Kentucky Blog

Because Kentucky Is Not Called the "REDgrass State"

Friday, April 29, 2005

Encouraging Cancer

From Road To Surfdom (via The Poor Man)

Bad news: deaths from cervical cancer are on the increase.

Good news: there’s a new vaccine that stops the virus that causes the cancer.

Unfortunate news: the virus in question, human papilloma virus (HPV), is sexually transmitted.

Obvious news: you simply have to vaccinate girls before they become sexually active.

Unbelievable news: “religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters.” Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group says, “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex.”

So stopping a generation of women from getting cervical cancer is a big no-no, but insisting that a feeding tube be provided to a woman who has been dead for fifteen years is the work of angels.

Of course there is absolutely no empirical evidence linking vaccination to increased sexual activity, and in fact studies show no correlation whatsoever. The vaccination could start around age 12, presumably before most teens were sexually active, and at a point in their lives where they don't really understand what they're being vaccinated for anyway. Consider that the "Td Vaccine", given for tetanus and diptheria, is given at age 11 as a booster to the DTaP Vaccine. When was the last time a kid got a tetanus shot then promptly rammed a rusty nail into their skin? Fact is, kids get all kinds of shots and so long as mom or dad approve, the kids don't really care what the shot is for.

This is just the dumbest crap I've ever heard (even moreso than the notion that $22 billion in tax cuts to an already booming oil industry will lead to development of alternative fuel sources).

Which leads to the obvious conclusion. These sex-obsessed extremists don't really care about a "culture of life", they only care about their perceived morality and imposing that on the rest of us even if it means your chance of dying prematurely just increased over a third. The cat's out of the bag on sex, and everyone pretty much knows what it's about. Getting a shot or not getting a shot isn't going to change that. But it may change whether your daughter outlives you.

And the same goes for their opposition to the Plan B drug (the "morning after pill"). This should be recognized for what it is. These lunatics won't be happy until they control each and every facet of our lives.

Now come on in, have some Kool-aid and let's wait for Hale-bopp together, and if it doesn't come we'll just light the place up and burn.

In Case You Missed Any of the Action

You can purchase your very own copy of all the fun and excitement that was Justice Sunday last weekend, for the low, low sticker price of $15.00.

Come on, now, that's a small price to pay for such an inspirational work of art. And besides, your money will go to help buy Jesus that new Hummer he's been dreaming of.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Do They Think No One Watches?

Just got done listening to Joe Biden's speech on the Senate floor in opposition to the Republicans' "nuclear option" given earlier today. It was tremendously historical, and while I pride myself on having read a lot of history surrounding our founding, the depth of Biden's knowledge (or at least the one that prepared the speech) was insightful. The proposed action really is phenomenal in terms of breaking with tradition - some of it even established by Republicans. His website is about a month behind on transcribing his remarks, and C-SPAN had nothing up as of tonight.

But then Orrin Hatch got up and promptly lied his ass off (video wasn't working tonight, but it's listed on the "109th Congress" link from CSPAN's main page). He said (maybe off by a word or two, I'm going from memory) "I don't call it the 'nuclear option'. That's a Democratic term. I call it the 'constitutional option'."

I think its been fairly well established by now that this is patently false. Thus Senator Hatch is a bald faced liar. Would Jesus lie to get judges confirmed?

Intern the Irish

Being of Irish descent (with a hint of Scottish as well), I find it disturbing that The Poor Man has uncovered our plot to take over America.

Why does The Poor Man hate Irish Americans? And the imminent Irish America?

(For those with narrow capacities for cynicism and appreciation of dry humor, allow me to clarify - TPM's post is satire, and my reference to the post is equally satirical (albeit without adding anything material). However, I am Irish. And a little Scottish, to the extent the two were distinguishable during the 1300's. And yes, I like potatos and Guinness.)

Antagonizing Danny M

After my post about Dan Mongiardo's youthful pursuits, The Last Sane Man has a follow up in which he discovers the basis for the Mongiardo bashing - jealousy!


While it may be true that the women are getting catty, from a purely political perspective I think Danny Boy has tripped over his eagerness to dispel the "gay" rumors floated by Elizabeth Torri and David Williams. Fathers don't like the idea of voting for a perceived cradle robber, and with people in Kentucky suddenly believing themselves to be so conservative (a misconceived notion foisted on them by the right wing noise machine, an issue to be discussed later), this may very well end his political aspirations.

Again, I see nothing particularly wrong with the relationship. It's not as if he was trolling the UK campus for some hot young vixens at the onset of spring when the shorts come out and reveal freshly tanned legs. It was a chance encounter that led to something else. Danny Boy would be smart to get out in front of this quickly - and unfortunately for the young lady that will mean making her a public spectacle.

In other words, introduce her and make her more than a mid-life, post election loss crisis. If he doesn't, then you can bet his next political opponent will.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The USS Dan Mongiardo Takes on Water

I'm not sure there's anything particularly wrong with it, however being 44 and dating a 19 year old UK student has all the wrong appearances for someone aspiring to run for Lt. Governor. Dan Mongiardo is a first class legislator, but even my liberal sensibilities see the allure that such a situation would present for Republican prognosticators and detractors.

Since the cat's out of the bag I don't suppose breaking up with her would really salvage anything at this point.

Justice Sunday

Having gotten stuck in Nashville traffic yesterday on my way back from a golf weekend (that was prematurely ended by rain on Saturday), I missed all the Justice Sunday and the Freedom AND Faith rallies around town. However, the Herald-Leader has a forum thread with comments on the whole mixing of politics and religion thing. What's striking to me is the number of "religious" folks that are against this sort of thing.

Mitch McConnell defends Frist's right to commandeer the extreme right wing religious theology for partisan political gain, but McConnell's hackery goes beyond mere partisanship. His defense is so intellectually dishonest that one is left with the impression that he knows he's on weak footing. For example:
By filibustering these nominees, a minority in the Senate is refusing to allow a majority of senators to exercise their constitutional right to advise and consent, something no Senate minority has ever done in history.

McConnell and his buddies have in fact tried to filibuster nominees from the Clinton era. Their real gripe is that those efforts failed. Dishonest? Not technically. But certainly misleading. In fact, with Republicans in control of the Senate during that portion of the Clinton years the Republicans changed Committee rules so as to bottle up the nominations knowing they didn't have the votes for a filibuster. One was Richard Paez, who took four years to be confirmed. Leading the charge was one Bill Frist. Further, it's intellectually dishonest because the US Supreme Court has ruled that the Senate has the power to assign its Constitutional duties to Committees - which they did...200 years ago. The 60 vote super majority is in place to protect the minority - which in this case happens to represent roughly half of America.

Then there's this:
I can recall many instances of Democrats visiting churches over the years, not just to speak on a policy matter but even to outright plead for votes. Either I've missed the angry editorials in this paper and others over those events, or there's an astonishing double standard afoot here.

True. All politicians back to the Founders did this. And there is nothing wrong in my view with asking for votes and informing church-goers how one's policy positions reflect that person's interpretation of that particular religion's teachings. Some will disagree and say it all has to be banned, and that's their right to think that way. But it's a far different thing to fire up the right wing taliban for purposes of achieving a political agenda and influencing a policy discussion - especially under the rhetoric that to oppose a Bush nominee is an attack on religion. There the politician, in this case Frist, has merged the government and that religious cult - not just blurred the line. And to compound matters, Frist is supporting a cause which at its most basic level seeks to undo the protections of the Establishment Clause which is in the Bill of Rights not to protect religion from the government but to protect government from religion. Forget not that the groups involved in this thing have condemned the Catholic church, the Jews, and the Muslim faith. This is not religion overall - this is an extremist religious sect that promotes violence as a means of sending message (think abortion doctors) much in the same manner as al Qaeda.

The whole "there's no 'separation of church and state' in the Constitution" argument is so bogus it would be laughable if not for the fact that people will take the word of the guy in the pulpit who says otherwise. The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a religion, and by turning one particular sects' views into a political tool wielded by government is just that. And the efforts of Frist, Dobson, and the rest of this pack to establish a theocracy is an attack on our Constitution. If they were a true "rule of law" party they would be impeaching those that violate their oath to uphold the Constitution and defend it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

So let's be honest here. Basically what we have are middle class, white men running around crying about discrimination. And we have a national political party that controls Congress, the White House, and 10 of the 13 Federal Appeals Courts yet is somehow trying to convince the rest of America that they are still in the minority. It's a lie. It's a fraud. And when they couldn't perpetrate it on the American people they hijacked religion to push their agenda. It's shameful and exploitative. It's un-American and sacrilegious.

And unrelated, but just to show just how uninterested in the problems facing common Americans, McConnell has to throw this in:
Sen. Hillary Clinton, back when she was still First Lady, once visited a Florida church to push her disastrous health care plan during the service.

State run health care that provides care to everyone. What a novel concept. And something supported by Americans 2-1. And a system that has evoked satisfaction from citizens in countries that actually put the interests of their citizens above their interests of self promotion.

Update: According to Armando, who relies on a Crossfire piece, there have been 30 judicial filibusters, with 80% being from the Republican side. Call Mitch McConnell and ask him why he lies with impunity - (202) 224-2541 or click here for the local number in your area.

Pumping Oil Where There is None

Bush is pressing Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to help with regional shortages, and I can't figure out if this is just a silly politically expedient gesture so he can "look tough" with the Saudis, or if he really doesn't have a clue that they are already pumping at capacity. Increased production could occur by 2009.

Of course, it's equally silly and short sighted, albeit politically advantageous, to blame Bush and his oil chronies for oil shortages. Big oil can be blamed for high prices since they're raking in record profits under this administration - all while Congress and the White House look shocked and dismayed with their hands spread in the "what, me worry?" gesture of Alfred E. Newman, and pretend there's nothing to be done.

I have a hard time understanding what is so difficult for people to grasp. It's really rather simple: oil is running out, and today's prices are nothing compared to what we will see in a decade. It really doesn't matter how much oil companies gouge us now, because oil is finite and thus oil profits are finite as well, as is the length of time in which big oil can take us to the bank. Yes, it's anti-consumer to hit us with gas price increases when it's not all that necessary, and sure, diverting flow from the strategic reserve would help.

But that all belies the problem - and let me repeat it so I'm clear - that oil is running out. I understand that Bush's energy plan gives $8 billion in tax breaks to his energy supporters, no doubt in payback for their steady support of the Republican party. So I can see why Republicans won't actually say "Hey, we know oil prices are high, but we're not going to do a damn thing about it. You know why? Because it won't matter in a decade 'cause there won't be any oil then. No sir, the real problem is depleting supplies and not the prices. So buck up America, cause if we don't get some alternative fuel sources we might just be reading by candle light again."

I can see why Republicans don't say that - big energy companies help get them elected. But I don't know why Democrats ignore the underlying problem of high gas prices. This is a situation where both parties are failing us and our children miserably.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bill Frist Goes Nuts

By now everyone's heard about Bill Frist's sad grasp for future political power by shamelessly making religion the tool of the government (at least one particular theology) in his mad quest to impart his beliefs on the nation.

Well, not all religious types think that's such a good idea. From DriveDemocracy:
Progressive religious leaders from around the country are joining with DriveDemocracy to take the fight to GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the far right’s unprecedented attack on the constitution and the judiciary.

We’re going to Louisville, Kentucky, just down the street from where the Family Research Council and Frist launch their theocratic telecast. We’ll be staging a massive rally at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 24, at Central Presbyterian Church. Joining us is the Clergy and Laity Network, whose national committee includes Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Sister Joan Chittister, Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rev. Dr. Otis Brown, Jr., Rev. Dr. Albert Pennybacker, Dr. Susannah Heschel and many more. Invites to other speakers from across the nation are going out today.

One thing I would like to add is that these judges have not been turned away by Democrats because of their religion (Myers is a coal guy that hates the environment and they want him in California!; Pryor is anti-environment and wrote opinions that were in conflict with applicable federal laws on the subject; Pickering is a racist; etc.). That's a tactic of the right - make liberals into "Jesus haters" instead of addressing the issues, and the religious taliban have become all too willing to be used as tools of the Republican leadership.

But while I think it's important that members of all religions speak out (after all it is their religions that will be attacked next if the evangelicals take over the government), they should speak out on the mixing of religion and politics. The inherent disconnect between the holy war mantra of the right with respect to "judicial activism" (or "inactivism" in the case of Terri Schiavo) and the fact that 205 of Bush's nominees have been confirmed was captured brilliantly by Nick Anderson of the Courier-Journal. By couching it in terms of the judiciary argument it's only playing into the theme created by the right. You'll never win a debate if you argue by their rules and within their linguistic framework. And besides this mixing of theocracy and government is bigger than the judicial fight - it goes to the very core of our Constitutional framework.

And yes, the First Amendment does create a separation of church and state albeit not in those words.

For these jihadists to say judges are forcing atheism on them is just stupid, baseless brimstone and hellfire rhetorical hyperbole. The Constitution guarantees their right to practice their religion, but not the right to impose it on others through governmental levers. Further the exact text of the First Amendment is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

"Congress", dumbasses. And the Courts are there to protect us all - of all religions - if Congress comes down on the wrong side of the First Amendment. If we had a predominantly Muslim Congress or a predominantly Jewish Congress would these right wing taliban be clamoring for this crap? For the Constitution Restoration Act that restricts the federal judiciary's jurisdiction in religion cases? Of course not, but they're all too happy to push their religious agenda over the rights to religious freedom (and freedom from governmental interference) of the dozens of other religions practiced in this nation.

These assholes should have to live in the Sudan for a couple months practicing their brand of evangelical nuttiness and shouting down the rebels, and then see if they complain about religious freedom. And it doesn't help when Constitution haters like Tom DeLay suggest we go ahead and do away with the whole independent judiciary thing.

Anyway, I'll be there. Not because of the judges but because it should be a pretty good time. I didn't grow up in the 60's, so this is the closest I may ever get.

Update: I don't mean to imply all evangelicals are "nutty" althought that seems to be what was written. I am pointing to the people that lead these groups into the abyss of political manipulation. If evangelicals don't want to be seen as fruitcakes they shouldn't let people who advocate overthrowing our three branch system of government speak for them. Not all Germans were Nazis, but when they allowed the Nazis to speak for sure looked like they all hated the Jews and wanted to take over the world.

The Death of Traditional Marriage

Now that Connecticut's governor has signed the law allowing for civil unions, I await the influx of divorce filings as a result of the death of traditional marriage. I suspect the four horsemen will be making an appearance, along with Satan spilling the blood of innocents with his sidekick Saddam Hussein, and Michael Bolton singing Stones cover songs. All are signs of the Apocalypse I'm sure.

What is it called when a legislature does this stuff? Activist Legislators? Oh to be a divorce lawyer in Connecticut and surrounding states...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Faux Morality

It never ceases to amaze me the number of politicians that want to impose moral standards on us all that they can't seem themselves to abide by (via Rawstory):
A state senator sponsoring a constitutional amendment aimed at "solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman" is accused in a divorce case of cheating on his wife. State Sen. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Cleveland, is accused of "inappropriate marital conduct" in a divorce complaint filed Feb. 25 in Bradley County.

Yes, conservatives, I suppose one can find nothing inconsistent in banning gay marriage to protect "traditional marriage" yet be perfectly fine with cheating on your wife in your so-called "traditional marriage." But honestly, are you trying to make that argument? Apparently Miller sees the difference - gay marriage bad for "traditional marriage" but infidelity good for "traditional marriage" because he also "stopped an attempt to include a constitutional ban on adultery in the amendment."

Fletcher Slaps Congress - And He Should

Kentucky got $29 million over the past 3 years for worker re-education - a staple of Bush's early initiatives to get workers back out in the job market. Problem was that it was a red tape nightmare, and was based on a one size fits all model. It just so happens that Kentucky has a large mining community. Whatever one may think of mining, and I happen to think it's comprised of some pretty big scoundrels as well as being environmentally disasterous, it's Kentucky's cash cow (after marijuana).

The federal government restricts use of these funds for training coal miners - in fact they can't be used for that. Big Ern (think Bill Murray in Kingpin) goes the Washington and issues a smackdown:
"Every child, every teacher, every school and every state is unique," he said, asking that states be allowed to move federal dollars more easily where they are needed.

Okay, not exactly a smackdown, but he makes the point that:
Rules about how federal funds can be spent not only hinder worker-training efforts but also high school programs designed to prepare students for college or a job, Fletcher said.

I'm no Fletcher fan, but at least he sees that the money on the table is useless if he has to spend it on an industry that won't benefit Kentuckians. Of course the other side to that coin is that if we had a sensible tax system wherein everyone paid their fair share we might not be in such a funding crunch. But God, I just can't stand to piss on Big Ern's parade today...he's just trying so hard and I can't start the weekend doling out bad karma.

Ellen Call - A Republican We Can All Support

From the Lexington Herald-Leader (since I haven't read The Courier-Journal yet today):
Louisville Metro Council members are inching closer to considering a proposal that would ban smoking in indoor workplaces, exempting bars and Churchill Downs.

Ellen Call, R-26th, is leading a council committee studying a smoking ban. She has asked the Jefferson County Attorney's Office to draft a smoking-ban ordinance. Call said the ordinance would prohibit smoking in virtually all indoor public places except bars, which likely would be defined as establishments that derive more than 25 percent of their gross receipts from alcohol sales.

At the risk of jeopardizing Ellen Call's political career within the Republican party (she is a former Anne Northup staffer), I will confess that she is a favorite of mine on the Metro Council. In other words she's more concerned with public conservatism rather than private intrusiveness. Admittedly, the Metro Council doesn't get the chance to debate or enact the "wedge issues" (would an abortion ban work?), but when a fairness ordinance came up Ellen Call did the sensible thing - she listened to her constituents rather than Mitch McConnell.

I'll also confess that I've campaigned for Ellen Call, and will continue to do so - there's no pay, but when she proposes common sense ordinances she ought to get some free ink without having to pay for it.

A smoking ban is perfectly fine, and the fact that she got ahead of the game and is looking for a compromise to the "all or nothing" campaign waged by the Louisville smoke free groups shows that she's looking to protect business owners as well as patrons. She previously sponsored a bill to limit smoking in eating establishments and child care centers (who would object to that?) which is still in committee.

Another note on Ellen - she regularly designates discretionary funds or uses her position as chair of the appropriations committee to fund public service projects. She's even set up her own charity to take care of children whose mothers are in prison. Helping the poor and less fortunate. What better way into the good graces of a bleeding heart liberal?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ben Chandler - Standing With The Rich and MBNA

I expect Kentucky's five Republican Representatives to whore themselves out to the credit industry despite the fact that Kentucky's six congressional districts rank as follows (sort by column for kicks and giggles) by average income across the country:

Hal Rogers (KY-5) - Second from the lowest;
Ed Whitfield (KY-1) - 29th lowest;
Ron Lewis (KY-2) - 110th lowest;
Ben Chandler (KY-6) - 146th lowest;
Anne Northup (KY-3) - 183rd lowest;
Geoff Davis (KY-4) - 195th lowest.

That's out of 428 districts in the country. And about $10,000 separates Whitfield's district (@ $30K) from Davis' (@$40K).

But Ben Chandler? I know he has to go conservative on some things, but there is simply nothing in either bill that would benefit his constituents, but plenty to hurt them.

Every one of them voted to protect Paris Hilton and the credit companies' $30 billion in profits (and in fact add to it).


Blaming the Troops First

Jesus, this is just unbelievable. What the hell is wrong with these idiots?

Meet Your Republican Majority

From Rep. Louise Slaughter on the bankruptcy bill debate in House Rules Committee:
The Republican Members also voted against exempting the men and women fighting for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan from the bankruptcy bill's so-called "means test." They opposed an amendment by Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts (amendment # 23) that would protect disabled veterans who have developed financial problems due to their combat service and they voted against another amendment (amendment # 12) requiring credit counseling agencies to provide free services to men and women who have recently left the military after serving in combat zones.....

The Republican Members also voted against assisting people who are forced into bankruptcy as a result of identity theft. They opposed an amendment offered by Rep. Adam Schiff of California (amendment # 11) that would protect consumers who find themselves with large debts because criminals have stolen their Social Security numbers and other personal identification information....

The Republican Members even voted against several amendments intended to protect people who file bankruptcy because they or a family member are experiencing a serious, costly illness. For example, they opposed an amendment offered by Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California (amendment # 12) that would protect people whose medical costs total more than 50% of their annual income....

These are your peeps. There's really nothing more to say. Illness strikes us all. Military personnel have no control over when or where they go to war. Credit reporting agencies and companies with credit header data (i.e., your address, social, birthdate, prior addresses, spouse info, and entire credit history such as account numbers) are getting hacked and hundreds of thousands of personal records have been ripe for the picking by identity thieves.

I support personal responsibility and use a credit card only for the airline miles - the balance is paid every month because I'll jump off a bridge before I owe interest to these goons. But you have to be a cold and callous person to not see that bad things happen to well-meaning people all the time.

And you have to be a heartless bastard to send people to fight a craphole war and then vote to let them be ravaged by creditors upon their return.

I'm starting to really detest these people.

Protecting Paris

No, not Paris, France - Paris Hilton. The House passes a bill repealing the estate tax, and Amy Sullivan sums it up best:
So, to sum up: Actual prescription drug relief? There's no money. Armor to protect our troops? There's no money. The funds to back up the mandated reforms of No Child Left Behind? There's no money. Doing away with a tax on super rich kids? Plenty o' cash to spare.

What's she talking about? Well:

Less than 1% of dead folks are subject to the estate tax and half the revenue from the tax came from estates with a value of $10 million or more.

Complete repeal of the estate tax would cost $1 trillion from 2012 to 2021.

Let's face it, the super rich have benefitted most from this administration, while American soldiers are losing limbs and lives because our Pentagon can't or won't buy the right armor. Our education system is crap. While Social Security is not in "crisis" there may be a funding shortage 75 years from now. And a drug benefit? Drug prices - because the government can't bargain for price controls like every other civilized nation - are increasing faster than inflation.

We are no longer debating Social Security and the budget deficit. The discussion has now centered on how to build majority support for cutting taxes for the benefit of less than 1% of our population and their heirs. All while that same majority suffers as a result.

Way to go big media. You really screwed the pooch on educating us.

That's your current Republican administration - crap on grandma's Social Security check so trust fund kids don't lose any portion of their inheritance. God forbid they have to contribute to society when they can just take instead.

What Energy Plan?

A House panel yesterday backed drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, advancing a key element of the Bush administration's energy plan.
The House Resources Committee endorsed drilling in the refuge's ecologically sensitive coastal plain as part of a package of energy measures approved by voice vote. Committee members rejected an effort by Democrats to strip the drilling provision from the measure by a vote of 30 to 13.

Honestly, can any scheme that continues to rely on dwindling sources of oil to keep our country's lights on, rather than R&D for alternative fuel sources (a/k/a "renewable sources") be considered a "plan"? By the time the Wildlife Refuge is fully raped we will be another 10 years behind the development process and closer to a real energy crisis.

(Not so) Newsflash: Oil is running out. At an astronomical rate thanks to China and India's increasing usage. Think outside your financial money men. Do something for the good of our country's future for once.

Every last one of you.

And yes, I am pissed about the fact of the drilling in the Refuge for environmental reasons, just like a majority of the country (especially check out the "intensity of feelings" - 45 strong against, 19 strong in favor). But the fact is that big oil and big auto doesn't care that caribou need a home too. What we should all care about is the fact that when the last drop of oil is burned, our airline industry folds, and suddenly crazy Mel's vision of our future becomes increasingly more likely to occur. That's the line of attack.

Time to Build a Bomb Shelter

As Ogma pointed out the other day, the great state of Connecticut has just insured that the sky is indeed going to fall. I can already feel the strain on my "traditional" marriage that this new law has wrought.

Money Does In Fact Buy Love (and Freedom)

From the BBC (a good alternative for unfiltered or unspun news):

Osama Bin Laden gave US forces the slip by bribing the Afghan militias tasked with tracking him down, according to Germany's spy chief, August Hanning. Mr Hanning told German newspaper Handelsblatt that using Afghans was the key mistake in the hunt for Bin Laden. He said Bin Laden paid "a lot of money" to buy a safe passage from the Tora Bora caves, which he had retreated to during the US assault in 2001.
The US has said it used Afghan fighters to reduce casualties among its troops.

This is not new, and we've (as in the general public) known bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora for a little while. But Kerry was on the Senate Intelligence Committee, so it seems to me that he knew this occurred otherwise he wouldn't have hung it out there. When will Bush and his campaign flunkies apologize for calling Kerry a liar out this fact in the debates?

My Bible says that would be the Christian thing to do (even for a guy that takes the Lord's name in vain).

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Tom DeLay Ethics Primer

Tapped called it the "explainer" but however you identify it, this Slate article is a great beginning point to those coming in on the Tom DeLay Ethics Show mid-season. Most people (actually about 70%) had never heard of DeLay prior to the Schiavo case, and for good reason. DeLay is the type of guy you want lurking in the shadows - the puppet master if you will.

Anyway, read the article and then try to keep up as the news develops. While the corruption is not so glamorous to include a blowjob, it is far more rampant and widespread - and in fact much more lucrative to the participants and disasterous for democracy and consumer's rights - than most realize. Again, DeLay was, until his craven political stunt with Schiavo's life, a shadow - he only existed in DC - yet he controls everything in the House and in the K Street lobby scene. His staffers and associates get million dollar jobs as favors, and he runs the show like a mob boss.

After reading the article consider the implications for those that would defend his "character" or hang their own political careers on his coat rack. I'm just saying, in politics there's partisanship and then there's wholesale whoring, and people should understand that there is a difference. I've made no secret on this site that I don't like Tom DeLay, but it should be noted that my distaste for him is not solely partisan - he is a power monger, and however much one may understand about democracy the one thing democracy is opposed to is that kind of centralized power. Essentially the federal government was hijacked by pro-business interests to the detriment of us all - for Bush it was ideology whereas for DeLay it was the unquenchable thirst that a small, insignificant little man may wield enormous power.

In generic, general terms I can at least give Bush the credit of having nationally minded (albeit misguided and hazardous) policy ideologies (after all most of his wealth is in those "worthless IOUs" otherwise known as government bonds). But with DeLay he is simply beyond redemption.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mitch McConnell Throws His Weight Around

Update: The Bluegrass Army Depot is actually in Richmond, Kentucky (just a hop, skip and jump from Lexington), rather than Berea.

Whether the Pentagon is forced to quit stalling its destruction of chemical weapons, and prime terror target, currently stored at Berea, Kentucky is a test of Mitch McConnell's influence in DC. He expects to win this fight:
If he succeeds -- and he expects to -- it could mean an end to delays in design and construction of a plant that will destroy the 523 tons of chemical weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot. McConnell, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, attached a provision to the supplemental spending bill that contains money to pay for the war in Iraq. McConnell's measure would forbid the Pentagon from transferring any of the $813.4 million earmarked in past years for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the agency that oversees chemical destruction programs at the depot and in Pueblo, Colo. The Kentucky Republican and other critics have accused the Pentagon of holding up money meant for Kentucky and Colorado in order to pay for cost overruns at disposal sites where incinerators are used.

I disagree with the Senator on most matters that are solely about pure partisanship (as opposed to common sense matters like this that actually benefit our great state), but on an issue that's generated relatively little buzz outside Berea, Kentucky, McConnell is taking a strong stand. This should be commended and we would be remiss to criticize his bad behavior but not reward the good.

If you're so inclined, let Mitch know you appreciate him taking away a terrorist target in the Bluegrass.

Enough is Enough

This is really getting old. I'm about tired of a US Congressman being given carte blanche to scurry about the nation suggesting that we fundamentally alter our constitutional system by paring down to two branches of government:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, stepped up his attack on federal judges Thursday, telling a gathering of religious conservatives that the judiciary has "run amok" and demanding that Congress assert authority over the courts. [Emphasis mine]

Perhaps I have too much affection for that old tattered document otherwise known as the "Constitution" and the built in "checks and balances." Perhaps having always had an interest in history I have too much nostalgia for the suffering of those that fled old Europe and fought insurmountable odds to establish a more perfect union. Perhaps I simply ascribe too much intelligence to a group of individuals that could draft a document whose words contain so much inherent power that the words alone are capable of binding a nation as vast and diverse as ours together for over two centuries. Perhaps I simply believe too foolhardedly that the American system of government is the best in the world - as it is right now and without modification simply because DeLay is having a meltdown and throwing temper tantrums on a daily basis.

Why does Tom DeLay hate the Constitution? And why can't he be removed from office in scorn and shame for violating his oath of office?

This has gone beyond mere politics. Tom DeLay may very well be certifiably insane to suggest that we scrap our Constitution and start over. At the very least he's shown himself entirely unfit to uphold the Constitution and defend it from all enemies, domestic and foreign, for the simple fact that his rantings make it quite clear he is himself the Constitution's enemy.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Judicial Activism in the CT Senate

In yet another sign of the apocalypse, the Connecticut Senate has voluntarily (i.e. without the bogeyman of "judicial activism") approved a bill permitting civil unions that is expected to pass the house and may very well be signed by a governor that supports the "idea" of civil unions.

Keep Tom DeLay!!!

For those that support the scandal-ridden Tom DeLay (and I know you're lurking out there because you've said you support him in the comments to previous posts), consider this from Mark Kleiman (via Atrios):
Kevin recalls correctly that DeLay was on Milosevich's side against Bill Clinton. He doesn't mention the extraordinary maneuver by which DeLay managed to send an encouraging message to the enemy while our men and women in uniform were in harm's way, by promising Clinton a resolution of support for the air war and then arranging for it to come to the floor and fail. (Of course, DeLay wasn't alone among Republicans, back then, in hating the President more than he hated the mass murderer the President was trying to rein in.) And now we know, as Kevin points out, that DeLay was doing all of this as the beneficiary of largesse from the Russian security services. Taking an expensive vacation at the expense of the military of a foreign power to support America's enemies probably doesn't amount to treason under the Constitutional definition, but it comes close.

Of course, "Kevin" is Kevin Drum who posted thusly:
Garance Franke-Ruta read to the end of today's Washington Post story about Tom DeLay's 1997 trip to Russia and was appalled to learn that it was financed by a firm with "tight connections to the Russian security establishment":

The United States of America cannot have one of its top congressional leaders taking money from people advocating for Russian military-intelligence and defense interests as part of a lobbying deal. It simply cannot. It is unacceptable for a critical leader in the U.S. government to be taken on a junket by groups working for foreign military interests or lobbying on their behalf, even if indirectly and without his knowledge.

Hmmm. Back in the mid-90s, wasn't DeLay awfully vocal about opposing action to stop Serbian genocide in Kosovo? And wasn't the Russian security establishment one of the biggest defenders of Serb interests?

That is why DeLay is an asshole (in my opinion of course), and that's why he's the equivalent of a bottom feeding douchebag. The scandals are breaking, and it now appears he was currying favor with a defender of not only NATO's enemy, but America's as well.

Hey Republicans, he's your guy. And unwavering loyalty to a despicable roach like this shows your colors too. Partisanship over patriotism. Wasn't it the Republicans that saddled up to mark Iraq War dissenters as "un-American" when in fact the Repubs had done the same in Kosovo? [And for those that want to blame Clinton for Rwanda, you ought to at least go out and get your facts straight. Nutshell: Bush I started Somalia, public opinion turned and Clinton had to pull out. Less than a year later Rwanda broke and there was little support for another "Mogadishu." France, Belgium, US and UN are all blamed for Rwanda, as the UN wanted everyone to chip in but didn't want to help cover costs.] But permissive genocide is par for the course - there's has been no action in Darfur until Bush finally bent on the International Criminal Court. While 300,000 people died at the hands of murderous thugs, Bush was trying to protect Rumsfeld and the rest of the torture crew from being wrung up at the Hague for war crimes in Iraq.

Ideology of corruption over ideology of transparent democracy. Ideology of power over the ideology of defending human rights. The "culture of life" is a political mantra that has no meaning coming from people like Tom DeLay.

Torture, corruption, shady deals with foreign military powers. That is what your party stands for now. You can either hit the "comments" button and call me a "hack" because the facts are inconvenient storm clouds in your otherwise utopian la-la land and show you backed the wrong horse; or you can work to change your party and make sure you're not electing scum like Tom DeLay to be your face in Congress.

I don't really care which, and quite frankly the longer shills support this fool the more likely it is that the whole regime will be swept from power. So by all means, support Josh Marshall in his efforts to create a bi-partisan colation to keep Tom DeLay. Maybe we can do our part in Kentucky by getting Hal Rogers to host another fund raiser for DeLay - assuming of course since losing the Appropriations Committee Chair position Rogers is still inclined to support the Bug Man.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Oil For Food, Literally

Appropos to my post yesterday about Capt. Obvious and the looming oil crisis (Does that sound like a bad 80's band to anyone besides me?), I came across this article today (by way of James Wolcott, whose post linking to the sited articles is worth a gander as well if you're so inclined) about the scary times ahead.

Read the whole thing, but for those that absolutely refuse to absorb more reality (or to obey the wistful pleadings of a madman/nutbag liberal) here's some choice quotes:

Some "cornucopians" claim that the Earth has something like a creamy nougat center of "abiotic" oil that will naturally replenish the great oil fields of the world. The facts speak differently. There has been no replacement whatsoever of oil already extracted from the fields of America or any other place.

Now we are faced with the global oil-production peak. The best estimates of when this will actually happen have been somewhere between now and 2010. In 2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China and India shot up, and revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its reserves, and Saudi Arabia proved incapable of goosing up its production despite promises to do so, the most knowledgeable experts revised their predictions and now concur that 2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak production. ....

No combination of alternative fuels will allow us to run American life the way we have been used to running it, or even a substantial fraction of it. The wonders of steady technological progress achieved through the reign of cheap oil have lulled us into a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome, leading many Americans to believe that anything we wish for hard enough will come true. These days, even people who ought to know better are wishing ardently for a seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative replacements.

The widely touted "hydrogen economy" is a particularly cruel hoax. We are not going to replace the U.S. automobile and truck fleet with vehicles run on fuel cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is largely designed to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas [production of which is decreasing by 5% per year]. The other way to get hydrogen in the quantities wished for would be electrolysis of water using power from hundreds of nuclear plants. Apart from the dim prospect of our building that many nuclear plants soon enough, there are also numerous severe problems with hydrogen's nature as an element that present forbidding obstacles [like the fact that it's highly explosive] to its use as a replacement for oil and gas, especially in storage and transport.

Wishful notions about rescuing our way of life with "renewables" are also unrealistic. Solar-electric systems and wind turbines face not only the enormous problem of scale but the fact that the components require substantial amounts of energy to manufacture and the probability that they can't be manufactured at all without the underlying support platform of a fossil-fuel economy. We will surely use solar and wind technology to generate some electricity for a period ahead but probably at a very local and small scale. ...

If China wanted to, it could easily walk into some of these places -- the Middle East, former Soviet republics in central Asia -- and extend its hegemony by force. Is America prepared to contest for this oil in an Asian land war with the Chinese army? I doubt it. Nor can the U.S. military occupy regions of the Eastern Hemisphere indefinitely, or hope to secure either the terrain or the oil infrastructure of one distant, unfriendly country after another. A likely scenario is that the U.S. could exhaust and bankrupt itself trying to do this, and be forced to withdraw back into our own hemisphere, having lost access to most of the world's remaining oil in the process. ...

Daily life will be far less about mobility and much more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large scale, whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness fall away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class. ...

Food production will necessarily be much more labor-intensive than it has been for decades. We can anticipate the re-formation of a native-born American farm-laboring class. It will be composed largely of the aforementioned economic losers who had to relinquish their grip on the American dream. These masses of disentitled people may enter into quasi-feudal social relations with those who own land in exchange for food and physical security. But their sense of grievance will remain fresh, and if mistreated they may simply seize that land. ...

...if we don't refurbish our rail system, then there may be no long-range travel or transport of goods at all a few decades from now. The commercial aviation industry, already on its knees financially, is likely to vanish. ...

Does this guy get invited to parties anymore? Somebody put me on suicide watch, because that's some scary kaka right there.

How Am I Supposed to Take This Quote?

From Condoleeza Rice:
"We have very good intelligence analysts who were doing their best, but obviously the president's intelligence has to be better than what we got on Iraq," she said Tuesday. [Emphasis mine in case there was any doubt]

Yes, Condi, the president should be more intelligent. But as a real douchebag once said (and I'm paraphrasing), "you go the war with the president you have, not the one you'd like to have." And given that the incompetents that gave aid and comfort to that lack of good intelligence keep getting promoted, including you honey, it doesn't look like we're going to be improving anytime soon.

Oh yeah, she was talking about Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and how the US can't afford not act since the intelligence is sketchy. How scary is that? Yet unprotected nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union are not high on the agenda, the very materials that would further Iran's and NK's ambitions...that is until someone gets their hands on them and figures out how to use them. Bush called it his highest priority in the 2004 debates, but where's the action to secure these materials? When a two year old won't quit hitting the dog with your golf club do you keep telling him to stop, or do you take away the golf club? Decrease the loose nuke materials and you necessarily decrease the likelihood that nuke weapons are easily obtained.

And the preemptive war drums beat on....

Bankrupting America

Josh Marshall is one of my favorite bloggers, in fact his was the first blog I ever read and indeed the only one I read for a long period of time. And as usual, today he has a great post about the national debt in the context of Bush's Social Security phase out plan. I'll cut and paste, but do suggest reading the whole thing - especially you fiscal conservatives out there that swear by your man despite his utter abandonment of the core conservative ideology:

So, a bit less than $2 trillion of debt piled up on President Bush's watch.

Needless to say, that is much more than the entire Social Security Trust Fund, which President Bush says there is no way to make good on. (According to the recently released Trustees' report, the Trust Fund currently has just under $1.7 trillion in it.)

Now, federal debt is divided into "public debt" and "intragovernmental holdings", which means debt held in various government Trust Funds. Social Security and Medicare are the big trust funds. But there are several smaller ones too.

Over that same period I mentioned above, the total of these 'Intragovernmental Holdings' went from just under $2.5 trillion to just over $3.2 trillion. Now, remember, that's not all the Social Security Trust Fund. It's all the trust funds combined. But if the Social Security Trust Fund is worthless then the other trust funds must be worthless too.

So that means that President Bush (his administration) has borrowed some $700 billion of your payroll taxes that he now says will never be paid back. In fact, just last year (2004), on the president's watch, $156 billion (and change) of your Social Security payroll tax dollars went for what he calls worthless pieces of paper.

Now, one more batch of numbers. As you remember, the federal debt is divided into public debt and trust fund debt. Or, to put it into the president's terms, debt that actually gets paid back and suckers' debt that just amounts to worthless paper.

So now let's look at the public debt, the stuff even President Bush admits will be paid back. Over the same time period noted above (September 2001 to last month), public debt went from about $3.3 trillion to just under $4.6 trillion .... So let's call that around $1.2 trillion.

....The Social Security Trust Fund is now at about $1.7 trillion. And President Bush says there's no way that can or will be paid back. But just in his first term he's racked up about two-thirds that much money in new debt. And he'll easily exceed that number in his second term. And that'll amount to maybe a couple trillion dollars that even President Bush concedes will be paid back to all those bond purchasors here and abroad.

If we hadn't gone on President Bush's red ink binge, that would be more than enough cash to pay back all the money owed to the Social Security Administration.....

Instead we got President Bush who's run up a ton of debt that he just wants to walk away from. And he keeps borrowing more and more every day.

Isn't the bankruptcy bill supposed to deal with folks like him?

But 9/11 changed everything. 9/11. 9/11. Thousands dead. 9/11. Jesus. Etc.

I'm not a trust expert, but when someone holds money for the benefit of another I was under the impression a constructive trust is created for the benefit of the person whose funds are held. The holder of the funds is duty bound to use them only for the benefit of the beneficiary. By taking our Social Security contributions and buying paper Bush has no intention of paying back he has betrayed the public's trust.

Isn't it Republicans that always say you can't trust the government with your money? Maybe what they really meant was that you can't trust a Republican government with your money. Clearly that is the case.

And for really scary stuff read all about the trade deficit and how our economy (along with Europe's and Japan's) teeters on the brink of some stone cold scary stuff. China and India are looking to benefit immensely from reckless trade policies...or get really pissed when we cut them off.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Can We Just Call Him Capt. Obvious?

Because "Mr. Obvious" is already taken. Anyway, the Maestro comes out with a statement on par with saying "water is wet":
High oil and natural gas prices have put energy markets under a degree of strain that hasn't been seen in a generation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
said Tuesday....

Then he comes with this as rationale for "letting the market sort itself out":
He said that the higher energy prices will not only stimulate new exploration but also research and development "that will unlock new approaches to energy production and use that we can now only scarcely envision."

Let me be square, I don't think there's anything that can be done about high oil prices given that OPEC is pumping at capacity and China is burning through it like a quarter bag at a Cheech and Chong filmfest. Nothing short of invading an oil rich country that is....but we've already tried that one. The Arctic Refuge yields about 6 months worth of oil and the oil industry has expressed skepticism about the costs involved versus the public relations nightmare. I'm going off the cuff here, but remember a poll showing almost 70% opposing drilling in the refuge.

So in many respect Capt. Obvious is correct - let the markets go. The problem is that under the prevailing mentality among big oil and this administration there's no incentive for American industry to change behavior. There has to be a change in the auto manufacturing market as well as an overall change in the behavior of Americans. This includes our expectation of instantaneous gratification in travel - and I have no idea whether we can make an airplane that doesn't require so much oil based jet fuel to fly. I do know that if they come up with one I'll hold out for a while before trying it out.

Part of the cure is the rails, just like Europe, that run on electrical power. Is it lots of cash? You can bet your sweet C-note on it. But hell, a couple of no bid contracts and Halliburton will have us riding the Amerail (my name for the American equivalent of the Eurail) in no time. Reliance on oil really cannot go on. The dinosaurs died out 200 million years ago (or 10,000 depending on which church you go to) and there ain't no more around.

And changing American behavior starts with taxing the habit. Conservatives will cringe, but the reality is that destructive behavior, if it's to be tolerated, should be taxed. Want to smoke? Pay taxes on the habit. Want to drive a gas guzzling Hummer? Pay taxes on the habit. Want to smoke pot? Pay taxes on the habit - okay, maybe I'm jumping the gun on that one. Anyway, the point is not to tax the habit(s) for revenue raising purposes alone - the goal has to be to wean people off the habit.

Am I suggesting no one drive and that we go to the horse and buggy? Absolutely not. I have no place at my house to store a horse or a buggy. I am saying, however, that Americans have to learn to do without incrementally because, just like giving up smoking, doing it slowly is less painful than waking up one day and finding out that oil hit $120/barrel and...well, before you get your home heated you're just going to have to wait until the needs of the more wealthy are filled at those prices.

The reality is that unlike diamonds, oil is not forever. The sooner the public at large is allowed to know that unsettling fact, the better prepared we'll be to meet the future and the better able our politicians wil be to make the proper policy decisions without regard to interference from an industry that will one day be as extinct as the species that created its product.

Trying Again

Blogger has been feasting on my posts today, so I'm trying again. This one is not a redraft of an eaten one, but I'm going with it. "JB" thinks I never get on Democrats, so here goes:

This is stupidest thing I've heard since noon today (the stupid think before noon was in a post eaten by the Blogger monster):

“I think the opponents of this [bankruptcy] bill are in some cases deliberately trying to mislead people,” Rep. Richard Boucher (D-VA), told RAW STORY, “and to lead them to think that someone who is affected by a financial catastrophe is going to be hindered by this bill. That simply isn’t true.”

Not only is that stupid, it's a lie. The Senate voted down an amendment to protect military families, those in the poor house for medical disasters, and seniors (for general info with links to specifics see Think Progress' run down). Besides, people file bankruptcy, with nominal exception, because of financial catastrophe and limiting that right is de facto "affecting" them. So there you have it JB, stupidity rears its head on the Democratic side.

Truth be told, every Democrat that voted for this hunk of steaming crap ought to face primary challengers. This isn't a bill that pits religious folks against atheists, or whites against blacks, or men against women. This bill is only in favor of its authors, the credit industry. Both people on the right and left agree on this point. Therefore, a vote for this bill is a vote in opposition to the middle class, and thus a craven political betrayal of core Democratic principals. I'm not a liberal ideologue but I do believe in protecting consumers and keeping the middle class from shouldering the burden of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And voting for this bill is shameful - for anyone that puts business so callously ahead of seniors, the military, and the destitute.

F@#* Blogger

I had a kick ass post about stupid things Democrats say, just to show "JB" (a commenter on several posts below) that I don't subscribe to the "Democrats are holier than thou" ideology. But Blogger ate it and it's gone down the sewer forever.

Sorry JB, I'm out of time and can't redo it because of the time it took to get the links. I'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Should DeLay Resign?

These guys think so. Do these things work? Probably not, given that DeLay is mounting a counter offensive. But it sure feels good to have the impression you are making a difference.

God, I Hate Tom DeLay

Tom DeLay got on the House floor and slandered Michael Schiavo, impugned his character, attacked his integrity, and later implicitly threatened his life.

Perhaps that prick should have read the GAL report, particularly starting on page 9, prepared by a guardian ad litem appointed by the Florida Circuit Court for the benefit of Governor Jeb Bush.

Forget scandals. Tom DeLay, and the rest of the bandwagon humpers that rode the Terri Schiavo case like a miniature pony at the state fair, breaking its back and crushing its spirit, should be sued civilly for their crass and unfounded comments about Michael Schiavo.

I'm sure Schiavo is not a saint, but he's not the murderer those assholes made him out to be. It's a sad day in democracy when a US Congressman gets free air time to use his/her bully pulpit to attack an ordinary American. This is not Stalin's Russia or Hitler's Germany. We all have civil liberties and freedoms, and one such right is the right to privacy. Schiavo was not a public figure from a legal standpoint and Tom DeLay attacked him for the sole purpose of scoring political points.

Tom DeLay, however, is a public figure. As such, I have no problem expressing my opinion of him. Tom DeLay, you are an asshole.

And when you say:
"No care for 15 years. No therapy. No nothing," DeLay said, his voice awash in scorn. "What kind of man is that?"

then you are an outright liar. You are a liar. And you are an asshole.

And since you pulled the plug on your own father, either you are a hypocrite or you are not a man at all, by your own analysis of course. Either one fits, but I think it's more the latter.

You are a liar, you are an asshole, and you are far from being a man. You are the epitomy of all the shameful and despicable despots that have ever wielded power in the history of the world. You are filth, you are a bottom feeding sack of soiled baby diapers (anyone with kids will appreciate the severity of the stench that eminates from dirty diapers).

All in my own opinion of course.

Changing the Face of Catholicism

I don't have much to comment on the passing of the Pope, although will say that the length of his reign seems to be making his passing that much more difficult on Catholics everywhere. I'm not a Catholic, but I play one every Sunday and especially Christmas Eve and Easter. Even so, I don't get the sense that the church has lost its identity - the church is an institution and is larger than just one man.

In fact, it appears that at least insofar as American Catholics are concerned, they would like to see a change in the Catholic Church. Per a CNN poll:

Asked about the selection of the next pontiff, a third said they want a pope who is more liberal, while just 4 percent said they want someone more conservative. More than half -- 59 percent -- said they want someone about the same as John Paul.

Seventy-eight percent said the next pope should allow Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent said he should let priests marry and 59 percent said the next pope should have a less-strict policy on stem cell research.

Fifty-five percent said the next pope should allow women to become priests, while 44 percent said he should not. The question's margin of error means the difference is too close to draw strong conclusions.

And one of the most surprising to me (at least historically speaking, and from having lived in a Catholic community and in a Catholic family) was:
Asked whether the next pontiff, unlike John Paul, should allow Catholics to divorce and remarry, 49 percent said yes, while 48 percent said no.
Often the religious in this country, and particularly Catholics, perhaps because of the very public face of the Pope, are portrayed at once as both being far right religious extremists and as being "mainstream" America. Both are incorrect of course, but they make for great tv. Unfortunately, the Christians of this country have allowed their religious beliefs to be hijacked by extremists like James Dobson, who in one breath condemns the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube but in the next breath can't believe we won't execute minors in this country.

Like the Pope and Vatican II or not, they were consistent - consistently erring on the side of life as GWB would say right before flipping the switch on yet another death row inmate in Texas. The religious folks of this country would be wise to take their religions back and reclaim them from the heretical misuse of their beliefs for the sole purpose of taking power and attempting a merger of the church and state. Now I will be clear - I don't believe that true mainstream religious America wants a Middle Eastern style democracy in which the Bible is the law and our political leaders are also our pastors. I do believe there are religious extremists that want to see that happen, just as Muslim extremists want to see it in their own countries. I don't believe however that Bush and Rove want that at all. No, their cynical use of religion and exploitation of the faithful was for the sole purpose of gaining power and nothing more.

The point, from my perspective at least, is that religion is a private matter - and by "private" I don't mean one should only practice it within the confines of a church or their own house. I mean that religion is different to everyone, even people within the same faith. The opinions expressed in the CNN poll shows that religion is not being accurately portrayed in the media, and people of all faiths should fight that. There's a reason people on the left will refer to Christian conservatives as "religious extremists" as if it's a one size fits all label. The reason is that Christians allow all the wrong elements to speak for them.

I for one am sick of people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell paraded around on the bobble head shows professing to speak for me.