Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thank you C-SPAN

My apologies if this post does not load quickly or correctly but there are a number of video clips that all should see.

By now, you have hopefully heard of or seen this little fracas between Senator Lieberman (back stabbing asshole) of Connecticut and the wonderful junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken. In the exchange, Joe "Droopy" Lieberman asks for more time to drone on some more and Al Franken, presiding over the senate objects in his capacity as Minnesota's senator.

After Lieberman is denied his extra "moment" Republican John McCain expresses his disgust at someone being denied that extra time. He goes so far as to say he has never, in his 20 years in the senate seen someone denied time to finish their remarks. Poor old John, but it would seem that his memory is fading, or he is lying through his teeth because look at who objected to a similar request from the senior senator from West Virginia.

Thanks C-SPAN.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GOP Bullshit: Paying now for health care later

Over and over again we hear the GOP senators on the floor continue to whine and moan about how the health care reform bill would have money going into the system years before the bulk of the services would be provided. They sit there making speeches about how unfair it is to the taxpayer to make them pay for something before they get to use it. We have heard every tired analogy from paying for a car a year before getting to drive it, to buying a bus ticket without any buses. Maybe it's all of these Senators' first day on the job and they don't understand how things work in this world.

When the government takes a big chunk of taxpayer dollars and gives it to Boeing, the Boeing executives do not hand the government hundreds of fighter jets before they leave the capitol. Unless the GOP wants the government to act like a California or Florida home buyer and give nothing for something. That works real well until you eventually have to pay up and you don't have any money. The more responsible course, and the best course for the government to take is to pay for things up front. I think that the GOP senators raising this stink know that too, but they are wrapping themselves in a cynical, disingenuous blanket of lies so that their insurance/pharmaceutical lobbyist puppet masters can continue to fleece the American people.

If the health reform bill were to go into effect immediately, then they would be constantly rewriting the bill as it was supposed to be passed in August. Picking a start date in 2013 might not even be that far in the future once the bill actually passes if Senator Coburn keeps asking for a full reading of every amendment into the Senate record. Then we might not be done with the readings before 2014.

Oh yeah, and before I forget, these are the assholes of the week: Senator Coburn (OK) and Senator Lieberman (CT).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Howard Dean on the Health Care Reform Bill

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What to do about: Banker's Bonuses

Mere minutes after the capitulater in chief held a special conference with the country's top bankers it became apparent that his tough talk on CBS's 60 Minutes was nothing more than talk. While he seemed to be quite upset about the large bonuses being paid out by banks that have just repaid their TARP money, he seems unwilling or unable to do anything about them.

President Obama's ability to think things through may be the biggest hindrance to really nailing the bankers and their obscene bonuses to the wall. After all, how can he seriously denounce a practice that his own economic advisors have helped to create and reinforce during their years in the private sector? No, Obama does not really want to do anything about the bonuses but rather would like to appear, to the American public at least, that he is angry and that he is going to make them do something good for the country to make up for it. Good luck America.

What he really needs to do is follow the UK's example and say "fine, you want to give out big bonuses? Well, we'll take big taxes." The UK is likely to raise over a half a billion pounds by slapping a 50% tax on all discretionary bonuses over £25,000. One of the biggest arguments the banks are making right now to support their bonuses is that if they don't pay them, they'll lose their top talent. Well, with a measure like this all banks will have to reconsider doling out those big bonuses or risk paying dearly in new taxes. If they still want to give their top executives those hundred million dollar bonuses they can, but then the taxpayers (we the people) get a taste.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Importing our exports

Why is it that throughout the debate over the Dorgan/McCain amendment (that would allow drugs imported from countries with comparable safety standards to America's) no one has the sense to point out that most of those drugs that would be imported are MADE IN THE USA? Other countries around the world have had the courage to stand up to Big Pharma and say "No way! We won't pay!" As a result, countries like Canada, and many European countries have substantially lower prescription drug prices than we have here in the USA, despite the fact that most of those medications are made here in the USA.

Instead of focusing efforts on trying to import massive shipments of drugs from Canada and Europe, Congress should be looking at how to muster up the courage to go to the drug companies and say "sorry, your free lunch is over." Congress and the administration need to stop giving giant welfare packages to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries under the guise of "health care reform."

And for those out there that keep repeating the false claims that a cut in drug prices would mean less money for research and development of new medicines, that might be true, if it weren't for the fact that drug companies spend as much, if not more on marketing than they do on R&D. That's right, perhaps if every football game on television didn't have to have 100 Cialis, Viagra, Lipitor, and Plavix ads then the drug company could put some more money into developing new medicines, after all, you never know when we'll need something for Restless Arm Syndrome.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Think we have a "do nothing" Congress now? Just wait until Sean Hannity's wish comes true.

According to a recent CNN Poll, the country is presently divided on who would do a better job running the House and Senate. So for all those of you grumbling about Congress today, imagine what it would be like with a 49/49 split (since Lieberman and Sanders are technically Independents). NOTHING would get done. They would never be able to even get past a cloture vote thanks to the non-filibustering filibuster rules.

I believe that the best thing for Congress would be for it to shed itself of the dead wood Blue Dog Democrats who have been holding up the Health Care reform process since the spring. I have absolutely nothing against them voting against specific pieces of legislation that they do not agree with, or rather, that their corporate overlords do not agree with, but by holding up cloture votes and allowing the speechless filibusters to take place they are hurting our democracy. Dump those worthless old mutts and replace them with young, vivacious progressives who want to get into government to make our country stronger and our people healthier and better educated.

Ironically, what the party of No and their allies are hurting even more then the progressive agenda, is the image of Congress itself. By blocking bills and preventing even the debate on the bills to take place, they are proving Congressional critics right in their accusations that Congress is a do-nothing body.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An open letter to the City of Ithaca, NY

Dear City of Ithaca,

It has been over a month now since the "odd/even" rules went into effect and I have had a wonderful time moving my car from one side of the street to the other in order "to facilitate snow removal and street cleaning" (Ithaca city parking information website). I must say it has been quite disappointing to witness the complete absence of any street cleaning, whatsoever since the start of November. I have, however, noticed the NOT absence of ticketing cars for not being moved when parked on the wrong side of the street.

To add further insult to injury, with today's first substantial snow of the season, it was even more of a let down to see the empty side of the street with 7-8 inches of snow, unplowed at 9am this morning. What a wasted opportunity to come by and plow away all that snow before anyone was allowed to move their cars over.

Finally, let me ask if the City of Ithaca has any employees in the DPW that are under the age of 55. Watching three nearly geriatric men shoveling off the corners was awfully sad to see. The huffing and the puffing that went on as they scraped off about 9 square feet of snow just made me bad inside for even witnessing such a poor display.

So let me propose a deal to you, City of Ithaca: we'll keep moving our cars over if you start cleaning and plowing the empty side of the street.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Inaugural Post Bitches- Do We Really Need the Senate?

First of all, I want to thank CP for the opportunity to join this common cause. As a long time reader, I look forward to delivering hot and fresh rants while maintaining the tone well established by the blog. My political outlook is different, so I look forward to seeing where the rubber meets the road, the sparks fly and the metaphors mix.

