Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bush Eats Babies in the Name of Freedom

This is the headline I expect to see any day now. After seeing this story about Bush wanting to ease restrictions on wiretaps, I don't think he cares anymore.

A friend sent me this a while ago.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Feel like an a%%hole...

Another beleaguered White House spokesman has to come up and accuse congress of wasting time as the Bush Administration continues to get buried in its own scandals.

Not only are former legal council Harriet Miers and chief of staff John Bolton being cited for contempt of congress due to the refusal to testify on the firing of federal attorneys. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being contradicted by the FBI director Robert Mueller.

The Washington Post reports that contrary to Gonzo's testimony that no division on the NSA wiretaps existed in the Administration, Mueller said they discussed the matter and he himself had reservations on warrantless wiretaps.

Gonzo's underling Susan Goodman wasn't even there to join her boss in collective amnesia.

And this on top of the testimony by former deputy AG Jim Comey that both he and then AG John Ashcroft were against continuing the wiretaps because of lack of legal grounds.

Psychoanalysis and nuance of the blatant disregard for law by Gonzo and friends is superfluous. Something rotten is in the soup.

So I'll just reference a song by Beck off of Mellow Gold that perfectly describes the situation. Warning, don't listen to this in a place where it's not appropriate.

The kids from the early 1990's may enjoy a listen. Just disregard the visuals...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reality sinks in

At first I was skeptical about the actual need to post the 911 calls of Ronald Brandon on and at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Brandon had pointed a pellet gun provocatively at a police officer, only to be fatally shot in a motion of self-defense.

Does the public really need to hear this? To be frightened? To make something so private a part of the public sphere?

But the tapes drove home the udder tragedy that occurred at Camden Road. The seeming gentleness of Ron in his call to report himself. He sounded almost peaceful, like a good neighbor.

The pleas of his ex-wife, Susan Brandon, can help the reader/listener understand the lack of communication, and Susan's despair because of it.

Personally, I gained a sense of respect for what went on. Empathy and knowledge should trump comfort.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

JESUS CAMP, mind control, and the uncanny power of self-loathing

Palestinian camps are putting hand grenades in their kids' hands, so America has to train their kids to be part of the "God's Army." So says Pastor Becky Fischer at her Bible Summer camp, "Kid's on Fire"

"I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ, as the young people are to the cause of Islam," Fischer says in the documentary "Jesus Camp." She explained that Christian kids should be just as ready as young Muslims to "lay down their lives" for their own creed, rationalizing that "we've got the better message."

Last night was the first time that I saw award-winning documentary. At times it wasn't easy to watch, as kids were being manipulated to hate anything un-Christian, but it really is a must see, a provocative look into a dysfunctional world.

I found the formula for manipulation to be somewhat familiar, as I was often fed the message that I was dirty, needed salvation from my own impurities as a K-12 student at Catholic Schools.

Step 1: Fischer welcomed the kids with a smiley face and caring persona to the camp,

Effect: Makes the kids feel at-ease, in a compassionate environment.

Step 2: Fischer alienated the kids, calling them evil. Example: She said that Harry Potter would have been "stoned to death" for being a warlock. She then implied that they brought unclean souls to the camp (swearing, doing bad just like the other kids), and washed their hands with...Nestle bottled water.

Effect: The children may be bored, ashamed, miserable but Fischer instills in them the idea that they are that way because they are "sinners." And eureka, she has a way to help them! And makes the salvation fun!

Step 3: The path is laid as kids are taught to hold their faith above all else, convulse with the spirit of the lord, and are told that half of the world is pure evil.

Effect: Kids can be alienated from the "sinners," everyone else. They conceptualize their duty to "save" everyone.

Step 4: Fischer and friends reaffirm that the kids are important, will be the future leaders, and need to go out and convert others, oppose homosexuality, abortion rights, support President Bush, the war in Iraq, the conversion of Muslims at all costs.

Results: Kids are wearing camouflage face paint while swinging sticks, praising the "Christian flag" and spreading the word to evil doers.

One kid even said that he got saved at age 5, because he was looking for more in life. (Though he probably didn't think his life was so worthless until people like Fischer told him so) And I can't forget the 10-year-old girl who said she only dances for the Lord, "not for the flesh."

See for yourself:

Fischer justified her actions, saying that kids cannot make choices -good or bad- (not much faith in kids...).

Repeatedly through the film, the "teachers" are praising the way that Christianity can influence kids, that their greatest asset is malleability. Not their creativity, innocence, or intelligence.

Fischer describes the enemy/Muslims as radicals who dogmatize their kids in a violent view of the world, and that it's her job to set them straight. And what are you doing to the kids, Fischer? Honoring their freedom of choice and presenting them with multiple viewpoints?

What's more is that even the evangelical heads are not without "sin"...

In many spots in the film, Fischer is seen primping herself, flaunting openly about how lovely she is. She also places a cardboard cutout of Bush for the kids to praise.

...The 7th deadly sin forbids excessive pride, and that first commandment forbidding the praise of idols before God...

And let's not forget our buddy Ted Haggard, who mad a cameo in the film bashing "the gay lifestyle." He was an adviser for Bush, by the way.

After the film and earlier this year, Haggard was caught with his own "sexual improprieties" and moral quandaries. Such as being caught with a male prostitute and using methamphetamines.

"...let he who is without sin cast the first stone..." -Jesus

But the sin is not homosexuality, or even meth use, but hypocrisy.

Good thing for Haggard, he became a heterosexual once again, and was saved from his gay tendencies. Maybe he feels this was all the result of a meth bender?

After observing all this hypocrisy, it occurs to me that the leaders of this radical, violent, politicized brand of Christianity are unable to deal with their own vices.

Like the children they exploit, perhaps they were once told that they were evil, made to feel dirty, and forced to embrace an ideology that seemed unnatural. The failure to work through sexual insecurities, addiction, violent tendencies (due to the disapproval in the social sphere of Church) had forced these currents to manifest themselves as problems later in life?

But self-loathing is nothing compared to how the extreme Christian right loathes their enemies, be they homosexuals, secularists, Muslims, or liberals.

There seems to be never-ending cycle of self-manipulation, that feeds itself with tax-free donations.

God might not have planned it better...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Eat The Kids!

U.S. House Dems are crafting a response after the Bush Administration's threat to veto version of a Senate bill that would expand government health insurance for kids, reports The New York Times.

The push comes after President Bush rationalized keeping the State Children’s Health Insurance Program funded at $35 billion rather than $65 billion over 5 years because the administration opposes expanding the role of government where the private sector can offer solutions.

And he doesn't want to raise taxes by 61 cents a pack to fund health insurance for low-income kids whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicare. Granted, the program is meant for households who can't afford private insurance either.

Another rationalization found in an AP story is that Bush doesn't want expansion of federal government. ????????????? see Iraq, No Child Left Behind, Dept. Homeland Security, CIA interrogations...

The Senate's, bi-partisan proposal is slated to expand coverage to 3.3 million kids. That could put a large dent in the $8.3 million without insurance. Considering Bush doesn't send the bill to the sinker.

Meanwhile the Administration is implying things like:
You know what those kids need? Private, tax-free savings accounts, so that they can pick and choose, spend wisely when they need those insulin shots, x-rays, and checkups. Got strep throat, well, make sure you save your money so that you can get the penicillin you need, rather than the penicillin you want, or hope to have.

Can't your parents make do with their allowance?

By the way, Bush recently got a colonoscopy payed by the U.S. taxpayers, they even removed a few polyps from his rich sphincter. Maybe Jane Public can do the same if she'd saved enough money instead of trying to use bloated government services.

Can't you accept personal responsibility? Jeeze...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Night of songs and friends

The rich, raspy resonance like that of Janis Joplin accompanies the wit of Nancy Rost as patrons sip wine at the ZuZu Cafe Saturday evening.

"Shamu, I do feel like a fish out of water. Shamu, I feel for you, but what can we do," sings Rost as she performs her song sympathizing with the unnatural pressures on captive killer whales, getting the idea from airplanes painted like them.
"Communication should happen in murmurs, not all this high-pitched chatter. There are too many words, and not enough that matters. But you were in the biz so long, you know the damn show must go on."

The song was written as Rost participated in February Album Writing Month, FAWM, in which musicians write 14 songs in 28 days. Described as the love child of Tom Lehrer and Tom Waits (says, Rost has been thriving in the Madison music scene since getting connected with songwriters at near east side open mics.

Below, Rost preforms her song, "Exile on State Street" at her ZuZu gig Saturday.

