Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October Surprise

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The U.S. military is announcing another U.S. death in Iraq, bringing the October total to 101. In a brief statement, the military says the latest casualty was a member of a police brigade who was killed by small arms fire Monday in eastern Baghdad.

Earlier, it said a Marine died from injuries sustained during combat Sunday west of Baghdad.

The U.S. is now six deaths away from seeing October tie for the third deadliest month there since the war began in 2003.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stop the Madness

Be sure to vote, Tuesday, November 7th. Support the troops. Bring them home alive.

Supporting the Troops

Read enough right-wing blog and forum posts and you'll come away with the notion that Republicans support our troops while Democrats do not. That's bunk. Most people in the military believe it. Most Republicans believe it. Many moderates believe it and even a few Democrats believe it. But there is absolutely no way it is true. In the reality-based community, Democrats support the troops significantly more than Republicans do.

Republicans favor a war that does absolutely nothing to protect America, have no real plan for how to win that war, lied about the reasons for that war and have undercut the troops in combat by not putting enough troops on the ground to handle the job and poorly equipping those they did put in and by cutting benefits for soldiers during wartime. Republicans have controlled Congress and the White House during this entire debacle. Republicans alone are responsible.

And fortunately, the troops are figuring out which party really supports them. A group called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has graded all of the members of Congress. How do the grades come out? Quite clear:

In the Senate, every single Democrat scores higher than every single Republican. The lowest grade for any Democrat is a B-. The highest grade for any Republican is a C. Only five Republicans even get a C- or higher. Conservative Republicans get no grade better than a D+.

In the House, the pattern is not quite as definative, but it is still overwhelming. Everyone with a grade of B+ or higher is a Democrat (or Socialist). Everyone with a grade of D or lower is a Republican. There are a few Republicans that make it into the B range (although again, no conservatives) and a few Democrats who make it into the D range. The average grade for Democrats is B+, compared to a C average for Republicans.

As for Missouri, 100% of Democrats score better than 100% of Republicans:

Rep. Russ Carnahan A-
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver A-
Rep. Ike Skelton A-
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay B+

Rep. Jo Ann H. Emerson C+
Rep. Todd Akin C
Rep. Roy Blunt C
Rep. Sam Graves C
Rep. Kenny C. Hulshof C
Sen. Jim Talent D+
Sen. Christopher S. Bond D

For a colorful breakdown, go visit Sinfonian.

In addition to the many veterans running for office as Democrats and the IAVA people, a growing number of generals and active soldiers are speaking out against the failed Republican policies regarding the military.

If you REALLY support the troops, vote Democratic.

Stop This BS

I'm very weary of the media machine's obsession with Michael J. Fox vs. Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh could have easily disagreed with Fox's point of view and addressed that. Instead, he chose to mock someone with Parkinson's Disease and accuse Fox of either being off his meds or acting. In other words, Limbaugh did not attack the message. He attacked the messenger. And Limbaugh has received some deserved grief for it. But this should not continue to be a story of any importance. And that it is demonstrates what's clearly wrong with television news operations.

Exhibit A: Washington Week (PBS) which this week included a segment on "attack ads" run during the midterm election cycle. Right up top they include the ad Michael J. Fox did for Claire McCaskill, which Washington Week labelled an attack ad. Here's digby:

Did you see the Fox ad as an attack ad? Did he disparage Talent's character or imply that he was a bad person? Was he appealing to peoples baser nature by playing to their prejudices? Or, as the nation's premiere advocate for Parkinson's disease, did he just ask people to vote for Claire McCaskill because she supported stem cell research and Talent didn't --- a straighforward, endorsement based upon a single issue. I don't see any attack in it at all.

Do people now view all political ads as "attack ads?" Or is it merely that some people
...think it's hitting below the belt for a disabled person to appear in an advertisement --- just as Rush does. They obviously think it's manipulative and wrong to show the actual results of an illness for which you are advocating. After all, somebody might be having dinner and they don't want to have to look at that icky sick stuff that makes them feel all guilty and uncomfortable. Therefore, tt's an attack if someone endorses a particular candidate and he isn't "normal."

Damn it, people, disagree with Fox's opinion. Disagree with his reasons for voting for McCaskill. Disagree with his views on stem cell research. But stop saying he attacked Jim Talent.

And more importantly, stop accusing Fox of "faking" his symptoms.

Exhibit B: Katie Couric's interview with Fox (CBS). Strannix says Couric did a good job.
If you've not had to opportunity to see it, you should check out the excellent (yes, believe it or not, she did a good job) interview that Michael J. Fox did with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News last night. Seeing him in this condition, for a hell of a lot longer than 30 seconds, easily puts lie to previous statements by Rush Limbaugh (not that that is a difficult feat, mind you).

The portion aired on CBS was good. But if you watch the whole interview you will see Couric push Fox over and over again on "the burning question" of whether he manipulated his medication and ask him whether he should have re-scheduled the shoot when his symptoms were manifested as they were. The whole time she's sitting directly across from him watching him shake like crazy. "Gee. Michael, are you sure you're not faking?"

Do you think the news professionals at CBS ever thought about interviewing a medical expert to determine if there was any basis to Limbaugh's original claim, that Fox was manipulating his symptoms? Someone like William J. Weiner M.D., professor and chairman of the department of neurology and director of the Parkinson's clinic at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. He has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. … He’s not over-dramatizing. … [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson’s disease, because people with Parkinson’s don’t look like that at all when they’re not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don’t move at all. … People with Parkinson’s, when they’ve had the disease for awhile, are in this bind, where if they don’t take any medication, they can be stiff and hardly able to talk. And if they do take their medication, so they can talk, they get all of this movement, like what you see in the ad.

News professionals use to believe in fact-checking. Anymore, not so much.

Michael J. Fox showed himself to be an articulate and courageous guy, and a class act. He might have asked Couric, if Bush and the Republicans were suppressing research into a cure for colon cancer, would her campaigns to enlighten the public about the disease be manipulative? Would it be fair to say, then, that she was exaggerating the ravages of the disease to score points? But he didn't. I admire him for that.

To me the very worst of this interview was when Couric said she contacted Limbaugh "because I wanted to be fair to his point of view...." She feels the need to be fair to the man who revealed complete ignorance about the role of medications for someone with Parkinson's? Why? And why not show fairness to Fox by not continually asking if he's faking his symptoms?

In fact, why not just let go of the non-story? Used to be highly paid TV anchors pushed senior government officials over and over again on the burning qustions. For Bush and his appointees, it's one quick diffident inquiry, then instant acceptance of whatever answer they give the first time.

If anyone truly doubts Fox was NOT acting, check out this interview from Good Morning America, which aired in July.

But please, stop the BS about Fox manipulating his symptoms to attack Jim Talent. It simply isn't true and it is beneath you to believe so.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Excellent Explanation of Amendment 2

Blue Girl, Red State provides the best explanation of what Amendment 2 (the Stem Cell Initiative) says and does, and doesn't say or do, that I've read anywhere. No hysterics about human cloning, no unfounded claims of certain miracle cures. Just the process and promise explained in laymen's terms.

First lets clear up a huge misconception. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is technically "cloning" - up to a point. In the sense that cloning means replication. But it stops there.

The amendment specifically outlaws human cloning. When the opposition says it legitimizes cloning, they are disingenuous at best, and more likely they are flat-out, intentionally, being dishonest.

In SCNT, eggs are extracted and the nucleus is removed from the egg with a very tiny glass pipette. The same procedure is used to remove the nucleus of a host cell, and the nucleus is injected into the vacated egg cell. If we say just the right magic words in the perfect pitch and cadence, this cell will begin to replicate. At five days, we have a blastocyst of stem cells, and we can harvest those undiferentiated cells. Remember that word. It is going to be revisited a bit down the page.


If Amendment 2 is not passed, members of the Missouri legislature would be able to outlaw therapies that are developed that use embryonic stem cells. Those with private insurance or resources could gain treatment out of state, such as Massachusettes or California. Those who are reliant on Missouri Medicaid (a high percentage of disabled and diabetic patients) will be out of luck. The state won't pay for the treatment. So the bottom line is the state legislature could pass laws that prohibited low income people from accessing cures available to those who are better off.

I don't believe that the opponents are intentionally discriminating against these future patients. I don’t think they have even thought about them, but they should. Especially since they are not only picking up the tab for long-term treatment, they are consciously denying them any hope for a cure, possibly without even realizing it.


Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated. In other words, they can become anything. Let's say that you or someone you love has diabetes and is facing a future of insulin dependence that will lose effectiveness and it will lead to amputation, organ failure and death. Embryonic stem cells can, in theory, be used to grow healthy cells for implantation into your pancreas. The idea is that healthy cells can be introduced and will replicate to replace the unhealthy ones. This is the only hope that currently exists for a cure for diabetes and many other diseases, as well as spinal cord injuries.

I'm diabetic. I have Type 2 Diabetes. I'm insulin-dependent and am supposed to inject one type of insulin twice daily, and a short-acting type of insulin before every meal. I also take pills twice daily for my diabetes. So yes, I have a very personal interest in Amendment 2. I don't want to lose my eyes (absolutely necessary for the work I do) nor my feet or legs.

My father has Parkinson's. I've watched his decline. The last time I saw him I told my mother I thought his trembling wasn't as bad. Now I know, that means the disease is worse, not better.

I'm happy to agree to disagree on many ballot initiatives and many candidates. Amendment 2 is NOT one of those. Voting against Amendment 2 is, essentially, voting for death for some people. Please. Carefully consider your vote. Read the text of Amendment 2. It is NOT about cloning humans. That is specifically prohibited by the Amendment.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A(u)nti Norma Hates Kittens & Puppies

Norma Champion is so tight-lipped, she won't even tell her constituents her views on animal welfare. Missouri has an abundance of puppy-mills and an overpopulation of unwanted cats and dogs. Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, "a non-profit organization working to bring positive change for animals through legislative means," sent a survey to all 2006 legislative candidates. Norma Champion refused to respond. Evidently, Norma Champion hates kitten and puppies.

Doug Harpool did respond. Once again, Harpool shares his views with voters while Norma Champion remains silent.

Let's send A(u)nti Norma to Evangel full time.

Kevin Tillman's Letter

This open letter from Kevin Tillman has been posted at Blue Girl, Red State, Heartland Diary of Betty B., and Welcome to the Revolution, among others. As Blue Girl notes, it sounds like Kevin Tillman wants every blog in America to run the full text. The letter clearly demonstrates Keven's had enough and will vote Democratic. It also lays out one of the best arguments I've read of the importance of congressional oversight.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice: Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.

Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action.

It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman

Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Is Norma Champion Hiding?

Norma Champion, the incumbant senator for Missouri's 30th district, refuses to debate Democratic challenger Doug Harpool. She told the Springfield News-Leader editorial board, "I didn't see any advantage to a debate for me." That's an odd position for someeone who spent many years on a puppet show, claims to be a leader in the state legislature, has a Ph.D. in communication, and teaches communication courses at a religious college. What's Norma hiding?

Norma won't tell anyone her position on issues
Norma repeatedly refuses to provide any responses to citizens on issues through the 2006 National Political Awareness Test. Norma's been asked to do so by:
+ John McCain, Republican Senator
+ Geraldine Ferraro, Former Democratic Congresswoman
+ Michael Dukakis, Former Democratic Governor
+ Bill Frenzel, Former Republican Congressman
+ Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President

Norma is Anti-Civil Rights
She has never supported the interests of Personal Rights of Missourians (PROMO), Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality through legislative action, electoral politics, grassroots organizing, and community education.

Norma is Anti-Labor and Anti-Union
She supported the interests of the Missouri AFL-CIO only 50 percent of the time.

Norma is Anti-Choice
Based on voting records and candidate questionnaires, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri considers the position of Senator Champion to be Anti-Choice.

Norma is Anti-Environment
She voted NO on legislation that requires the Department of Natural Resources to adopt a rule imposing specific requirements on retail providers of electrical energy regarding amount of electricity generated from renewable energy technologies. The bill specifies that the rule provide that electricity from renewable technologies constitute no less that one percent of retail sales in 2009, three percent by 2013, six percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2021.

Norma is Anti-Voter, Anti-Constitution
She voted YES on legislation that requires a form of non-expired, government-issued photo identification to vote (Voter ID). The legislation eliminates the straight-party vote option.

Norma is Pro-Lobbyist, Pro-Special Interest, Anti-Citizen
She voted YES on legislation that removes maximum contribution limits for most state offices.

Norma doesn't want citizens to determine her salary
She voted NO on a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that establishes the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Public Officials to determine salary amounts for all state officials and prohibits all officials convicted of a felony or removed from office from receiving a state pension.

Perhaps this is why Norma won't debate Doug Harpool. And while she may not want to tell voters her position on anything, Norma's voting record speaks volumes.

What is Norma hiding?

A Simple Question

Rep. Geogg DavisThis is Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), a member of the party which claims to be the one grasping the importance of the Iraq war. At a debate on Thursday, October 18 at Northern Kentucky University, Rep. Davis was asked how many U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq this month.

Davis replied: "I believe it is 17."

The U.S. combat death toll in October alone stood at 75 - likely to be the highest for any month in nearly two years.

Dick CheneyDo you think this man knows how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month?

George W. BushHow about this man?

Jim TalentThis is Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO). Do you think he knows how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month?

Sgt. Lawrence ParrishDo you think he knows about this man? This is Sgt. Lawrence L. Parrish, a soldier who grew up in Versailles, Missouri and whose family recently moved to Lebanon, Missouri.

Sgt. Parrish died from injuries suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device on October 7 in Iraq. He was 36-years-old. He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and five children, Katheryn, Constance, Jacqueline, Hayden and Gracelynn.

Talent and BushDo you think these men know Sgt. Parrish died in Iraq this month?

President Bush has begun saying this traumatic period in Iraq will be seen as "just a comma" in the history books.

Is Sgt. Parrish "just a comma?" Is his widow? His five children?

Had Enough?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hannity Orders Dems to Stay Home

Nationally syndicated radio and Faux News chickenhawk Sean Hannity has ordered Democrats to "stay home on Election Day," adding that, "your vote doesn't matter anyway." Hannity says Democrats should not turn out to vote "for the sake of the nation" because Democrats' votes "won't change who occupies the White House."

Unless, of course, Bush is impeached by a Democratically-controlled Congress. Republicans are running scared. Chickenhawk Hannity should go back to peeing his pants while hiding under his bed.

Mark Your Calendar

December 2, 2006: the date at which our invasion and occupation of Iraq will have equaled the calendar length of our entire activity in World War II, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor and ending with the day Japan signed its unconditional surrender.

How many more American soldiers will die between now and then?

Damn the Constitution! Full Speed Ahead!

Just keep shredding that Constitution. It continues to be overruled by our little dictator. Your Congress voted to give King George President Bush control over the National Guard whenever he desires it. Major Danby explains:

The Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill was envisioned as a bill that would strengthen the National Guard. With a sick sense of irony, the Bush Administration gutted this provision and replaced it with a "body snatcher" provision that represented "a sizable step toward weakening states' authority over their Guard units." The provision "mak[es] it easier for the President to declare martial law, stripping state governors of part of their authority over state National Guard units in domestic emergencies."

Here's an explanation for what this law does; the citation for which I'm omitting:
When the President invokes section 333 of chapter 15, he may involuntarily call to active duty members of the reserve components (not more than 200,000 Select Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve, of whom not more than 30,000 may be Individual Ready Reserve) for up to 365 days to conduct law enforcement activities in a disaster, accident, or catastrophe area and, if such incident involves a terrorist or WMD threat or attack, other response activities. In addition, the President may involuntarily call to active duty members of the reserve components to provide supplies, services, and equipment to persons affected by the disaster, accident, or catastrophe. As soon as practicable after invoking section 333 of chapter 15, the President must notify Congress of his determination to exercise this authority. However, within 24 hours of involuntarily calling to active duty members of the reserve components, the President must submit to Congress a report, in writing, setting forth the circumstances necessitating this action and describing the anticipated use of these members.

So now the President can send troops from Tennessee to quash what he deems a threat to civil order in Oregon, even if the governors of Tennessee and Oregon both object.

This, by the way, is how the Chinese - whose approach to government and party building Bush seems so much to admire - broke up the protests in Tienanmen Square. They brought in troops from the provinces who knew nothing about what the protest was about, but knew that if they were ordered to shoot, they had to shoot.

Such small changes to the law. Such a huge result. Imposition of federal martial law, using state troops, over the objection of the states.

Go read the whole thing. More of YOUR rights being usurped by Republicans who control Congress and the White House.

Had enough? Vote Democratic.

Votes Have Consequences

Anyone who voted for (or votes for) Jim Talent, Roy Blunt, George W. Bush, and/or Kit Bond has voted to eliminate their, my and our constitutional rights. These four favor the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which grants dictatorial power to King George President Bush. Anyone who disputes that need only read this:

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

Immediately after Bush signed the act into law Tuesday, the Justice Department sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asserting the new authorities and informing the court that it no longer had jurisdiction over a combined habeas case that had been under consideration since 2004. The U.S. District Court cases, which had been stayed pending the appeals court decision, were similarly invalid, the administration informed that court on Wednesday.

The administration's persistence on the issue "demonstrates how difficult it is for the courts to enforce in the face of a resolute executive branch that is bound and determined to resist it," said Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor involved in the detainee cases.

Some Democrats sold out for political expediency and voted for this atrocity. Shame on them. And shame on all of you who are not outraged at this shredding of the U.S. Constitution. Our republic is on life-support. Welcome to the dictatorship. See you in the gulag.

Had enough? Vote Democratic.

poster by Austin Cline

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On

Hawaii had an earthquake. Missouri's bigger than Hawaii, so we had to have one of our own. KFVS-TV reports (Cape Girardeau):

NEW MADRID COUNTY, Mo. - The United States Geological Survey reports an 3.4 magnitude earthquake centered two miles west of Lilbourn and three miles south-southeast of Catron. The tremor could be felt from Sikeston down to Portageville. The Geological Survey reports the earthquake happened almost seven miles below the surface.

"I pulled up in my car and everything started to shake. My hood was shaking and then all at once, it stopped," Kathy Hornberg said.

"I was in my house cooking, and at all once boom," Gregory Hughes said.

"I thought someone ran into the apartment with a car," Orlando Perkins said.

No one reported any damages, except for a few pictures falling off the walls. Local police patrolled areas, making sure no gas lines broke. So far, no reports of that either.

Dobson vs. Dobson

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James Dobson is a pathetic little man. He compares stem cell research to Nazi experiments, supports executing people who perform abortions, says liberals hate America, and claims not to be political. Guess he's worried about losing his tax-exempt status.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Deadly Day in Mess-O-Potamia

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Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, Oct. 18-Ten U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Tuesday, one of the bloodiest days of the war for American forces outside of major combat operations. ... October is on track to become one of the deadliest of the conflict for U.S. soldiers ...

Lying Liars, Cheats, Scum

Yes, I'm talking about neocon-ish Republicans. No doubt Mr. Schattenkirk would approve of this:

The state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.[...]

The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

As Ezra Klein correctly points out:
Of course, naturalized immigrants, of which there are millions, can legally vote. It's just that some folks don't want them to.

Had Enough of this bullshit? Vote Democratic.

Street Talk: Honoring the Fallen

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Five years ago this month American forces entered Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks. Seventeen months later, American forces invaded Iraq.
Since then, more than 3-thousand U-S service personnel have died in those wars. Among them are 60 with ties to Missouri, including two women. Some of them come from communities that don't have many people living in them. Sixteen of them are from southwest Missouri. Three from Springfield.

No matter how you feel about the wars, you have to respect those who've been killed in the service of our country.

The fallen are real people. They have names and faces. Each deserves recognition for taking on a risky challenge. Compared to past national conflicts, the number of deaths is small. But the sacrifice and loss on a personal level is just as painful.

On STREET TALK, we remember and honor the Missourians who have made the supreme sacrifice. The tribute includes their names, rank, age, hometown and the circumstances of their deaths.

Our motivation is simple: to honor the young people who have given their lives. Nothing more.

You may watch this special edition of STREET TALK Wednesday at 8:00 p.m., Thursday at 10:30 p.m., or Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on Mediacom Connections Channel 14.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Four Republicans of the Apocalypse

(shamelessly stolen from Attaturk, via Atrios)

President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 today, which continues a secret CIA program for interrogating terrorism suspects whom Bush believes have vital information that could thwart a plot against America. Bush said it would allow intelligence professionals to question suspects without fear of being sued by them later. The White House has refused to describe what techniques will be allowed or banned. The law also establishes military tribunals for terrorism suspects, most of whom are held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The law also specifically bars detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions challenging their detentions in federal courts. It removes constitutional rights of defendants, such as a person's ability to go to court to protest their detention and the use of coerced testimony as evidence.

The bill also eliminates some rights common in military and civilian courts. For example, the commission would be allowed to consider hearsay evidence so long as a judge determined it was reliable. Hearsay is barred from civilian courts.

The legislation also says the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment, a provision intended to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.

So Bush will now be allowed to fabricate evidence against anyone (American citizens included), and decide what is and isn't torture, without ever stating so publicly, and without any oversight.

This is a shameful day in U.S. history.

The United States does not torture. It's against our laws and it's against our values.
-- George W. Bush
The President can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorise trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions. Nothing could be further from the American values we all hold in our hearts than the Military Commissions Act.
-- Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
-- James A. Froude

Are We Winning?

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How Many More?

God and Moses Against Minimum Wage?

There's an ad running in Colorado in which God and Moses campaign against minimum wage. Like Missouri, Colorado has a constitutional amendment on the November ballot which would raise the minimun wage and tie it to annual increases based on inflation. You may view the ad here.

The script reads:

MOSES: Hello!

GOD: Can you hear me now?

MOSES: We need divine intervention. They want to chisel Amendment 42 into Colorado's constitution where it doesn't belong.

GOD: What on earth are you talking about?

MOSES: An annual minimum wage increase in stone for eternity!

GOD: When inflation and recession come, it will be a catastrophe!

MOSES: It's a plague we'll face every year.

GOD: We can't let the people make this mistake. Go. Spread the word. Vote no on 42!

It shows Moses talking to God while holding two stone tablets. "Stop 42" is carved into one tablet, which Moses smashes at the end of the ad.

Seems rather odd, and perhaps sacriligeous, to use this dynamic duo to try to influence anyone to do anything. Perhaps that's why we haven't seen a similar ad here in Missouri. But I find it especially hypocritical that anyone would use Moses and God to try to stop an increase of the minimum wage.

Moses, the writer of the Torah, wrote many passages (inspired by God) in the Torah dealing with the treatment of the poor and needy. For example:
You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. - Leviticus 19:15

To vote against a minimum wage would violate this passage of scripture.

And this verse:
For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, `You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.' - Deuteronomy 15:10

So how is withholding a much needed increase in the minimum wage consistent with this scripture? We are commanded by God and Moses to open our hand wide to the poor and needy in our land. But instead, this group in Colorado and similar folks in Missouri would rather close their hands to the poor and needy and open it wide to the rich and powerful.
You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. - Deuteronomy 24:14

To those barely surviving while working for minimum wage, an increase in the minimum wage is necessary. To not increase the minimum wage would be oppressing them. So why would this group, Stop 42 in Colorado, decide it was prudent to use God and Moses as spokesmen for a campaign to stop the raising of the minimum wage?

And why would any Christian be against increasing the minimum wage? Doesn't everything in scripture point to our responsibility to help the poor? Oh. Wait. That would also mean Christians should be against cutting Medicaid for the poor. But Gov. Blunt and the Republican legislature (including Aunt Norma) voted to do that. And Gov. Blunt, Aunt Norma, and Republicans all claim to be Christian. Aunt Norma even "teaches" at a Christian university.

Seems the "Religious Right" is neither.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hastert Blames the Dems

From Think Progress:

Interviewed by Rush Limbaugh today, House Speaker Hastert said Mark Foley’s inappropriate behavior was “a political issue” and promised Rush that “we are going on offense.”

The “offense” is an effort to portray the scandal as a conspiracy specifically timed by liberals to affect the elections. “We are the insulation to protect this country,” Hastert declared, “and if they get to me it looks like they could affect our election as well”.

2,729 and counting

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The GOP Strategy for Iraq

An unamed Republican Congressman is quoted in Slate as characterizing the Bush war strategy as "just stay and let American kids die."

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Inspired by Betty B.

Reliable Rubber Stamp Jim

Major props to Granny for alerting us to this Jim Talent campaign photo in the Arch City Chronicle. As Granny notes, Reliable Rubber Stamp Jim votes with the president 94 percent of the time.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The New GOP

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Inspired by Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, Roy Blunt, among others