Thursday, March 31, 2005

Yahoo! News - Panel: Agencies 'Dead Wrong' on Iraq WMDs
Passing the buck and the blame. Wonder what Richard Clarke has to say about this. Seems to me he said that this administration cherry-picked the intelligence to fit their agenda. Now they want to point fingers at the system in general and, of course, grab more power.

WASHINGTON - In a scathing report, a presidential commission said Thursday that America's spy agencies were "dead wrong" in most of their judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war and that the United States knows "disturbingly little" about the weapons programs and threats posed by many of the nation's most dangerous adversaries.

The commission called for dramatic change to prevent future failures. It outlined more than 70 recommendations, saying that President Bush must give John Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, broader powers for overseeing the nation's 15 spy agencies.

It also called for sweeping changes at the FBI to combine the bureau's counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources into a new office.

The unclassified version of the report does not go into significant detail on the intelligence community's abilities in Iran and North Korea because commissioners did not want to tip the U.S. hand to its leading adversaries. Those details are included in the classified version.

The commission was formed by Bush a year ago to look at why U.S. spy agencies mistakenly concluded that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, one of the administration's main justifications for invading in March 2003.

"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," the commission said in a report to the president. "This was a major intelligence failure."

So, will we be issuing apologies anytime soon? You know, to all the families of the people we killed? To the countries that spent money and lives in this effort? No? My guess is that we will continue to justify our actions with the "spreading freedom" mantra.

One good thing is that this might keep our happy asses from acting anywhere else for the time being. We have absolutely zero credibility, and we are admitting it. Michigan House Republicans want school boards to create policies on steroids
OK. The schools are going broke. So what's on the mind of Republicans? Ah yes, cheating in sports. Priority one.

Republicans in the Michigan House want school boards across the state to create a policy on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Representative Daniel Acciavatti of New Baltimore will announce the legislation Thursday at news conferences in Jackson and Macomb County.

He wants the state health department to develop a list of banned substances and make it available for school districts to use in their athletic eligibility rules. It could be the same as the one used by the NCAA.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association discourages the use of steroids and other drugs, but doesn't currently prohibit steroids.

Gee, all we have to do to implement drug testing would be to cut a few more teachers! After all, sports is the big money ticket. Screw that education stuff.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - Drastic cuts proposed for Grand Rapids Public Schools
My poor little town. Things are getting really shitty around here.

Officials with the Grand Rapids Public School District announced Wednesday morning a proposal for $15 million in immediate cuts.

The majority of the cuts involve staff members - 25 central office personnel and 85 to 90 teachers spread over several schools, and 70 paraprofessionals mostly from elementary and special education. The district also recommends privatizing more than 400 bus drivers and custodians.

Board members also warn that in a couple of months they will announce the closing of more schools. Plus, Superintendent Bert Bleke will resign next June.

"We're in a situation where I have to make some very, very difficult recommendations to the board," Bleke said. "Do I like them? Absolutely not. Do I have to do that? Absolutely. Do I think we're going to change any minds in Lansing? I don't know. I hope they understand the severity of the problem. And, if not, they're not paying attention."

And the city parks might be closing, also. Everyone enjoying their tax cuts?
The penny pinching and budget cutting have gotten so bad in Grand Rapids that Wednesday night city leaders were asking the public for hand-outs. The city's parks department is on the chopping block, and elected officials are asking you to donate money to keep the parks and recreation open and operating.

Parks across Grand Rapids could be closing. That means no more monkey bars, no more sliding boards, and no clean, fun space for children to play, because there would be no one available to make sure the equipment is safe and the grass gets cut.

Grand Rapids has a fiscal crisis, the worst since the Great Depression. The city is $12 million over budget. Getting rid of the parks department and essentially cutting 100 positions saves the city $4 million.

My golden girl Jenny is starting to pay the price for all this, too. Polls waaaay down. This absolutley sucks- she inherited this situation where she had to stick to the tax cuts set up by Engler and has been screwed by the Feds in the meantime. Essentially the Pubs put us in this mess and stand to benefit from it.

Sorry Jen. Maybe a job in Washington would be better for you anyway. Get the fuck out of this backward, stupid state. If they want to be the Mississippi of the north, they get what they deserve.

I wish I knew someone in California.

AMERICAblog: Poor private Mary Cheney is now writing a half-million dollar book
Aravosis nails it.

Well that was quick. Six months ago she was an innocent private wallflower, now she's hawking her name for half a million bucks.

Gee, mainstream media, didn't we tell you so? Didn't we inform you that in 2002 Mary was selling photo ops at gay Republican fundraisers for $500 a pop (i.e., pay Mary 500 bucks and she'll let you snap a photo with her)? But no, the MSM fell for the "Mary is a private citizen, how DARE you ask any questions about her?" line.

Now we know that what the Cheneys REALLY meant was "how dare you ask any questions about her and not pay half a million bucks first." I guess they always knew what Mary was, they were just haggling over the price.

Yup, according to Newsday she "loathed" being a gay GOP poster girl, funny how that loathing just disappears for the right price.

Besides memories of working on her dad's campaigns since age 8, the former Coors exec will finally respond to Democratic nominee John Kerry, who raised her homosexuality.

"She never wanted to be the poster girl ... for gay issues," Matalin said. "She doesn't exist to be the lesbian daughter of the vice president."

But her sexual identity will be a major topic of the tome, which will try to appeal to conservatives, liberals and gays, Matalin said.

Trying to have it both ways. Does that make her bi? Bihypocritical, maybe. Does these Pubs go to some special school to learn how to do this?

What a toad.

Not the Marrying Kind: Woman Files Lawsuit Over North Carolina Law Against Cohabitation - from
Bullshit laws still on the books.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A former sheriff's dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina's law against cohabitation.

Debora Hobbs said she was told to get married, move out, or find another job after her boss found out about her living situation. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

The lawsuit seeks to abolish the nearly 200-year-old - and rarely enforced - law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law.

Convicted offenders face a fine and up to 60 days in jail.

"The government has no business meddling in the private relationships of consenting adults," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation.

Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn't want to marry; Hobbs quit last May rather than be fired.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs' employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn't send out deputies to enforce the law.

I can see it now- Fundies rallying for laws all across the country to prohibit unmarried opposite sex adults from living together. But wait! We'd better ban same sex living arrangements, too, because, well, you know, we couldn't have that, could we?

I bet the National Landlords Association could get behind this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm
Better sign away the book and movie rights soon, too. Attention spans are short.

WASHINGTON, March 28 - The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

"I think it's amusing," said Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. "I think it's absolutely classic America. Everything is for sale in America, every type of personal information."

Executives of Response Unlimited declined to comment. Gary McCullough, director of the Christian Communication Network and a spokesman for Ms. Schiavo's parents, confirmed that Mr. Schindler had agreed to let Response Unlimited rent out the list as part of a deal for the firm to send an e-mail solicitation raising money on the family's behalf.

Life? No. Money? Yes. Some of the richest people in America are funding this fiasco, and yet they still will tap Joe and Jane Red State for a few bucks so they can fuel their private jets and stay in the swankiest hotels as they crusade from state to state to interfere in people's private lives.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Yahoo! News - IRS May Consider EBay Sales Taxable Income
Actually, I'm quite surprised that they haven't gone after the eBay people, or the garage sale people, or Internet commerce in general. Look for legislation eventually. Lots o' tax money floating around here.

