Saturday, April 22


Sally, you HAVE to read this post at Left of Center.

I'm not sure if the percentages are accurate, but the essence is brilliant.

UPDATE: Is it just me and The Sage (and my friend Sally), or do other libs/progs fantasize about moving outside the U.S.A.? I know in my heart we never will because we couldn't bear to be apart from our five offspring and sprawling loving extended family, but I continue to scan "International Living" on the off-chance that I'll discover an affordable haven where we can distance ourselves from the trainwreck BushCo has made of our beloved country. About once a month I initiate a conversation with the hubby (that's The Sage, for new readers) about selling our house and moving into an apartment so we'll be liquid enough to escape the coming conflagration.

Friday, April 21


Sung to the tune of "Summertime Blues"

Well I’m gonna raise a fuss and I’m gonna raise a holler
‘Cause I’m working more than ever but I cannot save a dollar
Insurance costs keep rising and I can’t fill my tank
The note is coming due and I can’t face the bank
Sometimes I have to wonder what I’m a-gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the Bush-Cheney blues.

On Iraq they’re spinning “progress” while they’re wasting lives and money
While O’Reilly’s more concerned about the sacred Easter bunny
But the Rethugs are clever and they don’t miss a trick
In a pinch they can blame it on those darn Dixie Chicks
Sometimes I have to wonder what we’re a-gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the Bush-Cheney blues.

Well I’m writing in a blog ‘cause I’m dying of frustration
The wretched Bushies are determined to attack another nation
I’d like to think the Democrats would win the midterm vote,
But our chance of taking Congress is too darn remote
We’re stuck for three more years with this gang without a clue
And there ain’t no cure for the Bush-Cheney blues.


What is it about democracy that the right-wingers just don't get it? The generals speaking out in criticism of Donald Rumsfeld are RETIRED, PRIVATE CITIZENS, and have the right (and responsibility) to speak freely their informed opinions about something they know about MORE THAN MOST ANYONE ELSE.


This is part of the reason Al Gore's picture is posted in the upper left of this blog.

You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who beat Gore in 2000. The contrast is stark. Gore -- more at ease in the lecture hall than he ever was on the stump -- summons science to tell a harrowing story and offers science as the antidote. No feat of imagination could have Bush do something similar -- even the sentences are beyond him.

But it is the thought that matters -- the application of intellect to an intellectual problem. Bush has been studiously anti-science, a man of applied ignorance who has undernourished his mind with the empty calories of comfy dogma. For instance, his insistence on abstinence as the preferred method of birth control would be laughable were it not so reckless. It is similar to Bush's initial approach to global warming and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol -- ideology trumping science. It may be that Gore will do more good for his country and the world with this movie than Bush ever did by beating him in 2000.

Gore insists his presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the Persian Gulf War -- right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies -- especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates.

Run, Al, run!


Thursday, April 20


The Southern Baptist Convention is losing steam. Baptisms are down for the fifth time in six years.

"An honest evaluation of the data leads us to but one conclusion," Rainer wrote in the Spring 2005 issue of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. "The conservative resurgence has not resulted in a more evangelistic denomination."
The convention has not reached the 400,000-baptism plateau since 2000, the year it revised the Baptist Faith & Message to narrow theological parameters in place since the statement's last revision in 1963.

This was the topic of one of my very first posts because it's been a heart sore for me for many years. A once-great force for spreading the Gospel has been decimated by its alignment with the religious right in seeking political power and influence. What a sad response to Christ's commission that we leave everything worldly behind in order to follow him.

Hat tip to Dr. Bruce Prescott.


And the hits just keep on coming. "A newly declassified State Department memo provides the first hard evidence that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored intelligence in their thirst for war."

Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa -- an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war -- the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored documents information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

It was that warning that kept Colin Powell from including the uranium claims in his address to the UN, a presentation that convinced most of America that the overthrow of Saddam was necessary to our national security. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Association, got wind of the charge and wrote the White House, the NSC and the State Department asking for their evidence so his agency could look into it, warning that the documents were probably forgeries. He never got a response.

"I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past."

Well, the Dick has been proven wrong in just about every assumption he's made about the war and foreign policy. So looking at the latest White House-inspired crisis, Iran's pursuit of nuclear energy capability interpreted as a drive towards acquiring nuclear weapons, I'm inspired to mimic the Veep.

My version: "I think Messrs. Bush, Cheney et al frankly are wrong," Motherlode said. "[The Bush administration] has consistently missed what it was [everyone] was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more correct this time than they've been in the past."

BTW, why does Condi Rice get a pass on all of this? SHE's the one who said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." She's been complicit in every single disastrous step the Bushies have made in foreign policy. Yet she's the #1 pick of any Rethuglican for president in '08.

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One out of three Americans like him. And only two out of three Republicans approve his performance. I'd say that makes him a most unpopular president, wouldn't you?

The other end of Pennsylvania Avenue fares even worse: 25 percent of the public approves of the job Congress is doing and 52 percent disapprove. About a year ago, 40 percent approved and 36 percent disapproved (29-30 March 2005). Furthermore, a 54 percent majority agrees that this is a "do nothing" Congress, including 56 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats.
Americans are more than twice as likely to rate the nation’s economy negatively as positively. Nearly 3 in 10 rate economic conditions as either "excellent" (6 percent) or "good" 22 percent, while the widespread consensus is gloomier: about 4 in 10 say the economy is "only fair" (42 percent) and another 30 percent say it is in "poor" shape.
Finally, when asked to look ahead 10 years, a 58 percent majority of Americans say they are optimistic about the future of the United States, down from 73 percent in October 2003.

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What a relief. The story about masked gunmen in Iraq beheading two teachers in front of their students turns out to be wrong.

It was a Reuters wire that read in part: "Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students," according to the Ministry of State for National Security.
...why would a ministry ever put out such a statement that's so inflammatory? And if this is so official, and so dead wrong, who can you trust out here?

Just as troubling, how responsible is it for a news agency (in this case a wire service) to put out such information without trying to go through some independent fact-checking. I put that question to other officials and bureau chiefs of the agencies, and there was no answer. A classic case of misinformation and bad reporting.

For now the story is dead, and once again there is the reminder that on a daily basis, truth is always the first casualty here. Having a healthy skepticism about everything is just as important as wearing your flak jacket here.

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But he won't say how.

He also hinted that he didn't take the Fifth, claimed his source "committed no crime" with the leak, and declined to say whether or not he testified before the grand jury.

Novak also claimed that investigators know who leaked the information, although he did not say how they know.

"The question is, does Mr. Fitzgerald know who the source was?" Novak asked. "Of course. He's known for years who the first source is. If he knows the source, why didn't he indict him? Because no crime was committed."

Novak said he doesn't believe his source violated laws forbidding the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity.

A spokesman for Fitzgerald declined to comment on Novak's remarks.

At an appearance in December, Novak said President Bush knows his source, too. On Wednesday, he called those remarks "indiscreet."

Novak said he would reveal more "in time, when this investigation, if it ever ends, ends."

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Wednesday, April 19


Remember the scene in the film Dirty Dancing when the med student/waiter Robbie hands Baby a copy of Ayn Rand's The Fontainhead and says, "Some people count. Others don't"? That seems to be the guiding principle of the Bush administration and Republican Congress. Unless Congress takes action to extend the Alternative Minimum Tax "patch," millions of American families with children will find they owe a lot more in taxes next year.

The thing is, we can't afford to extend both the patch and the lowered rate on investment income. Which do you think the Rethugs will choose?

The investment tax savings in 2006 will be heavily concentrated on about 234,000 households, generally headed by someone 50 or older, with an average income of $2.6 million, more than most Americans earn in a lifetime. By comparison, most of the increase in the alternative tax is being paid by about 12 million families with children.
The alternative tax was originally adopted in 1969 to ensure that people who earned the equivalent of more than $1 million in today's dollars did not live tax free. It has not been fully adjusted for inflation and was not integrated into the Bush tax cuts. In addition, Congress in 1986 made basic changes in what kind of deductions are counted in determining whether one has to pay the alternative levy, causing it to become a tax on the middle class.

In the beginning it took away exotic breaks to high-income taxpayers who paid little or no tax. Now it denies people exemptions for themselves and their children and deductions for state income taxes and local property taxes.

Just one-tenth of 1 percent of the increased alternative tax is being paid this year by those making $1 million or more, the Tax Policy Center estimates, even though this is the only group affected by the original version of the levy.

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From the latest Harris interactive poll:

Thirty-five percent of 1,008 U.S. adults surveyed in the telephone poll think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 36% in March and significantly lower than 43% in January. This compares with 63% of Americans who said Mr. Bush is doing an "only fair or poor" job, down from 64% in March.
Only 27% of Americans believe "things in this country are going in the right direction," a drop from 31% in March, according to the poll.



I wonder which developers put how much money into Lott's and Cochran's campaigns, because I sure as heck don't believe they're doing this for "safety" reasons. If they were so concerned about "motorists and pedestrians killed on the rails" why didn't they do something before the line was repaired?

The project, which was added to a $106.5 billion emergency defense spending bill in the Senate, would relocate a Gulf Coast rail line inland, to higher ground. Never mind that the hurricane-battered line was just repaired at a cost of at least $250 million. Or that at $700 million, the project championed by Mississippi's two US senators is being called the largest "earmark" ever.
Especially critical of the railway earmark is Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, who is emerging as a fierce opponent of pork projects.

"Emergency supplemental bills are designed to help our nation confront emergencies. While the current location of this rail line may be displeasing to local economic developers and politicians, it is hardly a national emergency," he said in a statement on April 7. He wants Congress to end the practice of earmarks, which he calls "the gateway drug to overspending."

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"Lock him away to stop the next war."

WE cannot wait any longer for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Far more efficient to have Bush certified. There is no need for further debate on his mental state. The US President is bonkers.
Having turned the White House into a madhouse, having taken more lunatic positions on more issues than any head of state since GeorgeIII (are they, perchance, related?). GWB needs a long rest and a change of medication. And it shouldn't be too hard to guide him into a padded cell. Just tell him it's the presidential bomb shelter.
Bush is attempting to hose things down, but the world recalls his endlessly repeated mantra before the invasion of Iraq. Military intervention wasn't inevitable, just an option.

Now bleeding in the polls with mid-term elections looming, isn't it possible that Bush might go for broke? Double or nothing? A final, desperate throw of the dice?

Condoleezza Rice might join the Pentagon in trying to talk him down. So, one hopes, would Tony Blair and John Howard. But did Bush listen to reasoned argument last time? With a reckless, irrational President, you've the perfect set-up for the tail to wag the dog. As with 9/11, here's an opportunity for reality to follow a Hollywood script.

Last week I discussed this scenario with Fukuyama. His initial response was that Bush's political situation is too perilous for such a tactic, that the US public and its media wouldn't tolerate another Iraq. But bombing Iran's nuclear facilities could be characterised as surgical. It might not need troops on the ground and would certainly seem more relevant to the war on terror than the neo-con adventure in Iraq. Fukuyama conceded that such a strategy was possible.

And that possibility is more than enough. A lame-duck President with the eagle as his symbol once again takes the role of hawk. With his presidency a total mess, what's there to lose? So it's time to certify the President. Yes, you'd have to certify his equally deranged Vice-President as well. And toss in Rumsfeld to keep them company. Along with anyone else in the administration, the Congress, the Senate or the Australian parliament mad enough to think Iraq a sane decision.

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Tuesday, April 18


Now this rant by Doug Giles is as offensive and preposterous as anything I've read lately. Doug insists that there's no such thing as a Christian liberal, that it's a contradiction in terms. That will come as a huge surprise to Jesus Christ and a huge number of his followers who are, in fact, liberals (including yours truly).

Doug says that a vote for liberals is a vote for:

1. "Christianity to be scrubbed from government and whatever turf the government owns." Frankly, I don't believe religion has any place in government. Giles says you can kiss Christmas and Easter goodbye (since when do we need governmental recognition to celebrate Our Lord?) and "you can kiss the Cross good-night as an acceptable public symbol that represents your faith and our nation's recognition of Christ's atoning work." Again, the Cross is a symbol for our faith and requires no governmental recognition. The government has no business "recognizing Christ's atoning work." That is for us as Christians to do. If the government does it, that is a clear establishment of religion and a violation of the Constitution.

2. "A vote for the secular left is a vote for Christianity to continue to be officially vilified on campus and for Christians to be ostracized in campus life." "Officially vilified?" "Ostracized"? What can I say? The ridiculous man is suggesting that it is POLICY in public schools to persecute Christian children. As my kids would say, AS IF.

3. "Public officials, employees and appointees to be pressured to hide their faith in the closet and suppress their public displays of belief in God lest they be grouped with Hitler, Osama, or Mussolini and then fired. Not only will the liberals aggressively work to prohibit the State from green lighting and recognizing Christianity as a legitimate and positive force in our land, they will also attempt to stifle Christians from influencing the path of government." AGAIN, the State has no business recognizing ANY religion. By not recognizing any particular faith, it ensures the free exercise of all creeds. But the key to religious right fervor is revealed in the last sentence. Christians influence the path of government every day. Our faith influences our choices in every area, and that includes Christian lawmakers. What Giles is really saying is he fears a Democratic government where the religious right loses their organized, collective vote-getting power to force the governing party to enact their own narrow agenda.

4. "Public attacks on churches and Christians and attempts to restrict them in the private sector." I'm speechless.

5. "With the liberals in place, expect more weird crap in movies and on television." Oh yes, as if Hollywood has censored itself during the Bush administration, but will be set free to corrupt civilization if liberals are elected.

"Secular liberalism's aggressive desire to eradicate Christians' rights should cause Christians to be concerned." Has anyone noticed any liberals proposing legislation to make Christians wear a cross patch so they can be identified and targeted for oppression and deprivation of their Constitutional rights?

Giles also says that to vote liberal, a Christian would have to reject huge passages of the Bible. I would argue that the converse is true. The religious right ignores the Beatitudes (e.g., "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God"), the "hard sayings" of Christ (e.g., "If anyone should smite you, turn the other cheek"; "If you have two coats and a man asks you for one, give it to him"'; "Judge not, lest ye be judged"), even the second greatest commandment, which Christ characterized "as like the first" (which was "Love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul") -- "Love your neighbor as yourself." And who did Christ say was our neighbor? Anyone we come into contact with. And what did Jesus say was the essence of religion? To protect and provide for widows and orphans. In other words, the unprotected, the vulnerable. And let's not forget his cardinal message about visiting the prisoner, feeding the poor -- "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me."

It is precisely BECAUSE I am a devout Christian that I am a liberal.



Two years ago today, No More Apples was launched.

Reading some of those early posts (this is the 2688th), I'm disheartened. They could have been written today. Nothing's changed in BushWorld, except to get worse.

Here's an example:

DOESN'T ANYONE REMEMBER what it was like in the later years of the VietNam War? Very similar to the current conflict in Iraq in these respects:
(1) politicians were running the war instead of the generals;
(2) politicians were lying to the nation about the progress of the war;
(3) our fighting men were mostly boys drafted because they couldn't afford or gain entry to college, National Guard duty and other deferments that saved the hides of the more affluent;
(4) these young men were ordered or encouraged to exhibit animalistic behavior;
(5) lower-echelon officers such as Calley and Medina were crucified for such behavior while their masters went unpunished;
(6) these young men died for nothing. VietNam today is a united country, and communism has been pretty much discredited in most of the world.
Where John Kerry is going wrong is in not remembering what he felt when he said, "How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?" The invasion of Iraq was a criminal mistake, and I don't want one more American soldier to die for that mistake -- Bush's mistake, Cheney's mistake, Rumsfeld's mistake, Rice's mistake -- and yes, Colin Powell's mistake. Say what you will, Colin, about "good soldiering" -- that's the same excuse the Nuremberg defendants used.


Here's Holden's Bush Boom:

Though most pay at least somewhat less in taxes than they did a few years ago, the Federal Reserve Board, in its latest three-year examination of family finances, found that average family income fell by 2% between 2001 and 2004 after adjusting for inflation. In the previous three-year period, average family income grew by 17%.

Thanks to more credit card debt and borrowing against their homes, the 25% of Americans at the bottom of the wealth scale had negative net worth in 2004. On average, these families owed $1,400 more than their possessions were worth.

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Monday, April 17


Oh, glory. I just arrived home from work and WE'VE GOT AIR CONDITIONING. It's 102 degrees in Dallas, and we're having rolling blackouts. I was afraid I'd walk into a house with no power. Of course, it could still happen, but by then it'll be evening and presumably more bearable.

There's record heat in another way. Local right-wing talk radio is incensed by the remarks of a University of Texas at Arlington political science professor, Jose Angel Gutierrez. Well, Gutierrez is certainly a racist who advocates the violent eradication of whites so that a number of these southwestern United States can be reclaimed by Mexicans. He's the equivalent of any number of white supremacists who likewise would like to see all ethnic groups exterminated or subjugated to the "master race." But it is ludicrous to believe that Gutierrez and his followers are more than a fringe movement.

I deplore anyone using the inflammatory rhetoric of obviously sick and disgusting individuals to stir up fear and loathing for an entire community that by huge margins rejects their philosophy. But I don't object to information about the movement. Racism of any ilk should be exposed, and despised.

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Sunday, April 16


As a deeply religious liberal, I must note that today's Meet The Press featured a 45-minute panel discussion on faith and politics. The comments of the participants were so uplifting, and so reflective of my own beliefs, that I was constantly thinking, "Can Timmeh have realized who he was inviting on the program?" All were dismayed by the religious right agenda, focused on that which unites us as spiritual beings, committed to inclusionism, and knowledgeable about the historic role of religion in public law, discourse and the organization of societies and nations. If the media would give these people (and Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics, who I was intitially disappointed at not being part of the circle) equal attention to what is given James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell et al, the world would be a better place.

Sister Joan was a revelation, and the best of the lot.

Note their names. Google them. Read what they've written and spoken publicly:

Rev. Richard John Neuhaus (Catholic priest)
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, BenetVision
Rev. Joel Osteen, pastor, Lakewood Church, Houston, TX
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of "The Heart of Islam"
Jon Meacham, Newsweek

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The wisdom of Mikevotes:

How ironic is it that at the birth of our country, the military was put under civilian control with the stated intention of limiting the generals from being too warlike, and now we're in a situation where the generals are criticizing the civilians for the exact same reason. It really tells you how far out this administration is.


The New York Times shows a bit of humor in headlining today's editorial denouncing Dubya's Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance leak of "cherry-picked portions" of the NIE to reporter Judy Miller as "A Bad Leak" one week after WaPo issued its preposterous editorial "A Good Leak."

President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he "wanted people to see the truth" about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush's actions in this case, or his overall record.

Mr. Bush did not declassify the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq — in any accepted sense of that word — when he authorized I. Lewis Libby Jr., through Vice President Dick Cheney, to talk about it with reporters. He permitted a leak of cherry-picked portions of the report. The declassification came later.

And this president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress. Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret.
This fits the pattern of Mr. Bush's original sales pitch on the Iraq war — hyping the intelligence that bolstered his case and suppressing the intelligence that undercut it.



Jonathan Chait unearths the real John McCain by examining his record and finds him to be more liberal than current conventional wisdom would allow.

Chait claims McCain flirted with the notion of switching parties, but I'm convinced that was hype or wishful thinking by some of McCain's advisers, two of whom actually went to work for Democratic politicians. The media is so enamored of McCain they continually provide him with overly flattering coverage.

I won't challenge Chait's conclusion that deep in his heart, John McCain is more like the progressive Teddy Roosevelt than a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, but frankly, I don't care. John McCain has embraced and lauded George W. Bush. That's enough to turn my stomach, and all I need to know.