Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Snippets and More

Stuff from around the blogosphere...expect more comments to come. (*Note: after proofreading I realized all my links were to conservative/Republicans. Now, who says I'm not fair and balanced??!!)

Michelle Malkin is all over the Democratic staffers who illegally obtained Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele's credit report. As an aside, can she (and other bloggers) PLEASE stop 'coining' scandal names? I mean...'Chuckaquiddick'? I have a pretty good sense of humor, but give me a break. Not everything needs a name or slogan. I've had my fill of '____-gates' and 'AirAmericascam' and '____ lied, people died'. Get an imagination for crying out loud!

Dave Justus posts a picture I was just marvelling at...the giant squid, never before photographed alive and in its habitat. This is a monumental achievement for the Japanese scientists and oceanography in general.

Environmental Republican is in awe of Christopher Hitchens. I enjoy his writing as well even if I don't agree with it very often. I have to add my two cents here and say that when I went and protested against the War in Iraq before it began, I was angered by and said so to my friend, these 'tag along' groups at the protest. The majority of the protestors were there for one reason, to protest the war in Iraq. These groups--'Free Mumia' and the rest of them, hurt the cause by using a large gathering to give credence to their sometimes radical ideas. Its one of the reasons I haven't protested since (on several issues). But that doesn't dismiss statements like this:

2pm EDT update: Cindy Sheehan arrested. What a waste of police time and energy.

Welcome to American dipshits...letting your voice be heard is part of the deal. Get an effing clue. Passive democracy sounds pretty shitty to me.

John Cole on the ridiculous ID debate happening in Pennsylvania right now. Thank God someone still has the stomach to cover it. I've long since lost all rational thought on the matter and just really wish I could go and beat those people over the head with the reality stick.

And lastly, and most importantly, Andrew Sullivan on the torture and abuse of detainees and the new attacks on Capt. Fishback, the newest whistleblower. Please, PLEASE go read it all. It is so important and vital to our future. I couldn't say it any better than Fishback himself (in a letter to John McCain--emphasis mine):

Some do not see the need for this work. Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable.

Both of these arguments stem from the larger question, the most important question that this generation will answer. Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security?

My take? A resounding NO.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Silver Bullet

I have mentioned before why I don't post updates daily on the progress in Iraq. I believe the day to day operations, while tragic OR successful will only make sense once we look back at the operation as a whole. However, I do post on the torture 'allegations' because I believe that the instances of torture or detainee abuse have the power, single handedly, to lose this war for the US. I say allegations in quotes because of new reports found here and here and 'allegations' seems too unsure a word for something we now KNOW:

The sergeant says that military intelligence officers would tell soldiers that the detainees "were bad" and had been involved in killing or trying to kill Americans, implying that they deserved whatever punishment they got. "I would be told, 'These guys were IED [improvised explosive device] trigger men last week.' So we would f___ them up. F___ them up bad ... At the same time we should be held to a higher standard. I know that now. It was wrong. There are a set of standards. But you gotta understand, this was the norm. Everyone would just sweep it under the rug ... We should never have been allowed to watch guys we had fought."

Are there still people out there who want to make excuses for why Americans are doing these things? Is there any viable reason that would make sense? Anyone else out there still want to say it is just a few 'bad apples' in the military? This is a systematic, devised POLICY by the Bush Administration, with legal cover provided by our Attorney General, to torture and abuse detainees. We will look back on this chapter of the war, win or lose, and realize it was one of the most shameful chapters in American History.

Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan

Friday, September 23, 2005

What are you?

Hat tip to Balloon Juice for this cool little test. I love these things and was just saying a little while ago, how accurate I always think they are.

I guess its no surprise what I am. Although, I am not a member of the Democratic Party and never will be.

You are a

Social Liberal
(71% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Strong Marriages

What keeps a marriage together? What makes a strong marriage? These are timeless questions and the answers to them are numerous and varied from couple to couple. Thank God we have Sen. Brownback to help us with these answers. What creates a strong

Congress is considering a plan by Kansas Senator Sam Brownback to pay low-income couples in the nation's capital to get married.
Brownback heads a Senate subcommittee in charge of the budget ofWashington, D.C., where more than half of all children are raised bysingle parents.
His plan would give single parents an incentive to marry, offering qualified couples up to nine-thousand dollars to buy a home, start a business or begin a college fund.

As the Carpetbagger notes....what a strange turn of events.

Mr. Cheney also echoed Mr. Bush's contention that Mr. Gore's tax cut plan, which would provide relief for those putting money into savings accounts, college tuition, child care and other specific purposes, would serve as a form of social engineering.
"If you live your life the way they want you to live your life, if you do, in fact, behave in a certain way, then you qualify for a tax credit," he said.

What I'm trying to point out here isn't the divide between Republicans and Democrats, its that for all the blustering rhetoric and for all the 'differences' between the parties, they are the same. EXACTLY the same. Republicans believe in spending money, just on different things than Democrats. Pay to play is rampant in both parties, its just the lobbyists who are different (sometimes). Ideological extremism is rampant, just with different goals. Social engineering? Thats bad, unless its to engineer the family we think is right. Women should have the right to choose? Absolutely, and you are wrong if you think that right should not be exercised after a certain time period.

If it was ever time for a third party...a viable one...its now. The political center of this country is becoming larger and larger and the Democrats and Republicans are busy backing up into their ideological corners, as far away as possible from each other.

Catholicism's New Inquisition

Following up on my earlier post, here are some questions to be asked during the visits to seminaries in search of the ever dodgey homosexual, pedophile priest.

"Is there a clear process for removing from the seminary faculty members who dissent from the authoritative teaching of the church or whose conduct does not provide good example to future priests?"
"Is the seminary free from the influences of New Age and eclectic spirituality?"
"Do the seminarians or faculty members have concerns about the moral life of those living in the institution? (This question must be answered)."
"Is there evidence of homosexuality in the seminary? (This question must be answered)."
The questionnaire also asks whether faculty members "watch out for signs of particular friendships," the newspaper said.

Maybe we can hook the Vatican up with these guys (link is to Sadly, No--as Focus on the Family has removed the lovely article):

Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include:
1. A strong feeling that they are "different" from other boys.

2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.
3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.

and my personal favorite...

5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them "queer," "fag" and "gay."

Remember parents, if the local bully is calling your kid a 'fag'...its HIS fault, not that ratty-ass bully or his incompetent parents.

Once again, lets remind ourselves why these questions are being asked:

The issue has been in the spotlight because a study commissioned by the Church found last year that about 80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.

And we all know, in the male homosexual view, boys = consensual homosexual males. I mean the ridiculously implicit assumption is the homosexual males not only have no control over their sexual urges, but that those urges are not just for consenting other homosexual males, but basically anyone who possess a penis, no matter the age.

Disgusting. The church should be ashamed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A new type of reality....

Just when I thought I had a ninja grip on reality, Tom Delay comes along and introduces me to the new reality.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget. Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible. "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing. Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."

Is there one person out there that can actually defend that statement? I'm not praising Democrats for their fiscal sanity or anything, but really, is there anyone with LESS of a grip on reality than Delay?

Jumping through the hoops

Been reading and watching a bit of the Roberts confirmation hearings...they are mind-numbingly boring. However, Roberts still impresses me. His answers are conservative and that doesn't bother me and I am also glad that he stated his respect for precedent and cleared up the fact that his 'faith' will not prohibit him from following the rule of law. So far, I think he should be confirmed by a large majority.

I am not saying I dont think he should be grilled...he should be. But he is performing well. I do agree, to a point, that he should answer how he would rule on certain cases. For example, saying he would respect the Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood precedents is enough confirmation for me--I don't need to hear him say 'I will never work to overturn Roe v. Wade'.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Shame Continues

Andrew Sullivan reports today that the Catholic church is moving forward with their shame inducing position on homeosexual celibate priests.

The archbishop overseeing a Vatican-run inspection of U.S. seminaries said there is no room in seminaries for men with strong homosexual inclinations even if they have been celibate for a decade or more. "I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Archbishop O'Brien, who is coordinating the visits to more than 220 U.S. seminaries and houses of formation, said even homosexuals who have been celibate for 10 or more years should not be admitted to seminaries. "The Holy See should be coming out with a document about this," Archbishop O'Brien said in an interview with the National Catholic Register newspaper.

So, where these visits made after waves of homosexual priests having been outed? Has their been an increase in homosexual applications to seminaries? Oh, here's why...

The call for the visits came after a wave of abuse allegations and revelations about how dioceses handled those cases.

So once again, the Catholic church has found a scapegoat. I've noted this before. Exactly how is that that gay priests take the fall for the abuses suffered and the COVERUP performed by the church buearocracy?

Its a real shame that a church that proclaims to teach people how to live good and holy lives insists on teaching hate. I continue to disagree with the church, and further, don't think its a sin to do so.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Whats on Current

Just watching a story on CurrentTV and I had to post. Its a young gentlemen walking around Kabul, Afghanistan and talking to locals about the changes and about how things are now. It is so interesting and refreshing to see and hear the words and opinions of locals and the people who are actually living there.

All the people being interviewed expressed happiness at the changes made and the return of commerce and 'some' rights for women. There was an interview with a young man from Queens who's parents left Afghanistan when he was 6 months old. But he returned now after the Taliban left (his parents arranged a marriage for him). He spoke so passionately about Islam and Afghanistan and it's comeback, so to speak.

So far, as I said before, I'm really enjoying this channel. Check it out if you can.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Sports Update

Oh, its business as usual as the NFL kicked off the season last night and the Patriots won their 35th of their last 39 games--holding Randy Moss to one big play. The Patriots are going to be a force to be reckoned with this year, as in past years. Never underestimate Bill Belicheck or Tom Brady.

If you haven't been watching a great US Open this year, I sincerely suggest you do. Agassi is in to the semi-finals after an instant classic quarterfinal with James Blake. Agassi overcame a two sets to love deficit to overcome Blake in a 5th set tiebreaker. Both players were playing in the zone and the shots were unbelievable. Agassi proved once again why he will go down as the best returner in the history of the game and Blake is playing so well his ranking should be in the low-20's to mid-teens after this US Open. An interesting tidbit--Blake would have been the first African American male in the semis since Arthur Ashe in 1972. I would have liked to have seen Blake win, but its hard to not root for the 35 year old Agassi. Up next, the suprising Robby Ginepri and the other semi is Hewitt v. Federer. Lets see if Hewitt can pull something out of his hat to throw at Federer and make it interesting.

Monday, September 05, 2005


I've been hesitant to post on the hurricane and its aftermath. It is a monumental tragedy and there is blame enough to go around for the response, the rheotoric, the funding, the levees...everything. But I'll share a couple of thoughts.

I don't buy the race angle. My theory is that it is more a 'class' angle. These people, those that didn't evacuate, were predominantly poor and that is not an insignificant fact. However, if I was black, and I watched CNN, and saw all of the black faces on that t.v., suffering, better believe that after day 6, I'd start thinking to myself 'what the hell is going on here?". I was thinking it Friday and I'm white. As I said, I don't buy the race angle, and I don't think its a conspiracy, however, I do believe that the emotion is an understandable one by the black community--to a point.

Related: Andrew Sullivan recieved an email I think that sums it up nicely. I don't share the writers political affiliation, but I share his viewpoint. This kind of infrastructure failure, this kind of monumental lack of foresight, wasn't supposed to happen anymore. Read the whole thing.

Money quote:

We have known that this sort of disaster could occur for a century. Hell, the tour bus driver told me about it on the plantation tour. This means that we have been able to envision the stark reality of this occurring for a week-the newspapers all said the storm would hit New Orleans last Thursday.A week to get buses? A week to get fishing boats? Trucks? This is the United States!

I read someone who said, "All the people who weren't bedridden, or had money, or had cars left. The people that are left had none of those things."There are people tonight who are going to sleep on overpasses for the fourth straight night. There are prisoners who will do the same. There are people dying at a convention center because no one will tell them that no one is coming for them, and the National Guard is protecting the kitchens. There are police officers who are turning in their badges because they've lost everything, have no guidance, and don't want to be shot by a looter.

There are people tonight inside a concrete domed stadium with holes in the roof and no air conditioning who were told the buses are coming today, and they might, or they might not. There is no food. There is no water. There are bodies floating through the neighborhoods.


Some people say that you can't hold the President responsible for this. Oh, yes you can. Because when he looked over at John Ashcroft after the jets hit the towers and said, "I want you to make sure this never happens again," it was not meant to be specific to "no more planes hitting large buildings on the East Coast, right, boss." It was meant that no American should have to run for his life through an American city. While Americans may perish in a senseless, unforeseen disaster, we'd save the ones we could.

And the Cabinet appointees were mushwits and he could barely speak a complete sentence and we're sending people overseas for God knows how long to help people who are indifferent at worst and hostile at best, but they were going to protect us. In 2004, that's all a lot of us needed. Well right now, it's obvious that they can't.

Ask yourself this: What if Al-Qaeda blew up the levees instead of the hurricane? Would the response have been any different?No. It wouldn't. That city flooded in a day. And if it were Las Vegas, I would have been in some operations center watching people try to decide who gets to starve to death and who gets to get on a bus to Los Angeles or Phoenix. And there would be no certainty that I'd be on that bus in time to protect my wife and kids.But one thing sure would have been different.They wouldn't have had a whole week to sort it out and know what's coming.

They were supposed to KNOW this already. It will have been FOUR YEARS next weekend since someone probably said, "Hey, what if..."And for that, the whole stack of them should be fired.I've had it. I'm done. And if the other bunch of assholes can't figure out that what's important is that babies don't starve to death here (and I'm not talking some metaphorical goo-goo thing with school lunches and welfare, but real, actual starving) and we get people out of harm's way, we'll get rid of them too. And so on.

Because this is about leadership, not about bitching on CNN how no one's in charge, or listening to Peggy Noonan furrow her brow at the Governor's performance, or bragging that we've sent in one National Guardsman for every 200 people, or actually having the audacity to say that "we had no idea the levees would break."

Today, I saw my country favorably compared to Indonesia and Thailand, (always our traditional benchmarks of infrastructural success) while the elderly die of thirst in the street. We sneered at France when this happened during a heat wave.

No more."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina's aftermath

The stories coming out of New Orleans and Biloxi and other points south are getting more and more heart wrenching every day. Then there are stories like this one:

Zeuschlag said paramedics were calling him and crying for help because they were so scared of people with guns at the Superdome. He also said that during the night, when a medical evacuation helicopter tried to land at a hospital in the outlying town of Kenner, the pilot reported 100 people were on the landing pad, some with guns.

What is going on down there? I mean, I would never assume to know how I would behave in a situation like that one, but I think that I can safely say that I wouldn't be looking for a gun to shoot at people who are trying to help me. Whatever needs to be done to regain order down there needs to be done now and whatever money needs to be spent and however many National Guard troops are needed must be sent.

It is only going to get worse down there, before it gets better. With the level of chaos and lawlessness now, its hard to imagine what is going to happen.

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