Marriage is love.
(And thanks to The Mad Prophet for pointing me to this bit of code.)


The Ethics Committee takes the trash out early

Just before the start of tonight's presidential debate, the House Ethics Committee admonished Tom DeLay. That couldn't have been intentional, right? They would never do such a thing at such an odd hour of the day and at a time when they knew full well that the nation's attention would be focused elsewhere, would they?

Yeah, right. If you believe that, I've got a nice parcel of oceanfront property in Des Moines I'm looking to unload.

The committee "admonished" DeLay, which is significantly less than a slap on the wrist. It carries no sanctions, and it wasn't even in relation to any of the myriad of campaign finance shenanigans which are likely to put the Hammer in front of a grand jury before too long.

My guess? The committee wants to be able to say that they've taken some action in regard to DeLay, after dropping the more substantive charges against him earlier this month. But they didn't want to take any heat when people realized they gave him what amounts to a love-tap, so they dumped the story out tonight and hoped it would get lost in the sea of ink and the swarms of electrons that will be devoted to debate coverage tomorrow and into the weekend.


Kerry won this thing. Hands down.

Bush had nothing. Every word that came out of his mouth could just as well have been scripted beforehand--and I wouldn't be surprised in the least to learn that it was.

No matter what the topic, no matter what Senator Kerry said, Bush kept coming back to "flip-flop," "resolute," "stay the course." His only answer to the problems that plague us, and the myriad of additional problems that his four year record of "catastrophic successes" has brought us, is "more of the same."

More of the same would be a catastrophic disaster for the United States and for the world. We must get rid of this madman before he has the chance to do any more damage.


Game over

Senator Kerry was asked what he thought the #1 threat to the United States' national security. Without a moment's hesitation, he said the magic words: "Nuclear proliferation." Then he slammed the shite out of Bush for cutting funding for securing Russia's nuclear materials, and sending mixed messages to other nations by insisting that proliferation of nuclear weapons is bad, but it's just fine and dandy for us to be researching new nukes.

Bush completely fell apart. He's got nothing in his briefing book on this point, and it shows. The best thing he could come up with was this asinine missile defense system. And now he's nitpicking over who gets to sit at the conference table when we talk to North Korea about their nuclear program.

Game over. Bush loses. Kerry mopped the floor with him.


Oh, for the love of Holy God!

Lehrer just lobbed the softest of softballs to the preznit: Are there underlying character issues that make Senator Kerry unfit to be commander in chief? This is ridiculous.

At least Chimpy had the intestinal fortitude to admit that it was a loaded question. But now, after fumbling around for a minute praising Kerry's service and his family values, now he's stumbling over his own tongue trying to tag him with the flip-flopper label. "I just know how the world works. ...We never change our strategic beliefs."

I call Bushit again. Ask any general: no plans, no strategies survive the first encounter with the enemy. And Senator Kerry just hit him with that:

It's one thing to be certain. But you can be certain and be wrong. It's anther to be certain and be right, or be certain anbd moving in the right direction. ...What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging the truth of what's happening on the ground. ...Certainty sometimes can get you into trouble.

Sing it, John!


Get this arsehole off the stage

I'm embarrassed to have to point to this blithering idiot as the leader of my nation. When asked whether Iraq would make it more or less likely that he would take the United States into another pre-emptive action, Bush hemmed and hawed and finally managed to choke out, "I hope I never have to." He wouldn't say no, and he kept hammering on the "resolve" meme and the "flip-flop" meme. That's his plan to keep us out of war: resolute dedication to a course of more of the same.

Bush is an empty suit--with an empty head. That's not a good combination for the leader of the free world.

And Kerry got in a body-slam afterward. "He just said 'the enemy attacked us. Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al-Qaeda attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden surrounded in the mountains of Tora Bora....we didn't use the best-trained troops in the world to find and kill the worst terrorist in the world, they outsourced the job to warlords who the week before had been on the other side."

Now Dumb-ya is nattering on about not wanting to join the International Criminal Court where "unaccountable judges and prosecutors" could do something, "where our people could be prosecuted. My opponent is for joining the International Criminal Court."

Well, duh! If we don't break any laws, we don't have to worry about our people getting hauled into court, do we? Not that that's ever been a philosophy the Shrubbery has entertained.


Bush is pissed--and it shows

Kerry just slammed him again. "When you guard the oil ministry and not the nuclear facilities, the idea some people get is 'Maybe they're interested in our oil.'"

As soon as Kerry said the words, Commander Codpiece looked like he'd just swallowed a glassful of unsweetened lemonade--and found a turd in it.


SCORE, baby!

Quoth Kerry: "You can have my plan in four points, which I can tell you about here or you can go to johnkerry.com and read about it. Or you can have the president's plan, which is four words: 'More of the same.'"

And he just slammed him with Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn Rule."

Game. Fucking. Over. Kerry wins in a landslide.


What was Bush doing the last three days?

Did he prep for this debate? All he's doing is recycling the same old tired negative memes from his campaign. He can't come up with a single new theme, a single new quote, or any fact (or even fact-oid) that he hasn't used a thousand times by now. He keeps looking off into space, winking, smirking, and coming back to the flip-flop/waffle theme. Bush's entire reason to vote for him to get another four years of death and destruction is that we shouldn't change course and we must be resolute.

Bush was just asked if the Iraq war was worth the cost. His answer: Every life is precious, and how hard it is to know that he sent these people into harm's way and he has to do he hard work to comfort them. What the fuck? When has this dipshit done sweet Fanny Adams to comfort any of those who lost loved ones in Iraq? When has he gone to a funeral? When has he met a coffin coming into Dover? And while he's talking about the need to spread liberty to fight tyranny, the Shrubbery is cutting hazardous duty pay and family allowances, closing VA hospitals, and generally shafting our veterans--after putting them in harm's way.

Despicable. Absolutely, shamelessly, hubristically despicable. This man has no conscience. None.


So if the Baathists and the Saddam loyalists

laid down their arms and surrendered peacefully as Commander Codpiece asserts, who is it, pray tell, carrying out the 80+ attacks on American forces and personnel in Iraq each and every day?

And this may be the best stupid line of the debate thus far. Quoth Bush, "I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time." He said that immediately after mentioning that he gets the casualty reports every morning. What is he smoking that he can look at those reports, which are getting worse and worse on a daily basis, and still be optimistic?


What's with the faces, Chimpy?

Something tells me that Emperor C+ Augustus is pissed. He's making faces every time Senator Kerry scores a point against him or brings up a difficult or embarrassing fact. Which is happening about once every 30 seconds.

When asked what his criteria would be for bringing our troops home from Iraq, Commander Codpiece said:

When our generals on the ground, and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend herself from these terrorists, that elections have been held, that there's stability, and they're on their way to being a nation that's free.

Senator Kerry's response:

I also want to thank those troops, but I want to tell them help is on the way. ...The President's father did not go into Baghdad because, as he wrote in his book, there was no viable exit strategy. And he said that our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. ...The only building that was guarded when the troops went into Baghdad was the oil ministry. We didn't guard the nuclear plants, we didn't guard the Foreign Ministry where we might have found information that we needed. ...Let's change rules, we can have a real debate.

Chimpy is harping on the "wrong war, wrong time" theme again, and hammering the $87 billion vote. Kerry: I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. The president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?



"We have the capacity to do both."

Thus spake the Chimp just now, in response to a question of the priority between capturing Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden (whom he just confused). So if we've got enough men and materiel to go after both of them, why do we only have one of them in custody? Why is the Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan again? Why are the Afghan farmers growing opium poppies again?

I call Bushit.


This is going to be interesting

I'm watching Jim Lehrer count down the seconds to the start of the debate. One thing is already obvious--they aren't going by the campaign rules. Two podia, both obviously designed to have candidates standing behind them. So Kerry will be the taller of the two and there will be no way to hide it.

As best I can, I'm going to try to live-blog this thing.

Lehrer just said that he has agreed to enforce the campaign rules on the candidates. But he made up the questions and the candidates don't know what they are. He also gets a discretionary "discussion extension" whenever he wants.


Somewhere the irony gods are smiling...

Via ArchPundit comes this lovely image:
Somewhere the irony gods are smiling... Posted by Hello

It seems that Our Favorite Carpetbagger Senate Candidate is schlepping replicas of the Liberty Bell and the Ten Commandments around with him to campaign events. The latter is pictured above.

Perhaps it's just my warped mind, but isn't there something just slightly oxymoronic about dragging around a ginormous stone idol upon which the words "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" are prominently carved? I'm just sayin'....



Are the media awakening?

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof I learn that the Los Angeles Times thinks Preznit Inigo Montoya has some 'splainin' to do:

Kerry's position on Iraq is not a model of clarity and consistency. His critique of the Bush policy has the tang of opportunism. But he is more right than wrong, certainly more right than Bush, and in any event more within his rights to make the argument than Bush is in trying to suppress it. And, as with Vietnam, the nation's policy is gradually shifting Kerry's way. Would Bush have made even the halfhearted efforts of recent weeks to share the burden and direction of the war with the United Nations if he hadn't been looking over his shoulder at the Democratic candidate for his job? To accuse Kerry of aiding the enemy while taking his advice is despicable.

Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop. He got away with this when the prime mover was the shadowy Swift boats group. Will he get away with it when the accusers are his own vice president, high officials of his own administration (Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) and members of Congress from his own party (House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert or Sen. Orrin Hatch)? The answer is yes: Based on recent experience, he probably will get away with it.

As Mustang Bobby points out, the Los Angeles Times will never be mistaken for a conservative media outlet. But anyone who calls it a tool of the left will also have some 'splainin' to do. I could wish my home-town paper of record (the Chicago Tribune, which, if memory serves, is owned by the same corporate parent as the LA Times) would wake up and smell the coffee as well. They've been critical of a couple of Bush's more obvious gaffes and the most catastrophic of his "catastrophic successes," but I think it would take a minor miracle, at least, to get them to endorse Kerry. Good to know there are still a few courageous writers left in journalism: the kind who aren't afraid to call a spade a spade or, when the sense requires it, a goddamn shovel.



More on the Maya Keyes situation

I am morally and ethically opposed to the practice of outing people. Even vicious hypocrites who by their actions are damaging the gay community which they themselves inhabit and profit from. It's one thing when someone has committed a crime, such as former Maryland congressman Bob Bauman, who was "outed" by means of a police investigation into a prostitution ring, which turned up evidence of one young man the congressman had paid to engage in sexual relations with him. In all other cases, I can't very well insist that I have a right to privacy about what I do (or don't do) in my own home, and whom I choose to do it with, if I'm willing to invade the privacy of others when I feel they aren't behaving as I would, or as I would like them to.

"But," I hear you cry, "you outed Maya Keyes on this very blog!"

Not remotely true. I linked to another blogger who had linked to information that was--at the time, some of it has since been removed--publicly available in multiple locations on the internet. I couldn't out Maya Keyes, because she had already done so herself. She made, and makes, no bones about her sexuality, and I couldn't be prouder of her for that fact--especially given who her father is, and his off-the-charts ludicrous positions on homosexuality. I hope she doesn't need years of therapy to deal with all the crap I'm sure she's heard on the subject from her looney-toons father, and if he does anything stupid like cut off her tuition money out of pique at her "carelessness," you're damn, you should excuse the epression, straight that I'll be kicking in a couple of bucks to any Maya Keyes Tuition Fund drives that I find out about.

I also agree with Judy Baar Topinka, the chair of the Illinois Republican Party, when she argues that the children of candidates for political office should be kept out of politics. But again, that wouldn't shield Maya Keyes. Nor should it.

I remember when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992. His daughter was a shy teen-ager, and considerable efforts were made to shield her from the kind of crap that all candidates for major political office have to go through. (Not that any of them stopped the Limboob from making vile cracks about her, of course.) Chelsea may have put in an appearance at the nominating convention, but it was only after her father had finished his acceptance speech. She had a right to privacy, and I wish more could have been done to protect it.

Maya Keyes, by contrast, is 19 years old, legally an adult. She speaks openly about her sexuality in a public forum that is linked from a Keyes campaign site. She is, for whatever reasons, and willingly or not, appearing with her father at campaign events, and working for his campaign. That makes her at least a quasi-public figure.

I truly regret the shitstorm of media attention that is likely to follow Ms. Keyes wherever she goes for the next little while. In a just and fair world, she wouldn't have to go through that on top of whatever anxieties are involved in coping with parents who are more than usually uptight about discovering that one of their children is a "dirty queer" (to use her own words about it). Barack Obama should not make Maya's sexuality an issue in his campaign, and I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that he would never even consider stooping so low.

Unfortunately for Maya, her father has no such scruples. He just loves to campaign on the "gay" theme--in fact, he can't seem to shut the fuck up about it, despite the fact that it gets him nowhere with Democratic or independent voters, and most Republicans put that issue dead last on their list of things to get worked up about. If we were talking about one of Obama's children in this context, you can bet Alan Keyes would find a way to work it into his stump speech and his campaign advertising. Moreover, it is absolutely one of Keyes' policy positions that the world should not ever be either just or fair when it comes to us "selfish hedonists." So people are naturally going to want to talk about the cognitive dissonance between his stated public policy positions and the fact that he still loves and supports his daughter--who has made little effort to hide the fact that she's a lesbian. The information was hiding in plain sight: all anyone had to do was follow a couple of links and there it was.

Shorter Musing: This was not an outing. Nobody hacked anything to get this information. The Democratic candidate is not using it as a campaign issue (as if he needed to!). It really shouldn't be an issue, but we don't yet live in that world--and Maya Keyes' father would like to keep us from getting to it for as long as possible. End of story.



There's a gas station on my regular route to work. When I drove past it this morning on my way to the office at 7:40 a.m. or thereabouts, the price for a gallon of 87 octane regular was $1.85. When I drove by on my way home after class this evening, circa 5:15 p.m., the price was $1.99.

I've never understood the ins and outs of gasoline pricing. Yes, I know that the recent spate of hurricanes has shut down most or all of the oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico (and a number of the processing facilities along the Gulf coast). I also know that the markets are jittery over the looming possibility of a disruption in Nigeria's production due to civil unrest. Further, I know that OPEC's proposed increase in daily production targets doesn't really mean all that much, since most cartel members are already pumping in excess of targeted production.

What I don't get is how that affects the price of whatever it is that my gas station already has in the tanks and available for sale. The price per barrel was not over $50 when this batch of unleaded regular was distilled. Nor were the Gulf distilleries off-line. So how does the owner of the station justify jacking up the price on the stuff? I understand needing to make a profit, but fair is fair--and hiking the price 14 cents a gallon in less than a day, based on the price the owner might have to pay the next time he needs to refill his holdng tanks is not fair.

Meanwhile, the stock market actually went up today, after four days of decline. Still, I don't think we'll be hearing too much from the Shrubbery about how great our economy is doing. Nor would I care to wager much on Commander Codpiece carrying through with his promise to get on the horn to his good buddies in Saudi Arabia whenever gas prices got too high. Comes to that, if he were to make that phone call, he might not like the response he got from the other end.

Shorter Musing: Bush is Bad. Bad for the economy. Bad for the environment. Bad for civil rights. Bad, bad, bad.

Make Bush go away. Vote Kerry on November 2.


You know what they say

"No prophet is without honor except in his native place," Jesus said. It would appear that the same is true for slimy, shadowy, lying stinkers in American politics. Reuters just reported that Bush's hometown newspaper has endorsed John Kerry:

"The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda," the newspaper said in its editorial. "Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry."

It urged "Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country."


The Iconoclast's publisher and editor-in-chief, W. Leon Smith, said the newspaper is sent to Bush's ranch each week. "But I don't know if he reads it," Smith said.

I couldn't have said it better myself.




OK, first put down your coffee or other beverages. Then clear your mouths of anything you might be chewing, and look around you to be sure nobody is going to look askance at you if you suddenly break out into guffaws. Then have a look at the cartoon below:

Thanks to Houston for finding it for me.



Paging Rod Serling...

You remember the flap that ensued when Maryland carpetbagger-turned Illinois senate candidate Alan Keyes chastised Mary Cheney for living a life of selfish hedonism because she was a lesbian? Seems his words may have hit a target a little closer to home.

Blogger Chillinois has made several postings tonight with what appears to be information from a blog written by Keyes' daughter Maya. And by any standard I know to apply, there is only one way to read those entries: if Maya Keyes in fact wrote them, then she's a lesbian.

It is certainly possible that this is an elaborate hoax and that we're all going to have egg on our faces in a few days or weeks. But if it is one, it is very elaborate--and I fail to see any particular utility to putting in the kind of time and effort it would take to make such a hoax work. What possible purpose could it serve? It's unlikely Keyes will get any sympathy votes from the gay community--particularly if he can't even show some compassion and understanding for a lesbian daughter. It doesn't seem likely to endear Keyes to his fundagelical base, either--and they're virtually the only group of voters left that Keyes has yet to alienate. They won't be enough to get him elected. In fact, taken together they probably wouldn't be enough to get him over the 10 percent mark.

As the fairy in the fedora would say, "Developing."



An hour ago, someone from the Central time zone using attbi.com as a host and visiting from my fellow TLC blog Rook's Rant was the 10,000th visitor to Musing's Musings since I opened shop here in February. Woo-hoo!


La, la, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you!

The Chicago Tribune seems to agree with my analysis of what's going on in the Illinois Republican Party. Quoth the Trib:

Reeling from scandal and election defeats, the Illinois GOP is locked in an ideological civil war the Republican right blames on a party leadership that has strayed from core beliefs and values.

But a Tribune/WGN-TV poll of Republican voters in the state suggests it may be the most conservative elements of the party who are out of step.

That certainly matches with the rumblings I hear from day to day. The wingnut fringe in the IL GOP has sealed itself so hermetically inside its echo chamber that they forget they aren't the only ones in the party--much less in Illinois.

When Jack! had to drop out of the race, the wingnuts used their positions on the State Central Committee to beshit Alan Keyes upon the rest of the Republican Party, and the voters of Illinois. They saw the selection of Keyes as their chance to revitalize and re-energize a party that was understandably demoralized after years of scandals and a stinging electoral tsunami that swept them almost completely out of the halls of power.

But the evidence seems to show that they made a grievous overestimation of the number of their supporters, and that instead of re-energizing their party they have instead forced many of their fellow Republicans into an even greater apathy. The results of a Republicans-only poll conducted by the Tribune indicate just how radical is the divide between reality and what the wingnut fringe perceives as reality:

The GOP survey found that 22 percent of Republicans defined themselves as "very conservative," the ideological faction that is most in line with Keyes and that has complained the loudest about party leaders abandoning the GOP's ideals.

By contrast, 40 percent of Republicans surveyed said they were "fairly conservative," and 34 percent described themselves as "moderate, middle of the road."


Only 44 percent of self-identified GOP voters said they intended to support Keyes, and 35 percent said they planned to vote for Obama. That contrasts with the 89 percent of Republicans who vowed to support the re-election of President Bush.

Keyes contends that Obama is too extreme on the issues for Illinois, but the Republican survey shows only 21 percent of GOP voters agreed. At the same time, 38 percent of Republicans thought Keyes was too extreme.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Obama while just 31 percent think favorably of Keyes.

The poll in question was conducted by Market Shares Corp. of Mount Prospect from 14-20 September. They contacted 386 registered Illinois voters who self-identified as Republicans and indicated they were likely to vote. The margin of error is 5 percentage points.

That Alan Keyes is flaming out (see the post just before this one for details) a month before the election is no great surprise--at least not to me, though the people who brought him into the race may feel differently on that score. But the bigger worry, for the Illinois Republican Party, is just how fractured they have become. The wingnut fringe has power because of the way the party structure is set up: it favors those members of the Illinois Republican delegation that received the highest vote totals--i.e., the most active and committed constituencies. Those tend to be the folks at the extremes of the political and ideological spectrum. But, as the numbers above show, those folks comprise less than a quarter of all Republicans in Illinois, and are far outnumbered (if, alas, not outweighed) by the very moderates they despise and denigrate as RINOs: "Republicans In Name Only."

The IL GOP also has to contend with the fact that they speak for only about a third of Illinoisans. The broader Tribune poll cited in this story found that only 28 percent of Illinois voters consider themselves to be Republicans, as compared to 43 percent who identified as Democrats, and 27 percent as independents. So long as the wingnut fringe is in charge of picking the candidates who get to run as Republicans, I foresee a long spell wandering in the wilderness for the Party of Lincoln-wannabes. Do the math: 20 percent (the wingnut fringe) of 28 percent (Illinoisans who identify as Republican) gives you 5.6 percent of the voting population. What's acceptable to that 5.6 percent is going to be anathema to the nearly half the state's voters who are Democrats, and probably to most of the quarter of the population that calls itself independent. There's no way to build a winning electoral strategy in the face of that kind of opposition--and doubly so when you can't even count on everyone in your own party (more than a third of Republicans are planning to vote for the Democratic senate candidate in this election, and about the same number of them consider their own party's candidate too extreme).

The selection of Keyes was a stupid move by a small segment of the Republican Party leadership that is woefully out of touch with reality--both within their own party but also when it comes to the citizens of Illinois as a whole. They will, I hope, pay for their mistake by losing whatever scraps of influence they still retain within their party.

But we're all the losers for their stupidity. Illinois will likely never be a majority Democratic state. We have a long tradition of compromise in state politics, and moderate Republican candidates have traditionally done well here. But until Illinois Republicans get their own house in order, it's anyone's guess who they'll be putting up against the Dems in future elections. It would be a shame to see our state's long history of collaborative endeavor descend into the bitter partisan hackery that has been all that Washington has had on offer for years. Let's hope the Thompsons and the Edgars and the Topinkas of the Illinois Republican Party find their voices again, and keep firm hold on the authority to which their positions as elder statesmen and -women entitle them.


Could Keyes break 15 percent?

On the downward slide, I mean.

Today's edition of the Chicago Tribune reports on a new poll in the Illinois Senate race: "The separate poll of likely voters regardless of party affiliation showed that 68 percent favored Obama for senator and just 17 percent backed Keyes. Last month, the gap was 65-24." Ouch!

This could be epic. Keyes paid a visit to a political science class at the university where I work and go to graduate school last week, where he repeated his whining about how unfairly he was being treated by those pesky polls. And that was before one came out that showed him losing roughly a third of the minuscule support he'd managed to garner! Imagine what he'll have to say next week.


Woe to the complacent in Zion!

Or, if you want it in the original Hebrew:

Those were the first words from the first reading for Mass this twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Paradoxically, it's among my favorite bits of Scripture in the Lectionary for Mass.

It's not that I particularly like being lectured to: who among us in her right mind does? But it's good to be reminded every so often that complacency is, if not sinful in itself, at least a predisposition to it. And of course we're not supposed to assume that the message was only valid for those to whom its author originally addressed it. When we hear the lector read the word "Zion," we should be mentally filling in the names of the places we call home. There are plenty of complacent people in Chicago, in Atlanta, in Denver, in Seattle, and, especially, in Washington, D.C.

In fact, as I was listening to the celebrant give his homily this morning at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame (thank you, Hallmark Channel!), he said something that had me scrambling to find pen and paper to note it down: "Those who are most complacent and comfortable in the present are likely to remain in it forever."

It is perhaps an oversimplification, but the instant I heard that sentence, my first thought was that it explained a great deal about how it is that Preznit Inigo Montoya can still attract the support of around 45 percent of Americans. It may also provide one reason for why the neoconservatives' ideology has become so popular. It's that, despite the news from around the world, and despite having just passed the third anniversary of 11 September, many in the United States have lapsed back into complacency.

Things are not great. Things are not the way most of us would want them to be. But nevertheless, things are pretty good. The economy isn't booming, but we're not in a recession, either (or at least not yet, and not according to the government). We have not achieved world peace, but at least the killings aren't happening outside our front doors. We fail to see the storm clouds looming on the horizons (perhaps the walls of our gated communities, our privacy fences, and the flickering expanses of our plasma-screen televisions hide them from our sight), so we think, "Eh, why not some more of the same?"

Not for me, thanks. In his seminal 1982 book Embracing the Exile: Healing Journeys of Gay Christians, John Fortunato wrote:

Egocentrism [which he had previously defined, using the language of est, as the notion that it's all about "personal power": "I can do whatever I like." "I can get whatever I want." "The only thing keeping me from getting what I want is that I don't believe enough in my self."] is the basic philosophical stance of all Western civilization as we know it. It has become indomitable in the United States.

The basic dilemma of an egocentric world view is this: with the ego planted firmly at the center of the universe, what do we do with all of the multitudinous data of human experience that constantly remind us of our powerlessness?

...The answer is that you block it all out. Which brings us to what I call the myth. Put succinctly, the myth is the tenacious belief that we really are in control of ourselves, our destinies, each other, and the world.

(Emphasis in original.)

This was another theme the celebrant picked up on, this time from the Gospel reading, which was the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man's problem was not that he was unaware of the injustices and inequities in the world--he could not have been, with Lazarus the beggar right outside his door--but rather that he was too complacent in his own comfort, the confines of his limited world-view, to care. As Abraham admonishes the rich man in Jesus' parable, we have all the instruction we need on this point--there is no need for someone to come back from the dead to warn us that it is our duty to care for those who are less well-off than we are: it's right there in Moses and the prophets (to say nothing of the Gospels, for those of us who are Christians).

Most of us these days are probably fortunate enough that we don't have to step over bodies to walk out of our front doors. That doesn't mean that there aren't people with no place to rest their heads at night, however. Just that we have gotten out of the habit of looking for them.

All is not well--not in our own corner of the world, and certainly not in the world at large, taken as a whole. Julian of Norwich may well have been right when she wrote that "All will be well; all manner of things will be well." But that isn't going to happen on its own. Neither does the fact that there will come a time when all evils will be put right absolve us from our responsibility as human beings and as people of faith--any faith--to care for our brothers and sisters.

Woe to the complacent in Zion!

Now go out there and keep fighting the good fight.

Update: Fixed the broken "Ordinary Time" link. And I took a more political take on this in my latest dKos diary.



Horace, Carmina I.v

The title reference is to one of Horace's more famous odes, the one that begins Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa. But it's the later lines of the poem that have been flitting through my mind tonight:

...heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
nigris aequora ventis
emirabitur insolens,

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea...
sperat, nescius aurae
fallacis. miseri, quibus

intemptata nites. me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
suspendisse potenti
vestimenta maris deo.

Alas, how often shall he bewail faith
and changed gods, and, unaccustomed,
marvel at waters roughened
by black winds,

He who now enjoys you, thinking you golden...
[and] hopes, ignorant of the deceitful breeze.
O wretched are they,

Those for whom you shine, unexperienced.
But as for me, the temple precinct with
Its votive tablet shows that I have hung up
My dripping garments to the strong god of the sea.
(My translation from the original Latin.)

