Saturday, April 15, 2006

NSA & ATT Partners In Crime

Government Executive magazine reports that ATT gave the National Security Agency pretty much carte blance access to everything from phone calls the email of it's customers. A whistle-blower and former technician for the company, Mark Klein, says the communications giant created what amounted to a vacuum cleaner for data and phone calls in a secret room.

Nice to know that even though "Ma Bell" was split up long ago, she still has the power to reach out and tap someone. I have to wonder how President Bush is going to parse his words to spin this one. Probably he will just do what he always does and blame the media.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Washing Strangers Feet - Kinky?

The strangest ritual during Holy Week to an outsider would be Maundy Thursday. That's the time in some churches where the clergy kneels before the congregation and washes the feet of those gathered. When I first heard about it (since I am a convert to Christianity) I thought it more than a little strange, even a little kinky. However, after considering it in context I find it one of the most significant moments during Holy Week.

The ritual mirrors Jesus actions at the Passover meal, when he removed his garments and knelt at the feet of the Apostles. He washed their feet, an intimate yet submissive act. Something performed by a servant for his Master, and yet in that act Jesus demonstrated the humility that must be present in someone who a Master.

As a member of the leather community, I have come to appreciate rituals for a lot of reasons.
They provide a framework to hang our understanding and beliefs upon. Rituals highlight the importance of life's passages and honor the simple things that make our community what it is. The ritual of Maundy Thursday, offers a framework for my life and my service. It reminds me how human I am and how humble I must be to do the work set before me by God.

If you are not a part of the BDSM/leather community, this rambling post might not resonate at all with you, but if you are, perhaps it will help you understand how the messages Jesus gave us sometimes have very different interpretations. I guess it all depends on whose eyes you see them through. However, the meaning and message will shine through clearly, if we only take a moment to remove our outer garments, kneel and take on the humblest of tasks.

Have a joyous and meaningful Easter.

The Rumsfeld - Abu Ghraib Connection

Salon Magazine reports today that Rumsfeld was in "communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center. " Miller is implicated in detainee abuse at Guantánamo in a report obtained this week by Salon through the Freedom of Information Act.

Miller was the lead in a mission to Iraq which critics say initiated the abuse of prisoners there.

Again, I have to wonder why President Bush today made a statement that Rummy was doing a "heck of a job" when it seems the walls are crashing down around him. Of course this would assume that Bush in really in control, and I as well as most people don't believe that for a second.

Barnum Would Be Proud - Corpses On Display At London Museum

I used to think the days of "Pickled Punk" shows were over. In today's politically correct culture, displaying human oddities, either alive or dead just doesn't cut it anymore. Well, just when you thought civilization had gained a foothold we have "Bodies - The Exhibition" at Earl's Court in London.

The exhibit, made from "legally obtained" bodies from China has everything from embryos to full grown adults many opened and partially dissected to show the internal organs.

OK, I guess you could call this educational, but in reality it just relies on morbid curiosity at it's worst. This smacks of the same kind of sensationalism show that controversial German anatomist Gunther von Hagens put on display in 2004. Later he was forced to return the corpses to China after admitting that they were actually those of executed prisoners.

Gross? You betcha! And the public will probably turn out in droves. Eeewww!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pentagon Illegally Spied On Gay Groups

The Servciemembers Legal Defense Network got confirmation from the Defense Department that government had conducted surveillance of groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law banning openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. In February, SLDN filed a lawsuit as part of its efforts to obtain information related to the government's domestic spy program.

This confirms what many believe, that the government is spying on US Citizens for reasons other than posterrorismrorism. Can J. Edgar Hoover's "Enemy List" be far behind?

GM Sells Off Stake In Isuzu - Bets It All On Big Gas-Guzzling SUVs

So in a brilliant move by the captains of industry, GM is selling its stake in Isuzu for $300 million. You know who Isuzu is? That company that makes semi-fuel efficient smaller SUVs and trucks. GM simultaneously announced that is is depending on its biggest SUVs to drive the company into the future.

Do the guys at GM not read the newspapers? Are they so insulated from the mythical little people that they haven't managed to see how $3.00 per gallon gas might make a gas guzzling behemoth unattractive to Joe America?

To quote from an article in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The company, which reported an $11 billion loss for 2005, hopes such high-margin large sport utility vehicles will be a key part of its turnaround. But other automakers, prompted in part by high gas prices, are emphasizing smaller SUVs and cars.

That part about other automakers would be the key here...that would be all other auto makers!

As people line up to buy hybrids and fuel efficient cars, it's comforting to know that GM is blazing a path toward a new generation of big vehicles. That's the American business know how at work. And seeing as how I sold my GM stock years ago, I can laugh all the way to their bankruptcy. Of course that is just my opinion.

Info On WMD, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Vanishes From State Department Web Site

Funny how this administration likes to hide things. Even public documents like those issued by the State Department on their web site mysteriously disappear.

While looking for information about Weapons of Mass Destruction and Nuclear Non-Proliferation on the State Department Web Site, I found any links to these topics return a " Sorry, you have tried to access a page that is not available.' message. All the other pages I went to gave me the information I was seeking but these topics have suddenly become SECRET.

Were I cynical I would say they were planning another BIG LIE and are covering their tracks. My bet is, look for more wild statements from Condi and Bush regarding Iran and the nuclear threat soon.

In fact in a press conference yesterday she gave a hint of what is to come:

Iran has been offered many opportunities to negotiate in good faith -- by the Europeans, by the Russians. They've never taken those opportunities. They are -- we've had a presidential statement that made numerous -- that reinforced those requirements. The Iranians did not react to that. And so yes, when we -- we're consulting now and when the Security Council reconvenes, I think it will be time for action.

Sounds like the bombs will be flying soon! Get out your helmets.

Dead Eye Dick Knew Trailers Were Bogus & Lied Anyway

Think Progress reported today that Dick Cheney continued to make assertions that the captured trailers were WMD Biolabs even after public reports that they were nothing of the kind.

Both The New York Times and the Guardian ran articles revealing the doubts intelligence sources had in June, three months prior to Cheney's assertions on Meet The Press. I guess it's like Bush said:

"See, in my line of work, you gotta keep repeating things ... It's up to us to catapult the truth!"

I guess it works for catapulting lies as well.

Sally Rand Would Be Proud - Burlesque Makes A Comeback

Not just bumps and grinds, but comedians, singers and variety acts, that's what burlesque used to be. Some called it the poor man's vaudeville it was soon replaced by Seedier forms of entertainment culminating in the "Gentleman's Clubs" which feature little more than nudity and lap dances.

Well, a few people feel burlesque can sill draw a crowd and at Manhattan's Slipper Room they are being proven right. Neo-Burlesque is slowly starting to become a recognized entertainment.

I was lucky enough to see the last vestiges of real burlesque in my home town of Dallas. Years ago, back in the 1970's there was still one small club called the Busy Bee that featured not only strippers, but variety and more. Hosted by the genial tap-dancing MC, "Uncle Willie" the show featured performers who did real striptease, not just naked dancers. These women had class and even exotic props, including Shane, who regularly danced with her pet python and Nikki whose acrobatic adagio dancing would compare with that you might see on the legitimate stage.

Alas, all that ended with the passing of Pappy Dolsen the godfather of the Dallas Nightclub scene, and the Busy Bee and Burlesque are gone. I hope his new breed of performers can resurrect this lost art and bring back the fun, class and genuine entertainment it held.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Capitalism In Afghanistan - Selling Stolen US Computer Drives WITH DATA!

Just outside the Bagram Military Base in Afghanistan, shopkeepers sell hundreds of stolen flash memory drives from the neighboring base. Stolen by Afghan workers on the bases, these are available along with just about anything else you might want to buy.

Secrets? We don't need no stinking secrets!

FEMA Pledges To Rebuilt New Orleans Levees - But Only To Pre-Katrina Standards

FEMA and Ray Nagin are crowing that another 2.5 Billion will be spent to repair the levees, but the devil is in the details. According to a story on Bloomberg's website, this will be to "pre-Katrina standards". The big problem with that is they didn't hold during Katrina. This means the city's poor will still be vulnerable to anything over a category 3 hurricane.

Another triumph for FEMA, still unprepared even after the fact. And, just in time for this seasons hurricanes. Pray New Orleans doesn't get hit again!

Way Beyond Edge Play

Warning: This post is pretty graphic, and if you are not a fan of BDSM, or even if you are you might get a bit tweeked by it. Why am I presenting it? Because it shows what I consider to be going "over the edge".

BDSM is not a pathology according to the DSM-IV, however there is a caveat, and that is unless the activities interfere with the life and daily functioning of the patient. Well this gets about as close to that as I can imagine.

Seems a couple of bubbas in North Carolina, both of whom claim to be experienced SM practitioners have been performing castrations in their home dungeon. Evidence was found in their fridge inside tupperwear containers. I will spare you the details, but if you are interested its here in the CourtTV Website.

I guess everyone has to draw the line and this is where I draw mine. Even if this was consensual, the person requesting the castration needs to have a serious talk with a shrink. Self destructive tendancies are not SM, they are illness and have to be treated. The Safe, Sane and Consensual rules really are missing from this. Consensual maybe, but not safe and not sane, either from the Top or bottom perspective.

Surgery, should take place in an operating room, not a basement dungeon. I rarely make pronouncements like this, believing that just because it's not my kink dosen't make it wrong, however...and this is a big however, this is not kink. This is a couple of guys with scalpels who are preying on psychologically disturbed men who want their nuts cut off and making CD's of the proceedure to show on the web. That's just plain exploitation of the sick.

Stepping off my soapbox.

Iran Will Have Bomb in 16 Days - Says Bush Administration

Does this sound familiar? Are they going get Colin Powell to do a show an tell next?

Fool me once...we you know the rest.

According to a story on, Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters that Iran will have a bomb in as little as 16 days.

Funny, they just managed to enrich small quantities of Uranium and suddenly they have 50,000 centrifuges to make it? Boy those Iranians are industrious.

Skeptical? Damn right I am. This sounds like the same lie that was told about Iraq and it's WMD program. The real problem is that if it is true, no one will believe the US anymore. Cry "wolf" one too many times and your credibility is shot.

No WMD? Make Some Up!

The Washington Post today reported that those really scary mobile Biolabs that the Bush administration so proudly carted out to the media as evidence of weapons of mass destruction were nothing of the kind, and they knew it beforehand.

According to the article a Pentagon-sponsored mission concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. They sent this information to the White House 2 days before the President made his announcement on May 29, 2003. Check out the press conference with Ari Fleischer on May 30. Helen Thomas asks the first question and it's a doozie: "We go to war for two trucks? "

Air stumbles and then talks all around the issue. Don't you love seeing the spin doctors when they get caught in a jam? Unfortunately, most of the remainder of the press just let this issue die, and only later reported that the alleged mobile weapons labs were nothing of the kind.

The president continued the deception in an interview with Polish Television on May 29, 2003 when he says:

"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
And the lies just keep on coming!

Christian Coalition Drowning In Debt

According to a Washington Post article April 10 the once powerful Christian Coalition is saddled with over $2,000,000 in debt and is being hounded by creditors. Apparently contributions have dropped as well since their budget has dropped from $26 million to just $1 million, according to Stephen L. Scheffler, president of the Iowa affiliate. That chapter has severed ties to the national organization whose power seems to be at an end. More about this is on the Americans United For Separation of Church and State website.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Get Ready For The Big War With Iran!

Yet another source confirms that the Bush nuts are actually planning a major war with Iran. By all accounts Iran is still a decade from a nuclear weapon, despite their announcement that they have enriched uranium. So why are we planning another war after such a disaster as Iraq?

My opinion is to assure Bush of staying in power. The conventional wisdom is that the public won't change leaders during a war. Let's hope that proves wrong. We need to change leaders now, right now and stop this insanity in it's tracks.

Help the cause, check out the Impeach Bush website.

Bush approval drops to 32% - How Low Can It Go?

The Field Poll shows Bush's approval rating in California at an all time low. Read the article in the Sacramento Bee.

The poll also show congress with a dismal rating as well. Congressional approval ratings dropped to 24 percent, down from 33 percent in August 2004. At this rate Bush will crash through the Nixon 24% barrier in no time!

63% Of Americans Believe Bush Is Liar In Chief

According to a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans believe Bush did something illegal or unethical in the Plame/CIA leak scandal. The sad news is that only 1 in 4 are following the story. Apparently we have bred a nation of apathetic clones who will blindly wander through their day oblivious to the corruption and shenanigans of politicians.

As the bumper sticker on my car states: "If you aren't outraged, you haven't been paying attention."

Sad but true.

Bush Campaign Operative Behind Phone Jamming Scheme

According to Huffington Post,

Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show.

More dirty tricks from the party that promised integrity and morals in government. The Republican Lie Machine has successfully managed to keep these kinds of scandals from exploding until recently. Hopefully, the Abramoff mess and the blatant lies Bush has told regarding the leaking of classified material will wake the press and the public up.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Alleged Christian Sues For The Right To Be A Bigot

A 22 year-old student at Georgia Tech is suing to be able to harass gays legally. Ruth Malhotra says her "Christian faith" compels her to speak out against homosexuality and the schools tolerance policy prevents her from doing so.

This is another attempt by so-called Christians to spew their bigotry legally and harass anyone they feel is not as holy as they are. I believe these are the kind of people Jesus referred to as "you hypocrites". More specifically:

" hypocrites, you sanctimonious swindlers! You travel land and sea to make one convert to your religion and when he is converted you make him twice as bad a son of the lake of fire than you are yourselves!" (Matthew 23:15)

Great Year for CEOs

According to USA Today:

Median 2005 pay among chief executives running most of the nation's 100 largest companies soared 25% to $17.9 million, dwarfing the 3.1% average gain by typical American workers, USA TODAY found in its annual analysis of CEO pay.
They forgot to adjust for inflation, which really leaves the average worker a net decrease of .15 in wages. Great news, eh?

Glad Bush decided to give all those suffering CEOs a tax break as well. Once again it seems that average Joe America is getting the short end of the stick. Wonder if that will be reflected this fall when the House and some members of the Senate come up for reelection?

If you are not voting, you are not participating in democracy, and that's just what the criminals who have taken over our government are counting on. Time to stand up and be counted.

Easter March on Crawford, Texas

This Saturday, April 14, I will be joining several thousand other close friends in what is being billed as the March to Redeem the Soul of America. Our church is organizing several busloads of people to attend the culmination of the march in Crawford at the Crawford Peace House, adjacent to President Bush's ranch.

Speakers include Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery (one of the leading voices in civil rights movement), Cindy Sheehan , Rev. Peter Johnson, Rev Michael Piazza, (director of Hope for Peace & Justice) and more.

I will be posting pictures and more from the event.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Judas Off The Hook?

Just in time for Holy Week, the recently translated Gospel of Judas would seem to get Judas off the hook as far as betraying Jesus is concerned. This Gospel has been mentioned numerous times in ancient commentaries and it's discovery is a great addition to the history of Christianity.

Will it change the religion? Probably not. There are several other Gospels not included in the cannon such as the Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, the Secret Gospel of James and many more. All are ancient books and have been studied by experts for years. None have been added to the New Testament, and probably won't be. Why? Because the books of the Bible were codified around 300AD to provide a cohesive guide to the story of Jesus and to consolidate power in the church at that time. Today, that power seems stronger than ever as more people seem to worship the actual text of the Bible than God or Jesus.

My feeling is that people who seek to follow Jesus will find this Gospel adds to their understanding of the early practices of the religion. It will not change their faith, nor generate the anger that seems to have erupted over this book. A true follower of Jesus is more concerned with doing the work Jesus set out for us, not dickering over the words written by scribes and priests in an attempt to explain the phenomenon of this new movement. I find the words of Mother Teresa most appropriate, "Too many words. Let them see what we do."

Have a sacred Holy Week and a joyous Easter.