Friday, December 21, 2007

Subterranean wonder of Italy

Here is interesting art news. As far as I can tell it is a true story.

World's Eighth wonder?

Every once in a while you see crazy benefit humanity.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pat Condell to "Islamofascists"

I'm not sure who Pat Condell is or what triggered this speech, but there is something about this which seems new. YouTube is a global soap-box, but unlike those found in public places, it is a soapbox you intentionally encounter.

Here is Pat with a message to "Islamofascists". You will likely learn a few British put-downs:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


When Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace prize, here is what he said:

Al's Speech

Imagine how different the world would be if Al Gore was president.

It's easy if you try.

The Supreme Court of 2000 has a lot to answer for.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Prison Nation

The opening paragraph to this New York Times article dropped my jaw:

"About one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year, the Department of Justice reported yesterday."

More here

4.7% of American adults were in prison, jail, or supervised release at the end of last year.


The U.S. now leads the world in incarcerations per capita.


Here are some explorations to help realize the enormity of these numbers:

Fenway Park holds 38,805 people when sold out. 4.7% of 38,805 people is 1,823 people.

If one in 31 adults was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year and you were at a party with 8 people in it the odds are 77% percent that one person does not belong to that group (assuming the party-goers represent a random cross-section of the population)

(30 / 31) ^ 8 = 77%

If the party has 16 people in it (about the size of a hockey team) the odds become 59%, and at two dozen people the odds are 45%.

A football team has 53 players (with 11 on the field). That's a 17.6% group.

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will now seat 467 people. That's a 0.00002% group.

Effusive thanks are extended to Roger, who was persuaded to de-dumb my probability efforts. You can read interesting analysis by Roger on the 2004 election:

Here and here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On wet wood

Is waterboarding torture?

Of course it is.

Anybody that uses this practice in America's name brings dishonor to himself and his nation. To fail to "keep the honor clean of the U.S. Marine" is a dereliction of leadership which leads to a crisis of morale.

Low morale often leads to stories like these.

Waterboarding is torture and the legal justification for that assertion is straightforward. The U.S. government is a signatory to the "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment". We signed it and are therefore obligated by law to uphold it.

We are not, and the president Bush has no Constitutional authority to break treaties. He may escape his due Justice due to Nancy Pelosi's exasperating sense of duty, but engaging in waterboarding (aka Chinese water torture) makes the United States of America a liar and a criminal.

Why pretend otherwise?

When you share the moral stage with Communist agents, Nazi war criminals, and witch hunters it is base to expect applause.

So why give it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

All the same to you?

Question 1

A father does not like the way his daughter dresses so he strangles her to death. When the police arrive the girl's brother fights with them trying to prevent their entry.

Is this family:

A) Amish
B) Christian
C) Muslim

Answer here

Question 2

A woman is raped and this rape transfers shame unto her family due to societal customs. Therefore the father and/or brother of this rape victim murders her and it is considered honorable.

This family lives in:

A) Canada
B) Spain
C) Pakistan

Answer here

Question 3

Which "Holy Book" advises, "Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not"

A) The Christian Bible
B) The Buddhist Tripitaka
C) The Koran

Answer here

Question 4

"On January 23 , 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan. He was scheduled to meet with a source, but it turned out to be a trap. For the next month, his colleagues, friends, and family searched for him frantically, and then a video arrived. It depicted Pearl admitting that he was Jewish and culminated in his on-screen decapitation by..."

A) Franciscan monks
B) Islamic militants
C) Christian anti-abortion militants

Answer here (PDF)

What is the lesson to be drawn from a sober reflection of these answers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

San Francisco Treat

Here is some guitar playing by a friend of mine that often plays in the San Francisco area. If you like ragtime music and prefer it played with gusto, then you'll enjoy the music of Craig Ventresco

If, perhaps you prefer Spanish-flavored guitar, then voila, here you go:

And here is a sentimental favorite:

And finally, a fine duet and novelty song:

Thanks YouTube. It's been a while since I've seen my ol' friend strummin' around.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Corpocracy is here

Serious people that don't like what they see when they look at Wall Street and tell their fellow Americans about it have a way of becoming "Ross Perot'd", that is, they fall from the good graces of the plutocrats.

That hasn't happened in Mr. Monks case, perhaps because his illuminations reliably precede catastrophes (like Tyco's rocky fall from the good graces of investors). Now, this former appointee of Ronald Reagan is warning that democracy is taking a back seat to what is supposed to be a means and not an end (i.e. a corporation).

Here is a link to an article which discusses some of Mr. Monks views at Corporate Crime Reporter: Monk on a Mission

I haven't read my copy yet, but I look forward to doing so soon. If I have pricked your interest click the above picture to be taken to the Amazon page where you can purchase a copy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Solidifying democracy's defeat

Have you heard of Senate Bill 1959, known also as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007?

Here are the full details

Think un-American activities commission and you begin to get the gist of what it is, except this bill goes much further and has the scope to criminalize thoughts.

I expect this bill wishes to criminalize political Islam within the United States, but the trouble is the bill is so broadly worded as to criminalize whatever whim strikes those with the power to enforce it.

Perhaps some examples...

If Mitt Romney becomes president and decides non-Mormon Christians are radical then they would be arrested.

If Hillary Clinton becomes president and decides Norman Podhertz has a "radical agenda" then he would be arrested.

If Rudolph the red-nosed Giuliani becomes president and decides that gun owners are "adopting an extremist belief system" then they would be arrested.

If Ron Paul becomes president and decides that democrats are "trying to coerce the civilian population of the United States in furtherance of political objectives" then they would be arrested.

Is it wise to give that much power to people that crave it as cravenly as politicians?

Friday, December 07, 2007

What a believing Mormon believes...

Mitt Romney is a Mormon and a believing Mormon believes this about black people...

That black skin is a curse from God for being descended from an evil race of people.

It is said that, "As a man believes so will he act."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

N.I.E. on Iran

N.I.E. stands for National Intelligence Estimate. It is the term paper, if you will, of our N.I.C., which stands for National Intelligence Council, on some subject.

In this case, the subject is Iran's nuclear intentions (PDF)

The N.I.E. contradicts the president Bush and his bluster regarding Iran so the republican response is twofold Blame the messenger and Keep up the pressure

Do these misguided liars aspire to make of our world a throne of ashes?

When does Ms. Pelosi expect to take up the responsibility associated with her office?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The core of hell

I think that Dante was wrong about hell, but that it wasn't his fault. They didn't have electronic gadgets back in his day. How could he have known that deep down in the bowels of hell there would be a core used to cruelly torture scientists that brought blinking and beeping things into this world?

I cite two recent examples and leave you to consider them:

1. I have on my new car a safety feature called Dynamic Stability Control. It is a whiz-bang feature that improves handling in slippery conditions. However, when it engages an icon flashes three times in yellow. Blink. Blink. Blink.


At a moment that I am slipping and sliding my dashboard wants to distract my attention from my driving to tell me that I am slipping.

This engineer, I sez, will be subjected to the special torments of the core of hell. As his feet, say, are placed in the brimstone an icon on the wall will flash warning him about the temperature. An insistent beep will beep beep beep along with the blink blink blink. The devil jailor will grin.

2. While shopping for band-aids recently a motion-activated advertising gizmo blurted out a verbal assault upon my person in a child's voice. It wanted me to take interest in a purple-whatzit to cover my "ouchie". It took the trouble to repeat this helpful advice every thirty seconds. If I had a hammer that thing would have been a pile of plastic fragments wrapped in purple whatzit. Needless to say I moved on without making a purchase of band-aids.

The marketer, and the engineer, which inflicted this scourge upon the rest of us will be subjected to the special torments of the core of hell. As their sides are pierced with hot pokers they will hear helpful advice every thirty seconds offering them purple whatzits.

Again, I don't blame Dante, since how could he have forseen such monstrous behavior?

Friday, November 30, 2007

CIA Operation Pincer

Is the CIA "going operational" with a plan to destabilize Venezuela?

Operation Pincer

This would be a lot of people to harm just so oil companies can earn even more obscene profits at our expense isn't it?

Aren't we supposed to make the world safe for democracy?

Is the US now going to destabilize all nations that use national resources for the benefit of their citizens?

Look out Norway! In fact all you Slavic people best be on your guard. Don't think we'ze don't know what yur a doin' over thar' jes because it's cold. We knows. We seize eva'thang.

ADDENDUM: Embassy official accused of trying to sway public opinion

Right on time?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Too greedy

I don't eat a lot at Burger King but after reading this story I am going to eat nothing from Burger King. When greed goes this far there should be a response. So, however humble my one-man boycott may be, I am going to do it anyway.

An avalanche can start with a pebble can it not?

Scrooging migrant workers

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Generally speaking you gain political power by preying, or praying, on People's fears. To cite two examples, the fear of death turned into the power of religion and the fear of poverty turned into the power of communism.

It struck me that as I thought about power that America's enemies and America's politicians are invoking the same methods against us. That is, the power to divide is the power to conquer whether you are employing a "red state" political strategy or waging a holy war for the glorification of an imaginary friend and his poet.

I began to wonder...

How can America defeat the external threat of religious extremism abroad, while pandering to it at home (see, for instance, John McCain's supplications)?

How can America promote cooperation abroad while miring itself in partisan bickering at home?

Have we become too divided to stand?

Is there that which unites us anymore?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It is getting to be the time of year for "Best of" lists, so, here are some of my favorite rebukes of the Bush administration (since 2000):

Channel Surfing the Apocalypse (love the banjo):

Will Ferrel as George Bush on a ranch in Texas:

Stephen Colbert Roasting the president Bush:

2006 White House Correspondents Dinner

And an excerpt from the final scene of the Chaplin masterpiece The Great Dictator, written to skewer Hitler and Mussolini but applicable to all training-wheel tyrants that want to turn the clock of human progress backwards:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Edwards onto something

John Edwards' campaign is onto something with the "Politics of Parsing" pieces.

Here is installment two

Cha cha cha

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is author of the books Infidel and The Caged Virgin: An emancipation proclamation for Women and Islam.

Not surprisingly she has become so much the target of Islamic wrath that she needs a security detail 24/7 to protect her from the "religion of peace". The Dutch government used to provide such security, but when she traveled to the U.S. for safety's sake the Dutch revoked her detail and announced it to the world, placing her in grave danger.

Sam Harris has set up a website with an urgent appeal for donations to cover her security costs:

Helping Ayaan

A little-discussed fact, for some reason, is that there are no more committed enemies of Islamic fascism than liberals. Islam cannot tolerate multi-culturalism. Islam cannot tolerate feminism. Islam cannot tolerate free inquiry. Islam cannot tolerate secularism. This is why New York is despised by Islam. This is why London, too, was attacked. Jihadists can't stand freedom so they can't stand liberals.

Ayaan is in danger because she is a committed to freedom and here is the question you must answer: "Is it important to give aid to a voice that challenges the barbarism of political Islam or isn't it?"

Time is critical now that the Dutch have shamefully deemed toleration of intolerance a virtue.

My global warming

Ever wonder what would happen to your neck of the woods if/when sea levels rise in response to glacial melting?

Wonder no more. Here is a link to a site that displays an interactive map adjusted for user-selected flood levels.

How high's the water mama?

Imagine the potential for disaster planning.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why protest?

I suppose I blog because it is my way of publicly acknowledging that I do not agree with the behavior of the Bush administration. I do not agree that we should torture abroad and suspend habeas corpus at home. I do not agree that Iran poses a serious threat to America. I don't agree that Iraq attacked us on 9/11. I do not agree that politicizing the department of Justice is good for America. I do not agree that striving to "drown government in a bathtub" is a good way to govern. I do not agree that supporting the troops means cheerleading incompetence.

The war in Iraq is something I find particularly exasperating. The reality is that our objectives in Iraq don't matter a whit because the president's incompetence exceeds all challenges placed before it. Furthermore the specific challenge of Iraq has been hopelessly doomed. Look at this recent news, for instance:

Clashes between rival Shiite Muslim militias in the holy city of Karbala today killed at least 50 people, torched three hotels and prompted Iraqi authorities to order the evacuation of more than 1 million pilgrims from the shrine where they had gathered.

More than 150 people were injured in the helter-skelter panic that followed random gunfire by militants in the Mahdi Army loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr and those of the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

....The death toll threatened to climb, with witnesses reporting dozens of bodies in the streets surrounding the Imam Hussein shrine and amid the smoldering rubble of the three buildings set on fire during the rampage.


Every day seems to bring worse news from Iraq but everyone in Washington talks as if Iraq is a land somewhere over the rainbow where bluebirds sing.

President Bush does not seem like he will ever learn from his mistakes and I cannot imagine how he ever kicked the alcohol habit with denial like he possesses. I hear admitting you have a problem is the first step one must take.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good and Beautiful things...

At times when life presses in with its burdens it pays to be aware of the Good and Beautiful things that surround us.

Here is one such story about a cat named Sergeant Podge:

A little pick-me-up

And here is a 15-lateral football play in which Trinity U. defeats Millsaps 28-24 with two seconds left to play:

Here's a video about Moebius Transformations which is engaging to watch:

And we end with a crowd-pleasing link to a video of a hockey brawl that is seriously out of control. Perhaps it is neither Good nor Beautiful, but it is incredible to see.

Halifax Jr. Fight

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Down in Memphis

One of the things that struck me as I toured Memphis, Tenn. last year was how many people were homeless.

One other thing also struck me. It seems that in order for a homeless person to get a bed for the night they must come up with about 7 dollars. The effect of this is predictable. All the panhandlers for miles ask not for change, but for 7 dollars.

The local political response seems to have been to post signs asking citizens not to give money to pan-handlers. This would be the 7 dollars they need for a bed thanks to their earlier policies.

We have the mouse eating the cheese and the cat eating the mouse.

The next step is easy to predict. Police will begin dogging tourists that respond to pleas for money.

This will not likely be a boon to tourism. Perhaps this will even create even more homelessness?

In Florida people have been arrested for feeding the homeless. Perhaps they have already taken steps one and two and are now moving to criminalize compassion:

Details here

There are always so many obstacles to behaving well in this world of ours that I don't enjoy stories like this.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Let the bar raise!

I hate to scapegoat our media for the mess the US is currently in, when it is of course the Bush administration and republican ideology that deserve the lion's share of blame, but every once in a while a story comes along which is so important for it's unimportance that it speaks volumes. Such a story has just appeared in the Washington Post, a paper which in my opinion reached a new low.

They wrote a story about Hillary Clinton's boobies: Tits to win?

Then, rather than apologize and correct for the lack of judgement, they tried to defend the nonsense (here) with an article that begins "A journalistic assessment of Hillary Clinton's cleavage became the most improbable presidential campaign controversy yet".

I will take my response no further than to point out that you cannot conflate "journalistic assessment" and "cleavage" in the same sentence if you want to maintain credibility. You will hold your readers attention, Janet-Jackson-like perhaps, but do people take their news from Janet Jackson?

In the interest of journalistic thoroughness may I suggest a few more topics of national importance which the Post must assess?

  • Just exactly how large of an imprint, in square inches, does the backside of Karl Rove make at the beach? What is the volume in cubic centimeters? How many yards of cloth does his tailor use to make his pants?
  • What is causing the sickly pallor of John McCain? It seems to have come on about the time he "made nice" with the president. Is he still in possession of his soul?
  • How is Condi Rice's bust-line holding up these days? We have been treated to an article about her boots and her shoe purchases but her titties have been sadly devoid of thorough journalistic attention.
  • Is Joe Biden a Pomade man or does he prefer Dapper Dan?
  • How much does president Bush pay for his haircuts?
  • Certainly Madeline Albright must have had days where her hem-line was a little higher. Are there any articles in the archives equating that with saucy teasing? What about for Margaret Thatcher?
"Tisk, tisk!", I sez, and "Tut, tut!"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Impeachment for Cheney?

Articles of impeachment for Richard B. Cheney have been brought to the floor of the House by Ohio's Dennis Kucinich. Here he is reading them:

A. B. C. Impeach Cheney

Most people seem to know it should be done, yet everyone politely pretends not to notice.

Most everyone, that is.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Not many political ads can lay a claim to beauty, but that is really quite a masterwork:

It shows both why I don't care for Hillary Clinton and why John Edwards is my favorite.

I watched it again and again.

If you would like to see it again try the official version where you can also support the Edwards for president campaign:

La la la la laaaaaa
Ba da bump.
Ba da bump.
Ba da bump, da dump dump.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Candies and Flowers

Here are a few memorable lies told to us about Iraq:

We would be welcomed with candies and flowers. We would be welcomed as liberators. Gratitude would name boulevards in Iraq after American presidents. This war would be short, sweet, and self-financing.

Iraq could attack us with their stockpiles of WMDs.
Iraq could pass their WMDs off to al Qaeda.
Mushroom clouds could blacken our skies.

We'll turn a corner just as soon as we get Saddam.
We'll turn a corner just as soon as Iraqis vote.
We'll turn a corner when we kill al-Zarqawi.

The lies keep coming and coming and coming from the president Bush and his administration. When caught in a lie they lie, then lie about it.

According to Andrew Tilghman, even the presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is "a myth":

Story here

Haven't you had enough?

You aren't going to keep listenting to tall tales about Iran, about progress, about valuing the opinions of commanders "on the ground" are you?

Where is the tipping point, the straw that breaks the camel's back, the cry of wolf rejected?

Stop believing him. Stop pretending he has credibility. Stop it!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Covering sick children

Here is an analysis of the health care debate over SCHIP. It was prepared by the Rockridge Institute which rethinks progressive politics:

Which Child Left Behind?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The U.S. does torture

The Bush administration has aggressively pursued the power to torture since their bottoms first warmed oval office chairs. The documentary record is so extensive in this regard it renders protestations to the contrary "quaint".

The United States of America, with the president Bush at its' helm, does torture.


Nothing says Power like the unfettered ability to Torture. It is the Unholy Grail of unchecked and unbalanced authority.

A detailed discussion here

The object of torture is torture.

The power to torture is the power of the tyrant.


Governments that set up illegaly-operated concentration camps like Guantanamo usually turn into tyrannies.

It is decidedly un-American, and a story like this is a stake in the heart of America's identity.

Do you think of torture when you see the Statue of Liberty in New York's harbor?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Justice on sale

Corporatism is corporate power replacing government power, which effectively erodes civilian power. Mussolini thought corporatism better described fascist Italy.

If you look at the FISA story it is fundamentally a story about AT&T and other "TelComs" purchasing immunity from elected officials in order to escape a court decision:

Details here

When the rule of law is up for sale then we no longer have a Justice system to be proud of. If this kind of thing isn't reigned in, we won't have much of a democracy either.

I have said repeatedly the one word which defines democrats at their best is Justice. When they fight for social Justice or economic Justice or the rule of law they are fulfilling their raison d'etre. If Harry Reid is mixed up in this then he is setting the worst possible example for his party.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cheney sez...

"Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state [Iran] fulfills its grandest ambitions."

US vice president Cheney
Sunday, Oct. 21

Edwards said...

Here is what John Edwards had to say about Hillary Clinton's vote cast in support of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment:

Evidently, Senator Clinton and I learned two very different lessons from the Iraq war. I learned that if you give President Bush even an inch of authority, he will use it to sanction a war. As the New Yorker recently reported, the administration is actively preparing plans to attack Iran. Despite this clear evidence, Congress recently passed a bill to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, a bill Senator Clinton supported and that takes this nation one step closer to war. While Senator Clinton tries to argue both sides of the issue, the truth is her vote opens the door for the president to attack Iran. I believe we must not allow the president to use force against Iran when so many other diplomatic and economic options are still available.


Leadership when it matters is the only kind that is relevant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumbledore's closet

Here is a saucy bit of news for those who appreciate JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels:

Dumbledore, the Merlin-like character whom is headmaster of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, is gay.

JK sez...

I'll bet there was a moment of inhalation that would have sucked a hot-air baloon out of the sky.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is Blackwater a terrorist organization?

When I look at the way that Blackwater comports itself in Iraq, stealing from the Iraqi government, staying when asked to leave, gunning down 17 Iraqi citizens, and inspiring riots in Fallujah, I'm left wondering what the Bush administration has unleashed.

Should the international community declare Blackwater a terrorist organization? If not, why not?

What separates Blackwater from Hamas?

What if the US decides to leave Iraq but Blackwater decides to stay, or vice-versa?

Blackwater appears to be facilitating the practice of torture flights, a practice that disgraces America and weakens our alliances with Western nations.

Who holds Blackwater accountable?

How dependable are Blackwater loyalties?

Can the US be made to pay retribution for Blackwater actions?

Will Blackwater turn its guns on American citizens once the war is over?

This isn't a slippery slope it is a cliff-leap.

Red Sox headed to World Series

The Red Sox eliminated the Cleveland Indians in game 7 of their division series and are now World Series bound.

They will be facing the Colorado Rockies in a 7 game series that starts Wednesday evening.

And the Red Sox closer looks like this:

Johnathan Papelbon

So there is optimism in Boston.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

To the Yankees

I would just like to say to the New York Yankees:

I know you feel you are the center of the baseball universe and that the other teams revolve around you,


Please hold your baseball news, like that surrounding Joe Torre, until after the playoffs are done.

Have some class!

Friday, October 19, 2007


The closest thing I've read to Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist is a book by Neil Gaiman called Neverwhere.

It has legendary villains and makes heroes of those that fall through society's cracks. It takes the phrase "London Underground" to new depths, creating a whole world out of forgotten subway stops, abandoned sewer projects, and also by taking names like "Earl's Court" quite literally.

This book is, "A lightning strike of imaginative power", sez I, "and fans of Dickens are sure to love it".

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is Information Shock Prevention?

Naomi Kline, a Canadian journalist, has written a new book called "The Shock Doctrine" which dissects the economic ideas of Milton Friedman. His ideas seem to be self-justification for unbridled greed, which can only be devotedly followed when one closes his heart and mind to the suffering caused by them.

Alfonso Cuaron has produced a short film with Naomi that illustrates the gist of the idea. It's emotional power to length quotient is exceedingly high.

Naomi believes that information is shock prevention. I, however, disagree that information is sufficient therapy in a world where the love of Truth grows colder every day. I used to think that was so until George W. Bush was reelected by a majority of American voters in the "information age".

I think the diagnosis is unbridled greed, which would imply a prescription of extraordinary Generosity. Simple human kindness is missing from these schemes.

Simple human kindness.

And the pop song asks: "Where did all the good people go?"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A capable spy

If the president Bush were a traitor or a spy you'd have to admire his competence. He took over a country at peace that was "paying down the defecit too fast" and proceeded to turn it into a world-wide target of political Islam while simultaneously weakening relationships with our allies.

That is a pretty good one-two punch to America's gut, and taking steps to crush the laws which make us free and the ideas which make us strong, is another effective blow.

In the meantime he has built up a russian-style network of ring-kissing cronies and appointed them to positions well beyond the grasp of their talents. This has meant a decrease in our capacity to respond to emergencies on American soil at a time when a good argument for doing the opposite exists.

He has also, curiously and on more than one occasion, taken steps to turn the fury and focus of our armed forces away from Osama's network.

Bill Scher over at Liberal Oasis has a post detailing many such moves:

Defying Pa's Plans

And Peter Bergen reminds us of the counter-productive nature of many current policies:

How Osama got away

And then there is this curious story:

Leaking ship of state

When one considers that most of these events are not the result of inaction, but instead of consistent action, one begins to wonder if this is incompetent leadership or competent betrayal.

