Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Gay Blade

I want to settle this once and for all, fencing is not gay.

It does not make you gay.

There is nothing gay at all about the sport.

Do you want to know what's really gay?

Macramé is really gay and so is George Takei.

And we salute his coming out.

Alito Cattivo

Due to daylight savings time, I woke at an ungodly hour and manage to catch our mush-mouth president announced his latest draft pick for team SCOTUS. reading from his script, 4 words at a time, with minimal enthusiasm (so it seemed) he introduced Sam Alito to assembled camera crews on this all hallows eve.

To see what the right-wing spin would be, I headed over to the crypt of Drudge where I found a fantastically cretinous talking point. Since I don't link there, I'll let Brad R of Sadly No! field this one:
Drudge is parroting some of the stupidest RNC talking points ever. Per Drudge, Democrats are opposing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court is because... they're racist against Italians!

See, calling the nominee a clone of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, or affectionately "Scalito," is somehow disrespectful and italophobic -- even if he's been called that for some 13 years.

Well I don't want to do that. I'd rather mock him in a more Italian manner and make fun of his name.

In Italian alito means breath, as in bad breath (think of the root of halitosis) which is alito cattivo. If you are of a more refined nature you could say alito pesante, like what one has after eating a plate of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.

In the spirit of Halloween I offer you this comic book cover which is begging for some photoshop wizardry.

I caught a MEME

In my absence I got passed a relative harmless meme from Murph over at Life Goes Off.

The stages of incubation are:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

In my case the symptom was from this post bout Michael More winning the Palme D'Or: He dedicated the award to his daughter and thank the attendees profusely for helping ensure that the US will get to see the film…

Now I who should I infect...Mmmm...How about The Generik Brand, The Token Reader, It Looks Like This, You Forgot Poland, and Ang's Weird Ideas.

Normally I hate these things, but it was kinda' fun to revisit the posts from my first month of blogging.

Fitzmas Break is Over

Yikes, it's been over a week since my last post!

It seems I haven't been the only one on vacation as noted over at The Poor Man. Besides trying to come up with a "Twelves Days of Fitzmas" carol (got nothing yet- looks like a job for Mad Kane) and carousing with local BARBARians, I've been playing around with photoshop. Hope to show some stuff soon, I promise...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Kiss your dog much?

Or do you let your dog kiss you?

Many dog owners are also dog kissers. Afterall, a dog's mouth is cleaner than yours. I at a least grew up hearing that.

Watch this clip and make up your own mind.

Personally, I don't mind potty-mouthed friends.

(via Modern Pooch)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"Jesus will be my Cell Mate"

Thomas Dale DeLay, the former Orkin Man, posed for this mugshot (which will not be used for his passport pending new regulations against smiling) today for his indictment on conspiracy charges under Texas Law.

Innocent until proven guitly, DDT (if you're dyslexic) vows TO CONTINUE FUNDRAISING IN PRISON:
A defiant Rep. DeLay told reporters in Washington that being incarcerated would not slow his fundraising efforts “one iota” because it would enable him to tap into a cash-rich network of convicted CEO’s.

“If I’m behind bars, you can bet your fanny I’ll be reaching out to Dennis Kozlowski, Bernie Ebbers, and the rest of my people,” Rep. DeLay said. “I might be able to raise more money in prison than I could on the outside.”

The specter of Rep. DeLay hitting the fundraising mother lode while serving a prison sentence sent shivers through the Democratic Party establishment, with some party leaders openly wondering if there are any Democratic congressmen who could serve time behind bars to level the fundraising playing field.

But after a top-level meeting of the Democratic National Committee last night, DNC chief Howard Dean was pessimistic that a Democrat could be recruited to break a law or two and follow Mr. DeLay through the prison gates.

“If we Democrats are ever going to be competitive with Republicans in terms of fundraising, we simply are going to have to get better at committing crimes,” Mr. Dean said.

The Fate of the Republic

Why is the case about who outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative so crucial to the health of our nation? It is not just about politics as usual and using the normative means to smear an opponent. It is much more.

James Moore lays out the importance of the case in this piece on The Most Important Criminal Case in American History :
Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.

We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic. Because far too many of us know and are aware of the crimes committed by our government in our name, we are unlikely to settle for a handful of minor indictments of bureaucrats. The last thing most of us believe in is the rule of law. We do not trust our government or the people we have elected but our constitution is still very much alive and we choose to believe that destiny has placed Patrick Fitzgerald at this time and this place in our history to save us from the people we elected. If the law cannot get to the truth of what has happened to the American people under the Bush administration, then we all may begin to hear the early death rattles of history’s greatest democracy.

Moore goes on at length to the explain the importance of the forged Niger documents. Although, Larry Johnson explains it more concisely in his post about Dick Cheney's Covert Action:

Revelations during the past week about the Plame affair make it clear that the Bush administration used covert action against its own citizens. Consider, for example, the charge that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The key event in this disinformation campaign was the intelligence manufactured by the Italians. The Italian intelligence service, SISME, provided the CIA with three separate intelligence reports that Iraq had reached an agreement with Niger to buy 500 tons of yellowcake uranium (October 15, 2001; February 5, 2002; and March 25, 2002). The second report, from February, was the subsequent basis for a DIA analysis, which led Vice President Cheney to ask the CIA for more information on the matter. That request led to the CIA asking Ambassador Joe Wilson to go check out the story in Niger.

We learned last May that in the summer of 2002, the Bush administration told our British allies that they would "fix the facts" around the intelligence. In other words, the United States sought to manufacture a case that Iraq was trying to build a nuclear capability. Note, not only did bogus intelligence reports and fabricated documents surface, but senior administration officials—Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney—went to great lengths to try to convince Americans that the United States would soon face the wrath of Iraqi attacks. Remember the smoking mushroom cloud?

Despite repeated attempts by the Italian intelligence service to help us cook the books, the senior CIA intelligence analysts resisted the administration’s effort to sell the bogus notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Niger. Even in the much-maligned October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the entire intelligence community remained split on the reliability of the Iraq/Niger claim. During briefings subsequent to the publication of the NIE, senior CIA officials repeatedly debunked the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium. They also dismissed as unreliable reports from Great Britain, which also were derived from the faulty Italian intelligence reports.

The Administration's decision to go to war with Iraq at all costs is turning into an ill-fated venture. It could be the classic case of winning the battle and losing the war. That would be the War Against Terrorists.

By using torture, the doctrine of preemption, the curtailing of our rights though the Patriot Act, the giving the President unheard of powers, and other various means of shredding the Constitution, we risk losing the America of yore and all for which it stood.

Keep in mind that the Fitzgerald investigation could lead to revealing that it was not just a leak to discredit Wilson but also to destroy Valerie Plame and CIA analysts on the proliferation of WMDs who did not go along with the Administration's case for war. Also, it could come to light that the actionable intelligence that Cheney was so fond of touting was extracted by torture, which is notoriously unreliable. Furthermore, it might be uncovered that the Administration encouraged the use torture in the Armed Forces and throughout intelligence community not for efficacy's sake but rather because conspiracy loves company, not to make decisions, just to share in the criminality.

Maybe if rule of law can expose to daylight, for all to see, the fetid machinations of the neo-con incubi, we might be able to drive a stake through its evil heart and restore honor to our nation. And maybe in time, the world may come to understand that we went through a period of millenarian madness brought on by the destruction of the twin towers; that democracy is a delicate thing that needs constant attention, even here in America. However, and it's a slender hope, we must not let the authors of these crimes go free or be pardoned -- whatever the cost. The fate of the Republic depends on it.

(above articles via BuzzFlash)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Is it Xmas yet?

Substitute title: "When will it ever end?"

I'm afraid that the tension over who will, or when will they be indicted has weakened my immune system. I had piercing headaches thru the night that troubled my slumber. I'd like to think it wasn't an allergic reaction to the minnestrone I just made (afterall minnestrone is Italian for all the suspect vegetables and stuff left in in the fridge).

It can't be the changing weather patterns churning up new pollen in the fall. It must be the stress, like a little child finding wrapped presents and shaking them to determine their contents, and not knowing what will be finally unwrapped. Only guessing and hoping.

It's like everyday I find a cleverly hidden package that can be shaked and guessed at, but not know the contents. Is it the Karl Rove traitor doll. Is it the fuck you Cheney pull-string action figure? All the beautiful bloggers, cum analysts, drop hints. Yet, when I shake the packages I can't tell. It sounds like it, I wanna' it to be those fantastic toys. I just'll have to wait...

BARBARBARians Turn One Year Old

Bay Area Resident Bloggers and Readers (social club or drinking society?) is having its one year anniversary (see details) next Thursday. One year from the date that your humble, but sagacious, swashbloggerer and the dearly-departed Dark Window Pete cooked up the scheme to get local bloggers to add us to their blogrolls.

I've invited a few new faces, grow-a-brain (a daily vist of mine), rangelife, and kid oakland. I hope they make it, but just in case, visit them and leave encouraging comments. Or just visit them because they are really hip blogs.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Justice Baksheesh?

Tom Burka has this scoop:

Fawning Iraqi Soldier To Replace Miers As Supreme Court Pick

Best Man for the Job, Says Bush

President Bush withdrew Harriet Miers from consideration for the Supreme Court this morning and replaced her with an Iraqi soldier who told him yesterday, 'President Bush, I like you.'

'That's certainly good enough for me,' said Bush.

President Bush was talking over a videolink with a small group of American soldiers in Iraq that included the Iraqi, Sgt. Maj. Akeel Shaker Nassi, when Nassi made his remark.

Nassi's statement capped a stream of praise which he had sent Bush's way since the invasion of Iraq. In a letter dated July, 2004, Nassi wrote, 'President Bush, you are simply great!!!' and also, 'I bet Laura is the best wife ever!!' In a seperate note, Nassi wrote, 'You're super! You rock!'

Nassi recently described Bush as "the smartest man that I never met." He said that he hoped that Bush would give him a nickname soon, hopefully either "Baksheesh" or "Herb."(more)

Timewasting Flicks and Toons

Some Friday fun for you all.

Intelligent design or Guiness Evolution?

Tired of losing? Become a Republican!

Have you seen the Dancing Hillary?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

  1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
  2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
  4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
  7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
  9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

(via the Best of Craiglist)

Falwell -- Reverand Whip It Good

Jerry Falwell wants to whip people who burn the flag. And for those who ridicule the president, he wants to pop 'em.

See him say it himself
(.wmv video link).

(via Metafilter)

McCain: A Vegetarian?

Since Arnold's initiatives are tanking in the polls, he calls in special reinforcements. Thus, McCain Stumps For Governor's Special Election
At an appearance in Oakland Monday, the governor hoped McCain’s popularity would translate into votes on November 8th. It was billed as a town hall meeting, but it was more like a Republican pep rally, as a crowd of mostly white women welcomed the Governor and his special guest, Senator John McCain.

“This is all about reform. This isn't about Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians or vegetarians, this is about reform,” McCain said. “If we can reform here, my dear friends, we can reform everywhere.”

The reforms he referred to are the initiatives that the Governor has placed on the $45 million dollar November special election. Among them, initiatives that would strip power from public employee unions, and change the way legislative districts are drawn in the state.

The wily, astute Govenator has distance himself from the White House crowd. You could say calling in McCain is an act of desperation, but will the maverick and somewhat popular Republican really help out?
Democratic State Treasurer Phil Angelides, himself a candidate for governor, was even more harsh.

“A McCain republican, or a Schwarzenegger Republican is just another way of saying they're a Bush Republican. They're all on the same team.”

NorCal Politics

The new kid on the block- NorCal Politics
Northern California is an extraordinary place. From Merced to Oregon, the Pacific to Nevada, it holds cities, suburbs, exurbs, farms, and wilderness, and all of the people of those varied communities. The goal of NorCal Politics is to offer our authors’ thoughts on the politics that affects those people across Northern California: federal, state, and eventually local. We are unapologetically progressive.

It's about time that a political journal addresses the region close to my heart.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Capt. Yee Tells His Tale

Muslim chaplain, James Yee, was branded a spy. He was arrested for allegedely smuggling top secret documents out of Guantanamo. The espionage case was dropped but the former West Point grad's reputation was destroyed in the process.

Read the Times story An American in chains:
My cell was 8ft by 6ft, the same size as the detainees’ cages at Guantanamo. Barely a week ago I had received a glowing evaluation for my work as the US army’s Muslim chaplain among the “Gitmo” prisoners. Now I was the one in chains.

It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched.

It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent.

I was accused of mutiny and sedition, aiding the enemy and espionage, all of which carried the death penalty. I was regarded as a traitor to the army and my country. This was all blatantly untrue — as would be proved when, after a long fight, all the charges against me were dropped and I won an honourable discharge from the army.

I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim. I was just the latest victim of the hostility born the moment when the planes flew into the twin towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

My real “crime” had been that I had tried to ensure that the suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters detained in the Gitmo cages were given every opportunity to practise their religion freely, one of the most fundamental of American ideals.

I had monitored the atrocious treatment meted out by the guards. And I had come to suspect that my appointment as the prisoners’ chaplain was simply a piece of political theatre.

When reporters came to Guantanamo on the media tour, everyone had always wanted to talk to the Muslim chaplain. I had told them the things that the command expected me to say. We give the detainees a Koran. We announce the prayer five times a day. We serve halal food. Everything I said had been true. But it certainly wasn’t the full story.

My theory is the military feared that Yee was going to blow open the story on detainee abuse. One part of the investigation that always bother me was what were the documents found during his arrest. Could it be these notes?

I began to keep a record of the atrocities that I was hearing about. But the more time I spent on the blocks the more aggressive many of the guards became towards me. I was authorised to have unescorted access and to speak with detainees in privacy. But guards eavesdropped on my conversations, standing very close and attempting to intimidate me. Most refused to move away.

(via BuzzFlash)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Now for the important legislation...

Arnold is now "putting paparazzi in their place":
Handing his Hollywood friends -- and himself -- a major victory in the perennial war with the celebrity press, Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law further cracking down on photographers who assault celebrities in the process of trying to snap a pic.

New California law, which takes effect Jan. 1, triples the amount of damages a celebrity can sue a photographer for, as well as making employers liable for the first time. Shutterbugs also could have to fork over any profits they make from the offending pictures as well as pay punitive damages.

Law will also make employers legally responsible for their photographers and subject to damages as well, a daunting prospect for the management and ownership of print media.

Priorities, I mean, out here in California we understand there are priorties. This is right up there with passing laws against having sex with dead people --timely, important legislation.

Mire Bush and Miers in a Judicial Quagmire

Flipping through the channels this morning I caught the Right(wing)Reverend, Pat Robertson, extolling the born again credentials of Harriet Miers for justice on the Supreme Court.

Now when Bush and Robertson agree, I must confess to a knee-jerk reaction. Not that I find the religious aspect of one's personal life a disqualification for any public office. Rather I find it should not be the only qualification. I believe that Bush indicates it should. That and he is worried about his end game. It's like he is packing the jury for his impending impeachment.

Think about it. Gonzales won't investigate any of the directives allowing torture. Roberts was part of the counsel for the Gore v. Bush Supreme Court case and possibly part of the quiet riot.

Will Miers as the personal lawyer for George for years ever find him overreaching in his role as executive? Conservatives are upset that he didn't nominate their own pick, but when has he ever done anything that didn't advance his own cause first?

On principal we should drag out the confirmation hearings as long as possible. We want documents. We want explanations. We want to know if she has been covering for his drinking. Rip the mask off and let us see the budding theocracy planned for our beautiful country. Expose the legacy that Bush is planning for us.

And someone please keep us from these Ozzie and Harriet fashion victims...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just a thought...

Why is everyone so suprised over the lack of qualifications of Harriet Miers? Bush wouldn't know qualified from a hole in the ground. His picks for important posts share the same trait he has: not qualified for the job.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Art for the political bunnyman

If you took Bashki, Crepax, Kirby, and The Rude Pundit and mish-mashed them together you would probably get this adult themed showing of JC Garret and his
Bunny Tales series (NSFW).
You can see his work at the small gem of a gallery called Inferno Gallery.

I really hope that he starts making t-shirts soon.

Update: Link fixed.

Pork Belly Futures

The Bush administration was handed a surplus and quickly set about to give "our money back." That was the rational for the first tax cut. Quickly the rational changed to "stimulate the economy." Now there are proposals to eliminate the Estate Tax to help the victims of Katrina. All these explanations change as often as the shifting rational for the war in Iraq.

The nation's finances are screwed by the profligate spending of the party that controls almost 3 out 3 arms of government.

The WaPo asks Whose Fault is Pork?:
Who should be held responsible for runaway government spending? Mr. DeLay is certainly a good place to start. His governing principle was not to stand on principle but rather to rain taxpayers' money on every lobby that could return the favor with campaign contributions. But the biggest responsibility lies not with any member of the legislature but with Mr. Bush. Unlike senators and House members, the president represents the whole nation; he is supposed to defend the general interest against particularist claims. Moreover, he has the power to do so. If Congress serves up wasteful bills, the president can veto them.

Mr. Bush has been too cowardly to do that. He is the first president since John Quincy Adams to have served a full term without once exercising his veto, and his second term has so far been no different. This summer Mr. Bush promised to veto the transportation bill if it cost more than $256 billion. His threat brought the bill's size down quite a bit, but in the end he caved and signed a package that cost $295 billion. Why did he blink? Doesn't his administration pride itself on defending the power and prerogatives of the presidency? Mr. Bush's father had the courage to veto 44 bills in four years, and President Ronald Reagan once vetoed a transportation bill because it contained about 150 pork projects. But the bill that Mr. Bush just signed contained at least 6,000 pork projects.

The president's defenders plead that it's hard to veto bills when his own party controls Congress. But as the conservative commentator Bruce Bartlett points out, this defense is nonsense. President Franklin D. Roosevelt held office at a time of huge Democratic Party majorities in Congress, but that didn't stop him from vetoing a record 635 bills. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter also coexisted with large Democratic majorities, yet Kennedy vetoed 21 bills during his short presidency, Johnson vetoed 30 and Carter vetoed 31.

Apart from the economic idiocy that is supply-side economics, the wealthiest of those who received tax breaks did not plow it back into the economy by purchasing durable goods - they bought T-Bills instead. The stock market is not the only engine of the economy rather consumer demand stimulates growth.

So who benefits from a large deficit? Anyone who owes on their credit card can answer that one. Each year of this administration more and more of your tax dollars goes to servicing the debt. In effect this is a transfer of wealth to those that hold our debt; bankers take their cut.

However, increasingly our deficit is propped up by foreign banks. Our cash is going abroad at an ever faster rate. This is not good for our trade deficits as dollars become cheaper to come by. At times I get the paranoid thought that Bush will try and start a war with China to seize their assets, i.e. our debt. But then I feel comforted that WalMart has got our back...cough, cough.

(via Atrios)

The Gerrymandering Gig

One of the most dastardly acts of Tom DeLay was his successful push for the redistricting in Texas that gave the GOP 5 seats in the House. The creative carving up of the state even astounded Molly Ivins:
Now on the redistricting map that touched off this mess, I have seen maps that are works of art. I have seen districts that look like giant chickens and districts that look like coiled snakes. But this map is a masterpiece, a veritable Dadaist work reminiscent of Salvador Dali's more lunatic productions.

Author David Brin (who has a blog) tackles the threat that gerrymandering poses to our democracy. In the first part of a ten part series, he writes:
As we slowly recover, still quivering, from the traumas of Election 2004 -- further punched, pummeled and punctuated by war and nature’s devastation -- here comes a tidal wave of punditry, telling us to begin girding for the next political season. Prepare for Election 2006... another gut-wrenching, nation-dividing descent into the “Culture Wars.”

(Who could have predicted that we would someday look back with nostalgia on the Clinton-Dole campaign, as a time when politicians sometimes disagreed congenially over policy, while sharing a fundamental belief that government can be made to work?)

In one way, the 2006 campaign will be easier, emotionally. For one thing, it won’t directly involve the Presidency, much to the relief of George W. Bush, given his slide in popularity.

Instead, attention will focus on Congress. Will one party continue to control all three branches of government? Or will voters choose to stir in some fresh faces and, perhaps, a little accountability?

This could be of special importance right now. If either house of Congress passes into Democratic control next year, one immediate effect will be to suddenly invigorate a dozen oversight and investigation committees, which have lain mostly dormant for six years. Just picture the ferment when those torpid committees are abruptly staffed with scores of newly-assertive investigators, empowered with stacks of subpoenas, summoning scores of administration officials - and whistleblowers - in a veritable festival of accountability, unlike anything since 1994, when Newt Gingrich & Co. swept into control over the House, carried by the reform rhetoric of his “Contract with America.” (See *note below.)

Of course, all of this assumes that political issues -- or even voter opinion -- will make a difference in outcome, during the campaign for who controls Congress.

But that assumption may be dead wrong. One trend, that has built momentum across several decades, may insure that the average voter will have very little influence over the outcome of the US Congressional elections, come November 2006.

No, I am not talking about outright cheating, though we certainly have seen a disturbing and outrageous burst of truly despicable behavior, ranging from fraudulently rigged voting machinery to manipulation of voter rolls, from corruption of sworn officials to dirty trickery, all of which contribute to a decline of faith in democracy, perhaps even debasing the word “freedom” itself. (See recommendations of the Carter-Baker Commission at:

But I am not writing about any of that today, because even vote-fraud is small potatoes. After all, cheating of the kind we saw in Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, can only work when the polls are already very close. At worst it can nibble at the edges of a system that is rotting from the inside.

No, I want to draw attention to a different kind of manipulation. One that has ensured that close elections for US Congress almost never happen.

It is the same shameless manipulation that prevents all but a few Americans from having any real voting power over who will represent them on Capitol Hill.

Quietly, without much comment or notice, the practice of gerrymandering has transformed from a dismal-but-bearable tradition of occasional opportunism into a cancer eating at the heart of democracy itself, rendering our votes nearly meaningless in countless constituencies across the land.

When politicians are guaranteed reelection there is loss of accountability to the voters. California will soon vote on Prop 77 which is Arnold's attempt to solve this problem. However the idea to give 3 judges the power to redraw districts doesn't seem much better. Who will pick these judges? Also, the judges may all be from the same area. Is this a way for the more conservative Southern California to usurp the rights of their neighbors to the north? If that's the case just think what will happen to all our transportation funding and water rights.

There maybe some merit to the idea of changing how redistricting is brought about, but not as it currently written. I see this a thin disguise for politicians having their way and hiding behind judicial robes in an undemocratic process.

Bennett's Abortive Attempt to Forestall Criticism

Former Education Secretary Finds Himself in Middle of Controversy Again

After bring blasted for saying on his radio program that aborting all black babies would reduce crime in America, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett attempted an apology today, telling his radio audience that aborting all future talk-show hosts would dramatically reduce the number of idiotic remarks made on the radio.

“I just want to put this out there,” Mr. Bennett said on “Morning in America,” his nationally syndicated radio program. “But if we were to systematically abort every future radio talk-show host in this country, the number of idiotic remarks made in America would plummet.”

After making his latest controversial remark, however, Mr. Bennett did not leave well enough alone as he launched in a series of other potentially inflammatory abortion proposals.

“We have an enormous problem of gambling addiction in this country,” Mr. Bennett said. “It seems to me that the one surefire way to fix it would be to abort all future gambling addicts before they get the chance to hit the tables at Vegas.”

Furthermore, Mr. Bennett said, abortion could be the key to reducing the number of sanctimonious hypocrites in America today: “Let’s just abort all of those sanctimonious hypocrites before they start writing pompous books and hosting radio shows.”

I could almost see him saying this.

(via Other Crap)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sheep vs. Goats

Matthew 25:32 (New International Version) All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.