Archive for October, 2007

Pay Up Westboro Baptist Church!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Did you ever think that for every bad action in the world there will come several opposing good actions to bring the scales of good and evil into balance. I believe that sometimes the scales of good need to be tipped just a little bit more in the world when it comes to our troops. Especially, in times when one of those soldiers is killed in the line of duty. At times like those, a family is devastated and lost in grief.

I hate to even write about the Westboro Baptist Church because I honestly believe that they are a group of radicals hiding behind the cloaks of their church with their message of hatred against homosexuals. Well, some nimrod in that organization had an epiphany that the only way to spread that hate message was to blame God first and point it out that God killed your son or daughter serving in our military for a reason. Showing up at military funerals and protesting that your spouse, your son, your daughter, or even a parent died while in service to America because God hates homosexuals was not a bright idea. Westboro Baptist Church disgusts me with their actions. How you can call yourself a Christian and think that selling hate at a funeral makes you a better person or more God like is beyond my mental comprehension. I’m not being anti Christian, I’m just pointing out how stupid and self centered these people are.

Tip the scales of right and wrong back to the right side and along comes the Patriot Guard Riders. This is a group of bikers and just regular folks that believe in supporting our troops and proudly show up by invitation of the family, to support a fallen son or daughter of America’s military. They don’t ask for any money, many of the Patriot Guard Riders will drive thousands of miles at their own expense to be there for the funeral to legally block the protestors from the families view. Big American flags and bikes lining both sides of the street is a sight to see that I am sure the parents or spouses of the fallen soldier appreciate more than anyone will ever know. Law enforcement officers tend to have a little more respect for people with a positive message than folks with a very negative message at a military funeral. Gee, that took a ton of brain activity to figure out.

Tipping the scales a little bit further for the good side and we have this court case by a parent against the Westboro Baptist Church by the Associated press in the Houston Chronicle…

Church that pickets military funerals ordered to pay $2.9 million

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ
Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A grieving father won a $2.9 million verdict today against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”
A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries. But the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman. - Houston Chronicle

Three words, IT’S ABOUT TIME! I can hear the Amen coming from all my brother and sister Patriot Guard Riders over this decision. My own personal applause goes out to the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. Albert Snyder, you sir deserve this court decision and from my family to yours I offer my thanks for your sons service to our nation and of course my heart felt prayers over the loss of your son.

Thank you Mr. Albert Snyder.

Papamoka
Proud Member of the Patriot Guard Riders

Cross posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

An Ode to Halloween

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

HalloweenThere was a time when kids looked forward to the four most important days of the year - Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, and Halloween. Conservative bucketheads didn’t kvetch about people stealing Christmas right out from under their holier than thou noses. Everyone, regardless of religion, enjoyed a nice secular Easter egg hunt and joyfully biting the ears off a chocolate bunny. Citizens and immigrants, legal or illegal, enjoyed some fireworks and a hot dog. And finally, Halloween was never an occasion for a nutcase to stop burning Harry Potter books long enough to condemn Halloween as some communist, satanic soirée.

Oh, the times - how they’ve changed.

I lived in a neighborhood where 8 and 9-year old kids could wander around in the dark, unattended, wearing dark costumes soaked in toxins and impregnated with highly flammable materials. There was no Halloween Superstore because there was no mall to put it in. If you didn’t buy your costume at Woolworth’s, you wore a DIY affair. Sheets with jagged eye-holes were popular, as were hobos - happier, better-fed versions of today’s homeless. Back then, hoboism was a lifestyle choice, not a crushing social disease.

No Animatronic Ghouls, Thanks
In those days, the extent of Halloween decoration was a crude jack-o-lantern carved by Mom and a butter knife and costing about a buck if you got rooked at Al’s Market. There were no animatronic ghouls, Las Vegas lighting displays, or professional pumpkin carvers with templates and Henckles’ professional pumpkin knives carving amazing likenesses of Dick Cheney on unlucky gourds. Hell, we even made pumpkin pie out of the innards when we were done.

School day Halloweens were exquisitely lengthy and bereft of any actual learning. They were filled with candy-fueled daydreams and orange and chocolate cupcakes from the school cafeteria. The bell rang and the kids took off like a brace of quail flying in front of an old Republican’s face on a Cheney hunting trip.

(more…)

There’s a simple solution to the waterboarding problem

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Congress should pass a law criminalizing waterboarding or, better, any act that is designed to make a person believe that he is dying and state unequivocally that it is never to be used under any circumstances (i. e., the “ticking bomb scenario”). Such a definition would cover waterboarding and any other act that could be described as a mock execution. Then there would be no question about the issue.

