Category: Rant

G.O.P. Denounces Ground Zero Community Center, Silent on Strip Club

Ground Zero is sacred ground.

You better believe it is.

So where is the voice of the G.O.P. shouting a unanimous and bombasitic, “NO!!!!!!” regarding the Ground Zero Strip Club?

The G.O.P. wants us to believe that it is wrong for a religious group to openen a community center close to Ground Zero. The religious group should locate elsewhere, not so close to Sacred Ground.

Did the G.O.P. happen to miss the Cordoba House complex at 45-51 Park Place, a mere two blocks away from the World Trade Center site?

A bit more from

As yet, I haven’t heard anyone wonder why our political class is silent as the sex industry operates on sacred ground. It would be a bizarre complaint: It’s Manhattan, where you can find anything mere blocks from a given location. The closest strip club to Ground Zero happens to be two blocks away, a fact that has nothing to do with our reverence for the place where so many Americans were killed by terrorists. As you’ve probably noticed, it doesn’t even make sense to call it The Ground Zero Strip Club.

But it makes no less sense than naming an Islamic community center “The Ground Zero Mosque”–as much of the media have done–because it’s going to be located a couple blocks away. Even worse, opponents of the project are opportunistically invoking the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, even going so far as to appropriate their imagery. “Join the fight to kill The Ground Zero Mosque,” intones a video advertisement released by a group called National Republican Trust PAC. “A mosque at Ground Zero must not stand. The political class says nothing. The politicians are doing nothing to stop it. But we Americans will be heard. ”

As an American in good standing, I’d like to be heard–and to make sure that James Madison, a colleague of mine in citizenship, is heard too. The fourth president of the U.S. once wrote, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It’s a line that National Republican Trust neglects to remember. Perhaps “the political class” isn’t doing anything to stop the construction of an Islamic community center because the Constitution forbids it. Even worse, the advertisement I’ve mentioned engages in just the sort of religious bigotry that the First Amendment is meant to guard against. “On Sept. 11 they declared war against us,” the narrator says. “And to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at ground zero.”

“They” declared war against us? Who is this ambiguous “they?”

A radical group of al Qaeda radicals led by Osama bin Laden attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

Who are “they” who wish to open the community center?

“They” are an Islamic group that has long run a mosque in the area for New York City Muslims. On 9/11, “they” found their community under attack, too. It is slander to assert that they’ve declared war against us, or that their motive in building a community center is celebrating the murder of Americans.

“They” who wish to open this community center are peace-loving Americans. That’s it.

This is a non-issue, and the G.O.P. should be ashamed.

Roger Ebert Defends the Rights of Muslims to Open a Community Center

From Robert Ebert:

As some chant "Death to America," what a mighty message we send if we support the mosque. THAT is the meaning of Freedom.

Also, another Tweet from Roger:

The NYC mosque exposes many on the right who don’t have a clue about the Constitution.

I can’t believe the weird right is protesting this community center.

President Obama Insists Muslims Have Same Rights as Anyone Else

Doing another post on this because I’m, frankly, delighted that the President has issued such an unequivocal statement on this issue.


Finally breaking his administration’s official silence on the matter, President Obama today insisted that he supports the so-called Ground Zero mosque, insisting that Muslims have “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws,” adding that he believes they have the same rights as anyone else.

The mosque had been backed by New York Mayor Bloomberg, but angrily opposed by a number of people who insist that the community center just blocks away from the site of the 9/11 attack is a violation of “sacred” ground.

Efforts by opponents of the site to get an existing building, a former Burlington Coat Factory covered in graffiti, declared a “landmark” have failed so far, but have sparked further protests and lawsuits.

Mr. President, it’s fun to be Liberal, and we actually make more sense.

Be yourself, and reclaim America for us all, liberals and conservatives.

Illinois’ National Disgrace Almost At At End: Blago Case Finally To Go To Jury

Our national disgrace is almost over, Chicagoland. Illinois. Blago’s case is finally going to the jury.

From the Sun-Times:

The prosecution finishes its rebuttal and Judge Zagel adjourns court for the day.

‘Members of the jury, you’ve heard all the evidence and the arguments,” he tells them.

He tells the jury it is especially important now that they avoid news reports and not talk about the case, and asks them to return in the morning for jury instructions.

The Sun-Times’ Blago Blog is really spectacular, providing the best coverage of the trial.

Except for my friend Cait, who actually went to the court today, and said Rod “had the most miserable depressed look ever on his face” when she saw him in the cafeteria.

Yes, Cait and a friend went to Chicago today to see Blago. And the Sox.

Enjoyed the Sox more.

Sorry, Rod.

Mad Tea Party Kicks Out Mark Williams (Video and Commentary)

I was so disgusted by this I just wanted to stay away. Plus, I don’t trust early news reports that attempt to sensationalize stories. Then, I read more, and finally forced myself to read Mark Williams’ letter to Abraham Lincoln, where he reveals his incredible lack of depth on race in America. To say the least.

I didn’t want to give Williams at press. He sounded juvenile, and, to tell the truth, this is the first I’ve heard of him, although apparently he has been riding the Tea Party tidal wave for a while, even perceived by some as a leader in the movement.

But all waves, tidal or otherwise, come to an end. And, while many in the Tea Party may in fact laugh secretly at his callow contribution to the national dialogue on race, they must disown Williams as the new face of the G.O.P. slouches forward with ever-vanishing credibility.

So, for posterity, here is Mark Williams’ attempt to enter the national debate on race in America, a letter to Abraham Lincoln:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.

The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.

And the ridiculous idea of “reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government.” What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending.” Again, they directly target coloreds. That means we Coloreds would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew NAACP Head Colored Person

The Tea Party, the group that purports to finally represent all Americans, finally expelled Williams, if that means anything.

Nowhere to go but up for Williams now, if that’s possible.

A Hole in the World: The BP Oil Hemorrhage

It’s not an oil spill. There is no mere spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

There is a hole in the world. The floor of the Gulf of Mexico is hemorrhaging oil, and no one has a clue how to stop it. When they finally do plug the hold, the damage will likely be with us for decades.

From The Nation:

How long will it take for an ecosystem this ravaged to be "restored and made whole," as Obama’s interior secretary pledged it would be? It’s not at all clear that such a thing is even possible, at least not in a time frame we can easily wrap our heads around. The Alaskan fisheries have yet to recover fully from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and some species of fish never returned. Government scientists estimate that as much as a Valdez-worth of oil may be entering the Gulf Coast waters every four days. An even worse prognosis emerges from the 1991 Gulf War spill, when an estimated 11 million barrels of oil were dumped into the Persian Gulf—the largest spill ever. It’s not a perfect comparison, since so little cleanup was done, but according to a study conducted twelve years after the disaster in the Persian Gulf, nearly 90 percent of the impacted muddy salt marshes and mangroves were still profoundly damaged.

We do know this: far from being "made whole," the Gulf Coast, more than likely, will be diminished. Its rich waters and crowded skies will be less alive than they are today. The physical space many communities occupy on the map will also shrink, thanks to erosion. And the coast’s legendary culture will contract and wither. The fishing families up and down the coast do not just gather food, after all. They hold up an intricate network that includes family tradition, cuisine, music, art and endangered languages—much like the roots of grass holding up the land in the marsh. Without fishing, these unique cultures lose their root system, the very ground on which they stand. (BP, for its part, is well aware of the limits of recovery. The company’s "Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan" specifically instructs officials not to make "promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal." Which is no doubt why its officials consistently favor folksy terms like "make it right.")

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on racism, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money—not BP’s recently pledged $20 billion, not $100 billion—can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

"Everything is dying," a woman said as the town hall meeting was coming to a close. "How can you honestly tell us that our gulf is resilient and will bounce back? Because not one of you up here has a hint as to what is going to happen to our gulf. You sit up here with a straight face and act like you know, when you don’t know."

"Everything is dying."

BP: The Only People Qualified to Stop the Oil Spilling into the Gulf, and They Haven’t Got a Clue

Gulf Oil spill video

From the live feed courteously provided by BP, May 31, 2010, ca. 10:45 CST.

We need to face it: “They” have no idea what they’re doing.

“They.” You know who “they” are. “They” are the ones who are supposed to know these things. “They” are the ones who say all those neat thing, you know, as in, “They say.”

In this case, “they” are BP, British Petroleum, those responsible for what is now the greatest ecological disaster the United States has ever known.

And, yes, we can blame the government of the good ol’ US of A.

First, allow me to add my voice to the chorus of voices thanking President George W. Bush for working so hard to create such an affable relationship between the oil industry execs and those in our government responsible for regulating them. Thanks so much to President George W. Bush putting the oil industry first, over and above the health and welfare of the citizens of the United States. Thanks so much to President George W. Bush for trusting the oil industry to essentially police itself.

That is well-deserved, my friends.

I don’t know yet if President Barack Obama should have reacted more quickly, if President Obama dropped the ball in working to regulate the oil industry.

I do know that if President Obama had reacted more quickly, perhaps sent the U.S. Navy to the Gulf of Mexico to plug the leak, I doubt we would be any better off. Please, no offense at all to our men and women who serve, but the United States Armed Forces don’t train for oil recovery or oil well disaster management.

That’s supposed to be what British Petroleum and all those other wonderful oil companies do.

And get this, British Petroleum is using dispersants that are banned in the United Kingdom, and using them in quantities greater than dispersants have ever been used in the history of U.S. oil spills.

This time, the great “They” are British Petroleum, the great BP, and they haven’t got a clue what to do about this oil leak.

The latest is that BP is trying once again to use a dome to funnel some of the leaking crude to a tanker on the surface. The New York Times gives us the good news:

If successful — and after the string of failures so far, there is no guarantee it will be — the containment dome may be able to capture most of the oil, but it would not plug the leak. Its failure would mean continued environmental and economic damage to the gulf region, as well as greater public pressure on BP and the Obama administration, with few options remaining for trying to contain the spill any time soon.

If unsuccessful, that will leave the Gulf with gushing oil at least through August, which is the earliest engineers will be able to engineers “complete the drilling of a relief well, which would allow them to plug the leaking well with cement,” the NYTimes reports.

They haven’t got a clue.


Todd Stroger Thinks Cook County is His Corporation

Todd Stroger was happy to open the checkbook wider for one of his aides, and cash-strapped Cook County tax payers will have to pay more.

From the Southtown Star:

Jaye Morgan Williams, the county’s chief financial officer, sent letters to all 17 county commissioners Friday, explaining why Stroger boosted her pay from $176,156 to $230,000 for this year.

In the two-page letter, Williams, appointed by Stroger in August, noted that she helped deliver the county’s 2010 budget within 90 days of her start date, finished a "woefully stalled" 2008 audit just 90 days into her tenure and was earning less than two of her fellow CFOs on the county payroll.

She said she’s also taken on extra duties despite a 60-hour work week and at one point this year asked for "compensation consideration."

"As a professional with a long career in the industry, I do not want to get caught up in the current maelstrom and only ask that I be treated fairly," she wrote in a letter to the commissioners that was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

A defensive Stroger echoed those sentiments Friday during a radio interview, saying Williams’ salary is a "lot of money, but she actually is a chief financial officer of a $3 billion corporation."

And there’s the rub: Cook County is not a corporation. Cook County is not a business.

Are you counting the days until the November election?

I am.

Is The Pope Lying To Us? It’s Time For Benedict To Man-Up

I have to ask the unthinkable for a Catholic:

Is the Pope lying?

The New York Times has been relentless on their investigation of the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church.

Here is the latest:

The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry.

But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.

That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

As the scandal has deepened, the pope’s defenders have said that, well before he was elected pope in 2005, he grew ever more concerned about sexual abuse and weeding out pedophile priests. But the case of the California priest, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, and the trail of documents first reported on Friday by The Associated Press, shows, in this period at least, little urgency.

The letter that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later pope, wrote in Latin in 1985, mentions Father Kiesle’s young age — 38 at the time — as one consideration in whether he should be forced from the priesthood. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was wrong to draw conclusions based on one letter, without carefully understanding the context in which it was written.

“It’s evident that it’s not an in-depth and serious use of documents,” he said. Earlier Friday, Father Lombardi suggested that the pope would be willing to meet with sexual abuse victims.

But John S. Cummins, the former bishop of Oakland who repeatedly wrote his superiors in Rome urging that the priest be defrocked, said the Vatican in that era, after the Second Vatican Council, was especially reluctant to dismiss priests because so many were abandoning the priesthood.

As a result, he said, Pope John Paul II “really slowed down the process and made it much more deliberate.”

So what really happened? The NYTimes has Cardinal Ratzinger’s signature on the document.

Look, I’m tired of Vatican priests and bishops treating the pope as if he’s the victim. And frankly, this kind of talk is insulting to all of us:

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was wrong to draw conclusions based on one letter, without carefully understanding the context in which it was written.

“It’s evident that it’s not an in-depth and serious use of documents,” he said. Earlier Friday, Father Lombardi suggested that the pope would be willing to meet with sexual abuse victims.

Time for Benedict to man-up and speak for himself. The Vatican double-speak has to stop.

Politician On Facebook: Anime Proof That Two Nukes Weren’t Enough for Japan

I was originally drawn to this story because of a post on Wil Wheaton’s (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek’s) Twitter account imploring someone to run against Democratic New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur. Wheaton called him a “racist a$$hole” and provided a link to NPR.

Here’s the scoop from NPR:

It must be a relief to many that our petty indiscretions, those that appear online and seem to haunt us daily, will soon become so normal as to be irrelevant.

It must be a particular relief to Nick Levasseur, a Democratic New Hampshire state representative, who, according the Huffington Post, used Facebook to offer his rather strong views on anime. Reports failed to record why Levasseur is so pained by the rather beautiful Japanese style of animation.

However, he is reported to have written on his Facebook page these rather difficult words: “Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough.”

Yes, he really said that.