Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin


From CNN:

\Conservative Christian leaders used a nationally televised rally Sunday night to urge an end to Democratic filibusters against several of President Bush’s nominees for federal judgeships.

In the rally, sponsored by the Family Research Council, one of the leaders called the congressional tactic of delaying debate, or blocking legislation, “judicial tyranny to people of faith.”\

Amazing, isn’t it, how the GOP can turn 180 degrees so quickly? Now if judicial nominees are blocked, it is tyranny. Somehow, though, it wasn’t during Clinton’s administration, when far more judgeships went unfilled because the republicans blocked nominees:

From the St. Petersburg Times, April 14, 1994: “Republicans had been threatening to hold up the nomination [of a federal court nominee] indefinitely.”

From the New York Times, December 9, 1994:Senator Orrin Hatch, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Clinton administration “officials that he was now the principal gatekeeper on who gets to be a federal judge.”

From the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, November 12, 1997: “Any Clinton administration nominee who harbors ideas that don’t measure up on the GOP litmus test will have a tough time getting by [the Republican Senate's] checkpoints.”

From the New York Times, January 2, 1998:“Mr. Hatch and his fellow Congressional Republicans … have delayed consideration of many of President Clinton’s nominees.”

From the St. Petersburg Times, September 26, 1999: “From virtually the beginning of Clinton’s presidency, [Republicans] have blocked, stalled and shut down judicial confirmations in an attempt to keep jurists with the slightest liberal bent off the bench. Of the 62 judicial nominations put up by Clinton this year, the Senate has voted to confirm only 17.”

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, January 22, 2000: “Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., [said] that he and at least 13 other Republicans will block confirmation votes on every judicial nominee sent to the Senate by President Clinton in his last year in office.”

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 11, 2000: “Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott pushed through the confirmation of two federal judges Thursday, defying an effort by his fellow Republicans to block all nominations submitted by the Clinton administration.”

From the San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2000: “Confirmation votes [on two nominees] had been delayed for years by conservative Republican senators who charged [they] were liberal activists named to a federal appeals court that already leans too far to the left. [One nominee] had to wait four years before yesterday’s vote, the longest delay in history for any federal judicial nominee.”\

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 28, 2000: “Clinton said that he had been trying to get a black judge on [the 4th U.S. Circuit Court] for the last five years but that he had been stopped by the Senate Republican majority.”

On the same front, the GOP was willing to spend $73 million on the Whitewater Investigation, which came up with exactly nothing other than the president lied about his sex life (horrors! that’s never happened before!), about 4 times the amount spent investigating a war fought on false premises, and which has cost about 100,000 lives, including at last count 1569 american service men and women. But that was ethics, right? And we need to be able to trust our leaders, right? Of course, we can completely change the congressional rules of ethics to protect that paragon of virtue, Tom Delay, who can’t go a day without revelation of another unethical action.

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!

Foreign Influence in US elections (besides Saudi Arabia)

New Pope Intervened against Kerry in US 2004 Election Campaign
Agence France-Presse
Tuesday 19 April 2005

\Washington – German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican theologian who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, intervened in the 2004 US election campaign ordering bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters including presidential candidate John Kerry.

In a June 2004 letter to US bishops enunciating principles of worthiness for communion recipients, Ratzinger specified that strong and open supporters of abortion should be denied the Catholic sacrament, for being guilty of a “grave sin.”

He specifically mentioned “the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws,” a reference widely understood to mean Democratic candidate Kerry, a Catholic who has defended abortion rights.

The letter said a priest confronted with such a person seeking communion “must refuse to distribute it.”

A footnote to the letter also condemned any Catholic who votes specifically for a candidate because the candidate holds a pro-abortion position. Such a voter “would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy communion,” the letter read.

The letter, which was revealed in the Italian magazine L’Espresso last year, was reportedly only sent to US Catholic bishops, who discussed it in their convocation in Denver, Colorado, in mid-June.

Sharply divided on the issue, the bishops decided to leave the decision on granting or denying communion to the individual priest. Kerry later received communion several times from sympathetic priests.

Nevertheless, in the November election, a majority of Catholic voters, who traditionally supported Democratic Party candidates, shifted their votes to Republican and eventual winner George W. Bush.\

This presents an interesting problem, regardless of your stand on the abortion issue.

The Vatican is a foreign state, with the Pope as it’s head of state. It functions as, and is in all ways, a separate country. Countries have foreign-policy concerns, and it is reasonable that one of these concerns for the vatican would be the issue of abortion. What is not reasonable is that a foreign state use it’s very considerable influence to sway a US election. I believe, in fact, that there are laws against such things. If the members of the catholic church are coerced in their voting decisions by the withholding of a sacrament considered essential, how does this relate to illegal interference in US politics by a foreign nation?

Interesting thoughts, which need some rumination.


Is it right that a 76 year old woman who has worked pretty much all her life should have to worry about paying for maintenance medications?

Let’s ignore, for the moment, that this particular woman alleges that the meager amount of money she had reserved for this was taken from her by a care-giver to help pay for a vacation. There are lots of kinds of abuse in the world, but financial and emotional abuse of the elderly is one of the most egregious.

Let’s ignore also, for the moment, the fraud perpetrated by the Bush Administration by the so-called prescription drug benefits and cards, which actually raised the cost of medication for the elderly, to the benefit of the drug and insurance companies.

I will assume that the medical costs of this woman are $400/month. I hope that that is excessive, but with multiple medications I’m afraid it’s not. That works out to $4800/year. With the cost of an illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq now topping 164 billion dollars, this means that if that money had been spent differently, in excess of 34 million elderly with similar expenses could have been relieved of the financial burden of paying outrageous drug costs.

One person stealing the money from one elderly woman is egregious. The priorities and policies of the Bush Administration are crimes of enormous proportion.

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention

Misplaced Priorities

tax chart

Quotes from John Bolton, Bush nominee as Ambassador to the UN

“There is no such thing as the United Nations … There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interests and we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own.”\ -Global Structures Convocation, Feb. 3 1994.

“The (United Nations) secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”\ -Global Structures Convocation, 1994.

Sounds like a guy who can really relate to the concerns of the 191 member states represented in the UN, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, it’s a pretty clever strategy for the administration where each appointment is more egregious than the last. Who can worry about Wolfowicz at the World Bank, with Bolton at the UN to deal with?

More proof that the lunatics are running the asylum

Even here in Pennsylvania the creationists are making progress getting their religious beliefs taught in the public schools.

It is interesting that in a survey of life scientists (those actually involved in studying the process of life) 99.85% of them rejected strict creationism.

That’s right, a whopping .15% of people who actually know anything about life on earth would buy that the world was created about 10,000 years ago, in it’s present form. To put this in perspective, the rate of Schizophrenia in the general population is about .81%, or more than a 5 times greater rate than scientists who buy the creationist hogwash.

Even most of the lunatics won’t buy it.

I guess the ones who do are on the school board in Dover.

Proof the lunatics are running the asylum.

The idiots who make up the majority in Congress continue to astound, not only with their abrogation of the traditional values of the republican party such as reduced spending and non-interference of the federal government with the individuals and states, but also with their callous disregard for the rule of law itself. Bad enough that Tom DeLay is the hypocrite he is. His fellow Texas Republican John Cornyn actually stated in Congress that the murder of judges can be explained by exhasperation with their rulings.

From the New York Times:
\It was appalling when the House majority leader threatened political retribution against judges who did not toe his extremist political line. But when a second important Republican stands up and excuses murderous violence against judges as an understandable reaction to their decisions, then it is time to get really scared.

It happened on Monday, in a moment that was horrifying even by the rock-bottom standards of the campaign that Republican zealots are conducting against the nation’s judiciary. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, rose in the chamber and dared to argue that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who “are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.” The frustration “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in” violence, said Mr. Cornyn, a former member of the Texas Supreme Court who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which supposedly protects the Constitution and its guarantee of an independent judiciary.

Listeners could only cringe at the events behind Mr. Cornyn’s fulminating: an Atlanta judge was murdered in his courtroom by a career criminal who wanted only to shoot his way out of a trial, and a Chicago judge’s mother and husband were executed by a deranged man who was furious that she had dismissed a wild lawsuit. It was sickening that an elected official would publicly offer these sociopaths as examples of any democratic value, let alone as holders of legitimate concerns about the judiciary. \

So. John Cornyn and Tom DeLay have proved that they not only do not have the understanding of the basic checks and balances in our constitution that would be taught in any middle-school civics class, they will excuse threats and physical violence in the place of the rule of law, if it will advance their own political careers.

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention


Well. I was beginning to feel slighted and ignored: worried that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was not recognized for our contributions to the republican moral and ethical superiority in Washington.

Not to worry, though. Our own Rick Santorum has finally been recognized as the GOP Hypocrite of the Week. My only question is what took them so long?

The Schiavo Tragedy

Terri Schiavo will finally die in the next few days. One can argue, as I might, that she died 15 years ago, and the subsequent efforts to preserve what is left of her life are futile, heartbreaking, and false hope to her family.

Given all that, one can only feel the greatest of pity for her family. They cling to a vain hope that she could somehow be rehabilitated, fed to a large extent by support from bad doctors and others who would use their tragedy to promote their beliefs, or professional, or medical, standing. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a child die. Worse yet, what it would be like to be fed false hope for a decade and a half, and come to believe that hope existed, where in reality there is none. It is my fervent prayer that the family of Terri, and those who have identified with them, will find peace when this finally completes with the death of Terri’s body, fifteen years after the death of her mind.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be more horrific to me than those who would use the extreme grief of the Schindlers for gain, professional, financial, or political.

I __loath__ the attempts by the leaders of the republican party to use the grief of the Schindlers for political benefit. Given the current news, one would think these leaders were adamantly opposed to allowing a terminally ill patient to die, that Life, above all else, was paramount to them.

President Bush flew back to Washington specifically to sign legislation to allow the federal government to exercise an interest in the Schiavo case. Regardless of traditional republican values of non-interference in state issues, and the abhorence of federal power and interference, perhaps Mr. Bush has a strong personal belief in the sanctity of life and opposes allowing anyone to die. Unfortunately, a law he promoted and signed as governor of Texas allows someone to be taken off life support at the decision of the doctors, ignoring the wishes of the family. This law has quietly led to many cases of terminally ill being allowed to die, or to be cared for solely at the family’s expense.

That paragon of virtue and righteousness, Tom DeLay, who is desperate to deflect inspection of his numerous ethcial issues, has led the fight to have Congress intervene in the Schiavo case. Again, perhaps his principles demand support of human life in all cases. That would be admirable, except in 1988 he chose to have his own father taken off life support. One could only sympathize with the agony he went through. How he must have suffered with that decision. Imagine the agony he would have been in if the 1988 congress had chosen to interfere in his decision for political gain.

The hypocrisy of the Republican leadership has been astounding over the last four years. Now that they are actually interfering with the tragic, personal, decisions real families are forced to make constantly, perhaps the mindless sheep who voted them into office will see the what their stupidity has wraught.

If you are not outraged, you’re not paying attention.


From the Washington Post:
\The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government’s role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories — designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing — violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.\

Now, the administration has spent $254 million to produce “news stories” that can be run on TV. (essentially equivalent to the $300 million promised for Tsunami relief. Priorities?). These include actors posing as reporters, and are indistiguishable from actual, independent, news stories. If these are __not__ propaganda pieces, then why pretend that they are actual news stories? It is apparently not enough that conservative commentators are on the government payroll without disclosing it. Now we need to use the real news services to promote the government’s position, at taxpayer’s expense.

If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.