Gray Flannel Dwarf


Top News: Bush not found

So I decided to take a look at the GOP website today to see if they’d ever decided to put anything else up meaningful re: Katrina. They hadn’t. However, what I saw was amusing.

I went to the GOP page and saw this:

On the GOP webpage, there is currently a “broken image” for their “Top News” tab.

Well, I thought that was interesting. I decided to see what was missing, so I right-clicked on the image location to view it.

It returns a 404 – File Not Found. Well, the image link in question is supposed to go to a picture of Bush:

On behalf of everyone I’d like to thank the GOP for admitting to, and illustrating a point that we’ve all been very realizant of in the Katrina aftermath. Bush isn’t there.

A fly-by and a photo-op don’t constitute compassion, Mr. President.

cswiii @ 9:53 am


Chiefly Speaking…

… I can’t help but wonder if Scalia is a little bit miffed.

I know that, historically speaking, prior experience as an associate justice doesn’t necessarily indicate any more likelihood that one becomes CJ… that is, historically, there have been several Chief Justices with no prior Supreme Court experience.

I just keep wondering if this bruised Scalia’s ego at all. Maybe, maybe not.

Meanwhile, here’s a meme to play with. Look at all those pictures of boyish Roberts, whose true opinions on things are arguably unknown, and try… just try to shake this notion:

“John Roberts: Chief Boyardee”

cswiii @ 3:04 pm


The reality-detached community

From Reuters: Bush warns against looting, gas price gouging.

The article contains this fine gem of a quote that was, apparently, reiterated in an interview with Diane Sawyer:

He defended the federal government’s response so far to the growing crisis amid urgent pleas for help from stranded victims. He said the breach of the levees that led to the submerging of much of New Orleans had not been anticipated.

Breach of the levees not anticipated? Is this guy on back on the white stuff again? This has been known for years (search for “standring”), and they have been trying to build things up to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Of course, the fact that money initially earmarked to aid this project was diverted to fund the “war on terrah” didn’t help things any.

FEMA wasn’t alone in cutting hurricane spending in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

Federal flood control spending for southeastern Louisiana has been chopped from $69 million in 2001 to $36.5 million in 2005, according to budget documents. Federal hurricane protection for the Lake Pontchartrain vicinity in the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget dropped from $14.25 million in 2002 to $5.7 million this year. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu requested $27 million this year.

Both the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper and a local business magazine reported that the effects of the budget cuts at the Army Corps of Engineers were severe.

In 2004, the Corps essentially stopped major work on the now-breached levee system that had protected New Orleans from flooding. It was the first such stoppage in 37 years, the Times-Picayune reported.

I thought the GOP was the party of ‘fiscal responsibility’. Right. One basic fact of fiscal responsibility is that you don’t spend on things you can’t afford to fund. The very fact that money was taken away from natural disaster prevention and recovery efforts, the fact that the federal government scrimped and pinched off enough from programmes like these, to fund some irrational war in the middle east is unforgivable. Going to war in the middle east was bad enough. Going to war on “borrowed money” like this is a disgusting notion.

cswiii @ 10:04 am


Nero Fiddled, Dubya diddled.

The old lore says that Nero fiddled while the city burned.

Well, Nawlins is sunk, Biloxi is decimated, the whole gulf coast is in bad shape.

…and that makes it a good time for Bush to go out to California and take a photo op.

cswiii @ 8:17 am


Of course.

I find it quite amusing that, as news comes out that the newly-proposed Iraqi constitution stipulates that ‘no law can be passed that contradicts the fixed principles of Islam’s rulings‘, Pat Robertson goes apeshit on Chavez and word comes out that Iran wasn’t making nukes after all.

The disturbing part about all of this, of course, is that

1) We’ve lost 2000 US soldiers in an effort to turn a secular (albeit authoritarian) state into a religious one.
2) There are probably any number of Christians out there who will agree with and listen to Robertson, or at very least, sympathise and support him.
3) There is probably no one in the Bush administration who will agree with or listen to the international investigators in Iran. In all, it’s de ja vu all over again.

cswiii @ 2:27 pm


NWA on strike

NWA union members are on strike.

I fly from Raleigh to Detroit every week. The only direct flight is NWA. I recently received a letter in the mail, addressed to “Silver Elite” members. As I just got my SE, I was assuming it was my new FF card or something… and then I read it. It was advance warning about the possible strikes.


I am kind of torn on the whole union thing, and I probably don’t fall along the lines that many on the left. I totally empathise with those looking for better treatment in their respective industries… but I dunno. Working in Detroit, I can’t help but feel that, between my air travel, and the auto industry there, labour unions and industries have a serious disconnect, and I can’t blame it all on the industry giants themselves…

Sometimes I wonder if labour unions have outlived their usefulness, and I am sure that is bordering on heresy to some on the left. I can understand the purposes of unionisation, back in the day. We are all familiar with The Jungle, and we all know about child labour that occurred early on, etc. Unions, then, were useful and perhaps more legitimate.

However, today… I honestly have a hard time being as sympathetic, although if someone can convince me, I am open to it.

Is there someone who can tell me what baggage handlers make? This article says that some start at $8.75/h, and some were, until recently, as high as $20.
Overall, I am estimating $15/h. 15*40*52 is 31k a year, which isn’t mad coin, but hell, inflation hasn’t been that bad in recent years, and this isn’t far from where I was six years ago getting into IT.

…and despite the sometimes long hours I have worked in the past, and am working right now, I have no desire to see IT labour unionisation.

I have an open mind to these things, and am more than willing to listen to union defenders, but I need some tried and true facts, not just the propaganda I see — and it is, what with the bumper stickers and cheesy slogans — on the union billboard on-site.

Just based on my observations, I am currently struggling with having a lot of sympathy with unions much of the time. Maybe someone can change my mind.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:31 am


A Defense of the PCUSA versus charges of Anti-Semitism

I just read this article from the NYTimes (registration possibly required), titled “Threat to Divest Is Church Tool in Israeli Fight“, which is about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) threatening to divest from companies who, in its opinion, is aiding and/or supplying the Israeli military. I’m kind of disgusted by it, actually.

If Johnnie Cochran played the so-called “race card”, then some of the people interviewed for this article played the full-on anti-Semitism royal flush.

Rabbi Cooper said the Protestant churches were ignoring the current “reality on the ground” – that Israel is preparing to withdraw this month from Gaza and remove settlements there. “Instead of divesting, these churches should be investing,” he said. “There is so much humanitarian need on the ground in the Holy Land. We’re not telling them: ‘Stay out of it. It’s not your business.’ There’s a ton of work to be done.”

He called the churches’ actions “functionally anti-Semitic.” But he said that after attending the conventions of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ this year, he concluded that the resolutions were being “rammed through” by denominational leaders and were not reflective of the churches’ grassroots membership.

I am not so sure I agree with Rabbi Cooper on this and the way he framed his statement, donning the cloak of humanitarianism, when he suggests the need to invest rather than divest. I find it particularly misleading, especially when the debate is about supplying militaries. Furthermore, as protestant leadership organisations go, that of the PCUSA church has been one of the more progressive ones out there; as one might expect, a large plurality of its congregation shares those goals. It is unlikely anything is being “crammed through” its councils, at least.

The companies in question have, of course, voiced their opinion in the debate, too…

The Presbyterians gave a variety of reasons for choosing these five companies. It accused Caterpillar of selling Israel heavy equipment used for demolishing Palestinian homes, and of constructing roads and infrastructure in the occupied territories and Israeli settlements.

The company released a statement saying: “For the past four years, activists have wrongly included Caterpillar in a publicity campaign aimed at advancing their much larger political agendas. Over that same period of time we’ve repeatedly evaluated our position, as have our shareholders, and determined that while the protests occasionally succeed in getting headlines, they neither change the facts nor our position.”

The Presbyterian committee said in its announcement that it included United Technologies Corporation, a military contractor, because a subsidiary provides helicopters used by the Israeli military “in attacks in the occupied territories against suspected Palestinian terrorists.”

A company spokesman, Paul Jackson, responded by e-mail: “UTC has been widely recognized as an ethical and responsible corporation. Work on military programs is stringently regulated by the U.S. government, and UTC complies wholly with all policies and related regulations.”

The church said it identified Motorola because the company has a contract to develop wireless encrypted communications for the Israeli military in the territories and is a “majority investor in one of Israel’s four cell phone companies.”

Norman Sandler, a manager for Motorola on global issues, said the church’s action “came completely out of the blue.” He said the company supplies radio products to Israel, as well as to many Arab countries.

ITT also made the church’s list because, the committee said, it supplies the Israeli military with “communications, electronic and night vision equipment used by its forces in the occupied territories.” A spokesman for ITT did not respond to a message left on Friday afternoon.

Leah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Citigroup, said: “Any assertion that Citigroup supports terrorism in any way is an outrage. We take all possible measures to ensure that our institution is not used by criminals or as a conduit to fund terrorist activities.”

..but as far as I’m concerned, these statements are irrelevant to the issue at hand. In all, it’s total BS. Now, whether an organisation — or individual — comes to believe that the companies in which it or he invests is supporting an environment of turmoil is one thing, and that is the sole opinion of the investor(s). Nothing can change that. However, to play the straw man, to make blanket generalisations, to play the victim, it’s pretty damned pitiful.

If this is what the PCUSA church believes — that’s fine, and if, from its worldview, the best way to reduce violence and escalation is to divest from companies it believes to promote these things, that’s its own prerogative.

If I see two kids throwing rocks at each other, I don’t care who started it, I don’t care who has caused more injury, I am certainly not going to supply either one of those kids with more ammunition, and I can’t see how it would possibly improve the situation by doing so. Nevermind Biblical teachings about always turning the other cheek… how is aiding either party going to help things?

If the PCUSA church truly believes that these companies escalate the tension in the middle east, it has every right — and perhaps even obligation — to avoid doing so. Doing otherwise would mean blood on its hands. The church as a body should, in the vast majority of cases, be a conscientious objector. The closest to any rational pro-bellum argument that I can think of is that of Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who did ponder a great deal about — and indeed lost his life over — whether it is ever righteous for Christians as a whole to support a military resistance against oppression. This said, the struggles between Israelis and Palestinians hardly meet the burden of proof for such an argument.

Whether it is an investment in Halliburton, supplying the US military in Iraq, or an investment in a company who apparently supplies the Israeli military, the church has no place in promoting violence. To say the church is “anti-Semitic” because of this decision is a cop-out, and a weak, desparate one at that. I find it all terribly disappointing.

The PCUSA church has done a great deal to strengthen awareness of social injustices around the world . Some might even go so far as to argue that it has come at the cost of church membership, noting the ever increasing vigilence with regards to injustice, at the same time that the PCUSA’s congregation finds itself in a steady population decline, as it focuses more on social issues and less on retention. Even if this were the case, though — and such a correlation may not be valid — to follow such a guiding principle to its end does not lessen the righteousness of such goals. The point stands — I can’t understand how refusing to support military-industrial complexes can be seen as a “morally reprehensible” action — much less “functionally anti-Semitic”.

cswiii @ 1:01 am


Assuming the mantle: Fiscal Responsibility

Fiscal conservatism is dead…at least from a partisan perspective, anyway. I’ve been saying it for a long time, and it’s good to see the media beginning to cover this notion. Per MSNBC/WaPo, “GOP lawmakers embrace their spending side

From the article:

“If you look at fiscal conservativism these days, it’s in a sorry state,” said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of only eight House members to vote against the $286.5 billion transportation bill that was passed the day before the recess. “Republicans don’t even pretend anymore.”

I’m also convinced that this is a serious opportunity for the Democrats, but not in a “swing voter” sort of way, so much as it is the opportunity to assume the mantle of fiscal responsibility. Democrats have long been viewed as the party of big government, and in the past that might have held some water. It’s different now.

These days, it’s just the opposite. While the current administration has been on a spending binge like none other, it didn’t start with GWB. Bush I and Reagan also had a love affair with federal monies, far outweighing Democrats over the past several decades.

So why not just assume the mantle? It’s the oldest trick in the GOP book — take a popular or controversial topic on peoples’ minds and proclaim themselves the saviour thereof. Why not borrow a page or two from them? It’s outright good strategy.

Think this is just an absurd idea? Consider this:

“There’s a rising level of frustration with the disconnect between where the vast majority of conservatives are in this country and how Congress is behaving,” said former representative Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), whose Club for Growth political action committee finances the campaigns of conservative candidates. “There’s going to be a wake-up call sooner or later.”

The tectonic plates of political parties are always shifting. During the civil rights era, a major political shift occured when many traditional southern democrats moved across party lines to the right, when they didn’t support the push for equal rights. During the 80s, Paul Weyrich and friends persuaded Jerry Falwell to mobilise his followers to march towards the right by promising a new religious revolution in America.

In these cases, and countless numbers of other smaller shifts, promises were made, common beliefs were held, but in reality, those groups were courted in an effort to increase the voter base. It may not sound like a pleasant way of doing things, but it is political reality.

Flake and Toomey’s statements in the quotes above are, I suspect, only stirrings amidst a larger undertow of discontent. I don’t doubt that there are a great deal of disaffected fiscal conservatives that can be added to the ranks of independents and political moderates who have grow weary — and wary — of the Right’s drunken pork-barrel frat parties.

What’s more, this can be done under the Democratic mantra of leveling the playing field. Consider this bit from the same article:

To fiscal conservatives, it is not just the total cost of the bills but also their content. At 1,752 pages, the highway bill is the most expensive public works legislation in U.S. history, complete with 6,376 earmarked projects, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Kern County, Calif., home of powerful House Ways and Means Chairman Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R), snagged $722 million in projects, or nearly $1,000 per person. Los Angeles County, with clogged highways and 10 million people, will receive barely $60 per resident.

When something like this happens, they should be called out, and doubly rebuked, first for the excessive spending, but also for the unbalanced allocation of federal funds. In doing so, the opportunity is presented to welcome those who are fed up with the GOP’s massive spending while at the same time staying true to Democratic ideals.

The Democratic party simply needs to claim the mantle, but not by immediately criticising the Right. Doing this just inflames the rhetoric. Rather, the left needs to begin referring to itself as the “fiscally responsible party” and run with it.

The same thing can and should eventually be done with other supposedly-GOP traditions — personal freedoms, privacy, etc… because in reality, none of these are espoused by today’s neocon-run GOP. However, I believe that fiscal responsibility should be the first thing to which the Democrats should lay claim.

It’s like a big game of capture-the-flag, and in an effort to take over the playing field, the GOP has left their flag unprotected. It’s time to take it out from under their noses. For far too long the GOP has been able to simply take up the sword for some perceived common ideal, whereas the left has been perceived as the beacon for unorganised or loosely-organised political interests. However, having abandoned its base on many traditional, so-called “conservative” planks — and indeed, admirable ones, from the perspective of idealistic political populism — they’ve left the gate wide open.

Partisans have stuck with the GOP for two reasons, I’m guessing. One, because as I’ve said in the past, people want to be part of the “popular crowd”, and with the GOP in charge, who else could be moreso? However, I’m less convinced, anymore that this is the only reason — or at least, is the reason for only a certain subset of current Republicans. The other is the fact that they’ve simply been shown no real alternative. The GOP has abandoned the mantle espoused by traditional ideal-driven “conservatives”, but no one has taken advantage of this… and certainly not the Democratic Party. Already hesitant to change their ways in the first place — some of them are, after all, conservative — and having been shown no alternative, they’ve stayed where they are, despite being ever more disaffected.

People talk suspiciously about the results in the 2004 elections. They point to polls being rigged, and point out that exit polls had far different results. I don’t buy it. If that much of the electorate was gypped, I think we’d have seen far more angry voters, such as those in some Florida 2000 precincts. Rather, in my mind, the exit polls were so different precisely because people were embarrassed or ashamed to publicly voice support Bush, but hadn’t been reassured enough to privately vote against him. It is these voters who need assurance that the Democratic party espouses their traditionally-rooted beliefs.

Today’s Democratic leadership needs to espouse fiscal responsibility, needs to strive for it, and needs to call the Right out when they fail to deliver it. This is the only way to shift the political lines in the Democrats’ favour. This is not about a move to the centre, it’s about pulling the centre back into the fold. By staking claim to the traditional, populist American political ideals that the GOP once cherished but now abandons, the left can gain and retain a voting constituency. Furthermore, this can be done without alienating either the hard left or the ideals espoused by liberally-minded partisans.

These ideas are traditional common American values which were hijacked by the GOP, have since been abandoned, and it is the left, anymore, which truly espouses them. The left has not, however, been ardent in vocalising these claims, but if the Democratic Party truly wants to regain any sort of political bearing, it seems evident to me that it needs to begin doing so.

cswiii @ 10:01 am


zero-savings part deux

Well, the “zero-savings” story has now had several iterations on dKos, and while many have the right idea, there are still some who want to go ahead and blame the current administration for any impending ills. I feel that’s terribly misplaced.

Someone in this thread made a good point… this is a political issue, but it’s not a partisan one.

Where do I stand on this? There is a definite line that can, and should, be drawn between compassion for those who are truly down on their luck and those who are in trouble of their own making, and while higher energy costs, or easy credit, or the housing bubble may be easy culprits, none of these can be solely to blame, and nor can one political party be blamed for this.

Granted, changes made by the recent administration will likely make it a lot harder for people who fall in any coming recession. However, you can’t blame them for past decisions made by individuals who have failed to grasp the concept of “opportunity cost”. To make this a partisan argument doesn’t shine well on the left.

cswiii @ 3:52 pm


“Booming Economy” at the expense of personal savings

CNN/Money is currently featuring an article titled “The zero-savings problem“. It notes that:

Even as a government report Tuesday showed the national savings rate at zero — that’s right nada — the rise in the value of homes has given the average U.S. household a net worth of greater than $400,000, according to a separate report from the Federal Reserve.

It goes on to note, though, that people are using this new-found equity to put cash in hand. And lest one think “zero percent” is an overreaction:

June was only the second month the rate was at zero since the monthly figure started being calculated in 1959. The annual rate for 2004 was 1.8 percent; the last time the annual rate was lower was 1934.

Strong auto sales in June played a big part in the latest read on the savings rate. The government counts the entire price of the autos purchased during the month, even though most consumers pay for vehicles over time.

But even if that zero savings rate is a bit of a quirk, the trend towards lower and lower savings rates is unmistakable. In May, before the current “employee pricing” offer from automakers, savings rate was only 0.4 percent, or 40 cents for every $100 of take-home pay.

According to the article, more and more homeowners are saving less, opting instead to take out equity in their home and spend. What’s worse, it’s suggested that this is the one thing holding the the US economy — touted as thriving by the current administration — afloat.

Again, per the article:

“We’ve backed ourselves into a very dangerous situation,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “The economy is dependent on everyone consuming like crazy. If everyone heard my diatribe and said, ‘Yeah, we better start saving,’ the economy would go into a recession.”

So, okay, people are saving less, and credit card use is up… these are old hat. But to have savings hovering near zero and have the ensuing spending be one of the only things that keep the economy from going into a tailspin? That’s bad news folks.

This will only be further impacted by the housing bubble… and while I don’t expect the bubble to violently burst — housing is quite illiquid, compared to other investments, as people need places to live — the fact that people are using the equity in their homes to pay down their bills and debt is a frightening proposition, as even a 5% drop in home values could mean people have leveraged themselves into negative equity… not to mention those who have been duped into zero-equity home loans.

And finally, I can’t shake out of my mind the recent concessions handed over to the credit card companies by BushCo. The companies can now charge more and it’ll be harder to file for bankruptcy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to disavow personal responsibility. Consumers shouldn’t treat their CCs like cash, and if people can’t be persuaded to save more than fifty cents on every hundred bucks they earn, I can’t say I’m very impressed. At the same time, however, the stage has been set for those in tenuous situations to fail — and if/when they do, I can’t see how it wouldn’t have negative affect on the economy.

I forsee the possibility of us all being stuck in a very precarious situation. If people don’t repay their debts, they get bludgeoned by Ma Credit. If they don’t continue their consumerism, though, the economy goes downhill real fast.

I’ve never been a predictor of economic doom before, but this is frightening stuff…and yet this administration keeps telling us all that the economy is doing just fine…

…then again, has it ever told the truth before?

cswiii @ 5:48 pm


Surprise…! What surprise…?

Washington Times: Rumsfeld makes surprise visit to Iraq

Has anyone else asked the question, “how can these things be surprises anymore?” I’ve been wondering this for weeks, now…it seems not a week goes by and if it’s not Dubya, it’s Condi or it’s Rumsfeld, someone is always on their way over there to make a “surprise visit”.

How many “surprise” visits does it take before they turn “mundane”? How come these haven’t been called “routine” visits to Iraq? They occur often enough.

I want to know the real purpose… andI don’t mean that in a particularly conspiratorial sense. Let’s look at the options.

If it’s to pep-talk the troops, then they’re bound to have already run into the law of diminishing returns. If this administration is dropping the phrase “war on terror” due to the notion that most Americans, now war-weary, think the war was a mistake, I can only imagine that a quick BJ from BushCo. wouldn’t have that much of an effect for those on the front lines.

On the other hand, in the first article linked, it’s mentioned that Rumsfeld met with the Iraqi Prime Minister. For a meeting like that, one would think you’d call ahead for tea time, you know? You don’t just “drop in” to hang out with the local officials.