In tax law, there is no clear, bright line that separates fun from profit, or a hobby from a business. But IRS instructions make it clear that all income — a category that includes bribes, gambling winnings, kickbacks and money made in illegal activities — can be taxed.

More than 135 million people have registered to use the auction site that calls itself "the world's online marketplace." Buyers bought more than $34 billion worth of merchandise there last year.

Some people make money by cleaning out items from their closets; others use the site to run small businesses.

"When you're working on the Internet, it's kind of a gray issue," said Bart Fooden, a certified public accountant in Woodbury, N.Y., who advises small businesses and individuals. "The big issue is whether you're doing it as a business or not."

The IRS can apply a list of nine indicators that might prove whether someone's online auctions amount to a business. These indicators include evidence that the taxpayer depends on the income, acts in a businesslike manner, or puts enough time and effort into the activity to suggest a profit motive.

If someone is selling the junk that is collecting dust in a garage or basement, then that person probably is getting less than he paid for it — no profit here. But if someone is buying goods in bulk from a wholesaler and hoping to make a couple extra bucks reselling each one, then that person could have just started a profitable business, Fooden said.

Sure wish I could figure out what to sell- I would make this a business. I always wanted to be my own boss, and this is the perfect way- no direct contact with the public and no physical store to maintain. Work in my sweatpants with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth.

What to sell? Problem is finding product...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

DeLay's Own Tragic Crossroads
I vowed I wasn't going to blog anything on this case today, but I could not pass this one up. The one thing that irritates me the most, besides the shredding of the judicial process, is the flagrant hypocrisy of the leaders of the Radical Right. I do not wish to make light of the DeLay's family tragedy, but it needs to be pointed out that these folks never practice what they preach.

CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy that unfolded in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal — without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the debate raging outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.

The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family members keeping vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman — Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with his Senate counterpart, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), to champion political intervention in the Schiavo case. They pushed emergency legislation through Congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.

And DeLay is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."

The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.

"The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's press aide.

There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will.

Ah, I see. It's different when it's your own family, isn't it Tom? Then why would you seek to deny others that same choice? And, why oh why, do you seek to deny others the right to do this-

The family then turned to lawyers.

In 1990, the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that the family said had failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control.

The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages. Lawyers for the companies denied the allegations and countersued the surviving designer of the tram system, Jerry DeLay.

The case thrust Rep. DeLay into unfamiliar territory — the front page of a civil complaint as a plaintiff. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."

The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.

Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.

Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American businesses from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."

Last September, he expressed less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants.

Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.

The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum, said to be about $250,000, according to sources familiar with the out-of-court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said his aides.

Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers.

Well. Alrighty then. When it comes to Tom's family, the laws in place took care of them. For the rest of you? Well, you're just frivolous barbarians.

Happy Easter.

Yahoo! News - Illinois Roars Back to Catch Arizona in OT
I am not a basketball fan. But it's games like this that make me tune in to "March Madness". I was falling asleep as these guys caught fire and stormed

ROSEMONT, Ill. - Keep the bus running and point it toward St. Louis. Thanks to a jaw-dropping comeback, Illinois' journey has another leg left: the Final Four. With Deron Williams leading the way, the Illini staged an electrifying and improbable rally to force overtime and then held on to beat Arizona 90-89 Saturday night to win the Chicago Regional.

Trailing 75-60 with four minutes left, Illinois showed why it was No. 1 most of the season.

Williams tied this game and capped a stunning 20-5 run by hitting a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in regulation, making it 80-80.

Arizona (30-7) went up by 15 points with four minutes to go after an 18-6 spurt that momentarily silenced a large, orange-clad partisan crowd.

But the Illini didn't play as if it was over. And it wasn't.

Illinois, whose previous largest deficit this season was nine — in another victory — made a final run. It was a great one, and the crowd went wild.

Luther Head hit a 3-pointer, Brown made a basket in the lane, Head scored after a steal, Williams drove for a basket and then made a steal and fed Brown for another basket with 45 seconds left.

After Jack Ingram deflected an inbounds pass, Williams hit a 3-pointer to tie it with 38 seconds to go.

Team to beat. Damn they are good. MSU up today- go Spartans!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Daily Kos :: Blood Sport
Here's an article that expounds upon what I said yesterday, but he did it oh-so-much better.

We have been used to the downward spiral of cable news networks for some time, now. As recently as two weeks ago, I posted an abridged transcript of Wolf Blitzer covering Martha Stewart's release that was so utterly, spectacularly bad that some posters were convinced it was satire.

Over the last three days or so, however, the coverage on the Little Three news networks -- Fox, CNN, MSNBC -- has ceased to be humorous. There is a difference between bad coverage and willfully irresponsible coverage, and another line between willfully irresponsible coverage and dangerously irresponsible coverage. In the last three days, those lines have been crossed. Repeatedly. And it has been absolutely, definitively intentional.

If you have been paying attention to cable coverage of the Schiavo case, you will see two major themes repeated over and over. First, the repeated bookings of and citings of "witnesses" and "experts" that have previously been debunked, claiming that among other things Ms. Schiavo is "alert and oriented". A neurologist who touts himself as a nominee for "The Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine", an utterly false claim regarding an award that does not exist, has been given apparent run of the airwaves in order to repeatedly assert that Ms. Schiavo is "not that bad", and would be able to "communicate verbally" and "use her arms and legs" under his treatment plan -- a miraculous treatment plan for which, according to Judge Greer, he has been able to offer "no names, no case studies, no videos and no test results". We have even, as many have pointed out, been treated to "psychic" John Edward asserting he was in contact with Terri Schiavo.

Against this background of exploitation and misinformation, the usual bevy of archconservative media pundits has in the last several days begun to increasingly endorse a premise that is, to any rational mind, remarkable: the notion that because the courts have ruled in this particular fashion, it is now time for individuals and government figures to disregard the courts, and take matters into their own hands.

We now have a situation in which two dangerous elements are coming together in a manner that is ratings gold for exploitative "news" outlets. Yellow journalism, finally returned in all glory.

1. Excite and incite viewers with tales that Ms. Schiavo, awake and alert, is being "murdered" within the walls of her hospice by a conspiracy between an abusive husband, bloodthirsty "expert" doctors, and every single state and federal judge to hear the evidence in the case.

2. Endorse the notion that it may now be time to take Ms. Schiavo by force.

Unless you are deeply stupid, you can see where this is leading. There have now been about a dozen individuals arrested for trying to enter the clinic to give Terri food or water, an action that (because she cannot swallow) in and of itself stands an excellent chance of killing her. Both Judge Greer and Michael Schiavo are under police protection; Florida lawmakers are finding their pictures on "Wanted" posters; home addresses of Greer and other judges are being distributed.

And now we have a report of a man being arrested for offering money to anyone who kills Michael Schiavo or Judge Greer.

I guess I will never understand the mentality of people who will kill in the name of "saving life".

And here's another interesting tid-bit that hasn't been widely reported (yet). It seems that the state boys were on their way to take custody and were stopped by the local police. Jeb was going to try his little coup, and was thwarted. Three cheers to the brave local cops. I wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't come from the Miami Herald, a paper I tend to trust.

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, on Thursday that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called ``a showdown.''

In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

''We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in,'' said a source with the local police.

The incident,known only to a few and related to The Herald by three different sources involved in Thursday's events, underscores the intense emotion and murky legal terrain that the Schiavo case has created. It also shows that agencies answering directly to Gov. Jeb Bush had planned to use a wrinkle in Florida law that would have allowed them to legally get around the judge's order. The exception in the law allows public agencies to freeze a judge's order whenever an agency appeals it.