Remember way back to July 14th 2009? It was a far more innocent time. Tiger was just a golfer, and the Peoples' House introduced a healthcare bill that would cover all Americans. We all know what went down in the intervening months: Democrats ceded the floor to the loudest, craziest voices who told spook stories about euthanasia, immigrants, and abortions on demand. Despite the muttering din, Congress passed a health care bill, HR 3200. It would cover everyone and curb the rise in healthcare costs. There was a vote, 220-215, fair and square, winner takes all. Very democratic.

Now it's the Senate's turn. I get why the founding fathers set it up. It looks good on paper. We have wise, accomplished statesmen who study the issues calmly and cannot be swayed by the vulgar passions of the day. But come on, Wyoming has just as power to influence national legislation as California? California is 69 times larger than Wyoming. The Upper Chamber of Congress is apportioned so that small states- mostly white, rural, and conservative- elect a disproportionate number of senators.

Elections in small states cost less money, air time is cheap, competition is more relaxed. Senators are elected young, serve for lots and lots of years, and gain powerful senior committee assignments. Rich bundlers and corporate interests who deliver large pots of money have more impact on each election, and can weasel their way into the heart of even the purest Jefferson Smith (it was FICTION). Senator Blanche Lincoln (D- AR) is now potentially the 60th vote. She has tremendous power in writing the Health Care Bill. She can straddle the fault line, cagily concealing her intentions, and test the political water before diving in (’s-lr-office-becoming-health-care-reform-battleground/). Arkansas is the 32nd largest State.

While the game ain't over, and we sure didn't play it as well as we could have, look at the obstacles we (me and the President) are up against. Senators essentially each hold the ability to veto legislation that they do not prefer. They can collectively or individually block it in committees, with the filibuster, or ever more obscure parliamentary procedures. No doubt we will pass something and the President can claim victory. After this grinding process we will end up with a bill that Americans increasingly distrust ( I would argue that that trend has more to do with the water torture media spectacle, and less to do with the content of the bill which has been watered down as the support numbers slide. Democrats were elected last year, democracy should allow them to legislate accordingly. The real losers are Americans who must endure the tyranny of small states and big interests.

Hey Sam Brownback, shut the hell up!

I pity the highly religious people of America. Really I do. And some of my friends say it's condescending of me to feel pity. That I am placing myself above those religious zealots and see myself as superior to them and their small minded beliefs. Well...that's true. To use President Obama's oft spoken preface, "let me be clear," if you believe that the Earth is between 6000 and 10000 years old you are stupid. You (Senator Brownback of Kansas) should not be in a position to make laws that I have to abide by if you cannot grasp that simple fact. I'm not even asking that Mr. Santorum embrace the "theory" of evolution, but simply accept that the Earth has existed for thousands of millions of years and that humans and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time.

You might accuse me of being mean, or picking on these simple minded fools. You might feel indignant and ask how dare I attack one's religious beliefs, after all, this country was founded on the principles of the freedom of religion. Religious freedom is fine, so long as it is genuine freedom, and not an excuse to impose the anti-scientific views of flat-Earthers and creationists in an effort to retard the advancement of American progress. It baffles me how we all agree that those who deny the existence of the moon landing, the holocaust or the American civil war are crazies who should not be listened to, yet we continue to allow people who do not believe that anything existed 10,001 years ago to make our laws and determine the fate of the nation.

What if we applied the spirit of the Hyde amendment to all laws?

Listening to C-Span today, I heard Senators Voinovich and Senator Enzi talk about how important it is to apply the Hyde Amendment (that bans federal funding for abortions) to the current Health Reform bill. They continue to say how federal monies going to abortions would compel millions of Americans to pay for things they morally oppose and it would be unfair to use their federal dollars to fund something so abhorrent to their being. While I disagree wholeheartedly with this stance vis-a-vis abortion restrictions, I started to wonder why we don't have a Hyde amendment on the military spending bills.

I was vehemently opposed to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions on the moral grounds that we would be taking the lives of hundreds or thousands of our own men and women, as well as potentially millions of Afghanis and Iraqis. Since there were millions of us opposed to the Iraq war then it seems only fair that if Senators Enzi and Voinovich get to withhold their federal tax dollars from paying for, or subsidizing plans that offer, abortions, then those of us who oppose these unnecessary wars of aggression should be likewise protected from being compelled to have our tax dollars squandered on the killing of Iraqis, Afghanis, and coalition soldiers in those countries.

Mr. Enzi speaks of safe guarding the "sanctity of human life," but is fine with snuffing out human lives half way around the world. Perhaps if the anti-abortion crowd cared for the lives of our men and women in uniform, or for the lives of the millions of civilians caught up in our bloody wars, as they do for the lives of the unborn, then maybe we wouldn't have wasted so many billions of dollars killing and being killed overseas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Newstip from a reader

Hey, I read your recent post mentioning the Stupak amendment on health care reform. I'm not sure if you've seen this, but executives at Comcast just came out in favor of reform, taking a public stance opposite of the Chamber of Commerce to which they belong:

Anyway, I thought this was something you and your readers would find interesting.

take care,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Explaining fossils to creationists just isn't worth the effort

Chants of "Socialist!", "Communist!", and "health care rationer!" abound if you turn on the news and see a Tea Bagger rally taking place. Sadly, the irony of seeing simultaneous accusations of fascism and socialism on the same posters long since ceased to be amusing. As the debate on the Health Care reform bills meanders through the Senate, like a carton of molasses spilling across a frozen pond, the opponents of bringing America's health care system in line with the rest of the developing world continue to throw in new challenges and obstacles.

Senator Nelson has stated that he would like to put forward an amendment "based on a proposal by Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). The measure would prevent the public insurance plan from covering abortion. It would also prohibit any woman who got the tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers the procedure." He has made clear that he will not vote for the bill if it does not include these restrictions. Fine! So be it. Let him go home to his 156,000 constituents in Nebraska that currently lack health insurance ( Let him tell those families, and those 35,000 uninsured children that he doesn't want them to have health insurance because someone somewhere might try to get an abortion.

The unfortunate reality is that both the Stupak amendment and any potential other anti-choice amendments that are put forward will not ultimately matter for real meaningful reform. If a single payer plan were still on the table, and this asinine ban on abortion funding would mean that large numbers of Republicans would finally start voting for their constituents' interests instead of in the interest of their next campaign contributions, then I might even be ok with it, in the hopes that it would be repealed or declared unconstitutional down the line. But to give in on the issue of choice, when the reform that is taking place is no longer even Health Care reform, but Health Insurance reform makes my stomach churn.

For the past 30 years we have had to keep fighting the same fights that were thought to have been won already. The problem isn't even with the ridiculous views of the Sarah Palins and the Sam Brownbacks who probably think the Earth was created less than 10,000 years ago. Don't get me wrong, that's a serious problem and the millions of Americans that actually believe that nonsense doesn't help our scientific standing in the world, but the real problem stems from the turncoat, traitorous, backstabbing, shortsighted Democrats like Ben Nelson. A line must be drawn! These people need to be cast out and purged. Donations to their campaigns from any DNC or President Obama supporters should come to an end, and they should be left to rot in the beds they've made.

If they have such serious qualms with the efforts to make Health Care something that all Americans experience and can afford, then they should vote no on the bill itself, but they should stop this nonsense of holding up the bill with non-filibustering filibusters. Allow it to come to a vote and VOTE NO if your conscience demands. Democratic senators, no matter their view on health care reform, should not be trying to stop the vote itself with procedural wrangling.

Finally, I wish that those fighting for meaningful change, like the great Senators from Vermont, Leahy and Sanders, could organize their allies and lash back at the disinformation machine that has confused so many Americans this past year. If opponents are concerned about rationed care or medical services being denied due to Washington bureaucrats then they should be equally upset about the "rationing" of OBGYN services through the Stupak amendment. If people are concerned about the rationing of medical care then attack the Stupak amendment as a slippery slope towards bureaucrats, and not doctors, deciding what treatments can and cannot be provided to a patient.

President Obama is supposed to have the most cunning team ever assembled to deal with "the message." If only that were actually true.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just another day as a NY State Senator

Hiram Monserrate, a now (in)famous New York State Senator who took part in the senseless coup last summer, has just been sentenced to community service and probation after cutting his girlfriend's face with a wine glass and dragging her through his building's lobby. Apparently in New York State, it is ok to slash your girlfriend's face with a wine glass, then intimidate her and her family into backing your half-baked story about her headbutting the glass that was in your hand, but it's still not ok for two women or two men to get married.

Not only does Mr. Monserrate get to avoid any possible jail time, but he has also vowed not to resign from the State Senate. While the NYS Senate is already a laughing stock after this past summer's pathetic display of childish behavior (turning off lights while opponents were speaking, bringing two gavels to the sessions, etc) the fact that they will now count among their current members a violent and abusive cretin who STABBED his girlfriend in the face with a broken wine glass.

C'mon New York! What the hell? Vote this shitbird out already. And take Pedro Espada down too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gay rights are civil rights...even if you don't approve of the lifestyle

Now that the District of Columbia has moved in the direction of expanding marriage rights equally to all people, it is time for those who have fought so valiantly all of their lives for equality to practice what they preach. While it is partially a generational issue, and partially one of culture, many of the opposition voices in Washington DC were those of longtime civil rights crusaders who made possible the legislation of the 60s. Now they are angry and offended that people are attempting to frame the battle for marriage equality in terms similar to those that they used 50 years ago.

As Christian Davenport of the Washington Post points out, some of the anger and resentment coming from the former leaders of the civil rights movement stems from some notion that homosexuality is something that can be hidden, while skin color cannot. I would have hoped that in this age we would have come to a point in our society where the goal is not simply to hide what one is to be accepted, but rather to be accepted for what we are or whatever differences exist between us.

The false sense of indignity that is being expressed by members of the black community over the comparison of gay rights and civil rights seems to be coming from the petty rejection they feel towards homosexuals. From the arguments put forth over the past few years, it seems clearer than ever that they object not because of some principled stance to preserve the honor of Black struggle, but rather they object because they just don't like gays, and that is simply not a strong enough argument to continue to deprive people of basic civil rights. Because let's be honest, that's exactly what marriage is, a civil right.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Minirets and Majority Rule Mistakes

Democracy is good and all, but there are times when democracies fall victim to the mistakes of blind majority rule. Such is the case with the recent Swiss referendum vote that prohibits the construction of minarets within the country. For those who don't know, minarets are "Minarets are generally tall spires with onion-shaped or conical crowns, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure"(wikipedia). Besides being tall spires, they are also typically found on mosques.

While we at PutridPundits wholeheartedly reject religion and religious doctrine, and see it as a blight on society that keeps the masses ignorant and docile, we neither can stand by and watch as even smaller minds pass referendums that are solely designed to intimidate and isolate an already insulated segment of society. It is exactly these types of thoughtless actions that push groups of people closer to their religious leaders; that make people embrace their foolish faith more than ever.

Much like the banning of head scarves, or the stopping of Christmas celebrations, all of these actions do nothing to free men and women of the chains of belief. They also don't make secular society any safer from the dangers of religious fundamentalism. It is too bad that the Swiss have been so short sighted on this issue, and more unfortunate still that enough people believe in fairy tales about massive floods and walking on water.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Obama's 30000 mistakes

Do not be alarmed. You have not accidentally stumbled across some ridiculous top 30000 list written by the great minds of Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. I am not going to spew out 30000 ways that Barack Obama is trying to kill your grandma and rob your paycheck. I'll leave that kind of hackish nonsense to the triumvirate of stupidity that dominate FoxNews. Instead, this is one last plea for President Obama to save his administration and his legacy from making the biggest mistake of his first term: calling for the deployment of 30000 additional American soldiers to Afghanistan.

As Jonathan Schell details in his fantastic article in the November 30th issue of The Nation, there were plenty of things that Johnson and his team knew going into the Vietnam deployments that, had the people known, should have changed the course of history in that unfortunate fiasco. It is all too likely that Obama's team of advisors are seeing a similarly pessimistic outcome from this Afghan troop deployment but for some reason, believe that it is the only way to defend against the salacious accusations that he is "soft on terror."

Democrats need to dig deep, find their balls (or lady balls where appropriate) and present a real alternative to the hawkish war mongering that has dominated this country for far too long. The most courageous step President Obama could take today, contrary to what Glenn "the weeper" Beck says, would be to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan and urge our NATO allies to do the same.

By removing foreign soldiers from Afghanistan, President Obama would deal a momentous blow to Al Qaeda and other "terrorist" recruiting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The vast majority of our "enemies" in those countries are either nationalists who are opposed to foreign occupation, mercenaries attacking the NATO forces for pay, or a mix of the two. If we removed the foreign occupier for the region then both the motivation, and the money (read Aram Roston's piece in the same issue of The Nation) would dry up.

Certainly, if someone proposes a full withdrawal some ill informed but well meaning person might scream "but what of the women?" Or someone else who recognizes that little progress has been made but still sees some women attending school and being set free from the captivity of the home might say "we can't just abandon those women who we have told to go to school." Sadly, that is exactly what we must do. Not just for our sake, or the sake of our soldiers, but for those women as well. By propping up a corrupt regime that passes laws that legalize rape and legitimize the oppression of Afghan women we are hurting the women more than most Westerners realize. Malalai Joya, who has spoken out against the current puppet government does not see any benefit for women in NATO's continued presence. As she says "Democracy never comes by occupation. You cannot give it with cluster bombs."

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Nation: How the US is funding the Taliban

Please read this article if you know anyone that still thinks we should remain in Afghanistan.

It details the corruption that exists in the doling out of DoD contracts, as well as the irony that our presence is quite literally, supplying our "enemies".

Thursday, November 19, 2009

People who throw shit for a living, may as well live in a house made of shit

Karl Rove's brave expose on the Obama administration's use of the "Friday news dump" is laughable when you consider how the administration he lied and cheated for was no stranger to the practice of dropping bad news on a Friday afternoon or evening.

Nor, for that matter is the concept of the "Friday news dump" a new discovery in any way, shape or form. One of the first episodes I remember watching of The West Wing was about exactly that, the Friday afternoon release of bad news.

So why is Rove doing this? Is it because he is a true journalist looking to uncover some fiendish plot by the present administration? No! It's because he's a scum sucking dirtbag who is not only a hack for the conservative agenda but is himself crafting that agenda. What he does is not in the interest of informing the public, or even sharing his opinions. His objective is to drum up opposition to President Obama any way he can, by saying anything, and doing everything, whether he believes it or not.

This is the biggest problem with the way that hacks for all parties and interests have been working these days. Perhaps this was always the case, but it seems to me that a very large number of mouthpieces on all sides have been saying a lot of crap they clearly don't personally believe, but pretend that they do, in the hopes of influencing the dumb public that doesn't bother to pay any attention to the issues at hand. I would like to see more open and honest debate of the issues so that those too busy, tired, or uninformed can still make decent decisions.

Instead of opposing health care reform on the basis that it will hurt Medicare (a program that you probably have opposed at every turn until now), speak your mind and be honest that you are happy to see millions of Americans die of easily preventable causes if they cannot afford insurance premiums and copays to get the treatments they need, all so that the richest 1% can keep those extra billions from the tax man.

How about, instead of running in circles screaming "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" because we might have a deficit from some responsible social spending, you take a look at your own record and all the deficits you helped create by launching 2 wars and giving sweetheart deals to your buddies' companies. If deficits are so important to you, why do you keep voting for supplemental spending bills that drive it up higher?

And when you huff and puff all day about the sanctity of life and try to restrict and abolish access to abortions, but then cheer when a lunatic kills a doctor, or don't give the million plus lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan a second thought, you sound ridiculous.

So shut your trap Karl, and quit calling people out for the same shit that you pulled during Bush's eight years in the oval office.

Monday, November 16, 2009

If you don't like abortions then don't get one

Now that the massive Health Reform bill is shaping up to be something everyone can hate, the anti-choicers are clearly overdue for a smackdown. Unfortunately due to that magical mix of cowardice and inaction that have become the Democrats' rallying call, it's looking like women's reproductive rights are about to get backhanded into last century.

While an LA Times OP-ED downplays the notion that the Stupak Amendment is a total victory for the anti-choice forces, it still points out that "it's undeniable that the amendment threatens the availability of insurance coverage for elective abortions for the working poor and lower middle class." By accepting this amendment into the final bill, Congress will be stripping those strata of society the ability to receive an abortion, while keeping it within reach of the wealthy.

People across the nation should be outraged by this, even if they are afflicted with a crippling mental defect that prohibits logic and reason from taking root (religious belief), by its very class oriented approach at limiting medical services. Supposing various other groups decided to take this approach to the health care reform bill, there are a whole range of other medical procedures and services that could be whittled out.

Those that eat healthy and exercise regularly might not see any good reason for plans receiving federal money to be providing care for heart surgeries, diabetes, or other ailments related to an unhealthy lifestyle. Similarly, the argument could be made that smokers should have to pay for any lung cancer treatments out of pocket as well. Perhaps lobbyists for women's issues should request that funding for prostate cancer come directly from the patients as well. Equally absurd as the "abortion rider" being proposed would be "drug rehab rider", or a "mental health supplemental" because they are all things that one doesn't plan for.

What's even more troubling to those of us who actually want real reform that produces an environment of universal access to health care (not insurance) is that these provisions are being placed in the bill under the auspices of winning over votes from across the aisle. But like previous attempts to reach out the opposition, this isn't going to succeed in getting more than a handful of Republican votes, some of whom would have voted for the reform without the amendment. It's time for the Democrats to start acting like, as former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones put it, "assholes" so that they can get shit done. It is a disheartening slap to the face that President Bush with 51 seats in the Senate was able to get so much regressive legislation passed but President Obama with 59-60 "fellow" Democrats can't get the most basic of progressive initiatives passed.

The fact remains that the only reason to put these restrictions into the bill isn't because Stupak and his friends are terrified that some of their income tax dollars are somehow going to end up paying for someone's abortion, but because they want to see abortions outlawed/banned/discontinued altogether. They are exercising their cunning right now in how they go about that, and they realize that by removing the funding for it there will likely be a drop in women's ability to have an abortion.

My answer to them remains the same. If you don't like pot, don't smoke it. If you don't like alcohol, don't drink it. If you don't want an abortion, then don't get one. By giving women the option to have a safe, affordable abortion, it is in no way forcing one on those that do not want them. Organizations like NARAL aren't planning to kidnap Mrs. Stupak and force her to have an abortion so it would be really nice if Mr. Stupak could get over himself and his beliefs that were conceived in an age when people thought that the universe revolved around the Earth and those that were able to swim were witches.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And the winner is...the only guy running

(I started writing this 2 weeks ago and got side-tracked)

So depending on who's shoveling shit into your ear, today was either a great day for Afghan democracy, or just another example of business as usual in the weary war-torn country. Today's acceptance speech by President-until-NATO-kicks-him-out Hamid Karzai marks another sad page in Afghanistan's painful, bitter history. It shows the retreat of what could have been a meaningful foreign policy decision by the NATO powers vis-a-vis the endemic corruption that permeates the Afghan political community. Instead, we all get to sit back and watch as the status quo remains the same and the corrupt flunkies that caused the initial snafu are allowed to keep their jobs.

Remember that this all began with the elections in August in which there was so much wide-spread voter fraud that some of the ballots for Hamid Karzai were still in their original ballot booklets. And don't forget the imaginary polling places that never opened their doors to the voting public but still managed to rack up thousands upon thousands of votes for President Karzai.

Despite many people's claims that Karzai is a puppet of the West, it's even worse than that. If he were our puppet and he did what we told him, there would be some arguments to justify the complete perversion of our imposed democratic system over there in the interests of calm, stability, and development. But he isn't even our puppet. He's the puppet of the drug growing rapists who run Aghanistan today and that's one of the few things that could be even worse than if he were a Western puppet.

In the past year we have seen the Afghan parliament come up with laws that allow for husbands to withhold food from wives who withhold sex. We have seen President Karzai pardon a group of powerful elites who somehow managed to find themselves convicted of rape (something that is extremely difficult to convict someone of in Afghanistan). We have seen an escalation in NATO and civilian deaths and yet the British and the American leaders are still talking about "how many" more troops to deploy in the region as opposed to "why are we in the region?"

The best possible course of action for the Afghan people, and the NATO soldiers who are dying or being wounded trying to do what their leaders tell them is the right thing to do, is for NATO to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately. It does not appear that Karzai's government has any interest in curbing corruption or correcting the misogyny that exists in their laws and so it does not seem fitting for us to stay there. The presence of Western soldiers in Afghanistan creates a recruiting bonanza for terrorist groups and inevitably leads to more civilian casualties, which further undermines any stabilizing missions our soldiers are undertaking.

As the FoxNews Opiniontainment says over and over again, where's the Hope and Change you promised us Mr. President? Change course from the Bush/Cheney policies in Aghanistan and give the world hope in a new American foreign policy; one that isn't stained with blood.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Health Care

The Wall Street Journal ran an article today about the health insurance industry's lack of support for the present health care bill that passed through Max "the giant coward" Baucus' finance committee earlier this month. Surprise, surprise, the health insurance industry is fearing that their excessive profits in caring for Americans' healthcare needs might shrink. Smart Democrats (if any exist) need to respond to this with renewed calls for a Single Payer system or, at the very least, a fully developed public option. Stop allowing the health insurance industry to hold a gun to America's doctors, hospitals, and people.

Frankly, seeing the insurance industry's reaction to the Baucus plan makes me think that the Baucus plan might actually be better than I initially thought. After all, if they don't like, then it must be doing something right. We need the principled members of Congress now more than ever to step forward, and stand up for a Single Payer system. And if opportunists like Senator Burris want to hop along on for the ride, great! But it's time to put the cards down on the table and see which Democrats want to be the ones to go down in Senate history for standing with the insurance companies, against the American people and President Obama, for a procedural filibuster against a Single Payer plan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Most Americans can't learn from past mistakes

A headline caught my eye this morning. It was from the Associated Free Press' reporting on a recent survey that found that "Most Americans see Afghan fight worth US bloodshed". This seemed a little surprising to me as you would think that since most Americans finally have the grey matter to realize that invading Iraq, killing more than a million Iraqis, spending trillions of dollars, and losing thousands of American and coalition lives was a mistake, they would also be able to see what a boondoggle the mission in Afghanistan is.

Upon further reading of the poll, it becomes more clear why the results are what they are. The question wasn't really "is the Afghan fight worth more US bloodshed" but was in fact asked how many "are willing to have American soldiers 'fight and possibly die' to eliminate the threat of terrorists operating from Afghanistan." To the passerby this might seem like the same thing, but I bet if the question were rephrased to something more likely, such as how many "are willing to have American soldiers 'fight and possibly die' to keep trying to eliminate the threat of terrorists operating from Afghanistan without any certainty of victory" we'd probably have some very different survey results.

Even as someone opposed to the Afghan mission long before it was such a cool thing to do, I might say sure, if you can promise me total victory in Afghanistan (flourishing democracy, no terrorism, no insurgency, no violence against women, no more poverty, 711s, Wa-was, and Tim Horton's on every street corner) then maybe it's worth some American lives. For all the above mentioned items I might even say it's worth 500,000 American and coalition lives. But that's not what's going to happen. Not even close.

Instead, we are going to see another 10-20,000 NATO soldiers killed over the next decade or so as President Obama foolishly takes ownership of one of W's hubris inspired military blunders and submits to the never ending requests for supplemental troops, equipment, and money that will be required to sustain (not win) the conflict in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the hawks back home will lament our deficits in explaining why we cannot have universal healthcare or decent educational funding and they'll continue to piss away our soldiers and our treasury.

We must end the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, no matter what a cunningly worded survey question shows because at the end of the day, there can be no victory for an occupying country except withdrawal. Vietnam is a great example of this problem. Granted, Ameircan soldiers could have stayed in Vietnam for another 20 years. They could have butchered another 3 million Southeast Asians, and lost another 60,000 American soldiers. They could have pissed away trillions more dollars in bombs and upkeep, and shot a few more protesters at college campuses, but in the end, it was by leaving Vietnam that allowed that country to develop itself into the capitalism loving, wheeling and dealing people that they were always meant to be.

Perhaps Afghanistan is different, and it will descend into chaos and bloodshed if NATO forces leave, but it is doing that anyway, so why should NATO, and specifically America, play any role in contributing to that downward spiral? It's time to bring the troops home...all of them.

Fuck you McChrystal!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Max Baucus = corrupt coward

Since I believe in giving credit where credit is due, here is a great blog I found about what a stupid corrupt coward Max Baucus is.

That being said, Max Baucus is not only a corrupt coward, but a stupid corrupt coward because his actions today, or should I say inaction, that killed the public option in the health reform bill as it lurched its way through the Senate finance committee, will be the rallying call for Republicans in 2010 and 2012.

I think it was best enunciated during the Kerry v Bush battle of 2004. Why vote for Bush-lite when you can get the genuine article? By trying to appeal to conservative voters, democrats are throwing away their opportunity to show how they differ from their Republican rivals. If your campaign is based upon "hey look how conservative I can be while still calling myself a Democrat" your constituents are bound to say "well shit, why don't I just throw my hat in with the really conservative guy."

Bottom line, this will hurt you Max. And it will hurt President Obama. And it will hurt the 45 million who do not have health insurance. And it will hurt the 260 million who have our messy, complicated, and fragile health insurance. Hopefully enough other Democrats will realize this mistake and fight for a Single Payer, or at the very least, the Public Option.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Afghanistan: How many is enough?

The New York Times is reporting that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has said "success in Afghanistan would probably require more troops and certainly much more time". I would like him to be honest with Congress, the administration and the public and say exactly how many more troops, and how much more time he thinks it will take for "success".

Frankly, I am of the belief that matter how many more sons and daughters America and NATO decide to sacrifice in Afghanistan, there can never be "success" as I would define it, and I doubt that most people would consider what Mike Mullen is calling "success", truly successful. This brings us to the issue of what is success in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan? What does it look like? Does anyone really believe that if we send another 100,000 or another 500,000 or even another 1,000,000 NATO soldiers to Afghanistan that it will transform the country into a Western style democracy where the biggest problems are which intern the President may have "not had sexual relations with"?

And if we are to have any trust in these generals, admirals and other military commanders, then they should say exactly how many more troops they need and for how long. Instead, we see them making their requests in a political framework, asking for 10-20,000 troops at a time. This is dishonest and erodes the public trust as well as prolongs these conflicts. It seems astonishing to me that all these military officials, who probably served during the Viet Nam war would still be unable to grasp the concept that America is not good at occupying other countries.

From the day American troops entered Afghanistan and Iraq it seemed to me that we were just beginning a countdown (or a countup of bodies) until the troops would have to be pulled out and the world would agree that the missions were giant failures and gross expenditures of lives and treasure.

If anyone believes that another 30,000 or even 300,000 troops in Afghanistan will truly achieve "success" then have I got some real nice shorefront property to sell you on Baffin Island.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Health Care

Since I haven't written anything in a long time, I just felt the need to get something out here. Let me begin with the Health Care debate that has been raging for over a month now.

For starters, there isn't really a Health Care debate. What there is, sadly, is a Health Insurance debate because the Democrats are too cowardly, the Republicans too crafty, and the American people too stupid to really fix this problem. What we need, first and foremost, is a single payer system for the entire country. Every legal resident of the country should be covered for any necessary medical procedures. Doctors should be reimbursed by a Government controlled agency funded by tax dollars.

No other system proposed would be able to fully cover the entire country as efficiently or as effectively as a single payer system. Today, dozens of insurance companies spend tons of money on redundant paperwork and advertising that would be unnecessary under a government run system. There would also be far less paperwork for the doctors and nurses who waste countless healthcare hours filling out forms to get approval to run tests.

The notion that people don't want the government to come between them and their doctors is ludicrous, not only because we are happy to let the government come between us and a fire, or between us and a criminal, but also because it seems to imply that there is no one between you and your doctor today. Wake up America, that's the insurance company. I would be surprised to find someone who did not have a first hand account, or a close family member with one, about how an insurance company prevented them from getting the treatments they needed without overly complicated paperwork and telephone calls.

As Dr. Dean said, there is virutally no one out there saying we should get rid of Medicare, so why is there so much opposition to expanding Medicare to all Americans? That is what a single payer system would be. It would be a form of Medicare or VA healthcare for all Americans in every hospital.

It is just such a sad thing to see so many people fooled and misinformed about the Health Care reforms facing the country. Sadder still that Senator Kennedy, who fought so long and so valiantly for a single payer health care system, did not manage to live to see it become a reality.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scary Shit

While I hate to help spread anything Glenn Beck has ever said, the conversation, and I use the word conversation loosely, he has with an intelligent and thoughtful caller from Massachusetts who challenged his assertions about health care outlines everything that's wrong with people like him.

What pork really looks like

The next time you hear some blowhard say how there isn't enough money in the budget for health care, education or other programs that benefit society as a whole, just mention the F-22. Despite the administration's requests to cut the massive spending (we're talking many billions of dollars) Congress continues to try and slip in more purchases of the F-22 fighters to appease their corporate campaign donors. Enough is enough. Call your Congressmen and Senator's offices and demand that they not fund the F-22 and instead fund something that truly matters to the American public.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


For the past month, citizens of the Empire state have had to watch as their state senate ground to halt thanks to the bumbling power grab by State Senator Pedro Espada.

For those who haven't been following, Pedro Espada and girlfriend stabbing senator Hiram Monserrate departed from the Democrat caucus in the beginning of June and joined the Republicans reversing the 32-30 majority that the Democrats controlled. This led to the month long battle between the two parties and "accidental" Governor Paterson.

Thankfully it has since been resolved with both morons returning to the Democratic caucus and allowing legislation to resume, but not before jeopardizing the budgets of numerous municipalities as well as wasting New York state tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars in state senate salaries and expenses.

Now, the turn coat has been appointed Majority Leader of the party he abandoned. While I am glad that this impasse has been cleared it churns my stomach to think that this fool actually came out ahead in all of this. I hope that when his term is up, the good people of New York's 33rd district have the good sense to bump him out of there and replace him with someone who cares more about his constituents than about senate titles.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thank you Portugal

Just saw a report on BBC America about Portugal's experiments in decriminalizing ALL drugs. That's right, ALL drugs. And while they had been warned by some that decriminalizing drugs would lead to massive increases in drug use and the potential for a new boom in "drug tourism" none of that has come to happen. In fact drug related deaths and illnesses have decreased and there has been no noticeable increase in drug use. Now, people who need treatment to break their addictions are able to get it and those unable or unwilling to get treatment can at least get clean needles and other services previously unavailable to drug addicts due to the legal issues with associated with providing such services for an illegal activity.

I hope that other countries will realize the folly in keeping drug use a criminal offense and begin to save on the tremendous amount of money and time that is wasted on waging "drug wars" against their own citizens.

Friday, June 26, 2009

If only conservatives really cared about conservation

Liz Peek demonstrates in her diatribe "Can the Climate Control Zealots In Congress Be Stopped?" Republicans and Conservatives in America are still acting as if we have a choice in the climate-change arena. As if we can just close our eyes, block our ears and put clothespins on our noses and everything will be ok.

What they all miss whenever they talk about how much all of these programs aimed at curtailing our use of fossil fuels, breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and creating jobs and whole industries for America is the hidden figure: what it will cost us if we do nothing.

You cannot fix this massive problem of climate change, energy overuse and America's crumbling industrial sector without a healthy infusion of spending and planning. We need for America to get back on her feet with innovative new industrial sectors that will create jobs, here in America. We also need to curtail the wasteful use of fuel in this country, that has stemmed from the relatively low prices Americans pay at the pump (compared to other industrialized nations).

To do this, we need to make sure there are provisions so that the most vulnerable among us will still be able to get to work and afford the necessities in spite of much needed raises in fuel prices. They can call these tax credits, to appease the Republicans, or they can call these fuel stipends or they can call them fairy godmother gas checks, so long as people at or below a certain level (probably 3-4 times the poverty level would suffice) can receive government money to cover the increase in prices at the pump and for groceries by taking part of the tax revenue generated through carbon caps.

Liz Peek and her friends at FoxNews have tried for years to feed Americans the same lie over and over again that climate change isn't real, or that it's not as bad as people say, or that it's inevitable. Hopefully Americans are waking up to the fact that it is real, it is here now, and unless we do something about it, we will pay a far bigger price that what President Obama has so far proposed.

If there is anything to criticize in this Energy Bill it is that it does not go far enough and that industry has already meddled too much in its formulation and drafting, to the point where it will not be as effective as a truly transformational energy bill should be, but I don't think Liz has any problem with that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson and Ahmedinejad

A friend of mine has already written the next episode of South Park. Here's how it goes down:

Kyle and Stan uncover a secret plot by Iranian President Ahmedinejad to distract America from the Iranian election protests by injecting Michael Jackson with toxins that induce a heart attack, knowing that if someone as iconic as the King of pop were to die suddenly America will be wrapped up in news coverage of Jackson and his life for the next week and won't spend so much time talking about the protests and the suppression of the protesters in Tehran.

Also, Cartman tries to blame the jews for Jackson's death.

Iran Election Pt 3

I have been a bit cautious with regards to jumping into the Iranian election debate for fear of overreacting as the rest of the Western media seems to have. In the words of an Iranian who did vote for Ahmedinejad "there has been no fraud at all." While I still profess that I do not know if there was or wasn't fraud committed, and if there was fraud committed by whom was it committed or attempted, but I think that as things calm down we will see that there are more and more people like Mustafa who voted with their conscience and hope that their candidate prevails.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's official! No hot dogs and fireworks for Iran!

After seeing David Axelrod deservedly make Wolf Blitzer look like the moron that he is for asking "given the events in Iran, will the Iran ambassadors still be invited to US Embassies for July 4th festivities?" I was surprised to see Bill O'Reilly feature what he believed to be the high light of a Presidential press briefing in which Major Garrett asked the exact same question.

How pathetic and small minded of a journalist do you have to be to ask such a stupid questions as to whether or not Iran officials will still be invited to July 4th parties? Well, thanks to Wolf Blitzer and Major Garrett we now know.

Even sadder than their wasting of precious question time with the President and a senior advisor we now have confirmation from the Associated Free Press that in fact, they have been disinvited.

Take that Iran! Crack down on your people and we won't let you have hot dogs, cheese burgers. Worst of all, you're going to miss out on hearing Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood's newest album.

Victory in Iraq

For the past week I have been seeing death tolls related to bombing attacks in Iraq. Throughout all the hubbub being made over the Iranian election have we forgotten about that country with almost the same spelling to the west that we invaded? With all of the media reports a few months ago to the tune of "victory at hand" have we really started to believe it?

If so, this is what Victory looks like.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran's election Pt 2 - Just because I'm paranoid...

While I do not condone the violence being committed in the streets of Tehran, I cannot help but question what role Western intelligence agencies and their proxies are playing in the protests and chaos that has erupted since the election results were first announced. Obviously the United States and the British have said that they have nothing to do with the protests in Tehran but lying about clandestine activities would really be par for the course at this point.

If we summon the courage to look back at America's clandestine activities over the past century destabilizing and supplanting governments around the world (many of them democratically elected) I'm sure that at the time spokespeople said the same thing and pretended that the activities that were taking place in foreign capitals were organic movements with no help or direction from CIA agents and assets.

