You read the latest about the Bush administration’s ineptness? Turns out they tried to divert funding for developing new “bomb-sniffing” technology – including detection of liquid explosives:

The administration’s most recent budget request also mystified lawmakers. It asked to take $6 million from the Sciences & Technology Directorate’s 2006 budget that was supposed to be used to develop explosives detection technology and divert it to cover a budget shortfall in the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings.

Guess that should show you who they really care about protecting, eh?

In today’s links, I connected to a couple of posts about Nazis Bill White and Shawn Stuart. White quit the US Nazi party because it was too creepy for him…which says a lot…and Orcinus wrote a great report on right-wing extremists in the military, framed around the “Republican” candidate for a Butte state House seat.

You’ll recall the brouhaha about Shawn Stuart’s filing as a Republican in a Butte state legislature race, and all the concern expressed by Montana’s GOP, even going as far as saying they would “work to defeat” Stuart.

Of the GOP response, I wrote this:

I do think [MT GOP chair] Karl Ohs’ respsonse was the right thing to do. He completely denied any association with the National Socialist party and reaffirmed his party’s “commitment to equal rights and equality for every citizen regardless of gender, age, race, national origin, religion, creed, or physical impairment” (tho’ he left out “sexual orientation”!). Yes, having a Nazi running under your banner is bad publicity, but I do believe that this was one of the rare cases where political expediency met genuine feeling.

But, as I am a partisan hack, my trust has a limited shelf life. What, I wondered, had the Montana GOP done recently to ensure Stuart’s defeat?

Praise be the Internet! I simply penned an email to Ohs, asking this very question. Here’s the response I got from executive director (whatever that is) Chuck Denowh:

Mr. Stevens,

Thanks for your concern in this area. I can assure you that Shawn Stewart will not be in the Montana Legislature next year. This is a very Democratic district. John Kerry won in this district by 1,085 votes, Brian Schweitzer won by 1,694 votes, and Bill Kennedy won by 1,588 votes. Needless to say, a Republican doesn’t have much of a chance here in the first place. But we don’t want to take anything for granted. Though I don’t want to lump this Nazi in with the Democrats, we are treating his as an opposition candidate, after all, he has damaged our party enough already. We are not providing him with any of the candidate support that our real Republicans get and we will continue to publicly denounce him as a candidate.

Thank you for your concern and your input.

Chuck Denowh

MT GOP

Hm. Not exactly the “work” I expected the Montana GOP to do. Apparently Denowh is relying on Butte’s historically Democratic base to defeat Stuart, with an occasional statement from the Montana GOP to reassure everyone that Stuart is a Nazi, not a Republican.

I’m sure John Sesso, the Demorcratic candidate for the district is thrilled about the level of GOP support. He’s probably spending a bunch of his own money on the race. I wonder if Denowh would be willing to give Sesso the candidate support he usually tabs for Republican candidates?

I’ll ask. Stay tuned!

Links…

David Crisp compares Coulter to Hitler. Coobs defends her: “She's much better looking than Adolph Hitler!” Matt Singer found a “Hitler vs. Coulter” quiz.

New West comes out against Initiative 154. Nice summation.

The West is not “nowhere.”

The Slog reports on lying signature gatherers trolling for John Hancocks for a Washington initiative ending the estate tax.

PBS has made Frontline’s show on Dick Cheney, “The Dark Side,” available online.

Firedoglake on the Senate vote yoking us to the Bush administration’s rudderless war policy.

The GOP upends the Voting Rights Act. These guys are lovely.

White House “happy talk” infiltrating the “liberal” press, despite the fact that the majority of Americans and troops want out of Iraq.

TAPPED has breakfast with Grover Norquist.

The “Had enough?” campaign in action. Have you had enough? Then this is a little way you can add to the buzz.

Digby thinks, like US Grant, it’s time to stop thinking about what the GOP, and start making the GOP think about what we’ll do.

Matt Singer posted this link, but I think it’s worth posting here, too. “My Lieberman problem – and ours.” An not-unsympathetic profile of the Senator and why he needs to go.

How to approach the topic of DC insider, Chuck Schumer and his Republican friend, Joe Lieberman? How can I express my antipathy towards the DSCC chair for vowing to support Lieberman’s run as an independent should he lose the primary to upstart Ned Lamont?

Easy. I’ll let someone else do it. Digby.

First, the background. In recent poll, Lamont placed four points behind Lieberman. That’s an astounding result for an out-of-nowhere candidate against a well-funded high-profile incumbent. In recent interviews, Lieberman said he’d run as an independent if he didn’t win his party’s nomination, threatening to split the vote and hand Connecticut to the GOP. (Although an argument could be made that his seat already belongs to the GOP.) DSCC chair Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently said (in the same breath that he congratulated himself for Tester’s win) that he and the DSCC would back Lieberman as an independent.

Digby on Lieberman:

You don't have to look any further than Joe Lieberman to understand why the entire world thinks Democrats are a bunch of chickensh[*]t losers. We're tired of being associated with someone who can't even stand a fair fight in the Connecticut Democratic party without whining like sniveling school kid and threatening to take his ball and go home. Why should anyone trust such a gutless tool with the reins of government?

Digby quoting Josh Marshall on Lieberman:

I think the most generous read on Lieberman is that he's just out of step with the parliamentary turn of recent American politics….But I think that's too generous. The whining in Washington that it's somehow an affront that Lieberman's hold on his senate is being threatened is entirely misplaced, a good example of what's wrong with DC's permanent class.

Digby on Schumer’s decision to back Lieberman, no matter what:

You don't get to leave the party to avoid losing in a Democratic primary and then expect Democratic party financial support to run against the Democratic candidate. That's just nuts. And it's so disrespectful to the Democratic voters of Connecticut I can't honestly believe he has thought this through.If they do this, it will cause a full on backlash against the Democratic Party by the rank and file and the party elders like Schumer have no one to blame but themselves. Frankly, this arrogant dictatorial attitude would be a little bit easier to take if the party hadn't given away the f[*]cking store for the last quarter century and gotten exactly nothing in return. The last time I checked these people haven't won anything in a long, long time. Why we are supposed to keep putting our faith in their greater capacity to win is beyond me. Certainly, the unmitigated gall of these g[*]dd[*]mned losers lording over the voters like this is going to kill this party. A little humility is called for here.

Lamont is, of course, the prime beneficiary of netroots activism, if anybody is. He was basically created, touted, and elevated through the power of the blogosphere. Yes, he’s run a decent campaign. Yes, he’s an excellent candidate. But the bottom line is that he’s a populist running against a terrible lawmaker and is now within striking distance.

Schumer is an establishment DC insider, chair of a powerful re-election group.

Is it “narcissistic” to believe in light of this story that there’s a battle between the Democratic insiders and the netroots, grassroots base of the party? Between fat cats and the people?

Trust me, the fat cats wanted John Morrison to win the Democratic primary, which should be all the more reason why we should support Tester.

In today’s ESPN “Daily Quickie,” Dan Shanoff accurately summed up the full implication of the US team’s 3-0 defeat by the Czech Republic yesterday:

The worst-case scenario for U.S. Soccer came on Monday.

After four years of buildup, hype and expectations after a breakthrough run to the quarterfinals in 2002, the U.S. team was handed the worst loss of any team in the 2006 tournament so far.

Considering the promise of U.S. soccer's legitimacy, this was even worse than the 5-1 beating that the U.S. team took from the Czech Republic at the start of the 1990 World Cup.

Wasn't the U.S. supposed to be better than this? Maybe not "beat the Czechs" better, but certainly "make a freaking game of it, please!" better?

So, for starters, yesterday's 3-0 shellacking provides fodder for the cynics and cranks who think the real sport this month is mocking soccer and its fans, particularly the hopeful ones rooting on the U.S. team.

Next, it was the ugliest loss found anywhere in the 2006 tournament, combining all the elements of nearly every losing side yet, in a horrible twist on the symbolism of an American melting pot:

Paraguay: Allowing a goal in the game's first minutes.

Costa Rica/Iran: Allowing three goals or more.

Angola/Poland/Sweden/Serbia: Being shut out.

Plus one unique effort: The largest goal differential (3) yet seen in the Cup. (Being behind 2 at the half was a kiss of death worthy of the Group of Death: Teams up 2 or more at halftime are 72-0-4 in Cup history.)

When the day began, I didn't think a team could be humiliated more than Japan, which gave up 3 goals to Australia in the game's final 10 minutes, including (1) the equalizer, (2) the winning goal, and (3) one for plain embarrassment.

But at least Japan was in the game for 90 minutes, leading for 84. The U.S. was out of it right from the start and was never competitive.

Yet it gets worse:

As I watched Italy beat Ghana 2-0 (in a game much closer than the score), it didn't take a soccer savant to realize that both teams are vastly superior to the U.S.

So after a day that started with so much promise (2nd round, anyone?), the U.S. will be fortunate not to go 0-3 in its group and lucky (lucky!) if it doesn't finish 32 out of 32 teams.

That's how ugly this 3-0 loss really was. The first day of play in the Group of Death signaled the death knell for U.S. soccer in 2006.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. What makes this humiliation worse isn’t just that this 3-0 loss dashed our expectations for this world cup, but maybe for US soccer altogether. Just a week ago, fans were discussing – with a straight face – the inevitable domination of the sport by the United States because of its population and wealth. If the game caught on – which naturally it would with a great showing by the US – this country would quickly become a soccer powerhouse.

Some fans were even feeling nostalgic about these golden days when just a few die-hards followed the game.

Have no worry. US’ pathetic performance ensures the soccer fan base will remain small.

Go Holland!

I just noticed that a search for "erotic liberated Christian blogs" led a hopeful Internet surfer to my site…

It's rare these days when I agree with a Missoulian editorial — seems like they're letting their high school intern pen them lately — but I, er…that is…I…how do I say this? Agree? With the editorial on Starbucks?

It's an encouraging reflection of how well things are going in Missoula these days that little else is causing as much teeth-gnashing among the local intelligentsia than the impending opening of a downtown Starbucks coffee shop.

Oh, the horror!

The Missoulian is…er…right. Starbucks started as a little independent coffee shop and is responsible for introducing the country to good coffee. It's big because it's good. It's not barging into the market of cafes, it invented the market. Sure, it's been taken over by a greedy corporate mindset and has spread its tentacles across the nation. But I remember the world before Starbucks, and it wasn't pretty. Watery truckstop coffee. Instant coffee. Lipton Tea, for God's sake!

And to be fair to Starbucks, they do respond to criticism. In response to a drive to get the company to sell fair trade coffee, they now offer such coffee at many of their stores.

I can't help but, er, agree with this last point, too:

Now a confession: Some of us haven't darkened a Starbucks' door for years. There's no shortage of good coffee to be had in these parts, and most of it is a good deal more conveniently obtained than by traveling to the nearest Starbucks. The opening of its downtown shop won't change that by much. We don't much fear for the survival of our favorite coffee vendors – they're not about to roll over and play dead. They'll compete, some of them fiercely, and most of them will find a way to succeed.

Break Espresso is probably the cafe most threatened by the new Starbucks. But it's just bought the adjacent space and knocked down the seperating wall to make a very kick-*ss cafe, twice as large as before, now with lots of light and tables. And Break patrons are loyal. At least my wife is loyal.

I guess my only regret about the new Starbucks is that Missoula doesn't have many chain outlets on the main drag. There's a "Jamba Juice." And the Bon Marche. Or Macy's, whatever it's called nowadays. But that's it. Hopefully the new Starbucks doesn't represent a trend.

Creep: Ethel Fay Jordan

I seem to reseverve my "creep" awards to Montana homophobes…why is that? Why can't I just let them walk away? Why is the issue obviously so important to me? It's not like I'm affected in any way by discrimination against gays: I'm a middle-aged straight white guy, I'm sitting on top of the power pyramid. What do I care?

It just irks me when people go out of their way to put others down, not for what they do or say (like Republicans or letter-writing homophobes), but for who they are. And it double-irks me when they use Christianity — a religion that, in theory, is all about forgiveness and love, fer chrissake! — as the basis for discrimination.

Enter Billings Gazette writer Ethel Fay Jordan:

Condemning sin according to Bible

I read with interest a spine-chilling article in the Saturday, March 11, Gazette, written by the Rev. Erik Thorson, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Billings, in which he attempted to redefine and modernize the entire subject of homosexuality.

The Christian Bible definitely teaches that we should love the sinner but hate his sin. However, my interpretation of Thorson's manuscript is that according to him, we now in this day should also love the sin — well if not love and embrace it deeply, then to condone and accept it as an A-OK alternative lifestyle at any rate. But sin is sin — no matter how you slice it.

But the Bible also states that in the last days, "Good shall be termed evil, and evil good," and this situation is Exhibit A of this particular prophecy. I also need to know why there are the six verses in the Bible which Thorson referred to that explicitly condemn same-sexual activity, if indeed homosexuality is not a sin and a problem? In that case, just why are these six verses contained in the Bible in the first place?

Meanwhile, may God forgive us again, and also in the meantime, I shall attempt to redeem the time by speaking out and taking a stand against such evils as homosexuality with whatever time, strength and will I may have remaining.

I admit Ethel's letter lacks the usual vitriol found in your standard anti-gay outcry. I picture some old nanny in a rocking chair shaking her cane at the people walking by her front porch. So maybe she's not a "creep," per se. Maybe "misguided." Or "delusional."

Here's the thing: maybe the Bible contains six versions railing against hot man-on-man action. I don't know 'em off hand. But it seems that these six verses get a disproportionate amount of attention over the, oh, dozens…hundreds?…of passages on charity, class injustice, the redistribution of wealth, etc.

Take Nehemiah's passionate outburst against landlords, the system of credit, and usury (Nehemiah 5:3-13):

For there were those who said, "We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live."

There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine."

Also there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards.

"Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others."

Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words.

I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother!" Therefore, I held a great assembly against them.

I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say.

Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?

"And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.

"Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them."

Then they said, "We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say " So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.

I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied " And all the assembly said, "Amen!" And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.

So…where's the outcry about landlords, credit, and usury from contemporary Christians? How many are storming MasterCard/Visa's offices and tearing down their walls? Heck, how many Christians have credit cards?

To me, the Bible is a radical book because it establishes the value of a human above anything — money, possessions, and property, especially. That modern Christians chase around gays, evolution, and abortion, which have little or no presence in scripture, seems like maybe someone's trying to distract the faithful from what the Bible really says.

Links…

Bozeman Daily Chronicle ran an article from GOP-spokespers—er, columnist, Tamara Hall this Friday. Jeff at Speedkill destroys Hall with some facts and a pinch of reason.

John at Blogenlust reveals the new secret weapon proposed by the Department of Homeland Security for protecting our children from terrorists: school bus drivers! (We’re screwed.)

MyDD defends the left blogosphere from the Hotline. Another shot across the bow from a leaky tub bound for the scrap heap.

Former public editor of The New York Times, Daniel Okrent, admitted that “poor press coverage” led to the Iraqi war: “…in time of war editors [wear] epaulettes on their shoulder…”

Homeland security gets busy defending Americans from Internet porn.

Halliburton wins contract to reconstruct Cheney’s reputation! Of course, with Halliburton’s track record, that’s good news for progressives.

Ed Kemmick comments on the appetite of Burns' staff. Hint: it's big.

New Hero: Ozzie Guillen

Ozzie Guillen, manager of the world champion Chicago White Sox, not only blew off the president, he also dissed Alex Rodriguez in an SI article for being wishy-washing on whether he was going to play for the Dominican Republic or for the US in the upcoming World Baseball classic:

"Alex was kissing Latino people's asses," Guillen, who's from Venezuela, said…."He knew he wasn't going to play for the Dominicans; he's not a Dominican!"

I admit I wasn't too keen on Guillen's antics during the regular season and in the playoffs. But I warmed up to him when he missed a meeting at the White House with Bush to go on a family vacation. Guillen never said why felt vacation was more important than a meeting with the U.S. president, but we can guess that the rhetoric from Bush's allies against Guillen's own leader and country had something to do with it…

And dissing the man behind the sissy slap is frosting on the cake.

Links…

Daily links

Hm. I wonder what fundamentalist Christians would say about this San Francisco Chronicle article that covers the unnatural nature of Nature.

The Huff Post has the scoop on Cheney’s Folsom Prison concert. (Warning: link accompanied by irritating music.)

The WaPo’s Froomkin has a lovely round-up of Cheney news and analysis.

The Daily Kos has posted new pics from Abu Gharib. (Proceed with caution.) You think you’ll be able to see these in your newspaper? Not chance. A shout out to president Bush, VP Cheney, and attorney gen. Gonzalez for these photos…

The Power of Narrative has an excellent post about the Danish cartoon brouhaha: The Freedom to Foster Hatred.




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