Participants in the high-stakes test of wills, who spoke with The Herald on the condition of anonymity, said they believed the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis and a confrontation between dueling lawmen.

''There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink,'' said one official with knowledge of Thursday morning's activities.

In jest, one official said local police discussed ``whether we had enough officers to hold off the National Guard.''

There's your "law and order" from the Bush family, America. They think that they are above the law, period. Anybody that doesn't see that we are dangerously close to fascism is not paying attention.

Yahoo! News - Bush Approval Rating Hits Low Mark at 45 Percent
Must be time for another terrorist warning. Where's Osama when you need him?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's approval rating slipped to a new low in the latest national survey with pollsters suggesting federal government intervention in the Terri Schiavo controversy may have been a factor along with growing concern about the economy.

The USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey released on Friday found 45 percent of the 1,001 adults surveyed Monday through Wednesday thought Bush was doing a good job, compared with 52 percent during three previous surveys in late February and early March.

The president's previous low since taking office in January 2001 was 46 percent in May 2004.

Bush's involvement in the Schiavo case in Florida "may be a major cause" for the 7-point drop, the Gallup Organization said.

Well, MY approval rating for Bush hasn't dropped any lower. You can't go below 0, or so I've been told.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Here's Gilda from last November.

Gilda was put to sleep at age 16. Rest in peace, pretty kitty. I hope that we get a better home for the big cats that will follow you. - Schiavo parents back in federal court - Mar 25, 2005
Wingnuts are imploding everywhere. Let's hope that they quietly slink back to their hidey-holes and wait for the next big media circus.

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- As Terri Schiavo begins her seventh day without food or water, her parents are continuing their desperate fight to keep the severely brain-damaged woman alive.

A U.S. District Court judge is now deliberating the parents' latest plea. The same federal judge, James Whittemore, earlier this week refused to order Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted. A four-hour hearing before Whittemore ended late Thursday, with no ruling announced.

Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, turned to Whittemore's court hours after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected their pleas to intervene in the case.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, who is acting as a spokesman for the Schindlers, said their new motion raises "evidentiary issues that were ignored in the first crack at federal court."

Meanwhile, Schindler supporters were planning an all-day Good Friday prayer vigil at the Florida governor's mansion as part of an effort to persuade Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene, despite his comments Thursday that he cannot overstep his gubernatorial powers.

Terri Schiavo's parents have drawn support from religious and political conservatives and Bush, who said Thursday he would do "everything within my power" to prevent Schiavo's death.

Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, warned Republicans there would be "hell to pay" if Terri Schiavo dies.

"You can bet that there will be people that might just lose their jobs when this is over," Terry said.

Good. I have a list. Tom, Jeb, George, Bill, Rick...that's just for starters. Yes, you guys go bite the hand that has fed you. Start your own party, that will teach them!

What frightens me is they are whipping these people up in a frenzy, and things might get ugly. Maybe being "Good Friday" and all, they will chill a bit.

Protesters, most of them supporting the Schindlers, have gathered outside the hospice. Emotions over the case are running high, and security has been tight.

Law enforcement officials detonated a suspicious backpack Thursday night that was found leaning against the federal courthouse where Whittemore was conducting the latest hearing on the Schiavo case. Investigators cleared about a two-block perimeter as a precaution.

The woman who had left the pack later confirmed that there was nothing dangerous in it.

In addition, an Illinois man was arrested Thursday after police said he robbed a Seminole, Florida, gun store as part of an attempt to "rescue Terri Schiavo."

Michael W. Mitchell, 20, was facing charges of attempted armed robbery, aggravated assault and criminal mischief, said Marianne Pasha, spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney -- a Christian Defense Coalition representative who is frequently on hand across the country for controversial matters of concern to religious conservatives -- called for Bush to send Florida law enforcement officers to "come in and take Terri."

"A citizen of your state is being brutally murdered," he said. "You need to intervene."

Mahoney was organizing the prayer vigil Friday. "We are here on Good Friday to ask Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo," he said in a statement. "The governor has it within his power to rescue Terri. Her life is in the governor's hand."

On CNN, Mahoney contended that "the courts do not have the final say" in legal matters, adding that he hopes Bush "would have the courage" to intervene.

"If it results in a constitutional crisis for the state, then so be it," he said.

It is that kind of rhetoric the rouses the rabble. If shit happens today I want this guy arrested for inciting mayhem.

My hope is that Terri will go in peace, and these bastards will just go away.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Yahoo! News - Judge: Ohio Gay Marriage Ban Affects Law
When is assualt not assualt? When it's "just a girlfriend".

CLEVELAND - Domestic violence charges cannot be filed against unmarried people because of Ohio's new constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman changed a felony domestic violence charge against Frederick Burk to a misdemeanor assault charge. Prosecutors immediately appealed.

Judges and others across the country have been waiting for a ruling on how the gay marriage ban, among the nation's broadest, would affect Ohio's 25-year-old domestic violence law, which previously wasn't limited to married people.

His public defender, David Magee, had asked the judge to throw out the charge because of the new wording in Ohio's constitution that prohibits any state or local law that would "create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals."

Before the amendment, courts applied the domestic violence law by defining a family as including an unmarried couple living together as would a husband and wife, the judge said. The gay marriage amendment no longer allows that.

John Martin, who supervises appeals in the public defender's office, said the office was pleased with the ruling but would not comment further because of the appeal.

Because Burk had a prior domestic violence conviction, the latest charge was a felony that could have resulted in an 18-month jail term; a misdemeanor assault carries a maximum sentence of six months.

Open season in Ohio, thanks to the "Values" crowd. Hope you all are happy now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It's All About Me:
You scored as agnosticism. You are an agnostic. Though it is generally taken that agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve in God, it is possible to be a theist or atheist in addition to an agnostic. Agnostics don't believe it is possible to prove the existence of God (nor lack thereof).

Agnosticism is a philosophy that God's existence cannot be proven. Some say it is possible to be agnostic and follow a religion; however, one cannot be a devout believer if he or she does not truly believe.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with NewsFlash - Michigan bill would ban medical decisions if adultery is involved that "marriage" thing? maybe I've changed my mind. Before you know it, they will have legislated the "sanctity" to the hilt and you will have invited all kinds of government interference into your life.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker is working on legislation that would prohibit a spouse having an affair from denying food, fluids or medical treatment to a wife or husband who cannot make such decisions.

Rep. Joel Sheltrown on Tuesday said he wants to avoid a situation similar to Terri Schiavo's.

"While people, in happier times, may trust their spouses to make future medical decisions for them, situations change," Sheltrown said in a statement. "In a situation where an incapacitated patient lives at the mercy of an adulterous spouse, it is in the patient's interest to make a presumption in favor of life."

Michigan law already prohibits the denial of life-sustaining treatment, such as food and water, unless the patient has expressed that such action be taken, said Sheltrown, who expects to introduce the bill in about three weeks.

Matt Resch, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, said House leaders will review the bill when it is introduced and decide which committee to assign it.

Yeah...OK....gotta go now. Thanks anyway!

Yahoo! News - U.S. Court Rejects Appeal Over Woman's Feeding Tube
Strike two. Or ten. Depends on how you are counting.

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. court rejected an appeal by the parents of a brain-damaged Florida woman who had asked that their daughter's feeding tube be reinserted, according to an opinion issued on Wednesday.

The appeals court rejected the parents' appeal in a middle of the night ruling.

"We agree (with the lower court) that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims. We also conclude that the district court's carefully thought out decision to deny temporary relief in these circumstances is not an abuse of discretion," Judges Ed Carnes and Frank Hull wrote in the majority opinion.

Back to the Supreme's now? The article didn't say.

Republicans have their knickers in a knot over this. Power struggles are sure to ensue. From the NY Times-

WASHINGTON, March 22 - The vote by Congress to allow the federal courts to take over the Terri Schiavo case has created distress among some conservatives who say that lawmakers violated a cornerstone of conservative philosophy by intervening in the ruling of a state court.

The emerging debate, carried out against a rush of court decisions and Congressional action, has highlighted a conflict of priorities among conservatives and signals tensions that Republicans are likely to face as Congressional leaders and President Bush push social issues over the next two years, party leaders say.

Some more moderate Republicans are also uneasy. Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the sole Republican to oppose the Schiavo bill in a voice vote in the Senate, said: "This senator has learned from many years you've got to separate your own emotions from the duty to support the Constitution of this country. These are fundamental principles of federalism."

"It looks as if it's a wholly Republican exercise," Mr. Warner said, "but in the ranks of the Republican Party, there is not a unanimous view that Congress should be taking this step."

In interviews over the past two days, conservatives who expressed concern about the turn of events in Congress stopped short of condemning the vote in which overwhelming majorities supported the Schiavo bill, and they generally applauded the goal of trying to keep Ms. Schiavo alive. But they said they were concerned about what precedent had been set and said the vote went against Republicans who were libertarian, advocates of states' rights or supporters of individual rights.

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing," said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill. "This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility."

"This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy," Mr. Shays said. "There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."

Gee, wonder why none of you stood up before the vote and expressed your concerns. You guys are as bad as the Democrats. Let the Constitution get hijacked in the middle of the night, and then wait to see which way the wind blows. That's a real comforting thought there, people.

Ever wonder who was financing all of this? Surely you don't think that any Joe Broke Blow could mount all these court challenges, do you? Kos has an interesting article on the people using this case as a front for their agenda.

Have you ever wondered who is bankrolling the seemingly endless courtroom effort to keep Terri Schiavo's feeding tube attached?

I filed an amicus curiae brief in the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of 55 bioethicists and a disability rights organization opposing the governor's action. Two months later I participated in a public debate on the case at Florida State University. Among the participants supporting Gov. Bush's position were Pat Anderson, one of multiple attorneys who have represented the Schindlers, and Wesley Smith and Rita Marker, two activists whose specialty is opposing surrogate removal of life-support from comatose and persistent vegetative state patients. I found myself wondering: "I'm doing this pro bono; are they?"

I did some Internet research and learned that many of the attorneys, activists and organizations working to keep Schiavo on life support all these years have been funded by members of the Philanthropy Roundtable.

The Philanthropy Roundtable is a collection of foundations that have funded conservative causes ranging from abolition of Social Security to anti-tax crusades and United Nations conspiracy theories. The Roundtable members' founders include scions of America's wealthiest families, including Richard Mellon Scaife (heir to the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune), Harry Bradley (electronics), Joseph Coors (beer), and the Smith Richardson family (pharmaceutical products).

I found a Web site called which tracks funding for these foundations. Using just that Web site and the Schindlers' own site,, I learned of a network of funding connections between some of the Philanthropy Roundtable's members and various organizations behind the Schindlers, their lawyers and supporters, and the lawyers who represented Gov. Bush in Bush v. Schiavo.

Here are a few examples:

Schindler lawyer Pat Anderson "was paid directly" by the anti-abortion Life Legal Defense Foundation, which "has already spent over $300,000 on this case," according to the foundation's Web site. Much of the support for Life Legal Defense Foundation, in turn, comes from the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay rights group which collected more than $15 million in private donations in 2002 and admits to having spent money on the Schiavo case "in the six figures," according to a recent article in the Palm Beach Post. states that between 1994 and 2002, the Alliance Defense Fund received $142,000 from Philanthropy Roundtable members that include the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.

Wesley Smith and Rita Marker also work for organizations that get funding from Roundtable members. Smith is a paid senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that advocates the teaching of creationist "intelligent design" theory in public schools. Between 1993 and 1997, the Discovery Institute received $175,000 from the Bradley Foundation. Marker is executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia, which lobbies against physician-assisted suicide. In 2001, Marker's organization received $110,390 from the Randolph Foundation, an affiliate of the Smith Richardson family.

Roundtable members also played a role in financing the Bush v. Schiavo litigation.

The Family Research Council, which uses its annual $10 million budget to lobby for prayer in public schools and against gay marriage, filed an amicus curiae brief in Bush v. Schiavo supporting Gov. Bush, at the same time its former president, attorney Kenneth Connor, was representing the governor in that litigation. Between 1992 and 2000, the council received $215,000 from the Bradley Foundation.

Another amicus brief backing Bush was filed by a coalition of disability rights organizations that included the National Organization on Disability and the World Institute on Disability. The former received $810,000 between 1991 and 2002 from the Scaife Family Foundations, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and the JM Foundation; the latter received $20,000 in 1997 from the JM Foundation.

That's right folks. If you follow the money you can see that public policy is effectively being set by a handful of very wealthy individuals, including our own Richard DeVos. I can see it now- "The United States Government, brought to you by Coors! Coors, the refreshing beer that has less carbs and still tastes great! Have a Coors today!"

The depth of this is frightening. We are owned by big business. Or, at least, they are doing their best to make it that way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Yahoo! News - Cubs' Borowski Sidelined by Wrist Fracture
Shit. Shit. Shit. This isn't happening...

MESA, Ariz., (Sports Network) - Chicago Cubs closer Joe Borowski suffered a non- displaced fracture near his right wrist on Monday and is expected to miss the start of the season.

Borowski was injured when he was hit by a line drive back to the mound during Monday's spring training game against Kansas City. He gave up two runs on three hits in one inning of the 12-5 loss.

The Cubs said Borowski's arm is in a splint and the club expects him to be sidelined for at least six weeks before he can begin a throwing program.


Yahoo! News - U.S. Judge Refuses More Feeding in Schiavo Case
Way down at the bottom of this story was a very spooky statement that I thought might interest some of you. Consider yourself officially warned about what these people are up to.

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Reuters) - A federal judge Tuesday rejected a request from the parents of Florida woman Terri Schiavo to reinsert her feeding tube, dealing a blow to attempts by the U.S. Congress and the White House to prolong her life.

Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, immediately appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta as their daughter went for a fourth day without nutrition or hydration.

In a 13-page ruling issued at dawn, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore acknowledged the gravity of the consequences in denying the request for an emergency order to restore the feeding tube. Doctors say Schiavo, 41, would likely remain alive for one to two weeks without it.

But Whittemore said he was obliged to follow the law and issue the order only if the Schindlers could show their overall case was likely to succeed in federal court, which they had not.

Yada yada yada...BTW, where's Tom? Nevermind, here's the interesting part-

Meanwhile, in the state capital of Tallahassee, sign-toting activists scrambled to renew pressure on the state legislature to approve a law that would allow Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's brother, to put Schiavo under his protection.

The Florida Senate last week rejected a proposal to intervene in the case on a 21-16 vote, with nine Republicans joining Democrats. Since then Gov. Bush has turned up the heat.

Randall Terry, a right-wing Christian activist and spokesman for the Schindlers, said he and others plan to remain in Tallahassee.

"We're still saying that there has to be a legislative solution here," Terry said. "If the Senate passes a bill, (Jeb) Bush will take her into custody just like that."

Obviously that won't work either. (I hope)

But you have now witnessed just how far these lunatics will go. They would promote a law that turns over custody of a person to the government for "their own good". Strip them from their families, and turn them over to the state.

Why stop there, Mr. Terry? Perhaps you have little camps in mind for those folks who need to be "protected" by the government, huh? Like pregnant women, for example?

Creeping fascism. These guys need to be renounced, pronto.

eBay item 5567661291 (Ends Mar-28-05 13:11:35 PST) - SOCIAL SECURITY!!
Doing the eBay thing, I ran across this little gem of an auction....

Billionaires for Bush, advocates for the corporate elite, proudly auction off-SOCIAL SECURITY!

Due to the surprising failure of carefully staged "conversations" across America to convince the American Public that Privatizing Social Security is a good thing, we have decided to take matters into our own hands.

As a favor to President Bush and offered exclusively here to the winning bidder who meets our reserve, (must be a private Brokerage Firm, see details below) Billionaires For Bush can't wait to pull the switch on retirement security by circumventing Congress, the Will of the People, and good sense. Why not cut right to the chase?

Go bid! I would, but my account is a little short right now...

(Edit: by 4 pm they had pulled it down. They're no fun)

Yahoo! News - Suit challenges Mich. gay marriage ban
Finally some action...

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, in reaction to the state attorney general's legal interpretation that the law prevents state and local governments from providing benefits to employees' same-sex partners.

"We are filing this lawsuit today on behalf of the many men and women in Michigan with children who very much need health care but who stand to lose their benefits because supporters of Proposal 2 are pushing to make LGBT families into second-class citizens," said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan's executive director.

The ACLU filed suit Monday in Ingham County Circuit Court, in Lansing, the state capital. It asks the court to rule that Proposal 2 does not prohibit domestic partnership benefits offered by public employers.

"Compensating employees with health care coverage does not constitute recognition of a marriage," said Joe Darby, a member of National Pride at Work, a gay rights labor group. "What it does do is provide equal employment opportunities to lesbians and gay men."

Throughout the campaign to pass Proposal 2, Citizens for Protection of Marriage, the organization behind the constitutional amendment, promised the public that the purpose of the proposed amendment was to limit marriage to a man and a woman and would not affect domestic partner benefits, according to the ACLU.

Glad to hear I was remembering correctly.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Yahoo! News - Fate of Terri Schiavo Rests With Judge
Just had to point out something here...questions abound in my head. Why do Republicans hate God?

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - The fate of Terri Schiavo once again was in the hands of a judge early Monday following an extraordinary, day-long political fight over the brain-damaged woman that consumed both chambers of Congress and prompted the president to rush back to the White House.

Taking the Senate's lead, the House early Monday passed a bill to let the woman's parents ask a federal judge to prolong Schiavo's life by reinserting her feeding tube. President Bush signed the measure less than an hour later.

Outside the hospice, a shout of joy when news of the House bill's passage came. Among those cheering was David Bayly, 45, of Toledo, Ohio: "I'm overjoyed to see the vote and see Terri's life extended by whatever amount God gives her."

A crowd of about 50 people prayed and sang outside the hospice. One man played "Amazing Grace" on a trumpet, as a pickup truck pulled a trailer bearing 10-foot-high replicas of the stone Ten Commandments tablets and a huge working version of the Liberty Bell.

Gov. Bush, praised the actions of Congress. "We in government have a duty to protect the weak, disabled and vulnerable," he said in a statement Monday. "I appreciate the efforts of state and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have taken this duty to heart."

Color me confused.

God didn't give Terri this extra life, Man did. And, if in heaven, people are made whole and happy, why would these God-lovin' (fearin') people seek to deny her that? Why would they want to keep her in this shell of a life and deny her the opportunity to be happy with God? Could it be that their faith is so weak that deep down they don't actually have any faith at all? Why would they seek to keep her from her heavenly reward?

It makes no sense to me. But then again, there are a lot of things lately don't make sense to me.

Yahoo! News - Bush Signs Emergency Schiavo Legislation
Kiss your right to due process goodbye. Might as well do away with the whole judicial system. Got a result the Radical Right doesn't like? They will just throw out the Constitution.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush early on Monday signed emergency legislation aimed at prolonging the life of a brain-damaged Florida woman, Terri Schiavo.

Today, I signed into law a bill that will allow federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life," Bush said in a written statement.

"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life. This presumption is especially critical for those like Terri Schiavo who live at the mercy of others," he said.

This coming from the man who signed a bill in Texas that removes life support from people who can't pay. This coming from a man who started a war under false pretenses and has killed over 100,000 people. This coming from a man who had- how many?- people executed while he was governor. This coming from a man who wants to cut funding from the programs that help the poor, the disabled, the veterns of war...

If you can't see the irony here, I can't help you.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. This might set a precedent with chilling consequences.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Life support may be cut based on pay, prognosis
Seems our friends in Texas have a different idea about sustaining life-support. Wonder who signed that bill into law? The answer to that question below!

A patient's inability to pay for medical care combined with a prognosis that renders further care futile are two reasons a hospital might suggest cutting off life support, the chief medical officer at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital said Monday.

Dr. David Pate's comments came as the family of Spiro Nikolouzos fights to keep St. Luke's from turning off the ventilator and artificial feedings keeping the 68-year-old grandfather alive.

St. Luke's notified Jannette Nikolouzos in a March 1 letter that it would withdraw life-sustaining care of her husband of 34 years in 10 days, which would be Friday. Mario Caba-llero, the attorney representing the family, said he is seeking a two-week extension, at minimum, to give the man more time to improve and to give his family more time to find an alternative facility.

"If there is agreement on the part of all the physicians that the patient does have an irreversible, terminal illness," he said, "we're not going to drag this on forever ...

"When the hospital is really correct and the care is futile ... you're not going to find many hospitals or long-term acute care facilities (that) want to take that case," he said. "Any facility that's going to be receiving a patient in that condition ... is going to want to be paid for it, of course."

State law allows doctors to remove patients from life support if the hospital's ethics committee agrees, but it requires that the hospital give families 10 days to find another facility.

A similar case is still in the courts. Texas Children's Hospital wants to discontinue life support on 5-month-old Sun Hudson, who was diagnosed shortly after birth with a fatal form of dwarfism. His mother, Wanda Hudson, wants her son's care to continue at the hospital.

Answer: Gov. George Bush, 1999.

Yeah. I get it now. As long as the cameras aren't rolling and Randall Terry isn't throwing a hissy fit and you have no money, it's OK for the hospital to pull the plug on your loved ones against your wishes.

Thanks to Kos and Atrios for finding the "hypocrite" angle here. I knew it had to be in there somewhere.

Yahoo! News - Protests in US, Europe as Bush Defends Iraq War
Sounds like the rest of the world has more concern than we do. Sad.

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters against the war on Iraq marched in Europe and the United States on Saturday, but President Bush said the invasion just two years ago shielded the world from "grave danger."

"George Bush ... Uncle Sam. Iraq will be your Vietnam," chanted 45,000 protesters winding through central London as they put down a black cardboard coffin with the slogan "100,000 dead" scrawled on the lid outside the U.S. Embassy.

Some 10,000 people marched through the center of Rome, waving anti-war banners and protesting against the Italian troop presence in Iraq. Protesters also marched in Madrid and Barcelona.

About 10,000 protesters attended a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, and smaller demonstrations were held in Ankara and Izmir.

Thousands gathered in New York's Central Park and police said they arrested 36 protesters including 27 in Times Square as anti-war groups held rallies throughout the city.

The crowd in Central Park was much smaller than last year, when an estimated 100,000 people marched in New York City.

"I think Bush's re-election took the steam out of the anti-war movement," said activist and public defender Michael Letwin, 48.

And King Asshole has the audacity to spout the same bullshit that has proven to be untrue time and time again.

Bush made an uncompromising defense of the invasion in his weekly radio address: "On this day two years ago, we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to disarm a brutal regime, free its people, and defend the world from a grave danger."

"We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know September 11 requires our country to think differently," he said.

No WMD. None. Thousands upon thousands of people dead. And no ties to 9-11, but the truth never stops Georgie, does it?

I hope you rot in Hell, Mr. President.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Yahoo! News - NBC Pairs Jesus, Pill-Popping Priest in TV Pilot
A show that seeks to answer that age-old question-What Would Jesus Sell?

BURBANK, Calif. (Reuters) - NBC, praying for new hits as it weathers a post-"Friends" ratings slump, may soon be bringing Jesus to prime time -- not as a biblical miracle worker, but as a modern-day private savior for a pill-popping priest.

"Daniel" is one project that NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said he is particularly excited about, citing it as a prime example of his big new watch word in program development -- "fresh."

"I like that it's slightly provocative," he told Reuters. "We did realize that we're in uncharted waters. ... It certainly stirs people's passions and stirs opinions, and if we do it right, with quality, I think there's millions and millions of people who would say, 'Hey, that's what I've been looking for on television."'

According to NBC's promotional materials, its pilot drama depicts Jesus as a "contemporary, cool" figure who appears as a personal confidant to an Episcopal minister named Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn), who in turn is wrestling with family issues and a dependence on prescription pills. The cast co-stars Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn as Daniel's church superior and newcomer Garrett Dillahunt as Jesus.

I don't know whether to laugh or to be very, very frightened. If it's a hit, we could see all kinds of copycats- "CSI: Bethlehem, Desperate House Nuns, Everybody Loves could get really ugly.

And I'm really sorry to see that Ellen Burstyn, who was one of my favorites at one time in my life, is that hard up for work.

Yahoo! News - Florida Woman's Feeding Tube Removed
Tragic story all the way around.

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (Reuters) - Doctors removed the feeding tube that has kept a brain-damaged Florida woman alive for 15 years on Friday after U.S. lawmakers tried to prolong her life by subpoenaing her to appear before Congress.

The feeding tube was removed from Terri Schiavo, the woman at the heart of a long and furious right-to-die battle, at 1:45 p.m. and she was expected to die in seven to 14 days.

Her husband's lawyer called the last-minute attempt by the U.S. Congress to keep the tube in place "nothing short of thuggery."

Schiavo has been kept alive since a heart attack starved her brain of oxygen in 1990, leaving her in what the courts declared was a permanent vegetative state.

Her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, said she would not have wanted to be kept alive in that condition and won permission to remove the feeding tube after 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday.

Republican congressional leaders made the last-minute bid to keep the feeding tube in place by subpoenaing Terri Schiavo to appear before hearings and committees later in the month, a move that would have granted her protection as a witness in a congressional inquiry.

"The Senate and the House remain dedicated to saving Terri Schiavo's life," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called removing the feedingtube "an act of barbarism." He added: "Terri Schiavo is alive. She is not 'barely alive.' She is not 'being kept alive.' She is as alive as you or I, and as such we have a moral obligation to protect and defend her from the fate premeditated by the Florida courts."

As God and all of blogland as my witness- If Bill Frist and Tom DeLay ever want to keep me alive in this kind of state, you have my permission, no, make that my directive, to come and KILL ME immediately. That's an order. I'm serious. I will come and haunt you if you let those bastards interfere with MY life or death in any way, shape or form.

If I ever end up like Terri, pull that tube. Those are my wishes. Pull it faster if the politicians want to use me to score points with the "Right to (Meddle In Another's) Life" folks.

Funny how the "sanctity of marriage" goes right out the window on this case. Funny how the "let's cut Medicare" (which is paying for Terri's care to the tune of 80 grand a year according to some reports) crowd make the case for this woman, but will do nothing for the other Americans who need medical care.

Funny how this all works. Not.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Same-sex benefits ban gets GOP praise
Do you remember when this amendment came up that the bigots proclaimed that they were "just protecting marriage" and not seeking to deny domestic benefits? Well, I guess they lied.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Grand Rapids-area GOP lawmakers lauded Attorney General Mike Cox for his opinion banning same-sex benefits in government, saying it reflected the will of the people.

Cox issued an opinion Wednesday saying cities and other government entities will not be able to provide benefits for same-sex partners of employees in future contracts because that would violate a constitutional amendment enacted by Proposal 2.

"I think the ruling is absolutely consistent with the wish of the people who passed a constitutional amendment," said state Rep. Bill VanRegenmorter, R-Georgetown Township.

Cox wrote that the city of Kalamazoo's policy offering health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners is banned following November's passage of a constitutional amendment that says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage or "similar union for any purpose."

In Kalamazoo, Cox's opinion pleased City Commissioner Mary Balkema.

"It ends a discriminatory practice," Balkema said of the opinion. "I think it's unfair to single out homosexuals for special treatment."

I had to read that one twice. Here she is saying it's unfair to single gays out for "special treatment", but that's exactly what this amendment did. We are specifically being excluded from receiving benefits that other tax payers take for granted.

Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids, predicted the ruling will be challenged in court, but said he agreed with it. "We need to uphold the sanctity of marriage."

Rep. Glenn Steil Jr., R-Cascade Township, said he supported the decision, too.

"I don't want my tax dollars going to same-sex benefits," he said.

But Glenn has no problem with my tax dollars going to support his benefits.

I want a fucking tax break then, people. I don't want to support your judges for divorce or the clerks who issue marriage certificates or any of the administration of your "special" benefits.

This article really pissed me off. Here's a big "FUCK YOU" to my area Republican bigots.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Yahoo! News - Senate Kills All Medicaid Cuts From Budget
OMG they did something right for a change. But only for a second it appears.

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to strip all proposed Medicaid cuts from the $2.6 trillion budget for next year, jeopardizing the heart of the plan's deficit reduction in an embarrassing setback to President Bush and Republican leaders.

The change, whose chief sponsor was moderate Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., was approved 52-48 after days of heavy lobbying by both sides. It was widely seen as a test of the GOP-run Congress' taste for making even moderate reductions in popular benefit programs that consume two-thirds of the budget and are growing rapidly.

The Medicaid cuts could still be revived when the House and Senate try writing a compromise budget next month. The more conservative House approved a budget Thursday by 218-214 that is tougher on domestic spending than the Senate is, including up to $20 billion in Medicaid savings.

Smith did not rule out living with a compromise, telling reporters after the vote, "We have to have a budget. I'm going to vote for the budget."

Generally following the approach Bush charted in his budget last month, both chambers' fiscal outlines would cut a wide range of domestic programs in an effort to reduce slowly deficits that soared to a record $412 billion last year. Defense and domestic anti-terrorism programs would get increased funds.

In addition, Bush wants five-year tax cuts totaling $100 billion. The House budget makes room for $106 billion in tax cuts, the more moderate Senate $70 billion.

Hey, guys and gals, here's a radical idea- How about scaling back on the TAX CUTS instead of taking food out of the mouths of children and medicine out of the hands of the sick, hmmm? Wouldn't that be a NOVEL idea?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Yahoo! News - Senate Seen Backing Oil Search in Alaska Refuge
This is a perfect example of why I'm having a hard time paying attention lately. (see post below) Every day it's either the destruction of the environment, or a giveaway to big business and the rich, or cuts made to the kids, the sick, the elderly and apparently no one is going to stop it.

Happy now, America? Is the "moral agenda" you voted for? The "Greediest Generation" strikes again.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As U.S. crude oil prices soared to a record high on Wednesday, the Senate was expected to vote to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.

The ANWR drilling plan is a key aspect of the Bush administration's national energy plan, but has been blocked in recent years by a Senate coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

Republican Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said drilling supporters have enough votes to defeat an effort by Democrats to strike ANWR drilling language from budget legislation.

A vote was expected in early afternoon.

Opponents said there is not enough oil in the refuge to justify harming the area's caribou, musk oxen, polar bears, migratory birds and other wildlife. Instead, they say Congress should tighten mileage standards for vehicles to reduce U.S. oil demand and reliance on oil imports.

Nah, we wouldn't want to do anything that makes fucking sense, would we? Better to destroy more of the world to get a few sips of that precious oil.

Shame. So ashamed of my country.
It's All About eBay:

Sorry about the lack of postings. I've burnt out on the Georgie and the Righteous Republicans. None too happy with the Danicin' Democrats either. Day after day of bad news starts to take it's toll, you know?

I'm getting into eBay, selling some of my collectible music stuff. I can see how it's addicting, checking your auctions and feeling that rush when someone bids on something. Problem is, getting the product. The hot product. The hot product cheap. The lament of all business. You know what's hot? Old heavy metal concert t-shirts from the 80's. That's right, if you have any Judas Priest t-shirts that are in fairly good condition, you can get $40 or so bucks for them.

Go figure.

A trip to the so-called "thrift" stores looking for such items brought no luck. Shoot, they used to sell t's for a quarter. Now the are $1.99 (or more). Couldn't find anything "vintage" either. Everything was fairly new.

Need those garage and yard sales to start soon.

For one who rants and rails against material excess in this country, doing the eBay thing is like the preacher hanging out at the porno store. It feels foreign and weird, but, hey, I've got bills to pay.

Got any t-shirts to donate?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yahoo! News - Judge: Calif. Cannot Ban Gay Marriages
Let's try this again.

SAN FRANCISCO - A judge has opened the way for the nation's most populous state to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot, but both sides in the debate predicted a vigorous court fight before California goes the way of its East Coast counterpart.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled Monday that while withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians has been the status quo, it constitutes discrimination the state can no longer justify.

"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Kramer wrote. "Simply put, same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before."

Ushering out a social norm long considered sacred won't happen right away, however. Kramer's decision is stayed automatically for 60 days to allow time for appeals, and conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriages vowed to uphold California's one woman-one man marriage laws.

This of course brought out the typical response from the screamin' wingnuts..

"For a single judge to rule there is no conceivable purpose for preserving marriage as one man and one woman is mind-boggling," said Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver, whose group represents the Campaign for California Families, one of two organizations that joined the state's attorney general's office in defending California's existing laws.

"This decision will be gasoline on the fire of the pro-marriage movement in California as well as the rest of the country," Staver said.

*yawn* God, I'm bored with you guys. Yes, the whole country will fall to shambles. Yada yada yada. Heard it a million times before. What would you people do with your lives if you couldn't "monster shout" at the gays? Might have to find another group of people to persecute. But, could you bring in the massive donations the gay bashers give to you?
It's All About Blogger:

It's the "Blog this" toolbar that is slowing things down.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Yahoo! News - Gambling Interests Funded DeLay Trip - Paper
Would someone please NAIL this son-of-a-bitch to the wall once and for all?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Indian tribe and a gambling services company made donations to a Washington-based public policy group to cover most of a $70,000 trip to Britain in mid-2000 by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Washington Post Reported in its Saturday edition.

That week-long trip took place two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the tribe and the company, the paper wrote in the article posted on its Web site.

According to the paper, the Texas Republican lawmaker's financial disclosure documents listed the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research as the sponsor for that trip. However, a person involved in arranging the trip said a lobbyist suggested the trip and then arranged for $25,000 checks to be sent by two of his clients.

Dates on the checks from those clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and eLottery Inc, coincided with the day DeLay left on the trip, according to grants documents the Washington Post said it reviewed.

Both The Choctaw and eLottery said they were unaware the money was being used to finance the lawmaker's travels, the paper wrote.

House ethics rules allow lawmakers and their staff to have travel expenses paid only for officially connected travel and only by organizations directly connected to the trips. The rules also require that lawmakers accurately report the people or organizations paying for the trips.

What does one have to do nowadays to get thrown out of office?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The New York Times > Washington > Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News
Or, as they say back on my planet, PROPAGANDA. Thanks to the folks at Kos for pointing this article out. It's long, but very interesting.

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The "reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications.

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

Federal agencies are forthright with broadcasters about the origin of the news segments they distribute. The reports themselves, though, are designed to fit seamlessly into the typical local news broadcast. In most cases, the "reporters" are careful not to state in the segment that they work for the government. Their reports generally avoid overt ideological appeals. Instead, the government's news-making apparatus has produced a quiet drumbeat of broadcasts describing a vigilant and compassionate administration.

Some reports were produced to support the administration's most cherished policy objectives, like regime change in Iraq or Medicare reform. Others focused on less prominent matters, like the administration's efforts to offer free after-school tutoring, its campaign to curb childhood obesity, its initiatives to preserve forests and wetlands, its plans to fight computer viruses, even its attempts to fight holiday drunken driving. They often feature "interviews" with senior administration officials in which questions are scripted and answers rehearsed. Critics, though, are excluded, as are any hints of mismanagement, waste or controversy.

I wish Orwell had lived to see this. I think he would have been astounded to see how accurate his predictions were.

Yahoo! News - Israel Plans to Hit Iran Nuke Plant-Sunday Times
I wonder if the White House has shifted tactics because they were told the Israelis will do the dirty work for them. That way they can claim they supported "diplomacy", knowing all the while that Iran wouldn't budge, and that Israeli would use force. This could explain the sudden 180.

LONDON (Reuters) - Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran's atomic program, London's Sunday Times said.

The newspaper said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his inner cabinet had given "initial authorization" for a unilateral attack on Iran at a private meeting last month.

U.S. officials have indicated they would not stand in Israel's way if international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's nuclear projects fail, the paper said.

"If all efforts to persuade Iran to drop its plans to produce nuclear weapons should fail, the U.S. administration will authorize Israel to attack," the paper quoted an Israeli security source as saying.

Do they need our permission? Meanwhile, the Iranians stay defiant, and accuse the US of using some top-notch chemicals.

Washington is "hallucinating" if it thinks Iran will scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The United States offered the encouragements in a bid to boost the European Union which is negotiating with Tehran to try to persuade it to give up sensitive nuclear activities.

"U.S. officials are either unaware of the substance of the talks or (they are) hallucinating," Sirus Naseri, a senior member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team with the European Union, told the official IRNA news agency.

