Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michael Vicks pit bulls get a happy new year.


Since being rescued 20 months ago from the dogfighting ring financed by Michael Vick, all but a few of the abused pit bulls have been recovering in sanctuary, foster care and adoptive homes. Now even the most traumatized of them can have a happy new year.
Via ERV.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ratzinger: Save the trees! From the gays!

Or something...

Pope Benedict said on Monday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. "(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration. "The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less." ... The pope said humanity needed to "listen to the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He compared behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work".
Is there any further proof needed that Ratzinger is a closet case? Go right on preaching that irrational hatred, there, Rat-fink. It'll make your...I was going to say that it'll make your church even more irrelevant than it already is, but that's not possible. It'll make more people see how irrelevant your church is, and all of homophobic Christianity with it, and further the cause of gay rights in this country (and it's about damned time, too).

Via Sullivan.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow plow, meet reporter. Reporter, meet snow plow...

Mug Shots!!!

Smoking Gun's mugshots of 2008.

Via Dan Savage.

Dan Savage on "Gay Friends"


Is it really possible that these raving anti-gay bigots have more gay friends between them than I do? I somehow doubt it. So reporters should stop taking this "but I've got gay friends!" on faith. Anti-gay politicians, entertainers, and preachers shouldn't be allowed to take rhetorical cover behind gay friends if they're unable to produce any.

So you've got gay friends? Great. Bring 'em to a press conference—we've got some questions we'd like to ask them.

Via Sullivan.

NY Times calls for torture prosecutions

Three cheers:

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened — and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military’s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.

I nominate Patrick Fitzgerald. I wouldn't want to tangle with that guy in court, ever.

Via Sullivan.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Catholic speaks out on torture:

"I have two brothers who served in the Air Force and a number of friends who are either in the military or vets. I honor their service and their sacrifice with all my heart. It is precisely because I do so that I am outraged and must speak when men like George Bush and Dick "Other Priorities" Cheney organize systematic war crimes, command men and women low in the chain of command to carry them out, and then betray them and call them criminals for doing what the Administration wanted.

"It is no small part of the bizarreness of the Rubber Hose Right that it is critics of this Machiavellian dealing and not the Administration who are told they "hate the troops." Of all the people involved in this sorry spectacle, the least culpable are probably people like Lynddie England. And of all the unsung heroes of this war, not the least are the guys in the Pentagon who resisted Bush/Cheney's attempt to rewrite the Army Field Manual so that they could make it easier to do what they ordered done at places like Abu Ghraib,"

-- Mark Shea, Catholic blogger.

Via Sullivan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cheney confesses to a war crime

I'm posting this verbatim from Andrew Sullivan because it bears repeating.

ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl gets the following out of Cheney:

KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.

KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?

CHENEY: I don't.

KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported was waterboarding. And that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that you think was appropriate?


Notice that the first statement is an absolute lie, proven by the Senate report.

The decision to torture individuals was made by Bush and Cheney before the CIA ever asked for legal cover for the torture they had been ordered to commit. The torture and abuse was planned before even the January 2002 presidential memo that authorized torture:

In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum, the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel’s Office had already solicited information on detainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose expertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

But Cheney's open, proud defense of a torture technique, waterboarding, that has always and everywhere been understood as torture means he stands vulnerable to war crime prosecutions. Until he is tried, convicted and jailed, the rule of law in this country stands fatally compromised.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable."

--Capt. Ian Fishback, US Army, 82nd Airborne, in a letter to Sen. John McCain, Sept. 16, 2005

Via Sullivan.

Celebrate Bill of Rights Day...

...by helping petition Congress to restore it. From the website for the "American Freedom Agenda Act" Website:

The full text of this bill can be found on the Background page. This legislation will . . .
  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2006” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the ”Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President's use of "signing statements" as a means to avoid executing the nation's laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

This one simple 3-page bill will . . .

  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to support human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from blowback by foreign powers in retaliation for our government's transgression of America's most hallowed principles
Three cheers. And yeah, it's Ron Paul's baby. This is one of those cases where he's dead-on accurate.

HT: Ed Brayton.

US Senate: Bush is the torture president

This report is bi-partisan, unequivocal, and damning. Bush knew about torture, and actively authorized it. John McCain's signature is on the report, as is every other Republican member of that committee. This is not a matter of a Democratic-controlled Senate taking potshots at an outgoing Republican president. This is a universal condemnation by leaders of BOTH parties. Andrew Sullivan's take is here. And I agree with every single word:

"Let's be absolutely clear what this means: When we saw an image of Lynndie England pulling a naked prisoner around on a leash, we assumed at the time that she improvised this, or was some kind of "bad apple." This is and was a conscious lie to the Congress, and to the American people, and to the world. The person who authorized the use of nudity and leashes on prisoners was not Lynndie England or any of the other grunts thrown to the wolves. The man who authorized the technique shown below is the president of the United States:"
Me again: I want to make a few things about this post abundantly clear. First, yes, I'm a passionate hater of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I hate them so much I cannot stand to look at them. They are disgusting plutocrats who care for nothing but absolute power (Cheney maintained his stock holdings in Haliburton while they were being awarded non-competitive bids to rebuild Iraq, which made him even more obscenely wealthy than he already was. Add "war profiteer" to his list of crimes). I detest them in the same way I detest all of their lot throughout history. But I have reasons to hate them. They have disgraced our country in a way we have seldom seen. They have authorized TORTURE, a clear violation of American law, the Geneva conventions, common decency, and CHRISTIAN VIRTUE. Not that such virtue matters to me, per se, but I'm throwing that out there for the sake of certain people in my life who have chided me (if not reamed me out) for my hatred of Bush/Cheney as being "unChristian."

You're assuming they're true Christians in the first place. And you're assuming that hatred and Christianity are mutually incompatible.

But I digress...the facts are this: Bush and Cheney are criminals. They should be in prison. They have disgraced a country I love (however much I may bitch about it and however angry and disgusted it makes me at times). They deserve to be punished, shamed, and degraded for all time. They divided us for the sake of political divide-and-conquer tactics at a time when they could have made the most of the unity brought about by the 9/11 attacks. Bush said, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists." To which I say, sir, that true patriotism is the ability to criticize your country when it is in the wrong. It's like a marriage: you tell your spouse they're embarrassing you because you love them, not despite that. And fuck you for calling us un-American, sir, when you crapped on the Bill of Rights and spied on Americans unlawfully.

And before you accuse me of shitting on "the troops," I say this: There have been plenty of honorable, brave people conducting themselves in this war in the finest tradition of the American military. But my admiration stops when certain people stoop to this kind of conduct. You are at that instant the perpetrator of atrocity, not a soldier doing your duty. And there are numerous accounts of people refusing, most notably JAG lawyers who resigned rather than prosecute Guantanamo inmates whose confessions had been tortured out of them.

I have other friends who say that we need time to let history judge Bush. To which I retort: William Shirer met the same resistance to his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. There are some instances in which the facts are so clear, so unequivocal, and so shameful that we need to confront them immediately (which is more than I can say for most of the mainstream media and the White House press corps collectively). This is a blight on our nation's history that needs to be dealt with right now, not after we know whether or not the intel for going into Iraq was valid at the time (that's another blog post). It's how we conducted ourselves afterward that showed that we were led by the same type of monsters that al-Qaeda recruits were taught to believe we were run by.

And you will never, ever, change my mind about any of this, so don't even try.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ISU football coach slinks off to Auburn.

Coaching. Fail.

ISU A.D. Jamie Pollard captured the zeitgeist quite effectively:

"I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."
Or, as Gregg Easterbrook is fond of saying, when you hire a coach who's in it for himself, you end up getting a coach who's in it for himself. Good riddance.

And how desperate is Auburn to go after a guy who won two games this season? Aren't big-time sports factories like that supposed to hire coaching talent? Who was in charge of their search committee, Nick Saban?

I think I'm going to a hockey game...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last-minute gift ideas...

How about an assault rifle?

Via Slog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Surviving Tuskegee Airmen invited to Obama's inauguration

Robert D. Rose, vice president of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.:

“The Tuskegee Airmen preceded Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and if they hadn’t helped generate a climate of tolerance by integration of the military, we might not have progressed through the civil rights era,” he said. ”We would have seen a different civil rights movement, if we would have seen one at all.”
I beg to disagree that we would not have seen one at all. There is a cycle to such events, and once the momentum starts, it is difficult to staunch them over the long run. But it might well have been different had their example not been set.
The invitation to his swearing-in was extended Tuesday by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Just don't ask John Boehner to speak...

From the New York Times.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Olbermann on Bush's historical legacy

Maybe the best one-stop shopping place for the dishonor that is our outgoing President:

Christopher Hitchens on his book

Interesting talk on Canadian Broadcasting Company...

Gratuitous Princess Leia fix

I'd like to thank my friend Mike for putting one of these on Facebook.

Her website is really mid-90s, but for some reason, I don't mind...

Oh, and Star Trek fanboys will find something here, too.

Bike Skillz: I haz dem

Sorry, Snob, I find this impressive.

Via BikeSnobNYC.

Mental Health Break: Ninja Kitty!

How does he do this without moving?

I haz kitteh!

Meet Boo:

My friend, Jen, cat-sitting for a few minutes:

(Jen was kind enough to stay with putty tat while I made a flying trip to the grocery store to get some kitty supplies.)

The story is this: Boo is the former resident of the Tim Lundgren household in Burlington. She was the bosom companion of the two older children, especially the daughter. Unfortunately, child #3 came along, and all of a sudden everyone's attention got divided further. Boo got bitchy, to the point of hissing at Mom and even biting the little boy (age 2). Either the little boy or the cat had to go, and we all know who wins that argument.

So Tim and family came up to Des Moines to see my mother Sunday, and brought a fur ball with them. Boo was most unhappy about being cooped up in a pet carrier for, oh, 6 hours (not that I blame her).

Fortunately, having a grown-up cat as opposed to a kitten means no breaking in the litter-box stage. She knows where that is, already. She's eating out of my Tupperware bowls until I can get to Pet Smart in Ankeny for some real supplies.

My friends have more or less said they think it's great that I have a companion to come home to now. They're right--I have to admit, I had a kinda rough day yesterday for a variety of reasons (none of which are truly serious, and I'll get through them) but having that little fuzz-face crawl up in my lap and soothe me did a world of good.

Now I just need to find a woman who's not allergic to cats.

PS: For those of you who don't understand the spelling of this blog post title, go here for a feel for how LOL cats work.

Iranian scholar says the Quran was wasn't written by God...it was written by Muhammed.

Fascinating, and heartening:

In a country where intellectuals are often treated like rock stars, (Abdulkarim) Soroush has been venerated and reviled for his outspoken support of religious pluralism and democracy. Now he has taken one crucial step further. Shuttling from university to university in Europe and the U.S., Soroush is sending shock waves through Iran’s clerical establishment.The recent controversy began about eight months ago, after Soroush spoke with a Dutch reporter about one of Islam’s most sensitive issues: the divine origin of the Koran. Muslims have long believed that their holy book was transmitted word for word by God through the Prophet Muhammad.

In the interview, however, Soroush made explicit his alternative belief that the Koran was a “prophetic experience.” He told me that the prophet “was at the same time the receiver and the producer of the Koran or, if you will, the subject and the object of the revelation.” Soroush said that “when you read the Koran, you have to feel that a human being is speaking to you, i.e. the words, images, rules and regulations and the like all are coming from a human mind.” He added, “This mind, of course, is special in the sense that it is imbued with divinity and inspired by God.”
Naturally, he's been beaten and nearly killed over his beliefs, but this is the type of thinking that encourages me about Islam. And, furthermore, it provides supremely forceful ammunition to counter the anti-Islamic bigotry of all too many "Christians" in America. I love it.

And yes, I know, as an atheist I'm supposed to rant about the ultimate lack of proof about any god blah blah blah. The enemy isn't religion...it's intolerance.

Via Irshad Manji, via Daily Dish.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Olbermann on Cincinnati Zoo

My man-crush awarded his Worst Person Silver Medal to a radio windbag over the recent controversy at the Cincinnati Zoo, which Pharyngulites helped to kill. Enjoy, PZ:

Chainsaw bayonnette

Marcus Fenix should sue.

Via Sullivan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All the dignity it deserves


Roger Ebert reviews Expelled

And he hated every minute of it.

And there is worse, much worse. Toward the end of the film, we find that Stein actually did want to title it "From Darwin to Hitler." He finds a Creationist who informs him, "Darwinism inspired and advanced Nazism." He refers to advocates of eugenics as liberal. I would not call Hitler liberal. Arbitrary forced sterilization in our country has been promoted mostly by racists, who curiously found many times more blacks than whites suitable for such treatment.

Ben Stein is only getting warmed up. He takes a field trip to visit one "result" of Darwinism: Nazi concentration camps. "As a Jew," he says, "I wanted to see for myself." We see footage of gaunt, skeletal prisoners. Pathetic children. A mound of naked Jewish corpses. "It's difficult to describe how it felt to walk through such a haunting place," he says. Oh, go ahead, Ben Stein. Describe. It filled you with hatred for Charles Darwin and his followers, who represent the overwhelming majority of educated people in every nation on earth. It is not difficult for me to describe how you made me feel by exploiting the deaths of millions of Jews in support of your argument for a peripheral Christian belief. It fills me with contempt.

Ebert's blog states he'd been accused of not reviewing the movie because he had a bias against "Intelligent" Design. He actually has a bias against false Christians (or in Stein's case, Jews) and intellectual dishonesty.

Via Pharyngula.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just a quick thought...

Is there a more useless human being than Vanna White?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Carnival of Recipes

Yum. Pure taste bud lust to be found here.

Via Greg Laden.