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


Signing off here

I'm definitely jumping ship. It's going to take me a while to figure out all the bells and whistles over at Typepad, but I'm liking what I've been able to do in just a couple of days. So if you read or link to this blog, please move your bookmarks and links over to the new place: musing85.typepad.com. Except in extraordinary circumstances (and I can't readily imagine what those might be), there will be no more posts here.

Catch you on the flip!



Kill it! Kill it! Beat it with a stick!

It's time for Illinois residents to get out the cell phones and warm up the fax machines. We need to talk to our legislators in Springfield, and pronto. It appears that Gov. Blagojevich thinks he has the votes to ram through his disastrous budget this weekend, before the constitutional deadline: and I have more than a sneaking suspicion that he's waited this long to do it precisely because he knows it's going to piss off an awful lot of his constituents, and he's hoping everyone will be so busy with the Memorial Day weekend that they won't be paying attention to his shenanigans.

I vote we disabuse him of that notion right now.

It has long since become obvious to almost everyone in Illinois except our legislators and the Blagorgeous that there is no more fat to be pared from the state budget, no more blood to be squeezed from this particular turnip. Yet I heard some twit of an assemblyman this morning on NPR saying that while he agreed the governor's pension holiday idea was a disaster in the making, there were no other options available to fix the state's financial problems.

That's an outright lie. There's one rather obvious solution that nobody seems to be talking about: to wit, raising our state income tax rate a little bit. We could even make it a temporary increase, to tide us over until the state's economy (and hence its finances) get back on more solid ground. I really don't think there'd be all that much political fallout, and whatever fallout did arise would be in the short term.

We can all recognize that jiggery-pokery with more casino gambling, and all of Blagojevich's other tricks are simply not going to work in the long run. It's not even clear to me that they'll work in the short run, and I think it's about bloody time someone in the General Assembly developed the "testicular virility" to tell him so in no uncertain terms.

Let's take a good look at this pension holiday idea, because the more you look at it, the worse it stinks. Let's start with the fact that one of the reasons the state's budget is currently in such dire straits is because another governor, facing another budget crisis back in the 1980s, decided to stop funding state contributions toward its employees' retirement plans, despite the fact that such contributions are constitutionally mandated. Sure, the pension holiday averted a tide of red ink then, but we're sure as hell paying for it now: because the state not only has to put back all the money it didn't put into employees' pension funds in the 1980s, but it also has to make up the difference in terms of earned interest and compounded rates of return.

To put that in perspective, consider this quote from a story in the Champaign News-Gazette this past Tuesday:

Every dollar the state shorts the pension systems this year will cost $13 in 2045, Teachers' Retirement System Executive Director Jon Bauman told the General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

In other words, if the governor shorts the state's employee pension funds the full $1.2 billion he's short in this year's budget, in another 40 years the state is going to be paying $15.6 billion for its "holiday" this year: or more than half of the state's enacted budget for the 2005 fiscal year that's just about to end ($25.6 billion).

But let's forget about the fact that the pension holiday is a budgetary disaster waiting to happen--and to be passed on to our children and grandchildren in the name of political expediency. It also represents what Rich Miller rightly calls "a gigantic flip-flop" from Blagorgeous. Let's remind the governor of what he said in his budget message this February:

Imagine you have a credit card.

Every month, you keep using that card. At the same time, you’re not always paying the balance you owe. In fact, sometimes, you even skip a payment or two.

But you keep using that card to buy new things. So what happens? The principal goes up, the interest rate goes up, and the monthly minimum goes up.

Just paying the monthly minimum takes away the money you need to pay the rent, pay for groceries, for clothes, and for everything else.

Now imagine doing this for 35 years.

For the average family, that’s a surefire recipe for personal bankruptcy. But unfortunately, it’s exactly what the State of Illinois has been doing, year in and year out.

In 1995, the legislature tried to solve the problem by passing legislation to strengthen pension funding. But it didn't work. [...]

In fact, it got a lot worse.

So what changed, governor? More importantly, what was it changed your mind, so that you now think balancing the budget on the backs of the state's employees, who are already giving until it hurts, is now the only way to go? This is hardly the kind of leadership we have a right to expect from our elected officials, and it is far from being a ringing endorsement of your candidacy for a second term in office.

Speaking of which, Governor Blagojevich, if I were you, I'd think about updating my resume. Starting right now.


The better angels of our nature

You should go read Tarek's post from yesterday. His soon-to-be 59-year-old father, who wasn't even born in the United States, has just shipped out to Iraq as a flight surgeon in the USAF Reserve:

He is a flight surgeon, and there will only be one other physician at this little camp which it seems strange to call a hospital. These two doctors will alternate 12 hour shifts (much like my dad does now as an emergency room physician) and will handle what they can and airlift what need more attention. This is what he does currently, in a way, without, in all likelihood, any danger of being harmed.

I was saying to my sister that the thing about my father is, he is considers himself a patriotic American. He believes deeply in this country, and though he loves Egypt, he considers this nation his home. That's why he signed up to be an Air Force Reservist. I just hope it doesn't get him killed.

I'll quite happily sing an "Amen" to that last sentiment. And I must say, it's exactly this kind of devotion that puts the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to shame. I'm sure we all remember when Jonah Goldberg was whining about how he was too old (at 38, if memory serves) to go and fight in Bush's Big Adventure, for which he was such an enthusiastic cheerleader. Well, Jonah baby, if a guy half again your age can do it, so can you. Get thee to an induction station, go!


Friday random 10

The rules: Take out your iPod or other musical device. Put it in "random" mode. Hit "play." Write down the first ten tracks that come up--and no fair putting in ones you think will make you look cool, or omitting ones that make you look like a total dork.

Without further ado, here are mine for today:

  1. Rain (Erasure, Cowboy). I still don't know why the critics thought this was a terrible album. I love it.
  2. Minstrels/Night, Part 3 (George Winston, December)
  3. Concerto in G major, RV 145, first movement, allegro molto (I Musici, Vivaldi: Concertos for Strings and Continuo)
  4. TV Pilot (Lewis Black, The White Album)
  5. The Garment of Love (Notre Dame Folk Choir, Candled Seasons)
  6. Hartbreak Hotel (Capitol Steps, Shamlet: A Political Comedy)
  7. Sometimes, extended mix (Erasure, The Circus)
  8. Veni, veni Emmanuel (Mannheim Steamroller, Fresh Aire Christmas 1988)
  9. Live from Matt Molloy's Pub (The Chieftains, Water from the Well)
  10. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36, fourth movement, allegro molto (John Eliot Gardiner/Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Beethoven: 9 Symphonies)

Cross-posted from my Typepad blog.


I'm thinking about moving

After waiting six hours to post the other day, for a "temporary" service interruption that wasn't supposed to last more than an hour, I went hunting for a new blog home. I'm not 100% satisfied with it, and I'll probably be bugging any of my blogging buddies who host with Typepad for help to figure out the tricks of the trade, but for right now that's probably where I'm going to wind up.

For the duration of the trial period, I'm probably going to be dual-posting both here and at my possible new home, http://musing85.typepad.com/. So if you're a regular reader and you don't want to miss anything, you might want to add the Typepad address to your bookmarks. Feel free to drop by the new place and let me know how you like the design, features you think I should add, etc.



News of the weak in review

The spokes-hamster is going to be getting another beating from Karl Rove, methinks. In Monday's press briefing, Scott "I'm A Big Boy Now" McClellan actually told the truth for a change:

Q: One other question. Karzai was quite definite in saying that he didn't believe that the violence in Afghanistan was directly tied to the Newsweek article about Koran desecration. Yet, from this podium, you have made that link. So --

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I don't think you're actually characterizing what was said accurately.

(My emphasis)

Well, OK, he only mostly told the truth. Because the reporter was correctly characterizing what Scotty-boy said last week:

Q: Scott, you said that the retraction by Newsweek magazine of its story is a good first step. What else does the President want this American magazine to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.

(My emphasis)

But, back to Monday, Scotty did manage to pull a rabbit out of his ass hat, which may do something to placate his irascible master. (Unfortunately for his professional career--or perhaps fortunately, as long as he doesn't go looking for a job in the reality-based community--it will do nothing to repair the damage to his tattered credibility.)

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said last week, and as President Karzai said today, and as General Myers had said previously, the protest may well have been pre-staged. The discredited report was damaging. It was used to incite violence. But those who espouse an ideology of hatred and oppression and murder don't need an excuse to incite violence. But the reports from the region showed how this story was used to incite violence.

Q: But Karzai seemed to think that that wasn't what led to the violence, that it was --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, he actually -- he talked about -- President Karzai spoke about how the demonstrations were aimed at undercutting the progress being made toward democracy in Afghanistan, and the progress on elections. They have elections coming up soon. And I spoke about that, as well, last week.

Q: So could it be said that the Newsweek article played a role, but was not --

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I think we've made our views known when it comes to the discredited report. There are some that want to continue to defend what is a discredited report that has been disavowed by Newsweek, and that's their business. We're perfectly willing to trust the American people to make their own judgment about it.

(My emphasis)

So which is it gonna be, Scotty? Newsweek is responsible for the deaths, or Newsweek isn't responsible and you're just another lying sack of Republican shite? I know which answer I'd give to that question, but I'd like to hear it from your own lips.

And that line about trusting the American people to make their own judgments? Don't make me laugh. You and the people you work for can't possibly trust the American people to make informed judgments--because if you did, not only would you not be making the preznit's public appearances harder to get into than the sultan's harem to any non-neutered male, your man wouldn't have any public appearances to make.


A crack in the Blagorgeous façade?

Or perhaps I should say "another crack." When the governor's approval ratings are lower even than those of the Worst. President. Ever., it's inevitable that those little worry lines are going to start showing up. And showing.

I have to think they got a lot bigger Monday. When your state's senior senator, and a member of your own party, goes on record like this, you know it's time to start thinking about updating your résumé:

CHICAGO - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, today did not discourage fellow Democrats from taking on controversy-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich in next year's primary election and said he's not endorsing the incumbent at this point."Anyone can run for any office," Durbin said at an unrelated news conference in Chicago.

"I'm not going to say what's good or bad for the party. I want to make sure that the voters in Illinois have good candidates to vote for."Asked if he'll endorse Blagojevich, who's expected to run for a second term in 2006, Durbin replied: "I'm not making any endorsement today. What I've said in the past is I've worked with him, I'm looking forward to working with him in the future."

Durbin didn't throw his own hat in the ring, and that's good. I think he'd make an excellent governor, and his support Downstate could well be key in a primary faceoff against Blagorgeous, who is hated in those parts. But I'd much rather keep Durbin in Washington and in a Democratic leadership post. His seniority and experience will come in handy throughout the rest of the fading Bush administration--and will be most welcome should the Democrats be successful in wresting control of Congress away from the radical Republicans now running it at the next congressional elections in 2006.

Now all we need to do is find a solid Democrat with good name recognition and either enough of his/her own money to beat off Blagorgeous and his warchest, or who can attract enough support from the state and national Democratic Party to take down this poseur before he runs the state into the ground.


Deal off?

Hey, what do you know? Blogger finally woke up and let me post again--after six hours of waiting. What follows here was originally posted over at the Liberal Coalition site (it still is, in fact). And since I was a good little boy (or something), I get to post it here, too. Anybody know a good, reliable, and reasonably cheap blog host?

Anyway, on to the serious matters at hand. If you read this site yesterday, you know I'm anything but pleased about the compromise reached last night to end the nuclear option. I still think the Democrats gave away just about everything in the store and got considerably less than $24 worth of trinkets in return.

However, the Republican extremists may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, at least if a story in today's New York Times is to be believed:

Just a day after the agreement broke an impasse that had vexed the Senate and the Bush administration for years, senators on both sides of the aisle portrayed the new framework as fragile. Republicans in particular said the bipartisan deal, brokered by seven Democrats and seven Republicans on the eve of a showdown that could have crippled the Senate, would survive only if Democrats refrained from filibustering other emerging nominees, including some who were not guaranteed a vote in the last-minute agreement.

Other Republicans threatened to immediately invoke what some have called the nuclear option - doing away with the filibuster against judicial candidates - if Democrats tried to block any nominee except in the most extreme cases.

"This is merely a truce; it's not a treaty yet," said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.

Clearly, James Dobson has whipped his minions into a froth every bit as frenzied as his own expostulation on the subject of the compromise last night. (Google it for yourselves; I'll be damned if I give that fanatic extremist any bounce.) But while I absolutely expected this kind of backpedaling from the lying Republicans in a Congress that is clearly in thrall to the most radical elements of the radical right wing, even I didn't expect it to start barely 24 hours after the agreement was reached.

Since I hate the agreement anyway, I'd be lying if I said I felt any regrets at the prospect of waking up tomorrow and finding it lying in tiny pieces all over the floor. I could almost begin to hope for such an eventuality, since that discovery would be the missing ingredient for turning what can only be regarded as a Pyrrhic victory for the Democrats at best (we had to destroy the filibuster--in terms of its being an effective deterrent--in order to save it) into a rout the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, otherwise known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which was fought just about 61 years ago.

So yes, let Dobson, Falwell, Bauer, Frist, and all the other radical Republican extremists "furiously rage together," to borrow a phrase from Händel's Messiah. Let them, in their folly, pull the trigger on the nuclear option sometime next week when one of Bush's other extremist judicial nominees makes it to the floor of the Senate and is filibustered. Hell, let them do it later this week, when the galactically unqualified John Bolton comes up for confirmation as ambassador to the United Nations and is sent packing.

Because if they do so, then the Democrats get all the credit for being the party of moderation, the party that was willing to compromise on nominations it felt very strongly about, in order to get back to doing the work of the people who voted to send them to Washington in the first place. And the Republicans will be revealed for what they really are--a party of extremist zealots, whose primary allegiance is not to the voters who elected them, the nation they allegedly serve, nor even the Constitution they swore a sacred oath to "preserve, protect, and defend from all enemies, foreign and domestic," but rather to a small group of religious extremists whose ultimate goal is to destroy that very Constitution, the better to advance the warped and twisted agenda of the idol they worship in place of the God of the Bible.

Want a Democratic Congress in 2006, Senator Frist? A Democratic White House in 2008? Go ahead, make our day: Pull that nuclear trigger.

Just be sure you're standing at ground zero when you do so. Think your own presidential ambitions are in tatters now? Just wait until you see what they'll look like after you reap the whirlwind of the wind you've already sown.



Holy shit!

Well, OK, here's one positive thing to come out of this whole nukular opshun compromise: Howard Kurtz quoted me in today's Washington Post. Unfortunately, he chose to quote (and link to) the cross-posting at the Liberal Coalition and not the original here. But, hey, I hope the increased notice will drive some traffic to all the rest of the LC blogs.

And a hat-tip to fellow LC blogger iddybud, for pointing it out on her blog. (I only noticed the quote when I saw someone linking back to my blog from hers and clicked to see what the reference was.)


Podesta gets it (mostly) right

Over at the Center for American Progress, CEO John D. Podesta's statement on the compromise to avoid the nuclear option comes the closest of any of the major think-tanks' positions to my own. I like that he starts his statement with the sentence "It should never have come to this."

I can't join him, however, in commending the Felonious Fourteen for lacking the spine to stand firm for the principles of fairness and the rules of the Senate as these have been in place for more than two and a quarter centuries. But the middle three grafs are spot-on:

But this victory comes at a heavy price: the near-certain confirmation of at least three nominees whose contempt for constitutional liberties and disregard of precedent make them manifestly unworthy of judicial office.

While the fate of the remaining nominees remains uncertain, at least two of them will be subject to a filibuster and a cloture vote, and presumably these and certain other nominees will be defeated if they cannot muster the support of 60 senators.

The success of this fragile compromise will depend upon the good faith of senators on both sides, and on the willingness of the White House to desist from the confrontational behavior that precipitated this crisis.

I can't understand the enthusiasm even mainstream liberal/progressive bloggers (like kos at dKos, and even some of my colleagues in the Liberal Coalition) are displaying at the fact that we managed to block two nominees at the price of allowing arguably the three worst to proceed to almost-certain confirmation. Rumors abound that at least one of them will fail on his/her "up-or-down vote," but of course there is no hard evidence to go on until the Clerk of the Senate has finished calling the roll for the yeas and nays. And if these nominees were despicable and unacceptable the day before yesterday, they certainly haven't become any less so in the wake of this compromise.

The biggest fly in this fly-spotted ointment, however, is what Podesta takes on in his last paragraph, and that is the vacancy on the Supreme Court when Chief Justice Rehnquist probably steps down at the end of the current term. Sure, the compromise reached yesterday allegedly preserves the filibuster. But it does so in terms that make it far from clear to this reader that its preservation actually means anything. The filibuster is not dead, but neither can it really be said to be living.

Two of the Republicans who signed onto this agreement (Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine) have already indicated that, as far as they're concerned, they're perfectly free to haul out the nuclear option again in the event of a real or promised Democratic filibuster against any judicial nominee this Congress. Senator Cat Killer is on the same page.

And while, as Podesta also notices, the document does express a hope that the preznit will "consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration," it is, after all, only a hope. Probably a forlorn one at that, given this preznit's apparently unshakeable conviction that he has some kind of a direct line to God on all matters having to do with his presidency or the course of this nation. That's not exactly the sort of attitude that tends to promote consultation, and his behavior in all other respects (tightly controlled access to presidential events, for example) only confirms the suspicion that this Emperor Chimpy is not a man who cares to listen to opinions other than his own--or at least those of the people who are pulling his strings.

Another thing that's bugging me is the "shut your fucking pie-hole" attitude that a lot of lefty bloggers (again, including some of my colleagues in the Liberal Coalition) are adopting about this compromise. "It's over," they're telling us, "and we won. Get over it."

Sorry, but I don't work like that--and regular readers of this blog know it. Nobody gets to tell me how to think or what to believe. They certainly don't get to dictate to me on my emotional state or the contents of my noetic structure. I make those decisions myself, and I continue to be peeved that this compromise was made at all. Nor does the lavish application of victory lipstick to this incredibly ugly pig of a loss make me any more inclined to celebrate it.


Tuesday non-random 14

In "honor" of the Felonious Fourteen, herewith a listing of tracks on my MP3 player that I consider appropriate to the "compromise" bargain they struck. Many, though not all, of these tunes were played last night as I tried to get myself into something like a mood where sleep was going to be possible. I have little doubt I'll be needing them again in future, sadly.

  1. American Idiot (Green Day, American Idiot). Particularly appropriate for the opening lines of the chorus: "Welcome to a new kind of tension/All across the alienation/Where everything isn't meant to be OK."
  2. La vendetta (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro). The opening line of Dr. Bartolo's first-act aria gives me a little hope: La vendetta è un piacer serbato ai saggi, "Vengeance is a pleasure reserved for the wise."
  3. Non più andrai (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro). While I wouldn't describe any of the Gang of Fourteen as farfallone amorosi, "amorous butterflies," I can certainly join in Figaro's glee at the fact that (Deo volente), they "won't be around anymore" in a couple of years.
  4. Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Die Zauberflöte). I'm with the Queen of the Night: the rage of Hell is burning in my heart.
  5. Thou shalt break them (Georg Frideric Händel, Messiah). One of the tenor parts I've always loved. Today more than ever I'm in the mood to break things "with a rod of iron" and to "dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
  6. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (Georg Frideric Händel, Messiah). A baritone piece I've also loved. I'm just praying like crazy that after we get through this latest bit of "gross darkness" covering the people of this land, the Lord will indeed arise upon us and dispel the gloom--by whisking the extremist Republicans off to jail (or at least out of Congress), and bringing sanity back to our government.
  7. (Don't want to live) In the real world (Alan Parsons Project, Stereotomy). Oh, how I wish the seven wavering Democrats (many of them in name only) had taken the first line of this song to heart: "One more compromise I won't be making."
  8. Si, ch'io vorrei morire (Claudio Monteverdi, Il secondo libro dei madrigali). Well, OK, this one's just a teensy bit over the top. I don't really feel like dying: but if any one of the Gang of Fourteen feels so inclined, please, don't stop on my account.
  9. Draw on, sweet night (John Rutter/The Cambridge Singers, Flora Gave Me Finest Flowers). It's a lovely piece, and John Wilbye was right to call night "best friend unto those cares that do arise from painful melancholy."
  10. I'm So Happy, I Can't Stop Crying (Sting, Mercury Falling). Self-explanatory.
  11. Beaujolais (Alan Parsons Project, Stereotomy). One good way of inviting sweet night to draw on.
  12. Shoebox (of lies) (Barenaked Ladies, Shoebox). Exactly where we can put the text of this agreement, right next to that "mutual trust and confidence" we're supposed to expect from the Republican extremists.
  13. He was cut off out of the land of the living (Georg Frideric Händel, Messiah). OK, this one's a bit OTT as well. I don't really want to see Holy Joe whacked, but I do think he should be "stricken" from Congress for his transgressions, which are legion.
  14. Love to hate you (Erasure, Chorus). Describes my feelings about the Felonious Fourteen to a "T."



What a revolting development

I never thought Senator Cat-Killer had the votes (or the "testicular virility," to steal a phrase from Governor Blagorgeous) to go through with his "nuclear option." I had hoped the matter would be settled when a few of the Republicans realized they would be slitting their own throats as James Dobson's patsies, and vote with the Democrats.

But I never expected this kind of lily-livered nonsense. Three of the most extreme Republican radicals (Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor, and Priscilla Owen) get a pass to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, and future judicial nominees "would only be filibustered 'under extraordinary circumstances,'" according to John McCain, speaking on behalf of the other 13 senators who brokered this "deal" (if you want to call it that).

I'm sorry. I thought Harry Reid had more guts than that. But just when it seemed the Democratic Party was growing a spine, it reverted to type.

Update: It gets worse. The full text of the agreement is available here (PDF link), and the terms are everything the Republican radicals could have wanted.

The first laugher comes in the second sentence of the first paragraph: "This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence..."

"Mutual trust and confidence"? In the Republican majority? What have these people been smoking, and where can I get some to make the rest of the next three years bearable? I'd have thought that the last five years dealing with these radical extremists would have demonstrated beyond anyone's capacity to doubt that these people cannot be trusted to do anything except that which is either in their political interest or that which is decreed by the even more extreme radicals running the show (Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, Norquist, et aliae).

The next interesting bit comes in Part II.B:

In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

Translated from the bureaucratese: "OK, we'll give you the filibuster for now. Come the 110th Congress, all bets are off."

And while they "encourage" the executive branch to consult with both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate prior to submitting a judicial nomination, they make no guarantees that such consultations will either take place or involve all parties--or that they will be substantive in any way. In other words, the preznit will keep sending up more and more radical wingnuts to the federal bench, and the spineless Republicans in Congress will vote to confirm them--and to hell with the Constitution, with ethics, with the rules of the Senate or even of common sense, because the preznit must be allowed to fuck over the country completely.

It's signed by a group I'm going to start calling the Felonious Fourteen, two of whose signatures I can't make out clearly. But here are the bad boys and girls who perpetrated this miscarriage of justice on the American people: Benjamin Nelson, Mike DeWine, ???, Susan Collins, Mark Pryor, Lindsey Graham (who, along with DeWine is already talking about how if anybody dares to propose another filibuster, they'll just come right back and vote on the nuclear option again--so much for the spirit of compromise, eh?), Lincoln Chafee, John McCain, John Warner, Robert Byrd, Mary Landrieu, Olympia Snowe, Ken Salazar, and ???. A pox on all their houses.

Update 2: It appears that one of the illegible signatures is that of Holy Joe. It figures: Just add it to the ways he's been screwing the Democratic Party since 2000.



It's crunch time

I'm not 100% convinced they'll actually do it, because I still don't think Senator Cat-Killer has all the votes he needs to go "nuclear." However, the radical Republicans in the Senate leadership have scheduled a floor vote for Tuesday on the renominated Republican wingnuts Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown. It is anticipated that if the zealots cannot reach the necessary 60 votes to close debate on whichever nomination they take up first, they will pull the trigger on the "nuclear option" on Wednesday.

What this boils down to is nothing less than the survival of the Constitution all of those radical Republicans swore to uphold. They are threatening the very heart of our system of checks and balances that has functioned exactly as the Framers intended it should since the founding of this republic in 1789. And whether or not the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party actually goes nuclear, I think the principles on which our government was founded are worth fighting for.

As usual, the Republicans are lying. The radicals in the Republican leadership would have us believe that the filibuster is unconstitutional, when in fact it is the "nuclear option" which violates the Constitution.

The radicals in the Republican leadership would have us believe that the Constitution requires an "up or down vote" on all nominees. Funny, but I've never seen that provision in the text, and I've read it on many occasions. Neither did the Republican radicals--many of them the same ones leading the charge for the "nuclear option"--10 years ago when they used all manner of extra-legal tricks ("blue slips," anonymous holds, etc.) to block 62 of President Clinton's judicial nominees from receiving what they now allege was their constitutional due.

The radical Republicans go on and on about two hundred years' worth of tradition. But they don't seem to have any problems with President Bush tossing all of that tradition overboard by renominating candidates who had already been rejected by the Senate.

MoveOn PAC is trying to gather 500,000 signatures on a petition that will be brought to the Congress every three hours, from Monday morning until the final vote is completed. As of this writing, they're at only five percent of that goal. If you can, I urge you to sign the petition, spread the word, and give them a little turkee if you have it to spare.

The radical Republicans and their allies on the theocratic right have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to lie, cheat, distort, and steal in order to get what they want--which is nothing short of the complete overthrow of our constitutional system of government and the checks and balances put into place by its framers. They will literally stop at nothing to achieve their nefarious ends. We cannot allow them to succeed. A little time and a few spare pennies if you have them are surely worth it to stop these radical zealots in their tracks.

Yet if, by some unhappy circumstance, they should prevail and eliminate the filibuster, let us warn them to expect retribution in full measure for their crimes. If they go "nuclear," we must work to guarantee that they lose the majority in Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008--at which point the Democratic Party should begin to nominate all the ACLU lawyers, all the environmentalists, all the pro-choice activists, all the anti-business candidates it can come up with. Let the Republican radicals then squirm in impotence as all of those candidates are confirmed by a Democratic Senate they can do nothing to stop.

There's an old, old saying that these Republican radicals have forgotten about. It goes like this: "Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it." Our first goal should be to stop these hateful people in their tracks. Failing that, we must serve out to them the revenge they justly deserve for what they will have done to this formerly great nation.



Libera nos ab omnibus dissimulatis*

For what will, regrettably, almost certainly not be the last time, I have had it with the hypocrisy of the hatewingers. All over the wingnuttosphere (Michelle Malkin, InstaHack, and the Freepi, along with numerous lesser lights, all turned up on the first page of the Google search I did: I'm damned if I'm linking to any of that cesspool of human excrement and slime) we're hearing variations on the theme of "Newsweek lied, people died." The fugue on that canon can be read between these lines of the preznit's spokes-hamster at the Tuesday press gaggle, which I quoted earlier today:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.

Translation: "Think carefully about what you say and how you say it, because words can hurt real people."

That's a fair point, though I would argue that Scotty "I'm A Big Boy Now" McClellan had absolutely no business applying it to the item that ran in Newsweek--after running in multiple other media sources over at least the last two years, I might add. However, as ever, the Repugnacons seem to have come down with a fatal case (at least from the standpoint of consistency and self-referential coherence) of selective memory.

What makes me say that? Well, how about we open with this bit from the Douchebag of Liberty, which I quoted last weekend:

Because the whole system (INAUDIBLE) you're not going to have -- like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say, We're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person. They're going to -- they're going to say that this is not the way we're going to do it. They've had all kinds of different offers of that kind. (Emphasis mine.)

Or how about this screenshot from Faux News, courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

Or how about this little snippet of tape, also from Crooks and Liars, of Senator Man-on-Dog on the floor of the Senate during today's debate over the "nukular opshun":

What the Democrats are doing is "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine.' This is no more the rule of the Senate than it was the rule of the Senate before not to filibuster.

(My emphasis)

Or consider the following book titles, all of which, with the exception of the Coulternator's (which is available at the store, according to their online inventory), I found staring me in the face yesterday afternoon as I sat perusing a book on German science at the local Borders:

  • Michael Savage's latest screed, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder
  • Ann Coulter, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
  • Sean Hannity, Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism, and Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism

And those are just the titles that I remember seeing.

So while Newsweek should censor itself so as not to tarnish our precious image abroad (as if G. Dumbya, Condosleezza, Dumsfeld, Big Dick, et aliae hadn't irreparably damaged it long before Newsweek's Qur'an story surfaced), and libruls should all shut the fuck up and get behind our Glorious Leader (because we're at war, dammit!), the hatewingers not only get to declare open season on liberals, they get to rake in six- and seven-figure book deals doing it.

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot.

I'm not gonna take it anymore.

My regular readers know that I am at base a gentle soul, and not one to pick a fight. That policy ends today where the hatewingers are concerned. From here on out, I'm adopting their own "take no prisoners" policy. I will do my utmost to kick them, rhetorically at least, in the nuts at every opportunity that presents itself. They get no free passes from me. I will always portray them, and everything they say, in the worst possible light consistent with the commonly accepted rules of textual interpretation. No more benefit of the doubt: if it can reasonably be parsed to mean something evil, hateful, venal, treasonous, duplicitous, deranged, vile, or any combination of some or all of the above, then I'm going to presume that's exactly what the author meant to convey with those words.

Let them weep their crocodile tears about being hated, because they are the haters. Not me, and not my fellow Democrats or my fellow liberals of whatever political persuasion. We don't hate Janice Rogers Brown personally. We just hate what she's done to our legal system, and the Repugnacons' attempt to allow her to do even more damage in a higher court. We don't hate Ann Coulter, though she manifestly hates us. We just hate the evil, nasty, bigoted, contemptuous, and almost always untrue, things she says about us.

To quote your Dear Leader, bring it on, you Repukes. I've got a black belt in bitch, and I'm not afraid to use it.

*"Deliver us from all hypocrites." Paraphrased from the Ordinary of the Mass, Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day." That's a prayer I'm going to be repeating with even greater fervor than usual in these troubled times. (Especially when by "evil" I mean "conservatives.")


Arma virumque cano

(With apologies to Publius Vergilius Maro for cribbing the opening line of his Aeneid for this post's title.)

Either Roman or Spartan mothers (depending upon which version of the probably apocryphal story you're following) used to tell their sons going off to war, "Come back with your shield or on it." That's the kind of day the preznit's spokes-hamster had this Tuesday, when apparently the White House Press Corpse woke up and remembered everything they'd ever learned in J-school. And Scotty had been doing such a good job of training those bad habits out of them!

Let's get right to the highlights:

Q: Scott, the Senate has managed to function -- or not function, as the case may be -- for more than 200 years without a ban on judicial filibusters. Is the President concerned about the historic nature of what's being talked about up on the Hill?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, John, the Senate is working to move forward on their constitutional responsibility, which is to give nominees and up or down vote. One of the priorities for this President is to put people on the bench that are highly qualified and that have a conservative judicial philosophy -- people that show judicial restraint when it comes to the bench. And there are a number of vacancies that the Senate has not moved forward on.

You've had a minority of Senate Democrats blocking up or down votes for these nominees. All we're asking for is for these nominees to receive a simple up or down vote on the floor of the United States Senate. Unfortunately, there are some Senate Democrats that have played politics in taking this to an unprecedented level. We have not seen anything like this in our 214-year history in the Senate. So I would turn that around on you and look at it from the other perspective.

Q: Well, let me ask two questions about what you just said. Where in the Constitution are judicial nominees guaranteed an up or down vote? And what about the impact of this whole so-called "nuclear option" on this idea of equal representation in the Senate?

Oops. Somebody forgot that one does never, ever ask what the Constitution (or any other authoritative source) actually says, one is only supposed to ask how the preznit and his minions are spinning it this month this week today this particular minute this nanosecond.

Q: Scott, you said that the retraction by Newsweek magazine of its story is a good first step. What else does the President want this American magazine to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.

And I think Newsweek can do that by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran. The military put in place policies and procedures to make sure that the Koran was handled -- or is handled with the utmost care and respect. And I think it would help to point that out, because some have taken this report -- those that are opposed to the United States -- some have taken this report and exploited it and used it to incite violence.

Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print? (My emphasis)

Oooh, snap! I'd just like to know where that attitude has been the last five years or so...

Q: Back on Newsweek. Richard Myers, last Thursday -- I'm going to read you a quote from him. He said, "It's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran." He said it was "more tied up in the political process and reconciliation that President Karzai and his cabinet were conducting." And he said that that was from an after-action report he got that day.

So what has changed between last Thursday and today, five days later, to make you now think that those -- that that violence was a result of Newsweek?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, clearly, the report was used to incite violence by people who oppose the United States and want to mischaracterize the values and the views of the United States of America. The protests may have been pre-staged by those who oppose the United States and who may be opposed to moving forward on freedom and democracy in the region, but the images that we have seen across our television screens over the last few days clearly show that this report was used to incite violence. People lost their lives --

Q: But may I just follow up, please? He didn't say "protest," he said -- he used the word very specifically, "violence." He said the violence, as far as they know from their people on the ground -- which is something that you always say you respect wholeheartedly -- it was not because of Newsweek.


Q: Scott, to go back to Dana's question, are you saying that General Myers was wrong, therefore, that this -- the violence he's talking about? Are you saying he was wrong in his assessment of what happened in Afghanistan?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, not at all. In fact, maybe you didn't hear me, but as I said, there are people that are opposed to the United States that look at every opportunity to try to do damage to our image in the region, and --

Translated from the bureaucratese, that last paragraph should read, "No, the commander on the ground isn't wrong: as long as he's saying what we want him to say. But when he doesn't say what we want him to say, we reserve the right to blame the problem he's talking about on the media, and we hope you'll continue to let us get away with that."

This next one is a real shocker, given that it's coming from Elisabeth "I Proudly Fellate the Preznit at Every Opportunity" Bumiller:

Q: Are you asking them to write a story?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- because of this report. I think Newsweek is going to be in the best position to determine how to achieve that. And there are ways that I pointed out that they can help repair the damage. One way is to point out what the policies and practices of our United States military are. Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care --

Q: Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you're saying here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, let me finish my sentence. Our military --

Q: You've already said what you're -- I know what -- how it ends.

Translation: "Save your breath, Scotty-boy. You'll be needing it when Karl Rove takes you into the back room for a little discipline, because I'm not buying your line of spin this time."

MR. McCLELLAN: We have to continue speaking out about the values that the United States stands for. And one value that we stand very strongly for is religious freedom. We believe all people should be able to practice their religion as they see fit. And we welcome a diversity of views.

As long as they're the same views as James Dobson's and Pat Robertson's, that is.

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of the bondage gear and go to work in the morning.

Cross-posted at Unbossed.


Godwin's Law disproved

Regular readers here will remember this post from last week, in which I decried Mall*Wart's colossally inappropriate use of a photograph of a Nazi-era book-burning (of gay and lesbian authors' works, by the by) in an advertising campaign to defeat a citizens' initiative in Flagstaff, Arizona, to limit the size of retail stores that could be built in the city.

I regret to have to report that Mall*Wart won by a razor-thin margin (365 votes out of 17,000 ballots cast). So much for the tradition on the internets that whoever mentions the Nazis first in a discussion loses it.

The big-box supporters predictably yammered about how their victory (I'm surprised they didn't try to take a page from G. Dumbya's playbook and call it a "mandate") meant that Flagstaff was "pro-business and looking forward to the future," but said nary a word about their attempt to link a reasonable limited-growth initiative with Nazi atrocities and censorship. This brings up a number of issues for me.

First off, when did being "pro-business" become such a great thing? I'd have thought the first duty of a community was to look after the people who live in it, not to suck up to some corporate giant in the hope of attracting a few low-wage, no-benefit jobs and bringing in the urban blight that typically comes with such big-box stores. Along the same lines, when did "pro-business" become synonymous with "pro-big-corporations"? Whatever happened to all those entrepreneurs and small-business owners the Repukes are always lauding to the skies? Could it be that they just can't compete with the flipping great wodges of cash the big-box boys can throw at the pols who grease their wheels? (Mall*Wart spent close to $300,000--or about 10 times as much as the citizens' group opposing them--to fight Proposition 100. If they can afford to drop that kind of cash on fighting one ballot initiative in one Arizona town, their political warchest slush fund must run into the millions.

Mall*Wart's crocodile tears ring more than usually hollow. It would be censorship for anyone to oppose the Bentonville Behemoth as it mows down small-town business districts in the name of engorging its already obscene profit margins. But it's perfectly legitimate for the behemoth to insist that artists change their song lyrics or album cover art if the Boys from Bentonville find it too explicit. The same goes for certain video games. They also don't like it when students target them for parody (which is a permissible use under copyright law, by the way). They won't sell certain magazines, and insist that others change or hide their covers, again if the Boys from Bentonville deem them too risqué.

It's a sad day in Flagstaff--and elsewhere in the land of Cheap Plastic Crap Not Made in America.



Paging a rhetorician, stat!

The curtain has been pulled all the way back, and we can see that behind the Great and Powerful Cat-Killer is...nothing. Except maybe James Dobson's hand up his rear, yanking on whatever strings it takes to produce this example of sterling debate in response to a simple question from the floor:

SEN. SCHUMER: Isn’t it correct that on March 8, 2000, my colleague [Sen. Frist] voted to uphold the filibuster of Judge Richard Paez?

SEN. FRIST: The president, the um, in response, uh, the Paez nomination - we’ll come back and discuss this further. … Actually I’d like to, and it really brings to what I believe - a point - and it really brings to, oddly, a point, what is the issue. The issue is we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have, um, obstructed, not one nominee, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, in a routine way.

In other words, it's OK to filibuster one judicial nominee at a time (if you're a Repuglican, natch). But if you're a Democrat, or if you try to filibuster more than one thing at a time, fuhgeddaboudit. As an added bonus to being an incoherent rambler right up there with G. Dumbya, as the folks at Think Progress point out, Frist's position here "completely undercuts [his] argument that judicial filibusters are unconstitutional." Oops.

But it gets better still:

SEN. FRIST: The issue is not cloture votes per se, it’s the partisan, leadership-led use of cloture votes to kill - to defeat - to assassinate these nominees. That’s the difference. Cloture has been used in the past on this floor to postpone, to get more info, to ask further questions.

Uh-huh. It just happened to take you four years "get more info" and "ask further questions" about the nomination of Richard Paez? I don't think so, you lying sack of Repuglican scum.

I'm with Armando: "Frist has made a despicable Faustian bargain--do what Dobson tells him on the Nuclear Option, judicial nominees, and just about everything else, and they will back him for President in 2008." The Repukes are gunning for bear on this one, and I have to think they're likely to lose: if not in the Senate, then in two years at the ballot box. From this blog to God's ears and around the block to the voting booth!



Toles to McClellan: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on


Now that's an ID proposal I could get behind

Quoth Jesse:

This does give me an idea for the intelligent design fight - instead of fighting over letting ID into the classroom, let students "choose" whether or not they want to learn about ID. However, at the end of the class, they should still get a copy of The Origin Of Species with the religious reminder that if they don't believe in evolution, God thinks they're an idiot. Problem solved!

I'm sure the wingnuts wouldn't go for it, of course. They don't want anybody to be able to choose--unless it's them, which was the whole point of Jesse's rant in the first place. (It's really about that ridiculously named "Silver Ring Thing" that they were talking about this morning on Nice Polite Republicans: a Christian evangelization show masquerading as "abstinence education.") Still, I think the idea has some merit--unlike anything the Bushoviki have proposed on sex education.



I hate it when that happens. Keith Olbermann took the words right out of my mouth. I was fuming in the shower this morning, listening to what seemed an endless parade of Newsweek retraction stories and "analysis" on Nice Polite Republicans. I figured I was going to be writing something on the fiasco today, but thanks to TBogg, I found Olbermann's piece--and he did a much better job on it than I could. So here are a few of the highlights--go read the rest!

SECAUCUS -- I smell something - and it ain’t a copy of the Qu’ran sopping wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the ink drying on Scott McClellan’s resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.

Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply, told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.

But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage [sic] to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.


Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them.

That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.

It’s also not very smart. While places like the Fox News Channel (which, only today, I finally recognized - it’s the newscast perpetually running on the giant video screens in the movie “1984”) ask how many heads should roll at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.


Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way - and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.

Did'ja see it? He used the "T" word!



Which rhymes with "T," which stands for "trouble"

And that's what Dumbya is in here in Illinois. The Trib has the numbers: 41 percent overall job approval (down four percent from last October). Even in the heavily Republican collar counties around Chicago, Bush is in negative territory (46 percent in this survey, down from 53 last October), and the news is worse downstate (47 percent, down a full ten points from 57 last October).

But there's worse news yet. As unpopular as Bush is hereabouts, our Democratic governor is even less so, according to polling data in Saturday's Trib. Blagorgeous' numbers: 35 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove, 45 percent don't want him re-elected. When the Democratc governor is less popular than a highly unpopular reactionary Republican president who didn't even win the state last year, that's got to make a few political consultants break into a cold sweat.

Granted, it's still 18 months until the gubernatorial election, Blagojevich is said to have $10 million at his disposal to play politics with, and the Republicans are still in disarray after last year's disastrous Senate campaign. If they nominate a complete nertz along the lines of Alan Keyes, or some non-entity who's conservative enough for the wingnuts, but still moderate enough for everybody else, then Blagojevich could still pull it off and get another four years to mess up the state even worse than he has already.

But if the Republicans have the sense to nominate one of their better people--hell, even if they can convince Jim Edgar to come out of retirement for another term--we'll be kissing a Democratic state house goodbye in 2007. I'm with Rich Osborne: things aren't looking good for Blagorgeous and I wish like hell the Democratic Party mucky-mucks would grow a pair and put up a serious primary opponent to the Fair Haired Boy Who Would Be King. We could really do some good in this state, but Blago just isn't the guy for it.


A year on

It was a year ago tomorrow that Massachusetts achieved marriage equality. If you haven't already, you should go read MAJeff's excellent series of anniversary diaries over at dKos:

Commenter PhillyGal in that last diary had some interesting statistics on offer:

  • Date same-sex couples began legally marrying: May 17, 2004
  • Number of same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts from May 17, 2004, until February 2005: 6,142
  • Number of male couples: 2,170
  • Number of female couples: 3,972
  • Number of heterosexual marriages in Massachusetts during that time: 30,872
  • Public support in Massachusetts for marriage equality in April 2005: 56%
  • Public support one year ago: 35%
  • Public support across the nation for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman: 53%
  • Number of states that have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage since 2004: 14
  • Percentage of Massachusetts voters who believe gay marriage has had a positive or no impact on the quality of life in Massachusetts: 84%

To which commenter Bearpaw added:

  • Number of skies that have fallen: 0
  • Number of cities destroyed by divine wrath: 0
  • Number of people who have married their pets: 0
  • Number of mixed-sex marriages harmed by the existence of same-sex marriages: 0
  • People in same-sex couples denied equal marriage rights (& responsibilities) in Massachusetts: 0

My own contribution was to paraphrase a famous speech from awhile back:

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men and women, yes, gay men as well as straight men, and lesbian women as well as straight women, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her gay and lesbian citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the gay people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.


But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the gay community must not lead us to a distrust of all straight people, for many of our straight brothers and sisters, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.


Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."


I have a dream that our little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin or the faith they profess, or the gender of the persons whom they love or by the political party they prefer, but by the content of their character.

(Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream," paraphrased and edited.)



Veni, veni

No, not "Emmanuel." Wrong season for that lovely bit of chant: but wait another six months and we can talk.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, when the Church celebrates the promised descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, and thus upon their descendants in faith by apostolic transmission. One of the oldest hymns in the Catholic tradition goes with this feast, and given the posts I've been slapping up here of late, I didn't want to let today pass without something to provide, in the dying words of Johann von Goethe, mehr Licht, "more light." This is the so-called "Golden Sequence," composed by we know not who, back in the mists of time, and traditionally sung at Mass from Pentecost until the following Sunday (but also, as recently when the cardinals went into conclave to elect a new pope, whenever a need for divine guidance is felt):

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Veni pater pauperum
veni dator munerum
veni lumen cordium.

Consolator optime
dulcis hospes animae
dulce refrigerium.

In labore requies
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.

O Lux beatissima
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine
nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sordidum
riga quod est aridum
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum
fove quod est frigidum
rege quod est devium.

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.

Da virtutis meritum
da salutis exitum
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.

Come, Holy Spirit,
and send forth from heaven
the ray of Your Light.

Come, Father of the poor;
Come, Giver of gifts;
Come, Light of all hearts.

O best of Comforters,
O gentle Guest of the soul,
O sweet Relief.

You are rest in toil,
Refreshment in the heat of day,
Solace in our tears.

O most blessed Light,
Fill the depths of
the hearts of Your faithful.

Without Your divinity
there is nothing in humanity,
nothing is harmless.

Cleanse that which is dirty,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is rigid,
melt that which is frozen,
correct that which has gone astray.

Give to Your faithful,
trusting in You,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.

Give us the reward of virtue,
Give us a holy end,
Give us perpetual joy.
Amen. Alleluia.

(My translation from the Latin of the Missale Romanum.)


What is it with these people?

Herewith the Douchebag of Liberty, yesterday on The Capital Gang:

HUNT: Bob, why would Senator Frist refuse an offer to break the deadlock?

NOVAK: Because the whole system (INAUDIBLE) you're not going to have -- like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say, We're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person. They're going to -- they're going to say that this is not the way we're going to do it. They've had all kinds of different offers of that kind. (Emphasis mine.)

Although I couldn't find anything directly attributable to Novakula on the issue, we must remember that it was his party that was frothing at the mouth last year when someone submitted an ad to MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest comparing Emperor Chimpy to der Führer. I won't, however, be holding my breath waiting for them to line up to condemn Novak's latest flagrant violation of Godwin's Law, because as we all know, IOKIYAR.

Sadder still, I doubt the Douchebag of Liberty can even see the irony in his statement. Because let's face it: the seven extremist judges that Bush renominated because he felt like rubbing the Democrats' noses in the fetid crap of his miraculous re-election have a lot more in common with Dr. Mengele than do the Democrats who are attempting to stave off both that batch of rightwing activist judges from ever getting near the federal bench and the Repugnacons' efforts to stick them there come hell or high water--or the rules of the Senate. When Alberto "Abu" Gonzalez calls you a judicial activist (as he did his fellow Texas Supreme Court justice Priscilla Owen), you know you're in deep trouble. And when you compare homosexuality to "necrophilia, bestiality, child porn, incest, and pedophilia," as former Alabama attorney general William H. Pryor did in a brief to the Supreme Court, you're drinking from the same ideological well as Heinrich Himmler, who observed in a speech to his SS-Gruppenführer in 1937:

In the SS today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the following: in each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled, and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by the courts, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape. I will make that known by order to the unit to which the person so affected belonged. Thereby, I hope finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, so that at least the good blood, which we have in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure.

However, this does not represent a solution to the problem for the whole Germany. One must not have illusions about the following. When I bring a homosexual before the courts and have him locked up, the matter is not settled, because the homosexual comes out of prison just as homosexual as before he went in. Therefore the whole question is not clarified in the sense that this burden has been identified, in contrast to the years before the seizure of power.

I will give CNN props for airing the next exchange, between Mark Shields and the DoL:

SHIELDS: All, you know, if hypocrisy were a felony, they couldn't get a quorum in the Senate at this point. Thirty of the fifty-five senators on the Republican side have all employed methods, extra-legal methods, to prevent votes -- John Sununu not among them because John Sununu is too late to the game to do it. But every one of the others -- Rick Santorum, one of the real change agents in this whole system, he had a wonderful judge, highly rated, totally rated for the ABA, rated -- endorsed by every newspaper in the state, by every major legal organization in the state of Pennsylvania -- he blue-slipped him, Al. That's what you do, just prevent someone from ever getting a vote -- 65 judges.

Now, I mean, let's -- let's not pretend that all of a sudden, this is some new system. The reality is that in the past, there was a comity that was worked out in the Senate in the vast majority of cases. We are changing that now and forever, and don't you ever forget it, because it'll be 51, and they'll be ideological and it's going to be a change in the American judiciary permanently.

NOVAK: Oh, Christ!

Good on Shields for pounding them on the hypocrisy angle. And Novakula, you took the words right out of my mouth. But I was referring to your colossal ignorance of history and propriety, not the fact that Shields had the gall to state the obvious fact that Emperor Chimpy and his minions are all starkers.



You heard it here first

Val Kilmer is a better kisser than Colin Farrell. (Link is in German, by the by.)

Quoth Robert Downey, Jr., at the Cannes Film Festival, "I've only kissed two men in my life, and Colin Farrell isn't as good as Val Kilmer." Kilmer plays a gay detective in the forthcoming movie Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, in which Downey plays the criminal.



Friday random 10

The rules: Take out your iPod or other musical device. Put it in "random" mode. Hit "play." Write down the first ten tracks that come up--and no fair putting in ones you think will make you look cool, or omitting ones that make you look like a total dork.

Without further ado, here are mine for today:

  1. Precious (Erasure, Cowboy). Unfortunately not one of the ones the boys did in concert a couple of weekends ago in Chicago.
  2. The Dingle Set: Dance (The Chieftains, The Bells of Dublin)
  3. Lust or Love (Scorpions, Crazy World)
  4. Franz Schubert, Das Heimweh (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Schubert: 21 Lieder)
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach, fugue from Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 (E. Power Biggs, J. S. Bach: Great Organ Favorites)
  6. Quem pastores laudavere (John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers: Christmas with the Cambridge Singers)
  7. The Wild West is Where I Want to Be (Tom Lehrer, The Remains of Tom Lehrer)
  8. What Child is This? (Patrick Ball, The Christmas Rose)
  9. Crudel, perchè mi fuggi? (Claudio Monteverdi, Il secondo libro dei madrigali)
  10. Tanzen und Springen (The King's Singers, Madrigal History Tour)

Seems to have been a bit of a Christmas day today. And if you can find it, I highly recommend the Patrick Ball album referenced in No. 8--some of the best harp music you'll ever hear, and his rendition of Dona nobis pacem is breathtakingly gorgeous.



Reason No. 372,457

Not to shop at Mall*Wart, that is. Seems the boys from Bentonville are more than a little peeved at the prospect of not being able to build a new SuperDuperMegaGalactic Emporium o' Crap in Flagstaff, Arizona. Citizens there are considering Proposition 100, which would require a special-use permit for retail buildings bigger than 75,000 square feet--and would prohibit retail buildings larger than 125,000 square feet--in the city.

The citizens of Flagstaff are also more than a little peeved at some of the ads Wal-Mart is running in an attempt to head off the proposition. Why? Well, it might be that one of the ads sorta-kinda-almost-explicitly compares a zoning restriction on a ginormous corporate bad citizen (which already has a retail presence in Flagstaff, mind you) to the Holocaust.

Words fail me to describe exactly how galactically, off-the-fucking-charts, egregiously sick and wrong, clueless, offensive, insensitive, and just plain stupid that ad campaign is. Mall*Wart might--might--stand to lose a few bucks because it can't expand its already huge presence in Flagstaff by some 80,000 square feet, and devote 30%-40% of its floor space to grocery items. Could someone please explain to me, using really small words and some diagrams, exactly how that trifling loss (which won't even show up on the daily balance sheets of the world's biggest retailer hypocrite) is supposed to be the moral or other equivalent of the murder of six million Jews, hundreds of thousands of homosexuals, tens of thousands of priests and nuns and political dissidents?

I find it particularly offensive that the well-known homophobes from Arkansas chose to use a photograph in their ad against Proposition 100 that was pulled from the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The picture shows German students tossing books from the library of Magnus Hirschfeld's Institut für Sexualwissenschaft onto a blazing pyre in the middle of the Berlin Opernplatz in May 1933.

For those of you not familiar with Hirschfeld and his work, he founded his research institute (the first in the world to study sexual matters exclusively) in 1919. He was himself gay, and he lobbied tirelessly on behalf of gay rights in Germany, including the repeal of the notorious Paragraph 175 of the German civil code, which criminalized homosexual sex. He died in exile in France just two years after the Nazis looted his research institute, burned its library, and ransacked the files of the counseling service it ran, looking for other homosexuals to persecute. For Wal-Mart, no friend to gays and lesbians, to compare its petty little inconvenience in Flagstaff--and only a potential inconvenience at that--to the brutal repression of gays and lesbians at the hands of the Nazis is hubris on so galactic a scale that Aeschylus on his best day wouldn't have known how to work it into a tragic trilogy.


Can someone clue me in?

I'm seeing a tremendous number of hits to the blog today (I'm at 55 for the day so far, and it's just barely midmorning). The funny thing is, most of them seem to be coming from search engines in response to a query that is something along the lines of "Saki's simple advice."

Somebody want to tell me why the sudden interest in the writings of H.H. Munro? 'Cuz I'm a huge fan, and if there's something I've been missing all along in his works, I'd love to know what it is and where to go look.

Drop me a comment and let me know.


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