Among other crisp experiments in imagination, the piano, and perception are "I fell into a giant brain" and "Beethoven's Howlingly Melodious New Bass Guitar 'n' Strangle Disco (III)." The former was partially inspired by her cat pressing the jazz key on her synthesizer, the latter is an example of new musical genre "strangle disco."

While Rost plays, the audience snickers with her as she laughs her way through (un)reality. But given the sick nature of reality, Rost provides the best medicine.

Rost's refreshing brand of irony and satire can stretch to the serious as well. Her song "Welcome to Boscobel" touches on the promises and plans gone wrong at the Supermax Correctional Facility built there.

"...the possible rattle of chains and the rumble of hundreds of hearts that pound, you can hear if you keep your ear to the ground," she sings in the song, which was included in an anthology of the Madison Songwriter's Guild.

Also on tap was Chicago-based songwriter Kitty Mortland, whose throaty serenade carries the influence of Liz Phair and Janis Joplin. Doing an inspired cover of "Bobby McGee," Mortland held the audience captive.

"Honey, you know that I love you... But you know that I can't be a single mom that's still in high school," sings Mortland in her song "Astoria Park," about the pressures of high school girls from boys, parents, peers and the insanity around her. The angst inherent in the song seems much like the punk-infused vocals of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Both ladies give terrific performances that give the audience a look at the world, then subsequently help them laugh at it.

For more on Nancy Rost, click here.

For more on Kitty Mortland, click here.

Newspaper battle in Thunderdome

It's been fun watching the back and forth between The Capital Times and Isthmus.

Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders has actually been taking a lot of jabs at the Cap Times, just recently Lueders poked at the later's columnist Doug Moe for not using "table scraps" of Lueder's Watchdog column on MG&E.

About two weeks ago, Lueders wrote about some crank who was worried about the availability of information on personal energy use, with anyone on the Internets being able to search for averages of individual households. Just click here to find out the energy use of the person that you stalk.

Lueders questioned why Moe and State Journal's Melanie Conklin didn't use this info to write columns on energy usage by prominent Madisonians.

Though I wonder why Lueders made a big deal out of Moe's non-use of his article. Is there some inter-paper feud that no one knows about? Perhaps the two papers are struggling for any topics on which to write as the slow, hot days of summer drown out any inspiration for actual news? Well, aside from the state budget debate and all the murders and missing persons.

These questions might be interesting fodder for a local media watchdog group or independent blogger...

By the way, Isthmus editor Marc Eisen averages $89 per month in gas use and $115 per month in electricity use. Whereas Dave Zweifel's home address wasn't publicly available.

My energy use is included in my rent. So you can't search me! But I do use fluorescent bulbs, as advocated by former Ald. Austin King

In addition to privacy issues of energy consumption, Cap Times and Isthmus editors have been arguing about the cost/benefits of Monona Terrace.

See Zweifel's view here.

And Lueders's view here.

And a follow up by Cap Times Hawkes intern, Kristin Czubkowski, where revelers extolled the virtues and slight drawbacks of the Terrace at it's ten year anniversary.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kids with guns - Sweet Jesus!

Madison has a gun problem. A fake gun problem.

The city council tonight (correction - in August) will discuss a ban on using facsimile guns "to alarm, intimidate, threaten or terrify another person."

Seems like common sense after the State Journal reports that police shot a man after he allegedly pointed a realistic-looking air gun at a an officer.

Listed as a possible "suicide by cop," DA Brian Blanchard has yet to decide whether the shooting requires any penalties toward the officers involved. Like the Montero-Diaz incident, some will want to sanction police for using self-defense.

Also, the possible city ordinance on fake guns comes on the heels of a story on TheDailyPage that several kids with fake UZIs, AK-47s and shotguns were found lurking around a church on Madison's far east side.

Apparently, the games were organized by a church member, and the pastor hasn't expressed concern about kids who "go out on the playground and play around."

The city ordinance is primarily sponsored by Ald. Judy Compton.

"I would advocate that we ban the facsimile guns altogether," Compton said in the State Journal. "What we need to do in the city is free our officers to be able to protect our residents from the threat."

I heartily agree, which seldom happens with Ms. Compton and I, but I also understand Ald. Brandon's concern: What will this accomplish?

Perhaps church-going gun-toters would pay more attention to an actual law, and the police will have another tool to prevent aggression by trench coat-clad teenagers. But there are deeper problems.

The state already bans the use of fake firearms to threaten, but some state lawmakers want to see a conceal and carry permission with real guns.

If Joe Blow, even with a sparkling lack of criminal record/mental illness, sees a vagrant with a fake gun, he might shoot said vagrant with the .38 special he would have in his jacket pocket.

Why do kids have realistic-looking fake guns in the first place? Can't they play with Nerf and squirt guns like when I was a kid?

Put an eye out...

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Al-Qaida (the group responsible for 9/11, remember?) has built up it's capacity to pre 9/11 levels, reports the Associated Press. I have to say the timing of this "news" is rather interesting.

This, on the cusp of Scooter's commuted sentence, Bush's blocking subpoenas in regards to the attorney firing scandal, Republicans beginning to call for troop withdrawal, attacks on our health care system.

Don't forget lying into war, Bush's denying public health information, Gonzo's denial of problems with FBI wiretaps, Cheney's assertion that he's no longer in the executive branch, outing a CIA agent, Chertoff's foreknowledge of levy collapse during katrina...etc...etc...

Whenever this administration faces a crisis for their cronies, they wave the terrorism flag around. "we are the only ones that can keep you safe."

Contrary to Coultergeist's assertions that Afghanistan is going "swimmingly," 6 years of Bush Administration "governance" has failed us.

Giuliani reminds us that Republicans are the only ones that can keep U.S. safe... Heckuva job ya did.

Firefighters are calling Rudy out for exploiting his 9/11 image for politics and power.

Meanwhile, Turkey is militarizing its border in prep for the Iraqi meltdown, and Sunnis have mostly pulled out of the government altogether.

The list goes on and on...What the hell happened??

remember this?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hot Gavel to Gavel action!

Wisconsin Eye, our new state legislature C-Spanesque Web site, is set to go live Tuesday, reports David Callender at the The Capital Times.

Half of a million homes across Wisconsin can now see live Risser on Fitzgerald action. For those "lucky" enough to have cable, tune in to channel 163 for Time-Warner subscribers and channel 200 for Charter Digital in southern Wisconsin.

Internet junkies like me can get state law-making Webcasts at "the Eye's" Web site.

Watch live on cable as the legislature pushes through the Video Competition Act, which will take away consumer protections and public access.

Speaking of which...
Kristian Knutsen over at Isthmus/ has a nice piece on the bill. Our good friends at Blame Society Productions had their say.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Problems in the workplace

The daily page carried my article about problems at the Hacienda.

A little expansion on the Capital Times article by Pat Schneider done earlier in the week.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Patriotism 2.0

About 120 or so people have come together on Independence Day to assert their rights, and advocate the castration of a government executive that no longer represents them. In light of the commuted sentence of Scooter Libby, impeachment took center stage. Along with the blow-up doll of President Bushocchio, flopping in his flight suit.

"This is not a partisan issue, this is an empire issue," says Madison city council member, Marsha Rummel to the crowd gathered at the State Street corner of the Capital Square. "My job is to honor the constitution."

Loud applause accompanies both her and Dane County Supervisor Ashok Kumar's reminder that the city and county would soon vote on referendums on impeachment. Along with the emcee of the demonstration, Veteran's for Peace member Buzz Davis, they decry a laundry list of misdeeds committed by the Bush Administration.

"Torture, illegal wars, and illegal wire-taps," says Davis, "It's a mafia enterprise."

(Don't forget being less than straightforward about the outing of a CIA agent, obstructing justice in that trial and VP Dick Cheney's claim to be outside the executive)

The presentation centers around impeachment being a constitutional issue, rather than being driven by a Bush-bashing agenda. Presenters argue that the Executive had overstepped its power, denied the will of the people, and had ultimately out-stayed its welcome.

"As a soldier, I took an oath to fight all enemies foreign and domestic and uphold the constitution," says Davis, who served in the Vietnam era.

Though some protesters are a bit more ignited. Random shouting from a gentleman near the Veteran's Museum erupts about hating Bush, hitting back, something else incomprehensible. Groans drown out the stated fact that the Wisconsin State Journal, some local politicians think it's not Madison's place to ask for the impeachment of Bush.

"People ask, 'don't you have more important things to do?'" says Kumar. "I say there is nothing more important." All that money going to war could be used for education, health care, public housing.

Kumar called on people to pressure their representatives.

"People will not stand for tyranny," Kumar says. "We need to reclaim our republic."

John Nichols, associate editor of the Capital Times, says the impeachment rally this July 4 is part of a "movement of the future."

To politicians, Nichols says, "If you are a patriot, whether in Congress, on the county board, or on city council, vote for impeachment."

Otherwise, he suggests they are "subjects of King George."


My Thoughts:

Will impeachment clean the U.S.'s tainted government? That's unsure given the fact that government, by nature, is never as pure as the people want.

But impeachment is a way to hold leaders accountable, assuming that the jury itself isn't made up of crooks.

Of my favorite protest sign slogans:

"It's the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Impeachment: not just for blow jobs."
- Random protester dude

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Creating little Hannities

Going along with the theme of creating their own reality, "conservatives" (likely neo-con ideologues who pose as conservatives) have created their own Wikipedia.

Conervapedia is the "conservative" response to the "liberal" bias taking control of the popular, consensus-edited Wikipedia.

Or so says the founder Andy Schlafly in the Toronto Star.
"Wikipedia has been taken over by liberally biased editors," Schlafly declares. "It's mobocracy."

"if anyone tries to put in facts that are friendly to Christianity or American history, those facts are likely to be diluted or censored by the mob."

Of course, he might say that that quote itself was chosen by the liberal Star to make him look like a moron.

Among things that differentiate the two online encyclopedias are the formation of dates.

Wikipedia uses C.E. B.C.E. to distinguish the periods around Christ's life on the Gregorian Calendar, whereas Conservapedia makes a point to use A.D. and B.C.
You know, since Christ is a universal truth and all.

I've wondered the about the real truth that Wikipedia has been hiding from me all this time, which upon reading Conservapedia, is a revelation.

Among other things that I "learned:"

1. "There's no doubt, of course, that Fox News is closer to mainstream America than CBS, ABC, NBC or CNN. But, after all, that was its founding mission."

2. Among those who call themselves liberal, support is common for "taxpayer-funded abortion," "censorship of prayer in the classroom," "income redistribution," and "opposition to a strong American foreign policy."

Many times when subjects would seem to curry to the right, positions were either left vague or suggested.

For example, I expected the site to crucify Same-sex marriage as factually an abomination. But the passage qualifies the abomination with "Social conservatives regard it as immoral." This is hardly a debatable fact. But Conservapedia does right away talk about how James Dobson considers same-sex "marriage" a counterfeit because marriage is exclusively between a man and a women.

The main reason I read Wikipedia in the first place is for entertainment, and second, to get links to articles that can verify some positions.

Conservapedia will definitely prove better at the entertaining function, and if I need links to conservative viewpoints, it provides a virtual smörgåsbord.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Got Web?

Want to not only know what's going on in presidential campaigns, but be able to form in-depth opinions?

Don't watch O'Reily, Blitzer, or Couric...

Read content on, and Or so says a recently released study at UW-Madison.

UW-Mad doctoral candidate (and fellow whiskey drinker) Kajsa Dalrymple and journalism professor Dietram Scheufele teamed up in sifting and through data from the 2004 American National Election Study.

They found
"the Internet had positive and significant effects on all measures of knowledge, even after controlling for other media use. More importantly, however, online newspapers were the only medium that had significant effects on integrated knowledge - the ability of readers to "connect the dots" by combining bits and pieces of knowledge into a meaningful understanding of politics"

My favorite words released from the study were this: "We did not find significant links between television news use and factual knowledge."

Really? Such things as Neil Cavuto comparing Tiger Woods and Paris Hilton didn't tip you off?

Seems like common sense, but the UW-Madison study uses scientific/statistic analysis to make a more clear judgement. If we always just used common sense, then our understanding of the world might depend upon O'Reilly common sense or John Stewart common sense.

One thought I did have about the study is: Was there any control for socioeconomic factors?

Those who read the newspapers, Internet news, say other studies tend to a) have more time (maybe have to work less to pay the bills) and b) have more institutional education. Would these factors make more of a difference in how facts are retained, or not retained?

I would think so, but the study still seems to make a strong argument of association. And it makes me feel better about my chosen field.