WHAT YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF MY BROTHERS ...
Catholic gay rights activists were denied communion at a Chicago church.
"The priest told me you cannot receive communion if you're wearing a sash, as per the Cardinal's direction," said James Luxton, a Chicago member of the Rainbow Sash Movement, an organization of Catholic gay-rights supporters with chapters around the country.
Perhaps my 13 years of Catholic school education fail me, but wasn't Jesus supposed to have washed the feet of a prostitute and welcomed corrupt tax collectors and lepers into his midst?
WHAT YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF MY BROTHERS ...
RUN THIS WAR
ANTIWARGAME provides intrepid Web users the chance to run their own zero-sum war simulation. Spend too much money on domestic programs or foreign aid and big business will shut you down. Leave soldiers unattended and they'll either turn on their commanders or smoke up.
Either way, no one really wins. Sounds familiar.
Erosion of the Bill of Rights at the hands of clueless government officials continues, with a proposal that would ban the taking of photographs or video within the subway system. The wording makes an exception for "members of the press holding valid identification cards" issued by the NYPD.
Nowhere does it say how the proposed curtailing of our liberties will help keep us safe, as anyone who wants photos for nefarious purposes will get them one way or another.
You can let the MTA know what you think through their comment form.
Take it one step further and contribute to the American Civil Liberties Union.
THE MEDIA GETS A CLUE?
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman asks why the media allowed Bush such an effusive portrayal of his adminstration for so long, as well as such an uncritical look at its manipulative efforts in its rush to war in Iraq, et cetera.
People who get their news by skimming the front page, or by watching TV, must be feeling confused by the sudden change in Mr. Bush's character. For more than two years after 9/11, he was a straight shooter, all moral clarity and righteousness.
But now those people hear about a president who won't tell a straight story about why he took us to war in Iraq or how that war is going, who can't admit to and learn from mistakes, and who won't hold himself or anyone else accountable. What happened?
The answer, of course, is that the straight shooter never existed. He was a fictitious character that the press, for various reasons, presented as reality.
If the media were a Cabinet official, it's job would certainly be on the line by now.
It came as news to me that Armed Forces Radio carries the drug-addled ramblings of ultraconservative commentator Rush Limbaugh for our troops overseas, using taxpayer funds, without any balance in political viewpoint.
Limbaugh has said abuse at now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison was "no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation" at Yale. As if Ivy Leaguers sodomized each other with broomsticks and "waterboarded" underclassmen.
A spokesman-apologist for the taxpayer-funded radio network said it carries Limbaugh's show because it's highly rated, yet doesn't give airtime to shock jock Howard Stern, who has declared a "radio jihad" against the "arrogant bastard" in the White House, Salon.com reported.
Other critics of the network wonder if it's proper for the Pentagon to broadcast Limbaugh when he's calling John Kerry a skirt chaser, labeling female activists Nazis and telling servicemen and -women "what's good for al-Qaida is good for the Democratic Party in this country today."
Media Maters for America has launched a petition to oust Limbaugh, which you can sign by clicking here. Good riddance.
GO GO GORE
Would-be president Al Gore gave a stirring speech at New York University this week, unleashing one of the most passionate condemnations of the Bush administration.
Gore lambasted the Bush administration for "twisted values and atrocious policies," the media widely reported.
"He has created more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation," he charged.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd fires her opening salvo:
An outraged president called yesterday for the immediate resignations of Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Douglas Feith and Stephen Cambone.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the president in the White House. It was the shadow president, the one who won the popular vote.
Bob Herbert of The New York Times gives weight to some of Gore's recent positions, writing:
In the view of Mr. Gore (and many others), the essential problem has been the triumph in the Bush crowd of ideology over reality. The true believers knew everything better than everybody else, and the arrogance born of that certainty led, step by tragic step, to the war with no exit doors that we are locked in today.
That arrogance gave rise to the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, the contempt for international agreements like the Geneva Conventions, the dismissal of concerns by some of the highest-ranking military professionals about the way a war in Iraq should be fought and the willingness of top administration figures to blow smoke in the eyes of ordinary Americans who were traumatized by Sept. 11 and worried about the possibility of further terrorist attacks.
"The same preference for ideology over reality has turned trillion-dollar surpluses into multitrillion-dollar deficits," said Mr. Gore. "And that same approach has led to the locking up of American citizens without recourse to lawyers or access to courts or even a right of their families to know they're being held in secret."
Herbert then challenges Gore's critics to "challenge him on his facts."
Gore's assessment, via Herbert's op-ed piece, of what it the United States represents was goosebump-inducing.
"What makes the United States special in the history of nations is our commitment to the rule of law and our carefully constructed system of checks and balances. Our natural distrust of concentrated power and our devotion to openness and democracy are what have led us as a people to consistently choose good over evil in our collective aspirations, more than the people of any other nation."
Curiously, I can't seem to find the text of his speech on the Web, so if someone has it, please let me know where to find it.
BUSH FLIPS, BUSH FLOPS
An AP story relates:
The Bush administration has told officials who oversee federal education, domestic security, veterans and other programs to prepare preliminary 2006 budgets that would cut spending after the presidential election, according to White House documents.
I'm thinking: How ELSE would taxpayers be able to line the pockets of Bush, Cheney and the bin Laden family's cronies at Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group if not for drastic cuts in domestic spending (i.e., the birthplace of democracy).
But this classic post, by a user known as itsallgoofy on Yahoo! Message Boards, encapsulated the situation succinctly.
2005 budget FLIP
2006 budget FLOP
Touts education FLIP
Cuts education FLOP
Touts supporting our troops FLIP
Cuts veteran spending FLOP
Won't negotiate with terrorists FLIP
Negotiates for Najaf FLOP
Refuses to tear down prison FLIP
Insists on tearing down prison FLOP
Refuses to testify before 9/11 commission FLIP
Testifies before 9/11 commission FLOP
Refuses to set up 9/11 commission FLIP
Appoints commission FLOP
Refuses to budget for commission FLIP
Budgets for commission FLOP
Refuses to let Rice testify FLIP
Lets Rice testify FLOP
Freezes out UN in Iraq FLIP
Calls for UN involvement FLOP
Says No to Iraq contracts for France FLIP
Says there's room for France FLOP
And this is a guy the GOP claims has convictions.
Oh, he does.
BRING THEM HOME, HOW?
BringThemHomeNow.org has the following statement on their Web page:
The truth is coming out. The American public was deceived by the Bush administration about the motivation for and intent of the invasion of Iraq. It is equally apparent that the administration is stubbornly and incompetently adhering to a destructive course. Many Americans do not want our troops there. Many military families do not want our troops there. Many troops themselves do not want to be there. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis do not want US troops there.
Argue all you want about the idea of spreading democracy abroad, but if we are losing it at home how can the will of the American people even matter to the Bush administration? In November, I suppose it will.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE ...
Who needs enemies when supposed friends such as Saudi Arabia casts aspersions on U.S. motives in Iraq.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to Britain and Ireland, told an Irish newspaper:
"No matter how exalted the aims of the U.S. in that war, in the final analysis it was a colonial war very similar to the wars conducted by the ex-colonial powers when they went out to conquer the rest of the world. Either in the name of Christianity, or bringing civilization to undeveloped countries, or bringing the rule of law to uncivilized populations."
No word on whether any of al-Faisal's relatives were among the Saudis who receives special treatment from the Bush administration in the days following Sept. 11 and escorted back to the safety of their home country.
GRAVITY IS A LIBERAL CONSPIRACY
The fabulous blog known as Daily Kos looks at Bush's claims that rain and loose topsoil were to blame for his fall from a mountain bike at his Crawford, Texas, ranch.
However, Crawford had received no significant rain in nine days and had temperatures in the high 80s the entire time.
Those in the know understand that it was really a conspiracy by the liberal media, Democrats and the al Qaeda-Iraq connection.
EVERYTHING'S HUNKY DORY!
Cartoonist Ward Sutton reads between the lines to get the full message of what Dumbya, his cronies and his supporters are saying.
For instance, he fills in the rest of Rush Limbaugh's quote when he says, "The prison abuse was no different than what happens at a Skull & Bones intiation," adding, "Yale is well-known for using attack dogs and sodomizing with broomsticks."
It's easier to laugh than to ponder the consequences of so-called leadership run awry.
TERRORISTS OR WEDDING?
A videotape found at the scene of a Iraqi wedding party attacked by U.S. jet fighters on Wednesday depicts a bride exiting a vehicle, men and children dancing and a guy playing a keyboard.
Despite these images (man with keyboard), Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit said, "There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration. There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too."
The soldiers in those prison abuse photos appeared to be celebrating, too.
TORTURE AS STATUS QUO
Susan Sontag, in a brilliant essay for The New York Times Magazine, writes about photographs of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American soldier and what it says about us as a society.
A passage about how easily conservative commentator and abuser of prescription drugs Rush Limbaugh dismissed the entire issue and denied the idea of human dignity was distressing in what it said about the lowest common denominator.
What formerly was segregated as pornography, as the exercise of extreme sadomasochistic longings -- as in Pier Paolo Pasolini's last, near-unwatchable film, ''Salo'' (1975), depicting orgies of torture in the Fascist redoubt in northern Italy at the end of the Mussolini era -- is now being normalized, by some, as high-spirited play or venting. To ''stack naked men'' is like a college fraternity prank, said a caller to Rush Limbaugh and the many millions of Americans who listen to his radio show. Had the caller, one wonders, seen the photographs? No matter. The observation -- or is it the fantasy? -- was on the mark. What may still be capable of shocking some Americans was Limbaugh's response: ''Exactly!'' he exclaimed. ''Exactly my point. This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time.'' ''They'' are the American soldiers, the torturers. And Limbaugh went on: ''You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people. You ever heard of emotional release?''
Once the humanity of the so-called liberators evaporates, where are we left as a society?
'THE USE OF FICTION'
This photography log, displaying seldom-seen images from Israel and the Middle East, posted a host of frightening Bush quotes.
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier ... just so long as I'm the dictator." -- Dec. 18, 2000
"America says 'We don`t care how you help, just help. Either you're for us or you're against us." -- Oct. 4, 2001
ARMY CLEARS ARMY OF WRONGDOING
Following allegations that the Army arrested, detained and abused three Reuters journalists and one working for NBC in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said a "thorough and objective" investigation found no wrongdoing.
The only catch is, the Army never interviewed the detainees.
"Despite repeated requests, we have yet to receive the results of the Army investigation," NBC News Vice President Bill Wheatley told Reuters.
EYE FOR AN EYE
Police accused an Oregon woman of pouring boiling oil on her boyfriend's face during "an argument over a Bible verse", The Associated Press reports.
The story continues:
[Angela] Morris told police that they continued to argue and that her boyfriend grabbed her from behind. Police said he then went to his bedroom to lie down. Morris followed and threw the oil on him, police said.
ANTI-BUSH STRIP CLUBS
Strip clubs in Wisconsin are apparently registering voters and urging support for a John (Kerry) over Bush.
Who would've thought?
MORE BERG QUESTIONS
Marc Perkel Rantz suggests the presence of a chair and other contextual clues to offer the unsettling theory that American Nick Berg wasn't killed by Islamic extremists but by our own CIA. Chilling stuff.
Free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, now offers a page of Berg conspiracy theories, too. Included are the orange prison-style jumpsuit Berg is wearing, the fair skin and high body mass of the executioners and the lack of blood during the beheading.
Prison Planet claims a Western voice can be heard on the infamous videotape, possibly intoning, "Thy will be done."
Kuro5hin gathers more discrepancies.
Finally, regarding a U.S.-produced leaflet that depicts a doctored photograph of Osama bin Laden, CNN writes:
Asked whether the leaflet could be used by some to say the United States is willing to doctor or make up things -- as has been alleged about the videotape found in Afghanistan by the United States -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he had not thought about the possibility.
OSAMA DESIGNER IMPOSTOR?
Someone is looking more closely at the post-Sept. 11, 2001, videotape purportedly made by Osama bin Laden, claiming it's a fake. If the video stills are, in fact, from that same recording, the site makes a compelling visual argument that it's not bin Laden taking responsibility for the terrorist attacks.
American Free Press takes a more detailed look at the possibility.
My friend Carlos, who forwarded me the link, also asks: If the bin Laden tape could've been faked, why not the beheading of Nick Berg?
An aging male named J-1. A younger siren known only as Aurora.
Their torrid love affair, played out in the confines of an aquarium tank, reads like a love story and a dime-store version of underwater porn.
My favorite lines might be: "The two really hit it off. Spermatophores were seen hanging from J-1's siphon."
Like who hasn't been there?
PRAYER BATTLES INCOMPETENCE?
An Australian news service reported that In Touch Ministries sent a pamphlet out to U.S. Marines in Iraq, asking them to pray for Dumbya. The mini-booklet contained a pledge form for soldiers to send to the White House, stating that they had put in a good word for the commander-in-chimp.
Among the winning suggestions in the pamphlet: "Pray that the president and his advisors will be strong and courageous to do what is right, regardless of critics."
Boy, I can't wait for Election Day.
A PDF version of the "Prayer Reminder Card" requires postage.
The ministry also offers such helpful features as "How to Pray For the President."
How about praying for some dose of reality and common sense in U.S. Iraq policy? But that would keep our troops safe -- and stateside.
A frustrated Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pulled back the curtain this week when he said, "Why don't we just go home ... rather than go through this charade of telling Americans that we are legislating?"
Kerry should be his running mate.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Do EXACTLY as these government-created pictograms instruct.