In my mind, it’s pretty evident the WH is fairly upset at the prospect that, after everything has been said and done, Iraq is looking more and more like it’s going to be another Islamic theocracy. Rumsfeld is over there to have a friendly little “WTF” talk with the PM. Smile, wave to the camera! Surprise! Look who daddy brought home!

Listen here, buddy, we expected a little more from you all than this.

Not that I think it will do much good… the war is going worse than everyone thought it would, and the task of “nation building” is going worse than everyone expected too. In fact, the only thing over there in a better state than initially expected is the status of WMDs. Sure aren’t any of those, buster!

Oh, wait. The WH knew that well in advance, too.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 10:37 am


“Personal waiver” theory – (former) Rove staffer?

Let me preface this with the fact that I do think Rove probably was the initial source. I am not so convinced, however, that he was Cooper’s only source, and I’ve seen nothing that explicitly indicates this.

I am wondering if there is a disgruntled staffer, or former staffer, for Rove that is offering corroborating evidence that Rove was the original leak.

Now, let’s start from the basics. If I were a professional journalist, and had learned something from someone at the top, I would probably try to get a second verified statement from someone with ties to the original to confirm statements and/or internal policy. A primary source, words from the horse’s mouth is great, but I wouldn’t want to write an article and have only one source that could leave me twisting in the wind — especially if that person is Karl Rove who has left many a public figure hung out to dry.

Now, consider this somewhat mishmash of a paragraph from an old 2003 Newsmax(!) article regarding the Plame incident (emphasis mine):

As the story goes, individuals in the administration seeking revenge for Wilson’s criticism of Bush’s Iraq adventure played get-even, and at least two of Karl Rove’s staff placed phone calls to at least six Washington journalists, unmasking Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame. One of the journalists, Robert Novak, chose to publish and thus unmask CIA agent Plame.

So there’s the possibility of Rove talking, and there’s the possibility of this smear having been disseminated by members of his staff. If this were true, then it doesn’t take a leap of logic to determine that members of Rove’s staff knew of efforts to “out” Plame. At very least, those staffers mentioned in the paragraph above, and perhaps more.

Now, let’s come back to Cooper’s statement that he’d been released from his confidentiality promise from his source. This seemed to go smack in the face of everything pointing to Rove. Rove’s arrogance has been a favourite explanation, as has the unlikely idea that Rove would fall on his sword for the administration. None of these is satisfying for me, though. Simply put, Rove is vile but he’s not stupid.

With all this confusion going on, I can’t help but wonder if we’ve seen something of a sleight-of-hand trick. People believe Rove is the leak. Cooper was given a confidentiality release. Ergo, Rove gave the release? Right?

I wonder if there’s been a deliberate misdirection in all this… perhaps Cooper had two sources — Rove and someone within Rove’s organisation, and it’s the latter who, for reasons currently unknown, has decided it is time to come forth with information implicating Rove.

Could Cooper’s “personal and unambiguous waiver to speak before the grand jury” be a hitherto unknown mole from within Rove’s own ranks? Every assumption has been that Cooper’s got only one source, but unless I’ve missed it, I’ve never seen that explicitly stated.

Is there a definitive list somewhere of current and former members of Rove’s staff whose backgrounds might be worth investigating?

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 12:33 am


Slouching towards South Carolina

Hey DB — look what’s coming your way.

According to the irreproachable World Net Daily, “fed-up Christians” are packing their bags and moving to South Carolina and consider secession a viable option to modern-day American governance.

“I believe we can work with ‘the system’ if you will to effect the outcome of local elections and certainly the CE theory is to do this county by county,” Janoski said, “but I do not discount the possibility that the federal government or the rest of the ‘union’ may not agree with our objectives or core politics. So secession may be a very real alternative – and is as I believe our constitutional right if things lead to that.”

“I’m about as patriotic as anyone you’ll ever meet,” says Charles Lewis, who moved his family of four from the nation’s capital for the opportunity to raise his children in a wholesome, Christian-friendly environment. “However, the secession option is firmly in the Constitution – it’s the linchpin of the whole thing, [the] ultimate safety valve.”

Actually, I’ve heard the wingnuts are a lot further along than this column indicates. They’re just trying to figure out that whole, pesky “pillar of salt” issue.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 9:48 am


It seems Bill Frist was, uh, for stem cell research before he was against it.