Makes me wonder why they haven’t done so in the 10 months that the Democrats have been in the majority in both houses of the legislature. Sure Bush would veto it. Heck, it may not gain more than a few Republican votes but think of it. Such an act would force both the Republicans in Congress and the president to affirmatively vote for what the Democrats have called clearly and unquestionably torture. It seems to me that the Democrats want to have their cake (make an issue of torture to use against Republicans) and eat it (not have to be held responsible for criminalizing an act that could, in certain circumstances, save hundreds of thousands of American lives and the American economy to boot) too.

I mean, even if Mukasy doesn’t make it out of committee. They’ve got to know that no nominee put forth by Bush is going to agree to call Bush a war criminal. If that’s the standard, we’ll spend the rest of the Bush term without an attorney general.

Now that I think about it, that might be the point.

Does Karen Hughes Resignation Signal A Strike On Iran?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Tea leave reading is clearly not an exacting science…but if I were asked to interpret the announced resignation of longtime Bush crony Karen Hughes, I would conclude that it signals the likelihood that stealth president Dick Cheney has succeeded in convincing his presidential placeholder, George W. Bush, to launch a strike on Iran prior to packing up the U-Hauls in January of 2009. I’ll explain my rationale following some excerpts from the Associated Press article.

WASHINGTON - Karen Hughes, who led efforts to improve the U.S. image abroad and was one of President Bush’s last remaining advisers from the close circle of Texas aides, will leave the government at the end of the year.

Hughes told The Associated Press that she plans to quit her job as undersecretary of state and return to Texas, although improving the world’s view of the United States is a “long-term challenge” that will outlast her.

“This will take a number of years,” Hughes said in an interview Tuesday.

Bush and Rice had picked Hughes two years ago to retool the way the United States sells its policies, ideals and views overseas. A former television reporter and media adviser, Hughes’ focus has been to change the way the United States engages and responds to criticism or misinformation in the Muslim world.

“Negative events never help,” Hughes said when asked how events like last month’s shooting of Iraqi civilians by private U.S. security guards in Iraq affects the way the world sees the United States.

Polls show no improvement in the world’s view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

Hughes said the Iraq war was usually the second issue that Muslims and Arabs raised with her, after the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Hughes said she advised Bush and Rice two years ago that U.S. help in ending the six-decade old fight over Israel would probably do more than anything else to improve the U.S. standing worldwide.

Hughes is serving her second stint in the Bush administration…this time assigned a task that she concedes will not be achieved in short order and that will undoubtedly remain a challenge for the President’s successor.

More telling is Hughes assessment of the prevailing obstacle to improving the U.S. image…especially in the Middle East region and the Muslim world. As noted in the above excerpt, Hughes has told the administration that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves as the primary impediment to reversing the slipping view of America.

I took note of the fact that Hughes made this remark to the President and his current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, two years ago. I interpret the statement to suggest there was a meeting of the minds at the time she offered this assessment and agreed to take the job.

Today, I believe her resignation may well indicate a shift in the thinking of the President…one that would make Hughes’ task virtually impossible and therefore lead her to conclude it better to leave now rather than later. I suspect the event which would lead Hughes to an abrupt departure is knowledge of the administration’s plan to strike Iran.

Let me explain my reasoning. Given the anti-Israeli rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a strike upon Iran would be seen as a defense of Israel and a affirmation of the assertions that Israel and the United States have no real intentions of establishing an independent Palestinian state. Such a strike would further fuel the anger at Israel and the United States and make it virtually impossible for Hughes to maintain the credibility necessary to pursue the mending of the American image.

As such, rather than wait for the terse and inevitable repudiations, Hughes has chosen to jump ship prior to a strike which would almost certainly unravel any progress she has been able to achieve. I also don’t believe Hughes would have returned to the Bush administration with any intention of leaving prior to the end of the President’s second term.

Adding support to my speculation is the fact that Josh Bolton advised White House senior aides that if they were to stay past Labor Day they would be obliged to serve till the end of the President’s second term. The fact that Hughes is leaving regardless of that directive must indicate changing circumstances have created an untenable situation. Lastly, the fact that Hughes has long been regarded as one the George Bush’s most loyal supporters makes the resignation all the more suspect.

