Wednesday, September 13


Bill Maher on Chris Matthews' Hardball:

"If the president keeps having to remind the people that we're at war, then we're not. Our TROOPS are at war. We're shopping." Bill went on to say that if we were really fighting World War III, you'd think that the home front would be engaged and sacrificing, and we'd have a draft.

Chris says that if the Republicans squeak out a majority in the House, that means that more than half the American voters are voting in favor of the Rethugs. Excuse me, Chris, you're not THAT stupid. A single large district that votes overwhelmingly Democrat and a small district in which a Repuglican barely ekes out a victory does not average out to half of voters voting for one party, half voting for the other.

Both Bill and Chris are asking, where have all the Democrats gone? They agree that Dems are not making a counter-argument to the Bushies, that they're not on the airwaves fighting back.

You are both being ingenuous (although Bill is at least amusing). You KNOW where they are. They're trying desperately to get airtime, but Big Media prefers to give unbalanced visibility to our clueless president and his sycophants and mouthpieces. And Democrats have no radio or TV equivalent of FOX News or the mighty right-wing radio echo chamber. This "where are the Democrats?" meme is perpetuated by the media, and is at least partially responsible for the fact that Americans still don't know the facts about the Bush agenda or the Iraq war.


This morning Ernie Brown, a commentator on Dallas KRLD news and talk radio, said on "Sixty Seconds with Ernie Brown" that because "Bill Clinton, through his lawyers," demanded that The Path to 9/11 be edited to remove or amend scenes that were factually fraudulent, or else withdrawn from the ABC-TV schedule, he was guilty of suppression of freedom of speech, or "censorship" as Ernie called it. All of this, Ernie stated, makes Bill Clinton "not the worse president in history but the worst person to be president."

Well folks, that's where our fair and balanced right-wingers have brought us. An insistence on historical accuracy is now to be interpreted as "censorship" and suppression of freedom of speech. Bill Clinton had no power, with or without his lawyers, to effect a change in ABC's decision-making and in fact, the network did not delete segments that are demonstrably false, episodes that were simply invented, that never happened. But because The Big Dog protested, he's a terrible person.

I just love it when wingnuts have tantrums about Democrats who "hate Bush more than the terrorists." They hated Clinton from day one, and with much, much less reason. Talk about unhinged.

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The secretary of the Air Force wants to test nonlethal weapons on U.S. citizens as "crowd control." He's afraid of using them on foreign forces in a wartime situation because if someone is injured in a "way that is not intended," he might be "vilified in the world press."

The Air Force has paid for research into nonlethal weapons, but he said the service is unlikely to spend more money on development until injury problems are reviewed by medical experts and resolved.

Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices.

So political activists who wear pacemakers should beware -- your government cares more about the discomfort of bad publicity in the foreign press than about your safety.

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Monday, September 11


Blow me down. Brit Hume (Fox News) just asked his panel of Fred Barnes (The Weekly Standard, Mort Kondracke (Roll Call and Mara Liasson (NPR) what caused the rapid polarization in the U.S. after the unity brought on by the 9/11 attacks. Mort Kondracke attributed it to the actions of George W. Bush prior to the 2002 midterm elections. He said the Democrats wanted a Homeland Security department, Bush didn't, then he flipped and supported it but insisted in legislation that would have blocked extension of civil service protection and collective bargaining in the new department, which every other government agency honors. Dems insisted that those protections be included in the bill, and Bush used that stance to attack them as "weak on terrorism," which was, he said, the genesis of the polarization. And that, he added, is where the politicization of the war on terrorism began. Mara Liasson agreed. Fred, naturally, demurred, calling them little puny rules (Mort and Mara protested loudly). Mara said, that's what the legislative process is all about, and the Rethugs could have compromised but chose to attack Dems instead.

Mort went on to declare that Dubya has, over the past years, given the Democrats "plenty" to object to, including Iraq.


Sunday, September 10


More and more, Christian progressives are challenging the religious right.

Yesterday, sitting shiva with the family of my Jewish friend who was buried on Friday, the rabbi who led the service said something so meaningful and relevant to our materialistic society, which has affected our religious communities so greatly as to sometimes make them almost indistinguishable from the secular. I share it now with all of you.

"God instructed us to build him a beautiful sanctuary," he said, "and if you look at Temple Emmanuel, you see a grand structure and appointments. First Baptist Church of Dallas, the same. But that is not what God meant." Rabbi Kaplan touched his heart. "This is the sanctuary that God meant. We are to create a beautiful heart in which he can reside." He went on to urge us to acts of charity to our fellow man, ignoring our differences, insisting that there are no real rules of religion, "but it is the heart of man that God judges."

It is there, in the simple words of a 73-year-old man of peace and love, that we find the essence of spirituality. Christ himself said that the essence of religion is caring for the widows and orphans. A religious community that values the suppression of what they define as "sin" above the pursuit of justice and charity, and openly aligns itself with a political party that promotes war, hatred, intolerance, division and economic inequality, is treading on dangerous ground. Jesus said (my shorter version), "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Enter the narrow gate, not the broad gate that for many will lead to destruction. Only a few will find the narrow way that leads to life. Beware of false prophets who are really wolves in sheep's clothing; inside they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:12-15)

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Melissa Boyle Mahle, former CIA ops officer, offers wisdom on the War on Terra, saying, "You can't kill an ideology."

And JOSCHKA FISCHER, the foreign minister of Germany from 1998 to 2005, says that in the midst of this nebulous war, we must not forsake our values.

We know that Islamic extremists celebrate death through martyrdom, and the killing of innocents. But what are we in the West fighting for?

We fight for our values: for our freedom, for democracy, for the rule of law, the equality of all human beings and for peace. In this context, Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and the situation in Iraq could hardly be called successes. Against the new totalitarian challenge of Islamic extremism, we have to defend our values; and this means sticking to the values of our democratic societies, even under fire.

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