Saturday, June 12, 2004

Can we get W to skydive with Poppy?

(falling through the clouds...)

"DUBYA! For the last time, don't pull the zipper, son, you gotta pull the cord!"

(smirk)(wink)"...Exemplorary strategry, Poppy, exemplorary. (pulls cord) See? I is learning...." (another smirk)

(drifting slowly, Poppy is smart enough to move a safe distance from the accident prone W.)

( a while later, W, whistling TV tunes, smirks, and then frowns) "I do believe them there's a missle...Oh, sh...!"

(Poppy watching W explode in a fiery plume)

"I'll be damned, that SDI bullshit does protect America after all!"

Friday, June 11, 2004

One drawing says all about this week of "mourning"

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Sit down W, you're blocking my view!

Maureen Dowd gave GW a pleasant smack-down this morning in the New York Times.

At every opportunity, as the extraordinary procession solemnly wended its way from California to the Capitol, W. was peeping out from behind the majestic Reagan mantle, trying to claim the Gipper as his true political father.

Finally, there's a flag-draped coffin and military funeral that President Bush wants to be associated with, and wants us to see. (It's amazing they could find enough soldiers, given Rummy's depletion of the military.)
The Bush crowd's attempt to wrap themselves in Reagan could go only so far. While Laura Bush and Donald Rumsfeld shared memories of fathers who had suffered from Alzheimer's, Mrs. Bush said she could not support Mrs. Reagan's plea to remove the absurd and suffocating restrictions on stem cell research.

Whether he was right or wrong, Ronald Reagan was exhilarating. Whether he is right or wrong, George W. Bush is a bummer.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Demand the "Drug Provision" of the HEA be eliminated

Being that many of us are involved with higher education in one way or another as students, teachers, etc., and many of us come to this point from having had a lot of "life experience" which may not have been legal or productive, we all value the opportunity available in such "second chances."

That said, I feel it is vital to spread this information, and please feel free to do likewise. It concerns the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act. If you are not aware of it, the amendment provides that any student or potential student loses the chance to be award any financial aid, simply from one drug possession charge. There are no such provisions for rape, murder, terrorism, or armed robbery. Drug users, especially minorities, are being unfairly targeted by this part of the HEA, and are being denied rights that criminals of much worse ilk are privy to.

Just imagine, getting caught with as much as one joint could lead to the denial of your student aid, whereas you could rob, rape, and murder dozens of people without such losing your financing.

Please join the NAACP, ACLU, and Click Back America in petitioning for the removal of this racist and unjust legislation. You can join the petition here. (Don't forget to select Kaplan College from the College Click Drive list if you don't already have a school!)

The following are excerpts from a Click Back America email:

The Drug provision is an amendment to the Higher Education Act that strips all federal education assistance, (including all loans and all work-study funds) from any student with any drug-related conviction. This includes non-violent, first-time misdemeanor marijuana possession, which is the most common drug conviction in America.

To date, the "Drug Provision" has denied 153,000 students an affordable college education, and deterred countless thousands more from even applying. And now the Bush administration has chosen to vigorously expand enforcement, ensuring many more will be locked out of a better, more productive life.

Here are just a few of the reasons to oppose the "Drug Provision":

1) It slams the door on students struggling to use education to build
a better life. That increases the likelihood of repeat offenses and
more serious crimes.

2) All students covered by the "drug provision" have already been
punished by a judge who had the option of withholding educational
assistance. That means the "drug provision" only actually affects
students in cases where judges have decided NOT to cut these funds,
usurping the role of the courts and virtually guarantees that the law
is only applied in cases where it is NOT appropriate.

3) It primarily hurts the poor - wealthier students are less likely
to be convicted of drug offenses, and can attend college even without
the federal aid if necessary.

4) Drug convictions fall disproportionately on racial minorities, and
this law transfers that well documented discrimination into
educational access and the chance for a better future.

5) The "Drug Provision" has resulted in absolutely no measurable
reduction in drug use among any segment of the population.

Thanks, everyone. Stay vigilant!

Don't let the science facts get in the way of your photo-op!

Last week, the Justice Department made an unusual and dramatic presentation of the "evidence" against Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber." Over the course of the press conference, there were many allegations which, if true, should have landed Padilla before a judge. Naturally, as this White House has shown, law and justice are only defined by the Executive Branch, not the Constitution.

It turns out that the entire concept of the dirty bomb Padilla is said to have planned would never have caused serious injuries. Uranium, regular uranium that is, has such a small ability to inflict radiation injuries that Padilla's bomb would have been a "dud," at least according to a nuclear physicist. Via the AP:

"I used a 20-pound brick of uranium as a doorstop in my office," American nuclear physicist Peter D. Zimmerman, of King's College in London, said to illustrate the point.

Zimmerman, co-author of an expert analysis of dirty bombs for the U.S. National Defense University, said last week's government announcement was "extremely disturbing — because you cannot make a radiological dispersal device with uranium. There is just no significant radiation hazard."

Well, now who would listen to him anyway? Certainly not the Bush administration, whose casual disassocitation from anything based in scientific fact is well recognized, especially by the scientific community.

Yet again, the unelected cabal has stiffled scientific reasoning in pursuit of political goals. With the Padilla case resonating recently in the chamber of the Supreme Court, there is only on reason to make this dramatic presentation. It is an attempt to skew the facts presented to the public as a means of fostering anger toward a Supreme Court decision which falls in favor of Padilla. Although, with the current makeup of the SC being identical to the 5-4 split which handed Bush his illegal victory in 2000, the likelihood of an anti-Bush settlement seems unlikely.
Just saying the word `uranium,' the public automatically assumes, `Oh, it sounds bad,'" said physicist Charles Ferguson
However, Karl Rove has a political philosophy which led to the Justice Department presentation of evidence outside of a courtroom which specifically mentioned uranium:

Everything is political.

As the tagline from No More Mister Nice Blog states so correctly,
"It's Karl Rove's world. We just live in it."

The Flag-Burning Amendment may become an issue...again

What is Orrin Hatch thinking? This bastard has important issues such as the war in Iraq, economic recovery, health care, and homeland security, and yet he really believes that the American people give a flying fuck about someone buring a flag? We would be fortunate indeed if the terrorists displayed their hatred of America by entering our nation and burning flags in protest. If only we were so lucky.

Hatch and the conservative wackos, who apparently aren't paying attention to the real world, have brought back the flag-burning amendment which has appeared from time-to-time in Congress and the Senate. Just in time for Flag Day, the conservaties are planning to rally the false-patriots around an idolic representation of our nation in an effort to deal a severe blow to the First Amendment. PFAW offers the following:
If the amendment passes, it would be the first time in the nation’s more than 200-year history that the Bill of Rights has been amended to restrict Americans’fundamental liberties.

Is there any need for this change to the Constitution? Apparently not from a law enforcement standpoint.
Of the 122 incidents, at least two-thirds (76) involved crimes that are already covered by local criminal statutes—including theft, vandalism, destruction of property, trespassing, disorderly conduct or public disturbance, according to the information on CFA’s own site. In many of the very cases that CFA cites, for example, an arrest was made on multiple charges. Some examples, taken directly from CFA’s own website, are:

October 30, 2001, Langley, VA: Oleg S. Asserin, 18, a George Mason University student was charged with burning the US flag in a fire that damaged nearly two acres of woodland in northern Virginia. Asserin was arrested on a felony charge of setting a fire capable of spreading and a misdemeanor charge of burning the US flag. The fire burned about two acres of brush before it was extinguished. Firefighters found a charred American flag among the damage.

September 2, 2002, Melbourne, KY: Four teen-age boys were charged with desecrating a dozen of the 24 American flags on display for Labor Day. The boys told detectives they just had an itch to destroy things.

September 11, 2002, Ann Arbor, MI: Two teenagers were arrested after allegedly setting an American flag on fire at the University of Michigan. Police reported the boys ignited the flag near the school's Hill Auditorium and then ran away. A university spokeswoman said the teens were not students or affiliated with the university but were just walking around looking for trouble. Both boys were arrested when they returned to the scene.

December 26, 2002, Boca Raton, FL: Police suspect vandals in a flag burning at a golf club. Somebody lowered the golf club’s large American flag that was flying outside the pro shop, set it on fire and then ran it back up the flagpole.

These are examples of offensive and distasteful destruction of public or other people’s property, not free speech. However, since current criminal penalties can be applied in each of these cases, no constitutional amendment is needed to protect the people of Langley, VA, Melbourne, KY, Ann Arbor, MI, Boca Raton, FL or any other of our towns and cities.

Why, then, is this issue even being raised? The answer is pretty obvious, and should be expected from a conservative group famous for using inane reasons to stir up the "base" in a battle against some moral cause. However, as the PFAM have pointed out:
To be sure, most Americans clearly disagree with flag-burning. But the framers of the Bill of Rights, constitutional experts and Americans across the political spectrum agree that the purpose and power of the First Amendment is that it protects all forms of political expression, regardless of how popular or unpopular...

Proponents of the flag desecration amendment say they want to restore “respect for the flag.” But using the flag amendment as a distraction, and the flag as a divisive political wedge isn’t showing respect. The Constitution, the First Amendment, and the American people deserve better than to be manipulated in a cynical ploy for political advantage.

I think the proper position on this was summed up, amazingly, from someone inside the Bush administration.
In a letter sent to Senator Patrick Leahy in May 1999, General Colin Powell, now Secretary of State, wrote “The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly long after they have slunk away.”

We think Secretary Powell had it right. Destroying or damaging an American flag is highly offensive, and quite often is punishable by existing criminal statutes. But the rare instances of flag burning as a political protest are exactly what the First Amendment is intended to protect. As the late Justice Brennan wrote for the Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, “[t]he way to preserve the flag’s special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong…We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one’s own.”

WSJ posts the torture memo

It seems that the Wall Street Journal has backed up its assertions about the legal permission of torture tactics by posting the memo as a .pdf file. I'll probably post more about it later, but for now, check out Phillip Carter's Intel Dump recap.

Ranting on Reagan

I had just sat down to contemplate a rant on the ills of Reagan when I came across Joel Caris's rant on his blog Nightmares for Sale which said exactly what I was thinking. Check out his rant here and his blog home here.


Ok, we all knew that a neo-Jesse Helms would soon emerge in North Carolina. You know, someone who is so conservative that racism is policy and hatemongering is normal operations. Well, folks, that day has come...and the neo-Jesse is not quite what you might expect.

Vernon Robinson is black.

That's right, the heir to Jesse Helms is a black man who proudly associates himself with the crusty racist ex-Senator. Not only that, but Robinson is actively promoting racist advertisements such as this.

What we don't need in this country is a revitalization and legitimizing of the homophobic, racist, and bigoted hate agenda that Helms so rabidly pursued. Robinson, running for a Congressional seat from NC, is hoping to somehow cash in on Helm's popularity with the large mass of ignorant and ass-backward inhabitants of the state.

I've got to wonder whether he will be successful. The people he is targeting are old white ultra-conservatives who think twice about buying black shoes. I can't believe they would buy a Congressman who, though professing love for all things Helmsian, is nonetheless a black man. Can this odd twist of logic somehow see a racist black man elected by racist white people? In this day and age, apparently anything goes...

As anyone who reads my work occasionally understands, color/religion/culture are never an issue for me. That said, I think ole Vern is attempting to do more damage to black North Carolinians by pursuing a Helmsian approach to politics. Helms was a master of divide and conquer, but typically, people like Vernon Robinson were the ones conquered. Robinson, in latching onto Helms, has presented himself as a student of Helms, and by extension, a racist bigot who hates everyone who is not white. Can Robinson pull off this paradoxical arrangement?

Makes me think of the Chappelle Show sketch with the blind, but black, leader of a white power movement. Only, Robinson, this black leader of the white racists, is more comical because his situation is real. Real confused, that is...

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reagan's Legacy

I posted this on a comment thread from dKos, edited here for relevance.

It is fairly clear that Reagan sowed the initial seeds which have led to Bush2's ability to isolate our nation and use the "bully pulpit" of the Presidency on a global scale.

It could certainly be argued that other US presidents, such as either of the Roosevelts, or Truman, used his position on the world stage as a means of forcing the American position on the rest of the world, but long before Bush2's unilateral aggression strategy, no one better exemplified the desire to push the US so far out ahead of other nations than did Reagan.

Reagan's use of military force, at times against the designs and orders of Congress, was wildly reckless. But thanks in large part to the combined isolation and self-destruction of Russia, Reagan's foreign policy decisions were, at a minimum, relatively successful. And this is coming from someone (me) who disagreed strongly with practically all of Reagan's domestic policies. Regardless of where things now stand, Reagan certainly changed the "standings" in the global competition to be a world power.

However, by eliminating any real competition, Reagan magnified the ability of a President to abuse his power, especially in regards to foreign policy. Likely the single most important event during Reagan's presidency was the crumbling of the Soviets. However, as is seen in other large and small scale situations, the resulting power vacuum had to pull in someone. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the US was the only nation able to fill that vacuum, thus increasing our economic, militaristic, and diplomatic powers exponentially. Rather than expending tremendous resources in an escalating competition with a comparable world power, we found ourselves quite alone at the top. And thus, more than 15 years after the fall of our only rival, we now fill the role of two superpowers, not one.

Now, coming back to Bush, the US has demonstrated its ability to use the combined global influence of the two cold-war powers in ways considered taboo only a handful of years ago. Reagan at least tried to conduct his illegal war by hiding it from Congress. Bush, with his powerful position intact thanks to Reagan, simply lied to Congress, and shrugs off any suggestion of power-mongering or abuse.

With the success of Reagan in defeating our only serious rival, the US had an opportunity to change the world stage for the better, but unfortunately, we never took advantage. Instead, we let the situation fester, possibly correctly, in an attempt to intervene in Northern Ireland, Israel, and Bosnia without serious concern to the vacant position formerly filled by the USSR. In our naivety, we allowed our own power to grow like interest from a CD.

That CD matured during Bush2's term, and rather than reinvesting what we gained back into peacekeeping and multilateral activities, GW cashed it in, and bought the US a completely different position in the world arena.

Rather than being the respected and somewhat feared sole superpower in the world, GW transformed our nation into a belligerent sarcastic bully, practically begging to be punched.

Reagan was likely proud to see the US in a position where the President could so liberally make use of our nation's military and economic supremacy for pursuing the goals of the Executive Branch.

Will Rumsfeld soon go?

According to Newsday, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has issued a statement which appears to suggest he is voicing an opinion independent of the WH. Rumsfeld's quote, offered with no context, asserts that "It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this." Could Rummy follow the pattern of past WH "mavericks?" In answer to blog commentator XOVER's solid post about Rumsfeld's comments, and whether the statements would be overlooked by liberals, I posted the following:

I believe that liberals, practicing self-censorship like journalists, failed to capitalize on the departure of Paul O'Neill, who was well-respected in Washington. O'Neill, a capitalist and corporate maven by any definition, should have been heavily on the side of the White House, at least by right-wing theory.

However, his disagreements on the various tax plans should have triggered an immediate response by the Dems, calling the WH for losing the support of an expert capitalist, one which had been so heavily supported, til that point, by the conservatives.

I believe this time, though, the Dems are marginally more organized and significantly more motivated to handle political situations. After Richard Clarke's assertions, the Dem's screamed for investigations. Dem's have correctly supported the Families of 9-11, though the eventual findings of the Commission are still in doubt. With the decidedly outrageous, and liberally spectacular, speeches of Dean, Pelosi, Kennedy, and now Gore, there is more optimism about the Dem's political chances following an extremely difficult 10-year period.

Will the Dem's use Rummy's "maverick" statements? I guess what happens over the next month or so will dictate. If they challenge them early, it may provide useful leverage for ousting Rumsfeld, but it may play against the Dems by allowing an easy target to escape the campaign trail in favor of someone who is likely less open to attack.

If Rummy makes it through the Republican convention, and the situation still holds similar to current conditions, I would expect Rumsfeld's statements, along with those of O'Neill, Clarke, and even Perle, to play heavily in making the case for inept, incompetent leadership.

New torture memo...

Yet another new memo has surfaced concerning the Pentagon's attempts to circumvent international prisoner treatment laws. The memo was first reported by the WSJ, and Philip Carter from Info Dump offers a great breakdown of the issue.

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