Point – Worthless Counterpoint

Billmon from Whiskey Bar conducts a very fitting evisceration of the GOP’s association with the fringe religous / rapture ready right. While the old phrase, “lay down with dogs, you get fleas”, pops immediately into my head for some reason, Billmon discusses the kennel infestation with a bit more thought:

But marriage, as we all know, is a sacred bond, and while some GOP politicos may regard this as a marriage of convenience, the religious right tends to focus on the ” ’til death to us part” bit. Without the grassroots muscle of the Christian conservatives, George W. Bush doesn’t get elected, not even once, and the Republicans probably don’t control the House and Senate. And the more important GOTV becomes (and in a closely divided, media-saturated electorate, it’s very important) the more indispensable is the party’s alliance with the “End Times Conservatives.”

So Danforth and the “mainstream” Republicans can whine all they want about intolerance and sectarian agendas and the need to get back to good old-fashioned conservative economic values. The reality is that the modern GOP and its business paymasters need the religious right the way Terri Schiavo needed her feeding tube.

Much of Billmon’s rant is based on a N.Y. Times Op-Ed today by former senator (and U.N. Ambassador and Bush front-man) John Danforth. Danforth is shocked, shocked to find out that the fringe lunatics have squatted in the GOP house, and there’s apparently no way to evict them.

Of course, a good GOP footsoldier like Danforth breaking ranks with his leadership could not go unanswered by the Rovians. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Karl was on the phone with Hugh Hewitt moments after the NYTimes early edition hit the newsstands. Had to be. That’s the only way Hewitt could crank up his sliming of Danforth in the Weekly Standard so quickly:

So Danforth’s essay is really a poorly-camouflaged complaint that his positions on stem-cell research, gay marriage, and Terri Schiavo are not the positions of the Republican party. It is fair for him to try and persuade people to endorse his positions but it is wrong and demagogic to attempt to question the right of people of faith to participate in politics…

Danforth is hardly a liberal wallflower, in fact, he was always one of the creepier, Straussian-neocons in the Senate during his time. So why the attack? What Sen. Danforth has apparently failed to recognize is that you’re either with George Bush or against him. There’s no middle ground. No room for criticism in the GOP. If you’re not on message, you’re off the reservation.

John McCain learned the hard way, and his stock has gone from high-flying former presidential candidate (and possible Kerry running mate) to Bush butt boy. John Danforth is about to learn – even in retirement, you don’t fuck with the agenda of the boss. The incredible creepy slime machine, from Limbaugh to Hewitt, has now been set in motion to marginalize Danforth as a flaming, gay-loving liberal.

Try a Hartz flea collar next time, Sen. Danforth.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

The Circle of Life

Almost every one of us will have to deal with the agonizing life and death decisions that Michael Schiavo has had to confront for the past fifteen years. I want to say that with his wife’s passing this morning, he can now move on with his life. But he did what most of us do when confronted with these decisions a long time ago.

We mourn, we move on. Not to sound trite, but it’s the circle of life. Life is for the living. We mourn the passing of our loved ones who always leave us too early; we celebrate their lives, and keep their memories alive.

The saddest thing about this whole affair is that the events of the last few weeks will forever taint the happy memories of Terri Schiavo for everyone that loved her.

For that alone, the Randall Terry’s of the world should burn in hell.

Rest in peace, Terri. Live in peace, Michael.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Santorum Doesn’t Get It

Pennsylvania’s Man on Dog in Washington, Rick Santorum, took some time during the Senate’s Easter recess to go and grandstand outside the Pinellas Park hospice where all those protesters are. I suppose he wants to connect with his whacko “base.” During his visit, which could have been accomplished privately so as not to stir a very contentious controversy, Mr. Santorum talked to the press to excoriate the decisions by dozens of judges. When all of Congress and the President himself have read the polls and, like they were hit with a brick up the side of their heads, discovered they were on the WRONG SIDE of this issue, Rick Santorum keeps blundering along. Frankly, I’m hoping Rick Santorum continues to show that conservatism to him means pandering to the religious right rather than an adherence to constitutional principle.

“We cannot continue to expect that the laws that we pass and the intentions are clear, that are just simply ignored by the judges and have their nose, basically thumb their noses at us,” Sen Rick Santorum, (R-Pennsylvania) said Tuesday, demanding that two judges who ignored the Congressional legislation and federal subpoenas issued in the Terri Schiavo case should be held accountable.

What’s becoming clear is that conservatives are beginning to be willing to speak about what used to be conservative values, like federalism. Indeed, Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., who authored opinions upholding a couple of the most conservative decisions in recent history, the Alabama Sex Toy ban and the Florida Gay Adoption Ban, came out yesterday to slam Bush and the Congress on their meddling in the Schiavo case.

Yet, in Wednesday’s 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to deny a rehearing to Schiavo’s parents, Birch went out of his way to castigate Bush and congressional Republicans for acting “in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for governance of a free people – our Constitution.”

Birch said he couldn’t countenance Congress’ attempt to “rob” federal courts of the discretion they’re given in the Constitution. Noting that it had become popular among “some members of society, including some members of Congress,” to denounce “activist judges,” or those who substitute their personal opinions for constitutional imperatives, Birch said lawmakers embarked on their own form of unconstitutional activism.

In the same article constitutional scholar Dave Garrow places Birch firmly in the Scalia/Thomas camp, though I would doubt Scalia and Thomas would be so strictly originalist. They have shown their willingness to pander to the religious right before, after all. Still, the Republicans, including Pennsylvania’s Man on Dog in Washington, Rick Santorum, have always said they want judges who rule as Judge Birch has done.

You know, I hate the sound of dogs whining. I think Rick Santorum has been around those dogs too much lately, because his whining is about as shrill as chihuahua faced with a rolled up newspaper.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Amazing Grace

…or, “say AMEN, brother”

Yesterday evening, I was doing some research for my “Talking to the Reptile” series, when I quite by accident ran into an exceptionally relevant sermon on Beliefnet. I urge you to read the entire sermon by Forrest Church, Senior Minister of All Souls Church (Unitarian) in New York City. Not only is it timely, but it takes the evangelical fundamentalists to task on many issues, using the Schiavo debacle as a jumping off point for talking about the “culture of life” that apparently is so near and dear to the fundies.

Here’s an excerpt:

…I wish I could add that my compassion–always an elevating sentiment–extends to the politicians who have opportunistically seized upon this family tragedy to trumpet their piety. Jesus warned against public displays of piety. He knew that self-righteous display is the opposite of righteousness before God. Among other things, such displays promote hypocrisy. Today, with respect to our born-again Congress, this hypocrisy is most evident in the ongoing debate over next year’s budget. Terri Schiavo’s care, and that of others like her, is largely underwritten by Medicaid, even as national funding for health care is being frozen and may soon be slashed.

One can make a moral case against all forms of euthanasia, but to do so responsibly requires a commitment to underwrite the massive costs such a position must entail. As for all the pious political expostulation against starvation, cutting back on food stamps here at home or slicing foreign aid to abate famine abroad rips out untold numbers of feeding tubes. Children daily die in Africa by the hundreds, by the thousands, without fanfare–children not in a vegetative state, who might otherwise have lived a full and active life. While ignoring or rejecting so many other humanitarian pleas, when our legislators take time off from cutting the human services budget to promote a feeding law designed to address the plight of a single human being, they turn President Bush’s ‘culture of life’ mantra into a parody…

I suppose that it’s not any surprise to regular ASZ readers that I’m not a church going individual, though I hold my own ersatz spiritual beliefs, as do many of us. And granted, the Unitarian Church is certainly not within the mainstream of organized, holier-than-thou religion. But for Beliefnet to give such a prominent position to a sermon that is clearly miles outside of the mainstream fundamentalism that Beliefnet typically pushes (or at least its core readership espouses) can be termed as one hell of a shift.

Rev. Church hits one out of the park. Has the backlash started?

Update, 9:00AM, 3/31/05 – I’d really like to get some comments from the same “culture of life” fundies who are laying prostrate on the streets of Pinellas Park, Fla. about US Army Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet. ASZ readers may recall that I blogged about Capt. Maynulet back in September, 2004. He is the Army officer who was caught on camera doing what his defense termed as a “mercy killing” of a wounded, unarmed, Iraqi insurgent.

Yesterday, Capt. Maynulet was convicted of manslaughter, which carries a military prison sentence of up to 10 years. What’s maddening is that the same people carrying signs outside of Schiavo’s hospice in Florida were (and will be) defending Capt. Maynulet’s point blank murder of the Iraqi as a “compassionate response to the suffering” of the wounded man.

The hypocrisy continues apace.

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

End Game?

Pulled from the comments at AmericaBlog (which at the moment looks like it’s been hacked)

From dailykos….

Your rights under fire: No more private domain registration for .US
by jbeach
Wed Mar 30th, 2005 at 17:05:52 PST

I use godaddy.com as my registrar. just minutes ago I received this email:

Today I have the unfortunate responsibility of informing you that there has been a decision made by bureaucrats of a Federal agency that takes away your right to privacy as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. This decision was unilaterally made by the National Telecommunications and Information Association (“NTIA”) — http://www.ntia.doc.gov/

The effect of this decision is to disallow new private domain name registrations on .US domain names. In addition, if you already own a private .US domain name registration, you will be forced to forfeit your privacy no later than January 26, 2006…

This comes after an anarchist website was forced to give up the IP addresses of some of it’s posters, and the FEC is looking into restriction of political blogs.

Guess what, people – they’re finally attacking the real enemy: the Internet.

The website to petition against this is at http://www.TheDangerOfNoPrivacy.com

As Bob Parsons, head of Godaddy.com, quite eloquently continues: I personally find it ironic that our right to .US privacy was stripped away, without due process, by a federal government agency — an agency that should be looking out for our individual rights. For the NTIA to choose the .US extension is the ultimate slap in your face. .
US is the only domain name that is specifically intended for Americans (and also those who have a physical presence in our great country). So think about this for a moment. These bureaucrats stripped away the privacy that you’re entitled to as an American, on the only domain name that says that you are an American. I am outraged by this — you should be also.

Except that he should know that it wasn’t any bureaucrat who made this decision… 59 million cows are coming home.

Then there is this continuing saga of the little, bitty, tiny people that the BradBlog has been covering:

RNC Political Director Cites Report by RNC ‘Voting Rights’ Front Group to RNC Email List!

Report from ‘American Center for Voting Rights’ (ACVR) Used as Political Smokescreen to Deflect from Real 2004 Election Irregularities…

Cynical, Deceptive GOP anti-Election Reform Agenda gets Underway as Baker/Carter Commission Convenes…(And apparently ACVR Knew About it Before Anybody Else! Go Figure!)

The ACVR report was presented by the GOP front group to Congress in a U.S. House Adminstrative Committee hearing on the Election Mess in Ohio. The then-three-day old group, masquerading as a “voting rights” organization, was the only such group called as witnesses in the hearings convened by the committee’s Chairman, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH).

As well, the creation of the ACVR seems to be smartly-timed with the creation of a supposedly “bi-partisan” blue-ribbon commission convened to study and recommend solutions for Electoral Problems in 2004. The Commission was seated in secret, announced on Thursday at 2pm, and lauded in a Press Release published by ACVR just 24 minutes later!

The commission, as announced, is set to be co-chaired by James A. Baker, III, the mastermind and architect of the 2000 Bush/Cheney strategy to ensure that votes were not counted in the state of Florida. The other co-chair is former-President Jimmy Carter who led a similar commission with respected elder statesman, former-President Gerald Ford after the 2000 Election debacle led by Baker on behalf of the Bush Family.

The RNC email, sent to believers on Tuesday, described the ACVR report as “document[ing] massive amounts of voter intimidation by Democrats and their third-party allies”.

Of course, the report doesn’t. Neither does it document the thousands of verified instances of real election fraud, irregularities, intimidation, disenfranchisment, miscounted and uncounted votes that occurred in Ohio and elsewhere in the last general election. Many of the real documented reports of evidence of went actually went wrong last November are contained in a 102-page report submitted to Congress after months of investigation by the minority staff of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

While the media has been feeding the frenzy over whether to pull Terri’s feeding tube or not, the Republicans have been working feverishly to stack the voting rights/reform deck. In the last week they have managed to manufacture a “non-profit voting rights” group and have its “leaders” testify before congress as experts. And to top it off James Baker III has been selected to co-chair an election reform panel.

If fair elections matter at all to you it’s time to start talking about what is going on and quit pretending that the last 3 elections weren’t horribly “flawed” – and quit pretending that “the next time it will be different, if only…”

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

White Powder

Ok, I’m just going to throw this up here and let the commenting and speculating begin.
State Rep. Habay charged in white powder hoax

A state lawmaker already awaiting trial for alleged ethics violations was charged today with making up a story that he received a suspicious white power in the mail and with retaliating against and harassing constituents who questioned his political finances.

State Rep. Jeffrey E. Habay, 38, a five-term Republican lawmaker from Allegheny County, faces 20 new counts as a result of the latest complaint, including a felony charge of possessing or using a facsimile weapon of mass destruction.

Habay had claimed that he got a letter with suspicious white powder last May from George Radich, a constituent who along with four others had asked for a court audit of Habay’s political action committee.

Postal officials determined the powder was harmless, and noted that Radich did nothing to hide the source of the mailing — he paid for it with a credit card.

“The day that the postal inspectors came here, they were serious,” Radich said today. “I’ll tell you, I was scared because you’re being accused by a powerful Harrisburg politician.”

I’ll wait while you go finish the article. … …

So, what do you think? Just another Republican run amok?

Thursday, March 31st, 2005 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

Addressing the National Press Club/Guckert issue

The Agonist seems to have it well in hand, with a letter protesting how the National Press Club action and signed by many of us in the Left Blogzome.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Talking to the Reptile – Pack Your Shit

Prologue – Maslow
Part 1 – The Petition

George Carlin on a bad case of fleas:

…The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet…the planet…the planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE!

We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance…

News item, 3/30/05: UN Report: Two-thirds of world’s resources “used up”:

The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries – some of them world leaders in their fields – today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call “a stark warning” for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

“Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,” it says…

Jared Diamond on How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed:

Natural climate changes may make conditions either better or worse for any particular human society, and may benefit one society while hurting another society. (For example, we shall see that the Little Ice Age was bad for the Greenland Norse but good for the Greenland Inuit.) In many historical cases, a society that was depleting its environmental resources could absorb the losses as long as the climate was benign, but was then driven over the brink of collapse when the climate became drier, colder, hotter, wetter, or more variable. Should one then say that the collapse was caused by human environmental impact, or by climate change? Neither of those simple alternatives is correct. Instead, if the society hadn’t already partly depleted its environmental resources, it might have survived the resource depletion caused by climate change. Conversely, it was able to survive its self-inflicted resource depletion until climate change produced further resource depletion. It was neither factor taken alone, but the combination of environmental impact and climate change, that proved fatal.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Santorum Getting Out of Frying Pan?

Todays papers are reporting here and here and here, that the embarrassment for Senator Santorum concerning his sending his kids to Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which then charged Penn Hills even though Santorum was not a resident of their district, will be worked on through arbitration.

A negotiated settlement would eliminate the need for a public hearing on the high-profile dispute between the Penn Hills School District and the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

Both sides have agreed to work toward resolving the matter without a hearing, department spokeswoman Bethany Yenner said. A state-appointed hearing officer has set a May 9 deadline for the parties to present settlement terms, she said.

Two things. First, why should an issue vital to our picking an honest Senator be decided behind closed doors? And why isn’t Santorum involved in this anymore?

No matter. Santorum is still in trouble, at least as evidenced by two recent articles in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that Right-Wing rag that normally would support Santorum or any Republican. No, they’re on the attack. On the 26th, the Tribune-Review’s Colin McNickle, famous for ambushing Teresa Heinz back in the 2004 Presidential election, was upset by Santorum because he thinks Santorum will let politics trump his principles. Well, duh! That’s Santorum’s M.O., after all, and he wouldn’t be a Republican if he actually had principles he stood by. But this isn’t just McNickle quibbling, he uses some pretty biting language (pun intended). On Santorum’s “principles” he writes:

…And to him homosexual marriage is an abomination that will open the door to legally sanctioned man-canine matrimony, right? Woof-woof.

So it’s not just the progressives making fun of Rick “man on dog” Santorum anymore.

McNickle isn’t isolated at the Tribune-Review. They’re actually posting letters to the editor criticising Santorum on his voting record and the school issue here, and a Republican letter-writer skewers Santorum in the Tribune-Review over betraying principles here.

Could it be that Rick Santorum is losing his base? I wouldn’t count on that yet, but the Tribune-Review criticising Rick Santorum is welcome news, even on a day when we see signs that his education fiasco with the Penn Hills School District my be settled behind closed doors.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Sign the Petition

Or we shoot the pooch. We’ve got a blog and we’re not afraid to use it. Click here, dammit.

5000 signatures needed. We’re 4,996 short right now. Help us out, eh?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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