Thursday, April 21, 2005

No mas

I think I'm going to be hanging up my blogging spurs. I got started on a whim, simply intending to find out what the heck a blog was, and became hooked.

I had found that my pent-up political anger was spilling into my conversations with friends and family and blogging gave me an outlet for my rants. I consider it to have been quite healthy for my psyche as well as beneficial for my social life to unburden myself of missiles like the Abu Gharaib scandal, the swift boat veterans for dishonoring the service of war heroes, Patriot Acts I and II, the plundered treasury, the trade imbalances, the cost and toll of the Iraq war, the arrogance of Rumsfeld, the uncritical press, Blair's brown-nosing, and the growing culture of fascism in America.

I have tried to talk about the world around me from my own perspective in the service of telling my truth steadily and broadly. On occasion I wrote odd short poems hyperlinked to the stories that inspired them, which I expect is a medium unique to the internet.

Mostly I liked to use my blog like an index for stories that I found interesting or important and attached to these stories an expression of their meaning to me. Perhaps I should now provide a bushel of links to sites I have enjoyed:

All hat no cattle

Truth Out

Joshua Micah Marshall



Asia Times Online

Bull Moose Blog

Daily Kos

David Hackworth

Common Dreams

Michael Moore

Dennis Kucinich

Juan Cole

Noam Chomsky

Slate Cartoon Index

The Onion

Thanks for the company and I hope it was time well spent.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Spring's new product

Here is a terrific article on the difficulty of selling WWIV.

Step right up

It seems to me that war is always an easy sell because it appeals to the basest nature of us all, so I can't say I agree with the main premise of the article. Sex sells for a reason and that reason is powerful enough to make a preacher put his bible down (as Muddy Waters would sing).

Yet war seems to trump sex as a marketing tool, because even an unjust war poorly planned has many Americans proud enough to adorn their vehicles with patriotic magnets and flags, and spirited enough to shout along with Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Mike Savage, Rush Limbaugh, and their ilk.

So, call me skeptical, but the article makes for good reading just the same.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Gloria Olivae

The world has a new pope going by the nomme du pontiff of Benedict XVI.

Urbi at Orbi

Will he be the second-to-the-last pope?

Prophecy of St Malachy

Dreams deferred

Here is a story:

Turmoil in Iraq

And a companion quote to reflect upon:

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty and democracy?"

- Mohandas Gandhi -

Monday, April 18, 2005

Happy Patriots Day

Ray McGovern has been writing a lot lately and I find that both troubling and hopeful at the same time. It is troubling because the last time he wrote prolifically was before the Iraq war. It is hopeful because he seems as committed as ever to honest CIA analysis.

In this article you can get his take on what is and isn't broken in our intelligence services.

Exposing Incompetent Incumbents

NY Times on DeLay

If you're going to stone someone they say it takes good aim and a lot of rocks.

On Sunday April 17th the New York Times wrote an Editorial that calls Mr. Delay to task for his numerous ethical lapses.

Within are words such as "alarming" and "abuse" and "disastrous" and "neglect".

Power for Power's Sake

These are uncharacteristically strong words from our paper of record. Let us all hope they resonate with the moral champions that elected President Bush and the company he keeps.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Bud wiser

Our survival is not independent of the survival of our food supply. Because of this I admit to being conservative when it comes to introducing GM-based products to market. In fact I would rather pay more for organic produce than trust to market forces as a mother.

I feel that folks bringing GM products to market have been playing fast and loose with human survival. After all, natural selection is a process that has been field tested for millions of years and there may be unapparent reasons for a plant's traits.

I would also say that the early fruits of the GM fields are products like tomatoes that ship well and cannot compete with their packaging for flavor. In other instances, the natural cycle of life is replaced with industrial gardening techniques that poison the land and erode the soil.

A new practice, bio-pharming (I ignore the 'P'), incorporates pharmaceuticals into plants. While this could help reduce medicinal manufacturing costs, there is a chance that such openly-pollinated plant pills will cross pollinate with wild neighboring plants. Imagine if a trip to the super-market for a loaf of bread could introduce one to a game of medicinal roulette. Perhaps the lucky will ingest Viagra. Perhaps the unlucky will ingest estrogen.

Should we treat these risks lightly?

Will limits be placed on the types of drugs manufactured in this way (i.e. should the side-effects be a determining factor)?

Could the new plants introduce dangerous food allergies into previously safe foods?

Is it safe to take medicine in amounts impossible to control (what's the dosage in a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal)?

And finally should producers like Budweiser, who are the nations largest buyer of rice, worry about the risk of infecting their beer with pharmaceutical cocktails?

Apparently that is a thought that has occurred to them and Anheuser-Busch is believed to be the first major company to threaten a boycott over the issue:

Beer Giant Says it Won't Buy Rice from States That Grow GM Crops

I would like to say in closing that while I feel there is great promise in GM foods, greater still is the responsibility inherent in their production. Consequently I don't feel comfortable supporting GM foods until the danger of cross-pollination is removed, and until there are laws isolating the GM food production chain, and until there are governmental oversight panels similar to the FDA dedicated to protecting us from honest mistakes and dishonest suppliers.

I also say, "Good for you Anheuser-Busch for erring on the side of my health."

Friday, April 15, 2005

April 15th

Our national spending priorities add endurance to Martin Luther King's charge that we are a world of guided missiles and misguided men.

This website makes it easy to take a look at where the US Congress spends the tax dollars it raises, and how it affects your state.

Where Do Your Taxes Go?

What lesson is there in the fact that we spend 49 cents of every tax dollar on the military, while spending 9 cents of every tax dollar on nutrition, housing and education combined?

A stream of consciousness begins...

Minds dull when bombs shine and hope shines when bombs dull.

A shrine shrinks on bombs hope and a child's blood spends like bullets.

Peace and love bore men to apples, but warriors dream of gardens.

Make love and war and have a bang.

Funerals are like morning-after pills for war (sounds deep but seems to imply nothing).

It takes a child to raze a village but a hero for a parade.

Don't blame me I voted for the other war enthusiast.

God asked me to tell you to jump off a bridge.

A stream of consciousness sputters and ends, far off course...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Department of Peace

Congressman Dennis Kucinich would like to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace as a counter-balance to the Department of Defense.

After watching my first episode of Nanny 911 I think that creating a culture of peace is a good idea for America. We war too easily and love too timidly and it shows in our families, in our churches, in our communities, and in our foreign policy.

Why don't we set a place at the table for one that calls on us to hope and to love and to be compassionate?

Viva D.O.P.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

For Hermes or McClellan

I am reading Orpheus with his Lute - Stories of the World's Spring Time by W.M.L. Hutchinson at the moment. It is very enjoyable to read "the oldest fairy tales in the world" and I find them remarkably well told, but I'm a bit concerned that I hold the Bush administration in too low a regard, for when I read these words of Prometheus I thought it would be cheerfully fitting to hear Helen Thomas directing them at the Whitehouse press secretary:

"Insolent hireling! Well dost thou ape the pompous bluster of thine upstart lord, as is ever the wont of thy kind. Go, tell the new-made tyrant that I set him at defiance; no outrage shall wring from my lips the word that would save him."

How many people read one of the greatest works of literature only to fill the inkwell of their poison pen?

Perhaps I should hold my breath and count to ten?

This seems like a good time to quote Michael McCourt by way of President Clinton, although I am convinced peals of laughter would overtake such wise counsel if Helen Thomas engaged Prometheus' words.

"Harboring anger is like taking poison and waiting for the other guy to die."
- Michael McCourt -

Headlights get in your eyes

Here is an excerpt from an interview conducted with President George W. Bush while he was in Rome for the Pope's funeral.

Q: Just to follow up on that, Mr. President, a couple questions about the Pope. One, I noticed at one point you had your glasses on and you were following along -- I'm not sure if you were looking at the homily at that point or maybe, did you have one of those guides that --

THE PRESIDENT: I did. It's hard to follow -- my Spanish is not very good -- (laughter) -- nevertheless, it is decent enough to pick up sounds that then can help me follow the Italian.

Q: Had you ever been to a Latin mass before; I imagine you've been to an English mass?

THE PRESIDENT: No, never been to a Latin mass.

Source: Whitehouse Website

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Daniel Ellsberg on the Bush Administration

Here is an interesting interview with Daniel Ellsberg on the Bush administration. A couple of the things he said leapt out at me:

1. Everything done by Nixon to keep him from exposing the "Pentagon Papers" is now perfectly legal under the Patriot Act.

