Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Max Cleland: 'I Cried Uncontrollably for 2 1/2 Years'

Politics Daily

In a phone interview on Monday, former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland was upbeat – "What's goin' on, kid?'' – and quick to laugh. But after losing his U.S. Senate seat to an opponent who ran post-9/11 TV ads that showed the decorated Vietnam vet alongside Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, Cleland fell into a depression he was afraid he might not pull out of. It was public service, he says, that had given his life shape and meaning after he left three limbs on a battlefield in Khe Sanh. But without that role, the old darkness came back. Along with his job and his bearings, he lost his relationship with his fiancée. "That's emotionally and physically over,'' he told me. "That's gone.'' And for a time, he was once again a patient at Walter Reed, where he'd first been put back together nearly four decades earlier – and was now surrounded by vets from Iraq and Afghanistan: "I cried uncontrollably for 2 ½ years.''
In his new memoir, "Heart of a Patriot: How I found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove," written with Ben Raines, Cleland describes his journey to hell and back, twice, this last time because "Karl Rove managed to take away our service,'' he says, referring to himself and his friend and fellow veteran John Kerry. Visually, the 2002 ad for his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, suggested that Cleland was in league with terrorists, while the voice-over announced that he'd voted against the Homeland Security legislation he had actually co-sponsored...

Solve the budget crisis by legalizing marijuana?

We tax alcohol and cigarettes. But for marijuana, we let the sellers keep all the profit.

When I read that San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had arrested (at taxpayer expense) some people who were making $100,000 a week from their marijuana dispensary, I thought, why is the government paying instead of profiting from this?

Much marijuana ado about nothing

By Arthur Salm, SDNN
October 5, 2009

The marijuana is distributed to members of a cooperative of medical patients who have received doctor's authorization to use the drug to treat their illnesses, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Unlike several other states which permit marijuana sales to patients, Washington requires patients to grow marijuana themselves or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

...Some of the local establishments that have been authorized to dispense marijuana for medical reasons may have been dispensing marijuana to individuals who may have partaken of the substance for non-medical reasons. Worse, the establishments may have dispensed the aforementioned substance with full knowledge, or at least, a pretty damn good idea that their customers intended to go straight home and crank up “Dark Side of the Moon,” and don’t even pretend that you don’t know what I mean.

In response, more than a dozen clinics in San Diego County were shut down last month. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declared that “These so-called businesses are not legal. They appear to be run by drug dealers who see an opening in the market and a way to make a fast buck.”

She could well be right about that, because that’s pretty much what drug dealers, whether standing on the street corner or paying rent on a storefront, do: see an opening in the market as a way to make a fast buck...

Now the San Diego City Council has decided to — you’ll never guess — actually, you probably will — create a task force to study the medical marijuana problem; appointments to the 11-member task force recommended by Council President Ben Hueso is listed as ITEM-125 on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting. And, to be fair, the medical marijuana problem is, in fact, complicated. The city has no real guidelines, for example, so the joints can open just about anywhere that’s zoned commercial. Nobody even seems to be quite sure of how many there are in the county. And - can just about anybody run them? Can just about anybody get a prescription? Is it better to use one rolling paper, or two? Is the scene with the apes at the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey” supposed to have really happened, or is it allegory?

But the real problem lies in the premise: that what we are dealing with is some kind of special, deadly serious issue, when it most certainly is not. Marijuana is simply not very harmful, and everyone with a lick of sense knows it. Of course it can be abused, but so can dark-chocolate nonpareils, which is why my mother makes sure there’s only a small handful of them in her apothecary jar when I come to visit.

All of the complications, headaches and frustration we’re grappling with right now spring from nearly a century of American society’s ground-level, fundamental bungling . Cannabis was demonized for a goulash of reasons we won’t rehash here, but not one of them passes the Martian test: Could you explain this to a Martian and not sound like an idiot?

Human: “Okay, well, we allow people to ingest liquids that alter consciousness. The negative short-term effects can be disorientation, nausea, and, if too much is ingested, death. Long-term effects can include chemical dependence, organ damage, and death. Adults are allowed to drink it, but its sale is regulated; special licenses must be obtained, one for selling it in sealed bottles and cans, another for ingestion on the premises. It is heavily taxed. Leaders of countries traditionally drink a nominal amount in each other’s presence, for broadcast around the world.”

Martian: “Is the same true for inhaling marijuana smoke that likewise, if in a different fashion, alters human consciousness, but to which not a single death has ever been attributed, and to which some medical benefit has been ascertained?”...

Read more: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-10-05/news/arthur-salm-much-marijuana-ado-about-nothing#ixzz0TB44xi8o

Thursday, October 01, 2009

It seems that Scientologists take themselves very seriously

Social Movements, The Case of Scientology and It's Internet ...
The Church of Scientology holds that a fraction of its scriptures are only to be viewed .... I feel obliged to point out that critics have accused Scientology of cynically ..... Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. ..... In 1953, Hubbard instituted the religion of Scientology, possibly for financial reasons ...


[This site is related to the Scientology-supported campaign against "religious intolerance".]
A test of the Stark-Bainbridge theory of affiliation with cults and sects.
Chris Bader Alfred Demaris
The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Since the 1960s every decade has experienced a great cult scare. From the Manson family to the Moonies, the Waco sect to the Jonestown massacre, the activities of cults prompt great public concern. Interest groups such as the American Family Foundation and the Cult Awareness Network devote their resources to monitoring the activities of deviant religious groups. The media continually warn of the dangers of cultic brainwashing strategies and the FBI continues to monitor closely religious groups they perceive to be potential dangers. Despite the great public and governmental attention afforded to cults and sects, however, researchers still know relatively little about why individuals join such groups.

This lack of cumulative knowledge about cults and sect affiliation stems from the absence of a testable theory of religious membership. Psychiatrists have tended to examine cult and sect affiliation from a victimization perspective, assuming that cult leaders somehow overcame an individual's free will. Sociological studies have rejected the brainwashing model, focusing instead on the interactions between potential and established cult members. Nevertheless, the absence of a coherent frame work and confusion about terms has hampered such studies.

A potential answer to the lack of a theoretical framework lies with the Stark-Bainbridge theory of religion. In what is certainly the most ambitious attempt at religious theorizing to date, Stark and Bainbridge attempt to explain everything from the nature of God to the process of secularization, using clearly defined terms and carefully outlined propositions. Given the potential importance of the Stark-Bainbridge theory, sociologists need to meet Stark and Bainbridge's challenge to test it (Stark and Bainbridge 1987: 13). In this paper we will test Stark and Bainbridge's propositions about one area of particular interest to sociologists, psychiatrists, and the general public - conversion to sects and cults.

Aldrich, J. H. and F. D. Nelson. 1984. Linear probability, logit, and probit models. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Damrell, J. 1977. Seeking spiritual meaning: The world of Vedanta. Sociological Observations, no. 2. Beverly Hills: Sage.

DeMaris, A. 1992. Logit modeling: Practical applications. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Two More Scientology Front Groups:
CBAA & SAGE, Pimping "The Way to Happiness"

The Set A Good Example (S.A.G.E) Contest is an annual competition running between August of the current year and May of the following year. EXAMPLE: August 1, this year through May 31 next year.

CBAA = Concerned Businessmen's [sic] Association of America -- yet another front group used as a foot-in-the-door to pimp LRH's "The Way to Happiness" to school kids...Welcome to CBAA: Concerned Businessmen's Association of America

SAGE = Set A Good Example (campaign) -- appears to be most active out of Reno, NV. A front group to get TWTH happiness materials into schools with $5000 "contests".
Definitely targeting kids: Old SAGE Club website

Every person on this list of SAGE founders is a Scientologist (except perhaps Robert Ayash, whose wife Barbara IS a Scientologist).

Every person on this list of SAGE founders is a Scientologist (except perhaps Robert Ayash, whose wife Barbara IS a Scientologist).


SAGE - Set A Good Example contest was crafted specifically to target children, sponsored by scientology's CONCERNED BUSINESSMEN OF AMERICAN -

contests and other programs in schools, and try to get students
involved in LRH beliefs. Hands out Way To Happiness (By LRH) to
community groups, police, prisons and other groups. Purpose, to
promote LRH and CoS and get name recognition for LRH
Runs "Children's "Set A Good Example" Campaign AKA SAGE to lure children into considering L Ron Hubbard as a reliable source

� 2001 Concerned Businessmen's Association of America. All rights reserved. ABLE�, Aplied Scholastics�, Narconon� and Criminon� are trademarks and service marks owned by Association for Better Living and Education International and are used with its permission. THE WAY TO HAPPINESS is a trademark and service mark owned by The Way To Happiness International and is used with its permission.

COMPUTER ETHICS INSTITUTE - (CEI) - Used by the church of sci in
their attempt to gain control over what can and cannot be put over
the Internet. Freedom

Is there a connection here?

ACT! Leadership at Sage
Scottsdale Office
8800 N. Gainey Center Drive
Suite 200
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Office: 480-368-3700
ACT! by Sage Solutions System Requirements
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
aCt! by Sage Solutions. ACT! by Sage Premium for Web 2009 (11.0) Minimum System Requirements. 25 “Core Server Installation” of Server 2008 is not supported. ...

The SAGE Collections is a web-based service that will offer ...
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View
Education and Psychology SAGE Full-Text Collections now available. Thousand Oaks, California, and London, United Kingdom, June 16, 2004 – SAGE ...
www.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/.../EducPsychPressRelease.pdf - Similar -

Sage Salon, Thousand Oaks CA 91362 -- MerchantCircle.com
MerchantCircle.com -- Sage Salon of 2243 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand ... the 138 members in the Thousand Oaks area, who are controling their web presence ...
www.merchantcircle.com/business/Sage.Salon.805-497-1393 - Cached - Similar -
SAGE Reference Online
SAGE Publications Contact Information: 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 ... For each visitor to our Web page, our Web server automatically ...
www.sage-ereference.com/public/privacy.php - Cached - Similar -

Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content Analysis: An Introduction to its Methodology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Neuendorf, K. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Sage Periodicals Press | Thousand Oaks, CA
| Company Profile ...
Goliath's Sage Periodicals Press Company Profile provides detailed company information on Sage Periodicals Press located in Thousand Oaks, CA.
goliath.ecnext.com/.../product-compint-0000710044-page.html - Cached - Similar -

Charisma and the Iron Cage: Rationalization, Science and ...
Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press . Sundby-Sorenson, M. (1998) "Danish Members' Perceptions of the Founder of the Church of Scientology", in E. Barker and ...
scp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/51/1/111 - Similar -

2000 "Religious Ethnography on the World Wide Web, " In Religion and the Internet, ..... 2003 Encyclopedia of Community, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage: "Family, ... Witnesses": "Kwanzaa": "Scientology": "Seventh Day Adventist Church" ...
mysite.verizon.net/wsbainbridge/data/wsbcv.htm - Cached - Similar -
View International Cultic Studies Association's e-Library Member ...
The Church of Scientology is the subject of the largest number of such assaults. ...... London and Thousand Oaks (California): Sage Publications. ...

Sage Salon in Thousand Oaks, CA - Best of the Web Local
BOTW Local provides details for Sage Salon at 2243 E Thousand Oaks Blvd in Thousand Oaks, CA 91362. Find information including: phone number (805) 497-1393, ...
local.botw.org/California/Thousand_Oaks/Sage.../13056017.html - Similar -

Clear Body Clear Mind :: Locations :: Mode - scn :: State - california
Church of Scientology of Thousand Oaks C/O 21010 Devonshire St. Chatsworth, CA 91311. Tel: 888-288-8559. Fax: 818-772-7943. CHICO Church of Scientology of ...
www.clearbodyclearmind.com/locations.php?mode=scn... - Cached - Similar -
Sherman Oaks Mission, Church of Scientology
The web log of the Scientology Mission in Sherman Oaks, California (USA) Includes updated schedule of events, testimonials and brief descriptions of ...
www.missionofshermanoaks.blogspot.com/ - Cached - Similar -
San Antonio Public Library /All Locations
What is scientology? / compiled by staff of the church of Scientology International ; based on the w Central Library, Thousand Oaks, PRINTED MATL, 1998 ...
sapl.sat.lib.tx.us:90/kids/0/search/c299...1.../browse - Cached - Similar -
Welcome to the official site for the Church of Scientology Mission of Sherman Oaks. Today we are speaking to Shiri Lonstein about Scientology and its ...
www.scientology-shermanoaks.org/ - Cached - Similar -
# [PDF]
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
authority to compromise claims against the Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service ..... Thousand Oaks, CA 91361. RSN-Attvs for Ansel Slome ...
www.lermanet.com/fraud/Scn_Slatkin_CoS_Et-Al_Settlement.pdf -
Editorial Assistant, Books job in Thousand Oaks | Simply Hired
View job summary for Editorial Assistant, Books at Sage in Thousand Oaks ... efficiency and cost targets Joe Rosen Sage Solutions 805 3rd Ave 28th Floor . ...
www.simplyhired.com/job-id/.../editorial-assistant-jobs/ - Cached - Similar -
Online Publishing Manager job in Thousand Oaks | Simply Hired
View job summary for Online Publishing Manager at Sage in Thousand Oaks, ... Who do I Know at Sage Solutions Group - by LinkedIn; Research Salary - at ...
www.simplyhired.com/job-id/.../online-publishing-jobs/ - Cached - Similar -
Show more results from www.simplyhired.com
Sage solutions jobs - HTML Jobs
Sep 11, Senior Financial Analyst, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. effectively deal with ambiguity and derive solutions. . High level of initiative and ...
htmljobs.jobamatic.com/a/jobs/find-jobs/q-Sage+Solutions - Cached - Similar -
Sage Publications Jobs in Thousand Oaks, CA | Indeed.com
Job search for Sage Publications Jobs in Thousand Oaks, CA at indeed.com. one ... Senior Microsoft Consultant / Engineer. CPI Solutions - Camarillo, CA ...
www.indeed.com/q-Sage-Publications-l-Thousand-Oaks,-CA-jobs.html -

Edupage, 8 September 1996. Edupage, a summary of news about information
technology, is provided three times a week as a service by Educom,
a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of leading colleges and universities
seeking to transform education through the use of information technology.

...Netscape's new AppFoundry offers a collection of canned applications
developed by other companies for Netscape's intranet software suite.
"We see AppFoundry being the first jumpstart kit for intranet
development," says Netscape's director of server product marketing.
AppFoundry software includes a job-listing program from Austin Hayne
Corp., and software for managing sales and marketing data from Sage
Solutions, Inc.
, as well as basic development tools from Next Inc. and
Borland International Inc. "Most of these applications would be
considered examples to work from," says a Gartner Group analyst. "No
one gives away the store." Still, "This helps solve the chicken-and-egg
problem cropping up as companies build intranets -- that they need
applications and tools to make them useful," notes a Yankee Group
analyst. (Investor's Business Daily 9 Sep 96 A6)...

US History Encyclopedia: Scientology
...As noted, there are elements of Eastern religions evident in Scientology,[127] in particular the concepts of karma, as present in Hinduism and in Jainism, and dharma.[130][131] In addition to the links to Hindu texts, Hubbard tried to connect Scientology with Taoism and Buddhism.[132] Scientology has been said to share features with Gnosticism as well.[133]

[134] Karen Christensen, David Levinson (2003): Encyclopedia of Community, SAGE, p. 1210: "Scientology shows affinities with Buddhism and a remarkable similarity to first-century Gnosticism."

Shade, Leslie Regan
1996 “Is there free speech on the net? Censorship in the global information infrastructure.” In Rob Shields, ed., Cultures of Internet, pp. 11–32. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Anonymous hacks Sarah Palin's Yahoo! account

Veep candidate's email bared by Wikileaks
By Cade Metz in San Francisco

Members of Anonymous - that sprawling group of online rabble-rousers best known for taking on the Church of Scientology - have apparently hacked into a Yahoo! email account belonging to Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

According to the bulletproof truth seekers at Wikileaks, "activists loosely affiliated" with Anonymous somehow gained access to the account at around midnight Eastern on Tuesday. Screenshots of emails purportedly lifted from this account - which carries the address "gov.palin@yahoo.com" - were then passed to Wikileaks, and Wikileaks shared the stash with world+dog.

One of the screens shows an email from Amy McCorkell, a member of Governor Palin's Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and according to Wired.com, McCorkell has confirmed the note's authenticity. Other screens show the account's inbox and contact list as well as an email from Palin to Alaska Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell...

Just three days ago, the Anchorage Daily News questioned whether Palin should be conducting state business from a personal online email account. Earlier this year, Palin's office refused to release hundreds of emails as part of a public records request, citing "exemptions for deliberative process, executive privilege, attorney/client privilege, privacy, and personnel," and some suspect that Palin is using her Yahoo! account to hide info she doesn't want exposed. According to documents that were made public, Palin does indeed use the account for state business...

I can't find any connection to:
SagePoint Financial
Company Description
Hoover's coverage by Ryan Caione
SagePoint Financial was formed as AIG Financial Advisors in 2005 from the combination of three of the broker-dealer subsidiaries of insurance...
2800 N. Central Ave., Ste. 2100
Phoenix, AZ 85004-1072

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pundit Robert Novak, outer of Valerie Plame, dies

Robert D. Novak, 1931-2009
Combative Writer Broke High-Stakes Scoops
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

...David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union lobbying organization, said Mr. Novak helped transform supply-side economics from a fringe idea into a tenet of President Ronald Reagan's economic policy. Keene called Mr. Novak "a giant of the profession" who "gave respectability and visibility to conservative ideas and positions in the 1970s, when they were mostly dismissed." ...

CIA Used Gun, Drill in Interrogation

CIA Used Gun, Drill in Interrogation
IG Report Describes Tactics Against Alleged Cole Mastermind
By Joby Warrick and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 22, 2009

CIA interrogators used a handgun and an electric drill to try to frighten a captured al-Qaeda commander into giving up information, according to a long-concealed agency report due to be made public next week, former and current U.S. officials who have read the document said Friday.

The tactics -- which one official described Friday as a threatened execution -- were used on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, according to the CIA's inspector general's report on the agency's interrogation program. Nashiri, who was captured in November 2002 and held for four years in one of the CIA's "black site" prisons, ultimately became one of three al-Qaeda chieftains subjected to a form of simulated drowning known as waterboarding.

The report also says that a mock execution was staged in a room next to one terrorism suspect, according to Newsweek magazine, citing two sources for its information. The magazine was the first to publish details from the report, which it did on its Web site late Friday.

A federal judge in New York has ordered a redacted version of the classified IG report to be publicly released Monday, in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. Since June, lawyers for the Justice Department and the CIA have been scrutinizing the document to determine how much of it can be made public. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been weighing the report's findings as part of a broader probe into the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Free speech: journalists in Viet Nam arrested for criticising China

Vietnam to Its Journalists: Don't Tread on China
By Martha Ann Overland
Sep. 05, 2009

Hanoi is stepping up pressure on its critics, detaining one Vietnamese journalist and two Vietnamese bloggers this past week after they wrote provocative reports...

The latest arrest took place early morning on Sept. 3 when police detained blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 30, at her home in the coastal city of Nha Trang. Quynh's mother said that plainclothes police had been watching the house for several months, ever since her daughter had started criticizing Vietnam for giving China the green light to mine its vast stores of bauxite...

"The warrant said my daughter was arrested under Article 258 of the Criminal Code for abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the state's interests," said an emotional Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, Quynh's mother.

"They searched her house until 3:30 that morning and then put her in a van that disappeared into the quiet of the night." The family has not heard from her since...


Vietnam: Blogger Dieu Cay arrested

by John Kennedy
Apr 24, 2008
Global Voices Advocacy--Defending Free Speech Online

...Nguyen Van Hai, a prominent citizen reporter there who blogs under the name Dieu Cay, was arrested this past week as he led efforts to organize local bloggers to follow the torch's passing.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Who are the people who don't want Cheney investigated? The same ones who impeached Bill Clinton?

David Broder and media culpability for Bush crimes
April 26, 2009
by Glenn Greenwald

I read David Broder's truly wretched screed yesterday -- in which he demands immunity for Bush officials from investigation and prosecution and attacks those who advocate accountability -- and decided that I wouldn't write about it until today because I didn't want it to infect my Saturday. For purposes of catharsis, I did immediately note on Twitter that Broder's article was "a tour de force of Beltway sickness - even for him" and that "the Washington press corps has exactly the 'dean' it deserves." Fortunately, Hilzoy, Scott Lemieux and Roger Ailes -- among others -- have now made most of the points quite conclusively that need to be made about the morally depraved joke that David Broder is, leaving just a couple of observations worth noting.

To justify the absolute immunity he wants for government lawbreakers, Broder describes the Bush era as "one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States." But that's easy to say now that the Bush presidency is over and the evidence of its criminality so undeniable. But Broder never said any such thing while it was all taking place, when it mattered. In fact, he did the opposite: he mocked those who tried to sound the alarm about how radical and "dark" the Bush presidency was and repeatedly defended what Bush officials were doing as perfectly normal, unalarming and well within the bounds of mainstream and legitimate policy.

As but one example, Broder -- in a September 15, 2006 Washington Post chat -- was asked by a reader about an Editorial in The New York Times which appeared that morning that warned of the grave dangers of abolishing habeas corpus and the protections of the Geneva Conventions, as the soon-to-be-enacted Military Commissions Act sought to do. In other words, back then, the Times Editorial Page was warning of exactly the policies -- "certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion" -- which Broder today, with Bush safely gone, cites as examples of our "darkest chapter." Yet here is what Broder was saying about these things when it mattered:

Kingston, Ontario: I'm rather surprised by your and your correspondents' calm tone of voice this morning. Unless the New York Times editorial page is wildly off-track, the U.S. is in the grip of a major constitutional crisis, with the government trying to set aside long established guarantees of legal behavior, both internally and in relation to international law. Where's the sense of urgency?

David S. Broder: Far be it from me to question the New York Times, but I'd like to assure you that Washington is calm and quiet this morning, and democracy still lives here. Editorial writers sometimes get carried away by their own rhetoric.

On other occasions, Broder mocked those who suggested there was anything extremist or radical about Bush's "counter-terrorism" policies; hailed "Bush's conviction that the quest for freedom is a universal truth"; proclaimed his confidence in Donald Rumsfeld's pre-war Iraq plans; and compared 2002 war opponents to "Jane Fonda in Hanoi or antiwar protesters marching under Viet Cong flags."

Just compare what Broder wrote about the Bush presidency on November 14, 2004, to what he wrote today:


Some of my colleagues in the pundit business have become unhinged by the election results. The always diverting Maureen Dowd of The New York Times wrote the other day that "the forces of darkness" are taking over the country . . . Bush won, but he will have to work within the system for whatever he gets. Checks and balances are still there. The nation does not face "another dark age," unless you consider politics with all its tradeoffs and bargaining a black art.


Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.

What Broder states today as fact (that the Bush presidency is "one of the darkest chapters of American history") is almost verbatim that which, when it mattered, when it was happening, he vehemently and repeatedly denied -- and, of course, given that he works in the most accountability-free profession of all (establishment punditry), he does not even have the minimal honesty to acknowledge that. Like so many of his colleagues, Broder played a critical role in defending these crimes and insisting that they were not taking place.

This is a crucial and oft-overlooked fact in the debate over whether we should investigate and prosecute Bush crimes. The very same pundits and establishment journalists who today are demanding that we forget all about it, not look back, not hold anyone accountable, are the very same people who -- like Broder -- played key roles in hiding, enabling and defending these crimes. In light of that, what is less surprising than the fact that, almost unanimously, these very same people oppose any efforts to examine what happened and impose accountability? Back in January, I wrote the following about the virtual unanimity among establishment media figures against investigations and prosecutions:

Bush officials didn't commit these crimes by themselves. Virtually the entire Washington establishment supported or at least enabled most of it. . . . As confirmed accounts emerged years ago of chronic presidential lawbreaking, warrantless eavesdropping, systematic torture, rendition, "black site" prisons, corruption in every realm, and all sorts of other dark crimes, where were journalists and other opinion-making elites? Very few of them with any significant platform can point to anything they did or said to oppose or stop any of it -- and they know that.

Many of them, even when much of this became conclusively proven, were still explicitly praising Bush officials. Most of them supported the underlying enabling policies (Guantanamo and the permanent state of war in Iraq and "on terror"), and then cheered on laws -- the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act -- designed to legalize these activities and retroactively immunize the lawbreakers and war criminals from prosecution.

So when these media and political elites are defending Bush officials, mitigating their crimes, and arguing that they shouldn't be held accountable, they're actually defending themselves. . . . They can't indict Bush officials for what they did because to do so would be to indict themselves. Bush officials need to be exonerated, or at least have their crimes forgotten (look to the future and ignore the past, they all chime in unison), so that their own involvement in it will also be cleansed and then forgotten.

Earlier this week, Paul Krugman made a similar point:

One addendum to today’s column: the truth, which I think everyone in the political/media establishments knows in their hearts, is that the nine months or so between the summer of 2002 and the beginning of the Iraq insurgency were a great national moral test — a test that most people in influential positions failed. . . . But for those who stayed “sensible” through the test, it’s a moment they’d like to see forgotten. That, I believe, is the real reason so many want to let torture and everything else go down the memory hole.

Imagine if a police officer were stationed in front of the hospital room of a key witness in a criminal trial, in order to protect the witness from attack, but instead, the officer fell asleep or wondered off to watch TV and, as a result, the defendant's associates were able to enter the room and murder the witness. Asking establishment journalists if they favor investigations and prosecutions of Bush crimes is like asking that police officer whether he favors an investigation and consequences for what happened or whether he instead prefers that the whole thing just be forgotten and everyone look instead to the future. People who bear culpability in the commission of destructive and criminal acts always oppose investigations and accountability -- i.e., what they'll call "looking backwards" or "retribution." They're the last people whose opinions we ought to be seeking on that question.

* * * * *

Directly contrary to the way the establishment media is describing these facts, polling data has consistently shown that large majorities of Americans favor investigations into Bush crimes and large percentages favor criminal prosecutions. Even with virtually the entire pundit class united in opposition, yet another poll on that question -- from The Washington Post/ABC News today -- finds that a majority (51-47%) answered "yes" when asked: "Do you think the Obama administration should or should not investigate whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration?" It's amazing how much The Hard Left has grown.

* * * * *

More than anything else, Broder's column illustrates the Central Creed of Beltway Culture, which should be memorialized on plaques throughout that city:

When poor and ordinary Americans who commit crimes are prosecuted and imprisoned, that is Justice.

When the same thing is done to Washington elites, that is Ugly Retribution.

* * * * *

See also: this post from earlier today on Time Magazine's coverage of drug decriminalization in Portugal and this post on one of the most brazen acknowledgments yet that most establishment journalists operate with no standards.

UPDATE: For a perfect example of how etablishment journalists and pundits -- including our ostensibly "liberal" ones -- cheered on many of these crimes, see Digby.

Who are Broderian anti-investigation journalists really protecting?
Glenn Greenwald
Sept. 3, 2009

In one of the most drearily predictable media developments ever, David Broder today -- yet again -- joins in with an endless string of establishment pundits to demand that there be no investigations by the DOJ of war crimes and other felonies committed by the Bush administration. The one silver lining from all of this is that it has clarified a crucial political fact: most establishment "journalists" don't believe in the rule of law for political elites -- period. They believe high political officials should be able to break the law -- commit felonies -- and be immunized from legal consequences. To any reasonable observer, that is simply no longer in doubt. Opposition to investigations -- especially for the real culprits as opposed to low-level interrogators -- is as close to a unanimous media view as something can be (though the NYT Editorial Board today, standing virtually alone, calls for full criminal investigations, including of high-level Bush officials).

Broder claims he "agree[s] on the importance of accountability for illegal acts and for serious breaches of trust by government officials -- even at the highest levels." As examples of this "agreement," he cites this: "I had no problem with the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, and I called for Bill Clinton to resign when he lied to his Cabinet colleagues and to the country during the Monica Lewinsky scandal." But he then goes on to boast that he supported Ford's pardon of Nixon. He thought the prosecution of Lewis Libby was "silliness." He simply believes

that "the rule of law" is only for ordinary Americans, not for powerful political officials who commit felonies -- and in that, he's completely typical of the Beltway mindset. It's not an accident that he's the Dean of Washington Journalism; he is a perfect embodiment of that culture.

That media elites -- ostensibly devoted to accountability for the powerful -- fulfill the exact opposite role by demanding immunity for their lawbreaking is why elite lawlessness is so rampant. But that's well-established by now, so I want to focus on another point raised by this Broderian opposition: a completely self-serving falsehood that lies at the core of the debate over investigations. The standard claim made by investigation opponents in the media is that we all know that torture is abhorrent and that what was done is terribly wrong, but that prosecutions would just be too disruptive. Broder asks: "Ultimately, do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock? . . . The cost to the country would simply be too great."

But it's simply not true that these journalists vehemently objected to torture as abhorrent but now merely believe prosecutions are an over-reaction. The reality is that they did not object to the torture regime as it was implemented. They did the opposite: they mocked those who objected to it and who tried to stop it as overheated, hysterical, fringe leftists -- as Broder did in a November, 2004 Op-Ed, deriding as "unhinged" those who were arguing "that 'the forces of darkness' are taking over the country." Identically, here's what Broder said in an October, 2006 chat when a reader asked him about a New York Times Editorial sounding the alarm about the radicalism of the Bush administration:

Kingston, Ontario: I'm rather surprised by your and your correspondents' calm tone of voice this morning. Unless the New York Times editorial page is wildly off-track, the U.S. is in the grip of a major constitutional crisis, with the government trying to set aside long established guarantees of legal behavior, both internally and in relation to international law. Where's the sense of urgency?

David S. Broder: Far be it from me to question the New York Times, but I'd like to assure you that Washington is calm and quiet this morning, and democracy still lives here. Editorial writers sometimes get carried away by their own rhetoric.

That was typical of Beltway media behavior even as revelations of war crimes and high-level lawlesness proliferated: oh, calm down with your extremist, unhinged rhetoric. Broder boasts that he called for Clinton's resignation over a sex scandal and "had no problem with" Nixon's impeachment over what was, by comparsion to Bush scandals, a relatively minor infraction. As revelations of torture mounted, did he call for Bush's impeachment or even resignation? No. Like most of his colleagues in the media, he did the opposite: he dismissed objections to what was happening as hysterical and fringe and insisted that Serious and Good People were in charge.

This is a vital reason -- I'd say the central reason -- why people like David Broder and his media colleagues don't want investigations and prosecutions: because they were complicit in most of it, and such proceedings would implicate them as much as the criminals themselves. Think about it: what would happen if Dick Cheney were "in the dock," if high-level American officials were adjudicated in formal proceedings as war criminals and felons? The question would naturally arise: how was that allowed to happen? What did the American media do about it while it happened? What was the Dean of the Washington Press Corps saying and doing to stop it and to alert the citizenry as to what was going on? And the answer, of course, is: nothing. They supported the war criminals and mocked and demonized those who objected.

That's why so many media figures want to Look Forward and Not Backwards -- not only because they want to protect high-level political officials who committed felonies and thus preserve America's two-tiered justice system, but more so, because they know that "looking backwards" would reveal who and what they really are. People who engage in heinous acts always want everyone to look forward and not backwards, for reasons that are as obvious as they are ignoble. Tom Tomorrow captured this mentality perfectly in a cartoon this week (click to enlarge):

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights issued a new report which finds that CIA doctors "came close to, and may even have committed, unlawful human experimentation" on detainees in U.S. custody, as "doctors actively monitored the CIA's interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent." Human experimentation on helpless detainees. Is it any wonder that the people who are responsible for that and helped to enable it -- critically including media stars who waved it all away -- don't want any light shined on what was done? If you were them, would you?

While all this was occurring, David Broder and most of his media colleagues not only failed to object, but were insisting that nothing extremist, radical or lawless was taking place. They demonized those who raised the alarm bells and tried to stop it. Their opposition to investigations is absolutely grounded in their rejection of the rule of law for political elites, but at least as much, it's a desperate effort to protect themselves and shield themselves from the accountability and shame they so intensely deserve.

UPDATE: Brad DeLong makes a very, very strong case that David Broder is -- how shall we say? -- not telling the truth in today's column when he claims he "had no problem" with the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How crazy is Richard Gage? Physics teachers, please tell us if Building 7 at the WTC fell at speed of free fall

Architect Richard Gage says there are some interesting anomalies about Building 7 at the World Trade Center.

I'm not an expert in these issues, but the Bush administration says Gage has made math mistakes.

Richard Gage says: WTC Building #7, a 47-story high-rise not hit by an airplane, exhibits all the characteristics of a classic controlled demolition with explosives: (and some non-standard characteristics)

1. Rapid onset of “collapse”
2. Sounds of explosions at ground floor - a full second prior to collapse
3. Symmetrical “collapse” – through the path of greatest resistance – at free-fall acceleration
4. Imploded, collapsing completely, and landed mostly in its own footprint
5. Massive volume of expanding pyroclastic dust clouds
6. Several tons of molten metal reported by numerous highly-qualified witnesses
7. Chemical signature of Thermite (high tech incendiary) found in solidified molten metal, and dust samples by physics professor Steven Jones, PhD.
8. FEMA finds rapid oxidation and intergranular melting on structural steel samples
9. Expert corroboration from the top European Controlled Demolition professional
10. Fore-knowledge of “collapse” by media, NYPD, FDNY

And exhibited none of the characteristics of destruction by fire, i.e.

1. Slow onset with large visible deformations
2. Asymmetrical collapse which follows the path of least resistance (laws of conservation of momentum would cause a falling, to the side most damaged by the fires)
3. Evidence of fire temperatures capable of softening steel
4. High-rise buildings with much larger, hotter, and longer lasting fires have never “collapsed”.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, formerly known as the Gyre

Reporting From the Gyre
August 13, 2009

Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography are 11 days into an unprecedented "plastics watching" expedition in the North Pacific Gyre. They say there's a lot to see, and it's not pretty.

They are seeing tons of litter from North America and Asia -- including detergent bottles, milk crates, toothbrushes, bottles and buckets -- that have been sucked into the gyre's whirlpool.

"Last night we pulled out a large plastic tube with a whole accumulation of fish and crabs inside of it," said Ph.D. student Jesse Powell, who took a few minutes from his sampling duties to speak with me by satellite phone today from the research vessel New Horizon, which is currently in an area 1,500 miles from the San Diego coast.

The area is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, even though scientists say it’s more like a plastic stew. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation estimates the plastic-rich region is twice the size of the United States. The 28-member crew is sampling deeper than other oceanographic missions have to date, about 500 meters below the surface.

There’s also a whale watcher and bird observer on board, the latter looking at how the black-footed albatross and Cook’s petrel interact with manmade flotables. From other research, it’s known that mammals are mistaking plastics for food.

"The sea birds ingest a lot of plastic and you can find plastic throughout their gullet when they die on islands out in the Pacific," said Powell from the New Horizon. "So plastic floating in the ocean is a definitely a bad thing for larger animals in this area."

But the main focus of the mission -- dubbed the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition -- are smaller scraps not detectable by satellite, airplanes or sometimes even the naked eye. These micro-plastics, which are less than a couple millimeters long, could bind with pollutants like PCBs to create toxic pellets for fish, and possibly for people who eat them.

"We can we see lots of bits of plastics," said Powell from the New Horizon. "It kind of looks like plastic confetti."

Powell says he’s surprised by the volume of tiny plastics, which "photodegrade" into ever smaller pieces but never completely break down...

Keeping Health Reform Neutral on Abortion

Keeping Health Reform Neutral on Abortion

AUGUST 13, 2009
Wall Street Journal

Lost in the vitriol about health care is a surprising development: pro-life and pro-choice leaders say they don't intend to use health reform to shift the balance of power in their direction. Many activists on both sides say any big changes to health care should maintain the status quo in the abortion stalemate.

Less surprisingly, while both sides agree on that goal, they look at the same words in the same bills and come to opposite conclusions about what they mean. For instance, the bill passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee declares, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing for or prohibiting coverage" for abortion in the "public option." Pro-choicers say that this neither-this-nor-that language is self-evidently neutral. Pro-life activists argue that since abortion "could" be covered, it will be covered.

My personal view: the legislation passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee does not mandate abortion coverage, as pro-life groups claim, but does leave open the possibility that the government might pay for abortion. Nor did the "neutral" amendment offered by pro-lifers didn't achieve neutrality, as it would potentially roll back abortion coverage in private insurance plans.

From Waldman's Blog:

Full text of the key amendments

Will health care reform cover abortion?

Health reform, abortion and rationing

Of course, it's easy for me to criticize everyone for not coming up with a neutral solution. It's always more fun to carp than be constructive. So here's my best effort on how to make health care reform neutral on abortion.

First, we need to recognize that part of the problem in being neutral is that health care reform would likely introduce some new features, so you really can't just freeze the status quo. Instead, you have to look at broad principles. In general, the federal government is currently prohibited from directly paying for abortion but allowed to indirectly support abortion.

Indirect support currently happens in a variety of ways. For instance, the federal government set up the Medicaid program, pays for much of it, and allows states to pay for abortions. The government provides support to hospitals, some of which perform abortions. The government gives money to family planning clinics for maternal health care, even though those clinics might also do abortions. In each case, the primary purpose of the spending is not to encourage abortion but, but government funds do support some institutions that also, with their own money, perform abortions. That's the status quo...

Bill Clinton says Republicans are promoting fear regarding universal health care

Bill Clinton: GOP promotes fear over health care
August 13, 2009

PITTSBURGH — Republicans have turned to terrifying people in the debate over overhauling the health care system because the GOP has no political clout to fight it, former President Bill Clinton told a gathering of progressive bloggers on Thursday.

Clinton was president when the Democrats made their last major effort to change the health care system. The big difference now, Clinton said, is that Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate as well as control of the House.

The former president called "crazy" the charges that promoting living wills and other end-of-life planning is somehow promoting death.

Clinton spoke at the opening session of the Netroots Nation convention, a gathering of politically progressive bloggers and other online activists.

He urged the crowd to support President Barack Obama on health care reform, along with climate change legislation and other reforms.

"The president needs your help and the cause needs your help," Clinton said. "We have to preserve this progress majority now."

However, he advised them that change may not come as fast as they want and that they may have to accept smaller victories as they continue to work for their goals...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Critics who disrupt town hall meetings on health care are un-American, says Pelosi

UPDATE: Apparently disrupters aren't just un-American, they're also not averse to assaulting opponents. Salon.com's Joan Walsh has an interesting article about some of them.

Anti-health care activist Jack Kimball reports on his blog Granite State Patriots that an opponent "accidentally got a bump on the head when I went to grab his sign." He goes on to say, "Oh well, got to have a little fun at these things."

Pelosi Calls Health Care Critics 'Un-American'
August 10, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned the health care debate up a notch Monday, penning a column along with her top deputy that questioned the patriotism of those disrupting town hall meetings to air their complaints.

Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer claimed such behavior is "simply un-American."

It's hardly the first time Pelosi, who earlier this year accused the CIA of lying to Congress and repeatedly has called Republicans unpatriotic, has employed some serious name-calling to characterize her opponents' views.

The jab Monday drew swift scorn from Republicans and critics who say the health care demonstrations are as American as apple pie.

"I, like most Americans, would find that kind of characterization of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to be offensive," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told FOX News. "There's nothing more American than letting your elected representatives know how you feel about important issues facing the nation."

House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement calling the charge "outrageous and reprehensible."

Pelosi and Hoyer made the accusation as part of a lengthy column in USA Today stressing the need for action on health care reform. The piece was published as lawmakers return to their districts for summer recess, a period that could imperil the legislation if health care critics cause moderate Democrats to lose their stomachs for sweeping reform.

Critics have confronted lawmakers about the bills, sometimes shouting at them, at a number of town halls in the past week alone.

On Monday, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill tried a new tack in rebutting the protesters while also minimizing their complaints. She got several hands when she asked audience members at a town hall meeting to raise their hands if they're so scared about the federal government running health care that they "can't think straight."

For Pelosi and Hoyer, they charged that an "ugly campaign" is afoot to misrepresent the legislation, "disrupt" the public meetings and prevent members of Congress from "conducting a civil dialogue" on the topic.

"Let the facts be heard," they wrote. "These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views -- but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades." ...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Chemical company contribuntes half a million dollars to keep shoppers using disposable plastic bags

American Chemistry Council gives $500,000 to stop bag fee

July 21, 2009
Seattle Times
By Marc Ramirez

The American Chemistry Council's latest contribution of $500,000 to the campaign against Seattle's proposed 20-cent fee on disposable shopping bags is one of the city's largest ballot-measure donations in recent history.

The American Chemistry Council has provided $500,000 to help fight Seattle's plan to charge consumers 20 cents for disposable shopping bags.

Adam Parmer, spokesman for the campaign to turn back the Seattle ordinance, said the money given over the weekend will pay for radio ads and direct-mail efforts against Referendum 1, which goes before voters Aug. 18.

It's the single largest contribution to a local ballot-measure in recent history, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission staff.

The money comes from the Progressive Bag Affiliates of the Virginia-based American Chemistry Council, the prime backers of the Coalition to Stop the Bag Tax, which last year gave the campaign about $239,000.

The campaign began placing anti-bag-fee ads on the Internet over the weekend, Parmer said, and radio ads should start airing this week.

Mayor Greg Nickels proposed and the City Council approved the bag fee to encourage the use of reusable bags and reduce waste. The ordinance was put on hold when opponents gathered enough signatures to put the measure to a public vote.

If voters approve the ordinance, Seattle would become the first U.S. city to target plastic and paper.

Backers of the ordinance said their opponent's cash boost does not alter their plans.

"It's what we were anticipating from the outset," said Rob Gala of the Seattle Green Bag Campaign, which has so far raised about $65,000. "We see that this vote is essentially about one of the world's largest polluters telling a city what it can and cannot do in terms of waste reduction."...

Is the Turkish government manipulating US congress members?

Deposition of Sibel Edmonds Completed, DoJ a 'No Show,' Bombshells Under Oath
By Brad Friedman
The Brad Blog

'State Secrets' privilege NOT asserted by DoJ;
FBI whistleblower answered ALL questions under oath on Turkish infiltration of U.S. Government...coverage of the Sibel Edmonds deposition at the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington D.C. For background see previous coverage:

* 8/7/09: EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: DoJ Pressures Ohio Election Commission to Block Edmonds Testimony

...I asked if she specified whether the sitting bi-sexual, married Congresswoman who had been taped sleeping with a woman, without knowing, and then bribed by Turkish interests with the tape, to vote against the Armenian Genocide resolution had been a Democrat or a Republican. She said she is a Democrat, and that she testified to that during her deposition. (See Krikorian's long statement above for more details on that woman.)

Second, I asked about the "real" story on Brewster Jennings, as opposed to the "crap...from the media" as she mentioned at the venue.

"Basically," she said, "I told them how [third-ranking State Dept. official in the Bush Admin and former Ambassador to Turkey] Marc Grossman disclosed" that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front company to the target of an FBI investigation. "And it was under oath and that some lives may have been lost."

"Novak has nothing to do with it. Wilson has nothing to do with it. Valerie Plame has nothing to do with it. The whole operation has to do with something totally different and it had to do with the American Turkish Council and the Turkish clients who were about to hire Brewster Jennings as an analyst ... and Grossman found out about it, and tipped off his diplomatic contact who was a target of the FBI counter-intelligence, and that person notified the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency], etc."

She says that Brewster Jenning was then "dismantled as soon as the FBI notified the CIA," after which "FBI requested CIA to do a damage assessment, to see if lives would be lost."

All of this, she re-iterated, was "long before, three years before," Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column.

Brewster Jennings was "absolutely" dismantled in August of 2001.

"Grossman and [Richard] Armitage, they are the only two people involved. Later on Cheney and his people may have used it, but it had nothing to do with those other things, [Brewster Jennings] was completely destroyed and gone by the summer of 2001."

For those not fully up on Edmonds' story, her job at the FBI was to listen to wiretaps in the counter-intel department, to translate foreign targets caught on those taps. Presumably, that's where her details on the destruction of Brewster Jennings comes from. She was hired by the agency shortly after 9/11...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pittsburg Fitness Center killer George Sodini wrote a blog

George Sodini's Blog, Full Text By Alleged Gym Shooter
Online Diary Apparently Kept by Alleged Pittsburgh-Area Health Club Killer
ABC News
August 5, 2009

A gunman walked into a Bridgeville, Pa., health club tonight, turned out the lights and opened fire, witnesses of the shocking attack said.The shooting left five people dead -- including the shooter, a law enforcement source told ABC News radio. Up to 15 others have been reported injured.

Following is text of a blog kept by George Sodini, the man suspected of opening fire in a Pittsburgh-area gym, killing three and injuring at least 15 others before apparently turning a gun on himself.


George Sodini
Age 48.
DOB 9/30/1960
DOD 8/4/2009
5-10, 155 lbs.
Never married.

...Tetelestai Church in Pittsburgh, PA - "Be Ye Holy, even as I have been Ye holy! Thus saith the lord thy God!", as pastor Rick Knapp would proclaim. Holy ----, religion is a waste. But this guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven. Ask him. Call him at [phone number]. If no answer there, he should still live at [address]. In any case, guilt and fear kept me there 13 long years until Nov 2006. I think his crap did the most damage. Their web site: http://www.tetelestai.org.

...Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell. Christ paid for EVERY sin, so how can I or you be judged BY GOD for a sin when the penalty was ALREADY paid. People judge but that does not matter. I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them...


A powerful right-wing Christian group called the family, to which several prominent politicians belong, also twists the concept of predestination. The "Family" helped Senator John Ensign, Rep. Chip Pickering and Governor Mark Sanford with recent sex scandals.

The "Family" believes that if you're chosen, the rules don't apply

...David Coe, Doug Coe's son and heir apparent... Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was -- or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate -- he asked a young man who'd put himself, body and soul, under the Family's authority, "Let's say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?" The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. "No," answered Coe, "I wouldn't." Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he's among what Family leaders refer to as the "new chosen." If you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Genocide may have a long history, with modern humans killing Neanderthals

Remains Show Human Killed Neanderthal

(July 22, 2009) -- Newly analyzed remains suggest that a modern human killed a Neanderthal man in what is now Iraq between 50,000 and 75,000 years ago. The finding is scant but tantalizing evidence for a theory that modern humans helped to kill off the Neanderthals.

The probable weapon of choice: A thrown spear.

The evidence: A lethal wound on the remains of a Neanderthal skeleton.

The victim: A 40- to 50-year-old male, now called Shanidar 3, with signs of arthritis and a sharp, deep slice in his left ninth rib.

"What we've got is a rib injury, with any number of scenarios that could explain it," said study researcher Steven Churchill, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina. "We're not suggesting there was a blitzkrieg, with modern humans marching across the land and executing the Neandertals [aka Neanderthals]. I want to say that loud and clear."
But he added, "We think the best explanation for this injury is a projectile weapon, and given who had those and who didn't, that implies at least one act of inter-species aggression."

(The words "Neanderthal" and "Neandertal" refer to the same species, Homo neanderthalensis, which lived on the plains of Europe and parts of Asia as far back as 230,000 years ago. They disappeared from the fossil record more than 20,000 years ago.)

Violent Past
Scientists are continuing to refine their understanding of early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, with hopes of also resolving the mystery of how the latter species went extinct while we did not. Past research has yielded conflicting evidence on interbreeding between the two species, but the new study clearly shows the opposite of affection.

In fact, another Neanderthal skeleton dating back some 36,000 years and found in France showed signs of a scalp injury likely caused by a sharp object that may have been delivered by a modern human at the time, Churchill said.
"So if the Shanidar 3 case is also a case of inter-specific violence and if Shanidar 3 overlaps in time with modern humans, we're beginning to get a little bit of a pattern here," Churchill said...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The "Family" believes that if you're chosen, the rules don't apply; helped Ensign, Pickering and Sanford with sex scandals

Sex and power inside "the C Street House"

Sanford, Ensign, and other regulars receive guidance from the invisible fundamentalist group known as the Family

By Jeff Sharlet
July 21, 2009

I can't say I was impressed when I met Sen. John Ensign at the C Street House, the secretive religious enclave on Capitol Hill thrust into the news by its links to three political sex scandals, those of Gov. Mark Sanford; former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., who allegedly rendezvoused at the C Street House with his mistress, an executive in the industry for which he then became a lobbyist; and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Although Sanford declared today that his scandal will actually turn out to be good for the people of South Carolina because he's now more firmly in God's control, the once-favored GOP presidential prospect will finish out his term and fade away. And Ensign's residence at the C Street House during his own extramarital affair now threatens to end a career that he and other Republicans hoped would lead him to the White House.

When I met Ensign, he was just back from a run, sweaty and bouncing in place, boasting about the time he'd clocked and teasing a young woman from his office. She seemed annoyed that the senator wouldn't get himself into a shower and back on the job. When I wrote about Sen. Ensign in my book about the evangelical political organization that runs the C Street House, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power," I described him as a "conservative casino heir elected to the Senate from Nevada, a brightly tanned, hapless figure who uses his Family connections to graft holiness to his gambling-fortune name."

Now, of course, I know I was wrong: John Ensign is a brightly tanned, hapless figure who used his Family connections to cover up the fruits of his flirtations, to make moral decisions for him, and to do his dirty work when his secret romance sputtered...

If sexual license was all the Family offered the C Street men, however, that would merely be seedy and self-serving. But Family men are more than hypocritical. They're followers of a political religion that embraces elitism, disdains democracy, and pursues power for its members the better to "advance the Kingdom." They say they're working for Jesus, but their Christ is a power-hungry, inside-the-Beltway savior not many churchgoers would recognize. Sexual peccadilloes aside, the Family acts today like the most powerful lobby in America that isn't registered as a lobby -- and is thus immune from the scrutiny attending the other powerful organizations like Big Pharma and Big Insurance that exert pressure on public policy.

The Family likes to call itself a "Christian Mafia," but it began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR's socialism...Early participants included Southern Sens. Strom Thurmond, Herman Talmadge and Absalom Willis Robertson -- Pat Robertson's father. Membership lists stored in the Family's archive at the Billy Graham Center at evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois show active participation at any given time over the years by dozens of congressmen.

Today's roll call is just as impressive: Men under the Family's religio-political counsel include, in addition to Ensign, Coburn and Pickering, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, both R-S.C.; James Inhofe, R-Okla., John Thune, R-S.D., and recent senators and high officials such as John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, Pete Domenici and Don Nickles. Over in the House there's Joe Pitts, R-Penn., Frank Wolf, R-Va., Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and John R. Carter, R-Texas. Historically, the Family has been strongly Republican, but it includes Democrats, too. There's Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, for instance, a vocal defender of putting the Ten Commandments in public places, and Sen. Mark Pryor, the pro-war Arkansas Democrat responsible for scuttling Obama's labor agenda. Sen. Pryor explained to me the meaning of bipartisanship he'd learned through the Family: "Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over." And by Jesus, the Family means the Family.

Family leaders consider their political network to be Christ's avant garde, an elite that transcends not just conventional morality but also earthly laws regulating lobbying.... "The more invisible you can make your organization," Vereide's successor, current leader Doug Coe preaches, "the more influence you can have." That's true -- which is why we have laws requiring lobbyists to identify themselves as such.

But David Coe, Doug Coe's son and heir apparent, calls himself simply a friend to men such as John Ensign, whom he guided through the coverup of his affair.

I met the younger Coe when I lived for several weeks as a member of the Family. He's a surprising source of counsel, spiritual or otherwise. Attempting to explain what it means to be chosen for leadership like King David was -- or Mark Sanford, according to his own estimate -- he asked a young man who'd put himself, body and soul, under the Family's authority, "Let's say I hear you raped three little girls. What would I think of you?" The man guessed that Coe would probably think that he was a monster. "No," answered Coe, "I wouldn't." Why? Because, as a member of the Family, he's among what Family leaders refer to as the "new chosen." If you're chosen, the normal rules don't apply...

Editor's note: Sharlet is the author of the bestselling "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 12 Orange parade celebrates Protestant colonists victory over Catholic natives: Northern Ireland is a protestant country since colonization

Every July 12 Protestants in Northern Ireland have a parade to celebrate their victory over Catholics.

It's sort of like European Americans having a parade every year to celebrate the manner in which they conquered Native Americans. Or Israelis having a yearly festival to celebrate their defeat of Arabs. It's really not about love and goodness. It's about gloating over the people whose country you've managed to take over. It's one of the most shameful reasons for a parade that I can think of. It reminds me of the Romans parading the natives of the lands they conquered through the streets of Rome.

Belfast Catholics riot over Protestant parade
Nationalist demonstrators take cover from a police water cannon behind a mailbox in Belfast

Associated Press Jul 13, 2009
BELFAST, Northern Ireland –

Masked and hooded Belfast Catholics hurled gasoline bombs, fireworks and other makeshift weapons at police Monday as the most bitterly divisive day on the Northern Ireland calendar reached an ugly end.

Several rioters and at least seven officers were injured, none seriously, when Irish nationalists in Ardoyne, a militant Catholic enclave of north Belfast, tried to block a parade by the Orange Order, Northern Ireland's major Protestant brotherhood.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen spent Monday mounting hundreds of similar parades across this British territory, almost all of them trouble-free, in an annual stress test for the province's fragile peace.

More than 1,000 Orangemen and their accompanying bandsmen eventually did march down the main road past Ardoyne to the beat of a lone drum — but only after riot police fought an hourlong street battle backed by a surveillance helicopter and three massive mobile water cannons.

At one point, masked Catholic rioters on store rooftops directed a deluge of Molotov cocktails, bricks and golf balls on riot police below. The officers were protected with flame-retardant suits, helmets and shields.

Later, as the water-cannon gunners sought to take rioters' legs out from under them, Catholics wearing scarves over their faces took cover behind low brick walls and post boxes. They threw rocks, bricks, bottles and even planks of wood that bounced harmlessly off the armored sides and metal-grilled windows of the water-cannon vehicles.

The Ardoyne Catholics' showdown with police continued long after the Orangemen had passed through.

Police said a gunman fired at least one live round at police lines but missed. Rioters also stole at least two vehicles, set them on fire and pushed them toward police lines. Officers responded with plastic bullets.

A senior Belfast policeman, Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay, condemned the anti-Orange rioters as offering "the worst possible face of Northern Ireland — a face of bigotry, sectarianism and intolerance."

These were the worst riots in Belfast since 2005, when the same Protestant parade triggered much more intense and dangerous riots on the same road. Then, more than 100 police officers were wounded amid a hail of homemade grenades.

But the aftermath of that violence also illustrates how street clashes rarely rattle wider peacemaking politics in Northern Ireland. Weeks after those 2005 riots, the outlawed Irish Republican Army disarmed and renounced violence, paving the way for the 2007 formation of a new Catholic-Protestant government here.

Northern Ireland's "Twelfth" holiday typically raises community tensions to their highest point of the year as British Protestants celebrate centuries-old victories over Irish Catholics.

The often elderly, conservatively dressed Orangemen are accompanied by so-called "kick the pope" bands whose hard-faced, tattooed members play an odd mix of Gospel and sectarian tunes on shrill flutes and deafening drums.

Monday's parades were preceded by a string of overnight attacks northwest of Belfast that damaged two Orange halls and two Protestant homes, one of them gutted by fire. Catholic youths cheered the blaze and jeered the home's elderly occupants, who vowed to leave behind their Catholic neighbors after 32 years.

And Catholic youths struck two departing Orangemen in the head with rocks in the village of Rasharkin. Three police officers were injured in subsequent scuffles with Catholics, who threw several Molotov cocktails. One rioter was arrested.

During another Orange parade in the city of Armagh, 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Belfast, police evacuated a major street called Friary Road after spotting a small bomb. It detonated, injuring nobody and causing little damage, before British army experts could defuse it using a remote-controlled robot.

No group claimed responsibility but police and politicians blamed IRA dissidents who reject the underground group's 2005 disarmament. Analysts agree that the dissidents' sporadic bombings and shootings stand no chance of forcing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom, the traditional IRA goal.

Scores of Catholic youths later attacked police on Friary Road with Molotov cocktails and other thrown objects. They also hijacked and burned two cars on the road. Police arrested four rioters.

"The Twelfth" officially commemorates the July 12, 1690, triumph of Protestant King William of Orange versus his Catholic rival for the English throne, James II, at the Battle of the Boyne south of Belfast. This year the parades took place on the 13th because Orangemen — who march beneath banners depicting the British crown on an open Bible — refuse to hold the holiday on a Sunday.

Orangemen once marched wherever they wanted in Northern Ireland, a state created on the back of Orange power as the predominantly Catholic rest of Ireland won independence from Britain in the early 1920s.

Catholic hostility to Protestant parades helped ignite a conflict over Northern Ireland's future that claimed more than 3,600 lives from the late 1960s to mid-1990s, when paramilitary cease-fires finally took hold.

At that time, the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party led protests blocking Orangemen's traditional marching routes in several cities, towns and villages. The tactic brought Northern Ireland to the brink of civil war — and ultimately ended in broad defeat for the Orangemen, who refused to negotiate on their marching rights until it was too late.

Britain punished the Orangemen's stubbornness by imposing bans on parades that encountered the heaviest opposition from Catholics. The Orangemen spent years mounting violent standoffs with British security forces in hopes of regaining lost ground, but eventually gave up.

The Crumlin Road beside Ardoyne is the only remaining parading point in Belfast that inspires recurring violence. There, the Orangemen have no obvious alternative way to march from their lodges to central Belfast and back again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lawmaker says CIA director ended secret program

Lawmaker says CIA director ended secret program
July 10, 2009

CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very serious" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday.

Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is considering an investigation.

"The program is a very, very serious program and certainly deserved a serious debate at the time and through the years," Schakowsky told The Associated Press in an interview. "But now it's over."

Democrats revealed late Tuesday that CIA Director Leon Panetta had informed members of the House Intelligence Committee on June 24 that the spy agency had been withholding important information about a secret intelligence program begun after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Schakowsky described Panetta as "stunned" that he had not been informed of the program until nearly five months into his tenure as director.

Panetta had learned of the program only the day before informing the lawmakers, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss the program publicly.

Panetta has launched an internal probe at the CIA to determine why Congress was not told about the program. Exactly what the classified program entailed is still unclear.

The intelligence official said the program was "on-again/off-again" and that it was never fully operational, but he would not provide details.

Schakowsky, D-Ill., said Friday that the CIA and Bush administration consciously decided not to tell Congress.

"It's not as if this was an oversight and over the years it just got buried. There was a decision under several directors of the CIA and administration not to tell the Congress," she said.

Schakowsky, who chairs the Intelligence subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said in a Thursday letter to Reyes that the CIA's lying was systematic and inexcusable. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

She said Reyes indicated to her the committee would conduct a probe into whether the CIA violated the National Security Act, which requires, with rare exceptions, that Congress be informed of covert activities. She told AP she hopes to conduct at least part of the investigation for the committee.

She said this is the fourth time that she knows of that the CIA has misled Congress or not informed it in a timely manner since she began serving on the Intelligence Committee two and half years ago.

In 2008, the CIA inspector general revealed that the CIA had lied to Congress about the accidental shoot down of American missionaries over Peru in 2001. In 2007, news reports disclosed that the CIA had secretly destroyed videotapes of interrogations of a terrorist suspect.

She would not describe the other incident.

Schakowsky said she thinks Panetta is changing the CIA for the better, adding that the failure to inform Congress was indicative of "contempt" the Bush administration and intelligence agencies under him held for Congress...

Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

New York Times
July 11, 2009

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

Efforts to reach Mr. Cheney through relatives and associates were unsuccessful.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

C.I.A. concealed significant actions from Congress from 2001 until late last month,

Democrats Say C.I.A. Deceived Congress
New York Times
Published: July 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, has told the House Intelligence Committee in closed-door testimony that the C.I.A. concealed “significant actions” from Congress from 2001 until late last month, seven Democratic committee members said.

In a June 26 letter to Mr. Panetta discussing his testimony, Democrats said that the agency had “misled members” of Congress for eight years about the classified matters, which the letter did not disclose. “This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods,” said the letter, made public late Wednesday by Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, one of the signers.

In an interview, Mr. Holt declined to reveal the nature of the C.I.A.’s alleged deceptions,. But he said, “We wouldn’t be doing this over a trivial matter.”

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, referred to Mr. Panetta’s disclosure in a letter to the committee’s ranking Republican, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, Congressional Quarterly reported on Wednesday. Mr. Reyes wrote that the committee “has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to.”

In a related development, President Obama threatened to veto the pending Intelligence Authorization Bill if it included a provision that would allow information about covert actions to be given to the entire House and Senate Intelligence Committees, rather than the so-called Gang of Eight — the Democratic and Republican leaders of both houses of Congress and the two Intelligence Committees.

A White House statement released on Wednesday said the proposed expansion of briefings would undermine “a long tradition spanning decades of comity between the branches regarding intelligence matters.” Democrats have complained that under President George W. Bush, entire programs were hidden from most committee members for years...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

NPR shows how easy it is to change the world

The Extraordinaries: Will Microvolunteering Work?
July 1, 2009
by Linton Weeks

Doing Good-Dot-Org

The microvolunteering movement aims to convince those with big hearts and little time to use their spare moments for the common good. The idea is among a slew of do-good efforts popping up on the Web, including:

The Extraordinaries

NPR.org, July 1, 2009 · Got five minutes? Got a cell phone? Want to do good?

The Extraordinaries can help. It's one of a number of newly hatched social-media enterprises that champion speedy cooperation. Here is the 30-second elevator pitch: The Extraordinaries delivers microvolunteer opportunities to mobile phones that can be done on-demand and on-the-spot.

Shazzam! Charity meets brevity. Crowdsourcing for the common good. Turning ADD into AID.

Through The Extraordinaries, you might be able to use your smart phone — while waiting in the dentist's office or standing in the DMV line — to:

• translate a foreign-language document into English

• add identifying tags to photos and videos for a museum

• give advice to a college applicant

During your lunch break you could snap a picture of a pothole that needs patching and zap it to the proper authorities. You could report a dying elm to the parks-and-recreation department or spot a rare woodpecker for the Audubon Society.

"This is an organization that changes the paradigm," says Jacob Colker, 26, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Extraordinaries. "We hope people might look differently at that ride on the bus and not just play video games."

Micro Planet

Fresh off the drawing board, The Extraordinaries is part of a new movement that combines tiny technology and huge social goals. The jury is still out on whether these sites will have large, and long-lasting, effects. But the microvolunteerism movement is undeniable.

It's all part of the micro world. What began with microscopes and microbiology has morphed into microeverything: microchips, microhousing, microjobs. And now: microvolunteerism.

Kiva.org, a microlending site, allows people to easily lend money to the working poor. So far, some 520,000 people have loaned more than $80 million to people in 184 countries, according to Kiva's reports. Using PayPal or a credit card, a visitor to the Kiva Web site can loan a struggling entrepreneur in a developing country $25 or more. The site says the money is usually paid back within a year. Other microlending sites include DonorsChoose and GlobalGiving.

New cause-oriented sites, such as Causecast, which helps people find causes to support, and Amazee, which showcases various social-advocacy projects, are popping up on the Internet all the time...

NPR shows how easy it is to change the world

The Extraordinaries: Will Microvolunteering Work?
July 1, 2009
by Linton Weeks

Doing Good-Dot-Org

The microvolunteering movement aims to convince those with big hearts and little time to use their spare moments for the common good. The idea is among a slew of do-good efforts popping up on the Web, including:

The Extraordinaries

NPR.org, July 1, 2009 · Got five minutes? Got a cell phone? Want to do good?

The Extraordinaries can help. It's one of a number of newly hatched social-media enterprises that champion speedy cooperation. Here is the 30-second elevator pitch: The Extraordinaries delivers microvolunteer opportunities to mobile phones that can be done on-demand and on-the-spot.

Shazzam! Charity meets brevity. Crowdsourcing for the common good. Turning ADD into AID.

Through The Extraordinaries, you might be able to use your smart phone — while waiting in the dentist's office or standing in the DMV line — to:

• translate a foreign-language document into English

• add identifying tags to photos and videos for a museum

• give advice to a college applicant

During your lunch break you could snap a picture of a pothole that needs patching and zap it to the proper authorities. You could report a dying elm to the parks-and-recreation department or spot a rare woodpecker for the Audubon Society.

"This is an organization that changes the paradigm," says Jacob Colker, 26, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Extraordinaries. "We hope people might look differently at that ride on the bus and not just play video games."

Micro Planet

Fresh off the drawing board, The Extraordinaries is part of a new movement that combines tiny technology and huge social goals. The jury is still out on whether these sites will have large, and long-lasting, effects. But the microvolunteerism movement is undeniable.

It's all part of the micro world. What began with microscopes and microbiology has morphed into microeverything: microchips, microhousing, microjobs. And now: microvolunteerism.

Kiva.org, a microlending site, allows people to easily lend money to the working poor. So far, some 520,000 people have loaned more than $80 million to people in 184 countries, according to Kiva's reports. Using PayPal or a credit card, a visitor to the Kiva Web site can loan a struggling entrepreneur in a developing country $25 or more. The site says the money is usually paid back within a year. Other microlending sites include DonorsChoose and GlobalGiving.

New cause-oriented sites, such as Causecast, which helps people find causes to support, and Amazee, which showcases various social-advocacy projects, are popping up on the Internet all the time...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Martina Navratilova not ready for marriage equality for gays

Crying foul on Martina Navratilova

By Louis Bayard
June 29, 2009

The tennis star's legal woes remind us that even gay icons have some growing up to do about same-sex marriage...

[H]er current legal troubles remind us that even gay icons have some growing up to do when it comes to gay relationships. We cannot know whether all the assertions in Toni Layton’s lawsuit are true. We can say, however, with some certainty that the two women lived together as a couple, that they celebrated their relationship in a ceremony in New Hampshire, that they shared property and assets, and that Navratilova is much the wealthier of the two. If this were a no-fault heterosexual divorce, the law would unequivocally side with Layton, awarding her alimony and some division of property.

But the law, of course, still has different standards for same-sex relationships, and Layton has been forced to file a "domestic partnership" lawsuit in the deeply inhospitable legal climate of Florida, which has traditionally taken a dim view of alternative lifestyles. Barring a settlement, then, Navratilova stands to emerge from her most recent long-term relationship with little more than bad press and some whopping legal fees. If, that is, she can convince a court that her relationship with Layton doesn't rise to the contractual level of heterosexual marriage.

This stratagem is not new to her. In 1991, Navratilova’s ex-lover Judy Nelson sued her for $7.5 million in spousal benefits -- or, as the slavering tabloids used to call it, "galimony." To buttress her case, Nelson argued that the two women had engaged in not one but two marriage ceremonies and had filmed a video will together.

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Nelson also got vocal support from another Martina ex, Rita Mae Brown. In her memoir, "Rita Will," Brown writes that her sympathies shifted toward Nelson during a pretrial hearing in which Navratilova's lawyers argued (Brown's words) that "Martina and Judy had had a contract for sex," which "amounted to prostitution and therefore was against public policy." By demoting same-sex relationships to the level of a roll in the hay, Brown argued, Navratilova "could inflict colossal damage on every gay person in the United States."

Brown's motives in entering the case were suspect -- she had famously shot out the back window of Navratilova's BMW after a quarrel, and she herself enjoyed a brief liaison with Nelson -- but politically she was on target. The only way Navratilova could escape her financial (not to mention moral) obligations was to argue that her gay relationship did not carry the same legal standing as a straight relationship.

What was cynical then has become indefensible now. Martina Navratilova can no longer cast herself as an apostle for gay rights while using a homophobic legal code to deny her ex-partners alimony. This is more than bad behavior, it is bad precedent. And it comes at the worst possible time.

Very soon -- sooner than anyone could have guessed -- gay marriage will become the law in much of the land. A great deal has been written about whether straight America is ready; less has been written about whether gay America is ready. Not just to be held to the same contractual standards as heterosexual couples but to believe (after years of being told otherwise) that their relationships really are of equal standing. And to go on believing it when those relationships collapse.

In reporting on Toni Layton’s lawsuit, Britain’s Daily Mail used the following headline: "Martina Sued for Millions by 'Wife.'" I hope and expect that those archly condescending quotation marks will one day disappear, but it is the job of the gay community to make them go. If we want our relationships to be taken seriously, if we want the legal sanction of marriage, we must be ready to stand by our contracts and our obligations -- no matter how expensive or inconvenient it is and no matter what example is set by our culturally designated "heroes." Equality has its blessings. It also has its price.