who witnesses or learns of the violation is the parent or guardian, or otherwise responsible for the care or supervision of the person under the age of 18 or the incompetent person, such person shall be sentenced to not less than three years or more than 20 years.'."

To wit, if you see your neighbor smoking a joint on his back porch at 11pm while his kids are safely tucked into their beds 25 feet away, then you must contact law enforcement within 24 hours or be subject to criminal prosecution by the U.S. Government and be sentenced to at least 2 years in prison. Your neighbor will be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTell Congress to oppose this ridiculously savage piece of legislation. Only in a society where Freedom is on the March could people be so assailed by attacks on civil liberties and privacy rights.

Sensenbrenner is setting out to prove once and for all that drugs ruin your life by ruining the lives of those who use drugs. I'm not going to apologize for those who are predatory, criminal, and antisocial drug users, but neither will I stand by and tacitly support this attack on the millions of Americans who do what they like in the privacy of their own homes. This bill is so wrongheaded that it makes me want to go get stoned. Don't look, or you'll have to report me.

{thanks to Informed and Reborn for the tip}
posted by Gordon Smith at 12:46 PM
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Hot on the hills of flushed Koran's at gitmo, comes Reports on plans for a death chamber at Gitmo And like a sucker punch: From the US Department of Defense's own Marine Corps Web site. It shows a photo taken May 5, 2005 in Iraq. It's a photo of a US tank dubbed the "New Testament" - the name of the tank is written across its barrel. The even funnier part is that this photo MADE IT PAST military censors and the DOD Web page with the photo on it even brags about the name "New Testament" in the caption. So some jerk at the Pentagon knew exactly what this was about and found it funny enough to put on their Web site, and it passed various level of review. Lovely.Why does Newsweek hate America?
-Uncle $cam

Why does Newsweek hate America?

posted by Uncle $cam at 12:30 PM
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Sunday, May 22, 2005. *
lgf: Breaking News: Koran Discovered in Toilet!

I mean really, Charles. Why you aren't chastising your (closed) membership for assuming all Muslims are radical Muslims, is beyond me. Perhaps it's because in your silence you're agreeing with them?

I don't believe in the Bible anymore, not that I ever really did, yet I treat it with respect. By extension, I don't believe in the Koran or Torah either. Never have I even considered disrespecting or otherwise mistreating them, even though I'd (now not so secretly) wished the most radical adherents to these words would get to meet their God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehova, etc... sooner, rather than later.

I did burn a copy of Dianetics once, though. Right outside on my barbeque grill. The nastiest mind-*uck I ever started to read.

The thing which should be pissing everyone off is the mistreatment and misrepresentation of the Constitution of the United States of America. Instead we're being polarized into warring camps of moonbats and wingnuts, while those of us on the periphery of this argument (I'm Libertarian) would like to get you idiots together on something for a change. Is this at all possible, or should we just have a civil-war right now? I'm tired of you pussies on both sides of the fence.

Either put your differences aside, or start throwing fists already.
posted by Chris Joseph at 8:21 AM
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Saturday, May 21, 2005. *
Before Bush announced his run for the presidency in June 1999, Rove had lined up endorsements from a host of evangelical Christian organizations and televangelists, including Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Bob Jones III. [Esther] Kaplan [author of With God on Their Side] traces Bush's so-called "compassionate" conservatism to Christian fundamentalists who believe people need God at least as much as they need food, shelter, and medical care.

The religious right has taken control of the Bush Administration's stance towards procreation, sex education, and AIDS. Government websites omit the fact that using condoms prevents AIDS. Abstinence-only sex education gets the government's seal of approval at home and in third-world countries (where almost half the population is infected with HIV). Research grants studying how to prevent HIV among homeless, gay, and transgendered populations have been terminated. And grants for crisis pregnancy centers and Planned Parenthood have been curtailed while the government hands out millions to church-based "pro-life" organizations.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:57 PM
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Plan of Action
My plan to feel less helpless about living in a nation that has entered fascism includes: * get a degree that enables me to get a job that enables me to get money that enables me to leave this country if it comes to that * work on causes I not only support but which can give tangible results in the short term, so that I can get a few wins in a sea of failures * make clear decisions about what causes I support, kinda support and do not support, then devote myself only to the former and not one second to the others * document that I did my part in staying informed and informing those around me on what is happening in the United States * abandon tactics that are not successful (riots and demos are successfully fun but that is all) * vote * take breaks from both mainstream and non-mainstream media * eat healthy, exercise, get some rest and have sex * form alliances with people who disagree with me in the most profound ways: it is always good to have friends in many places * Do not seek to influence or control that which I cannot influence or control * study up on those who lived through situations like mine (and worse) and learn what they did to make things better * avoid getting caught, avoid illegal activities that can result in getting caught * get a vasectomy * check in with others to see if my understanding of things is accurate * strike at the heart of the problem (our regular readers will know that I consider the engine of much of the world's suffering to be religion) and don't get distracted by the details * be ready to be mistaken * and so on.

These are means to keep myself healthy in an unhealthy environment. They may have no other effect, but I doubt they will be outright harmful to others. What does your plan of action include?
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:25 PM
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Via Boing Boing
Library officials in a Chicago suburb plan to scan and record visitor fingerprints, purportedly to prevent unauthorized persons from using library computers. Way to make libraries a more happyfun haven of knowledge, guys!
The scanners _ to be installed on 130 library computers this summer _ will verify the identity of computer users. Library officials said they wanted to tighten computer access because many people borrow library cards and pass codes from friends or family to log on. The technology also will help the library implement a new policy that allows parents to put filters on their children's' accounts, officials said.

But privacy advocates have criticized the plan, which would make Naperville only the second library system in the nation to use fingerprint-scanning technology, according to the American Library Association. "We take people's fingerprints because we think they might be guilty of something, not because they want to use the library," said Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois.
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 9:09 PM
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As The Washington Post reports, the president is cutting funds for traditional programs that deal with the crisis of urban centers. Public housing subsidies, food stamps, energy assistance, community development, social services and community block grants are all on the chopping block. Instead, Bush is pushing for increased funding to "faith-based" groups, arguing that they are cheaper and more effective.

Edna Reynolds, the director of Project ARISE, a Christian HIV and drug abuse prevention organization, told the Post that she is hard pressed to say just how effective the program is. "I don't get to see their success," she said of her clients. "But I feel we have to be here for them. When they leave here, I have to feel that we planted a seed with them."

