Friday, December 30, 2005

Apollo's absence

I often feel that there is more to music than I understand. I have learned to play piano but there is a sadness, and a beauty, and an ease missing from my efforts.

For instance, I am currently working on lyrics about an episode in Woody Guthrie's life that starts like this:

The Sea Porpoise had a purpose
in 1944
To ship 3000 men
to go and fight the war.

And Hitler tried to halt them
half-way across the sea
But on the deck there stood
Cisco and Woody

and as a song I think it's going OK. An OK song for a compelling storyline.

But there is an ease, and a beauty, and a sorrow somehow missing and instead of satisfaction from the effort I wind up feeling inadequate. What is it that some people understand about music that I am missing? How is it that some people seem to come from nowhere and trail masterpieces in their wake?

I wish I knew.

Bright Eyes is a band that fits the bill in this regard for me. Here are two of their songs at IFILM:

Bowl of Oranges

At the bottom of everything

They make it look so easy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Over the rainbow

Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.
A bright lucky penny.
Puppy dog tails and children's laughter.
Brown paper packages tied up with string.
A field full of flowers.

None of these things come to mind when reviewing the news coming out of Iraq:

Candies and nuts
Extreme chaos

But, like the president, I feel today like imagining everything is going super-duper.

Is that a bluebird of happiness I see?
As soon as I eat my sugar-plum I'm going to follow it over that rainbow to a pot of gold.

Tomorrow I expect to be back to normal, so please don't tell me about all the bad times I'm missin'.

The president, I expect, will still be searching for the candy man that can on the little train that can.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bible study

In an interview that Kurt Vonnegut did recently on PBS's Now, something quite obvious about the Bible was pointed out which I'd like to share.

Conservative Christians, you'll remember, have recently fought to get the ten commandments into America's courtrooms without success. It is interesting to note, however, that the ten commandments are in old-testament Moses domain and not new-testament Jesus domain.

That should be a bit embarrassing shouldn't it?

Kurt Vonnegut suggests that CCs switch their crusade to installing the 8 beatitudes, as a point of integrity, which are squarely in new-testament Sermon on the Mount domain. Here they are:

Blessed are the poor in spirit:
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek:
For they shall possess the land.

Blessed are they that mourn:
For they shall be comforted.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice:
For they shall have their fill.

Blessed are the merciful:
For they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart:
For they shall see God.

Blessed are the peace-makers:
For they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake:
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I, like Vonnegut, would enjoy seeing "Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom and "Blessed are the peace-makers" in the Oval Office.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Good gracious

I am going to paraphrase a series of questions Plato asked millennia ago. Please answer them honestly to yourself and see where that leads you.

1. Do you believe that God exists?
2. Do you believe that God is good?
3. Can anything good be harmful?
4. Can something that is not harmful harm?
5. Can something that does no harm be evil?
6. Can something which does no evil be the cause of anything evil?
7. Is God the cause of all things, or of those that are good?

8. Is torture harmful? Is it good?
9. Is war harmful? Is it good?
10. Is cutting food aid to the poor harmful? Is it good?
11. Is Bush harmful? Is he good?

If you have Christian values and you are honest with yourself I don't see how you can answer the second part of question 11 with a "yes" and that is why Bush-backing Christians confuse me.

I believe that many of them are willfully lying to themselves because the alternative is to believe their "revolution" and coalition-building has been corrupted. I don't blame them because that took years of planning and effort and I know pride is often stronger than reason.

To be Christian, though, is to believe that Truth itself is a gift from God and one must wonder why it is that president Bush cannot keep his nefarious deeds secret. I will leave you Bush-backing Christians with a biblical reflection:

Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6)
The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17).
To know the Truth is to be free (John 8:31-32).

Can you handle the Truth about Bush?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On credibility

President Bush is the most prolific liar ever to occupy the Oval Office, so it surprises me that network viewsmen continue to give the Bush administration wide platitude when he claims to have briefed Capital Hill leaders about his wiretapping and that they all approved.

The truth of the matter can be easily viewed on-line in a hand-written letter published by Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Thanks to Josh Marshall

Why does the mainstream press allow frequent demonstrable lies to be repeated in American's faces?

Isn't the vigor with which our enlisted men fight directly proportional to the perceived honor of that which they defend?

Hasn't president Bush defended torture (extraordinary renditions), secret prisons (CIA black sites), and warrantless invasions of privacy while lecturing the rest of the world about the necessity for democracy in the Middle East?

Shouldn't we be more careful with our honor/security?

My guess is that president Bush avoided the law to get what he wanted because what he wanted had nothing to do with national security but partisan politics. Yes, I am speaking of a Nixonian enemies list.

My strong feeling is that to be a democrat is to respect Justice, and to fail to challenge the president on his blatant law-breaking is to be something other than a democrat.

Here is what the nations best Constitutional authority and Dean of the Senate has to say on the matter: No president is above the law

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Scaredy cats

I don't wish to alarm you, but two days ago my cat sneezed.

Today, I sneezed.

This means there may now be a feline flu virus to be scared of.

Call the UN!

Call the CDC!

Get the ducktape.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Plodosophy (a plodding attempt at philosophy)

I thought it would be fun to think philosophically for a moment about immortality.

If one has never been happy, meaning too that one has never experienced sadness, then could you possibly explain to that person what being happy felt like.

If one has never lived, meaning too that one has never experienced death, then could you possibly explain to that person what being alive felt like.

Many people take it for granted that there is a God and that He is immortal.

It seems to stand to reason that God cannot possibly understand what it is like to be alive, or furthermore to die.

Therefore, it would seem that compassion for human suffering is the best that God can do.

I find that interesting. God can never really understand us.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Philosophical warfare

One site that I like to visit is Ask Philosophers, a place where you can pose a question and it is answered by philosophers.

Recently a visitor to the site asked, "How do the philosophers justify war, if they ever do? I ask this question because even the Prophets have fought wars, for their religion. So, how can mortals remain aloof from it?"

The answer is useful when wishing to determine if, for instance, the war in Iraq is Just or not (at least in the view of a philosopher):

Is genocide sanctified?

Here is the most interesting thing that I learned in the article:

Lithuania’s department of defense, for example, actually plans and develops tactics of non-violent resistance. It successfully used non-violent tactics in winning its independence from the Soviet Union (as did Poland). Denmark, too, knowing it could not resist Nazi invaders with conventional warfare, opted for various forms of non-violent resistance during...

That's pretty cool and leads me to believe that if all people could practice non-violent resistance Justly then there would never be a useful conquest, except in terms of geographical expansion.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Heil Bushie

Prescott Bush was a financial supporter of Adolph Hitler, and so much so that on October 20, 1942, the U.S. government ordered the seizure of Nazi German banking operations in New York City that were being conducted by Prescott Bush.

While I try not to hold the grandson responsible for the sins of the grandfather, I do find myself wondering if the Bush family approves of fascism from stem to stern.

Bush defends spying in U.S.

Even Bush dead-enders ought to have trouble supporting such overtly cowardly behavior in their president. At least, that is, the ones that feel the Constitution is more than a "goddamn piece of paper".

I'm tired of being ashamed of my president and all I want for Christmas are impeachment proceedings.

ADDENDUM: This video from CNN on the subject is too good to miss. While I doubt that Bill Frist will follow the honest promptings of his soul, with pieces like this perhaps enough US Congressmen can be shamed into doing their jobs (that is, to reclaim their power of checks and balances from a wanna-be dictator).

I also wonder who follows uncontitutional orders like this and why we aren't educating our security/military people better.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Unrelenting pursuit of torture

Publicly the Bush administration is "compromising" with John McCain to put a stop to the torturing of detainees in US custody.

Behind the scenes the Bush administration is unrelenting in its pursuit of legalized torture:

Turn of the screw

If we "The US doesn't torture" as president Bush insists, then why do we need a legal framework that makes it OK?

If the Bible can be believed, when a nation acts without respect for Justice the land start to yield less bounty, the oceans produce less fish, and every task becomes delayed by bickering.

If the Bible can be believed I'd say we are headed for a precipitous decline.

Leave Iraq

Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania took a courageous stand on Thursday, November 17, 2005 and called for US troop withdrawal from the war in Iraq which "is not going as advertised".

Out now

Democrats clearly decided that partisan attacks on Veterans Day from the president were the last straw. It is about time democrat leadership articulates that the president has no plan in Iraq and therefore there is no course to stay.

The president said himself that victory is exit strategy. Well? Stubborn denial is not a winning strategy for Iraq. Partisan politics is not a winning strategy for Iraq. Question avoidance is not a winning strategy for Iraq. Cronyism is not a winning strategy for Iraq.

One should also note that the return on patience is a loss when invested with incompetence.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bible study

It appears to me that when people read their Bibles they get enamored by nuance rather than enlightened by the obvious.

The Wisdom of Solomon predicts that fear leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth. Think about that for a moment and then study this picture of Dick Cheney.

Isn't it obvious that he is a teeth gnasher harried by portentous specters?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Little cat feet

Fascism, they say, arrives on little cat feet. I have, of late, been hearing the pitter-patter of little cat feet.

Repressive freedom

Torturing credibility

I would like to be known as one who minced no words and was unambiguously critical of torture.

The torturing of detainees in our care is a shame and a stain on my honor as an American citizen. It is a disgrace to this nation and our great Constitution and to everything our ancestors fought for. The only reason we are torturing today is because we have cowards in high office and cowards to follow their lead.

I was pleased to see that the editors of the Minneapolis Star Tribune came out powerfully against torture and I should think they can take pride in that:

American's Shameful Shift on Torture

Many of our citizens thought they'd left torture behind them when they landed on America's shores. They were wrong. It is my hope that they are not wrong long. It is also my hope they are soon reminded of why they came by our actions now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nowhere man

As the president unveils his newest new plan for turning the corner in Iraq (formerly known as declare victory and leave) I am reminded of The Beatles:

He's a real nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.

Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man, please listen,
You don't know what you're missing,
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command.

He's as blind as he can be,
Just sees what he wants to see,
Nowhere Man can you see me at all?
Nowhere Man, don't worry,
Take your time, don't hurry,
Leave it all till somebody else
lends you a hand.
Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?

Nowhere Man, please listen,
You don't know what you're missing,
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command.

He's a real Nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Is our president learning?

When we were to attack Iraq sensible people warned terrorism would increase. It has.

When we were to attack Iraq sensible people warned it would develop into a quagmire. It has.

When we were to attack Iraq sensible people warned Iraq's Shiites would naturally assume power in a democracy and then align themselves with Iran. They did and they have.

Ever since this disaster got started flight-deck bravado has ruled over reason and partisan politics have trumped national priorities.

But if Jim Lobe is right, reason is making a comeback in Washington

Realists Tighten Grip

Since I define a stupid person as one that does not change their opinion to reflect known facts, and since I am convinced that George W. Bush falls into this category, I am left to assume that 41 is providing guidance to 43.

Are to we expect James Baker soon?

Don't forget Poland

In a revelation that surprises few it turns out that the Eastern European countries hosting the CIA's illegal detention facilities are Poland and Romania.

Story Here

Why would Poland, especially, start down that slope after the lesson of Auschwitz?

Have Americans forgotten it is the pride of the "greatest generation" to have had a hand in stopping concentration camps?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Spreading sunshine

Comedians got together and did a special on global warming called "Earth to America".

luckily for me they invited Will Ferrell who does a better job than anyone portraying the president:

Watching Will go W.

With life looking jolly rotten there was something I'd forgotten and that was to laugh and dance and sing. The reminder was welcome.

Here is another excerpt from the special and one I found quite funny.

Larry David

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Winston Bush

In WWII America's closest ally was Britain. We were reluctant to join the war because we had enough of war, particularly world war at that point, and weren't interested in promoting the careers of "merchants of death". Eventually we realized that we could not maintain a neutral position and maintain our freedom too, so we began to build the best army in the world.

Even so, Americans felt a certain hopelessness that once again we were living in a world at war. Once again we were trading butter for guns. Once again we were engaging a culture of death. Once again we were host to insanity. At these times Winston Churchill would travel to America, or send word to America, to bolster our resolve.

One such moment was December 26, 1941 when Winston Churchill spoke to the US congress. Here is what he said:

For the best part of twenty years the youth of Britain and America have been taught that war was evil, which is true, and that it would never come again, which has been proved false. For the best part of twenty years, the youth of Germany, of Japan and Italy, have been taught that aggressive war is the noblest duty of the citizen and that it should be begun as soon as the necessary weapons and organization have been made. We have performed the duties and tasks of peace. They have plotted and planned for war. This naturally has placed us, in Britain, and now places you in the United States at a disadvantage which only time, courage and untiring exertion can correct.

Winston Churchill - December 26, 1941

George Bush visited Japan recently. Japan, you'll remember, engaged the war on terror with America. In this moment they are having reservations about the direction of the war in Iraq. What were president Bush's words to bolster their spirit to our cause?

"Obviously, the extent to which uh [pause]
the Japanese government wants to give reconstruction money to Iraq is up to the Japanese government, and [pause]
to- to the- and I- as to the- [pause]
the- the uh deployment of troops, it's up to- [pause] it's up to the government. [pause]
's what happens in democracies -- government makes decisions that uh [pause]
that uh that they're uh capable of living with, and that's [pause]
that's what we said, ((we)) said, do the best you can do; [pause]
make up your own mind, it's your decision, not mine. "


Let us hope the Japanese find as much comfort in stupidity as American voters.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The new memo

The Prime Minister of England, one Tony Blair, is refusing to publish a memo in which the President of the United States, one George W. Bush, said he wanted to order the bombing of Arab TV station Al-Jazeera.

Pressure rising

In an apparent abuse of the Official Secrets Act the Attorney General's office banned the publication of the memo. Many Brits found that preposterous and one MP in particular, one Boris Johnson, said that if anyone slips him a copy of the memo he will publish it anyway:

The stand of Boris

Will someone leak the memo to Boris?

Will Boris go to the slammer to uphold the Truth?

Will the American Entertainment Empire cover the story?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Poor strategy

Is the Bush administration game plan really to portray themselves as men of virtue unfairly maligned by facts, when the record clearly and cleanly shows Bush administration officials telling a broad range of lies over a broad range of issues to a broad range of people?

Never have so few lied to so many about so much that was so important.

The only question facing America now is, "Has the love of Truth gone cold?"

False assumptions

If you believe the Bush administration it is "corrupt and shameless" to "rewrite history" and suggest that the vice president misled us when he said: "I continue to believe. I think there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government." (Morning Edition, NPR 1/22/2004)

Going on and on and on is all too easy, but let me rekindle a few more Dick Cheney gems:

"We will, of course, be welcomed as liberators."

