Under Their Scheme

Please don’t sue me, Disney. I just wanted to warn people about the dangers of what the Republicans are trying to do, and I thought a catchy little tune might help. This also happens to be one of my all-time favorite Disney songs.

Under Their Scheme
Original words and music “Under The Sea” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, 1989
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2011

Sebastian (spoken): Ariel, listen to me. The Ayn Rand world is a mess
Life under their scheme is deader than anything you’d want out there

(singing) The sequence is always greener, in somebody’s else’s take
You dream about growing up there, but that is a big mistake
Just look how their view confounds you, they scare you and want you poor
Such powerful things astound you, what good is they working for?

Under their scheme, under their scheme
Medicare’s deader, not getting better, take it from me Continue reading

Mitt Romney – Moral Mendacity or Memory Failure?

During Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was asked a question about what role FEMA should play in disaster relief and whether or not more should be done by the states themselves.

CNN’s JOHN KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

His response was not only confusing, but apparently in direct contradiction to the way he governed Massachusetts.

GOV MITT ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Okay, there are a few problems with this response. First, why is it that Republicans always feel that the private sector can do the government’s job “better”? Exactly what do they mean by that? Notice that John King just lets that slide without asking for any explanation. This is just another example of how the mainstream media that covers politics practices precious little journalism in favor of just letting politicians say whatever the hell they want unchallenged. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that when a Republican claims that the private sector can do something “better” than the federal government, they mean “more profitably.” Of course, the government is not supposed to be doing things “profitably,” they are supposed to do things as thoroughly as possible. They are supposed to serve as many people as possible, not serve some of the people and still have money leftover. if you do that, then you haven’t done your job of serving the People. Government exists to serve the People, not the Private Sector.

Second is the false idea that the states can do everything better than the federal government can. Not so. It’s true that not all one-size-fits-all solutions will work in every state, but that does not mean we have to abandon all federal support. It’s not an either-or choice – either the federal government does things everywhere or it does things nowhere. This is just the same old “States’ Rights” argument from the party that thinks we’re operating under the Articles of Confederation and not the US Constitution. We tried giving the states more autonomy and the results were disastrous. The Founders the republicans love to revere knew this and decided to do things differently.

But the thing that struck me most was Romney’s apparent immorality. He claims that it is “immoral” to “rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.” Well, Mitt, if you believe that, then why are you a Republican? Republicans bear the most responsibility for our huge national debt. You were governor of Massachusetts during the Bush Administration when our country ran huge deficits. You said in the debate that borrowing more money to provide disaster relief was “immoral.” Was it immoral when you did it? Flooding and severe winter storms have been a problem for your state, and you accepted federal aid for it in 2004, 2005 (and with your state’s Congressional delegation helping), big-time in 2006 (see here, too), and again in 2007. There may be other examples, but I found those after a brief search of the internets. Was it moral for you to ask the federal government to borrow money to help your state with disaster relief back then?

You also claim that the states can do things better than the federal government, but you also expressed support for an idea floated by the Bush Administration in the wake of their disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina to have the Pentagon (a very federal agency) take the lead in responding to catastrophic disasters.

There is almost no support among the nation’s governors for President Bush’s suggestion that the Pentagon could take the lead in responding to catastrophic natural disasters, a USA TODAY survey has found.

Of the 38 governors who responded to a request for reaction to Bush’s comments, only two backed the idea: Republicans Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Looks like both you and your fellow Republican “T-Paw” got some ‘splainin’ to do, Mitt.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

The FBI Forgets the Fourth

I seriously have to wonder just what it means to some people to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The FBI has decided to update its operations manual, which they like to call the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, (last updated under the previous Attorney General, Michael Mukasey), and for being such good guardians of the Constitution, they decided to let themselves have more power to abuse and ignore it.

According to the New York Times, the FBI will be allowing its agents “more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.”

The F.B.I. recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” Mr. German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general’s findings in 2007 that the F.B.I. had frequently misused “national security letters,” which allow agents to obtain information like phone records without a court order.

The FBI General Counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, said that steps were taken to fix the problem with National Security Letters and that the problem would not recur. But unless their fix involved eliminating their use altogether, I do not see how they would be constitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The proposed changes may seem minor but they are insidious.

Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.

Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

Mr. German said the change would make it harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for personal purposes. But Ms. Caproni said it was too cumbersome to require agents to open formal inquiries before running quick checks. She also said agents could not put information uncovered from such searches into F.B.I. files unless they later opened an assessment.

In other words, they don’t want to get a warrant to search your company’s databases because it would take too long. But if they found something they could use, they could open the assessment later and then use it. I always thought that was something they liked to call “fruit of a poisoned tree.” Information illegally obtained cannot be the basis for obtaining more information legally. (I invite any lawyers out there to correct me where I am wrong. I’m a grown boy, I can take it.)

The new rules will also relax a restriction on administering lie-detector tests and searching people’s trash. Under current rules, agents cannot use such techniques until they open a “preliminary investigation,” which — unlike an assessment — requires a factual basis for suspecting someone of wrongdoing. But soon agents will be allowed to use those techniques for one kind of assessment, too: when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.

Agents have asked for that power in part because they want the ability to use information found in a subject’s trash to put pressure on that person to assist the government in the investigation of others. But Ms. Caproni said information gathered that way could also be useful for other reasons, like determining whether the subject might pose a threat to agents.

Again, they want to conduct warrant-less searches in the interests of time and then claim that what they found was legal afterwards. The United States Constitution requires that all persons working for the government take an oath to support and defend it. That includes the Fourth Amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I truly do not understand how what the FBI is prepared to allow themselves to do does not violate that Amendment. Do you?

(Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain)

Republicans Who Hate Women

Today on Meet The Press, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum tried, once again, to prove he’s the furthest one out on the right when it comes to abortion. Ignoring both constitutional precedent as well as common sense logic, Santorum made the claim that human life begins at conception and that any doctor who performs an abortion should face criminal charges. He stated that the woman involved should face no charges, but offered no explanation for this contradiction. And it is a contradiction because no doctor can perform an abortion without a woman being involved. (Unless we’re talking about test tube babies, but that would complicate things beyond the ability of people like Santorum to understand.)

Santorum has a history of getting facts wrong in support of his ill-conceived position on abortion. In a debate with Sen. Bob Casey during his last run for his Senate seat in 2006 (Casey won), Santorum said using the so-called “morning-after pill” is the exact same thing as abortion if it is taken “after the egg has been fertilized.” This is wrong because conception actually takes several days and the morning-after pill won’t work if the woman is already pregnant.

Santorum is also forgetting Justice Clarence Thomas’ famous confirmation hearings in which Sen. Patrick Leahy asked the nominee, “Does a fetus have rights under the Constitution.” After giving it a few seconds’ thought, Thomas correctly answered, “No.” The Constitution applies to persons who are actually born, and no amount of stretching what it says can lead one to believe it applies to people who haven’t been born yet. (For example, of what nation would a person who hasn’t been born yet be a citizen?)

One also has to question how someone can call themselves “pro-life” and still support the use of capital punishment. There is no consistency in this line of thinking, so their constant assault on a woman’s right to choose can only be construed as anti-women.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

This Is NOT a Sex Scandal

Over at ThinkProgress, in a message for Rep. Anthony Weiner Matt Yglesias described the twitter photo controversy as a “sex scandal.” I say it is no such thing.

If you look at the picture, you can see no genitalia of any kind. What you can see is what appears to be a pair of men’s briefs with some kind of bulge in them. But you cannot see what is causing the bulge which, for all you know, may just be a banana strategically placed there. In fact, it is unclear if it is even a pair of briefs on a human as opposed to on a mannequin. (If you want to take another look, you can see it here) The fact of the matter is that there is no penis in that picture, erect or otherwise.

Anyone who thinks they are looking at a penis is only imagining that they are seeing a penis. They are seeing no such thing. So for them to think that it is a “lewd” photo is just describing something in their own imaginations. And I don’t feel it is right that Rep. Weiner must defend himself against what people are imagining they are seeing. Yes, he didn’t do himself any favors by casting doubt over whether or not it is a picture of himself, but that still doesn’t negate the fact that there is nothing lewd in that picture at all. The only lewdness is in people’s imaginations.

A few years ago my late mother-in-law once looked at my size 13 shoes and said, “My, what big feet you have.” And I, being the playful type, said, “Yeah, but that’s just a myth.” To which she replied, “Oh, don’t be so fresh.” I had to tell her, “I didn’t say anything, you imagined that!” And that is exactly what’s going on here. Anybody who thinks that was a lewd photo are denouncing what they imagine they are seeing. It is not a sex scandal when there is no sex involved and people are upset over what they imagine they are seeing.

(Updated) DADT vote in the Senate — REPEALED!!

UPDATE:  With a vote of 65 to 31, the odious policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been REPEALED.  All service members will now serve their country completely honorably.  This is a great day in America!

On this historic day, December 18, 2010, having gotten past the intransigent Senate filibuster of EVERYTHING, the odious policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will come up for a vote.

A little background first. Prior to President Reagan, the policy had been that “homosexual conduct was inconsistent with military standards.” It was okay to be gay provided you didn’t do anything that was gay. Under Reagan, this was changed to “Homosexuality is inconsistent with military standards.” Now you couldn’t even be gay even if you were celibate your entire term of service. (There was actually a Senator who, during the DADT debate hearings, thought that it would be impossible for gay people to be celibate for four years. This same Senator was once married to Elizabeth Taylor. Go figure.)

The current policy concerning homosexuality in the military can be found here. Rep Patrick Murphy’s bill ( found here ) would not so much repeal DADT, but repeals Section 654 entirely. In other words, there would be no policy at all concerning gays serving in the military. There are already military rules against public displays of affection in uniform, and that would not change. So the idea that gays will start making out while in uniform is just plain wrong. They wouldn’t make out in uniform any more than straight people would. Passage of this law would repeal the “Policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces.” Which would mean that being gay would not be an issue in and of itself.

Please join us in the comments section and watch the vote with us here.

The Cut That Isn’t a Cut

As you may have heard, President Barack Obama and the Republicans (who, oddly enough, are not, technically, in power yet), have struck a deal extending the Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy (their official name) for another two years. In return for these tax “cuts”, the Republicans have agreed to extend unemployment benefits for currently unemployed people for another thirteen months along with a few other helpful things for the poor. The stage has been set to make this a campaign issue for 2012. Do you support extending tax “cuts” for millionaires and billionaires who don’t need them? Or do you finally agree that rich people do not use their tax savings to create jobs? But is anybody really going to be paying less in taxes because of this? Not necessarily.

In Washington, DC, and only in Washington, DC, a “cut” is merely a Continue reading

How You Pay For Military Proselytizing

Regardless of what your personal religious beliefs are, you are paying to have some of our soldiers preached to against their will, forced to attend religious concerts and events, and punished for exercising their Constitutional and Military rights to refuse to participate. The events are called “The Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert Series”, Continue reading

Down in the Foxhole

I truly believe the trio on “Fox & Friends” are doing the nation a huge disservice. Oh, sure, they’re entertaining because they don’t know what they’re talking about. But they’re dangerous because they work hard to convince their audience that they do know what they’re talking about. And their audience (as far as the ones they’re intending to reach) are not the type inclined to do their own fact-checking. For that they rely on Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Luckily for us there’s Newshounds (motto: “We watch FOX so you don’t have to.”) So I wrote this parody about the dimwits (and by “dimwits”, I mean Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade, in case anyone thinks I’m being vague) on “Fox & Friends”. I hope you enjoy it. (And I thank you, Jane, for your help.)

Down in the Foxhole
Original words and music “Down on the Corner” by John Fogarty,
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

Early in the mornin’, just about breakfast time
Over on the Fox set, they’re startin’ with no minds
Three dips on the TV, tryin’ to stir you up
Rupert picks a theme out and they all begin to harp

Down in the Foxhole, out comes deceit
Gretchy and the Dumb Boys are spinnin’
Keep it simple, tap the heat

Brian hits the stupid, and people just got to smile
Continue reading

Republican Girl

This could really be about any of them. Sarah Palin. Michelle Bachmann. Liz Cheney. Phyllis Schlafly. They’re all out there, so detached from reality. Maybe you can name some more. :)

As usual, thank you, Jane, for your help.

Republican Girl
Original words and music “American Girl” by Tom Petty
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

Well, she was a Republican girl
Raised on premises
She couldn’t help thinkin’ that she
Was a little more Pro-Life than all else
After all it was a Continue reading

Fear, Scare, and Play Unfair

Fear, Scare, and Play Unfair
Original words and music “Here, There, and Everywhere”, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

To lead a fettered life they need my mode to be fear…

Fear, making the case through the year
Continue reading

Around To Shout

A long, long time ago, in a college far, far away, I awkwardly sat in on one of my first dorm parties. The stereo was playing “Roundabout” by Yes. I didn’t know much about rock and roll, having grown up with parents who preferred country and western. The old country and western, with the twangy voices and such. Not today’s rock and roll-style country that the younger folks, and even some of the older folks, enjoy today. I knew I liked the song and said so to the guy next to me. He looked at me and said, “You’re normal.” Little did he know…

If I do say so myself, I prefer this version of the song to the original, because my lyrics make more sense. You can actually tell what the hell my song’s about. It’s about Fox News Channel, of course. I hope you enjoy it. (I apologize. I could not find a satisfactory video for this, but I think you all know how it goes. That would make you normal. :) )

Around To Shout
Original words and music “Roundabout” by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

They’ll be around to shout
The words will make you have your doubt
They spend the day this way
Continue reading

All The Dopey People

Ever wonder why some people think the stupidest things? Maybe the people they’re listening to aren’t all that smart.

All The Dopey People
Original Words and Music “Eleanor Rigby”, by John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider

Ah, look at all the dopey people
Ah, look at all the dopey people

Billy O’Reilly
Spits out the lies from a search
Of the websites he’s been.
Lives in a dream

Works on the TV,
Wearing his hate that he keeps
In the heart of his core.
Who is it for?

All the dopey people,
Where do their views come from?
All the dopey people,
Where do they all go wrong?

Hannity’s Ego
Writing the words Continue reading

Give Us Single Payer

In the current health care reform discussions, the one option that would have solved everything that’s wrong with our health care system was taken off the table virtually from the beginning – Single Payer. Ill-informed people from all over the country have been flocking to their local town hall discussions with their Congressmen and Senators to tell them, for reasons no sane person can explain, that they don’t want a government-run, Single Payer health care system, but whatever you do, don’t touch their Medicare because they love it (oblivious to the fact that Medicare is a government-run, Single payer health care system.) Fueling the opposition to any kind of meaningful health care reform is the health insurance industry. They are fighting for what they think is their right to make money off your medical problems. It’s not like they make the medications and medical equipment you sometimes need; they are nothing more than an intermediary between you and your doctor’s billing office. Yet, if they have their way, you will have to pay 35% of your medical bills, even if you are paying them for insurance coverage. Are they barely making any money? Hardly, as they seem to have hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the people who sit on their executive boards. Then there’s they way they fix the system to cheat you out of money. You know how they always say they’ll pay 80% of “reasonable and customary charges”? Well, there’s two companies that are in the business of determining what would be considered “reasonable and customary.” And one insurance giant, United Health Care, owns them both. So, if they decide that a reasonable and customary charge for an x-ray is $100, they’ll only cover $80 of it, even if the actual charge is $150. You pick up the $70 difference. One simple change would save $350 billion a year – standardize the forms used, which is what would happen with Single Payer. It really is the best way to go.

In the meantime, enjoy this song parody of Bon Jovi’s “Living On a Prayer.”

Give Us Single Payer
Original words and music “Living on a Prayer” by Jon Bon Jovi,
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2009

Once upon a time not so long ago:

Tommy loves his work as a doc.
Patients have all griped,
Insurance is not enough.
It’s tough.

Continue reading

Too Many Sheeple

Too Many Sheeple
Original words and music “Too Many People” by Paul McCartney, 1971
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2009

Too many sheeple tuning into Fox
Too many teaching that a Peace can wait
Too many sheeple fooled into a box
Too many waiting for that Judgment Day

That was your first mistake
You took a lie they made and spoke it as true
Continue reading

The Cowardice of Conservatives

News Hounds has uncovered a gem. If you want to know what today’s Conservatives are like, just listen to the people who claim to speak for them. Now, I have a hard time understanding how Conservatives think (which inspired me to write “Conservative” below), and I just can’t reconcile the nonsense I hear out of people like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and the philosophy of Conservatism I heard preached by conservative giants like Barry Goldwater. One thing Goldwater always said Conservatism was about was Continue reading

Conservative

Conservatives. What are you gonna do? You can’t reason with them, and you can’t take away their guns and shoot them with them. Not that I would want to. Shoot them with them. But you can’t reason with them. They just don’t operate from the same set of facts that we do. We liberals tend to believe that something is true because it can be proven to be true. But listening to today’s conservatives (of all stripes), it’s as if they believe something is true because enough people believe it to be true, regardless of whether or not it actually is true. And it is from this point of view that they debate things. Not from facts, but from beliefs. And it simply does not matter to them if whatever they believe is not actually true, as long as it supports the rest of their argument, they believe that their argument has merit. I admit that you can sometimes give them credit for following a proper chain of logic based on the propositions they put forth, but even then they sometimes veer from the strict discipline of logic and try to use their conclusion as their proof. But since their propositions are often wrong from the start, it makes no difference how reasonable they sound, they’re still wrong! (Or, if they’re right, it’s for the wrong reasons.) And so I wrote this song to them. I hope you like it.

Conservative
Original words and music “Conquistador” by Procol Harum, 1967
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2009

Conservative, your argument’s in need of scrutiny
And with some devil’s talking points you speak of certainty
I see your litmus paper test
Has long since come to mean
Continue reading

The Watering Hole: August 8, Nixon Resigns

On this date in 1974, Richard M. Nixon, the 37th president of the United States, announced that he would resign as president, effective at noon the next day. Unlike Sarah Palin, Nixon found the idea of resigning before his term was finished as “abhorrent”. The first video was the few minutes before Nixon delivered his speech (something he referred to as “the broadcast”.) The next two videos are the speech itself.

This is today’s Open Thread and you can either remember Nixon fondly or talk about anything else.

Five minutes before he resigned…

Resignation speech Part I:

Resignation speech Part II:

Where Are They Now? Norma McCorvey

Who Were They Then?

Norma Nelson was born Sep 1947 in a small town in Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas. From the age of ten she was in and out of trouble with the law and at the age of sixteen she married Woody McCorvey, a sheet-metal worker. When he learned she was pregnant, he turned violent and she left him after only two months. She gave birth to a little girl, Melissa, who was adopted by Norma’s mother, against the baby’s father’s wishes. In 1967, Norma gave up another child, Paige, for adoption and hasn’t seen her since. Then, in 1969, after a casual fling, Norma found herself pregnant for the third time. Working in a circus, not knowing where her next meal would come from or where she would spend the night, she could not imagine bringing another child into the world. As she would later write of this time, Continue reading

Weekend Open Thread – The Colours of Infinity

This is an amazing set of videos. It is, in the simplest terms, a demonstration of Infinity itself. Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, takes us on a tour of the Mandelbrot Set (M-Set). It is represented as a graph of a simple mathematical equation, yet it contains the most amazing images.

As you load the YouTube videos, note that you can enlarge the image to the full size of your screen. I highly recommend that you view these videos this way. Also, you’ll want to grab your favorite snacks and drinks. And do you like Pink Floyd? They are the soundtrack to one of the most amazing visual journies you will ever take. It…is…Infinity. And it…is…beautiful.

But you are also free to talk about anything else you want. This is a Weekend Open Thread at TheZoo. Thanks for stopping by.

Part 1 of 6. Each is around nine minutes.

Part 2 of 6.
Continue reading

Kilts ‘n stuff — open thread

The Lost Bagpiper

As a bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director
to play at a graveside service for a homeless man who had no family
or friends. The funeral was to be held at a cemetery in the remote
countryside and this man would be the first to be laid to rest
there.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I
became lost and being a typical man, did not stop for directions. I
finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew who
were eating lunch but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

I apologized to the workers for my tardiness and stepped to the side
of the open grave where I saw the vault lid already in
place.

I assured the workers I would not hold them up for
long but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered
around, still eating their lunch. I played out my heart and
soul.

As I played the workers began to weep. I played and I
played like I’d never played before, from Going Home and The Lord is
My Shepherd, to Flowers of the Forest . I closed the lengthy
session with Amazing Grace and walked to my car.

As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the
workers saying to another, “Sweet Jeezuz, Mary ‘n Joseph, I have
never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic
tanks for twenty years.”

Our Jane sent me this, thinking this would be a great post — I agree!  With Wayne’s help, I was able to get it up.  (Yes, I know…it’s an open thread)

I think Briseadh na Faire will appreciate the thought.  ;) 

I know Jane and I appreciate the kilts…

It’s the End of the Show As They Know It

The right wing is going nuts about the idea that Obama might want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. They claim that it would destroy right wing radio. There are a lot of things wrong with this argument, but in the meantime, let’s make fun of them with the help of R.E.M. (whose lead singer happens to be openly gay, so that ought to tweak ‘em a bit more.)

It’s the End of The Show As They Know It
Original Words and Music “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”
by Bill Berry, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck 1987
Additional Lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider 2009

That’s great it starts with a fruitcake,
Words of hate to entertain, Michael Weiner’s gone insane

Guy on the radio, listen to his head blow.
Words serve the right’s needs, dummies hear their own needs,
Continue reading

“Torture Works” vs. “I Make Up Stories”

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Dick Cheney has been trying to tell us that torture works (okay, he still refuses to use the word “torture”, but in the interests of accuracy and clarity, I will substitute the word “torture” for any other euphemism they may utilize), that we gained valuable intelligence from its use, and that “it saved lives.” Did it, Dick? Did it really save lives? Or did it cost lives? American lives? Americans in uniform? Did your insistence on the use, and staunch defense, of a series of illegally-authorized interrogation techniques, which were based on methods known to elicit false confessions, actually end up getting one or more of our soldiers killed?

Thanks to the ACLU, we now know that Dick Cheney was lying through his gritting teeth when he said we received valuable intelligence through the use of torture, particularly in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (also, and more conveniently, known as “KSM”.) He claimed that intel “saved lives.” Given Dick’s well-documented history of spreading falsehoods, I have every reason in the world to believe that not only was this statement a lie, it was actually the opposite of the truth. I have reason to believe that people died because of the information we gained through torture. And the reason is a very simple one. KSM himself said, in his statement at his “Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing” (Pg 15):

I ah cannot remember now…I be under questioning so-many statement which been some them l make up stories just location UBL. Continue reading

Calling Out the Right Wing

Sara Robinson at Firedoglake wrote a great piece yesterday asking the right wing a simple question: Are you trying to start a civil war?

Dear Conservatives:

Your fellow Americans demand an answer — and we want it now. Just one simple question:

Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war?

Just answer the question. Yes or no. Don’t insult us with elisions, evasions, dithering, qualifications, or conditional answers. We need to know what your intentions are — and we need to know NOW. People are being shot dead in the streets of America at the rate of several per month now. You may not want responsibility for this — but the whackadoodles pulling the triggers make no bones about who put them up to this.

You did.

For the past thirty years the right wing has been ratcheting up their violent hate speech. They have incited, incensed, and inflamed the more radical among us to stop taking it and start doing something about it. And some of them did. Continue reading

Even If It Wasn’t Torture, It Was Still a Crime

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Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. 

Article VI, Clause 3 says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. 

There are those on the right who insist that the US should never be bound by International Treaty, but they would be wrong. When we sign a treaty and ratify it in our Senate, it becomes “the supreme Law of the Land.” To fail to follow it would be to fail to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment makes it a crime to torture people or to treat prisoners cruelly or inhumanely. The United States signed this treaty on April 18, 1988. The United States finally got around to ratifying this treaty on October 21, 1994. This means that this treaty was the Law of the Land on January 20, 2001, when the Bush Administration came into office.

On August 6, 2002, Continue reading