JABbering Stooge

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gratuitous Heinlein Reference

I really can't grok where this country is going, and even if I did, I don't think I'd want to. Here are just a few examples:

Karl Marx Rove: Dems want to coddle terrorists

Let's start off with Bush's brain: Karl Rove. At a speech at the New York Conservative Party's annual dinner, just north of ground zero (gee, Karl, opportunistic much?), Rove had the following "words of wisdom" about his ideological opponents:

Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers...Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.

Of course Rove would derisively dismiss the idea of preparing indictments against terrorists, that's how Clinton caught the blind sheik, who perpetrated the 1993 WTC bombing, which undermined the need for the draconian measures the Republicans snuck into the PATRIOT Act! As for therapy, I defy Rove to provide ONE SINGLE, SOLITARY INSTANCE of a liberal opining that we need to get these guys therapy.

Incidentially, Crooks and Liars has the following to say about the September 14, 2001 Congressional Resolution:

It passed the House 420-1 and passed the Senate 98-0, with nary a mention of indictments, therapy, or calls for understanding.

And then there's that "understanding" bit. I guess Mr. Rove would consider Sun Tzu a "librul" for this statement:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Conservatives refuse to even try to "know their enemy" - anyone who disagrees with a conservative like Mr. Rove is Varelse to him (Ann Coulter is especially guilty of this), which may explain why we're losing at least as often as we're winning in Iraq.

Sun Tzu also had this to say:

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

And indeed, that is exactly what is happening in Iraq! We're spending tremendous amounts of blood and treasure in this quagmire of an illegal occupation - a seige, if you will, and people are starting to take advantage of it (North Korea, China, etc.).

But none of this matters to Karl Rove, who insists that it's the Democrats who are to blame for our troubles in Iraq:

"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said [in response to Sen. Durbin's comments about Gitmo].

Never mind that Democrats are complaining about Bush trying to win this war on the cheap by not equipping our troops properly and then slashing their benefits upon their return - "dulling their weapons and damping their ardor," as it were. And never mind that Democrats seem to be the only ones in this country who care about whether or not we uphold the Geneva Conventions, a treaty that we are Constitutionally bound to uphold, NO MATTER WHAT. Because to do otherwise invites identical treatment towards our soldiers in the event that they get captured.

And we wonder why China sees us as a bunch of hypocrites when we bitch at them about their atrocious human rights record.

Demanding accountability in the military and the executive branch = "conducting geurrilla warfare on our troops"

Now we're getting this garbage from our elected officials.

"While our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line each day to defend our safety and to protect our freedoms, I am sure the least they expect is the backing and the support of their leaders at home," said Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Republican Conference.

"To the contrary," Pryce added, "what we've seen from Democrat leaders is a growing pattern of jumping at any chance to point the finger at our own troops, bending over backwards to promote the interests of terror-camp detainees while dragging our military's honored reputation through the mud."

No, Rep. Pryce, our military's honored reputation was "dragged through the mud" when Alberto "Geneva Conventions? What Geneva Conventions?" Gonzales authorized torture in his January 25, 2002 memo, yet no one has taken him to task for the memo. Indeed, he's been lionized in conservative circles for issuing it!

Not to be outdone, Rep. Joe Wilson (R - SC) - not to be confused with Ambassador Joe Wilson, who uncovered the forgery of the Niger yellowcake documents, and whose wife, Valerie Plame was outed in retaliation - had this gem for CNS to lovingly parrot report on:

[It] is just inconceivable and truly incorrigible that in the midst of the war, that the Democratic leaders would be conducting guerrilla warfare on American troops.

To quote the Republicans' patron saint, Ronald Reagan, "There you go again." Looking for accountability in both the military in general, and the executive branch in particular, is "conducting guerrilla warfare on our troops." Dissent = treason. Black is white. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. You are getting sleepy.

Somewhere, George Orwell is throwing his hands up in despair and saying "I give up!"

Self-fulfilling prophecy: Anti-accountability GOP think tank declares Red Cross has "lost its way"

According to the New York Sun, "A new study conducted for Republican senators alleges that the International Committee for the Red Cross has 'lost its way' by abandoning its guiding principle of impartiality and is now working in 'direct opposition to the advancement of U.S. interests.'"

Apparently, this is because they dared to tell the truth about what's going on at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, etc., etc., etc.

I mean, look who issued the report: the Republican Policy Committee.

So in order to avoid any sort of accountability, they'll pay a biased think tank to come up with the conclusions they want to hear. Someone should tell these people that starting with your conclusion is not a valid method of scientific inquiry. Not that they'd listen.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Just a brief reminder

It was one year ago today that Dick Cheney told Senator Leahy to perform a certain anatomically impossible activity.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why do Republicans hate non-Christians?

According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the increasingly ironically-named U.S. House of Representatives voted to strip from the $408.9 billion defense spending bill an amendment by David Obey (D-WI) that "criticized the Academy for allowing, 'coercive and abusive religious proselytizing,'" and "called for the military to provide a plan to Congress 'no later than 60 days' following the enactment of the appropriations bills for ensuring the Academy 'maintains a climate free from coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing by Air Force officials and others in the chain-of-command...'" (this was also reported in the Washington post here).

And what do the co-dependent Democrats get for this insolence? More abuse from Republicans with nothing better to do than act out on a paranoid delusional persecution complex such as Rep. John Hostettler (R-American Inquisition):
...the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives...continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats.

Later in his obviously prepared remarks, Hostettler seethed:

Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.

Earlier in the session, Duncan Hunter (R-There was no toture at Gitmo because the inmates were fed on the taxpayer dime) defended his amendment (similar to the Obey amendment, but much milder in language) by saying:

We don't prejudge that there is abusive proselytizing.

Question for Rep. Hunter: given what we know about what has been going on at the Air Force Academy:

  • Cadets who skip out on weekly religious services are frog-marched back to the barracks - known as "Heathen Flight."

  • Jewish cadets are called "Christ killers" to their faces by upperclass cadets.

  • Cadets are told that they will burn in hell if they don't accept Jesus as Lord and Savior by upperclass cadets.

  • When Captain MeLinda Morton, a Lutheran chaplain at the AFA complained about these and other incidents, she was subsequently hauled off to Okinawa. Meanwhile, the general responsible for the anti-anyone-who-is-not-a-straight-conservative-Christian-male atmosphere at the Academy was promoted for his role in creating the hostile environment.

When you look at all the evidence, how could you do anything BUT come to the conclusion that Rep. Obey did?

And as for Rep. Hostettler, I wonder if he considers the Christian Alliance for Progress to be one of those Christian-hating organizations involved in "a long war against Christianity." For that matter, by Hostettler's twisted paranoid delusional logic, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson would also be included in this "conspiracy against Christianity," for reasons hi-lighted earlier.

By the way, I wonder what Hostettler and DeLay would think of this quote:

If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such being exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to-wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814

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Texas Senators only half racist

AMERICAblog just mentioned today that Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has FINALLY signed onto the anti-lynching resolution.

So why does the junior senator from Texas persist in being part of the Republican Lynch Mob? Only he can answer that question.

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Do you really need to ask?

MSRNC has as today's poll "Do you agree with the jury's verdict against Edgar Ray Killen?" - as if that needed to be asked. Yet, strangely enough, it seems that it did need to be asked, because at the time I voted (MSRNC, unlike CNN, forces you to vote in order to see the results), 17% said "No" and 8% voted "Can't decide." Makes you wonder who those 17% are...

But what's worse, that's not how the question is presented on MSRNC's frontpage: the link reads "Was the Edgar Ray Killen verdict fair?" It's as if MSRNC is invoking the Michael Savage defense of the Serbs to play up sympathy for Killen.

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DemocracyFest 2005

While I didn't get to go to all three days of DemocracyFest 2005, I did get to go to the main event - a star-studded rally at Stubb's BBQ that started at 6:30 PM for DemocracyFest attendees, with regular folks like me gaining entrance an hour later. The whole event was amazing - lots of good food, good music, and good politics.

Highlights include:

Columnist Molly Ivins, who was already speaking by the time I was allowed into the event. While listening to her speak, I decided to get food, so I didn't actually see her in action, but I was able to snap this photo:

Later, I was able to get closer to the stage and capture the following images:

Radio commentator and populist agitator Jim Hightower

Dallas county sheriff Lupe Valdez

My State Representative (who I worked to help elect), Mark Strama

Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)

But the highlight of the evening was the (earlier than scheduled) appearance of one Howard Dean, head of the DNC.

Several audience members (myself included) were handed signs that read "Dean Speaks for Me," which we all waved vigorously at every applause line (in particular, his counter-jab at Darth Cheney's "only Dean's mom liked him" line).

In a stirring speech that included a jab at "Tex" Sensenbrenner's DeLay-esque fund-raising trips ("See? He can make lists, too!"), Dean laid out a multi-faceted strategy to take back our country (which, of course, our local fishwrap, the Austin American-Statesman didn't cover in it's one-paragraph blurb buried inside the Metro & State section):

  • A strong national defense, bolstered by a consistent, humane foreign policy that recognizes the validity of the "Flies, Honey, Vinegar Principle."

  • Solving the health care crisis in this country, because people can't be very productive unless they have access to the same health care our congresscritters and the CEOs enjoy.

  • A sane, balanced economic policy that widens the circle of prosperity to all who participate in the economy (from the fancy-pants elitist CEO on down to the lowly worker).

  • Reclaim the morals debate, because the only people Jesus didn't like were hypocrites (I'm looking at you, James Dobson!) and because Jesus cared for the poor, and thought that one should pay their taxes ("Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's," and all that rot).

Afterwards, Dean had a brief, impromptu autograph session - signing everything from copies of his book You Have the Power to the dinky little paper "Dean Speaks for Me" signs. The session was necessarily brief because Dean had a plane to catch (places to go, clones of his mom to see...).

With the exciting part of the festivities concluded, I left the party.

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End of an Era

Congressman J. J. "Jake" Pickle died on Saturday following a long bout with prostate cancer. The Austin Democrat (originally from the West Texas town of Roscoe) was best known for helping LBJ pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (along with several other measures that JFK tried and failed to get passed) and the Social Security Reform Act of 1983. Additionally, he helped found local radio station KVET.

As my congressman during my formative years, I must say that I could not have asked for a better person to represent me in the years prior to my political awakening. He wasn't perfect (no one ever is), but you could tell that he cared for his constituents.

My congressman in the years since Pickle's retirement in 1994 (until the unfortunate redistricting fiasco), Lloyd Doggett, was clearly influenced by Pickle's desire to fight on behalf of all his constituents.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gay-bashing Telephone Companies

Now for some really far-out-there right wingnuttery. Comedian Eugene Mirman has uncovered a "Christian" phone company that wants to switch users from ungodly phone services like those provided by MCI, AT&T and Verizon ("Can you gay-bash me now?") to "Christian" phone companies that will fight to keep homosexuals as second-class citizens. The group called Eugene in an effort to recruit him for their homophobic crusade.

Naturally, Mirman decides to have a bit of fun at their expense, and hopfully expose them as the hateful bastards that they are (the calls are logged here, here and here). The most disturbing thing about the calls is how willingly and easily the people he talks to fall into this trap.

For example:

Operator: Did you press 1 to oppose same sex marriages?

Mr. Mirman: Oh, I pressed it, yes.

Operator: Okay, that's great to hear. And are you against same sex marriages?

Mr. Mirman: Well, I want to destroy it, yes.

Operator: Okay. That's great to hear... -

Mr. Mirman: Like the fist of God we will smash them!

Operator: Exactly.

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Duncan Hunter's strange obsession

Duncan Hunter (R-CA) seems to have a strange obsession with the dietary habits of the Gitmo detainees. He seems most upset with the fact that we're paying for the detainees to partake in the fine dining of glazed chicken, peas and carrots (as if that somehow refutes the miserable treatment of the prisoners that has been documented by the FBI, fer chrissakes!).

Does this mean that Representative Hunter wants us to starve the prisoners?! Isn't the whole idea of the War on Terror to ELIMINATE terrorists, not CREATE them?!!!

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Look over there! It's the Terri Schiavo autopsy!

The results of the autopsy on Terri Schiavo were released yesterday, and the verdict is in: Terri was indeed in a Persistent Vegetative State. Additionally, her brain was only about half the size of a normal, healthy woman her age and that the trauma had left her "cortically blind." Furthermore, the autopsy completely exonerated Michael Schiavo of any allegations of abuse (not that matters to the rabies right).

While all this is reassuring news, I can't help but wonder if this was done on the part of the "liburl" media to distract from the revelation of more memos/minutes backing up the claims in the Downing Street Minutes that The Most Holy George W. Christ lied us into war.

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Texas Senators conspicuous by their absence on lynching resolution

You know, I hate it when my home state is tarred with the sins of the Confederacy, but it doesn't help things when both of my senators can't be bothered to sign onto the anti-lynching resolution. Worse, if I tried to contact them to register my complaints, I'd only be met with an auto-response that in no way addresses my concerns or I'd be dropped directly into their voice mail. I don't know why I even bother to expect these two to join the human race any time in the next millenium.

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Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler...

Today is the long-awaited House Judiciary hearing on the Downing Street Minutes and other evidence that has come to light indicating that Dear Leader has lied us into Operation Iraqi Liberation.

Unfortunately, the power-mad child "Tex" Sensenbrenner has stepped in it yet again. According to The Hill, "Tex" and his flunkies "announced a new policy to deny any request from a committee Democrat for the use of a committee hearing room."

Initially, the Democrats were going to hold the hearing anyway in the DNC offices in Washington, D.C. However, since there was available (exceedingly tight) space in the basement of the Capitol, Rep. John Conyers decided on a change of venue.

So, in other words, we have "Tex" Sensenbrenner playing Bill Lumbergh to Rep. Conyers' Milton Waddams:

"Tex" Sensenbrenner: Ummm...yeah...could you do me a big favor? I'd like for you to move your "democracy" down to the basement. That'd be greeeeeat.

John Conyers: Excuse me, I believe you have my democracy...

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Monday, June 13, 2005

More Hypocrisy - Oversampling Dems bad, oversampling Republicans good

From the same newsgroup that brought you Jeff "Loaded" Gannon:

The phone poll, conducted by Ipsos for the Associated Press from June 6 through June 8, surveyed 1,001 adults, 854 of which were registered voters. Forty percent of those surveyed said they were Republicans, and 50 percent Democrats. The largest age group, 31 percent, was between the ages of 18-34.

"This is a closely divided nation, and the poll does not accurately reflect that," Danny Diaz, the Republican National Committee's Deputy Communications Director, told Cybercast News Service.

Yep, GOPUSA is arguing that oversampling Democrats is bad, bad man! I would wait to see if they bloviate over Gallup's tendency to oversample Republicans, but I think hell would have to freeze over first...

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Dropping the N-bomb...

NY Christian Coalition channels Heinrich Himmler (yes, I am making a Nazi reference - dropping the N-bomb, if you will):

(New York City) The leader of a conservative Christian lobby group appears to suggest that gays should be required to wear warning labels, although he denies that was his intention.

"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports," Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition told the Mid Hudson News.

The journal regularly publishes articles described by many mainstream psychologists as misleading and faulty. The homosexuality morbidity study was conducted by the conservative anti-gay Family Research Institute.

Thanks again to AMERICAblog, which points out:

In fact, the "study" in question was done by Paul Cameron, the head of a hate group - literally, the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled Cameron's group a "hate group" - Cameron was thrown out of the scientific profession twenty years ago for his hate research. But that doesn't stop the Christian Coalition from using hate literature and proposing Nazi solutions to brand gays.

I have a feeling that the pink triangles are probably going to be coming out in 2006, assuming the Rethuglicans get such a massive majority that there is no hope of effective opposition, or another 9/11 occurs. Either way, expect Dick "Nobody loves Dean" Cheney to become Chancellor Palpatine at that point.

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Why does Rep. Sensenbrenner hate democracy?

I should've seen this coming when I last posted about Rep. James Sensenbrenner's abuse of power.

Well, Sensenbrenner is back in the headlines again. This time, the Wisconsin Republican, of his own accord, adjourned a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, in violation of House Rules requiring a motion to adjourn - apparently because he didn't like what was being said about the USA PATRIOT Act in the committee meeting.

As noted in the press release by committee member Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), there were several problems with the way the meeting was run.

One point stands out in particular:

The Chair gave one of the witnesses an order for information he wanted submitted to the Committee and gave a deadline of one week even though other witnesses in previous hearings have not been given such deadlines. (begins at 1:50:45 on video)

Notice that those "stalwart patriots" who wholeheartedly endorsed the PATRIOT Act are either taken at their word that the law has made America impervious to attack or are given an indefinite amount of time to "find" (read: fabricate) evidence to that effect, while those "obstructionist traitors" who don't verbally fellate the Republican Party 24/7/365 are given one week to compile the voluminous data on abuses of the PATRIOT Act and analyses of the law's constitutionality (or lack thereof) that, in all likelyhood, will be rejected out-of-hand.

Also, during the hearing, there were several instances in which Sensenbrenner cut off Democratic members or cut off witnesses by claiming that their time was up, even when it clearly wasn't. Most prominently was when he cut off Rep. John Conyers in order to lie about the presence or absence of certain committee members. It kind of reminds me of a certain portion of the Monty Python "Argument" sketch:

Conyers: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.
(short pause)

Sensenbrenner: No it isn't.
Conyers: It is.
Sensenbrenner: Not at all.
Conyers: Now look.
Sensenbrenner: (Rings bell) Good Morning.
Conyers: What?
Sensenbrenner: That's it. Good morning.
Conyers: I was just getting interested.
Sensenbrenner: Sorry, the five minutes is up.
Conyers: That was never five minutes!
Sensenbrenner: I'm afraid it was.
Conyers: It wasn't.
Sensenbrenner: I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to argue anymore.
Conyers: What?!

Although, if what The Brad Blog said on the subject is true, then this incident has been some time in coming:

We are told by a Democratic Staffer who The BRAD BLOG has just spoken to, and who was present at today's debacle, that the Majority has been quite disturbed by those previous hearings for some time, and, in fact, during the airing of Conyers' Media Bias forum (it ran as taped on C-SPAN at 8:30pm ET a few Saturdays ago), an email was sent to a Judiciary Committee staffer which said, in effect, "I'm watching your forum right now, hope you enjoyed it, it will be your last."

Of course, this is the same Rep. Sensenbrenner who had the gall to say the following about Howard Dean's recent comments:

Your delusional outbursts have forced senior members of your own party to distance themselves from you. While I agree that you're "not very dignified" I sincerely hope you refrain from further personal attacks. These attacks are contrary to the respectful political debate the public deserves.

I would like to refer "Tex" Sensenbrenner to my earlier comments about "deulsional outbursts."

In response to this travesty, I sent "Tex" Sensenbrenner the following e-mail:

Representative Sensenbrenner,

I was extremely shocked by, appalled at, and disappointed in your ridiculous, childish actions at the House Judiciary Committee meeting on June 10, 2005. The actions you took, up to and including the premature adjournment of the meeting, are contemptible, unethical, in violation of House Procedural Rules, and constitute conduct unbecoming a public servant. I would like to remind you that you were elected to serve the country as a whole, and the people of your district in particular, not to serve the narrow interests of an elite few who wish to turn this country into a totalitarian theocracy.

To wit, in addition to illegally adjourning the meeting, you refused to recognize the Democratic members’ points of order or points of personal privilege on several occasions, lied about the presence or absence of Democratic committee members, disparaged your Democratic colleagues on the record on several occasions (a violation of House Rules), and threw up all sorts of roadblocks to equitable participation by those critical of the USA PATRIOT Act that witnesses testifying in support of the PATRIOT Act never had to go through. All of this information is available in the press release on the web site of Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) (http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/fl20_schultz/judgavelledoff.html).

What’s worse, this isn’t the first time that you have acted in such a way. In April, you “misused an official committee report to mischaracterize in a derogatory manner amendments offered by three Democratic Members. As a result, the House was required to authorize the filing of a supplemental report, which contained significant changes, to correct the record,” in the words of Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). When confronted by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) about your abuse of power, you chose to throw a temper-tantrum, saying in effect, “You don't like what we wrote about your amendments, and we don't like what you said about our bill.”

If this is what the Republican party means by “the adults are in charge now,” then frankly, I’d rather have the children back in power.

But what really galls me is that, in light of these two incidents, you have the nerve to lecture Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on civil public discourse.

If this is how you, and the rest of the Republicans, have chosen to conduct yourselves, particularly in full view of both domestic and foreign press, then I weep for the future of our grand experiment in representative government.


James A. Baker
JABbering Stooge (http://jabberingstooge.blogspot.com)

A few hours later, I got back the following automated response:

Thank you for contacting me. This is an automatically generated response to confirm the receipt of your e-mail.

If you are a constituent in my congressional district, please be sure to include your full name, street address, city, state and zip code with all communication to ensure a written response.

I would also like to invite you to receive e-mail updates on issues impacting Wisconsin and current events in the House of Representatives via my House Legislative Update. To sign up, visit http://www.house.gov/sensenbrenner/listserv/
. This is a completely voluntary service and you may unsubscribe at any time.

To keep up with my positions on various issues and progress in Congress, please feel free to visit my website at http://www.house.gov/sensenbrenner. It is updated regularly and is intended to be a source of information to you. It lists the various constituent services I provide including my schedule of Office Hours and Town Hall Meetings, how to set up an appointment with me, and tours that can be arranged for you and your family when you visit Washington, DC. Through my Press Releases and Weekly Columns, you can see what I am working on, and there is even a section targeted to help students.

If you are not a constituent, please note that your communication has been received and recorded.


Member of Congress
(emphasis and bolding mine)

I'm sure that by "received and recorded," he means that I've been included on his list of "seditious left-wing wackos" (which probably includes every public figure that doesn't praise Commander Codpiece to the sky - a list from which the names of "liberals" such as Senator Joementum and Alan Colmes are conspicuously absent) that he plans to forward to Homeland Security to keep tabs on.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

National ID Card - A Good Idea?

If you still think the National ID Card is a good idea, check out this Flash animation by the ACLU.

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Wanna Be a GOP Nominee? Sorry, only fascist, homophobic misogynists need apply

From the Washington Post:

An Up-or-Down Vote?

Tuesday, June 7, 2005; Page A22

WHILE REPUBLICAN senators insist on prompt votes for every judicial nominee, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has placed a "hold" on President Bush's nomination of Julie Finley as ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Mrs. Finley is well qualified. Like many ambassadorial appointees, she has been a major Republican fundraiser, but she has also been a strong and active advocate in Washington for the expansion of NATO, the integration of Turkey into the European Union and the spread of democracy to countries of the former Soviet Union. These are issues that would be central in her new post -- and issues that Mr. Brownback also has highlighted. Nevertheless, Mr. Brownback, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, as of last night was employing a parliamentary maneuver to block any Senate vote -- on the grounds that Mrs. Finley is pro-choice on abortion.

Never mind that, as AMERICAblog points out, the woman has been a reliable Republican booster.

So let's get this straight. The Republicans want the Senate to be a rubber stamp on nominations, but only during a Republican presidency, and only if the nominee is a fascist, let-the-corporations-rape-the-planet-and-their-employees, homophobic, misogynist theocrat. Got it.

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GOP: Smut-peddlers at fundraisers OK, as long as they're Republicans

I found this on AOL's web site:

Porn Star to Attend President's Dinner
GOP Fundraising Chief Has No Qualms About Taking Money

WASHINGTON (June 9) - The annual President's Dinner, a Republican Party fundraising event featuring President Bush, could get an extra dash of spice this year with porn actress and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey planning to attend.

Hmmm....a porn star and gubernatorial candidate in California's miscarriage of justice at a Republican fundraiser...wonder what that could be about...

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is co-hosting the dinner, had no qualms about Carey and her boss, adult film executive Mark Kulkis, attending.

"Their money was donated to the NRCC. The NRCC's job is to elect Republicans. We'll take that money and use it to elect more Republicans," Forti said.

So essentially, Forti is saying "We'll take anyone, even porn stars, if it means absolute power for God's Own Party! MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Now let's turn the clock back about five years...

Playboy fund-raiser bumps congresswoman from Democratic Convention

August 10, 2000
Web posted at: 10:58 p.m. EDT (0258 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Top Democratic officials removed California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez as a speaker at next week's national convention after she refused to cancel a political fund-raiser to be held at the Playboy Mansion.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said late Thursday night the action was taken after Sanchez was told that holding the fund-raiser there of Hispanic Unity USA -- her political action committee -- was not "reflective of our party's values" and she decided to move forward with her plans anyway.

If you'll recall, when Representative Sanchez's plans first came to light, all the blowhards on the right, from the Oxycontin Junkie on down, piled on with craploads of manufactured outrage that just wouldn't stop, even after Sanchez's removal from the speakers' list. Now, there's nary a peep from these same holier-than-thou types when it's a Republican fundraiser...

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Republican Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

This time, the hypocrites are piling on DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Dean's recent comments that "a lot of [Republicans] have not made an honest living in their lives" and that the Republican party is "pretty much a white Christian party" got the more-righteous-than-thou blowhards in an uproar of manufactured outrage.

For instance, on Wednesday, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) said the following:

"This kind of hate speech really doesn't have a productive place in our political discourse in this country."

Hate speech, Senator? Hate speech? Have you not heard anything your side has been saying for the last twenty years about Democrats?

But I guess Mr. Smith (Bloviates From Oregon) doesn't consider all of that hate speech because it comes from good, upstanding Republicans, right?

Oh, and by the way, Howard Dean wasn't the only one to notice that today's GOP is nothing more than the political arm of the American Inquisition. As John Aravosis of AMERICAblog points out, former Republican Senator John Danforth had an op-ed in the New York Times decrying the GOP's push towards theocracy. Of particular interest is the following quote:

By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians....

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement....

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda [described by Danforth as limited government, a strong private sector, "non-activist" judges and an "engaged foreign policy" backed by a strong national defense] to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives.

Oh, and by the way, there was this bit in the Duluth News-Tribune:

Some analysts said Dean is correct, but only to a point.

According to CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll data, 82 percent of self-described Republicans are white Christians - but so are 57 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of all Americans.

"He's not wrong," CNN analyst Bill Schneider said. "It's just stupid."

In other words, Dean said it "in an inartful way," to borrow a phrase from Tom "I AM the federal government" DeLay.

I have to say, though, that I thought the way the Dems handled the presstitutes at that photo-op yesterday was rather masterful. If only we could get this sort of representation on a regular basis...

UPDATE: AMERICAblog does it again. John Aravosis just posted a study by Fenton Communications that suggests that Dean was right after all in calling Republicans a "white Christian party."

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Gov. Goodhair goes Photo-opping....

Because apparently, we really WANT a theocracy. (yeah, right!)

FORT WORTH, Texas - In a ceremony filled with religious references, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill at a church school gymnasium Sunday that imposes more limits on late-term abortions and requires minor girls to get written parental consent for abortions.

Yeah, way to show you really care about religious freedom, governor! *rolls eyes*

"And it has been a tragedy of unspeakable consequences that for decades activist courts denied many Texas parents their right to be involved in one of the most important decisions their young daughter could ever make -- whether to end the life that was growing inside her," Perry told a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered at the Calvary Christian Academy.

[begin sarcasm]Because we all know that no parent will EVER abuse his child in a manner resulting in pregnancy! And we all know that no parent will EVER abuse his/her child for even considering abortion![end sarcasm]

"For too long, a blind eye has been turned to the rights of our most vulnerable human beings -- that's the unborn in our society."

And as for those already born? "SCREW 'EM!" Right, Governor Goodhair?

And then there was this gem as he was (ceremonially, since a constitutional amendment referrendum doesn't need the governor's signature, at least not in Texas) signing the measure that will allow voters the opportunity to write discrimination into Texas's constitution this November.

"Texans have made a decision about marriage and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas then maybe that's a better place for them to live," Perry said.

Yes, we'd rather squander an opportunity to improve our economic standing than give up our deep-seated, irrational animus against a class of citizens simply because of who they are - never mind that similar sentiments were (supposedly) consigned to the rubbish heap alongside Jim Crow. *sigh*

But what really gets me are the statements by Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt and Our Savior Lutheran Church Pastor Larry White:

The critics are generally those who object to people of faith participating in government or the electoral process.
- Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt

There are those that would drive people of faith from the public square if they could.
- Pastor Larry White, Our Savior Lutheran Church

So I guess that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson "[objected] to people of faith participating in government or the electoral process" and "would drive people of faith from the public square if they could" simply because they made the following statements:

The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, posesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.
James Madison, Letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
James Madison, 1803

Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle.
Thomas Jefferson to Richard Rush, 1813

...are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe?
Thomas Jefferson to N.G. Dufief, 1814

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814

(Note: Jefferson quotes culled from this site.)

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Yup. Racial Profiling Works Wonders.

CNN reported recently that some goofball named Gregory Despres was waved through the U.S.-Canadian border, in spite of the fact that he was "carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood."

Despres was later implicated in a brutal dual-slaying in his hometown of Minto, New Brunswick.

For the record, this is the official photo of Despres released to the press:

So, apprently, because he's the "right race" and doesn't answer to Muhammed, Ackbar, or Osama, he gets waved through without so much as a second glance - never mind the bloody chainsaw or the various stabbity implements that should've brought on numerous weapons violations. Good ol' white, Christian boys couldn't possibly be responsible for random acts of terror - or so the Ann Coulters and Michael Savages of the world would have you believe.

'Tis to make one roll one's eyes.

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MSRNC and Reuters: Shilling for big oil

MSRNC...I mean, MSNBC posted a Reuters story on its web site entitled, "Gasoline: One of the best bargains around."

The story cites, and accepts at face value, a study by oil industry research firm John S. Harold, Inc., which concludes that "the price of gasoline is cheaper by volume than many other household products, and the cost has not risen as quickly over the years."

Of particular relevance is this quote:

"On a per-barrel basis, gasoline is America's bargain liquid: 10 percent cheaper than bottled water, a third the cost of milk, a fifth the cost of beer, and less than 2 percent the cost of a bottle of Jack Daniels," the study said.

Great. But what's important here isn't unit price, it's usage cost that matters (because even a small price adds up as usage increases).

Let's assume for a moment that the gasoline usage cited in the study is accurate:

Gas: 10 gallons/wk.

Now let's assume, using an educated guess based on the volume of product that goes through the grocery store I work for, the average usage of various commodities:

Milk: 2 gallons/wk.
Beer: 2 12-packs of 12-oz cans/wk. = 12 x 24 = 288 fluid oz./wk. = 2.25 gallons/wk. (according to onlineconversion.com's volume conversions)
Bottled water: 1 24-pack of 20-oz bottles/wk. = 480 fluid oz./wk. = 3.75 gallons/wk.

Totaled up together, usage of the sample non-gas commodities is 8 gallons/wk. - 80% of the gas usage cited. Over the long haul, that 20% difference can add up fast. But as a percantage of overall usage in this sample, gas is by far the worst offender.

Gas: 10 gallons / 18 gallons = 55.56%
Milk: 2 gallons / 18 gallons = 11.11%
Beer: 2.25 gallons / 18 gallons = 12.5%
Bottled water: 3.75 gallons / 18 gallons = 20.83%

So, let's suppose that gas is $2.16 per gallon, milk is $3.49 per gallon, a 12-pack of 12-oz. beer is $10.99,and that 24-pack of 20-oz. bottled water is $5.69.
Then the following happens:

Gas costs 10 x $2.16 = $21.60
Milk costs 2 x $3.49 = $6.98
Beer costs 2 x $10.99 = $21.98
Bottled water costs 1 x $5.69 = $5.69

Notice that the only commodity in this sample set that costs more than gas, based on usage, is beer.

Total expenses for the week: $56.25.

Gas represents $21.60 / $56.25 = 38.4% of the week's expenses.
Milk represents $6.98 / $56.25 = 12.41% of the week's expenses.
Beer represents $21.98 / $56.25 = 39.08% of the week's expenses.
Bottled water represents $5.69 / $56.25 = 10.11% of the week's expenses.

So on a usage basis, gas is the second most expensive commodity in this sample set, and only because beer was set at an arbitrarily high value (though one that reasonably approximates the price of beer - the prices of the other commodities are also assumed to be reasonable approximations of their respective prices).

In other words, for an oil industry research frim to use a "price per barrel" comparison with non-gasoline commodities to argue that gas is actually a bargain is one more example of lying through statistics, because the average household isn't going to be using barrels of oil in one week, much less even one barrel of any other commodity.

Or as fellow Bartcop poster "retroper" put it: "Yes, Gas in the US is the cheapest of any industrialized nation but don't tell me what a great bargain it is by comparing it to Windex and Summer's Eve."

If MSNBC and Reuters want to maintain any semblance of credibility, they would do this sort of analysis (albeit in a much more rigorous fashion) on any claims made by any special interest group.

"Liberal" media bias, indeed.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A-kon Report

Okay, I've been sitting on this long enough. It's time to do my A-kon report.

A-Kon 16: Report from the trenches

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right? Well, that's what happened to us at the start. Originally, we had planned on having an acquaintance from Kuk Sool Won drive a whole group of us up to Dallas in his SUV. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it, and neither could most of the people we had planned on taking. It ended up being me and the two friends who had helped plan the whole thing. And, oh yeah, I got saddled with driving everyone up there in my Honda POS.

We left around 4:30 Saturday morning and, aside from a few minor incidents like me having to swerve to avoid having an 18-wheeler merge into me just before we reached Temple, and like me exiting an exit too soon once we got into Dallas (Dallas is so confusing!), we made it to the convention in one piece at a little after 8:00.

(Sidebar: Finding parking at a convention is an adventure in and of itself. The parking garage at the Adams Mark Hotel, where the convention was being held, didn't register the fact that every space was filled when we tried to park there, mainly because some of the vendors would park the carts housing their wares during travel in one space and park the vehicles towing the carts in another space. We ended up having to park in an uncovered lot (cheaper, but less secure) behind the Adams Mark parking garage.)

Now as far as registration lines go, this wasn't too bad.

On the other side of the registration tables, they had set up a sort of mini-arcade (mostly various versions of Dance Dance Revolution).

I spent most of the morning in the Dealers' Room (where the aforementioned vendors were hawking their wares):

If you want translations, ask!

Pocky: Don't Leave Home Without It!

Pocky and Ramune - Breakfast of Otaku!

Upon leaving the Dealers' Room with new purchases (an "Anime: my anti-drug" T-shirt, the soundtrack to the Martian Successor Nadesico movie, and a couple of shirts from the registration area: the official A-kon 16 shirt and a Red vs. Blue shirt), it was about time for the offical Red vs. Blue panel, aptly named "How to Make Movies, Meet Chicks, and be Suber Uber Hot Like Us - by Rooster Teeth Productions." Needless to say, the panel was pretty full, taking up at least half of the Austin Ballroom.

About halfway through, my friends and I ducked out for lunch at the nearby Plaza of the Americas.

(Sidebar: Even though we never went more than a block away from the convention center, Dallas apparently has a very good light rail mass transit system known as DART. Would that Austinites wise up to the advantages of light rail. It might actually eliminate the need for toll roads.)

After lunch we returned to the convention center for a showing of the first season of Red vs. Blue in one of the video rooms. Since I have already seen the first season several times, and because I was tired from a long day of driving after staying up much of the previous night, I decided to skip out halfway through (I'm sure no one would've wanted their enjoyment of Halo-based hijinks ruined by my snoring! :-}). I did, however, get the opportunity to check out Terminal Reality's demo of their upcoming game Aeon Flux for X-box. My first impression was that it looked cool, though the gameplay seemed reminiscent of BloodRayne 2 (which makes sense, in a way, since Terminal Reality also created BloodRayne 2).

Other than attending the Dub Your Own Anime panel and the Getting into Video Games panel (which was about getting into game development) there wasn't really much else I was interested in, especially since the RPGA panel (where one of my friends and I were hoping to get a chance to play some pen-and-paper RPGs - just so I could bust out with my huge 20-sided die for a laugh) ended up not happening for some reason. I spent much of the remainder of the time in and around the Dealers' Room and the registration area. We ended up leaving at around 9:15 because we all had seen all we wanted to see.

(Incidentally, I did manage to get a couple of pictures of people cosplaying:)

Ryouga from Ranma 1/2

Kool-Aid Man

Leaving Dallas was as much an adventure as entering - I had no less than three near misses just trying to get onto I-35 headed home!

Overall impressions of A-kon:

  • A-kon was definitely bigger than Ushicon attendance wise, though there seemed to be about the same amount of stuff to do, if less.

  • Other than the Red vs. Blue folks, the guest list wasn't that exciting.

  • While the Dealers' Room at A-kon had a heck of a lot more vendors than Ushicon (because there was more space for the vendors), the variety of items for sale ended up being even less than that at Ushicon. In particular, I had a hard time finding any place that sold anime music at all, much less the soundtrack to the Nadesico movie.

  • Overall, while it was definitely worth my while to experience A-kon at least once, I think I prefer Ushicon.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Everybody's gotta have a hobby...

If you've been reading my blog lately, you can kind of guess that one of my little addictions is Japanese animation (anime). Anime has developed a bit of a cult following here in America, much like, say, Star Trek, Star Wars, or Babylon 5. Commensurate with this, several conventions devoted to anime fandom have been organized. So, being the anime fan that I am, I am planning on going to one such convention, A-kon 16, in Dallas on Saturday with a couple of friends who are also anime fans.

Interestingly enough, Austin has its own anime convention, Ushicon, that usually takes place on the last weekend of January. Thus far, I have been to three of the last four Ushicons, but this will be my first trip to A-kon, one of the largest anime conventions in the country. Should be fun. I'll make sure to get some choice pics and post them to the blog. :-}

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Tragedy Strikes Austin Landmark

24 hours ago, a fire broke out at one of Austin's top tourist spots - the Oasis restaurant. According to eyewitness reports and the local news station's meteorological data, it appears that a lightning strike set off the fire which ripped through the popular eating establishment. Much of the restaurant was gutted, with the exception of about 90% of the kitchen and the main stage where live events are held. The owner has already announced plans to rebuild from the disaster. JABbering Stooge wishes him the best of luck in getting the restaurant back on its feet.

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Rep. Baka: Maher is a traitor for criticizing Dear Leader

The assault on freedom of speech continues. This time, Bill Maher - no stranger to controversy, for sure - committed the crime of joking about the Army missing it's recruitment goal for April by 42 percent. As a result, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R - AL) has called for Maher's show, Real Time with Bill Maher, to be cancelled because of the remarks.

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."

Forgive my utter ignorance - I know I'm just a stupid, evil, terrorist, traitor, spawn-of-Satan liberal, but how is showing concern for the problems our military is facing, albeit in a satirical fashion, in any way at all "undermining the effort or national security of our country?"

I guess Congressman Bachus is going to have to provide a list of state-approved jokes, because I'm a bit confused as to what sorts of jokes are patriotically correct. I am sure of the following, though:

  • Laura Bush joking about her husband's penchant for masturbating horses is high comedy.

  • Bill Maher satirizing the sorry state of our military is high treason.

I'm going to have to defer to an objective, independent source for comment on this development. Take it away, Ruri-chan!

He's a baka.

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Creeping Theocracy...

I know it's been a while since I posted,so let's just dive right in to some stories that drew my attention - continuing on the thread of our ever more insidious creeping theocracy.

Judge to divorced couple: non-Christian belief systems have no place in privacy of one's own home:

Our first story today comes from the Indianapolis Star.

Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.

By Kevin Corcoran

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Although the order doesn't specifically spell out what constitutes "mainstream religious beliefs and rituals," it ought to be pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain what the judge has in mind. Naturally, the parents objected to this, and the judge is refusing to remove the order. So how did the order get put in there in the first place?

The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to [Judge Cale J.] Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school.

Now, it's important to note that neither of the parents requested that their son be raised in accordance with the local Catholic school's beliefs, and that the boy enrolled as a non-Christian. But that doesn't matter to Judge Bradford - he thinks he knows best and explains as such in his ruling (while looking down his nose at the parents, I'm sure):

"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

In other words, kids can't be trusted to sort out for themselves their own belief systems - they need the guidance of a judge (and the school they're attending), as if having more than one option is too confusing (and conservatives complain that we liberals are elitist!).

The other implication of this ruling is that if the belief system underlying a parochial school conflicts with the belief system of the parents, the parochial school wins.

So much for freedom of religion.

Convicted of a drug/alcohol offense? Get thee to a church!

The Associated Press reported on tuesday that Kentucky District Judge Michael Caperton has an unusual idea of alernative sentencing: ordering the offender to attend worship services.

The sentence has only been issued about 50, and only to repeat offenders, so it's too early to tell what sort of effect it will have. That said, I'm not sure that this is such a good idea. First of all, this sort of thing carries the unspoken assumption that the offender is not religious at all, and that is why they're on drugs - a faulty assumption at best. Secondly, the whole point of church/state separation is to keep each institution uncorrupted by the influence of the other, thus enhancing our liberties.

James Madison would concur:

The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, posesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.
Letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
James Madison, 1803

I would also like to direct those interested to a December 2004 article by J. Brent Walker on the subject. It says what liberals have been trying to say about church/state issues far better than I could ever hope to accomplish.

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