Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bush WHite House Considering The Draft

Bush appointed Gen. Doug Lute as the "War Czar". Several people, including myself, knew immediately why he needed this extra layer of bureaucracy added to an already bloated defense department. It adds another layer of deniability. The Bush administration is the "I don't recall" White House. That phrase has been heard so many time by so many in the White House it's a running joke. It's not a very funny joke either.

Now Gen. Lute puts up a trial balloon during an interview on NPR, and says that “it makes sense to certainly consider” a draft. “I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another.”

Predictably outrage will follow, and since it was on NPR it will come from the progressive left. Next the GOP in Washington will point to those who are outraged and say, "weak on defense, surrender monkeys" or some other sound bite. This accomplishes two things. It makes the left look weak and it tests the waters to see if the outrage spreads to the rest of America. If it does, Bush claims he never said such a thing, and his hands are clean.

Anyone who can do math understands that our military has been seriously weakened by this useless war in Iraq. The only way to sustain the numbers is to force men and women into service to replenish the ranks. As I have said numerous times here and with my friends, it's Vietnam all over again. Once the draft is started, the protests will move to the streets in a big way.

Is that folksingers I hear?

Friday, August 10, 2007

LGBT Presidential Forum on LOGO TV

Last night I gathered with a few dozen other Stonewall Democrats at a local coffee house to watch the LOGO TV presidential forum. It was a very nice change from the lineup of podiums and sound bites that most of these alleged debates are rife with. Each candidate who responded was interviewed in order of their acceptance of the invitation, a revealing tidbit in itself. A panel of three interviewers including Melissa Ethridge had 15 minutes with each candidate to discuss LGBT issues. It was very revealing.

The biggest news of the night was the gaffs, specifically a big one by Bill Richardson who responded to a question of whether he believed homosexuality was a choice. He first said “yes” and then proceeded to backpedal and stammer through what was almost but not quite a retraction.

The first guest was Barak Obama who not only looked presidential but sounded it. Though he does not endorse gay “marriage” he was adamant that he endorses “civil unions” that would have all the legal privileges of a marriage. He said Marriage was up to the church to decide, and I agree. I think all legal couplings should be civil unions. Marriages should not be endorsed by the state, but by the participants or the church. Just my take.

Next was John Edwards. The fair haired boy of the Democratic Party did a good showing, but was far from the most gay-friendly candidate.

Nest was Dennis Kucinich. The feisty Senator from Ohio was a crowd favorite because he comes across as completely and openly gay marriage friendly. He is a great man and a good person to spur the debate, though I suspect even he doesn’t think he can win the nomination.

Mike Gravel and Bill Richardson were also on the schedule, Gravel was predictably a bit starry eyed and slightly odd, and Richardson was stiff and stumbly as I mentioned earlier.

Last because she was the last to accept the invitation, was Hillary Clinton, a favorite with the lesbians in the room. She offered no surprises but did a good job defending her positions. Again she falls short of full gay marriage endorsement.

All in all, it was a good chance to hear the candidates speak on GLBT issues, but I really feel the Gay Marriage issue would be moot if civil rights were the first order of business.

As for me, I still back Obama and think he can not only inspire the country but be a great leader in what promises to be a difficult period of rebuilding America’s greatness after the damage of the Bush years.

Right Wing Columnist Calls For Another 9/11!

Right wing pundits are usually full of crap, but Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News sets a new record for fecal containment. He feels that America is torn apart, not by the ineptitude and lying of the Bush administration or the misguided policies and nutty war in Iraq, but because we haven’t had enough terrorist attacks.

This guy actually said in a column today, “I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America”.

I guess he looks at how the country came together after the first attack and sees that as a way to bring people rallying around Bush. It might or it might bring crowds of people with pitchforks and torches to the gates of the White House. Either way he is insensitive at best and a f*#king wacko at worst!

I certainly hope our government isn’t reading his crap, because I suspect if Karl Rove decided that he is right, it’s time to duck and cover!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sub Prime Worries Drag Market Down

Time for a little test. You are a guy like a mortgage company with lots of cash to lend. YOu put together a funky home mortgage that starts with really affordable payments and pitch it to folks with shakey credit or low income. The bite and the roller coaster ride begins.

In the fine print you say that the payments will stay low for the first few years and the gradually escalate to real whoppers. Unless the poor people who bit on your mortgage scam suddenly get wealthy, or move into a higher tax bracket they won't be able to afford the payments. Bingo! You now hold lots of worthless paper and the deeds to a butt-load of foreclosures.

Here comes the test. Would you do this in the first place? Everyone I spoke to says, "Aw hell no!" Wonder why the mortgage gurus with the MBAs didn't figure this out.

Look, the economy is booming if you are already a millionaire, but for the working stiffs its business as usual and worse. They haven't made any real progress in their income in the past few years and many have lost ground, so it's no wonder the "sub prime" market is taking it in the shorts! In fact, unless things get back on track for the average American it will be more than the sub prime mortgages that will be in trouble.

