Showing posts with label Senate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Senate. Show all posts

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Jesus is just all white

Democracy dies in . . . Bayard.


Bayard, Neb. If you were in Bayard, you'd croak, too.

Religious services have not been finalized, but interment will be in the back yard of state Sen. Steve Erdman, R-Greater Nebraska Trumpian Reich, in a plot between those of tolerance and decency. Erdman indicated that the funeral would be a white, Christian one.

No word on whether the funeral luncheon will be scheduled for before or after the book burning and Two-Minute Hate of University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds.

From the Omaha World-Herald:
A western Nebraska state senator recently criticized the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s plan to hire a diversity vice chancellor, saying it bodes poorly for “white Christian conservative males.”

State Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard wrote in a column or letter last month to constituents that the NU system complains about inadequate state funding but it still has money for a “six-figure-salaried” person to assist with diversity.
Bayard, Neb. . . . The Florence of the high plains
Erdman said Wednesday that the reaction from some constituents was: “It’s about time somebody said something.”

The matter highlights some conservatives’ belief that universities are swarming with liberal professors who seek to indoctrinate their students. Edna Chun, a national consultant in diversity, said Wednesday that most universities have diversity officials.

NU President Hank Bounds said in a written statement Wednesday evening that he is proud that the university supports diversity. “Throughout my career, I’ve seen again and again that we are stronger when we serve alongside people who don’t look or think like us.

“I was shocked and deeply saddened when I read the column. For any elected official to champion these kinds of dangerous views only serves to damage our great state and our ability to recruit and retain the top talent that will grow Nebraska for the future.”

UNL has never had a vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, although it has had employees devoted to those tasks. The vice chancellor is the first diversity administrator who will report directly to the chancellor.

The aim of diversity work, Florida-based consultant Chun said, is to broaden the awareness of all students and prepare them for a global society.

“The whole goal of it is educational,” Chun said. She said minority students can feel isolated when there are small numbers of them on a campus. Diversity and inclusion also refer to gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identification, she said.

UNL data show that last fall, minority students made up 14.3 percent of the university’s student body — 3,719 of 26,079 students.

Erdman said he wants no preferential treatment for anyone. “Favoring people by way of their genitalia, the color of their skin and their sexual orientation is as much an insult as discriminating against them for these very reasons,” he said in his letter, which he called “Straight Talk From Steve.”

His letter says he can envision “white Christian conservative males” being “excruciatingly scrutinized against the backdrop of the new Vice Chancellor’s extremist progressive worldview.”

Erdman said his views don’t come from contempt for any race. “I’ve got black friends. I’ve got Mexican friends,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “I look at them as being a friend and an American.”

But some Nebraskans are rebelling against the university’s liberalism, he said. An acquaintance told him his daughter changed her mind and isn’t interested in attending UNL.

“People are starting to wake up,” said Erdman, a 68-year-old retired farmer who sells some real estate. He said in his letter that a student who suggests that marriage is the union of man and woman in the future might be “beaten down by a torrent of LGBTQ complaints followed by psycho-analysis and reprogramming.”
Ground Zero: Senator fears UNL will rename his favorite cereal 'LGBTQ Loops.'

I'M SO OLD that I remember when Nebraska was better than this -- when western Nebraska was better than this.

I remember when there were Democrats outside Omaha and Lincoln. I remember when conservative outstate Nebraska was, by today's standards, vaguely "libtard" and RINO-ish. I remember when state senators from outposts like Bayard, hundreds of miles beyond the last traces of black Nebraskans, weren't angry nativist cranks.

Some were even moderates. Hey, it was the '80s. In 2018, moderates are the new communists to mouth breather-friendly politicians like Erdman.

And raving, paranoid projection is the new Keeping Your Powder Dry Until There's a Demonstrable Problem With the University's Diversity Program. But when you're playing to voters' prejudices and fear, you gotta do what you gotta do.

That would include accusing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln of the nefarious thing you're actually doing.  For example, note that Erdman is calling an unknown vice chancellor who hasn't been hired an "extremist progressive" based on non-existent things not yet done by the chimerical administrator. Just look:
The addition of a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion also means that every word spoken by White Christian conservative males at the school will be excruciatingly scrutinized against the backdrop of the new Vice Chancellor’s extremist progressive worldview. For instance, any student who dares to suggest that marriage should be defined as the union between a man and a woman will quickly find himself being beaten down by a torrent of LGBTQ complaints followed by psycho-analysis and reprogramming. If the student doesn’t understand the underlying reasons for his stereo-typical beliefs, one will be provided for him.
MY GOD. Sure, it could happen. Than again, maybe not. Actually, probably not. 

This is the demagogic, academia-bashing version of an old Southern tactic for getting rednecks and white trash all riled up . . . just in time for a political Great White Hope to "defend their way of life" at election time.

Southerners had a term for that. I'll not use it.

We wouldn't want to encourage Sen. Erdman to use that word in his next "straight talk" session -- no doubt justifying himself with "Black people use it all the time in rap songs."

Besides, they're all just commies, anyway. No, really:
Recent Left-wing movements, such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, have undoubtedly put tremendous pressure upon the administration to do more about diversity and inclusion. While nobody I know advocates for racial, gender or sexual orientation discrimination, we should still ask why NU needs a Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, if not to impose favoritism upon these groups.
#MeToo? Being against sexual harassment and sexual assault is an ideological stance?

Outstate Nebraska sure ain't what it used to be.

Like much of rural America, it's emptying out. The young are leaving. The brains are draining. And the remnant is content to imagine itself superior to the citified sinners vilified by bumfuck mediocrities who imagine themselves leaders.

Increasingly, even in states like Nebraska, contempt is a two-way street. If rural Nebraska sees cranks like Erdman as features and not bugs, the day will come when it will end up with the short end of its own shtick.

Big time.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A canary in the @#$&*! coal mine doth protest too much

Well, this was extraordinary . . . even for Louisiana.

You might think that was a wild overreaction by Sen. Conrad Appel, but you have to remember he's a Republican who represents Metairie, and that's what one has to do to hold on to one's job in David Dukeland.

People think Donald Trump is America's national disease. He is not.

What Trump is, is a particularly devastating symptom of an even more devastating disease (as evidenced by this display from our national canary in the coal mine, Louisiana).

Buckle up, America. The fun is just beginning.

Friday, March 27, 2015

And the English ate Irish babies
because of Jonathan Swift's essay

"I believe this has crossed the line where we are endangering lives of those who wear a uniform to protect us. How can we expect a criminal – a potential criminal – who might want to commit a gun crime or any kind of crime against law enforcement, to read a transcript and try to understand context or hyperbole? Words matter. And Sen. Chambers said these words."
-- Nebraska Sen. Beau McCoy

Chambers' controversial remarks run from 51:06 to 58:36

Nearly a week after he said it, Nebraskans have decided to be outraged, horrified and morally offended by Sen. Ernie Chambers, who pointed out in a legislative committee meeting that ISIS wasn't a threat to ordinary folk in his district, but the police were.

In more than one case recently, this has been demonstrably true.

But something being demonstrably true in a nation that's seen a spate of unarmed civilians -- many of them black -- being killed by heavily armed police is no deterrent to Nebraskans when it's yet again time to hate on the outspoken man who for decades was the state's only African-American legislator, and now is one of only two.

And did I mention that it took people almost a week to get outraged over widely reported "outrageous" comments?

What people are saying is that Chambers said he'd shoot a cop because the cops are the equivalent of the worst sort of Islamic terrorists. What Chambers actually said is quite different.
State senators confronted Sen. Ernie Chambers Thursday during an extraordinary two-hour discussion about his remarks last week comparing police interaction with black citizens to ISIS treatment of its victims in the Mideast.

One freshman legislator, Sen. David Schnoor of Scribner, demanded the Omaha senator resign from the Legislature.

But Chambers dismissed insistent calls that he apologize or retract statements he made during a committee hearing last week.

His critics focused their criticism on a brief remark by Chambers that if he carried a gun -- which he doesn't -- and found himself confronted by a police officer, he'd want to shoot first and ask questions later, "like they say the cop ought to do."

Gov. Pete Ricketts weighed in on the discussion from outside the legislative chamber by issuing a news release urging Chambers to "issue a full apology for his remarks (and) condemn all violence against law enforcement."

During an interview after the Legislature adjourned for the week, Chambers said "there's not a person in my (legislative) district who thinks I would want to shoot a cop."

"The kids in my community are too smart to put that interpretation on those words," he said.

During the debate, Chambers said he's "used to be being piled on" after growing up as a black youth in a white culture and later during a public career of confronting senators in a Legislature in which he usually was the sole black senator. Two of the 49 current senators are black.

"I don't expect you to understand what I'm talking about," he said.

A number of senators who took exception to Chambers' comments last week defended his right to express his views even if they disagreed with him.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to pile onto Sen. Chambers," Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins said after the flood of criticism had begun.

"I do not condone what Sen. Chambers said, (but) let those among us who are without sin cast the first stone."

Chambers, he said, has "done a great service to this body for 40 years."

Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha said he now regrets that he didn't "nudge Senator Chambers and express my disappointment" when he made the remarks during last week's Judiciary Committee hearing, but he said he also needs to be prepared to call a colleague to account the next time he hears a reference to "a retard."

Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm said he has heard a senator refer to people who receive public assistance as "leeches," and he reminded colleagues that Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, who initiated Thursday's debate, dismissively knocked a bobblehead doll rendition of President Barack Obama off a fence post in one of his 2014 gubernatorial campaign TV ads.

THIS AD.  I wonder whether McCoy regrets his symbolic act of violence against the president of the United States.

I wonder whether he wonders whether he planted a seed in the fertile soil of a future assassin's warped mind. Because, after all, actions matter. And Sen. McCoy whacked that Obama bobblehead.

I'm seeing people from politicians to regular slobs on Facebook demand that people like Ernie Chambers "walk a mile in cops' shoes." Bullshit.

You don't get to say that unless you equally insist that cops -- and Republican politicians, for that matter -- walk a mile in the shoes of Chambers' north Omaha constituents. So far, I haven't heard anybody meekly suggest that cops might, if they have time someday, and if it really isn't too much trouble, walk a block in the shoes of ordinary black folk in the 'hood.

Like people say, "Fair is fair." Unless that depends on what the definition of "is" is.

FOR THE RECORD, here is what Chambers actually said a week ago. Unedited for political effect or for outrage generation in the Internet age:
My ISIS is the police. And you know what the county attorney said, Don Kleine: If the officer makes a mistake, if he's wrong but he had reason to think that he was right, then he's clear. I cannot get away with that and shoot you and say, well, I thought he was going to do something. They say, uh-uh, buddy, that doesn't work. 

Well, now we presume that these officers are trained. To show how little their training means and how they hide behind it, some guy out east was fired because he was dealing with a guy who had a mental problem and wound up...he was on duty, shot the guy 14 times, and he was fired. Now he's trying to get his job back. And you know what the lawyer is arguing? And he's justified in view of the not finding any fault in what these cops are doing. He said, yes, he shot the man 14 times, but it was within his training. 

So now, if the police are trained to shoot somebody in the back, then the cop who shoots in the back says, it was pursuant to my training, and he's home free. That's what's happening. I would tell young people: If you tell somebody to go across the world to fight for ISIS, they can put you in jail if you just talk about it. If you want to fight injustice, don' don't have to go around the world to find the ISIS mentality. Your ISIS is in America and you're likely to die over there, one way or the other. So if you're going to die, die making your home safe. My home is not threatened by ISIS. Mine is threatened by the police. The police are licensed to kill us, children, old people. 

They showed a guy on a highway. The highway trooper, he had this elderly black woman down on the ground, just beating the stew out of her, and nothing was done to him. That's what I see. Now suppose somebody told me somebody from ISIS did that. Then everybody is up in arms: See what cowards they are? They beat women in broad daylight. But when a cop does it, it's all right. I don't feel that way. 

And if I were going to do something -- but I'm not a man of violence -- I wouldn't go to Syria, I wouldn't go to Iraq, I wouldn't go to Afghanistan, I wouldn't go to Yemen, I wouldn't go to Tunisia, I wouldn't go to Lebanon, I wouldn't go to Jordan. I would do it right here. 

Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people, as the police do daily. And they get away with it and they've been given the license now. And people don't like me to say this. Then you rein in your cops. And you know what they say, the racism of the cops is merely reflective of the racism in this society and they accept the existence of racism to excuse the cop. 

But then when I say there is racism in the society, they say, you're playing the race card, your talking about it makes it happen. But when they want to justify the cop, they say, he's merely reflective of the community where there is white racism. And that's what I look . . . you don't have to deal with that. You're privileged. You're free of that. You don't have to think about it every day. If I was going to carry a weapon, it wouldn't be against you, it wouldn't be against these people who come here that I might have a dispute with.

Mine would be for the police. And if I carried a gun, I'd want to shoot him first and then ask questions later, like they say the cop ought to do. But could I get away with it? You know I couldn't get away with it. They'd better hope I never lose my mind and find out that I'm on my way out of here. 
NOW, WOULD I have made this point in the manner the senator made it? No. No, I wouldn't have.I always get into trouble when exercising my right to hyperbole. On the other hand, I suck at attracting attention, too.

But I will say this. If somebody shoots Ernie Chambers because of this latest God 'n' country "two-minute hate," I hope that when people riot, they burn city hall and the police headquarters in Omaha, and then the state capitol in Lincoln rather than lay waste to their own neighborhoods.

You never want to be your own ISIS.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Look at the demon, not at us

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Nebraska's senior man in the U.S. Senate got the best deal he could where the politics of abortion meets the politics of health care, leaving everybody really, really hacked off.

In fact, if you listen to the Republicans and the utterly politicized pro-life groups, you'd think poor Ben Nelson was lighting the fuse on Apocalypse Now -- the useful idiot, but an utterly devious and malevolent one, from the Great State of Nebraska who just handed Barack Hussein Antichrist Obama the keys to hundreds of millions of good Christian souls.

BUT IF you read The Associated Press' account of things, it sounds a lot less Mark of the Beast-ish:

The Senate compromise was reached after hours of intense negotiation between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and key senators on both sides of the issue.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who opposes abortion, had threatened to withhold a critical 60th vote for the bill unless restrictions on abortion funding were tightened. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., represented supporters of abortion rights, who wanted to preserve coverage already available.

Nelson said Saturday that the Senate bill essentially uses different means to achieve the same goals as the House bill, which included tight limits on abortion funding praised by U.S. Catholic bishops.

The health care bill would create a new stream of government subsidies to help people buy health insurance, largely through private plans. The subsidies would be available to those buying coverage through a new insurance supermarket called an exchange. Since abortion is a legal medical procedure now covered by many insurers, activists on both sides mobilized to try to shape the legislation.

The House bill includes Stupak's amendment, which bars plans operating in the exchange from paying for most abortions. The only exceptions would be those currently allowed by federal law. Women wanting coverage for abortion would have to purchase a separate policy.

Reid's bill sets up a mechanism to segregate funds used to pay for abortions from federal subsidy dollars.

No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and those funds would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money.

Moreover, individual states would be able to prohibit abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange, after but passing specific legislation to that effect. The only exceptions would be those allowed under current federal law.
YOU KNOW, I wish the language was a lot more strict, too. In fact, I wish abortion on demand was just flat illegal. And better yet, I wish no woman ever felt so out of options that she'd even consider snuffing out the life of her unborn child.

But in a move that's so shocking as to not be believable -- that is, at least, if you know me -- I'm far too subtle to ever become a professional pro-lifer. Here's what it takes to play with the big boys, as evidenced by the reaction of Nebraska Right to Life:

"There is no pro-life Nebraskan more devastated by Senator Nelson's actions than myself." said [Executive Director Julie] Schmit-Albin. "I have defended his record to Nebraskans and believed that he would stand on pro-life principles as he has on numerous occasions in the past. I have had a good relationship with Senator Nelson and his staff throughout the years . I personally met with him on healthcare in July and in mid-November and have been in frequent contact with his staff over the past six weeks. Just Wednesday afternoon, I was apprised of the Casey language by his staff and I urged them to strongly relay to him that we could not support it. When he rejected the Casey language we were bolstered by that action and believed he would hold firm to his commitment to vote against cloture if Stupak language was not included."

"Moreover, NRL Political Action Committee gave Senator Nelson a sole endorsement in his re-election race in 2006 based on his record and actions both as Governor and Senator." said Schmit-Albin. "It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation. Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment."
THE CATHOLIC bishops' conference also is less than happy, according to The Washington Post:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also said the plan was unacceptable, adding in a statement the bill "should be opposed" unless there are changes. "It does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to 'opt out' of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage," it said.
UMM HMM. But here's the deal: The "Nelson compromise" is probably the best they'll get without blowing up the whole thing. It's also the closest thing they'll get to what had been floated (not in Congress, notably) as a reasonable compromise -- requiring the purchase of a separate private "rider" policy for abortion coverage in federally-subsidized policies. [Actually, the "rider" approach is implicit in the House "Stupak Amendment" language, which Nelson offered, and was handily voted down, in the Senate.]

What the bishops and pro-lifers are demanding in health-care reform is something not one of them has agitated for in the present system, where 86 percent of all private insurance plans cover abortion. And unless you're wealthy enough to buy an individual policy of your own choosing, you can't "opt out," and your premiums will go toward paying to kill somebody's unborn baby.

Where's the outrage? Dead babies are dead babies, right? Is it any more immoral that one's premium dollars are funding abortions than one's tax dollars maybe funding abortions?

What we have here is a failure of logic.

What we also have here is a bunch of feckless guardians of society's most vulnerable members fighting a war for hearts and minds on the most unfriendly terrain possible -- Capitol Hill. Of course, that's just a distraction aimed at covering up the utter defeat of the church and the rest of our "culture warriors" in the battle for our . . . culture.

The political grows out of the cultural -- not vice versa -- and if you've lost the culture, politics is a futile pursuit. That pro-lifers and churchmen are too stupid to recognize that plain fact (and so obviously incompetent at softening hearts much less stony than your average Washington insider's) is a prime indicator why they so regularly get rolled by politicians.

The desperate tone of the next fund appeal you get will be as good an indicator as any of how that's working out for the unborn.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'I won't go schizo, will I?'
'It's a distinct possibility.'

That wasn't oregano what Texicans been puttin' in their picante sauce.

And friends don't let friends make political ads while they're Texas toasted. Because at the bottom of that mine lies a big, big howler.

We are amused.

Brownies, anyone?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Huskers like us some Bob Kerrey

Nobody saw the Scott Kleeb blowout coming in Nebraska's Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

Republocrat Tony Raimondo,
the grain-bin king from Columbus, had the bucks to cover the airwaves with testimonials about what a gosh-darn good boss he was. And if you wanted to send a nice feller to Washington to set 'em up with a mighty fine silo and a couple hundred horse tanks, Raimondo was your man.

And 25 percent of Democratic voters saw it that way.

But 69 percent voted for Kleeb (pronounced KLEB).

NOW, WHY WOULD they go and do that? Vote for the hunky, 32-year-old Ph.D. whiz kid who's only lived full-time in the state since 2005 . . . and who got his undergrad degree from Colorado, for God's sake.

Well, it could be that Democrats didn't trust the party-swapping Raimondo.

But I think it's more that Kleeb -- born in Turkey and raised in Italy by expatriate Nebraskan parents -- was an honest-to-God cowboy until a couple of years ago. Was on the rodeo team at CU. Worked as a hired hand on a relative's ranch in Custer County every summer . . . and for a whole year after graduation before heading off to Yale to get all degreed up.

He's the new Bob Kerrey. And Nebraskans like them some Bob Kerrey.

Nobody's giving Rockin' Bob 2.0 much of a chance against uberdweeb GOP ex-Gov.
Mike Johanns -- or Yo-hans to George Bush, who made him Agriculture secretary despite not knowing how to pronounce the man's name. I say they're nuts.

Repeat the mantra: Scott Kleeb is the new Bob Kerrey. And Nebraskans like them some Bob Kerrey.

If Kleeb can run a little more rightward on the social issues while tying Johanns to every colossal screw-up by the Bush Administration and pointing out early and often exactly how the Republicans have governed contrary to the interests of Main Street America and the working man, I think he can win. All he needs is the money to match the big corporate contributions the GOP Escort Service is so good at raking in.

But if Kleeb, a Catholic, wants to win, he has to exhibit the courage of his convictions on the social issues -- if indeed he shares the convictions of his faith on issues like abortion, gay marriage and, yes, a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable. Frankly, the "personally opposed but I don't want to piss off the abortion-loving party zealots" position isn't fooling anybody,
as noted in an Omaha World-Herald feature last week:

Rita Paskowitz, a 59-year-old Democrat, said Kleeb talked without saying much. A supporter of abortion rights, Paskowitz didn't like his answer to her question on abortion.

Kleeb told her he personally opposes abortion but accepts the fact that legal abortion is the law of the land.

"I guess the cowboy hat makes me see him riding the fence, not the horse," said Paskowitz, who remained an undecided voter Thursday.

THE FACT IS, people passionately dedicated to vacuuming, poisoning, dicing or skull-puncturing unborn children to death mistrust a candidate the second he says "personally opposed." The quickly added "but" only convinces an apostle of "choice" that the pol is a weasel to boot.

And the waffler loses pro-lifers at "personally opposed" because they know the "but" is coming, and the "but" means he's going to vote in Congress the same as if he thought abortion were a lovely stroll in the park.

My party's fatal flaw is that it champions murder to the detriment of its own political interests. What Democrats, for the most part, refuse to understand is this -- that for decades now, pro-lifers and other social traditionalists have, for the most part, been voting happily against their own economic well-being in order to remain true to some greater truths.

Likewise, for decades now, the Republicans have been exploiting that . . . and then screwing over the masses with impunity because, after all, where are the "values voters" gonna go? To the Party of Lust and Abortion?

What would there be to lose if a Democrat plainly stated "Any solution to a problem that guarantees someone's going to end up dead -- like in abortion -- is no solution to anything. I am in favor of crafting solutions to unwanted pregnancies in which there are no losers"?

What if a Democratic candidate were solidly Democratic -- solidly pro-little guy -- on all the economic and policy issues, but also solidly in favor of crafting solutions where babies don't die? Forthright in decrying the fundamental injustice of a society that deems some must perish to solve others' crises?

To turn the GOP strategy -- the one that invented "Reagan Democrats" -- on its head . . . where, then, would the Dems' abortion lobby go? To the Republicans?

The ranks of the true-believer abortion zealots are thin, much thinner than the ranks of committed pro-lifers. Where most Americans reside would be that gray zone where folks don't necessarily want to repeal Roe v. Wade, but where the idea of abortion draws a solid ewwwwwww -- and where people would like the "choice" free-for-all to be decidedly dialed back.

That gray area is not hostile territory for a pro-life candidate who's "right" on all the other issues.

IF SCOTT KLEEB has the guts -- and foresight -- to realize where his bread is really buttered, he can get back the Reagan Democrats . . . and he can take out the Bush toady Johanns.

"To thine own self be true" ain't just Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act I, Scene iii), it's also good advice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's a lock: Death a winner in '08

Great. It looks like it's pretty well official now.

The November election will be the Party of Abortion and Sex squaring off against the Party of Greed, Eternal War and Torture.

The U.S. Senate -- or was it the Roman Senate . . . I forget -- today voted largely along party lines to restrict the Central Intelligence Agency to interrogation techniques approved in the Army field manual. In other words, no waterboarding, no torture of any sort.

NOW THE BILL goes to Caesar President Bush who, as head of the Party of Greed, Eternal War and Torture, has vowed to veto it. Joining his fellow Greed, War & Torture senators in voting against the anti-torture legislation was presidential candidate John McCain, who had very nasty things done to him at the Hanoi Hilton many years ago.

(For those of you under 35, the Hanoi Hilton was not a five-star hotel. But it was in Vietnam.)

Meanwhile, after breaking from his fellow Abortion & Sex senators to vote in favor of torture, Nebraska's allegedly pro-life Ben Nelson was reported to be unavailable for comment due to overwhelming confusion.

The Associated Press has the depressing details:

Congress on Wednesday moved to prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects, despite President Bush's threat to veto any measure that limits the agency's interrogation techniques.

The prohibition was contained in a bill authorizing intelligence activities for the current year, which the Senate approved on a 51-45 vote. It would restrict the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method that makes an interrogation subject feel he is drowning.

The House had approved the measure in December. Wednesday's Senate vote set up a confrontation with the White House, where Bush has promised to veto any bill that restricts CIA questioning.

Arguing for such restrictions, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the use of harsh tactics would boomerang on the United States.

"Retaliation is the way of the world. What we do to others, they will do to us — but worse," Rockefeller said. "This debate is about more than legality. It is also about morality, the way we see ourselves ... and what we represent to the world."


Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, backed by Senate Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, inserted the provision in December into a bill providing guidelines for the running of U.S. intelligence agencies this year.

The 19 approved interrogation techniques in the military field manual include "good cop/bad cop," "false flag" — making prisoners think they are in the custody of another country — and the separation of a prisoner from other prisoners for up to 30 days at a time.

It prohibits military interrogators from hooding prisoners or putting duct tape across their eyes. They may not be stripped naked or forced to perform or mimic sexual acts. They may not be beaten, electrocuted, burned or otherwise physically hurt. They may not be subjected to hypothermia or mock executions. It does not allow food, water and medical treatment to be withheld, and dogs may not be used in any aspect of interrogation.

Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, voted against the measure Wednesday.

LET ME ATTEMPT to get this straight. And, please . . . bear with me here.

Come November, as a Catholic who believes what his Church teaches, I am somehow expected to vote either:

* For the Party of Abortion and Sex in order to put an end to the Party of Greed, Endless War and Torture's relentless pursuit of . . . well . . . greed, endless war and torture.

* Or, alternatively, for the Party of Greed, Endless War and Torture in order to keep the Party of Abortion and Sex from getting its grubby, K-Y jelly-smeared hands on the Supreme Court, which someday is supposed to put an end to Roe v. Wade. But hasn't yet after 35 years, despite enough Republican appointments to supposedly have done that already.

UMM HMM. I think I get it now.

How about this instead? How about -- as a Catholic who believes what his Church teaches -- I tell both parties to go to hell.

And then spend my time trying to figure out how to survive the long, ugly decline of an empire that lost its soul, then lost its mind.