"They [Iraq] continue to pursue an aggressive nuclear weapons program." (Vice President Honors Veterans of Korean War, White House 8/29/2002)

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. (Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention, White House 8/26/2002)

His regime aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. He could decide secretly to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us.
(Vice President's Remarks at 30th Political Action Conference, White House 1/30/2003)

Am I rewriting history, or are you rereading it?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Malignant Design

I don't know if I'm the only one that finds Noam Chomsky so funny, but I am also someone that appreciates Dick Cheney's comic timing (he knows how to deliver a joke).

Whatever. Here is an article by Noam Chomsky I find highly amusing. He develops the theory of "Malignant Design" that I have to admit is much more plausible than an Intelligent Designer. There certainly is a lot of evidence to back up his idea:

Evolution, Ecology and `Malignant Design'

Bringing it on

Admiral Stansfield Turner called Dick Cheney "vice president for torture."

Holding Bush accountable

Something happened Veterans Day. Something very bad for the Bush administration. Me thinks they took divisive politics too far.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Teach your children well

I see no reason for democrats to back plans the Bush administration has with regards to the Patriot Act. It is a highly loathed piece of legislation from coast to coast since it gives unreasonable powers of search and seizure to the government. It is the cowards way to respect freedom, honoring it in platitude but not attitude.

It is acts like the Patriot Act that old Ben Franklin must have had in mind when asked after the Constitutional Convention what kind of government we got. His reply was, "A Republic. If you can keep it."

Democrats ought to fight this because it is clearly an abuse of human dignity to give the Bush administration leniency when it comes to detaining people. After all, the president's penchant for cruel and unusual punishment has led to a situation where it is difficult to recruit Americans, yet easy for Osama to find recruits. Think about that. Let it sink in.

Congress Arrives at A Deal on Patriot Act

We know the Patriot Act is the most ironically named piece of legislation in US history. We know that children will someday wonder why people didn't have more sense (the way they react today when studying McCarthy).

I wonder what democrats plan on telling these children when they are old and gray. That it is better to win with dishonor than lose and keep it? That sometimes you need to curtail freedom or else you might lose it? That the external threat to freedom can only be defeated by abandoning it internally? That if Osama can't stand freedom then we should respond by shrinking from it?

Is that how you raise children in a Republic you plan to keep?

Rootin' Tootin' Reid

I believe that the president's uncalled for Veterans Day bombastic boatload of bile directed at democrats made them finally aware that they are going to be smeared whether they are cooperative or not. They also seem to finally realize that this Whitehouse has no plan other than to grab the buck and pass the blame.

In response Harry Reid is the latest top democrat to come forward and demand competence from the Bush administration (good luck with that).

Hit 'em hard Harry

I believe that now is the moment to unify and push democrat alternatives to the stay-the-course strategy. While the Republican revolution was built on the word "reform" I believe democrats ought to opt for the word "change". Change the course in Iraq. Change the culture in Washington. Change the CEO when the money don't flow. Winds of change. Change our energy systems. Change our healthcare system. And so on...

If there is one thing Americans are ready for it is change. As Ghandi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

The banner should be, of course, "It's time for a change".

Thursday, November 17, 2005

When the unjust rule

One of the myriad reasons advanced by the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq was to ferret out their WMD stockpiles. This was urgent, we were told, because Saddam was so evil he used chemical warfare agents on his own people. The logical course, we were sold, was to attack Iraq since they were a possible future threat to us if they could put their vast fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles to use, assuming they could also somehow get it within striking distance.

Perhaps you remember a slight flutter of news regarding this?

Guess what the US military was caught (by Italians) using in Fallujah on Iraqi civilians?

I'll give you a hint. When it gets on your skin it burns without stopping until it gets to the bone, yet it leaves you well dressed since it does not harm your clothing.

Grand Hypocrisy

Is it any wonder Iraqi civilians are fighting us so damn hard?

Why have Republicans failed so fully in their duty to "keep the honor clean of the US marine"?

How on earth are we going to make Saddam look bad come trial time?

How can it be the work of the Just to injure the innocent?

Big Dog calls Iraq 'Big Mistake'

When president Bush decided to vent his spleen on Veterans Day he may have bitten off much more than he can chew.

If democrats are going to be attacked as unpatriotic when they have been playing the role of a loyal opposition Patsy, then certain people within the party may now be feeling that it is time to take the gloves off and get in the ring to rub someone's petulant face in the mud.

Please welcome Jefferson Davis Clinton

President Bush isn't the only one top democrats have decided to jump in the ring with either. John Kerry had this to say about Dick Cheney last night:

"It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq than Vice President Cheney. The Vice President continues to mislead America about how we got into Iraq and what must be done to complete the still unaccomplished mission"


Did I hear someone say "Bring it On"?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bull from Bush

President Bush is cornered.

He's been lying left and lying right and now finds himself trapped in the consequences of his moral failings wherever he goes.

But, since he's a jerk, he is compounding his difficulty by lashing out at us all with Nixonian bursts of temper and denial.

So, it seems only fair to direct your attention to a site that has organized inaccurate public statements by five Bush administration officials:

Bush, Dick, Colin, Donald, Condi

I would also like to point out a recent statement by John Edwards apologizing for his vote to go to war in Iraq. I thought he put it rather well when he said, "the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth".

I was wrong

A cross of iron

On April 16, 1953, President Eisenhower said:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

On November 14, 2005 Gannet news reported:

The cuts that Congress is looking to make in an array of social programs would hit many low-income children in multiple ways, taking away money for everything from food stamps to child-care benefits.

Full details

I think that Eisenhower was to Nixon as Reagan was to George W. Bush. Somehow the idolization in both cases never went so far as imitation, but rather only so far as self-delusion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Veterans remembered

Do you recall the words to Marine Hymn?

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
On the land and on the sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean.
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.

I don't know if you have visited Arlington West, but Veterans Day put me in mind to do so. I check there once in a while to watch the field of crosses growing in the sand, one for each US soldier killed in Iraq.

Lately it has served as a reminder to me of what is being lost as politicians posture, pundits pontificate, and the machine men delay the obvious. It is the worry beneath my words.

Arlington West

Arlington West is a place you can go to separate the people from the policy and the lies from the Truth. Each silent cross standing at attention is impervious to the persuasions of the Lord of the flies and makes a mockery of concerted efforts to rally us to hatred.

I recommend the photo gallery and that you scroll down to read "A Nation Rocked to Sleep" by Carly Sheehan.

When I look upon the memorial questions rise up in me like, "What have we done?", "How will this end?", "Should I be doing more?". It's not easy to face those questions because one winds up feeling inadequate, even helpless. However, it can also be invigorating to encounter moral clarity, to come to the realization that countless others are working with you, that you are not alone when you rally to the banner of Justice.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Going down slow

Rather than be a president for all of us this veteran's day and emphasize the sacrifice veterans have made throughout the years, president Bush went on a 50 minute Nixonian tirade directed at the majority of Americans that believe the Iraq war is a mistake. He also managed to attack John Kerry (a veteran), anti-war protestors, democrats, and historians:

Adding insult to injury

Displaying a masters touch for irony, 95 Bishops from the president's church issued a statement that same day repenting for their moral complicity in the "unjust and immoral" invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Details Here

President Bush might as well resign and return to Crawford where he belongs. Why drag this disgrace out 3 more years?

Friday, November 11, 2005

CIA black sites

To the long and ignoble list of shameful activities committed during President Bush's tenure we can now add secret detentions:

Even spooks speaking

Any guesses as to which Eastern European country in our grand coalition is hosting one of these concentration camps? I hope that one of the hosts isn't Poland (given their history with detention facilities), but the odds are about 50-50 that it is.

While we're on the subject of cruel and unusual punishment without trial, here is what a former CIA analyst thinks of Vice President Cheney for fighting McCain's amendment to make torture illegal:

A moral litmus test

Badly burned civilians

Phan Thi Kim Phuc has lain a wreath at the Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. and said that she forgives the people that burned her body and her village. I wonder how she will feel if she sees this story put out by Italian media that charges the US with using white phosphorous on civilians in Fallujah.

Can she find it in her heart to forgive us after seeing this video?

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

Why doesn't the Bush administration just create recruiting posters for Osama directly?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Plow under

Here is an excerpt from an old tune by the Almanac Singers (1941: Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Millard Lampell, Pete Seeger):

Any ignorant mule does know
Better than to step on a cotton row
But there ain't no mules in Congress, so
Plow the fourth one under.

Plow under, plow under
Plow under
Every fourth American boy.

Now the politicians rant
A boy's no better than a cotton plant
But we are here to say you can't
Plow the fourth one under.

Plow under,
(Don't you...) Plow under
(Don't you...) Plow under
Every fourth American boy.
(Now, don't you...) Plow under,
(Don't you...) Plow under
(Don't you...) Plow under
Every fourth American boy.

Amazing how the more things change the more they stay the same. It's a catchy tune too, and easy to adapt:

All we people refuse to learn
The Earth itself is about to burn
We'll drive to death in an SUV
Plow the fourth one under.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Violence in France seems to be cascading into a slow-motion catastrophe. I cannot help but wonder if there is a force directing the expanding chaos.

When this type of thing gets going in America police are sent in with tear-gas and Billy-club anyone handy like a baby seal while the press sweeps the story under the rug.

The official response in France seems confused and appears ineffective after 13 days of riots. Have they no tear gas? Have they no attack dogs? Have they no rubber bullets? Have they no Billy clubs? Have they no tazers? And the workhouses, aren't they still in operation?

Nouveau Bastille?

Bush: Global Pariah

President Bush simply cannot travel without thousands of protestors showing up to say, essentially, "We don't like you. You're a bad human being. Go away."

Anger in Argentina

I wonder how that feels.
It is embarrassing me I know that.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Can you spare a dime?

Some politicians want to tax the windfall profits of oil companies.

I think that's a great idea, since oil companies are some odd mixture of cartel and government dependence and hardly represent a free market in any sense of the word.

Here is how I would do it.

Let's have a new GI bill funded by a tax on oil company windfall profits!

Now who could object to that?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Boycott robots

Political consultants seem to think that having a robot call me on the phone to play an untrained, robotic-sounding voice reading a one-sided, uninteresting, and poorly written conversation is a good way to influence my opinion on their behalf.

It is almost as if the angels of comedy are trying to find out how low our democracy can go. They must consider us an audience with an incredible affinity for the absurd. After all, they broke through the "Vote [yes/no] on [some number]" threshold some years back and now have added robot conversations to their joke arsenal.

Anybody influenced by this kind of time-wasting, inhuman experience ought not to have the right to vote. Anybody practicing this kind of grassroots avoidance probably doesn't have much chance of gaining political capital by the practice.

I wonder if marketers even demand to know what percentage of their message is heard before hangup. I expect not or somebody would have these things stop calling me because my hello-to-hangup is blazingly fast.

There is a way, though, to one-up those comedy angels and it is this. Let your answering machine talk to the robot, perhaps even updating your message for the political season.

May I suggest, "Hello. If you are a robot please leave a message. I'm so lonely for robot conversation and I do love talking politics."

At least then you will have the last laugh.

Earth blood

The popular refrain "No Blood for Oil" recently got me thinking...

Many Earth stories say that the Earth itself is alive, not in the sense that things live on it, but in the sense that it has actual consciousness. Gaia, some call it, or Terra others, and I am sure there are many more names for it. Some people extend that belief and feel that what we call wind is instead breath, what we call coral reefs are instead a type of brain, and what we call a tsunami is instead a type of birth (water is being broken).

Anyway, recently I had the thought that if the Earth was indeed alive then maybe oil is blood, which would further mean that extracting too much of it would prove fatal, and that protest signs might be modified to read, "No blood for blood!"

Along those lines I also wonder:

Does global warming correspond to a fever?

Can a volcano be quieted with a very large Zantac tablet?

What are human beings in this context, children or parasites?

Does the earth have any songs?

What does a sub-terrainean nuclear explosion feel like?

Does the earth have any planet friends?

If the earth can be alive, then what about the galaxy or a molecule or a single cell?

Are pandemics like AIDS, black plague, avian flu and so on biological defenses which keep life in balance?

You don't have to believe in an idea to explore it with intellectual curiosity and I hope you found the exercise pleasant.

I'll leave you with this thought. Where would the naughty bits be?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rock bottom

Here is what rock bottom looks like for an elected President. This excerpt came from an article by the Washington Post:

On almost every key measure of presidential character and performance, the survey found that Bush has never been less popular with the American people. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office -- the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls.


Overall, the survey underscores how several pillars of Bush's presidency have begun to crumble under the combined weight of events and White House mistakes. Bush's approval ratings have been in decline for months, but on issues of personal trust, honesty and values, Bush has suffered some of his most notable declines. Moreover, Bush has always retained majority support on his handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism -- until now, when 51 percent have registered disapproval.

Full Details

I still believe that Pomp without dignity is the calling-card of the pathetic. I think it is time the president resign so that America can get back on track.

Who wins if he stays on the job besides Bush dead-enders and anti-intellectuals who think the biggest threat to America in the face of 911 is gay people and evolution?

It is also time, I think, for Democrats to look ahead and define themselves as reformers. Bush may now be dismissed with a wave of the hand and a polite sympathetic look and furthermore he will not be running again. Bush-bashing, in other words, is hardly useful and could start to be interpreted as piling on the helpless.

Like a tree, standing in the water

Perhaps there is no more fitting song to mark the legacy of Rosa Parks than Pops Staples version of "I shall not be moved", which has the chorus:

I shall not.
I shall not be moved.
I shall not.
I shall not be moved.
I'm like a tree,
standing in the water,
And I shall not be moved.

Rev. Al Sharpton might not be able to move voters on his own behalf, but he moved me when he called on us all to make a Rosa Resolution during his eulogy:

James Crowe Junior, Esquire

Al Sharpton could have been speaking coyly about President Bush's avoidance of Cindy Sheehan when he said:

Its easy to remember activists after they're gone.
Its [another thing] to be called on to be active and work and walk with them while they're still here.

I admire Rosa for knowing what to do to change the world for the better and having the fortitude to do it.

I don't know what to do to change the world I see and don't like, and I know fundamental things are wrong. I can see that the people in charge are not going to make a difference and it is such a despairing conclusion.

How can I make a difference the way Rosa Parks did? How can I get my own life to have that kind of impact? How did Rosa know what to do on December 1st, 1955?

Al ended his eulogy for Rosa by saying, "I intend to stand up wherever I see injustice, and if I can't stand up then I'll speak out, and if I can't speak out then I will get a chair like Rosa Parks and just sit in the way".

Am I in anybody's way?

What should my Rosa Resolution be?

I wish I knew. I feel I am being called but it comes without direction and I don't know my response.

Rosa knew and that's what made her a part of history. Her response was so simple yet so powerful that Presidents stood in her wake.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hard-hitting Harry

If you accept my belief that what Democrats need to stand for in a word is Justice, then you can only applaud Harry Reid for calling on Republicans to investigate the actions of the Bush administration for the good of their nation.

While network viewsmen scramble to portray his recent showdown in the Senate as partisan it is decidedly not. If Republican corruption has made Truth and Justice partisan issues, then I have rarely been prouder to call myself a Democrat.

Here is the statement Harry issued before taking the Senate into a closed session. Rather than provide a link to the statement I feel it is worth reproducing here. As a reward to your effort, I have provided Jon Stewart's take on the battle at the end.

"This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President's Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years.

"This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.

"The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm's way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress.

"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

"As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration's mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.

"And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.

"Let's take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.

"The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.

"There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.

"The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq "has reconstituted its nuclear weapons." Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.

"Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam's nuclear capabilities were false.

"The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, "We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization."

"The Administration's assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government's top experts did not agree with these claims.

"What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration's manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

"Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

"Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.

"There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.

"For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam's WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration's claims of Saddam's nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

"Given this Administration's pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.

"This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone - the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm's way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.

"The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration's Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

"They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:

How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration's assertions?
Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?

"Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and ½ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.

"At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.

"We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee's annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests."

Your reward

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was one of the few elected Democrats smart enough to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning. On Tuesday, October 25th he delivered a blistering critique of the Iraq occupation and it's cheerleaders:

Bring them home

Why don't more Democrats speak out against this obvious catastrophe, this ill-gotten FUBAR effort?

There is more to leadership than posturing. One expects, at minimum, good hindsight.

A question for top Democrats

Clinton was a master at answering the question:

What difference does it make if I win?

Today's Democrat party-leaders seem adept instead at its' avoidance. Consider for instance the issues ranging from Iraq, to clean energy, to biotechnology, to foreign policy.

Where's the burning bush?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Deadly October

The President spends most of his time either turning corners or regrouping while the violence in Iraq continues apace oblivious to his rhetoric. In fact it looks like October has been the second-most violent month in Iraq (since January) this year.

Bombs and chaos

I think the recent election was officially "turning a corner", and that after the Libby indictment the President was said to be "regrouping", so perhaps we are turning another corner now in Iraq?

I'm dizzy.

Libby's loose lips

It is too easy to get caught up in the showmanship of a good trial, when perhaps the reason for a trial is more important.

60 minutes took a look at the damage done by the leaking of Valerie Plame's name. The line that sticks with me was spoken by a former spy,
"We're not being undermined by the North Koreans, we're not being undermined by the Russians. We're being undermined by officials in our own government, and I find that galling"

60 Minutes on Plame

Would you, if you worked for the C.I.A., take a N.O.C. assignment knowing that Rove or Libby "had your back"?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Here is what it means to be a Bush-backing Republican:

1. You condone deficit spending.
2. You condone pre-emptive war that engages US troops in nation-building.
3. You tolerate a majority leader that was thrice warned of ethical violations, then stand behind him when he dismantles the ethics committee and is finally indicted.
4. You condone the exposure of CIA agents for short-term political advantage.
5. You condone a Roe-v.-Wade litmus test for Supreme Court nominations.
6. You condone a culture of cronyism at the highest levels of government, including positions involving national security.
7. You condone an isolationistic world-view with nominations like John Bolton's.
8. You condone the denigration of military service for short-term political advantage. Exhibits here include John McCain, John Kerry, Max Cleland, and those cute little purple-heart bandaids at the RNC convention (I challenge you to wear them at Walter Reed).
9. You advance the ambitions of a National Security advisor that failed to act in the face of a PDB that warned "Bin Laden determined to strike inside U.S".
10. You support marginalizing the voices of Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Norman Schwartzkopf, Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, John McCain, and Democrats universally.
11. You support the alientation of our traditional allies in the face of global intelligence warfare.
12. You condone obstructing investigations into 911, Tom DeLay's ethical abuses, the Downing Street memo, electoral abuses in Florida, electoral abuses in Ohio, Harriet Miers record, and John Roberts record.
13. You condone dividing America along partisan lines at every turn, even in the face of 911, and in the face of Katrina.
14. You condone falsifying intelligence data to conform to political whim.
15. You condone proven ineffective techniques like abstinence in the face of an AIDS epidemic.
16. You condone massive borrowing from Communist China.
17. You fail to act against North Korean nuclear weapons, Iranian nuclear weapons, and Pakistani nuclear weapons while spending tens of billions to save us from Iraq's unmanned fleet of aerial vehicles and gigantic stockpiles of WMD.
18. You support deploying the numerical equivalent of Manhattan's police force to smoke out Osama bin Laden.
19. You condone torture to the point of sending Dick Cheney to lobby the Senate on it's behalf.
20. You condone "extraordinary rendition" (outsourcing torture).
21. You condone handing grandma's rent-money to wallstreet investors.
22. You condone lying to Congress about the costs of a prescription drug bill.

I'd say that Snow White isn't the only one your ugly reflection has to worry about.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Is it serious?

If President Bush is serious when he says that prosecutor Fitzgerald's investigation is serious, then perhaps he ought to speak with Libby and ask him to testify again, but this time truthfully.

Afterall if this is a serious matter and the President is concerned he must want to get to the bottom of it? Doesn't that further imply that the President ought to try to use Presidential persuasion on Libby to get the truth out?

Instead he went to Camp David didn't he?

Friday, October 28, 2005

This is fun

What would history look like if Fox News had been there through the ages?

Negros attack police

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Prowhat now?

I have been hearing the word "Progressive" a lot on the left and nobody really ever explains it. I wonder sometimes if I am progressive, liberal, both, neither or what.

I have some sort of vague sense of what some of the different distinctions are, but must confess no real book-smarts on the subject.

In an effort to educate myself I turned to the Progressive Caucus website. There they had a PDF file explaining their values. Based on them I guess I'd say I am a progressive. They remind me of Democrats.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination

Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice today:

Story here...

I would have thought the President would have stayed the course with Harriet, consequences be damned, but apparently he was too weak to stand up to the lunatics in the Republican Party that want an ulema council to decide US law.

Fitzgerald fingers Lynndie England!

In a move that is sure to stun the nation federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced no indictments for Karl Rove or "Scooter" Libby would be handed down. Instead he appears to have uncovered a coup led by Ms. Lynndie England designed to "disrupt American government."

Paul O'Reilly over at Fox News was heard to exclaim, "Yes! Yes!", shortly before he busted a valve in his brain and collapsed with a crooked grin cemented on his face. He is recovering at a nearby Shriners Hospital where it was thought grown men dressed as clowns would lend a certain dignity to his condition.

Full details here...

In your dreams Republicans!

Damocrats taking it on the chin

Rather than translate the largest foreign policy disaster in decades into gains, top Democrats continue to go along with the Iraq war and congratulate themselves for their poor judgment.

NPR, in this hard-hitting piece, approached Democrats and tried to get them to define their positions on the Iraq war. Hillary Clinton, after hearing herself in this piece, ought to consider buying new golf clubs. I don't believe that voters will look here in 2008 for leadership.

Courting Disaster

John Kerry is a little more forceful in his objections to the war today, now belatedly saying he wouldn't vote for the Iraq war if he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq. Answering the obvious question with the obvious answer during the campaign would have been better, but it's a start.

John Kerry's position

How many corners must some men turn before they can see the spin?

The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind.
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Marking 2000

Want to mark the passing of the 2000th US soldier by attending a candlelight vigil?

I have been to MoveOn-hosted vigils before and they have always been sincere and respectful. People stand with candles and flags to remind others of our soldiers' sacrifices.

Thanking the Troops

I should add that you ought to plan on being harassed by those misguided Republicans who think everything is partisan. However, each time I have attended a vigil there have been Republicans among us, and they are usually more upset than anyone at the disrespect. There have also been veterans ashamed at their neighbors conduct.

I suggest ignoring them and maintaining a respectful vigil.

Ideology's problem

Philosophers like Kant believed that one should always tell the truth and argued for doing so even when it might jeopardize someone's life. A practitioner of Kant's view betrayed Anne Frank to the Nazis. This person is perhaps considered "good" in Kant's eyes, but generally thought of as scum by more prudent users of Truth.

I feel that the worst politicians of all, and perhaps the worst human beings of all, are those so sure of their ideology that they are oblivious to the suffering caused by their actions.

That is why President Bush is such a terrible President. He has convinced himself that his Iraq polices are a smashing success and no amount of contrary evidence will shake his opinion, will alter his actions, or will change his course. The upshot is that people die without just cause while he congratulates himself for his vision thing.

Here are the consequences of the President's ideologies in Iraq:

Troy Tuschel

U.S. soldiers clean their boots

I think there is something defective about Love and it is this. Love requires familiarity. You love your own children, but not the child starving in the forgotten world (the third world) with equal affection. You love your wife, but not equally the woman suffering from abuse in an open secret.

It is a tragic flaw because Justice would either exist on earth, or be fought for mightily, if people were capable of loving outside their own insular bubbles.

If people could love the detainees at Guantanamo then there would be outrage that even medical doctors join in the torture with the fly Lords. If people could love their own US soldiers, then there would be outrage that US women soldiers are expected to degrade themselves sexually for the purposes of advancing phsychological torture.

More abuse details

If People could Love more expansively and more expensively, and Hate more exclusively and more elusively what a World it'd be.

But instead we have this defective kind of Love, this bubble-Love, this little-Love, this black-sheep cousin of Hatred to rule a mad, mad World.

Sometimes I feel like a carrion bird for loving in a world that loves to hate.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

U.S. military death toll reaches 2,000

Another macabre milestone has been reached in the Iraq war. The United States has just lost it's 2000th soldier to the noble cause of saving the President and US Congress from admitting their mistakes.

2,000 dead

Will we go to 3000?

We will if Democrats don't forcefully lend their voices to the calls for withdrawal.

How about it Hillary?
How about it Obama?
John Kerry?


Will you lead when it matters?

One act play

I like to compare our Iraq policy to a man beating a hornets nest with a stick. In this one-act play a wise pundit discovers a stung man beating an angry hornet's nest with a stick...

Wise Pundit: "You've already been stung and cutting and running now would be a dishonor to your suffering."

Stick Wielder
: "Don't worry, I'll stay the course! Whack! Ouch! Whack! Ouch!"

Wise Pundit: "Perhaps what you need are more sticks."

Stick Wielder: "Thanks! They're not working. Ouch! Whack! Ouch!"

Wise Pundit: "You've already been stung and cutting and running now would be a dishonor to your further suffering..."

Stick Wielder
: "Don't worry, I'll stay the course! Whack! Ouch! Whack! Ouch! Hang on. Let me try a new stick..."

At least two Conservatives seem to be making their own comparison, but to Vietnam rather than stubborn hornet-nest whackers.

One. Ron Paul, Republican from Texas

Two. Mr. Scowcroft

I prefer my comparison because it illustrates the futility of staying the course, as well as the absurdity of the venture to begin with. I do tip my hat to Mr. Scowcroft and Mr. Paul, though, since Vietnam did disprove the "domino theory" Bologna, which is now being bandied about in fresh dogma-doo-doo (i.e. The entire middle east will fall to terrorist forces if we minimize our losses and get out).

Is our VP a sick man?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think that Dick Cheney suffers from dementia. My theory seems supported by this statement from a friend of his:

"The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney. I consider Cheney a good friend. I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."

- Brent Scowcroft -

Full details here

Maybe the reason we never see Dick Cheney in public is because he is being kept somewhere safe so that he doesn't wander down Pennsylvania avenue muttering to himself about a mining shaft gap?

If my suspicion is true it would mean that the man everyone in the Bush administration relies upon for gravitas is without his wits. That would sure explain a lot.

Monday, October 24, 2005

All smiles

I spent the past week in a cabin in the woods in rural America. I was far from the tethers of the Internet or even of answering machines. I didn't watch any television. I didn't read any newspapers.

When I returned home I decided to catch up on what I'd missed.

My favorite bit of missed news was of course Tom DeLay's arrest and smiling mug shot.

It's nice that he's smiling.
I'm smiling too.
We're both smiling.

Another welcome story was that the nomination of Harriet Miers seems scuttled:

Harriet like New Coke

And there are many furtive-looking photos of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby to enjoy.

Furthermore the Jack Abramoff case seems about ready to make many more Republicans decidedly uncomfortable.

It looks like decent Americans have awoken as I was away and said, "Holy crap! This guy Bush isn't just an idiot, he's corrupt too!"

Can I get a blast o harmonica?

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

- Bob Dylan -

The winds of change may be upon us.

Friday, October 14, 2005


There is so much to fear:

Environmental collapse.
UV rays.
Food borne illness.
Willful ignorance.

That I hate to add to the list but I am compelled to by expectations.

Moe's Musings will be on vacation until October 23rd.

Try not to panic.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


"No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

- Article VI, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution -

"Harriet Miers' religious beliefs figured into her nomination to the Supreme Court"...

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers. Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion"...

- President Bush, Wednesday October 12th -

God and STD on your side

Someone sat down and analyzed whether or not religion is beneficial to society in objectively-measurable terms. The results are hardly surprising to humanists, and will probably be met with strong denial by the pious, but if you believe in facts you may care to know that...

Within the United States "the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest" have "markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where ... secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms."

Much more here...


Another macabre milestone

More journalists have been killed in Iraq in 2.5 years than in Vietnam in 20 years.

This is just one more example of something going awfully wrong with the plan which we are encouraged to embrace by the Whitehouse.

Mourning bells are ringing

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Now Kurt

Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, was on the PBS show Now recently. He's old now, 83, but has a lot to say and managed to smile through most of it.

Here is an excerpt:

KURT VONNEGUT: I have one more thing I wanted to read. It has something different.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Something in the other pocket, too?



KURT VONNEGUT: You know, Christianity is very big now in particular-- and our president, of course, is a Christian. These are words I never hear.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is kingdom of heaven.

This isn't original.

Blessed are they that mourn. For they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers. For they shall be called the children of God.

Not exactly a Republican platform.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: These, of course, are called the Beatitudes.


DAVID BRANCACCIO: From the Holy Bible.


And here is a link to the transcript of the segment:

Kurt Vonnegut

This was the first time I saw David Brancaccio in action and I have to say I thought he did a good job. It can't be easy to talk casually with a man like Kurt and he pulled it off well.

Click picture if you think Jesus is wrong Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bush's weak response to torture

In June of 2003 President Bush declared, "The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example."

That statement has been exposed as another big fat lie by his recent pledge to veto legislation banning the torture of anyone in US custody:

Details here

The President's position is cowardly.

When you notice dog-shit clinging to your shoe do you leave it to fester and stink, or do you scrape it off to be rid of it?

I call on all Democrats to denounce this stain on America's honor with open contempt and ridicule. I call on America's allies and friends to join the choir and sing on this issue. I call on the press to run the newly released torture photos and remind Americans of the moral argument against the President's stance.

How do we win hearts and minds to our side when the world sees our hand in the indifference to torture cookie jar?

What does it matter if the Homeland is saved if America is lost? Does soil define a country?

I again applaud John McCain's leadership on this issue and hope you'll read his idea of an adequate response to torture. I also applaud the many legislators that joined Senator McCain and voted to pass the amendment.

Let's get this dastardly practice stopped. Here is a petition to sign that will help get America rolling in the right direction again.

A man that cries "Torture is unAmerican!" should not feel alone on our watch. Otherwise, well, he'd be wrong and what could be worse?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Of geese and ganders

If I were to proclaim in a headline, "US behind poison-gas attacks on Iraqis" because the US provided Saddam Hussein with the WMDs he needed to gas his own people, I'd wager readers would be outraged at me on the grounds that guns don't kill people.

Well, the BBC has a headline which says:

Iran 'behind attacks on British'

Delving into the article it seems the Iranian Republican Guard has made weapons available to some people inside Iraq and those weapons were further used against British troops.

Should I be outraged at Iran or the BBC?

If I should be outraged by Iran's actions then mustn't I be outraged at America's coddling of Saddam when they found him convenient?

If I should be outraged by the BBC then I guess that lets Iran off the hook.

Principled outrage is such a difficult thing to maintain.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bush crony in charge of pandemic response

The President doesn't care about our national security as much as his rich incompetent friend advancement program (rifap). He proves that on a daily basis with appointments like Michael Brown at FEMA and his new laughably underqualified appointment for the Supreme Court.

The only qualification that the President wants to see in his appointments is loyalty to his fancy. So he has, like a tin-pot communist dictator, surrounded himself with yes-men. Ignorance favors simplicity.

However, some tasks are not simple.

For instance, the responsibility for a competent pandemic response rests with the Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness (ASPHEP). Stewart Simonson, appointed in 2003 by Mr. Bush, has a familiar bio, that of a well-rewarded Unqualified Crony.

The President is now busy pretending to prepare a plan for dealing with avian flu. He is a simple man with only two ideas in his head. Cut taxes or use the military on it. In this case he seems to favor both ideas simultaneously. Perhaps he had an epiphany?

A man with a mind like that could use a few competent people around him. Unfortunately for us all, nothing threatens the barricaded ego of the incompetent like capability.

Perhaps that is why so many Americans didn't vote for John Kerry?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Senate Approves Detainee Treatment Rules

It is not often I praise Republicans but today I will praise the efforts of Senator John McCain for attaching an amendment to a military spending bill that would:

Prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held

Full story

The vote itself on the bill was also impressive, 90-9.

Predictably a few Bush dead-enders (like Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama) called the legislation unnecessary because "We do not have ... systematic abuse of prisoners going on by our United States military"

The logical response to such a statement is to say that if a thing is unnecessary then there is no good reason to oppose it, particularly when doing so would curtail resources from our troops.

It is high time to end the reputation-eroding, troop endangering, alliance-deteriorating, practice of prisoner (or detainee) abuse. Few things have brought as much disgrace to America as stooping to the type of moral cowardice that leads to torturing a charge.

Our troops do not escape harm when they engage in such misdeeds. The message from the top needs to be that Freedom is something to aspire to, not empty rhetoric.

Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book called Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.

BuzzFlash interviewed her
here and you can read all about it.

I thought it was an interesting interview and it sounds like it will be another good book from Barbara. In a way she is doing what Charles Dickens did by peeking under Society's covers, but with journalism rather than fiction.

Maybe our compassionate President should read her books so he has an idea what life is like when the road ahead isn't paved with gold bars?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stopping torture

Ray McGovern writes about the use of torture in the Iraq war and our complicitous silence in the face of it.


Reichbishops 'r' us

Are we really like Good German citizens under Hitler that heard about dark deeds in dark places and kept silent?

Are we like those white church-folk throwing stones and curses at Martin Luther King's marches?

Are Democrats a loyal opposition party present only to support the myth of an alternative?

What should one do?

Shall we fight them with facts?

There are mountains of facts, truckloads of facts, books, and sacks and pen-fulls of facts. Facts that show lies. Facts that show more. Facts that make men of reason abhor what they've done!

No, torture is no match for facts.

Shall we fight them with Religion?

There are billions of Bibles with trillions of pages that scream against cruel-ness in all forms and stages. The robed ones they tell us be kind to each other, treat every man just like a dear brother. But pendulum and rack and turn of the screw were all to God's service before the Spanish were through. Burning hot pokers and salt on a wound were God's love expressed from Him down to you.

No, torture is not slowed by Religion.

The U.N. then, is that where we'll turn?

They make the sound of crickets chirping, of butterfly wings, and caterpillar footsteps on moss as men are borne to their doom. They prance like peacocks and fuss like hens as demented men defile in the gloom.

No, the UN is a social club that is only useful when there is consent among members.

Maybe all these things together?

Is that what Good Germans thought?

1,942 dead, 14,641 wounded, and counting...

Andy Rooney of 60 minutes and Jon Stewart of the Daily Show hammer the Bush administration over Iraq here:

Take that

As far as I can tell we are now in Iraq to keep the President and the Congress that backed him from being embarrassed by their poor judgement.

That ain't worth dying for if you ask me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Supreme Crony

Why would anyone in their right mind nominate a person with no judicial experience whatsoever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America?

Harriet Miers

This looks just like cronyism to me.

Apparently it looks like cronyism to many on the right too.

Harry Reid seems to favor the nomination, which would normally incline me to agree, but I instead think her lack of experience makes a mockery of the Supreme Court and the careers of those more qualified for the job.

Tom DeLay's Blues

Poor Tom Delay is being indicted by a new grand jury:

DeLay faces money laundering charges

I expect there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth over these charges, except among Tom DeLay's many detractors (including myself).

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tisk Tisk Tisk

It just doesn't stop.

The GAO has called the Bush administrations use of taxpayer-funded propoganda illegal:

Can you do the time?

One question nobody seems to be asking in the big-tent media is this, "Who else is on the whitehouse payroll besides Mr. Williams?"

Isn't it to laugh to recall that Mr. Bush was to restore accountability to Washington?

If that were true he'd show himself the door and give the Presidential posterior a good stout kick.


Sometimes you just have to watch ol' George talk and laugh...

And sometimes, you have to package it up in a nice bit of satire and laugh even harder:

Where wings take dream

Saturday, October 01, 2005

U.S. troops launch 'Operation Iron Fist'

US Troops have just launched operation "Iron Fist" inside Iraq.


Who's leading the charge the Fuehrer Brigade?

Nazi rhetoric

Who names these things?

Abort all black babies and cut crime, says William Bennett

I know that modern Republicans are big-government, nation-building, defecit-growing, crony-promoting criminals.


I didn't know they were also dumb-ass racists too:

Strange moral values

Is Mr. Bennett in a close race for KKK leader in his home state?


Friday, September 30, 2005

Breaking News: Judith Miller to testify

Is Plamegate getting closer to resolution?

Judith Miller was last night released from prison after reaching an agreement to testify with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

I find this statement interesting:

"In recent days, several important things have changed that convinced Judy that she was released from her obligation"

Also interesting is the fact that her source appears to be connected to the office of Vice President Cheney.

Details here...

The Last Passion of the Democratic Party

Here is a well-written plea to Democrats to remember their purpose:

Justice for all

I'm seeing a lot of this type of thing as the majority who don't support the war in Iraq have nowhere to turn, as Democratic leaders try to nitpick the nuances of an ill-gotten, poorly planned, catastrophic failure dead ahead of us.

This is perhaps because many Democrats neglected their duty and handed the Bush administration a blank check to wage war. Perhaps they feel it is now better to abandon American soldiers than to change their minds before voters?

For shame.

We should get out of Iraq because it is the right thing to do. It was wrong to go in and it is more wrong to stay in. Our presence there is getting our soldiers killed for no oil.

Have D.C. Democrats noticed that every three months the President himself warns us to expect more violence inside Iraq? How much violence does that now add up to?

Are we supposed to stay in Iraq to flatter your opinion of yourselves?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Frist may be next

The Security and Exchange Commission has upgraded it's inquiry of Bill Frist to "formal" status:

Details here...


The President will say that Bill Frist is doing a heck of a job.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay indicted in campaign finance probe

Yet another Republican makes a defiant exit due to corruption, this time under indictment, this time one Tom Delay (and stay tuned for Bill Frist and Karl Rove).

Hammer time

Mr. Delay ought to be thankful that the Ronnie Earle scandal reached him before the Jack Abramoff scandal did and do us all a favor and go quietly.

We, the American people, are the ones that deserve to be outraged, not him! He abuses his position and we're supposed to allow him to publicly trash the conclusion of a grand jury?

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

The march on Washington

The march on Washington on September 24th was huge but hard to see on T.V.

Here is some video footage from the march in Quicktime format. Other formats are available on the TruthOut website.

My favorite chant was,
"Arrest George Bush!"

Why aren't the major news outlets embedded in the peace movement?

ADDENDUM: Kudos to the Washington Post for their coverage, including this photo exhibit.

A day in the life of a Swedish schoolchild

The reason we pay taxes is to live in a civilized society. As we chop our taxes down society itself falls for it.

Often, I think, money reduces things to such an abstraction that everything becomes a number. As Lilly Tomlin put it, "Accountants know the cost of everything and the value of nothing."

Let's step back.

Imagine you went to sleep normally. You turned out the lights, laid down and fell asleep. When the alarm went off you woke up and zombie-like searched out the coffee machine. You sat down with your coffee and as you looked at the paper you spat coffee all over the table.

There on the front page of the Swedish Washington Post was an article about guests staying at an ice-hotel, made entirely of snow and ice, enjoying vodka.

You were, it seems, in Sweden.

You pinch yourself, but feel it and assume you are awake.

Your children come down to breakfast. Confused you pack them lunches (unnecessary as you'll see) then send them off to school, dressed in typical American fashion (just like those folks on MTV).

Here is what your child's day would be like when they arrived:

A day in the life of a Swedish schoolchild

The difference between what we have here, McDonalds encroaching in the schools, insufficient resources, and factory-based education, and what they have there, small class sizes, individualized curriculums, free lunches, and safe and clean environments, is a life-based tax-distribution (PDF) and enough taxes to fund the programs which benefit all citizens (the common good).

What are corporate taxes in Sweden like?

Here are the details (PDF).

When you talk only of taxes you talk only of money. When you talk only of money you talk only of numbers. When you talk only of numbers one has no more meaning than two or three or four except that one is easier to afford.

This has driven us to where we are, discussing schools as if they were budget items instead of budget items as if they were schools. We discuss healthcare as a number and therefore as if it were a burden on society rather than a life-affirming, citizen pleasing, benefit to society. It goes on-and-on in this manner up and down the budgets.

My shocking conclusion is that even the rich can benefit from a well-educated, well-cared-for society. It is perhaps more pleasant to believe that hard work or good morals or good breeding makes one better, more entitled, or worthy of extravagance though.

Numbers insulate us from suffering, they protect us from despair, and they keep our dreams in little boxes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bush or LBJ?

Which Texas President said this:

"America is committed to the defense of [insert country name] until an honorable peace can be negotiated. Despite the obstacles to victory we shall stay the course."

Find out here

Eating less at Gitmo

When I think about the new hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay I can't help but wonder, darkly...

Wouldn't it be convenient for the Bush administration if everyone there died, since Guantanamo Bay is illegal under international law, US law, and contrary to kindness.

One must admit that this would be a perfect solution to such wondering. The detainees get to be heroic, the US gets to be absolved of responsibility, US courts don't have their rulings openly ignored anymore, and the solution is final.

But...I suppose we should just let them starve and go about our business of watching the next Survivor champion crowned. I wonder if there will be any sexual tension in this years season.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Phil Donahue for President

Phil Donahue takes on Bill O'Reilly on the Iraq war in this video:

Phil vs Bill

It surprised me how much respect Bill showed Phil, and also how good Phil was at pressing his case. I take it that Phil is really upset with the Iraq war and its' cheerleaders.

Friday, September 23, 2005


This is the man people thought would be a better President than John Kerry?

Speaka da English much?

Song of protest

If you have iTunes you can download this song for free. It is Bright Eyes performing "When the President Talks to God".

I like it and maybe you will too.

At least the price is right.

When the President Talks to God

This weekend there will be large protests in Washington D.C. on the 24th. If you're going you can load this tune up on your mp3 player and impress your friends.


Often liberals define themselves negatively, by which I mean they trumpet what they are not, not what they are.

If you don't believe me go to any health food store frequented by your local liberals and take a look at the shelves where you'll see:

Chips with no salt.
Bread with no gluten.
Coffee with no caffeine.
Soap with no scent, or no phosphates.

With politics it is much the same. Liberals are anti-Bush, anti-monopoly, anti-war, and anti-discrimination.

I confess I am guilty of falling into the same trap.

This is too bad because a lot of ideas on the left are very good for America. It is time, I think, to transform the way we talk. It is time to talk about what we are rather than what we are not.

One thing many on the left are for is energy independence, particularly sustainable non-polluting energy sources. This makes sense for our foreign policy, or environmental policy, our economic policy, and our security (no vulnerable dependencies).

With wind-mills, for instance, we all breathe cleaner air and forgo nuclear meltdown dangers and furthermore have enough wind to harness to supply all of America's power. Yet this progressive, forward-looking vision gets discussed as anti-nuclear, anti-coal, and anti-oil talking-points, which are nowhere near as unifying or constructive.

To that end here is a great idea my wife had.

She is a fan of old-time country music and heard that Willie Nelson was starting a bio-diesel company. She asked me what biodiesel was and I explained it was diesel fuel made from vegetable fats and how we could make our own using a kit sold by Home Power (I'm a subscriber).

She thought about that for a few moments and said, "Wow! McDonald's is sitting on a gold-mine. Why don't they take all that grease, team up with Willie, and add bio-diesel filling stations at their locations? You could buy McFuel with your McNuggets!"

In that moment I knew once again I made the right choice when I married.

Can you imagine the immense good this would do to McDonald's reputation among environmentalists?

Why not have our cars filled up as we wait in the drive-thru lane anyway? Now that's what I call convenient!

I'm lovin' it!

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin