Fang-Face's blog

ALA seeks -- refugee status? -- in Canada?

An article posted to Alternet divulges the latest on USAPA from the ALA. Including this little tidbit:

In a report released on Monday to widespread mainstream media silence, the American Library Association reported that domestic law authorities have instigated more than 200 requests for information libraries since October 2001, the month the Patriot Act was hurriedly passed and signed into law.

While this should be a cause for concern for any citizen, it comes with a sad addendum: It would appear that the ALA doesn't trust the government enough to house its findings on a computer server anywhere in the United States. The ALA, in surveying U.S. libraries for a report on the impact of the USA Patriot Act, housed its data on a computer server in Canada, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities.

Well, I have said that Canada has been a refuge for American citizens fleeing the tyranny of their own government since the United Empire Loyalists flooded across the border. It cannot be a good sign, however, when a nation-wide organization of such scope gives a clear and present indication that it does not trust the gubmint to this extent.

The Downing Street Memo is News

Of course the Memo is news; Bush supporters just can't allow it to be seen as news because it shows up Bush for the lieing fraud he is.

FAIR-L
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2556

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Justifying the Silence on Downing Street Memos

June 17, 2005

One of the features of the newfound media interest in the Downing
Street Memo is a profound defensiveness, as reporters scramble to explain
why it received so little attention in the U.S. press. But the most
familiar line--the memo wasn't news because it contained no "new"
information--only raises troubling questions about what journalists were doing
when they should have been reporting on the gulf between official White
House pronouncements and actual White House intentions.

There are two important points in the Downing Street Memo, and media
apologists have marshaled slightly different--though equally
unconvincing--arguments as to why each did not deserve coverage. The first point
is that the White House was intent on going to war long before it
announced the decision to invade Iraq; "It seemed clear that Bush had made up
his mind to take military action," the memo states, citing British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

The Washington Post editorialized (6/15/05): "The memos add not a
single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar
deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly
known in July 2002." The New York Times reported (6/14/05) that "the
documents are not quite so shocking. Three years ago, the near-unanimous
conventional wisdom in Washington held that Mr. Bush was determined to
topple Saddam Hussein by any means necessary." NBC reporter Andrea
Mitchell similarly remarked on June 14 (Media Matters, 6/15/05) that you had
to be "brain dead not to know" what the White House was doing.

But if everyone knew it was a lie when Bush and the White House
repeatedly denied that they had decided to go to war (as with Bush's March 6,
2003 statement, "I have not made up our mind about military action"),
why were reporters not exposing this bad faith at every turn? On March
16, 2003, for example, Andrea Mitchell referred to negotiations at the
United Nations as part of "the diplomatic campaign to avoid war." If
war was a foregone conclusion, why were such talks reported as if they
mattered?

So, the Lackey Corporate Press -- was it lieing then? Or is it lieing now? And remember:

Real news is the news you and I need to keep our freedoms. --Richard Reeves, journalist

Outsourcing the Oval Orifice

Congress today announced that the Office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to overseas interests as of June 30th, the end of this fiscal year. The move is being made to save not only a significant portion of the President's $400K yearly salary, but also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-Washington). Reynolds, with the aid of the GAO (General Accounting Office), has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively.

"We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay," Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed this morning by e-mail of his termination.

Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time. Sanji Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai India will assume the Office of President of the United States in July. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month with no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will work primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open.

"Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the AmericanExpressCall Center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday."

A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the Office of President, this should not be a problem. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using this tree, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all.

"We know these scripting tools work," stated the spokesperson. "Mr. Bush has used them successfully for years."

Mr. Bush will receive health coverage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 dollars a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit.

Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. One possibility is re-enlistment in the Army National Guard. Should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Iraq; a country he has visited. "I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained
invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport's nonsmoking terminal and gift shop.

Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.

Fraudulence of Misohomonism

In response to the thread about homosexuality attached to the article linked to the Oklahoma House Resolution 1039 story, I have written a new commentary for my site. You can access the full commentary, Some Musings On Misohomonism's Fraudulent Precepts. This brief extract is directed in part to the bisexual librarian with three children, and in part to whet the intellectual appetites of free thinkers.

Caveat Lector: there are approximately twenty-one screensful of text between the title and the footnotes at 800 X 600 resolution, and the commentary contains some cutting edge and highly progessive concepts and viewpoints. This commentary is not for the faint of brain.

Begin extract:

These comments generated this in turn:

Fourthly: Just where do you slot bisexuals into your narrow and bigoted world view? People who are both homo- and heterosexual at the same time?

I have to make a small correction there. From my point of view, that is, the point of view of a bisexual librarian, most bis don't consider themselves homo or hetero. We're bi. Saying that a bisexual is both homosexual and heterosexual at the same time may sound technically correct, but it's the equivalent of saying that a green car is both yellow and blue at the same time.

Well, I did some more research and found some surprising material. I did not find what I wanted on the psychosexual dynamics of bisexuality, but I did find enough to arrive at a new tentative conclusion. It came from a fresh consideration of the Kinsey 7-point scale. The scale rates as follows:

0 Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual 1 Predominantly heterosexual, only incidental homosexual 2 Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual 3 Equally heterosexual and homosexual 4 Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidental heterosexual 5 Predominantly homosexual, only incidental heterosexual 6 Exclusively homosexual with no heterosexual X No social-sex contacts or
reactions

Looking at it, I suddenly realized why my above statement was not accurate.

Consider the electrical charges of electrons (-) and protons (+). Because an atom normally contains equal numbers of both, the net charge of atoms is 0. The atom becomes an ion (a charged particle) only if there is too many or too few electrons. My current tentative conclusion is that the sexual "charges" of orientation cancel out each other in bisexual people. If this surmise is valid, then the "net charge" of bisexuality is 0, and the term bisexual itself becomes inaccurate. A better term
might be "anasexual"; indicating an "orientation" of no particular orientation at all. This conclusion hinges on hetero- and homosexual orientation not being mutually exclusive while still being diametrically opposed.

Of course this surmise could be wrong, and I might be reading too much into the reply from the bisexual; after all, that was intended as nothing more than a statement of self-identification.

Downing Street Memo Letter

100,000 Signatures Needed on Downing Street Letter by Congressman John Conyers

Looks as if somebody is trying to hold the Bush regime accountable for its massive lies about NBCWs in Iraq and Saddam's non-existent inolvement with Osama Bin Laden or the WTC attacks.

And Republican hypocrites screamed in hysteria about Clinton getting blow jobs in the White House. Just remember: Nobody died when Clinton lied. U.S. fatalities are currently up to 1,640 and climbing, and nobody in the Pentagon will say how many wounded there are, of course.

Galloway won't be bullied

George Calloway tore a strip of a "neocon, prowar, republican lynch mob" that was trying to smear his reputation with allegations of receiving Iraqi oil kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime. Golly; this couldn't be anything like the Republican smear campaigns against, McClellan, McCain, and Kerry, could it? The story is at CommonDreams.org (which rightists are forbidden to browse under penalty of thought crimes charges by the Holy Regime of King George the Insane). A full transcript of his testimony is also posted at CommonDreams.org. Calloway really put his detractors in their place when he told them:

I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your
claims did not have weapons of mass destruction.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that
Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that
Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11
2001.

I told the world, contrary to your claims, that
the Iraqi people would resist a British and
American invasion of their country and that the
fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the
end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned
out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and
100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them
American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack
of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them
disabled forever on a pack of lies.
--George Galloway, 17 May 2005

I'm sure that some "good" rightist will be able to come up with some kind of half-baked rationale that illustrates how the lies of the Bush regime really weren't lies at all, and anyway they weren't that bad because this genocide was perpetrated in the name of freedom.

1,600

Congratulations, Bush regime!

Sixteen hundred down, only 56,400 to go.

Here, to celebrate the senseless death of the sixteen-hundredth American military fatality of misadventurism in Iraq, is a breakdown of the most recent violence. This is reprinted from America's Shame, Two Years on from "Mission Accomplished", by Robert Fisk. Originally published in the lndependent/UK and reprinted at CommonDreams.org, it is reproduced here without his permission. Bush supporters can take comfort in the fact
that civilian casualties vastly outstrip military casualties, even though those civilian casualties don't actually exist because they are only collateral damage and nobody counts them.

Ten bloody days in Iraq: 338 dead, 588 wounded

Thursday 28 April

Roadside bomb leaves four American troops dead and two wounded. Two other US troops die in an accident. Five Iraqis killed in attacks.

Friday 29 April

Seventeen bombs, including four suicide attacks in almost as many minutes in Azamiyah, and 13 car bombs in Baghdad area, leave at least 50 dead, including two US servicemen, with 114 Iraqis and seven Americans wounded.

Saturday 30 April

Eleven car bombings, at least two roadside attacks and several rocket, mortar attacks and ambushes. Five car bombs in Baghdad, six more in Mosul, the worst of which, hidden in a mosque shrine, kills a woman and two children. Total of 17 Iraqis and one American dead, plus 32 wounded.

Sunday 1 May

Car bomb attack on mourners at a funeral near Mosul kills around 30, wounds more than 50. Five Iraqi police shot dead at checkpoint; four die and 12 injured in Baghdad car bomb; and one dies, two wounded in bomb at Baghdad amusement park. Other attacks leave one Iraqi dead and 24 injured. Five Americans injured in six other car bombs in Baghdad. Australian civilian taken hostage.

Monday 2 May

Three car bombs in Baghdad kill nine, suicide bombers in Mosul kill one child, injure 15. British soldier killed by roadside bomb is 83rd to die since March 2003. In the north, car bomb kills woman and injures four. Two US soldiers wounded by roadside bomb in Mosul. One US soldier dies, two injured by another roadside bomb. Two US F/A-18 Hornet planes crash, killing both pilots.

Tuesday 3 May

Two Bulgarian soldiers die in road crash. Firefight in Ramadi kills 12 insurgents, Iraqi soldier and two civilians and injures eight, including a small girl. Two US soldiers die in roadside bombings.

Wednesday 4 May

Sixty Iraqis die, 150 hurt, as suicide bomber strikes in Kurdish city of Arbil. Suicide bomber kills 15 and wounds 16, including 10 civilians, in Baghdad. One dead and two wounded in Baghdad firefight.

Thursday 5 May

Suicide bomber hits Baghdad army recruitment center, killing 13, injuring 18. Car bomb kills four Iraqi police in Mosul and wounds five. Gunmen ambush police convoy, killing 10, wounding two. Car bomb kills one, wounds six.

Friday 6 May

Suicide bomber in car strikes at southern vegetable market, killing 31, injuring 45. Another kills eight police in Tikrit. Bodies of 12 men dressed in civilian clothes and blindfolded, found in Baghdad.

Saturday 7 May

Suicide car bomb explodes, killing 22 and injuring around 35. US soldier killed, and four more bodies found at mass grave. Two men found executed in Ramadi.

© 2005 Robert Fisk

These are the jokes, folks

Phwoomph! Phwoomph! Phwoomh! (SCREEEEEEEEEE!)

'This thing on?!

Okay, so thank you all for coming tonight. And how about that Ann Coulter? Isn't it nice that there are people like her who prove that BSE is transmissible from one cow to another? You know, I'd call her brain dead but the Schiavos have already been through enough. I will say, however that she is probably insane; and qualify that by saying we can almost certainly drop the "probably". I mean here's a woman who was being interviewed for Canadian television by Peter Kent and she said that we had
been allied with the U.S. in Viet Nam? Kent corrected her saying that Canadian servicemen hadn't been in Nam and you could just see her holding herself back from maybe screaming at him for being unpatriotic or treasonous or something -- but she got a grip on herself and answered him very calmly, but blew it by restating that Canada did fight in Viet Nam. Damned idiot. When are people like her going to learn that not only do we Canadians know our own history better than stupid rethuglican dolts,
but that we know your own history better than stupid rethuglican dolts?

Have you noticed how stupid rethuglican dolts were still screaming hysterically about how everything was Bill Clinton's fault four years after the man left office? These are the same twits who want to ban rap music even though they probably can't understand the lyrics. A situation that first arose in 1963 with the Kingsman cover of Louie, Louie. It took the FBI two years to finally figure that one out and submit a final report that read: undecipherable at any speed.

Then there's your President Stumbletongue; a guy who's also a stumblebum. . . . Try saying that three times fast: a stumbletongue stumblebum. . . . This is a guy who invades small defenseless countries at the whim of hat.

Let's compare Bush, rappers, and Clinton for just a moment, shall we? Marilyn Manson once said: "I think if anyone like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini were alive now, they would have to be rock stars." Whoa! It just blew me away in surprise that Marilyn Manson knows who Mussolni was; can you just imagine the shock if George Bush knows who Mussolini was too? Then there's Clinton; a man who still found time to read a hundred books a year, whereas Bush can barely talk. Bush, who has other
people read news papers for him, once said: "The illiteracy level of our children are appalling." Looks as if the dufus can't count either.

What's that you're screaming -- You in the back? Why do I hate America? Because you're there.

UnAmerican? Of course I'm unAmerican, shitheels, I wasn't born there, I'm Canadian. Can't be both at the same time, thank God. My god, not yours. Yours is probably as nuts as you are.

And for all you stupid rethuglican dolts out there who don't like what I'm saying, get a sense of humour. After all: It's only a joke. Besides <republican whiny voice>I have my rights! I have my free-doms! </republican whiny voice>

Oh, hell, screw the bunch of you anyway.

Thank you all for coming and you've certainly been a novel crowd.

Bush Regime Subversion of PBS

Bush Regime Subversion of PBS

In an article titled Right-wing Coup at PBS? and reprinted at AlterNet.org, Rory O'Connor examines what appears very much to be a movement to actively subvert Public Broadcasting to the Republican agenda. He wrote in part:

An unnamed senior FCC official went further, however, telling The Washington Post that CPB under Tomlinson "is engaged in a systematic effort not just to sanitize the truth, but to impose a right-wing agenda on PBS. It's almost like a right-wing coup. It appears to be orchestrated."

Ken Tomlinson dismisses such concerns, however, as "paranoia," telling the Post that his critics should simply "grow up," remarking in the Times, "I frankly feel at PBS headquarters that there is a
tone deafness to issues of tone and balance."

[...]

But Tomlinson kept hidden the results of two "National Public Opinion" surveys indicating that the overwhelming majority of the U.S. public is happy with PBS programming. The documents, buried in an annual report to Congress, were neither released to the press nor shared with PBS. But both surveys confirm the same thing: "The majority of the U.S. adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public
broadcasting is biased. The plurality of Americans indicate that there is no apparent bias one way or the other, while approximately one-in-five detect a liberal bias and approximately one-in-ten detect a conservative bias."

A particular indicator that this official of the Bush regime is attempting to subvert PBS to the Republican agenda, in my not so humble opinion, is his invocation of the "liberal bias" conspiracy theory; to partially quote Jamieson and Waldman:

While "liberal bias" has been alleged for many years, the accusation became a common place with the explosion of conservative talk radio in the early 1990s. Rush Limbaugh and other, less prominent radio hosts made allegations of press bias a mantra. [...]

In fact, many biases, most of them professional, not political, shape the news. Reporters have a bias toward the use of official sources, a bias toward information that can be obtained quickly, a bias toward conflict, a bias
toward focusing on discrete events rather than persistent conditions, and a bias toward the simple over the complex. These biases have a far greater role in determining the content of news than any political preferences a reporter might have. --The Press Effect, pg 169/170

One could reasonably infer that the same applies in some measure to programming in general, and that what biases are likely to come into play within a medium also depends on the context of the format (sitcom vs: soap opera for example), as well as the larger socio-cultural context outside the medium (through the Chilling Effect). As far as I'm concerned, Tomlinson is calling PBS liberally biased because it transmits information that doesn't conform to the Republican party line. Note, however,
that that doesn't necessarily mean the majority of the information being transmitted doesn't conform to the party line; any little bit would be too much. I have no doubt that PBS would be accused of a liberal bias if the proportion of liberal support to conservative support was as much as 20% to 80%.

A second indicator is his bleating about a lack of "balance". Balance does not necessarily mean airing opposing viewpoints, it means transmitting all of the information (facts) a viewer needs to make up his own mind, whether the reporter likes that information or not. When a Bush sycophant speaks of a lack of balance, however, it's a safe bet that he is talking about viewpoints and information that is
critical of or does not support the Bush regime propaganda and party line. The kind of reporting for which administration officials will denounce people as unAmerican and unpatriotic and soft on terrorism. In point of fact, PBS has been undergoing a sharp swing toward imbalance as liberal leaning viewpoints have been forced off the air. Bill Moyers comes to mind, as does the recent episode of Buster Bunny, censored by Margaret Spelling for daring to admit of lesbianism and same sex couples.

To top it off, on 03 May another article on this movement was published by Media Matters for America; it is titled NY Times Article Omitted Key Facts About CPB's New Ombudsmen, and is printed at CommonDreams.org. It blows the whistle on key facts that were not in the New York Times article; to whit:

  • William Schulz:
    • is an avowed conservative with close ties to Tomlinson,
    • was lauded by National Review for remaining at Reader's Digest to maintain conservative leanings there when Tomlinson resigned,
    • was lauded by National Review for withdrawing Reader's Digest funding from the conservative American Enterprise Institute to register dissatisfaction with what he called the desire, at Reader's Digest, "to move the organization to the center and appeal to
      foundations and corporations not thought of as conservative";

  • Ken Bode:
    • is a former NBC national political correspondent,
    • is a former CNN senior political analyst,
    • is an adjunct fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute,
    • endorsed Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels in 2004,
    • a National Review article lamented his resignation from Reader's Digest as a "saddening transformation" away from "overt conservatism";

  • W. Kenneth
    Ferree, CPB's new chief operating officer and acting president:
    • is a former senior official at the Federal Communications Commission,
    • played a significant role in the effort to loosen rules to promote media consolidaton,
    • does not watch PBS,
    • does not listen to NPR,
    • even though both are grantees of CPB.

So, how is it, with this kind of sloppy reporting acting effectively to support the neo-fascist Bush regime, we continue to hear the snivelling Republican whiners squalling so piteously about the "liberal" press? Especially when there are media outlets such as National Review publicly endorsing strong conservativism at the helm of publications such as Reader's Digest, the corporate press is firmly in the government pocket, the government has released numerous VNR "news" reports produced
by its own departments and which have been dutifully and uncritically broadcasted, and it is supported by Fox News.

Also, of some note, in the source article for the above entry, it was reported that Tomlinson had appointed two ombudsmen where PBS had none before. That he had appointed two set off a number of mental alarms for me. One would be sufficient; but to now find out that both of these officials can be counted on to enforce the party line only reinforces my opinion that this is a move to subvert PBS.

Most especially, I would like to draw the reader's attention to O'Connor's report about the National Public Opinion surveys results: The plurality of Americans indicate that there is no apparent bias one way or the other, while approximately one-in-five detect a liberal bias and approximately one-in-ten detect a conservative bias.

What could one infer from this? That there are more republican/conservative citizens than democrat/liberal by a margin of two to one? Well, you could, but you'd be wrong given that the 2004 elections saw such close voting that Bush won by the most narrow margin in the history of the American democratic system. It would be more reasonable to infer -- assuming that the surveys were properly conducted and sampled a representative cross section of U.S. society -- that conservatives are twice as
likely as liberals to believe in biased press conspiracy theory.

This surmise goes hand in hand with observations that conservatives tend to uncritically accept what they are told by authority. Indeed, not questioning authority is one of the touchstones of ultra-conservatism. Liberals, on the other hand, are so irritating to conservatives because they do tend to think critically. Which means: for themselves.

Unkindly, one could infer from the data that right-wingers are twice as hypersensitive and reactionary as left-wingers. This, however, is strictly a political cheap shot.

I'd be willing to bet, though, that Tomlinson has interpreted this data to mean that there is in fact a liberal bias, because the majority of those who in believe in such a bias say it is liberal instead of conservative.

FOOTNOTES:

[01] The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World Kathleen Hall Jamieson & Paul Waldman -2003 ISBN 0-19-515277-8 Dewey # 071.3 J323P

Unfortunately, Jamieson and Waldman, indeed, no one in the press, could have forseen the kind of the blatant ass kissing that would derive from the World Trade Center attack and resulting hysteria. I do not know how this compares to analogous events in American history, as the WTC attack is unique in its scope to my lifetime. The most recent previous event, the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, was a dozen years before I was born.

Interesting stats:

Doctors and Guns

WHAT WE ALL SHOULD KNOW.....

Doctors:
(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services.

Now think about this:

Guns:
(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. Yes, that is 80 million.
(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.

Statistics courtesy of F.B.I.

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times
more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, "Guns don't kill people, doctors do."

FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN,
BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR.

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!

Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics
on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

Academic Bill of Wrongs

06 April 2005

Dear, Mr. Goldberg.

I read your commentary of 05 April entitled: Paul Krugman's institutional fantasies, and in which you wrote in part:

And I should be careful about characterizing the Florida legislator's idea as moronic, relying as I am on Krugman's version of events -- and not just because he picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. Krugman's facts are sloppy.

Well, I tend to agree with Krugman's assessment that this Academic Bill of Wrongs (sic) is moronic; for two reasons. The first reason applies to the theory behind it.

The theory behind this Academic Bill of Wrongs will allow assaults against academic freedom from two fronts: internally and externally. I believe firmly that there are students who will file suits out of spite at having their most cherished prejudices challenged or for having gotten a failing grade. There are students who have sued schools for just those reasons. Consider the case of Christina Axson-Flynn who was a theatre student at the University of Utah. She had discussed her moral
attitude toward nudity wearing with the teacher before starting the program and entered it under the impression that she would not be required to violate her morality. When she asked that obscenities in a class assignment be changed, she ran afoul of the curriculum, and at the end of the semester her teacher reportedly told her that she, "would have to find another place to study acting if she did not modify her stance on the use of such language." She quit the university and sued. The suit was
dismissed, but was then reinstated on appeal of the dismissal, and on July 14, 2004, the University of Utah settled with Ms. Axson-Flynn; a day before the case was to go to trial. She was to be reimbursed for $3,000 to $4,000 in tuition expenses and allowed to return to the school, although she said she would attend college elsewhere. Ms. Axson-Flynn also said she still wanted to pursue acting, and didn't think she would have trouble in the industry because of her beliefs. She is quoted, "I
wouldn't have a hard time at all making a career in acting holding to morals, no matter what those morals were."

Perhaps so, but this is a clear and present case of a student demanding that the education system conform to her hypersensitivities.

However, actual such law suits are likely to prove few and far between in that the overwhelming majority of students are able to cling to their personal convictions even in the face of academic adversity. I'll examine the idea of external assaults shortly, but right now I'd like to look at the practical aspects of why this law is moronic. The simple reality is: there are already mechanisms in place (or should be in every university and college) for students to seek redress against abusive
teachers. The student can file a complaint with the equivalent of the ethics committee or review board, and if he or she feels dissatisfied with the outcome they can then take the matter to civil court. Because of this, this Academic Bill of Wrongs is moronic in that it is completely unjustified. The system is not broken and does not need to be fixed. The only possible, rational reason for bringing down such legislation from a practical viewpoint is to have rules solely for the sake of
having rules.

But the Academic Bill of Wrongs does pose a serious threat. It will also allow for third parties (the external threat) to file law suits against a school through the simple expedient of finding someone who is easily offended enough to be that third party's shill. I do not seriously believe that the politically active ultra-conservative elements in the U.S. (Falwell, Robertson, et al), will be quick to seize upon this bill to file a law suit, but will rather wait for a test case, at which
point they will jump on the bandwagon. Should the law survive constitutional challenge, they would then be quick to seize upon it as a method to erode Church/State separation (Cf: The Teri Shiavo Case). Even if such subsequent efforts fail, resources (read: education funding) will have to be redirected and effectively squandered, and such law suits will of necessity erode true academic freedom and civil liberties through the chilling effect.

Alas, this the price to pay for living in a free and open society. So I propose that we steal a march.

Libertarians are quick to point out how this law is an attack against liberalism. However, a constitutional democracy cannot allow such a condition to exist. The first purpose of the judicial system in a democracy is to ensure that the playing field remains level. This means that for this Academic Bill of Wrongs to be constitutional, it is necessary that it can also be applied against conservative institutions of higher learning.

What a shame that Bob Jones University, for instance, is not located in the State of Florida. I would purely love to see ultra-conservatives showering shit and derision in all directions over a law suit filed against it demanding that it give equal time to evolution and tolerance towards homosexuals and gay-marriage in the classroom, or to teach scientifically correct sex-ed about condom use and abortion. We should let Baxley pass his law, Mr. Goldberg, and then use the damned thing against
the religio-political. Sue them before they can sue the liberal institutions, and let them be the ones to drive a stake through it's heart.

Moore prognostications

It looks as if Michael Moore was right after all, and all that Rethuglican hot air about his lieing about Saudis being flown out of the U.S. on Sep 12th was just a spasmodic knee-jerk smear. See:
New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis after 9/11, by Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times, and which was reprinted at TruthOut.org. Of course, raving fools with an axe to grind will simply dismiss this report as nonsensical since the NYT is on the wrong-wing, and of course the report's being at TruthOut only degrades whatever other credibility it might have it were properly published by a sycophantic rag. . . .

Maybe they should get Rethuglican approved homo-hooker Jeff Gannon to endorse it.

Five inch knife found in man's head

And now for something completely different:

Read all about it at Ananova.com.

Shame on whom?

In the ongoing saga of the crypto-fascist misohomonism of the Bush Regime, GregS* has made a couple of nonsensical statements indicative of the double standard morality and the lack of cogitative depth typical of reactionaries.

It is too bad, and yet the people who made the episode felt the need to introduce a highly controversial topic and do just that. Shame on them. --GregS*

Is homosexuality controversial? Nope. It is only that reactionary hatemongers and fanatic right wing-nuts call it controversial in an effort to obscure the issue or to justify their own pettiness and spite. There is nothing controversial about homosexuality. It exists, it is the norm for ten percent of the human population and for some unknown percentage of animals, and it is only sniveling bullies and power-tripping control freaks who feel any need attack the non-mainstream of any group. Rational people are perfectly secure in their own sexuality and they know that someone else's sexuality, whatever it might be, has no relevance their own life. And GregS* compounded his folly by pushing the usual hatemonger's line of bullshit rhetoric that homosexuals are engaged in some kind of conspiracy to "recruit" children into the lifestyle.

Considering how hot a topic it is, for someone to deliberatly try to sell their view of it in a child's program is in fact, yes, cause for shame. --GregS*

Now, this lie is misrepresentative of any simple admission of the existence of a phenomenon; whether it is hetero/homo sexuality, drug use, gangs, or street racing in dad's car. There was
a banning recently (23 Feb 2005) of Anastasia Again! from an elementary school library because there was a mention of beer and Playboy Magazine, and because Anastasia, in a moment of adolescent agnst, even says she might as well kill herself. To the reactionary mind, these sorts of things must be forbidden because they promote alcoholism, sexual perversion, and suicide.

Of course, the reactionary mind has no more depth to its thought processes than a mud puddle.

For the rational thinker, GregS*'s kind of misohomonist snivelling is indicative of people who are soft on Holocausts.

After all, by Bush Regime crypto-fascist thinking, if you don't support the implementation of a double-think based police state that will "protect" your Rights and Freedoms by locking them away out of sight, then you are providing material support to terrorists. Well, GregS*'s rationale is not much different from the bullshit rhetoric used to discriminate against Jews from time immemorial, and particularly since the First Crusades of the 11th century and on down through the millennium to Nazi Germany and which are still extent today. The only real difference being that one is pretty much indisputably born a Jew whereas "queer" might still be something you can catch or be encouraged to become. So by their own asinine rationales, people who are intolerant of homosexuals are providing material support for genocide.

Yes, it is a shame that American, "conservative" reactionaries are so hellbent on "protecting" children from the "evils" of homosexuality that they are promoting a system of blind, vehement intolerance. Gohd forbid that anything so vile and reprehensible as fags or lezzies should ever be depicted as human beings who have their own hopes and dreams and might actually love their children the way "normal" heteros do.

I do wish these assholes would realize that the rest of us are not going to hate a group just because they fear that group's defining attributes.

Anniversary

2004, December 15: Anniversary of the American Bill of Rights

Now under assualt in the same location for 213 years. See this commentary by Paul K. McMasters, the First Amendment Center ombudsman, which was published at First Amendment Center on 12 Dec.

Interesting alternate viewpoint

Subject:AANEWS for Friday, December 10, 2004
Date:Fri, 10 Dec 2004 16:51:42 -0500
From:owner-aanews@atheists.org
To:XXXXXXXXXXXXX@XXXXX.XXX

A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
A A N E W S
#1152 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 12/10/04

**

"ON CHRISTMAS, or, 'NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS"

(. . . Edwin Kagin wears many hats as constitutional attorney, State Director for American Atheists, poet and raconteur, Founder of Camp Quest and writer. His essay "On Christmas" has received wide circulation, and certainly deserves more. He declares that permission for non-profit reproduction is given, "so long as credit is given, so the villagers will not go after the wrong person with pitchforks and torches." Ed welcomes mail at ekagin@atheists.org.

*

"If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!" --Uncle Ebenezer Scrooge (not to be confused With Uncle Scrooge McDuck)

I can't prove that no ungulate unit of reindeer persuasion can fly, any more than you can prove I don't have two invisible unicorns that frolic in benign innocence at Camp Quest. I can't prove there are no living dinosaurs (as the arkonuts challenge the skeptical to do) anymore than the arkonuts can prove the English text of Genesis they rely on is identical to the original version they hold was dictated, or inspired, by god. But if one says that all crows are black, there is no need to check
every crow to falsify that assertion. All that is needed is to find one white crow, or any crow of a different color. Similarly, Santa skepticism can be soundly silenced by the production of one flying reindeer. Yet Christmasterians insist doubters disprove Santa, sleigh, and such, or keep silent, lest they destroy a child's simple (mindless) faith. This method of proof proves useful later, as children, programmed to believe fantasy is truth, grow to adultery and unquestioningly follow the
fantastic follies of faith of their fathers (and mothers -- political correctness must not be permitted to fall down a personhole).

To be sure, Plato (not to be confused with Mickey Mouse's dog) argued that, to conceive of something that is real, one must somehow get the perfect idea of that anything from the place it really exists, to wit, the world of forms -- a place somewhere that no one has ever seen. Reality alone wouldn't do. Thus, everyone but philosophers knows what a horse looks like, and kids know all about Santa without having to survive Philosophy 101.

Can we imagine, or even believe in, something that doesn't exist? Sure we can. Just talk with those who have been abducted by aliens. If some unseen thing is believed by many, e.g., angels, it is called faith. If a thing is believe by only one, and is wildly outside the gates of common sense and experience, then the belief, e.g., suddenly realizing that one's guardian angel is made of grape jelly and having him (there are no female angels -- check your bible, you can win bets on this) on
toast, it is called psychosis. The problem is that the invisible and the non-existent look much the same. Christmas beliefs fall somewhere between the province of priest and psychiatrist.

Christmas combines two contradictory images of godlike characters: Jesus, the Christ, who taught that to be saved one should sell all of their property and give it to the poor (the church later declared belief in this teaching a heresy), and Claus, the Santa, to whom children are taught to write letters requesting property -- believed to be given by Santa, in one night, to those children of the world found worthy -- in direct challenge to the counsel of the Christ. One should note, before
teaching the latter belief system, than an anagram of Santa is Satan.

The day itself, meaning Christ's Mass, is the same day the Romans used to honor their sun god with gift giving and feasting. Christmas is quite pagan. Its secular celebration involves rituals specifically forbidden by holy writ, like hewing down a tree, bringing it inside the house, decorating it, and praising it. This is as clear a violation of divine decree as public prayer, or celebrating the Sabbath on the first day of the week instead of on the seventh day as ordered (Commandment IV). No
wonder we are in such trouble these days with crime, inflation and teenage pregnancies.

Unfortunately cultural consequences flow from the forced frivolity and jejune joy Christmas creates and requires. People get depressed when they don't feel happy as they should, when they do not have their artificial expectations fulfilled, and when they cannot meet the unreasonable artificial seasonal needs of others -- like their mercenary relatives, and their materialistic, greedy, spoiled children -- and get even deeper in debt by trying to behave as expected. Thanks to Tom Flynn, and his
wonderful heresy "The Trouble With Christmas," I chucked the whole thing a few years ago, and lived. Try it. You will feel better for it.

Should I be granted a Christmas wish, it would be that the holiday be canceled, and that the whole show appertaining to this business of Christmas not be done at all. Please understand that I do not care if others celebrate Christmas if they wish, nor would I suggest that they be prevented from doing so. I just don't want the holiday to be compulsory for me or anyone else -- any more than I want other people's prayers, that they have an absolute right to pray, to be forced upon me by public
officials or upon children by public schools. One who would rather decline gets somewhat tired of listening to those who absolutely and uncritically assume all good people celebrate Christmas, and that something is horribly wrong with anyone who ignores the invitation to attend their compulsory party. Failing the unlikely event of Christmas being made optional, I would alternatively wish, in seasonal answer to Virginia's famous question, that we might see something in the public press for
innocent children like:

Dear Virginia,

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. It is a myth that has been cruelly used to deceive children for the pleasure of adults who unwittingly destroy children's sense of basic trust by teaching them that the world is something other than it really is.

I know this news must be a shock to you, and I am truly sorry for your discomfort. But it is not my fault. The person who tells you the truth should never be blamed for the hurt that comes from learning that others have lied.

You should not believe in Santa Claus any more than you should believe in fairies, or in demons waiting around to pull you under the earth, or in angels lurking about to transport you above it. People do not need to believe foolish things to have love and compassion and caring, any more than they need a special season or holiday to be nice to one another.

If things believed prove false, does that mean peace, and sharing, and kindness must dissolve like mist along with the untrue things? Of course not! We don't need magic to have happiness, and wonder, and joy. Our beautiful world is full of these things, and they are very real, and our real world holds more interesting and wonderful people and things than any fairyland anyone could ever even imagine.

Some adults are afraid of things they don't understand, and they teach children to believe in magic. But the truth is really far more exciting. Wouldn't you rather learn what is on real planets, that are millions of miles away, than believe reindeer can fly? Have you ever seen the northern lights? I have, and I can tell you they are more beautiful, more mysterious, and more wonderful than any pretend story anyone could ever invent about elves that have workshops at the North Pole.

Is it okay to pretend and to believe things we know are not true? Of course it is! And it can be a lot of fun. Intelligent people love to play. Any time you watch a movie or a play or go to a costume party you are playing and pretending something is that is not.

We know these aren't real people in the TV -- only images of them -- but we know we are pretending, and this is fun and much different from believing a falsehood. Would it be wrong to tell a friend of yours, who firmly believed there really small people inside the television set, that his or her belief was not true? Wouldn't it be right for you to be commended for destroying that friend's childhood faith? What if several of your best friends thought they could fly, and set off for a bridge
over a 600-foot deep gorge to prove it? Would it be wrong for you to politely try to convince them that they just might be mistaken, no matter how firmly they believe they are right? Would you be destroying their childhood or saving their future?

Follow the truth, no matter where it may take you. And don't pay attention to those who think comforting falsehoods are better than understanding the world as it is. If you ever have children, teach them trust by telling them the truth. By the way, just in case you didn't know, the stork didn't bring you. You are here because your parents had sex.

Keep questioning, Virginia, and don't feel it is the least bit wrong to demand correct answer.

Asking questions is what makes us human.

Your friend,

Uncle Edwin

All Hail Corporate America

Never mind what effect Dog-In-The-Manger policies have on the rest of the world.

Once upon a time I agreed with Eric Chivian and the
Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the
natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and
to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not
that I don't want to believe that -- it's just that I read the news and
connect the dots:

I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment.
This for an administration that wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the
Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and
animal species and their habitats, as well as the National Environmental
Policy Act that requires the government to judge beforehand if actions
might damage natural resources.

That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle tailpipe
inspections; and ease pollution standards for cars, sports utility
vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.
That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep
certain information about environmental problems secret from the public.
That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against polluting
coal-fired power plans and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with
coal companies.

That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge to drilling and
increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch
of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild
land in America.

I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental
Protection Agency had planned to spend nine million dollars -- two million
of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council
-- to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These
pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but
instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry
were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and
children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

I read all this in the news.

I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's
friends at the international policy network, which is supported by Exxon
Mobile and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate
change is "a myth, sea levels are not rising," [and] scientists who
believe catastrophe is possible are "an embarrassment."

I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations
bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to
it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides;
language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of
environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed
by developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California.
I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the
computer -- pictures of my grandchildren: Henry, age 12; of Thomas, age 10;
of Nancy, 7; Jassie, 3; Sara Jane, 9 months. I see the future looking back
at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know
now what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not
right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future.
Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy?
Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain
indignation at injustice?

What has happened to out (sic) moral imagination?
--Bill Moyers, Battlefield Earth, AlterNet.org 04 Dec 2004

One more step toward Soviet America

According to Newsday, "The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Ladin..."


Fired from your job in a political purge for being "disloyal" toward an individual human being
? Somebody has serious civil liberties and freedoms issues.

I wonder how they are going to do that. "Why, yes, I did vote for Kerry. ... What do you mean fired?!"

Conscripted to serve a faithless regime

One of the issues that dogged the Bush regime during the campaign was the question of reinstating the draft. This has already been done to a certain extent. But instead of "drafting" high schoolers, the "infallible", Almighty American Military is drafting former servicemen who were discharged without any further obligation owing. You can read about it in: The Army's Long Arm. This is a vile and disgusting practice by a draft-dodging coward who is documented to be a very real deserter in the legal sense. Will such a regime reinstate the full draft when the pool of former servicemen who can be pressganged runs dry? I certainly think so.

Bush still flip-flopping

I see Bush is waffling again and still changing positions. The Moron from Crawford, who vowed four years ago that he would not be a nation builder is now going in for nation building. And in a way that can't be blamed for the "War" on "Terror".

The problem is, the nation he plans on building is Palestine. Pity he couldn't try a little nation building within the U.S.

Well, this is obviously politics instead of governance. I doubt very much that his ultra-conservative power base would allow him to create a nation that will be Islamic instead of "christian". I wonder if he will also tell Israel that it must stop terrorizing Palestinians by firing military high explosives into crowded marketplaces. And if he does, how will he justify his occupation army doing the same in Iraq.

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