The Failed Pacifist
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Senators Detained in RussiaU.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Barack Obama were detained for several hours after Russian officials refused to let their plane take off. The officials reportedly insisted on boarding the plane. They didn't, and the Senators were held up until border officials received orders to let them go.
Does God Hate Soldiers?That seems to be the latest message from Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas. The AP is reporting that a group of his supporters have been demonstrating at military funerals across the country, contending that God is punishing American soldiers for defending the USA, since our country tolerates homosexuals. The demonstrators carry their now-famous "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates You" signs.
Needless to say, soldiers' families are not pleased.
"My husband is over there, so I'm here to show my support," 41-year-old Connie Ditmore said as she waved and American flag and as tears came to her eyes. "To do this at a funeral is disrespectful of a family, no matter what your beliefs are."
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Library Challenges FBI DemandThe Washington Post is reporting that an unknown library is suing the Justice Department, challenging an FBI demand for the library's records. The name of the library and the details of the complaint are secret because the USA Patriot Act prohibits the public disclosure of that information.
Remember when Alberto Gonzales stated the FBI had never asked for library records? During Senate testimony last April he said the Justice Dept. "has no interest in rummaging through the library records or medical records of Americans".
But that provision is separate from the one that governs the kind of letter used in the Connecticut case. Justice and FBI officials have repeatedly declined to say how many times such letters have been served on any kind of institution, including libraries.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Sin, Lie, Murder T-Shirt OK'dA federal judge in Ohio has ruled that James Nixon, a student at Sheridan Middle School in Thornville, can wear a T-Shirt displaying what the Agape Press news story describes as a Christian message:
Homosexuality is sin.While the front of the shirt does indeed display John 14:6: "Jesus said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.'", it's the more inflammatory message on the back of the shirt which caused concern among staff at the school, who told Mr. Nixon he could not wear the shirt. He sued, contending a violation of his civil liberties. Judge George Smith agreed.
Islam is a lie.
Abortion is murder.
The decision may have widespread implications regarding school dress codes which limit the expression of controversial viewpoints.
Fox Mis-Identifies Terrorist HomeOn August 7 2005, Fox News' John Loftus wrongly identified the La Habra home of Randy and Ronnell Vorick as belonging to a terrorist. During his broadcast, Mr. Loftus gave out the address of the Vorick residence, identifying it as belonging to Iyad K. Hilal, even though he had moved out years ago. Mr. Loftus said Hilal was the U.S. leader of a group tied to a recent bombing in London.
Since then the Voricks have been subject to insults, graffiti, and other abuse. Police now have to pay special attention to the home and park a police cruiser across the street.
The Voricks claim Fox News did not respond to their phone calls and emails. It seems it wasn't until the L.A. Times contacted Fox and Loftus that they publicly acknowledged the error. Fox issued a single sentence to the Times saying Mr. Loftus has been reprimanded. The Voricks say Fox still hasn't contacted them directly.
Mr. Loftus reportedly sent an email apology to the family and told the Times that "Mistakes Happen". Indeed. But, as of this morning Mr. Loftus' web site makes no mention of the error or the trouble he has caused the Voricks.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Bush: Mom vs. MomMatt Drudge is reporting that President Bush, who refuses to meet with Cindy Sheehan, and who's supporters have criticized the Gold-Star mother for using her son's death for political reasons, is now promoting "military mom" Tammy Pruett, who reportedly has five sons and a husband who have served in Iraq. However, none of them were killed, as was Cindy's song Casey.
"Tammy says this -- and I want you to hear this -- 'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country.'
"And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in. America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts."
Did you get that? "I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in." He's actually saying the best way of life is dying. Which, by the way, none of the Pruetts have done. Let's hope they don't suffer the same fate as Casey Sheehan, who's mother the President is refusing to talk to, even as he talks about her.
MoveOn dot CindyIt's time for Cindy to move on. Despite what she wants, it really is becoming about her. The sycophants won't let go and the carrion eaters are gathering. She's giving them all a target and I'm crossing my fingers, hoping they miss.
I really hope she's ready with something worthwhile, because she has the pulpit. And I hope she doesn't dwell upon symbolism while forgetting the Big Picture. Still, this fight is all hers and I won't presuppose her actions.
But that said, there are many players and I hope her true message is what is heard in the end. Not the interpreted messages which will no doubt be offered on her behalf by those with their own agenda.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Propaganda on Soldiers Tombstones?The Pentagon has begun inscribing the media-friendly operation names (eg. Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom) onto the tombstones of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. A Veterans Affairs spokesman says "It is to let the country know and the people that visit the cemetery know who served this country and made the country free for us", though no explanation is given as to why the practice only began in March of 2003, after the invasion of Iraq.
Radio Host Fired Over Islam RemarksMichael Graham, who was fired in 1999 from a Charlotte radio station for comments related to the Columbine shootings, was fired this week by Washington radio station WMAL-AM after he reportedly refused to apologize for anti-Muslim remarks.
According to WMAL, Graham said "Islam is a terrorist organization" 23 times on his July 25 program. On the same show, he also said repeatedly that "moderate Muslims are those who only want to kill Jews" and that "the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam."Mr. Graham reportedly claims the firing is an attack on his First Amendment rights and says the station fired him because he did not apologize. "And I will not apologize for something that is true."
Monday, August 22, 2005
Who Would Jesus Assassinate?Right-wing religious extremist Pat Robertson has reportedly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war".
Worse than WatergateLots of posts today about President Bush's 33-36% approval rating, which is worse than Nixon at the height of Watergate.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Rush on Cindy: "We all Lose Things"Rush is bored with Cindy Sheehan. Every day it's the same thing. And he's really tired of all that sympathy he's had to express towards her. She lost a son, yeah yeah yeah, but what has she done lately?
Frankly, I'm also fed up -- not fed up. I retract that. I'm weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son!" Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things.Or maybe it's just a big joke.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Limbaugh Lying About Lying?Rush Limbaugh may be losing his memory fast. He's now claiming that he didn't compare Cindy Sheehan to Bill Burkett. Somebody sure seems to be making something up. At least Media Matters has the visuals to support their argument.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Sir Ian and the Menezes KillingIn light of recent revelations regarding the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, questions about Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, are getting louder.
Not only did Sir Ian spread false information regarding the dress and behavior of Mr. Menezes, but it also seems he tried to intervene in the inquiry of the shooting.
Scotland Yard said Sir Ian wrote to the Home Office permanent secretary, John Gieve, to ensure the terrorist investigation took precedence over any Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation.
Keeping the Senate out of TouchSo, I go just went to Senator Barbara Boxer's web page. I wanted to send her an email, when I was greeted by this message:
/// UNDER CONSTRUCTION // /Isn't that nice. So we can either write a letter, which may take months before the letter actually reaches the Senator, or I can use a system which is "under construction" and may not work at all. Good thing nothing important is going on in the country, like a war.
"The U.S. Senate is currently upgrading our Internet mail system to better serve you..."
Limbaugh's Lost RealityRush Limbaugh, perhaps still suffering from the effects of his drug addiction, is now reportedly claiming that Cindy Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents." Is he saying her son didn't die? What are these forged documents, and what does the Armed Forces say about these forgery charges?
Robertson Unclear on RealityMedia Matters is wondering if the right-wing religious extremist Pat Robertson is confused about reality. It seems he might not be able to tell the difference between the words actually said by Senator Barbara Boxer, and fiction written by a conservative blogger.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Brazilian Suspect Wasn't FleeingNew evidence being reported by ITV in England is confirming that Jean Charles De Menezes, the Brazilian man shot and killed by London Metropolitan Police wasn't wearing a bulky jacket, wasn't carrying packages, and wasn't vaulting barriers, as had been reported at the time. Instead, closed circuit TV videos reportedly show the man walking at a normal pace, even stopping to pick up a newspaper, running only to catch a train before it left.
Most disturbingly though is the report that Mr. Menezes was shot after being apprehended by plainclothes officers and "pushed" back into his subway seat.
"I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting. I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away onto the floor of the carriage."
Mr. Menezes, who was unarmed, was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. Police are currently not commenting.
Woman Executed in 1945 Granted PardonLena Baker was executed by electric chair in 1945 by the state of Georgia. She admitted killing EB Knight, whom she claimed held her against her will and threatened to kill her if she tried to escape. She is now set to receive a pardon.
The decision to refuse Baker clemency in 1945, said a spokeswoman for Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, Scheree Lipscomb, "was a grievous error, as this case called out for mercy".
However, the pardon isn't a declaration of innocence and will suggest that Ms. Baker should have been convicted of manslaughter, which carries an average sentence of 15 years, instead of death.
Cindy's Camp Moves CloserA neighbor of President Bush has offered his land for use by Cindy Sheehan and her protest of the current war in Iraq. As a result, Ms. Sheehan will now be just a mile from the President's Texas home, where he is spending what may be his longest vacation yet as president.
Protestor Drives Over CrossesLarry Northern, 59, was arrested and charged with a felony criminal mischief count after he drove his truck over 500 crosses and 40 American flags set up by supporters of Cindy Sheehan at her camp near the President's ranch in Texas. Mr. Northern reportedly was dragging a piece of pipe to help with the desecration of crosses and destruction of American flags.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Peeing with the PresidentSeventeen journalists went on a bike ride with President Bush. Apparently it was a big bonding event, with lots of jokes and several reporters posing for photographs with the Prez. Then there were those special, personal moments:
USA Today writer Sal Ruibal stops at a tree and urinates. Bush tells him, "Ruibal, don't worry. The last one that peed there was a cow."
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Secret Service Loses Device, Hilarity EnsuesA U.S. Secret Service agent lost a training tool today. It was discovered by staff at the Mayflower Hotel, a few blocks from the White House. The hotel called the police reporting the suspicious package. A bomb squad responded and 300 people were evacuated. Initially, authorities thought it was a "deliberate attempt to make people think it was a real device". It was only later that the Secret Service contacted authorities and explained what happened.
Friday, August 12, 2005
"one of my closest and dearest friends"Jack Abramoff was indicted today, and it's not a good thing for Tom Delay.
Cindy Sheehan on PacificaAmy Goodman talked with Cindy Sheehan this morning on Democracy Now. Things are going to get big this weekend. I hope it goes well.
Where's Cindy?It's almost 8am on the West Coast and I can help but notice that the story of Cindy Sheehan is nowhere to be found on CNN's home page. Not even in their little listings towards the bottom of the page. Where'd she go? She was there yesterday! There are stories about Hillary, Lucille Ball, hurricanes and waterfalls. But the story of Ms. Sheehan has disappeared, even as the number of people joining her vigil in Texas keeps growing.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
"There's Just No Conscience There"Such were the words of Dolores Kesterson, mother Chief Warrant Officer Erik Kesterson, who was killed in Iraq. She was describing her thoughts of President Bush after having a brief, private talk with him.
"That was the essence I took away after looking him in the eyes and meeting with him—there's just no conscience there."
She described her feelings about the President during an interview with Bill O'Reilly, who presumably was trying to show America that not all mothers of slain soldiers are as angry with the President as Cindy Sheehan. Well, if she isn't, it isn't by much.
Lots of talk about it at the Huff Post, and elsewhere. In the meantime, Ms. Sheehan's cause is only gaining more momentum.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Hackett Replies to LimbaughIraq War vet and former Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett has responded to Rush Limbaugh's suggestion that the Marine went to Iraq to "pad his resume".
"That's typical for that fatass drug addict to come up with something like that."
While his ass is slightly less fat these days, Limbaugh is indeed an admitted drug addict. I've also noticed that the type of people who say anti-war bumper stickers disrespect the troops have been awfully quiet about Rush's questioning of Major Hackett's motives. Remember that the next time the right-wing extremists get up on their high horse.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
FCC Hires Christian ActivistThe FCC has hired religious activist Penny Nance to serve as a special advisor in the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. Nance, who has been presented by the right-wing media as just another stay-at-home suburban mom has in fact had a long history of activism. She previously served on the board of Concerned Women for America, which wants to "bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy." According to the MediaWeek article, Nance also founded the anti-abortion Kids First Coalition, and was a lobbyist for Center for Reclaiming America, a group that says it works to "implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded."
Monday, August 08, 2005
Army Specialist Discharged for Gay AdArmy Specialist Jeff Howe was discharged last Wednesday for a personal ad he placed last year on Connexion.org which identified him as gay. Good to know the U.S. has their priorities straight. The number of military personnel discharged for being gay has skyrocketed since Bill Clinton approved the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Remember that when Hillary runs for President.
More Iraq Vets to Run for OfficeAfter the very strong showing by Paul Hackett in last week's Ohio election, it seems that there are several Iraq War vets running for office as Democrats. Let's see if Rush Limbaugh and friends will show these vets the same lack of respect they showed Major Hackett.
Conrad Burns Hearts Jack AbramoffThere's been lots and lots of talk today about Conrad Burns and Jack Abramoff. It seems the Senator may have been benefiting from the lobbyist's largesse.
Now the Montana Democratic Party is running a T.V. ad which has upset the right-wing. In fact it upset them so much they had lawyers threaten the T.V. station airing the ads. They said the ad was false and should be pulled. Well, the Democrats are fighting back and it seems they've got some facts on their side. And the right-wing hates facts which don't support their agenda.
So Chief, What's in Your Trash?Following last Friday's story about Trash Diving in Montana and the arrival of George Orwell's 1984, Declan was reminded of this story from 2002:
In Portland Oregon, some law enforcement and government officials think it's okay to dig through people's trash without a search warrant. So, the folks at Williamette Weekly ("Portland's News Weekly") decided to dig through the trash of the Police Chief, Mayor, and District Attorney, just to see what they would find.
The first two were less than pleased, with the Chief ending a subsequent interview early (when asked if his wife was a member of the religous extremist Focus on the Family organization), and the Mayor made a special fuss by issuing a summons, telling the reporters "She wants you to bring the trash--and bring the name of your attorney." To his credit, DA Mike Schrunk seemed to take it in stride, joking "Do I have to pay for this week's garbage collection?"
Actually, like the proposed seizing of Justice Souter's home by eminent domain, this may be a nifty way of demonstrating to government officials the effect their decisions have regarding the liberty of citizens.
Valerie, Up Close and PersonalWay too many things to know about Valerie Plame. Here's the one which caught my eye:
"The same year she met Wilson, the CIA brought her home to headquarters from overseas out of fear that double agent Aldrich Ames might have spilled her name to the Russians."Alas, it was Robert Novak who would reveal her status as a CIA operative, not the Russian agent.
Yes, Grief is a Complex ThingMatt Drudge has taken up the new right-wing tradition of disrespecting family members of dead soldiers. As if we're still in a presidential campaign, Mr. Drudge is dragging out the 'ol flip-flop argument, but this time it's directed to Cindy Sheehan, who's son Casey died in Iraq while serving his country.
Mr. Drudge seems surprised that Ms. Sheehan's attitude regarding her 2004 meeting with the President has changed during the last year. Whereas reports from June 2004 indicate she was grateful at the time for the President's casual attitude, she now thinks that Mr. Bush was treating their meeting "like a party".
I hope Mr. Drudge never faces the loss of a close family member. If he does, he too might discover conflicting emotions which evolve over the months and years following the loss. For now, he simply refers to the mother's peace vigil as a "media tour".
