lurkitty: (fudog)
After a victory in the prolonged fight to force the VA to allow the Wiccan pentagram symbol to be used on graves of fallen soldiers, the widow who brought the suit that won that right was excluded from a meeting with President Bush in Northern Nevada.

Review-journal.com reports that Roberta Stewart was not invited to a meeting of families of fallen soldiers with the President, though other members of her family were there. Roberta Stewart is the only Wiccan member of the family.

The White House, once again, is showing their tendency to insulate the President against anyone who might possibly disagree with him. They will go to any length, even disrespecting the widow of a fallen soldier.
lurkitty: (toilet cat)
Cheney to be in charge during Bush colonoscopy

So many things come to mind. But I'll let your imagination run away with you to fun, happy places.

Look! Lj made the news again! LiveJournal Bans Underage Fanfiction. Thanks to Firefox news for telling it like it is, including that Six Apart decided to come up with this "clarification" while the HP fandom is on hiatus for the release of Deathly Hallows.

This means I'm losing some friends here. Sad. There was a time when I really wanted a permanent account. Now I regret giving these people money, especially since I've been seeing ads all over my feeds. I even saw one on someone's LJ the other day (I checked - I was logged in). They aren't managing this idiocy at all well.

Maybe Lj needs a colonoscopy?
lurkitty: (Default)
Many people are saying, "I told you so" with regard to Bush's action on behalf of his pal, Scooter.

I, for one, was pleasantly surprised. I expected a full pardon. But Bush only commuted the sentance. Libby is not fully exonerated, he will still pay (too light) consequences of $200,000 fine and two years probation. Libby remains a convicted felon.

That is an interesting message. "I'll cover your ass part way, but not all the way." Hmmm. Kinda like "Have fun, but don't get caught!"
lurkitty: (albert)
As I was hopping back and forth between activities at a conference this weekend, the breaking stories were the bombs in London and the attack on the Glasgow airport.

I was very disappointed that, before any evidence was released, CNN was reporting a link to Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is the current bogeyman. They're hiding under your bed, and the instant that anything untoward happens, Al Qaeda is blamed.

Right now, some are calling the persons arrested "middle eastern", while witnesses to the arrests are on record as describing them as "asian" - which is used in Britain to refer to people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Consider the fact there are widespread protests in Pakistan due to the Knighting of Salman Rushdie. Quoting from the Asian Tribune Article:

"In neighbouring Pakistan a near hysteria has been created against knighthood for Salman Rushdie. Both Houses of Pakistan Parliament (national assembly) have passed resolutions against the knighthood, as have the state assemblies. Effigies of the Queen and the Union Jack have been burnt all across the country, including its so-called cultural capital, Lahore.

Speaking in the national assembly, a federal minister, who is also the son of a former military dictator, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, justified terrorism in the name of religion and incited people in his country to carry out suicide attacks. His words must have worried the present military dictator enough for their impact on Pakistan’s already sullied image to force the egregious Pakistani minister to issue a ‘clarification’. "

Another statement that aroused concern was by Pakistan's religious affairs minister, Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq. According to Asia Media, he said, "If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honor of the prophet Mohammad, his act is justified." They reported that he "later retracted his statement, saying he was not looking to incite suicide bombing but explaining that knighting Rushdie could foster extreme actions."


Despite these very specific threats, there has been no speculation about links to the Pakistani protests. CNN is still reporting that it is an "Al Qaeda-linked group" (sorry, no link yet as transcripts have not been published). The only "evidence" cited in the Al Qaeda speculation is that Al Qaeda has used linked car bombs - where one small bomb goes off to get gawkers out into the street, then a second, larger bomb goes off to kill them. It is speculated that the two cars seized in London were linked bombs.

The fact that the US has not raised its security level lends credence to that idea that this is an attack directed toward the UK, not one directed toward the "allies" in Iraq.

The rush to judgement does not serve us well. Speculation about links to Al Qaeda should not be raised by news organizations unless there is proof. The police investigation will show soon enough who was or was not involved. Instead of trying to scoop other news organizations, reporters should be circumspect in their speculations until the evidence is reviewed.

S.O.S.

Jun. 13th, 2007 10:41 pm
lurkitty: (fishbike)
A federal judge has placed science over politics in striking down a Bush Administration decision to count hatchery-raised fish along with wild stocks in determining endangered species protection.

The ruling is important because scientists believe that hatchery fish can actually damage native stocks. By ruling that they are actually different, protections for endangered wild stocks can remain in place or be restored.

