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April 20, 2006

Gone Off the Tracks

Marcel sent me a link to Carl Bernstein's piece in Vanity Fair, "Senate Hearings on Bush, Now" and this part really stands out for me:

Because (former secretary of state Colin) Powell was regarded by some as the administration "good guy," who was prescient in his anxiety about Bush's determination to go to war in Iraq ("You break it, you own it"), he should not be handed a pass exempting him from tough questioning in a congressional investigation. Indeed, Powell is probably more capable than any other witness of providing both fact and context to the whole story of the road to war and the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the others.

As much as I love Colin Powell (he was my only hope for the Bush administration), I agree. The man doesn't get a pass on this, especially now that he's retired.

Side note: Marcel and I were talking a few days ago about how all these retired generals are now coming forward and speaking out against secretary of state Donald Rumsfeld. Many people are wondering why they didn't speak out at the time that they had their misgivings, because then maybe we wouldn't be stuck in the quagmire (yes I said it!) that is the Iraq war. I'll admit that I was thinking that this was "too little too late" myself, but then Marcel pointed out that according to the code of military conduct, an officer at that level would be expressly prohibited from speaking out against their civilian bosses (as Rumsfeld is). I guess the officer could still chose to do so, but these men had decades of service under their belts and I really can't blame them for not wanting to throw their careers in the toilet based on a bad feeling about what might happen in the future.

So yes, Colin Powell needs to be made to answer for what he saw, and heard (as long as it's not classified, of course), and why he made the choices that he made. And maybe I'm still biased because of my affection for the man, but I suspect that Colin Powell won't have any problem defending his honor. I don't think the political "dodge and weave" is something he's capable of doing.

The irony of the Valerie Plame affair, like the Watergate break-in itself, is its relative insignificance in terms of the greater transgressions of a presidency that has gone off the tracks.

Quite the understatement there, Bernstein. But truer words were never spoken. It'll be a kick in the pants if the leaks are what finally bring Bush down, rather than his general record of bone-chilling incompetence.

We have never had a presidency in which the single unifying thread that flows through its major decision-making was incompetence ó stitched together with hubris and mendacity on a Nixonian scale.

True, dat.

There's also an interesting analysis of the Bush presidency in Rolling Stone, "The Worst President in History?" I'm thinking that's a rhetorical question.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

He's So Fein

One brief note - Rep. Cynthia McKinney sounds like she's got some issues ("much ado about a hairdo"? Cram it), but Tom DeLay accusing anyone of "incredible arrogance" is the hypocritical statement of the century.



A new political boyfriend, I mean. Since John McCain is now dead to me, I had to find a new maverick politician to swoon over. Someone who, against all the odds, speaks rationally and reasonably about the issues facing the United States. Someone that I could support in an election without checking my ethics at the door.

I have found that man.

Hello, kitten. What's your position on the death penalty?

This is Russ Feingold. Feingold is a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, home of all things jird (so they have to be good). I have to admit that I never took notice of this guy until he made the news by proposing that President Bush be censured over the illegal wiretapping fiasco. I am a Julie-come-lately.

Anyway, I kind of thought pushing for censure was a bad move (whipping the opposition into a frenzy and giving insane hardcore Bush supporters a point to rally against isn't a good thing), but after I read Feingold's statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee about why he felt it was necessary, I was swayed:

Where we disagree, apparently, is whether the Presidentís authority under Article II of the Constitution allows him to authorize warrantless surveillance without complying with FISA. You have said you think this is a close question. I do not believe he has such authority and I donít think itís a close question. We will continue to debate that Iím sure. But I think the fact that you have proposed legislation on this program undermines your argument that such presidential authority exists. Because if it does exist, then nothing that we can legislate, no matter how carefully crafted, is worth a hill of beans. For starters, your proposed bill may or may not cover what the NSA is now doing. You and I have no way of knowing because we have not been fully briefed on the program, and I am a member of the Intelligence Committee as well. But regardless, if the President has the inherent authority to authorize whatever surveillance he thinks is necessary, then he surely will ignore your law, just as he has ignored FISA on many occasions.

If Congress doesnít have the power to define the contours of the Presidentís Article II powers through legislation, then I have no idea why people are scrambling to draft legislation to authorize what they think the President is doing. If the Presidentís legal theory, which is shared by some of our witnesses today, is correct, then FISA is a dead letter, all of the supposed protections for civil liberties contained in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act that we just passed are a cruel hoax, and any future legislation we might pass regarding surveillance or national security is a waste of time and a charade. Under this theory, we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government, we have a monarchy.

Balls. of. steel.

He had me at "hello."

So then I started Googling for information about this guy, since I need a Plan B now that McCain has jumped aboard the Crazy Train - and learned the following:

  • Feingold recently spoke in favor of the legalization of gay marriage.

  • He was the only member of the Senate to vote against the Patriot Act.

  • He voted against the war in Iraq because he didn't believe that the war was necessary or wise, but then he voted for the $87 billion to support the troops once the war was underway. That's not flip-flopping, that's voting sensically.

  • He's against the death penalty and has introduced legislation that would issue a moratorium until the system that administers the death penalty can be closely reviewed by an independent commission.

  • Every single time that Congress authorizes another pay raise for itself, Feingold votes against the raise. When these votes pass, Feingold returns his raise to the national treasury.

  • He kicked ass on The Daily Show.

What's not to love? Get this man to run in '08!

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)

April 03, 2006

A Man of No Talent Whatsoever

ACHTUNG! Breaking news - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (em dee) is still a complete idiot.

I've felt immeasurable disgust for Bill Frist for a long time. I continue to think he is the Antichrist, mainly because of that whole adopting-cats-from-an-animal-shelter-only-to-kill-and-dissect-them thing (that link goes to a webpage featuring Jon Stewart's take on the matter). I guess I hold a grudge.

Seriously, this is a direct quote from the man's autobiography:

I visited the various animal shelters in the Boston suburbs, collecting cats, taking them home, treating them as pets for a few days, then carting them off to the lab to die in the interest of science.

So yes, Bill Frist? Is a sick fuck. You can read more about that, and the fact that Frist refers to himself as "totally schizoid" over the cat thing, if you have the stomach for it and want to create in your heart a deep, burning hatred for a government official.

