Saturday, August 06, 2005
Friday, August 05, 2005
New York, NY Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today expressed outrage at the Bush administration's refusal to provide documents requested by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, related to Judge John Roberts's time in the Office of the Solicitor General.What's there to hide? Probably the proverbial skeleton in Roberts' closet that could possibly ruin his chances of being confirmed by the committee, and the administration doesn't want them, or even us, to find out about it. Or perhaps there is nothing more to Roberts than we already know, and the administration is just being arrogant and stubborn as usual, as a part of their "we're presidential damn it, we don't have to answer to you, we have a mandate" sense of entitlement.
"This is an outrageous decision and one that raises the question, what are they trying to hide?" said Karen Pearl, PPFA interim president...
..."Vetting life-time appointments to the nation's highest court is a critical Senate duty, and the Bush administration is impeding the nomination process by denying access to crucial information. The American people deserve to know where Judge Roberts stands on critical issues and the Senate cannot confirm him without full access to his records, especially on important matters including women's health and safety and Americans' privacy rights."[...]As if women's health and privacy rights were on this administration priority list, or even apart of their political ideology. Ahem, some cases in point; the Patriot Act, Bush's "Partial Birth Abortion Ban"--which is merely subterfuge for slowly but surely rolling back women's reproductive rights, his administration's Global Gag Rule, and him nominating anti-choice lapdogs such as Lester Crawford to head the FDA. And do remember that the Bush Administration isn't answerable to anyone because of Dubya's "mandate" and sense of entitlement. (rolls eyes) Now for the other P.P. story, another example of Republicans shamelessly using the tragic events of September 11 to justify any outrageous ad hominem comment and remark towards a group of people. In this case, Karen Hughes to pro-choice activists.
Oh of course it does! Look at Bolton, Santorum, Cheney, Rove, and Congressional necon-Republicans who do and say outrageous, flippant, and offensive things all the time. No one, when it comes to this particular brand of Republican, is responsible, nor held culpable for their words or actions. She'll do just fine...
Karen Hughes, a former political advisor to President Bush, was recently confirmed as the State Department's top public relations official.[...]
In a stunning breach of diplomacy last year, Hughes made headlines when she compared the million pro-choice activists who attended the March for Women's Lives to the September 11 terrorists.
When asked about abortion rights the day of the march, Hughes told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "I think after September 11, the American people are valuing life more ... and I think those are the kind of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy, and really, the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."
This inappropriate and insensitive use of the September 11 tragedy was particularly outrageous given that millions of women and men had traveled to Washington to march precisely because they value life.
In fact, the lives of women everywhere are threatened daily by policies instituted by the Bush administration.
Improving the U.S. image will be a challenge for Hughes, in part because of the administration's anti-choice foreign policies. These include but are not limited to
--imposing the global gag rule
--defunding UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
--promoting "abstinence-only until marriage" policies as HIV-prevention
--attempting to break global consensus on reproductive health and rights at the United Nations
Despite requests from pro-choice activists and members of Congress, Hughes never apologized for her comments attacking pro-choice marchers. This does not augur well for her new career as a diplomat.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
According to Think Progress, perhaps not very much. This is what O'Reilly said about the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay:
O’REILLY: I don’t give them any protection. I don’t feel sorry for them. In fact, I probably would have ordered their execution if I had the power.
Sounds like something bin Laden would say about us: kill 'em all and let god sort them out later.
The United States is the promised land of family values, don't you think? The wingnuts in power tell us almost every day how very much they are for family values, which consist of an intense hatred of egalitarian family structures, birth control, employed women and same-sex marriages. Funny how all these values come across as hatred and anger...
While writing this I am watching a busy street somewhere in Europe. It ends in a park, and all day long whole families, dads with children, moms with children, dads with babies and moms with babies walk or bike by on their way to the park. This looks like family values to me, and what has made it possible is the social welfare system of most European countries: long vacations, good parental leave, restrictions on overtime and so on.
These are all things that the wingnuts oppose. They also oppose environmental protection, even though that would keep children healthy, and work safety regulations, even though those could keep the parents of children healthy and alive. They oppose limitations to the amount of overtime firms can demand from workers, even though overtime means that a parent might never be at home when the children are awake. They oppose subsidized daycare, even if this means that the children of the poor are unsupervised during the day. In fact, the wingnuts oppose everything that makes family values more than just talk.
The real definition of the extreme right's family values is that they are corporate values, with some scraps of fundamentalist misogyny thrown in. The true beneficiaries of all this values talk are corporations: workers are viewed as machines which can be operated almost without time limit, and which are serviced, for free, by their family units. When the workers break or become obsolete they are simply discarded. We are not quite there yet, but we are getting closer. No benefits for the poorer workers and unlimited working hours for the better paid ones. No allowance for the fact that workers have families, children and the elderly, that need care. This care should be provided by the stay-at-home women of the wingnut ideal, without pay, training for re-entry into the labor force or retirement benefits. These are not my family values, and I suspect that they are not yours, either.
But we can't afford to have parental leave or vacations or workplace security, some mutter. Well, we can afford a very expensive war in Iraq, and we can afford corporate welfare subsidies to firms such as Haliburton. It is not a question of real budget constraints as much as of a lack of any real intent to make family life easier.
One reason for this lack of real intent is the lone cowboy myth of Americans, the idea that each and every one of us can, alone and without help, manage and thrive; that rules, regulations and governmental funding are wasteful and even harmful. The problem with this myth is that it was never true, the lone cowboys never conquered the west. It was the government with its railway projects and its military that did the conquering, and even today none of us can get from cradle to grave wholly unassisted.
The lone cowboy myth is especially warped when it is applied to families with small children. But it serves its purpose by letting some pretend that their unwillingness to spend money on families is ethically justified.
I wish the liberals and progressives spoke up more about these false family values of the right. I wish they pointed out how our public places are not designed for families, how our jobs are hostile to parents and how the gradual fraying of all safety nets endangers families with children. If they did I might not have to go to Europe to see whole families enjoying themselves everywhere.
And after sending this guy off to the United Nations, even with his track record and "scew you, world community" attitude, and the reaction it will receive from other nations, I'm sure there will still be naive Americans saying, "why do they hate us so much?" Well little Billy, it's because our government sends off people like Bolton to be our country's representative to the international community. It's just really, really bad p.r. for the rest of us in the end. But hey, that's the Bush Administration and it's doctrine for yah.
With Capitol Hill freshly vacated, Bush installed U.N.-hating John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N. [...]
....so perhaps it is entirely appropriate that George W. Bush has gone for the nuclear option and dropped John Bolton on the United Nations in New York. Bolton's diplomatic talents are such that he could start a shouting match in a Trappist monastery.[...]
President Bush tried to justify the recess appointment by the urgent need to have a permanent representative in place at the United Nations for another 60th anniversary -- the summit to commemorate the founding of the international governing institution in 1945....His like-minded colleagues in Congress, like Henry Hyde and Norm Coleman, are already trying to bilk the U.N. of half the dues the United States owes. Out of loyalty to the White House, Bolton has not publicly supported the call, but he has hardly repudiated it either, since it is in line with his lifetime's prejudices.[...]
...The Democrats in the Senate have been raising serious and substantial questions about Bolton's behavior and suitability for the job -- and it is in fact the administration that has been stalling, refusing to release information that, one can only assume, is damning for Bolton, for instance, about his rough ways with anyone who disagrees with his idiosyncratic views of the world.
There is credible evidence that he has commissioned intelligence reports on people in the State Department, and indeed he seems to have at least been in the vicinity of the Valerie Plame leak. In 2003, the State Department's inspector general questioned Bolton as part of an investigation into the Niger-uranium controversy that led to Plame's outing -- a fact that Bolton conveniently "forgot" when he came before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year. [...]
[...]Bolton's distaste for the U.N. has been ominously revealed by recent reports and allegations from insiders at the State Department. Under Democrats, U.N. ambassadors, such as Madeleine Albright, have been included in the Cabinet, while Republicans have traditionally downgraded the position. Even so, equipped as they were with large premises in New York, previous U.S. envoys to the U.N. have only had a small suite in the State Department. Bolton clearly has no intention of being downgraded and has been lobbying for much larger offices at State, since he intends to spend a lot more time in Washington than previous incumbents, away from all those foreigners, one presumes. The expanded State Department office, and the extra time Bolton spends in Washington, will not be spent representing the best interests of the United Nations to the administration.[...]
GRAPEVINE, Tex., Aug. 3 - President Bush publicly overruled some of his top advisers on Wednesday in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, "Make no mistake about it, we are at war."So this is all about making war, war, and more war, promoted by Bush, appear to be "less gloomy." Oh well brilliant. And we all know how much success we've had in Iraq, stopping terrorists from attacking, and defeating the insurgents with this kind of policy. ::rolls eyes::
In a speech here, Mr. Bush used the phrase "war on terror" no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the "global struggle against violent extremism," the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing.
In recent public appearances, Mr. Rumsfeld and senior military officers have avoided formulations using the word "war," and some of Mr. Bush's top advisers have suggested that the administration wanted to jettison what had been its semiofficial wording of choice, "the global war on terror."
In an interview last week about the new wording, Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, said that the conflict was "more than just a military war on terror" and that the United States needed to counter "the gloomy vision" of the extremists and "offer a positive alternative."
In short, if you want to get people on your side and make them unquestioning about your policies, just guilt-trip about the tragic events of September 11. Way to shamelessly exploit a horrible tragedy and thousands of murdered people.
But administration officials became concerned when some news reports linked the change in language to signals of a shift in policy. At the same time, Mr. Bush, by some accounts, told aides that he was not happy with the new phrasing, a change of tone from the wording he had consistently used since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
[...]"We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001," Mr. Bush said in his address here, to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state legislators. "We're at war against an enemy that, since that day, has continued to kill."
Mr. Bush made a nod to the criticism that "war on terror" was a misleading phrase in the sense that the enemy is not terrorism, but those who used it to achieve their goals. In doing so, he used the word "war," as he did at least 13 other times in his 47-minute speech, most of which was about domestic policy.I do hope that the people working over at the Ministry of Tru--er uh, the Bush Administration can get their "phraseology" straighten out, because all of these schizoid changes to their propaganda are starting to confuse me....and make all of their endeavors to put a "positive look" on the war in Iraq and Bush's Texas Ranger doctrine look even more desperate.
"Make no mistake about it, this is a war against people who profess an ideology, and they use terror as a means to achieve their objectives," he said.
Gen. Richard B. Myers of the Air Force, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 18 in an address to the National Press Club that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution."[...]
"Some ask, are we still engaged in a war on terror?" Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Let there be no mistake about it. It's a war. The president properly termed it that after Sept. 11. The only way to defend against terrorism is to go on the attack."[...]
In introducing the new language, administration officials had suggested that the change reflected an evolution in the president's thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks and had been adopted after discussions among Mr. Bush's senior advisers that began in January.
The new slogan quickly become grist for late-night comics and drew news coverage that linked it with the emergence of a broad new approach to defining and attacking the problem of Islamic extremism through diplomacy and efforts to build closer ties to moderate Muslims, as well as through military action.[...]
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Our dear spiritual and ethical leader, Senator Rick (the Dick) Santorum from Pennsylvania (what's wrong with Pennsylvanians, for goddess's sake?) has uttered another piece of pure santorum: Birth control harms women. Besides, it is selfish and bad for the country to prevent births.
I was kidding about the title. No way could I abstain from commenting on this. Birth control may well harm women, but pregnancies and giving birth are much more dangerous. Whether having children or not having children is selfish surely depends on the motives the person has. I can see arguments going in both directions. And to say that having more children would be good for the country assumes that there is no problem with overpopulation, that other species don't need to exist, that it's a desirable thing to have many more high-consumption children in the world, and that short-term problems (such as funding retirement for the large age groups) are more urgent than the long-term future of our planet.
More importantly, what makes Santorum think that he is an expert in the proper running of women's private lives, that he can interfere with one of the most earth-shattering decisions of couples? Where is his empathy and compassion and the love of ones neighbor the Bible talks about?
I am writing too much on this silly twit. But he should be in the twitland, not in the U.S. Senate, and until he is returned to his proper place I find it very hard to abstain.
In 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court heard Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, a case in which anti-abortion protesters, including the leadership of the extremist group Operation Rescue (OR), challenged an injunction against their activities, which included blocking access to health care facilities in the Washington, DC, area.[...]Really? Who else can become pregnant and choose to have an abortion? Who are the people deciding that they don't want to be pregnant anymore? Who are the people wanting to enter the clinic and obtain its services? Who are the people entering these clinics who are specifically demonized and slandered with hateful slurs such as "whore--who is bound for Hell", "babykilling bitch", "sinful slut who should have kept her damn legs closed," by these anti-choice extremists? Who are the people who these extremist scream and threaten as they leave clinics? Yes, that's right. There is no misogyny with these "pro-lifers". They love women. *cough*And c
The injunction being challenged by anti-abortion extremists was based on an 1871 civil rights statute that provided protection against private conspiracies, such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) preventing blacks from exercising their new-found freedoms. Applying the KKK Act to anti-abortion violence was a perfect match. It helped cast OR and other such groups in the same mold as the KKK, the difference being that in this case it was women who were being prevented from exercising a relatively new freedom.
But there were problems. Earlier Supreme Court cases had held that that for the KKK Act to apply outside the context of race, there had to be evidence of an "invidious, class-based animus" by the perpetrators against the victims. In this case the perpetrators were OR and similar groups, and the victims were women seeking abortions, as well as the clinics and their staffs. The central legal question became: Are these extremist anti-abortion groups acting with an "invidious, class-based animus" against women when they block clinics or is their animus directed just at abortion and not at women?
At the time that Bray was being heard by the Supreme Court, there was an epidemic of blockades and attacks on abortion clinics. Yet the United States filed an amicus ("friend of the court") brief on the side of the extremists, arguing that the KKK Act should not apply to them because the protesters were opposed to abortion, not to women. The court agreed.
[...]The case was argued twice. John Roberts argued it the first time. Deciding not to distance the government from the conduct of the extremist groups would have been well within Roberts' purview.[...]As if Roberts' past legal activities couldn't get even more disturbing. The U.S. filing an amicus on behalf of the anti-choice extremists definitely reminds us where our government stands when it comes to women's right to autonomy, and their right to be protected from these terrorists. Very unsettling. And I suppose if a KKK member bombs an African-American Church, it's not because they're against African-Americans, instead it's because they're against Black Churches, right?
WASHINGTON - Following the Senate passage of legislation to reauthorize the Patriot Act -- without floor debate -- the American Civil Liberties Union today called the bill a step in the right direction, but lacking in full protections for the civil liberties and civil rights of all Americans. The measure was adopted by unanimous consent - a procedural move that means no vote was taken, and no debate was held.It's nice to know that sometimes even our members of Congress do listen to us, even after we put them in office. I hope that this is the sign of the end of the "if you disagree with 'x' or want to change it in any way, then you're unpatriotic and unAmerican" domineering atmosphere that has saturated 'politics as usual' up on the Hill. Now let us move onto to the Abu Ghraib scandal where the Defense Department is continuing to deny the release of photographs and video of the abuses of prisoners by American military personnels. I wonder what the Defense Department is so afraid of...since they're doing some "redactions" of evidence.
The Senate Judiciary Committee previously approved the bill.
[...]Although the ACLU was unable to endorse the final bill, it contains some provisions mindful of the Bill of Rights, and does not include such broad and unnecessary powers like administrative subpoenas.
"It would appear that the voices of millions of Americans were heard by the Senate. Nearly 400 communities around the country have passed resolutions calling for the Patriot Act to be brought in line with the constitution by restoring proper checks and balances. As the House and Senate bills go to conference, we urge lawmakers to use the Senate bill as a guide to heed this call for freedom."
The Defense Department has filed heavily redacted papers in a further attempt to suppress photographs and videos that depict the abuse of prisoners held at Abu Ghraib, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. The move is the government's latest effort to block the release of materials requested by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act.[...]Links showing the redacted files can be found at the bottom of this post on the ACLU's site. But how interesting and so unthinkable. Our government withholding vital information from the public concerning a crime, and even altering it for insidious purposes, so as to be absolved of any culpability and prevent themselves from being reprimanded by the will of the people through vehement protests, or calls for certain goverment officials to be fired? Shocking. The "Pentagon Papers" during the Vietnam War, the New York Times v. Nixon case, and the Watergate scandal anyone? Thanks Nixon Administration and Pentagon officials at the time.
Last week, on the deadline of a court order requiring the Defense Department to process and redact 87 photographs and four videos taken at Abu Ghraib, government attorneys filed a last-minute memorandum of law and three affidavits arguing against the release of the materials. The government's papers cite a statutory provision that permits the withholding of records "compiled for law enforcement purposes," that "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual."
However, the government has redacted significant portions of its public brief, including the conclusion. The government also heavily redacted portions of declarations submitted in support of the brief. One of the declarations is that of General Richard Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ACLU attorneys have been provided with less-redacted court papers pursuant to a protective order that prevents them from disclosing the papers' contents to the public.
"Not only is the government denying the public access to records of critical significance, it is also withholding its reasons for doing so," said Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney. "This exemplifies the government's disregard for democratic constraints on the use of executive power."[...]
The photographs and videos in question were redacted by the Defense Department in response to a June 1, 2005 court order relating to a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Or so this article says:
Frustrated by Democrats, President Bush will circumvent the Senate on Monday and install embattled nominee John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, a senior administration official told NBC News.
Bush has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007.
In advance of Bush's announcement, Democrats said Bolton would start his new job on the wrong foot in a recess appointment.
Does John Bolton even have anything but wrong feet? Isn't his job to be the bully boy at the United Nations? You know, to get us more hated than we are now. Fear of the empire and all that.
where things are moving very fast...backwards! Soon schoolchildren will have an opportunity to take an optional Bible-course at school:
When the school board in Odessa, the West Texas oil town, voted unanimously in April to add an elective Bible study course to the 2006 high school curriculum, some parents dropped to their knees in prayerful thanks that God would be returned to the classroom, while others assailed it as an effort to instill religious training in the public schools.
Hundreds of miles away, leaders of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools notched another victory. A religious advocacy group based in Greensboro, N.C., the council has been pressing a 12-year campaign to get school boards across the country to accept its Bible curriculum.
The council calls its course a nonsectarian historical and literary survey class within constitutional guidelines requiring the separation of church and state.
But a growing chorus of critics says the course, taught by local teachers trained by the council, conceals a religious agenda. The critics say it ignores evolution in favor of creationism and gives credence to dubious assertions that the Constitution is based on the Scriptures, and that "documented research through NASA" backs the biblical account of the sun standing still.
I sometimes get confused whether we are talking about Texas in 2005 or some part of medieval Europe. For example, I remember reading that this "sun standing still" argument was settled a few centuries ago. But I must have been wrong.
The democracy-in-action here is fascinating: if enough people believe something demonstrably false, presto, it becomes the truth! Or at least something to squeak into the educamation curriculum. - And yes, I'm writing this while sipping a cool latte under a loverly liberal umbrella. So sue me.