By reading this page, you're living in the past — which is fine; I'm a sentimentalist myself. But here's the latest at derekbaker.com.

#49 :: October 31, 2005

Koncerned, Konservative Khristians

As I think I've mentioned, I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son... etc., etc. But when I read stories like these, I really have to wonder by what definition "conservative" Christians consider themselves Christians. I mean, c'mon: Who would Jesus hate? Click the headlines for links to the full articles.

KKK to rally in Austin


The American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan will rally in Austin on Nov. 5 to encourage people to vote against gay marriage in the upcoming election.

The group's "pro-family values" demonstration will occur at the south plaza of Austin City Hall on Lavaca Street and Cesar Chavez Street between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The city of Austin granted the group's request after it applied and met the necessary requirements, said city spokeswoman Tina Bui.

"As long as it is for public use, it doesn't interfere with city business or engagements, and the group agrees not to traipse on the landscaping, anyone can use that space," Bui said.


In a posting titled "Texas Rally against legal Fag Marriages" on the group's Web message board, Grand Dragon Steven Edwards expressed his desire for as many Texas Klansmen to attend as possible: "God commands us to fight Satan and his minions, and we will do this even if there are only 10 of us there."

What's amusing is that the bill's supporters seemed surprised and dismayed that the Klan would want to speak out in favor of hate legislation. That won't stop them from voting for it themselves, and encouraging others to vote for it, but they admit it's not good P.R., even if it does get out the vote for their cause.

(As a side note: Would it also surprise anyone if thousands of Texas Klansmen show up, per the Grand Dragon's invitation? Me neither.)

Vaccine for cervical cancer sparks debate

Conservative groups fear drug may lead to promiscuity among teens


A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity.

Although the vaccine will not become available until next year at the earliest, activists on both sides have begun maneuvering to influence how widely the immunizations will be employed.

Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty.

Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.


The jockeying reflects the growing influence that social conservatives, who had long felt overlooked by Washington, have gained on a broad spectrum of policy issues under the Bush administration. In this case, a former member of the conservative group Focus on the Family serves on the federal panel that is playing a pivotal role in deciding how the vaccine is used.

"What the Bush administration has done has taken this coterie of people and put them into very influential positions in Washington," said James A. Morone Jr., a professor of political science at Brown University. "And it's having an effect in debates like this."

I'm not so sure why they'd be concerned, though. Virologists study, among other things, the mutation and adaptation of viruses to their hosts and environments. It's why we have to have a new flu vaccine each year, because the flu virus keeps adapting on us in order to survive. It, uh, "evolves." But since evolution is "just a theory," then surely the social conservatives can't believe in a vaccine's efficacy, and therefore can't believe it would have an impact on the morals of our youth. Or might they be inconsistent in their beliefs? Other than the one about consolidating power in order to control the lives of others, I mean.

And it's amazing just how many lives they're willing to risk and how much science — from cosmology to epidemiology — they throw overboard because of the "messages" they fear might get through their tinfoil hats.


#48 :: October 31, 2005

Treason, Sure, But Where to Start?

I keep wondering how anyone can construe revealing a covert CIA agent's identity is anything other than treasonous, regardless of how many assumptions about such agents you've derived from reading too many Tom Clancy novels.

Then someone somewhere else reminded me that the same crew:

Of course, that leaves out their criminal negligence in the Katrina aftermath; the destruction of America's reputation and honor in the world; the justification of torture; the willful disregard for the safety of the troops they sent to war; the absence of planning to occupy a foreign country; and the eradication of any shared sacrifice in a time of national emergency and war — which they, of course, facilitated or created by their administrative ineptitude and their moral decrepitude.

So with a track record like that, I can see how outing one of your own spies is really a very minor infraction, all else considering.


#47 :: October 29, 2005

Worst in Long Line




(Snappy, huh? Well, the second line needs some work...)


#46 :: October 28, 2005

We Interrupt This Nomination to Bring You This Special Hypocrisy

"Now before we head down the path with a new Supreme Court nomination, I'd just like to remind everyone of the ground rules. First, as we've said consistently, there is no single-issue 'litmus test' for — excuse me? Just a second, folks. Uh huh. Uh huh. Really? Concerned Women of America said that? Sam Brownback, huh? Okay. Right. Got it.

"Sorry, everyone. So I was wrong. There is a single-issue litmus test for SCOTUS nominees, that cat's out of the bag. So ignore that. But what I want to emphasize to everyone -- and this we have said since the radical Democrats blocked almost 5 percent of the president's judicial nominees — every nominee to the bench deserves a straight, up-or-down — just a second, they're talking in my ear. Yes? I know. No. Really? But what about... okay. Right. Yeah, I will.

"Uh, folks. I'm afraid we scheduled this conference call a little prematurely. We'll get back to you with a new call-in number once we've got our talking points pulled together on this. Stay tuned. In the meanwhile, let's do all we can to get the president's nominee in front of the solid Americans like Jim Dobson and Tony Perkins we all look to for leadership on these issues. Over and out."

Wait, There's More

These have appeared elsewhere before, but as far as I know, no one has yet formatted them as a fun parlor game! Can you match the quote with the speaker?
  1. "You can support the troops but not the president."

  2. "[The] president . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home."

  3. "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"

  4. "I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning. I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."

  5. "The president began this mission with very vague objectives. ... There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the president started this thing, and there still is no plan today."

  6. "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
  1. Sean Hannity, R-Fox News

  2. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.

  3. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas

  4. Gov. George W. Bush, R-Texas.

  5. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.
Answers: 1-C; 2-E; 3-A; 4-B; 5-C; 6-D. All were made during the Clinton administration, mostly about American soldiers in Bosnia. Hannity's was about the war in Kosovo.


#45 :: October 26, 2005

"We Know You Are, But What Are We?"

Hypocrisy from his administration shouldn't surprise anyone, of course. But I'm particularly struck by two things in all the PlameGate stuff, here on the morning when we might get indictments handed down from the Fitzpatrick empanelled grand jury.

1. Believe me, I'd like Fitzpatrick to get these jerks for all the wrongdoing they've been doing. Not just the treason for revealing the identity of a covert C.I.A. agent, but so many of the other things: lying to get us into war; justifying torture; Halliburton no-bid contracts; etc., etc. So for completely different reasons, I can agree with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who says she hopes that, if they have indictments, they're for crimes committed and not what she calls a "perjury technicality." Perjuring yourself to a grand jury is a crime, so should be an indictable offense. Rush Limbaugh apparently went all ballistic when Chris Matthews pointed out that it was exactly these kinds of "technicalities" that got Bill Clinton impeached by the Republicans. Nothing he had done prior to the investigation was deemed illegal, so they accused him of helping Monica Lewinsky lie ("suborning perjury") and lying himself.

In terms of PlameGate, Sen. Hutchison compares such charges to Martha Stewart's, where she didn't do anything wrong in terms of the investments, but she lied about what she had done nonetheless and was indicted and sentenced for it. Martha got screwed. Bill Clinton got, uh, the short end...no, he got...well, he got impeached, which was way out of proportion to the crimes he had committed and certainly to those he had not. But now with the tables turned, the Republicans want special treatment this time because -- for the most bizarre of rationales -- it's politics. And to indict people for lying to a grand jury in a case involving the White House would be tantamount to "criminalizing politics" ... whatever that means. I think the parody on the Daily Show last night said it best (in reference to Tom DeLay, but it seems to be the M.O. for the Republican Party all over now): If Patrick Fitzgerald is criminalizing politics, the Republicans have been doing the opposite: politicizing crime. "It's okay to lie to the American people, reveal the identity of a special agent, and then cover up your actions if it's done for political purposes." Talk about laying bare their naked worship of power above all else.

2. What gets me the most, however, is that the whole attempt by Cheney/Rove/Libby/Novak, etc., to discredt Wilson — by saying that his wife recommended him for the job, so that somehow calls his whole findings into question in a way I don't understand — with charges of nepotism and cronyism. Yep. Apparently, these things just make Scooter Libby froth at the mouth with apoplectic fury.


#44 :: October 20, 2005

Wanted: Dead or Alive

image of warrant for Tom DeLay's arrest on charges of criminal conspiracy and money laundering in excess of $100K


#43 :: October 12, 2005

Facts, Rumors, and Speculations. What's Not to Like?

Fact: The Vice President has been a war profiteer. In the last year alone, his Halliburton stock options have risen in value by 3,281 percent. Yes, that should probably be spelled out to avoid any confusion: three thousand, two hundred and eighty-one percent. That's 433,333 stock options, by the way.

In 2003, Cheney told "Meet the Press": "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."

...Not counting the stock options, Dick, I guess you meant. Or the deferred salary? That was $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004. But we're not supposed to count all that, are we?

Rumor: Bush and Cheney are on the outs. Rumor has it Dick is tired of cleaning up George's mess-ups. Which would put him about in line with the rest of the country, at least on that account. As I see it, that's perfectly plausible. At some point, Cheney is going to resent Bush for being the top guy but an inept fool. And if he's at all annoyed, there's certainly nothing to stop him from saying, doing, or not doing whatever he wants about it. He's the one guy in the White House that the President can't fire; he was duly elected (this last time, at least) by the electoral college to his office. Only Congress can remove him. So if he's washed his hands of the Administration -- or decided to not return to the White House ever again -- or decided to call a press conference to call Bush a pink unicorn, they couldn't stop him short of impeaching him. As a lame duck VP, he's the only guy in that administration with absolutely nothing to lose, other than Bush himself.

Except, perhaps, his rights and freedom, which leads to the speculation: The Wall Street Journal reports that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be widening his inquiries to include the White House conversations "setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion." To wit:

There are signs that prosecutors now are looking into contacts between administration officials and journalists that took place much earlier than previously thought. Earlier conversations are potentially significant, because that suggests the special prosecutor leading the investigation is exploring whether there was an effort within the administration at an early stage to develop and disseminate confidential information to the press that could undercut former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Central Intelligence Agency official Valerie Plame.
— "Focus of CIA Leak Probe Appears to Widen," by John D. McKinnon, Joe Hagan and Anne Marie Squeo. The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2005; Page A3

Now, it's a stretch to say that just because Cheney's chief-of-staff is a potential target of this probe that his boss is as well. But it makes you wonder: could there be an indictment of the Vice President of the United States handed down in the days or weeks ahead, related to the lies that were told to hoodwink the country into going to war (in addition to any acts of treason in outing a covert CIA agent)?

Not "should there be" an indictment, just "could there be"; history will likely prove this crowd to be a pack of crooks in ways that will make Harding and Nixon seem amusing and quaint. And what about the Vice President's claim that all his financial ties with a major government contractor have been severed, yet as of a year ago he had stock options worth $241,498 — which are now valued at more than $8 million? And, finally, what if Dick and George aren't playing well together anymore? Could there be some implications for the country in such a rift?


#42 :: October 11, 2005

Out and About...Gay Marriage

In honor of National Coming Out Day, October 11, I have to republish a meme that my very cool cousin Ka-Wah-Shoshoneelanee-ladidah (Shawnee for "She-Who-Knits") republished on her own blog a few days ago.
  1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, liposuction and air conditioning.
  2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
  4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
  7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
  9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans...

As the original meme said, "re-post this if you believe in legalizing gay marriage."

Straight marriages are accorded 1,049 special protections, benefits, and responsibilities under federal law, according to the General Accounting Office. For example (and these come from the Human Rights Campaign site):

Finally, many Christian churches (and Jewish synogogues) in the U.S. (and other countries) do perform services of marriage for their gay and lesbian members. In Christ, there is no male or female. But for worshippers of the Bible, of course, it's apparently a different story. So it's obviously just one particular type of "Christian" who gets to decide what all the other people, Christian or not, believe and do.


#41 :: October 9, 2005

The Charm of the Jersey Turnpike

On the other hand, not all conversations have been as entertaining lately. To wit: I drove Tom to the airport the other night; he's got a week of meetings in Kuala Lumpur. In his car on the way back, I entered the Jersey Turnpike, and rolled down the window to get the ticket you're supposed to get. Except no ticket emerged. I waited. I pushed the call button on the intercom next to the ticket-dispensing slot, but got no response. So, after another bit of waiting (and the cars behind me were building up), I figured there was nothing else to do but drive on and explain it when I exited. However, this is how that went...

Me (handing over two dollar bills for the $1.70 I know it will be): I got on at Newark airport, but the machine didn't give me a ticket. I think it was out of paper.

Toll-booth operator: It's six-thirty.

Me: But I got on at the airport. It should only be a dollar-seventy.

Toll-booth operator: Without a ticket, it's six-thirty.

Me: But the ticket machine wasn't giving out tickets! Why should I have to pay the full [turnpike] fare because your machine was broken?

Toll-booth operator: No ticket, six-thirty.

Me (fuming, but handing over a five): How do I get my refund, then? Can you give me the address or phone number?

Toll-booth operator: You can talk to them in here. [Motions to toll-booth office off to the right.]

...which I would have gone and done, except I just wanted to get home and it was raining pretty hard, and I didn't look forward to yet more bureaucratic nonsense after the foretaste I'd just had. Or, because I really was annoyed and had already handed over two bucks, I was tempted just to drove on and let 'em ticket me by mail or call the cops. But I knew I didn't want to have to attend a trial date to contest a traffic violation, or risk getting a an eventual warrant out for Tom's arrest, since it was his car.

So I marked the extra $4.60 up to the typical bureaucrat's intransigence, and just drove on, massively annoyed.

#40 :: October 9, 2005

Only In New York: Conversations

I had an appointment at the bank this past week for a home equity loan closing. I didn't actually meet with anyone from the bank; the closing agent (they outsource this stuff to land abstract companies) and I just met at a conference room at the bank.

Among the many, many forms I had to sign was one where I had to attest to all the names by which I am known. She was explaining each form to me as we went along, and this is how that part went:

Closing Agent: ...And here, you need to fill out all the names by which you are known, and sign to attest to the lists's completeness and validity.

Me: My other names?

Closing Agent: Yes. Any other names by which you are known.

Me: You mean, like....Pooky?


Closing Agent: Is that a stage name?