At least that is so when the one in question is I.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An obscene veto

Did you know that, "according to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans - including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans - support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program".

Did you know that George W. Bush vetoed such expansion on the grounds that government would succeed and that would be bad?


Paul Krugman tells you all you wanted to know about Bushian (conservative?) ideology but were afraid to ask:

An Immoral Philosophy

When the president Bush's policies produce more sick children at higher cost to the taxpayer and conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want, then how can the president Bush justify his actions to conservatives?

If there were credible republican support for these measures then they would sail through Congress and handily defeat a veto.

It must be, then, that republican lawmakers are more interested in crony-capitalism than cost control, payola schemes than federalist memes.

Where have traditional conservatives, by which I mean socially conscious and fiscally conservative voters, gone?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two books

With the weather turning colder and the nights growing longer I thought you might be looking for something to read.

I have recently read two books that I enjoyed very much. The first was...

The Last Town on Earth
, by Thomas Mullen

It is a novel that describes what happens to a small town that tries to cut itself off from the outside world during the Spanish influenza of 1918. As unlikely as this might seem, it is a thrilling page-turner of a book.

The second book was...

Flight, by Sherman Alexie

It is a book about what it means to find a home where you belong, as well as a tale of seething anger transformed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Can I get an Amen?

If you watched "The Corporation" you might remember one of the businessmen interviewed by the name of Ray Anderson. He runs a successful carpeting company.

When he looked at the impact his company, Interface, had on the environment what he came up with shocked him. He then set a goal for turning his company into one that is "a sustainable operation that takes nothing out of the earth that cannot be recycled or quickly regenerated, and that does no harm to the biosphere."

He is a good part of the way to his goal and, thanks to the efficiency efforts required to turn his company astern, it is good for his bottom line.

James Carville often chastised democratic candidates for opposing without proposing, and I often feel the weight of that challenge on my shoulders.

Isn't it uplifting to find that following your beliefs is good for the earth and for People and for business too? Of course, that makes it all the more damning that modern companies largely fight EPA regulation reflexively, but a movement requires those that lead by example.

My hat is off to Ray Anderson for daring to act on those new-found beliefs at no small risk. His efforts may serve to blaze the way for others.

Full Story Here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Woody's Devotion

Woody Guthrie couldn't stand Irving Berlin. He thought his songs were too sentimental, too fancy. Most of all he seemed to dislike "God Bless America".

In defiance of Irving he wrote his own devotional song to America and he called it, "This Land is Your Land".

Here is a terrific version of Woody's classic sung by another defiant one, Bruce Springstein, who calls it "the greatest song ever written about America ... that gets right to the heart of the promise about what America is supposed to be about."

Here is a verse that Woody wrote and Bruce didn't sing

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

That in itself is interesting, since most people don't sing this verse (but Bruce did):

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Bruce has been speaking out and speaking up for a good long time. The line in the video which caught my attention is, "With a country, just like with people, it's easy to let the best of yourself slip away."

Plato urged us to, "Remember the Good". Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be True." Bruce tells us, "It's easy to let the best of yourself slip away."

What has always united Americans has been our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It represents "the Good" in this land of ours. Here's hoping it doesn't slip away.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What goes up...

It is said that what goes up must come down.

Last month, six W80-1 nuclear-armed AGM-129 advanced cruise missiles went up from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and came down in Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.

Did six come down?

This news story reports that it was 5 nuclear warheads: See Here

Are we missing one?

In this analysis of the event Explosive Implications the care with which these bombs are handled is elaborated. That would seem to make answering this crucial question as simple as the math involved.

Curiously, "Six members of the US Air Force who were involved in the Minot AFB incident, have died".

Details here

Here are the details of those six whose tales will not be told:

1. Airman First Class Todd Blue (Cause of death not released)
2. Airman Adam Barrs (killed in a crash)
3&4. A "married couple" from the base (killed in a crash)
5. First Lt. Weston Kissel, 28, a Minot Air Force Base bomber pilot (killed in a crash)
6. Air Force captain John Frueh (body found near Badger Peak in northeast Skamania County, Washington)

Move away folks. Nothing to see here...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not a pain gun

Raytheon has developed a gun which uses directed energy to cause excruciating pain for distances of up to a half mile. As I understand it, the agony ray emits micro-waves attuned to human nerve-ending frequency. This induces a burning sensation without the bother of a flame and it leaves no mark.

Details here

When I think of the skill, money, and energy being used by Man to harm men as contrasted against presidential vetos of healthcare for children I can only wonder at our fate.

Why are people so single-minded and tireless in their pursuit of inflicting suffering?

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Under the leadership of George W. Bush we are accumulating the weaknesses of our heretofore enemies. These weaknesses include: a compliant press, a frightened populace, a crony economy, break-down of the rule of law, state-torture, and criminalization of trivial offenses. These traits are what made totalitarian nations like Russia weak.

Weak and laughably incompetent.

Always in totalitarian regimes like the one we are being gaily led to by the pied piper press, there is a stultifying ideology which requires the constant "weeding" of the infidels, insurgents, protesters or what have you.

In America's case the harmful ideology is free market fundamentalism like the type preached at the Chicago School of Economics.

See this video for more info.

As the election for 2008 warms up I find I have one essential question.

Who will put a stop to the destructive march towards fascism initiated by George W. Bush? Who will roll back the policies and rescue government from the bathtub drowning?

We have enjoyed a hybrid economy in America for so long we have no idea how bad life can be when ideology comes first and the lives of citizens comes second.

A small taste of this life is being expressed in Washington, where, the president Bush stands ready to defend ideology with a veto that harms children by blocking their access to health-care.

A big taste of this life is expressed as the collapse of Enron, Tyco, or the influence of Jack Abramoff.

This ideology which puts the profit of a few cronies ahead of the lives of children is disgusting, perverted, and crass and people should say so. It is mean, petty, and especially heartless behavior coming from a pampered prince of privilege like the president Bush.

The trouble with the Chicago School of Economics ideology is to organize society such that money concentrates and people dilute is to invite misery.

Are totalitarian societies happy places?

Are fascist societies prosperous long?

Are totalitarian societies conducive to the expansion of knowledge?

Are totalitarian markets accessible to small businesses?

Are totalitarian societies good places to raise children?

I sometimes worry that too few see where America is headed to save it. This market fundamentalism is perhaps better described as Crapitalism, since the greatest wealth engine humanity ever created is turning to crap because of it. You need a culture of dishonesty and corporate protectionism to keep crapitalism afloat.

As a way of life it is crap!

There is nothing wrong with honest business, big or little, but dishonest business is a cancer to humanity. Without honest accounting investors are bilked by CEOs through balooning salaries and golden parachutes.

It is harmful to people and harmful to society and the only agency strong enough to reign it in is government.

Will this video come to represent America's future? Pax Americana

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How high's the debt Mama?

How high's the debt, mama?
Two trillion high and risin'
How high's the debt, papa?
Two trillion high and risin'

Two trillion bucks don't seem that bad
Let's keep spendin' money and just be glad
Let's keep the bubble growin' higher and higher,
Two trillion high and risin'


How high's the debt, mama?
Ten trillion high and risin'
How high's the debt, papa?
Ten trillion high and risin'

Let's keep on borrwin' from the Commie Chinese
Even though they got us down on our knees
The factories are closin' but outsourcin' is good
Ten trillion high and risin'

Well it's ten trillion high and risin'

R.I.P. Johnny Cash

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Union Jack will leave Iraq

I've always felt sorry for the way the US abused its' trust with the British people in order to entangle them in our Iraq folly, and all the more so for the way they sturdily stayed on trying to make lemonade from rocks.

They are at the end of their patience, it seems, and have vowed to leave Iraq by Christmas.

Story here

They should not be allowed to leave without a grateful thank-you from America. Our stupidity placed them in peril, as the London bombing attests, and it would have been quite easy for them to abandon us to our folly.

Easy, but perhaps not British.

I offer my thanks to the British people, not for reinforcing our mistakes, but for refusing to abandon us to them.

Monday, October 01, 2007


"Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" [1]

"Childrens do learn!" [2]

[1] President Bush, 2001, at Washington TV/Radio Correspondents dinner

[2] President Bush, Wednesday September 26, 2007, addressing New York school children

Friday, September 28, 2007

10 answers

Columbia's Lee Bollinger harshly criticized Iran's president at a recent speech he made at Columbia University. You can see his speech here:

Comments of Mr. Bollinger

Iranian academics have ignored the points raised by Mr. Bollinger and posed 10 questions for him.

Here are my answers to their questions, which incidentally do not count 10:

1.a Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University?

Rather than call for his murder, as in the case of Iranians expressing their displeasure with Salmon Rushdie for a work of fiction, many felt compelled to call for Mr. Ahmadinejad's censorship.

However, Americans have generally found censorship a childish response and those people failed to have their way.

Vilifying someone seems to me to raise their esteem and stature and strikes me as ultimately counter-productive. I am therefore glad of Columbia's defense of democratic principles.

1.b And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond?

Why did the Iranian TV networks not broadcast hours of news reports insulting your president? Why was the popular website of Mr. Ahmadinejad's most forceful political opponent shut down during his speech?

1.c Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech is not equivalent to freedom from criticism. How can one claim freedom of speech without the ability to speak freely?

2. Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran’s national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah’s dictatorship?

The enemy of our enemy is our friend.

3. Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

The enemy of our enemy's friend is our friend too.

4a. Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it?

Do you mean to imply that a democracy should not be held responsible for it's actions?

If so, I wish to invoke that to absolve the US from your complaints.

4b. And why does it oppose Iran ’s proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

Getting both sides to give up their age-old religious reasons for fighting seems unlikely. Without a genuine desire for mutual coexistence, democracy devolves into a tyranny of the majority. Here I cite as evidence the explosive situation in Iraq. Is that your model for peace in Palestine?

5a. Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment?

To the best of our knowledge it is because the killer of 3,000 Americans finds succor amongst Islamic apologists for his behavior.

5b. How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals?

The sins of the father are not the sins of the child, and vice versa.

5c. How can you justify the Bush administration’s efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

President Bush is a bad representative for American values, as evidenced by his unpopularity amongst Americans. I speculate he does not wish to draw attention to Osama's clean getaway.

6a. Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq?

For the opposite reason that Iran supports Hezbollah.
For the opposite reason that Iran supports Hamas.

6b. Why does the US refuse to allow Iran ’s current government to act against the MKO’s main base in Iraq?

The enemy of our enemy...

7a. Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it?

As I recall Saddam Hussein had very few public defenders, even amongst his closest neighbors. It is true that there was moderate theatrical protest to the invasion, but in the end the UN participated enough to get its' envoy bombed.

7b. What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives?

To quote presidential candidate John Edwads, "Saddam was the threat he [president Bush] knew, so Iraq is the war we got."

7c. Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

If I were to say that we found them I would look as big a fool as your Holocaust-denying leader. In order to avoid such disgrace, I will instead say that they are embarrassingly absent.

8. Why do America’s closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

Why would a young man seeking a bride in a brothel wind up marrying a whore?

9. Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

The use of nuclear weapons in close quarters is a good way to poison your own well, and since radioactive contamination does not respect international boundaries, this seems like a tragedy.

10. Why is the US displeased with Iran’s agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

My president calls your nation "evil doers" and yours calls mine "The Great Satan". Do you expect trust in that environment?

Given this level of mistrust, it is sensible to expect strict assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb for rather obvious security reasons. A reliable framework for this assurance exists and Iran's talks are viewed as a delaying tactic.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Judas in context

Of Christ's twelve Apostles Judas alone proved to be a traitor. But if he had acquired power, he would have represented the other eleven Apostles as traitors, and also the lesser Apostles whom Luke numbers as seventy

- Leon Trotsky -

Service members who support U.S. withdrawal are "phony soldiers"

- Rush Limbaugh -

Pow! Right in the kisser.

Iran's president Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University recently. Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia, used the opportunity to publicly challenge him for his mad positions:

Video Here

The best way to make an ass of a fool is usually to let him speak. In Mr. Ahmadinejad's case, the ability to reminisce comes a close second.


The Kyl-Lieberman amendment is, I believe, the first step towards starting a war with Iran. It would be a way to start a war without Congressional approval. It would be a way to start a war without Congressional debate. It is, to use Senator Jim Webb's phrase, "Dick Cheney's fondest pipe dream".

Jim Webb's Senate commentary

"Surely", you sez, "the democratically controlled Senate and House will not allow such a back-door war to proceed!"

"Surely", you sez, "the Congress won't fall for the same song and dance that got us into Iraq!"

"Surely?", I sez, "Like, not!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who's in the mood for Dominoes?

Since president Bush himself compares Iraq to Vietnam it seems worth reexamining the Iraq war in that context, doesn't it?

As an experiment I took an analysis of our experience in Vietnam and reexpressed it in terms of Iraq. Bush replaced Johnson, Al Qaeda replaced Communists. Here is the result:

President Bush and his allies see Iraqis as instruments of Al Qaeda expansionism which must be controlled before all the Arab "dominoes" fall to Islamic Jihadists. Our policy is therefore to prop-up a weak client-state government which does not command the loyalty of all the Iraqi people (because it is tribal in nature).

That sounds about right for the current situation.

Bill Clinton admired senator Fulbright's foreign affairs experience (Source: "My Life", by Bill Clinton). What happens if we now apply senator Fulbright's recipe for withdrawal to the current situation?

We would make American withdrawal from Iraq conditional on agreement by all parties to self-determination for Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites and a referendum on reunification.

I wonder if Hillary will lean in this direction?

Is it already too late to expect an agreement about anything?

And the winners are...

Who are the 22 most corrupt members of Congress?

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)'s third annual list the winners are...

Details here

If your senator or Congressional representative is on the list keep it in mind next election cycle won't you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Conflagration erupting?

Things look tense in Israel right now and I don't see much momentum to avoid a conflict in any direction.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agrees with Israel that Hamas is a hostile group: Story here

Israel has declared Gaza hostile: Story here

An anti-Syrian Lebanese MP was killed in a bombing: Story here

Iran says it has plans for airstrikes on Israel: Story here

Israel's incursion on September 6th into Syrian airspace seems to have made the US neocons happy: Story here

It has also generated a threat of "serious consequences" from Syria: Story here

The good news is that threats flowed freely last year at about this time and may be an annual tactic instead of a policy: Story here

It worries me that wars are like avalanches. Easy to start but not so easy to stop.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Human nature?

Rather than confront an ugly truth about oneself often a person will lash out in anger. There was a recent display of that behavior in our nations capital.

A gold-star dad built a memorial to his son and towed it in a march protesting the war.

This, obviously, confronts war supporters with the truth of their cheerleading which is, "You are partly responsible for the death of this young man".

Given what we know it would not be unexpected for such people to respond to a confrontation with this Truth by lashing out in anger.

Details here

I sez gold-star parents gave more than the rest of us and have earned the right to a little dignity. That is not the same as saying I believe we have a responsibility to pander to them, but it seems fair to uphold an ounce of respect for their loss.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The trouble with torture

When the government tortures it normalizes evil, which conditions everyone to think it is acceptable. It sets a very low price on human worth.

By making excuses for patently evil practices like the torture of human beings, one invites others to follow suit. Should it come as a surprise, then, that evil trickles down?

West Virginia Monsters

Perhaps Rush Limbaugh would claim that these sadistic animals were just, "Having a little fun, these people...just blowing off a little steam"?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Edwards continues leadership

John Edwards is showing leadership at a time when America desperately needs some. His latest speech condemns the muddled approach of the Bush administration to the "War on Terror":

Speech here

My favorite lines are these:

"Saddam Hussein was the threat he knew, so Iraq was the war he waged."


"We need a counterterrorism policy that will actually counter terrorism."

Edwards is now on my short list. While Hillary and Barak spend all their energy avoiding serious discussion Edwards is highlighting his strategy. That's leadership when it matters, which is the only kind that matters.

Here is a short video clip of Edwards talking about the surge and whether it is successful:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Worth noticing

This fact seems worth noticing. General Petraeus was not sworn in when he spoke before Congress. It is therefore an error to say "testified" before Congress:

Story here


In his latest video message to Americans, a relaxed, Osama taunts:

"The subject of the mujahedeen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader and the effects and signs are not hidden. Since the 11th, many of America's policies have come under the influence of the mujahedeen."


Is he talking about Patriot Acts?
Is he talking about Guantanamo and CIA black sites?
Is he talking about suspension of habeus corpus?
Is he talking about signing statements?
Is he talking about a unitary executive?
Is he talking about suppression of the minority vote?
Is he talking about freedom zones?
Is he talking about loyalty oaths?
Is he talking about martial law in New Orleans?

It sounds as if he is bragging about using only 19 people to scare America into abandoning the Constitution.

"If Osama can't stand freedom, then let freedom ring.", I sez, and sez, and sez.

NOTE: The full transcript and video can be read/seen here: Osama Says

Monday, September 10, 2007

Preempting Petraeus

Before general Petraeus goes before Congress and testifies on the happy times in the land of sunshine and lollipops, I advise you to keep these words in mind:

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule, is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist."

- Hannah Arendt -

Fallen heroes?

I often wonder what soldiers returning from Iraq must think of us, particularly when I see a thing like news of 7 more GIs killed in Iraq buried in the back pages of our newspapers.

The president doesn't attend funerals and Donald Rumsfeld had to be forced to sign official letters of condolence with his own hand. I suppose they tell themselves they are busy, important people with many important things to do, when everyone knows they lack the courage to face the consequences of their own decisions.

