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Miscellaneous Thoughts (a.k.a. The Ranting Corner)
Sunday, 20 March 2005
Ann Coulter is an Idiot
From the Democratic Underground's weekly list of the Top Ten Conservative Idiots:

While we're on the subject of Jeff Gannon, Ann Coulter posed some curious questions in a recent article. "Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?" This was, of course, in response to revelations that Jeff Gannon is a gay prostitute.

So I have a couple questions of my own: Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Republicans want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?

It's just that I'm perfectly consistent in my support for gay rights. What I'm not comfortable with is the White House giving a real live prostitute with a fake name who works for a fake news organization that is actually a front for a Republican activist group free and easy access to press briefings so that the aforementioned prostitute can toss softball questions at the president to get him out of sticky situations.

But now we're in a bizarre situation where Republicans like Coulter are one day screaming about amending the Constitution in order to discriminate against gays, or telling me that gays are sinners who are going to hell, or that cartoon characters are secretly working on an evil gay agenda to corrupt our children, or that "tolerance" and "love" are secret gay code words, and then the next day they're telling me that I'm the homophobe and poor gay people like Jeff Gannon need to be defended from the likes of me and my awful liberal friends.

I mean, if gay prostitution is okay - which, according to all these Republicans who are now accusing the left of homophobia, it is - then gay marriage must be double-plus-good, right? Otherwise I just don't get the argument. How come, according to Republicans, it's fine for a gay man to sell himself for no-strings-attached sex with other men online, but it's not fine for two gay men to enter into a lifelong, loving marriage partnership?

Still, at least there's no ambiguity about the fact that Republicans think all Arabs are terrorists. In the same column, Coulter says, "Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president." So while Ann may have suddenly had a dramatic transformation on gay rights, at least that ol' racism is alive and well.

~~

I have nothing to add. I think it's unconscionable for the neo-cons to point to liberal outrage over the Jeff Gannon scandal and use it to call us homophobic.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 6:41 PM EST
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Saturday, 19 March 2005
Down With the Evil Empire
Now Playing: Rolling Stones
This absolutely typifies the problem with Wal-Mart. They move into a community and everyone thinks, ?Wow, great! Lots of job opportunities.? And then instead, people start finding out what crappy wages Wal-Mart offers and they realize that they could never live on such ridiculous sums, which forces Wal-Mart to seek out ?other options?. God forbid they raise their wages so that legal immigrants or naturally born citizens could afford to work there.

At the same time, these craptacular wages allow Wal-Mart to keep their prices low so that they can then drive out any competition. So, if you follow this, with Wal-Mart driving it?s competition out of business, people start losing the jobs they currently have and might be forced to take the low-paying jobs with Wal-Mart if they can?t find work elsewhere.

What does this do in the long run? It creates a group of people without benefits (because you know that Wal-Mart can be very stingy with bennies) who possibly have kids. When these people or these kids get sick they go to the ER. But can?t pay for it. You know what happens then? The taxes go up for the other people living in that town and it becomes the job of the town to subsidize the medical care of Wal-Mart?s employees.

Wal-Mart gives absolutely nothing back to the communities it resides in. Unless you can absolutely help it, don?t shop there. They?re part of the evil empire and they don't deserve your money.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:09 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 19 March 2005 8:13 AM EST
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Friday, 18 March 2005
Lil' Kim is off to the Big House
According to Yahoo News:
"Lil' Kim was convicted of three counts of perjury and one of conspiracy, but acquitted of obstruction of justice. She could get 20 years ? a maximum of five years for each count ? when she is sentenced on June 24."

Just for fun, I'd like to take you through the best parts of this article, in case you'd rather not read it yourself.

"The former sidekick and mistress of the late Notorious B.I.G. had testified that she didn't notice two close friends at the scene of the 2001 gun battle ? her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif "Gutta" Jackson. Both men have since pleaded guilty to gun charges."

Y'all, when you hang out with people who are nicknamed 'Gutta' things are probably going to take a turn for the worse at some point.

"The shootout occurred outside WQHT, known as Hot 97, when Lil' Kim's entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga. Kim's entourage confronted them about the song "Bang, Bang" from a Capone-N-Noreaga album, which contained a scathing insult to Kim from her longtime rival, Foxy Brown. A shootout erupted, leaving one man injured and more than two dozen rounds fired."

Huh. I didn't realize this was the Wild West.

"Hot 97 is the same station where the posses of 50 Cent and The Game traded bullets last month. No arrests have been made in that shooting, which left one of Game's henchmen wounded in the leg."

Henchmen? Posses? Could this GET more over the top? Why don't we just make up signs for these guys that say, "I have no class and if you don't want to get shot, stay away."

What on earth gives rappers, or anyone who acts like this for that matter, the sense of entitlement that comes along with lying about a shootout that your people took part in. Did you really think that you'd get away with it? Are you that confident in your celebrity or did you think the authorities were just too stupid to figure it out?




Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:52 AM EST
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Thursday, 17 March 2005
Michael Jackson is...Ick
After reading this article on all the porn Michael Jackson kept/keeps stashed around his house - in particular his bedroom and [blech] bathroom - I have a new-found respect for whoever the hell cleans his house.

In fact, I hope he buys enough bleach for you to wash your hands at the end of the day. You know, when you're done mopping up his probably ubiquitous spunk.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 10:52 AM EST
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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Corporate America Is Evil
In case there is still any doubt over why many people don't trust Corporate America, allow me to direct your attention to this article from the BBC:

Pinochet 'stowed $13m in banks'

The former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet stowed away more than $13m (#6.8m) in 125 bank accounts, according to a US Senate investigation.

It found a range of top banks helped Gen Pinochet hide his funds or broke regulations over his accounts.

Bank officials say the accounts were opened under false names and have vowed to co-operate with investigators.

Gen Pinochet's military regime killed and tortured thousands of political prisoners in the 1970s and 1980s.

He is also being investigated in Chile over allegations of human rights abuses and embezzlement of state funds.


Web of accounts

The senate investigation revealed Gen Pinochet and his family members used scores of bank accounts to hide and launder funds over the course of at least 25 years.

It found some of the banks allowed the general to use assumed names on accounts, arranged international wire transfers and set up offshore companies. [This means that they KNEW who he was when they did this - K]

Among the institutions named in the report are Bank of America, Coutts, Riggs Bank and the world's largest financial services group, Citigroup.

"Some banks actively helped him hide his funds, others failed to comply with US regulations requiring banks to know their customers," Democrat Senator Carl Levin said. [All the while knowing that he TORTURED AND MURDERED his own people - K]


All of the accounts have since been closed.

'Full co-operation'

The report said Gen Pinochet's suspicious dealings with Washington-based Riggs Bank spanned 25 years, rather than the eight-year period for which it has already paid a fine.

In January, Riggs Bank pleaded guilty to failing to report suspicious activity relating to accounts held by Gen Pinochet and the government of Equatorial Guinea.

The bank later agreed to pay $8m to victims of crimes committed during his regime. [Yes, a whopping 8 Mil from a bank worth BILLIONS. How incredibly generous. - K]

The BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington says there will now be pressure on the others to do likewise.

In a statement, Citigroup said its accounts for the general were opened "with false documentation using pseudonyms".

Bank of America, for its part, said it had "co -operated fully with the subcommittee in its investigation, conducted a thorough internal investigation and submitted documents as requested".

~~

I wish this surprised me but it reeks of the same self-serving attitude the U.S. has had with Latin America for hundreds of years.

The same exact thing happened in Cuba with the U.S.-appointed Batista whose rule was so debilitating to Cubans that popular unrest eventually led to the revolution and Castro.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:33 AM EST
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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Hating Veterans is Fun
From the New Jersey Star Ledger:

Vets up in arms over proposed cuts im medical benefits

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
BY MARYANN SPOTO
Star-Ledger Staff

When World War II veteran Stan Kloby went to a veterans clinic eight years ago, the Dover Township resident said he was told no doctor could see him because of the patient backlog.

The 80-year-old former Navy gunners mate made a stink and was allowed to register. He has been receiving care at the Brick Township facility ever since.

But veterans groups and a New Jersey congressman said yesterday that Kloby and all veterans could suffer under the Bush administration's proposed budget for Veterans Affairs, which.

Kloby's solution: "If they don't want to pay veterans benefits, then quit making veterans."

Kloby was among a group of veterans outside the James J. Howard Community VA Clinic in Brick Township yesterday with U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th Dist.). Pallone called on the Bush administration to restore full funding for veterans' benefits.

Although the proposed 2006 federal budget calls for a 1 percent increase in the overall veterans affairs allotment -- from $67.5 billion to $68.2 billion -- some programs are recommended for cuts, in part to compensate for rising disability and pension costs.

"At a time when the number of veterans from the Iraq War continues to grow, it's unconscionable that President Bush is not thanking them for their sacrifice by fully funding veterans programs," Pallone said.

The president's budget recommendations would translate to $351 million in cuts nationwide from veterans' nursing homes, resulting in 28,000 fewer patients being served, he said. That would mean a loss of about $11 million annually for New Jersey, which could force the state to shut one of its three nursing homes for veterans, said Pallone aide Matt Montekio.

The Congressional Budget Office also has said the budget plan falls $762 million short of what is needed to maintain current veterans programs, Pallone said. To close that gap, the Bush administration has proposed a $250 annual enrollment fee for medical care and hiking prescription drug co-payments from $7 to $15. The enrollment fee would generate $1.75 million and the co-pay would raise more than $5 million from New Jersey veterans, Montekio said.


The House is scheduled to vote this week on a version of the proposed budget that does not include the co-pay increase and enrollment provisions, but Pallone said it would only be a matter of time before those recommendations, highly unpopular among veterans organizations, would be adopted.

New Jersey has eight veterans clinics and 583,000 veterans, Pallone said. Another 4,000 military personnel are currently serving in Iraq, he added.

John Muntone, a 77-year-old Jersey City man who served in the Korean War, said the co-pays and enrollment fee would drive 213,000 veterans out of the health care system.

James Manning Sr., chief of staff for the Department of New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the cuts will "wreak havoc on all veterans."

"Veterans' health care should be a cost of war," he said. "Apparently it is not."

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Preston M. Taylor Jr., former assistant adjutant general of New Jersey under Gov. Jim Florio, said the federal Office of Management and Budget tried to cut veterans benefits while he was assistant secretary of Veterans Employment and Training under the Clinton administration.

However, he said, officials were able to persuade Clinton to restore the funding. He noted that happened when the nation was not at war.

"Here we have soldiers that are dying and being wounded and the budget's being cut," Taylor said. "This is insane."

~~

I'm sure this will all be chalked up to some "tough decision-making" and trying to keep the balance between what we'd like and what we can afford, but come on! You create a stop-gap situation so that soldiers can't leave the military and then make it difficult for them to get health care benefits when they finally come out of the war in god knows what kind of shape. What kind of a society are we? How is this compassionate conservatism?

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 3:54 PM EST
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An Open Letter to Star Jones
Dear Star,

SHUT! UP!

Stop ruining people's lives. You take and take and take and never pay for anything and then just run rampant over good, innocent people.

Oh, and by the way? Save some eye shadow for the rest of us, huh?


Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 12:53 PM EST
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Closer And Closer to Fascism
From the Washington Post:

Administration Rejects Ruling On PR Videos
GAO Called Tapes Illegal Propaganda

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 15, 2005; Page A21

The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.

But Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in memos last week that the administration disagrees with the GAO's ruling. And, in any case, they wrote, the department's Office of Legal Counsel, not the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, provides binding legal interpretations for federal agencies to follow.

