Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Americans overwhelmingly support at least some abortion rights 

Looking at American's opinions on abortion in several recent polls, two things are obvious: a) Americans don't want abortion outlawed b) A lesser majority are fine with abortion rights being enshrined in case law, as is (Roe v Wade).

First, asking people how they feel about abortion rights:

ABC News/Washington Post (Dec. 15-18, 2005)
"Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?"

Legal In All Cases 17%
Legal In Most Cases 40%
Illegal In Most Cases 27%
Illegal In All Cases 13%
Unsure 3%

Translation: 84% think abortion should be legal in at least some cases.

CBS News/New York Times (Dec. 2-6, 2005)
"Which of these comes closest to your view? Abortion should be generally available to those who want it. OR, Abortion should be available, but under stricter limits than it is now. OR, Abortion should not be permitted."

Generally Available 39%
Stricter Limits 38%
Not Permitted 20%
Unsure 3%

Translation: 77% think abortion should be legal in at least some cases.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup (Nov. 11-13, 2005)
"Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?"

Always Legal 26%
Sometimes Legal 56%
Always Illegal 16%
Unsure 2%

Translation: 82% think abortion should be legal in at least some cases.

Pew Center/Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. (July 13-17, 2005) "Which comes closer to your view? Abortion should be generally available to those who want it. Abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now. Abortion should be against the law except in cases of rape, incest and to save the woman's life. Abortion should not be permitted at all."

Generally Available 35%
Stricter Limits 23%
Rape, Incest, Woman's Life Only 31%
Not Permitted At All 9%
Unsure 2%

Translation: 89% think abortion should be legal in at least some cases.

Now, asking about abortion rights currently being enshrined in case law:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup (June 24-26, 2005)
"If one of the U.S. Supreme Court justices retired, would you want the new Supreme Court justice to be someone who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade -- the decision that legalized abortion -- or vote to uphold it?"

Vote To Overturn 29%
Vote To Uphold 65%
Unsure 6%

Quinnipiac University Dec. (7-12, 2004).
"The 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe. v. Wade made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal. Do you think President Bush should nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold the Roe. v. Wade decision, or nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision?"

Uphold 50%
Overturn 34%
Unsure 16%

Associated Press-Ipsos (Nov. 19-21, 2004)
"As you may know, President Bush may have the opportunity to appoint several new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court during his second term. The 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe v. Wade made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal. Do you think President Bush should nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision, or nominate justices who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision?"

Uphold 59%
Overturn 31%
Unsure 10%

So, I'm left wondering how it came to be that the abortion issue is a wedge issue electorally benefitting Republicans.

Here comes the cavalry! 

Ba-da dum, Ba-da dum, Ba-da dum-dum dum,

More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority.

... "Do we understand military and foreign affairs? You bet," Fawcett said. "Most of us have been to the point where you get a direct dose of military and foreign affairs, mostly in the category of small-caliber weapons. But we understand that that is just one aspect of national policy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Even after one considers the source ... 

Pat Buchanan has written an excellent essay,

Is [America] really willing to pay indefinitely in blood and treasure to realize the ambitious agenda George W. Bush has set out? Consider:

Though our 2,150 war dead are not 4 percent of the men we lost in Vietnam, our home front has buckled. Half the nation wants out. Is this how a mighty empire reacts to a little adversity?

Today, we field armed forces one-tenth the size of U.S. forces in 1945, and not half as large as the forces commanded by Ike and JFK. Yet, the very suggestion of a return to the draft, which we all readily accepted in the 1950s, causes a firestorm of indignation and protest.

Apparently, few of our future leaders wish to risk their lives in the "global democratic revolution."

Nor have the rest of us been called on to sacrifice. Today, we spend 4 percent of our GDP on the military. In Ike's day, it was 9 percent; in Reagan's, 6 percent. But any proposal to raise taxes to expand U.S. armed forces to enforce the Bush Doctrine against Iran or North Korea would have Republican supply-siders digging the cobblestones out of the streets of Georgetown.

When it comes to empire, we are - in a phrase Bush used to hear often growing up in West Texas - "all hat and no cattle."

Monday, December 26, 2005

Catching up quickly 

A column in the Chicago Tribune,

President Bush is a bundle of paradoxes. He thinks the scope of the federal government should be limited but the powers of the president should not. He wants judges to interpret the Constitution as the framers did, but doesn't think he should be constrained by their intentions.

He attacked Al Gore for trusting government instead of the people, but he insists anyone who wants to defeat terrorism must put absolute faith in the man at the helm of government.

His conservative allies say Bush is acting to uphold the essential prerogatives of his office. Vice President Cheney says the administration's secret eavesdropping program is justified because "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority, and I think that the world we live in demands it."

But the theory boils down to a consistent and self-serving formula: What's good for George W. Bush is good for America, and anything that weakens his power weakens the nation. To call this an imperial presidency is unfair to emperors ...

A call for censure by Rep John Conyers,

On December 20, 2005, I issued a 273-page report outlining the Bush Administration's panoply of misconduct associated in the run-up to and since the Iraq War.

In brief, I have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high-ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

As further detailed in the report, there is at least a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice President and other members of the Bush Administration violate a number of federal laws, including:
  • Committing a fraud against the United States, for example, the President saying he has not made up his mind about invading Iraq, when all of the documentary evidence shows otherwise.
  • Making false statements to Congress, for example, the President saying he has learned Iraq is attempting to buy uranium from Niger, when he had been warned by the CIA not to say that.
  • The War Powers Resolution and misuse of government funds, for example, redeploying troops and initiating bombing raids before receiving Congressional authorization.
  • Federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment--for example, ordering detainees to be ghosted and removed--and tolerating and laying the legal ground work for torture and mistreatment.
  • Federal laws concerning retaliations against witnesses and other individuals; for example, demoting Bunnatine Greenhouse from the Army Corps of Engineers because she exposed contracting abuse involving Halliburton.
  • Federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence; for example, the President's failure to enforce the law requiring disciplining those who leak classified information, whether intentional or not.

While I found these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific articles of impeachment. As a result, I have introduced legislation establishing a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in my report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses (House Resolution 635).

The report. It's long - maybe check out the Chronology section.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Huge news Day! 

Saturday, December 17, 2005

This is why we must never retreat from the War on Christmas 

So we don't have to fight them within our own shores,

A gang of drunken "Santas" caused merry hell across central Auckland yesterday, robbing stores, tagging buildings and assaulting security guards.

We must replace this problematic season with a peaceful, secular holiday.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Law "expert" Mark Levin gets law wrong again 

I haven't been commenting on even my favorite right-wing pundits' outrageousness lately as I'm seeing them more as fiction-based commentary, but this lie is so egregious, I can't resist. Mark Levin wrote yesterday,

Some brief background: The Foreign Intelligence Security Act permits the government to monitor foreign communications, even if they are with U.S. citizens - 50 USC 1801, et seq. A FISA warrant is only needed if the subject communications are wholly contained in the United States and involve a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.

No. If either end of the eavesdropping involves a US person, a court order is always required. FISA stipulates that, (emphasis added)

Not withstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that [...] there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party.

I still can't decide if Levin is really stupid and believes in the bottom of his heart what he claims is true and just happens to always be stupid in favor of the Bush administration, or if he just doesn't care if what he says is true. But I know I have fun so easily debunking a right-wing law expert's claims.

I mean, one can argue our surveillance laws are too lax, but claiming a US citizen can be legally eavesdropped upon without judicial approval is just wrong. Simply wrong.

PS. Also yesterday, from Rush Limbaugh,

And [liberals] get on this manic, this radical madcap egalitarian kick which suggests that everybody must be totally equal, which is an utter denial of, of, uh, human nature.

(View "I'm a Nazi" by Rush Limbaugh.)

Bush ignores USA Partriot Act, "Who needs it? Not me!" 

The backbone of the story first reported in the NY Times and now all over is that Bush authorized the NSA to ignore the FISA and USA PATRIOT Acts and go ahead and eavesdrop on US Persons in contravention of those laws.

Shorter: Bush thinks it's OK to break the laws Congress makes if his judgment contradicts the law.

If the story pans out - which it is seeming to being the WH is not denying it - this is the most blatant instance of Bush thwarting the will of Congress to date. Hopefully the story isn't too complex for Bush's "common men" to wrap his head around. This ought to be huge.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Trip to Minnesota's North Shore 

Frozen waterfall,

More pictures.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Powerliner still powerfully stupid 

Compare Hinney's mincemeat interpretation to the data of an ABC poll he's opining on (PDF).

HINNEY: "Actually, most Iraqis view the occupation exactly as President Bush and most Americans do: they want our forces to stay until the Iraqis can maintain reasonable security on their own, then leave."

Actually, 78% of Iraqis polled indicated "not much" or "no" confidence in "US and UK occupation forces." Nor really Bush's view of the occupation at all.

HINNEY: "The ABC News poll released yesterday found that only 26% of respondents want coalition troops to 'leave now.'"

Actually, 45% wanted the U.S. to "leave now" (26%) or "Remain until the Iraqi government elected in December [two days from now] is in place." (19%). Compare to the 50% who wished the U.S. to "Remain until security is restored" (31%), "Remain until the Iraqi security forces can operate independently" (16%), or "Remain longer but leave eventually" (3%).

HINNEY: "Further, only 10% list the withdrawal of foreign troops within the next year as a 'high priority.'"

Actually, no. The pollsters didn't ask whether "withdrawal of foreign troops" is a high or low priority. Rather, they asked respondents to rank their first, second, and third priorities out of a list of 11 goals. "Getting U.S. and other occupation forces out of Iraq" was ranked #1 by 10% of respondents as their "First Priority", which made it the #2 first priority, albeit a distant second to "Regaining public security in the country," which was the first priority for 57% of Iraqis.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Exciting news from the Saddam Trial" 

Here (7.5 MB video),

STEWART: Today, Saddam Hussein stood up in his trial and shouted, "I am not afraid of execution!" ... Until his lawyer explained to him, "Actually, It's you, you're not going to get to execute anybody. It's you that is going to be, uh, executed."

Quicktime link is broken, here's the correct link.

Back from Baghdad 

My cousin Mark is safely back from Iraq. So I assume Rush Limbaugh would now say I'm back to hoping as many Americans as possible die there. If I never stopped hoping.

Continuing with the theme 

Utterings of provincial fundies.

Evo-bashing in Kansas 

Not funny,

LAWRENCE - A professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he sent e-mails deriding Christian conservatives was hospitalized Monday after what appeared to be a roadside beating.

University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said that the two men who beat him made references to the class that was to be offered for the first time this spring.

Originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request.

Very funny,

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fal-laugh-laugh-laugh-el Bill 

From Atrios, a not to be missed Bill O'Reilly sound clip (650K - don't waste time trying to direct link, it won't work).

Culture of Corruption by numbers 

Wow. ("Bush Pioneers" are those who raised at least $200K for his election campaigns),

At least 148 of the 642 elite 2000 and 2004 Bush donors (23 percent) have been involved in corporate scandals or helped run companies involved in them. At least 100 of the 2004 elite donors (19 percent) have corporate-scandal status.

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