Congratulations

by matttbastard

Congratulations to erstwhile bastard.logician sassywho for recently completing her undergraduate studies (onward ho to grad school!) Feel free to show her some love in comments. Who knows–maybe a concerted ego-stroking effort will convince her to start contributing more often.

Ahem.

;)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Rules: John Hagee on an Anti-Semitic Remix Tip

by matttbastard

The NY Times:

The Rev. John C. Hagee, whose anti-Catholic remarks created a controversy when Senator John McCain received his endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination with fanfare, has issued a letter expressing regret for “any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.”

The letter was issued after weeks of conversations between Mr. Hagee and Roman Catholic Republicans about repairing the damage to Mr. McCain’s campaign and the alliance built over many years between conservative Catholics and evangelicals.

[…]

“In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms,” he wrote, “I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews.

“In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It does not.”

Mr. Hagee’s letter, dated May 12, was addressed to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, who drew attention to Mr. Hagee’s remarks after he endorsed Mr. McCain in February.

Mr. Donohue said of Mr. Hagee’s letter: “Well, miracles do happen. If I wasn’t a believer before, I sure am now.

“Republican activists have been working with him over the last several weeks, giving him books and articles and getting him up to speed and away from the black legends about the Catholic Church. I have to assume he’s acting sincerely, and now understands” that he has been recycling conspiracy theories.

At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon in North Bend, Wash., outside Seattle, Mr. McCain praised Mr. Hagee’s letter. “The fact that he has made an apology I think is very helpful,” Mr. McCain said. “Whenever someone apologizes for something they did wrong, then I think that that’s a laudable thing.”

Well, Hagee has apologized, Billy D. is happy (miraculous!), and good ol’ McCain is still smelling rosy (as far as the jerks in the MSM are concerned).  Guess that just about wraps things up, right?  Not so fast, says Talk 2 Action cofounder Bruce Wilson (via The Revealer):

Yesterday I discovered an astonishing audio recording of a sermon, by controversial McCain endorser Pastor John Hagee, in which Hagee elaborates on his view that Hitler and the Nazis were divine agents, sent by God to (with gruesome inefficiency it would seem) chase Europe’s Jews towards Palestine.

Check it out:

As Wilson further notes:

In his 2006 book “Jerusalem Countdown”, Hagee proposed that anti-Semitism, and thus the Holocaust, was the fault of Jews themselves – the result of an age old divine curse incurred by the ancient Hebrews through worshiping idols and passed, down the ages, to all Jews now alive.

Gee, damn good thing Pastor Hagee is a conservative white Republican, eh?

Background:

Yes, Virginia, People Actually Get Paid For This Horseshit

The Rules.

The Rules: Hagee Rewind

The Rules: Coda

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

The Real News: Holy warriors in the US armed forces

by matttbastard

Michael L. Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on the infiltration of the U.S. military by right-wing Evangelicals.

Related:

  • AlterNet provides an excerpt from With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military, written by Weinstein and David Seay
  • Max Blumenthal on Operation Straight Up, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, and how D-list space cadet Stephen Baldwin is now perma-drunk on teh Jeebus Juice
  • Sharon Weinberger spotlights a March 2007 “revival service” that took place at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan–and was subsequently celebrated in an official press release sent out by the U.S. military’s Bagram Media Center. The post also points to a 2005 NPR report which notes that “40 percent of active duty personnel — and 60 percent of chaplains — are evangelical, compared to only 14 percent of the U.S. population.”

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

You Keep Using That Word…

by matttbastard

The NY Times reports today that, after some delay while US officials tried to, as reported this past January in the NYT, ““transition out” of the Bagram detention center”, the US will be building a new all-but-permanent detention facility in Afghanistan:

The proposed detention center would replace the cavernous, makeshift American prison on the Bagram military base north of Kabul, which is now typically packed with about 630 prisoners, compared with the 270 held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

(Yes, that Bagram military base.)

Military officials have long been aware of serious problems [*cough*] with the existing detention center in Afghanistan, the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. After the prison was set up in early 2002, it became a primary site for screening prisoners captured in the fighting. Harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were used widely, and two Afghan detainees died there in December 2002, after being repeatedly struck by American soldiers.

Yep, nothing says “corporate em ess em” quite like anodyne euphemisms and amoral utilization of the passive voice. “Harsh interrogation techniques and sleep deprevation.” Oh, and, out of the blue, those two detainees coincidently just happened to die.

After being “repeatedly struck”.

By American soldiers.

Correlation != causation, natch.

Conditions and treatment have improved markedly since then, but hundreds of Afghans and other men are still held in wire-mesh pens surrounded by coils of razor wire. There are only minimal areas for the prisoners to exercise, and kitchen, shower and bathroom space is also inadequate.

Hmm, the International Committee of the Red Cross wasn’t exactly brimming with praise this past January regarding the “marked improvement” in conditions and treatment at Bagram. Some folks are just never satisfied. But, hey, at least the US took the constructive criticism to heart.

Faced with that, American officials said they wanted to replace the Bagram prison, a converted aircraft hangar that still holds some of the decrepit aircraft-repair machinery left by the Soviet troops who occupied the country in the 1980s. In its place the United States will build what officials described as a more modern and humane detention center that would usually accommodate about 600 detainees — or as many as 1,100 in a surge — and cost more than $60 million.

“Our existing theater internment facility is deteriorating,” said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, the senior Pentagon official for detention policy, in a telephone interview. “It was renovated to do a temporary mission. There is a sense that this is the right time to build a new facility.”

American officials also acknowledged that there are serious health risks to detainees and American military personnel who work at the Bagram prison, because of their exposure to heavy metals from the aircraft-repair machinery and asbestos.

“It’s just not suitable,” another Pentagon official said. “At some point, you have to say, ‘That’s it. This place was not made to keep people there indefinitely.’ ”

Yes, so, the answer then is, obviously, to build a *ahem* more “humane” facility designed to, um, keep people there indefinitely:

The Pentagon is planning to use $60 million in emergency construction funds this fiscal year to build a complex of 6 to 10 semi-permanent structures resembling Quonset huts, each the size of a football field, a Defense Department official said. The structures will have more natural light, and each will have its own recreation area. There will be a half-dozen other buildings for administration, medical care and other purposes, the official said.

A luxury resort! It appears that the Pentagon is finally going to import the “beautiful, sunny Guantanamo Bay” experience to Central Asia. With a few bargain discounts, that is:

Military personnel who know both Bagram and Guantánamo describe the Afghan site, 40 miles north of Kabul, as far more spartan. Bagram prisoners have fewer privileges, less ability to contest their detention and no access to lawyers.

Some detainees have been held without charge for more than five years, officials said. As of April, about 10 juveniles were being held at Bagram, according to a recent American report to a United Nations committee.

Apparently designating a detention facility as “humane” doesn’t preclude the acknowledgment of basic human rights. A 2007 report published by The New Republic provides more details on the legal limbo detainees in Bagram find themselves in:

Prisoners don’t even have the limited access to lawyers available to prisoners in Guantánamo. Nor do they have the right to Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which Guantánamo detainees won in the 2004 Supreme Court ruling in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. Instead, if a combat commander chooses, he can convene an Enemy Combatant Review Board (ECRB), at which the detainee has no right to a personal advocate, no chance to speak in his own defense, and no opportunity to review the evidence against him. The detainee isn’t even allowed to attend. And, thanks to such limited access to justice, many former detainees say they have no idea why they were either detained or released.

DJ rewind:

“It’s just not suitable,” another Pentagon official said. “At some point, you have to say, ‘That’s it. This place was not made to keep people there indefinitely.’ ”

Well, at least they’ve seen fit to–ahem–humanely remedy that particular problem.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Man Kills Prostitute, Gets Less Than 2 Years. What the FUCK?

by Isabel

The day after admitting he killed a woman and dumped her body on a rural road, a St. Catharines, Ont., man was released from jail.

