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“Model” City Still Unsafe
March 28th, 2006 under Politics. [ Comments: none ]

bush-ouchBush in a speech last week described Tal Afar as a “model” city in Iraq. Remember, the press only gives us the bad news. Here’s his description of the town:

BUSH: With their city now more secure, the people of Tal Afar are beginning to rebuild a better future for themselves and their children.

See, if you’re a resident of Tal Afar today, this is what you’re going to see: You see that the terrorist who once exercised brutal control over every aspect of your city has been killed or captured or driven out or put on the run. You see your children going to school and playing safely in the streets. You see the electricity and water service restored throughout the city. You see a police force that better reflects the ethnic and religious diversity of the communities they patrol. You see markets opening, and you hear the sound of construction equipment as buildings go up and homes are re-made. In short, you see a city that is coming back to life.

Last night, at least 40 people were killed and 20 people wounded in Tal Afar when a suicide bomber blew himself up at an army recruitment center.


The Holiness Manifesto
March 28th, 2006 under Christianity, Environment, poor, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: none ]

A few years back, several baptists got together and wrote a “bapti-festo.” Recently, many in the Wesleyan tradition got together to write a “Holiness Manifesto.” Here are some highlights. Go here for more.

God wants us to be, think, speak, and act in the world in a Christ-like manner. We invite all to embrace God’s call to:

* be filled with all the fullness of God in Jesus Christ—Holy Spirit-endowed co-workers for the reign of God;

* live lives that are devout, pure, and reconciled, thereby being Jesus Christ’s agents of transformation in the world;

* live as a faithful covenant people, building accountable community, growing up into Jesus Christ, embodying the spirit of God’s law in holy love;

* exercise for the common good an effective array of ministries and callings, according to the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit;

* practice compassionate ministries, solidarity with the poor, advocacy for equality, justice, reconciliation, and peace; and

* care for the earth, God’s gift in trust to us, working in faith, hope, and confidence for the healing and care of all creation.

By the grace of God, let us covenant together to be a holy people.

The Action We Take

May this call impel us to rise to this biblical vision of Christian mission:

* Preach the transforming message of holiness;

* Teach the principles of Christ-like love and forgiveness;

* Embody lives that reflect Jesus Christ;

* Lead in engaging with the cultures of the world; and

* Partner with others to multiply its effect for the reconciliation of all things.

For this we live and labor to the glory of God.


The Excess Cost of the Bush Prescription Drug Plan
March 24th, 2006 under Politics, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

The Republicans’ prescription drug program sell-out to insurance and drug companies will cost tax-payers and beneficiaries $800 billion more than a direct Medicare benefit with negotiated prices. Learn what the cost of this corruption is to taxpayers, seniors and disabled across the nation and in your state here.

Republican’s Part D prescription drug plan costs Louisiana taxpayers, seniors and disabled $12.2 billion more than a direct Medicare benefit with negotiated prices.

Remember…helping big businesses like drug companies helps everyone!

Yeah, drug companies do need our help….

By percentage of total revenue, banking is consistently the most profitable industry in America, followed closely by the drug industry.


Randy Cunningham’s Auction Offensive to Republican Values
March 24th, 2006 under Christianity, Hypocrisy, Politics, Rant. [ Comments: none ]

DukeRandy “Duke” Cunningham’s posessions (that he didn’t sell off before he was convicted) were auctioned off yesterday.

Mr. Cunningham, 64, a Republican who is known as Duke, forfeited the house and furnishings as part of the plea deal he struck with the government in November. He still owes the government $1.85 million — the estimated value of the cash bribes he received — and another $1.8 million in back taxes and penalties.

He also owes the United States the next eight years and four months of his life in federal prison, the harshest sentence ever meted out to a current or former member of Congress. He is at the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C., for medical evaluation and permanent assignment to a federal prison cell.

It was a woeful end to the sordid tale of a former Navy fighter ace and “Top Gun” instructor who sold his office, his reputation and his honor for a house, a boat, a Rolls-Royce and the items on the auction block on Thursday. Mr. Cunningham disposed of the car and the boat before the government charged him.

The $94,625 raised by the auction will be split between the IRS and the FBI. Shouldn’t the money be given to big business to boost the economy? After all, thats what Republicans are about aren’t they? Boosting the economy. They’re not about making the rich richer are they? Of course not, I’m sure Randy’s “extra income” provided a boost for the economy! Many of them were imports.

If you look at the former Congressman’s website you’ll read:

The Washington, D.C. office and the district offices of the Honorable Randy “Duke” Cunningham will continue to serve the people of the Fiftieth Congressional District of California under the supervision of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The vacancy became effective December 1, 2005.

“Honorable?” “Honorable?” Cunningham often spoke at churches, giving his testimony. In 1980 he was elected primarily by having his friends write letters to clergy. One colleague wrote: “I’m sure you’ll feel as I do that Duke is a solid reflection of the strong morals and values of your family, your ministry and your local community.”

Former La Mesa pastor Bob Kleinschmidt said the tactic was effective. “I think you can say that with the narrow margin of victory, it had to be very significant,” Kleinschmidt said. “It made quite an impact.”


Good Baptist Joke
March 22nd, 2006 under Baptists, Church and State, Hypocrisy, Politics, poor, Quotes. [ Comments: none ]

Moyers

I read a good Baptist Joke from Bill Moyers today:

James Dunn and Bill Leonard are Baptists. What kind of Baptist matters. At last count there were more than two dozen varieties of Baptists in America. Bill Clinton is a Baptist. So is Pat Robertson. Jesse Jackson is a Baptist. So is Jesse Helms. Al Gore is a Baptist. So is Jerry Falwell. No wonder Baptists have been compared to jalapeno peppers: one or two make for a tasty dish, but a whole bunch together will bring tears to your eyes.

Not only is the joke good, his article is excellent as well.

America is no longer working for all Americans.

How did this happen? By design. For a quarter of a century now a ferocious campaign has been conducted to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual, cultural, and religious frameworks that sustained America’s social contract. The corporate, political, and religious right converged in a movement that for a long time only they understood because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries.

Their economic strategy was to cut workforces and wages, scour the globe for even cheaper labor, and relieve investors of any responsibility for the cost of society. On the weekend before President Bush’s second inauguration, The New York Times described how his first round of tax cuts had already brought our tax code closer to a system under which income on wealth would not be taxed at all and public expenditures would be raised exclusively from salaries and wages.

Their political strategy was to neutralize the independent media, create their own propaganda machine with a partisan press, and flood their coffers with rivers of money from those who stand to benefit from the transfer of public resources to elite control. Along the way they would burden the nation with structural deficits that will last until our children’s children are ready to retire, systematically stripping government of its capacity, over time, to do little more than wage war and reward privilege.

Their religious strategy was to fuse ideology and theology into a worldview freed of the impurities of compromise, claim for America the status of God’s favored among nations (and therefore beyond political critique or challenge), and demonize their opponents as ungodly and immoral.

At the intersection of these three strategies was money: Big Money.

They found a deep flaw in our political system and zeroed in on it.

More really good stuff:

The number of lobbyists registered to do business in Washington has more than doubled in the last five years. That’s 16,342 lobbyists in 2000 to 34,785 last year. Sixty-five lobbyists for every member of Congress.

The total spent per month by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is now nearly $200 million. Per month.

But it’s a small investment on the return. Just look at the most important legislation passed by Congress in the last decade.

There was the energy bill that gave oil companies huge tax breaks at the same time that Exxon Mobil just posted $36 billion in profits in 2005, while our gasoline and home heating bills are at an all-time high.

There was the bankruptcy “reform” bill written by credit card companies to make it harder for poor debtors to escape the burdens of divorce or medical catastrophe.

There was the deregulation of the banking, securities, and insurance sectors, which led to rampant corporate malfeasance and greed and the destruction of the retirement plans of millions of small investors.

There was the deregulation of the telecommunications sector which led to cable industry price-gouging and the abandonment of news coverage by the big media companies.

There was the blocking of even the mildest attempt to prevent American corporations from dodging an estimated $50 billion in annual taxes by opening a P.O. box in an off-shore tax haven like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.

In every case these results were driven by the demands of Big Money in the form of campaign contributions and the cost of lobbying.

And in every case, the religious right was cheering for the winners.


Pat Robertson Thinks I’m a Killer!
March 22nd, 2006 under Christianity, Politics, Rant, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 1 ]

RobertsonI guess I know where I sit in the food chain! Pat Robertson says God smote Sharone and everyone hears about it. He says that we ought to ice the prez of Venezuela and everybody hears about it. But let him talk bad about college profs and nobody cares. Guess it’s a blessing I’m not teaching anymore, maybe there’s hope for me!

They gamed it, these guys are out and out communists, they are radicals, you know some of them killers, and they are propagandists of the first order and they don’t want anybody else except them. That’s why Regent University for example is so terrifically important and why we’re setting up an undergraduate program that hopefully will see shortly 10,000 students, and then from there 250,000 because you don’t want your child to be brainwashed by these radicals, you just don’t want it to happen. Not only brainwashed but beat up, they beat these people up, cower them into submission. Ahhh! “The Professors”, read it.

They beat them up!

OK. I admit it. There are a few students I wanted to beat up. There are some that I wished I could brainwash, but I never actually did it! Am I a radical? Oh, Hell yeah! A communist? Don’t think so. A propagandist of the first order? I only dream that my students would remember anything I said!


Katrina Trash Home
March 22nd, 2006 under Katrina. [ Comments: 2 ]

Katrina Birdhouse
I’m trying to do something good with the crap that’s being thrown away and put into landfills. Here’s a birdhouse I built from Katrina trash.


Fundamentalist Christian Bush Supporters
March 21st, 2006 under Christianity, Hypocrisy, Politics, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 6 ]

AbuAndrew Sullivan explains why Bush’s approval rating will not drip below 25%:

Part of this may be due to the fact that Bush is personally a nice guy. Many people like him too much to tell him what a shambles his presidency has become to his face. An alternative theory to explain the mystifying deference and persistent fear is that the Bush presidency is based on religious adherence, not political judgment. Karl Rove has accelerated the transformation of the GOP from a party of limited government and individual liberty to one of Christianist fundamentalism and big government largess. The party is now essentially a religious grouping with some business interests glommed on for the ride – and a retinue of sleazeballs and lobbyists gleefully in the rear. If your career is related to that party, then any criticism of the president, regardless of the grounds for that criticism, is deemed indistinguishable from congregants taking on a fundamentalist pastor. It’s forbidden. You will be cast out of the church. His authority is rooted in his faith; to question it is to question religious authority.

preacherThe key element that binds Christianism with Bush Republicanism is fealty to patriarchal leadership. That’s the institutional structure of the churches that are now the Republican base; and it’s only natural that the fundamentalist psyche, which is rooted in obedience and reverence for the inerrant pastor, should be transferred to the presidency. That’s why I think Bush’s ratings won’t go much below 25 percent; because 25 percent is about the proportion of the electorate that is fundamentalist and supports Bush for religious rather than political reasons. They are immune to empirical argument, because their thought-structure is not empirical; it is dogmatic. If the facts overwhelm them, they will simply argue that the “liberal media” is lying. Bruce [Bartlett] poignantly thinks the GOP is still the secular, empirical, skeptical party it once was. It’s not: it’s a fundamentalist church with some huge bribes for business interests on the side, leveraged by massive debts. So all criticism is disloyalty; and disloyalty is heresy. The facts don’t matter. Obey the pastor. Or be damned.

Interesting take by Andrew. I guess this blind loyalty is also how fundamentalist christians continue to watch Fox News in spite of the un-christian attitudes constantly displayed by their “new correspondents.” Take a look. God forbid there’s an article that’s sympathetic to “this guy!”

HT Jordon Cooper.


Jazz Funeral Violence
March 20th, 2006 under New Orleans. [ Comments: 4 ]

Jazz FuneralIrish-Italian ParadeIrish-Italian ParadeIrish-Italian ParadeIrish-Italian ParadeWaiting on the ParadeReady to Fight!

Yesterday, Shirley, Shirley Jr, and I went driving around New Orleans trying to locate a tribe of Mardi Gras indians. The paper listed two locations. The indians are notorious for being secretive, and last year they didn’t show up where the paper reported they would. Same thing this year. But, we ran into a Jazz Funeral. We drove around through some very rough neighborhoods so that we could find the front of the funeral and get out to take some pics. The neighborhoods were so crowded that we couldn’t get to the front, so we went home.

Good thing…three people ended up getting shot. Seems that life in ReNew Orleans goes on as usual. I guess when you have streets almost impassible because of the drunks, you should expect something like that. No, the scene was nothing like Mardi Gras. It was a very poor neighborhood lined with cars and folks that were way too drunk. We obviously weren’t welcome there.

I really can’t process the whole scene. I’m glad that we’re safe. I’m not shocked at the violence. But the culture of violence that I witnessed is actually celebrated by those who are there. Hell, the academy awards ceremony encouraged it. Remember all the Pimps and Hos (sp?) dancing around on the stage? Where is the outrage? What would Hattie McDaniel do? Would she have been outraged at the way that African-American stereotypes were being glorified at the Oscars?

Like I said, I really don’t know what to think about yesterday’s events. We spent a bit of time at the Irish-Italian Parade in Metairie, but then left so that we could see a piece of New Orleans’ tradition. Hmmm.


Republicans in the House of Representatives Screw Louisiana Today
March 18th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, Politics. [ Comments: none ]

House
Two important ammendments for funding of Louisiana were shot down by republicans today:

H.AMDT.717 to H.R.4939 An amendment to increase funding for Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies by $465,000,000.
Sponsor: Rep Melancon, Charlie [LA-3] (introduced 3/15/2006) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/16/2006 House amendment not agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Melancon amendment (A017) Failed by recorded vote: 199 – 215 (Roll no. 51).

H.AMDT.733 to H.R.4939 An amendment to increase funding for the relocation of personnel and equipment of the CBP related to the New Orleans laboratory facility and for the repair and replacement of critical equipment and property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina by $700 million, to increase funding for “Operating Expenses” of the US Coast Guard for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina and other hurricanes of the 2005 season by $125 million, to increase funding for “Administrative and Regional Operations” of FEMA for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina by $300 million and to increasefunding for “Preparedness, Mitigation, Response and Recovery” of FEMA for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina by $100 million.
Sponsor: Rep Sabo, Martin Olav [MN-5] (introduced 3/16/2006) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/16/2006 House amendment not agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Sabo amendment (A033) Failed by recorded vote: 208 – 210 (Roll no. 56).

See also: This story.

senate

The Republican Senators are doing great things too!
S.AMDT.3071
Amends: S.CON.RES.83
Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (submitted 3/15/2006) (proposed 3/16/2006)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
To increase funding for Title I grants and reduce debt by closing corporate tax loopholes.

Wouldn’t want to close any corporate loopholes would we?

Republican Senators Screw Veterans! Corporate loopholes good…Taxcuts for the rich even better!
S.AMDT.3141
Amends: S.CON.RES.83
Sponsor: Sen Stabenow, Debbie [MI] (submitted 3/16/2006) (proposed 3/16/2006)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
To provide an assured stream of funding for veteran’s health care that will take into account the annual changes in the veteran’s population and inflation to be paid for by restoring the pre-2001 top rate for income over $1 million, closing corporate tax loopholes and delaying tax cuts for the wealthy.

Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 3007 to S.Con.Res. 83
Statement of Purpose: To increase Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.

Interesting…none of the legislation was passed today that was to be paid for by “closing corporate loopholes.” I thought loopholes were bad!


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