Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Art of Statistics

Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

"This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. My underlying desire is to affirm and sanctify the crucial role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming."

Well worth a closer look ... absolutely fascinating.

What next? Unions?

Monkeys show sense of justice
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Monkeys have a sense of justice. They will protest if they see another monkey get paid more for the same task.

Monkeys display sense of justice Researchers taught brown capuchin monkeys to swap tokens for food. Usually they were happy to exchange this "money" for cucumber.

But if they saw another monkey getting a grape - a more-liked food - they took offence. Some refused to work, others took the food and refused to eat it.

Scientists say this work suggests that human's sense of justice is inherited and not a social construct.

Read it here ...

My comment: It seems some tenants of Conservative philosophy are contrary to the laws of nature ...

This Modern World with Tom Tomorrow

... pretty much sums up the Petraeus/ controversy.

Click to view the full 'toon.

Doesn't that look a little like Joe Scarborough (on the left) doing the "Right Wing, Dodge the Real Issues Shuffle"?

Right Wing Political Convenience

I've been watching the Bush-Coulter Republican's fire storm over the ad questioning Petraeus' presentation of cherry picked facts and find it an absurd distortion at best and another in a long list of hypocrisies.

From Democratic Talking Points:

It wasn't so long ago that Republicans -- at their national convention -- were mocking the three Purple Hearts of a decorated war hero by wearing band-aids -- band-aids! -- to ridicule John Kerry, the military, and every recipient of a Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is the oldest military honor in the American military, and is an honored medal first awarded by George Washington. It even has Washington's face and coat of arms on it. And yet Republicans saw fit to mock this award and everyone who has ever received it in order to score cheap political points. They didn't apologize for the Swift Boat ads, they reveled and wallowed in them -- together, as a party.

If that's not enough for you, consider the smearing of Max Cleland, another veteran who lost three limbs serving his country. Republicans ran ads against him with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Where were all these indignant Republicans then? How many of them condemned such tactics as being despicable and disgusting? I don't remember many Republicans denouncing that ad, then or since.

Republicans have no "moral high ground" on the issue of smearing the military, and yet they've chosen to try to make cheap political points off an independent group's newspaper ad. I guess they only respect military service when it serves their political needs. I find this repulsive."

I'm tired of these Bush-Coulter Republicans and those who buy into their smear tactics without question. I have never witness such a pack of disingenuous, spiteful, deceitful hypocrites. It seems the only thing they have going for them is the collective chronic American case of ADD or voter Alzheimer's disease. They can't win on issues so they distract from the issues as part of their play book. The sad thing is that they fool too many American voters too many times. If you want to explore why we have the set of seemingly insurmountable problems, both domestic and global ... look to the actions of the Coulter Republicans and their tactics of distortions and outright lies. Look to their smear campaigns.

They are even capable of turning on their own. Loyalty is a one way street in their "take-no-prisoners", "law-of-the-jungle" approach to American politics.

The following is from an article titled "The Anatomy of a Smear Campaign" published on the Boston Globe's website on March 21, 2004. It outlines how the Bush-Coulter Republicans smeared John McCain - another Republican - using lies and distortions, innuendo and deliberate deceit to sabotage a then-respected war hero. Sad to say, in my opinion at least, John has never been quite the same as a result of his experience with the true heart and soul of Republican politics.

The premise of any smear campaign rests on a central truth of politics: Most of us will vote for a candidate we like and respect, even if we don't agree with him on every issue. But if you can cripple a voter's basic trust in a candidate, you can probably turn his vote. The idea is to find some piece of personal information that is tawdry enough to raise doubts, repelling a candidate's natural supporters.

All campaigns do extensive research into their opponent's voting record and personal life. This so-called "oppo research" involves searching databases, combing through press clips, and asking questions of people who know (and preferably dislike) your opponent. It's not hard to turn up something a candidate would rather not see on the front page of The Boston Globe.

It's not necessary, however, for a smear to be true to be effective. The most effective smears are based on a kernel of truth and applied in a way that exploits a candidate's political weakness.