In this new "gilded age" we live in where 1% of the population has most of the money it's a sucker bet to loan money to average Americans. The problem is without those sucker bets the mortgage companies would have no business at all. You can only write mortgages on so many multi-million dollar houses. For the rest of us, just having a roof looks good.

Wake up America! We are living in the new age of the robber barons and Bush and his minions are their flunkies. Time to clean the slate and throw them out or there will be no America left!

Delusional Bush Claims "We Don't Torture"

Perhaps it can be attributed to the Lyme's Disease, but otherwise President Bush is either a pathological liar or delusional. At a press conference today he was asked if he had read the report by the International Red Cross that refers to the CIA treatment of prisoners as "tantamount to torture".

Bush replied with a simple, "haven’t seen it; we don’t torture,” then moved quickly to a different question. This report is by the International Red Cross. These are mot political ideologues trying to push an agenda, they are humanitarians trying to assure that all prisoners are treated humanely. Why is he either ignoring it or just lying? Well my guess is that if he does acknowledge it he cold be considered guilty of war crimes. Not a pretty footnote for your history.

A Tornado Grows In Brooklyn

Here in Texas storm chasing season is long gone, but in New York City things have been different. Brooklyn was the site of an F2 tornado yesterday that caused damage to at least 40 buildings and homes and uprooted numerous trees. Brooklyn streets were lined with downed branches and trees causing lots of damage to hundreds of cars and trucks. At least one death was attributed to the storm.

Additionally the subways were flooded, power interrupted and general chaos was the order of the day. The National Weather Service confirmed the event as a tornado, and witnesses reported a funnel shaped cloud just before the damage started.

I would assume there are not many Storm Watch spotters in Brooklyn, so getting a reliable confirmation may be difficult.

Debate Watching Party At Crossroads Market - Oak Lawn

Tonight I will be joining friends and fellow Stonewall Democrats at a debate watching party. Starting at 7:00pm until 9:00pm we will be at Crossroads Market watching the debate and swilling lots of latte.

Logo TV the gay cable channel is hosting the event on TV and so far no Republicans have agreed to appear. No big surprise, though I have to wonder why the Log Cabin Republicans continue to exist when it is painfully evident that their party doesn't want them?

And speaking of gay Republicans...I wonder who will be next in the series of sex scandals involving closeted gay men who are actively working against gay causes? What is with that?
I guess some people have such a deep self-hatred that the only way they can repress it is to oppress others. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

President of Young Republicans Resigns Amid Sex Scandal! - You Can't Even Write This Stuff It's So Good

You gotta love Republicans when it comes to sex scandals, they know how to do them up right! Seems the latest closet case for the GOP is the newly elected President of the Young Republican National Federation. Glenn Murphy Jr. told the news media he was resigning from his position saying he had a business opportunity.

I wonder if it was similar to the opportunity he is accused of taking with a 22 year old man who was sleeping in a relatives home. Murphy is charged with a class B felony of "criminal deviate conduct." Apparently he tried to perform an unwanted sex act on the man who was asleep.

Seems like lots of GOP folks lately have trouble keeping their mouths to themselves, like John McCain's Florida campaign manager who was arrested for offering an undercover officer $20 to let him perform oral sex on the officer.

And this is the party that promotes family values and denies gays a right to marry! Oh by the way, Murphy had a similar charge against him in 1998 but it was dropped.

Jesus Theme Park Features Crucifixion Show - Great Family Values Fun!

What could be more fun for a family than watching Jesus being crucified right in front of you? Well it’s just the kind of bloody fun that America’s religious right wants. The Holy Land Experience a previously marginal “theme park” has been bought by Trinity Broadcasting and is now being injected with a flow of loyal viewers and instant marketing and much needed cash.

At $35 per head, it is also more than a theme park, it’s a tax exempt religious organization. Interesting new scam for the fundamentalists, build a theme park and call it a church. The park has managed to maintain its tax exempt status with the IRS after a long battle.

The most popular attraction? Crucifixion of course! An actor portraying Jesus is whipped through the streets of the park and finally nailed (albeit special effects) to a cross. He is then left to “die” above the cement model of the empty tomb.

Sounds like a day full of fun to me. This kind of P.T. Barnum religious experience is part of what brought down the Jim and Tammy Bakker empire. I have to wonder if it might not be treading on dangerous ground for Trinity. Who knows, maybe they can add a baptismal flume and communion wafer nachos at a later date?

UPDATE: Another park opens in Nashville (2008)

GOP Slander Machine Cranks Up - "Osama/Obama" Again!

The primaries are not even over and the Republican Slander Machine is already in full-tilt boogie. In the past few weeks two Republican lawmakers have been caught having their photos taken with right-wing signs slandering both Obama and Clinton. The latest is Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who is posing with a hand made sign.

"Osama, Obama and Chelsea's Moma (sic) Say Cut and Run"

Earlier Mitt Romney was photographed holding the a similar sign. Interestingly the misspelled word "moma" as opposed to "momma" appears in both signs. This has all the earmarks of an intentional "whisper campaign" tactic, even though both camps deny any connection.

Graham said, "I was handed the sign by a rally attendee as I was leaving. I should have been more careful and I apologize.”

If you believe that, I have a great deal on some prime Florida swamp land.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

August 9, 1945 - Nagasaki, The Bomb, And Moore, Oklahoma

My partner returned from a storm chase back in 1999 and had a really strange look on his face. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he and his fellow chasers, had traveled up I-35 on their way to a storm system north of Oklahoma City. Their route passed through Moore, Oklahoma a city that had been devastated just a few weeks before by a massive F5 tornado. He said the scene was heartbreaking. If I remember correctly he compared it to Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

August 8, marks the anniversary of the (so far) last atomic bomb dropped on a populated area. It is ironic that the “F” rating and the A-bomb have a relationship beyond the devastation they cause. The original target for that second atomic bomb was the arsenal at Kokura, Japan. Clouds precluded this drop and the secondary target of Nagasaki was used instead.

This twist of fate spared the life of budding Meteorologist Tetsuya Fujita who was attending college nearby. Fujita was among the first to examine the damage done by the bomb at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He used his mathematical and observational skills to calculate the hypocenter of the blasts.

His fascination with the destruction and how the events leading to that destruction could be extrapolated from the results ended up tying him to Moore, Oklahoma and every other scene of tornado damage in the United States. He is better known as Ted Fujita, the father of the “F” scale (Fujita Scale now the Enhanced Fujita Scale) which measures damage done by tornados and calculates estimated wind speed from the storm.

His pioneering work in the field of tornados has spared the lives of thousands of Americans. It seems no small irony that weather saved his life as well.

Taliban Attack US Base - One Day After Karzai Declares Them Defeated

Hamid Karzai mad the pronouncement that the Taliban were defeated and a day later they make a direct attack on a US base in Afghanistan. Reminds me of seeing the words "easy" on a do-it-yourself project. You can bet your bottom dollar it won't be easy.

A group of 75 Taliban tried to overrun a US led coalition base in southern Afghanistan in what has been described as a "rare frontal attack" which left 20 militants dead.

5 More Cabinet Ministers Resign - Malaki's Cabinet At Half Strength

Iraq’s government has lost another 5 cabinet ministers bringing it to a total of 17 who are either boycotting or have resigned. That’s nearly half Maliki’s cabinet. Seems like it’s going to be a tough road to get anything done with half the ministers gone.

Meanwhile the violence has increased and more US and Iraq troops and civilians are dead. Political progress, something everyone agrees is key to ending the civil war in Iraq is at a standstill. The US puppet government is proving to be powerless to bring any semblance of unity to the country’s political landscape.

For those who keep track of such figures, a total of 3,682 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

NY Times - New FISA Law Is "Unnecessary And Dangerous Expansion of President Bush’s Powers"

Even the New York Times understands that what Congress did by expanding the President's powers under FISA is dangerous, especially with a power mad administration like the Bush White House is. To quote the NY Times, this act is "unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers".

Our Congress allowed itself to be bullied into this expansion of powers and they must be held accountable. I strongly suggest writing your Representatives and Senators with you views and more importantly working to campaign against them in any upcoming elections. If they are Republican, work for the Democratic candidate. If the are Democratic, work to make sure they have lots of competition in the primary or work for the independent candidate.

Guiliani's Daughter Supports Obama

Rudy Guiliani must be questioning his family values this morning. Slate magazine found his daughter's Facebook page where until 6:00am this morning she was a member of the "One Million Strong for Obama" online group. In her profile she describes herself as a liberal.

Rudy has had a bumpy time with his kids. The children from his second wife don't even speak with him. How can I not wonder if this kind of family value might come back to bite him in his bid for president?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Internet Protest Frees Slaves In China

China, land of cheap tube socks and sole supplier to Wal Mart (at least it seems so), has lots of problems. One of them is the use of slave labor to manufacture goods for both domestic and foreign consumption. Though the government of China claims it is vigorously trying to eradicate the abominable practice, there are still lots of incidents of people being held as slaves in factories and farms.

I am heartened to see that hundreds of men and boys were freed from captivity as slaves in a brickyard by the Internet. It seems that 400 parents posted a complaint on the Internet that their children had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. The resulting outrage caused authorities to take action and they arrested almost 30 managers and supervisors in the facility.

So far 750 workers, some of them children as young as 8 years old have been rescued but the total is said to be much higher.

Bush Threatens To Veto Bridge Maintanence Funds

The collapse of the I35 bridge in Minneapolis has caused a lot of talk about the country's aging infrastructure, and rightly so. The number of bridges that are in need of repair is surprising, not to mention the roads, tunnels and other parts of our transportation system we take for granted.

To that end, Senator Chuck Schumer and other Senators have proposed increasing the national highway budget from $4 to $5 billion dollars. Unfortunately our glorious leader has threatened to veto the bill. Why? Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Highways are built and maintained by companies that have nothing to do with the defense industry or big oil. Bush's masters are Big Oil and Big Defense, therefore, no money for highways.

I guess the civil engineers and highway construction companies need to start kicking in more money to their lobbies so they can buy the White House like oil and defense.