Monday, June 19, 2006

I-80 Blogging

Didn't mean to "go dark" for so long. I tried to log on last weekend to mention that I was hitting the road for awhile, but Blogger was down. I haven't had internet access since! We've logged 3200 miles since last Monday, on a long trip out I-80 from San Francisco to (in this order) Pennsylvania, Ohio and (still to come) Indiana, and Iowa. Then we'll head south and west through Kansas City, the Texas panhandle, New Mexico, AZ and back to SF. I wanted to add photos today, but the new digital Kodak Z740 keeps dozing off before the pictures download, so I need to dig up a universal card reader and try to download that way. I was looking forward to a little I-80 photo-blogging. To the best of my ability, I'm ignoring the news, but I'm reading the good old Findlay Courier this morning and probably won't be able to hold my tongue for long. Meanwhile, peace and all good!

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Parish Council tackles Illegal Immigration Problem"

Pastor Brian Haller submitted this shocking report to his Swanton, Ohio church newsletter:
Parish Council tackles Illegal Immigration Problem

A recent surprise sweep of Sunday morning worshippers uncovered many undocumented aliens from other denominations right inside our church! Many of them entered as visitors and simply stayed, but several Presbyterians snuck in the back door during the exchange of Peace. Three Episcopalians have obtained Thrivent insurance!

Two Ushers were actually Baptists who were performing jobs that could be filled by real Lutherans, and there was an entire pew of Pentecostals who could only speak in tongues and did not know a word of Lutheran. Four undocumented Roman Catholics were discovered when they yelled “BINGO” in response to “The Lord be with You”.

Concerned that there might not be enough grace to go around, the Parish Council has decided to offer an amnesty program for illegal and undocumented visitors from other denominations. They have until August 1st to pick up a box of offering envelopes.
I think I need to get on Pastor Haller's newsletter mailing list. ("Hat tip" to my mother. And special thanks to Pastor Haller for permission to reprint!)

Friday Desk-clearing

I worked from home Tuesday and took a break to walk Baxter and vote in California's primary. That's Baxter wearing my "I voted" sticker and waiting for our falafel sandwich outside The Moonlight Cafe.

  • True to form, progressive Democrats apparently stayed home in droves for Tuesday's primary, leaving the more conservative Dem voters to decide all the ballot issues. Brilliant, folks! If you think that strategy is going to win back the House and Senate this fall, you're as delusional as, well...

  • the author of this letter to Editor & Publisher, written to praise Ann Coulter (no linking to that name, ever; this is a serious blog hygiene issue) for standing up for the rights of "bullied" conservatives everywhere. The letter's author writes (WAIT! clear your mouth of fluids):
    ...Many of us Conservatives have felt like the schoolyard kid constantly being picked on by the aggressive bullies (the leftwing bomb-throwers) ever since the 2000 election, so we cannot help but applaud the tough kid (Ann) who comes to our aid and punches the bullies back. We are tired of being beaten up.

    Ann's words about the "Jersey Girls" was harsh, but no harsher than some of their own words. Who is questioning them? Ann's right. Do these "Jersey Girls" have extra credibility just because they sadly lost loved ones? No! But it's taboo to say so, because they are widows. Ann is pointing that out in a way that makes headlines. In a time when we shy away from showing "offensive cartoons" about Mohammed, it's refreshing to let it all out.

    You notice the leftwing bomb-throwers never make the front page with their daily outrageous and hateful statements. The Right is tired of always being polite. I know I am!
    Such delicate sensibilities for a member of a party that specializes in hate-mongering, xenophobic, homophobic, race-baiting rhetoric and controls all branches of government and the mainstream media! Dang, if we can bully you, we are a force to be reckoned with!

  • It's the end of the internet as you know it. This is why they paid Mike McCurry the big bucks! Telecomms win, internet users lose... What does it mean for you? It means that more and more things like this are going to happen. Blocked access, slowed access, selected access... But I'm sure it will have no implications at all for the frighteningly effective progressive "netroots." Only a really paranoid person would think Republicans are trying to hogtie the internet just in time to affect mid-term electioneering.

  • Types of justice:
    Poetic Justice: The slandered and smeared Dixie Chicks debuted at number one on Billboard's pop AND country album lists.

    Divine Justice: Ann Coulter, who in 2000 famously referred to Florida Democratic voters as "ignorant and stupid," has had to hire Bush's recount lawyer to fight voter fraud allegations (for trying to vote in the wrong Florida district).

    Cheap Justice: Kill, maim, and pay off the families. "A chilling report from the Boston Globe on Thursday reveals that the amount of cash the U.S. military has paid to families of Iraqi civilians killed or badly injured operations involving American troops 'skyrocketed from just under $5 million in 2004 to almost $20 million last year, according to Pentagon financial data.' The payments can range from several hundred dollars for a severed limb to a standard of $2500 for loss of life."
  • Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Jesus Christ, [Baseball] Superstar?

    It's just a guess, but I'm thinking that readers of this blog might not also be avid sports fans. I can't help it, it's apparently in my blood, so I peruse the sports page of the newspaper with as much interest (and often despair) as I read the front sections.

    One of the most provocative voices writing on sports today is the incomparable Dave Zirin, author of What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States. Zirin is that rarest of folks: a true progressive (socialist, actually) possessing an hilarious wit that cuts through so much of the fluff and boosterism passing for sports fandom these days. His most recent essay in The Nation especially caught my eye because it combines two of my favorite topics: baseball and religion (misuse of). Read and chuckle and weep, all at the same time....

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    It's "Defense of Homophobia" weekend!

    Churches everywhere are being urged to preach about the dangers of same-sex marriage, which, left unchecked, leads to hurricanes, tsunamis, and terrorist attacks (oh, and the demise of traditional families -- but I haven't figured out that chain of causality, yet). The president has taken time off the hard work of planning an invasion of Iran, calculating still more tax breaks for the wealthy, and discouraging energy alternatives to oil in order to warn against (1) the dangers of "activist courts" getting all haughty and acting like the judiciary is a co-equal branch of the government, and (2) the greatest threat to civilization -- yes, children, even greater even than he whose name must never again be mentioned because it will remind us all that he's still out there -- is the prospect that two men or two women might care enough about each other to desire some kind of official acknowledgement of their union. THAT is the real threat to our freedom: Weddings of Mass Destruction (shoot; for a second there, I thought maybe I made that up, but I didn't).

    The pope has been doing his part, arguing that the real "pillar of humanity" is traditional heterosexual marriage. I know, you were probably thinking it was going to be "love," or maybe even "justice" or "kindness," weren't you? No, no, no! In fact, according to Rick Santorum (taking time out of his own busy schedule of teaching family values like how to lie about where you live in order to bilk tax payers), it's time to "get beyond, you know, 'we should treat everybody nicely.'"

    Why this Sunday, you may ask? Well, the Republicans are facing pretty dismal midterm election probabilities, so they need to fall back on their reliable electoral techniques - hate-mongering and fear-mongering - to get their otherwise uninspired base to the polls. To that end, Bill Frist (yes, the one with the hairy biceps and jungle-print scrubs) moved the marriage amendment to the front burner, and it is up for a vote this week. It's true that it has little chance of passing (as that article link will tell you), but the important thing is to look like they tried, and to make it a "roll call" vote so they can try to embarrass Democrats in the fall.

    Kos has Jack Cafferty's take on the matter:
    Guess what Monday is? Monday is the day President Bush will speak about an issue near and dear to his heart and the hearts of many conservatives. It's also the day before the Senate votes on the very same thing. Is it the war? Deficits? Health insurance? Immigration? Iran? North Korea?

    Not even close. No, the president is going to talk about amending the Constitution in order to ban gay marriage. This is something that absolutely, positively has no chance of happening, nada, zippo, none. But that doesn't matter. Mr. Bush will take time to make a speech. The Senate will take time to talk and vote on it, because it's something that matters to the Republican base.

    This is pure politics. If has nothing to do with whether or not you believe in gay marriage. It's blatant posturing by Republicans, who are increasingly desperate as the midterm elections approach. There's not a lot else to get people interested in voting on them, based on their record of the last five years.

    But if you can appeal to the hatred, bigotry, or discrimination in some people, you might move them to the polls to vote against that big, bad gay married couple that one day might in down the street.

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Any lingering questions about Ohio?

    You won't have after you read RFK Jr's Rolling Stone feature. It begins:
    Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in "tinfoil hats," while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as "conspiracy theories,"(1) and The New York Times declared that "there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale."(2)

    But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

    The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)
    It ends:
    The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row, the president of the United States was selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under a cloud of dirty tricks. Given the scope of the GOP machinations, we simply cannot be certain that the right man now occupies the Oval Office -- which means, in effect, that we have been deprived of our faith in democracy itself.

    American history is littered with vote fraud -- but rather than learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.

    Voting, as Thomas Paine said, "is the right upon which all other rights depend." Unless we ensure that right, everything else we hold dear is in jeopardy.
    And the intervening pages are nauseating and infuriating. If you still carry a nostalgic soft spot for "democracy," this will be a difficult but important article to read. Remember that the man who facilitated this fraud on the ground could be Ohio's next governor (I refuse to link to his campaign site).

    If I've got any Ohio readers besides my relatives, I'm begging you (including my relatives!): please devote yourself to getting ALL votes logged and counted, and defeat that man!