If the Bush-Coulter Republicans are capable of such hypocrisy and deceit, if they can turn on their own with such venom for personal and political gain ... how can you trust them not to sell the American people down the river? How can you trust them not to turn on you?

God Apparently Responds to Lawsuit

LINCOLN, Neb. -- God has apparently responded to a lawsuit filed by a Nebraska lawmaker, and one of the filings seems to have dropped in from the heavens. "This one miraculously appeared on the counter. It just all of a sudden was here -- poof!" said John Friend, clerk of the Douglas County District Court in Omaha.

The response was one of at least two to a lawsuit filed against God last week by state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, the state's longest-serving lawmaker.

Signed by "God," the response filed Wednesday argues the defendant is immune from some earthly laws and the court lacks jurisdiction over God.

The rest as reported on Fox 5.

My initial post on this incident - State Senator Ernie Chambers Sues God.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Deep in the archives

Painting themselves into a corner

So far the brave Right Wing Coulter Republicans have gone to great lengths to marginalize anyone who isn't white. Their front runners have taken a pass on invitations to sell their tired wares at:

  • The PBS-sponsored debate at Baltimore's historically-black Morgan State University
  • The National Urban League, Univision, the Spanish-language television network,
  • The National Association of Latino Elected Officials
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Notice a pattern here?

It's very unlike the pass that Democrats took to the invitation to debate on Fixed Noise Fox News. The Coulter Republicans are taking a pass on talking to and addressing the issues that concern actual voters who are very interested in what they have to say ... assuming they have something to say that addresses these voters and their concerns in a positive way. These are voter segments that the Coulter Republicans ostensibly courted in 2000 and 2004, claiming there was room in their Big Tent for everyone. What a difference a couple years makes!

On the other hand, the Democrats took a pass on the Faux News Fox News network because what Fox News claims to be "fair and balanced" is neither fair nor balanced. Fox News was offering an obvious set-up --- complete with post debate analysis loaded with their usual distortions and character assassinations. Fox News is geared to the marginalized 30% who still support the "current occupant" and his "stay the course in the face of all the contrary evidence" policies.

If they can't face the citizens of color of this country, how are they going to effectively face al Qaeda, bed Linen, Amadinejad and Iran? If they can't even make an effort to communicate with the citizens of color of this country, how do they propose to represent all the citizens of this land of ours?

The party that freed the slaves in the 1860s has come a long way. Now they hang a "WHITES ONLY" sign on their big tent.

George Orwell said it nicely in his book, Animal Farm.

Quoting the pigs who'd taken over the farm: "We are all equal but some of us are more equal than others." That's become the rallying cry of the right.

To claim "scheduling conflicts" is a cop-out. These debates have been scheduled for months in advance. Besides that, it's been my experience, both in personal and in corporate life, that we make time for those things that are important to us. To claim a scheduling conflict is a poor attempt at saying as politely as possible that "you and your issues and your concerns just ain't all that important to me."

The Invisible Hand of Market Forces at Work

... in Iraq!

Is Terrorism a Mortal Threat?

by Patrick J. Buchanan on AntiWar

It may have been politically incorrect to publish the thoughts on the sixth anniversary of 9-11, but what Colin Powell had to say to GQ magazine needs to be heard.

Terrorism, said Powell, is not a mortal threat to America.

"What is the greatest threat facing us now?" Powell asked. "People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"

History and common sense teach that Powell speaks truth.

Read the rest of the analysis here ...

My comment: Life is about keeping things in perspective. We have lost our sense of perspective and the war-mongers on the Right have gone to great lengths to keep it that way.

The Campaign Ad Romney Doesn't Want You To See

Heroics on the Home Front! Click on graphic and watch the ad.

Why Rejecting Ahmadinejad's Visit Was a Big Mistake

by Sam Sedaei* on Huffington Post

President Ahmadinejad of Iran recently expressed interest in visiting the site of the World Trade Center to "pay tribute" to those who lost their lives on September 11. However, the State Department immediately issued a statement saying that in no way will he be permitted to make such a visit and rebranded him as a state sponsor of terror. Giuliani also issued his own statement - as he often does about everything under the sun these days - expressing his vigorous opposition to such a visit, and out of complete and utter ignorance, unfoundedly accused Shiite Ahmadinejad of supporting Sunni Al Qaeda, a claim so preposterous that even the Bush administration has not made. The main lesson to take from the whole story is not just that Giuliani needs to start reading the foreign policy books that Ron Paul recently recommended to him, but also that after the dust and smoke settle, opposition to visit by Ahmadinejad will prove to be a major foreign policy faux pas.

Read the rest on Huffington Post.

My comment: We are in a battle of ideas - the idea of democracy (the power of the governed) v. all of the ideas of totalitarianism, repression, and state control (the power of the government). The only way to win is to shine a bright light on the ideas so that witnesses around the world can judge the significance and validity the ideas. By refusing Ahmadinejad's request to visit the Ground Zero site, we've missed an opportunity to shine a bright light on his ideas and, in doing so, we've left them to flourish in the darkness. It is the light of day that destroys bad ideas ...

* Sam Sedaei was born in 1982 in Iran. He lived in Tehran until 1999 before immigrating to the United States at age sixteen on his own to explore the American ideals of freedom and democracy.

He did not immigrate to the U.S. because of the height of skyscrapers or might of its military, but for the ideas summed up in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, protecting individuals' rights to free speech and separation of church and state. Having experienced deprivation of his most basic civil liberties for most of his life, he deeply loves America as a beacon of freedom, and believes that that freedom should never be taken for granted.

How They See Us - Canadian Edition

COVER STORY: Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen.

Patrick Graham | Sep 20, 2007 | 10:04 am EST

It was embarrassing putting my flak jacket on backwards and sideways, but in the darkness of the Baghdad airport car park I couldn’t see anything. “Peterik, put the flak jacket on,” the South African security contractor was saying politely, impatiently. “You know the procedure if we are attacked.”

I didn’t. He explained. One of the chase vehicles would pull up beside us and someone would drag me out of the armoured car, away from the firing. If both drivers were unconscious—nice euphemism—he said I should try to run to the nearest army checkpoint. If the checkpoint was American, things might work out if they didn’t shoot first. If it was Iraqi . . . he didn’t elaborate.

The rest is here ...

It's long, it's detailed and it gives a lot of perspective to the home grown propagandist pap in the US-MSM.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Re-Birth of SS Storm Troopers

Carlos Arredondo, 47 year old father of two sons, arrived in the nation's capitol on Monday, 09/10/07 to share a memorial he has made to honor for his eldest son, Alex. Carlos has visited thirty of the United States with the traveling memorial to his son Alexander. Lcpl. Alexander S. Arredondo, USMC was killed on 08/25/04. He was 20 years and 20 days old. The memorial consists of a casket, poster- size photographs of Alex when he graduated from boot camp, before his second tour in Iraq, lying in state at his wake, and a photo of Alex with his younger brother Brian.

Saturday, September 15, 2007 consisted of first a rally, a march towards the capitol and then a die-in. Carlos pulled the memorial along the march route approaching the rotunda near the capitol building. Several of the marchers requested for him to speak about the memorial where a crowd gathered around him. After finishing, several people walked with Carlos as he pulled the memorial. Several pictures of Alex dressed in his blues were attached to the display.

As Carlos passed counter protesters (Gathering of Eagles), one man ripped a picture of Alex from the memorial. Carlos leaped on the man to retrieve the picture. It was at that point that approximately five others all began to attack Carlos by kicking him in the head, legs, stomach and back.

The Capitol police bicycle patrol then appeared to break up the fight. Several officers including a female officer were engaged in breaking up the fight and were able to stop any further injuries from occurring. Hannah Jones who was walking with Carlos was also assaulted.

A bystander named Ramesh witnessed the whole encounter and also retrieved the picture of Alex for Carlos. He was quite distressed at how he watched the men follow Carlos as he pulled the memorial, purposefully yelling epithets and eventually taking Alex's photograph. Soon, an ambulance showed up as well as many concerned activists. The paramedics provided first aid to Carlos but he did not seek further medical attention. Carlos sustained bloody cuts on his shins. He also reported bruises all over his torso and head where he was kicked.

From After Downing Street

Fascism Anyone?

The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2.
by Laurence W. Britt

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

Read the common threads here ... feel free to discuss in the comments after you read 'em.

The Religious Conumdrum

Scenes we can't imagine: Jesus blessing the victors in a war
Christians who disagreed on a theological detail.

John McCain's schizophrenia this week over his alternating Episcopalian and Baptist status is just the latest chapter in the faith-based follies of the GOP presidential hopefuls. In a delicious double Catch 22, those running as "men of faith" to win the nomination of what many of it own members call "God's Own Party" are now being called on it. Then, after performing unnatural contortions to assuage radical right primary voters, the Republican candidates must veer back to the middle to have a prayer of winning the general election.

Consider the side-splitting antics of the Republican God Squad over just the last several weeks. Mitt Romney declares the President should be a man of faith, but then refuses to discuss his own. While John McCain assures voters the important thing is that he is a good Christian, Rudy Giuliani says he'll leave to the priests to decide if he's a bad Catholic. And while instant front-runner Fred Thompson hardly ever steps inside a church, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee took their holy war outside the pulpit.

Here's a quick run-down of the latest GOP faith-based follies on

And when you come right down to it, they're so confused over there that they're stabbing each other in the chest! Personally, I think the religious litmus test is the most amusing "shoot-yourself-in-the-foot" maneuver the Republicans have pulled yet.

Politicians Lie! Call Ripley's!

Joe Biden - caught in the act:

"The president is brain-dead."

Joe Biden on Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Irresponsible claim (and wrong medical diagnosis)

During a campaign stop in Iowa on July 4, the six-term senator declared, “This guy is brain-dead.”

It’s an extreme charge, since brain death is defined as “irreversible unconciousness with complete loss of brain function” (Encyclopedia of Death and Dying).

Needless to say, we find the charge ridiculous. There’s no evidence Biden performed the necessary medical tests to make such a diagnosis. We would have accepted the results of a cerebral blood flow study or proof that Biden had examined Bush to see if he had an oculocephalic reflex.

Indeed, even people who disagree with the president about Iraq and assorted other issues will acknowledge that the president has spontaneous respiration and is responding to stimuli.

(Thanks to PolitiFact)

Sorting it out

Check out PolitiFact, another site trying to keep the candidates facts straight. It's bipartisan, no ax to grind (or it doesn't seem so at first blush). It's recommended by the old stand-by,

Check out PolitiFact here.

The Washington Post has also initiated a similar feature called Fact Checker. They award "Pinocchios" based on the magnitude of the distortion.

Check out "Fact Checker" here.

Déjà vu all over again

Last night we watched a documentary, "The US vs. John Lennon"; a review of that period from about 1967 to 1980 when Lennon was shot to death in front of the Dakota Hotel in Manhattan.

It focuses on John's involvement with the peace movement of the late 60s and early 70s, the degree to which that threatened the Nixon administration and the Nixon administration's response - culminating in an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) case against John that dragged on, seemingly forever - and was eventually tossed out of court after years of appeals.

If you don't think there are any parallels between the Vietnam war and the present fiasco, watch the film.

If you do think there are parallels between the quagmire in the jungles of South East Asia and quagmire the deserts of the Middle East, watch the film.

The words are the same - only the place and place names have changed - and maybe the humidity.

It points out that we certainly don't learn much from history ... because history is certainly repeating itself, in many cases down to the details. If anything at all, what we have learned is how better to suppress descent.

Perhaps the only consolation comes from John's reaction upon finally receiving his "green card", symbolic of winning his deportation case (and reflecting on the paranoia of the Nixon administration that started the whole thing), "Time wounds all heels."

4 out of 5 stars in my book. Well worth the watch ... and worth recommending, in my book.

"All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beyond DeLay ...


