Monday, January 31, 2005

Pick on Dick

There's been quite a dogpile on Dick Cheney for his decision to dress like a four-year-old during the Auschwitz memorial ceremony last week. But hey, let's give him a break: it's not like the job of Vice President demands dignity.


Unconstitutional practices ruled unconstitutional

In a shocking moment of tautological clarity, a U.S. judge ruled that violating the constitution by eliminating the right to trial for the Gauntanamo detainees is, in fact, a violation of the constitution. I'm impressed by the following quote from the Reuters story:

District Judge Joyce Hens Green also ruled the Guantanamo prisoners have constitutional protections under the law.
You mean the constitution is actually supposed to be taken as law? I thought it was just a loose guideline, like the Geneva conventions or the general sense of humanity.



Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pretty Animals

Here are some weird looking animals. See if you can guess what they all have in common...

Tarsier

Highland Cow

Fathead

Pangolin

Answer: All of them have renounced torture! Now if only today was Highland Cow inauguration day....

For a strong analysis of Alberto Gonzales current position on torture, extracted (painlessly!) from his Senate confirmation hearing transcripts, check this out.

And while we're on the topic of Senate confirmation hearings, nothing is more pathetic to me than Condi Rice's crybaby antics when she was called out for lying to congressional committees in the past. Look, if there's a written record of you telling lies, (anybody remember her saying "There was nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S." in the presidential briefing of August 6th, when in fact the title of that briefing was Bin Laden Determined To Attack In United States?), then don't act like a pouty five-year-old when you got called on it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bad Laws for Bad People

Ohio recently passed an anti-gay marriage bill which is now being used by those who beat their domestic partners. It seems that the law would make it impossible for anyone who was not legally married to receive the benefits of marriage, one of which would, apparently, be the right not to be beaten by your live-in lover:

In at least two cases last week, the Cuyahoga County public defender's office has asked a judge to dismiss domestic-violence charges against unmarried defendants. The attorneys in the two cases argue that the charges violate the amendment by affording marriage-like legal status to unmarried victims who live with the people accused of attacking them.

It's nice to see that a law that was passed to support narrow-minded bigotry can also be used to justify assaulting women! Ohio's legislature got a two-fer! It's efficient and evil!

And let's not forget that the basis for "defending" marriage is a book that was written thousands of years ago as a compilation of the wisdom of some smelly, violent, largely ignorant desert nomads. What better sourcebook for modern legislation?


Religion = Deadly, Money-Making Scam

We all know that religion is a good source for supporting our prejudices, but did you know it's a good way to cheat people who are suffering from cancer? When not buffing Madonna's toenails, the fine folk at the Kabbalah center like to offer quack cures to the seriously ill in hopes, I guess, of getting them to avoid seeking real help and thus leading them more quickly to their final appointment with God. As noted in the Reuters piece linked to above, during the course of a BBC documentary:
One of the undercover reporters, who said he was suffering from cancer, was offered a package of remedies for the disease costing a total of 860 pounds ($1,600). They included nearly 400 pounds for 10 cases of Kabbalah water.
What a swell bunch! I hear their next task will be to steal candy from babies. And then beat the babies senseless.

And yet there's a general consensus among everyone from Oprah to GW that religion is somehow a good thing. I guess I use the word "good" differently than they do.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bush Flip Flops On...Ok, nothing about this is funny

I don't have anything amusing to say about the torture fiasco now. This is a complete rejection of what made America one of the most beloved nations on earth (which we really were, not that long ago...note the sharp decline in world opinion of U.S. in this Pew Research poll).

But here's something to be aware of: when Bush claims that he rejects torture, he is simply and plainly lying. As this NY Times article (registration required) makes clear, as recently as yesterday the Bush administration was pressuring congress not to pass legislation that would have prohibited torture. Yes, they were going to pass legislation to prohibit torture...like it wasn't already prohibited? Well, Alberto Gonzales seemed to think that it was only sorta kinda prohibited, so Congress tried new wording, something to the effect of "No! Bad president! Stop torturing!"

Apparently, Bush finally understood what that meant. So he killed the legislation.

Goodbye, USA! Hello, USSR!

Georgia Moves Forward Into 19th Century

Finally moving forward into the 19th century, the state of Georgia has decided (well, actually "been ordered") to remove from high school biology textbooks a sticker that said that evolution was a "theory and not a fact."

Georgia had previously tried to remove the word "evolution" and replace it with "biological changes over time." Because God just prefers wordier constructions.

Here's a crazy idea that Georgia might try: in science classes, you could have teachers who teach science. Then, in "stupid, outdated ideas about life and the universe as held by a group of desert nomads around 1000 B.C." class, you could teach that the world was created in six days by an angry sky-man. That way, you'd have a room where people are taught critical thought and evidential reasoning, which is what leads one to believe in evolution, and you could also have a room where people are taught about the baseless notions that once held sway over our ignorant ancestors.

Really, what's far more important than whether anyone believes in evolution or not is the question of whether or not it is supported by evidence. Truth doesn't care what you believe, and even if 65% of Americans think that the world was made by magic, that doesn't make it true. Yes, even if 65% of Americans think that.

Will we ever have a scientifically minded society? By which I mean one that doesn't think crazy, made-up ideas with no evidence to support them and which violate basic rules of logic should hold sway over carefully reasoned, researched and evidentially supported ideas. I'm thinking "no."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Real Search for Imaginary Weapons

Well, the Bush administration has finally called an end to the search for WMDs in Iraq. Here's an interesting idea: instead of wasting taxpayer money looking for something that you know doesn't exist since you blatantly and knowingly lied about it in the first place, why not have just dedicated those troops to doing something besides snipe hunting like, I don't know, defending the Baghdad antiquities, suppressing the insurgency before it began, guarding the ammunition dumps that were looted by that insurgency, or making sure that U.S.-run prisons in Iraq are properly managed.

No, better to pull an O.J. and go looking for the "real killers." This administration is behaving like a little kid who won't give up his story that a goblin ran in the window and broke the vase. And the public just stands around and smiles while Bush sends valuable troops off to go find the goblins. Isn't that cute? Little Georgie is still pretending to look for WMDS! Well, it'll be a good lesson for him when he finally comes to mommy and says that he made the whole thing up! Then we'll let him have his supper! Luckily, 72% of Bush voters still believe that the weapons are there, so there's little hope of this working against the president, at least not unless some horrible plague of education or critical, rational thought grips the American electorate.


Friday, January 07, 2005

The Free and Liberal Media

It's said that media in the U.S. has a liberal bias. If so, then you'll be glad to hear that your taxpayer dollars, drawn from the Education Department, are being used to bribe pundits to pimp the much maligned "No Child Left Behind Act."

The short version is that 240,000 dollars that could have been spent on anti-evolution text books for Kansas classrooms, or sex education classes that promoted the gay agenda (i.e. didn't stress the absolutely proven fact that gays go to hell where they are tortured with fiery, same-sex lovemaking), wound up being given to wealthy blowhard Armstrong Williams under the condition that he "regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts." I'm sure it was completely up to him whether or not he commented favorably, and whether or not he informed his audiences that he was in fact a paid whore whose opinion was not so much the result of considered deliberation as it was the product of his desire to add another addition to his summer home.

But it's not like Williams is afraid to take a radical stand that might alienate his reader- and viewership: he recently came out against al Qaeda!

Go get 'em Armstrong! I'm sick of the liberal media coddling al Qaeda! I mean, c'mon, how many pro-al Qaeda stories do we have to read in the New York Times before America comes to its sense and asks that the government give up its "hug an al Qaeda member" program?

Williams asks that it be easier for the government to arrest and detain people against whom they have no evidence of actual wrongdoing. Dude, the only way it could get any easier for the gov't to do that would be if everyone of middle eastern descent just lined up and bought vacation packages for 8-year stays at Guantanamo bay!

Bush Less Popular Than Ashlee Simpson

GW is now the least popular re-elected president in over 50 years. Yay! Why did we re-elect him again?

Evil Equals Good

I'm always happy to see religion used as an excuse for evil. The crusades, these immoral shitbags who think that Jesus's message was essentially a paen to skinhead-style gay bashing on a cosmic scale, the suicide bombers who think God is all about turning yourself into a special effect, that whole thing in the middle east where the Palestinians had to leave their ancestral homelands to avoid getting shot because somebody had a book that said God had given that land to a a bunch of people who'd never been there before. You know, that sort of thing.

The latest outbreak of religion-as-force-of-evil is in India (where it happens all the time). It seems that the untouchables, people who are no doubt the spawn of the demon gods because they're a little darker than everyone else, are being forced out of relief camps and denied supplies by "people" from the "higher" castes. This wouldn't be such a big deal if there hadn't been, O, I don't know, a tsunami there, but seeing as there has, it seems like, what the hell, let's try to grab the shattered remains of our lives and villages and all work together! Or not!

People often ask me which religion is the worst. It's an easy answer: they all are!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Just A Semblance Of Due Process, Please

The Bush administration, in their pursuit of moral values and worldwide democratic principles, has decided to detain for life any one they suspect of terrorism but whom they cannot prove legally has any involvement with terrorism. Let's see, people who cannot be shown to be terrorists...that would be pretty much everyone! In short, if they don't have a case against you, you go to jail forever!

Republican Senator Richard Lugar called this "a bad idea." He's using a form of comedy called "understatement." Ha ha! A bad idea! Funny Lugar!

Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, really hits hard on this one though:
"There must be some modicum, some semblance of due process … if you're going to detain people, whether it's for life or whether it's for years,"
Yes, just a modicum or semblance. A semblance would be best, I think. That's strong opposition party politics, Mr. Levin, calling for a semblance of justice! Maybe you should rethink your position and tone it down a little!!!! How about a mime of due process? A parody of it? Anything but a semblance!!!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bush Scams the Elderly, Infirm

Having taken on such tough opponents as the Warlords of Afghanistan with their frightening horse-and-stone technology, and the powerful state of Iraq which was known to house weapons of minor destruction, GW Bush now moves to attack the fearsome elderly and infirm populace.

Remember when he said he wouldn't cut Social Security benefits? Oops! Turns out he "flip-flopped" on that one! Strangely, when Kerry said that Bush was planning to cut Social Security benefits, Bush and factcheck.org called him a liar. Maybe he's more like a prophet.

The really horrifying thing is that Bush is not just fixing something that ain't broke, he's throwing it away completely. Current estimates say the system will pay out until 2052, after which it will still be at 80% capacity to pay out. That's important, and needs attention, but hardly calls for junking an entire system that's been so effective up to this point.

Bush's plan calls for putting brokers in charge of your retirement. And maybe the brokers will note that the safest investment is government bonds, and they'll pull all the Social Security money out of it's crazy investment in government bonds (where it's been sitting since the program was started), and put it in nice, safe government bonds. Wait a minute...well, at least this pointless churning will produce some nice brokerage fees.

Then again, maybe getting Social Security out of government bonds is a good idea, at least if George Bush remains in power: the current devaluation of the dollar means those bonds could become far less attractive to foreign investors.

Jeb Bush Am Smart, Compassionate

Jeb Bush, who must be smart because he inherited a lot of money and political clout from people who did business with Nazis, has noted that the Florida hurricanes of 2004 are nothing compared to the tsunami that killed 150,000 people in Asia and Africa.
"We had nothing compared to that," Bush told The Associated Press at Bangkok's Don Muang air force base. "When you have 150,000 people who died over 11 countries, that goes way beyond what anybody's experienced in our own country." (Full article)
Really? You think? On the other hand, the U.S. is only giving 350 million in aid to the poor brown people who were wiped off the face of the earth, whereas the nice white people of Florida got two billion in aid to rebuild. But then, they had to pay for all those extremely reliable Diebold voting machines down there.