Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Reef made of condoms

A huge floating reef made up of millions of disposed condoms
has been discovered in the mid Pacific. The condom mass is
two miles long, up to sixty feet deep, and in places so
tightly compressed that a small plane could be landed on it.
The mass was discovered by the Australian Oceanographic
Laboratory Outpost on Macquarie Island in the South Pacific.
Scientists there explained that the accumulation, which
consists almost exclusively of condoms, is explained by a
principle of physics called 'like aggregation.' Like
aggregation is caused by the massing of similar objects due
to ocean currents and winds, the response of the objects to
the earth's magnetic field, and other factors.
The tendency of dust to clump and mass in a house or under a
bed is explained by the same principle.
The Australian scientists are mapping the reef by satellite
because it is a serious marine hazard. The world disposes of
an estimated 300 million condoms a year."

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day observation

Back from a relaxing trip to the mountains, I am catching up on news. No WiFi in the wilderness, so I'm a couple of days behind.

Seeing as how we are at "war," and the news hasn't been so good lately, I fully expected the headlines to be saturated with Bush praising/gushing/thanking our armed forces.

Well, I was wrong. He's scheduled to lay a wreath at Arlington, but no statement; no speech; no words of comfort to a nation bleeding young men and women everyday in a war we were lied into. Why?

Maybe he thinks it's better not to call attention to it.

Maybe he would feel like a twit, since he cowardly shirked his own obligation to serve our country.

Maybe he has a really important golf game.

Whatever the reason, on this day when we honor those 'who served so we may be "free"' I ask you to look to the silence and ask yourself, WHY?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Raoul

A slight diversion from the fair, balanced, middle of the road politics we usually preach on here. Recall friends that this was at one time a nostalgia blog where all from JC could come together to relive otherwise supressed memories. With that in mind, I have, at great personal hardship and expense, located the artist formerly known as Raoul. He lives and breaths, despite what the "Government" would have us believe. Further I have sent to him the location of this blog, and did so with the hope that he might join us here. As you will no doubt recall he was a fine writer at one time, back when he knew the meaning of a hard days work and would do most anything to avoid it. He was a journalist that believed the pen was mightier than the sword, until one fateful day that this axiom was tested with the result of ink flying everywhere and no noticeable damage to the sword.

Frodo Failed

Great bumper sticker out there --

Frodo Failed
Bush has the ring

stampandshout.com

teach your children RIGHT! Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs

(everyday seems to bring another cultural outrage. this one should make anyone in East Tennessee feel like they live in Sweden -- brook)

Indiana Judge: Parents can't teach non-mainstream religious beliefs

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to 'non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.

'The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

99% of "Christians" Giving All the Others a Bad Name

N.C. pastor stands by sign saying the Koran should be flushed.

FOREST CITY, N.C. -- A Baptist minister refuses to apologize for a church sign saying the Muslim holy book should be flushed.

"I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," said the Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."

Seema Riley, a Muslim born in Pakistan and reared in New York, said she moved to Rutherford County, about 60 miles west of Charlotte, for the "small-town friendly" atmosphere.

The church sign reading, "The Koran needs to be flushed," angered her and made her feel threatened, she said.


"We need a certain degree of tolerance," Riley said. "That sign doesn't really reflect what I think this county is about."

The sign is an apparent reference to a recent Newsweek magazine article that said U.S. investigators found evidence that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay placed copies of Islam's holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk.

The account has been blamed for protests in Afghanistan, where more than a dozen people died and scores were injured in rioting earlier this month, and demonstrations elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Lovelace said he expected the sign in front of his 55-member church to also stir anger in some people.

"If we stand for what is right and for God's word and for Christianity then the world is going to condemn us and so right away when I got a complaint I said, 'Well somebody's mad, somebody's offended, so we must be doing something right,'" Lovelace said.

Danieltown Baptist Church belongs to the Sandy Run Baptist Association. Each church in the association is autonomous, said the Rev. Jim Diehl, the group's director of missions.

"Each church can develop a stance on doctrinal issues and can develop its own stance on moral issues," he said.

from BBC | new "showers" for GITMO | Camp Delta DEATH CHAMBER plan

Some detainees may be executed if convicted at military trials

A court and execution chamber could be built at the US detention camp in Cuba under plans being drawn up by military officials.
Military tribunals for some of the hundreds of men detained at the US base on Guantanamo Bay moved a step closer last month with the appointment of a chief prosecutor and chief defence counsel.

Pentagon rules for the tribunals permit death sentences to be passed and the construction of a death chamber at the camp is among options being considered.

But defence officials stress that everything remains on the drawing board until orders are issued by the president.
'We have a number of plans that we work for short-term and long-term strategies but that's all they are - plans,' camp commander Major-General Geoffrey Miller told the Associated Press news agency."

Monday, May 23, 2005

BUSH IN FREEFALL: 35% Approval on Economy, 37% Approval on Iraq

Country Losing Ground on Most National Problems
Released: May 19, 2005

Americans are critical of President Bush's job performance in many policy areas, but negative opinions of his handling of the economy and Iraq are doing the most damage to his overall approval rating, which now stands at 43%.

Just 35% approve of the president's handling of the economy, down from 43% in February and 45% in January.With the level of violence rising in Iraq, Bush's ratings also have slipped on that issue from 45% in January, to 40% in February, and 37% currently. Over the same period, positive opinions of his handling of foreign policy have fallen 10 points, to 38%. There has been greater stability in Bush's marks on energy policy and Social Security, but he gets positive ratings of only about 30% on both issues (energy policy 31%, Social Security 29%). "

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Plastic Bracelet Scourge

Plastic Bracelet Sold to Raise Money for the Fight Against the Spread of Plastic Bracelets

An Austin, Texas-based non-profit organization founded last year to prevent the further spread of cause-based plastic bracelets, has announced it will begin selling a black plastic bracelet for $1 to raise money for its mission.

An End To The Bracelet Fad, Inc. (AETTBF) said it has sold 30,000 of the plastic bands to the bracelet-starved public in the first week it has made them available, tripling the organization’s bank account.
“Those Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG bracelets started this fad when they came out a year ago, and now they’re everywhere. It’s out of control,” said Daniel Vance, the executive director of AETTBF. “We have reports from all across the country of people young and old not being able to bend their arms because they have these stupid bracelets piled on top of each other from their wrists all the way up to their shoulders. It’s ridiculous. And outside of the yellow Lance Armstrong bracelets for cancer, no one even knows what any of the other colors mean.”

The AETTBF has compiled a 30-page brochure listing all of the 13,000 cause-based plastic bracelets that are currently on the market as a way to illustrate the absurdity of the fad.

“Here’s one – chartreuse bracelets mean the person is against paper cuts. Friggin’ paper cuts!” said Vance. “Indigo bracelets are for the fight against gingivitis. Mauve means the wearer is opposed to telephone calls by telemarketers between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Central Time. Pea green is for people who want to eradicate explosive diarrhea. Charcoal-colored bracelets support the push to make charcoal part of the periodic table of elements. And adobe yellow bands support the eradication of lead-based sunflowers from our elementary schools, which doesn’t even make sense. And that’s just a few of the more tame examples.”

While Vance acknowledges a certain hypocrisy in an organization created to prevent the spread of cause-based plastic bracelets selling a cause-based plastic bracelet, he said it was the only way for AETTBF to stay in business.

“Whether we like it or not, no one will support a non-profit organization these days if they don’t get some stupid plastic bracelet in exchange for doing so,” said Vance. “We needed to raise some money and this was all that will work. While maybe we can’t put an end to this fad altogether, at the very least we might be able to get people to only wear our black AETTBF bands. I suppose one colored bracelet on someone’s arm would be better than 50.”


Bill Maher---New Rule

New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to “beef with broccoli.” The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

Why May 19, 2005 is a very special day...

"May 19, 2005 is the 1,346th day since the attacks of 9/11. That is the same length of time from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the end of WWII on V-J Day. (Dec 7, 1941 to Aug 24, 1945)"

Ethics Lesson

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

MORONS!

ANTIWAR webmaster brutally murdered

(if this isn't a perfectly ambiguous case i don't know what is. this guy had some pretty obnoxious views on military pay etc -- but still, he was murdered for speech. click on link to read DU thread about him -- brook)

On Monday evening, the webmaster of Forsake The Troops was brutally assaulted by two men, thought to be members of the military, in response to their opinions about this website. Mr. Crook had been the target of numerous death threats and trespassers at his residence. All of these threats were saved and have been turned over to the authorities.

UPDATE:
At 6:19pm Eastern time, Michael Crook died of his injuries, after being rushed by ambulance to the leading hospital in the area for head trauma. The two men who allegedly assaulted him are currently in the custody of police. Mr. Crook died with his wife and infant daughter present.

It is therefore the decision of his family, and associates that Forsake The Troops goes offline, to prevent further incidents of violence and threats against his family. Therefore, this domain will permanantly go offline at around 5pm Eastern time, on Tuesday, May 17th, 2005.

Comments, and well-wishes may be addressed to condolences@michaelcrook.com.
Media inquiries (no interviews with family at this time), or sincere inquiries from well-meaning people may be directed to (315) 295-2602.
Leave a voice mail message and your call will be returned by our media representative. The family requests privacy at this time."

Monday, May 16, 2005

andrew sullivan nails it: NEWSWEEK

"THE HYSTERIA MOUNTS: We have yet to see what's at the root, if anything, of the Newsweek story. But I think it's telling that some bloggers have devoted much, much more energy to covering the Newsweek error than they ever have to covering any sliver of the widespread evidence of detainee abuse that made the Newsweek piece credible in the first place. A simple question: after U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death, after they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag, after they have smeared naked detainees with fake menstrual blood, after they have told one detainee to 'Fuck Allah,' after they have ordered detainees to pray to Allah in order to kick them from behind in the head, is it completely beyond credibility that they would also have desecrated the Koran? Yes, Newsweek bears complete responsibility for any errors it has made; and, depending on what we now find, should not be let off the hook. But the outrage from the White House is beyond belief. It seems to me particularly worrying if this incident further intimidates the press from seeking the truth about what the government is doing in the war on terror. It is not being 'basically, on the side of the enemy,' as Glenn Reynolds calls it, to resist the notion of government-sanctioned torture and to report on it. It is patriotism and serving the cause that this war is about: religious pluralism and tolerance. The media's Abu Ghraib?? When Mike Isikoff is found guilty of committing murder, give me a call.

(there's more... click link above)

Buy Your Gas at Citgo: Join the BUY-cott!

(from Common Dreams. click the link for the rest of the story. Citgo is our neighborhood station. I LOVE CITGO! -- brook)


by Jeff Cohen
Looking for an easy way to protest Bush foreign policy week after week? And an easy way to help alleviate global poverty? Buy your gasoline at Citgo stations.

And tell your friends.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor. The country is Venezuela. The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him 'the Anti-Bush.'

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. (Click here http://www.citgo.com/CITGOLocator/StoreLocator.jsp to find one near you.) By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans."

Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude

(this is the best commentary I've heard on NPR in a LONG time. i groaned when they introduced the "I Believe" series. I'm so freaking tired of public broadcasting pandering to the relgious right -- but this was good. click on link to hear it in her own voice and to see bio -- brook)

Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude

by Sarah Adams

All Things Considered, May 16, 2005 · If I have one operating philosophy about life it is this: "Be cool to the pizza delivery dude; it’s good luck." Four principles guide the pizza dude philosophy.

Principle 1: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in humility and forgiveness. I let him cut me off in traffic, let him safely hit the exit ramp from the left lane, let him forget to use his blinker without extending any of my digits out the window or towards my horn because there should be one moment in my harried life when a car may encroach or cut off or pass and I let it go. Sometimes when I have become so certain of my ownership of my lane, daring anyone to challenge me, the pizza dude speeds by me in his rusted Chevette. His pizza light atop his car glowing like a beacon reminds me to check myself as I flow through the world. After all, the dude is delivering pizza to young and old, families and singletons, gays and straights, blacks, whites and browns, rich and poor, vegetarians and meat lovers alike. As he journeys, I give safe passage, practice restraint, show courtesy, and contain my anger.

Principle 2: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in empathy. Let’s face it: We've all taken jobs just to have a job because some money is better than none. I've held an assortment of these jobs and was grateful for the paycheck that meant I didn’t have to share my Cheerios with my cats. In the big pizza wheel of life, sometimes you’re the hot bubbly cheese and sometimes you’re the burnt crust. It’s good to remember the fickle spinning of that wheel.

Principle 3: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in honor and it reminds me to honor honest work. Let me tell you something about these dudes: They never took over a company and, as CEO, artificially inflated the value of the stock and cashed out their own shares, bringing the company to the brink of bankruptcy, resulting in 20,000 people losing their jobs while the CEO builds a home the size of a luxury hotel. Rather, the dudes sleep the sleep of the just.

Principle 4: Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in equality. My measurement as a human being, my worth, is the pride I take in performing my job – any job – and the respect with which I treat others. I am the equal of the world not because of the car I drive, the size of the TV I own, the weight I can bench press, or the calculus equations I can solve. I am the equal to all I meet because of the kindness in my heart. And it all starts here — with the pizza delivery dude.

Tip him well, friends and brethren, for that which you bestow freely and willingly will bring you all the happy luck that a grateful universe knows how to return.


(just a post script -- i started realizing that this was basically my personal philosphy many years ago. I was in a McDonalds drive thru with colleagues from the Nashville Scene. I said "thank you sir," upon getting our bags and my compnaions were floored to hear "sir" used in a drive thru. I had never thought anything about it -- but she is so right... i am equal of the world because of the kindness in my heart. that's how to FEEL it, if ever you need. -- b)

The day journalism DIED

Is today the exact day journalism died?

I think it is.

It's been gasping for air, but today it straight-lined.

I knew it was going to be a bad day for it when I woke up to the news that Newsweek was "apologizing" for their reporting on the desecration of the Koran by Americans detaining at Gitmo. They were in fact "questioning a source," rather than "retracting" the story. There a difference. And the story has many sources. It's actually an OLD story if you keep up with war news.

So, effectively, Newsweek is backing off the story because Newsweek thinks THEIR MAGAZINE is to blame for riots that lead to the death of 15 people so far.

I didn't know Newsweek is widely read in Afghanistan. Whaddya know. Learn something new everyday.

I call bullshit and I'm pretty certain I won't have to chug this beer -- this WHOLE STORY is a fucking lie.

What Newsweek is doing is every journalist's worst nightmare: being hung out to dry by your organization. It can happen for all sorts of reasons, but in this case it's the most COWARDLY and DISPICABLE reason: to placate the White House.

Today Newsweek let the world know that no one has our back. No one is on the side of TRUTH as long as the TRUTH gets in the way of the White House. The riots that happened this weekend, don't you think they are more likely the result of the GESALT of bombing the hell out of their country and not picking up the pieces...in addition to everything else, INCLUDING our cultural bullying. Flushing the Koran is might be necessary to cause this violence, but it's not sufficient. We don't know what caused those riots. This is madness.

Newsweek just sacrificed a reporter as if to send a message to anyone with any information, "Watch out or Georgie's Boyz will have your head."

But here's the thing: anyone can prove the veracity of this story by checking RAWSTORY right now.

http://rawstory.com/exclusives/newsweek_koran_report_516.htm
[b]Newsweek report on Quran matches many earlier account[/b]

They have, oh it looks like a half-dozen citations of this in stories that date back as far as a couple years.

As I was learning more about this story I hear on the radio that "the White House is DEMANDING a retraction from Newsweek." Now this is REALLY stupid. They already had their way. They got the apology. Fear has been instilled in anyone risking their life to report the truth. Now they demand genuflection! Now an apology isn't enough -- make it DISAPPEAR.

Today journalism died regardless of where Newsweek takes it from here. Not that we had much hope for it, but when a publication apologizes for printing the truth (and a widespread truth at that), we've gone beyond the point of no return.

More puzzling why Rummy and his minions would even care about this story. Since when do we give a hoot about the Koran? or anyone's cultural sensitivities. What are you? GIRLYMEN? Angry dogs -- okay; holding citizen without representation -- not a problem; without the backing of INTERNATIONAL LAW? -- who cares; oopsie, some suffocated under "interrogation" -- they were probably guilty anyway.

Since when do these assholes give a shit about THE KORAN.

Bush thinks he's on a personal mission from GOD, and not that one. His followers would desecrate all over the Koran if it came down from Colorado Springs that it's God's will. They've already desecrated the Constitution. They would like to make it "disappear too." And freedom of speech is where they've started.

I thought freedom was on the march? I thought we were bringing DEMOCRACY to the ancient world. Isn't freedom of speech a cornerstone of democracy? What when our titans of that freedom (Newsweek) roll over for Rove? What then?

I'll tell you what -- all those "trend pieces" on the ruffian Bloggers -- better get acquainted, because we aren't going away.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Nightmares mentioned in JC Press -- what year is it?

(i got an email this morning that the Nightmares were mentioned in the Press. my first thought was WHY? so i poke around expecting to find some little passing mention and here's this sweet column by Jan Hearne --- awwwww. follow this link for the rest of the article. she's responding to downloading the Nightmares songs from the website www.brianandthenightmares.com -- go and download for yourself if you haven't already -- brook)


"Out of My Head" - Brian and the Nightmares CD brings it back vividly

By Jan Hearne, Press Tempo Editor

It was an open hoot night at Down Home in 1985. My then-husband and I were finishing dinner, trying to decide if we were going to stay for the music. I was wavering, until four young men walked in and began setting up their equipment. Electric equipment.

"I'm not staying for some punk band," I moaned, and left. I am an idiot.

Because of my rush to judgment, I missed Brian and the Nightmares first gig at Down Home.

Friday, May 13, 2005

'WAR CRIMES'

(hey guys -- this just off of RAWSTORY! have a great weekend!)

'WAR CRIMES'
51 House members call on Gonzales to appoint special counsel on alleged U.S. 'war crimes'

Congressman John Conyers will be issuing a letter cosigned by roughly 50 House members calling for a special prosecutor to investigate claims that the U.S. has violated the War Crimes Act at secret detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, RAW STORY has learned.

The following letter will be issued shortly.

###

May 12, 2005


The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We are writing to request that you appoint a special counsel to investigate whether high-ranking officials within the Bush Administration violated the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441, or the Anti-Torture Act, 18 U.S.C. 2340 by allowing the use of torture techniques banned by domestic and international law at recognized and secret detention sites in Iraq, Afghanistan Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

One year and 10 investigations after we first learned about the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib, there has yet to be a comprehensive, neutral and objective investigation with prosecutorial authority of who is ultimately responsible for the abuses there and elsewhere. While more than 130 low-ranking officers and enlisted soldiers have been disciplined or face courts-martial for the abuses that occurred, there have been no criminal charges against high-ranking officials. Yet the pattern of abuse across several countries did not result from the acts of individual soldiers who broke the rules. It resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials to bend, ignore, or cast rules aside. If the United States is to wipe away the stain of Abu Ghraib, it needs to investigate those at the top who ordered or condoned torture. As a result, it is in our interest to finally show the world that we are taking these matters seriously and resolving them free of political taint.

Some of us previously asked Attorney General Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate these abuses on May 20, 2004. Unfortunately, we received no answer to our request. The need for a special counsel is now more important than ever as the Administration and military have repeatedly exonerated high-ranking officials, or declined to even investigate their actions, even as other official investigations linked the policy decisions by these officials to the crimes that occurred at Abu Ghraib. The Administration's haphazard and disjointed approach to these investigations appears to have insulated those in command and prevented a full account of the actions and abuses from being determined.

As you know, under Department of Justice regulations, the Attorney General must appoint a special counsel when (1) a "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted," (2) the investigation "by a United States Attorney Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department," and (3) "it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter."1 In the present case, all three requirements have been met.

First, federal criminal laws are clearly implicated. The Anti-Torture Act criminalizes acts of torture - including attempts to commit torture and conspiracy to commit an act of torture - occurring outside the United States' territorial jurisdiction regardless of the citizenship of the perpetrator or victim.2 The Geneva Conventions generally prohibit "violence to life and persons," "outrages upon personal dignity," and "humiliating and degrading treatment."3 Violations of the Geneva Conventions also constitute a violation of U.S. federal criminal law under the War Crimes Act.4 The Administration has acknowledged on several occasions that the United States is bound by the Geneva Conventions with respect to Iraqi5 and Taliban prisoners,6 and that a violation of the Conventions would invite prosecution under the War Crimes Act.7 Numerous investigations have uncovered such violations. The Taguba report found instances of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" of prisoners.8 The Army's Inspector General's report found 94 incidents of detainee abuse at detention sites in Afghanistan and Iraq.9 And, the Schlesinger report confirmed five instances in which detainees died as a result of abuse by U.S. personnel during interrogations.10 The repudiation of the August 2002 memorandum you wrote as White House Counsel in December of 2004 suggests even the Administration realizes its policies contributed to actions which violated federal criminal law.11

Therefore, given the Administration's concession that the Geneva Conventions apply to Iraqi and Taliban prisoners, given its concession in the Gonzalez memo that a violation of the Conventions would also constitute a violation of federal criminal law, and given the flagrant violations of the Conventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay which have been confirmed by official investigations, it is clear that a prima facie violation of federal criminal law exists. It is also evident that high-ranking Administration officials, including the Defense Secretary, as well as high-ranking military officials, may have authorized these actions and are potentially subject to criminal prosecution as well.

Second, there is an obvious conflict of interest. A special counsel is necessary not only because high-ranking Administration officials, including Cabinet members, are implicated, but also because you personally, and the Department of Justice generally, may have participated in this conspiracy to violate the War Crimes Act. It has been confirmed that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, and you yourself as White House Counsel, encouraged the president to withhold Geneva Convention protections from Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay detainees. If the conflict of interest provisions in your regulations mean anything, it is that when the Attorney General may have contributed to the abuses that were committed, the Department of Justice has no business conducting the investigation and should instead turn to a special counsel.

Finally, there can be no doubt that the public interest will be served by a broad and independent investigation into both the allegations of abuse at U.S. detention sites as well as the role of high-ranking officials in authorizing and allowing these abuses. To date, a number of investigations into allegations of abuse at United States detention sites have been conducted, including ten official investigations. These investigations concluded that the leadership failure of officers such as Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the senior commander in Iraq, contributed to the prisoner abuse.


For example, the Army Inspector General and former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger found in separate reports that the policies issued by Lt. Gen. Sanchez and his subsequent actions once the abuses at Abu Ghraib were known contributed to the perpetration of these abuses. The Schlesinger investigation also found that other top military officials were responsible, concluding, "There is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels."12 Similarly, the Kern-Fay-Jones report concluded that the actions of Sanchez and his most senior deputies, such as Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, "did indirectly contribute" to some abuses.13 However, these inquiries were not empowered to impose punishments on those it found culpable, and they were not empowered to examine the role of high-ranking officials, including members of the Administration, in the perpetuation of these abuses.14 And, in spite of these findings, many of the reports refused to hold these high-ranking officials culpable. In fact, we recently learned the Army absolved four top officers, including Lt. Gen. Sanchez, of wrongdoing. To date, only one high-ranking military officer has been punished as a result of these inquiries, and many view her punishment as a mere slap on the wrist. As a result, it is not yet clear to the world that the United States is taking these abuses seriously.

The public interest demands we determine who is ultimately responsible for these abuses. While Private Lynndie England and other low-ranking officers have pled guilty, those who ordered and authorized their actions appear to have been protected by the military and this Administration. Because so many high level officials, including you, have been implicated in these events, the only way to ensure impartiality is through the appointment of a Special Counsel. Indeed, our nation's integrity is at stake. We must reassure the world that we will fairly and independently pursue legal violations wherever they occur.

We await your response on this important matter. At no point during this Administration has a Special Counsel been appointed.15 Please contact us through Perry Apelbaum or Ted Kalo of the Judiciary Staff at 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 if you have any questions about this request.

Sincerely,

1. Rep. Tammy Baldwin
2. Rep. Sanford Bishop
3. Rep. Earl Blumenauer
4. Rep. Corrine Brown
5. Rep. Julia Carson
6. Rep. John Conyers
7. Rep. Elijah Cummings
8. Rep. A. Davis
9. Rep. S. Davis
10. Rep. Diana DeGette
11. Rep. Anna Eshoo
12. Rep. Barney Frank
13. Rep. Raul Grijalva
14. Rep. Luis Guitierrez
15. Rep. Maurice Hinchey
16. Rep. Michael Honda
17. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
18. Rep. Ron Kind
19. Rep. Dennis Kucinich
20. Rep. Barbara Lee
21. Rep. Zoe Lofgren
22. Rep. Carolyn Maloney
23. Rep. Betty McCollum
24. Rep. Jim McDermott
25. Rep. James McGovern
26. Rep. Gregory Meeks
27. Rep. James Moran
28. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
29. Rep. James Oberstar
30. Rep. John Olver
31. Rep. Frank Pallone
32. Rep. Donald Payne
33. Rep. Tom Price
34. Rep. Martin Sabo
35. Rep. Linda Sanchez
36. Rep. Bernard Sanders
37. Rep. Janice Schakowsky
38. Rep. Bobby Scott
39. Rep. Jose Serrano
40. Rep. Louise Slaughter
41. Rep. Hilda Solis
42. Rep. Fortney Stark
43. Rep. Ellen Tauscher
44. Rep. Mark Udall
45. Rep. Chris VanHollen
46. Rep. Maxine Waters
47. Rep. Diane Watson
48. Rep. Melvin Watt
49. Rep. Robert Wexler
50. Rep. Lynn Woolsey
51. Rep. David Wu

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What if the US explodes? What will THAT look like?

I love the thread last night:

This Country Is About To Explode

I especially love what The Watcher says here:
"But I am starting to wonder if the unraveling of Civilization itself and the unpredictability of the consequences of such is going to throw and interesting wrench in things."

I think The Watcher is completely correct in reading the current vibe as one of increasing instability and panic. I feel it too as I'm online reading and writing.

But when I'm out in the world (i.e. Nashville) I see people getting their kids to school, going to work, shopping at the grocery store and otherwise doing the stuff that life demands.

So what's it gonna look like when people start getting "uncivilized?" What will this mean in real terms? Are we worried about vigilantes taking over neighborhoods street by street? Are we predicting the use of concentration camps for outspoken bloggers? Will there be martial law? Helicopters? Riots?

I predicted riots if the Bushies stole the 2004 election. I was obviously wrong. We had other things to do. What were those things? Could it have been: getting the kids to school; getting to work; participating in the details of life as you must everyday?

In Germany when Hitler was rising to power, life went on for everyone not affected by the clampdowns, imprisonments and deaths. They were happy for an improved economy and the "strength" of the Fatherland. Even the Jews in the Concentration Camps reported a sense of "life going on." Normalcy expands to fit your condition.

So, again, what's it gonna look like when the US explodes?

Will there illegal imprisonments?
Will there be illegal wars?
Will there be fake terrorist attacks?
Will the media become nothing more than a propaganda tool?
Will elections be stolen openly?
Will there be purges from the churches?

Might we already have exploded?

And what has changed? The kids still need to get to school. We still have to bring home enough money to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. We might desperately need to take our country back -- but what would that mean to busy parents, somnambulant students, and the rest of us working stiffs?

How might we bring this desire into our experience? How might we give it form and make it real?

I don't think there is any way to predict this with certainty, but I think it is possible to imagine what we need to do as things get more weird and dangerous.

Following Maslow, we will need to account for our basic needs -- safety and security, i.e. getting the kids to school; going to work; feeding the family. Given this, I believe ANY ACTION required to take back the country will have to focus on this stuff. So, imagine how Bush is impacting these things. What are your neighborhood schools going thru right now? What are things like at work? Do you talk to your co-workers about democracy in the workplace? Fair treatment of parents needing to take care of kids? Salary issues? Do you know your neighbors? Can you walk to a store? or a restaurant? If you lost one income, would you have to declare bankruptcy? Do you have a support system of friends and family you can lean on for child care; or even sharing expenses should things get financially rough?

Going back to the original post -- I don't believe Civilization will "break-down." I think it might just "break-together."

We are horribly alienated in our everyday lives. We have to drive to do anything. By and large, we need two incomes to make ends meet. We are consumed in our consumerism. What if all this changed. What if something forced a change?

If we direct our energy to living less alienated lives;
If we really knew our neighbors;
If we had STRONG support systems for our families;
If we get off the damn hamster wheel of consuming, working, consuming;
If we RECONNECT to REAL LIVES... what would THAT look like?

And what if an exploding country FORCED us to do this? How ironic would that be?

I'll tell you how ironic -- it's the kind of irony history is full of -- dictators can't predict how their actions will play out thru the last moves. [b]We are creatures of intelligence and humanity. We have the flag. It has not touched the ground.[/b]

Take a moment and reflect on the East Waynesville Baptist Church fiasco. The Christo-Fascist dictators at the Southern Baptist Convention thought they could test the water by sending one of their most rabid dogs up to the hills of Western North Carolina. You KNOW they expected to get away with it and USE it as a model for other churches. But we stepped-in and guess what? We won a big one for freedom of worship and separation of church and state. Don't you think that's huge?

We did it by refusing to be alienated -- even from the mountains of NC. Don't you see how they expected alienation to work against us here? Using our network we got people up to the church and spread the word. We called and emailed and actually FIXED something that was broken. We did it thru our connection. Our connection as human beings -- otherwise known as Civilization.

That is exactly how we will RE-Civilize -- how we will fall together. We will not fall down.

Democratic Underground Forums - East Waynesville thanks DU

(here's a little follow-up to the East Waynesville Baptist Church controversy. The pastor has moved-on and these guys have their church back... but i thought it was insightful what "libnnc" had to say about the mountain folk -- brook)


A note of personal thanks to all DUers from *libnnc*

"There's an interesting point of view among mountain folks, (especially older mountain people) that comes from a fierce independence and stubborn resolve. That point of view is complete personal autonomy in regards to religion and especially politics. This is something that runs very deeply. You don't know how your actions here have helped these people in this church remain independent. They may be more socially conservative than we are, but make no mistake, they exist by the credo 'Live and let live'. "

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Raw Story | Larry Flynt says Bush UN nominee won't answer questions about forced sex

god i love larry flynt! i'm renewing my subscription! follow the link to RAWSTORY for the lowdown. wow! what's with the sex lives of republican? if they are forcing mules into Biblical knowlege, they are forcing their wives. pushy bastards.


"Larry Flynt says Bush UN nominee won't
answer questions about forced sex
RAW STORY

The controversial Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt has waded into the conflict surrounding the nomination of Bush hawk John Bolton to a UN post by revealing Bolton's divorce records and unanswered questions about his sexual past, RAWSTORY has learned.

The following release was issued early this afternoon. RAW STORY will provide more details as they become available. We will be publishing excerpts of the Bolton divorce record shortly.

The records show that Bolton's wife left him during a trip to Vienna in two weeks in 1982 and never returned. The records further show that she took most of the couple's furniture."

Corroborated allegations that Mr. Bolton’s first wife, Christina Bolton, was forced to engage in group sex have not been refuted by the State Department despite inquires posed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt concerning the allegations. Mr. Flynt has obtained information from numerous sources that Mr. Bolton participated in paid visits to Plato’s Retreat, the popular swingers club that operated in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“The first Mrs. Bolton’s conduct raises the presumption that she fled out of fear for her safety or, at a minimum, it demonstrates that Mr. Bolton’s established inability to communicate or work respectfully with others extended to his intimate family relations,” said Mr. Flynt. “The court records alone provide sufficient basis for further investigation of nominee Bolton by the Senate.” These court records are enclosed here as an attachment. Mr. Flynt continued, “The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations must be free of any potential source of disrepute or blackmail.”

USATODAY.com - Ridge reveals clashes on alerts

oh the irony! on the same day the WH is evacuated b/c of a Cessna and Rove circulated a fake granade story! gee, i wonder WHY. WHY would they raise the terror alert with no threat... hmmm. wouldn't want the Thought Police to shut us down. I'll say no more.

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or 'high' risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.
His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.
Ridge said he wanted to 'debunk the myth' that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002."

Democratic Underground post - I've come to the conclusion that the Freepers/Zell Miller are right...

(by Modem Butterfly -- great post!)

The fact is that we aren't a national party anymore. We don't represent the national interest, instead, all we do is complain and whine and prevent the Repugs from enacting laws that help people. For example, look at the way that we tried to stop the Bankruptcy Reform Act, which protected the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the credit, collections, and reposession industries (repo men have to eat). And just look at the fuss we've kicked up over relaxing clean air and water standards, on which millions of jobs in both industry AND health care depend (hey, pediatric oncologists have to eat, too). We talk about a woman's right to choose, but when the rubber meets the road, we're all about limiting choice. Our protests and terroristic threats against Ob-Gyns have made it all but impossible for a woman to decide to carry her fetus to term, and our forcing condoms and sex ed on students in school has created an atmosphere in which teens feel pressured to have sex, even desirous of sex before marriage, a situation that simply didn't exist during, say, the Eisenhower administration. The ruthless pursuit of so-called 'gay equality' has ruined marriage in this country, rendering that sacred institution utterly devoid of meaning, to the point that innocent brides-to-be, like Jennifer Wilbanks, are so frightened they actually flee rather than be in a relationship that is similar to a gay relationship. Even long married folks are now divorcing in order to rid themselves of the taint of gay marriage.Finally, we can't ignore the manner in which Democrats have obstructed and sabotaged the war on terror. Bad enough that all of the hijackers on the airplanes on 9/11 were Democrats, but the manner in which Democrats systematically alienated our allies virtually guaranteed that we would be forced to go it alone in Iraq. Why, if it wasn't for Tom Daschle's comments about 'Old World Chocolate Makers' Western Europe would have gladly held hands with us as we went over the precipice. And let's not forget Hillary Clinton's provocative 'Axis of Evil' speech in which she practically dared North Korea to show us all the nuclear weapons her husband had personally smuggled out of the White House and given to Kim Jong Il.I'm not sure what to do to get the Democrat party back on track, but somehow, we have to restrain ourselves from running for any elected office, holding any press conferences, or being present for any votes whatsoever. Until we can figure out what has made us hate America so, and heal that sickness in the core of our party, we must trust the Republicans to lead the country. After all, the GOP is the LORD'S party."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bizarre Sex Habits of The Extreme Right-Wing

Last night, anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley was a guest on The Alan Colmes Show, a FOX News radio program. The topic was an interesting one - whether or not an internet service provider should allow Horsley to post the names of abortion doctors on his website. Horsley does that as a way of targeting them and one doctor has been killed. In the course of the interview, however, Colmes asked Horsley about his background, including a statement that he had admitted to engaging in homosexual and bestiality sex.


At first, Horsley laughed and said, 'Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it.'

'Is it true?' Colmes asked.

'Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I...'

AC: 'You had sex with animals?'

NH: 'Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule.'

AC: 'I'm not so sure that that is so.'

NH: 'You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?'

AC: 'Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?'

NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm...'

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and 'and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?'

Horsley said, 'You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it.'"

THE BIGGEST STORY OF OUR LIVES (Huffington Post roars out of the gate!)

Jim Lampley
The Biggest Story of Our Lives

At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

Many of the participants in this blog have graduate school educations. It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research and its uncanny accuracy and validity. We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.

Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy. The revolution will have to start here. I challenge every other thinker at the Huffington Post: is there any greater imperative than to reverse this crime and reestablish democracy in America? Why the mass silence? Let's go to work with the circumstantial evidence, begin to narrow from the outside in, and find some witnesses who will turn. That's how they cracked Watergate. This is bigger, and I never dreamed I would say that in my baby boomer lifetime.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Secret Iraq Plan Not So Secret Now

http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/letters/bushsecretmemoltr5505.pdf


Eighty-eight members of Congress have signed a letter authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) calling on President Bush to answer questions about a secret U.S.-UK agreement to attack Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.


In a letter, Conyers and other members say they are disappointed the mainstream media has not touched the revelations.

"Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the United States was too busy with wall-to-wall coverage of a "runaway bride" to cover a bombshell report out of the British newspapers," Conyers writes. "The London Times reports that the British government and the United States government had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in 2002, before authorization was sought for such an attack in Congress, and had discussed creating pretextual justifications for doing so."

"The Times reports, based on a newly discovered document, that in 2002 British Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a meeting in which he expressed his support for "regime change" through the use of force in Iraq and was warned by the nation's top lawyer that such an action would be illegal," he adds. "Blair also discussed the need for America to "create" conditions to justify the war."

The members say they are seeking an inquiry.

"This should not be allowed to fall down the memory hole during wall-to-wall coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a runaway bride," he remarks. "To prevent that from occuring, I am circulating the following letter among my House colleagues and asking them to sign on to it."

The letter follows.

###

May 5, 2005

The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States of America The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write because of troubling revelations in the Sunday London Times apparently confirming that the United States and Great Britain had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in the summer of 2002, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action. While various individuals have asserted this to be the case before, including Paul O'Neill, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former National Security Council official, they have been previously dismissed by your Administration. However, when this story was divulged last weekend, Prime Minister Blair's representative claimed the document contained "nothing new." If the disclosure is accurate, it raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war as well as the integrity of your own Administration.

The Sunday Times obtained a leaked document with the minutes of a secret meeting from highly placed sources inside the British Government. Among other things, the document revealed:

* Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a July 2002 meeting, at which he discussed military options, having already committed himself to supporting President Bush's plans for invading Iraq.

* British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw acknowledged that the case for war was "thin" as "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran."

* A separate secret briefing for the meeting said that Britain and America had to "create" conditions to justify a war.

* A British official "reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As a result of this recent disclosure, we would like to know the following:

1) Do you or anyone in your Administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?

2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?

3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?

4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?

5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

We have of course known for some time that subsequent to the invasion there have been a variety of varying reasons proffered to justify the invasion, particularly since the time it became evident that weapons of mass destruction would not be found. This leaked document - essentially acknowledged by the Blair government - is the first confirmation that the rationales were shifting well before the invasion as well.

Given the importance of this matter, we would ask that you respond to this inquiry as promptly as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,


(lots o' signatures)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Western NC Heritage and Tri-Racial Mountain Research

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM, Suriya, me and all mothers! There's got to be more to western North Carolina (AND EAST TN) history, culture and community than East Waynesville Baptist and that guy Eric Rudolph, who went back and hid out in the mountains (with plenty of help) after allegedly bombing the '96 summer Olympics - and killing one lady - in Atlanta. So I figured I'd share the link for this Western North Carolina Heritage website. Myself, in addition to working on the family genealogy, so far I've published one article on my tri-racial Black American, mountain RICE-GUDGER family history. It's in Volume Two of the Madison County (NC) Heritage Book. They've got a beautiful new library in Madison County. It opened two years ago. Time sure flies. I remember back when they were emailing photos of the groundbreaking and regular library construction progress reports. I'm real proud of those folks. And I'm also looking for more community and family regional history research partners - in case anyone reading this is interested! MD.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Vicki Rozema's book on the Cherokee Nation Homelands (that includes Johnson City)

Researched and written by an East TN native, Vicki Rozema. Rozema's presentation at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville is being replayed on C-SPAN3.

Footsteps of the Cherokees: A Guide to the Eastern Homelands of the Cherokee Nation. Available at www.blairpub.com.

"Footsteps of the Cherokees divides the Cherokee's eastern homeland into nineteen geographical sections and explores many of the historic Cherokee sites in these areas. Sites range from Moccasin Bend in Chattanooga, inhabited by Cherokees and earlier Indian cultures and considered one of the most important archaeological complexes located within a United States city, to the Qualla Boundary, the home of the Eastern Cherokee reservation where visitors can still experience the historic Cherokee culture. For each site, Vicki Rozema gives the historical background, directions to the site, and the hours of operation and telephone numbers if the site is located within a park or museum area. The book also includes an overview of Cherokee history--setting the stage for the tours of the historic sites. ..."

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Pro-Bush Purge Begins?! @ East Waynesville Baptist Church, down Home in western NC

I don't think anyone else is as shocked as I am that blatant intolerance seems to be creeping thru the Land of the Free and Home of the brave. It was National Day of Prayer yeterday when the dastardly deed was done at EAST WAYNESVILLE Baptist Church, in Haywood County. This is in our neck of the woods - literally. Western North Carolina, not far from Asheville or Knoxville. Now Haywood's the area where I'm researching some of my family's YOUNG & LOVE NC/TN ancestors. Via CNN and the Daily Kos we hear church members who are Democrats were asked or told to leave East Waynesville Baptist. That doesn't sound all that Christian to me. Word is these folks were 'ex-communicated' for not "supporting" George Bush and the current administration. Some other folks walked out in solidarity with the ex-communicatees. And BRAVO for them!! Since my html skills are seriously rusty (see my previous entry at JCF) I'll just post that Daily Kos link as is. As if acid rain and poverty weren't already enough for us to deal with. Shame on us. And God help America, including our mountains. Marian, Marian's Blog.

Church Purge thread: www.dailykos.com/user/georgia10

Ed Schultz interviews Selma, Democrat of East Waynesville Baptist infamy

excommunicated from East Waynesville Baptist Church. She sounded like she was 80-years old. Such a sweetie. She wants her church back.

What's happened is they've brought in this young 30-something pastor who is a complete Southern Baptist Fristian. Has this ever happened to you -- you've gone to a church forever, and then the new pastor shows up and everyone's like, WTF?

Ever wonder where these guys come from?

From the leadership. That's who.

Unfortunately, I can't find any Ed Schultz archives on the web.

which reminds me -- congratulations Johnson City, for bringing Thom Hartmann to local radio! WGOC, I think.

WHY ACT? sure the Waynesville Excommunications scare the shit out of me, BUT I don't want to be a CRANK

Separation of church and state was AMERICA'S GIFT TO THE WORLD. It was our little flourish on the Enlightenment. It was put in there by religious people who wanted to protect their faith; as well as 'Deists' whose religion was best described as "civic in nature," who were deeply suspicious of the mingling of such potent powers and the terror it can bring. I can't believe how this is being turned around with the whole Ten Commandments bruhaha. And, no, you won't find the phrase "separatioon of church and state in the Constitution, it's whole purpose of the whole fucking document. How did these people miss the whole American Revolution and The Founding of Our Country part of history class in grade school? Were they homeschooled by space aliens? This isn't a matter of opinion. It's a fact. Separation of Church and State is a FOUNDING PRINCIPLE in response to the bloody history of feudalism and the Divine Right of Kings. It also happened to be an astute response to growing industrialization where the Feudal model would have proven economically disasterous. Our rise as an economic power was largely owed to the small opening in the class system that this provided.

I'm not over-educated. Most of what I know about American History I recall from public high school. That's why it's easy for me to sit and enjoy the freakishness of this in the spirit of NO-action. Like wow -- check it out: we seeing the dismantling of our country right in FRONT of us. Man, we're in the Velvet Rope Section of History. Pass the chips, this is going to be good!

I don't know about you, but I'm freaking tired of this habit. It's lame.

I want a real connection to the world. Fuck the Velvet Rope Section -- I want to be on stage. Complaining is lame. Doing shit is way more interesting than being a spectator.

Jump into THIS debate. Use some of the numbers posted below. This weekend, sit out on the patio enjoying a beverage and composing just THREE paragraphs on Why Something Must Be Done about this and just email to the newspaper for a letter to the editor; or email your friends; or send it to the targeted people below.

You're not a CRANK for doing this. You're an American. It's not just about voting. It's about living your freedom. Why not give that some meaning? Memorial Day is coming up. What better way to honor our fallen heros than to pick up some damn slack. Pull your load, my friends.

Government is OUR creation. We make it everyday. There are people on the other end of these contacts who do nothing but take your comments. They listen to your thoughts; your approval, as well as your critique. Equally. It's not like arguing with the manager of a bar when they fuck up your check and you have to "make the case" for why you are complaining. I always get a kick out of calling the government. It feels good.

What better way to spend QUALITY TIME with your kids? Take an afternoon and involve them in the process of calling a The Governement. Kids love power.

Put it into your daily "workout." We workout to tone our bodies -- why not tone your connection to the world. Not only is it fun, it gives you a chance to have a random conversation...and shouldn't everyone have at least one of those, everyday? It's good for the soul.

_______________________________________________________________________

ACTION ITEMS AGAINST STATE TAKEOVER OF RELIGION (and vice-versa)

first off, call the toll free number for the Senate at the Senate Office Building
1-888-SOB-USOB
and yes, it is funny that the number works out for that.

then, check out these action items that have been brainstormed on Democratic Underground:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x3607235

1. Contact the IRS. Let's make a paper trail.
2. Contact the ACLU in North Carolina at this address: aclunc@nc.rr.com
3. Write a letter to the local newspaper.
4. Contact North Carolina Senators Burr and Dole and urge them to denounce this discrimination:

Richard Burr (R-NC)
(202) 224-3154

Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
(202) 224-6342

5. Contact Minority Leader Harry Reid. He should know about this.

Harry Reid (D - NV)


6. Contact your local media and the national media as well:

7. Contact the East Waynesville Baptist Church itself.
BE POLITE, but tell them how wrong their action is:
175 Woodland Drive
Waynesville, NC
828-456-6841

The minister's address/number is being floated around online. PLEASE don't call him up directly at his home.

We can't let outrage fatigue curb our action on this. This is part of a wider pattern of discrimination against liberals and progressives:

Yesterday alone, we saw not only the expulsion of Demcrats from this one church, but also:
• Church and pro-life groups have pressured to deny a Judge communion, reportedly because he allowed a 13 yrd old to have an abortion; and
• Kansas Governor Sebelius was to give a commencement speech, until she was "uninvited" because of pressure from the Archibishop because she's pro-choice.

Asheville-Waynesville church EXCOMMUNICATES all DEMOCRATS

Hey you guys -- this is amazing. We have offcially passed a milestone here -- a church in WAYNESVILLE, NC (just a short drive from JC) has EXCOMMUNICATED all the Democrats from the congregation.



I shit you not. Click the link under the title.

Here's the church:
East Waynesville Baptist Church
175 Woodland Dr
Waynesville, NC 28786
Denomination: Baptist
Phone: (828) 456-6841

here's the deal:

Before the election, the preacher told the congregation from the pulpit that if they didn't vote for BUSHITLER they had to come to the altar to confess their sins and repent.

Yea, verily -- all who are UNREPENTANT DEMOCRATS are no longer welcome in the chruch.

Separation of chuch and state? I say these guys need to start paying their damn taxes. What say you?


here's more links:
Democratic Underground Threads
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x3606871
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=104x3604552#3605570

Video of newscast:
http://www.timbuk3.com/wlos.wmv

Texas Church doing same thing:
http://www.mywesttexas.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14473329&BRD=2288&PAG=461&dept_id=475626&rfi=6

More video links:
http://www.christopherbair.com/dailykos/wlos.wmv
http://www.hoffmania.com/blog/files/wlos.wmv

Blog response:
http://hoffmania.typepad.com/blog

Daily KOS:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/5/5/211218/4946

_____________________________________________________________________


And just in case you think you don't know enough to comment on this, here's all you need. It's called The Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations. It is published by the Internal Revenue Service. Read it and ask yourself if your church is on the verge of losing their tax-exempt status. If you care about your congregation, wouldn't you want to make sure you play by the rules and set a decent example for your children? Isn't it your responsibility as a member of your church to REPORT any criminal activity in your CHURCH, for christsakes!

Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations
Publication 1828 (Rev. 7-02)
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224

Attn: Political Campaign Activity
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances.
For example, certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not constitute prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or ?registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another, or (b) oppose a candidate in some manner, or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

Individual Activity by Religious Leaders
The political campaign activity prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political ?matters by leaders of churches or religious organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax-exempt under IRC Section 501(c)(3), religious leaders cannot ?make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of church functions and publications, religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate ?that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.

The following are examples of situations involving endorsements by religious leaders.
Example 1: Minister A is the minister of Church J and is well known in the community. With their permission, Candidate T publishes a full-page ad in the local newspaper listing five ?prominent ministers who have personally endorsed Candidate T, ?including Minister A. Minister A is identified in the ad as the ?minister of Church J. The ad states, “Titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only.” ?The ad is paid for by Candidate T’s campaign committee. Since ?the ad was not paid for by Church J, the ad is not otherwise in an ?official publication of Church J, and the endorsement is made by ?Minister A in a personal capacity, the ad does not constitute ?campaign intervention by Church J.

Example 2: Minister B is the minister of Church K. Church K publishes a monthly church newsletter that is distributed to all church members. In each issue, Minister B has a column titled "My Views." The month before the election, Minister B states in the "My Views" column, "It is my personal opinion that Candidate U should be reelected." For that one issue, Minister B pays from his personal funds the portion of the cost of the newsletter attributable to the “My Views” column. Even though he paid part of the cost of the newsletter, the newsletter is an official publication of the church. Since the endorsement appeared in an official publication of Church K, it constitutes campaign intervention attributed to Church K.

Example 3: Minister C is the minister of Church L and is well known in the community. Three weeks before the election he attends a press conference at Candidate V's campaign headquarters and states that Candidate V should be reelected. Minister C does not say he is speaking on behalf of his church. His endorsement is reported on the front page of the local newspaper and he is identified in the article as the minister of Church L. Since Minister C did not make the endorsement at an official church function, in an official church publication or otherwise use the church's assets, and did not state that he was speaking as a representative of Church L, his actions did not ?constitute campaign intervention attributable to Church L.

Example 4: Minister D is the minister of Church M. During regular services of Church M shortly before the election, Minister D preached on a number of issues, including the importance of voting in the upcoming election, and concludes by stating, “It is important that you all do your duty in the election and vote for Candidate W.” Since Minister D’s remarks indicating support for Candidate W were made during an official church service, they constitute political campaign intervention attributable to Church M.

Inviting a Candidate to Speak
Depending on the facts and circumstances, a church or religious organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or individually (not as a candidate).

Speaking as a candidate. Like any other IRC Section 501(c)(3) organization, when a candidate is invited to speak at a church or religious organization event as a political ?candidate, the church or religious organization must take steps to ensure that:
• It provides an equal opportunity to the political candidates seeking the same office,
• It does not indicate any support of or opposition to the candidate (this should be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in communications concerning the candidate’s attendance), and
• No political fundraising occurs.

Equal opportunity to participate.

Like any other IRC Section 501(c)(3) ?organization, in determining whether candidates are given an equal opportunity to participate, a church or religious organization should consider the nature of the event to which each candidate is invited, in addition to the manner of presentation. For example, a church or religious organization that invites one candidate to speak at its well attended annual banquet, but invites the opposing candidate to speak at a sparsely attended general meeting, will likely be found to have violated the political campaign prohibition, even if the manner of presentation for both speakers is otherwise neutral.

Public Forum. Sometimes a church or religious organization invites several candidates to speak at a public forum. A public forum involving several candidates for public office may qualify as an exempt educational activity. However, if the forum is operated to show a bias for or against any candidate, then the forum would be prohibited campaign activity, as it would be considered intervention or participation in a political campaign. When an organization invites several candidates to speak at a forum, it should consider the following factors:
• Whether questions for the candidate are prepared and presented by an independent nonpartisan panel,
• Whether the topics discussed by the candidates cover a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of interest to the public,
• Whether each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her views on the issues discussed,
• Whether the candidates are asked to agree or disagree with positions, agendas, platforms or statements of the organization, and
• Whether a moderator comments on the questions or otherwise implies approval or disapproval of the candidates.

The following are two examples of situations where a church or religious organization invites a candidate(s) to speak before the congregation.
Example 5: Minister E is the minister of Church N. In the month prior to the election, Minister E invited the three Congressional candidates for the district in which Church N is located to address the congregation, one each on three successive Sundays, as part of regular worship services. Each candidate was given an equal opportunity to address and field questions on a wide variety of topics from the congregation. Minister E’s introduction of each candidate included no comments on their qualifications or any indication of a preference for any candidate. The actions do not constitute political campaign intervention by Church N.

Example 6: Minister F is the minister of Church O. The Sunday before the November election, Minister F invited Senate Candidate X to preach to her congregation during worship services. During his remarks, Candidate X stated, “I am asking not only for your votes, but for your enthusiasm and dedication, for your willingness to go the extra mile to get a very large turnout on Tuesday.” Minister F invited no other candidate to address her congregation during the Senatorial campaign. Because these activities took place during official church ?services they are attributed to Church O. By selectively providing church facilities to allow Candidate X to speak in ?support of his campaign, Church O’s actions constitute political campaign intervention.

Speaking as a non-candidate. Like any other IRC Section 501(c)(3) organization, a church or religious organization may invite political candidates (including church members) to speak in a non-candidate capacity. For instance, a political candidate may be a public figure because he or she: (a) currently holds, or formerly held, public office, (b) is considered an expert in a non-political field, or (c) is a celebrity or has led a ?distinguished military, legal, or public service career. When a candidate is invited to speak at an event in a non-candidate capacity, it is not necessary for the church or ?religious organization to provide equal access to all political candidates. However, the church or religious organization must ensure that:
• The individual speaks only in a non-candidate capacity,
• Neither the individual nor any representative of the church makes any mention of his or her candidacy or the election, and
• No campaign activity occurs in connection with the candidate's attendance.

In addition, the church or religious organization should clearly indicate the capacity in ?which the candidate is appearing and should not mention the individual's political ?candidacy or the upcoming election in the communications announcing the candidate's attendance at the event.

Below are examples of situations where a public official appears at a church or religious organization in an official capacity, and not as a candidate.

Example 7: Church P is located in the state capital. Minister G customarily acknowledges the presence of any public officials present during services. During the state gubernatorial race, Lieutenant Governor Y, a candidate, attended a Wednesday evening prayer service in the church. Minister G acknowledged the Lieutenant Governor’s presence in his customary manner, saying, “We are happy to have worshiping with us this evening Lieutenant Governor Y.” Minister G made no reference in his welcome to the Lieutenant Governor’s candidacy or the election. Minister G’s actions do not constitute political campaign intervention by Church P.

Example 8: Minister H is the minister of Church Q. Church Q is building a community center. Minister H invites Congressman Z, the representative for the district containing Church Q, to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the community center. Congressman Z is running for reelection at the time. Minister H makes no reference in her introduction to Congressman Z’s candidacy or the election. Congressman Z also makes no reference to his candidacy or the election and does not do any fundraising while at Church Q. Church Q has not ?intervened in a political campaign.

Voter Guides

Like other IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, some churches and religious organizations undertake voter education activities by distributing voter guides. Voter guides, generally, are distributed during an election campaign and provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. These guides may be distributed with the purpose of educating voters, however, they may not be used to attempt to favor or oppose candidates for public elected office.

A careful review of the following facts and circumstances may help determine whether or not a church or religious organization’s publication or distribution of voter guides constitute prohibited political campaign activity.
• Whether the candidates’ positions are compared to the organization’s position,
• Whether the guide includes a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought,
• Whether the description of issues is neutral,
• Whether all candidates for an office are included, and
• Whether the descriptions of candidates’ positions are either: The candidates’ own words in response to questions, or A neutral, unbiased and complete compilation of all candidates’ positions.

The following are examples of situations where churches distribute voter guides.

Example 9: Church R distributes a voter guide prior to elections. The voter guide consists of a brief statement from the candidates on each issue made in response to a questionnaire sent to all candidates for governor of State I. The issues on the questionnaire cover a wide variety of topics and were selected by Church R based solely on their importance and interest to the electorate as a whole. Neither the questionnaire nor the voter guide, through their content or structure, indicate a bias or preference for any candidate or group of candidates. Church R is not participating or intervening in a political campaign.