UPDATE: It seems others have noticed and are equally upset about the disrespect shown military families who don't agree with the pro-war agenda of right-wing extremists.
Kill the Death Penalty, Pt.1Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has spoken out about the "serious flaws" in the American death penalty system. Stevens, who has become the court's most liberal member as the panel shifts to the right, made the remarks over the weekend in the context of President Bush's nominee for the high court, John Roberts, and what might happen if he is elevated to Justice.
Last time I checked, a death row inmate is released, on average, about every 8-9 weeks. Supporters of the death penalty cite this as how the system is actually working (these inmates weren't executed, right?), and insist that no innocent person has ever been executed, at least since it was reinstated in 1976.
I've always been curious about what will happen when it's proven that an innocent has actually been executed. Who will be charged in that killing? The prosecutor who pursued the death penalty? The judge who allowed it? The legislators who wrote the laws? And who wants to bet that, when that day comes, the argument against charging these people with an innocent person's death will be something like "I really, really thought they were guilty".
Friday, August 05, 2005
Month 2: Why Don't It Go Away?Well, even though the mainstream corporate media has moved their camp back to Aruba and elsewhere, a new polling data shows Americans haven't forgotten about Karl Rove's involvement in the Plame incident. One number? Over 35% of those polled believe Karl Rove's actions were illegal and/or unethical. If that number gets any higher, President Bush is likely to nominate Rove for a Nobel prize.
"George W. Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, spoke with reporters about the CIA officer in 2003. Do you think Karl Rove personally did anything wrong in this matter?" If Yes: "Do you think Rove's activities were unethical or illegal?"
Yes -- Unethical 20
Yes -- Illegal 7
Yes -- Unsure if illegal 1
Yes -- Illegal and unethical 11
No, nothing wrong 27
Headshot First, Questions LaterThe International Association of Chiefs of Police issued new guidelines which reportedly recommend "if lethal force is needed to stop someone who fits a certain behavioral profile, the officer should aim for the head." The profile includes people who are...
wearing a heavy coat in warm weather, carrying a backpack with protrusions or visible wires, nervousness, excessive sweating or an unwillingness to make eye contact
Pity the young urban goth listening to music.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Dobson on Stem Cells and NazisRight-wing extremist James Dobson has compared embryonic stem cell research with Nazi experiments during World War 2. This is a disgusting comparison and really goes to the immoral nature of Mr. Dobson's agenda. Time for Godwin's Law to kick in.
Limbaugh Calls Iraq Vet a LiarRush Limbaugh was yet another right-winger to bash Iraq Veteran Paul Hackett, the first Iraqi vet to run for Congress (he lost the election by a very small margin). Saying it appears Hackett went "to Iraq to pad the resume". Limbaugh further accused Hackett of "lying", and repeatedly said Hackett was "hiding behind a military uniform".
Remember that the next time a Republican says those opposing the war show disrepect to the men and women in uniform. I would suggest that calling a Marine a liar and questioning his service might fit that definition a bit more closely. Then again, this isn't the first time Rush has been glib about what happens in Iraq.
CNN to Novak: "Take Some Time Off"After throwing a hissy fit, cursing and walking off a set today, CNN has asked Robert Novak to rest a little. "We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off" CNN spokeswoman, Edie Emery is quoted as saying.
UPDATE: So, okay. After watching the video a half-dozen times, there's only one thing I wonder. Was Bob blotto, or what?!? If not, he really needs this time off.
Specter: Novak Libeled Senate StafferSenator Arlen Specter is accusing Robert Novak of libeling Ms. Bettilou Taylor, a "top aide on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education", and whom the Senator describes as "revered". He points out several errors in a recent Novak column regarding a hearing to question Kenneth Tomlinson following the FCC Chairman's attempt to bring more right-wing content to public broadcasting.
Novak, who lost it earlier today and stormed (cursing) off a CNN set, has not yet responded to the charges.
Israeli Soldier Opens Fire on Arab BusFrom CNN:
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli soldier opened fire inside a bus in Israel's northern Galilee region Thursday, killing four Israeli Arabs and seriously wounding five other people before he was killed, according to Israeli police.
FBI Blocks Story, Reporter FiredFlo Jonic was a general assignment reporter for WBZ-AM in Boston. She had been working on a story regarding potential security issues at the FBI's One Center Plaza offices. The FBI complained about the story, saying it would be reckless and might put lives in danger. WBZ management apparently agreed and canned the story. Ms. Jonic wasn't pleased and sent out an email to the Program Director and Assistant News Director, along with copies to the rest of the office. In her email she said they had caved to pressure from the FBI and had lost respect in the newsroom. Today she was fired.
USAF Proselytizer Denied PromotionBrig. General Johnny Weida, known as one of the evangelical Christian officers at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and who reportedly told cadets they are "accountable first to your God", has been denied a promotion. A spokesman for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said no action was taken regarding the promotion because Weida is still under investigation.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Judith Miller Award ReversedJudith Miller, who is currently in jail for refusing to name her sources in the Plame investigation, will not be receiving this year's Conscience in Media award from The American Society of Journalists and Authors. The board of that organization today unanimously voted to reverse an earlier decision to give Miller the award.
Despite her Pulitzer prize, Miller's spotty reporting over the years has caused many to question whether she deserved the prize. One member of the ASJA First Amendment committee quit when Miller's award was originally announced. At that time, Anita Bartholomew summed it up this way in her resignation letter:
"The First Amendment is designed to prevent government interference with a free press. Miller, by shielding a government official or officials who attempted to use the press to retaliate against a whistleblower, and scare off other would-be whistleblowers, has allied herself with government interference with, and censorship of, whistleblowers. When your source IS the government, and the government is attempting to use you to target a whistleblower, the notion of shielding a source must be reconsidered. To apply standard practices regarding sources to hiding wrongdoing at the highest levels of government perverts the intent of the First Amendment."
This morning, NPR ran a story detailing some of the good and bad things about Miller, including nearly breathless accounts of her bravery while traveling in Afghanistan, and mentions that she's spending her summer vacation reading The Gulag Archipelago. Oh, how very heroic. It also mentions that Miller played a critical role in disseminating false information which was later used by the Bush administration as justification for the Iraq war.
Felony Over Thrown RockIn Fresno California, an 11 year old girl is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon after she threw a rock at a boy who had previously hit her with a water balloon. Maribel Cuevas was arrested and held five days in Fresno's juvenile hall, plus a month under house arrest. Elijah Vang, the boy who threw the balloon at her, was hit in the head by the rock and reportedly required stiches. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer and Mayor Alan Autry have defended the desicion to charge the 11 year old with felony assault with deadly weapon, saying that the boy could have been injured even more seriously.
UPDATE: According to the Free Maribel web site, the 11 year old has had the felony assault charges dropped and was ordered to attend a mediation program with Elijah Vang, the boy who threw the water balloon at her.
Katherine Harris: A Colorized Clown?Katherine Harris, Secretary of State in Florida during the 2000 election fiasco is now saying her ugly makeup is really a result of how "newspapers colorized my photograph". Now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Harris told Sean Hannity the images were "personally painful", something to which I can personally attest.
When asked by real journalists to point out an altered photograph, Harris and her staff could not. When asked, her spokesperson, Adam Goodman, seemed to indicate that Ms. Harris may have been speaking metaphorically. "I think what she's saying is the number of photographs that were run that were unflattering was large, and that was unfair because the only reason this was made a caricature built around cosmetics was because she was a woman." he said.
Perhaps, but that's a long way from the claim that "newspapers colorized my photograph", a charge the AP says is false. David Ake, AP national deputy photography director is quoted as saying "We're pretty adamant about that. We have terminated people for it."