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This is an expanded version of the column published Friday, 16 September in The Moscow Times. The Times version contains extensive annotations and sources.
Four years ago, America was hit by a terrorist attack. Three days later, Congress signed away the people's freedom, writing a blank check for tyranny to a ludicrous little man who had taken power after losing the popular vote in the most dubious election in American history. Last week, the poisonous after-effects of this abject surrender took yet another sinister turn, as Bush factotums in the courts once again upheld the Leader's arbitrary power over the life and liberty of his subjects.Add a comment
Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence (NYT)
Excerpt: "Investigators appointed by the Vatican have been instructed to review each of the 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for "evidence of homosexuality" and for faculty members who dissent from church teaching...The Vatican document surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.
"In a possible indication of the ruling's contents, the American archbishop who is supervising the seminary review said last week that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations," should not be admitted to a seminary. Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more...."
-- Well, what did you expect? Before his elevation to poposity, Josef Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith -- which is the glossy modern name given to the outfit once known as The Inquisition. He's now bringing that organization's ethos to the whole Vatican enterprise. The Lord wants nothing but virile, musky, manly men to wear the skirts of His priesthood!Add a comment
From The Onion: More Kids Being Home-Churched
Excerpt: A new trend in the religious upbringing of children has recently emerged in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Home-churching," the individual, family-based worship of Jesus Christ, is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship.
Norville Tucker, who moved his family to the woods outside Shelby, AL in 1998 to "escape the damaging cultural influences of urban Mobile," is widely credited with pioneering the home-churching movement. Tucker said he was inspired to home-church when his 10-year-old son Macon returned from Sunday school singing a lighthearted song about Zacchaeus, a tax collector befriended by Christ, and then later recited the parable of the Good Samaritan.
"I couldn't believe that the liberal elite had infiltrated even the study of our Holy Scriptures," Tucker said. "It was bad enough that my youngsters were being taught evolution in public schools, but when I discovered they were learning to embrace foreigners and Big Government in Sunday school, I drew the line."
-- Today, it's a joke; tomorrow....Add a comment
This is unbelievable -- except that it's not.
The day after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, killing hundreds of people and stranding thousands of the sick and weak in hospitals without power, Vice President Dick Cheney made a forceful personal intervention in the crisis: he ordered a Mississippi energy utility to divert its emergency crews from restoring power to rural hospitals and local water supplies -- and instead set them to work on a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.
People were dying in hospitals; people were languishing in damp, tropical heat, drinking dirty water tainted with death and disease. But just as in his Vietnam War-dodging days, Cheney had "other priorities." It didn't matter if a bunch of sick darkies and old crackers kicked off in the boonies -- what really mattered was minimizing the political fallout from any temporary gasoline shortages that might ensue from the storm.
Just as in Iraq, so it is in Mississippi, in New Orleans, in every state of the Union: The oil is what matters. The money is what matters. The power is what matters. The political posturing is what matters. The people -- the living, breathing, individual human beings -- count for nothing at all. Nothing. That's the Bushist Way.
Power Crews Diverted: Restoring Pipelines Came First
(Hattiesburg American, via Froomkin, via Buzzflash)
Excerpts: Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast. That order - to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. - delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.Add a comment
Thomas Friedman Blames America for Bush Add a comment
An excerpt: The most intriguing question about John Roberts is what led him as a young person whose success in life was virtually assured by family wealth and academic achievement to enlist in a political campaign designed to deny opportunities for success to those who lacked his advantages. It is a question of great relevance to Roberts's candidacy for the Supreme Court. As the late Charles Black has written, no serious person is under the illusion that "a judge's judicial work is not influenced...by his sense, sharp or vague, of where justice lies in respect to the great issues of his time."
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Here we go again: "sexed-up dossiers," "smoking guns in the form of a mushroom cloud" and of course, the all-time clincher, "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."
Excerpts: ...The presentation has not been vetted through standard U.S. intelligence channels because it does not include secret material. One U.S. official involved in the briefing said the intelligence community had nothing to do with the presentation and "probably would have disavowed some of it because it draws conclusions that aren't strictly supported by the facts."
The presentation...includes a pictorial comparison of Iranian facilities and missiles with photos of similar-looking items in North Korea and Pakistan. Pakistan largely supplied Iran with its nuclear infrastructure but, as a key U.S. ally, it is identified in the presentation only as "another country."
Corey Hinderstein, a nuclear analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security, said the presence of a weapons program could not be established through such comparisons. She noted that North Korea's missile wasn't designed for nuclear weapons so comparing it to an Iranian missile that also wasn't designed to carry a nuclear payload "doesn't make sense."
-- Not supported by the facts? Doesn't make sense? My god -- this means war! Add a comment
Georgia's New Poll Tax (NYT)
Excerpt: "In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses -- a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly -- to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. Georgia went ahead with this even though there is not a single place in the entire city of Atlanta where the cards are sold. The law is a national disgrace..."
-- Next up, another carefully crafted piece of legislation from the prodigious bowels of the Georgia Republican Party: "Privatizing Certain Aspects of Law Enforcement in Order to Effect Timely and Commensurate Justice Upon Certain Elements of the Public at the Behest of Certain Other Elements of the Public."
Well, why not? If you can bring back the poll tax, why not a sleek new version of lynch law? You know that Bushist motto: Everything Old is New Again!
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You find out you can always lose a little more...."
-- B. Dylan, "Trying to Get to Heaven"
Looks like America has hit the trifecta of disaster in the past week: first the storm, then the flood and now the death of rightwing hatchet man William Rehnquist. Like the destruction in the Delta, Rehnquist's long-expected but still-untimely death is a disaster whose malign effects will reverberate far into the future.
Rehnquist's death gives Bush another opening on the Supreme Court -- another youngish rightwing hatchet man (or hatchet woman) to poison the system for decades to come -- and the opportunity to name the Chief Justice. It is the cruelest irony: in the very week that the gross criminal incompetence of the Bush Faction has been exposed for the whole nation to see -- the consequences of their exaltation of cronyism and ideological crankery above everything else, including the lives of their own people -- the Bushists now get to cement this wicked mindset into the Supreme Court for generations to come.
Will a Court led by judges appointed by this pathetic little cretin -- this liar, this betrayer, this prancing, strutting little ass -- uphold any measures that might be taken to alleviate the kind of brutal racial and economic barriers that were exposed by the abandonment of New Orleans? Not bloody likely. Of course, with the Bush Faction in charge of Congress -- and the Democratic "opposition" bought and sold by the same corporate bosses who gorge the Faction -- it's not likely that any substantial effort to grapple with American society's murderous inequalities and corrosive imbalance will take place anyway. At the very most, the Democrats might exert all their feeble strength and manage -- possibly -- to postpone a vote on the latest tax cuts for the rich (including the Pamper Paris Hilton Act, or the gutting of all estate taxes which is now Bush's top priority) for, oh, a few weeks. Or maybe they won't even manage that.
But even if the murder of New Orleans were to prompt a great wave of public revulsion, and sweep a new generation of genuinely public-minded public officials into office, their best efforts will be constantly undercut, hollowed out and shot down by the Bush Court, which will be working its deadly mischief long after the strutting cretin has left the national scene. Add a comment