Obviously my hypothesis is little more than anecdotal. Notwithstanding, this resignation raises a red flag which cannot be ignored. I hope I’m wrong but I’ve learned not to bet against the Bush administration when it comes to cowboy diplomacy. The fact that Hughes is walking away from her hospitality assignment leads me to believe George Bush is once again running around the White House sporting a half-cocked handgun in his spanking new holster…you know…the one Dick Cheney told him to strap on.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Bush the Fiscal Conservative, Now That’s Comedy…

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Ed Brayton says it best:

“In other words, Bush has handed us and our children a $3.5 trillion We Owe Them, which can only be paid for with tax increases in the future. There is one iron law of budgets, repeat it after me: If you are running deficits, there is no such thing as a tax cut; there is only a tax delay. To continue to increase spending without paying the taxes to cover it is the very height of irresponsibility. Oh, and that’s not to mention that issuing all that debt has given foreign governments, China in particular, a multi-trillion dollar leverage point over us. If you ran a corporation that way, you would be in prison. Our government does this year after year and we return 90% of them to their jobs every two years. Wake up, America. You’re being screwed and they aren’t using any lube.”

Quote of the Day 103107

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Politics is not a battle for the middle. It is a battle for defining the terms of the political debate. It is a battle to be able to say what is the middle. — Big Tent Democrat, Talk Left

An America-Hating Flagburner Said This

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

A local bookstore had these quotations displayed in their front window today:

“A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.

America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.

And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.

War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.

Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.

In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”

All right now, enough of this blasphemy! Who’s the whiny treehugger? (These quotes are all from the same person.) To find out, click on Comments.

Thousands Protest Oct 27th across the nation.

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Of course the majority of the MSM has little to say on the topic. But IndyMedia, Boston.com, LAT and IndyBay.org have good writeups on the protests held in 11 major American cities. The events were organized by UnitedForPeaceAndJustice, their site has a great section on each city with reports and pictures. A few of the writeups:

On Saturday, Oct. 27, anti-war protesters in Philadelphia formed a human chain from the Veteran’s Hospital in West Philadelphia all the way into Center City, and then proceeded to march down to the the Liberty Bell and Constitution Center. Initiated by United for Peace and Justice, eleven different cities around the nation, including Philadelphia, mobilized Saturday against the war. Read Rich Gardner’s photoessay from the day.

Local media estimated the crowd at over 10,000 in a protest highlighted by a mass die-in during which protestors laid down on Market Street, San Francisco’s principal throughfare. The protest received page B1 coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle (Thousands “die” in anti-war protest on Market St. in SF).

Dynamic, fast-paced, dramatic video of Saturday’s march in Seattle beginning with IVAW’s Chanan Suarez Diaz in Pioneer Square.

NYC’s Demonstration via a YouTube vid. More of NYC’s demonstration here via YouTube. 45,000 from throughout New York City, New York State and northern New Jersey withstood the rain to rally and march for peace in Manhattan. Jon Flanders has an excellent photogallery of the NYC march.

As an antiwar rally waged behind her on swampy Boston Common yesterday, Linda Tobin and her two children crouched over a pair of dusty black boots, one of 156 pairs representing each New England casualty of the Iraq war. Despite the rain, over 10,000 people gathered on the Common to listen to speakers, including historian Howard Zinn and Councilor Felix Arroyo, and march to Copley Square and back.

My wife and I attended the Orlando, Florida rally and march today and we’re overjoyed to report that the wet weather did not dampen the spirit of the enthusiastic crowd. We listened to a number of speakers for a few hours before we hit the street to protest the war in Iraq. We sang pacifist songs and chanted antiwar slogans as we marched through the rain drenched streets of downtown Orlando. Our crowd was estimated by the local media at over 2000 people. Picture gallery here.

Salt Lake City’s Peace Potato’s has a YouTube up of their well-attended march.

The marches took place on Saturday in Chicago, Jonesborough, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle. Twenty four other peace demonstrations were held in solidarity across the United States on Saturday calling to END THE WAR NOW with mass demonstrations across Canada, Italy, London, Denmark and the Netherlands.

For more pictures and writeup’s by each city, UFPJ’s site has each one and links to their videos and picture galleries. The Antiwar citizens were well-represented across the nation and several other countries..check it out.

Tags: Oct 27th, Antiwar marches and protests, Protests, Marches

Crossposted at Sirens Chronicles, Leftwing Nutjob

Maybe We Should Fear Something Else…

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Bill Maher says it best…

“This Halloween, every time you see something that’s supposed to scare you, like a skeleton or a severed head or the ingredients in diet pudding … take a moment and think about fear: What are you afraid of; what should you be afraid of. What’s really scary this Halloween is that the same group of idea-free losers who won the last presidential election could win the next one by making us afraid of the wrong things. Which is why this year for Halloween, I’m going as something truly horrifying: a melting polar ice cap.”