Horace was riffing on one of poetry's perennial themes: the alleged fickle nature of women. I'm neither interested in nor particularly qualified to address that subject. It was inconstancy of another kind that I had on my mind.

What does it say about the Republican Party (and, more generally, about us as a nation that we would allow one of our major political parties to get away with such bullshit) that it could seriously entertain legislation to ensure that a fetus in the womb had a right to medical care that it would lose the instant it drew its first breath in this world of trouble and pain? What does it say about the 108th Congress and the people in charge of running it that they could find all the time they needed to debate and vote on a bill to "protect" the pledge of allegiance from the "tampering" of "activist judges," but could find neither the time nor the motivation to renew, fix, or strengthen the ban on assault weapons? For that matter, what does the fact that significant pluralities of legislators in both houses of Congress, despite having taken solemn oaths to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic," could support a measure attempting to amend that Constitution for the first time in its history to bar an entire class of citizens from ever being able to enjoy what the Supreme Court itself has called the "fundamental right" to marry?

Nothing good, that much is certain. For one thing, it suggests that the people who advocated for and supported the policies I've just mentioned are either too ignorant to have noticed the contradictions inherent in them (in which case I have to question their fitness to hold any office of honor or profit from the United States), or else they just don't care whom they hurt or how far out of true they warp the meaning of concepts like justice, fairness, equality, and even law--as long as they get to enshrine their narrow-minded agenda and lord it over the rest of us poor deluded fools who have not yet seen the light of conservatism. (In which case, ditto.)

With Horace, I can see how there might be aspects of the Republican platform that look awfully bright and shiny when seen from a distance. But once the black winds of bitter experience with those policies and positions have swamped the ship of state, and those of us who have survived the shipwreck have offered our thanks for escaping with our lives, why on earth would anyone want to get right back into that same leaky hulk and put back out to sea?

To move out of the realm of metaphor, how in the world is it that some 45 percent of those polled in most recent surveys still think Commander Codpiece is worthy of their support? I personally don't see how he could have been considered an attractive choice even way back in 2000 when he lost his first presidential election, but I'll allow that perhaps not everyone's political acumen is as sharp as mine. But now that we've had the last four years to observe what Emperor C+ Augustus is pleased to call his "steady leadership" up close and personal, I marvel that there still seem to be people who have yet to wake up and smell the napalm. How many more of these "catastrophic successes" can we withstand, anyway?

And meanwhile, the Repuglicans in Congress fiddle away as blithely as ever Nero did, even as what's left of the res publica burns to ash and cinders about their ears. Nearly 30,000 American citizens died in 2001 (the last year for which data were available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) from firearm-related violence (which includes suicides), and our legislators are more worried about saving an invidious editorial change that they themselves introduced into the pledge of allegiance 50 years ago in blatant violation of the original author's intent? Forty million living, breathing Americans (many or most of them women and children) don't have health insurance and can't afford to see their doctors on a regular basis, but Congress is worried about providing it only for fetuses in utero? Perhaps they would be so good as to explain to me why health-care coverage is good for babies in the womb, but not for babies out of it, nor for the mothers in whose wombs those babies are carried?

The presidential race is every bit as surreal as the present session of Congress. We have a man who did everything in his power to avoid actually serving in the military presuming to criticize the service, and questioning the patriotism, of a man who volunteered for duty and was repeatedly decorated for his bravery: a situation so patently bizarre that not even Ionesco could have written it. We have an incumbent who will do anything, make any statement, cause any distraction, to avoid having to talk about the only thing that matters for an incumbent--his track record while in office. We have a man who brags about his "steady leadership" and derides his opponent for being unable to make up his mind when in fact it's the preznit who's the real flip-flopper in the race. The man changes his mind more often than a mother changes the diapers of her colicky baby, but it's the other guy who's indecisive. The mind boggles.

If these were ordinary times, there might possibly be some merit to the argument that we probably shouldn't change horses in mid-stream. But, as the Shrubbery itself is wont to point out with great alacrity at every possible opportunity, these are anything but ordinary times. 11 September 2001 was, after all, the Day that Changed Everything in their minds. But even if that were true (and I don't think it is), there are still tons more reasons to get rid of the Shrubbery than to keep it.

Let's start with the fact that the problem has nothing to do with horses and everything to do with riders. The American horse of state, if you will, is in much the same condition it was four years ago when Doofus-Boy grabbed the reins away from the rightful rider. Our problem right now is that the guy in the saddle doesn't know the first thing about horses, and has plunged us, headlong and hell-bent-for-leather, into the midst of a raging rapid. It's too broad to jump, too deep to ford, and the current's too swift just to swim across. If we "stay the course" we'll only get more of the same lame-brained horsemanship that got us neck-deep in swirling water and not a safe landfall in sight.

I'll argue that in our present situation our only hope is to get somebody into the saddle who understands horses, isn't prone to panicking in dangerous situations (just flash back to those seven minutes of My Pet Goat if you don't know what I mean), and who isn't afraid to change course if he sees an opportunity to get us to shore safe and sound. Right now, the only thing I'm worrying about is getting that horse and rider out of danger. Once we're safely on the far shore there will be all the time in the world to dry off, check everything for damages or injuries, haul out the map and see where we are, and then to plan a way of getting from wherever that happens to be to wherever it is that we really want to go.

In other words, it's crunch time, people. There's a village in Texas missing its idiot, and it's our job to boot him the hell back where he belongs. All else is secondary to that overriding concern. If we can rescue Congress from the hands of the wingnut ideologues who have hijacked it and our nation along with it, so much the better. Save the parties for when Dumb-ya makes his concession speech on the night of November 2. Save the carping and the strategizing and the Monday morning quarterbacking for the morning of the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November. Right now, it's time to get the rebellion going against King George the Unready (look it up in the OED).



Business as usual, GOP-style

Would it be too much to ask, just once, to have the Republican-controlled 108th Congress actually do its fucking job in an election year, instead of wasting our time and tax dollars whoring themselves to their fundagelical base of voters? It appears so.

There are about forty-leven pieces of urgent public business on the legislative calendar (or should be). These are things like the recommendations of the 11 September commission, the assault-weapons ban, fixing our swirling-the-toilet-bowl economy, doing something about the fact that one in eight U.S. citizens lives below the poverty line, or that 40 million of us don't have health insurance coverage, and fixing Social Security and Medicare so they actually benefit the people they were intended to help and not the fat corporate interests who line the legislators' pockets with campaign contributions.

And what does the Congress choose to do with its precious legislative time before they adjourn to come home and suck up for our votes? "Protecting" the pledge of allegiance.

Perhaps it's just me, but I was unaware of any danger facing the pledge. And even if it were under concerted assault from all sides, I fail to see how it either needs or warrants protection from our legislators, who are sworn to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" (a duty in which this Congress has failed miserably, by the way, as has the Shrubbery). I've read the Constitution from top to bottom--several times, in fact--and I can find nothing in it that even mentions the pledge of allegiance. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing something in there about forming a "more perfect union" and "establishing domestic tranquility" and ensuring the "general welfare," but apparently those duties take a back seat to slapping those doggone activist judges around who actually believe the Constitution means it when it says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

Idiots. To call this batch of boobs "stupid" would be an insult to stupid people. And to continue with Jamie Lee Curtis' lines from A Fish Called Wanda, I've known sheep that could outwit this Congress. I've worn dresses that had higher I.Q.s. It's an embarrassment of monumental proportions to have to admit to other rational beings that these are, in fact, the people entrusted with the public welfare of the United States and its citizens.

Time for some of them to find a different line of work, wouldn't you say?


Good riddance

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled 'Terri's Law' unconstitutional. This was the law, hastily passed last fall, that gave Florida Governor Jeb Bush the "right" to overrule the decision to remove the feeding tube from a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 14 years.

I'm well aware of the fact that there are thorny issues involved in this case. The wife's family believes the husband is complicit in her condition, and that he only wants to remove the feeding tube because he wants her insurance money. They also dispute whether she would have wished to be taken off of advanced life support, and question the husband's fitness to make that decision for her.

Nevertheless, this was blatantly an ex post facto law designed to allow another Bush to screw around with the legal process. As such, it is explicitly forbidden under both the U.S. and the Florida constitutions, and it should never have been able to pass through the Florida legislature. The government certainly has both a right and a duty to protect its citizens, and especially those citizens who are not capable of protecting themselves. But the government does not get to play God. Neither does it get to step in after the fact and overturn a decision already made by a competent party and after all the competent courts have ruled on the matter.

Jeb Bush should never have butted into this business last fall. He should now butt out gracefully, quietly, and quickly.

Somehow, I don't think that's what's going to happen, however. He's probably on the phone right now with Clarence and Fat Tony.

Bastard. (Just like his brother.)




