Saturday, September 30, 2006

Landmarks in Hypocrisy

The joke that went around college campuses back in the sixties was to "made friends with a cop. They get the best dope!"

Evidently the chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, by a similar principle, figgered he would meet the cutest boys.

Holy Foley!

Couldn't happen to a more well-deserving "family values" politician.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poster Child of an Endangered Species

Former Senator John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) has just published a book about our current crisis: the American Southern Baptist jihad to take over the U.S. government. His book's title sums up his thesis: "Faith and Politics: How the 'Moral Values' Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together." (Referencing here an article in the WashPost.)

Danforth goes after the so-called "Christian Right," accusing it and its hyper-conservative Republican allies of creating "a sectarian party" bent on domination. Danforth "holds that social conservatives cannot prevail because a majority of Americans do not share their views or appreciate their style."

Well, now (putting ourselves in the shoes of Southern Baptist Mullah Richard Land, father of iPootValues), let's consider the messenger here:

1. Former Senator Danforth is Episcopalian (gay!)
2. He's in fact an ordained Episcopal priest (big gay!)
3. Danforth was once upon a time an ambassador to the United Nations (commie gay!)
4. Danforth writes, "The problem with many conservative Christians is that they claim that God's truth is knowable, that they know it, and that they are able to reduce it to legislative form" (ignurt sombitch!)
5. Danforth favors government recognition of "committed same-sex partnerships." He believes the proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage amounts to gay-bashing (well, what did we tell ya!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Poster Child of the Bush Judiciary

A 15-member panel of the American Bar Association, including three big Bush donors, have unanimously -- UNANIMOUSLY -- rated a Bush nominee to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals as "not qualified." This is the first "not qualified" rating by the ABA of an appellate appointment since 1982.

The ABA report on Wallace is here, though it does not get into the specifics of what 69 separate interviews turned up, interviews with other lawyers and judges before whom Wallace has appeared.

Bottomline: the ABA investigators determined that Wallace lacks "judicial temperament," which means in simple terms the man is not free of bias. From the ABA report:
One of the negative comments expressed over and over, and often with great emotion and concern for the system, was that Mr. Wallace had not shown a commitment to equal justice under the law. Lawyers and judges stated that Mr. Wallace did not understand or care about issues central to the lives of the poor, minorities, the marginalized, the have-nots, and those who do not share his view of the world. These concerns were most often discussed in the context of Voting Rights Act cases and other issues involving constitutional rights.

This is the sort of man El Presidente wants judging us.

Naturally, we expect the Christian Right to take up the cause of championing this man for the court, since he is so clearly a disciple of Christ's message to the poor of the earth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Red-Letter Christians and Red-Meat Fundamentalists

You can read about the formation of the "Red-Letter Christians," a group of New Testament believers uncomfortable with American Christianity's becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Karl Rove's Republican Party, here. And here.

We had barely finished catching up with this new wave of Christianity when an e-mail from the Rev. Lou Shelton, of the Traditional Values Coalition, landed with a leaden thud in our in-box. Since there's no way to paraphrase the Rev. Shelton, we'll quote him at generous length:
September 26, 2006 -- Democrats have an anti-religion problem. In fact, they have such a serious anti-religion problem that in 2004 they had to bring a leftist pastor named Jim Wallis to try to teach Democrat congressmen how to use "God talk" in their campaign speeches. This pathetic effort failed as will a new disinformation campaign called "Red Letter Christians."

Wallis, founder of the left-wing Sojourners group, and self-described "progressive evangelical" Tony Campolo, have just founded a liberal front organization called the "Red Letter Christians." Wallis, Campolo, Father Richard Rohr, "Emergent Church" pioneer Brian McLaren, Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders, Rev. Noel Castellanos, and others met recently to form this new pseudo-evangelical group.

These "Red Letter Christians" are supposedly trying to alert American Evangelicals to the importance of living the words of Jesus as highlighted in red in many Bibles. Their idea of living the words of Jesus, however, is somehow reinterpreted to mean support for every liberal political agenda on the horizon.

These pseudo-evangelicals would have you believe that the Bible only contains the Word of God. True Evangelicals believe that the Bible -- each word, each sentence -- is the Word of God. This is how you can tell the difference between these pseudo-evangelicals and true Evangelicals.

Wallis and Campolo both have lifelong careers as left-of-center social activists. Wallis was a radical anti-Vietnam War activist in the 1960s and an apologist for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and other leftist guerrilla forces in Latin America in the 1980s. I wonder if Jesus would have supported Marxist terrorism. Frankly, I doubt it.

Campolo's political views are as a skewed as Wallis's. In a speech at Wheaton College not long after 9/11, Campolo claimed that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden! (Campolo was also a "spiritual" counselor to finger-wagging President Clinton after the "blue dress" incident at the White House that eventually resulted in Clinton's impeachment in the House.)

These pastors are the leaders of the "Red Letter Christian" movement.

In every election cycle, we see the same tired old left-wing "religious" activists trotted out by the Democrats as proof that the Democrat Party has a spiritual base.

Take a breath, Lou! He's working himself up for this (our favorite!) paragraph:
Yet, these "religious" leftists and Democrats routinely support policies that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Bible. The Bible condemns the taking of innocent life -- yet liberals support abortion on demand. The Bible condemns the behavior of homosexuality -- yet liberals support homosexual marriage and adoption. The Bible calls for the punishment of evildoers and justifies war when there are threats to national sovereignty -- yet liberals are routinely weak on punishment of criminals and weak on national security.

Is the good Reverend not the very model of a modern Major Christian? Without any visible contortion of his trunk, he gets from the Bible condemning the taking of innocent life to a justification for preemptive war "when there are threats to national sovereignty." We'd LOVE to see that passage of scripture!

The Reverend runs on:
Americans need to understand that these pseudo-evangelicals are nothing more than shills for the Democrat Party and trying to use whatever credibility they think they have to draw Christians away from the Republican Party and a truly Biblical worldview.

One might suggest, based on the evidence here presented, that it takes a shill to recognize a shill. We just adore the conflation of "the Republican Party" with "a truly Biblical worldview."

We suggest the Reverend Shelton avoid the "red letters" of what Jesus said altogether, since that message is obviously lost on him. Re-read the book of Amos, why don't you, Mr. Shelton. Amos is our favorite prophet (if only a minor one), since he was an actual shepherd who condemned his nation for relying on military might and for the grave injustice of social inequalities and for the shallow, meaningless piety of loud-voiced Pharisees.

As you say ... every word, every sentence is the Word of God.

On Being in Opposition

A commenter in a thread down-column scolds us for being overly partisan. The words "childish" and "sarcastic" rolled out in the same sentence. Along with an invocation of the Promised Land of cooperative democracy, which clearly we are personally thwarting by using monikers on this blog like "El Presidente" (translation: the president) and "Madam" (Def.: "a title of courtesy").


It's interesting to us that the prospect of losing a national election in six weeks brings out the school marm in some of our readers, those who drink from a wholly different fountain of wisdom, and we are sent to our beds without supper for not trying harder to just get along.

Let's see here. In the last two years, we've been called godless. We've been told that we cannot possibly be Christian. We've been accused of caring more for the terrorists than for our own country (but thank GAWD we've got "a deal on torture" now). We are "socialists" who were "communists" until the dissolution of the Soviet Union rendered that insult inoperable.

Now we're just inpolite little jackasses who won't stay quiet and accept it that Jehovah is running this country through His agents George W. Bush, Virginia Foxx, David Blust, Keith Honeycutt, and the rest of the Heavenly Host. We're supposed to accept it that not only are Republicans in control of the executive and both legislative branches of government. Not merely in charge, they have developed in Congress at least an iron system that routinely shuts out Democratic voices in the conference committees which work out differences between Senate and House bills. That's how we get "a deal on torture"! And a "Medicare reform" that gives billions to Big Pharma. And an energy bill that gives billions to Big Oil. And a continuing system of "ear-marked" pork. And a failure to reform lobbying. And a thousand other blessings that floweth from On High, not least of which is a new doctrine of preemptive war based on remixing, kneading, adulterating, and then cooking the truth to justify.

Gosh, we say. If there were only a cliff we could plunge over, in a great big herd of godless socialist lemmings, or a funeral pyre we could throw ourselves on, sending the smoke of our repentance up as a sacrifice in the nostrils of God!

Instead, we're in opposition. And we must admit, we're damn poor at it, not at all talented like Republicans. We're trying to learn. We're sitting at the feet of the masters: Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, Ann Coulter, Tom DeLay, Jesse Helms, Robert Novak, Tucker Carlson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Mary Matalin, the Pope Foundation, John Hawke, Charles Hastings. And you're right. We haven't seen a bit of sarcasm or childishness -- let alone self-righteousness -- in ANY of these our models, so obviously we have a way to go.

But not to worry. If Democrats SHOULD take back any small portion of the federal government, they will have learned virtually nothing about governance from their Republican betters. So you'll see compromise piled on top of compromise. You'll see Republicans allowed into the legislative process. Hell, the leaders of a Democratic Senate or a Democratic House will probably even talk to El Presidente!

And we assume, should Republicans become a minority in any house of Congress starting in January 2007, they will respond positively to your call for pleasant cooperation. Right?

