Archive for June, 2008

An Anti-Clawdie, The First Ever, Awarded To A Gentleman From Virginia
June 30, 2008

The Lion found a letter to the editor written by a fellow in Virginia who’s just wrong, a letter so wrong that it deserves the first ever Anti-Clawdie Award.

Our man starts off with mild praise for Senator Barack Obama’s recent speech encouraging fathers to get more involved with their children. “Heartening,” said Mr. Virginia.

But that’s not enough for him. He goes on to say:

While this secular progressive society romanticizes the notion of having children outside of marriage (especially in Gloucester), it is a choice that has devastating consequences for children. If Obama wants to earn the support of the mainstream of America, he should work to bring back the taboo that once made it rare for women to have children before getting married.

Secular?

Hardly. Something like ninety percent of Americans hold spiritual beliefs in one religion or another. Perhaps Mr. Virginia had in mind installing a theocratic government? Perhaps teaching creationist fantasies in the public schools? Perhaps teaching that women are lesser creatures than men and have to walk three steps behind men at all times? Sound about right, Mr. Virginia?

Progressive?

Have you looked at the White House lately, Mr. Virginia? Or the Congress? Republicans who want to drag us back into the Nineteenth Century are calling the shots. Civil liberties, a hallmark of progressivism and the Constitution, are shredded daily by that crowd. Immigration agents of the fascistic Department of Homeland Security routinely arrest and deport American citizens and lie to Congress about it (The Nation, June 23, 2008). Rich people get huge tax breaks, effectively giving them a free ride on the backs of the working class. Republicans in the White House routinely hand over the reins of government agencies to unqualified political hacks, and then proclaim government doesn’t work. Perhaps you remember Katrina and Rita? When the next major hurricane crashes into Virginia, do you want Republican hacks bumbling to your aid, or do you want qualified professionals running the agencies whose job it is to rescue, support, and rebuild your families and communities?

The snide slash at Gloucester teens was uncalled for. It was rude. It was thoughtless. It was ignorant.

And how about those devastating consequences, Mr. Virginia? Exactly what did you have in mind? Naturally we’ll never know, but we can guess that you’re thinking joblessness, homelessness, crime, drugs, prison, yada yada yada, all the cliches that people who make your argument always manage to mention.

Those arguments presume that the unmarried mothers must be social deviants, must be drug addicts, must be ignorant and incompetent, must be lazy, and whatever other myths the wingnuts on the right can think up.

But never, not once, do the wingnuts propose a humane society, one that provides daycare so that mothers can work, that provides healthcare so the children won’t suffer third-world diseases in the midst of America, that provides training and schooling so that disadvantaged mothers can better themselves and make a better life for the children for whom Mr. Virginia has prescribed ‘devastating consequences’. The Lion can feel pretty certain that not one red cent of Mr. Virginia’s tax money would be allowed to support progressive social programs, no sir, not from him, not one red cent, by golly.

He’d rather see children undergo ‘devastating consequences’.

His answer to his problem with perception? A father in every home:

The answer is not government. It is personal responsibility, and a return to the basic understanding that children need a married mother and father in the home to be raised as productive members of society.

Yup. Good old dad. Apparently Mr. Virginia isn’t going to distinguish drunken wife-beating child abusers from decent men struggling to make a living in a failing Republican economy. Or ignorant religious fanatics who rule their families with the iron hand of stupidity, bigotry, intolerance, and hatred. Just as long as there’s a man in the house, married to the woman in the house. Any man’s better than no man, right, Mr. V?

As for the ‘basic understanding’, well, no. There’s the basic mythology of Father Knows Best. Is that where Mr. Virginia gets his understanding of family sociology from? Good luck with that.

The Lion would also note that Mr. Virginia has, with his final ringing phrase about ‘productive members of society’, insulted millions of mothers and children. Mothers who struggled to do the best they could for their kids, despite the heavy odds imposed against them by an atavistic American society and atavists like Mr. Virginia. Children who grew to a crime-free and drug-free adulthood, who got a decent education, who hold jobs and pay their bills and are good, decent men and women.

Yes, Virginia, you just trashed all those people.