2. Daniel said that he would like to see President Bush directly asked 'Do you, Mr. President, believe that a Palestinian state in the West Bank would postpone the return of the Messiah?'

He thinks the President would "find it hard to say that he doesn't believe that, because he's supposed to witness for what he believes in his religious faith and he'd lose a lot of support if he denied that."

Ye doth protest too little

I don't know about you, but I sure would like to see a reporter ask President Bush Daniel's question live. As an American I feel more entitled to his response than to Michael Jackson's extra-musical activities, the contents of the Presidential Ipod, or Jenna Bush's dance routines.

The Moose rolls

Marshall Whitman is on a roll lately at Bull Moose blog. He is a disaffected conservative whose acid wit burns down Republican rhetoric to the ground. He has seen his party cast off the ideals of Newt's revolution for lure of a dollar bill and the thrill of power.

He says that the true religious calling of Bush-like Republicans is to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Here is a rollicking story about a new "holy day" on the Republican calendar:

April 13th

Monday, April 11, 2005

Bigger government, debt, and IRS

What kind of pride do Conservatives have now-a-days that their candidate, unencumbered by Senate/House Democrats would:

1. Increase the size of Federal government bureaucracy
2. Increase government's powers to snoop in your life
3. Increase the size of the IRS.
4. Increase deficit spending.

Friday, April 08, 2005

A tree falls

I have highlighted many voices protesting the war in Iraq, and have tried to include Republican voices above all because I want to challenge the assumption that to oppose an unjust war makes one a "looney liberal".

Here I would like to draw your attention to the words of Representative Ron Paul, a Republican from the Lone Star state (Texas). When asked if Iraqis are better off with Saddam gone he makes the case (to paraphrase) that the answer is "Well, no, particularly not Iraqi Christians". He also asks a much more important question, I think, which is this "Are we better off with a foreign policy that promotes regime change while justifying war with false information?"

I think Ron Paul feels government ought to be accountable to the people and especially when spending their money or embroiling the nation in war. In any case he is like another proverbial tree falling unheard in the Republican wood:

Chop! Chop! Chop!

Reversing enlightenment

Perhaps it is time that scientists start showing up in churches demanding that evolution be fairly taught on Sundays, or that other flood stories be discussed for their archeological significance. Perhaps scientists should band together and denounce Jesus as "a theory with holes in it". Perhaps scientists should "infect" religious schools with objective truth and peer reviews.

Bible science

Or, perhaps religion should be taught in religious settings and those that prefer biblical biology ought to seek out vestments rather than lab coats.

I thought we ascended from the dark ages.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Click picture for titanic untruths Posted by Hello

Pay no attention to the war

If happy talk made for happy wars we'd all find delight in Baghdad on a daily basis. However, in spite of heaps, mounds, and monuments of happy-talk the war in Iraq continues to worsen:

Iraq general kidnapped in Baghdad

The popular commitment to willful ignorance in the face of disheartening news is quite impressive. I wonder how long it can last.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A look at Falluja

I have a friend that likes to say, "You always get the government you deserve." His meaning, I take it, is that a government will only answer to the people when it has to, and that when the people don't demand justice a government won't offer it.

I think a lot about that statement when I hear the stories coming out of Iraq, and specifically out of places like Falluja. What kind of government will repay our collective indifference to the heavy-handed operations taking place in Iraqi cities such as Falluja?

To hell and back

At least half of the casualties of war are usually children. Do you ever think of them as collateral damage instead?

The Pope, upon whose vestments Republicans now cling like barnacles, condemned the invasion of Iraq as unjust. Do you ever think of our efforts there as "defending freedom" instead?

Most of the fighters in Iraq are actually Iraqis trying to repel a foreign army (us). Do you think of them as "insurgents" instead?

What kind of government do you deserve?

June 2005

Before the Iraq invasion several voices rang out loud, and with hindsight, true. Two such voices were those of Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern.

They are now both warning that Iran is going to be struck by either the US or Israel, or by a joint attack, with Scott Ritter setting the moment to June of 2005.

Scott Ritter on Iran

Ray McGovern on Iran

Some people look forward to birdsong and gardens.
Others, it seems, upset our peaceful summer dreams.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Neutering Social Security

Since 1937 conservatives have been predicting the early demise of Social Security. It galls them, apparently, that a government program should work, or that Americans should be engaged in the welfare of their neighbor, or perhaps they view grandma as a burden to society.

Whatever their reason, though, they are stubborn I'll give them that. Stubborn and cold.

In 1983 the Cato Institute developed a five-point plan to kill Social Security and it went like so:

1. Maintain constant criticism of Social Security to influence the media and to undermine public confidence in the soundness of the program;

2. Build a network of influential supporters of private accounts, including Wall Street brokers who would profit from them;

3. Divide and conquer the opposition by assuring retirees and those nearing retirement that their benefits would be fully paid;

4. Enact laws creating 401(k)s and other private accounts so people learn to accept them; and

5. Have a privatization plan waiting in the wings when a president came along who was willing to claim that Social Security's trust fund faces a shortfall.

Sound familiar?

This entertaining article talks about the legacy of conservatives with regard to "saving" Social Security:

Neutering Social Security

Monday, April 04, 2005

National Sales Tax

Is a national sales tax a good idea?

Not if you want to buy a car, or a house, or a computer.

Not if you are elderly and would be doubly-taxed by a lifetime of income taxes, then a retirement of goods taxes.

Kevin Drum, in this article, counts many more ways in which a national sales tax would be a bane to everyone but the wealthy:

George Will is in love

Saturday, April 02, 2005


The middle-east gets lots of attention for their styles of governance, dubbed as "evil" in some circles, yet it is hard to fathom how any place could be more cruelly managed than Zimbabwe. Here are two analysises of Robert Mugabe and the effects of his "rule":

Climate of the vote

Early vote results

As scornful as the Bush administration is of the press, it has not bombed American press outlets on American soil.

As hostile as the Bush administration is to the poor, it has not generated 70% unemployment.

As cruel as the Bush administration is to POWs, it has not tortured democrats (though they have been forcibly evicted from his "town hall meetings").

As singularly contemptuous of compromise as the Bush administration is, Ted Kennedy remains alive and well.

This is perhaps evidence that we could do worse than President Bush, while at the same time a reminder of why we should care about the consolidation of Presidential power.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Water on Mars!

Scientists have announced the discovery of water on Mars. As I look up at the sky tonight and cast my gaze towards the red planet it will be with a renewed sense of awe for the achievements of man:

Story here

The Pope's failing health

All men must die and the best case scenario is to delay that inescapable fate a little bit. The worst case scenario, in my opinion, is to prolong the end in a state of suffering. As the Pope's health seems to be failing I find myself wondering, "What if he slips into a coma without flat-lining his EKG graph, and the consensus medical opinion is that he has no chance of growing younger?".

I also wonder, "What if technology can maintain his state of ill-health indefinitely, keeping him alive as some sort of living mummy?".

Should he be maintained with electrified heartbeats, feeding tubes, and breathing apparatus? If so, would he still be the Pope, since that job is held "for life"?

People close to the pope describe his state as "suffering" and also say he has "great difficulty breathing". Does this mean that Jesse Jackson and Jeb Bush ought to alight to Rome with their placards and showmanship and demand he be kept alive, and also personally attack any Cardinal that says different?

Keep Pope alive!

Obviously I think that the Schiavo case in the soap-opera state of Florida was old-fashioned political grand-standing, but I could be proven wrong by a principled commitment to life expressed Popeward. After all, the Pontiff himself could be allowed to "cross over to the other side peacefully" when there is yet a chance to maintain the bloodflow in his tissue and the motion in his lungs.

Darfur Day

I have grown fond of the Bull Moose blog, which I describe as a blog with good centrist commentary and a lean to the right on social issues. While I sometimes disagree with the blog's perspective I am magnanimous enough to appreciate a variety of viewpoints, especially when delivered without moral certitude.

In this post Mr. Moose (Marshall Whitman) challenges bloggers to assert their relevance and end the genocide in Darfur, or at least draw attention to the ongoing slaughter there:

Bull Moose

Genocide is defined as "the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group".

Why do you suppose that Americans are significantly more engaged in the Schiavo case than in the slaughter of Darfur?

On a related note, I am told the movie Hotel Rwanda properly focuses the vigor of the spirit on the dirty business in Darfur.

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin