Friday, April 28, 2006

Sing it in English!

C'mon, you damned foreigners! If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for you! So don't sing the Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish!

Honestly, most of the clods demanding that we don't let Hispanics have the free speech right to celebrate the United States however they want to probably don't realize that Jesus didn't know English. These paranoid, xenophobic, insular bigots are slavering at any chance to kick out anyone who wasn't born here, who isn't white, who speaks with a foreign accent.

Dumb dirtball hicks. There are more important things to worry about than people who adore your country in a language that you don't understand.

I swear, the constant reminders we give to Hispanics that we native-born Americans hate them will come to no good. I remember a former Republican president saying something ominous about "a house divided against itself," but that doesn't seem to stop the current house-dividing Republican president.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Can we stop the Condoleezza Rice speculation, please?

I know you didn't ask me, but I don't think Condoleezza Rice has a prayer in the 2008 presidential election. As a candidate alone, she's totally lacking in campaign experience. And, worse for her, having spent the last five years (and counting) working for one of the most divisive administrations in history doesn't give her much of an opportunity to define herself as an independent-minded, take-charge kind of person.

That's how she stacks up considering her generically; those facts would apply to anyone in her position. However, race is an added factor. Black Republican candidates depress turnout among Republicans, which is why you see so few black Republican candidates and still fewer black Republican officeholders. Look at Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in Maryland: his being black has taken the air out of his U.S. Senate candidacy (but, to be fair, he's also a bloviating buffoon, which is a quality that even Republicans don't care for.)

Now to be fair, having a black Democrat on the ticket has been shown to depress turnout among Democratic voters, too—but not as drastically as black Republican candidates do to Republican voters. This is not admirable or tolerable, but that's how it is. This is not, however, a reason to discourage blacks to seek office, and I maintain that quality candidates of any color have a duty to step forward and run. Places that would never have dared elect Catholics or Jews or women to their state legislatures or to Congress have come around; I believe that the whole country can come around where race, color and creed are concerned.

The above calculus applies to the Rice question (and the Powell question, and the Steele question) because the Republican Party is the conservative party, which means it embraces stasis and stands against progress. Tolerance of non-white, non-male candidates is progress, so such a candidate couldn't hope to get through the primaries, so the notion of a Rice for president campaign is more academic than anything else. If Condi Rice made it to the nomination, then we'd already be talking about a very different America from the one we currently live in, so I offer no opinion about that scenario. The America where the Republicans would nominate Rice is so far from existing at this point, I couldn't even begin to guess what the voting patterns in that place would be. I will say, however, that the voting patterns in the America I know would allow the Democratic candidate running against the Republican candidate Rice to crack 500 Electoral Votes.

The only black Democrat I'm aware of who currently has a shot at becoming president is Barak Obama, but that can't happen in 2008. He's still too new to the Senate; he still needs to build a record to run on and build up his connections on Capitol Hill. I think he's capable, and I'd be very surprised if he never runs for president. I'd be even more surprised if he runs for president before 2016. I have a hunch Obama will show up as someone's running mate before he runs for president, but at this point I can only speculate; I can't see the future.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Help the Republican class of '94 keep its pledge!

Here's a blast from the past: remember the Contract With America? Briefly, the Contract was a short list of priorities that Republicans seeking to oust Democratic incumbents in 1994 offered up. It was well responded to: Democrats were tossed out in great numbers that year, with Republicans taking over both the House and the Senate. I was out of the country when this happened, so I don't remember the circus that I'm told surrounded it, but I do harbor a certain amount of regret for having missed it—it's like the same feeling you get when you find out you drove by a railroad crossing five minutes too late to see a train plow into a stalled car: you didn't want to see it, but on the other hand, there's a bloody fascination to it at the same time.

Anyway, Item 10 on the Contract With America was called the Citizen Legislature Act, which proposed that all legislators be held to a maximum of twelve (12) years' service in government. It never became law, but the Citizen Legislature Act was a principle that these congresspeople got elected on, telling the voters that it was high time to boot out the entrenched (Democratic) incumbents and get some fresh faces in office. Admirable, huh?

Despite that, there are plenty of legislators who ran on the Contract With America in 1994—that's 12 years ago!—who are running for reëlection this year, thus exceeding their election pledge to stop at twelve years. Man! A broken campaign promise! Doesn't that just make you mad? Vote them out!

To help you out, here are the names of the Representatives who made this promise:

Charles Bass, NH-02
Steve Chabot, OH-01
Tom Davis, VA-11
Mark Foley, FL-16
Rodney Frelinghuysen, NJ-11
Gil Gutknecht, MN-01
Doc Hastings, WA-04
J.D. Hayworth, AZ-08
John Hostettler, IN-09
Walter Jones, NC-03
Sue Kelly, NY-19
Ray LaHood, IL-18
Tom Latham, IA-04
Steven LaTourette, OH-14
Sue Myrick, NC-09
Robert Ney, OH-18
Charlie Norwood, GA-09
George Radanovich, CA-19
John Shadegg, AZ-03
Mac Thornberry, TX-13
Todd Tiahrt, KS-04
Dave Weldon, FL-15
Jerry Weller, IL-11
Ed Whitfield, KY-01
Roger Wicker, MS-01

Here are the senators elected that year who made the same pledge:

Mike DeWine, OH
Jon Kyl, AZ
Rick Santorum, PA
Olympia Snowe, ME
Craig Thomas, WY

All of these Republican Contract With America candidates are seeking reëlection! Of course, there were others elected in 1994 seeking reëlection this year who did not make this pledge, but they're not on they hypocrite list. Republican Representative Phil English, PA-3, comes to mind. While I'm no fan of Mr. English, I can't call him a hypocrite, since he didn't make this promise. I'd like to see English out of office, too, but the hypocrite alert applies to the congresspeople listed above, not him.

So, citizens, it's your civic duty to keep your government honest, no matter what. Simply by running to serve in excess of twelve years, the above hypocrites are breaking their promise and living that lie, whether they win or lose. The best thing to do is to make sure they lose, so they'll be kept at least a little bit honest. Because if they'll break such a basic promise, who knows what other promises they'll break? If these congresspeople are currently representing you in Congress, help them break the addiction to incumbency that they ran against in 1994 and vote them out. Voting them out will help you, and it will help them. You owe it to your country.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

George W. Bush's good ideas.

Bush actually has a good idea! No big surprise that he got it from the Democrats, who have been calling for a probe into gasoline prices for months now.

Pardon me for being too cynical, but I'm not terribly optimistic when I see an oil man investigating gasoline prices. There's a definite disincentive for Bush to find anything wrong.

I don't imagine he will find anything wrong. But on the exact same day he gave lip service to looking into soaring gas prices, Bush also told us that he's going to start slashing environmental regulations for petroleum companies. He's also going to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. Well, we must all make sacrifices... unless they're politically costly or require raising taxes, of course.

Cripes, on one hand, Bush is always popping off about security, but when it comes to the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, he stops backing them the moment it becomes politically advantageous not to do so. There's a "war" on terrorism going on, and what does he do? Cuts taxes and cuts spending, making sure that no one's lifestyle is curttailed by the hardships that we're all seeing. This just further backs the lie that Bush's constant screeching about "security" has more to do with scaring voters into supporting him and shutting up the media's criticism than it does about actually doing anything about real threats.

And now Bush is looking for short-term gain for the petroleum industry by giving us long-term environmental problems due to the cuts in environmental regulations. You know how the Devil himself will offer apparent accomplishments with the least amount of sacrifice? That's what we need to watch out for: if not the actual Devil, then anyone who's acting like said Devil. In this case, that's George W. Bush who, as always, is promising that the world can be yours without having to work or suffer for it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Abstinence indoctrination bill proposed in Massachusetts.

Governor Romney has a new anti-sex bill. It masks itself as choice, but how could it be, if it calls itself an "abstinence education program"? Consider this line from an article on The Boston Channel:

Gov. Mitt Romney promoted a federally funded abstinence education program Thursday that he said will help students make healthy choices about when to have sex.

Help students make choices when to have sex, Governor? Really? Yet the main thrust of it is abstinence? Here we have a thinly veiled promotion of abstinence. Granted, maybe teenagers shouldn't be encouraged to have sex, but I don't think they should be discouraged, either. They need to find their way, and it's only healthy to guide them. But with ol' Mitt here pressing for an abstinence program and calling it a choice, well... are people really that stupid? Enough of them are, anyway.

This will fail. Massachusetts won't go for it, and Romney knows it. But that's not the point. Romney wants to look good for his presidential bid, play to the conservative base, so putting forward something like this, even if it fails, will help him. What he's probably counting on in addition is failing terribly in oh-so-liberal Massachusetts, so he can tell righties in the other 49 states that he was rejected by those liberals who even turned on their own governor, so ol' Mitt's got to be all right, right?

Romney doesn't stand a ghost of a chance; I really don't know why he's bothering. He should just move back to Utah and run for governor there; they'd welcome him with open arms.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Pennsylvania elections 2006: this side of oblivion

I've been angsting about the state of statewide politics in my native Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Senator Arlen Specter is a great source of angst for me these days. He was the last Republican I gave up on, though I've never been a Republican. Once I had hope in him; I remember thinking that it might not be such a terrible thing if the Republicans retain Specter's seat, because at least he's a reasonable guy when it comes to court nominees. And since Specter was the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I figured we could easily have a worse Republican in his job come 2005, should Specter lose. But some time before his last reëlection I stopped thinking that, and it hurt to finally feel that there's no one in that party I can respect. By the time Election Day 2004 rolled around, Joe Hoeffel would have gotten my unqualified support and my vote, had I still been a Pennsylvania resident.

Pennsylvania has a doozy of a race this year, though. Or maybe I mean rather the exact opposite of a doozy. I mean good Lord, this is the best opportunity to knock Rick Santorum out, and Santorum’s trailing in the polls by double digits, but... Bob Casey, Jr.? What the hell are they thinking? His father was a furshlugginer nightmare, and sonny isn't much better, except that if he’s in the Senate, he’ll be taking power from the Republicans, which is a small comfort. Casey's opposition to abortion rights and his ardor for Justice Alito, however, are no comfort at all. I realize that the only viable option the Democrats had was Barbara Hafer, and she kind of leaves me cold, too, so I dunno. I remember some talk about Santorum’s 2000 opponent Ron Klink coming back for a rematch, and while he's not exactly my dream candidate, he's better than Hafer, far better than Casey, and naturally light years beyond Santorum.

It was my disgust with Governor Bob Casey, Sr. that persuaded me to cast my last vote for a Republican: I voted for Tom Ridge (and Harris Wofford) in 1994, rather than deign to consider voting for the man who was the lieutenant governor to Governor Robert P. Ban-All-Abortions-Speed-Limit-55-Nineteenth-Century-Liquor-Laws-Don't-Pave-Western-Pennsylvania-Highways-Top-o'-the-Organ-Donor-List Casey, Sr. And I still don't regret it.

Looks like we'll get rid of that conservative Catholic Santorum and replace him with that conservative Catholic Casey. Sigh. That's progress. I guess. And Specter's in office until 2010, when he won't run again, due to whatever that fatal disease is that's killing him. And then who will run for his seat? Maybe that nice Harris Wofford man can come back? Or maybe it'll be the inevitable candidacy of Tom Ridge? Blecch. Or how 'bout that swell Lois Murphy? Actually, that's a good idea. I hope the DNC starts grooming her for 2010. I rather like that notion.

And before I go, I figure I should mention another unthrilling Pennsylvania Democrat: Ed Rendell. Sigh. Lynn Swann or any other black candidate will never win in central Pennsylvania, and will thus probably lose, which is about the best part of Ed One-Armed-Bandits-For-All Rendell. Small wonder that the only president this state has given us was James Buchanan, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Programming note: where your posts have gone.

Dear regular readers,

I just realized that there's a switch on the settings that can allow the moderator to stop all posts from appearing before the moderator has given approval. This was accidentally turned on, but I didn't know it. I never meant to block everyone's comments, and I'm sorry about it.

So I apologize. I've gone ahead and approved all the comments. I know the hits were coming, and I was wondering why the comments were drying up. Please feel free to comment. I'll keep an eye on the blog, and if for some reason it hasn't actually been fixed, I'll keep at it until it is.

I'm sorry your voices haven't been heard, and please continue to enjoy my blog (or whatever your preferred reaction to it is.)

Who is this Tom Tancredo?

Republican Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado is the favorite of right-wingers these days. He's been making presidential rumblings for a while, but I didn't think he'd ever catch on, unless immigration became much of an issue. It looks like Rep. Tancredo's xenophobic dreams are coming true.

The American Museum of Failed Movements is littered with single-issue presidential candidates. Of course, Tancredo probably realizes somewhere in the back of his head that he'll never get the nomination, but I suppose that when it all comes down to it, that's not really what he's after. He's probably looking to turn the debate in the anti-immigrant direction, and force other candidates to take a stance similar to his. If Tancredo ever does manage to pick up steam, he's going to have to change his one-note show to address things like foreign policy and fiscal policy, which are subjects that voters traditionally prefer a presidential candidate to have an opinion on.

Tancredo might wind up helping the Republicans, but then he might not. His anti-immigrant push will alienate Hispanics, where the Republican Party has made gains over the past decade; but on the other hand, it could energize both whites and blacks who are anti-immigrant, too. Whether that would mean they'd rally 'round the Republican standard remains to be seen. I have a feeling that the energized Latinos in this country are evidence that the Republican strategists might have underestimated their reaction, but we won't know for sure until November. At any rate, this seems like the old-fashioned divide-and-conquer politics that the Bush administration is now famous for. I'd be shocked if the sudden, nationwide anti-immigrant sentiment weren't generated on the part of Bush's strategists, and the strategists at the RNC.

Let's invade Iran!

There's been a lot of talk about invading Iran lately. I think we should do it. If we do, the demand for petroleum in the United States will let the Iranians use the proceeds to pay for their own reconstruction.

Plus the Iranians will be so glad to be rid of their terrible government that they'll welcome us as liberators, with sweets and flowers.

Anyway, I hear that Iran might have WMDs that they're not telling us about. But we shouldn't worry: we wouldn't be there for more than a couple months, tops.

Then we should invade Syria. If we do, the demand for petroleum in the United States will let the Syrians use the proceeds to etc. etc. etc.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Doth not the Lord provide?

The Christian Coalition is in debt.

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."—Romans 13:8

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bush approval hits new lows—again.

Every day it seems there's a headline announcing that Bush has hit a new low in the polls. This isn't exactly accurate; it's more that Bush keeps hitting new lows in different polls. His new low on Rasmussen might not occur on the same day as his new low at Zogby or his new low at Gallup. Is this fair? I guess not, but then, was it fair listening to Bush hitting new highs in the polls a few years ago, following America's intelligence failure that caused September 11? Things seem to balance out.

Republicans are the party with the plans, they keep telling us. "Corrupt and powerful is better than honest and in the minority," says GOP strategist Snidely Whiplash. "We bought Congress through the K Street Project, and by God, we're not going to let it slip through our fingers just because of a few throwback 'good government' types," Whiplash continued. "Republicans prevail!"

Vice President Dick Cheney, the man behind the second-most-celebrated vice presidential gunplay in history, says he's proud of his work. "With our coming Christianity First bill, along with our planned 2007 invasion of Iran, we expect to have my approval rating in the single digits, and the president's will probably drop down from where its precarious mid-30s to somewhere closer to his IQ. We realize that absolute zero approval is unlikely, but it does give us something to shoot for."

Republicans plan to recoup their losses following the Jack Abramoff scandals. "We can't lose Congress this fall!" shouted an apoplectic Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana.) "It's ours! I've got receipts!" The purchase of congressmen is not tax deductable, but Senator Burns has introduced legislation to change that. Experts agree that if this bill passes, it is unlikely that tax deductability on purchased congressmen will be made retroactive.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Judas Iscariot: framed by Jesus?

I guess you can't have a hero without a villan. This codex originally appeared in the Drama in Real Life section of the Reader's Digest, May issue, 33 A.D.

Thirty pieces of silver for twenty centuries of slander... I dunno. Still, I imagine that if there is a heaven, Judas probably doesn't get tired of making them nervous about where they really are when they see *him* there. I sure wouldn't.

Tonight only at Jesus' Palace: the comedy stylings of Judas Iscariot! "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! How's everyone doing tonight? Good? Yeah, I bet you are. I like this place. I know the owner. I think he's a good guy, despite what you might have heard, you know? Some patrons water down their wine, but here, it's the other way around! Ha! Hey, can you folks hear me okay in the back? No? Well, I can get you a better table up front. These folks got here early, but they won't mind losing their seats. But, ah... you got thirty pieces of silver?

Hey! Anyone here from Arimathea? Not much work for gravediggers there, is there? I swear, in my day, if you didn't like your tomb, you stuck with it. Some town, that Arimathea. Last time I was there, I went into a bar and ordered some wine. The bartender gives me a whole amphore. I said, 'Don't you have any cups?' He looked at me and said, 'You need a cup? Go find one yourself! People are always taking my cups!' I couldn't believe this guy! 'This is false advertising!' I told him. 'Your sign says different!' 'Does it?' he says. 'Look again.' So I go out and check it out, and boy did I feel like an idiot. 'You're right,' I told the barkeep. 'It says "bar and grill"!'"

Okay, I don't know if those jokes are any good, but if you want them to make any sense, read the Gospels, and you'll get 'em. (Note: this is not to be taken as a specific endorsement of any religion, philosophy or belief system. These are just jokes, folks.)

The Judas-was-framed (voluntarily) story is real, though. Read about it here.