The legal counsel's office "does not agree with GAO that the covert propaganda prohibition applies simply because an agency's role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or 'covert,' regardless of whether the content of the message is 'propaganda,' " Bradbury wrote. "Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of information concerning the programs administered by an agency."

The existence of the memos was reported Sunday by the New York Times.

Supporters say prepackaged news stories are a common public relations tool with roots in previous administrations, that their exterior packaging typically identifies the government as the source, and that it is up to news organizations, not the government, to reveal to viewers where the material they broadcast came from.

Critics have derided such video news releases as taxpayer-financed attempts by the administration to promote its policies in the guise of independent news reports.

Within the last year, the GAO has rapped the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy for distributing such stories about the Medicare drug benefit and the administration's anti-drug campaign, respectively.

In an interview yesterday, Walker said the administration's approach is both contrary to appropriations law and unethical.

"This is more than a legal issue. It's also an ethical issue and involves important good government principles, namely the need for openness in connection with government activities and expenditures," Walker said. "We should not just be seeking to do what's arguably legal. We should be doing what's right."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday that federal agencies have used video news releases for years. "As long as they are providing factual information, it's okay," he said.

Walker said that even by that standard, some prepackaged news stories are out of bounds.

"Congress has got to settle it -- either Congress or the courts," Walker said. "Congress may need to provide additional guidance with regard to their intent in this overall area."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said through a spokesman yesterday that he will try to attach language to an appropriations bill to clarify that taxpayer money cannot be spent on such productions. He and fellow Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) wrote to President Bush yesterday asking him to pull back the new memos from Justice and the OMB.

They noted that following revelations this year that the Education Department had paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind law, Bush had directed agencies to abandon such clandestine public relations practices.

"Whether in the form of a payment to an actual journalist, or through the creation of a fake one, it is wrong to deceive the public with the creation of phony news stories," the lawmakers wrote.

~~

You think? I mean, really? Politicians lie, yes, but my God.

Mussolini was very good at things like this, too. He once noted that "A thing said enough times eventually becomes the truth."

There's a certain frightening wisdom in his thought and it makes me pause to think about what our government keeps telling us about Social Security, No Child Left Behind, the practically forgotten Occupation of Iraq, and our friends in oil-rich Saudi Arabia just to name a few.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 11:52 AM EST
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Monday, 14 March 2005
Anti-Evolutionary Scientist...Isn't That An Oxymoron?
From the Center for American Progress and the Washington Post:

It seems scientific reasoning is not what it used to be. After years of crafty strategizing orchestrated by conservatives, policymakers in nearly twenty states are now considering measures "that question the science of evolution." Though most do not seek to completely disavow the teaching of evolution, an overwhelming number of the proposals attempt to address the "gaps" in Darwinian theory by means of the intelligent design theory, which claims that the vast complexity of nature is evidence of the existence of a great cosmic "designer." Though many scientists are aghast at what is being called neocreationism, religious activists and anti-evolutionary scientists have long felt "persecuted" by the teaching of evolution and are now simply taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the Bush presidency, as President Bush himself believes the "jury is still out on evolution."

~~

Did you hear that? The JURY IS STILL OUT on evolution. Yes, that's right. Apparently, all of the empirical evidence that supports evolution was planted by the "Supreme Being" in an attempt at one big fabulous practical joke. Boy did he pull one over on us! Gosh, I feel so silly.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 12:49 PM EST
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Sunday, 13 March 2005
If it were only true...
"In the future, I will refrain from discussing my private life in interviews," [Britney] Spears wrote on her site. "It will be expressed solely through art."

Bwahahahahahahahaha!! Tears! The tears are blurring my vision! I can't see! Dear God, can it be? Is she really calling what she does...ART?!

Ah, Britney. All I can do is shake my head at your poor simple stupidity.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 7:03 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2005 7:19 PM EST
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