Anyway, because of this it is with a spring in my step and glee in my heart that I read that Frist is going to have a difficult time should he decide to seek the Republican nomination for president:

Frist Is Treading a Perilous Path Leading to 2008

My favorite portion of the article:

But other Republicans say that by forcing the Senate to consider his own immigration bill before the one backed by (John) McCain, Mr. Frist is putting presidential ambitions ahead of Senate business. The Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, openly dismissed Mr. Frist as a lame duck, and Charlie Cook, an independent political analyst, in an interview derided the Senate leader as a neophyte.

"The most classic case of the Peter Principle I've ever seen in American politics," Mr. Cook said, in an uncharacteristically brutal assessment. "In a business where eloquence and rhetoric is important, he is a man of no talent whatsoever."

Give Charlie a cookie!

Posted by Highwaygirl at 02:25 PM | Comments (1)

February 01, 2006

Land of Destruction

For your amusement, I give you:

Heather Havrilesky's "Beer and present danger" - a State of the Union speech drinking game.

My favorites:

The game is simple enough for even your average registered voter to understand. Basically, every time Bush says "terror," "terrorism," "terrorist," "war on terror" or "Terror Dome," you drink. ...

Also, drink whenever the president uses the word "security," as in the "security of all Americans" or "a secure nation." If he mentions "Social Security," turn the volume up; you didn't hear him correctly. If he talks about "securing an exit strategy in Iraq," drink, then look outside to see if the sky is falling. ...

Every time the president smiles or chuckles when he's talking about something scary and awful, like giant battlegrounds and forces of evil, smile and chuckle along with him ó Haw haw haw! ó then kick your dog.

But speaking of the State of the Union address, I think my favorite part was Bush's decree to replace 75% of our oil imports from the Persian Gulf with alternative energy sources. Sounds really good, doesn't it? Seventy-five percent sounds like a lot of oil that will be replaced with cleaner fuel.

But then you read further in the analysis and you learn that imports from the Persian Gulf only account for around 10% of our oil consumption. After doing the math, you realize that, overall, the president only called for a grand total of 7.5% of our oil usage to be replaced with alternative sources.

Don't get me wrong - that's good. As a country we're way behind on embracing and developing cleaner fuels. But 7.5% is a long way from the 75% figure that jumped out - purposely so - during the speech.

Maybe Bush just missplaced the decimal point.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

If Thine Eye Offend Thee

Here we go again:

In Strong Words, Bush Tries to Redirect Debate on Iraq

Just ... just shut up already. Whatever type of debate people want to have about Iraq, why the U.S. invaded Iraq, why we're still there, whether or not we should draw down the troop levels - LET THEM HAVE IT.

People aren't debating whether or not to support the troops who are over there; I think most people realize that the soldiers/airmen don't have a choice in the matter. But one of the hallmarks of democracy is the freedom - really, the RIGHT and the OBLIGATION - to question the choices made by the government.

Isn't that one of the things we're over there trying to instill? How can we hold ourselves up as an example of the kind of society that Iraqis should aspire to when we're hypocritically not walking the walk?

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - President Bush issued a stark warning to Democrats on Tuesday about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference between "honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."

But we DID act in Iraq in part because of oil. The Bush administration believed that Iraq and Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States and our way of life, and not just because there were Iraqi-funded terrorists (ostensibly) who were out to kill Americans. Oil fuels - literally - our way of life. When the price of oil goes up, it impacts the U.S. economy in ways that most Americans are not willing to accept long term. We're simply not willing to pay $5 for a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk for any length of time.

When the price of oil goes up, the prices of consumer goods follow because the trucking/distribution companies have to pass along their cost increases for fuel to the consumer.

In some of his most combative language yet directed at his critics, Mr. Bush said Americans should insist on a debate "that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries." That follows a theme that Vice President Dick Cheney set last week, when he said critics of the administration's conduct of the war risked undercutting the effort to defeat the insurgency.

Well first - Dick Cheney is in league with Satan. I used to think that Bill Frist was the worst of the lot, but I'm back to thinking that honor goes to Dick. I'll bet if you examine his scalp you'll find a "666" somewhere near the back of the head.

Second, I have no concept, really, of what's going through the minds of the insurgents over there. I can make guesses as to what motivates them - hatred of the American way of life, religious zealotry, etc. - but at the end of the day I don't really know.

However, I'm not seeing the correlation between debate over the war and inciting the insurgents to further violence. I'm not sure they're tracking the polls, you know? I don't see how it might comfort the insurgents if people debate the war, insofar as it changing their modus operandi. Sure, they're probably delighted to know that their acts are frustrating American citizens and, in part, causing us to reassess just what the hell we're doing over there.

But so what? We should periodically reassess the situation, if only because members of our military are still dying and being injured (physically and mentally) by our continued presence in Iraq. Isn't that something worth discussing? Are we really going to hold our tongues because, oooh, Mr. Insurgent might be happy about that and continue planting his IEDs and strapping bombs to himself and blowing up soldiers and civilians?

That sounds like fear to me. In that case, I guess the terrorists really have won.

"We have a responsibility to our men and women in uniform, who deserve to know that once our politicians vote to send them into harm's way, our support will be with them in good days and in bad days," Mr. Bush said.

Perhaps we could start by giving them the option of better body armor. A secret Department of Defense study has shown that a more extensive type of armor, available since 2003, could have saved the lives of around 80% of the Marines killed by upper body wounds in Iraq between 2003 and 2005. That's just Marine deaths; think of the number of Army deaths that 80% would represent.

The ceramic armor plates in question cost about $260 a set.

"I think that the new initiative of the president to reach out to Democrats and former officials is positive," Representative Adam Schiff said in an interview after the speech was over. "I agree that we need to conduct a debate on Iraq in constructive terms." But, he said, "some of the culprits in coarsening the dialogue on the war have been Republicans, including the vice president at times."

Any effort at finding what the White House calls a "common ground" on Iraq strategy, he said, "has to be coupled with a cessation of calling people who disagree with the strategy 'unpatriotic.' "

I'm a little distracted by the fact that the representative has the same name as the beloved (former) district attorney on Law & Order, but I agree with his last statement wholeheartedly.

We'll end with a crockpot full of irony:

In discussing Iraqi politics, Mr. Bush directly addressed Sunni Arabs, a minority in the new government, saying, "Compromise and consensus and power-sharing are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy."

He added, "A country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny."


Sound like any country/government you're aware of? Maybe one a little closer to home than Iraq?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

V is for Victory

Defeat THIS.

Soooooo, last night I stayed up to watch the live presidential address. Even though I typically try to go to bed at 9 p.m., I felt it was important to remain awake so that I could hear the president's forthcoming explanation as to why he ordered the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens without the benefit of a court order.

Surely we'd get some sort of reasonable explanation for that, right?

Well, here's the transcript. Let me know if you find it.

But anyway, Dawsey and I were watching with rapt attention as Bush repeated the tired "If you're not with me you're against me" mantra. Only this time instead of "haters" the people who disagree with him are "defeatists."

Let's roll the tape:

I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims -- a vision in which books are burned, and women are oppressed, and all dissent is crushed.
That sounds suspiciously like the United States on some days. I guess this means the religious right is a terrorist movement, doesn't it, Dawsey?
My conviction comes down to this: we do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.
Oh come on! The idea that our presence in Iraq hasn't increased the number of terrorists attacks there is ludicrous! It might be a case of things getting worse before they get better, but in the short term, we're screwed either way.
That's true.

*licks self*
(W)e are helping the Iraqi government establish the institutions of a unified and lasting democracy, in which all of Iraq's peoples are included and represented.
OH NO HE DI'N'T. The Iraqi constitution doesn't even give equal rights to women! We cannot support the establishment of a government that doesn't recognize women as equal participants in society! It's an OUTRAGE!!

In the months ahead, all Americans will have a part in the success of this war. Members of Congress will need to provide resources for our military.
Maybe members of Congress should begin providing resources for the military by voting down Bush's tax cuts, which primarily benefit the wealthiest 1% of the country. You can't cut taxes AND increase spending, unless you're a complete buffoon. Oh, wait ...
You didn't donate your tax return to a charity, did you?
Who feeds you, again?

I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.
I'm not despairing, I'm ANGRY that this whole thing has been planned so haphazardly. That's not the military's fault, that's the administration's fault. It's nice that NOW they're admitting they made some mistakes, but the fact remains that we've severely hampered the military's ability to "win this war" in a timely and efficient manner. It's great that Bush has a three-pronged strategy for "victory" but it's still all rhetoric and colloquialisms and glittering generalities. Which is what got us into trouble in the first place.
You know, I really miss Colin Powell.
Me too.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:14 AM | Comments (3)

July 12, 2005

Where the Buffaloes Rove

Perhaps it is wrong, but I don't really care - I am loving the schadenfreude being dealt out with the revelation that Karl Rove, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to El Presidente, was involved in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative to the press.

The NY Times weighs in. In the immortal words of MC Hammer - break it down!:

WASHINGTON, July 11 - Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House refused on Monday to answer any questions about new evidence of Mr. Rove's role in the matter.

The million dollar question is - Will the President make good on that promise? Will he fire Karl freaking Rove? Could we be so fortunate as to witness such glory in our lifetime?

One thing I do know - Leo McGarry would never have done this to Jed Bartlet.

Under often hostile questioning, (White House press secretary Scott) McClellan repeatedly declined to say whether he stood behind his previous statements that Mr. Rove had played no role in the matter, saying he could not comment while a criminal investigation was under way. He brushed aside questions about whether the president would follow through on his pledge, repeated just over a year ago, to fire anyone in his administration found to have played a role in disclosing the officer's identity. And he declined to say when Mr. Bush learned that Mr. Rove had mentioned the C.I.A. officer in his conversation with the Time reporter.

When one reporter, David Gregory of NBC News, said that it was "ridiculous" for the White House to dodge all questions about the issue and pointed out that Mr. McClellan had addressed the same issues in detail in the past, Mr. McClellan replied, "I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time."

The time is now, motherchuckers! I love when the White House press corps gets bitchy. I mean, openly calling the President's policy of not commenting "ridiculous" - I don't think I could have kept myself from snickering had I been sitting in the press room at that moment.

Oh man, you guys have to watch this video clip from the Today show this morning. Go to this story on Rove, then click on the Free Video link. And then listen to David Gregory get his righteous indignation on.

In September 2003, Mr. McClellan said flatly that Mr. Rove had not been involved in disclosing Ms. Plame's name. Asked about the issue on Sept. 29, 2003, Mr. McClellan said he had "spoken with Karl Rove," and that it was "simply not true" that Mr. Rove had a role in the disclosure of her identity. Two weeks earlier, he had called suggestions that Mr. Rove had been involved "totally ridiculous." On Oct. 10, 2003, after the Justice Department opened its investigation, Mr. McClellan told reporters that Mr. Rove, Mr. Abrams and Mr. Libby had nothing to do with the leak.

Tee hee.

Oh, and here's the Newsweek story that started the whole giddy mess.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:01 AM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2005

You Put Your Right Hand Up

President Bush, mid-Hokey Pokey:

That's what it's all about, yo!

President Bush is photogenic as all hell, don't you think? There's an "... and starring Laura Bush as EVA BRAUN" joke in here somewhere.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

November 04, 2004

In the Closet

As in, that's where I'll be hiding for the next four years. With Colin Powell.

Vice President Dick Cheney said that the president had run his campaign "forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation's future, and the nation responded by giving him a mandate." Not in 11 states we didn't! At least not legally.

Here's the next thing to fear - Supreme Court nominations. The possibilities of who Bush might nominate almost make me hope that Rehnquist sticks around for awhile longer. Almost. The devil you know, and all that stuff.

Interesting reading on NYTimes.com today, including an op-ed contribution by Garry Willis called, "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out". Willis asserts that the U.S. is getting away from the values under which it was formed, and becoming more and more like its stated enemies:

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.

Maureen O'Dowd's column is scathingly funny, but only in an "oh dear lrod what have we gotten ourselves into?" sort of way. She points out that no matter how right-wing one might find Bush, some of the newest senators are even worse:

Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that "the gay agenda" would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between "good and evil" and said he had heard there was "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma schools.

Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, "I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children."

I mean, REALLY?? People VOTED for these guys???

I still think Bill Frist is the real enemy. He is pure, unadulterated EVIL. Evil with a cherry on top.

Thomas Friedman's column does a nice job of explaining how I feel about "evangelical Christians" determining our form of government (emphasis mine):

But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out.

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 01:54 PM | Comments (5)

November 03, 2004

With This Ring

This is so unpleasant and distressing (yet not at all surprising):

Voters in 11 States Reject Gay Marriage

This almost upsets me more than the result of the presidential election. Almost 90% of voters in Mississippi voted for an amendment banning gays from legally marrying? I just don't understand why your average person really cares. Unless a gay person gaining the right to marry meant that heterosexuals would lose the same right, so what?

Give 'em the right to have big expensive (yet boring) parties. Give 'em the right to be equally accountable for each other's debts. Give 'em the right to visit each other in the hospital.

Is that really asking so much?

I'm sure this issue will get onto a ballot in Florida at some point, and when it does I am sadly sure that it will pass. The only thing that I'm "happy" about with this is that these are amendments to STATE constitutions. Don't get me wrong, that's bad enough. I just live in trepidation of the time when a president (and I'm looking at you, Georgie) tries to amend the U.S. Constitution with this nonsense. That's when the real psychological dischord will begin.

I don't understand how anyone who believes in democracy - as you'd suspect a president would - could argue that amending the U.S. CONSTITUTION for the specific purpose of denying rights to a group of citizens is reflective of this country's traditions and values. Not even close. The Constitution should never be used to exclude people, especially when it's being done so solely to reflect one group's Judeo-Christian morality.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 01:54 PM | Comments (8)

The Sky's Gone Out

When the official announcement of Bush's reelection comes, I plan to:

a.) Accept defeat graciously
b.) Rage against the machine
c.) Relocate to Cuba
d.) Spend the next 48 consecutive hours covering the walls and ceiling of my bedroom with a giant collage using images of Bush administration officials, war atrocities, industrial accidents and meat packing plants, then lay naked on the floor in the fetal position until an angel of the Lord comes to give me my mission.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:26 AM | Comments (8)

October 27, 2004

It's Aliiiiiiiiiiiiive!

Try your hand at the Give Bush a Brain game!

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2004

This Land Is My Land

Here's a parody of John Kerry and George Bush set to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land" (Flash required).

I'm still disturbed by the image of Kerry in bondage gear. *shudder*

Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2004

Andy Griffith vs. Barney Fife

Lots of political junk to talk about today! I'll get to the debate in a minute, but first, let us celebrate a minor defeat of the Patriot Act!

Judge Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan struck down a part of the act that deals with surveillance, ruling that "it broadly violated the Constitution by giving the federal authorities unchecked powers to obtain private information."

The ruling came in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against a kind of subpoena created under the act, known as a national security letter. Such letters could be used in terrorism investigations to require Internet service companies to provide personal information about subscribers and would bar them from disclosing to anyone that they had received a subpoena.

Such a subpoena could be issued without court review, under provisions that seemed to bar the recipient from discussing it with a lawyer.

Judge Marrero vehemently rejected that provision, saying that it was unique in American law in its "all-inclusive sweep" and had "no place in our open society."

So basically, if you're an Internet service provider and you receive one of these national security letters, you cannot consult a lawyer over whether you are legally obligated to comply with it. You just have to give up the information the letter is requesting, or, presumably, get thrown in jail. Discussing the matter with a lawyer would be a violation of federal law, which means you'll get thrown in jail regardless.

Nice, huh? So much for due process.

California Governor Schwarzenegger has outlawed the force feeding of birds to create fois gras. That's a disgusting practice - *glares at Rappy* - and I'm glad that it will be banned eventually.

And now ... let us speak of Kerry vs. Bush, Round One!

Full disclosure - I did not actually watch the debate myself. I got through the first 10 minutes and then I couldn't take it any more. I just can't watch Bush grimace and glare and sneer for any length of time without hoping that someone sets him on fire. And since I don't want to be an angry girl, I turned off the television.

The overview of the debate in the NY Times is balanced and informative. That page also includes a link to view the entire debate online. The paper's analysis of the debate is helpful to put what was said into context. The editorial is also good, but slanted towards Kerry a little bit.

Tom Shales of the Washington Post provides solid analysis of the debate and the major networks' post-debate analysis. Howard Kurtz continues that line and says the media gave Kerry the win.

I guess some people like Bush for being so resolute and unwilling to deviate from his plan on how to succeed in Iraq. I see that as a refusal to admit that he's wrong, and to change course accordingly. I think most people, myself included, would respect him a lot more if he were to admit that his original plan for Iraq ended up being flawed, and based upon the information we have now - and more importantly, the different challenges we face in that country now (as opposed to when we invaded) - the plan needs to be revised. But this insistence that everything is going okay and that we'll win eventually is silly.

As as Kerry himself said - "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong."

Bush castigates Kerry for being inconsistent - "He changes positions. And you cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win." - but what he attempts to portray as inconsistency I see as merely reacting to a better understanding of the situation at hand. We've all said "yes" to some action and then, after we have all the facts, had misgivings. When Kerry voted to authorize $87 billion to fund the war, he made his decision based upon what he was being told - by the Bush Administration - at the time. When the truth came to light, it changed his opinion - as the truth is wont to do - and he decided that he disagreed with the request for additional funding, and voted against it.

That is the kind of person I want to be President. Someone who understands that things change, and your reactions to them need to change as well. Bush seems unable to allow that sort of flexibility in thought. Which is why no one will ever mistake the man for one of the great thinkers of our time.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2004

Choose or Lose

There's an interesting piece on MSNBC.com called Where Do They Stand? It's a 17-part comparison of where Bush and Kerry stand on various issues of importance in the election. You choose whose position you agree with more, and when you get to the end I think something is supposed to happen ... but I get a javascript error, so nothing does.

The one thing I think is flawed about this piece is that it is clearly written from an anti-Bush stance. Not that I mind, of course. But it is not as unbiased as I think it should be.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

But I'm a GIRL!

And here is where I go on a gender equity rant.

But first, a declaration - I don't personally identify with the term "feminist." It's become such a loaded word that it doesn't serve my purpose, and I don't particularly care enough to try and reclaim it for myself (but more power to the people who are willing to fight that fight). However, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that I am equal to any man - to anyone - and the first person who tries to tell me otherwise will be rewarded with my boot upside their head.

With that out of the way ... today's NY Times includes a feature written by Monica Davey (an excellent writer, by the way), called For 1,000 Troops, There Is No Going Home. It's a wonderful article about what kinds of people are actually dying in Iraq, demographically speaking.

There is a section on women in the military, and how 24 women have died in Iraq (the most in a war since WWII). This is attributed to women being much closer to the front line of combat, even if they're still not yet allowed to actually fight (Yeah, right). Here is a quote:

But others, like Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy group in Livonia, Mich., said Americans were largely oblivious to the role women were playing in Iraq and would be disturbed if they knew. Female soldiers who die receive little attention, she said, except in small hometown newspapers; the same is true of the 207 women who have been injured in Iraq. ...

"The risk of capture is why we oppose women in combat," said Ms. Donnelly, who wants the Pentagon to reconsider the jobs close to combat that women now hold. "We're a civilized nation. Violence against women is wrong. I hope that we don't become that kind of a nation that doesn't care about this sort of thing."

Okay, no. I don't want to hear this "violence against women is wrong" nonsense, because if you tack on the phrase that is implied - "... but violence against men is okay" - then the statement is shown to be what it truly is: ridiculous.

I hope we don't become the kind of nation that believes ones GENDER determines their inherent value and the way they should be treated. Because, you see - women can be just as horrible as men. Just as violent and vile. It's the person, not the genitals.

I know, I know - testosterone is a bitch. Estrogen isn't? I can buy the argument that men are, per capita, more violent than women. But I know absolutely that women are capable of the exact same behavior. The fact that there are a proportionately greater number of men imprisoned for violent crimes is not solely a matter of biology and genetic programming - it's also the result of societal factors.

If a woman joins the military knowing what the risks are - that her role could bring her close to combat, and therefore there is the chance that she could die serving her country - then by all means let her take on the same level of risk as a male soldier in her position. Why shouldn't she? Her life is no more intrinsically valuable than a man's ... and her sacrifice would be no less meaningful.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:30 PM | Comments (3)

September 02, 2004

Bush vs. Winston Churchill

winston churchill.jpg

The person with the best caption gets to avoid Hurricane Frances this weekend.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:10 AM | Comments (5)

August 05, 2004

He's All Ears


Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:51 PM | Comments (6)

July 15, 2004

I Heart John McCain

Full disclosure: I am not a Republican. I will never be a Republican, much to my dad's eternal dismay. My mother is also a Republican. So I'm not sure where I get my Democratic leanings.

HOWEVER ... I *heart* Republican Senator John McCain. If he were running for president, I would vote for him over John Kerry.

Yesterday the U.S. Senate wisely voted NEIN! with respected to considering the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The 'Pubs fell short (by 12) of the necessary 60 votes. Some Republicans broke with President Bush and voted against considering the amendment.

This is where my love for John McCain, who was one of the dissenters, springs into full bloom.

Here are some quotes from a CNN.com sidebar about McCain's feelings about the vote:

The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.

The founders wisely made certain that the Constitution is difficult to amend and, as a practical political matter, can't be done without overwhelming public approval. And thank God for that.

I love this man. Love.

And I really need Bush and those frothing-at-the-mouth Republicans to shut up about "activist judges" being the minions of Satan. At least until they do something about the Satan (Rehnquist) and his right-hand man (Scalia) that we already have on the bench of the Supreme Court. 'Cause they weren't elected "by the people" either.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2004

See Dick Spin

Spin, Dick, spin!

Today has been a glorious news day for me. I am filled with merriment and mirth, and I will share my happiness with you. Let's get started!

First up we have a news item about how Donald Rumsfeld was bypassed - contrary to the apparent chain of command - by "Tricky" Dick Cheney when it came to giving the order to shoot down hijacked airplanes on 9-11. I love this excerpt from the conversation between the two men:

Rumsfeld: "So we've got a couple of aircraft up there that have those instructions at the present time?"

Cheney: "That is correct. And it's my understanding they've already taken a couple of the aircraft (hijacked airliners) out."

Oh, Dick. *shakes head sadly* Is that your understanding? This is just more proof, in addition to Monday's "SADDAM KNEW AL-QAEDA, NYAH!" outburst, that Dick Cheney knows absolutely nothing.

Moving on ... Maureen O'Dowd's column in today's NY Times, which compares Cheney to a malfunctioning robot who can't stop repeating the same old tired phrases. Stepford Wife, indeed. But now Bush himself is malfunctioning - he's come out to state, unequivocally, that the 9-11 Commission doesn't know what it's talking about when it says that there is no verifiable link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," he told reporters.

"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," Bush said. "There were numerous contacts between the two."

If by numerous you mean ZERO. There is no evidence that Hussein ever met with anyone from al-Qaeda. There is only a tangential reference to one of his ministers meeting with an al-Qaeda representative in the Sudan. The al-Qaeda representative - I wonder if they're like Amway reps? - requested assistance from Iraq and was rebuffed.

So there's your big reason why the U.S. needed to invade Iraq. I'm only surprised that Bush hasn't come out to say that God wanted him to lead an invasion of Iraq and that since we have God on our side everything we do is okay. I'm sure that proclamation is coming, though.

Back to the NY Times and the case for war. Piggybacking on the whole "numerous contacts" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the NY Times reveals the following:

Banned biological and chemical weapons: none yet found. Percentage of Iraqis who view American-led forces as liberators: 2, according to a poll commissioned last month by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Number of possible Al Qaeda associates known to have been in Iraq in recent years: one, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose links to the terrorist group and Mr. Hussein's government remain sketchy.

And finally, the NY Times editorial board weighs in on the Iraq/al-Qaeda faux-connection:

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

This is not just a matter of the president's diminishing credibility, although that's disturbing enough. The war on terror has actually suffered as the conflict in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence resources from places like Afghanistan, where there could really be Qaeda forces, including Mr. bin Laden.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:45 PM | Comments (4)

June 16, 2004

Cause and Effect

BREAKING NEWS! I know this is going to shock all of you, but try to stay calm and maintain your mental and emotional clarity. The esteemed, bipartisan 9-11 Commission has decided, definitively, that...

There is "no credible evidence" that Saddam Hussein was ever affiliated with al-Qaeda.

No freaking way, man! I thought we had clear, substantial, incontrovertible PROOF that there was a link! At least that's what mah president told me! It's why we invaded Iraq!

Yes. This is very surprising. Shocking, even. I am shocked and awed, oh yes I am.

"On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech that the Iraqi dictator 'had long established ties with al-Qaida.'"

Oh, Dick. How long are you going to toe the party line on this? Don't you realize that you look like a moron, now? Or are you oblivious to how you appear because you've ALWAYS looked like a moron?

I can't think of one person I like in the Bush Administration except Colin Powell, and brother needs to get out of there ASAP. He's been sullied by his association with this administration, but I still like him. I think he's trying to counterbalance Bush/Cheney et. al. as best he can.

Does anyone else read the staff statements that the 9-11 Commission has been putting out on its website for a few months? They're fascinating. Utterly devoid of spin or bias, which is a refreshing change. The two latest staff statements are "Overview of the Enemy (PDF)" and "Outline of the 9/11 Plot (PDF)." That second one will be especially interesting reading since it's being reported that the initial al-Qaeda plan was to attack the U.S. with TEN airplanes rather than four. Eep.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2004

Laughter In the Rain

We had so much fun with this the other day, let's do it again - give me your captions for this photo:


Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:50 PM | Comments (20)

May 27, 2004

Laughing Cow

Okay, everybody! Write your own caption for this photo:


Posted by Highwaygirl at 04:39 PM | Comments (10)

May 18, 2004

I Want You!

Put a tophat with blue and white stars on this guy, and he could be the new Uncle Sam:


Posted by Highwaygirl at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2004

Boom, There It Is!

Can't find your WMD? Go here for help.

And now I find myself wondering what other types of destructive weapons we might have?

Weapons of Potentially Minor Destruction (knives, slingshots)?

Weapons of Gross-Out Destruction (Ebola, flesh-eating viruses)?

Weapons of Mass Destruction That Should All Be Focused on Ann Coulter (everything else)?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2004

Who Ya Gonna Call?

It's your fault! No, it's your fault!

Just how surreal has the war in Iraq become? Consider this anecdote, about a firefight between the U.S. and Shiite insurgents inside an amusement park where the insurgents were storing heavy weaponry:

"At 12:30 a.m., soldiers were drawn into an intense firefight, killing an Iraqi who had been lobbing grenades from the area of the pirate ship ride."

Grenades? Everyone knows true pirates use their trusty cutlasses.

The apologies continue to roll in for the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, with Condoleeza Rice and the deputy secretary of state having the guts to use the "A" word. Still nothing from President Bush, however.

I used to frequent an IRC channel back in the mid-90s, when I was cool and wild and stuff.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

Implausible Deniability

Okay, I need someone to explain to me how a soldier in the U.S. Army or a member of the federal government (for example, the CIA) can murder a defenseless prisoner in their care and NOT be charged with some sort of crime. Is it because the crime did not happen in the U.S. and therefore doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of a county or state? Even if that's the case, doesn't the military/feds have rules in place to govern this type of thing? Is it because they are not, technically, civilians during the time when they committed the act? What about the code of military justice?

This whole thing is unconscionable, and you can bet that any Americans who are taken hostage in Iraq from this point forward are going to be the ones who bear witness to the reprisals. We were indignant about what a group of Iraqis did to those contractors' bodies, burning them, dismembering them, dragging them through the streets. Where is our indignance about our own behavior? More to the point, where is the U.S. GOVERNMENT'S indignance? It's not good enough for Rumsfeld to call the perpetrators in question "Unamerican" if he's going to turn around and try to help bury all the details.

Oh, and Pvt. Lynndie England? Is a world class dumbass (see story linked above).

In other news ... I pretty much loathe Michael Moore and think he's an obnoxious blowhard, but COME ON! I censor the man by not going to see his films. Institutionalized censorship, on the other hand, is just wrong.

Edited to add: Okay, why are two Army generals able to suck it up and apologize for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, yet both President Bush and Sec. of State Dick Rumsfeld can't bring it upon themselves to do the same? If ANYONE should take the lead in apologizing for this mess it should be Bush.

From the second linked article above:

President Bush - "The America I know is a compassionate country that believes in freedom. The America I know cares about every individual."

Unless they're gay or poor, right? Has there ever been a president MORE out of touch with the reality that average Americans live under?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2004

And Then There Were Two

So, who do you think is going to get to hear YOU'RE HIRED from Donald Trump tonight on the finale of The Apprentice? I honestly don't care! No, really. I'd be happy with either Kwame or Bill winning. I think I like Kwame a little more, but Bill is cuter. What does that have to do with running a business? Nothing. But it has everything to do with entertaining me.

Angel continues to limp towards the finish. Happiness was found in the casting of Adam Baldwin (Noel Rohroaereroaerer from The X-Files)(and lots of other stuff) as the new conduit to the senior partners, for two reasons. One, I really like Adam Baldwin. He's a good actor and tall and manly and stuff. Two, I really hate the character of Eve and think the "actress" who plays her - name unknown - is almost wholly without talent. Sadly I think she'll still be in these last episodes, but now that she's no longer the conduit - and therefore no longer immortal - my hope is that she will DIE! DIE! DIE! very soon.

And as much as I love Lindsey, the trade of Linney for Gunn was kinda lame. Way for the character of Gunn to go out with a whimper, huh? Quite a bit different than the character he was when he first appeared on the show.

AeonFred needs to die soon too. She talks too much.

In sober political news, Thomas Friedman's op-ed piece in today's New York Times is quite interesting. It compares the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza with what needs to happen in Iraq re: the U.S. turning over governance of the country to Iraqis. He makes very good points about how "there is nothing like the burden of responsibility to promote accountability."

I also love the opening to today's column by Maureen O'Dowd:

If only Osama had faxed an X-marks-the-spot map to the Crawford ranch showing the Pentagon, the Capitol, the twin towers and the word "BOOM!" scrawled in Arabic.

That might have sparked sluggish imaginations. Or maybe not.

HEH! It's funny because it's true. And the ending is equally good:

(Bush) reiterated that his mission is dictated from above: "Freedom is the almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world."

Given the Saudi religious authority's fatwa against our troops, and given that our marines are surrounding a cleric in the holy city of Najaf, we really don't want to make Muslims think we're fighting a holy war. That would only further inflame the Arab world and endanger our overstretched military, so let's hope that Mr. Bush's reference to the almighty was to Dick Cheney.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2004

Wag the Duck

Warning: Disgust ahead.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a smug, self-referential BASTARD. I know I said that the Israeli government's tactic of firing missiles at wheelchair-bound quadriplegics is unsporting, at best, but Scalia is – to the best of my knowledge – fully ambulatory. So please, Sharon – feel free.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:51 PM | Comments (4)

March 03, 2004

Well, Here We Go

John Kerry has effectively won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. And according to President Bush's advisors, the gloves are now coming off and there will be "no more Mr. Nice Guy."


Sayeth Kerry – "He proposed to amend the Constitution of the United States for political purposes, and we say that he has no right to misuse the most precious document in our history in an effort to divide this nation and distract us from our goals. We resoundingly reject the politics of fear and distortion."

Amen, brother Kerry. Preach on!

And this just in - blow jobs can kill.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

A Many Splendored Thing


Eric Ethington, left, and spouse Doug Okun hold their twin 3-1/2 month old daughters Sophia Rose and Elizabeth Ruby, respectively, as Okun reads the Ketubah, a marriage contract from their commitment ceremony in 2000, at their home in San Francisco, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2004. Before a civil servant pronounced them 'spouses for life' on Feb. 13, Okun, 38, and Ethington, 37, already considered themselves married, as the two men had been together eight years and had recently become fathers. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Posted by Highwaygirl at 10:02 PM | Comments (4)

February 26, 2004

Alkjdlskd BUSH! askdasdjla

I don't always love Maureen Dowd's columns, but this one, Stations of the Crass, is RIGHTEOUS. Some quotes:

If the president is truly concerned about preserving the sanctity of marriage, as one of my readers suggested, why not make divorce illegal and stone adulterers?

As the Max von Sydow character said in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," while watching a TV evangelist appealing for money: "If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:11 PM | Comments (2)

February 25, 2004

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

It's Ash Wednesday! I don't even know what that means. My family was so not-god-fearing, and it's left me with a lack of knowledge about mainstream religious traditions. But I should get bonus points for knowing what Ramadan is.

Anyway, HAPPY ASH WEDNESDAY to those that observe it in some way. Wait, is "happy" the right modifier? Should I be wishing people an "introspective" Ash Wednesday, or maybe a "solemn" Ash Wednesday? Does Blue Mountain have e-cards for this holiday?

Why am I so amused that the New York Times' review of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" references The Simpsons? At the beginning AND the end. I just find that precious for some reason.

HWG: okay, I find it FUNNY AS HELL that that reviewer has linked The Passion of the Christ to The Simpsons
Overg: heh
Overg: that's one way to knock the legs out from underneath a religious film
HWG: and it ends with Homer
HWG: awesome
HWG: what the hell IS Ash Wednesday, anyway?
Overg: it's the day Jesus fought a Volcano Monster to save the disciples from the clutches of Doctor Terror

There's also a great editorial in today's NYT about this unbelievably crass attempt by President Bush to create a Constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. Remember how I was talking about this weeks ago, and how I was appalled that a President of the United States would think that it was right to sully the meaning of the Constitution with an amendment that excludes, rather than embraces, an entire segment of our society? This is from today's editorial:

(The amendment) would inject meanspiritedness and exclusion into the document embodying our highest principles and aspirations. ... The Constitution has been amended over the years to bring women, blacks and young people into fuller citizenship. President Bush's amendment would be the first adopted to stigmatize and exclude a group of Americans.

November can't get here soon enough. I just really wish that Ralph Nader has stayed out of things.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 09:37 AM | Comments (12)

January 27, 2004

Well, DUH

No kidding, really? Really didn't see this one coming at all.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:20 AM | Comments (10)

January 21, 2004

Worst. President. Ever.

At least in my lifetime. I'm going to front-load this entry with some odds & ends and then get to President Bush's State of the Union address to wrap things up.

My love for Dan Savage and his column occasionally knows no bounds. Here's an excerpt from today's piece:

Q: Just out of curiosity, are you married yourself? Because if you're not, where do you get off telling married people how married sex should/could be? – Amy K.

A: Maybe you missed the reference to my boyfriend and the Finnish men's swim team in last week's column, Amy K., but I'm a huge homo. Which means, of course, that I can't be married – at least not now, at least not in the U.S. Allowing me to marry my boyfriend would imperil lasting, stable heterosexual marriages, like the one Britney Spears enjoyed for 55 hours earlier this month.

Amen, brother Dan!

Here is a brief news item about the bomb scare that put us on lockdown for several hours yesterday morning. There were about 10 police cars, two news helicopters and sheriff's helicopter circling the area for about an hour, resulting in one of my coworkers asking why "Black Hawk Down" was being filmed behind our building.

And then there's the people who just really suck. Although kudos to the bystanders who tried to get the crazy lady to stop. I think I would have tackled her, myself. I also think that animal cruelty charges should be felonies, not misdemeanors.

So now, let's talk Bush. All you really need to know is that the man talked about steroids in baseball in his STATE OF THE UNION address. The hell?

Anyway, I purposely did not watch the speech as it was broadcast, because I felt like it would piss me off more to hear all the half-truths being told than just to read them the next morning in news stories and transcripts and spot-on editorials (I watched America's Next Top Model on UPN instead). And I was right! Because after Top Model was over I flipped over to NBC to catch the end of the speech, just in time to hear Bush blather on about he will support a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage ... and then I was infected with RAGE!

I'm reading the transcript I linked above, and it's quite entertaining. It fills me with glee - GLEE, I say! - that Democrats gave APPLAUSE when Bush spoke of the Patriot Act's expiration. And this quote just jumped out at me: "For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible. And no one can now doubt the word of America." By "no one" you mean "everyone," right Mr. President? Seeing as how your main reasons for invading Iraq - the existence of weapons of mass destruction and a verifiable link to Al-Qaeda - have been shown to be fallacies.

And more: "And because you acted to stimulate our economy with tax relief, this economy is strong and growing stronger." Only someone completely out of touch with reality would call the U.S. economy "strong."

I enjoy this dichotomy: "These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than government would have..." Good, I appreciate you being honest about how the government has no idea how to use the money I pay in taxes. But wait! That statement is followed shortly thereafter with: "And we should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayers' dollars." But you just told me that you're NOT good stewards of my taxpayer dollars!

"Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage." Especially the 55-hour ones.

This quote elicited my biggest freak-out moment from the end of the speech: "By executive order, I have opened billions of dollars in grant money to competition that includes faith-based charities. Tonight I ask you to codify this into law so people of faith can know that the law will never discriminate against them again."

Okay, first - faith-based organizations (FBOs) are LEGALLY ALLOWED to discriminate in hiring based on any number of factors (race, religion, gender) that a public business would be barred from using to deny employment. Second, they can also discriminate against any group of people when it comes to who they choose to provide services for. An FBO gets a contract to provide job training in your county to unemployed workers? They're not legally required to provide it to all eligible workers, unlike most federal service providers; they can limit their service to all heterosexual, married men if they want to.

So the bottom line is that FBOs who want to provide federal services aren't the people that need protection against discrimination - it's the people who need those services that need to be protected.

At the end, Bush related a letter he received from a 10-year-old asking if there was anything she could do to "save our country." Bush seemed heartened by this, but I've got to disagree - if the 10-year-olds think your nation is screwed and needs saving, things must be pretty bad.

But anyway, Bush said there were a few things she could do: "Study hard in school. Listen to your mom and dad." Wouldn't it be a gas if little Ashley had two moms? Or was born out of wedlock? I'm sure, though, that Bush had his people make sure that the kid actually had a mom and a dad who are married heterosexuals.

From the Overg am Smrt files:

HWG: I'm not even gay and that whole "amendment to ban gay marriage" pisses me off
HWG: that's not what the Constitution should be used for
HWG: ever
HWG: to do so is, to me, anti-American
Overgme: oh, I find that laughingly asinine
Overgme: there is just no way to justify it on anything other than a "moral" basis
Overgme: i.e., it's right because it's right
Overgme: 1. there is no institution to "protect"
Overgme: exhibit 1: Britney Spears
Overgme: 2. even if there was an institution to protect, there is nothing about it that is threatened by gays participating in it
Overgme: exhibit 2: Danny and his boyfriend
Overgme: there are two types of people who would want to ban gay marriages
Overgme: 1. assholes who were taught that homosexuality is wrong, and are too fucking stupid to actually think about it . . . in other words, dogmatic nitwits
Overgme: 2. people who think that gay sex is "icky"
Overgme: the first group is the one I'd like to wipe off the face of the earth
Overgme: the second is just stupid, and shouldn't be allowed to vote
HWG: I think that the idea that Bush is having sex is completely icky, but you don't see me pushing for a Constitutional amendment to ban it
Overgme: right
Overgme: that's why the second group is so dumb
Overgme: the thought of a lot of people having sex is icky
Overgme: what's that got to do with marriage?

Posted by Highwaygirl at 11:48 AM | Comments (3)

January 14, 2004

Of Feathers and Fascists

This morning I went out back to throw some seed down for the pigeons, and I spotted this great blue heron stalking bugs/fish/whatever in the pond behind my apartment:


And now, bonus Overg content!

HWG: I hate the President, Todd
HWG: He's reached Scalia-like proportions
HWG: I just think he's a complete moron
Overgme: yeah, I'm not sure who I hate more
Overgme: Scalia is infinitely smarter, as far as I can tell
Overgme: which makes him more dangerous, in his way
HWG: Bush is doing more damage short term
Overgme: agreed
HWG: Scalia has long term consequences
Overgme: the Supreme Court is very discrete
Overgme: Bush is like a lunch tray in a china shop
HWG: hahahahaha
Overgme: honestly, the action of his that I approve of off the top of my head was the pardoning of the turkeys for Thanksgiving
Overgme: I think I've disagreed with every other position or action he's taken
HWG: I've never felt like campaigning for anyone
HWG: but to get Bush out of the office, it might be worthwhile
Overgme: sadly, the fact that Bush still has an approval rating in the positive numbers is proof positive to me that most Americans are complete morons
Overgme: I am not holding out any hope in the next election
HWG: I hate Bush and everything he stands for
Overgme: me too!
Overgme: hey
Overgme: that's actually pretty much true
Overgme: I do hate him
Overgme: and everything he stands for
Overgme: wow
HWG: wow
HWG: for the first time ever, you can use that phrase honestly
HWG: I just don't know how I ended up in a family of Republicans
Overgme: my dad often expresses conservative opinions
Overgme: which I promptly rephrase in more accurate, fascist, terms

Posted by Highwaygirl at 07:11 PM | Comments (10)

The Newlywed Game

Okay, now I am mad. Today in the NY Times:

Bush Plans $1.5 Billion Drive for Promotion of Marriage

Here's the lead paragraph:

Administration officials say they are planning an extensive election-year initiative to promote marriage, especially among low-income couples, and they are weighing whether President Bush should promote the plan next week in his State of the Union address.

aalskdalsdkjalksjdlaskd WHATTHEHELL?!!? aoasdjasldijalksj

Only a moron thinks that what low-income people need is a $1.5 billion – yes, BILLION – initiative that encourages them to shack up legally with someone. What they need is for some of that money to be thrown their way in the form of increased wages and better access to affordable health care. I just ... I just can't believe that basic, fundamental programs are being cut in favor of increased funding for something as completely stupid and asinine and UNNECESSARY as this.

Oh, and a space station. *rolls eyes*

Here's more:

In the last few years, some liberals have also expressed interest in marriage-education programs. They say a growing body of statistical evidence suggests that children fare best, financially and emotionally, in married two-parent families.

You know what? That's probably true. It sounds reasonable, at any rate. However, I think that children fare best when they're not living in poverty without access to the most basic of social services. Health insurance for kids? Most states are slashing the budgets of the SCHIPs (State Children's Health Insurance Programs) to the point where children living in families BELOW the poverty level – yet, astonishingly, still not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid (as if that would help much) – are not eligible for heath coverage.

What kind of sense does a marriage initiative make in light of those facts? We ALREADY, as a country, don't give a damn about our children. Oh, but "we" (as in, the head of the federal government, and his cronies), do care about refusing to allow gays to marry. And make no mistake – that is the driving force behind this dumb initiative.

You know what? I can't get behind the knee-jerk reactionaries who spout off things like "George Bush sucks" and make stupid jokes about shrubs and the pronunciation of "nuclear." Those things are way too easy, especially when they are SO MANY legitimate, context-specific reasons to think that Bush the Younger is a first-class mental midget (and a bigot, to boot) who is running the United States headlong into a trashy, intolerant oblivion.

Posted by Highwaygirl at 03:10 PM | Comments (5)