Judge Stephen Glithero sentenced Wayne Ryczak, 55, to one day in jail on Thursday for the death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

The one-day sentence is in addition to time Ryczak already served since his March 5, 2007, arrest — time the judge said was equivalent to 30 months.

“Devastated, we’re devastated,” Beck’s mother, Alice Dort, said from her home in Nova Scotia shortly after a police detective broke the news by phone. “This is just so unbelievable.” “There’s no justice. None whatsoever. I’m just so disgusted.”

The Crown asked for seven to 10 years in jail.

Ryczak’s lawyer requested two years less a day to be served in the community.

After deliberating for 20 minutes, Glithero said a 30-month sentence in the penitentiary would be appropriate and Ryczak had already served it. Ryczak was also given three years’ probation.

Exactly what I needed to wake up to. Thanks, Canada!

This is fucking disgusting. A 30-month sentence is appropriate for killing a woman? Sure, if she has sex for money! After all, if you ladies happen to think you can do whatever you want with that vagina of yours, you deserve whatever it is that you get.

Fuck, I am so angry.

Update 05/17 (matttbastard): Ontario NDP Calls for Ontario AG to appeal 1 day sentence:

The Ontario NDP is calling on the attorney general to appeal the one-day sentence of a St. Catharines, Ont. man who plead guilty this week to manslaughter in the strangling death of 29-year-old Stephine Beck.

[…]

New Democratic Party Justice Critic Peter Kormos, in an open letter to Attorney General Chris Bentley, called on the province to ensure the sentence is appealed immediately.

“I tell you, sir, that the community is outraged,” Kormos wrote in his letter. “How can this sentence of one day, and it can barely be called a sentence, be justified?”

h/t pale via IM

Update 2 (matttbastard): From The St Catharines Standard:

“They just dismissed [Stephine Beck’s] life with that sentence,” said Dee Holman, a member of the community’s sex-trade task force. “They minimized her death.”

[…]

Holman said the sentencing made Ryczak appear to be the victim and minimized his use of drugs and prostitutes.

“(Beck) will never have a chance to get her drug and alcohol counselling,” Holman said. “Her life is gone.”

In sentencing Ryczak Thursday, Judge Stephen Glithero said he was not measuring the value of Beck’s life. “All life is valuable to us as a community,” he said.

He noted there were people in the courtroom for Wednesday’s plea hearing wearing T-shirts that read, “Sex work shouldn’t equal murder.”

“This was not a case whatsoever of anyone preying on a sex-trade worker,” Glithero said.

[…]

But Valerie Scott, executive director of Sex Professionals of Canada, which is in favour of legalizing prostitution, said a victim’s lifestyle is factored into court decisions.

“It happens all the time,” she said. “The laws against sex work continue to tell people that we’re disposable. It’s OK to kill us and murder us.”

The Ryczak sentencing puts the “gold seal of approval” on those actions, she said.

“If this were anyone else, it wouldn’t have gone down like that in court.”

Update 3 05/18 (matttbastard): Via ange @ light my heart on fire (all emphases mine):

Unfortunately, the case of Stephine Beck is not an anomaly. Within the last decade, six other women involved in sex work and living with substance abuse problems have been found murdered in the Niagara Region: Dawn Stewart, 32; Nadine Gurczenski, 26; Diane Dimitri, 33; Margaret Jugaru, 26; Cassey Cichocki, 22, and most recently, Shari Bacon, 36. Although the Niagara Regional Police convened a task force in 2007 and have since made one other arrest, Glithero’s sentence is reflective of a community-wide failure to value and protect the lives of some of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The St. Catharines Standard routinely runs articles about “hookers loyal to their drug problems” (6 March, 2007) while the police department justifies its regular sweeping arrests of prostitutes (and subsequent public naming in The Standard, which does not report the names of men arrested for domestic abuse) by claiming that if you take away the supply, demand will vanish (July 2007). This appalling disdain for and ignorance of the realities and risks faced by sex workers is all the more horrifying when compared to the hysteria and moral outrage expressed by the entire Niagara community during and after the arrests, trials and verdicts of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. That Homolka’s plea bargain was considered a deal with the devil while Ryczak was set free immediately upon pleading guilty is shameful and hypocritical, and reflects a clear double standard when it comes to which lives are valued and which are not.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

