Friday, July 6, 2007

Hell's Grannies: More video evidence of vicious gangs roaming the streets!

Will we see this on O'Reilly's show next?

"Creature Comforts" takes on the Iraq War

I think Rumsfeld's my favorite, but Condie's pretty good, too. Enjoy.

Bush says, "TGIF!" We say, "WTF?"

Oh my! You're so strong!

President Bush will be escaping the rigors of Washington today for a little relaxation at Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland. (It's been a very busy week for Georgie.) Bush likes it at Camp David so much, in fact, that he has spent over a years' worth of time (386 days) there since he became president. Only Ronald Reagan has been there more, according to today's Washington Post.

While there, we know he likes to ride his mountain bike on the new trails he had added, although riding a bicycle has been somewhat of a challenge for the former college cheerleader. He has had bicycling accidents both at home, and abroad.

Exercise is important. According to Bush, "Prayer and exercise are what keeps me going." Oh. I thought it was lies and deception.

And because he's such a brainiac, Bush apparently also likes to relax at Camp David by doing jigsaw puzzles. He is very proud of skills. According to the U.K. Telegraph,

"Meanwhile the president's enthusiasm for jigsaws has been seized upon by American satirists. One remarked that he was particularly proud of finishing a puzzle in two weeks — when on the side of the box it said three to five years."

Let's try to keep it all in perspective

Check out Quaker Dave at The Quaker Agitator for his regular posting: Friday (Darfur) baby blogging

What goes around ...

comes around, I guess. From today's Washington Post:

WJFK (106.7 FM) yesterday dropped Bill O'Reilly's nationally syndicated show, "The Radio Factor," and replaced it with a sports-talk program hosted by Jim Rome. O'Reilly, an avowed independent who takes many conservative views, occupied a two-hour afternoon slot on WJFK.

While this is not directly related to yesterday's story about O'Reilly's sensationalized and lie-ridden story about lesbian gangs taking over America (and recruiting our youth! Gasp!), it does bring me some satisfaction to know that the ratings are just not there for this hateful man. According to the Post:

The popular Fox News Channel TV host never attracted much of a radio following in Washington — in the most recent ratings period, his program had about 1.2 percent of the audience.
And that is all I will write about Bill O'Reilly.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

[UPDATED] The Pink-Pistoled Lesbian Gang Menace!

Look out girls! They're on to us!

Bill O'Reilly takes on the breaking news. No, not the public outrage over the President's actions commuting Scooter Libby's sentence. Instead, he chose to spend his airtime covering a ridiculously made-up story about underground "lesbian gangs"who carry pink pistols.

Complete with a phony "Fox News Crime Analyst" Rod Wheeler, O'Reilly reports on a "national underground network" "recruiting" children as young as 10 years old "to be a member of their organization."

AfterEllen takes a good look at the story:

O'REILLY: In Tennessee, authorities say a lesbian gang called GTO, Gays Taking Over, are involved in raping young girls. And in Philadelphia, a lesbian gang called DTO, Dykes Taking Over, are allegedly terrorizing people, as well.

AfterEllen: Yes, and here in my New York apartment, we have regular meetings of LSOC (Lesbians Sitting on the Couch), where we brandish hard plastic remotes menacingly at our television set while cruelly biting down on popcorn kernels. Quick, catch us before we strike again!

As O'Reilly speaks, footage runs in the background of girls fighting. We have no idea who these girls are, where or when this is taking place, or if this footage has any relevance at all to this "story." Unfit to Print looked into the background of crack "Crime Analyst" Rod Wheeler by checking his website (I kid you not!), and found a rather vague and less than impressive career history.

Could it be instead that the "fact checkers" at Fox News (they do use fact checkers, right?) were confused with a real group called Pink Pistols? That group advocates responsible gun ownership by gays with the motto "Armed gays don't get bashed." They don't actually carry pink pistols.

This story is simply riddled with lies and misinformation. We can just laugh at the ridiculousness of it, but if you think Bill O'Reilly and the rest of his hate-mongering buddies is harmless, remember how many people watch this stuff and think he's reporting fact.

Watch it yourself (and lock up your daughters!):

UPDATE: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has called on O'Reilly and Fox News Channel to apologize for its sensationalized report on a "Lesbian Gang Epidemic." To quote Rashad Robinson, GLAAD's Senior Director of Media Programs, "This type of inaccurate tabloid journalism perpetuates dangerous stereotypes about lesbians and feeds a climate of homophobia, anti-gay discrimination and violence. That's the real national epidemic, but not one you're likely to see reported with such zeal by Bill O'Reilly."

Included in the GLAAD link is contact information to let Fox News know your feelings on their mis-information.

Equaly opportunity for all — means all

So you get good job reviews. Your co-workers all enjoy working with you. You love your job. But one day your supervisor hears that you're gay. You're fired.

In 31 states, it's perfectly legal to fire someone just for being gay. In 39 states it's legal to fire someone for being transgender. It's pretty hard to believe that in the 21st century, in a country that prides itself on equal opportunity, millions of Americans can be denied a job or fired — not for poor performance, but for simply being themselves.

Please join me today by sending a message to your lawmakers in Congress urging them to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which will make this kind of discrimination illegal once and for all.

It's easy. Go to:

30 months is "excessive," but only for Bush's friends

The Raw Story reports that the Bush Administration filed a "friend of the court" brief last year in a case that closely resembles the case of Scooter Libby. In the other case, Rita v. United States, Victor Rita was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 33 months in prison on charges of ... yes, perjury and obstruction of justice. Just like Scooter.

In his appeal, Mr. Rita argued that his sentence was unfair, although it was within the sentencing guidelines (as was Scooter's) and that it failed to take into account his personal characteristics such as his military service. The brief filed by the Bush Administration argues that personal characteristics don't matter, if sentencing is with in the guidelines:

Petitioner contends that his personal characteristics "clearly support a lesser sentence," ... but that contention is not sufficient to rebut the presumption that a within-Guidelines sentence is reasonable.

Huh? Just this week, Bush announced that he was commuting Libby's sentence because he thought 30 months was "excessive," even though it was within the federal sentencing guidelines. Explaining why Libby's within-guidelines sentence was excessive, President Bush said "Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service" and that "The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely."

Sounds like personal characteristics to me. But for Mr. Rita, 33 months for the same charge is "reasonable," and we don't care about your personal life.

Life in Iraq

Thanks to Allie for turning me on to a very cool site: Hometown Baghdad. The site describes itself as "shot by an all-Iraqi crew and tells the stories of three young people trying to survive in Baghdad."

It's compelling viewing, to watch these young people who are just like young people anywhere. They have graduated from college, are smart, funny, likable. But what kind of future do they have? Not much in Iraq it seems. Which is a shame, because these are exactly the Iraqis who are needed to build a stable future for that country.

So take a look, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

BBC Reports: US president managed to master his lawnmower-like steed

I know it's a couple of years old, but it's priceless. Do you think he had a "non-alcoholic" beer before he fell? And what on earth is Barbara Bush wearing? Is that a housecoat?

BBC News reports that:

"The US president managed to master his lawnmower-like steed, developed by BAE Systems in Plymouth, Devon, at the second attempt and cruised around the driveway with his father George Bush Senior following closely on a second Segway.

A safety manual warns the Segway user to wear a helmet and "get a friend to act as your spotter" but Mr Bush was wearing only his tennis clothes and clutching his racket, while the nearest he had to a "spotter" appeared to be the family dog, Spot. "

Indecision 2008: Something approximating election news with something approximating honesty

I mentioned a while ago that I have canceled my cable service because I couldn't stand the thought of actually paying to have vicious liars like Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Tran –I mean Ann – Coulter, et al., intruding into my living room when I flip the channels in search of the Law & Order marathon. Unfortunately, this also means I don't get to see my favorite fake –news –real–news show, The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

The good news is that Comedy Central has a hilarious website, Indecision 2008. Check it out and see campaign contributions converted to iPhones (Obama has raised enough to buy 65,000 iPhones).

An open letter to President Bush

Dear Mr. President:

I respectfully write to inform you of my outrage at your decision to commute the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Mr. Libby was afforded due process under the law and received fair and unbiased treatment in our legal system. For you to commute his sentence sends the message to the American people that you and your staff and colleagues are above the law.

Mr. President, you have sent the men and women of our military to fight and die in the name of a noble cause: bringing democracy to Iraq. Yet you flout the most basic principle of democracy: that all are equal in the eyes of the law. To undercut this principle now, based on your personal friendship with Mr. Libby is an abuse of your power as President.

The American people deserve better than this, Mr. President.

Sent to President Bush this morning. Feel free to copy and email to the White House under your own name.

Libby receives "get out of jail free" card [Updated]

Think Progress has a nice summary on why this is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Un freakin' believable, even for this administration. I nearly choked on my beer last night when Katie Couric announced that President Bush has commuted Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence. Libby, as you will remember, was tried, convicted by a jury, and sentenced for obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury in the case of leaking classified information (specifically, the name of Valerie Plame, who was at the time a covert CIA agent).

Bush, Cheney, and the rest of this group clearly feel they are above the law, and deserve different treatment than you or I. Where is the "equal treatment under the law"? Where is the outrage by the American public? Will our grandchildren read about this time in their history class and ask, "How could they let this happen? Why didn't anyone do anything?"

CNN has a roundup of reactions by the politicos, candidates as well as others. Here is a sampling, starting with a great suggestion by Sen. Joe Biden:

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, presidential candidate “Last week Vice President Cheney asserted that he was beyond the reach of the law. Today, President Bush demonstrated the lengths he would go to, ensuring that even aides to Dick Cheney are beyond the judgment of the law. It is time for the American people to be heard — I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.”

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and presidential candidate “This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people’s faith in a government that puts the country’s progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years.”

Former Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate “Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush’s America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, presidential candidate “Today’s decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration’s politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House’s efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.”
And these two toadies, as expected, I suppose:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate “After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct.”

Former GOP Sen. Fred Thompson, likely presidential candidate “I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President’s decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.”
Here's the contact information for the White House. Give 'em a call today.

Monday, July 2, 2007

4 years since "Bring 'em on"

Four years ago, the world endured President Bush's bravado when he recklessly announced to the world:

"There are some who feel like ― that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring ’em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”

Big talk from a man who did everything he could to avoid his own military service during the Vietnam War, occasionally patrolling the skies over the Gulf Coast when he bothered to report for duty at all.

From the National Security Network:

It has been four years since the President declared “bring’em on” in response to the budding insurgency in Iraq. Since that statement, more than 3,300 American troops have been killed and 25,000 have been wounded. Iraqi civilians have suffered tremendously, with four million fleeing their homes and an estimated 35,000 killed. The security situation has only deteriorated further, with the initial insurgency morphing into multiple civil wars and sectarian violence. Incredibly, there are more American troops in Iraq today than were there four years ago when the President made his reckless declaration.

Since the President recklessly declared “bring’em on” more than 3,300 American troops have been killed. Approximately 25,000 American troops have been wounded since that day.

American troop fatalities are up 70% since the surge began. In the four and a half months since Operation Fardh al-Qanoon officially began in Baghdad on February 14 American casualties have averaged almost 3.3 per day, up 70% over the same time period in 2006.

Civilian casualties are in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. The United Nations estimates that 35,000 civilians were killed in Iraq during 2006 alone. No one really knows how many people have died since the conflict began.

Attacks on American troops and Iraqi Security Forces are still averaging 5,000 per month. In the first four months of 2007 attacks have remained at 2006 levels.

America has been in Iraq longer than it was in World War II. It has been 52 months since military operations in Iraq began. As of July 1, 2007, American troops have been in Iraq for 1,565, days the equivalent of 222 weeks.

Baghdad is still averaging only 5.6 hours of electricity per day. This number represents only 20% of prewar production levels.

You must read this

If you read the comments on the posts here, you'll recognize commenter "Allie." Allie has her own interesting and insightful blog, "Tales of a Lonely Army Wife," which I encourage you to visit.

Allie posted some very bad news last week when she reported the death of her friend Sgt. Trista Moretti, who was killed while stationed in Iraq. With Allie's permission, here is a link to her post about Trista Moretti.

Let us never forget in the morass of political debate, that there are real people serving, and dying, in Iraq. Trista Moretti was someone's daughter, someone's sister, and someone's friend.

Do what you can to end this war. Write or call your Senators and Representatives.

The Brits are way cooool!

From Crooks and Liars, Here's what happens when you don't have the fear mongering Bush Administration, personified by the man of a million disguises, Michael Cherthoff, fanning fears over every incident:

Email of the Day

By: John Amato on Sunday, July 1st, 2007 at 11:59 AM - PDT
via Nonny Mouse in the UK:

BBC is remarking on how calm the public was during the ‘car bomb’ attack on the Glasgow airport, how little panic or ‘terror’ there was — mostly just people whipping out their mobile phone cameras and filming everything in sight.

Arrests made on the M6 motorway in Cheshire last night as well. People got out of cars and offered to HELP the police.

Glasgow Airport is back up and running, passengers being interviewed coming off planes have said things are running smoothly, no problems. A bit of a hassle walking around the cordoned off bits of the airport, but no one’s complaining. Lots of smiling faces.

It’s almost psychology in reverse — the more fanatics try to terrorise the British, the more the British refuse to be terrorised. We’re more worried about the goddamned rain at the moment.

But here in the U.S. we have King Georgie boy saying things like, "you never know where they may try to strike," and Cherthoff fanning fears with his statement on the Sunday talking head shows that "international terrorism might come to the United States through Europe."

Let's be vigilant, but let's not let the terrorists get what they want. Never forget that the name "terrorist" comes from the tactic of creating fear and terror in the general population. When we become fearful and terrorized and change the way we live, the terrorists win. No matter who they are.

Bush asks: "Is it just me they hate?"

According to today's Washington Post, President Bush regularly holds unlisted meetings with trusted advisers, to whom he asks, "What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I'm facing? How will history judge what we've done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?"

The scariest quote of the article to me is, "You don't get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker," said Irwin M. Stelzer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who was part of one group of scholars who met with Bush. "This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality. I can't tell you which." (Emphasis mine.)

The article is long, but worth the read. Jump to the story here.

It will be the poets who save us

Thanks to Judy for bringing this story to my attention:

Open Letter to Laura Bush

For reasons spelled out below, the poet Sharon Olds has declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, which, coincidentally or not, takes place September 24, the day of an antiwar mobilization in the capital. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their works. Three years ago artist Jules Feiffer declined to attend the festival's White House breakfast as a protest against the Iraq War ("Mr. Feiffer Regrets," November 11, 2002). We suggest that invitees to this year's event consider following their example. — The Editors, The Nation

Laura Bush
First Lady
The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents — all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students — long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit — and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country — with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism — the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness — as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing — against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.