“It is critically important that we understand, and in our moral and ethical framework ensure, that this tissue otherwise would not be used,” he said. “It is similar to the fact that when I do a heart transplant, that heart otherwise would not be used for anything useful.”

On the question of whether the days-old blastocyst is a life, Frist said: “There is a continuum from a sperm and an egg, to a blastocyst, to a fetus, to a child, to an adolescent, to an adult.”

He acknowledged that other types of stem cells appear to offer some therapeutic benefits but said they were insufficient.

“It appears clear that research using adult stem cells does not hold the same potential for medical advances as does the use of the more versatile embryonic stem cells,” he said.

cswiii @ 1:16 am


There goes the Neighbourhood


I think this is a bit telling, though. Emphasis mine:

O’Connor’s retirement caught the White House by surprise. The administration had been preparing for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to step down, and had been mulling how to replace the conservative anchor of the court, according to a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the selection process.

Now, the White House has to reexamine its thinking because it faces a vacancy caused by the resignation of a moderate woman instead of a conservative man.

…hence my statement of “we’re fucked” last November.

This isn’t going to be a maintaining of the status quo. This is going to be a knock-down drag-out battle royale…and I don’t mean between left and right. I mean between the nation and the Constitution.

Roe v. Wade of course comes to mind, but there is an interesting angle there — it’s established, and barring (ahem) judicial activism, what are they going to do to overturn it?

cswiii @ 12:48 pm


Initial thoughts: Eminent Domain ruling

I am not sure what I think about the recent Supreme Court decision.

On its face, I don’t like it at all. That personal property can be taken up and all but redistributed — regardless of “compensation” — to corporate or residential redevelopment efforts is darn near asinine.

At the same time I do wonder if SCOTUS made the right decision, legally speaking: it’s not too different from a states-rights issue. I’m not so sure that different states — or counties, cities, towns — shouldn’t have the ability to govern themselves in determining what is and isn’t ethical with regards to eminent domain. If a community doesn’t like their region’s laws, they should fight to change them, or shouldn’t allow such draconian statues pass in the first place. I guess residents could always move, too, if they don’t like these laws, but that’s sort of defeating the purpose.

To summarise: I think it’s wrong for local governments to seize land from existing owners for commercial purposes. Dead wrong. But from a legal perspective, I hesitantly feel the SCOTUS made the right decision, avoiding a situation where it would otherwise be treading that fine line of creating legislation through judicial precendent — much less Federal legislation on what some might consider a municipal issue.

Another thought that comes to mind: there’s the obvious angle that will be taken by many concerning the fear that such a ruling can and will encourage the redistribution of property to already-wealthy institutions — those, as O’Connor stated, “with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.” However, I see a larger concern — what keeps local governments from abusing this new privilege? State legislators gerrymander to shape political districts, what’s to keep local governments from seizing the land of political opponents, under the guise of creating “appreciable benefits to the community”, per the SCOTUS majority opinion?

This one is a tough cookie to swallow, either way.

cswiii @ 11:45 pm


Blowing off Steam

I keep focusing on these quotes from today’s address.

“Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world’s terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror,” he said.

No, Mr. President,

You made Iraq a central front on the ‘war on terror’.
You implied the links between Hussein, WMD and terror networks.
You falsified information and went against many well-respected people in Washington who told you it was a bad idea.
You took out the leader of an authoritarian-yet-sovereign nation, allowing the predicted power vaccuum to come to life.
You fulfilled, in their eyes, the prophecies of an American imperialism in the Middle East.
You threw the rocks at the proverbial hornets nest and got the swarm’s temper enflamed.

…and now the world’s terrorists are the ones who turned Iraq into a hotbed for terrorism.

Oh, well. yeah – maybe you’re right.

“This mission isn’t easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight.”

Does that mean you’ll be giving back the flightsuit, then?

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 1:30 am


Dammit, Dean

One of my favourite, and widely known quotes by Moby is, “The Christian Right is neither”.

This said, I’ve never been a huge fan of Howard Dean, and I have to admit that his recent statement about the GOP being a “white, Christian party” annoys me a bit. I don’t care what the context is, in this case, because from my perspective, it doesn’t really matter.

Regardless of what Dean “meant”, what bothers me is that his statement reinforces the idea that the so-called “Christians” in the GOP are indicative of Christianity in America, or even Christianity in general.

I’ve said time after time that the Dobson evangelicals are far misled and indeed, in my opinion, far detached from what Christianity truly is. True Christians are charitable, peaceful and compassionate; none of these is an adjective I can, in good concious, apply to any of the selfish, chickenhawk warmongers that continue to exert their influence on the GOP.

By saying what he did, Dean has done nothing more but reinforce these mistaken beliefs that the Christian right is either — Christian, or right.

cswiii @ 12:03 am


Dr. James Dobson’s Disingenuity

Well, the whole filibuster thing is old news at this point — for now, anyway. However, I’ve had something on my mind that I’ve been meaning to write about when it came to the reactions of various factions on all sides. Most interesting is the statement made by James Dobson, after news that a compromise had been reached on the filibuster. The segments below interest me most (emphasis mine):

This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats.

I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.

It’s this language that really puts the icing on the cake, for me anyway, with regards to the way Dobson has been reacting for the past several years.

I don’t deny that Dobson has always been a social conservative with values based in his particular brand of the Christian faith. However, I see the vitriol that he spews these days, and in my mind, it differs a great deal with the stuff of his that I read as a kid.

When I was younger, I was given a Dobson book — already somewhat dated at the time — about coping with adolescence. I can’t remember the title, and didn’t really get a lot out of the book, but the key parts which I remember come from a “round table” discussion, transcribed in the book, which took up a fairly sizeable portion of the text. In this discussion, Dobson spoke casually with teenagers, running the gamut of teen issues.

What I remember in the book seems to run counter to Dobson today. Not in terms of the values, these all run the same, but in his general demeanor and attitude.

When it came to “modern pop music” talking about love, he quoted a few Partridge family snippets, and reacted with something to the effect of, “c’mon, that’s not love at all!”

When it came to self-conciousness, he talked about a somewhat humourous anecdote about when he was once at a meeting with a large group of women, and there’d been a tray of breakfast snacks and coffee across the room. He noted that, amidst the two breaks in the meeting, no one dared venture across the room to get any. Finally, during a third break, he went over there and was followed by a “trail of women” who had been, apparently, too self-concious to get up and do it themselves, first. This story resulted in a bit of giggling by the teenagers in the group.

Finally, I remember a section where one kid was talking candidly about drug use in his school, with regards to a time when some fellow classmates had been smoking dope in the bathroom, and all the kids in a nearby classroom knew the “unmistakable” scent, whereas a teacher reacted, stating, “my, what is that wonderful smell?”. This got a large laugh from the teens on the round table.

In any case, this book, while touching on issues important to Dobson’s moral values, nonetheless had a somewhat lighthearted feel to it, and Dobson himself didn’t spew any fire and brimstone about these things. He let the conversations go on in a relatively sane way, and whether it was conscious or not, at least appeared to try and be “hip” and “with it”. Whether one particularly agreed with his beliefs or not, he at least evangelised his beliefs in a civil way, contrasting these “roadblocks” that teenagers encounter with what he felt the Bible had to say about these issues.

So I remember those things, and I see the way Dobson is acting lately, and frankly, I wonder if he has gone off his rocker, if the political power he has accumulated has gone to his head, or both. The man is a total smouldering inferno, an embodiment of the Eye of Sauron.

And now that I think about it, it really seems like he’ll stop at nothing to get his hands back on the One Ring.

Dobson, I’m sure, still has his faith, as misguided as it may be these days, and I don’t really think his moral compass has changed all that much. His reactions as of late, however, as compared to his earlier attitudes and behaviours, really seal the deal for me, when I ponder if he’s just (ab)using his position amongst the faithful, and abusing his very faith, for political purposes.

cswiii @ 10:23 pm



In efforts to shed his image of a racist Christian fundamentalist who has spent his last few years bombing Muslim countries, GWB is evidently attempting to be seen as an equal-opportunity opportunist. That would explain why the FUD is being kicked up and this sort of rhetorical, propagandistic drivel by Douglas MacKinnon was published in the Houston Chronicle:

During a private meeting between Chavez and Khatami, I was told, Chavez made it known to the Iranian leader that he would like to “introduce nuclear elements into Venezuela.” My contact said “nuclear elements” meant “nuclear weapons.”

Of course, in reality, what Venezuela lacks in “nuclear elements” it more than makes up for in… oil, of course.

I swear… it’s feeling more and more like The Manchurian Candidate every day. It may be true that Chavez isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world for Venezuela right now, but to now link him in with nukes… this whole nuclear/WMD one trick pony is getting to be a tiresome ride.

cswiii @ 9:05 am
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