Sadly, violence in Iran is exactly what the CIA and the Western governments would love to see, and if it can look like angry students calling for democracy then all the better. Therefore it is completely understandable, while not pardonable, that the Iranian authorities would see the present demonstrations and protests as simply an arm of the American intelligence machine, seeking to destabilize their government in ways outlined by leaked memos over a year ago.

So while Ahmedinejad's government may be paranoid, that doesn't mean MI6 and the CIA aren't out to get him.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran Election Pt 1

I'm going to write something about this non-stop manufactured consent that is taking place in America at this moment with regards to the recent Iranian election. For those of you who have been bombarded by the relentless screeches of "fraud" and "stolen election" here are some articles that might help immunize you to the coercive journalism that is filling the air.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Give us Single Payer now!

President Obama, ladies and gentlemen of Congress, I impore you, give the American people a single payer health care plan now! How can anyone honestly frame an argument that a system run for people by the people, without a need to earn profit, can possibly cost the tax payers more than a system that is driven to maximize profits at the expense of health care services?

I laugh every time I see one of those "we have government health care and it's bad" ads on television because for every person that organization can find that talks about being denied treatment or long wait times, I'm sure Michael Moore could find 100, or even 1000 who were denied necessary treatments due to decisions made by unaccountable bureaucrats working for the big health insurance companies and HMOs. Have Americans really already forgotten their own experiences with privately run health insurance? Are Americans really so foolish as to believe those scary recordings by Ronald Reagan about the government shipping your doctor to another town?

Take a look at Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Scandanavia, or any other developed nation and you will see a health care system that not only provides excellent coverage for the people, but does so for far less per person than our broken system. I will always give the GOP and the conservative lie-machine a tremendous amount of credit for consistently tricking the masses of this country into supporting policies that negatively affect them, while propping up the big, corrupt, corporations that those "ordinary joe" politicians pretend to oppose.

Don't get me wrong, the democrats are not perfect on this issue and have caved in to so much of the conservative pressure that the result is a center/right of center initiative that will likely be labelled by the stars at Fox News as "the most socialist and/or liberal proposal ever put before the American people." When you hear Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich say these words, and they will, it's not because they've analyzed the plan and researched previous initiatives and came to that conclusion. It is solely because they believe that using that language will once again trick the American public to oppose something that is demonstrably in their best interest.

Another Computer Hazard: Not knowing what the hell you're talking about

Another Computer Hazard: Dropping It On Your Foot

Of the many dangers listed that stem from computer usage, the ignorant author states "...lacerations from the sharp corners of a CPU...". Really? From the sharp corners of a CPU? Does the author, who could not be more appropriately named (her name is Tiffany), even know what a CPU is? For her information, the CPU is the Central Processing Unit, which is one of those tiny little components tucked into the motherboard and unlikely to lacerate someone unless they are taking the computer apart and then stabbing themselves, forcefully, with the processor. What she is referring to, of course, is the computer case. Sadly, the case is often mistakenly referred to as the "CPU" by people who think that's an abbreviation for "computer", or the "hard drive" by people who have learned over time that their hard drive is inside of the case.

Well done Tiffany, taking another courageous step away from disproving stereotypes about women and technology.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pro-Life...unless that life differs politcally

I've been wanting to write about the death of Doctor George Tiller for some time now, and I've probably missed the boat as far as saying something that hasn't already been said given how fast our news cycles move these days, but I still feel it is important for as many voices as possible to denounce this heinous killing of, as Jeremy Scahill said on Real Time with Bill Maher, "a provider of women's health care." Despite having always been of the belief that women must have the right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy without any pre-conditions or constraints, it was really upon reading John Irving's The Cider House Rules that cemented that belief that for this country to truly be considered free, women need to have full control of their own bodies and there need to be doctors able to perform these operations in modern, safe, and hygenic environments.

The fallacy of the pro-life movement is that even if abortion is banned outright throughout the 50 states, that does not mean that abortion will end as a practice. What will happen instead, is that abortion will be pushed underground and performed by people without the training, or the professional conduct of today's ob-gyns who perform these procedures. Anyone who claims to care about life should be appalled at the possibility of America's return to the days of back-alley abortion clinics and other horrors of our oh so glorious past.

As has been reported by any journalist worth their paycheck (of which there are fewer and fewer every day) no providers of women's health care are taking women who are 9 months pregnant and giving them a late-term abortion. In the United States less than 2% of all abortions were conducted after the 21st week of gestation, and an estimated figure from 1997 suggests that less than 1% were done after the 27th week. For those bothering to listen to the doctors who perform these abortions, it becomes clear that these are done not because the patient suddenly feels like taking a trip to Europe and doesn't want a baby along, but are done because of some very serious health problems with the fetus or a potential danger to the mother.

The "right-to-life" movement has been sickeningly been pretending to denounce the death of Dr. Tiller while in the same breath excusing it because of his willingness to perform abortions. This deceptive double-speak is mostly to blame for the crazies like Scott Roeder who actually go out and commit these atrocities. And while I believe that we need the inalienable rights of free speech in this country, I think it is false, and disingenuous for those spewing the most hateful and uncompromising vitriol to pretend that the death Dr. Tiller, and the terror it spreads among women seeking abortions or doctors providing health care to women, isn't exactly what they want to see happen.

While I disagree with many of the terror statutes being used to hold prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base, or any of the other black sites the CIA has, Mr. Roeder is the textbook definition of a terrorist and should be shipped out to one of those facilities. In his Falwell/Robertson/Limbaugh/O'Reilly motivated killing of Dr. Tiller, he has killed more Americans than many of the detainees in Gitmo over did and he has terrorized more people than Omar Khadr, the last remaining westerner still held at Camp X-ray.

Americans need to stop being fooled by monikers. Focus on the Family and the American Family Association don't give a shit about families. The Patriot Act isn't patriotic. Pro-lifers do not care about life or they would work harder at making things better for the lives that are already here on this earth rather than focusing all of their energies on the lives that do not yet exist.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Peace in the Middle East Part 1 - Stopping Israeli Settlement Construction

There has been a lot of talk lately, of the Obama administration's conflict with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the issue of settle construction in the West Bank. The most irritating thing about this entire discussion is the ease with which the Obama administration could put an end to settlement construction if they really wanted to. It is cases like this that prove that America is not some independent arbitrator between the Israeli and Palestinian people. America has so much leverage over the Israeli government that it is blatantly disingenuous for an American President to ever claim that despite trying everything possible Israel will not relent on some issue, whether that issue is bombing civilians in the Gaza strip, or building illegal settlements in the West Bank.

In 2007 alone, America gave Israel more than two and a half billion (with 9 zeros) dollars, most of which was in the form of military aid. If President Obama really wants the settlement construction halted, all he would need to do is tell Mr. Netanyahu that America will not give another penny in military aid until the settlement construction stops completely. In fact, this tactic could be used, if the President truly wanted peace, to finally establish a two state solution to the Israeli debacle. The fact that no President has ever threatened to stop the copious amounts of American tax payer dollars that go to Israel, every single year, shows the lack of will in America for peace in the middle east.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ugly, inside and out

Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage - a nasty group opposed to gay marriage (but apparently fine with being really ugly).

