Sunday, May 29, 2005

Lone Star State vs. the Marriage State

I have maintained for years that nothing Texas politicians, of whatever stripe, can do would surprise me. Texans are notorious for going that extra mile, especially the "long, green one."

But you have to wonder -- what is it with Texans and voting anyway? The Lone Star State's politicians have a tendency to over-reach in this area, such as letting the dead vote, sending the Rangers out to round up minority legislators who high-tailed it out of Dodge to keep from voting, redistricting the entire state so that only Republicans can cast votes that count, and -- whipping up a Resolution to be voted on in November that is so anti-family it bans marriage entirely!

Now, that surprises me.

They don't have "gays" in Texas -- they have "queers." If you ain't straight in the Lone Star State, you're queer. Simple as that. The very thought of queers prancing in and messing up a union that Gawd created for one man and one woman finally drove them over the edge and they passed HJR 6, which amends Article 1 of the Texas Constitution to add Section 32, as follows:


SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 32 to read as follows:
Sec. 32

(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.

(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 2. This state recognizes that through the designation of guardians, the appointment of agents, and the use of private contracts, persons may adequately and properly appoint guardians and arrange rights relating to hospital visitation, property, and the entitlement to proceeds of life insurance policies without the existence of any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

SECTION 3. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 8, 2005. The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Wow. Since "marriage" is the only thing I can think of that is identical to, or similar to, "marriage," the vote on this little jewel should be interesting.

But then, isn't everything in Texas interesting?

Sunday, May 22, 2005


“We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia. . . The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize. We have to ensure the fulfillment of the democratic revolution.” — Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute

So John Bolton's out there swinging in the wind -- sent to the Senate without endorsement from the Foreign Relations Committee for his nomination as US ambassador to the United Nations.

This has committee chairman Richard Luger's drawers in a wad because he failed his assignment to steamroll Bolton through the committee to the UN without embarrassing George Bush. I don't know where Indiana's favorite son has been for the past four years, but with a little help from his proctologist, Lugar should be able to see that what turns Bush on is getting away with brazen lies, and the blood, torture, and destruction of those who are too helpless to resist.

Don't fret, Dick. It's impossible to embarrass this president -- because death is his Viagra, and he's currently in the middle of a raging, international orgasm.

Committee members at least went through the motions, some of them even kicking and screaming. On May 12, Ohio's Senator George Voinovich declared Bolton "unfit for the job," and described him as "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be," but refused to vote against him. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) immediately placed a "hold" on Bolton's nomination designed to stall debate on the issue until committee Democrats receive requested documents.

If this gives you even a split-second of hope that maybe, just maybe, Bush will do the right thing and drag this dishonorable, warmongering creature from our sight, forget about it. For starters, if Voinovich felt strongly enough that Bolton was unfit, he would have voted his conscience and ended the fiasco right there. And, anyone who watched the dancing-monkey act performed by the rest of the committee members -- not just Republicans "with reservations" like Voinovich, Rhode Island's Lincoln Chaffee, and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, but by those like blustering Joe "Soundbite" Biden, the Democratic Pride of Delaware -- knows that Bolton is headed to the UN.

How do I know this? Because of the questions. Not those committee members and their "esteemed colleagues" asked while relentlessly peering at Bolton under the Senate microscope, such as, "Why are you such an intolerant bully?"..."Did you try to get some Intelligence underlings fired because they questioned what your definition of 'is' is?"..."Why is it that a woman managed to outrun you in a race down a hotel corridor -- are you a girlie-boy or are you just out of shape?"..."Didn't you color the truth a bit about Syria's nuclear capability?"..."Um, speaking of color, sir -- just between us --"Is that 'got milk' mustache for real...?"

No. It was the questions they very carefully did not ask Bolton, to wit, "Why were you called home after refusing to negotiate with Libya about its WMD program?"..."Were you ordered by your boss, Richard Armitage, to give neither speeches nor testimony which had not been cleared by him?"..."Did you use super-secret National Security Agency information to spy on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed ElBaradei, or perhaps on your own colleagues' diplomatic efforts with North Korea?"..."Of course you are aware if you shared the NSA intercept material with, say -- the vice president or other administration officials -- you are guilty of serious protocol violations?" Or..."Refresh our memory, Mr. Bolton. Walk us through your singlehanded efforts to justify invading Iraq. Tell us again about the uranium 'yellowcake from Niger' bit that you and Frederick Fleitz, your acting chief of staff on loan from the CIA, cooked up to catapault us into war; a war that resulted in besmirching the sterling reputation of a US Secretary of State as well as the destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings...."