The Upper Columbia Steelhead will be raised from threatened to endangered due to this ruling.
lurkitty: (Default)
(Stolen from Crooks & Liars)

Bush gets his watch stolen by adoring Albanians. In this video - the watch is there at the :50 mark (the armband is black) and gone at the 1:00 mark.

As C&L points out, why don't we Americans ever get to ruffle our President's hair?

Bwahahahahaha!!!
lurkitty: (albert)
Go to Google images and type "underwhelmed".

Enshrined there in thumbnails is an illustration of my feelings with respect to the passage of the Iraq war funding bill. I find myself, a lefty of the extremist ilk, quite unable to join in the festival of collective spleen venting against the Congress.

For the record, I do not think the troops should be in Iraq another day. Cutting off funding was a good idea. Adding a timetable was a good idea. Point made, speeches made, no veto-proof majority possible? Move on (to borrow a slogan).

Getting into a high-profile power struggle right now is not a good idea.

The US is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. If you are following Gonzo-gate at all, you may have noted that, in the last few days, concrete testimony of illegal actions by the Attorney General have emerged. In essence, the Legislative Branch is using its oversight privileges to determine if the Executive overstepped its authority over the Judicial Branch.

A standoff right now between Congress and the President would be used to further charges by the Right that these hearings are politically motivated. It would also push coverage of the revelations further off the front pages and out of the lime light. The public needs to be constantly reminded that there is real malfeasance here, that there are members of this administration willfully breaking the law.

Call me barmy, but my eyes are on a bigger prize. We can stop this war by impeaching all the criminals who started it.
lurkitty: (Default)
I'm beginning to think the American public has reached the point of "scandal fatigue".

The fact that the White House has "lost" up to 5 million emails does not seem to disturb people (as Sen. Patrick Leahy pointed out - it is extremely difficult to completely lose an email). This White House has often been called extremely secretive in its dealings with the press, public and lately, the Congress. Both sides of the political divide are having a hard time swallowing the notion that "losing" 5 million emails was all an "honest mistake" and that no one deliberately used the system to discuss sensitive subjects knowing the emails would not be archived.

The general public seems to be taking this all in stride. This is behavior they have come to expect from the Bush White House, and those that trust the president continue to trust him, while those that don't simply shake their heads at another revelation. We certainly hope that, through it all, the Senate Judiciary Committee is taking note and building a case for impeaching not only Bush, but Cheney as well.

While the White House guards its own information like a rapid dog, information belonging to the public is not afforded the same courtesy. Not does the government spy on own citizens with alacrity, but now, we find a major database of very private information about the nation's students has been left open to mining by the student loan industry.

I thought it was very strange when I received a number of official looking mailings from lenders offering to consolidate my student loans. The problem is that I only have one student loan, a remnant of going back to school many years ago. It did cross my mind to wonder how they got information specific information like the amount of my loan. But the letters were sporadic and eventually stopped coming. Now I know, and I'm not happy about it.

The database was created in 1993 to make it easier for students to determine if they qualify for a student loan. The data-mining problem was first noted by the Department of Education in 2003. I received no notice that my data was being used in this manner; they knew there was a problem, but did not see fit to notify the people whose data had been compromised. In 2005, the department sent warning letters to database users in which the concern was raised that lenders were giving database access to unauthorized users such as marketing firms, collection agencies and loan brokers. Yet still, no notification to the students whose data may have been compromised.

The ugly specter of department complicity was raised earlier this month when it was discovered that an official of the Education Department that oversees both the industry and the database owned more than $100,000 of stock in a student loan company.

Flagrant violations of the public's privacy coupled with a nearly fanatical insistence on
its own privacy makes Alberto Gonzales editorial in today's Washington Post seem more than a bit disingenuous.
lurkitty: (Default)
(no - not that Harry!)

Say what you will about the Brits pulling out of Basra after having done exactly what they were asked to do. It's the other bit of news from across the pond that clearly shows their mettle: His Royal Highness Prince Harry will deploy to Iraq with his unit later this year.

No details are being released as to where or in what capacity Cornet Wales, as he is known in his regiment, will serve due to the particular danger of kidnapping or drawing fire. But the thought of remaining at home while his unit was in combat was out of the question to the second son of Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

This scenario begs the question: What are the Bush twins up to today?
lurkitty: (geektoaster)
I just received this via email - Fair warning to all Trekkies!!

Republicans Criticize Trekkies for Singing National Anthem in Klingon

Washington – President Bush lashed out at Star Trek fans, or Trekkies,
for opening conventions and fan club gatherings by singing the
Star-Spangled Banner in Klingon, a language spoken in the fictional Star
Trek universe, Underneath Politics has learned.

“If we are going to criticize the Latin Community for singing the
National Anthem in Spanish, we cannot give a free pass to the Star Trek
fan community just because they are crazy in a harmless sort of way,”
President Bush said from the Rose Garden.

Democrats on Capital Hill equated the President’s criticism to an attack
on the 1st Amendment. “The Constitution does not say anything about the
freedom to speak a language used by fictional bad guys from outer
space,” Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind
the framers of the Constitution would want Trekkies to have the freedom
to use such a language without governmental interference.”

The President however, feels that singing the National Anthem in Klingon
is worse than Mexican Americans singing the National Anthem in Spanish.
“In order for the Mexicans to sing the Star-Spangled Banner in English,
they have to learn the language,” President Bush said. “All the Trekkies
have to do in order to sing the National Anthem in English is use the
language they already knew before they learned Klingon. English is
something American’s were born knowing, while the knowledge to speak
Klingon is something that must be acquired.”

President Bush also fears that if the Trekkies continue to embrace
Klingon tendencies it could further divide an already polarized nation.
“These were not nice people,” President Bush said of the Klingons.
“Their goal was the total destruction of everyone onboard the Starship
Enterprise. I will not allow my National Anthem to be sung in a language
used by perpetrators of such evil.”

Senator Reid, however, says you can’t lump all Trekkie followers of
Klingon’s together. “We don’t know the motive of every Trekkie with an
affection for Klingon’s,” he said. “Sure, anyone can portray (Klingon
Founder) Kahless the Unforgettable as someone who wanted to spread his
message through violence, but those people are probably twisting his
words. Despite causing many conflicts since their beginning in 900AD, I
believe they are a peaceful people. I implore President Bush to learn
more about Klingon’s and the Klingon home world of Qo’noS before he
casts general dispersions about the kindhearted Klingon people and their
earthly followers.”

Because of the time and intelligence needed to learn the complex
language of Klingon, President Bush is afraid the Trekkies might use
their manpower and dedication to unleash a global terror war on Western
Civilization, something only Republicans have the willpower to curtail.
“Our airport scanners are not sophisticated enough to detect the Vulcan
Nerve Pinch, which Mr. Spock often used to subdue his enemies.” Mr. Bush
said. “Using wiretapping, secret prisons throughout the country and
military tribunals, I’m confident we can break up Trekkie sleeper cells
before we reach that point.”

In response to the growing Klingon problem, former President Bill
Clinton announced that he did everything he could to capture Trekkie Fan
Club President Omar Bryce Langford during his eight years in office, but
unfortunately failed due to the incompetence of the CIA and FBI.
lurkitty: (Pogo)
Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army, was almost apologetic in his announcement that he was stocking his cupboards for another four years of war in Iraq.
"It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."
He cautioned that he was not predicting that things would get worse or that they would be there, but the nations top generals are becoming more vocal in their assessment that we are not leaving Iraq anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the debate over the methodology of the study of Iraqi civilian casualties in the recent Lancet article continues. This is the same methodology used to determine death rates in regions like Darfur, and in presidential poling. Even if the low end estimate is used, the the numbers we have been given by the Bush administration are off by an order of magnitude.

It is a damned inconvenience for us to have to put our toothpaste and shampoo in plastic bags and take off our shoes to fly across the country to visit mom. It is frightening to see our right of Habeus Corpus suspended for the first time since the Constitution was written, our citizens now subject to warrantless searches and detention without trial on suspicion of terrorism.

It is the reality every day in Baghdad that you may be killed by an IED, kidnapped, tortured held and executed by militia groups and police alike. Regardless of whether it is 600,000, 400,000 or 50,000, Iraqi citizens are dying in greater numbers everyday. It has to be demoralizing to read that the US army is preparing to be in country until 2010, even if it is just precautionary. We cannot begin to know what is in the minds of the average Iraqi, but we can imagine how soul-crushing it must be to face the horrors of death counts every day. When they look to us and ask how this happened, and who is responsible, what is our response?

Donald Rumsfeld, when asked whether he bore any responsibility for the mistakes in Iraq, said,"...why do we have to keep going through this? Of course I bear responsibility, my lord, I'm the Secretary of Defense. Write it down, quote it. You can bank on it."
That was no apology, it was the snippy answer of an aggravated adolescent.

We are not the ones whose cities are being blown apart, who have no running water, no electricity for days on end when substations are targeted. We are not the ones who were promised an end to political imprisonments and torture only to find the police trained by their new occupiers refilling the same prisons and using the same methods as the old regime.

Given this atmosphere of unrelenting terrorism, and our lack of sympathy for their continued suffering, is it any wonder that Iraqis would like to see the Americans leave? Yet we refuse to give them any sliver of hope, any notion that we will ever go away.

There is a Buddhist saying, "Not to decide is to decide". To say that outlining an exit strategy for Iraq is giving "the terrorists" a plan that they can use to their advantage is poor logic. We submit to you that not having an exit strategy is a plan in and of itself. Having no clear exit strategy is as good as announcing that you plan to occupy the country indefinitely. Any announcements to the contrary won't be believed because they are not backed up with timetables. It's just like when your parents said, "We'll see."

Mr. Bush, you told us you were "The Decider". Stop hiding behind a failed and illogical tactic. Make a decision, if you can.
(crossposted to lj democrats)
lurkitty: (Default)
1969 was the "Summer of Love". Culminating in Woodstock , the hippie culture found expression in peace and harmony and music.

On December 6, 1969, the culture found an entirely different expression at Altamont. The Altamont Speedway concert started with as much promise as any of the free concert events that had gone on that summer. In the end, 850 were injured and 4 lay dead, including the young black man shown murdered in the 1970 film "Gimme Shelter".

How does a movement known for peace and love explode into such violence? Many place blame at the feet of the Hell's Angels hired to run security, who were drunk and stoned and far too out of control themselves to maintain order. Others simply say it was the drugs (though Woodstock was far from a clean and sober event).

The root of the problem at Altamont was something far deeper than either of those. While preaching love and peace, that love did not extend outside the movement. The reason Hell's Angels were brought in for security was the general hatred for regular or "establishment" security persons. Police were hated. The military was despised.

It is easy to love those that agree with you. It is not so easy to offer the same love to people who are certain not to return it.

At ceremony the other night, someone asked, "Why do they want to kill us?" The answer to that question is that it is wrong thinking. When it becomes a matter of "they" and "us", individual human beings are factored out of the equation and we begin to think only in stereotypes. It is easy to hate "them". It is not so easy to hate "Mother", "Father" or "Baby". I watched a wonderful little video on [livejournal.com profile] altrus site about a man giving free hugs in Sidney. At one point, the police call a halt to it. In the comments was an entry that said, "I hate the cops for shutting down Free Hugs." It was a wonder that the person could watch the film and miss the concept so completely.

Perhaps the most difficult proposition of all is finding it within our hearts not to hate the ones that frustrate us the most. While we disagree with him most strongly, while we believe that Mr. Bush is guilty of crimes against humanity, it would be a crime on our part to hate him.
lurkitty: (Default)
I complained of cynicism the other day with respect to the timing of the revelation of the latest terrorist plot. As it turns out, it appears my cynicism was warranted. The Bush Administration had quite a hand in forcing the timing of the raid on the terrorist cell. The British authorities wanted to wait for more evidence (visas, for example). But the Americans pushed for earlier arrest.

What is more, according to an article in Media Matters, the American media have been less than eager to jump on the story. Despite the fact that the story was reported by NBC News, Pundit George Stephanopolous inferred that that it was simply a rumor on the internet.

Now we shall see what the media thinks of Seymour Hersh's latest impeccably researched revelation in the New Yorker: That the US helped orchestrated Israel's retaliation against Hezbollah as a prelude to a preemptive strike in Iran.

In his story, Hersh quotes an unnamed Western diplomat. I got chills with this line from the article: The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, “when the Iranians”—under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichment—“will say no.”

Make someone listen, please.

(cross posted to ljdemocrats)
lurkitty: (Default)
Now that the latest terror threat has been exposed, The Bush administration is getting back to work. We will not add to the noise about the fact that the President was briefed a full three days in advance of the British operation, but will note the odd coincidence that these things always tend to happen when Mr. Bush is on holiday. The only "emergency" that has ever caused him to interrupt a vacation was the dubious emergency case of one Ms. Terry Schaivo, which required more attention than 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Henry M. Paulson Jr., formerly of Goldman Sachs, is one of Bush's new kids on the block. Assuming the Treasury helm, he has begun poking around the halls of congress, testing the waters for a renewed assault on entitlement programs. In fact, he seems downright eager. Mr. Paulson has described rising health and Social Security spending as "the biggest economic issue facing our country."

I would like to redirect Mr. Paulson's gaze to the giant COW floating in his sea of complacency. For all of the red flags about funding the neocons have flown, they have been able to find more than enough money to have made Social Security and Medicare solvent. They have used it, instead, to send our young men to die in a country that did not attack us and no longer wants our intervention.

I shake my head when they claim the moral high ground, or claim that they are doing God's work. I, for one, have always been guided by these last few words of Jesus, "Do you love me?...Feed my sheep."

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