Washington offered on Friday to allow Iran to begin talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and consider letting it buy civilian airline parts if it ceased all activities that could produce fuel for nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.

But Iran dismissed the incentives as insignificant.

Guess they didn't want our shiny beads and trinkets and a seat at the tea party. Gee, I wonder why. Don't they trust us?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Yahoo! News - Congress May Cut Food Aid, Not Farm Aid
Further proof that these bastards are beholden to business more than they are to the people. Taking food out of the mouths of hungry children means nothing to them.

WASHINGTON - Cuts in food programs for the poor are getting support in Congress as an alternative to President Bush's idea of slicing billions of dollars from the payments that go to large farm operations.

Senior Republicans in both the House and Senate are open to small reductions in farm subsidies, but they adamantly oppose the deep cuts sought by Bush to hold down future federal deficits.

The president wants to lower the maximum subsidies that can be collected each year by any one farm operation from $360,000 to $250,000. He also asked Congress to cut by 5 percent all farm payments, and he wants to close loopholes that enable some growers to annually collect millions of dollars in subsidies.

Instead, Republican committee chairmen are looking to carve savings from nutrition and land conservation programs that are also run by the Agriculture Department. The government is projected to spend $52 billion this year on nutrition programs like food stamps, school lunches and special aid to low-income pregnant women and children. Farm subsidies will total less than half that, $24 billion.

Bush is proposing to withdraw food stamps for certain families already receiving other government assistance. The administration estimates that plan would remove more than 300,000 people from the rolls and save $113 million annually.

The farmers and the poor duke it out for their crumbs, while defense spending increases and the rich get to keep their tax cuts. I honestly don't know what to say to this shit anymore. Disgusted beyond words.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Yahoo! News - Florida Lawmaker Seeks Toilet Paper Tax
Can you spare a square?

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's Legislature is flush with good ideas. Sen. Al Lawson's involves a 2 cent-per-roll tax on toilet paper to pay for wastewater treatment and help small towns upgrade their sewer systems.

The Democratic lawmaker's pay-as-you-go bill has been the source of many jokes — bathroom humor you might say — but he says the issue is a serious one, especially in some of the fast-growing Panhandle coastal counties in his district.

"They're experiencing a tremendous boom in growth and they're not able to accommodate the growth," Lawson said. "We've got 17 million people in this state and all of them can contribute to protecting our underground water supply."

In a Republican-dominated Legislature that doesn't like new taxes, the idea is likely to pretty quickly end up in the tank. Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said he didn't think it would get too far, but didn't rule it out.

"We'll be getting to the bottom of it real soon," Lee said.

The House is skeptical as well.

"We're not wild about tax increases," said House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City. "But we'll certainly let it go through the system."

If it were to pass, the extra two pennies would start being charged in October. Lawson said it could generate $50 million a year. It would also need approval from Gov. Jeb Bush. He said that if toilet paper is taxed, people might use less of it.

"That's not necessarily a good thing," noted the governor.

And what about consumers? Wouldn't they be squeezed by a tax on the Charmin? No, says Lawson.

"Two cents is not going to hurt families at all," he said. "This is one thing people don't mind paying for."

Next thing you know, people will be stealing napkins from fast food places to avoid the TP tax...

Yahoo! News - Wal-Mart, Dollar Rattle Billionaire Ranks
Will Wal-Mart's low low prices start to rise?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four heirs to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton dropped out of the Forbes Magazine's top 10 list of the world's billionaires in 2004, brought down by the retailer's stagnating shares.

They were largely replaced by businessmen from other regions of the world, who benefited in part from the impact of the weak dollar.

Wal-Mart Chairman S. Robson Walton, with a personal wealth of $18.3 billion, was the only Walton to make the top 10 this year after several years in which all five Waltons made the cut.

Slow growth and a bevy of legal problems at the retail behemoth has prompted a 10.8 percent decline in Wal-Mart's stock price since March 2004, cutting the personal wealth of Walton's five heirs by almost $2 billion each.

And the dollar's steady slide in 2004 has fattened the coffers of billionaires abroad. Of the top 10 billionaires, half live outside of the United States, compared with two last year, and several saw their wealth increase by as little as $2.2 billion to as much as $18.8 billion.

It must be that they pay their employees too much. Yeah, that's it. Better cut those wages and benefits.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Yahoo! News - Cat Shoots Owner
And I thought MY cats were bad...

BATES TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A man cooking in his kitchen was shot after one of his cats knocked his 9mm handgun onto the floor, discharging the weapon, Michigan State Police said.

Joseph Stanton, 29, of Bates Township in Iron County, was shot in his lower torso around 6 p.m. Tuesday, the state police post in Iron River reported. He was transported to Iron County Community Hospital.

Michelle Sand, a spokeswoman at the Iron River hospital, said Stanton was treated there before being transferred to Marquette General Hospital for further treatment. But Marcie Miller, a representative of the Marquette facility, said there was no record of the hospital receiving a patient by that name.

A telephone message seeking comment was left Wednesday at Stanton's home.

State police said he was cooking at his stove when the cat knocked the loaded gun off the kitchen counter behind him.

Yahoo! News - Senate Nixes Efforts to Soften Bankruptcy Bill
All hail the new plutocracy!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Efforts to soften the effect of tougher bankruptcy rules on families with children and close a loophole for the wealthy were rejected by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as the legislation moved toward expected passage.

Leaders of the chamber's Republican majority had hoped for a final vote on Wednesday on the measure, which makes it harder for consumers to erase their debts in bankruptcy court. But the final vote was postponed until Thursday as lawmakers haggled over amendments.

Banks, credit card companies and retailers have sought the bankruptcy overhaul for years, arguing that bankruptcy has become too easy. The measure is also favored by the White House.

Critics charge the measure is too harsh and rewards lenders who have encouraged consumers to take on higher debt burdens.

Hey, little girl, wanna try some credit? C'mon, the first one is free, 0% APR and that's fixed, we promise! Here, take a card. Just one. We won't make you pay for six months! It's like having free money! Go ahead, just try it once. You'll like it!

I usually get two or three offers a day for credit cards. And I have credit limits that blow my mind. Now, if they offer a poor schmuck like me all this available credit, I can't imagine what they offer normal middle class folks.

With Senate approval virtually assured after the bill cleared two key hurdles on Tuesday, backers on Wednesday rejected proposals to ease the impact of the legislation on families with children, young people below age 21 and people with below-median incomes.

They also turned down a proposal by Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy to close a loophole that benefits wealthier individuals in states with unlimited homestead exemptions, such as Texas and Florida.

"Millionaire deadbeats buy a huge mansion in Florida and Texas to shield their wealth from creditors. The harsh rules of bankruptcy being established by this bill will trap hard-working middle-class families, but the unlimited homestead exemption will allow rich debtors to escape," Kennedy argued.

Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said the bill puts a straitjacket on families with children. "Clearly there is a need to reform the bankruptcy laws. But it requires a sense of balance," he said.

His amendment would have made the means test more flexible to help families with children, by allowing larger education payments and insuring that child support payments are not diverted to creditors. It was rejected, 42-58.

All amendments to soften this were rejected. Elderly and filing because of medical bills? Rejected. Job loss? Rejected. Catastrophic illness or death in family? Rejected. Serving in Iraq at National Guard pay that is well below your civilian pay? Rejected.

But if you are wealthy and live in the right state, no problem. You can hide your money.

Indentured servitude, here we come!