It's no secret that Bolton hates the United Nations, and he would much prefer continuing to run Foggy Bottom from behind the scenes by cuddling up to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as her second-in-command. It's also no secret that Rice wants Bolton out of town and out of her hair. She has spent the months since her own confirmation roaming the universe lecturing world leaders on democracy -- threatening those who have the audacity to think their "internal deliberations" are of sufficient merit to escape her steely gaze and ultimate judgement.

In order to rid herself of Bolton, Rice cannot release documents that might derail his appointment. She brushed the document matter aside with a terse statement that amounted to admitting if the public finds out what she, George Bush, and goons like Bolton, his mentor Richard Perle, and his mentor Dick Cheney, have been up to behind the scenes of democracy -- it would have a "chilling effect."

Boy, she's got that right. I'm in an ecstatic deep freeze just thinking about it...

The good news is that committee members don't need to see the papers Rice is clutching behind her back to know that Bolton is eminently unfit for any position in this government, especially one requiring diplomacy. The bad news is that these elected Neanderthals obviously don't read anything unless it's a "document" released to them upon demand. Perhaps Rice doesn't want us to remember that, for years, Bolton's antipathy for the UN and his proclivity for steamrolling anyone in his path has been recorded and chronicled over and over again, much of it in Bolton's own words.

During a February 1994 event, Bolton railed against the United Nations, interrupting others while angrily jabbing his finger in their faces -- "The United States makes the UN work when it wants it to work, and that is exactly the way it should be, because the only question, the only question for the United states is what is in our national interest," Bolton snarled, "and if you don't like that, I'm sorry, but that is the fact."

Who can forget the specter of Election 2000 when Bolton -- surrounded by thugs from Tom Delay's office and other paid GOP operatives flown to Florida to disrupt the election, along with press aides Nicolle Devenish, Tucker Eskew, Ken Lisalus and Scott McClellan -- burst into a library in Tallahassee to relay news of the Supreme Court's overthrow of the government and bellowed -- "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count!"

I am among those who think that, initially, Bolton was just the mess Bush threw up against the Senate wall to distract attention from two far more sinister appointments critical to his maintaining control of the world economy and of the street rabble who might rise up against him -- war criminals Paul Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank and John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence.

But Bush is not one to accept two-out-of-three and back off gracefully. That would be embarrassing. So, once again, Bush will hit the trifecta. Once again, freedom is on the run -- with its tail between its legs.

According to Rebecca Renfro, a close friend and formidable North Carolina researcher, Bolton represents the last piece of the neo-conservative world-dominion puzzle. "With Negroponte taking care of things at home, Wolfowitz at the World Bank and Bolton at the UN, the possibilities are limitless. Think about it," Renfro said, "on the world stage, Wolfowitz will have the carrot and Bolton the stick. Any country they don't want to openly attack will be starved into submission."

Renfro said that, prompted by Cheney and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Wolfowitz and Bolton will ensure that the United States will "decide which countries deserve to be sanctioned, which get loans and investment money, which need to be privatized and their resources sold to US investors. Nations such as Palestine and others seeking aid and assistance can just bend over and kiss it goodbye," she said. "Ain't gonna happen."

Americans know that Bolton is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. They know, like John McGlothlin recently declared on his McGlothlin Group forum, sending the maniacal John Bolton to the United Nations is like loosing the Tasmanian Devil to careen wildly through its halls -- a sick, out-of-control joke on a wounded world.

Democrat and Republican senators can see George Bush standing there with a smoking gun in each hand. They know their vote should be a unanimous choice to save thousands -- perhaps millions -- of innocent Iranian, Syrian, North Korean, and American lives.

I could be wrong, but I fear that after the votes are counted, we will see John Bolton headed straight for the UN, like they say down in Texas -- "Just a shittin' and a flyin'..."

And the blood? It will be on the hands of the men and women senators who would rather send our children to die; who would much rather kill women and children in other nations than make the mistake of embarrassing the madman in the White House.

It's time these officials were held accountable for their actions. If they refuse to work for the people who pay their salaries then, like Bolton, they are unfit for their jobs. Perhaps it's time we fired them -- lest the blood of our children end up on our own hands.

There are 100 senators; 30 of whom are up for re-election in 2006.* They are Democrats Daniel Akaka (HI), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Robert Byrd (WV), Maria Cantwell (WA), Thomas Carper (DE), Hillary Clinton (NY), Kent Conrad (ND), Jon Corzine (NJ), Diane Feinstein (Calif), Edward Kennedy (MA), Herb Kohl (WI), Joseph Lieberman (CT), Bill Nelson (FL), Ben Nelson (NE), Debbie Stabenow (MI)

And Republicans George Allen (VA), Conrad Burns, (MT), Lincoln Chafee (RI), Mike DeWine (OH), John Ensign (NV), Bill Frist (TN), Orrin Hatch (UT), Kay Hutchison (TX), Jon Kyl, (AZ), Trent Lott (MS), Richard Lugar (IN), Rick Santorum (PA), Olympia Snowe (ME), James Talent (MO), Craig Thomas (WY)

*Those names in boldface are on the Foreign Relations committee. Democrat committee member Paul Sarbanes (RI) has elected not to run for re-election.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

We're Very Good Drivers...