This is a disturbing perspective because the funds being given to "plant seeds" in drug addicts are being taken away from secular organizations that are required to quantitatively measure their success.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:34 AM
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Friday, May 20, 2005. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:05 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:34 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:42 PM
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Interesting, Air America has been playing ads for the democratic party of Ohio, which state: "Blackwell gave Bush Ohio." So if the Ohio democratic party believes that the 2004 election was stolen by Blackwell--a Bush operative now running for governor (what's his campaign slogan, anyway? "I stole Ohio for Bush so don't vote for me--what the fuck do I care? I'll get your vote anyway you stupid slab of meat.")--then they believe that, effectively, Bush stole the 2004 election (in addition to the 2000 one).

If the official Ohio democratic party believes that Bush stole the 2004 election and openly says so, why does the national democratic party not follow suit?

(A cursory look at the Ohio dems website unveils no mention of the stolen election, either. So they only want to admit it on Air America?)
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:20 PM
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"This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy." said U.S. Representative Christopher Shays, R-Conn. I try to avoid using "theocracy" when discussing the influence of fundamentalist Christians on the Republican party. It seems like a word that would be rejected by many moderates and therefore would give some a negative impression of what I might be trying to convey. But when a respected U.S. Representative of that very party says it, perhaps it is an appropriate characterization.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:38 AM
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The Republican president nominates 215 judges who share his conservative political ideologies. I have no problem with that. He's the president. He gets to do that. And isn't his holiness the president infallible in all political matters?

Then 205 are OK'd, but the Democratic sect does not like 10 of the judges and threatens to prevent a vote by filibustering. I have no problem with that. It's a two-party system, and this is something politicians have always done.

Then the Republican hierarchy begins to call the 10 unappointed judges "people of faith." OK. That is possible, but I wouldn't think it would be because they are conservative Republicans. "Therefore," they say, the Democrats are "against people of faith," and the red states go berzerk. (The red states being the "states of faith," I think) Am I hearing this right?

Is that the spin we are having shoved down our throats on TV and in newspapers and everywhere that is still allowed to report on what is being said? OK, let's try this one.

Does calling someone "a person of faith" mean just your own faith, or does it mean also of your own political party? If so are we to have only Christian Republican judges?
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:35 AM
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As flag-draped coffins continue to stream back to America under cover of darkness and a media blackout, as the funerals for the war dead continue to receive only local news coverage, as voices of dissent are systematically excluded by mainstream media, last week in North Carolina, the state that is home to Blackwater USA, there occurred an obscene spectacle of another sort in a Baptist church when a group of deacons voted to expel church members who don't support President Bush and his policies.

Bush supporters in the congregation reportedly stood and applauded as excommunicated Democrats walked out of their church. Bush made no public statement distancing himself from the events in North Carolina. He and his neoconservative cabal seem not to understand or care that theocracy, one-party government in which only those who hold certain religious views are allowed to participate, is antithetical to our form of government and our way of life. In fact, the president's silence signals his support for House Resolution 235, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act sponsored by Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina. HR 235, which now has 165 co-sponsors, all of whom wish to see religion further politicized, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow churches and other religious organizations to engage in explicitly partisan political activity, including endorsing favored candidates and demonizing others, while maintaining their tax exempt status. If HR 235 becomes law, the only possible outcome is an America ever more deeply and dangerously divided.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:30 AM
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Thursday, May 19, 2005. *
Using audio to drive speech in animation has been around for some time (I even use it in my "day job"), but now the technique is being used to put words into the mouths of people on video tape after-the-fact. [via Whatreallyhappenedblog]
-Uncle $cam
Remember kids it's not propaganda anymore, it's Prop-agenda .
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:20 PM
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Wednesday, May 18, 2005. *

"Saving the world, one car at a time"

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:48 PM
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While everyone's focused on the judicial (fuck the dems in the ass w/a hot poker) filibuster issue, our representatives are meeting in secret to expand the so-called USA PATRIOT ACT tommorow. And as if that isn't enough, Heads up, those whacky Xtians over at the Heritage Foundation have stumbled on to some sad info.... "Say goodbye to affordable (FOIA'S) freedom of information requests"
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 4:02 PM
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"The FBI said on Wednesday a grenade thrown at President George W. Bush during a visit to Georgia last week had been a threat to the American leader and had only failed to explode because of a malfunction.

"In a statement, a Federal Bureau of Investigation official at the U.S. embassy said the grenade, thrown while Bush made a keynote speech in Tbilisi's Freedom Square on May 10, had been live and landed within 30 metres (100 feet) of the president.

"'This hand grenade appears to be a live device that simply failed to function due to a light strike on the blasting cap induced by a slow deployment of the spoon activation device,' said the statement from C. Bryan Paarmann, the FBI's legal attache at the embassy.

"The FBI's statement contradicted an account by Georgian police at the time who said the grenade was a dud, left at the spot to sow panic among the tens of thousands who turned out to greet Bush.

"A White House spokesman also said then that Bush, who had visited the ex-Soviet republic to show support for its pro-Western government, had never been in danger.

"There was no explanation for the discrepancy between the different versions."
posted by mr damon at 1:05 PM
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Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Arms

Remember, David Griffins recent C-span talk ? Remember, his referal to the Space technology redrum (Rummy) wanted? If you don't know about it, you will... Fire From the Sky!? (nytimes.com). The US Air Force seeks to develop several frightening weapons,including one called "Rods from God," which would fire metal rods at a target from the edge of space, striking with the force of a small nuclear weapon. With a presidential directive expected in the weeks to come, what consequences could an approval have on the global community?
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 10:59 AM
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ACLU chapters from Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado and elsewhere are demanding records, and the national ACLU is filing suit against the Federal Govt today because the FBI has failed to answer its FOIA requests on the "anti-terrorism" surveillance of peace groups exercising their freedom of speech and assembly rights. Black vans, bogus interviews, the whole paranoid scene has been playing out for at least a year from Cambridge to San Francisco, since before the Democratic and Republican national conventions last summer and continuing now. Some documents have dribbled out:

From the Washington Post (about questioning of anti-war protesters last summer in Denver): ACLU officials said yesterday that the documents show that investigators from the FBI and the local Joint Terrorism Task Force were on a fishing expedition.
"These documents confirm that the FBI's anti-terrorism force has been collecting information about peaceful protesters and dissenters and targeting people for attention on the basis of constitutionally protected association and advocacy," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU's Colorado chapter. "It lends credence to what a lot of critics have said: that the FBI is starting to regard some forms of dissent as potential terrorism."


Add this to your paranoia:
Senator Ted Stevens' report on personal data surfing via the Internet
Real ID passed by the Congress last week.
posted by RHerman at 6:23 AM
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005. *
BBC story contains video link to the full blistering testimony.

Link to Galloway's anti-war, pro-labor Respect Party here.

America, where is your party?
posted by New World at 6:13 PM
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White House: Latest Richie Rich Cartoon Responsible for Recent Iraqi Car Bombings
Damn you, Richie Rich!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:19 PM
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-- A company largely owned by the Saudi government has spent more than $1.5 million since 1998 lobbying Congress to shield the chemical industry from liability for damages caused by MTBE, a potentially cancer-causing gasoline additive that has seeped into water supplies across New England, according to federal documents.

The chemical additive is widely used, particularly in the Northeast, to help gasoline burn more efficiently and meet standards set by the Clean Air Act. But when it gets into drinking water, MTBE is suspected of causing cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Many state and local governments -- including New Hampshire and 60 communities in Massachusetts -- have sued oil and chemical companies, claiming that they should have known the risks of using methyl tertiary butyl ether. The communities say the companies must pay to clean up groundwater that became contaminated when MTBE-treated gasoline seeped into the soil from leaking tanks.

But the industry -- helped by the House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas -- has maintained that it should not be obliged to pay for damages caused by a product used to meet a federal requirement for cleaner-burning gasoline....

[out of context ]Delay has several companies that either make or use MTBE in his district.
posted by platts42 at 9:43 AM
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Monday, May 16, 2005. *
A new study suggests that black students with exotic names don't do as well in school as black students with more common names. The University of Florida study found that students with names such as Da'Quan or Damarcus are more likely to score lower on reading and math tests. Researchers said that black students with unusual names are also less likely to meet teacher expectations and be referred to gifted programs than black students with more common names, such as Dwayne. [...] [University of Florida economist David] Figlio said boys and girls with exotic names suffer in terms of the quality of attention and instruction they get in the classroom because teachers expect less from children with names that sound like they were given by parents with lower education levels. He said the lower expectations often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. [...] Figlio found that poorly educated black women overwhelmingly gave their children names that begin with certain prefixes, such as "lo," "ta" and "qua," and certain suffixes, such as "isha" and "ious." Comparing pairs of siblings, Figlio found that teachers treated the children differently - depending on the name. A boy named Damarcus, for example, was 2 percent less likely than his brother Dwayne to be referred to a gifted program, even with identical test scores, Figlio said. [...] Figlio found opposite results for children with Asian names. Students with Asian-sounding names were more likely to be recommended for gifted programs than siblings with common American names and similar test scores, he said.
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:38 PM
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I think Arthur Silber says what needs to be said about the Newsweek "Koran-flushing" controversy.

His point that the ensuing brouhaha will be used to wash the Downing Street memo story down the drain is particularly cogent, and important.

(via eschaton)
posted by Bill at 9:32 AM
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No Atheists for Mayor, Please
[Chattanooga Tennessee] Mayoral candidate Ron Littlefield today denied his campaign is behind a flier referring to candidate Ann Coulter [no, not that one] as an atheist. But Ms. Coulter told the Pachyderm Club that she is "absolutely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt" that he is behind it.

[It is commonly held that by announcing one is an atheist, one ruins one's chances for holding public office. But there are seven states that go one important step further and forbid atheists from holding public office. Tennessee is one of them. Article 9 Section 2 of Tennessee's State Constitution states "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state." Many states include the swearing of a religous oath to hold public office. I suggest the flyer was anonymous because to openly try to enforce this religous test for public office would make it possible for the law to be struck down.

South Carolina's state constitution formerly said "No person shall be eligible for the office of governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being" (note that this isn't about 'a' Supreme Being, but 'the' Supreme Being' - now who could that be?) In the period 1991-1993, South Carolina received 33,472 notary applications and approved 33,471 - all but that of atheist Herb Silverman, who crossed out "so help me God" on the application form. It took four years in the courts, but the law was struck down. Whether or not Ann Coulter is an atheist, it is time someone challenged this unconstitutional law in the state of Tennessee. I do not advocate any legislation to increase popular opinion of atheists; popular opinion changes through other means. But I do advocate a lack of discrimination against atheits in law.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:11 AM
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This is the Future Unless We Change It
From Counseling Policy

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe Missouri legislature, looking at budget deficits and rising health care costs, voted to cut 90,000 people from their Medicaid rolls. 90,000 individuals have had the social safety net pulled from under them. When the changes take effect in August, elderly and disabled people with incomes that exceed the new cutoff - $579 a month - could lose their Medicaid coverage and be forced to move to nursing homes.

STL Today: "Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation Tuesday that will scale back Medicaid, the government's $5 billion health care program for the poor.

The changes are expected to eliminate taxpayer-financed insurance coverage for about 100,000 parents, people with disabilities and elderly people. Thousands more will have to pay some of their medical bills.
[...]
Blunt said Medicaid was growing faster than Missouri taxpayers' ability to finance it."

KFVS: "Medicaid patients say they will no longer be able to afford things they need like medications, at home caregivers, and repairs to their wheelchairs. It’s not just Medicaid recipients who are feeling the brunt of these cuts though. These cuts have a trickle down effect, hitting doctors’ offices that rely heavily on Medicaid recipients. One Heartland medical center will probably have to cut certain services for its Medicaid patients soon."

NPR: "For disabled Missourians like 44-year old Irene Schivers, the situation is no less serious. Schivers spends her days in a mobile home she shares with two dogs, a computer and a collection of dolls. Cerebral palsy and lupus have made her unable to work. She says that the new guidelines, with would require her to take in less than $500 a month before Medicaid kicks in, will make her ration food and give her dogs away.

"They want us to die," says Schivers. "We are a burden on society, so they don't care. We don't work, so why should we get anything? Just go ahead and die."