Waxhaw Road Rage Over Wal-Mart

Talk about a protest that makes a point!

Opponents of a proposed Union County Wal-Mart SuperCenter (176,000 sq. ft. of discounted toilet paper and cat food!) staged a traffic jam on Hwy 16 to demonstrate the sort of congestion a new big-box store will bring to Waxhaw.

Apparently, the Waxhaw Planning Commission got the message. The board voted NOT to make a decision last night on Wal-Mart's requested conditional use permit, bumping it to the Waxhaw Town Council. Ah, the American civic tradition of passing the buck! But eventually, SOMEBODY is going to have to stand up and be counted.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The GOP Flogs a New Poster Child

But first, a recipe:
2 cups bleached (extra-white) flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
nuts (optional)
1 pound raw hamburger meat

The Madam trotted out new talking points for an appreciative all-Republican audience in Forsyth:
Foxx said that such comments as [Venezualan President Hugo] Chavez's are similar to those made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, and Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who have called Bush "a loser."

Democrats, she said, use rhetoric "just like Chavez and the president of Iran. The similarities to me are frightening."

She positively wakes up screaming. Luckily, up steps International Poopie-Head Hugo Chavez to give The Madam a cheap comparison. What? Osama not working for you any more?

And we were sooo hoping you'd talk about the immigrant workforce and your role in keeping it employed.

Pimpin' for Fox Gets Hazardous

Bill Clinton cleaned Chris Wallace's clock yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." Cleaned his clock good. You can see clips all over the place this a.m. Here's just one handy link.

Meanwhile, how is Fox News handling it? On the show's site, they're describing the smack down this way: "President Clinton Gets Defensive." They're so smart! "We report, and you decide." We've decided, all right! You guys can't handle the truth.

Bill was also on the first half of "Meet the Press" and said something about torture:
If we get a reputation for torturing people, the following bad things are going to happen: We're as likely going to get bad information as good, just for people to just quit getting beat on; two, we're likely to create two or three or five enemies for every one we break; and three, we make our own soldiers much more vulnerable to conduct which violates the Geneva Convention. That is, we can't expect our friends, much less our enemies, to accept the fact that because we're the good guys, we get to have a different standard of conduct. And most people think the definition of a good guy is someone who voluntarily observes a different standard of conduct, not someone who claims the right to do things others can't do.

--Transcript, "Meet the Press," Sept. 24, 2006

It was a pure-dee pleasure seeing ole Bill yesterday. We had almost forgotten what it's like to have a leader who is so clearly THINKING before he speaks, thinking AS he speaks, and putting thoughts together in coherent sentences, and sentences together into coherent paragraphs.

FOOTNOTE: Posted on Talking Points Memo, this independent assessment:
I have my issues with Clinton, but I sometimes forget not just what a tremendously effective communicator he is but how much he just plain gets it. He understands politics at a level no one else does. He intuitively knows the subtext to questions and so not only answers the expressed question but in a very analytical way picks apart the subtext and answers the implied question, too. If you're a little younger and missed most of the Clinton years, it's something to watch.

UPDATE: According to the HuffPost here, the clips of the show that Fox is making available on its site are carefully edited to make Chris Wallace seem less a giant tool.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Suppress the Vote!

No surprise, Madam Virginia Foxx voted for H.R.4844, the "Federal Election Integrity Act," by which the Madam and the rest of the Republican Party says it wants to "fix" something that isn't broken. They now want us to present picture I.D.s at our polling places, proving that we're U.S. citizens.

I've been through my wallet. I currently have nothing that proves I'm a citizen of this country. Can you prove your citizenship with a picture I.D.? A driver's license won't do it. Madam Foxx and her rubberstampers are very fond of pointing out how easy it is for non-citizens to get an N.C. driver's license.

Anyway, this isn't about hoards of people showing up at polls, impersonating others, and voting illegally. This isn't about anything but suppressing the vote.

The NYTimes said it eloquently day before yesterday:
One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party's strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic .... The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting .... America has a proud tradition of opening up the franchise to new groups, notably women and blacks, who were once denied it. It is disgraceful that, for partisan political reasons, some people are trying to reverse the tide, and standing in the way of people who have every right to vote.

Locally, the Watauga GOP is all about suppressing the ASU student vote. To wit:

1. In 2004, the local Republican Party appointed Deborah Greene as an assistant precinct judge in Boone 2 precinct, a majority ASU student precinct. Apparently, Ms. Greene meant to challenge, discourage, and generally disrupt student voting, but on the morning of November 2nd, 2004, after she caused her first uproar in the voting enclosure, Ms. Greene was warned that she would be removed as a precinct judge and replaced. There were no more incidents that day.

2. After the results came in for the 2004 elections, and the Republican county commissioners were swept out of office, defeated commissioner Allen Trivette caused bumperstickers to be printed: "SHAME ON YOU, ASU." What did that mean, exactly? "Shame on you students for daring to exercise your constitutional rights to vote in The Land of the Free"? This year Mr. Trivette intends to share his understanding of voter rights with an even younger generation ... if he wins a seat on the Watauga County Board of Education.

3. In 2005, when the local Board of Elections proposed moving another majority ASU precinct, Boone 3, to Farthing Auditorium (from the Agricultural Conference Center), the Republican member of the Board of Elections fought the move with every argument his imagination could gin up ... including his voiced fear that elderly voters might be subjected to pictures of nekkid people in the Catherine Smith art gallery and that there was an increased hazard of forcible rape for female voters on the ASU campus.

We've battled this sort of nonsense for years. In 1990 we were confronted at our own polling place by a "requirement" that we fill out an "application" for a ballot, an extra step someone had evidently thought up to discourage new voters motivated by the candidacy of Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms. We refused to fill out the "application" "Oh," the poll workers said, and let us vote anyway. How many other people didn't know they could refuse such illegal harassment?

In past elections, ASU students were illegally harassed when they were singled out to produce photo I.D.s. Some of them with driver's licenses from other states feared they wouldn't be allowed to vote, though they were properly and legally registered. It was illegal at that time to single out students and demand they provide photo I.D.s ... unless ALL voters were asked for the same identification.

There are those -- Mr. Trivette and others -- who don't want students voting on principal. "If they weren't born here, they got no business voting in our elections." Well gosh. Voter registration statistics in Watauga County now reveal that a majority of registered voters here were not born in this county. Shall we disenfranchise them all? Fortunately, the Supreme Court disagrees. In 1979 (Symm v. U.S.), the high court ruled that college students have every right to vote where they are in residence for school. To disenfranchise them because they intend to move elsewhere upon graduation, or because they don't own real estate in Watauga, or because they're not likely to vote for Mr. Trivette is just simply unconstitutional.

As is, likely, the proposed law that Madam Foxx and her self-righteous brethren voted for the other day ... to make us PROVE we're citizens in order to vote.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Watauga County Polling

We're hearing that voters in Watauga County are getting telephone-polled about the sheriff. The questions our sources can remember:

1. Has Sheriff Shook kept his promises?
2. Has he run the Sheriff’s office in a manner favorable to taxpayers?
3. Will you vote for him again?

It's relatively clear, from the slanting of those questions, who's doing that poll.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The New School Debate Gets ... Turgid

Madeline K. (a.k.a. "Karen") Carter has a very long post on NC Conservative in which she alleges many things about Watauga County education, including the following:

1. "...the supposed terrible shape of the existing Watauga High School." "Supposed"? According to Carter, the "supposed" bad shape of the school is "propaganda" spread by public and school officials (unnamed) and "the controlled and politically correct media."

2. While she attaches a condemnatory "supposed" to bad conditions at the high school, Carter is very happy to attribute a happy-face to other hearsay: "The last renovation, I am told, was very nice, and friends told me it looked like a brand new building."

3. "Watauga County has consistently and generously given to their school system, which has grown into a sacred and bloated cow...." "Consistently and generously" is the sort of exaggeration that throws everything else in this sentence -- let alone the whole long screed -- into serious doubt. Maybe the schools ARE a sacred cow. I tend to hold sacred the concept of public education, it's true, and consider deeply unAmerican the drive to privatize access to education. But "bloated" does not accurately describe the school system we're familiar with.

4. Despite Carter's protestations, we CAN tell the difference between policy differences and personal attacks on public officials. While Carter herself has largely avoided personal attacks, preferring rather to delve deeply into the rhetoric of victimization (see # 1 above), her chief cohort in opposition to a new high school cannot resist personal attacks on public officials, alleging or implying outright graft, double-dealing, and personal profit.

5. Carter seems mad at the world, and we can relate to that. One possible source of that anger is decades old ... the consolidation movement that closed the old Cove Creek High School and brought every rural child into Boone for schooling. We totally agree that consolidation was a bad thing, with hateful consequences for rural cultures all across the country. Far better would have been the careful nurturing of all local community schools, but it would have happened only with an expenditure of public money that would begger what is now being proposed for a new Watauga High School. To maintain "separate but equal" educational facilities was considered cost prohibitive back then, which is why schools consolidated (under the guidance of some of the most conservative public officials in the history of the Republic). Can you imagine the cost of equal physical plants, equal athletic programs, equal computer training, equal music programs, equal everything else? We would have supported that, but Ms. Carter wouldn't have ... considering her anti-tax position today.

6. Carter is also right about this: Watauga County is held in the grip of "a narrow-minded tourism, resort, and second home economy." No doubt about that. But the county also started down this path decades ago, greased along those particular skids not a little bit by very powerful LOCAL elites who profited enormously by turning the county toward tourism, resort, and second-home development. Those big development forces -- big-money guys and those who serve them -- are clearly lined up in support of a new high school. But then Carter herself lines up with those same arrogant elites when it suits her ... as in fighting any development rules that might actually put a stop to some of the abuses of "a narrow-minded tourism, resort, and second home economy." But that irony is lost on Ms. Carter.

Who Would Jesus Torture?

While El Presidente is demanding that his "program" be allowed to continue with Congressional blessing, the one using "alternative methods" to get information from "dangerous terrorists," no one ever asks -- certainly not the mainstream media -- just how it's KNOWN that these people are in fact what Bush says they are. Not that anyone would get a straight answer.

Interesting case study comes to light this a.m.

1. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, Canadian intelligence agents, "under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks," falsely fingered an Ottawa computer consultant and his wife, a university economist, as dangerous radicals. The Canadian authorities put the couple on the al-Qaeda watchlist, "without justification."

2. The Canadian authorities further suggested that the computer consultant was in Washington, D.C., on the day of the attacks. He wasn't. He was in San Diego on business.

3. On Sept. 26, 2002, the computer guy was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York. "He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released."

4. This is part of El Presidente's "program" -- "extraordinary rendition" of prisoners to foreign countries with zero squeamishness about torture, so that Mr. Bush can claim with a straight face "We don't torture." Amazing what lies a person will admit to under "alternative methods."

5. These facts came out in a Canadian judicial commission report.

6. U.S. officials refused to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry.

7. The falsely accused and thoroughly tortured computer consultant filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, but the case was dismissed by a U.S. judge citing "national security" issues. Yeah, right. It would definitely harm national security for Americans to find out what assholes our government has become.

8. "Since Sept. 11, the CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people in its effort to dismantle terrorist networks. Many of them have been secretly taken by 'extraordinary rendition' to other countries, hidden from U.S. legal requirements and often subject to torture."

9. El Presidente's piety about Jesus Christ continues unabated, while many ordinary Americans follow him down the rabbit hole of justifying as "godly" every action by this current regime.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mixed Messages on Separation of Church & State

The IRS SAYS it's being more vigilant this election cycle about churches and other tax-exempt orgs turning themselves into campaign tools for (mainly Republican) partisan candidates. Meanwhile, Focus on the Family is organizing "Christian" activists in eight states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana and Tennessee), which just coincidentally happen to be Republican battlegrounds for retaining control of the Senate.

Also meanwhile, the U.S. House is considering a sly little assault on the separation of church & state they're calling (natch) "The Public Expression of Religion Act." NPR's Morning Edition had a piece on it this a.m.
VIRGINIA SENATE RACE "COMPETITIVE" ... so says NYTimes this a.m.

Webb was certainly credible on Meet the Press yesterday morning.

ADD-ON: Memorable Webb line from MTP: "George Allen didn't fight in Vietnam. Even the French fought in Vietnam."

At which Allen wore a grin like a mule eating thistles.

What Can You Pack in a Used Big Box?

At least nine vacant Wal-Mart stores grace the North Carolina landscape, state-wide -- the equivalent of 12 football fields. (This and other cheerful facts ... here.)

There are 350 vacant Wal-Mart stores nationwide.

Why? Wal-Mart has discovered that SuperCenters are way more profitable, so they're building them and abandoning the old discount store spaces. Currently, in North Carolina there are 81 Wal-Mart SuperCenters and only 34 regular-size stores. Boone has one of those ... which Wal-Mart would blithely abandon for the opportunity of having a humongous SuperCenter.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance, in the Age of Bush

We're not torturing anybody. We're just making 'em talk!

--a caller to C-SPAN

The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.

--Colin Powell, former Secretary of State

Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] says that, you know, "There will be no outrages upon human dignity." It's like -- it's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"? That's a statement that is wide open to interpretation.

--President Bush, yesterday at the White House

Militarism is ideologically rooted in or related to concepts of alarmism, expansionism, extremism, imperialism, loyalism, nationalism, patriotism, protectionism, supremacy, triumphalism and warmongering.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Ides of September

El Presidente almost never goes to "The Hill," the U.S. Capitol where the Senate and the House occasionally clock in to work (what? 83 days so far this whole year), but he went up there yesterday to personally plead for legislation ... not, mind you, for some grand federal plan to rebuild hurricane damage or reform immigration or even fly to Mars. No, he went up there to plead for the explicit right to torture detainees and maintain secret prisons in countries where they don't cavil much about torturing detainees.

Six years in, and we don't recognize this country any more.

Oh, he was coy about it, to be sure. He didn't come out and say he was seeking the right to torture. No, the silver-tongued devil said he wants Congress to give him the right to use "an alternative set of procedures." And if Congress doesn't bend to his will, then it's just appeasing terrorists.

El Presidente also wants explicit permission to try "detainees" and presumably condemn them to death in special courts that will deny the accused the right to see the evidence against them, some of which will likely be the fruits of torture.

This is not the country I remember.

This is imperial Rome.

At least four Roman senators (for the moment) are standing up to the Emporer -- Warner, McCain, Graham, and Collins. They have a lot to lose. But we have even more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Have You Had Enough?

Don't know who "mmcintee" is, but he/she has posted a great little You Tube ditty, "Have you had enough of Virginia Foxx?" Don't miss it! It has what too much "mainstream" TV media lacks ... a sense of humor.

Apparently, mmcintee has done several of these for favored Democratic candidates around the nation. We're pleased that Roger Sharpe caught his/her eye!

Thanks, mmcintee, whoever and wherever you are!

UPDATE: Thanks to Terri for supplying this link to the brains behind the You Tube video.

"Tastes Great ... Less Tar!"

Quote of the Day:
His greatest regret of his tenure as attorney general was that his defense of the Patriot Act "was very weak. ... I didn't do a good job of marketing it," former Attorney General John Ashcroft said in Chapel Hill last night.

Why, hell! If we could just get the "marketing" right, we could sell the American people on preemptive war and on being super afraid 24/7.

Article on Ashcroft's night in Chapel Hill here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Watauga GOP Decides to Run Against the High School

At a high-level meeting of power brokers in the Watauga Republican Party last week, former chairwoman Karen Wilson and others decreed that the local party will run against a new high school.

We of course already knew where David Blust and James Coffey and Allen Trivette stood on education spending. It's good, finally, to have Keith Honeycutt's position clarified by his own party.

Women in the South = Balance of Power

Ruy Teixeira puts together some interesting sources, including our own Chris Kromm, in asking the question, "Can Southern Women Win Back the South for Dems?" Trends certainly do look favorable for some upsets in November ... in the very places where Rahm Emanuel thought the DNC should put zero dollars. Thank God for Howard Dean!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A New Kind of Christian

Interesting profile in yesterday's WashPost of the Rev. Brian McLaren, a self-described "progressive evangelical" in what is called the "emerging church," a "grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith."

Last year McLaren was named one of the "25 most influential evangelicals in America" by Time magazine, but somehow I missed taking note of him. He's a prolific author of provocative books: "A New Kind of Christian," "The Secret Message of Jesus," "A Generous Orthodoxy," "The Story We Find Ourselves In," "Finding Faith," and several others.

What makes him especially provocative in this Year of Our Lord-George-W.-Bush is the challenge he offers to conservative evangelicals who have turned themselves into a wholly owned subsidiary of the national Republican Party. Says McLaren, "When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels."

For daring to express such views, one conservative web site dubbed McLaren "A True Son of Lucifer." Nice Christian charity, that!
"Emerging church" is a loose network of mostly young evangelicals who believe the Christian message needs to be made more relevant in a time of rapid technological and societal change, particularly to those who've never been part of any church. Participants refer to their interaction as a "conversation," much of which takes place on the Internet at sites such as and blogs such as

I wanted to call the local Touchstone Bookstore this a.m. to see if any of McLaren's books are available here, but my phone is tied up. Maybe someone can do that and post under comments any titles they locate.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

NC GOP Opts for Irony

News is out this a.m. in the N&O that the NC Republican Party intends to take control of the state legislature this year on these four issues:
The Jim Black corruption scandal (duh)
Illegal immigration (ay, caramba!)
Gay marriage (yawn)
Wasteful spending (ca-ching!)

But wait, mi amigos! Maybe you can get your hooks into that great big beached whale (Jim Black), but considering the behavior of your Republican betters in Washington, D.C., who have utterly failed at immigration reform and who are the biggest wasteful spenders in the history of the Republic, if not of the entire Universe, do you not think the voters might notice the hypocrisy of THAT platform?

But you stick to your guns on gay marriage! QueerFear is ALWAYS entertaining, especially in those who have so much to hide, and we DO want you to put a stop to all these gay marriages that are going on all over North Carolina. Or COULD, if you don't take decisive action NOW.

Next, we suppose David Blust will be running as a hard-worker, Gene Wilson as a visionary, and Keith Honeycutt as a straight-shooter.

Friday, September 08, 2006

But Did She Whinny?

For the privilege of having Virginia Foxx in Washington representing the NC-5, we pay her -- what? -- $168,000 per annum. The U.S. House of Representatives has been in session exactly 80 days THIS WHOLE YEAR, including yesterday, when they spent hours debating whether people should or should not eat horses. This was a Republican-sponsored bill brought to the head of the legislative line in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. On final passage more Republicans voted against it -- 110 -- than voted for it -- 106. The Madam, rested up after 15 days of vacation, voted against the bill. Frankly, The Madam doesn't care whether you eat a horse or not. But she's personally going to sponsor legislation to turn Bo Derek into tasty giblets.

Anti-School Petition a 'Misreading' of the Law

Scott Nicholson's article in today's Watauga Democrat RE whether a locally generated petition in opposition to a new high school can succeed in derailing the project ... is an interesting read. Nicholson paraphrases David Lawrence, local government guru with the
Institute of Government in Chapel Hill:
Lawrence is familiar with Watauga's high school funding situation and believes the petition is invalid. He said assuming a successful petition would force a bond referendum and put the decision in voters' hands was "a misreading of the statute."

Lawrence said he didn't believe the county government would be bound to it and could still issue certificates of participation and that there was no mechanism to force the county to purchase bonds instead. He said voters had recourse by choosing their candidates in elections.

There are few greater authorities on N.C. procedures. When you reach David Lawrence, you've reached the top of the heap.

Lawrence's suggestion for a remedy, in lieu of a successful petition, is winning the fall elections. For the anti-new school crowd, that's a far less appetizing prospect than ginning up an emotional bond issue referendum ... mainly because five out of the six people running for County Commission have come out in favor of a new school. So who are they gonna vote for? Only James Coffey is anti, though he's plenty cagey about it. And then there's Keith Honeycutt, who's waffled all over the place but is currently basking in the impression among moderates that he's been behind it all along. He's just never been able to bring himself to cast an actual vote for funding it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blind Obedience Quote of the Day:
There are some people, and I'm one of them, that believe George Bush was placed where he is by the Lord. I don't care how he governs, I will support him. I'm a Republican through and through.
--Clydeen Tomanio, substitute teacher, northwest Georgia

The Lord works in mysterious ways, granted, but ... "I don't care how he governs"? The Gospel According to P.T. Barnum? So glad Ms. Tomanio has found work as ... a TEACHER.

But according to this AP article today, Clydeen is not so much in the majority this year among Southern women, who seem to have gotten a clue.

Forest Service ... Backing Up in The Globe

News this a.m. is that the Forest Service is "rethinking" its plans to clear-cut The Globe below Blowing Rock ... no thanks to Madam Foxx. Thanks to over a thousand angry comments flowing in to the District Ranger.

Foxx has been no help whatsoever. She contemptuously told members of the Blowing Rock town council to quit "pressuring" her (how dare them express an opinion contrary to The Madam's!), and she refuses to sponsor legislation that would designate the area as "scenic" to protect it.

No surprise. She also objected to the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway.

Bush, Through the Looking Glass

El Presidente, yesterday:
We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives. But he stopped talking.

As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures.

And from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass":
"I know what you're thinking about," said Tweedledum; "but it isn't so, nohow."

"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jesus Never Rode an Elephant

Here's another country boy we can relate to:

Many American Christians have stories like mine. I was raised in a faithful and loving church and a loving and faithful home. When I was a child, every night my parents said The Lord's Prayer with me .... We also prayed together before meals. I don't recall us ever eating at home without saying what Dad called "Grace" or Mother called "The Blessing." Mother and Dad, having been through the Depression, always were thankful. And they knew Whom to thank. My parents knew that they and our family and many neighbors had survived the Depression through the grace of God. And, quite frankly, through the policies of the Democratic Party.

Kind of slipped up on you, that last line?

The author, Tennessee state senator Roy Herron, is writing in response to a trend in GOP self-righteousness that started years ago, got a full head of steam in 2004 with iPootValues, and now seems set in concrete in some of our mega-churches not to mention small halls of worship. "You can't be a Christian AND a Democrat" is the message.

To which Roy Herron responds: "Is the Scripture wrong? Is John 3:16 not to be believed? Is the Gospel not about faith, but works? Not about grace, but politics? Not about what Jesus did for us, but what we must do for Republicans?"

Herron has a big hand in the launch of

And he reminds us strongly of our own Rev. Steve Goss, running for the N.C. Senate against David Blust. Mr. Blust in our opinion is possibly the emptiest pharisee we've encountered in over six decades in this pharisee-rich soil of the God-blessed American South. Surely people can recognize the difference in character between Goss and Blust. Or has our religion beccome so corrupted by power politics that a poseur will out-poll a genuine human being?

INCIDENTALLY: Today's Watauga Democrat gets around to reporting that Blust paid $7,000 in "advertising" to his own property management company. Wonder if anyone reading that will say, "Whaaa?" Or will they shrug and say, "What a supremely big ole fat CHRISTIAN thing to do!"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Take That, Ann Coulter

Well, hallelujah.

"" is now on-line as of today. Check it out.

Billed as "an online Christian community," the site was the brainchild of David Wilhelm, who was chairman of the DNC over a decade ago. (Wilhelm is the son of a University of Ohio geographer who once upon a time -- the father, not the son -- did important scholarly work on the Appalachian region.)

I particularly enjoyed the short essay, "Jesus Was an Illegal Immigrant."

But our favorite: "The Sin of Religious Hypocrisy," the sermon of the day: "Acting religious, looking religious and sounding religious are not the same thing as being religious."

Amen, sister!

Monday, September 04, 2006

What Kind of TV Will Foxx Do?

This article details the purely logical transformation of Republican congressional advertising this year. Not many TV spots so far contain any images of El Presidente. No grinning congresscritters clasping the presidential hand in happier days. And some of those who have voted for Bush policies, oh, 90 percent of the time, or better, are now declaring themselves "independent." What a crock.

Can't wait to see what The Madam puts up as her "best face" this year. Will she drop her adulation of the Frat Boy? Or will she stubbornly stick to her president and his dandy little war?

We're betting the latter.

The Madam has never been one to follow fads.

ADDENDUM: Be sure to catch this article that reveals The Madam maintaining her hard-as-granite attitude toward immigration, despite the fact she built her fortune on the backs of those same immigrants. And we absolutely love her butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth ability to utter lines like this:

"Illegal immigration should not be a political issue."

Man, you can't script hypocrisy like that.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Melting of Liddy Dole

Rob Christensen in today's N&O suggests that U.S. Sen. Liddy Dole looks invulnerable in 2008, which is like saying that a frozen turkey in the bottom of the freezer can't possibly defrost in time for Sunday dinner.

The "likely scenario," writes Christensen, "is that the Democrats will put up an underfunded B-Team or C-Team candidate" against Dole in two years, rather than an Easley or a Cooper.

But did you see Dole on CBS's Face the Nation this a.m.? Lordy, was she awful or what? She can't handle tough questioning, looks unprepared (though impeccably coifed), and giggles at inappropriate times, as in when she doesn't have an answer.

And if things don't go well for her team in this November election -- she's head of the Republican Senatorial Committee, in charge of recruiting senate candidates across the nation and campaigning for them -- that turkey could melt far faster than anyone ever dreamed.

CORRECTION: Of course, it was Fox News Sunday and not Face the Nation that Liddy Dole appeared on. I watch 'em all, so they meld into one mass of gas-baggery by the end of the day. Here's access to on-line screening of just how awful Dole was.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Morning Finger-Pointing

Article in this a.m.'s NYTimes recounts the findings in a survey conducted over three years by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This study found that south-central Wyoming led the nation with the highest rate of alcohol abuse by people age 12 and older. Teen binge-drinking. Big problem, especially in Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas.

Areas of the LOWEST abuse of alcohol among teenagers? The survey found this: "...some of the lowest areas for under-age binge drinking were in the nation's most densely packed cities -- parts of Washington, D.C., Detroit and Los Angeles. An earlier federal study found that rural youths ages 12 and 13 were twice as likely as urban youths to abuse alcohol."

O snap.

Our brethren on the far right love to point out the correlation between immorality among 1960s hippies and the decline of the nation. Is it just me, or do you recognize a correlation between binge drinking and a high proportion of Republicans?

Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas ... some of the most densely Republican states in the union. Dick Cheney's constituents. On the other hand, where binge drinking is far less a problem, in Washington, Detroit, and Los Angeles, these are heavily Democratic cities. Ain't that interesting.

Or frightening. You can get into the deeper motivations the article explores for out-of-control teen (and pre-teen) boozing (and we'll admit that life among majority Republicans is boring to the point of stupefaction), but all we can think of is that man in the White House ... a scion of boring privilege, raised in a cowboy culture, a binger in his early years who now leads this nation like an arrested adolescent.

America, salute your future!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Foxx "Overcome With Emotion" Again

And the Award for Best Actress in an on-going soap opera goes to...

Virginia Foxx

for her ability to cry on cue when she needs to impersonate a woman with feelings.