Even as Tim Russert solemnly announced on Meet the Press Sunday that the "Number three man" in the entire Al-Qaeda network was now under lock and key, the world edition of The Sunday Times quoted European intelligence as saying that Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not only NOT number three, he is not even a blip on the terrorist radar screen.

According to The Times, "No European or American intelligence expert contacted last week had heard of al-Libbi until a Pakistani intelligence report last year claimed he had taken over as head of operations after Khalid Shaikh Mohammad's arrest. A former close associate of Osama Bin Laden now living in London laughed -- "What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying."

But Bush and his minions, joined by their Pakistani counterparts, would not be denied their public victory dance, complete with back-slapping and high-fives. "A critical victory in the war on terror," Bush crowed, and added that the capture of this "major facilitator and chief planner" for Osama bin Laden "removes a dangerous enemy who is a direct threat to America and for those who love freedom."

Bush interrupted his attempts to destroy Social Security to laud Musharraf -- "I applaud the Pakistani government for their (sic) strong cooperation in the war on terror," he said, adding that the Pakistanis had acted on "solid intelligence" to bring him to justice and vowing that those fighting terrorism will "stay on the offensive until al-Qaida is defeated."

Although European terrorism experts pointed out that al-Libbi was nowhere to be found on the FBI's most wanted list nor on the State Department's "rewards for justice" list, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave an impressive "Benjamin Braddock" response, saying robotically that al-Libbi is "a very important figure." Braddock, if you remember, is the idiot/savant "Rain Man" character played by Dustin Hoffman who drove the car back and forth in the driveway, going nowhere, while repeating inanely, "I am a very good driver..."

As she congratulated Musharraf for his coup, Rice also revealed that al-Libbi "is somebody we watched a lot every single day -- he is a very important figure for the Al Qaeda network." Then, Bush press secretary Scott McClellan joined the fray, telling reporters at the White House, "Al-Libbi's capture is a great success in the global war on terrorism. He is one of al-Qaida's most senior operational planners and one of the terrorist organization's top leaders," McClellan said.

How does he know that? The only thing actually known about this Libyan national, other than he makes a mean cup of coffee and has mastered the art of running a copy machine, is that he was involved in two 2003 attempts to assassinate Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf.

Anybody see a pattern emerging here? Looks like somebody should be asking where the al-Qaeda center of operations is -- why the majority of terrorists Bush wants "dead or alive" apparently reside in Pakistan. Doesn't anybody wonder how, when the Bush administration gets stuck in the driveway furiously driving nowhere, Musharraf pulls another "Number Three" al-Qaeda leader out of his, um...hat?

American officials were given the opportunity to make a graceful exit when it was revealed al-Libbi was possibly being confused with fellow Libyan Abu al-Liby, a senior al-Qaeda commander who was indicted for his role in the August 1998 bombings of two US embassies in east Africa, and who is on the FBI's most wanted list. The Sunday Times reports when it contacted a senior FBI official for information about al-Libbi's importance, the official inexplicably sent material on al-Liby.

However, a US counterterrorism official, who understandably refused to be named, proclaimed the arrest of al-Libbi as the most important blow to al-Qaeda since the arrest of Mohammad more than two years ago, especially since al-Libbi had assumed Mohammad's leadership position and was busily planning attacks against the United States homeland.

It gets better. US officials explain craftily that the reason al-Libbi's name is not on the FBI list is because "we did not want him to know he was wanted."

So let me get this straight -- Here is a guy who is Number Three in the al-Qaeda network; a guy so important that he became head of operations when Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was captured; a guy known to be planning a myriad of 9-11 attacks on our homeland -- and we don't want him to know he's wanted? None of that matters, according to the official, whether it's Libbi or Liby, the important thing is that his capture is smoking the evildoers out. "Whether big fry or small fry," the official added lamely, "they’re on the run, I can tell you that.”

No, the important thing here is that Bush and his unnamed intelligence officials with the help of a complicit media are speaking only to the American people; they are buying time with the American people. When the proletariat begins to get restless -- begins to ask why Osama bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are still on the loose -- or begins to writhe under the weight of lies, to feel the constraints of the loss of freedoms, they are thrown the red meat of another Abu-al-somebody and the danger of being exposed subsides for a time.

With the al-Libbi ploy falling flat on its face, few should be surprised that CNN and FOX are back out there, breathlessly announcing that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "top aide" has been captured in Bahgdad. FOX says his name is Ammar al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Abbas, and he's responsible for recent suicide car bombings, as well as the devastating attack on Abu Ghraib prison in April. But, wait -- I thought the Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas was arrested in April 2003, and that bin Laden and his henchmen were responsible for .... oh, never mind.

So, just where are bin Laden and al-Zarqawi? I guess if we're ever going to snag these two, we're going to be forced to remove their names from the FBI "to do" list so they won't suspect they're wanted. We've come close to capturing bin Laden many times -- even visited him two months before 9-11 in a US hospital in Dubai where he received treatment for his ailing kidneys -- but like the persistent ghost of a man who's been dead for years, Osama always manages to slip noiselessly away.

Al-Zarqawi, a bogeyman of our own making, gets blamed for everything -- car bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, beheadings -- and he is just as wily as bin Laden. In a recent incident in which Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bragged they "almost got him," al-Zarqawi leapt from a speeding pickup truck and fled on foot. A one-legged man of sub-par intelligence outrunning a crack, highly trained special forces team. I'd pay to see that feat, wouldn't you?

Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi are ideological poles apart and, in real life, would have no reason to team up or to have anything at all to do with each other. But now, thanks to Bush, they are like two evil, mischievious undead spirits, they appear only to create havoc and, as Bush is wont to say, strike with sudden horror, and then -- Poof! -- they disappear into the atmosphere, leaving behind only laptops, tapes, detailed plans and charts outlining their next bit of bloody derring do.

Whether they like it or not, we're going to keep nabbing their "Number Three" men until we get it right and they are brought to justice. So, if you see a 7-foot-tall bearded man in a dress dragging around a dialysis machine, accompanied by a squat, fleet-footed guy with only one leg, tell 'em they can run and they can hide -- but we're hot on their trail.

Yes, indeedy. Because we're very good drivers...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Who's in Charge Here?

The Hill is reporting today that the "nuclear option" with which Senate majority leader Bill Frist is threatening to slap the Democrats upside the head so they'll just shut up and take their places in line while Stinky W's right-wing judicial nominees take their places in the courts, will be soon. The Hill's Alexander Bolton says Frist is beginning to "squeeze the trigger..."

It's gonna happen. Real soon.

Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But soon.

Anybody familiar with how Republicans do business knows that Frist would have already pulled that trigger if he had the necessary support from his fellow Republicans. But with Arizona's John McCain and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee dragging their feet, Frist may decide it's best to take better aim before he wastes his single bullet.

Truth be known, there are quite a few Republicans who are uneasy at the idea of tearing into the Constitution like a bunch of rabid dogs. Most of the demands, threats and shrill rhetoric is coming from hard right-wing lobbyists, as well as rigidly conservative groups with innocent-sounding patriotic names such as the American Conservative Union, the Federalist Society and Reclaiming America.

Leaders of these groups are threatening everything from a "conservative backlash" to threatening to withdraw their support for Frist should he decide to run for president in 2008.

According to the article, Manuel Miranda, former Frist aide and chairman of the National Coalition to End the Judicial Filibuster, is demanding that Frist get on with it. "We all believe that it will be next week," Miranda screeched, before bursting into frustrated tears. He said it's concrete -- it has to happen next week. The delay is intolerable, Miranda said, doubling up his fists and hitting himself in the head while angrily stamping his little feet. If he doesn't get what he wants by next week, Miranda threatened ominously, "...the Senate GOP should expect tens of thousands of angry phone calls and faxes to tie up their lines."

Makes you wonder who's in charge up there in the Senate, doesn't it?

Bush is never better than when explaining his position on an issue. His campaign on privatizing Social Security is nothing if not awesome. When backed into a corner about his insistence that private accounts would shore up Social Security, he slipped effortlessly into explaining that African Americans should rush to get what had now become "personal" rather than private accounts because black folks die so much sooner than white folks, and that all younger folks should want personal accounts because -- well, because it's a better deal.

Of course, Bush has no clue as to what Social Security really is. Some might recall during the 2000 campaign when Al Gore kept hammering about putting Social Security in a "lock box," Bush, bored with the subject, rolled his eyes and commented that the way Gore talked, "you'd think Social Security was some kind of government program...."

And, during a February campaign stop in Tampa, Fla., after Bush had run through his talking points, a bewildered woman asked Bush to explain again, in words that she could understand, how his plan would fix the Social Security problem. Bush replied haltingly:

"Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost
drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table.
Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases.
There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you
couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those
with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to
be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to
you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the --
like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as
opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the
benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is
a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other
words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those --
if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

Wow. I have to admit if that plan passes congressional inspection, Bush is good. Damn good.
Sheila/5 May 05