Read the rest… 

Tragic Death Explains Our Surrender To Homogeneity?

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Robin Prosser was fifty years old when she ended her life. By all accounts her life was filled with debilitating pain…first the physical pain of an “immunosuppresive disorder” and then the emotional pain that accompanied her efforts to utilize her medical marijuana license to obtain the drug that reportedly eased her constant discomfort.

She was a high-profile campaigner for the Montana Medical Marijuana Act, and like others, she was dismayed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that drug agents could still arrest sick people using marijuana, even in states that legalized its use.

The ruling came to haunt Prosser in late March, when DEA agents seized less than a half ounce of marijuana sent to her by her registered caregiver in Flathead County.

At the time, the DEA special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain Field Division said federal agents were “protecting people from their own state laws” by seizing such shipments.

“I feel immensely let down,” Prosser would write a few months later, in a guest opinion for the Billings Gazette published July 28. “I have no safety, no protection, no help just to survive in a little less pain. I can’t even get a job due to my medical marijuana use - can’t pass a drug test.”

Federal prosecutors declined to charge Prosser, but fear spread through the system of marijuana distribution set up in the wake of the medical marijuana act. Friends said Prosser turned to other sources for marijuana, but found problems nearly everywhere she turned.

A number of bloggers have written about Prosser’s tragic death and while the topics of medical marijuana and the “war on drugs” warrant discussion, I think a larger issue merits even more attention. That issue is the growing need to view others through a template which relies upon the belief that society is best served when homogeneity is embraced and enforced.

The problem begins with a reliance upon statistics and soon morphs into the conclusion that all situations and all individuals can be understood by looking at the prevailing data to determine what is acceptable and what must be rejected. While this model serves us well with regards to the approval of drugs by the FDA; it fails miserably when attempting to predict each individuals capacity to lead a functional life…especially when that life is lived outside the norm.

At its worst, I believe that such a construct not only leads to a mind set which demands similitude; but it encourages the mediocrity that seems to have become a burgeoning affliction in this country. Differentness seems to have become a disquieting condition which has led us to react with fear to all that is outside the safe confines of the normative range of behaviors.

As I read the many comments on the Prosser situation, I was struck by the countless assertions of certainty regarding the use of marijuana and the propensity to cite the evidence proffered by the government in its ongoing opposition to marijuana. Here’s the problem. For every study that offers a rationale to prevent its use, there are ten that document the dangers of consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, the powers that be support the notion that adults can and will make reasoned decisions with regard to their use of alcohol while prohibiting those same adults from doing so with marijuana and other recreational drugs.

The individuals who so boldly claim that marijuana is a gateway drug…a drug which can lead to depression…a drug whose use is indicative of a surrender to the travails faced by the individual…are the same individuals who believe they can judiciously manage their own use of alcohol…a drug with all of the same contraindications.

Let me be clear…my comparison to alcohol is not offered as a justification for the legalization of marijuana even though it may be a compelling argument. I offer the comparison to highlight the inconsistency inherent in the arguments which attempt to apply statistical data without regard for the varying abilities of the individual. The exceptionalism which is so often applied to America by Americans is mysteriously absent when looking at individuals who operate outside the safe zone of the proverbial bell curve.

Truth be told, the exceptional traits which we so frequently attribute to this nation clearly resulted from the efforts of individuals who refused to be confined by conventionality and the prescribed standards we now cling to with more unfounded fears than those associated with a child’s reliance upon a security blanket. Each submission to our fears is another piece of evidence that the average American identity grows ever more fragile. That fragility also facilitates the flattening of the curve and an across the board free fall towards a safe but shared inferiority.

As we acquiesce to all that defines a nanny state, we are fast becoming a nation of sniping adult children who succumb to pettiness because it is far easier than confronting the many complex discriminations that accompany the human condition. In our rush to mediocrity, we hasten the demise of the creative spirit, we stifle those who would otherwise take the risks that have allowed us to exceed all others, and we force the Robin Prosser’s of the world to believe that their very existence is so antagonistic that they can no longer live amongst us.

When we allow the pain of our irrational fears to exceed our ability to empathize with those in our midst who are suffering tangible tragedy we move ever closer to the very demise we imagine may come if we were to make allowances for our differences. Robin Prosser is no longer living…but we who remain are less alive each time we foster the intolerance we’re unable or unwilling to overcome.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater


Fish.Travel