Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for October, 2007

UN Defines Shebaa Farms

Posted by Charles II on October 31, 2007

In its endless dilation of the key sources of conflict in the Middle East, the UN has at last defined the Shebaa Farm area. Barak Ravid, Haaretz:

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Posted in israel, Lebanon, Syria | Comments Off on UN Defines Shebaa Farms

Render Unto Caesar

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

A federal jury has awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq, after finding the odious Fred Phelps clan liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress for picketing the Marine’s funeral in 2006.

The jury still has to decide the amount of punitive damages.

The compensatory damages exceed the net worth of the Phelps clan.

UPDATE: Jury awards $11 million to father in funeral case

(Thanks to Stormcrow, in the comments, for the update.)

Posted in false prophets, Fred Phelps, rightwing moral cripples | 10 Comments »

Bill Haney Is My Hero

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

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In the Detroit Free Press, Bill Haney dismisses the anti-tax fanatics.

Why should I complain about paying my fair share for protection by firefighters and police officers? Or for maintenance, and even upgrading, of our rutted roads, crumbling bridges, leaking water pipes, and rotting infrastructure? Why should I grumble that the government is confiscating my hard-earned money to pay for schools neither I nor my descendants will attend, when I had no problem accepting education at schools and colleges my parents and grandparents provided for me with their Depression-era sweat?
 

[…]
 

You get what you pay for. Or not. Unless you are exceptionally lucky. So it’s best just to remember that those who came before you built the schools and the roads and put out the fires and caught the bad guys, and some of those ancient taxpayers had to leave their families and jobs and put on uniforms and take up arms and go away to lands whose names they couldn’t pronounce. Some of those long-ago taxpaying soldiers left parts of their bodies where they fought, and some of them came back in boxes with crisp American flags draped over them.
 

Would I like to see more value for my tax dollars? You bet. Would I like to see our government waste less? Most certainly. Would I like to see a reordering of priorities to raise the prospects for my grandkids living in a cleaner, safer, saner, more civil country? Oh, would I, would I.
 

And am I willing to give back more in taxes from the bounty this great nation has given to me, from what it has let me earn and what it has let me become through the taxes and sacrifices of generations before me?
 

It is my honor, and, yes, you’re damned right I want to pay higher taxes.

More like him, please.

Posted in priorities, Real Americans, taxes | Comments Off on Bill Haney Is My Hero

Oh, for Crying Out Loud

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

Want to hear something really scary?

[Fran] Amos, who has represented her Republican Waterford [MI] district in the state House of Representatives since 2000, has made stirring up anxiety about sexual predators something of an annual Halloween ritual.
 

Her House Bill 5321 would prohibit parolees listed on Michigan’s sex offender registry from answering the door, handing out candy, turning on outside lights or “doing anything else that would convey the impression that their residence is occupied” on Oct. 31.
 

“If the offender turns on a light on Halloween,” the Waterford lawmaker explains, “people can report them to the police.”
 

Never a legislator to let substance stand in the way of sensation, Amos admits that she is unable to cite a single instance in which any registered sex offender has assaulted, seduced or otherwise victimized Michigan trick-or-treaters.
 

[…]
 

Amos insisted that this year’s Halloween bill was a model of moderation.
 

“Before, we wanted to collect ’em all and make them report to a gym on Halloween night,” she recalled. “But it turned out that was going to cost too much money.”
 

In fact, the “Halloween predators” Amos proposes to banish to darkened basements each Oct. 31 are a diverse lot whose offenses range from violent sexual assault to promiscuous conduct with underage boyfriends or girlfriends.

Nobody does stupid like Republican politicians do stupid.

But y’know? I could get behind this bill if it included Republican politicians caught breaking morality laws among the sexual offenders who had to stay inside their houses with the lights off.

Posted in fearmongering, Silly Republicans, wrong way to go about it | 6 Comments »

This Should Kill Mukasey’s Nomination

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

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Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey refuses to say that waterboarding is illegal.

Mukasey said that techniques described as waterboarding by lawmakers “seem over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me, and would probably seem the same to many Americans.” But, he continued, “hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical.”
 

Mukasey also said he is reluctant to offer opinions on interrogation techniques because he does not want to place U.S. officials “in personal legal jeopardy” and is concerned that such remarks might “provide our enemies with a window into the limits or contours of any interrogation program.” His arguments are similar to those advanced by the Bush administration in its refusal to discuss waterboarding or other interrogation techniques.

How do these statements show that Mukasey is NOT QUALIFIED? Let me count the ways:

1. Waterboarding is illegal:

The practice … has been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts since the Spanish-American War. The State Department has condemned its use in other countries.

2. Saying that torture is “on a personal basis, repugnant” doesn’t make Mukasey’s response more credible, it makes it less. His duty as Attorney General is to make decisions and implement policies based on the law, not on his personal preferences.

3. The issue of waterboarding is not “hypothetical”. Actual Bush Administration officials authorized its use, using an actual opinion issued by the Justice Department as their justification. That would be the same Justice Department Mukasey thinks he’s going to lead, so it’s important for the Senate and the American people to find out whether he’ll continue Alberto Gonzales’ policy of providing legal camouflage for lawbreaking, or actually do the job he’s supposed to do.

4. If U.S. officials are authorizing, using, or condoning torture, they should be “placed in legal jeopardy”. Mukasey’s duty as Attorney General would be to enforce the law, not to protect members of the Bush Administration.

5. The Attorney General is supposed to have some degree of independence from the Oval Office. Reciting the Bushevik rationalizations for refusing to acknowledge that illegal interrogation techniques are illegal just shows that he lacks the required independence.

6. Giving a weasely answer that evades the question is a clue that his actual opinion is unacceptable, and that the Congress and the American people can expect him to evade his duty as Attorney General the way he’s evading the truth in his confirmation hearing.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are making disapproving noises about Mukasey’s evasions. They could use a reminder to do their duty and vote against a nominee who can’t or won’t do the job.

Posted in anti-truth, Attorney General, Justice Department, Michael Mukasey | Comments Off on This Should Kill Mukasey’s Nomination

Congratulations, Seattle!

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

Splash

Seattle, Washington, is one of the first major U.S. cities to claim it has cut greenhouse-gas emissions enough to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol.

Seattle’s reductions were largely the result of energy conservation by households and businesses, and changes in power production at Seattle City Light, the report said.

[…]

Part of the cuts are due to changes in power production at Seattle City Light, which provides clean-running hydropower to homes and businesses.

[…]

Seattle has started trying to lure people from their cars. Two tax measures approved by voters in 2006 are aimed at improving bus service, bike lanes and sidewalks.

The city also has passed development rules to encourage people to move downtown, where they will drive less, said Nicholas, with the Office of Sustainability and Environment.

More like this, please. What is your city doing to encourage people and businesses to reduce energy consumption?

Posted in energy, environment, global warming, Good Things | 1 Comment »

And In News That Should Surprise Absolutely No One…

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 31, 2007

yet another homophobic Republican “Family Values” dickweed was outed from his closet:

Meanwhile, way on the otherside of the country, up in Washington another I’m-Not-Gay-Republican– yawn– Washington Rep. Richard Curtis is all caught up in some extortion business with a gay prostitute. KREM, a Spokane TV station, reported that Curtis and the male hooker had “a sexual encounter and were seen together at various spots around the city.” Spokane is just up the road apiece from Idaho and Curtis said, “I am not gay. I have not had sex with a guy.” A.P. is reporting that Curtis and the hooker met at one of those porno video shops (the Hollywood Erotic Boutique) at 12:45am and then went back to Curtis’ hotel room at 3:30am for sex. They don’t say who did what to whom but the trick, Cody Castagna, demanded a grand to not blab that Curtis, who is married, is also enjoying the company of young men, and Curtis called the cops.

Before you start feeling too sorry for this chump, keep this in mind: he’s a self-righteous right-wing turd who he voted against domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. Last year, he opposed a gay rights bill that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Flush another Republican hypocrite down the toilet. I’ve lost count.

Even better — he’s a drag queen:

State Representative Richard Curtis says he’s not gay, but police reports and court records indicate the Republican lawmaker from southwestern Washington dressed up in women’s lingerie and met a Medical Lake man in a local erotic video store which led to consensual sex at a downtown hotel and a threat to expose Curtis’ activities publicly.

Many moons ago, MEC defined for us the concept of anti-truth:

“Lie” isn’t an adequate word for what Republicans say. We need a new term; I propose anti-truth, as in, “There are lies, damned lies, and Republican anti-truths.” Like matter and anti-matter, Republicans and the truth just can’t occupy the same space. What they say goes all the way through and past “untrue” into the realm of turning reality inside out, tying a knot in it, and yanking so hard it snaps.

It’s time to come up with an analogue concerning GOP hypocrisy. The word “hypocrisy” just isn’t adequate to describe what these people think, say, and do.

After all this, it’s almost an anticlimax to note that Debra Jeane Palfrey’s most noted customer, Diaper David Vitter, got hit with a $25,000 for violating election laws in his 2004 campaign.

Posted in anti-truth, David Vitter, Debra Jean Palfrey, eedjits, family values, gay rights, hypocrites, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans | 1 Comment »

Edwards Throws Down

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 31, 2007

John Edwards says what we all know (h/t Ian Welsh):

It’s time to tell the truth. And the truth is the system in Washington is corrupt. It is rigged by the powerful special interests to benefit they very few at the expense of the many. And as a result, the American people have lost faith in our broken system in Washington, and believe it no longer works for ordinary Americans. They’re right.

As I look across the political landscape of both parties today — what I see are politicians too afraid to tell the truth — good people caught in a bad system that overwhelms their good intentions and requires them to chase millions of dollars in campaign contributions in order to perpetuate their careers and continue their climb to higher office.

This presidential campaign is a perfect example of how our politics is awash with money. I have raised more money up to this point than any Democratic candidate raised last time in the presidential campaign — $30 million. And, I did it without taking a dime from any Washington lobbyist or any special interest PAC.

I saw the chase for campaign money at any cost by the frontrunner in this race — and I did not join it — because the cost to our nation and our children is not worth the hollow victory of any candidate. Being called president while powerful interests really run things is not the same as being free to lead this nation as president of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

There’s more, and it’s all good.

Posted in 2008, big money, John Edwards | 1 Comment »

Republicans Oppose Tax Cut

Posted by MEC on October 30, 2007

Here’s a “dog bites man” news item if ever there was one: Republicans are opposed to a tax cut!

The tax cut in question is in the Tax Reduction and Reform Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), which would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. Originally meant to ensure that wealthy families paid their share of taxes, the AMT has become in effect a surcharge on what are now middle-income families because it is not adjusted for inflation.

Rangel’s bill would balance the loss in tax revenue from eliminating the AMT by levying a 4% surcharge on individuals with income of more than $150,000 and couples with income of more than $200,000; individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $500,000 would pay a 4.6 percent surcharge.

Rangel’s bill does more than just repeal the AMT. The Baltimore Sun summarizes:

Rangel’s long-term overhaul would increase the standard tax deduction for those who don’t itemize deductions on their tax returns. For a married couple filing jointly, the bill would boost the standard deduction by $850; for singles and married people filing separately, $425; and for heads of households, $625. About two-thirds of taxpayers now take the standard deduction.
 

The bill also would expand the number of low-income taxpayers eligible for the earned income tax credit. The maximum qualifying income for those without children would double to $10,900.
 

[…]
 

The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 30.5 percent, as suggested by the Bush administration, but Rangel’s bill would shut off or limit a number of corporate tax preferences.
 

In the most controversial move, he proposed to limit the tax breaks that U.S. corporations receive for profits earned on their foreign operations. The bill says that companies could not claim deductions associated with these foreign earnings until they repatriate their income back into the U.S., making it subject to taxation.
 

Another provision would repeal over eight years the so-called accounting method known as LIFO for last in, first out. This has enabled firms to pay less tax on inventories.

Rangel also called for one-year extensions of a number of tax breaks that will expire at the end of 2007—including the research and development credit.

Rangel wants to give lower-income people a break and make rich people and corporations pay something closer to their fair share. No wonder the Republicans are squealing as if in agony.

John Boehner’s statement on the bill is representative of the Grand Oligarchs Party’s collective hysteria:

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that raising taxes would “doom our economy, put people out of work, and cost the federal government revenue that is badly needed if we’re in fact going to balance the budget.”

As much as we need tax relief for the non-rich, I could enjoy seeing the debate over this bill extend into 2008. It can only help Democratic candidates to have a fine display of Republican fiscal policy:

Republicans whine
And Republicans bitch,
“The rich are too poor
And the poor are too rich!”

Posted in Democrats with spines, Republicans acting badly, taxes | 8 Comments »

Mexico, October 30th 2007

Posted by Charles II on October 30, 2007

Twinsouled left. The split inside the left continues, placing Mexico at elevated risk in the event of crisis. The New Left leadership, heirs of Echeverria, is planning to disown Lopez Obrador or perhaps to goad him into disowning the PRD. Either would be catastrophic, leaving Mexico with no authentic political representation.
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Posted in Mexico, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

 
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