Some recent links from my Stumble folder for your amusement and distraction, after the break.
aspiring suicide bomber. She doesn't advocate the overthrow of the government. Instead, she pushes for funding and better treatment for people with HIV and AIDS.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Some recent links from my Stumble folder for your amusement and distraction, after the break.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
This is a portion of a film created by Amnesty International for their Unsubscribe Me campaign. It shows a performance artist actually subjected to the "interrogation" techniques which Amnesty says are authorized in the CIA handbook. In this scene, the artist playing the prisoner has been placed in authorized "stress positions" for six hours.
Amnesty is asking people around the world to sign a petition opposing the abuse of human rights in the name of the war on terror. For more information, check out the Amnesty Unsubscribe website. If you are ready to sign the petition, you can Unsubscribe Here.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Ron Paul has become the latest darling of the pajama media and generated what appears to be a true grassroots following. Accounting for this are some of his atypical-for-a-Republican positions on front-line issues. The popularity of his opposition to the war policies of the Despicable Cretin, his activist support for personal privacy (including opposition to the Patriot Act and the national ID card), his supposedly "principled" defense of Constitutional limits, and his in-your-face attacks on the intellectual inconsistency of his fellow Republican candidates, have given him the 2008 "straight-talk" mantle.
But Ron Paul's attractiveness is only skin-deep. Unfortunately, for a significant portion of voters, skin-deep is as far as they go. A closer look at some of his other positions, especially on social issues, reveals a different and, frankly, disturbing picture of the candidate.
Ron Paul not only opposes the right to choose, but he opposes any federal support for family planning, including counseling, sex education, and contraceptive advice or support.
And, of course, Paul wants Roe v Wade overturned. While Paul likes to promote himself as a defender of personal privacy and liberty, he ignores the privacy and liberty issues at the heart of the abortion issue and the Roe v. Wade decision -- his support for personal liberty and privacy only extends to liberty and privacy invoked in favor of those portions of the christian mythology he has adopted. In other words -- In Ron Paul's America, your personal privacy and liberty choices are protectible to the extent that they happen to coincide with Paul's personal choices.
As with a women's right to control her own body, Paul's concept of personal liberty also requires that your civil liberties stop at his personal gag factor. Ron Paul opposes equal rights for gays. And, of course, if Ron Paul is personally opposed to queers getting married, his so-called "principled" defense of the Constitution becomes irrelevant. Thus, despite his precious Constitution clearly requiring all States to honor give "full faith and credit" to the laws of their sister States, Paul favors abandoning that provision when he and his personal mythology doesn't like what they have done.
The full faith and credit clause is what allows you to drive in New Jersey with your Pennsylvania license; it is what permits you to live as husband and wife in New York, although you got married in Florida; it is what allows you to collect a judgment against a company in Iowa issued by a Delaware court. But that same clause, Paul insists, can't be used to "force" bigots like him to recognize gay marriages because, well, because he doesn't want to. Paul supports the Defense of Marriage Act and wants to strip the federal courts of their power to apply the federal Constitution to state laws on such matters. Indeed, Paul wants to deny the federal courts the power to decide all First Amendment controversies.
Paul opposes stem-cell research because, he says, that taxpayers shouldn't have to fund projects that they find "ethically abhorrent". I haven't found "ethically abhorrent" in my copy of the Constitution. But, if that were the test, well, then, I find faith-based government programs "ethically abhorrent", I find prayer "ethically abhorrent", as well as tax-relief for churches. I know, I am in the minority. But, so are the people that find stem-cell research "ethically abhorrent". Paul's argument is just cover for his desire to impose his personal set of values, his christian mythology, on the rest of us.
Paul wants to drill for oil in ANWR and everywhere else he can. His excuse -- to reduce our dependence on Middle-Eastern oil. But, that important "principle" stops at the economic interests of corporate America, as Paul opposes strict fuel economy standards.
Ron Paul wants a christian nation, and he is willing to lie about the Constitution to convince you. Among the false statements in his little tome on christianity is that the United States Constitution is "replete with references to God". Umm, no it isn't. In fact, the word "god" appears no where in the text. Either Ron Paul doesn't know that -- which puts the lie to his pretense of advocacy for the Constitution -- or he does -- which puts the lie to him. Either way . . . .
But what would you expect from someone who says that "a separation of church and state has no historical or constitutional basis", or a guy who wants to teach creationism in public schools?
Ron Paul comes from the lunatic fringe of American society. When he speaks of his "principles", he means his dogma. When he advocates for freedom and personal liberty -- he means just as long as it is consistent with his brand of christian mythology.
Paul also has a questionable history on race issues (and much has been made of the level of support which he enjoys from the white supremacy crowd). In 1996, the Houston Chronicle questioned him and his staff about comments Paul made in his newsletters in 1988 and 1992. At the time, neither Paul nor his staff disowned the comments. Instead, according to the article, Paul tried to explain some of them away, "saying his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of 'current events and statistical reports of the time.'"
Here, according to the Chronicle, are some of Paul's written statements based on those "current events and statistical reports":
“[O]nly about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions"
"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."
[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers."
And they called Mike Gravel loony?
Fortunately, ideologues like this guy don't go away and he'll be around to siphon scarce Republican money, likely through the convention. Hopefully, he'll then run third-party and continue to help the Democrats.
Monday, November 12, 2007
With nothing better to do, I spent some time yesterday re-reading the convention acceptance speeches of some Presidential nominees. I'll match the snippets to the candidates below the fold . . . .
"To Americans of every party I pledge that on Jan. 20 next year our government will again have a cabinet of the ablest men and women to be found in America. The members of that Cabinet will expect and will receive full delegation of the powers of their office. They will be capable of administering those powers. They will each be experienced in the task to be done and young enough to do it. This election will bring an end to one-man government in America. . . .
"The present administration in Washington . . . is at war with Congress, and at war with itself. Squabbles between Cabinet members, feuds between rival bureaucrats and bitterness between the President and his own party members, in and out of Congress, have become the order of the day. In ... vital matters ..., we have become familiar with the spectacle of wrangling, bungling and confusion.
"Does anyone suggest that the present national administration is giving either efficient or competent government? We have not heard that claim made, even by its most fanatical supporters. No, all they tell us is that in its young days it did some good things. That we freely grant. But now it has grown old in office. It has become tired and quarrelsome."
"Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom's model in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.
"[T]he administration which we shall replace has distorted and lost that faith. It has talked and talked and talked and talked the words of freedom. Now, failures . . . . haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations - the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening wills, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses. Because of this administration we are tonight a world divided - we are a Nation becalmed. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse....
"Rather than moral leadership, [we] have been given bread and circuses, spectacles, and, yes, they have even been given scandals. Tonight there is . . . corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness among our youth, anxiety among our elders and there is a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. Where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.
"Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government."
"America cries out for the unity that this Administration has destroyed. . . . America is in trouble today not because her people have failed but because her leaders have failed. And what America needs are leaders to match the greatness of her people. . . .
"When the strongest nation in the world can be tied down for four years in a war . . . with no end in sight; When the richest nation in the world can't manage its own economy; When the nation with the greatest tradition of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness; . . .
"And when the President of the United States cannot travel abroad or to any major city at home without fear of a hostile demonstration -- then it's time for new leadership for the United States of America."
As you might have surmised, they are all Republicans.
Candidate One: Thomas Dewey, railing against Roosevelt and his three terms in office, at the Republican Convention in Chicago, on June 28, 1944.
Candidate Two: Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention in San Fransisco (of all places).
Candidate Three: Richard Nixon, accepting the 1968 nomination in Miami.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Barletta essentially ran unopposed and picked up sizable percentages in an extremely low turnout. With well-over 18,000 voting-aged residents, about 2,900 bothered to stumble into the polls and vote in the Mayoral "contest".
The best report we've seen on this is in John Micek's Capital Ideas (scroll down -- it is the very last item in the column). A perfect tribute to Hazleton's "source of all truth".
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Voters are staying away from the polls in droves.
In my little hamlet, control of the local supervisor board, the tax collector, and school board is up for grabs, not to mention the county commissioners -- you know, all the folk who set your property taxes, regulate your zoning, hire the police (or not), and basically affect your lives practically every day.
We've got about 1800 eligible voters in our 10 square. I was the fifteenth voter about ten minutes after the polls opened and my son, about ten minutes before they closed, was number 164.
Less than one out of ten eligible voters bothered to make it to the polls here. This gave about 83 people -- out of 1800 -- the power to decide the makeup of the board of supervisors for the next six years.
Hey neighbor, thanks for nothing.
Friday, November 02, 2007
"Greed has poisoned men’s souls - has barricaded the world with hate - has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed." -- Charlie Chaplain, "The Great Dictator" (1940)