And of course you don’t define a couple of things in your statement. ‘Personal responsibility’ for one. But The Lion knows that’s just Republican Conservative code for ‘Screw you, I got mine and I don’t care what your problems are, you’re on your own, dumbass.’ That’s the modern religious Republican take on ‘Love one another’ and ‘Do unto others…’

And then there’s the matter of defining ‘productive members of society’. The Lion is not sure he wants to know what that means to Mr. Virginia, but it does bring to mind mindless drones pushing paper from one cubicle to another, or factory drones taught never to question, never to ask, never to think, but just to do what their Republican factory owners tell them to do. The Lion suspects that Mr. Virginia may well regard hedge fund managers who make hundreds of millions of dollars a year screwing around with other people’s money as the most productive members of society, despite the fact that they don’t create anything useful and contribute pretty much nothing to s0ciety. And of course the ten-dollar-an-hour security guard that ‘protects’ the steel and glass towers these parasites play in isn’t anywhere near as productive, is he?

Be that as it may…

Mr. Virginia might want to review a report from the CDC on birth statistics. One bit of it states:

A key change in marital status patterns has been the large increase in cohabitation among unmarried couples. In 1980-84, 29 percent of out-of-wedlock births were to cohabiting couples; 10 years later this proportion increased to 39 percent. This group accounts for most of the increase in births to unmarried women since the early 1980’s.

Oh, look, Mr. Virginia, there’s daddies in those evil, unmarried homes.

Fewer than 3 in 10 nonmarital births are to teenagers, but the majority of teen births are out-of-wedlock. Ages 20-29 are the peak childbearing years, and women in their twenties account for over half of all nonmarital births. The number of births to unmarried teens was 2 percent lower in 1999 than in 1998.

Wow! How about that? Adults having children. The Lion suspects that Mr. Virginia would condemn with the same vigor a professional woman who can actually afford daycare and health care and other necessities as he does the teens of Gloucester who apparently got bad advice from their sex ed classes. He would have to slam those hard-working professional women, who choose not to have man messing with their lives, in order to be consistent. Can’t be giving women credit, now can we, Mr. Virginia?

So, to Mr. Virginia, a nameless fellow from Virginia, today’s first ever Anti-Clawdie Award. Congratulations, Mr. V, don’t spend it all in one place. Like, fer instance, a homeless shelter, or a community daycare center, or a drug rehab center, or anything like that. No, no, no. That might be taking personal responsibility, real responsibility, for your fellow humans instead of the cheap cop-out kind touted by the Republicans and the Conservatives.

Good luck with all that, Mr. Virginia.

P.S. The Lion lied. There’s no money with the award. There’s not even a plaque with fancy script on it. There’s just this impolite post on the Grumpy Lion blog. That and two bucks will get you a cup of coffee, but not a latte or anything like that.

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What Are Republicans Made Of? Snips And Snails And Puppy Dog Racism
June 28, 2008

Republicans have been playing the race card in local and national politics ever since Dickie Nixon came up with the so-called Southern Strategy. That was nothing more than an appeal to the Southern racists who hated civil rights legislation that told them they had to give up their favorite hobby of lynching and castrating black people, or as they called them, Negroes or niggers.

And it worked. It’s worked for decades. It’s worked so well that they can’t give it up. They used it against Harold Ford in Tennessee in 2006. Successfully. They use it every chance they get. They want to get the country back to the important business of lynching niggers, whether figuratively in elections or in reality, from the nearest commemorative Emmett Till lamp post.

And now that a black man (or, if you will, a white man who had a black father) is not only running for President, but is likely to win that election, the Republicans just can’t restrain themselves. They can’t help it. They’re like meth addicts. Their teeth are rotted out, their hearts are screwed up, their brains are miswired and misfiring, but they’ve just got to have more of that drug of racism.

The latest slam comes from a little pisspot whose proclaimed goal is the destruction of the Federal government, one Grover Norquist, a nasty piece of work who never met a government program that he didn’t want to destroy unless it aided the well-off and the wealthy and abused the working people and the poor.

From the Los Angeles Times, during an interview he gave them:

Norquist dropped by The Times’ Washington bureau today and, as part of his negative critique of Obama’s liberal stances on economic issues and other matters, he termed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee “John Kerry with a tan.”

The Times’ writer added:

Since Norquist isn’t running for anything, he can get away with such remarks…

Well, no, not around here the little jerk can’t.

If little Grover had said Senator Obama was a ‘black John Kerry’, that would have been okay, or an ‘African American John Kerry’, that would have been okay. That would have been descriptive and actually would confer some admiration and stature to both men.

But John Kerry with a tan?

No, not okay, Grovey, not okay. That’s sleazy racism. That’s a deliberate insult to black people, to Obama, and even to Kerry for including him in your slur.

You don’t have to balls to stand face-to-face with Senator Obama and call him “John Kerry with a tan”.

And The Lion bets you have neither the grace nor the courage nor the self-awareness to apologize face-to-face to the man.

Grover Norquist is an important little man in Conservative politics. The big guns of Conservatism meet with him every week, like some sort of tin god that they worship because he tells them how to bring down the United States Government and replace it with a Conservative Utopia where everybody carries a gun, people with money get whatever they want, and people who work or are poor get to die in the streets because they can’t afford to walk into the emergency room.

In reality, Norquist is an ugly, graceless, mean-spirited, narrow-minded, bigoted little man. And apparently not too bright either.

In other words, the perfect Republican.

Why Antonin Scalia Disgraces The Supreme Court And The Country
June 25, 2008

From The Progressive, reporting on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments on 60 Minutes:

[Scalia] told 60 Minutes that torture should not be considered cruel and unusual punishment. “Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don’t think so,” Scalia told Lesley Stahl. A policeman may be “hurting you in order to get information from you,” Scalia said. But “you don’t say he’s punishing you.”

If John McCain wins the White House, expect more crap-for-brains nominations like Scalia to the Court. And expect a return to the police torture tactics used by groups of thugs like the old Chicago city police back in the Fifties and Sixties. After all, some of the folks trained in the torture techniques of the Republican Bush administration will be getting home and looking for work.

McCain Used Slave Labor For Alabama Meeting, And Got A Discount
June 25, 2008

Back in April in the city of Homewood, Alabama John McCain got an 80% discount off the normal booking rate for a meeting space in a facility called Rosewood Hall.

Democrats who rented the hall were charged the full rate of $1,200.

McCain was also given free labor. Not that the laborers had any choice, since they were inmates of the Homewood City Jail. Sounds a lot like slavery. Oh, not the old style full-blown White Massa Big House slavery. More like the new style White Massa White House slavery from the old white guy running the usual Republican racist political campaign.

Maybe the inmates enjoyed the respite. Maybe not. Apparently nobody thought to ask them. Nobody asks the people at the bottom if they want to be treated as mere dispensable and disposable objects for the benefit of the scum at the top.

States Reject Federal Abstinence Funds, Teens Rut Rampantly
June 25, 2008

In the Globe today Kevin Freking of the Associated Press writes that states are refusing Federal funds dedicated to sexual abstinence programs for teens.

Governor Chet Culver of Iowa, a Democrat, made his decision to leave the program based on the congressionally mandated curriculum, which teaches “the social, psychological, and health gains of abstaining from sexual activity.” Instructors must teach that sexual activity outside marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.

Ideology under Republican rule once again trumps reality.

People of all ages have been having sex outside marriage, before marriage, after marriage, since marriage was invented. Today in the United States one-third of married women have sex with men not their husbands. In the so-called Bible Belt, the highest divorce rate in the nation suggests that belts get unbuckled at an even higher rate. The Lion once upon a time had a girlfriend who had been raised by incredibly strict parents, the kind who watched her like a hawk. She started having sex with her secret boyfriend when she was fourteen and never looked back. The eagle-eyed parents never knew. That’s not such an uncommon story. (She turned out pretty well, not suffering any psychological or physical difficulties.)

A federal tally shows that participation in the program is down 40 percent over two years, with 28 states still in. Arizona and Iowa have announced their intention to forgo their share of the federal grant at the start of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

“The funding stream became inconsistent. We didn’t know from one quarter to the next whether we’d be getting the rest of the money,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “We got to the point where we didn’t have any infrastructure to put the money to use. At the same time, there was mounting evidence the abstinence programs weren’t proving to be effective.”

Of course the Republicans want to have it both ways. “Tell your kids not to screw and we might or might not send you money to run anti-screwing programs.”

A 2004 Congressional report noted the following findings:

  • Abstinence-only curricula contain false information about the effectiveness of contraceptives. (They lie about them.)
  • Abstinence-only curricula contain false information about the risks of abortion. (They lie about it.)
  • Abstinence-only curricula blur religion and science. (They lie about it.)
  • Abstinence-only curricula treat stereotypes about girls and boys as scientific fact. (They lie about it.)
  • Abstinence-only curricula contain scientific errors. (They lie about it.)

And of course the Republicans and Conservatives and religious wingnuts would have us believe that teaching genuine and complete information about sexuality will lead to teens rutting rampantly in the street, while teaching lie-based abstinence will end the curse of sex completely.

Apparently one of the qualifications for being a Republican or Conservative or religious wingnut is to never have had a rush of sexual hormones in the back seat of a car during your teenage years. The other qualification requires a powerful ability to deny reality and the skills to drag other people into your denial.

The United States needs to get rid of these people so we can bring back good old-fashioned honest fucking.

Republican Justice Department Employees Commit Felonies, Go Free
June 25, 2008

The latest stench from the United States s0-called Department of Justice identifies Republican political appointees working within DOJ deliberately refusing to consider job applicants with any sort of Democratic or progressive leaning or connections.

That’s a violation of Federal law, and a violation of strict decades-long non-discrimination practices at DOJ. Their actions were and are part of the reason the DOJ has become a putrid, corrupt branch of the Bush Administration’s cabal to destroy effective government in the United States.

None of the employees involved currently work at DOJ. They include a Michael Elston, former deputy attorney general staff chief, who is accused of “…failing to make sure the hirings were proper – and giving evasive and misleading answers about why they were not.” [From hard copy news story in the Globe.] Last year Monica Goodling, an aide to the sleazy former AG, Alberto Gonzales, admitted in sworn testimony before a Congressional committee that she used political considerations in hiring decisions. She said she ‘might have violated the law’.

She worked in the heart of the justice department and didn’t know if her actions violated the law? That’s the kind of people Republicans put into positions of power. Incompetent or corrupt or utterly lacking in conscience or who put their own corrupt Republican ideology ahead of the law and the Constitution. Or any combination of those qualities held dear by the Republican hierarchy. We’ve seen it in FEMA. We’ve seen it in the Defense Department. We’ve seen it in NASA and the FDA and the Department of Agriculture. It’s the standard operating procedure of the Federal Government under Republican rule. Thousands of people have died because of it. Thousands suffer every day because of it. The country is swirling the drain because of it.

And it goes on and on.

The hard copy story, which differs from the online version, concludes:

Although federal law prohibits discriminating against government job applicants based on their politics, it’s unlikely that any of those involved in the hiring process will be penalized since they no longer work at the department.

Why the hell not? They broke the law, and they broke it in the heart of the justice system. Why are they getting away with it? Likely because they’re Republicans and Republicans accept as a matter of course that they are above the law.

Michael Mukasey, reputed to be the Attorney General, but in fact little more than a Bush Administration whore who will do whatever his psychotic boss in the White House wants him to do, without regard for the law and the Constitution, said the following in the last graph of the online article in the Globe:

“I have . . . made clear, and will continue to make clear, that the consideration of political affiliations in the hiring of career Department employees is impermissible and unacceptable,” Mukasey said.

His credibility is on a par with that of George Bush.

Justice, the heart of democracy, has been befouled and corrupted by these people to the point where is will take years, if not a generation, to clean up the ideological filth.

Today’s Clawdie Award Goes To…
June 21, 2008

In today’s Globe, one Douglas Reichgott responded to a Tennessee gun lover with a factually stinging rebuke worthy of a Clawdie, The Lion’s rare award to civilians who write letters and such to newspaper editors and say clever things and suchlike.

Mr. Reichgott’s letter:

IN HIS June 19 letter “Uneasy grip on firearms views,” Dan Lutts of McDonald, Tenn., argues that rural areas have fewer problems with firearms because they are not treated as “forbidden objects” and “children learn . . . how to treat firearms safely.”

The only problem with this logic is the facts.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in Tennessee are 14 times more likely to accidentally injure themselves with a gun and five times more likely to commit suicide with a gun than people in Massachusetts.

Seems like making guns “forbidden objects” turns out to be a good idea.

You go, Reichgott! And wear your Clawdie with pride.

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Media And McCain Exposed
June 19, 2008

Nice piece of work on McCain’s marital relation with that Cindy woman, you know, the one he left his disabled first wife for, and a nice slash at the media.

 

A tip of the hat to Evo.

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Jeff Jacoby: Shallow Again
June 18, 2008

Jeff Jacoby is a fellow who writes a column that the Boston Globe deigns to publish on its Opinion page for some reason. He’s usually wrong or he’s propagandizing for the right wing of American politics.

Take today’s column, titled ‘The coming population bust’. His typical tunnel vision leads him to open with the following:

THOMAS MALTHUS has been dead for 170 years, but the Malthusian fallacy – the dread conviction that the growth of human population leads to hunger, shortages, and a ravaged environment – is unfortunately alive and well:

He then lists the opinions of several people who believe that overpopulation is a serious problem. And one person from the New America Foundation who believes we need more people.

Jacoby’s assumption is that the problems the world faces today are due not to overpopulation, but to a falling birthrate.

The fact that in much of the world there exists massive hunger and that the environment is ravaged to the point where it faces collapse seems to have escaped him. The fact that critical resources, water, for example, and raw materials are diminishing, that the oceans are literally being fished out, also escapes him.

Jacoby notes that in the last two hundred years world population has increased seven times, and then says, “And yet human beings today are on the whole healthier, wealthier, longer-lived, better-fed, and better-educated than ever before.”

Kind of depends on where you look, doesn’t it, Jacoby? And apparently you don’t look much beyond the wealthier classes anywhere, conveniently missing the billions who live in poverty and worse than poverty. Apparently Jacoby missed the memo about the people in Haiti eating dirt pies because there’s no food. The Lion doubts the Haitians would be allowed to be part of Jacoby’s social circle.

Jacoby’s paean to the unrestrained growth of human population fails to note that the only reason such growth has been possible can be found in the use of fossil fuels. Not for him to note that those are running out and are the root cause of the devastation the environment is undergoing. Nope. Jacoby just wants to keep on adding mouths to the problem.

Jacoby’s real concern doesn’t seem to be with the folk dwelling in poverty out of his sight. No. Jacoby’s sympathies lie with the corporations who might suffer a fall in profits.

True, fewer human beings would mean fewer mouths to feed. It would also mean fewer entrepreneurs, fewer pioneers, fewer problem-solvers. Which is why it is not an increase but the coming decrease in human population that should engender foreboding. For as Phillip Longman, a scholar of demographics and economics at the New America Foundation, observes: “Never in history have we had economic prosperity accompanied by depopulation.”

Economic prosperity! The Holy Grail of the Jacobys of the world. Of course he’s not concerned about overpopulation. Overpopulation means the human race will breed more consumers, and we know that corporations depend on an unending and increasing flow of consumers to keep themselves profitable. So for Jacoby overpopulation is a good thing. Profits at any cost!

Jacoby seems to believe that more mouths sucking up resources is a good thing because we would automatically get more entrepreneurs, pioneers (whatever the hell he means by that), and problem solvers. That’s the old monkey argument, you know, give a million billion monkeys typewriters and you might get a monkey Shakespeare.

How about fewer people, wiser use of resources, and better education to produce more problem solvers? Jacoby claims that ‘no resource is more valuable than the human mind’. Tell that to a Ph.D. in India who will soon be dying of thirst because so many people for so long have done so much damage to the Earth. A brain is just a mass of neurons, and if it doesn’t get enough food and enough water and a good, strong education, it’s just a mass of useless, dying neurons.

Jacoby closes his column, the first of two, saying ‘The coming demographic winter will chill us all’.

No, Jacoby, the chilling thing is that your mass of neurons can be so wrong so often and yet draw a paycheck for babbling in print.

General Taguba: Bush Administration Has Committed War Crimes
June 18, 2008

In today’s Globe, on the front page of the hard copy no less, Bryan Bender of the Globe Staff, writes about the report to be issued today by the Physicians for Human Rights that details medical evidence of torture on eleven former prisoners of the American Republican regime’s so-called war on terror.

Not only were these men subject to ‘severe physical and sexual assault’, the torture was aided and abetted by ‘American health professionals’ who denied care to the victims and made no attempt to stop the torture they witnessed.

All eleven victims have been released and none – none, not one – were charged with any crime. They were held for months and years, four in the hellhole of Guantanamo, seven in Iraq. They were tortured with electric shocks; they had broomsticks shoved up their asses; they were beaten; they were stabbed and sliced; and victimized by psychologists and medical personnel. These acts were done by Americans.

Retired Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who conducted the official investigation of prisoner abuse, torture, and murder at Abu Ghraib in 2004, wrote in the preface:

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the commander in chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture…

…There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes.

Physicians for Human Rights concluded that:

…all of the interrogation techniques the 11 men allegedly endured – including officially sanctioned exposure to extreme temperatures and placement in “stress positions,” as well as unauthorized treatment such as sexual abuse – violated both domestic criminal law and international human rights treaties.

George Bush, who has all the credibility of a drug addict who’s been strung out for a few days, denies he ever condoned torture. Fortunately for him the civilized people who will ultimately try him for war crimes and crimes against humanity are unlikely to use his favorite ‘aggressive but legal’ interrogation techniques on him. And if they have any sense of decency and justice they’ll just hang the son of a bitch alongside the American soldiers and operatives who carried out, and continue to carry out, acts of abuse, torture, and murder of prisoners.

It should be noted that Senator John ‘Bomb-Bomb’ McCain, reputed to be a candidate to replace George Bush in the Office of the President of the United States, and himself a victim of torture, supports the torture of prisoners. By extension, he and his friend George Bush support the abuse, torture, and murder of American soldiers unfortunate enough to be captured by the enemy du jour. The Republicans apparently haven’t figured out yet the truth of that hoary old aphorism, ‘What goes around, comes around’.