Thursday, April 27, 2006

Viva HJR0125!

Have you heard about section 603 of the Jefferson's Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives?

You will.

Illuminating Illinois


Zbigniew Brezienski wrote an OpEd for the International Herald Tribune which categorizes the stupidity of preemptively striking Iran and you can read it here:

Do not attack Iran

While I agree with many of his points, I still say the most salient point is that the Bush administration is too incompetent to undertake any more wars.

You can't expect Jimmy Olson to do Superman's job.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The before death

Many religions are focused on the afterlife, but it also seems sensible to fret a bit about the beforedeath period of our existence.

Whatever the rosy scenario that awaits us eternally I see no reason to condemn us in the interim to a waiting room without kindness.

Also interesting to me is the before life period. If I have an immortal soul then how could I possibly have a beginning?

If you think about it either the chicken or the egg must have come first. The same applies to the tree and the seed. The baby or the adult.

Also, I have also not been able to understand why human beings have evolved from both a male and a female. How can it be that two parts of a whole evolved separately, in the same timeframe to within decades, and able to survive and propagate cooperatively?

Perhaps the first humans were androgynous? At least that would decrease the unlikelihood of a man/woman parallel evolution.

They would also have to have been capable of survival from birth. If not, that would of necessity be true for their ancestors until eventually it is true.

I find the creator myth unacceptable as an explanation. Who created the creator? The creator's creator? And so on...

How did we begin?

Isn't that a fascinating puzzle?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8 little general boys

Retired general Paul Van Riper becomes the 8th general to call for Donald Rumsfeld's retirement. Said Mr. Riper, "If I were president I would have relieved him [Mr. Rumsfeld] 3 years ago."

Video here

I say again that president Bush can maintain morale or maintain Rumsfeld but he cannot do both at once.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Neil

Neil Young has a new album coming out and he talks about it here in a CNN segment (hosted by You Tube).

At least one song called "Impeach the President" is bound to discomfit the Bush dead enders (the reds), but if this album
is anything like his previous album it will be supercalifragilisticexpealladocious.

It's a long song

If Neil isn't your thing, then perhaps you'd be interested in this Pink video. She sings a simple, powerful, song live called...

Dear Mr. President

The end seems near for president Bush. He is the nude emperor defiant now and our role is simply to keep up the laughter.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Decider's Blues

President Bush thinks that Donald Rumsfeld is doing a heck of a job. "I'm the decider.", he decidedly says, while ignoring bipartisan and military calls for his dismissal.

I have no idea upon what evidence he bases his opinion, but I assume it has nothing to do with the way things are going in Iraq.

For instance, gunmen in Baghdad entered two primary schools and beheaded two teachers in front of their students.

Details here

If those are the fruits of competent leadership I'll eat my hat.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A good question

Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security and counterterrorism, poses a simple question for Iran war planners.

How would bombing Iran serve American security interests?

In other words, he asks not how, but why.

Bombs That Would Backfire

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Recently I heard an odd noise in the house. When I looked up one of my cats had an intense, but dumb-struck gaze, fixated in the same direction.

I put down my book and followed her gaze and there on the floor was a very young eastern gray squirrel. It was so young it's eyes were not yet open and it seemed rather pissed off about it's isolation.

While my cat Lucille would have been only too happy to keep it company it was not the type I thought the poor little thing would enjoy.

But, what to do?

I captured it. That part was easy enough to decide and to execute.

I assumed that one or two of the squirrels on the lawn constantly assaulting my bird feeder must be it's parent(s). None of my cats were talking under interrogation, but I assumed one of them was the reason a squirrel that belonged on the outside was in the inside of my home.

I conjectured that the thing to do was to take the little guy outside and, as they say, let nature take it's coarse (much more poetic as a typo).

I would look out at the squirrel once in a while as it made circles on the lawn and slowly expanded its range. At one point a cat moved in, but squirrels can make a screech that animals with sensitive hearing don't enjoy. At least that is my guess as to what took place. The cat moved along. Perhaps it considered the challenge beneath it's prowess?

In a while longer I noticed a squirrel in the vicinity. In order not to scare it away I left the window because the mother and child reunion appeared only a motion away.

But then I heard a second screech and as I moved back to the window I saw that the newly arrived squirrel appeared to be having trouble picking up the little tyke.

Or so I thought....

What it was having a spot of difficulty doing was murdering the poor little thing!

This is a clear example of how good intentions and good actions can be thwarted by ignorance of crucial facts.

This is a clear example of why even moral values voters should use Reason if they truly care to express moral behavior.

It is true that fear or ignorance strengthen the likelihood of error, and their combination makes error unavoidable if not attractive.

We stand on the brink of watching these things combined on a nuclear-grand scale, whereas careful attention to the coarse of nature teaches the same lesson.

The blind led by the ignorant do not fare well, whatever the intent of the ignorant.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Listen Donald

"[Donald Rumsfeld] has proved himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

- General Paul Eaton, who oversaw training of Iraqi army troops, 2003-2004 -

"I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him. Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there."

- retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. -

"I think we need a fresh start … We need leadership up there (the Pentagon) that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them."

- Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, 2004-2005 -

"We won't get fooled again … Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach should be replaced."

- Marines Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations of Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2000-2002 -

"The problem is that we've wasted three years … absolutely, Rumsfeld should resign."

- Marines Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command -

"A lot of them [other generals] are hugely frustrated. Rumsfeld gave the impression that military advice was neither required nor desired" in the planning for the Iraq war."

- Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, former commander of Marines forces in the Pacific Theater -

"Everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out. [Rumsfeld and his advisers have] made fools of themselves, and totally underestimated what would be needed for a sustained conflict."

- Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs -

Click here for an article discussing the significance of such statements.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bunker Bluster

What would attacking Iran with nuclear bunker busters mean for Iran's neighbors?

According to this video by the Union of Concerned Scientists, about 3 million people dead in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.

Whama Bama bOOM Boom

That's the trouble with nukes.

Very large explosions do not qualify as a plan.

Hatred is not a plan.

I say again that the motives of the Bush administration are irrelevant. To borrow a Clintonism, "It's the incompetence stupid".

Osama free, pentagon spying on gays

It is curious to me that military officers swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States and yet a program at the pentagon has been spying on Americans organizing against the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Are gay people flying hijacked planes into tall buildings?

Don't we hand Osama a victory when we abandon the freedoms he reportedly "can't stand" without a fight?

What are we fighting for?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A quartet

Retired Major General John Batiste makes the fourth US general to publicly call for Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal:

Don you incompetent slut

Mr. Rumsfeld should have been fired a long time ago and the president can no longer sustain morale and Mr. Rumsfeld both.

Loyalty is generally commendable but it is tragic when carried too far. America's national security interests must come before Mr. Rumsfeld's hurt feelings.

I sez about Iran

Everywhere I look these days I see stories about Iran.

We're going to bomb Iran they say.

Our "plan" is apparently to bomb them and then the people of Iran will welcome us as liberators, then rise up and "regime change" their leaders.

Oh brother.

Albert Einstein had the perfect response for that one:

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

It is my view that we do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons for the same reason we do not let children play with guns. It is also true, however, that we have a president in the whitehouse that couldn't orchestrate the complicated insertion of a pretzel in his mouth without choking.

Yes. Iran's president is insane and would no sooner have a nuclear weapon than he would be threatening our ally Israel. However, we can't send deputy Fife to do Andy Griffith's job.

The Bush administration has been such a catastrophic failure that I view their motives as irrelevant. The more important the venture, the less I want them to take it on.

What I sez is:

1. We admit that this is about Israel and about oil. We defend our allies and we need oil and no more needs to be said.

2. We suggest that Israel join NATO. Iran will then know an attack on one is an attack on all.

3. Oil dependence and oil wars are linked. We should about-face and raise CAFE standards, put windmills on every cell-phone tower, give tax breaks for solar panels, decentralize our power grid, convert government fleets to zero emission vehicles, develop tidal sources of electricity, and point this nation to the inevitable future.

4. We allow existing nuclear power plants to be replaced with modern facilities that also produce hydrogen. If we're gonna have them, let's have them as safe as possible. We should also fund research into nuclear waste re-use and decontamination. Let's set a goal of say, 50 years before we either shut down what we have (because research hasn't eliminated unsafe waste) or expand what we have.

5. Let us be guided by our successes rather than our failures. Historically embargos combined with inspections do a terrific job of containment. That should be our plan for Iran.

6. We also need a carrot. The historical carrot is technology.

In short this plan uses historically successful methods to deal with the immediate problem and simultaneously addresses the underlying conflict by making America energy self-sufficient.

The day we no longer need a product that enriches our enemies is a day we start to breathe easier.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trouble in the forest

There is disquiet in the woods.

Yet another general has come forward to call for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. Yet another general has said this administration is trying to fight a war with rhetoric and it is costing us lives.

Recently retired Marine Corps lieutenant general Greg Newbold says:

"I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda."


"The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right."


"To be sure, the Bush Administration and senior military officials are not alone in their culpability. Members of Congress--from both parties--defaulted in fulfilling their constitutional responsibility for oversight. Many in the media saw the warning signs and heard cautionary tales before the invasion from wise observers like former Central Command chiefs Joe Hoar and Tony Zinni but gave insufficient weight to their views."


Read entire editorial here

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More Masturbatory Morality

Somehow 80% of evangelical Christians feel they are "under attack" in America. This is in spite of the fact the president of the United States is an evangelical Christian.

This is in spite of the fact that God's Own Party controls both houses of Congress and just installed superstition servants in the Supreme Court.

They should be under attack for their bigoted, intolerant, violent, science-harassing, red-faced angry crusades.

For the latest, click here

But they are not:

* Ballparks sing "God bless America" in open contradiction to their delusions.

* Our money says, in McCarthyite glory, "In God we trust" right on it.

* Christmas songs assault the airwaves every December.

* Jerry Fallwell would be in an insane asylum if he weren't considered religious instead of crazy.

* There are campaigns to preach the Bible in science classes (creationism is plagiarised from the wisdom of Solomon).

* Churches are not taxed.

* The federal government is now handing out tax money to religious charities.

These are all signs, dear readers, that evangelical Christians are not under attack.

It is homosexuals that are under attack.

Are they not creations of God to evangelicals?

Monday, April 10, 2006

How Democrats win

I find the consistent combination of arrogance and inaptitude present in Washington democratic strategists nearly as frustrating as Donald Rumsfeld's when it comes to Iraq.

I'm not sure how many elections democrats are prepared to lose before they seek out consultants with successful track records, but when and if they are ready they should be prepared to hear David Sirota.

In this article he proposes a winning strategy that has actually won in point of fact, and not just in some self-promoter's imagination:

Getting off a dead horse

I'll paraphrase his "seven lessons" here, but you should read his article:

1. Fight the class war (promote economic justice).

2. Champion small business over big business (protect economic opportunity).

3. Protect Tom Joad (don't punish small farms with corporate handouts).

4. Turn the hunters and the exurbs green (protect natural recreational opportunities from land barons).

5. Become a Teddy Roosevelt clone (be for responsible businesses big or small).

6. Clean up government (promote transparency, stop no-bid contracts, spend public money on public needs).

7. Use the values prism (maintain your ethical principles and use them when speaking about issues).

There it is a platform with a proven record of success. Anyone that rejects these ideas as fringe ought to examine Joe Lieberman's popularity as a candidate in the last election.

Now that's fringe!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Double standards

On July 7, 2005 bombers killed 52 people in London.

The western world was outraged, condemned the bombings, sent state condolences, and there was constant international news coverage.

On April 7, 2006 bombers killed 79 Iraqis and injured 158 in a triple suicide bombing.

The western world shrugs its shoulders and says next to nothing.

The most conservative estimate I can find shows that at least 10 times more Iraqis were killed via the Iraq war than died on 9/11.

And things continue to get worse.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Kerry on Libby

I think it was Mark Twain that said, "A lie can cross the ocean before the Truth can put its' sneakers on".

Denis Diderot said, "We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter."

Now that the election of 2004 is long behind us, now that we're mired in Iraq and wallowing in national debt the US press is starting to reveal sneaker-clad Truths to the American people.

Here you can see Chris Matthews of Hardball ask John Kerry about Truths he, particularly, must find bitter. If the American voter only knew then what he knows now...

Find the leaker George

John McCain on the spot

Jon Stewart admires John McCain because he takes strong stands on issues like campaign finance, torture, global warming, and fiscal responsibility.

When John McCain agreed to go down to "crazy base world" and speak at Jerry Fallwell's Liberty University Jon put John on the spot.

See John Squirm

Clearly John McCain wants to have it both ways, calling himself a maverick and pandering to religious fanatics, calling Bush campaign tactics "dirty" and then hiring two of his campaign people.

You can't have it both ways with Jon and it is one of my favorite things about him. He'll call you on it when you are a, (what's the word?)....Hypocrite.

Mandatory coverage

Massachusetts lawmakers just approved a bill to require residents to have health insurance.

I don't think I like that idea because it seems to confuse the effect with the cause, and then to prescribe the wrong cure.

What Americans need is health care not health insurance. Why reward the middlemen?

Here's to your health

What's to stop lawmakers from passing laws requiring residents to buy citrus fruit or exercise-gym memberships?

Can any lobby get lawmakers to make their wares mandatory, or just insurance industry lobbyists?

I want people to have health care, but this law strikes me as a Faustian victory and I will maintain my skepticism until I see happy citizens to go along with the happy lobbyists.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grand Old Pervert

Here are two news stories that go together like peas in a pod.

1. Sex tourism is thriving in the Bible Belt:

Brittany aged 16

2. Brian J. Doyle, the deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was arrested Tuesday for using the Internet to seduce what he thought was a teenage girl:

Soliciting teen sex

My wife feels there is so much corruption in the republican party right now that all the petty crimes could dilute the significance of the truly egregious ones, or else inflict corruption-fatigue upon voters.

I'm not sure where to file this crime, but it sets a pretty low bar for official behavior.

Moral values voters my arse!

Thorns do not grow on a lemon tree.

The promise of Genetics

It is tempting, as science leaps and bounds beyond our layman comprehension, to seek refuge from change in the unchanging.

Genetic engineering in particular is a field that generates much refuge seeking.

Genetic engineers are partly to blame for allowing market forces to advance life forces, and for arrogantly dismissing valid safety concerns regarding allergic reactions, super weeds, mono cultures, and human cloning.

However, we now seem to be on the verge of life-improving advances in medicine that are great and good.

Doctors have constructed 7 bladders from 7 patient's own cells and implanted them back into the patients with "good long-term results in all of them."

Not all bad

Just imagine the potential!

How about growing a new heart with good long-term results?

How about replacing that bad kidney with a fresh one?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lonely Russ

Russ Feingold has been unsupported by DC-area democrats as he tries to get a Censure resolution passed in the Senate.

I don't know why that is.

He is intelligent, capable, and makes morally and legally sound arguments. For instance, read his statement on the call to censure:

Constitutionally Correct

If you think about it many Americans have little in common. Life in Alaska, say, is very different from life in Florida. The people are different, the environment is different, the landmass isn't geographically continuous, and the culture is very different.

What unites them as Americans is the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights. In Alaska as well as in Florida you may speak freely, worship freely, carry guns, and peacefully assemble.

When the president breaks the laws unchallenged how can he expect to hold this nation united? When he does so he assaults social cohesion itself. He also sets the unpatriotic example that our democratic principles are worthy of contempt.

That DC democrats would abandon Russ shows an acquired lack of understanding of their purpose (which is to promote Justice).

A hero is not a man that engages a fight only when overwhelmingly confident of victory. A hero is a man that does what is right, prospects be damned.

To Become an American

A fantastic article about US immigration which says, essentially, the US does it right and we shouldn't trash our system to be more like France.

To Become an American

Thanks to Kevin Drum for posting the link.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A tip of the cap

This MSN headline is such a naked display of partisanship and creative use of propaganda that I must admit I am impressed:

Will DeLay withdrawal hurt Democrats?

Is MSN kidding?

Does it hurt?

It feels fantastic!

"Good riddance to bad rubbish", I sez.

Advancing the fear frontiers

I remember that last summer there were lots of rumors circulating that the United States would go to war with Iran.

This year seems to be no different and DEBKAfile is reporting that British military chiefs believe a US-led strike against Iran is inevitable.

That would be unbelievably stupid since Iran would likely respond by striking at our still insufficient Iraq force.

Iran Ho?

What makes one pause is a president that seems comfortable with failure.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Abortion rates rise

An ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary finds that abortion rates have risen during George W. Bush's presidency and the increase is linked to economic inequality:

Told ya so

It is a myth to think that Republicans are pro-life when their economic policies cause a rise in abortion rates. To support their economic policies is to support an increase in the abortion rate.

To believe otherwise is to suffer from delusion.

People generally have children either to increase their own happiness or because they are ignorant about birth control methods.

When you can't make ends meet working full-time, or when you cannot keep up with health-care premiums, an event highly unlikely to increase your happiness is another mouth to feed.

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin