Thursday, March 30, 2006

Today Only

BBC Two covered a march by Gulf War II veterans from Mississippi to Washington DC.

It is a condemnation of America's press when American veterans have to speak to a foreign press in order to reach me, an American citizen.

Watch this today. Pass the link to your friends. It is highly doubtful that you will see anything like it on your network news programs.

Click "Watch the latest programme"

Correction: The march seems to have been from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans (not Mississippi to Washington D.C.). Here is a link to a story on the story:

More details
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Saving Civility

What is it that separates reasonable politics from partisan politics?

Respect for the Truth on both sides of a debate and a willingness to be swayed by objective facts on both sides of a debate. Civility in either victory or defeat is required to maintain the environment.

What is present in uncivilized discourse?

An obstinate, faith-based irrational belief and unwillingness to listen to reason, and/or ignorance. Sometimes ignorance is manufactured by a secretive power structure and is not contemptible, other times it is sought in comfort or fear and is.

People on both the left and the right get far too much mileage out of angry shouts.

How did we get so far away from a nation that elected men like Paul Simon and George Mitchell and Bob Dole?

How did we as voters come to respect confidence over competence?

How did we fill up with so many people that cannot tolerate the harmless activities of others (i.e. choose a victimless crime)?

How do we restore credibility to Washington so that our government can promote rather than pervert the people's business?

How do we step back and correct this political environment of ours before life becomes so ugly that the birth rates in Western nations decline ever further?

I think it starts with politeness and proceeds with honesty and humility. We must cherish these things and learn to recognize these qualities in those we elect.

We must be willing to reject bad candidates even when they are associated with our favored party.

I am worried that we are never going to defeat political Islam as long as we are so divided and so uncommitted to things that really matter. We must honor human rights, democratic values, and kindness to each other as sacred.

Without recognizing the Good, we will not be able to recognize the things that undermine them.

There is nobody else to fix it but us.

Practice politeness before it's too late.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The revolution

Newt Gingrich was the poster-boy for the Republican revolution that was going to change Washington into a lean, kinder-gentler, efficiency machine.

Then the republicans took power and made an absolute mockery of the "Contract With America" promises. I blame this on electing people with allegiance to the holy trinity of money, power, and arrogance.

The "Contract with America" became the "Breach of Trust with Americans".

Small government fundamentalism was rendered quaint.

Pay as you go became hogs at the trough.


Dreams don't die as easily as patriotism on K-Street and lies do not unmake honest desires.

The Republican revolution has become the Republican revulsion:

No Room for me in the RNC

Democrats must give these disenfranchised a home. I think they have a crack at it since there is no place else to go, but there is no guarantee we will see an increase in votes rather than sales of TV dinners on election night.

If John Edwards can team up with the right person I think he can capture those voters. What we need is a Walter Mondale type.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

500,000 Pack Streets to Protest Immigration Bills

When half a million people come out and march in a city, even if it is the size of Los Angeles, that is worth paying attention to.

Shall we overcome?

It looks like president Bush is doing a good job of dividing Americans once again.

Sound familiar?

Not infrequently a man will engage in activities of which the purpose is destructive without regard to any construction that may come after. Frequently he will conceal this from himself by the belief that he is only sweeping away in order to build afresh, but it is generally possible to unmask this pretense,
When it is a pretense, by asking him what the subsequent construction is to be. On this subject it will be found that he will speak vaguely and without enthusiasm, whereas on the preliminary destruction he has spoken precisely and with zest. This applies to not a few revolutionaries and militarists and other apostles of violence. They are actuated, usually without their own knowledge, by hatred: the destruction of what they hate is their real purpose, and they are comparatively indifferent to the question of what is to come after it.

Bertrand Russell
The Conquest of Happiness
Page 166

I think president Bush makes a rather well-qualified apostle of violence, don't you?

"F--- Saddam, we're taking him out"
President Bush
Time, March 2002

Monday, March 27, 2006

War on Cheese

It is sometimes difficult to know where satire ends and comedy begins.

See the lines blur in this DailyShow piece about San Diego's war on cheese:

The Stink

I know when I'm licked

New measurements of cosmic microwave background radiation further confirm that the universe formed by expansion in a trillionth of a second about 13.7 billion years ago.

In other words it looks like there was a very big bang which caused, well, everything to expand outwards from an itty bitty, teeny weeny, quantum-scale bobeenie.

Inflating the Universe

I know when I'm licked and I must change my opinion to fit the empirical data.

There was nothing (or anyway nothing that looked like much).

There was a big bang.

There was everything you see when you look at the sky at night.

That's hard to comprehend.

Where did all that energy come from?

How did the bobeenie (I'm sure there's a scientific name for it) form?

Could there ever have been a time before matter and energy?

Sometimes science poses more questions than answers.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday Sermon

Capital punishment killed Christ and torture tormented him, so I find these survey results incredibly illogical.

Catholics approve of torture more than the secular.

How does that make sense?

Is that belief indicative of a penchant for turning the other cheek?

Reason cannot be held responsible for this defection from the tenants of the Sermon on the Mount. Is this some sort of leap of faith (in torture)?

Nation: Americans, especially Catholics, approve of torture

Friday, March 24, 2006

Truly funny

Excuse me while I laugh by bottom off:

Bush Blasts Democrats on Economic Issues

If you will remember, the deficit was going down and the debt was going down under Clinton. Also people were moving from poverty to the middle-class rather than the other way around.

Being "blasted" by Bush on economics is like being "blasted" by a pedophile priest on moral behavior.

Truly, nothing is as pathetic as misplaced conceit.

Nowhere man

When president Bush brags about not "paying attention to polls", that is equivalent to saying that he doesn't pay attention to Americans. How else can he know what we want?

His "my way or the highway" arrogance is really quite tiring considering how dysfunctional his administration has been, and nothing is more pathetic than misplaced conceit.

When you have ideas that produce out of control spending, balooning defecits, mangled medicare, an Iraqi quagmire, appointments like Brownie and Harriet Meirs, a culture of torture, and nuclear proliferation, then maybe listening to somebody else's ideas isn't such a bad idea.

Nowhere plans for nobody

Perhaps the president thinks he's fooling people standing in front of Stepford Citizens that patronize his ego with softball questions and platitudes.

He isn't.

We all have eyes to see.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Russ Feingold with Jon Stewart

If Russ Feingold wants to run for president in 2008 he has my vote.

Here he speaks with Jon Stewart about his resolution to Censure president Bush:

Russ Feingold with Jon Stewart

He made the right call on Iraq.

He made the right call on the "Patriot Act" (the most ironically named piece of legislation in US history - Al Franken).

He made the right call co-sponsoring the McCain Feingold bill.

And he made the right call on Censure.

ADDENDUM: Here is how beltway democratic leaders look to the rest of America (for example in their home states) in relation to the Censure resolution:

I tawt I taw a putty tat

Political Biology

Did you know that the Nazis had their own version of biology?

Here is a link to the German propaganda archive which exhibits an excerpt from a 5th grade biology textbook for girls.

Nazi Biology Text

The Nazis used even a lesson in biology to promote warfare and German superiority. For instance, note this early line from the above text which promotes the former, "Every animal that does not secure sufficient territory and guard it against other predators, or lacks the necessary strength and speed or caution and cleverness will fall prey to its enemies...The battle for existence is hard and unforgiving, but is the only way to maintain life. This struggle eliminates everything that is unfit for life, and selects everything that is able to survive."

As I watch our modern Inquisitors racing around America trying to promote their crackpot religious theories as science I cannot help but wonder what they hope to achieve by politicizing scientific curriculum.

Science cannot advance without intellectual freedom and without intellectual honesty. Societies that attempt to legislate their way to innovation fail, and empires that fail to maintain their innovative edge fall.

A few bad apples, they say, rot the barrel.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rumsfeld "bitch-slapped"

I have not been able to understand why president Bush keeps Donald Rumsfeld in his post. He has been responsible for much of the failure in Iraq and his failure is America's failure and Bush's failure.

The only way I can explain it is by pointing out that president Bush is a stupid man. He is stubborn, not curious, anti-intellectual, and generally wrong. In other words he is batting 1000 in the dumb derby.

Apparently the military establishment has finally had enough of Donald's incompetence. This letter in the New York Times by retired general Paul D. Eaton can only be described as a "bitch-slap".

Incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically

Democrats have been too slow to follow the lead of Mr. Murtha.

It is no longer excusable.

If you fail to lead when it matters it fails to matter if you lead.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Shariah Law

This is a pretty good example of why one should not tolerate the intolerant.

An Afghan man is being charged with converting from Islam to Christianity, which is punishable by death under Islamic law.

From an atheists point of view you have someone being murdered because they change one set of superstitious beliefs for another set of superstitious beliefs in an imaginary friend (God). Totally irrelevant seems to be the fact that Abdul Rahman was providing medical aid to Afghan refugees.

Won't Abdul's death mean that fewer Muslims will be aided now?

Where is Allah's greatness if he is happier killing Abdul than saving his patients?

Can a Muslim man repay great kindness with murder and maintain piety?

God Rocks

George "good-doer" Bush seems awful quiet about this and yet it seems like a perfect time to support moderate Muslims. Secondly, he would get to ride the white horse for his base, who believe in killing people for rejecting Christianity (as when they blow up abortion clinics).

I have never been less tempted by religion in my life.

Maybe it's time to invest in a cave.


Here is a site that lets you offset your carbon footprint, or in other words, do something about global warming:


With politicians on the take as during the gilded age it seems folly to rely on them to be of benefit to humanity. They help themselves now even when their children pay the price.

In his song "Masters of War" Bob Dylan asked the question, "Is your money that good?"

Money is as relevant as your next meal, but beyond a certain point its' accrual seems more about power than purchase.

We'll have the last laugh (as we did with men like Robert S. McNamara), but its an unsatisfying laugh. Their salvation comes at our expense and much too late. In Mr. McNamara's case, by the time he put one foot in the grave and looked up to be horrified by the fact that power and money don't matter, he had to be equally horrified that nobody would listen to his advice (and here I'm specifically thinking of Donald Rumsfailed). It is as if the older, wiser, Mr. McNamara met the younger, more arrogant, Mr. McNamara.

I wonder if he liked what he saw when he looked in the mirror?

I wonder if his money was that good.

Monday, March 20, 2006


"The best way to increase toleration is to multiply the number of individuals who enjoy real happiness and do not therefore find their chief pleasure in the infliction of pain upon their fellow men."

Bertrand Russell
Conquest of happiness
Page 110

Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a fatwa against gays and lesbians on his Web site, according to London-based LGBT (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) human rights groups OutRage (that's O, R).

Story here

Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference in which Mr. Sistani was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.

If Bertrand's analysis is correct, then one must conclude Mr. Sistani is an unhappy man along with his followers.

Why is it that religion is so often used as a veil to cover the sadistic pleasure of persecution of others?

Is it because without religion all that is left is naked sadism and that is too unflatteringring a truth to accept about oneself?

Consider that in our era Charles Manson, L. Ron Hubbard, Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jim Jones, and Vernon Wayne Howell (aka David Koresh) have all formed religions.

Isn't that list reason enough to doubt the validity of religious beliefs, let alone tolerate their intolerance?

I end the way I began, with a quote from Bertrand Russell:

"Consider how much of unadulterated superstition goes into the make-up of the conventionally virtuous man, and reflect that while all kinds of imaginary moral dangers were guarded against by incredibly foolish prohibitions, the real moral dangers to which an adult is exposed were practically unmentioned. What are these really harmful acts to which the average man is tempted? Sharp practice in business of the sort not punished by law, harshness towards employees, cruelty towards wife and children, malevolence towards competitors, ferocity in political conflicts - these are the really harmful sins that are common among respectable and respected citizens. By means of these sins a man spreads misery in his immediate circle and does his bit towards destroying civilization.

Yet these are not the things that make him, when he is ill, regard himself as an outcast who has forfeited all claim to divine favor. These are not the things that cause him in nightmares to see visions of his mother bending reproachful glances upon him. Why is his subconscious morality thus divorced from reason? Because the ethic believed in by those who had charge of his infancy was silly; because it was not derived from any study of the individual's duty to the community; because it was made up of old scraps of irrational taboos; and because it contained within itself elements of morbidness derived from the spiritual sickness that troubled the dying Roman Empire.

Our nominal morality has been formulated by priests and mentally enslaved women. It is time that men who have to take a normal part in the normal life of the world learned to rebel against this sickly nonsense."

Bertrand Russell
The Conquest of Happiness
Pages 83-84.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Did you know?

If fundamentalist Christians are really going to be taken seriously in America then we might want to start collecting stones because we'll be needing them in abundance.

Did you know that the biblical punishment for taking the Lord's name in vain is death (Leviticus 24:16)?

Did you know that the biblical punishment for working on the Sabbath is death (Exodus 31:15)?

Did you know that the biblical punishment for cursing one's father or mother is death (Exodus 21:17)?

Did you know that the biblical punishment for adultery is death (Leviticus 20:10)?

Did you know that the biblical punishment for homosexual sexual relations is death (Leviticus 20:13)

Sam Harris raises many of these points in his book, "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason".

It is a book that takes a critical look at faith-based religions, while also proposing a way to study ethical problems scientifically.

People of faith will probably hate it because it points out the obvious, and I suppose people like me have little to gain other than entertainment in its pages, but if you are like me then there is much entertainment to be had.

The world would be so much better if "morality" promoted human happiness or at least averted human suffering. As Sam points out, "Any person who lies awake at night worrying about the private pleasures of other consenting adults has more than just too much time on his hands; he has some unjustifiable beliefs about the nature of right and wrong."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cassandra Day

Sandra Day O'Conner was appointed by president Ronald Reagan to serve on the Supreme Court.

She just issued a strong warning that the US is headed towards dictatorship:

Sandra Say

ADDENDUM: Justice Ginsburg has just revealed the details of the threats against Judge Day and herself:

Story here

We seem to have an American Taliban in our midst and they seem to prefer the Republican party.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Go Sam

I have just finished Sam Harris' "End of Faith" and found it to be delightful, insightful, and somewhat frightful.

If you surf on over to Amazon you can read an interview with him. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the interview and the type of thing you will find in abundance in his book:

"The President of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. Now, if he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ludicrous or more offensive."

The interview

Soviet-style press intimidation?

If this story replaced "Bush" with "Stalin" and "FBI" with "KGB" I'd have an easier time believing it. I suppose this serves to illustrate the depths denial will go to in defense of wishful thinking.

House of Bush strong-arms Media

If you would like to know more about Censorship, or Sanitization, or Whitewashing I offer this handy link:

propaganda around the world

"If Osama can't stand freedom then let us stand free", I sez.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fool me once...

On May 25th, 2004 President Bush used all of the bravado at his command and promised to tear down Abu Ghraib. For those with short memories here is a refresher link:

We will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison

But, on June 28th, 2005 that bravado was shown to be B-O-L-O-G-N-A because it was discovered that not only wasn't it "torn down", but it was in fact operating in excess of its capacity.

Why do I rehash this story?

Because on March 10, 2006 a military spokesman declared that Abu Ghraib will be "closed down" and it's detainees moved to "Camp Cropper".

Story here

Here is a Daily Show look at this story:

End of an Error

One thing to point out is that the worldwide condemnation is of the treatment of prisoners (it's the treatment stupid) and not so much the locality of that abuse. Camp Cropper may simply become the new Abu Ghraib if the culture of the guards isn't fixed.

It is interesting to note that a "Cropper" is one that crops, and a crop is the handle of a whip.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Mr. Bush's Asian Road Trip

The New York Times seems to be trying to make up for lost opportunities to challenge president Bush. In this editorial they really let him have it for his recent India/Pakistan roadtrip.

They, perhaps mercifully, left out mention of the UAE deal which is quite a trio of foreign policy bungles, sez I:

Mr. Bush's Asian Road Trip

ADDENDUM: The poll numbers for president Bush

Late to the party

The newest wave of Bush-bashers appears to be Conservative Republicans of the Cato Institute:

Irresponsible, Inept, a Socialist

When democrats speak like that they are accused of being partisan America-haters, or sore losers unable to "get over" the election of 2004. It turns out they just reached the same conclusion as traditional Republicans, but sooner.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March madness

Did you know that over 1.5 million men and women are arrested in the United States each year due to our drug laws?

Did you know that about 400,000 men and women are in US prisons for nonviolent drug offenses?

Did you know that 1,000,000 others are currently on probation?

Did you know that violent criminals (i.e. murderers, rapists, child molesters) are regularly paroled to make room for them?

Did you know that 51% of violent criminals get out in 2 years or less (and 76% after 4 years), while the average sentence for a federal drug offence is 6.25 years?

Did you know that more people are imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses in the US than are incarcerated in all of Western Europe (which has a larger population)?

Did you know that the cost of our drug war at the federal level is about $20 billion dollars a year?

Did you know that the total cost of our drug laws could be in excess of $100 billion dollars each year? (Source: M.S. Gazzaniga, "Legalizing Drugs: Just Say Yes," National Review, July 10, 1995, pp. 26-37)

Did you know the war on drugs consumes an estimated 50 percent of the trial time of our courts and the full-time dedication of 400,000+ police officers? (Source: W.F. Buckley Jr., "The War on Drugs Is Lost," National Review, Feb 12, 1996)

Did you know that in some states a person merely accused of a drug crime can have his property seized, and those who levied the accusation can profit to the tune of 25%?

Did you know that seized property can be seized and forfeited even if a defendant is found innocent?

Did you know one national survey found that 80% of property seizures occur without any criminal prosecution whatsoever? (Source)

Did you know the US government has recently sought approval to use a genetically engineered killer fungus designed to attack marijuana crops inside the US?

Isn't this insane?!?

The more I learn about our "War on Drugs" the more I am convinced our drug laws are a victory of ignorance.

Shouldn't we be spending some of this police and financial equity securing our ports and balancing our books?

What is being gained by this madness?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A cultural issue

Here's an idea for a cultural issue that promotes family values.

Why not force all commercials to be rated G on the grounds that they are invasions of privacy?

I can control the programs I watch and I specifically avoid violent ones, but every time some sadist comes out with a new axe-murdering movie (i.e. about every other week) I wind up seeing blood-soaked axes and horrified screaming despite my best efforts.

It totally ruins a peaceful meal.

Give me an odd looking clown selling hamburgers or hand-holders selling Coke again, sez I.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Liberal Love

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I am sure I want healthcare available to all Americans.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I want my government to account for itself Justly, openly, and humanely at home and abroad.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I want to stop financing our collective destruction and increase social spending.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I believe in a separation of Church and State, as well as a separation of Church and Science.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I believe you can be pro business and pro people, but where they conflict you should be pro people.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I dream of making the planet healthier rather than laying waste to it in an orgy of selfishness.

I'm not sure I'm a democrat, but I believe in the pursuit of Justice.

These are the things I believe in, which is why I'm not sure I'm a democrat.

Am I John Kerry?
Am I Hillary?
Am I Howard Dean?
Am I Barak Obama?

Monday, March 06, 2006


John Murtha has taken his campaign to get us out of Iraq public and he continues to press his points. Here, if you have QuickTime, you can see an interview he did:

Mr. Murtha

John Murtha is the formidable presence democrats need to recognize and support. He speaks with no nonsense and he takes none either.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cancer ethics

The Merck drug company developed a product called Gardasil which is proving 100% effective at fighting the dominant strain of the virus causing cervical cancer.

Hallelully right?

Praise Jeebus right?


It turns out that the Family Research Council feels that administering such a product as part of a national inoculation is no way to promote abstinence and so they are opposing it.

I like to refer to this as masturbatory morality because practicing it is a wholly self-indulgent pleasure.

Isn't it morally indefensible to obstruct life-saving treatments for I-in-the-sky reasons?

If your God really wants you to make people suffer horrible illness, then aren't you worshiping a prick and isn't your servitude loathsome?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Friends and neighbors

When I learned that George W. Bush knew that New Orleans levees had been breached before going to a California fundraiser to play pretend guitar and mug for the cameras my opinion of him hit rock bottom.

The Associated Press now has a tape of our friend "Brownie" warning FEMA and warning the president that Katrina was going to be a big worry.

Please pass this to your friends in Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Who could have predicted that

Dave on George

David Letterman put together a new segment on his program called "George Bush Answers the tough questions":

Watch it here

I thought I would also add a link to support the questioner in the segment.

Congress cuts 12.7 billion from federal student loan program

If president Bush feels student loans need to be cut then he ought to defend his position rather than hide behind rhetoric and insolent smirks.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

On false prophets

I am not a religious person and I don't attend church.

But that doesn't mean I don't try to at least understand a little bit about it for curiosity's sake.

One thing I have been trying to understand are prophets (ones that hear divinely inspired revelations). How would one know whether a prophet were truly a prophet, a deceiver, or one deceived?

If I announce to the world that I can speak with animals ala Dr. Doolittle then I imagine there would be more than a few skeptical of my claim. But, suppose that my claim was truthful and you stood in disbelief.

Perhaps I might convince you of the validity of my claim by interviewing animals of your choice and asking them questions of your choice. Perhaps you and your dog are sole possessors of the details of a quail hunting trip and if I extracted such details you would be swayed.

Both your skepticism and my persuasion seem necessary to turn you into a true believer of my claims. I think that is as it should be.

When it comes to a prophet should we not subject them to the same test? Shouldn't they be called upon to speak with God and ask Him questions on our behalf before we believe their claims?

If God is the Creator and he watches over me and knows all that I do, then one speaking on his behalf ought to be able to correctly answer any question I pose, including things only God and I know the answer to.

At least we could convince ourselves that such a person had access to supernatural knowledge.

Next, I should think, we ought to try to discover if the prophet is an instrument of Satan (whom I presume can trick the prophet into unwitting support).

I am less clear on how to detect a deceived prophet. Perhaps the fruits of his tree (the results of his actions) would have to be examined to see if they promoted harm or not.

But, it seems to me that there is a danger of playing for the wrong team when prophets are accepted without skepticism, which is to say accepted "on faith".

Reason seems necessary to disambiguate a false prophet from a true prophet.

Perhaps that is why we are living in an age of intellectual haters?

Perhaps that is why our good war is being waged behind a curtain?

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin