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Saturday, April 30, 2005
SKIING UPHILL'S WALPURGISNACHT EXTRAVAGANZA!
or, Witches' Sabbath in the Land of the Not-So-Free-Anymore

May-Day-Eve, as readers of Goethe's Faustus might recall, is traditionally the Witch's Sabbath, a night of dark forces, of pagan revelry and a good time to sell one's soul to Mephistopheles.
WALPURGISNACHT
May 1st marks the victory of Spring over Winter, but before departing the Hexen have one last fling and make an attempt to assert their power on Walpurgisnacht. This Hexennacht is the best known in the seasonal cycle. The roots for this fest extend back to a pre-Christian Frühjahrsfest, which was perhaps celebrated in an even more rowdy fashion, as the Valborgs maessafton is still celebrated today in Sweden, Thueringen and elsewhere. Under Christian influence it was probably transformed into a fest to drive out the Hexen. The festival became widely known outside Germany due to Goethe's use of this theme in Faust.

The festival is marked by numerous rituals to ward off evil. On the eve of May 1st the bells toll in Luxembourg and many prayers are said, there are blessings with holy-water and blessed-palms in the homes and barns. In Schmalkalden in Thueringen the little girls, dressed as Hexen themselves, chase out the Walpermännchen. They wear paper hats and sometimes carry sticks in their hands. Similarly, in the south Harz region, the young boys ride stick-horses and chase the Hexen out of the fields. The most widespread remedy against evil spirits during Walpurgisnacht is noise. The boys begin making noise as soon as the sun sets. In Bohemia boards are beaten onto the ground in front of the houses, accompanied by this chant: "Hex geh raus, 's brennt dei Haus." Whoever hears a pistol shot on that evening is supposed to say, "Schiess mei Hex a mit!" In Lippe the noise is referred to as "Maiklappen." A lot of noise is especially made in front of the houses of married couples who are childless, because it is believed that it is necessary to "further the blessings." In the Berner Jura the shephard boys, on the eve of May 1, stand atop the manure-piles and crack whips in order to drive away wolves. The wolf is the incarnation of evil, and symbolizes the departure of winter. The manure-pile symbolizes fertility of the fields and gardens, and therefore is often the locale where prayers are said. Farmers who don't have as many cattle help each other out in the summer. They make a pledge-group, which takes this form in Donaueschingen: they go to a nearby chapel and pray, then they climb together onto a manure-pile, hold hands, and say "Mir (=wir) gmaren miteinand," which means "we are helping each other to bring home hay and grain with our cattle." [i.e. they are sharing each other's manure-piles, which is sprayed onto the fields as fertilizer].

So, folks, there is a parable here -- when we lapse into slinging mud at each other, we should look at it from a higher perspective -- we are really fertilizing each other's fields!

Reference: Eugen Fehrle's Feste und Volksbraeuche.

"Roland M. Wagner"
So, in that spirit, we present several items that relate to this little-remembered holiday.

ONE THOUSAND WORDS; NO PICTURE

The first extra-solar planet has been visually imaged, i.e. there's a picture.
By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer

LOS ANGELES — New images taken of an object five times the mass of Jupiter confirm that it is a giant planet closely orbiting a distant star, an international team of astronomers reported. The team of European and American astronomers said this is the first time a planet outside of our solar system has been directly observed -- a claim other scientists have also made.

The team first spotted the object last year as a faint reddish speck of light circling a dim brown dwarf -- or failed star -- 225 light-years away from Earth near the constellation Hydra
.
Only one problem: after managing thousands of words, explaining that the planet was first observed a year ago, that the scientists had needed the time to prove that it was, in fact there, and not a speck of space dust betwixt and between, the breathless media articles didn't bother including a picture. Dozens and dozens of them, GOOGLE tells me.

Isn't there something kind of strange about a news story about a picture that fails to include the picture, when the news is THAT there's a picture? The only other place I can recall such coverage is when PLAYBOY or PENTHOUSE have obtained nude pictures of some has-been celebrity. I guess planets now fall into the same news category as celebrity nudes.

The professional standards of journalism continue to drop at an asymtotic rate.

Do you suppose it might have something to do with the rise of "journalism" schools at our universities? Back when not so much as a high school diploma was required to be hired at a newspaper (only the ability to write), the news coverage was a LOT better than this laughable travesty that passes for journalism these days.

There's a great commercial on the radio these days, where a "reporter" touts some cold pills because when HE has to cover a story, he can't let a cold stop him from ... being on TeeVee!

I was not aware that TV "reporters" were reporters, except in the manner that "lightning bugs" are related to "lightning."

WORTHLESS IOUs or INCREDIBLY SAFE INVESTMENT?

During Bush's "press conference" Thursday night, a wildly panicky Dubya ignored the old dictum and let us see him sweat. While his abysmal performance has been commented on at length elsewhere, one moment stood out to those of us who pay attention. Attempting to deflect attention from the inherent riskiness of privatization, Bush suggested that these accounts could invest in US Treasury Bonds:
"I know some Americans have reservations about investing in the stock market, so I propose that one investment option consist entirely of Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Options like this will make voluntary personal retirement accounts a safer investment that will allow an American to build a nest egg that he or she can pass on to whomever he or she chooses."
Er, am I missing something? Last month, talking about a "file cabinet" that was filled with "worthless IOUs" he was, of course, talking about US Treasury bonds, which, as he said Thursday night "are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government."

So, which is it Dubya? Worthless IOUs or incredibly safe investment? You can't have it both ways.

(Well, on second thought, perhaps he can. He's have managed it so far on a plethora of other issues.)

THE NEW BROWNSHIRTS

The Randi Rhodes dustup finally nailed something down that had been bugging me for awhile.

Randi Rhodes ran a comedy bit on her show on April 27th. Here is the exact transcript, courtesy of the plagiarism of the Blogger News Network, quoting Drudge (who has a disclaimer stating that stuff can't be quoted without his written consent) OK. I'm SURE that the BNN asked, so I'm quoting THEM, not Drudge:

Government officials are reviewing a skit which aired on the network Monday evening -- a skit featuring an apparent gunshot warning to the president!
The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.]

Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]." The audio production at the center of the controversy aired during opening minutes of The Randi Rhodes Show.

"Even joking about shooting the president is a crime, let alone doing it on national radio... we are taking this very seriously," a government source explained.
Drudge reported that the Secret Service was investigating Randi (and the "story" was up within minutes of the "skit" being aired) which turns out to be a lie. But that didn't stop the Right Wing Media from jumping on the non-story: Murdoch's Fox News and The New York Post gave the story prominent coverage, as did Moonie paper The Washington Times. Finally, those two little wag-the-dog "news" operations at MSNBC and CNN followed suit, all reporting erroniously that there was an investigation underway. An unnamed "White House Spokesman" made a snitty comment in high dudgeon, and the Right Wing Echo Machine tried desperately to set a match to what turned out to be soggy kindling.

The national news media ignored the story, just as they've been ignoring real stories with substance.

But the phony self-righteousness of the Right Wing was under full steam. WorldNetDaily, out of Grants Pass, Oregon, dutifully reported the Drudgery and some "Deliverance" type named Gaylon Parker (who can be reached at gparker@themississippipress.com) put away his Sears catalog, stopped pulling on his pathetic member, hitched up his overalls and exited the half-moon house long enough to write this vile bit of smearage in something called "The Mississippi Press" (naturally):
The central element of humor is truth. In order for something to be funny, it first has to be just a smidgen true. Liberal ideology is a house of cards of lies and smoke and mirrors so a person has to jump through hoops to believe them.

So when their awful policies -- like wealth conversion and murdering unborn babies -- become hard to defend, they resort to weirdness, vitriol and the killing of their opponents for amusement.

As it was reported on World Net Daily, a recent opening skit on something called the "Randi Rhodes Show" featured this voiceover: [quoting above]

I want to begin by saying I don't listen to Air America and will never do so for any reason and the aforementioned skit is a sign that I made the right decision. I'm certain liberals can now immediately discount my criticism because (insert whiny liberal voice here) "How can you properly judge something unless you experience it first?"
It's the old "I don't have to read a book in order to know that it's obscene." The last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt. I despise Rush and all the other neo-Nazis, but I take the time to listen to them before forming my opinion, and before I comment on what they SAY. I guess Jethro here doesn't have the time in between bouts with the lingerie section of the catalog and chasing his sheep around the barnyard.

I'm not being unfair. He is a moron. A self-righteous moron, but a moron nonetheless, and if, perhaps, his overalls DO, in fact, have both buttons sewed on, the characterization is more than fair.

Because these are the new brownshirts.

You can already draw three clear links: Drudge to WorldNetDaily to Jethro in Mississippi. Wa can also infer two others: Someone at the Secret Service, and someone in the White House.

The incestuous nature of Right Wing media is well enough documented that there's no need to re-examine it here. But I had been wondering, given that 9/11 was our equivalent of the burning of the Reichstag in the Nazis march to power, that the invasion of Iraq has been the parallel to the annexation of the Sudentenland, and that the chill over public discourse, and the Gestapo's tactic of getting neighbors to spy on neighbors, children on parents has been replicated with "Homeland Security" etc. etc.

But where, I have wondered, are the Brownshirts?

The Brownshirts, you might recall, were the Nazi Party's 'private army' their name derived from their uniform. Under Erich Roehm (who Hitler would later order assassinated, to consolidate power within the party) the Brownshirts physically beat up protestors, painted "Juden" on shop windows, and intimidated all opposition, up to and including German legislators, whose conclave to vote Hitler dictatorial "emergency powers" was surrounded by a sea of Brownshirts -- to make sure that legislators understood they'd better vote the right way.

And then, during the Randi "controversy" I realized who the Brownshirts are. They're thugs like Galen, like WorldNetDaily's Joe Farah, like Bill Kristol and Sean Hannity, like the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and yes, like the Free Republic ("freepers") bloggers who perform the rhetorical function of the Brownshirts.

We know that the "talking points" and the dirty tricks come straight from Karl Rove's fax machine in the West Wing.

And we know that the media has been cowed. Witness the feeding frenzy to crucify Dan Rather over a story that was irrefutably true over ONE questionable document -- a document that, while attempting to divine its authenticity, elicited the testimony of the National Guard commander's secretary that what was IN the document was certainly true, even if the document wasn't authentic.

The Brownshirts ARE here, after all. They're just beating up reporters rhetorically, and not protesters in the streets physically.

Yet.

So old Jethro from Mississippi can tell us that he doesn't have to listen to a radio network to know what's on it, nor does he have to read them books to be literate, nor does he have to actaully cogitate to think right.

The Brownshirts attacked AirAmerica twice last week (via a bogus "story" that the network was failing because of bad ratings, printed in both the LA TIMES and the CHICAGO TRIBUNE - owned by the same company) and the NATIONAL REVIEW, which said, essentially, the same thing. Only problem is, their ARBITRON numbers were wrong. But that's not the issue.

The Brownshirts want to silence AirAmerica.

Which can only mean that they're having an effect that the Brownshirts don't like.

Next up: Kristol-nacht?

FINALLY

Some brownshirt on a blog called "Powerline" wrote:

Meanwhile, some actual hate speech has occurred on Air America, where--not for the first time--the program's liberal hosts have encouraged the assassination of President Bush. Matt Drudge has the story:

[same story quote as above]

We have commented a number of times on the frequency with which liberals advocate the assassination of President Bush. Sometimes it's supposed to be funny. Sometimes it's supposed to be art. Sometimes it's just flat-out, unvarnished hate. But I'm not aware of a single Democratic official who has criticized those who advocate assassinating the President.

It will be interesting to see whether the President of St. Thomas and our local columnists will take an interest in actual hate speech, as opposed to speech with which they disagree.

Posted by John at 01:44 PM
Only one problem. The ad on the sidebar (and please note that Skiing Uphill does NOT accept advertising, for reasons of integrity in reporting) features a conservative babe in a "Celebrate Diversity" t-shirt. The "diversity"? Eighteen different handguns. (the Ads rotate, but here's the photo.)

What I particularly love is how these thugs sniff about politeness: who call women who believe in equal rights "Feminazis" call anyone they hate a "liberal" (as if that were an ugly word) and regularly malign the intelligence, integrity and fundamental humanity of their opposition.

I guess they must have gotten ahold of the Heinrich Himmler Guide to Etiquette, because it just don't jibe with my Amy Vanderbilt.

Courage.
.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
PORTMANTEAU, or, What's in the Bag, Hart?

Rummaging through the attic of my mind, I filled this "bag" with some odds and ends that didn't seem worth an entire blog. First, though:

(from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.)

portmanteau

SYLLABICATION: port-man-teau

PRONUNCIATION: port-mnt, prt-, portmn-t, prt-

NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. port-man-teaus or port-man-teaux (-tz, -tz) A large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments.

ETYMOLOGY: French portemanteau : porte-, from porter, to carry (from Old French; see port5) + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum).

SOME BAGGAGE FROM HISTORY

We're at a constitutional crossroads that comes once in a century. And the silence has been deafening.

To my mind, we're at the greatest Constitutional crisis since the Andrew Johnson impeachment.

Then, the legislative branch threatened to subsume the executive. Now, not only are they on the verge of destroying the fundamental role of the Senate (at least as explained in the Federalist papers) but that's peripherally in service of the goal of subsuming the judicial branch.

But for one vote, the "radical Republicans" would have succeeded in the 1860s. I wonder if they'll succeed this time.

Too bad they don't make 'em like Senator Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, anymore.

BTW: The only memorial to Ross (that I know of) is an elementary school in Albuquerque, NM. I've always intended to set up some sort of fund to erect a memorial for him in Santa Fe. Perhaps one of these days.

Ross was somewhat forgiven (after being personally and politically ostracised in Kansas because of his critical vote to acquit Andrew Johnson -- whom he personally detested) and was named territorial governor of New Mexico in the 1880s.

See John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage for more on Ross.


WHERE'D THEM OTHER TWO JUDGES GO?

As reported here a couple of days ago, there's a strange, anomalous statistic that's been making its way through the filibuster/appointments coverage. In December Democrats had blocked twelve of Bush's judicial nominees. The number was unchanged in January. But suddenly, the Democrats have only blocked TEN of said nominations. How did this time warp transpire? Has history been revised? Is this "New Math"?

Nope.

The answers are 1) Charles Pickering (President Bush named Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit in a January 2005 recess appointment, according to a story in the Associated Press) and 2) Bush's recess appointment this year of William Pryor in February to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

According to Warren Richey, reporting in the Christian Science Monitor 3-22-05

On Monday the justices declined to take up three cases challenging President Bush's recess appointment last year of William Pryor to fill a federal appeals court vacancy in the face of a Democratic filibuster of the nomination. The announcement came as Chief Justice William Rehnquist returned to the court to preside over oral arguments after having missed several months during cancer treatments. The chief justice's illness has fueled speculation that he may retire soon.

The recess appointment cases were significant because they were seen as a possible test of whether Mr. Bush would be free to use the authority to bypass attempts by Senate Democrats to stall judicial nominations indefinitely - including at the high court.

In a two-page explanation of the court's refusal to take up one of the recess appointment cases, Justice John Paul Stevens cautioned court-watchers - and by extension the White House - against reading its denial to hear the case as a constitutional green light for similar recess appointments in the future. No other justices joined Stevens in a statement on the issue. So it remains unclear how the justices might line up should the court decide to rule on the constitutional issue later [...] . !
Whew! And I thought the calculator in my brain had gone haywire.

Funny, though, that these two outrageous acts of Bush defiance have been reduced in news coverage to an unexplained statistical subtraction. So, if you're one of those people who actually follows the news, and wonders how these numbers mysteriously changed between January and April, now you know: it's that Liberal Bias in the media what done it.

Yee haw.

Finally ...

from: http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/portmanteau-word.html
A portmanteau word is formed out of parts of other words. Oxbridge is made up from parts of the names of Oxford and Cambridge and refers to either of the two universities. 'Swatch' is a portmanteau word formed from Swiss watch, 'brunch' is formed from Breakfast and lunch.

A 'chocoholic' has a problem with chocolate that is like the addiction of an alcoholic. Portmanteau words offer a quick way of forming new words that are easilyunderstood by virtually everybody.

See also: Irony; Hyperbole; Sarcasm; Slang; Jargon; Tautology; Understatement; Litotes; Rhetorical Question; Cliche; Allegory; Malapropism; Spoonerism
Here's my portmanteau word for the day: Bushit.

Or, as more eloquently expressed by songstress and ex-Mouseketeer (from the New Mickey Mouse Club) Christina Aguilera: CLICK HERE.

Courage.
.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
A VERY SPECIAL BLOG ENTRY

I have been threatening to do this for five years.

Lord knows that the pieces have been lying around, waiting to be collected and mounted like dead butterflys in a naturalist display at the museum.

So, today's assignment -- to celebrate the massive upgrade of my website "his vorpal sword" -- is to read the incredible TRUE LIFE story of:


which you'll find here: http://www.hartwilliams.com/freep.htm

Eerily prescient, in a way. On the way out, take a moment to explore the NEW, IMPROVED "his vorpal sword."

The Slithy Toves thank you.
.
Monday, April 25, 2005
CORRECTIONS

Yesterday's blog contained two errors of fact, which I'd like to correct here: First that Judge Pickering was the "Ten Commandments Judge." He was not; rather, he was the Mississippi jurist that Bush decided to appoint while the Senate was in recess. Pickering is a bigot from Mississippi. Judge Roy Moore is the bigot from Alabama.

Copyright © 2002 The Progressive Populist:

"They say Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr. has changed. Like most old segregationists, Pickering apologists tell us, he's come a long way since the heady years between "Black Monday" 1954, the date of the US Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, and 1973 when the state Legislature finally closed the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. His defenders say Pickering just went along with the old racists -- who have all apparently disappeared into thin air. His efforts to outlaw miscegenation, to undermine the one-man-one-vote principle, to weaken the Voting Rights Act, to shorten a cross-burner's federal-mandated sentence, to keep the Sovereignty Commission reporting on 87,000 subversives -- none of that matters in 2002. The Washington Post excoriates us liberals in an editorial, saying we're just glossing the "complexities" of the rather indisputable facts."

Donna Ladd (www.donnaladd.com) is a writer in Jackson, Miss.

Ladd additionally notes that Pickering called the NAACP "Niggers, Apes, Alligators, Coons and Possums." As a state senator, Pickering voted twice to keep funding the Sovereignty Commission (the state agency that spied on Civil Rights leaders and was an all but official liason to the KKK).

Accordign to independentjudiciary.com, Pickering's nomination history is: "Status of nomination: Defeated in committee 3/14/02; Renominated 1/7/03 Voted out of Committee 10/02/2003; Failed cloture vote 10/30/2003, 54 to 43; Given a recess appointment by President Bush to the Fifth Circuit, 1/16/04."

On the other hand,

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (CNN) -- Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended Friday pending the outcome of an ethics complaint for defying a federal court order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building.

As regards the renomination of 12 rejected Bush judicial appointments:

Handicapping Bush's Judicial Nominations
The White House is daring Democrats to block its 12 appeals court nominees. But will they?

T.R. Goldman
Legal Times
01-20-2005

Perhaps the yuletide spirit had not yet hit President George W. Bush. But his Dec. 23 decision to renominate 12 contentious appeals court candidates, announced on the White House Web site next to messages on Christmas and Kwanzaa, was clearly not designed to foster good will -- at least among Senate Democrats.

However, in April, it is reported (Bloomberg News):

U.S. Senate Panel Sends Bush Judicial Nominees to Full Senate
April 21 (Bloomberg)

"Democrats blocked 10 of Bush's appeals-court nominees during the president's first term. Owen and Brown are among seven of those nominees Bush resubmitted in February. A third, Idaho lawyer William G. Myers III, was approved by the Judiciary Committee by a party-line vote last month."

So, it's either 10 or 12, and seven were formally renominated in February.

I don't think it's important enough to spend all day online researching, but I maintain a committment to using actual FACTS here, and realizing that these statements were in error bugged me all night long. If I make an error of fact, I invite readers to point it out to me, and I will cheerfully correct it. If we're not concerned with facts -- whether because of post-modernist BS, or via pseudo-religious 'faith' -- then there is no reason to engage in open debate. All issues then devolve into matters of personal prejudice and preference.

Cheers.
.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
WELCOME TO JUSTICE SUNDAY, or "Just Us" Sunday
or, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Hoary Story

I get e-mail (this spelling, by the by, is the suggested proper form, quoth the style experts) from a friend:

Re: Why I love Karl Rove

** No one listened. And here we are. The echo of jackboots fills the empty streets of a bankrupted country. **

Lots of people listened. They realized the need to do something about the right-wing's hate radio--probably before you told them. Complaints about conservative talk radio have been commonplace for years.

But only a few people (10? 20? 50?) have the power to stop it or start a liberal alternative such as Air America. They're doing that now. It took 20 years for conservative talk radio to develop and it'll probably take 20 years for a liberal alternative to develop too.

** But I'm not playing. I warned you, and nobody bothered listening. So it's YOUR funeral, not mine.**

It's not MY funeral. I've done about as much as I can. I'm sure a few million politically active people have done their best also.

What did you expect your readers to do, specifically, that they haven't done? If you have any policy prescriptions for us, let's hear them. I don't see a lot of suggestions in this essay.

****

OK. It's astonishingly ironic to me that this week, of all weeks, I get lectured in being positive and constructive.

Why?

Mostly because this may well be the darkest week in the history of the American democratic experiment. Consider:

The Estate Tax (misnomered the "Death" tax) has been supposedly abolished permanently. Can you say "hereditary oligarchy" boys and girls? Allowing astonishing amounts of capital to flow freely between generations -- and if you've ever known a large number of TFB's (Trust Fund Babies), you'll recoil in horror at watching an ever-increasing number of pampered, spoiled brats with Daddy's magic Platinum Card holding ultimate economic power -- is a prescription for democratic disaster.

Consider that perhaps the biggest backers of this bill are the heirs of Sam Walton -- whose Wal-Mart is now the numero uno cash cow in the world, based on a vampiric business plan that descended on small-town America like a plague of locusts, devouring everything in its path. I will not belabor the point. I watched the town of Ottawa, Kansas, thirty miles south of Lawrence and Kansas University, devastated economically by Wal-Mart. In 1989, Ottawa had a vibrant downtown. A Coast-To-Coast hardware store. The local movie theater had managed to survive by also selling videotapes.

By 1993, the downtown was virtually boarded up, and, like a fat tick, Wal-Mart ruled 'oer all. It was kind of like the steel mill. Where formerly Kansas farmers had worked in the off season at the mill, now, mill workers farmed a little in the off season. They were the same people. Wal-Mart was now also the chief employer at minimum wage in town, selling their cheap Chinese crap goods while wrapping themselves in the flag.

And now the succeeding Walton generations won't ever have to work. Just the now-displaced farmers and their wives, children, and neighbors, all toiling at serf wages for Wal-Mart.

Congress also took care of them, by passing a "bankruptcy reform" bill that fundamentally strips Chapter 7 out of the code, turning the filing of bankruptcy into a system whereby the court becomes the bill collector for the banks and credit card companies (who charge 30% and 40%+ on credit cards) who are angry that the 95% of Americans who file bankruptcy because of 1) medical disasters (around 50%) 2) divorce and 3) loss of employment (often because of large mergers, note) might contain the less than 5% who file for less noble reasons.

The courts will now set up manditory repayment plans of indenture (Chapter 13). Perhaps debtors' prisons will come soon enough. This will guarantee that the heirs of Sam Walton and other hyper-wealthy will never see a horrible redistribution of wealth back to 1970s levels, where the top 10% of Americans held 50% percent of the wealth, and the bottom 90% of all Americans held the other half -- now it's closer to 80-20 and sure to continue in that direction.

So it was a great week for billionaires with heirs. And a very bad week for the culture of us sans-culottes. See if you can find some cake to eat.

But that's just a by the by.

For Earth Day, Congress finished voting for drilling in the arctic wildlife reserve. I won't go into the naked greed and meaninglessness of this eco-despotism. Species will be sacrificed for a couple thimblefuls of oil ... ten years hence. Perhaps.

And, concentrating more hideous power in the hands of a single unelected official than has ever been seen in our history (and, in fact, has been carefully kept OUT of the hands of any one bureaucrat) John Negroponte, he of the Nicaraguan and Honduran death squads during Reagan, was confirmed as "Intelligence Czar" combining all intelligence agencies (and, I suppose, "Black Ops" about which he has such a sterling record), wiuth nary a whimper.

Does it bother any one ELSE that we seem to be continually appointing "Czars" for various ugly jobs? Drug czars, intelligence czars, etc.? Vendantic Mantra yoga suggests that the naming of things is VERY important, and that it imparts a vibration to that thing named which affects its very essence, but thank goodness that it's all just a bunch of Eastern hocus pocus. No possibility that such power would inevitably lead to corruption of the stoutest heart, let alone a demonstrably black one.

Again, just a by the by.

And, on Wednesday, Deadeye Dick Cheney will preside over the Senate to slither through as slick a piece of parliamentary chicanery as you're likely to see outside of your own city council.

The plan is this: two "women" judges will be placed before the Senate for confirmation. They represent two of the twelve judicial nominations (out of HOW many hundred?) that were rejected in Bush's first term. But Bush & Co. are in our face about this one: resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated. Renominating these miscreants (and believe me, these were just the WORST of a bushel of rotten apples) immediately after Dubya's re-theft of the White House was his little way of saying: F**K YOU!

Oh, and has there ever been a more cynical use of tokenism than the Bushes? Consider Clarence Thomas, a stupid, angry black man, his nose perpetually stuck in Antonin Scalia's ass, eternally voting with anything that Scalia -- one of the most vicious, un-judgelike jurists in the history of American Jurisprudence -- says. I like to call him Clarence "Me Too" Thomas. Too bad he doesn't play for the Dallas Cowboys, instead of the Washington Prevaricators.

Or consider Colin Powell, who was raised up by Ronald Reagan, from Pentagon obscurity because the Reagan Claque thought it would look GOOD if he was briefed by a Negro. Or consider Condi Rice, who is in no wise qualified to act as Secretary of State. Indeed, as a "Soviet" expert, she wasn't qualified to act as National Security Advisor.

Or Alberto Gonzales, whose vile legal career has been commented upon at length elsewhere. Has no one noticed that this American fetish of naming people BECAUSE of the color of their skin is just as horrific as blocking qualified people because of the color of their skin? The American racial/sexual/social equality train has derailed somewhere along the line. But the Bushies play the race card so often that you'd swear we were playing three card Monty and not two-party Monty.

So, they carefully chose the FEMALE judges so that they could have one more card to deal from the bottom of the deck.

And even though it takes a two-thirds majority to change Senate rules, they've found a way around it. Here's the playbook.

The "Women Judges" will be placed before the Senate for confirmation (they left Committee on a straight party-line vote). And the Democrats will stand up to begin a filibuster.

Here's where it gets tricky: A Republican Senator will stand. "Mr. Chair! Point of Order!" he will bellow. Limp Dick Cheney, the Veep without a Heart will recognize the Senator. "This filibuster is out of order," the Senator will intone (or something close to it).

He-Who-Is-Named-For-That-Which-He-Demonstrably-Doesn't-Have-But-Sure-Acts-Like Cheney will then rule that this is correct.

Now, someone will challenge the ruling of the Chair. (This little parliamentary maneuver only requires a simple majority vote.)

And the Republicans will attempt to hold 50 of their potential 56 votes (My-Wife-Writes-Porno-Novels-And-Lectures-Children-On Morality Cheney holds the tie-breaker in a 50-50 tie, to go along with the 55-45 GOP edge in the Senate.)

And, in the slickest move since the Sanhedrin got Pontius Pilate to execute Jesus Christ for offending their Orthodoxy, the United States Senate will turn its back on 230 years of tradition and hard-won polity and the purpose of the Senate (to protect the USA from the tyranny of the majority, which is why we are a Constitutional Republic and NOT a pure democracy) will be ended. Once the Rubicon is crossed, there is really no way back. When and if the Democrats ever get back into power, they will surely follow the same lines.

In some ways, this will be the most important Senate vote since Andrew Johnson and the Presidency were spared by ONE vote during the last rule of the Radical Republicans. And, when you think about it, this is, in a very profound way, the payback for that moment.

After the assassination of Lincoln, the Reconstruction was hijacked by the Vengeance Crowd, and now their victims, the Southern Dixiecrats now control the Republican Party, fueled by an ancestral rage and vendetta that is only, in some ways, dimly understood but deeply felt. They once formed a seamless fabric of States Rights, Slavery and Secession on the back of Jesus Christ and the Bible, and guess what?

They're BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

Today, Dr. James Dobson will complete his coup d'etat of the position of being the Rightest Christian of all, supplanting Falwell and Robertson in the same manner that Al Sharpton took the mantle from Jesse Jackson at the Democratic National Convention last summer.

Dobson, with his "Focus on the Family" and its political spinoff "The Family Research Council" (formerly run by Gary Bauer, who you might recall from his GOP run for the Presidency a couple years back) has become the most powerful prick in Wacko Christendom. Joe-Pyne-Land now trembles before HIS creepy, non-Christian message. Dobson was a shrink, a counselor. And he decided to meld his fundamentalist Christian views with it, much as "Dr." (of English Literature) Laura Schlesinger melded her new-found Jewish conservatism with her pop-psychology program to go on an anti-gay pogrom (and place herself firmly as our moral arbiter).

Dobson has done much the same, only he's tried for some time to affect a "grandfatherly" demeanor. But he's also quietly built up an empire among the Neo-Puritans.

Consider that a "Family Research Council" offshoot was responsible for most of the FCC complaints lodged last year. (Less than 100 out of tens of thousands DIDN'T come from them). Abd consider how Dobson has managed to spread his "Focus on the Family" soft-pedaled propaganda to radio and TV stations all across the country -- including the CBS affiliate right here in Eugene, KVAL-TV.
And note how the FRC had enough political clout to launch Gary Bauer as a legitimate GOP Presidential Contender.

Or note that Father Frank Pavone, a life-long "pro-life" crusader who was only ordained a priest a decade after his public political career, and who now heads -- with the tacit or overt approval of Pope Joey Rats -- "Priests for Life" and who campaigned FOR Bush (although not in so many words) and who stood outside accusing the state of MURDER in the minutes after the death of Terry Schiavo -- note that Father Frank Pavone is on the Board of Directors of Focus on the Family.

(From his biography on the Priests for Life website): "Fr. Frank Pavone was born in Port Chester, New York and has been active in the pro-life movement since 1976. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1988 ... He serves on Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family Institute."

OK, now consider the nature of Pavone's "Christianity":

Capital News 9 web staff (Albany, New York):

"[Father Frank Pavone] said Michael Schiavo's "heartless cruelty," as he described it, continued to the end.

Father Frank Pavone said Michael Schiavo wouldn't let Mary and Bob Schindler be with their daughter when she died.

Pavone said family members were with the brain-damaged woman until 10 to 15 minutes before her death, but were asked to leave. Pavone said the parents asked to be with her when she died, but the husband refused.

Pavone said Schiavo's death is "a killing" and an "atrocity."

Or look at this batch during the Schiavo controversy, remember (many of whom will be players in "Justice Sunday":

Conservative Leaders Issue 'Family Manifesto'
By Susan Jones
CNSNews.com Morning Editor
March 15, 2005

(CNSNews.com) - Defenders of traditional marriage plan to release a pro-family "manifesto" on Tuesday. The 36-page document recognizes the "power of family and faith" in changing times.

[...]

Participants in Wednesday's gathering at the National Press Club include Carlson, Mero, George Marlin (chairman of the Philadelphia Trust Company and author of "The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact"); Dr. Janice Crouse (Concerned Women for America); Patrick Fagan (The Heritage Foundation); Dr. Paul Schenck (Priests for Life); and Cristina Vollmer de Burelli (Alliance for the Family).

The press release said other conservative leaders (Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Father Frank Pavone, Jerry Falwell, Pastor/author Rick Warren, and author Phillip Longman) have issued statements that will be shared at the press conference.

********

Read this from Father Frank Pavone on March 31:

FATHER FRANK PAVONE: The courts have absolutely no moral authority to order that a human being be starved and dehydrated, as is happening to Terri right at this moment.

[...]

What is happening here is a monumental disaster for our nation and for civilization. What is happening here is that we are buying into the idea that there are certain class of people--namely, those who are disabled--that we can just go ahead and kill, and not lose a good night's sleep over it.

We are witnessing here a crossroads for our nation, and we've got to decide whether we are going to continue to listen to courts that absolutely have no authority to allow this to happen, or if the other two branches of government, the executive and the legislative, will have the will to act on their own authority.

I, for one--and I know millions around the country have the same sentiment--am tired of hearing the executive and the legislative branches of our government say, “Well, the court has spoken, and there's nothing we can do.” Yes, there is something you can do. Use your own authority given to you by the constitution to protect human life.

***

Sounds like the Press Release for "Justice Sunday":

April 15, 2005 - Friday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 15, 2005 CONTACT: Amber Hildebrand, (202) 393-2100

FRC Action Promotes Live Broadcast to Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins will join Dr. James Dobson, Founder and Chairman of Focus on the Family, Dr. Al Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, KY on Sunday, April 24 at 7 p.m. (ET) for "Justice Sunday-Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith," a live nationwide simulcast event.

"Our goal is to reach as many people as possible and to engage values voters in the all-important issue of reining in our out-of-control courts and putting a halt to the use of filibusters against people of faith," says Tony Perkins.

Colson? Chuck Colson? Well. I thought Chuckles had learned his lesson about Watergaiety with his time in the stir. He found Jeezis, remember? And founded his Prison Fellowship ministry. But oddly, instead of the ex-Nixonian in the service of Christ, we find that 30 years have brought him 'round, full circle, to pressing Jesus into the service of Nixonian ends. I guess they DON'T change when they find Jeezis. At least, that's if you look at Bush and Colson. Colson was trying to smear John Kerry 30 years ago, and now he's busy smearing Darwin and Judges. Bush was an addict and a liar 30 years ago and guess what? (The endorphin rush from "working out" is commonly acknowledged as addicting, if you check the literature).

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, y'all ...

Here's an excerpted essay that Chuck Colson wrote for his syndicated column of April 14, 2005 (The 140th Anniversary of Lincoln's assassination):

"In all our contemporary conflicts over the teaching of evolution in schools, there's one question that nobody asks: To what does the embrace of Darwinism lead?

"Historian Richard Weikart explores that topic in a book called From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. Despite that provocative title, Weikart is no sensationalist. He's not out to prove that Hitler and the Nazi party were directly inspired by Charles Darwin's theories. But what Weikart does demonstrate, through exhaustive research, is that Darwin's ideas about the origin of species helped create a culture that devalued human life. And in that culture, Nazism was able to thrive.

...

"In that environment, a young Adolf Hitler found fertile soil for his radical ideas for the "super race." Weikart could not trace those ideas directly to Darwin, as we have little evidence of which authors Hitler read and admired. But in his days in Vienna and Munich, theories about racial inequality were everywhere. As Weikart says, "Eugenics and euthanasia ... were embraced by a diverse crowd of secular social reformers," and their ideas filled the popular press. The few authors we do know that Hitler admired were steeped in that culture.

"Those ideas are still with us today. Look at what happened to Terri Schiavo. It's a good time for us to remind people of the social consequences of Darwinism as Weikart so well documents. It's bad enough to teach flawed theories in a classroom, but it gets downright dangerous when we let such theories lead us to a diminished view of human life and dignity.

Copyright © 2004 Prison Fellowship.


And that's the kind of speaker Justice Sunday is all about. Don't you just feel warm and fuzzy all over? From Darwin (that evil EVOLUTION theory) to Hitler, to Terry Schiavo to "activist" judges.

Good lord. Or, more appropriately, Oh dear God.

But, as they say, WAIT! There's more: here's the BREAKING NEWS on the FRC website:

April 23, 2005 - Saturday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2005 CONTACT: Amber Hildebrand, 202.393.2100

Washington, D.C. - Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Founder and Director of Toward Tradition and the founding Rabbi of the Pacific Jewish Centerwill join a prominent list of speakers via satellite for Justice Sunday - Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith, a nationwide television simulcast scheduled for April, 24.

Lapin joins Charles Pickering of Mississippi, Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in College Park, Maryland, Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action, Dr. James Dobson, Founder and Chairman of Focus on the Family Action and Dr. Al Mohler, head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Gee. Wasn't Rabbi Lapin back there last month with Pavone, Schlafly et al? Hmmm. Oh, Pickering was that fellow who refused to remove the Ten Commandments from the Courthouse, the "Robert Bork" of the new anti-judge chicken dinner circuit. Look fort his best-seller coming soon from Word Publications. Or one of its cistern publishers. (sic)

Which brings us back to the FRC's "Justice Sunday" Press Release

"Q - Why should pro-family citizens care about the appointment of judges?

"A - Many of the negative changes in American society over recent decades have been imposed by judges. The removal of prayer from public schools, the creation of a nationwide "right" to abortion, and the legalization of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts were all decisions imposed by activist judges, without considering the will of the people and their elected representatives."

Well, thank effing Christ that we have Dick Cheney and his Satanic slitheries to save us from those activist judges.
.
(continued)
(It seems that the blog truncates after so many words)


But listen to the "reasoning" of the Family Research Council, as to why this short circuiting of the Constitution must happen in the NAME of JEEZIS!

"Q - Have judicial nominations been filibustered before?

"A - Filibusters are normally used only to block pieces of legislation. There is no precedent in American history for a judicial nominee who had the clear support of a majority of senators to be blocked from even receiving a vote, by a minority of senators, through the filibuster. And many judges have been confirmed even though more than 40 senators opposed them. (Democrats argue that President Lyndon Johnson's nomination of Associate Justice Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 was filibustered by Republicans in the Senate. However, Fortas was already a member of the Court, and it is not at all clear that he would have won confirmation if there had been a vote. His nomination was ultimately withdrawn by President Johnson.)"


There. Isn't that clean and clear? All of these satanic dodges have to take place to make sure that Jesus Christ and prayer are returned to the classroom. Don't you feel better about America, snookums?

Like I said: this may well be the most terrible week in the history of the American democratic experiment. Why? Well, because there may BE no democratic experiment when this is all over. The lunatics for Jeezis intend to blow up the laboratory.

Gawd Bless Amerika, Y'All!

Or, in the original German: Seig heil!

The last time this country wandered down this path, Civil War ensued. And it was ONLY because of the fundamental decency of Lincoln, Grant, Lee, Sherman and Johnston that it did not devolve into an endless guerilla haze of blood and death and fire.

That fundamental decency has vanished. And, with the assassination of Lincoln, it was nearly lost 140 years ago. This is what was happening on April 24 "Justice Sunday" 140 years ago today:

Monday, April 24
http://members.aol.com/RVSNorton1/Lincoln51.html

The Lincoln Special departed Philadelphia from Kensington Station at 4:00 A.M. headed for New York which was an 86 mile trip. It arrived in an immense train station at Jersey City at 10:00 A.M., but the huge clock inside the station had been frozen at 7:20, the approximate time of Mr. Lincoln's death. Mr. Lincoln's coffin was removed from the railroad car and taken across the Hudson River by ferry. It was then borne to City Hall where it was carried up the circular staircase under the rotunda. The coffin was then placed in a black velvet dais. The public was admitted after 1:00 P.M. At one point more than 500,000 people waited in line to view Mr. Lincoln. On this day a photograph of Mr. Lincoln in death was taken. http://members.aol.com/RVSNorton/Lincoln41.html

And my friend wants some constructive advice?

Real estate in Costa Rica is still cheap, my friend.
.
hart williams
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