C'mon New York - be better than California

I couldn't decide whether to write about the gay marriage storm that's brewing in New York at the moment, or the tragic death of Dr. George Tiller, a brave man who provided professional medical services to women in need. As you may have guessed by the title of this post, I'll take a stab at the gay marriage issue in New York first, and maybe later post about Dr. Tiller's untimely death.

Both subjects, however, show the need for us, as humans, to divorce ourselves from these cave dwelling superstitions we call religion. If not for the primitive "need" of so many people to believe in physics defying feats, whether they be burning bushes that produce no heat, or people walking on top of water, then Dr. George Tiller would likely still be alive today, and the gay marriage opposition would have died long ago.

The more the issue is discussed in the media, the more we are shown the faces of opposition like that of New York's Maggie Gallagher and her "National Organization for Marriage." Like all innocent sounding political action groups, this is not a pro-marriage organization since it seeks to limit marriage and does nothing to protect marriages that exist today. While it would be easy to rest of the fact that she is an objectively ugly person who holds ugly ideas, what needs to be focused on are those ugly ideas.

In their most recent television ad NOM once again employs the tried and trusted tactic of trying to scare heterosexual couples, particularly parents, about what their kids might learn in school. This is a truly repulsive message disguised as protecting a parent's rights with regards to their children's education. The notion that it is wrong to teach children to accept homosexuals or same-sex marriage is no better than complaining if they are taught racial tolerance in school. If a teacher takes the time to show students that there are people of many different races and cultures, it doesn't mean that they are advocating their students to change their race or culture. So why do these people think that if their children are taught to tolerate homosexuals it's going to magically make them all run out and become gay?

The most obvious answer might lie in the types of people who are most adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage or homosexuality to begin with. Since so many prominent opponents to the rights of gays have themselves been shown to be closeted homosexuals, like Senator Larry Craig, perhaps the anger towards same-sex marriage, and fear of its toleration stem from those "family values" organizations' members uncertainty with regards to their own orientation. It seems to me that whenever you see the spokespeople for these groups on CNN or FoxNews, they're always speaking about same-sex marriage or homosexuality as if the only thing keeping them from running off to an airport bathroom stall or taking up permanent residence in San Francisco is their devotion to Christianity.

I really hope that the New York State legislature, aided by Governor Patterson's realization that he's not getting another term, will allow this initiative to succeed and New York can be the 6th state to legalize same-sex marriage and the 2nd to do so through the legislature and not just the courts. What the opponents of same-sex marriage legislation don't seem to understand, or don't care to think about, is that the same arguments they are using today to oppose the marriage between two men or two women, is so similar to the language used to prevent blacks from entering certain restaurants, or bi-racial couples to marry. The fact that they cannot see the line of history they are on is sad, not only for them, but I would imagine it will be a point of shame for their descendants since being the children or grandchildren of bigots cannot be a pleasant experience.

Finally, I am grossly dissappointed with President Obama for maintaining his view that he is ok with civil unions but not same-sex marriage. As a lawyer, he should know that the two terms carry a different status with regards to federal and state benefits for couples. While a same-sex domestic partnership may grant you the same benefits as married people in one particular state, that may not carry over to another state, nor will federal benefits be awarded to couples with civil unions.

The answer seems obvious. Make all state and federal unions between two people, whether they be same or opposite sex, into civil unions, and allow the churches, synagogues, mosques or house of superstition safeguard the word "marriage." Until we can all get past this attachment to believing in things no more ridiculous than a spaghetti monster, these archaic teachings will continue to divide us based on the ridiculous principles dreamed up over 2000 years ago.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Montreal Gazette editors finally print my comment

Because my first attempt to comment on this article has been censored I am posting it here.

1. Technology has increased a great deal since 1994 so the cost savings associated with networked parking meters etc would have been realized by a city controlled parking infrastructure similarly to a private one.

2. The author does not list any of the rates from 1994 or the rates from today. More than likely it is this difference more than any other that accounts for the increased revenues.

3. What do these increased revenues mean for the small businesses that rely on customers driving to their stores? It's a little bit difficult to bring your desktop computer to a store for repairs on your bike.

4. Instead of just giving the readers a he said/she said between Stationnement de Montreal and the researchers, why not investigate and then tell us which figure (1.6 or 20 cents per dollar) is the correct (or closer to the correct) amount?

I must say I am slightly disappointed with this article as it is a subject that should be of more interest to people but the important questions are not asked, much less answered.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

As crafty as they are...

From the sidelines one can almost admire the efficacy and the cunning that the flapping lips of the Conservative movement (since no one but Colin Powell still calls themselves Republicans anymore) have when attacking the Progressives' agenda. It conjures up a feeling, if only for a second, of awe and even a little bit of jealousy as you ponder what might be if Harry Reid lashed out with even 1/10 of the vigor and passion that Karl Rove seems to expend on his porcelain throne before going on FoxNews. But alas, that's one of the big differences that exist within our two party system.

Certainly, without any doubt, the Conservative attack machine is always fueled up and ready to go, waiting with bated breath for a signal, or an order to come down the Rove/Limbaugh/Hannity bat-phone and announce who the day's target shall be. As it turned out yesterday, the target was Sonia Sotomayor, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judge that President Obama has just nominated to replace Justice Souter upon his retirement. It was no surprise to see Karl Rove jump out in front and begin his typical attempt of labeling her "a liberal". Truth be told, I wouldn't even mind all this incessant labeling if it was even remotely accurate. The sad truth of the matter is that most of the people FoxNews and friends label as being "unabashed liberals" are really Liberals in the Phil Ochsian definition, meaning that they are unabashed moderates.

Consider this Supreme Court nominee and her history. While the one case that Sean Hannity harped on for half of his show on Tuesday focused on a decision to allow a fire department in Connecticut to choose to not promote anyone in favor of only promoting white firefighters, that's not that earth shattering of a decision since all she did was affirm the lower court's decision in the case.

You would think that if they really cared about Liberal vs. Conservative issues, they would be happy to have Sotomayor given her likely views on abortion, but that's not even what's at stake for the GOP. Better for them to attack her as a Liberal and have it established that yes, she is a Liberal, so that the next person they talk about will seem really liberal in the eyes of the public. The game they are playing is redrawing the lines and trying to move the "moderate" line to the right...and sadly, it's working.

Pundit after putrid pundit on the cable news programs use terms like "unabashed liberal," "out spoken liberal," and "established liberal" when discussing Judge Sotomayor and they go completely unchallenged by anyone out there. If she is those things, what does that make someone like Dennis Kucinich who is one of the only true Progressivs in Congress? And if she is so far the left as they claim, does that make Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), with his record of supporting torture and opposing voting rights initatives, a moderate? It is this kind of rightward shift in the public perception of our political battlefield that allowed John McCain to pretend to be a moderate republican. Truth of the matter is, moderate republicans like Jim Jeffords (Vermont) and Arlen Spector (Pennsylvania) have been forced out of the GOP and the ones that remain (Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) may not last much longer.

Personally, I hope this whole nomination of Judge Sotomayor is Obama's Harriet Myers, albeit far more qualified. It's not that I don't think she'd be a fine Supreme Court Justice, but given the Bush appointments of Alito and Roberts, and the current makeup of the Senate, now seems like the perfect opportunity to seize the day and put on the bench a young, progressive, healthy justice who might break William O. Douglas' record for longest serving member of the Court.
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