Example 10: Church S distributes a voter guide during an election campaign. The voter guide is prepared using the responses of candidates to a questionnaire sent to candidates for major public offices. Although the questionnaire covers a wide range of topics, the wording of the questions evidences a bias on certain issues. By using a questionnaire structured in this way, Church S is participating or intervening in a political campaign.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" Speech, 1964

As Official Washington's 'leaders' - read: CEOs - hype their plans to send US troops into war on yet a third front I must ask the question, What became of our commitment to "The Great Society"? Some of us are too young to remember, but in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson made his visionary Great Society speech. When was the last time we've heard a truly visionary speech from anyone in Official Washington?

"Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

"The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in out time. But that is just the beginning. ..."

Great Society Speech, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fighting the THOUGHT-POLICE: maybe partying will help

Ted Rall: 'Feds arrest girls for teen snottiness'
:

Then they came for the children
By Ted Rall, Yahoo

They've vanished into the netherworld of a Homeland Security gulag and their story has already disappeared from the headlines, but the shocking case of two 16-year-old girls from New York City arrested a month ago ought to inspire outrage among every American worthy of the name. Since the government's reasons for the girls' imprisonment could apply to virtually any teenager, it should also spark fear.

Like many rebellious teens, I fought with my mother. Local police, called to my home during at least one particularly impressive clash of wills and voices, talked us back into the land of the calmly reasonable. Then they left.

Like many young people, I was fascinated by morbid, violent subjects. After I turned in an essay depicting a political assassination from the killer's viewpoint, my creative writing teacher sent me to talk to my guidance counselor. After I assured him that I had no desire to knock off any politicians, he returned me to class."


________________________________

One of the best things about being sent to Tennessee to "straighten my ass up" as a teenager, was that, in Tennessee, when I was called to the Dean's Office, it was for more interesting stuff than in Florida. Junior High and my first year of high school in Satellite Beach, it was garden variety offenses like missing class or smoking.

In Tennessee the few times I came under the radar of the administration -- it was for written offenses. Something in Creative Writing Class had generated a note to the Administration.

Writing class was just a way of finishing out my academic credits while coasting at something I was already decednt at. I even joined the Scribblers, which was the tragically-named writing club at Dobyns-Bennett. Here's a picture, I'm in the middle on the top row, looking as tragic as the name of the club.



The problem with the Thought Police cruising student writing, is that writing class demands you write without really knowing how. That's why it's called a class and not an occupation. Students don't have control of their weapon yet. They can't shoot straight. They have no aim or depth. Student writers have to compensate for their lack of life experience with narrative and metaphor. Students just want some action and above all else, to get the piece finished.

So, I ask you, what is the most essential way action happens in pop culture? Murder? Can I hear a "hell yeah." We love murder. There's no story if no one dies. How do you find the contour of a story without its end? You want a measure of value? Kill someone. Give their life meaning.

Teenagers embrace death in a way I wish I could now, it would save me a lot of time on my therapist's couch. In my high school brush with the Big Brother of Written Offense, I wrote a story that was supposed to be a meditation on 'chance and chaos' written in the style of memoir.

The story is this: a friend of mine in Florida (remember, I'm a delinquent ex-pat) had recently had a horrible car accident, the result of which was the death of two boys who went to school a little further down the beach. They were our age. As I remember, she was driving down A1A in Indian Harbor Beach just past Peg Legs Restaurant. I imagine it was one of those extra dark nights when the moon hasn't yet come over the ocean. Maybe the boys were sneaking out to meet their girlfriends on the beach. My friend drove a Mustang. It was one of those horrible 1980 models that became a cliché father-daughter gift car. Fast little hatchback. She was a fragile girl with a Brittany Murphy quality about her. She didn't see the boys as they crossed the four-lane. I can imagine her being distracted maybe thinking about a math test. And bam. There's a couple of bodies stuck in her windshield. Thru the damn broken windshield.

In my piece, I wrote about the creepy "on-going nature of the world" when something like this happens. I'd been in wrecks. The stereo still plays exactly what you had one before. Something on you feels cold and the radio still plays. The moment after a wreck can easily become an obsession. Cronenberg's movie, Crash portrays it well, especially in the first crash scene (before he eroticizes it). It's *your moment* and it defines you. In my story, I imagined she killed herself to deal with the accident. Cronenburg's characters live and his story didn't stink. I suck at fiction, so mine stunk.

I'm called to see the Dean and she asks me what I think about dying and depression. I worried someone had died. Then she asked me if I was going to hurt myself or someone else. I was, like "wow. I freely admit to being a lazy student," a plea she apparently had no trouble believing, "but this paper wasn't a cry for help, or a threat. It's just bad."

What if I had not been successful at convincing her of my true slacker nature? What if I was one of the other kids in the Scribblers, who were clearly more obsessed, determined people. Would there be Homeland Security proceedings? A more likely scenario: what if I had turned that paper in to my teacher in Florida where I was persona non grata.

The system has clearly run amok. We had NO IDEA back then, how bad it was eventually to get after Reagan. This story needs to be RINGING SOME FUCKING BELLS. There should be cameras on these girls 24/7. Runaway Bride? This is Joan of Arc meets Cinderella. This is HUGE. This is one of those stories that everyone just "gets." There will always be teenagers (and people in general) who enter the radar at opportune as well as inopportune times (depending on your POV). It's a crap shoot whether a little delinquent will rub shoulders with 'angels' or 'devils' in The System. I rubbed some angels. Some devils. You know who you are. I can't stand to anything go to waste, so devils eventually wind up teachers or pincushions.

Given that we are now imprisoning teenagers for Thought Crimes, I can officially say the shadows cast on our landscape now are darker than I'm familiar with. This is a big evil wind that too often too closely resembles prophecy. Thanatos has us by the throat and we are being made to believe it feels good. You don't have to be a mouth-breather to think "Armageddon" as we skate increasingly out on thin ice. Then there's self-fulfilling prophecy; and the fact that extremists and corporations are combining their psycho-social tendencies are right now running things. We are the voice. We are the underground. We have the power of words and thought and truth and a few hundred years of Enlightenment.

Their weakness is evident in their need to LIE and CHEAT. Their power is evident in how they are able to so freely. So, the news isn't all bad. We know a little about quelling demons. We have a rich history to learn from. The original Americans, Jefferson and The Founders -- WROTE our revolution -- not the document -- the Revolution. That's the promise of the Enlightenment, that we may think our way out of the dark. We are having tremendous success right now getting the word out, and Bush is looking more foolish every day -- which can only mean we are only 'hours' away from "something really BIG."

Be not afraid, fellow teenage rebels -- especially of writing. If we evaporate in Halliburton's nuclear furnace, we will at least go down with a few choice words on the side. As we take the country back, we'll do so with volume. One voice to another voice and another. Turn it up.

It's the last month of spring which means that by Memorial Day we are going to have spent quite a bit of time with our families. Share this story with them. Everyone can understand the peril of two teenage girls rotting in prison for nothing more than being the little shitheads they are. For Christ's sake if you can't be an asshole in America -- then this isn't the America I know -- or care to live in. Lets set the summer off being the Big Fucking Assholes prescribed in our heritage. What better time of year to let your inner rebellious teen take control? I say, Fight For Your Right To Party Your Big Asshole Off. Open the bar. Score some weed. Buy some damn porn. Lets really stick it to these bastards! They hate it when people have fun. Imagine how much it must suck to be a fascist-xtian-warrior in the summertime. All the swim wear. The wanton display of fresh, local produce. Kids running and playing. No one getting spanked.

It's not the only way to fight Thanatos, but it's a decent start. All good battles should inspire great rejoicing. Fighting for the sake of a way of life, means having a life worth fighting for.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

He should have avoided all power, even that of a mayor or a frat president

George W. Bush's Horoscope, Post Election:

one of the things i've always hated about strict rationalists is their inability to have a little fun. jeff gold did mine and john's natal charts way back in the day and i have to say, they've been pretty insightful. not a day goes by that i don't recognize something that is due to my fixed, earth nature.

fwiw, here's a hindu astrological chart for bush's post-election transits. it's fun reading... fwiw