Saturday, December 08, 2007

John Lennon - 27 Years Ago Today.

"Give peace a chance." That was the message from John Lennon who was tragically gunned down 27 years ago today. His body of work, both with the Beatles and as a solo artist was amazing and every time I hear one of his songs I remember the funny, outrageous and talented musician he was.

Strange how I found myself many years later eating lunch with his son, Julian at the Studios at Las Colinas in Dallas. My office used to be on the studio lot and Julian and his band were rehearsing there. I was walking to the commissary one afternoon and a spunky kid on a skateboard passed by. Julian was headed there, too. I had no idea who he was until the waiter called him Mr. Lennon. Imagine that.

Today, I find myself remembering one of my favorite Lennon songs, Imagine, and I know we all need to hear it again. Thanks John, for everything.

Democrats Wake Up And Demand Investigation Of CIA Torture Tape Destruction

Needless to say, Democratic members of Congress want answers on why video tapes of "enhanced interrogation" techniques (that means TORTURE to us common folks) were destroyed by the CIA. Senator Dick Durbin called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to find out if the CIA violated any laws in destroying the tapes. Other Democrats in the Senate are equally outraged, as they should be.

Meanwhile in Happy Land, press secretary Dana Perino said the she did not know whether Bush knew of the tapes and their destruction or not. According to the Washington Post -

Perino refused to say whether the destruction could have been an obstruction of justice or a threat to cases against terrorism suspects. If the attorney general decides to investigate, "of course the White House would support that," she said.

Why do I suspect that support would be about as robust as the support the White House gave during the Vallerie Plame investigation?

UPDATE: Interesting information from the National Review of all places. Columnist David Frum finds info in Gerald Posner's book on 9/11 that might suggest another reason the tapes were destroyed. They may have pointed a finger at Saudi Arabia, since during interrogation, Zubaydah revealed his connections with a Saudi prince. Not a conspiracy theorist myself, but this one sounds really plausible.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Officials Being Targeted By Anti-Gay Hate Groups

Just when you thought the only really crazy and dangerous homophobes were from Lativia, here comes this news. According to a story on Pam’s House Blend, neo-nazis are targeting openly gay officials. Web sites that cater to these bigots have been posting lists of "List of Open and Unapologetic Faggot Politicians". Worse still the sites are suggesting taking "direct action". "Direct Action" is a thinly veiled name for harassment or worse.

These groups are apparently trying to target openly gay city councilman Mark Kleinschmidt from Chapel Hill, NC and have commented on his blog with openly threatening notes. Signing their names as "Adolf Hitler" and "JewstoryMike" the comments come from members of these hate groups. Thanks for brining this to light Councilman Kleinschmidt!

Personally, this stuff scares me. I know that the current government in Washington will do nothnig to stop these kinds of threats. The dirty secret of the Bush administration is that they are supported by these kinds of hate mongers in their "base". About as base as you can get, too!

DOJ Memos Reveal Bush Making Up Laws Regardless Of Constitution

Want proof of a Bush dictatorship? Here ya go!

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spent hours poring over secret opinions issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — and he took notes.
Here are a few of the highlights from

1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.

2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.

3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.

The above are just examples of the way Bush is making up his own rules without regard for the Constitution. Senator Whitehouse is a lawyer, a former U.S. Attorney, a former legal counsel to Rhode Island’s Governor, and a former State Attorney General, so he can recognize when something is legal or not and he was outraged. He made an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate today. Watch it here.

UPDATE: Here is the text of Senator Whitehouse's speech. Read it, it's very important and then call your Congressperson right now!

Bush Approval Drops Among Military Families

President Bush’s approval rating among Military families has started to slide big time. This is somewhat of an anomaly since military families are usually the most supportive group during wartime. About 6 out of 10 families disapprove of the way Bush is handling the war.

The poll was conducted by the LA Times. More info here.

Remembering Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941

It was 66 years ago when the US fleet was devastated by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. That event woke a sleeping public to the reality of war that was already raging in Europe and the Far East. Today a few survivors of that attack will honor their fallen comrades in ceremonies and services around the country.

I visited the monument that stands over the watery grave of the battleship Arizona when I was in Hawaii many years ago. It is a sobering sight, the sunken grave of hundreds of service men and women still leaks oil forming a perennial slick on the water above. What I found strange there was in the souvenir shop. They had color booklets of the memorial with archive pictures of the attack. The first one I picked up seemed somewhat strange, and once I looked beyond the compelling photo on the cover, I found I was holding a Japanese translation of the visitor guide. The USS Arizona is a popular attraction for Japanese tourists. They visit the memorial with the same respect and somber mood as that of US tourists. For Japan, Pearl Harbor marked the beginning of a tragic period in their history, just as it was in ours.

Though we dictated the terms of the surrender, both sides in that conflict endured grievous losses and untold pain. WWII was a tragedy for the whole world not just the losing or winning side. Today, Japan is one of our staunchest allies, just as is Germany. I can only hope that someday we have the same relationship with our neighbors in the Middle East. After all, we share the same planet together, and it gets smaller every day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hate Crimes Legislation Including Gays & Lesbians Falls By The Wayside

Welcome to the side of the road! If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender American, Congress has just thrown you under the bus. The hate crimes bill which was attached to a military spending bill by Senator Edward Kennedy, failed to garner enough support to pass the House. Though many Democrats were for the bill and even some Republican moderates (if such an animal truly exists) supported the bill, many were worried that voting for it inside a spending bill for the War effort would make them look too hawkish. And so GLBT people once again take a back seat in Congress.

Senate backers of the bill expressed their disappointment at the reluctance in the House but in the end they could do nothing about it. The sad truth is it was the last chance this year to get any meaningful legislation passed to protect GLBT people from hate crimes. Once again GLBT people are second class citizens and once again Congress has shown it has no backbone when it comes to gay issues.

The answer? Elect even more liberal representatives to the House to offset the alleged "moderates" who vote like conservatives. The alternative, moving to Canada, just doesn’t sit well with me, yet.

CIA Destroys Video Evidence of Torture

The lack of accountability in the Bush administration really seems to grow greater every day. On the latest news that the CIA destroyed videotapes of its, "harsh interrogation" techniques used on two Al Qaeda operatives because the tapes, "could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy."

Hell yes it could expose it to legal jeopardy, especially since they were using illegal techniques, otherwise why destroy the tapes. This is beginning to remind me of the films the Nazi’s made documenting their war crimes, never figuring they would ever be called to task for them.

Time for a reckoning for the CIA and the Bush administration. When will impeachment be "back on the table"?

California E-Voting Machines Easy to Hack!

For those still following the E-Voting mess, a group in California managed to crack open Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S voting machines using common office supplies and easily available code cracking technologies. The Red Team researchers proved that electronic voting as it stands now is unreliable and easily tampered with. No surprise there.

Read more about it on ars tehnica.

Pharmaceuticals Made in China May Mean Trouble for U.S.

Here’s a cheery holiday note! Seems since so many people have been worried about tainted Chinese goods, they’ve done a little research. A story in the Kansas City Star notes that ingredients in many drugs come from China. With the cheaply manufactured ingredients China has cornered the market on key parts of drugs like cipro and doxycycline both used in the fight against Anthrax and other potential bio-weapons.

More alarming is the fact that Chinese companies produce almost one third of over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen sold in the US. With the kind of quality control found in Chinese toys, and the non-existent regulation for their safety, should we be worried about their drugs? I do.

Now the most interesting thing to me is this. Our government or at least the Bush government has long claimed that we cannot import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada because of the possibility of poor quality or dangerous drugs entering the country. That argument was specious as best and now just sounds silly when major drug companies herein the US are making drugs with dirt cheap Chinese ingredients. Remember all that lack of quality control on their toys? Why should Chinese drug companies be any different. Time for country of origin labeling on every product sold in the US. If you can’t tell where it was made, don’t buy it!

Alarmist? Consider this quote from the story:

The Chinese and Indian companies are all but exempt from oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Only 13 inspections were conducted in China in 2007,” Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said at a hearing Nov. 1. “At this rate, it would take the FDA 55 years just to clear this backlog.”

Mall Shooter Sought Fame & Forgiveness

In his suicide note he said he was sorry, but he said so much more. The note made reference to not being a burden to anyone anymore and then the disturbing line, "I have been a piece of shit all my life, now I’ll be famous."

With that the boy, 19 years old, became "the gunman" referred to by the news media. This boy, who had just lost his job at McDonald’s took an SKS assault rifle and went down to the mall. There he began shooting people randomly to achieve his fame. What he left was a tragedy of 9 people dead and many more wounded but I will not use his name, that would bring him the "fame" he wanted.

Whatever went wrong in his life, in his mind and in his character, the story says something about us as well. It says that in our society, we can value fame over life, we can value violence as a way to solve problems and we can express our sorrow for our actions, yet still go on to commit murder. Surprisingly, I don’t find this mind-boggling. I see very clearly how a young man could develop these beliefs.

As a society we endorse killing as a way to stop killing. We do this in our capital murder cases with the death penalty and we do this in our politics with "preemptive wars". As a society we value fame over character. We reward the vapid troubled celebrities like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears, yet find little compassion for people who work 6 to 7 days a week just to make ends meet in our inner cities. As a society, and particularly in some forms of religion, we value hollow words over actions and character.

I do not excuse what this disturbed man did. It is horrible and tragic for him, his victims and their families. I understand how he could have reached the conclusions he did, and that is what bothers me more. I am disturbed by living in a society where his actions might indeed bring him fame and where others might see him as an example of how they too might achieve it. Fame, or in this case infamy should have less value, but only we can weigh the costs. Only we can change our currency from the gilded shine of celebrity to the solid rock of love and compassion.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

White House Reveals Bush Lying Again!

Big news! Bush lied again. This is news? It is when the White House actually comes out and proves he is lying! From comes this stunner.

The White House statement released by Dana Perino tonight also states McConnell told Bush "the new information might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran’s covert nuclear program."

Now even his own staff is calling his bluff. Come on Congress, impeach this liar and be done with it!

35% of Toys On Shelves Have Toxic Levels of Lead!

I am getting tired of the lead paint in toys story, but every day there seems to be another new twist. Today the Michigan-based Ecology Center along with the national Center for Health, Environment and Justice released a study that showed only 20% of the 1200 tested toys showed no trace of lead, and a full 35% had levels over the federal limit. Here’s the alarming part, these toys are still on shelves and no recall has been issued on them.

I suggest if you are buying for a child this Christmas, check out the Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys. ( Though there are not many that are not poisoned, there are still a few that pass muster and you can always buy your kids books! (If they are printed in the US or Europe!)

By the way, guess where most toys are made today? China...BINGO! Time for American consumers to insist that the government enforce product safety standards on imported goods.

Fred Thompson on the NIE - "It's a Conspiracy!"

So Fred Thompson, the great white hope of the GOP has now officially joined the ranks of the conspiracy wackos. His take on the recent NIE announcement that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons development program back in 2003? Conspiracy!

He somehow figures that it was just too convenient for the report to be issued when in his words, "…the administration gets to say its policies worked; the Democrats get to claim we should have eased up on Iran a long time ago: and Russia and China can claim sanctions on Iran are not necessary. Who benefits from all this? Iran."

So Iran is somehow behind the report from our own intelligence agencies! Puleeeze! Thompson is living proof that the delusional can rise to high status and that anyone, absolutely anyone can run for President!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

America's First Gay Ambassador Resigns

Back in 2001 when Bush appointed Michael Guest as ambassador to Romania I had hopes that things were changing. At that time when he was confirmed, then Secretary of State Colin Powel even recognized Guest’s partner, Alex Nevarez, during the swearing-in ceremony. Guest was the first openly gay ambassador appointed by the Bush administration. It was a landmark event.

Today that auspicious beginning comes to an inauspicious close. Michael Guest resigned because of the State Department’s failure to treat the partners of gay and lesbian foreign service officers the same as the spouses of heterosexual officers. In his words he publicly lambastes the State Department and its leadership.

"For the past three years, I’ve urged the Secretary and her senior management team to redress policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian employees. Absolutely nothing has resulted from this. And so I’ve felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner — who is my family — and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary’s leadership and a shame for this institution and our country."

Monday, December 03, 2007

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17, 2007 7:00-8:30pm at Charis Books and More(1189 Euclid Ave NE in the Little Five Points Business District in Atlanta, GA)

December 17th is the 5th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe. Please join us as we celebrate this important day of action with a sex worker open mic, a few brief video screenings and inspiring conversation on the movement for sex workers rights, dignity and de-criminalization!

This event is free and open to everyone, however to participate as a performer in the open mic, the organizers request that you be a current or former sex worker. For more information, please visit:

Danny Glover - Rescue the Constitution

This one speaks for itself. Unfortunately, FOX refuses to run it.

Kellie Picker - Proof The Some Stereotypes Are Based In Fact

OK, all my feminist friends will kill me for this, but I had to post this because it is absolutely unbelievable. Kellie Picker, who I Googled and found out was a recording artist, appeared recently on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader". Here is a spoiler...she isn't! This has to be an act because nobody is this clueless!

Wolfowitz Is Back! Now WMD Intelligence Czar

Sometimes the old adage about the bad penny rings true. Take that perennial bad penny Paul Wolfowitz. He left the Bush administration much to the relief of many and ended up at the World Bank. There he became the center of a scandal and was forced to leave. And now, guess what? Back in the Bush administration.

I guess with the Bush folks, there is no such thing as burning a bridge, as long as you are loyal to our glorious leader. Wolfowitz is loyal. So, Bush created a new position that will not require Senate approval, and bingo, Wolfie is back!

The revolving door for criminals and cronies at the White House is a disgrace, but the Congress apparently has no problem with it. Write your Congressperson and let them know what is going on, I suspect they are living in an alternate reality and haven’t got a clue.

What's worse is the position he is in. Head of intelligence for WMD! If you recall he was deeply involved in the pumped up claims of Saddam's WMDs in the lead up to the war. Go figure?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Texas Legislators Defrauding Votes in the Texas Legislature

State Representatives have been voting for each other using the push button system in the Texas Legislature. Crookedness knows no boundries especially in Texas!

Rudy Giuliani TV Ad Parody - Funny and True!

12% of Iraq Police Can't Read - Time To Party!

Glad to see our training has paid off in Iraq. Got this video from an Iraqi blogger who is frustrated by the unprofessional attitudes of the Iraqi police. He said in a recent report released by the Iraq government that a full 12% of the police force is illiterate. How can they check ID's if they can't read.

Enjoy the party!

GOP - Gay Old Party? More Larry Craig Encounters.

At least four more men have come forward and are willing to put their names in print as having had "encounters" with Sen. Craig. Add this to the growing rumors about Trent Lott and the previously outed Republicans and you have to wonder if the GOP is not the party of choice for closeted gay men?

I would be willing to say that if you hear a Republican loudly arguing against gay rights, there is a good chance he is a closeted queer. (I use the term queer not as an epithet, just for your politically correct folks.) Me thinks they protesteth too much!

Bush Claims Records of Abramoff's Visits Are State Secrets

Shhh! It’s a secret. At least that is the word from the Bush administration. Records that might show how many times Jack Abramoff visited the White House are being withheld because according to White House lawyers, "the Secret Service has identified a category of highly sensitive documents that might contain information sought in a lawsuit about Abramoff’s trips to the White House."

Bush is playing the national security card again, and I feel he is over playing his hand. The tired lie that everything that happens in the White House if directly involved in the nation’s security is not working. The White House is the nation’s house, the presidency is our realm, we in a democracy decide what and who is welcome there. It’s time the people spoke and turned the current residents of our house out!