31 December 2005

Christmas Present #2: So-called "Intelligent" Design goes from the school to the trash

After Dover, Pennsylvania's Republican schoolboard hijacked the local science curriculum in a painfully transparent attempt to inject christian teachings into public education, the Dover-area residents had their say. And threw the deceitful bastards out on their fundie ears. Those who subscribe to the radical notion that religion doesn't belong in public school, much less be passed off as "science," looked to the court to undo the damage. Thankfully, it more than obliged.

In a ruling that amounted to the jurisprudential equivalent of a bitch slap, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones not only rejected proponents' (unfounded) assertions that ID is science, but sawed them off at the knees for abusing their position to promote their thinly disguised religious agenda. Jones' was a lengthy opinion, but the AP kindly published these choice nuggets:
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause."

"Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator."

"Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

"The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."

"After a searching review of the record and applicable case law, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community."
"Ill-informed faction?" "Breathtaking inanity?"

What's really breathtaking is finally seeing an (apparent) trend of honesty when dealing with the Evangeliban and its theocratic agenda.

I must've been an especially good boy this year.

Christmas Present #1: FoMoCo tells AFA to cram their boycott

Well, this one was a little early, but sweet, nonetheless. After Ford Motor Company decided to pull its Jaguar and Land Rover advertising from gay-centered publications, Don Wildmon and the rest of the hate-mongers at the American Family Association couldn't resist crowing about it being in response to their threatened boycott and a direct result of meetings they had with Ford representatives. Not surprisingly, Ford tried to spin their actions as "a business decision" that had nothing to do with the AFA.

No one bought it.

In short order, thanks to a Delta Force-like rapid response from John Aravosis and the crew at AmericaBlog, Ford found themselves confronted with not only the venom the AFA is known for, but also the on-the-record statements of its own employees that belied their "business decision" line of shit:
" In a Nov. 29 meeting at AFA headquarters in Tupelo, MS, David Leitch, general counsel and vice president for Ford, and Ziad Ojakli, group vice president-Corporate Affairs, along with Dallas-area Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds, hammered out a deal...A Ford spokesman says the two parties had a “broad discussion” and deferred to the AFA to announce the reconciliation details."
After days of coordinated email and telephone traffic that filled voicemail accounts and forced the closure of email addresses, FoMoCo not only reversed itself on the Janguar/Land Rover decision, but pledged to expand advertising to include all eight of its nameplates. Just this morning Ford was commended and the AFA slapped in an editorial in the Detroit Free Press:
"It's bad business, and just wrong, to shun customers because of their sexual orientation, race, creed, gender or culture.

That's a lesson the American Family Association has yet to learn...The suggestion that the company caved to the AFA worried Ford executives enough to announce that they would run corporate-wide ads in gay publications featuring all of their brands. A Ford executive cited a "misperception" about the company's intent -- a perception that AFA, to its ultimate detriment, helped to create.

The group, which touts itself as being pro-family but spends much of its energy venting against homosexuals, has threatened another boycott. But boycotts based on bigotry rarely succeed, partly because they prompt protests from those who believe in equality.

Ford did the right, and smart, thing by not allowing consumers to believe it was bullied into shunning loyal customers to satisfy an organization's prejudices. It set the right example for corporations, customers and citizens."
"Boycotts based on bigotry rarely succeed." Gotta love it. Nothing like seeing someone calling a spade a spade, and pointing out just what these "pro-family" groups are really about. All in all, a well-deserved lump of coal for Don Wildmon and the rest of the Evangeliban.

18 December 2005

Spotted Online

From "Mark in Florida" on AmericaBlog:
"Will somebody please give Bush a blowjob so we can finally impeach the bastard?"
Well, I did ask what people would have to see...

Mustn't lose our sense of humor, right?

17 December 2005

The "W" stands for, "Warrants? We don't need no steenking warrants!"

I should learn to stop wondering, "How much worse can it get," under the Bush junta, because, for five years without fail, we keep finding out.


On American citizens.

Without warrants, in seemingly clear violation of the law, not to mention the Constitution. (Gracias, Hilzoy at Kevin Drum's Political Animal)


What, exactly, does the media, the American people, the Democratic party, hell, the REPUBLICAN party, have to see to stand up and say, "no more?"

Bush, going Mr. Blonde with a straight razor and a gas can, on someone "with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations?"

As outrageous as Dear Leader's contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law may be, the worse thing is that, as it stands, it's a 99% chance nothing will come of this. Unless this congress demonstrates a near-total reversal in its approach to the oversight role, G-Dubs will be smirking at 1600 until 2008.

As for the people, the BushCo faithful still believe Iraq was involved in 9/11, and had (some think still has) WMD, despite the clearest of evidence and statements to the contrary. If that didn't shake them, what are the minutiae of the FISA statutes going to do?

Opinions on Iraq, terrorism, and whatever else, aside, Warrant(less)gate transcends any divisions between parties or ideologies. Forget the civil libertarians, measures like this should scare the hell out of legitimate conservatives, as much as anyone. Card-carrying members of NARAL and the NRA, alike, are committed to government noninterference in their lives. Well, what are we talking about, here? If American citizens are subject to warrantless government surveillance, Left and Right should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder. When Bush decided that hurricane reconstruction "will costs what it costs," while eschewing any mention of increasing tax revenue, fiscal conservatives found the resolve to point out the unacceptability of that position. It's imperative that the same thing occur, now. Blue state America and its representatives cannot right this wrong, unaided.

GOP gets GOPunked on PATRIOT Act

WASHINGTON -- The Senate, bowing to pressure from civil libertarians of all political stripes, delivered a staggering blow to President George W. Bush on Friday by blocking reauthorization of the Patriot Act's eavesdropping provisions, which expire on Dec. 31.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), working with the White House, fell eight votes short of getting the 60 necessary to stop Democrats and conservative Republicans from filibustering the act's reauthorization.

The filibuster threat was enough to scuttle passage of the act in its current form during the pre-Christmas legislative rush. The anti-filibuster measure failed 52 to 47.

"Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security," said Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.).

Three other Republicans bucked party leadership, citing concerns over the government's ease in obtaining roving wiretaps or accessing gun, medical and bank records.
Note to GOP Leadership: the "questioning the will of Dear Leader jeopardizes national security" line of shit you've been slinging for so long isn't selling any more.

Addendum to Note to GOP leadership: Assurances about not abusing already questionable extensions of power ring especially hollow when your man at 1600 gets caught ordering international intelligence structures to spy on American citizens without warrants. Kudos to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for knocking that one out of the park during the Senate debate:
"And I don’t want to hear again from the Attorney General or anyone on this floor that this government has shown it can be trusted to use the power we give it with restraint and care. This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every Senator and every American."
After the faux "victory" on the McCain amendment, this one was nice. I can only hope this represents an end to the GOP's ability to fear-monger and browbeat their way to legislative success by painting every "Nay" vote as a vote against the safety of the American people. Of course, all the usual suspects, including the Preznit himself, were out in force decrying the irresponsibility of the move, all but guaranteeing another 9/11 would result. BushCo sent PR stooge extraordinaire, Scott McClellan, out to wag the finger:
"In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without these vital tools for a single moment...the time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come."
A single moment? Really? You guys must be willing to do anything to keep it all on the books, right?
The Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to renew the USA Patriot Act for just three months – an extension that Republicans considers too short – increasing prospects that provisions the administration believes indispensable to the war on terrorism may soon expire.

"The House of Representatives opposes such an extension and the president will not sign such an extension," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told his colleagues in a floor showdown Friday as lawmakers scurried to finish business for the year.

Surely that was just the Rev. Frist trying to rally his troops. After all, we can't be without these provisions for a single moment. Dear Leader said so.
White House allies said they would rather see the law's 16 temporary provisions expire entirely than give opponents another three months or more to keep whittling away at them.

"A short-term extension is irresponsible," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., a day after his chamber passed the conference agreement, 251-174.
Or not.

Which is it, boys? A crucial protection, or something to let vanish and then have to build from scratch? Because it's very interesting how measures so allegedly vital to our national interests could possibly still be fair game for playing "cut off our nose to spite our face" political games. Shit, if you're so worried about the "whittling away" that could occur during a three month extension, what, exactly, do you think if you had to do this all from square one without Ground Zero still smouldering in the background? Not surprisingly, the MSM has once again abdicated its responsibility and refused to point out this ridiculous state of affairs, choosing, instead, to echo, over and over, Chimpy's admonishments from his weekly radio address. Also, not surprisingly, Democratic leadership has elected not to hammer this "my way or the highway" recalcitrance that's so typical for this administration and its acolytes.

Between PATRIOT and the emerging Warrant(less)gate, 2006 starts now, boys and girls. Frist is a blatant liar and whore for the Evangeliban, DeLay is flailing, Santorum is weak and hurt by his association with Dubya, whose unapologetic trampling of the rule of law is pushing him away from "imperialist" straight towards "despot."

Eye on the ball, shall we?

Torture now banned--except when it isn't

Bush Caves...

President Reverses Course...

A Stinging Defeat for White House...

Well for all the great sounding headlines, it looks like this week's acceptance of John McCain's anti-torture amendment might be more cosmetic than anything else.
McCain's initial bill called for banning all U.S. personnel from engaging in "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of detainees. The only changes to his proposal, McCain said, dealt with people accused of mistreating detainees.

"(It) basically says that if a person, a reasonable person, would feel that someone was acting under orders ... then it could be a defense in case of accusation," McCain said. "And there is a provision for legal counsel for those who are accused (of torture), both civilian and military."

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds like even if someone gets caught, depending on the verbal gymnastics of their instructions, they might not be guilty of anything. His/her direct superior points the figure at the orders they were given, someone else references intelligence...

Rinse, repeat.

If that weren't bad enough, the Pentagon is seeking classified changes to the Army field manual that McCain wants to use as the blueprint for prisoner treatment. Any guesses as to what those changes will address? Beautiful, isn't it? If you can't keep from being held to a standard, change it. Plus we still have to wait and see if the Bush junta can effect changes in a measure put forth by Sens. Carl Levin and Lindsay Graham that would prevent detainees from seeking redress from the courts if they are being mistreated.

So where does that leave us?

Interrogators will be held to a standard, but one that has been amended to include more latitude than it did originally. Prisoners likely may not be permitted to address their treatment in the courts. Even if they are, if the hypothetical "reasonable person" feels that the interrogator(s) was acting under orders, then no crime was committed.

Another "policy" that isn't.

The emperor is again strolling about in the buff and the so-called "liberal" media says nothing.

12 December 2005

The latest rhetorical gymnastics from the Rev. Frist

Amazing how these guys can backflip when the need arises. Just last month, we were treated to all manner of handsprings from Dear Leader and Deferrment Dick as they frantically tried to back off their initial efforts to swiftboat John Murtha in the wake of Jean Schmidt's lie-filled, venomous attack on the House floor. This week, we get Senate majority liar leader, Bill Frist, trying to Jedi mind trick everyone into forgetting the Fundies' poleaxing of Harriet Miers' nomination. As you might expect, leave it to FOX "News" to let his revisionism go unchallenged:
"So I think it would be unconscionable — I think it would be wrong — I think it would be against the intent of the founding fathers and our Constitution to deny Sam Alito an up or down vote on the floor of the United States Senate.

I have stood from day one on principle that these Supreme Court justices — nominees deserve an up or down vote, and it would be absolutely wrong to deny him that."
Funny, I seem to remember it going something like this:
"The White House said Miers had withdrawn because of senators' demands to see internal documents related to her role as counsel to the president. But politics played a larger role: Bush's conservative backers had doubts about her ideological purity, and Democrats had little incentive to help the nominee or the embattled GOP president...There were few regrets on Capitol Hill, from either party. Republicans control 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, but several GOP lawmakers were wavering on Miers amid intense lobbying from conservative interest groups.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist spoke with White House chief of staff Andy Card Wednesday night and offered a 'frank assessment of the situation in the committee and in the full Senate,' Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said."
And these aren't the droids you're looking for, either. After getting spanked by the Justice Sunday set for showing that his M.D. does more than cover a hole in the wall and supporting stem cell research, Fristy immediately reverted back to the spineless lap dog he is, and let the Founding Fathers' bedrock principle of the up-or-down vote take a back seat to pandering to the Evangeliban. It looks like what you "stood for from day one" tends to change depending on who you're currying favor with, eh, Reverend?

In a party of liars, Frist is managing to earn himself a place of distinction. First, in another sop to the so-called "Christian" right, he diagnosed Terri Schiavo's alleged chances for improvement via videotape--before denying he did so. Then, he repeatedly plead ignorance of the millions of dollars worth of Hospital Corporation of America stock he acquired, despite report after report showing his "blind" trust to be 20/20. Now, here he is looking for the trifecta. Of course if BushCo could get away with perpetrating the egregious fraud that is the Iraq war, is it any wonder Frist lies with impunity? He knows no one will call him on it.

And they haven't.
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