LOLPolicy

by matttbastard

The Associated Press:

President Bush feted Israel on Thursday in honor of the 60th anniversary of its founding and predicted that its 120th birthday would find it alongside a Palestinian state and in an all-democratic neighborhood free of today’s oppression, restrictions on freedom and extremist Muslim movements.

[…]

Bush made no acknowledgment of the hardship Palestinians suffered when hundreds of thousands were displaced or otherwise left following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, a counterpoint to Israel’s two weeks of jubilant celebrations. Though Bush has set a goal of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian deal before the end of his term in January, he did not mention the ongoing negotiations or how to resolve the thorniest disputes.

The president also offered no detail on how the broader Mideast would move from today’s realities to his vision.

“From Cairo and Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy, tourism and trade,” he said. “Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, where today’s oppression is a distant memory and people are free to speak their minds and develop their talents. And al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists’ vision and the injustice of their cause.”

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Bush made such a brief mention of the Palestinians because his purpose was to sketch “broad themes and not the specifics of the process.”

Hey, who needs pesky specifics when you have cheap stock applause lines and Godwin-baiting partisan digs?

Related: Eric Martin, Man of a Thousand Blogs, on McSame’s recent contributions to the OMG-PONIES! school of U.S. foreign policy initiatives.

Update: in comments @ ObWi, Katherine notes that McSame’s bold 2013 proposal is “totally a ripoff of fafblog’s plan for victory.”

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

NARAL Endorses Obama

by matttbastard

Press release:

NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA ENDORSES SEN. BARACK OBAMA

Washington, DC – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, released the following statement today, announcing that her organization’s political action committee proudly endorses Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“Today, NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC is proud to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. Sen. Obama has been a strong advocate for a woman’s right to choose throughout his career in public office. He steadfastly supports and defends a woman’s right to make the most personal, private decisions regarding her reproductive health without interference from government or politicians.

“Sen. Obama has been a leader on this issue in the United States Senate. Since joining the Senate in 2005, he has worked to unite Americans on both side of this debate behind commonsense, common-ground ways to prevent unintended pregnancy. Sen. Obama supports legislation to provide our teens with comprehensive sex education, prevent pharmacies from denying women access to their legal birth-control prescriptions, and increase access to family-planning services.

“We are confident that Barack Obama is the candidate of the future. Americans are tired of the divisive politics of the last eight years, and will unite behind Obama in the fall. We look forward to working with a pro-choice Obama White House in January.”

Keenan also praised Senator Clinton as a pro-choice leader. “Americans have been fortunate to have two fully pro-choice candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination. But only one can go forward to the general election. It is truly historic for us to have these two outstanding candidates in the race.”

For more information, please visit http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/.

So, Obama now has in his corner John Edwards, who has broad appeal to white working class voters, and NARAL, which is quite obviously sending a message to Senator Clinton’s white feminist base. I highly doubt the timing of either announcement (ie, coming right after a brutal 40 point thumpin’ in WV that surprised no one) is coincidental. Big Media Matt may be correct here:

It seems that nobody’s going to “force” Hillary Clinton out of the race, but when you have her natural allies deciding that the time’s come to endorse in the Obama-McCain race you can see it’s over in more than just the mathematical sense.

More from NARAL president Nancy Keenan @ HuffPo on why the preeminent pro-choice advocacy organization in the US decided to back Obama.

Update: Even if the Democratic party race does appear to be “over in more than just the mathematical sense”, I think zuzu has a point here:

[W]here’s the fire? Why not let everyone get a chance to meaningfully participate before you start declaring the race over?

Again, I quote Alan Wolfe:

Recent elections have been marked by high levels of voter ignorance, low turnout, polarization between the parties and media coverage as broad as it was shallow. But within the Democratic Party this time, we have been witnessing the exact opposite: engagement and excitement. Pundits worry that the long race hurt the Democrats’ chances in the fall, but it’s hard to share their gloom when the whole exercise has been so good for our civic health.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

“Hold on one second, sweetie”

by matttbastard

This is definitely not the way for Obama to broaden his appeal with female voters:

Obama has subsequently apologized to WXYZ reporter Peggy Agar, but his explanation mainly serves to dig himself further into a hole:

“Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. I thought that we had set up interviews with all the local stations. I guess we got it with your station but you weren’t the reporter that got the interview. And so, I broke my word. I apologize for that and I will make up for it.

“Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people [yes, he certainly does – mb]. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front.”

No, dig up, stupid!

Jesus tapdancing Christ. You wanna know how to better help make the case that you deserve the support of women? Step 1: DON’T BE A SEXIST ASSHAT.

Look, intent is irrelevant–habitually using reductive terms like “sweetie’ is both disrespectful and indicative that Obama may have a bigger problem with women than simply not getting their votes, regardless of whether his actions are conscious or otherwise. Not to say that this sort of thing is unique (gee, a man says something misogynistic and dismissive to a woman–film at 11!), nor is it definitive proof that Obama actively perpetuates misogyny (does anyone seriously think that Geraldine Ferraro burns crosses in her free time?) But a good ally is duty bound to call out the people on his or her team when someone fucks up (to be clear: my team is the ‘not John McSame’ team).

I’m very glad that Obama did apologize; however, I hope he takes the opportunity to reflect on exactly why he’s still having a tough go at making inroads with women.

*facepalm*

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Clapton May Be God, But Pierce is Jesus (Sorry, Obama)

by matttbastard

(video: The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis, by Bill Moyers [86 minutes])

Charles Pierce abso-flippin’-lutely knocks it out of the park:

More than anything else, the presidential election ongoing is — or, as a right, ought to be — about ending an era of complicity. There is no point anymore in blaming George Bush or the men he hired or the party he represented or the conservative movement that energized that party for what has happened to this country in the past seven years. They were all merely the vehicles through whom the fear and the lassitude and the neglect and the dry rot that had been afflicting the democratic structures for decades came to a dramatic and disastrous crescendo. The Bill of Rights had been rendered a nullity by degrees long before a passel of apparatchik hired lawyers found in its text enough gray space to allow a fecklessly incompetent president to command that torture be carried out in the country’s name. The war powers of the Congress had been deeded wholesale to the executive long before Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and a passel of think-tank cowboys found within them the right of a fecklessly incompetent president to make war unilaterally on anyone, anywhere, forever. The war in Iraq is the powerful bastard child of the Iran-Contra scandal, which went unpunished.

The ownership of the people over their politics — and, therefore, over their government — had been placed in quitclaim long before the towers fell, and the president told the people to be just afraid enough to let him take them to war and just afraid enough to reelect him, but not to be so afraid that they stayed out of the malls.

It had been happening, bit by bit, over nearly forty years. Ronald Reagan sold the idea that “government” was something alien. The notion of a political commonwealth fell into a desuetude so profound that even Bill Clinton said, “The era of Big Government is over” and was cheered across the political spectrum, so that when an American city drowned and the president didn’t care enough to leave a birthday party, and the disgraced former luxury-horse executive who’d been placed in charge of disaster relief behaved pretty much the way a disgraced former luxury-horse executive could be expected to behave in that situation, it could not have come as any kind of surprise to anyone honest enough to have watched the country steadily abandon self-government over the previous four decades. The catastrophe that is the administration of George W. Bush is not unprecedented. It was merely inevitable. The people of the United States have been accessorial in the murder of their country

Read the whole goddamn thing.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers