Friday, December 07, 2007

McBride, Again

Good grief. Jessica McBride has a post, entitled "Big Surprise," about Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Laurel Walker. She says of Walker:

The Journal Sentinel's lefty Waukesha columnist Laurel Walker adorns her "Christmas" tree with "secular baubles." Why am I not surprised?

This is what Walker actually wrote:

My tree (once it's up and decorated) is a Christmas tree, decorated with mostly secular baubles, souvenirs, a lot of "Sesame Street" characters (dating to the boys' childhoods), a handful of angels and a tiny hanging crèche - maybe even two.

So, if one had only looked at McBride's post, as at least two commenters obviously did, one would get the mistaken idea that Walker's Christmas decorations are all secular.

It's a pathetic game of gotcha by McBride. Some might even say she was being disingenuous (you know, lying). In any case, it was incredibly petty and beneath a "professional journalist."

Why is she teaching at my alma mater anyway?

I Am A Muslim

FYI: I'm an athiest, but I still like Christmas trees, I like seeing creches in front yards, I have no problem with prayer and I like it that there are so many people who are devout in their faith, regardless of their faith.

I have no problem with Christmas plays in public schools, or Christmas trees or kids exchanging presents ... it is a large part of our heritage. I do have an issue with school sponsored prayers, but I don't have an issue with politicians leading others in prayer in Congress.

We are most definitely not a Christian nation, but we are a nation populated by a majority of people who identify with Christianity. Christians, who by the way, wrote the Constitution to be all-inclusive and accepting of all faiths and those who choose not to believe.

I will not debate any apparent inconsistency in anything I've said here because I don't see that it is important. I like the season. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Thanks, Bill W. for this well-traveled Internet pice. Still fun, though, and a good message.

For those who wear their faith as a sign of their piety and wear lapel pins to proclaim their patriotism.

A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof -- and the horn -- screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the Choose Life license plate holder, the What Would Jesus Do bumper sticker, the Follow Me to Sunday School bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Meaning to Losing Your Marbles

Bush Ancestor a Thief

Bert Mancuso Hart, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that George W. Bush's great-great uncle, Remus I. Bush, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription:

Remus Bush; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.
Mr. Hart e-mailed the President for comments. The White House staff sent back the following biographical sketch:

Remus I. Bush was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.
Wasn't this funny? If you don't think so, click here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Keith Olbermann Channels Bill O'Reilly

... or is it Fred Dooley? I don't know, but I tell you it's simply "brilliant." "Genius!"

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Leveraging the Vote

In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is an article highlighting the career of Paul Weyrich, the Gregor Strasser of the American right-wing conservative movement. Unfortunately, the relatively friendly piece (ah, that ol' liberal bias thing) fails to mention Weyrich's role in efforts to suppress the vote in the United States. With a new round of elections slated for 2008, including the all-important presidential election, it's best to remember this quote from Weyrich, given at an 1980 training seminar for conservative right-wing preachers:

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
People for the American Way has documented the career of this anti-American visionary. Here is the introduction to a report on voting suppression efforts by the conservatiove right-wing over the years. Any of it sound familiar? Remember this the next time some glowing piece is written.

There are two ways to win an election. One is to get a majority of voters to support you. The other is to prevent voters who oppose you from casting their votes.

In the 27 years since Paul Weyrich's astonishingly candid admission, the radical right wing in America has developed an array of subtle and overt methods to suppress voter registration and turnout. The methods are targeted to constituencies most likely to oppose right-wing causes and candidates: low-income families, minorities, senior citizens and citizens for whom English is a second language.

Occasionally, attempts at voter suppression are illegal dirty tricks, such as the phone-jamming scheme carried out by Republican operatives against a Democratic phone bank in New Hampshire in 2004.

Some voter suppression is unintentional, the result of applying or misapplying changes in voting laws. However, voter suppression today is overwhelmingly achieved through regulatory, legislative and administrative means, resulting in modern-day equivalents of poll taxes and literacy tests that kept Black voters from the ballot box in the Jim Crow era.

Couched in feel-good phrases such as "voter security" and "anti-voter fraud," these measures limit voter registration, turn voters away from polling places, and cast doubt on the validity of ballots. For example, stringent voter ID rules that require photo ID at the polls sound reasonable, until the estimated up to 12 percent of eligible voters who do not have a driver’s license are figured in. And while "anti-fraud" measures sound good, in truth there is little evidence of organized voter fraud anywhere in the nation, while voter suppression tactics are varied and widespread:

- In Ohio, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has implemented rules to carry out a new state elections law. Blackwell’s rules make it extremely difficult for small churches and other nonprofit organizations to hire and train voter registration workers—and they expose voter registration workers to felony charges for making mistakes.

- In Texas, Congressman John Carter has suggested implementing literacy tests and English-only ballots, despite the existence of a federal law requiring minority language ballots at the polls.

- In Florida in 2004, Governor Jeb Bush was forced to deactivate a list of purported felons who were to be blocked from voting when the news media discovered that the list included Black, but not Hispanic, voters and that many people on the list were actually eligible voters.

- In California this year, nonsensical requirements for matching new voter names to existing state databases (e.g., a "Michael R. Neuman" would not match a "Mike R. Neuman" at the same address) resulted in numerous voter registrations being rejected. Between January and June, 26,824 voter registration forms received by Los Angeles County alone were rejected because of these new restrictions.

- In New Mexico, the number of "provisional ballots," which are mandated under new federal voting rules, that went uncounted exceeded the margin of victory in the presidential race in 2004.

- In Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, since the 2002 passage of the federal Help America Vote Act, state legislatures have passed new voter identification rules that would disenfranchise thousands of elderly and poor voters who do not have drivers' licenses or passports. Some of these measures have been blocked, but others are now in effect.

- In Ohio in 2004, precincts in predominantly low-income and minority neighborhoods were chronically understaffed and had fewer voting machines than higher-income precincts, resulting in long lines and uncounted numbers of voters leaving the polls before they had a chance to cast a vote.

The Radical Right strategy of turning out base supporters while suppressing the votes of its opponents has often been successful. Legislatures controlled by far-right conservatives now determine the voting laws and how redistricting is conducted in many states. Governors, secretaries of state, and other election officials, supported by the Radical Right, now administer many states’ elections. This report, by no means comprehensive, provides a brief overview of various suppression techniques so that citizens, community activists and the news media can recognize similar attempts as patterns of voter suppression emerge across the country.