Somehow I doubt it. The FCC has slapped CBS with a huge fine for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the Stupor Bowl:

Pop singer Janet Jackson's bare breast flash earlier this year during the nationally televised Super Bowl football game will cost the CBS television network a record $550,000 for violating indecency rules, U.S. communications regulators said on Wednesday.

I just don't get it. On the front of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome you can see a 1,000-year-old mosaic that depicts the Virgin Mary breast-feeding the infant Jesus. It's now illegal in Illinois (as in many other states) to prevent nursing women from breast-feeding their children in public places. Yet a moment's glimpse of one of Janet Jackson's tits is worth a half a million dollars?

Don't we have real problems in the world that need fixing? For that matter, aren't there plenty of other "obscenities" on television (coughFaux Newscough) that are much more deserving of oversight, regulation, and/or punishment by the Federal Communications Commission? I mean, look at the average NFL cheerleader, for cryin' out loud! You can practically count the wrinkles on their butts through those tight shorts they wear, and if their tops got any skimpier you could see all of their mammary glands. Doesn't seem to bother the average football fan any, though I can't say the display does anything for me.

Yet again, CheneyBushCo has gotten worked up into a colossal frenzy over something that is at best of symbolic importance. Meanwhile, a dozen or more serious issues get shoved aside so the Shrubbery can score a couple of image points with their rabidly sex- and body-phobic base. Pathetic.



Dona nobis pacem

The World Council of Churches has called for a World Day of Prayer for Peace today. More information is available here. In that spirit, I offer the following (the refrain to Paul Hillebrand's hymn "Make Our Lives a Prayer of Peace," which you can hear a snippet of here):

Grant us, O Lord,
Peace in our days,
Peace in our hearts,
Peace in our families,
Peace in our country,
Peace among nations.
Make our lives a prayer of peace
For the world.



That's going to leave a mark!

John Kerry is reporting for duty at New York University this morning. Go read the full speech, or catch it live on MSGOP or C-SPAN if you can. Some of the good bits:

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

The President has said that he “miscalculated” in Iraq and that it was a “catastrophic success.” In fact, the President has made a series of catastrophic decisions … from the beginning … in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction.

The first and most fundamental mistake was the President’s failure to tell the truth to the American people.

He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens.

By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.


And America will pay an even heavier price for the President’s lack of candor.

At home, the American people are less likely to trust this administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and pressing threats to our security.

Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek to rally them against a common menace -- as they are today. Our credibility in the world has plummeted.

In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: “The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me.”

How many world leaders have that same trust in America’s president, today?


The President now admits to “miscalculations” in Iraq.

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we’re not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings… major outside studies… and even some in the administration itself… predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.

This President was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences.

The administration told us we’d be greeted as liberators. They were wrong.

They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq’s infrastructure. They were wrong.

They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong.

They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong.

They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

What say we do something about that last statement? Let's fire the idiots who got us into Iraq by lying to us and who want to keep pretending that everything is just wonderful.

And I love the de Gaulle reference. Not just because it's true, but because he specifically picked a French leader--in what had to be a backhand to the face of the Bushoviki who keep insisting that Senator Kerry is too "French" to understand world politics or to keep us safe.

And it gets better:

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This President… any President… would have needed the threat of force to act effectively. This President misused that authority.

The power entrusted to the President gave him a strong hand to play in the international community. The idea was simple. We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed.

A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: “If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail.” He said that military action wasn’t “unavoidable.”

Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done.

Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief’s first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.

I think we can safely count on hearing many fewer stories about the mythical "lead" that Bush is enjoying in the polls. Also about how Kerry is "struggling" to find his voice and can't state a coherent position on Iraq. Bring it on, John!


Got a fundie problem? Sing it out!

Courtesy of Greg at News from the Sixth Borough comes this de-lightful, de-licious, de-lovely tale of one woman's quest to get rid of fundie preachers on her morning commute. You'll probably want to put down the coffee and/or the bagel before reading this.

Seems that if you want to get rid of fundies, all you have to do is SING!. My problem is that I'm really not all that big a fan of show tunes. I wonder if grand opera would work as well? Doctor Bartolo's aria from Le Nozze di Figaro would be particularly apt: "La vendetta è un piacer' serbato ai saggi," 'Vengeance is a pleasure reserved for the wise...' Or, from the same opera, Figaro's delightful romp "Non più andrai," 'You won't be around here any more...'



That's more like it

ArchPundit has some more credible polling numbers for Illinois, both from Research 2000 Illinois. The first one I linked to shows Obama up 68-23 on Keyes, and the second shows Kerry up 54-39. Both polls have margins of error of ± 3.5 percent.

I say "more credible" because there was just no way I was buying the earlier SUSA numbers that had Bush within 4 points of Kerry and Keyes maintaining his 24 percent from the first poll taken after he was named the Gooper nominee. Kerry's support has probably softened a little in Illinois, given that Kerry/Edwards have done no campaigning here and no advertising that I've seen (though it should be mentioned that I'm not watching a lot of broadcast TV these days, or even much TV at all). But an eight-point swing? I don't think so! And with the way Keyes has been alienating absolutely everyone in the country of late, I'm frankly amazed to see that he's only dropped a single point in the latest poll.

On the other hand, the poll's internals look disastrous for the, um, "ambassador." Quoth ArchPundit, quoting the poll itself:

But even more respondents - well over half - simply don't like Keyes. In fact, the percentage of respondents who have a "favorable" view of Keyes (22 percent) was smaller than the percentage who said they hold "no opinion" about him.

Even poll respondents who identified themselves as Republicans give Keyes less than a 50 percent approval rating. When asked who they would vote for today, just 48 percent of Republicans named Keyes - while almost one in five Republicans are defecting to Obama. Meanwhile, independent voters - crucial to any Republican victory in Illinois - are backing Obama almost 4-to-1.

My guess is that most of those people who are saying they have "no opinion" about Keyes are the moderate Republicans who can't quite bring themselves to criticize their party's nominee even when he's a bottom-feeding, scum-sucking, lying sack of excrement--but don't want to go on record as liking him even in the context of an anonymous telephone survey. That's going to spell doom for Mr. Keyes. Some of that group of voters may well wind up pulling the lever for Obama. Most of them, I suspect, will either stay home or skip the Senate race altogether, although in another story, ArchPundit notes that there are a couple of brand-new write-in candidates in the race, including one Republican who just couldn't bring himself to support Keyes.

I'd look for Keyes' numbers to continue to sink. In fact, I think I'd look for his numbers to start plummeting even faster than the Dow Jones Industrial Average did on 24 October 1929.



This is depraved

This is just sick. This is sick and wrong. The fact that this man claims to be a man of God makes my stomach turn. I know it's not true, but it pukes me (to use an old Irish expression) to think there might still be some in the world who would look at him and think he was someone to emulate or to follow.

What the hell am I on about? It appears that Jimmy Swaggart has returned like a bad penny. He disappeared, thankfully, from the face of the earth (or seemed to) after his public confession that he had committed adultery with a prostitute. But now he's crawled out from under the rock that hid him these 16 years and slithered back into the spotlight.

His latest effusion of putrescent logorrhea? A dissertation on gay marriage:

...this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ... I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died.

Swaggart can rest easy--at least in this life. There isn't a self-respecting fag on the planet that would give that sniveling worm a first glance, much less a second. But when it comes to the next life, Swaggart might want to wipe that smirk off his face. The fact that he has apparently forgotten the lessons of Scripture is yet another piece of evidence suggesting just how not a man of God Swaggart is. Specifically, he should be looking at the fourth chapter of Genesis:

8Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out"; and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him. 9Yahweh asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I do not know," he replied. "Am I my brother's guardian?" 10"What have you done?" Yahweh asked. "Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground." (New Jerusalem Bible)

I would never presume to judge the state of another man's soul. But I should note that Jesus said in the Gospels that calling one's brother "traitor" was worthy of hellfire and that looking at a woman lustfully was tantamount to committing adultery. Swaggart's already done that, but I have to think that threatening to kill a man who looks at him in a way he doesn't like isn't going to win him any brownie points in heaven. And if he thinks that God isn't going to know that he's committed murder, or even thought about committing it, he's going to be in for a big surprise. Jesus also very specifically described God as "Your Father who sees all that is done in secret" (Matthew 6:18)--again, something I would expect anyone claiming to be a man of God to know.

Swaggart claims to be a man of God. I say he impeaches himself on that claim with the words of his own mouth, and further that those words are worth less than the slime at the bottom of the very lowest pits in hell. Anyone who believes a word that man says, or puts any kind of trust in him, is in mortal peril of losing his or her life while trying to save it. If you see him walking down the street, run the other way.


But we're still painting schools, by God!

While taking a vacation at his dad's palatial estate compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, Commander Codpiece warned the nation today that "deadly guerrilla violence in Iraq and Afghanistan could worsen in the coming weeks as the two countries move toward national elections."

Well, gee, George, thanks for that timely update. The rest of us have been pointing to the escalating violence in both countries for some time now, while you've been singing "Hakuna Matata" and "Everything's Coming Up Roses." Now that you've apparently woken up to the problem, what are you planning to do about it?

Quoth the preznit, "But all the world can be certain: America and our allies will keep our commitments to the Afghan and Iraqi people."

Yeah, right. Which commitment would that be, Dumb-ya? The one to rebuild their countries after bombing them from the Stone Age back to Paleolithic times? The one to get clean water running again, and electricity flowing? I'm sure the Afghans in particular are ready to believe you after the way you invaded, wiped out their government, generally unleashed civil war upon the country, and then withdrew most of your forces to go and drop a bomb on Saddam.

I particularly liked this little snippet from Dumb-ya's radio address:

Never in the history of the United Nations have we faced so many opportunities to create a safer world by building a better world. For the sake of our common security, and for the sake of our common values, the international community must rise to this historic moment. And the United States is prepared to lead.

And never (or at least rarely) in the history of the United Nations have we had a president of the United States so ill-equipped and disinclined to build a better or a safer world, so dismissive of the common values of the polity of nations, and so ill-prepared and ill-advised to lead. For Bush to lecture anyone else about creating a safer world after all he and his handler-minions have done to destabilize it, is colossally hubristic. For him to lecture anyone on common or shared values when he has repeatedly demonstrated that the only values he considers important are his own and those of his narrow, narrow-minded set of advisers, is hypocritical in the extreme. And for Bush to yammer platitudes about leadership when he continually insists on his right to go it alone and to stay the course he has set whether that course be right or wrong, come hell or high water, is all the evidence necessary to demonstrate the utter lack of preparation of the United States to lead--at least under its current mis-administration.



W is for Waffle

George W. Bush has made more waffles than the International House of Pancakes:

  • Flip. Bush doesn't want a commission to investigate the 11 September attacks. Flop. Bush does want the commission.
  • Flip. Bush won't let the national security advisor testify under oath before the commission. Flop. Bush will let the national security advisor testify.
  • Flip. Bush himself won't testify before the commission. Flop. Bush still won't testify under oath before the commission, but he'll sit down with them and talk for a couple of hours as long as he can bring Big Dick along with him and as long as nobody takes notes.
  • Flip. Bush isn't interested in the commission's recommendations. Flop. Bush is interested in the commission's recommendations, or at least a few of them.
  • Flip. Bush doesn't like the idea of a national intelligence director, as proposed in the commission's final report. Flop. Bush sorta-kinda-almost-maybe likes the idea of a national intelligence director, but not quite as proposed in the commission's final report.
  • Flip. Bush doesn't want to give the intelligence director full budgetary authority. Flop. Bush does want to give the intelligence director full budgetary authority. Flop again. Bush wants to give the intelligence director some budgetary authority, but not a lot, and only in response to proposals submitted by the other intelligence agencies and after consulting with the defense secretary and other members of the cabinet, and getting the OMB director to sign off on it.

Some congressional aides noted that Dumb-ya's proposal was vague. They also pointed out a provision in the proposal that indicates the new intelligence director would only provide "guidance" (not get control) for individual agency budgets.

"It's leaps and bounds from where they were two months ago," a senior congressional aide, who asked not to be identified, said of Bush and his aides. "But it's still weaker" than what the commission and lawmakers proposed.

Bush initially opposed creation of the Sept. 11 commission and Democrats have accused him of dragging his feet in implementing its major recommendations -- a charge the White House denies.

I'd like to know on what grounds the Shrubbery denies that it's dragging its feet on implementing the commission's recommendations. We have yet to see a single bill come out of Congress, and Bush just sent this proposal to the Hill today, despite the fact that the commission presented its final report to the preznit in mid-July, two months ago. And his proposal gives the commission everything it wanted except what it actually wanted. In other words, Emperor C+ Augustus wants to be able to lie with a straight face when he tells the nation (probably in one of the forthcoming presidential debates) that he's working to implement the recommendations and making us safer--but he doesn't want to take the heat for any of the bureaucratic pissing and moaning that will ensue if the commission's recommendations are actually followed and the intelligence community is shaken down and revamped from bottom to top.

Critics complain that the Bush's proposal does not give the national intelligence director budget authority beyond the National Foreign Intelligence Program, as proposed by the Sept. 11 commission and key lawmakers.

The White House also balked at granting the new director sweeping powers to hire and fire top intelligence officials. The White House said the director would play a role in the selection process and that agencies would need the director's "concurrence" for key appointments.

Again, typical. The Shrubbery doesn't want anything getting in the way of their ability to pressure, cajole, coerce, or flat-out order the intelligence agencies to cook the books in whatever way they want or need them done up, in order to justify whatever lamebrained scheme the 82nd Chickenshit Chickenhawk Brigade have thought up lately. So they'll advocate for a few cosmetic changes, reshuffle a few budget lines, and make it look like they've restructured our woefully inadequate intelligence-gathering operations when in reality they'll have left the same corrupt and moribund apparatus in place that failed to protect us three years ago. This is what they're pleased to call "progress"?

W is for Waffle. W is also for Wrong. Let's make W history on November 2.



On the one hand, I would really like it if we could stop obsessing about whether or not Bush fulfilled his commitments in the Texas Air National Guard 30-some years ago. (I think it's clear he did not.) On the other hand, given that Commander Codpiece and his handler-minions have more or less successfully spun the story so that he doesn't come off looking like the utter buffoon (to say nothing of liar and deserter) that he is, it would be nice to see the lid on this particular Bush coffin nailed down firmly.

So it will be interesting to see what this turns up. A federal judge today ordered the Pentagon to "find and make public by next week any unreleased files about ...Bush's Vietnam-era Air National Guard service." The Bushistas have insisted at least twice that they have already released everything pertinent about Bush's service, yet we seem to keep finding more records. If there are any more to be had, let's get them on the table, let Dumb-ya take his lumps, and then we can go on to kicking his arse out of the White House in six weeks.


Like that's gonna happen

The Chicago Tribune reports today that billionaire George Soros is pressing the House Ethics Committee to "investigate House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) over comments suggesting that Soros could be receiving money from illegal drug groups." The brouhaha goes back to an interview Hastert gave in August to Faux News (sorry, but I won't link to those rat bastards; you'll have to look it up yourself) wherein he asserted that Soros got his wealth from "overseas or from drug groups." Hastert has since claimed to have been misunderstood, though I don't see how that's plausible.

Anyway, given that it took them the full 90 days to let the DeLay case die on the vine, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Ethics Committee to come down hard on the Speaker for being a flaming arsehole. Still, I have to admire Soros' guts for at least trying to keep Hastert honest.



The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that soldiers in a combat unit at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs got an unusual re-enlistment pitch last Thursday. Two soldiers, speaking on condition of anonymity (Gee, I wonder why?), said that hundreds of their comrades from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were issued an ultimatum in a series of assemblies that day. The message: re-enlist for another three-year term or be shipped out to a unit expected to deploy to Iraq.

Why, just the other day Commander Codpiece was telling us how much he just luvs his widdle twoops, each and every one of them. Yeah, right. He fucks 'em over by starting a pointless war with no basis in reality, then fucks 'em over again by failing to give them the wherewithal needed to carry that war through to a successful conclusion. Not done yet, he fucks 'em over by trying to cut pay and benefits, while at the same time attempting to smear his opponent in the presidential election on the same charge. Then he fucks the troops over yet again by extending deployments and approving stop-loss orders to keep the folks in, and in-country, who want nothing more than to get the hell out of Iraq and out of uniform (and not necessarily in that order). And now this.

George W. Bush is not fit to command the armed forces of the United States. He sure as hell isn't fit to wear the uniform he degraded in the 1970s and again after becoming president--otherwise I'd strongly suggest to him that he put on that uniform and go fight his goddamned war himself.

The rat bastard.



The day the hockey died

Today was supposed to be the start of training camp for the 2004-2005 NHL season. Instead, the owners locked out the players half an hour ago when the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight Eastern.

It's a sad day for hockey fans. I don't pretend to understand all the finicky details, but the gist of the problem is this. South of the 48th parallel, where most of the teams that make up the NHL are located, hockey is just not as popular as it used to be. (North of the 48th parallel, on the other hand, it's the national religion.) The owners say that some 75% of operating revenues this past season went to pay the players' salaries, and that they just can't continue under that system or they'll go bankrupt. (A couple of teams have had to go that route recently, though both have since found new owners.)

The owners want some kind of cost certainty--not necessarily a salary cap like they have in the NBA and the NFL, but something along those lines. The players say no way. They propose luxury taxes and some salary rollbacks, but their feeling is that a salary cap would absolutely kill hockey.

I think both sides are about equally wrong. Some of the salaries being paid in the NHL are simply outrageous--both way too high and way too low. It would be nice to see some kind of cost certainty, since a revenue-sharing agreement like those in the NFL and the NBA (I think the NBA has one, but I'm sure someone will let me know if they don't) is almost certain never to happen in hockey unless all other forms of professional sports in the United States disappear and their legions of fans have nowhere to turn but the NHL to get their sports jones satisfied.

But what all of us hockey fans want to see most is hockey, dammit! I want to watch Henrik Zetterberg flash down the ice through the opponent's defense like they weren't even there and bury the puck in the twine. I want to hear John Buccigross exulting over that "twisted wrister" (in the way only he can say those words) on the highlight reel--though now that ESPN has dropped "NHL Tonight" from its lineup and cut its hockey coverage back to 40 games per year, I may never get that pleasure again.

C'mon guys. Fix this thing already. It's time for some puck!


What "liberal media"?

If there was any remaining doubt that the media are biased against Senator Kerry, I am hereby declaring it dead. Deader than dead. Dead, and stinking worse than a three-week-old fish corpse.

Via Kos comes the following illustration:

Wisconsin CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll. Registered Voters. 9/9-12. MoE 5%. (8/23-26)
Bush 50 (46)
Kerry 45 (49)

The USA Today headline:

Bush widens Wisconsin lead over Kerry, poll shows

Michigan CNN/USA Today Gallup Poll. Registered Voters. 9/9-12. MoE 5%. (No trend lines.)

Kerry 50
Bush 43

The CNN headline:

Poll: Michigan too close to call

USA Today shows that Kerry was ahead of Bush in the previous poll, but Bush is "widening" his lead? The Gallup poll shows Kerry ahead of Bush by seven points in Michigan, and CNN (which was one of the sponsors of the poll, mind you) claims the race is "too close to call"? I have a sneaking suspicion that if these, um, "journalists" had been assigned to cover the Resurrection, the headline would have read "Jesus of Nazareth fails to show up in tomb as expected." The banner on July 4, 1776, would have said something like "Continental Congress throws away ties to the Crown: What were they thinking?"

"Liberal media," my arse!


He'll be singing out of the other side of his mouth soon

The Center for American Progress reports:

Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House took [Dumb-ya's] lead and approved a measure "requiring sanctions against lawyers who file lawsuits deemed frivolous." Republicans didn't bother to take any pains to hide the fact that it was a measure driven purely by politics: Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority leader, called it part of "John Edwards Appreciation Week." The legislation, which imposes major financial penalties and potential contempt citations, would be sure to have a "'chilling effect' on bringing suits and could make it harder for less-affluent Americans to retain legal counsel if lawyers were nervous about facing sanctions."

DeLay may be getting a pass from the House Ethics Committee (which will vote as a whole on whether or not to continue to a full investigation of DeLay's shady tactics--but since that means at least one Republican member of the committee would have to risk "The Hammer's" ire, we probably shouldn't hold our breath on that score), but that's not the end of his troubles. There seems to be good reason to think that he'll be indicted for violations of Texas campaign-finance laws at some point in the not-too-distant future. (And if he violated the Texas laws, you know he'd be in prison by now in just about any other state.)

When it comes to defending his sorry ass in court, you can just bet that Tom DeLay is going to to after the biggest, baddest, meanest sumbitch of a trial lawyer that he can find, and he's going to be paying him some very big bucks to represent him. If there were any justice in the world, DeLay would have to get out the kneepads and go down on his attorney each morning before trial just to get representation, considering the lies he's told about the "damage" done to our country by trial lawyers. In the alternative, anybody who's willing to represent DeLay without getting a blowjob from him should be fined on general principles just for coming to court and making his appearances in the case.


What's good for me not good for thee

Or, "Dick Cheney is a flaming hypocrite, part DCLXVI."

Quoth the vice-preznit a year ago today, "We need legal reform because the strength of our economy is undermined by frivolous lawsuits."

"Frivolous," in Cheney-speak, must mean anything that annoys him and his bidness buddies, because Halliburton Watch today announced that in Cheney's five years as Halliburton's CEO, the company "...was involved in 151 court claims it filed in 15 states around the nation. On average, Halliburton petitioned America's legal system 30 times per year while Cheney was CEO."

In other words, the courts are there for the big boys with the big bucks to beat up on the little guy, not the other way around. They're certainly not there to safeguard our rights or anything so obviously "socialist."



Go get 'em, Johnny!

Our next president is set to deliver a stinging rebuke to our sitting preznit when he addresses the Detroit Economic Club today:

The president would have us believe that his record is the result of bad luck, not bad decisions, that he's faced the wrong circumstances, not made the wrong choices. In fact, this president has created more excuses than jobs. His is the Excuse Presidency -- never wrong, never responsible, never to blame. President Bush's desk isn't where the buck stops -- it's where the blame begins.

This seems to be a pattern in Dumb-ya's life. Whenever his anti-Midas touch screws up whatever he touches, it's never his fault. And there's always somebody there waiting to bail him out, put a big ol' fluffy pillow under his butt just before he lands on it, and then give him a hand up off the ground. Small wonder Emperor C+ Augustus thinks that war is just a game, and, apparently, that an economic downturn is really no big deal. After all, somebody will be there to cushion the landing and make it all better for everybody, right?

Right? Anybody? Bueller?


Bring me the head of Tom Ridge!

(Or a pitcher of mango margaritas. Stat.)

In an interview on NPR's "Morning Edition" today Tom "Look at All the Pretty Colors" Ridge airily asserted that analysts from his department didn't need to be able to speak a foreign language to do their jobs properly. Given that Ridge was talking about up to 10 people sent to Saudi Arabia specifically for the purpose of vetting visa applications to weed out terrorists making them falsely, I find this bizarre, to say the least.

Did Ridge really mean that knowing the native language (in this case Arabic) wouldn't make it any easier to detect fraud on a visa application? Because if he did, I think it's time for all red-blooded American citizens (or at least those who live in major coastal cities) to consider preparing for Operation Bug-Out.

Anybody who's vetting visa applications I would expect to be highly qualified in at least the language, geography, and culture of the nation in which she's stationed. It wouldn't hurt to know something about document analysis, common forgery techniques, and the ins and outs of the bureaucratic system in the host country. How else is she going to be able to spot someone who's telling an obvious lie? (To say nothing of the plausible, much-less-obvious variety that should be every terrorist's stock in trade by now.)

And this is the man in charge of keeping our borders secure? We are so in the shit!



The sweet smell of nepotism

Emperor C+ Augustus, on the stump in Michigan yesterday, tried to sell us a bill of goods about the costs of Senator Kerry's proposed health-care plan:

Bush twice during the day cited what he called an "independent study" that concluded Kerry's health plan would cost the taxpayers $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Thing is, you've got to read the next couple of paragraphs in the story as well:

The study is from the American Enterprise Institute, a Bush-friendly think tank; Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynne, was a scholar there, and one of their daughters, Liz, is a fellow. Bush aides were crowing about the study in conversations with reporters before it appeared on the conservative group's Web site.

The AEI study said Kerry's plan would increase federal spending over 10 years by $1.5 trillion, while Bush's plan would cost $128.6 billion over the same period. The study acknowledged that Kerry would provide insurance for 27.3 million Americans who lack it now, while Bush's would do that for 6.7 million people. (Emphasis mine.)

Yeah, that's a real independent study. Paid for by a conservative think tank with ties to the wife and a daughter of his vice preznit puppetmeister. And they still admit that Kerry's plan will cover three times as many people as Bush's plan, even if it supposedly costs three times more. Given the likelihood that the numbers were cooked to look as favorable for Bush as possible, the real figures are probably even better for Kerry's plan.

Did they really think nobody was going to notice this? (And if so, can we finally get some responsible authority to certify that these people are simply too stupid to be allowed out in public without a minder?)



Did our nation's chief law-enforcement official break the law? Maybe. The WaPo reports that the Government Accountability Office is looking into more than $200,000 in taxpayer funds that Ashcroft spent in August and September of last year to whip up support for the Enabling Patriot Act.

Just one tiny, wee problem. Section 623 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2002 prohibits propaganda by anyone associated with the executive branch (including the Department of Justice):

No part of any funds appropriated in this or any other Act shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other than for normal and recognized executive-legislative relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress, except in presentation to the Congress itself.

Since little Johnny's trips all occurred after Congress passed a bipartisan amendment that would have put limits on the Enabling Patriot Act, and since one of those taxpayer-funded trips was to the district of the Idaho Republican who sponsored the amendment, it seems pretty clear that the trips weren't random. Ashcroft was patently attempting to influence the outcome of a bill pending in Congress, and that is a blatant violation of federal law.

Making matters worse, Ashcroft blew that $200 grand for nothing. The provision he was so determined to quash wound up being stripped out of the bill to which it was attached in conference. He gets $200,000 worth of free travel, and we still get screwed. Ain't America great?



Do we have to worry about this, now, too?

We're used to people picketing abortion clinics and pressuring doctors to get out of the business of providing them in the first place. But I'm sure I wasn't the only person who was startled to learn that a Texas pharmacist had refused to fill a prescription for birth control pills, claiming that she didn't believe in it and therefore couldn't help the woman trying to get the perfectly legal presciption filled.

I was even more surprised to see this story on the BBC World News tonight. Seems like there are a number of doctors who won't even prescribe the pill anymore, on the grounds that it's little more than a chemical abortion. (Which, I should point out, is technically true; the action of the pill is to prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterine wall. However, implantation often fails to occur naturally even without intervention, so it's six-to-five and pick 'em whether the pill is morally all that questionable.)

Reason No. 20,426 to vote Kerry/Edwards. As if the 20,425 previous reasons weren't sufficient.


Well, that was fun

The BBC reported tonight that Kim Jong Il has invited foreign observers to inspect the site of last week's huge explosion near the Chinese border. The fact that he's willing to let people in to have a look suggests that it was most likely not a nuclear weapon. (Unless Kim's gone completely 'round the bend and just wants to brag, like a little kid crowing about the first time he was able to use the potty on his own.)

It looks like Ivan the terrible is going to meander around the Gulf for awhile, gathering strength, before coming ashore somewhere around the western end of the Florida panhandle (or the Gulf coast of Mississippi, Alabama, or Louisiana) sometime late Wednesday. And just this afternoon, a shiny new tropical depression formed east of the Leeward Islands. It's forecast to strengthen to a tropical storm by tomorrow, and its projected track takes it through the Bahamas this weekend and toward south Florida by early next week.



It's often instructive (and at least mildly amusing) to look at the referral stats from my site counter. This morning, for instance, I learned someone decided to come have a look at these pages last night after inquiring of a search engine whether it was possible to make his dick bigger by masturbating. (The answer, of course, is "no"--or there would be an awful lot of extremely well-hung men in the world.) Sunday evening, someone in the Eastern time zone came looking for the answer to the question "What does 'ora pro nobis' mean? (It's Latin for "pray for us.")

An interesting juxtaposition, wouldn't you say?


This just in...

Illinois senate candidate Alan Keyes (R-Maryland) spoke yesterday at a Republican picnic in Champaign (sorry, no transcript or other links available yet, at least that I could find). Apparently Mr. Keyes believes that since criminals just ignore them anyway, there's little point in having laws. So of course it makes perfect sense for him to be running for a legislative position...

Seriously, Keyes was defending his indefensible stance on the expiration today of the assault weapons ban. He argued that since the law was as full of holes as Swiss cheese, and since nobody ever really paid much attention to it, it should be allowed to lapse. Keyes, who was in rapturous joy at the thought of more guns being available for more people, seems never to have considered the possibility of closing the loopholes and putting some real teeth in the law, which enjoys broad support among voters, law enforcement professionals, and most rational politicians.




Oh, fuck me!

This can't be good: Blast, Mushroom Cloud Reported in N. Korea. Happened three days ago, still being investigated. We've wasted more than a year in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction that were never there in the first place, and meanwhile we've done nothing to contain one of the most unstable countries on the globe and one which we know has both the weapons and desperately wants to make more of them.

Bloody brilliant. "Steady leadership," my ass!


Quarum hodie memoriam facimus*

My life to date, it seems, has been marked by more than its share of days and hours that are indelibly marked in memory: the "I'll never forget where I was/what I was doing when..." moments. I was born a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, while my father was in South Korea manning a radar station during the Vietnam War. I was just shy of a month old when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. (I was on my mother's lap in my grandmother's living room in Ohio, being fed mashed bananas, while grandma watched her favorite soap opera, when the news came in.)

I don't consciously remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy (I wasn't quite 5), or the Kent State massacre (I was 6½). I do remember casualty reports and body counts from Vietnam being a regular part of the news when I was young, and wondering whether they included any of the young men who had hired my mom to type their theses and dissertations and then lost their student deferments when they graduated.

I do remember Watergate, though not where I was at each stage of the investigation or when Nixon announced his resignation. I remember the chaos when we pulled out of Vietnam and when Saigon fell. I remember the 1972 Munich Olympics, and the taking of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, along with the hostage crisis that dragged on for more than a year afterward. I remember the 1973 oil embargo, and the long lines in front of gas stations that year. (I also remember when gasoline cost around 40 cents a gallon.)

I remember when one of my fellow students, in my senior year of high school, came to school on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November wearing one of her grandmother's old mourning dresses, complete with full-length black veil, to "commemorate" the election of Ronald Reagan. (And I remember wishing I could have done likewise, because I shared her dismay at the results of the election.) I remember driving that same fellow student to the church we both attended to pray for the pope on the day he was shot.

President Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada the day after my 20th birthday, in my sophomore year of college. I was at work on the morning the Challenger blew up shortly after launch. I was getting ready to start graduate school (and recovering from mononucleosis) the summer of the Iran-Contra hearings. I was in my first semester of a Ph.D. program when the Berlin Wall fell. When the first Gulf War started, a year and a bit later, I was in a different graduate program. (And enjoying the ability conferred by this new thing called the Internet--still mainly a scientific and academic enterprise in those pre-AOL days--to chat live in real-time with people on the ground in Israel and other war zones, getting breaking news even before the broadcast networks had it.)

I had a business meeting in Chicago on Election Day 2000, and I remember listening to NPR's election coverage as I drove home late that night. First they announced that Gore appeared to have won, then that the outcome was still in question. By the time I went to bed after midnight, they were calling it for Bush.

Three years ago today, I was at my office when word came in that a plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York. Few of us got much work done that day: most of us were glued to televisions, radios, or the Internet in stunned disbelief (I had streaming audio from the BBC on my desktop nearly the whole day), following the developments as they happened.

A year ago February, I woke up one Saturday morning to the news that another space shuttle, the Columbia, had blown up on re-entry. And now I wait for the outcome of what may be the most momentous election in our nation's history.

Today is a date that will live in infamy, every bit as much as 7 December 1941 will. But it is our choice how we will remember that infamy. I have little taste for the official designation of today as "Patriot Day." The men who perpetrated this act of heinous evil were not patriots in any accepted sense of the word, and most of their victims were ordinary citizens of this nation--and many others--who were merely going about their everyday tasks.

And this is not really the day for exaltation of national pride, for jingoistic speeches or behavior, or "my country, right or wrong" rhetoric. We should spend less time thumping our chests (or beating the drums of war), and more time plumbing the depths of our own souls, and hardening our resolve that the events of 11 September 2001 shall never happen again.

The current slogan at Pandagon is "we only look young." I think Jesse Taylor proved that abundantly today when he wrote the following:

The lesson I drew from September 11th wasn't about vengeance, retribution, remaking the world through might and money. It was that we are facing people who destroy for a purpose worse than no purpose at all. And if we are to fight them, to turn the world against them, we must fight in a way that is a total and utter repudiation of them. That's not just moral or ethical; it includes their political goals as well. We can't stop them from being a political force simply by killing them - their ideology thrives on an enemy to destroy, and raising the conviction in others that the enemy is worth of being destroyed as well. Our actions matter because we are not operating in a framework where we will simply be taken at our word because we are good and just; we must prove it in the face of an enemy working to convince the world that the exact opposite is true, and do so in order to gain very real political power.

They are our enemy because they kill indiscriminately and without remorse; we must not be the same way. They value the lives of those who follow them only in terms of how much damage they can do; we value the lives of our soldiers and our citizens as those who fight for peace, for prosperity, for enlightenment, whose existence is valuable because of how they can make life better, not how much death they can cause. They view the world as a conflict between those they can bully and those they must destroy; we must, we have to view the world as a conflict between those who can help and those who would hurt.

As for me, I'm passing the day studying the aftermath of a couple of other wars, watching a little tennis, reading the blogs and the news online. But I'll be thinking of the words Sr. Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, wrote in the aftermath of that terrible day three years ago (available as a prayer card from Pax Christi USA):

Prayer in Time of Terrorism

O God, I do not know where to turn in a time of terrorism. I have no easy answers or solutions to acts of terror against the innocent. When buildings explode without warning, when the defenseless are murdered without reason, I am tempted to retaliate with vengeance. I am tempted to place the flag above the cross and put my faith in the state rather than the Sermon on the Mount. I am afraid to face my deepest fears of suffering and death, both for myself and those I love.

O God, be merciful to me a sinner and understand my weakness, my lack of trust. I lift my heart to a God of forgiveness, of compassion, of peace. I believe that You are not present in any act of violence. I believe that every human being is a child of God and that all nations and religions are embraced by You. I believe that violence ignites greater violence and that in the long line of history our only lasting legacy is love.

I recommit myself to nonviolence as a witness of Your love. I will cast out fear and boldly live love for neighbor and enemy. I will cast out fear and renounce hatred, desire for revenge and works of war. I will cast out fear and publicly proclaim that You are a God of unlimited and unconditional love.

I recommit myself to nonviolence as a witness of Your love. I will embrace the suffering of others and wipe every tear from their eyes. I will devote my days to works of mercy and justice, not to deeds of death and destruction. I will give my passion to kindness and beauty and imagination. I commit to hope and the children of tomorrow.


*The title of this post is a line from the Offertory of the Requiem Mass: Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus: tu suscipe pro animabus illis quarum hodie memoriam facimus... ("We offer to you, O Lord, a sacrifice of prayer and praise: receive it on behalf of those souls whom we commemorate this day...").


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