Governor Blunt explained to Missouri citizens that it is morally wrong to raise taxes to pay for the Medicaid program, and he would therefore be forced to sign the budget into law. This question will face every state in the nation because health care costs are rising everywhere. Every state will have to choose between raising taxes, enacting meaningful health care reform, or sentencing America's most vulnerable people to abject poverty without government aid.

Counseling Policy Blog advocates that we stand up for the voiceless, and insist that lawmakers either shore up Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Disability, Veterans' Benefits and the other vital health care programs protecting the poorest and sickest among us or create and follow through with meaningful health care reform that ensures quality health care for Americans who can't afford it.

The choice is stark: Either care for the poor and sick, or cut them off from government aid and leave them to fend for themselves. For those of you who don't work with Medicaid populations, know that these are families just like yours but with the twin yokes of poverty and health problems. Counselors will advocate for caring, for acting compassionately, for prioritizing the dignity of the sick and disabled.

When these people are forced into nursing home care or into the Emergency Rooms of Missouri hospitals, it is the citizens of Missouri who will pay higher hospital bills and higher nursing home prices. When jails become homeless shelters for the disabled poor, it is Missouri citizens who will subsidize building new jails or new residential care facilities. When families grow desperate, it is Missouri citizens who will bear the brunt. For Governor Blunt to claim that raising taxes is immoral while ensuring that every Missourian will pay more for their own health care is disingenuous at best. Governor Blunt is putting wealthy special interests above the needs of the disabled and above the reality of those citizens who will end up footing the bill.

If you live in Missouri, know that the fight isn't over. Next year's budget will be a new battle, and you can start now to ensure that these bad decisions are publicized and then reversed. For the rest of us, know that our statehouses are also looking at reduced federal money, shrinking industrial tax bases, and skyrocketing health care costs. It's only a matter of time before your state legislature is deciding whether to care for the sick, give tax breaks to the very rich, or create a health care system that is viable for every American.

Let your representatives know where you want them to stand when decision time comes.

CPB will post regularly about the proposed federal budget cuts, and we will do our best to monitor statehouses' moves regarding health care. It's up to you, however, to get involved and initiate change for the better. Make a call...Write a letter...run for office, it's your country and your responsibility. Go get 'em!
posted by Gordon Smith at 8:26 AM
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Sunday, May 15, 2005. *
"Unsettled by a series of dry winters in this normally wet city, Mayor Greg Nickels has begun a nationwide effort to do something the Bush administration will not: carry out the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

"Nickels, a Democrat, says 131 other like-minded mayors have joined a bipartisan coalition to fight global warming on the local level, in an implicit rejection of the administration's policy.

"The mayors, from cities as liberal as Los Angeles and as conservative as Hurst, Texas, represent nearly 29 million citizens in 35 states, according to Nickels's office. They are pledging to have their cities meet what would have been a binding requirement for the nation had the Bush administration not rejected the Kyoto Protocol: a reduction in heat-trapping gas emissions to levels 7 percent below those of 1990, by 2012.

"On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg brought New York City into the coalition, the latest Republican mayor to join... Nickels said he decided to act when the Kyoto Protocol took effect in February without the support of the United States.

"Nickels said that to achieve the 7 percent drop, Seattle was requiring cruise ships that dock in its port to turn off their diesel engines while resupplying and to rely only on electric power provided by the city, a requirement that has forced some ships to retrofit. And by the end of this year the city's power utility, Seattle City Light, will be the only utility in the United States with no net emissions of greenhouse gases, the mayor's office said."

See also:
GE commits to go green,
other corporations watch closely
posted by mr damon at 11:29 PM
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Mexico to US: "I thought we had an understanding."
Mexico has reacted furiously to a bill signed into law by the US this week that would fund a border wall and prevent illegal Mexican migrants from obtaining US driving licences.

President Vicente Fox said he would lodge a diplomatic complaint, and was considering complaints to multilateral bodies if Mexico could not unable to resolve the problem bilaterally.

In the US, leaders of the Mexican community threatened to strike to send a message to US employers that they could not survive without cheap Mexican labour.

Santiago Creel, Mexico's interior secretary, said the Real ID law was “negative, inconvenient, and obstructionist."

Building walls doesn't help anyone build a good neighbourhood,” he said. “Taking away the possibility of obtaining driving licences for people who are working in legal jobs, who pay their taxes there, who send remittances home here, seems to us to be an extreme measure, particularly given the new understanding that we thought we had after the re-election of President Bush.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, mayor of Mexico City, supported Mr Fox's stance. He said the problem of growing immigration could be “resolved by encouraging development in Mexico and Central America, not by building walls and using the border control."
posted by mr damon at 4:31 PM
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"Brushing aside opposition from top Army leaders, a House subcommittee approved a measure yesterday that would ban women from serving in certain support units in a bid to keep them out of 'direct ground combat.'

"The vote is likely to escalate a political debate that has simmered in Washington since last fall over the role of women in war zones, as the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have engaged women in battle and killed and wounded female soldiers.

"The legislation, backed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), would require the Army to prohibit women from serving in any company-size unit that provides support to combat battalions or their subordinate companies. While not retroactive, the measure, if enacted, would block the assignment of women to thousands of positions that are now open to them, a committee staff member said."
posted by mr damon at 4:23 PM
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"Coming out of the 2004 election, the American political landscape decidedly favored the Republican Party. The GOP had extensive appeal among a disparate group of voters in the middle of the electorate, drew extraordinary loyalty from its own varied constituencies, and made some inroads among conservative Democrats. These advantages outweighed continued nationwide parity in party affiliation. Looking forward, however, there is no assurance that Republicans will be able to consolidate and build upon these advantages.

"Republicans have neither gained nor lost in party identification in 2005. Moreover, divisions within the Republican coalition over economic and domestic issues may loom larger in the future, given the increasing salience of these matters. The Democratic party faces its own formidable challenges, despite the fact that the public sides with them on many key values and policy questions. Their constituencies are more diverse and, while united in opposition to President Bush, the Democrats are fractured by differences over social and personal values.

"These are among the conclusions of Pew Research Center's political typology study, which sorts voters into homogeneous groups based on values, political beliefs, and party affiliation. The current study is based on two public opinion surveys: a nationwide poll of 2,000 interviews conducted Dec. 1-16, 2004, and a subsequent re-interview of 1,090 respondents conducted March 17-27, 2005.

"This is the fourth such typology created by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press since 1987. Many of the groups identified in the current surveys are similar to those in past typologies, reflecting the continuing importance of a number of key beliefs and values. These themes endure despite the consequential events of the past four years ­ especially the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq."
posted by mr damon at 4:19 PM
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So obvious, even an Ewok can see it.
"Without Michael Moore and "Fahrenheit 9/11" at the Cannes Film Festival this time, it was left to George Lucas and "Star Wars" to pique European ire over the state of world relations and the United States' role in it.

"Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times."
posted by mr damon at 4:02 PM
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Create a new section of [Kentucky] KRS 311.710 to 311.820 to define "in vitro fertilization"; prohibit anyone from fertilizing more than one egg during the in vitro fertilization process; create a penalty of a Class D felony for violations of this section.

[Never mind that this is not how ivf works.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 12:40 PM
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A woman barred from reading the Bible in her son's kindergarten class is suing a suburban Philadelphia district, claiming it is infringing on her right to express her religious beliefs - and discriminating against Christians.

[Culbertson Elementary School had previously allowed students to read a book about Judaism, learn about the dreidel game, and make Hanukkah decorations. It is of course not fair that Judaism can get some exposure in elementary school and Christianity can't. That is why in the weeks ahead representatives from Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, Bahai, Mithrism, Astru, Wicca, Taoism, Confucianism, Sihkism, Rastafarianism, Santaria, voodoo, Scientology, Zoroastrianism, the Church of Satan, as well as guest speakers from dozens of aboriginal peoples will be making appearances soon at Culbertson Elementary School. Because either you welcome all the religions equally or you keep them out of public schools. Guess which option leaves time for learning about something besides religion.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 12:27 PM
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From an article in Zmag:

[Anthropologist] David Graeber, was fired from Yale University a few days ago. Of course, that wasn’t the official explanation. The official one reads that “his contract wasn’t renewed” because of his lack of “collegiality”. If you would allow me to translate this: the “lack of collegiality” that David had showed was when he was trying to defend his graduate students who were graduate union organizers.

Union organizers are regularly targeted at Yale. When one brilliant graduate student organizer was almost kicked out for clearly fabricated reasons, David Graeber was the only member of her committee with the courage to openly stand up for her at that committee meeting, and then later at a faculty meeting. On David Graeber’s behalf, Yale graduate students have initiated a petition which has been signed by almost all graduate and good number of undergraduate students of anthropology.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:24 AM
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From an article in Zmag:

[Anthropologist] David Graeber, was fired from Yale University a few days ago. Of course, that wasn’t the official explanation. The official one reads that “his contract wasn’t renewed” because of his lack of “collegiality”. If you would allow me to translate this: the “lack of collegiality” that David had showed was when he was trying to defend his graduate students who were graduate union organizers.

Union organizers are regularly targeted at Yale. When one brilliant graduate student organizer was almost kicked out for clearly fabricated reasons, David Graeber was the only member of her committee with the courage to openly stand up for her at that committee meeting, and then later at a faculty meeting. On David Graeber’s behalf, Yale graduate students have initiated a petition which has been signed by almost all graduate and good number of undergraduate students of anthropology.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:16 AM
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Gay-Baiting: A Full-fledged Political Movement
Between Frank Rich's op-ed column in the Sunday New York Times on "unprincipled gay-baiting as a full-fledged political movement" and Mark Morford's last week at San Francisco Chronicle with reminiscences about his hypocritical scout master, the Spokane Mayor Jim West, we get a suddenly focused picture of the gay-baiting and exploitation of homophobia underpinning the anti-judiciary movement aflame in this country. On the one year anniversary of legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts, add the Boston Globe's survey on just who is opposed to gay marriage: Americans older than 65, Republicans, Protestants, regular churchgoers and Southerners. Among young people, only about a third are opposed, compared to about half of those age 50-64 and 64 percent of those older than 65. This is an ugly anti-homosexual period that should die out as Generations X and Y take over but not before this form of McCarthyism does longterm damage to our judicial branch.
Rich's description:
"..even as it has ceased to be a crime or necessarily a political career-breaker to be gay, unprincipled gay-baiting has mushroomed into a full-fledged political movement. It's a virulent animosity toward gay people that really unites the leaders of the anti-"activist" judiciary crusade, not any intellectually coherent legal theory (they're for judicial activism when it might benefit them in Florida). Their campaign menaces the country on a grander scale than Drury and Preminger ever could have imagined: it uses gay people as cannon fodder on the way to its greater goal of taking down a branch of government that is crucial to the constitutional checks and balances that "Advise and Consent" so powerfully extols.

Today's judge-bashing firebrands often say that it isn't homosexuality per se that riles them, only the potential legalization of same-sex marriage by the courts. That's a sham. These people have been attacking gay people since well before Massachusetts judges took up the issue of marriage, Vermont legalized civil unions or Gavin Newsom was in grade school. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, characterizes the religious right's anti-gay campaign as a 30-year war, dating back to the late 1970's.."
posted by RHerman at 11:13 AM
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'God at Work': Evangelical Christians are Carving Niche in the Workplace
Angie Tracey, 49, and her husband attend the First Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga., on Wednesdays and Sundays. For years, she prayed for someone to start a fellowship at the sprawling Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where she works in strategic planning. One day, she said, God let her know she should do it herself. The group, formed in 2001, has 400 members. Its quarterly church picnic-style events have outgrown the CDC's facilities, so members use a sanctuary nearby. The picnic features a "praise team" of singers, a pianist and a potluck. Tracey brings the ham. They are all back at their desks before the lunch hour ends. [source, mirror]

[Am I the only one who finds it terrifying that stragetic planners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attend church, pray, and have "praise teams?" I like the part about bringing the ham, but I'd hate to be on the wrong side of the line as Tracey cycles between her faith and science.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:30 AM
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"...This is the only psychiatric institution in Sierra Leone. Built under British rule, it stood symbol for the prevailing of medical practice in the mid-1880s. Today it is in ruins but still accommodates about hundred patients. As a result of the war all of them are helpless and subjected to obsolete therapies. Hopefully, now that fear slowly fades into the past, change will come and someone who understands them will come along." From Pep Bonet.
posted by Andrew at 6:10 AM
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Yet, another Sibel Edmonds Update Yes, I am holding on to this like a pit bull, my instinct tells me that this is the final Gotterdamrung, before we slip into full blown police state.
-Uncle $cam
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:25 AM
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Saturday, May 14, 2005. *
Probably not a popular point of view - but, if you're interested:

"Two economists have just posted a paper online, showing a small correlation between counties' use of paperless electronic voting systems and voting results in the recent presidential election (after controlling for other factors). They found no evidence for systematic fraud by testing several potential indicators. Rather, the voting method seems to affect the relative turnout of different voter demographies. Thanks to Election Law Blog for the pointer."


shamelessly copied straight from the slashdot post
posted by ben at 3:27 PM
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Axiomatic in the worldview of the fundamentalist, born-again Christian is: "I have the truth, I'm right; you don't have the truth, you're wrong." As a result, critical thinking, research, or intellectual freedom of exploration are not only unnecessary, they are dangerous and potentially heretical. [...] But simply shunning critical thinking does not make one a terrorist. What does, however, is the notion that because one "has the truth" and everyone else who believes differently is "wrong", those individuals will be condemned to spend eternity in hell and must be incessantly reminded of their fate and their "inferior" status in the eyes of God. Moreover, because of one's "superior" spiritual status, one has the so-called "divine authority" to subvert, by whatever means necessary, the very machinery of government in order to establish a theocracy in which one's worldview is predominant.

[In contrast, science is built on a mountain of falsified evidence - science gets it wrong every single day, then learns from its mistakes and gets a little closer to the truth. It is religion, not science, that is the know-it-all nonsense. Too bad for the rest of us that these nuts control the US government, and that they want their apocalypse pronto.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:35 AM
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Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

[I note that same-sex couple cannot get or stay married but can have children, yet there does not seem to be any evidence that same-sex couples tend toward poverty. This appears to be a flaw in Williams' argument.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:07 AM
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Freedom for Some Religions and Some Torture
Catherine Philp, Times UK: "At least ten people had died by last night as a wave of anti-American demonstrations swept the Islamic world from the Gaza Strip to the Java Sea, sparked by a single paragraph in a magazine alleging that US military interrogators had desecrated the Koran. [...] The unrest began this week after Newsweek published an allegation that American military interrogators had deliberately desecrated the Islamic holy book in an effort to rattle detainees at the Guantanamo Bay centre in Cuba. The report said that they had several times placed the Koran on the lavatory inside inmates' cells and had 'in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet.'"

Here are ten people who either killed themselves or were killed because of something that may not have even happened (do you trust Newsweek?). While alleged hidden disrespect for the Koran is apparently not okay, it was okay to burn US flags in public: some symbols are to be respected, others are not. Even if the desecration did happen - sorry to not honor your diversity and everything, but the Koran is after all just a book and this was a rock-stupid reason for these people to die. Islam, like all religions, empowers and encourages people to do stupid, brutal things to themselves and to others.

I am not comforted by the idea that a paragraph in a magazine about a book can spark what Philip calls "the worst displays of anti-American sentiment since the fall of the Taleban in 2002." The US has done much, much worse, and yet this is what people get all worked up about? The victims of US government kidnapping currently held in Cuba as well as those held in the occupied nation of Iraq deserve immediate and unconditional release, period. Those are my priorities. The priorities of religion are humans last, invisible monsters that live in the sky first. I am also not comforted by the statements in response to these death by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice, US Department of State: "I want to speak directly to Muslims in America and throughout the world. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States. We honor the sacred books of all the world's great religions. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is abhorrent to us all. There have been recent allegations about disrespect for the Holy Koran by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay and that has deeply offended many people. Our military authorities are investigating these allegations fully. If they are proven true, we will take appropriate action."

Here is the trap that Dr. Rice has laid for herself. By saying that the Koran will always be respected, it is not possible to respect the magic book of the Christian cult, the Bible. Because the Bible says that the property of those who follow other religions is to be destroyed. You get one or you get the other: you get to honor the Koran and not the Bible, or the Bible and not the Koran, but you can't have it both ways. This is the kind of problem that gets neatly solved when the US government really gets out of the business of legislating religion, and the kind of problem it gets into when it promised "appropriate action" when someone is not religious in the right way.

But here I am, getting all worked up over a couple of paragraphs on a Web page. I think my response of ranting about it on a blog is healthier than rioting in the streets, but maybe that's the Western imperialism talking. Thanks to Naomi Klein of the Guardian for reminding me why torture happens, and why some reports of torture are released and others withheld.

Naomi Klein, Guardian: "The people being intimidated need to know enough to be afraid but not so much that they demand justice. This helps explain why the defence department will release certain kinds of seemingly incriminating information about Guantánamo - pictures of men in cages, for instance - at the same time that it acts to suppress photographs on a par with what escaped from Abu Ghraib. And it might also explain why the Pentagon approved a new book by a former military translator, including the passages about prisoners being sexually humiliated, but prevented him from writing about the widespread use of attack dogs. This strategic leaking of information, combined with official denials, induces a state of mind that Argentinians describe as 'knowing/not knowing,' a vestige of their 'dirty war.' [...] This is torture's true purpose: to terrorise - not only the people in Guantánamo's cages and Syria's isolation cells but also, and more importantly, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resist - the individual prisoner's will and the collective will."

Religion and torture belong in the history books but not in the news. To make these two blights disappear, I brought a small amount of information to a small number of people today: what did you do?
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:19 AM
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Friday, May 13, 2005. *
This we know

"This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

Chief Seattle
1853 Address

posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:47 PM
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Now how long until Netzero wises?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:30 AM
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Rev. Dr. W. David Hager, a Bush stealth-appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration, was instrumental in putting "Plan B" emergency contraceptives into legal limbo in the United States. But he didn't mind years of ass-raping his wife while she had narcoleptic seizures and leaving a check by the bed the next morning. Just the sort of fellow to be making decisions on the welfare of women, and to be delivering sermons on Sunday mornings. Thank you Jesus!
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:35 AM
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A teacher at a private Christian school in Berrien Springs has been placed on administrative leave for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Christine John is a first-year teacher at the Village Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School. She says school officials asked her why she was four months along in her pregnancy when she had been married just two months.

[It's not like Ronald and Nancy Reagan had their first child seven months after getting married or anything.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:22 AM
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Thursday, May 12, 2005. *
The demand by the U.S. Congress for $50 million of George Bush's $200 million aid package for the Palestinians to be diverted for Israeli checkpoints resembles to this writer, requiring the Vatican to buy air-conditioners for abortion clinics or pay divorce lawyer fees to ease the plight of Catholic women.

The new motto of the U.S. Agency for International Development is very simple and direct: "From the American People." But the conditions recently tacked onto a planned U.S. grant from the American people adds insult to Palestinian injury.

Diverting to Israel millions of dollars promised to the Palestinian Authority to reinforce Israeli checkpoints deep inside Palestinian territory is a multiple insult to Palestinians. Not only is it a reduction of the meager (in comparison to the billions given to Israel) grant to Palestinians; but diverting money earmarked for Palestinians to strengthen the Israeli army's occupation is a moral and political scandal.

READ STORY
posted by A.Q. at 2:42 PM
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Brides gotta run, planes gotta stray, and cable news networks gotta find a way to fill a lot of programming hours as cheaply as possible. (CNBC gets to talk about the booming April retail sales numbers, and the NRA's television network will replay the Secretary of State on Larry King over and over.)

We say with all the genuine apolitical and non-partisan human concern that we can muster that the death and carnage in Iraq is truly staggering.

And/but we are sort of resigned to the Notion that it simply isn't going to break through to American news organizations, or, for the most part, Americans.

Democrats are so thoroughly spooked by John Kerry's loss —- and Republicans so inspired by their stay-the-course Commander in Chief —- that what is hands down the biggest story every day in the world will get almost no coverage. No conflict at home = no coverage.


So that's why we aren't hearing anything about it other than a nightly list of numbers? Where's the fucking rage? "No conflict at home = no coverage?" Oh, ok.

You pussies.
posted by platts42 at 11:33 AM
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Since the White House's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives started a neighborhood-level grant program over a year ago, more than $730,000 has flowed to dozens of grass-roots poverty groups in Minnesota that never got federal funds before. Still, according to numbers just released by the White House, the new money is but a small part of the $18.5 million in federal grants that went last year to 36 traditional church-affiliated charities in Minnesota, many of which have been getting federal money for decades. Of that, less than 5 percent went to non-Christian faith groups, much of it in grants to Jewish Family and Children's Services and Elim Transitional Housing.

[Not that this constitutes a state endorsement of religion or anything.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:52 AM
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A Roman Catholic diocese in eastern Canada plans to sell all its churches and missions to raise the money to pay the victims of sexual assault by a priest who was convicted more than a decade ago, a bishop said Monday. The Catholic Diocese of St. George's will sell about 150 properties to raise $10.5 million as part of a settlement for the victims of the Rev. Kevin Bennett, who was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults over three decades as a priest in the province of Newfoundland.

[Parishes in the United States are resisting this option, instead relying on increased donations from the faithful. And the Vatican is reminding all parishes that the money only flows one way, up, so don't be expecting a bail out from on high.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:50 AM
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"...Over the last few weeks Blek le Rat has been putting up plenty of posters showing the French journalist Florence Aubenas from the newspaper Libération. She and her assistant, Hussein Hanoun, have been hostages in Iraq since January 5th. Investigating places in Paris where she used to go is his personal way of helping towards the journalist's release, sort of telling them that we haven't forgotten them."
posted by Andrew at 4:08 AM
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From CNN
Eighty-nine Democratic members of the U.S. Congress last week sent President George W. Bush a letter asking for explanation of a secret British memo that said "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support the Iraq war in mid-2002.
posted by ben at 3:46 AM
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Forget Big Brother intrusiveness, national databases, identity theft, or any of those other Real Problems with Real ID. Ars Technica points out something even more insidious. The bill contains provisions to allow DHS to overrule laws and court rulings. To quote from the bill summary (emphasis added):

II. Waiver of Laws to Facilitate Barriers at Border44

Section 102 of the IIRIRA generally provides for construction and strengthening of barriers along U.S. land borders and specifically provides for 14 miles of barriers and roads along the border near San Diego, beginning at the Pacific Ocean and extending eastward. IIRIRA § 102(c) provides for a waiver of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA)45 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)46 to the extent the Attorney General determines is necessary to ensure expeditious construction of barriers and roads...

H.R. 418 [the Real ID Act of 2005] would provide additional waiver authority over laws that might impede the expeditious construction of barriers and roads along the border. H.R. 418 would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any and all laws that he determines necessary, in his sole discretion, to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads under IIRIRA § 102...

Section 102 of H.R. 418 would amend the current provision to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any law upon determining that a waiver is necessary for the expeditious construction of the border barriers. Additionally, it would prohibit judicial review of a waiver decision or action by the Secretary and bar judicially ordered compensation or injunction or other remedy for damages alleged to result from any such decision or action.
posted by JohnFen at 12:20 AM
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005. *
"Arabic satellite television news channel al-Jazeera has hired the former Tribune editor Mark Seddon to be New York correspondent for its new 24-hour English-language station.

"Mr Seddon, who resigned as the editor of the leftwing weekly newspaper last year, is likely to take up his posting with al-Jazeera International in September with a broad remit, including covering US politics...

"'It is going to be interesting to see what the reaction of people will be... In terms of what happens in US television, I suspect that there's going to be a lot of people attracted to something a bit different to Fox News and CNN." [link goes to interview with News Dissector Danny Schechter]

"Al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, which is considering privatising the network following pressure from the US and a de facto advertising boycott by Arab countries offended by its sometimes critical stance.

"Al-Jazeera International will begin broadcasting globally early next year."
posted by mr damon at 1:58 PM
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A cloud. A small plane. But that grenade? Not a threat.
"Georgia's security chief said Wednesday that an inactive grenade was found 100 feet from the site where President Bush made a speech in Tbilisi. Gela Bezhuashvili, secretary of the Georgian National Security Council, said the Soviet-era grenade was found in 'inactive mode' near the tribune where Bush spoke on Tuesday.

"Bush wasn't even aware of the grenade report until Secret Service agents on the plane told him about it as his plane was returning to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, spokesman Scott McClellan said, adding that the White House never believed the president's life was in danger."

So this was a stunt or a dud. But if it was the latter, then how can the feds say there was no threat? Meanwhile, these stories get big play...

Two in custody after Capitol plane scare
Incoming cloud forces Bush into safe bunker

...which reminds me of an observation posted after the inauguration:

"Most people get a thrill in the presence of power: the pomp and circumstance, the sense of history, the greatness of leadership. I enjoy the security precautions: the police presence, flashing lights, squawking radios, barricades, bulletproof glass, bomb-sniffing dogs, sharpshooters on buildings, and the men and women in suits and sunglasses talking to themselves.

"I've learned to appreciate -- hell, look forward to -- our leader's ongoing tributes to the memory of lone gunmen and the ghosts of American foreign policy's collateral damage. This systematized deference to the phantasms of their imagination, this bureaucratic homage to the spectres of the unknown, is an object lesson in the power of fear. A power that can never touch me in the way it occupies all of them."
posted by mr damon at 1:55 PM
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Does your blog discuss the President of the United States? Does your blog get 100,000 or more hits? Then you may be under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission.
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:25 AM
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A leading Israeli doctor and medical ethicist has called for the prosecution of doctors responsible for thousands of unauthorised and often illegal experiments on small children and geriatric and psychiatric patients in Israeli hospitals.

[I suggest that it is inappropriate for the United States to financially support Israel.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 8:20 AM
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Tuesday, May 10, 2005. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:46 PM
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Well, then...
"The Senate approved the [military spending bill, HR 418] by a 100-0 vote Tuesday. The House easily approved the measure last week. It now goes to President Bush for his signature, which is certain...

"The measure requires states to start issuing more uniform driver's licenses and verify the citizenship or legal status of people getting them [and that's all you get from the AP about Real ID, it seems -- Ed.]. It also toughens asylum laws, authorizes the completion of a fence across the California-Mexico border, and provides money to hire more border security agents. The House had included most of the provisions in its version of the bill. The Senate did not but agreed during negotiations to go along with the House."

So, the next steps will have to be raising awareness about Real ID and bringing litigation in the states.


On to the next thing:

"Critics of the USA Patriot Act on Tuesday called for the Senate to temper the anti-terrorism law's provisions that let police conduct secret searches of people's homes or businesses, but defenders say since no abuses have been documented the law should be renewed."

"The Bush administration wants Congress to make permanent all 15 provisions of the law that expire at the end of the year, some of which have aroused civil liberties concerns among liberals and conservatives. The law's national standards for what are sometimes known as 'sneak and peek' searches are permanent.

"Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told the Senate Judiciary Committee that while they cannot show any specific abuses, the anti-terrorism law is written in a way that could allow abuses."
posted by mr damon at 7:18 PM
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Quote of the Day
The courage to be serious would mean something quite different. It would mean, not this bloodless, venti-decaf-latte substitute for passion, but real hatred of America's actions and single-minded, furious determination to get every last 'coalition' soldier off Iraqi soil, as soon as possible, by any means necessary. No ifs ands or buts about democracy, just get them out. Anyone who really believed in the Iraqis' right to their own damn country would not be fussing about whether their projected form of government or mode of self-determination matched American leftist ideals. This in none of our business, not least because it is mere insolence to presume that we know what the Iraqis want or how they should get it. Link

Neumann seems to hit on something rather critical: the endless jawboning about "exit strategies" in the Iraq debacle seem to have something in common. Namely, almost regardless of ideology, there's an assumption that leaving Iraq will be done on "our" terms. One of the themes I've tried to express on this blog is that it is not up to me, or you or any other American (or European for that matter) to dictate how the Iraqis should govern themselves, to conduct their lives and commerce. It is extremely arrogant to assume that we can or should do so. Rather, the Iraqi people know their cultures and politics considerably better than we do and are fully capable of determining for themselves what form(s) of government will work best for them. Our input in the internal affairs of Iraq are irrelevant. Our only obligation is to butt out, and that means bringing the troops, mercenaries, and profiteers home. Period.

I honestly don't know what the "best" way for leaving Iraq would be. What I do know is that we must leave, and do so in a way that respects the humanity of the people who live there.

Quick note: I've been reading Frantz Fannon's classic "The Wretched of the Earth" over the last couple days, and find that his analysis of the psychology of the colonialists and anti-colonialist nationalist movements is every bit as relevant today as it was back in the early 1960s. I will be commenting more at length on some of the insights I've been gleaning from Fannon's work at some point in the near future.

Cross-posted at my blog, The Left End of the Dial.
posted by Don Durito at 2:59 PM
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Faith Based Filtering
The atheist blog The God is for Suckers is now blocked by SonicWALL Content Filtering System. The editor of GIFS writes: "I found this out because I sometimes use the excellent free wi-fi access at Panera Bread, and they use SonicWALL to filter their content. Now, I’m generally against content filtering, but this is a private business providing a free service, so I suppose they’re pretty much entitled to filter if they want. And I can appreciate that they want to impede people who would use their service to advocate violence, or eat up their bandwidth with porn that then gets displayed in the eatery." A reasonable stance on their unreasonable stance. But what happens when tax-funded schools with mandated attendance use Internet filtering from religious companies?
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:46 AM
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By Rep. Ron Paul, M.D., R-TX
The Baltimore Chronicle
May 10, 2005


Rep. Paul was one of three Republicans who voted against the bill to which the Real ID Act was attached.

"Terrorism is the excuse given for virtually every new power grab by the federal government, and the national ID is no exception. But federal agencies have tried to create a national ID for years, long before the 9-11 attacks. In fact, a 1996 bill sought to do exactly what the REAL ID Act does: transform state drivers’ licenses into de facto national ID cards. At the time, Congress was flooded with calls by angry constituents and the bill ultimately died.

"Proponents of the REAL ID Act {HR 418} continue to make the preposterous claim that the bill does not establish a national ID card. This is dangerous and insulting nonsense. Let’s get the facts straight: The REAL ID Act transforms state motor vehicle departments into agents of the federal government. Nationalizing standards for driver's licenses and birth certificates in a federal bill creates a national ID system, pure and simple. Having the name of your particular state on the ID is meaningless window dressing.

"Federally imposed standards for drivers' license and birth certificates make a mockery of federalism and the 10th amendment. While states technically are not forced to accept the federal standards, any refusal to comply would mean their residents could not get a job, receive Social Security, or travel by plane. So rather than imposing a direct mandate on the states, the federal government is blackmailing them into complying with federal dictates."

See also:

The Real ID Act Raises Privacy issues

States May Disobey Driver's License Rules

Why the REAL ID Act May Actually Harm, Not Bolster, National Security
posted by mr damon at 11:26 AM
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