Xpatriated Texan - A Maverick Believer in the Garden State

Christian Liberal is not an oxymoron

Location: United States

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Principled Politics - and the Lack Thereof

As the mayoral run-off in Hoboken inches closer, the attacks are getting faster and stupider.

Mister Snitch seems willing to go to any length to attack Carol Marsh. Not surprising. He supported a candidate that ran against Dave Roberts (the incumbent) and claimed he was "the candidate without affiliations", but who endorsed Dave Robers before the election count was cold. DeLea's blog cited electoral shennanigans. Then he pulled this "it is my duty" crap-line to explain his hypocrisy. My repeated questioning for explanations has only been met with "You gotta trust me" answers.

I also noticed that my comments to this effect were quickly deleted from his blog. What's the matter? You can't handle someone pointing out your hypocrisy?

I'll say here what I said there: You either stand for principles or you stand for sound-bites and opportunism. When you spend several weeks and several thousand dollars telling people that you want to end politics as usual, you simply cannot turn around and endorse the incumbent and have a shred of credibility left in your body. Yes, politiicans do it all the time. No, we shouldn't stand for it.

Snitch - among many others - has also been reporting on behind-the-scenes connections between David Roberts and Senator Jon Corzine. After checking with the Corzine campaign, the reports have been exaggerated or outright false. For instance, Corzine was criticized for giving to the Hudson County Democratic Organization - which he did. He also gave money to every other county Democratic organization in New Jersey. Roberts' campaign was proud to hand out a flyer where they cut and pasted sections of a letter from Senator Corzine to Mayor Roberts - what they don't say is that it was the same type of form letter any elected official can get from their Senator by writing a letter and asking for it. Rumors were swirling that Corzine had personally contacted every candidate on the slate to try and round up support for Roberts - which was again not true. They were contacted and asked to dispose of their remaining campaign funds by making contributions. None of which constitutes an endorsement.

My understanding of the matter - after talking directly with the Corzine campaign - is that Jon Corzine knows David Roberts personally and they are on friendly terms. However, the Senator does not involve himself in local political decisions. He does vote, but he won't publicize for whom he votes. It's his personal decision and he wants to keep it that way.

When you don't stand for what you say, you're a hypocrite. For way too long, we've accepted that in our politicians from every level - from the dogcatcher to the White House. It has to stop. The only way it will stop is for you and me to simply not vote for people who are so obviously lying. It's too late to get involved by the time the general election comes around. You have to be involved in the whole process - help select a primary contender, fight for what you believe in, and maybe, just maybe, you can squeak out a win. If not, you don't capitulate and try to sleep with the enemy. You reload, regroup, and get ready for the next time.

What's happened in Hoboken is exactly what happened in Jersey City last year. It's a political process called "co-opting the opposition". In Jersey City, Mayor Glen Cunningham died suddenly and the city had to throw up an election. This year, for the regularly scheduled election, Mayor Healy's team suddenly included the third (Willie Flood) and fourth (Steve Lipski) place finishers in the special election. It's pretty easy to see that you can earn a safe seat in future elections by throwing your lot in with the established candidate.

I want to be clear - not all political alliances are suspect. If, for example, DeLea were to have told me, "I thought Roberts didn't have a clue, but he called and we talked and discussed his plans. After that, I had to admit I was wrong." Same thing for Steve Lipski and Willie Flood in Jersey City. If you are going to suddenly join forces with the person you just spent several thousand dollars trying to convince people not to support, I think you need a better explanation than, "I think it's the best we can do. Trust me."

I try and live my life by a consistent set of principles - though I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes fail. However, I'm also honest when I fail and don't try to convince others that my failure was actually me doing the right thing all along.

Once upon a time, I'm told, people were proud of their politicians. They wanted their kids to grow up to be civic leaders. I find it hard to believe that many do so now. In fact, I'm fairly certain that most people would not want their kids to become involved in politics because of the moral price they are asked to pay for doing so. That's wrong - and on many levels.

If we truly want to save our country, then we have to start by demanding more and better from the politicians we elect at the local level. After all, very few get started by running for Senator. If we reward honestly and principled governance at lower levels, then we can demand it at higher levels. If we are willing to accept corruption and the tarring of a good candidates name at lower levels, then we should not surprised when we get fiascoes like the 2000 and 2004 elections at the national level.

Friday, May 27, 2005

How to use Religion to be Stupid

While riding Jamal hard through the sagebrush of the internet(s), I stumbled upon the Good News Magazine. Wow, I thought, this is cool. A good source for information. Then I saw how they were going to "prove" that DNA dispelled the theory of evolution and "proved" that some intelligent force was behind the existence of mankind.

Now, this sort of thinking has a long history. If you remember, Galileo was actually put on trial for stating that the earth was not the center of the universe. Not only was he put on trial, but his ideas were called, "absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical". The basis of this statement? "because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures."

I'm sure there is someone out there who honestly believes that the earth is flat, the heavens are a vault full of "minor lights" called stars that God put up there to amuse mankind and show his might, and that God pulls out his galactic knitting needles and fastens every cell of a baby together in the womb individually. There are also people who think Hitler was a wonderful person, that the moon-landing was faked, and that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not only that, but when I was seven, I actually believed the Devil had a pitchfork and would stab me in the butt a hundred times for every bad thing I ever did.

Well, I'm not seven anymore. Nor do I think like a seven year old anymore. I know the world is round, it revolves on its axis, it travels around the sun and the stars are always out there, but the sun is too bright for me to see them in the daytime. I also know that Hitler was a horrible person, there really are astronauts, and the only weapon of mass destruction in Iraq is the US Army. As far as the Devil is concerned, I'm sure he has better things to do than keep track of my failings.

I also know that no amount of investigation into DNA is going to prove that evolution cannot and has not happened. Why? Because it does, it did, and it will continue to happen. The only reason there is a debate at all is that, like the Church in Galileo's time, some people refuse to accept any evidence that threatens their conception of God. After all, the Bible says God created everything - what more proof does a believer need?

Plenty. Any faith that asks someone to turn off their God-given ability to think logically is, in my definition, a cult of stupidity. Stupidity does not make one more faithful, it makes one less so. One simply cannot deny reality as a way of being more faithful. You cannot deny your way into heaven.

I already posted about the idiocy of claiming that "evolution is just a theory". Another argument used to knock at evolution is that "it's never been seen". Actually, it has been seen. It has even been seen in both the laboratory and in natural observation.

Understand that the single step of evolution is the point where the descendants of a particular organism are no longer able to breed with their predecessors. This leads people to think there is somehow an abrupt change in biology between parent and child that precludes reproduction. That's just wrong thinking. Think of it this way: The female of a species gives birth to daughter that stands immediately to her left and proceeds to give birth to another daughter, who stands to her immediate left and does the same. Repeat this process until the last descendant is standing to the right of the original parent and chances are very likely that they will be biologically of a different species. This not only can happen, but does happen and is happening at this very moment. The concept is called a "ring species" and this article gives several examples.

Let's look at the example of the greenish warbler - a bird found in both western Siberia and in eastern Siberia. They are two distinct species and where there is a direct overlap of their territory, they do not interbreed. Yet, as you trace their presence back through the Tibetan Plateau, you find that these two species actually become more and more similar until they are actually exactly the same.

If you trace forwards from Tibet, you get the opposite effect - one species actually changes into two species that do not interbreed. Enough genetic differentiation exists between the species in Siberia that they are actually genetically unable to reproduce with each other. That, my friends, is evolution. It doesn't happen in one large step, but in many very small steps without ever clearly defining where the actual change has taken place. At the end, however, there has been a change.

That is undeniable. It is simply the truth. Guess what? It's never spoken of in the Bible. Big surprise - neither is electricity or nuclear energy or x-rays or practically none of what we consider to be essential to modern life.

You can claim that God is behind evolution - I have no problem with that idea. However, you simply cannot say that evolution does not take place. Nor can you say that God is actively steering evolution - there is neither scientific evidence of that nor mention of it in any scripture. Religion is a poor substitute for reality and much evil has been committed when it is forced to be one.

I would caution against someone claiming "God can be found in DNA". What happens to that belief if DNA is actually revealed to be easily explainable through scientific reason in the next hundred years? Has your God shrunken into nothing because you boxed him in with science? If so, you don't worship a God, but simply the unknown. That is why I won't say that "this type of high-level information has been found to originate only from an intelligent source". Tomorrow, scientists may actually find something upon which DNA is built and a theology that has to be re-built after every scientific discovery is too wishy-washy to build any sort of faith.

I do believe that God's WORK can be seen in DNA. It amazes me that all of the incredible variation of life can spring from such a tiny building block. The fact that something so small and simple and unchanging can result in life that is so vibrant, diverse, and constantly evolving is miraculous to me. If someone finds some sub-DNA, I'll marvel all the more.

I am perfectly content to let science wrestle with and discover the how and when and what of life. I'm even content to let science discover the mechanics of these questions. That is the purpose of science. In the realm of why and how and what to do with that world that I am given, I will turn towards my faith. That is the purpose of religion. Science can tell us how we got here, let religion tell us what to do now that we are.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nuclear Fallout

Yesterday morning I expressed doubt that the filibuster ban would take place. I also predicted that anyone who reall wanted a shot at the '08 nomination for President would take the lead. What I didn't predict is that it would set the entire stage for the '08 Republican primary battle.

Over on the blogs, Faithful Progressive sees the moderates asserting themselves. Hippy Dave sees the paranoid Right crumbling in the extremism of Rick Santorum. I think they both miss the whole picture, but contribute very nicely to the discussion.

Here's the picture: people like Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, and Jeb Bush have increasingly put ambitious people like, Bill Frist in a position where he has to pander to the Religious Paranoia. His plan seems to have been to spend two years solidifying his base on the wacko-right and then try to convince everyone he's a moderate in the '07 primary. That is now the only position he has.

Don't think that anyone will let him move an iota on this, either. The Bush Administration needs the Religiously Paranoid to push any agenda. They lean on Frist to do their work in the Senate. Frist, having already begun courting the Religiously Paranoid at Justice Sunday, will find that they will viciously turn on him if he tries to moderate his position. Surely you have heard the Dobson quote about "betrayal". Don't think Frist won't hear this Bible verse if he wavers: (Luke 9:62) No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit...

But the threat of the nuclear option was very unpopular with many Americans. Even among partisan Republicans only 37% supported the power grab. That means that John McCain just gave Bill Frist a gut-check for the opening primaries. The other Republicans that voted for the compromise (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of SC, John Warner of VA, Mike DeWine of Oh, and Lincoln Chafee of RI) probably just put themselves in the running for a VP bid. I see Bill Frist getting very little support in Iowa or New Hampshire and with Graham falling towards McCain, things don't look so good in the Southland now.

A centrist will win the Republican nomination - and the (very) early favorite is McCain if he goes for it. If so, he'd probably have to take a Paranoid Right VP to hold the party together. Of course, he could realize that the Paranoid Right is not really going to vote for anyone but a Republican and make a bold move - like picking Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins for VP. Two moderates uniting Northeast and Southwest would radically alter electoral plans.

Of course, that Paranoid group could fracture completely and throw their weight behind "The Christian Party" or some such thing - and then Brownback and Frist have a chance at a nomination from someone.

Until then, Bill Frist, break out the Dylan records, cuz the times, they are a-changing.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blowin' my own Horn - and Eating my Words

As you may have noticed, I've been doing a little restructuring of the website. As of yet, I'm not satisfied, which means I'll change a few more things before I'm through. One thing is the google ads on the top of the page. Click on them, spend all your money, and let me retire to the Caymans. Okay, hurry, I'm holding my breath here.

The other is the links to the Ridin' Herd on the Blogosphere and the Roundin' Up the News blogs. I felt like the two features were overtaking this space and pulling me off of my target. But I liked putting them up and have had a good response to them. So, they are now semi-independent. Hope you enjoy.

Now for the part I don't like:

Earlier today I put up a post concerning some allegations of back-room dealing by Jon Corzine in the mayoral race in Hoboken. After I got the same story from a few places, I basically let my anger get the best of me and put up some rather negative statements. The Corzine campaign was kind enough to return my calls and spent a significant amount of time exploring the rumors I had been hearing.

What I got was a lot better information on what was going on in Hoboken. The result is that I have some compelling testimony from both sides and the whole things seems to be based on nothing. It seemed to me that the only fair thing to do was to remove the post and explain myself here.

So now, here I sit, scratching my head and wondering how anyone can really tell what's going on. Honestly - you can't. Here's what I am sure of:

Jon Corzine is officially neutral in the Hoboken mayoral race. As a resident, he obviously has some private hopes, but he is keeping those private. That is his right.

Jon Corzine has known David Roberts for some time and considers him a friend. He contributed to his campaign in the past, but has not done so during this election cycle.

The Senator has not been trying to get votes for David Roberts, either through direct contact with voters, local politicians, or any other means.

That's where things stand now.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle - and Other Lies Made Fact in Kansas

True or False: Evolution is only a theory, not a fact. Therefore, it should not be taught in our schools as equally true as, say, gravity or thermodynamics.

If you answered "True"; then you should RUN - don't walk - to Kansas and snap-up the new science teaching jobs that apparently will require no actual knowledge of science.

For anyone who keeps a guarded eye on the religious right, the story is nothing new. The first step is that they force their dogma onto society until struck down by the courts (whom they then accuse of being "activist" and "legislating from the bench"). Then they push the same idea, with all references to G-O-D removed, as a valid alternative. Since their argument is so flimsy a mouse fart would destroy it, they elect people to key positions to get it implemented. They then have public hearings where they appear to care what anyone who opposes them says. After the hearing closes, they do what they wanted to do before the courts declared it illegal anyway.

The current story in Kansas has to do with the evolution vs. "intelligent design" "controversy. I have to put "controversy" in quotes because to do otherwise might somehow give the idea that there is a legitimate disagreement over this stuff. Let me be blunt - there isn't. The only way you can dispute evolution occurs is if you either: 1) lack the intellectual capacity to understand the evidence; or 2) refuse to deal with reality.

What the whole dispute is built on is a literary interpretation of a scientific term. If you use a literary dictionary, you will find a definition of evolution that says something similar to "an idea upon which action is taken" which is basically saying "a hunch". This is how you use "theory" when you ask a police detective, "Do you have any theory of what happened here?" As a scientific term, it has a much stricter definition.

A scientific theory means something along the lines of "an explanatory concept that has been tested repeatedly until the evidence collected reduces to negligible the chance of it being untrue". In plain English, that means "this has been proven true". Of course, scientists never prove a positive, so they won't say that. That's why this whole fiasco continues to be revisited every few months. (For more info on evolution and the legal dust-up about it, I refer you to Teach Evolution.)

So what? Kansas won't be giving us the next generation of astronauts or gene splicers or anyone who wants to teach science outside of Kansas. Big deal. Yeah, it is. On three levels.

First, no one has a right to enforce ignorance on someone else. If you want to teach your kid that evolution is wrong and make him look stupid for denying reality, that's your choice. Don't be surprised if you have either a very dense kid or one that hates you for trying to make him that way. However, you have no right to try to force my kid to follow that path. If this is simply about trying to give someone the ability to believe in something beyond what they learn at school - then turn off the TV and computer and make your kid read a book on it. Here's a real shocker - have a question and answer session with him. Guess what? You may learn something.

Second, it undermines the entire purpose of education. My kid goes to school so he can learn what is known - not what is unknown and unknowable. We know about evolution. We know about gravity. We know about the laws of motion and thermodynamics. We don't know how the universe was created, what came before it, or why. The only legitimate answer science can give when it bumps into the unknown is: "I don't know. Let's find out." As soon as any other answer is given, it no longer is education in any real sense of the word. Science isn't about mysticism - it's about empirical research and human understanding.

Third, as a Christian, I don't want my kid learning religion from his biology teacher. I don't send him to Sunday School so he can be a molecular biologist - with good reason. Why then would I send him to a scientist to learn religion? Honestly, if you want a religion class in school, have a religion class in school. Just be sure that you are willing to teach ALL religions as being equally valid or you are violating the law. This is why our public schools stay away from religion classes and religious-based private schools embrace them. Let's be clear - your child has a right to attend a public school, but you do not have the right to make that school teach religious dogma.

I am a Christian, but I am also a scientist. Before I turned to studying psychology and politics, my background was in electrical engineering and nuclear physics. In the heritage of Galileo and Copernicus, John Locke and Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Luther and John Wesley - I believe that it is an affront to God to believe that man must set aside his intellect to accept faith. Any place where faith sits athwart reason, reason must win out. This is the advance of both the Reformation and the Enlightenment - that each of us can use our full capacities to understand our place in the universe. We have the power to separate superstition from faith. We should not be timid about doing so.

The real problem with intelligent design, from a Christian standpoint, is that it seeks to limit God to being a proxy for what is unknown by science. To do this, it ignores evidence that has been rigorously tested and found to be solid. Faith simply cannot conflict with reality and lay any ongoing claim to truth. Faith is the belief in things not seen - yes. Faith is not, however, the belief in things proven to be untrue or nonbelief of things that have been proven true. That way lies dogma and the repression that always accompanies it. That is, in fact, the opposite of faith.

Moves to be Made

For those of you that enjoy the mad scrabble I've been doing through news and blogs - there's good news! I've decided to move those efforts to their own pages. As of sometime next week (whenever I make the first post) Ridin' Herd will continue to mostly feature links to blogs that caught my eye in some way. Round Up will continue to focus mostly on news stories, but occasionally will pull in a blog or two as well.

I suppose that's good news for those of you who DON'T like those features as well.

Still scratchin' my head at why I came in third place out of 146,000 for the search "average price to get circumcised". Yes, I appreciate the advertising. In case anyone is wondering - no, I'm not that desperate for money (yet).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ridin' Herd on the Blogosphere

The blogosphere, as you well known, is full of the ''orneriest bunch of critters you ever did see. Here's a few that's worth seeing:

LA Mom heads up the herd with a post that harks back to Tuesdays post on the Phantom Professor. Do you hide your affluence-bigotry?

Random Ravings wonders why no one seems to care about new evidence that the case for invading Iraq was intentionally falsified. I wonder, too. Maybe it's just "old news" at this point, but it's still "old news" with new fatalities - and there's nothing trumped up about that.

Over at Off the Beaten Track, we find some notes from a Christian seeking better understanding of his own faith by understanding other faiths. Here's a link for practicing tolerance in the truest fashion possible.

Mainstream Baptist is picking up my bad habit of exposing the Religious Right as being neither. Take a look at what he has to say.

Talking Donkeys weighs in with the latest (to this point) on the "nuclear option". Also noted is the moral response of Calvin College over President Bush's planned speaking event. Hey, look what happens when you don't pre-screen your crowd, George!

Progressive Protestant, perhaps picking up on Mainstream Baptist's bad habit of exposing the Religious Right as being neither, has this post about biblical marriage. Guess what? It isn't what's being pushed on us. I know, big surprise (yawn)!

Tip 'o the hat to Tim Samoff for bringing some attention to emerging talent on the blogohorizon. Everyone can use a helping hand to get noticed, and I'm happy to pass along the link to Freethinking Faith.

The Master's Vision also gets noted by friendly advertising. Thanks to Gutless Pacifist.

...in the outer... reminds us that Jesus looked for the forgotten, not the ones with the shiniest chariot.

The Mountaintop has found a reason to disagree with President Bush. Nice points,

Ono once again finds that conservatives are not happy unless they are victims of something. As I posted previously, if you feel out of place because your beliefs don't reflect reality, don't get mad when people tell you that your beliefs don't reflect reality.

The folks at Think Progress warn that we may become Argentina. Nah, we can't play soccer that well. Anyway, I take exception to listing people from theHeritage Foundation, The Brookings Institution, and Alan Greenspan as being "big thinkers from the left and the right". There's no left represented. Here's a hint: they all agreed that we had to cut back on government to save the economy.

A word of support goes out to Dave at The Grace Pages. It isn't easy to confront people you love with something you think will cost that love. It's good to hear that it didn't.

Josh Marshall has posted my thoughts exactly on the whole "nuclear option" business. It isn't nuclear, it isn't Constitutional, it's simply procedural - but that doesn't make it less important. Hint: the Constitution does not require that opposition roll over like a dog just because they are the minority. Majikthise takes this one on, as well. Check out Lawyers, Guns, and Money for a connection to John Cornyn.

Reverend Mommy gives us her view of God as well as giving us an idea what's going on in the world.

My latest guest post is up at Old Town Review Chronicles. Yes, it's still on Medicare B. Yes, I still think it's a good idea, and I've yet to hear one reason why it isn't. Am I really that scary to disagree with?

Tom DeLay (you didn't think I'd forget Tommy-boy did you?) is now being drawn into the web of Jack Abramoff and New Donkey puts a few more pieces in place for us. The Bull Moose catches the same story.

Economist's View worries about rising interest rates and who will replace Greenspan. I'm guessing.............(church lady voice) SATAN!?! Brad DeLong notes how the Right is already running down Paul Volker - who did more than Reagan to save the US economy in 1980.

Churchgal keeps the pressure on Dr. Hager. Good. I don't like rapists - even when it's "just" their wife.

To end on a high note (F sharp, with feeling) Wesley Blog pitches a new show to the networks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Round-Up - All the News I Want to Read

Remember the good ol' days when "nuclear threat" meant the Soviet Union? The "Rooskies" who wanted our "precious bodily fluids"? Now it's the Senate that's a nuclear threat. NPR has an audio clip that explores the background of one of the "nuclear nominations" - Janice Rogers Brown - here.

ABC News has a story here about the ongoing political theatre. NPR has another profile of Justice Owen here. The Houston Chronicle is concerned that no one really knows that Justice Owen loves dogs and little children. Maybe that's why Michael Jackson isn't on the Supreme Court - he hates dogs.

President Bush's other nomination fight - that of John Bolton - has the Baltimore Sun voting nay.

Of course, the Senate is doing other things, too. Like considering an energy bill. Of course, like most things connected to the Bush Administration, it won't actually do anything.

Let's not forget the House, though. Surely they are looking out for us Americans. Yes, they are busy while everyone is watching the Senate trying to piece together a destructive Social Insecurity Plan.

Yeah, let's focus on that because there aren't any real problems anywhere else to deal with. Nothing like labor and immigration policy. It isn't like there's a problem with anti-poverty programs. It isn't that the State of Kansas is trying to undermine the entire basis of science education for another generation of Americans. Nope. Pay no mind to the silly man behind the screen. We don't need astronauts, physicist, or doctors in Kansas, anyway.

Iraq? Yeah, they invaded us, don't you remember? Didn't Saddam storm North Carolina or something? That's the line we hear from Condi Rice. Yet more evidence that the prime qualification for position in the Bush Administration is the ability to deny reality.

Since we cracked the evolution egg, here's a quiz from the Houston Chronicle. If we share 98% of our DNA with a chimp, how come they're so much stronger? Nah, we don't need to teach that sort of heresy. Who says they need better schools in Texas?

Well, David Gelernter for one. Only his plan for "improvement" is to abolish them. So, his complaint is that the underfunded schools make his kids look like chumps because they are conservative. Let's fix that by sending everyone to schools that make kids look like chumps because they are liberal. But let's be clear - in this argument "liberal" means teaching what has been backed up with science while "conservative" means remaining willfully ignorant of advances made by said science. Here's a clue, buddy. Schools are there to teach facts. If your kid looks stupid because he disagrees with facts, it isn't the fault of the school.

At least we finally have a conservative who will be honest and say they want to destroy public schooling.

This isn't quite on par with the Ivory Billed Woodpecker story, but a Kemp's ridley nest was found at Galveston. Oddly enough, the 103 eggs laid by the turtle would exactly replace the 101 sea turtles that were found dead along the Texas coast this year. Now, if only they had a 100% survival rate....

The Texas House has been busy, too. You can see here that they spent considerable time ensuring that verbal permission is not good enough for a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor. This must be a huge problem - oh wait, twenty-five states have a higher teen abortion rate than Texas. Of course they don't have many teen pregnancies in Texas because they're all good Christian folks - oh wait, they are fifth in the nation for teen pregnancy rate and second in the nation for teen birth rates (Thank you, Mississippi). See Guttmacher Institute for more info.

Yet the Texas House still hasn't found a way to record their own votes. Could it be that all those Republicans really don't want anyone to know what they're doing? Nah, couldn't be. It's obviously the evil Democrats just obstructin' the Lord's, I mean, Republican's agenda.

At least the Dallas Morning News is upset about the Do Nothing Republican State Lege.

The DMN also carries this story that should be a warning to bloggers who want to work. There is no such thing as "anonymous". If I could, I'd hire the Phantom Professor right now just for this: "Come to think of it, I guess the rich have been unfairly segregated by society. All their lives they've been forced to ride at the front of the bus. They live in gated communities designed to restrict their freedom of movement. Their clothes are tagged with identifying logos - little Polo players and crocodiles - that tell the rest of us who and what they are. Their children attend separate schools (and wear uniforms!). Where is Amnesty International? Why isn't the UN working to liberate these rich people and let them mix freely with the rest of us?"

And just to back up the conservative claim that there is no need to have an EPA, we have this story. It's a good thing they bought that hybrid pick-up, what with those industries spewing pollution. How many hybrids does it take to make it dead even with the 48,446 pounds of pollution thirteen industries plopped into the air? The good news: two releases a day should be a record or something.

The Hudson Reporter, back in New Jersey, finally is watching the mayoral race in Hoboken. It's a good thing, too, because no other media is.

Also from New Jersey - can you believe politicians are profiting from stock tips from people who get state contracts? Unbelievable. But politics in New Jersey is so clean.

And these are the people we are trusting to overhaul our state tax system? There's a recipe for disaster only the captain of the Titanic can appreciate.

That's all for now. Don't forget to brush down your ponies and soap up your saddles. Happy Trails.

Yet another head-scratcher search

Many thanks to whoever found my site by searching "The first Texan to see aliens".

I made #1 in this search beating over 109,000 other sites. I'd be proud if that was the target audience I'm aiming for.

Sopranos move to Jersey City (Council)

If it were on television, it might well be an episode of the Sopranos. A jealous mobster beats up girlfriend, puts her through law school, then uses her name to hide his assets. She double-crosses him, leaving him and keeping the property. Years later, she puts her life together, even earning the job of City Counsel for a mayor of a nearby town. The charismatic young mayor dies of a sudden heart attack and the new mayor quickly informs the woman that her services are no longer needed. She then challenges the new mayor’s ward candidate in the next election and forces a run-off election. Suddenly, all of her past comes bubbling to the surface in the local press.
Is it a case of a jealous ex-boyfriend seeking revenge against the young girlfriend that left him? Is it a case of the “non-existant” mob reaching forwards through time to ruin the life of a double-crosser? Is it the story of a young girl who made a bad choice, made up for it, and is now having her name dragged through the mud for political purposes? Or is it simply what happens when someone enters the public eye with things in their past that are juicy and sell papers? (Like this one and this one and this one and this one.)
Whatever else it may be, it is the ongoing story of former City Corporation Council and current City Council Ward A candidate Karen DeSoto. The case has been dragging on for four years and is set to finally go to court next month in Flemington. There are many ways to spin the story, and none of them are flattering. Both Karen DeSoto and her former boyfriend, Anthony Scaffidi, are sure to make themselves out to be innocent. The truth is…well, only those two know the truth.
What we know for a fact is that Scaffidi is not an angel. The man has proven ties to the Genovese family. This does not mean that everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie, but it makes it a little difficult to believe that a fresh law school grad could hoodwink him into signing over all of his property. It also makes him a difficult man to feel sorry for, but the law doesn’t exist for only those who are sympathetic figures.
Of course, that does not make DeSoto an angel, either. It brings up some troubling issues with her past at the worst (for her) possible time. It should be simple to clear her name – if, as she claims, she bought the property in dispute, it should be easy to show that she legally earned the money to do so. However, with less than a month to go before the run-off election, she may find that winning in court is a Pyrrhic victory as far as her political career is concerned.
I suppose you could put it this way, Soprano fans: If Carmella left Tony and became a lawyer, would you vote for her as your City Council representative?
Meanwhile, as the Jersey Journal burns ink as fast as it can be bought on this case, it finally finds a way to mention Steve Lipski. As far as it goes, he is right that he was “cited, not indicted” for fiscal mismanagement. This would basically translate into being too ignorant to run the school rather than being criminally malicious about it. For a man who brags about his multiple degrees, this seems a bit hard to swallow. Are we really supposed to believe that no one on the board ever said, “You know, I’ve heard about competitive bidding for contracts. What do you guys think about seeing if we can find someone to do stuff for us for a lower price?”?
Of course, neither the Jersey Journal nor the Star-Ledger has any stories about Councilman Lipski being investigated. The best reporting has been from Channel 7 in New York. It’s sad that we have to depend on the sympathy of New York City to find out what our elected representatives are doing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ridin' Herd on the Blogosphere

I had to remark to my friend Karl yesterday that being a room full of bloggers as they blogged about being at a conference of bloggers as they interviewed bloggers about blogging was just about like being in geek heaven. The fact that they had synchronous chat displayed behind the panel only made it that much geeker - but it did give people an outlet. Not much talking, but the tik-tik-tik of laptop keyboards was almost deafening.

Onward, buckaroos...

Empirical Friend has a great post about how war changes people. No one wants peace more than a soldier.

Wonder what Hell would be like on Halloween? Ok, this isn't exactly the same, but Spiritual Diablog did make me think a bit. It's all about the "poor bastard" of the Bible - Job. Someone tell Howard Dean - he claims that's his favorite book in the New Testament.

Double-dipping from Three Way News I found this post about the Iraq war. Poignant.

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court is busy deciding what to do about wine sales. Wow. Good thing we have a government to protect our right to have booze shipped directly to our house.

Bad Methodist has a number of good posts. Two are concerning anti-gay marriage initiatives in Arizona and Nebraska. The other is concerning judges, Bush, and Christ - can you pick out which one is really part of the Trinity?

Curtis over at Beyond Visual Range hasn't put up anything new yet, and this is my way to nudge him. Plus, he listened to me and turn on his comments feature - despite what everyone at the Personal Democracy Forum said about that being bad.

Blue Wave NJ is making it TOO easy to contact your Senators to oppose the judicial nominations of right-wing wackos. I say, click it a few dozen times.

Toleration is the subject of Body and Soul's post.

Here's a story that is going to make every politician in Jersey mad they didn't think of it first (someone check on Mike Ferguson). We now have proof of a connection between the Anti-Religious Right and the KKK. Why isn't this the lead for CBS News tonight?

The Bull Moose has taken leave of his senses. He claims the fillibuster should used rarely - seven out of a few hundred is not rare?

The Chris Bell campaign is pointing out that Rick Perry's personal friendship with the President didn't do any good in keeping military bases open. Good thing President Bush doesn't hate Perry, he might make him look bad. Of course, he doesn't need any help doing that.

Christian Dissent takes blogging to the audio age. As he says, listening to people in the background is really interesting.

From two sources, we take up the Dr. W. David Hager story. Thanks to Dora and Churchgal.

For those of you who love a good gay whore story, Coffegrounds tells us about Jeff Gannon (if the name's familiar, look here to wonder why he's disgraced and still "supporting" Tom DeLay) and his trips to the White House when there was no press conference scheduled. Maybe we should find out who in the White House communications department was at the DeLay dinner. I think we should all email Tucker Eskew for an official denial.

Jon Corzine joins the Princeton students mock fillibuster Way to go, Jon.

Dan Skinner notes the breakdown on nuclear talks. That phrase had so much more meaning back in the heady 1980s. He also notes that not all Skinners are created equal - or at least not billed that way. That's okay, Dan, at least you're still a liberal elitist. Now go drink your latte.

Following on the heals of Mr. Skinner, the cunning linguist of the left, we go to DumpMike to learn of New Jersey's most linguistically twisted Congressman. Man, this guy can lie!

In my ongoing "don't look now but the fox is in the henhouse" campaign, Economist's View notes that Cheney and Greenspan could be conspiring to get another Objectivist in charge of the country. Okay, he doesn't say "Objectivist" but that's my opinion.

Faithful Progressive continues interviewing Christian bloggers from the left. Don't worry. I'm not offended that I haven't been asked yet. I hope "yet" is the proper word, though. (imagine whimpering puppy sounds)

The Marsh4Mayor campaign (which is, for some unknown reason, listed as "Home Page" in my blogroll) wants to let Hobokenites know where Mayor Roberts' bread is buttered. Guess what? It isn't from Hoboken residents at all.

Tod over at "It Takes a Church" keeps us hanging. Hopefully, we'll hear the rest of the story soon.

More about George Galloway from James Wolcott. You know, I really am starting to like British politicans more than American ones. Can we import some of these people - at least the honest ones?

As a former sailor, I have to agree with Lawyers, Guns, and Money about this one. It's all about projection of force and knowing that losing a nuclear powered carrier just off the coast of China would really screw us.

Since I studied energy policy and tend to get exasperated when someone brings up the "peak oil" hysteria, I have to thank Majikthise for a well-thought post on the subject. I don't think we are anywhere near "peak oil". However, it would be kind of stupid to wait until then to examine alternatives, no?

New Donkey notes, as I have been saying for quite sometime, that there are NO conservative Republicans anymore. I'm still deciding how good that may or may not be.

I'm keeping the mutual appreciation thing going with Motherlode over at No More Apples. Just to keep with the spirit, I also tip my hat, via Apples, to Public Christian. I also added them to the Blogroll.

Old Town Review Chronicles wonders about the Bush Doctrine in Uzbekistan.

Pandragon earns a spot by quoting Molly Ivins. Pass along link to Skippy at American Street.

Jason Byassee is trying to make enemies from his spot at Sojourner's by pointing out that it is Revelation as a singular thing and many other things that are sooooo wrong with the portrayal of the last days of earth.

Reverend Mother and Songbird both go to threes to remind us they are really people behind the bloggishness of the internet. Also of the Trinity - you know the one without anyone named Bush.

One more addition to the "What would Jesus....?" litany comes from The Manicheist.

Think Progress joins the chorus in saying that there is more that a Newsweek story behind the rioting in Afghanistan. Mainstreet Baptist picks up on the same thread. As my brother said last night, "Anyone with a brain would have figured out that toilets aren't big enough to flush books."

Joe has a nice children's story from "the Arab world" about not making yourself into what everyone else thinks you should be.

Father Jake takes on the lie that any American family resembles a Biblical one at all.

Just so we can finish on an up note (everyone hum a B flat): Our congratulations to the Spero family from over at Santificarnos for the new baby.

Personal Democracy, Personal Faith - and You

The highlight of the Personal Democracy Forum was supposed to be the final panel. A panel of bigwigs was supposed to teach us what the future of political media would be. Since I am a political (pick your favorite descriptor), I actually had pen and paper ready to take some notes. I should have saved the effort.
The highlight of the panel was Arriana Huffington’s gaff comparing politicians using the internet with “giving children sex” – it’s important but they don’t know what to do with it. The only competing moment came when Jay Rosen told conservative Chuck Defeo that he didn’t care if he had found a better and cheaper way to talk to people. That caused Tucker Eskew to leap to his conservative brethren’s defense saying, “I don’t know that you should care. I don’t even care if you care.” Well, that’s the way to inspire people. Since the room was pretty much full of liberals, that was probably not his goal, anyway.
It was disappointing to me because the room was filled with so many people who have dedicated their lives to reaching out to others. Here was a grand moment lost. It was a moment like what must that moment must have been when someone asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Do you ever dream about a better America?” It turned out to be a moment like it would have been if Dr. King had said, “Well, yeah. Sure I do.”
In 1980, Ronald Reagan faced two fellow Evangelicals for the Presidency. Reagan was the only one who stopped to speak to the National Association of Evangelicals. He didn’t ask for money and he didn’t ask for votes. Instead, he gave them a mission. “Help me,” he said, “stop abortion. Go back to your churches and urge them to do whatever is necessary. Agreement is not enough. They must act and continue acting until they win.”
Of course, Evangelicals turned out to support Reagan throughout his eight years in office. Why? Because he had given them power and had given them a mission. He had deputized some eight thousand pastors to work as his surrogate in a cause he claimed was more important than anything else facing the nation. “Trust me to take care of the Soviets,” he said, “You just take care of the abortion issue.”
Huffington missed the opportunity to deputize a room full of mostly sympathetic, liberal, internet-savvy people. Rosen missed the opportunity to urge an auditorium full of believers that the media is a hollow shell. No one looked out at the crowd and said, “You are the future of political media in America. You. Each one of you. Now what are you going to do about it?” A great opportunity was lost and Defeo and Eskew won simply by watching a couple of liberals be too sheepish to reach out to a room full of friends.
A few people in the room nodded along with Huffington and Rosen, but I doubt many of them left with a renewed passion for their goals. Perhaps many of them don’t have goals and are just at the top because they happened to be the first with an idea. If so, they won’t remain there long. Because I do have a goal. In the long run, those who focus on the prize always beat out the ones who just get lucky in the beginning.
I started this blog because I want to be part of the future of political media. I want to put forth a Liberal Christian voice in the political fray. My goal is to provide a moral balance for the Religious Right and to expose them as being neither religious nor right. If you read what I write and nod along, then I’m happy you’re here. But if that’s all you do, then I’ve failed.
The Bible teaches us that believing is not enough – even Satan believes and even trembles in fear of the wrath of God. Agreement is not enough. I can make it as easy as possible for you to write your Senator or Representative by providing links to their websites. I can tell you about election day and explain complex policy and scry for morality behind it. But if you don’t do something – if you don’t go vote, if you don’t support independent candidates, if you don’t ACT LIKE YOU CARE – then all we have done is share a bit of time. That isn’t what I want.
I want you – each of you – to take action. Maybe all you can do is send a letter to your Senator. Maybe you can help a local candidate hang posters. Maybe you can find a Meet-up and join a local DFA or One America group. Maybe you can write a letter to the editor of your paper. I don’t know. It isn’t up to me to decide what you do. It’s up to you.
You may have twelve in your group or twelve thousand. It doesn’t matter. The righteous cannot long be denied – unless they agree to be denied. You are the leader you are waiting to find. You are hereby deputized. Now, go make something happen.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today's Post

Today I'll be attending the Personal Democracy Forum - so the posting will be greatly shortened. You may be able to get the podcast here. If not, then come around tomorrow for a review of what I heard while I was there.

In the meantime, check out some political news from New Jersey with Dump Mike. Mike Ferguson is the token shoe-shine boy for Tom DeLay in New Jersey.

For the skinny on politics in Texas, try the Burnt Orange Report. Hook 'em.

For a broader picture, look at Majikthise or Dan Skinner.

Gotta run. Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Round-up All the News I want to Read

Where to start, where to start....

First the good news. With all the sickos running off with kids, here's a story with a happy ending.

As proof that John Paul didn't do everything so well, this story reminds us that there are still people in the church who are abusing their positions - as well as the ones who look to them for protection. The new Pope, following the lead of the old Pope, apparently is picking someone for his old job (reviewing these cases and "enforcing doctrine") who knows how to sweep things under the rug.

Keeping the tone heavy, we find the Lubbock Avalanche Journal tipping its hat to the village of Meadow, Texas for preserving their blacksmith shop. Notice the same hat is tipped to the people of Lamesa for taking over a for-profit theatre and running it as a community project. Who says the market follows the will of the people. Also note that they lead by disputing whether Norm Cash was really from Post or Justiceburg. Here's a map of the area so I can explain why this made me laugh. See, I know of Justiceburg as "that house on the left side of the road that has a flag pole - turn right there". If you follow the link above for Justiceburg, you'll see that as late as the 1990s, they had a thriving population of about seventy-five. Meadow, by way of comparison, is a bustling metropolis of some nearly six hundred people. No word on how many dogs and chickens, though. You gotta love little towns, man.

Remember May 11, 1970? No? You weren't in Lubbock then (I actually wasn't either, but it became part of the folk lore of my childhood). Honestly, though, I didn't know the civic center was built to commemorate the dead. It's a creepy idea to me - I mean, I used to go to dance to the Maines Brothers there and get mildly drunk. That was back before Natalie Maines was a Dixie Chick.

On to more deadly things, this story tells us that Army intelligence tracked some guy hoping that he would lead them to Osama, then decided it was better to throw a missile up his wazoo. Is it just me or is a missile a bit, um, excessive to go after one guy? The good news is that we have been successful in our recent offensive along the Syrian border. Except, of course, for the few that will not return home alive.

Glenn Reynolds of the Slate comes up with a good idea that he calls "Pounding on Pat" (Buchanan, of course). Apparently, Buchanan is saying that WWII was a mistake - which would explain President Bush's recent remarks about Yalta. Of course, Robertson's remarks were first printed in the unrecycled toilet paper of WorldNetDaily. Take it from me (or check it out yourself) if someone talks to you about what they read in WND, they are trying to indoctrinate you into the Anti-Biblical Paranoid Religious Right. Run, don't walk.

This is from the LA Times and it shows how the Anti-Biblical Paranoid Religious Right is trying to bring religious persecution to a cubicle near you. Maybe they want to turn corporate American into a shadow of the Air Force Academy.

From the "Charles Manson At-Home Course on the Sanctity of Human Life", Tom DeLay is now accusing Democrats of having "no class". What, did he just watch a rerun of Fat Albert? Yeah, this is the same function that The Daily DeLay heard through that scandal-mongering ABC NEWS that James Guckert attended. Guckert is the real name of soft-ball throwing gay prostitute Jeff Gannon. Would it be wrong to say this guy has more balls than Monica Lewinsky? Recently heard on Tom DeLay's wiretap, "Hello pot? This is the kettle. YOU'RE BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!"

Tim Russert is afraid that civility is dead in the Senate. Yeah, it's getting to where you can't even preen your gay whore without someone making a deal out of it. Soon it'll be just like the House. Must be the Democrats' fault. Yeah, they're the ones that are portraying honorably discharged veterans as traitors.

Someone please get this mental picture out of my head. This story with the picture of Bill Frist made me think, "Honey, where's my solid-gold cod piece?"."

Ever want to give a homeless man a drink? That's all this German official was doing. Just trying to help. Hey, the homeless guy had a skin condition, okay?

This little critter slipped out of the herd yesterday. Basically someone is upset because Howard Dean is supporting Bernie Sanders run for the Vermont Senate seat. This guy believes that the "I" next to Bernie's name (sorry, but when I say "Sanders" I think "Colonel") stands for "socialist". They also take issue with Jon Corzine for such things as voting in support of categories like: "to check corporate power", "health care", and "fair taxation". Yep, those damn socialists want to make this country more egalitarian. Where did they get an anti-American idea like that? "All men are created equal"? Obviously, Jefferson had just finished reading something French when he penned that. Actually, the thrust is to characterize "progressives" as "socialists" so they can then jump to "communists" and "anti-American". I'd call them a bunch of dumb goons, but they have the majority.

Since the Bush Administration has claimed credit for Syria's pullout from Lebanon, I wonder if they'll credit their Afghanistan policy for the unrest in Uzbekistan? If Uzbekistan sounds familiar, it's because they are our partner is the "war on terror". Can someone explain why the terror in Uzbekistan always comes from the government, though? Here's some background on the matter.

Rep. Robert Wexler is taking President Bush at his word. The fool. He's actually proposing a real fix for Social Security. This just in - Wexler targeted for defeat by the RNC.

Kwasi Mfume is the latest political hopeful to have his history examined with a fine toothed comb. There seems to be some grain of truth in the story. As with local Jersey City politico Steve Lipski, Mfume deserves a fair investigation to clear him name.

For my brother, who is a member of a union, I bring up this story about the decline of union jobs. Bro, tell them about helping the people who need it the most and maybe they can tackle two problems at once. See, if illegal aliens (let's not be cute - if Mexicans looking for jobs in the US) were guaranteed labor representation and a fair wage, don't you think there would be a lot less abuse of them? Don't you think they'd appreciate SOMEONE to tell Senior Biff that he can't work them like a dog?

The evil internet catches up with a Harris County official. That's why they don't want municipal wifi in Texas?

Wonder how President Bush could claim to be a "uniter, not a divider"? Here's a lesson in bipartisanship from Texas. See he included Rabid Republicans and Not-Quite-So-Rabid-Republicans. That's almost as BI as Jeff Gannon at a Tom DeLay salute!

Did you know the FBI keeps tabs on judges? Harry Reid does. Republicans want to throw him out of the Senate for it. Yeah, right. It couldn't be that Reid makes Republicans look like the back-stabbing, power-grabbing, paranoid anti-biblical religious right hacks that they are. Nope. It's because he mentioned the existence of a file.

Yeah, Democrats are just stirring up trouble so they can be obstructionist. That's why they want corporations to have as much trouble declaring bankruptcy as Republicans want normal folks to have. This story deals with a Democrat that - can you believe the scandal? - doesn't think airlines should be able to back out of their retirement contracts. The bastards. Obviously, they're socialists. I bet this guy sits next to Bernie (not colonel) Sanders.

Here's a story that makes John Cornyn's heart thump in anticipation. I'm taking bets here: When Chief Justice Rehnquist goes on life support, will Cornyn crow about "a culture of life" and try to keep the plug in or will he explain that "violence against federal judges is understandable" and pull the plug?

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Il is cackling about his nuclear weapons. This story is an eye-opener (well, if you've had your eyes super-glued shut) about what a nuclear North Korea might mean.

This story hints that there might be more than simple apathy behind lagging voter turnout. Is their any way we can claim humanity is a special interest group and form a PAC so we can get our issues before the people that work, um, in our interest? There's something wrong with that statement somewhere...

More activist judges are reported here. These judges are so activist that they believe even gay people are protected by law.

Well, that's enough thinking for one day. Now I'm off to see "Kingdom of Heaven". That movie should single handedly convince Muslims that we aren't opening a new era of crusades.

Totally Bizarre

You know, I'm losing faith in the all mighty search engines. While reviewing the stats for my sight, I found out that someone found me by searching for the keywords, "athsma during menstruation". Apparently, I come up pretty far up on the list of such specialized information. Check it out yourself here.

That'll take your self-importance down a notch.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Web Rings

As I mentioned in reply to Mr. Snitch, I've started a new webring. Several of them, actually. See, it's just not possible to cover everything in New Jersey, Texas, and the rest of the country in one blog. So, I started:

Jackass, New Jersey which is intended to provide a gathering for "The New "Sons (and Daughters) of the Wild Jackass" - taking back New Jersey for a Democratic Party based on democratic principles". For those who don't know, the phrase "Sons of the Wild Jackass" comes from Senator George Moses, who used the term towards the "irreconcilables" in both parties - who tended to be from the Upper Mid-west and West and were generally populists. The jackass, political aficionados will recognize the jackass as the political symbol attached to the Democratic Party since the 1880s. Moses was upset that some Senators apparently put principle above partisan politics.

The second is It Ain't Bloggin' If It's True which will serve the purpose of gathering Texas Democrats. It's a play on words from a Texas truism "It ain't braggin' if it's true."

The third is for my colleagues at CUNY. It's called "CUNY-GC Intelligensia".

If you or anyone you know would fit in well with any of these webrings, just visit the site and join up.


Riding Herd on the Blogosphere

Jump in the saddle, Buckeroos! It's time to wrassle down that ornery bloggy critter!

Lest we forget that it is soldiers who bear the brunt of war and soldiers who have the most at risk, stop by Veterans for Peace. Take a look at Operation Truth for some first-hand reasons why we should demand better of our leadership. Open your eyes with the human cost of war at Iraq War Casualites.

Mr. Snitch talks a bit about the Hoboken political scene. For a bit of explanation, Mr. Snitch supported Scott DeLea as an independent voice on the City Council. DeLea did very well for himself and had a respectable showing for a candidate with no outside support. It seems that DeLea is a bit worried that Carol Marsh may view him as an opponent, but I've seen no indication of that from anyone at the HQ. Hey Snitch, tell Scott to stop by and have a cup of coffee. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if there are any hard feelings, it's due more to a misunderstanding of what both sides are trying to accomplish.

Mr. Snitch seems underwhelmed by my level of political understanding. That's cool. I don't claim to know everything. I would protest that I did not "thrust" anything upon him. I emailed an invitation to join a webring, which he could have declined, but chose to accept. The post is a bit duplicitous, though. He appears to be against the political machinery, but also protests those like Marsh (and the deceased former mayor of Jersey City Glenn Cunningham) who are in opposition to the machine. Apparently he doesn't like my support of both Marsh and Jon Corzine. Ok. Fine. But supporting Jon Corzine is not de facto supporting the Hudson County Democrats. His hint that Carol is a closeted Republican is just ludicrous. When did wanting more parks and better fiscal responsibility get one thrown out of the Democratic Party? Please, don't beleive everything Dave Roberts tells you. Honestly, lets have that cup of coffee and talk about this.

If you want a more detailed picture of international relations, take a look at Armies of Liberation.

Cripes, Suzette! finishes up a week long series on Nurses Week. Suzette, I'm glad there's people like you. We need more.

Steve Hart (still no relation) talks about how the journalistic profession, being dominated by multinational for-profit business, is just about worthless these days.

More stuff against Wal-Mart is found at Labor Blog. I've seen Wal-Mart close down whole counties. Remember when they were the only place that refused to sell anything not "Made in America"? Wow, times really have changed. Think Progress wonders why Wal-Mart is pushing pictures of Nazis burning books.

New Jersey Common Cause is still working to get big money out of politics. Take a look around and see how you can help.

I saw this story on CNN, but Professor Kim actually blogged it. Not to second-guess the officers, but 120 shots to take down one guy seems a little over-the-top, no?

Barefoot and Naked bemourns the loss of Proposition 1 in Dallas.

Kuff is worried that the bill authorizing municipal wifi services is going to die in the Texas Lege. Yeah, we wouldn't want anyone to have cheap access to the vile internet. Then they'd be able to see all the stuff Republicans want to ban.

Josh Marshall informs us of Senator Frist's shoe debacle. Notice that it's a totally different debacle than that of Nancy Pelosi.

Faithful Progressive moves to the Christian Alliance for Progress. It looks like a good idea to me. Why should the right dictate what we talk about, how we talk about it, and when we talk about it? Christianity has much more to do with social justice - such as feeding the hungry, housing the poor, and respecting our community - than it does stopping abortions.

Preacher Mom wonders what feeds your soul?

Did you hear the one about the Pope threatening China? Majikthise isn't joking. She's right in pointing out the similarities in the American Religious Right's pursuit of secular power and the Vatican demanding an emissary from China. Maybe the Pope should hear about how China treats the Falun Gong before he demands equal treatment.

Lest we forget our own sin, No More Apples reminds us that the best way to win the war on terror might not be to desecrate their religious heritage.

JMT at Old Town Review Chronicles passes along a humorous letter posted on the internet to President Bush. I'm curious. What does a $1800 puzzle look like?

See the Forest brings up the topic of spent nuclear fuel versus spent fossil fuel. (cough, cough) I'll read it when the truck outside my window moves on and I can breathe again.

DLW at The Anti-Manicheist invites everyone to an online conference of progressives. Just passing it along, that's all.

He also brings up the issue of faith based activism. Like I've been saying for a long time - if Democrats cannot articulate a moral imperative, they will continue to lose moral voters. Notice I did not say they don't already have one - they do - they just don't know how to say it.

Donkey Rising hits my other long-time pet-peeve about Democrats - the lack of an economic message to the middle class (particularly the White middle class). The rush to the "vital middle" was totally stupid once everyone forgot that the "vital middle" is mostly concerned with the economics of taking care of their family and their future.

Here's an idea from South Dakota about "values" politics. Thanks to Thune Watch for the chuckle. Thanks to the bonehead commenter "doug" who wrote, "You must be scared stiff. If the goverment subsidised economy that EAFB creates, leaves, your party will shrink in numbers. Now I understand your true concern." That should make everyone vote for Thune next time.

From the "Even Monica wasn't this obvious" department, we get this post at Think Progress wondering why Jeff Gannon is still pumping support for Republicans (no pun intended, really). Thanks to Josh Marshall for not letting it die.

Rest easy, buckeroos. Happy Trails 'til we meet again.

Losing to Win - or Why OZ was a Republican

The way that Republicans are crying/crowing about seven judges, you’d think that the whole world was depending on their approval. Well, it might be.

Okay, maybe the whole world is a bit of exaggeration. Just this country, and specifically, just the entire judiciary.

I blogged recently that I feared that Democrats in New Jersey were taking a short view of the gubernatorial race. I also feel like they are doing it on the national scale as well. While Harry Reid is working to hold up judicial nominations – which I applaud him for – a bad bankruptcy bill ends up becoming law. While we are worried about whether John Bolton should be our face at the UN – and he shouldn’tMedicaid is being eviscerated. It’s the legislative equivalent of being stunned by the Mighty Oz – and the guy behind the curtain is lining us up in the sights of his nice shiny sniper rifle.

Notice that I didn’t say Dems were being distracted by non-important things. What I’m saying is that some very important things are slipping by – and largely because Dems are afraid of being “obstructionist”. Hellfire and brimstone! Obstructionist is just what they need to be! If it weren’t for the obstructionist Winston Churchill, Britain might be engaged in an internal debate to give up the Deutschmark instead of clinging to the pound.

Let’s all remember how sickly our venerable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is. He missed deliberations and abstained from voting in several cases this year because he was too sick to attend the hearings – and there have been some pretty heavy cases this year. I’ve heard of people having “one foot in the grave” before, but this guy only has one foot on the surface – and the Grim Reaper is stomping his little-old-man toes mercilessly.

Everyone expects Antonin Scalia – the duck-hunting, Vice-Presidential boot-licker, to be the next Chief Justice. He may be. As much as I despise him, he’s got the credentials. So long as there is enough balance on the Court to drown out the extremism he spouts, it’s okay. But Sandra Day O’Connor is also rumored to be ready to retire. That means there may be two seats coming open in the next three years.

I’m willing to give even money on John Cornyn for one of those seats. The Republican Senator from (gag – I feel dirty admitting it) Texas has some hefty credentials. A member of the Armed Forces, Judiciary, and Budget committees, a sitting member of the Senate, and a former Texas Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice, he definitely has the experience to claim a nomination. It would be almost inconceivable for him to not be confirmed.

If only he weren’t a member of the right wing nutjobs, I’d be fine with it. Cornyn, if you remember, was the one claiming that it was understandable why people would want to kill federal judges (I think he’ll change his mind if he joins that group). He was one of the most vocal supporters of Republican efforts to “save” Terri Schiavo. He regularly meets with Religious Right leaders in order to remain fully brain-washed into the paranoia of their particular non-Biblical religion.

In fact, the only reason Cornyn looks moderate is because Texas is home to true nut-jobs like Rick Perry.

Of course, Republicans are covering their tracks early by claiming that it is Democrats who are politicizing the judicial nominee process. Excuse me, Mr. Mental Midget, but it isn’t the Democrats who are loading the nomination process with ideologues who put blind adherence to ideology above rule of law or – gasp – reality. Democrats are doing the only thing they can do – use Senate rules (the same rules Republicans approved) to slow down the process and try to bring enough public attention to the problem to get the President to back down.

There’s only one problem. This President doesn’t back down. He didn’t do it when lives were at stake over the invasion of Iraq. He doesn’t do it when soldiers come home dead and he won’t even meet the families of the soldiers he sent to die when their fallen loved-ones are repatriated to American soil. He won’t even do it when even the dullest second-grader knows his Social Security plan doesn’t have a shot in Hell.

My belief is that he just doesn’t care enough about anyone else but himself to do so. Changing your mind means that you put someone else’s well-being ahead of your own ideas. I haven’t seen a shred of that in the Bush Presidency. I don’t look for it in the judicial nomination process.

If I’m right about John Cornyn coveting the Supreme Court seat – before the seat is even cold – then we shouldn’t look for it from the Court for the next couple of decades, either.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Corruption! and it's ISN'T (entirely) about Tom DeLay!

While speaking with Micah Sifry last night about calling politicians on the carpet about their actions, he quipped, “I don’t think it’s possible to be guilty of libel when speaking of Jersey politicians,” (or something to that effect – understand why by reading this). That certainly seems to be the truth. If federal prosecutor Chris Christie got paid per conviction; then he’d be about three days short of being ready to retire. Lots of people are trying to get the US attorney to run for office – and I might even vote for him if he did – but I’d rather he stay where he is and really serve the people by locking up crooked politicians.

Hoboken has long had a reputation as a “dirty politics” (is there another kind?) city. Hey, when your immediate past mayor is actually doing time for his shenanigans, is it hard to understand why? (Ask Mr. Snitch if you need a second opinion.) It’s even more understandable when the current (but not for long) mayor, who ran on a platform to change “business as usual”, actually conducts business as usual – although I have to say that I don’t know of any actual laws being broken.

Speaking of corruption, did someone say “Tom DeLay”? I’m sure the two will be synonymous before long. We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of Chris Bell’s filing of an ethics complaint against the Bug Man of Sugar Land. Why not celebrate by helping clean up politics in Texas? Host a house party and get in on a conference call from Chris. Learn what kind of man Chris Bell is here

Since we are focusing today on helping politicians take responsibility for their actions, Chris Bell would also like to know why Governor Rick Perry doesn’t feel any responsibility towards the children of Texas. Maybe it’s because the man doesn’t live in this universe – after all, he thinks blogs are a tool of the liberal conspiracy. Oddly enough, he wants bloggers to be more responsible. Okay, I’ll be responsible for what I write, if you’ll be responsible for the cuts to child protective services that lead directly to the death of Jovonie Ochoa. Deal?

For the time being, Jersey City Ward C City Councilman Steve Lipski can still claim that he isn’t corrupt. However, the charges raised by Channel 7 need to be investigated – and investigated fairly (someone call Chris Christie). If he’s clean, I’ll be the first to admit that the circumstantial evidence was wrong. I’d also like to get a clear explanation (as would the Tris McCall Report) of why he can’t seem to say “NO!” to a tax abatement. Maybe he should quit bragging about his degrees and try talking some sense. As someone who has put a considerable amount of time into school, when someone tells me they received two bachelor’s and three master’s degrees, I start wondering why they can’t figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Maybe my misgivings are just tied to the fact that when someone tries so hard to show me they are good, I wonder what they are really doing – like when a preacher opens up a ministry in an adult book store.

The end up on a general note: here is an excellent article that explores “political corruption”. I noticed that the US doesn’t make the “top 12 transparent government” list. Gee, I wonder why.

To end on an up note: I’d like to welcome Binnaz to the blogosphere and wish her a happy birthday. Visit her blog and say hi.

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