See it here.
GOP Moderates Weigh Loyalty To Bush vs. Political Realities

A little advice: Remember who you work for.
You were elected to represent ALL the people
not just some of the people.

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 19, 2007; Page A03

With a difficult war debate looming and presidential vetoes for a host of popular legislation threatened, moderate Republicans in Congress are facing a tough choice: Stand by President Bush or run for their political lives.

Votes are due soon on Iraq, an expansion of a children's health insurance program and an array of spending bills. GOP leaders hope to use them to regain credibility with their base voters as a party for strong defense and fiscal discipline. But moderates, many of them facing the possibility of difficult reelection bids next year, are dreading the expected showdowns.

"We are at a very significant juncture," said Rep. Jim Ramstad (Minn.), a moderate who on Monday joined seven other Republicans in announcing that he will not seek reelection. "I'd use a metaphor, but it can't be printed -- something about something hitting the fan."

The rest from the WP is here ...

Loyalty to Bush or representing the people who can vote for you? What a choice ... what a dilemma! It would seems to me to be a hard choice only if you've been representing special interests all along ... interests that can't vote; that can only provide a ton of cash.

The election cycle is a real attention-getter ... particularly in a democracy when you haven't been representing "We the People". There's a price that comes with not listening to the voice of the people ... unless you can establish an authoritarian dictatorship. I guess these folks didn't have enough time to do that during the 12 years they held legislative power and the 6+ years they held all branches of government.

It wasn't for lack of trying ... and it ain't over yet.

Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Spanish Inquisition.

A military watchdog organization filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and a US Army major, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The suit charges the Pentagon with widespread constitutional violations by allegedly trying to force the soldier to embrace evangelical Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused.

The complaint, filed in US District Court in Kansas City, by the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), on behalf of Jeremy Hall, an Army specialist currently on active duty in Speicher, Iraq, alleges that Hall's First Amendment rights were violated beginning last Thanksgiving when, because of his atheist beliefs, he declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the holiday.

"Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking ... staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist," says the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to Truthout. "The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response caused the staff sergeant to tell plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and finished his meal."

The rest on ...

Question: How are our religious fundamentalists better than their religious fundamentalists?

Answer: We don't behead those who don't believe as we do ... yet ... but we're working on it. When conversion by example fails, resort to more forceful methods. Then escalate until you find something that does the trick.

This is an important rule when you know you have a monoploy on the truth.

Lost to the Cultural Steam-roller

WASHINGTON — When every known speaker of the language Amurdag gets together, there's still no one to talk to. Native Australian Charlie Mungulda is the only person alive known to speak that language, one of thousands around the world on the brink of extinction. From rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying, researchers said Tuesday.

While there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks, according to linguistic experts struggling to save at least some of them.

Five hotspots where languages are most endangered were listed Tuesday in a briefing by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society.

In addition to northern Australia, eastern Siberia and Oklahoma and the U.S. Southwest, many native languages are endangered in South America _ Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia _ as well as the area including British Columbia, and the states of Washington and Oregon.

Losing languages means losing knowledge, says K. David Harrison, an assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

"When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday."

More here ...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nuff said ...

Family Values Party Strikes Again

By DAVID N. GOODMAN Associated Press Writer

An assistant U.S. attorney from Florida was arrested in an Internet sting operation after flying to Michigan to have sex with a 5-year-old girl, authorities said Monday.

John D.R. Atchison, 53, was arrested Sunday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after several weeks of Internet conversations between the prosecutor and a detective posing as the mother of a 5-year-old girl, authorities say.

Read more of the sordid details here on ABC News ...

Detectives say that during the Internet communication Atchison reportedly told the undercover officer that he has engaged in sexual activity with children on numerous occasions.

WHAT IS IT WITH THESE PEOPLE and how do they keep getting elected and appointed to positions of authority and responsibility? Government isn't the problem. These people and those who support them are the problem. Maybe this one should have join the priesthood.

We're just going to need a bigger Internet!

Shooting in the Garden

Along the driveway.

Candy's favorite color.

Thought for the Day

War creates peace like hate creates love. – David L. Wilson

State Senator Ernie Chambers Sues God
2:42 p.m. CDT September 17, 2007

OMAHA, Neb - State Senator Ernie Chambers is suing God. The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in Douglas County Court, seeks a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.

The lawsuit admits God goes by all sorts of alias, names, titles and designations and it also recognizes the fact that the defendant is "Omnipresent".

In the lawsuit Chambers says he's tried to contact God numerous times, "Plaintiff, despite reasonable efforts to effectuate personal service upon Defendant ("Come out, come out, wherever you are") has been unable to do so."

MSNBC Source here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Doing the Work of god

New York Times
LA PLATA, Argentina, Sept. 10 —

A simple wooden cross hanging from his neck, the Rev. Rubén Capitanio sat before a microphone on Monday and did what few Argentine priests before him had dared to do: condemn the Roman Catholic Church for its complicity in the atrocities committed during Argentina’s “dirty war.”

“The attitude of the church was scandalously close to the dictatorship” that killed more than 15,000 Argentines and tortured tens of thousands more, the priest told a panel of three judges here, “to such an extent that I would say it was of a sinful degree.” The panel is deciding the fate of the Rev. Christian von Wernich, a priest accused of conspiring with the military who has become for many a powerful symbol of the church’s role.

The church “was like a mother that did not look for her children,” Father Capitanio added. “It did not kill anybody, but it did not save anybody, either.”

Father Capitanio’s mea culpa came nearly a quarter century after the junta was toppled in 1983 and democracy was restored. But in some ways, it occurred at just the right time. Through the trial of Father von Wernich, Argentina is finally confronting the church’s dark past during the dirty war, when it sometimes gave its support to the military as it went after leftist opponents.

More ...

Pedophiles ... now accessories to murder and torture. Just like the old days of the Inquisition ... nothing has changed.

Some Guy with a Website

Examining the constant urge from right-wingers to brand everything opposing them as an act of cowardice.

Click image for the full 'toon.

Who's bowling when it thunders?

Steven Colbert at his best ... thoughts on Mother Teressa.

"Table for one please ... is there anything by the lake of fire?"

The video clip is here, too.

... and god is my co-pilot

Airline sacrifices goats to appease sky god
Nepal's state-run carrier makes offering after technical problems with 757

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Officials at Nepal's state-run airline have sacrificed two goats to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, following technical problems with one of its Boeing 757 aircraft, the carrier said Tuesday.

Nepal Airlines, which has two Boeing aircraft, has had to suspend some services in recent weeks due to the problem.

The goats were sacrificed in front of the troublesome aircraft Sunday at Nepal's only international airport in Kathmandu in accordance with Hindu traditions, an official said.

No ... I'm not kidding. You can't make this stuff up.

Maybe a couple well wrung chicken necks will put the sub-prime market back together? Eric, John, are you getting this?!?!? Get naked, start dancing and wring them chicken necks!!!

Any one want to play virgins and volcanoes?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mr, Giuliani joins the ranks

... of Republicans who support wars but manage to avoid serving in them.

"During his years as an undergraduate at Manhattan College and then at New York University Law School, Giuliani qualified for a student deferment. Upon graduation from law school in 1968, he lost that temporary deferment and his draft status reverted to 1-A, the designation awarded to those most qualified for induction into the Army. At the same time, Giuliani won a clerkship with federal Judge Lloyd McMahon in the fabled Southern District of New York, where he would become the United States attorney. He naturally had no desire to trade his ticket on the legal profession's fast track for latrine duty in the jungle. So he quickly applied for another deferment based on his judicial clerkship. This time the Selective Service System denied his claim. That was when the desperate Giuliani prevailed upon his boss to write to the draft board, asking them to grant him a fresh deferment and reclassification as an "essential" civilian employee. As the great tabloid columnist Jimmy Breslin noted 20 years later, during the former prosecutor's first campaign for mayor: 'Giuliani did not attend the war in Vietnam because federal Judge Lloyd MacMahon [sic] wrote a letter to the draft board in 1969 and got him out. Giuliani was a law clerk for MacMahon, who at the time was hearing Selective Service cases. MacMahon's letter to Giuliani's draft board stated that Giuliani was so necessary as a law clerk that he could not be allowed to get shot at in Vietnam.'"

The elite club of draft dodgers includes:
  • GW Bush - who served in the Air National Guard. I was around for the draft in the 60s and I know what a desirable way out the National Guard was at that point in history. Bush also decided that a six-year National Guard commitment really means four years. Still says that he's "been to war."
  • Dick Cheney - who says he had other priorities.
  • Karl Rove - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Former Speaker Newt Gingrich - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Former Att'y Gen. John Ashcroft - did not serve; received seven deferment to teach business ed at SW Missouri State.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY - did not serve.
  • enate Assistant Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-MI - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Senate Republican Conference Chairman Jon Kyl, R-AZ - did not serve.
  • National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair John Ensign, R-NV - did not serve.
  • House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH - did not serve.
  • House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-MO - did not serve.
  • House Republican Conerence Chair Adam Putnam, R-FL - did not serve.
  • House Republican Policy Committee Thaddeus McCotter, R-MI - did not serve.
  • National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Cole, R-OK - did not serve.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani - did not serve.
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - did not serve in the military but did serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission to France. NOW THAT'S serving one's country!
  • Former Senator Fred Thompson - did not serve. Fredrick of Hollywood is running for president this time around.
  • Senator John McCain - McCain's naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. Why did the Bush campaign smear him so in 2000? At least Senators Cleland (D-GA), Kerry (D-MA), Kerrey (D-NE), Robb (D-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) defended him.
  • Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey - avoided the draft, did not serve.
  • Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay - avoided the draft, did not serve. "So many minority youths had volunteered ... that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself." (You've GOT to be KIDDING!!)
  • Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
  • Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve. (An impressive medical resume, but not such a friend to cats in Boston.)
  • Rick Santorum, R-PA, formerly third ranking Republican in the Senate - did not serve.
  • George Felix Allen, former Republican Senator from Virginia - a supporter of Nixon and the Vietnam war, did not serve.

Frankly, it's easier to find pro-war Republicans who didn't serve than it is to find members of the Republican leadership who actually did serve. It's easy to be for war when someone else has to fight it.

When even your own party can't stand the smell - Part 2

Alan Greenspan speaks:

"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
-- Alan Greenspan (lifelong Republican) - September 2007

"The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."
-- Alan Greenspan (lifelong Republican) - September 2007

"Bush's collaborate-don't-confront approach was a major mistake --- it cost the nation a check-and-balance mechanism essential to fiscal discipline."

-- Alan Greenspan (lifelong Republican) - September 2007

Blowing Your Morning Coffee All Over the Monitor

An insight into how the war in Iraq is being run.

The Spoils of War: Billions Over Baghdad

By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Vanity Fair

October 2007 Edition

Between April 2003 and June 2004, $12 billion in US currency - much of it belonging to the Iraqi people - was shipped from the Federal Reserve to Baghdad, where it was dispensed by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Some of the cash went to pay for projects and keep ministries afloat, but, incredibly, at least $9 billion has gone missing, unaccounted for, in a frenzy of mismanagement and greed. Following a trail that leads from a safe in one of Saddam's palaces to a house near San Diego, to a P.O. box in the Bahamas, the authors discover just how little anyone cared about how the money was handled.

Reposted on

See also:
Defense, Homeland Security Can't Pass Audits

The Associated Press
Friday 14 September 2007

Disorganized records leave big-budget agencies vulnerable to waste, fraud.

Article here.

Now, aren't you glad you voted for that Yale MBA for president in those last two elections? If you voted for him, this is your legacy.

The "Theory" of Intelligent Design

fails to meet the test of being a theory.

To proponents of intelligent design, saying that evolution alone accounts for the wonders of biology is like proposing that sandstorms created the pyramids of Egypt. An intricate organ like the eye relies on specialized parts, none of which work without the others. It's hard to imagine, they say, such a system evolving by natural selection (although the work of scientists like Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins provides some ideas on how it might happen). Their preferred explanation: an "intelligent designer" who drafted the blueprint for life. Naysayers, including most of the scientific community, say the term — popularized by the 1989 school textbook Of Pandas and People — is just a way of dressing up religion in the argot of science. And since it can't be tested, they add, it's not a theory at all.

- Wired Magazine / Geekipedia

When even your own party can't stand the smell

Bill Maher: Isn’t a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job?”

Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE): It’s not only a dirty trick, but it’s dishonest, it’s hypocritical, it’s dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is this is not Petraeus’ policy, it’s the Bush’s policy. The military is — certainly very clear in the Constitution — is subservient to the elected public officials of this country.. but to put our military in a position that this administration has put them in is just wrong, and it’s dangerous.”

The video clip is here.

There goes the neighborhood

Xenu Goes Uptown
Scientology makes a major move into Harlem. But why?

by Chloe Hilliard / Village Voice

Recently, the Church of Scientology announced that it was purchasing three buildings on East 125th Street for an estimated $10 million. Since 2003, the controversial religion had been running a mostly overlooked storefront on Third Avenue between 122nd and 123rd streets, but the new expansion marks a major move into Harlem. The buildings will be fully renovated and turned into not only a church, but a community center with the usual Scientology programs: job training, literacy and drug rehab. Media reports about the announcement, however, failed to ask a key question:

What's the mostly white Church of Scientology doing in a mostly black part of town?

Although gentrification is bringing increasing numbers of non-African-Americans to the uptown neighborhood, Harlem is still largely made up of black people who tend to have strong mainstream Protestant and Muslim identities. Other groups have targeted the area for recruitment—young Mormon missionaries can be seen walking up and down 125th Street, and Jehovah's Witnesses are a common sight in train stations.

Find out more about Scientology in Harlem (and in general) ...

In the name of a peaceful god of love and mercy

Al Qaeda offers bounty on Swedish cartoonist News Staff

Al Qaeda in Iraq's leader has offered a bounty on the head of a Swedish cartoonist who recently satirized the Prophet Muhammad.

"We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of US$100,000 for the one who kills this criminal," Abu Omar al-Baghdadi said in a statement posted Saturday to an Islamist webside.

That amount would be increased to $150,000 if Vilks was "slaughtered like a lamb," Baghadi said.

Read more about people who know what's on god's mind ...

Civil War

  1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.
  2. A state of hostility or conflict between elements within an organization: "The broadcaster is in the midst of a civil war that has brought it to the brink of a complete management overhaul" Bill Powell.
  3. Civil War The war in the United States between the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Also called War Between the States.
  4. Civil War The war in England between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists from 1642 to 1648.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Lets start by saying there ain't nothin' civil about a Civil War.

It's the international equivalent of the beat cop's bane; domestic dispute. Every beat cop knows that walking into a domestic dispute is one of the most dangerous parts of the job. You run the risk of both sides attacking you. One minute everything will seem to be going fine, and then you get blind sided.

"Some folks" don't see it as a civil war in Iraq. "Some folks" ignore the Sunni versus Shiite animosities that have led to daily car bombings, suicide bombers in mosques and vigilante militias patrolling neighborhood streets.

And then there are the various groups within the Sunni and Shiite camps, fighting for power within their respective groups.

Unfortunately, the "some folks" who ignore this 85% share of the issue in Iraq are our leaders. There are none so blind as those who will not see. (The functional word in that is "will".)

The bottom line is, you can't win someone else's Civil War!

Anyone who suggests for a moment that there is a way to win someone else's Civil War is naive at best and dangerous at worst.

Unlike a domestic dispute where the cop and separate the parties involved and enforce a cooling off period - civil wars are domestic disputes that are out of control. The best strategy in a civil war is to let both sides duke it out and talk to the last one standing.

"But what about the neighbors?", you say. In this case they may support one side or the other - as the Iranians support the Shiite factions and the Saudis support the Sunnis - but ask yourself this - are they any less likely to find themselves in an untenable position if they intervene directly in the Iraqi civil war than we have found ourselves?