I know that it helps the president's P.R. if everybody pretends not to see the bodies and the wounded as they are flown back to the US under cover of darkness and under a media blackout, but should we all participate in this P.R. effort?

Should we make it easy for those who lead to take the lives of our young?

Should soldier's families see a nation ignore their sacrifice the way we ignored Cindy Sheehan when she travelled to Crawford?

Are we guilty of recoiling in shame from their sacrifice? Is that why we hide them, bury their loss on our back pages, and fail to honor their sacrifice publicly?

Are we shielding ourselves from funeral fatigue?

If the war is worth it then the sacrifice is something to be proud of, is it not?

Shouldn't we treat returning soldiers cadavers better than the homeless among us? Shouldn't we at least see them, notice them, acknowledge them?

Haven't they become like inconvenient truths to us?

Friday, September 07, 2007

The decider

President Bush told big lies, and lots of 'em, to start this nefarious war in Iraq. His lies were so big and so bold that Americans would rather believe them than believe their president capable of telling such atrocities of deceit. This is what big liars exploit.

Here is a story that points out that George W. Bush knew, because the CIA briefed him, that Saddam Husein did not have weapons of mass destruction:

Big ol' lie told grinnin' in your face

It is important to remember that our president is an embarrassment to Honesty as he flits around generating new big lies about progress in Iraq or the Iranian menace.

The president's word is no good and he sold you a lemon last time, so smarten up.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Hopefully these dots do not connect logically:

Dot 1: the Pentagon suffered a major breach by hackers reportedly working for the Chinese military earlier this year.

Dot 2: At least 5 nuclear warheads were mistakenly flown on a B-52 from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Larry Johnson suggests the more likely explanation that the nukes flown to Barksdale, which happens to be a "jumping off point for Middle East operations", have more to do with Iran than China.

I know the president is incompetent, stubborn, spoiled, petulant, petty, greedy, self-centered, small-minded, arrogant, and a graceless face-landing klutz, but can a man with children be truly a monster?

How could a child come to this?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Roll up!

With September here president Bush wishes to change his F in Iraq to an A in the hearts and minds of the people, or at least the Congress anyway.

The magical mystery tour is dying to take you away,
Dying to take you away, take you away.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Power to the People

I think that since government taxes everyone that it should serve common needs as much as possible and private needs as little as possible.

When government builds roads which benefit everyone I think that is a good public use of public tax money.

When government maintains a military that is used for the common defense then I think that is a good public use of public tax money.

When government maintains the legal code which governs civil society, and by which all are afforded equal treatment and protection, then I think that is a good public use of public money.

Should government decide to use the inherent economies of scale to provide a universal single-payer healthcare system, then I think that would be a good public use of public tax money.

The underlying principle in all these cases is that we all pay and we all benefit. It is not only fair, but it makes economic sense as well.

I think that the founding fathers hoped to secure this type of good governance by giving the common man a participatory role.

It seems to make intuitive sense that a government of the People, by the People, and for the People will exercise the will of the People.

Somehow that seems no longer the case. There seems to be an institutional arrogance in Washington these days, which Condi Rice might call systemic, that politicians know best.

No longer do they hear us, for instance, when we say in a loud clear voice, "Get out of Iraq!", or "Our healthcare system is killing us!", or increasingly "Canada is not an enemy and we don't need a fence".

What happened?

Why does a man of George Bush's limitations feel he can mandate to the rest of us?

It seems like arrogance to me.

Democracy is built upon the premise that the People may not always be right, but they don't forever maintain incorrect or immoral positions. Further, when everyone participates in good faith it is government which reflects the will of the majority, while maintaining the right of any minority to peacefully petition their government for redress. It is fair and balanced just like Fox News.

Slavery was terrible, but didn't it take democracy to break those chains? Didn't it take authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe writing freely to those who could freely choose to read her words, and whose minds were open enough to adopt them?

I think we are abandoning the central tenants of our society at a time during which they will be sorely needed. As surely as oil and water don't mix free society and dogmatic religious dogma don't mix.

These country bumpkins that want to turn America into a Christian theocracy are doing Al Qaeda's work for it, or at least the hardest part, since trading one dogma for another is as easy as changing shoes. People do it all the time. The hard part is building up habits of subservience to over-bearing ideological masters.

Dogmatic faith is mental slavery and shackles the minds of many with one dark chain that binds.

I am glad to see Americans recoil in disgust from America's biggest bumpkin, but wonder what lesson was learned when I see Republicans nutty for Romney.

How about we try someone more scientifically grounded and secular this time, more committed to democracy, and more committed to the laws of the land, and more committed to the right of the people to rule?

Neither Jimmy Carter nor George W. Bush were able to govern well because of their self-righteous certainty. They were too sure they were right because their religious training made them tyrannical towards other views.

That is not to say that either man is a bad person. I am saying they are too closed-minded and reactionary to govern well.

I think anyone belonging to a fundamentalist religion ought to be disqualified as a presidential candidate on the grounds that they are sure to be incapable leaders. It would be best if this were enforced via cultural voting practice.

We need free and open minds in America if we are to repel the Islamic theocrats coming for us. Let us stand together and reject any tyrannical assault upon our freedoms.

Let us choose to worship as we may, or in my case not at all. Let us choose to read what we wish, or in the president's case not at all. Let us take "In God we Trust" off our money and replace it with something we can all support, "Liberty and Justice for all".

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Candidate Gravel

Mike Gravel has a response for president Bush's prideful commentary that Iraq is like Vietnam.

Similar similarities

President Bush put the nails in the coffin of his own legacy and all it takes now are a few well-struck blows. Who's next to begin pounding at the nails?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Modus operandi

When president Bush again compared Iraq to Vietnam it reminded me of the time he made fun of John Kerry's purple hearts and silver cross, as if they were Cracker-Jax prizes.

In order to deflect attention from his own war-time "champagne corps" stint and the holes in his service record, president Bush made light of John Kerry's service. The traditional media loved it and the Rush Limbaugh types enjoyed making fun of the man that served his country so admirably during time of war. Rush Limbaugh, of course, didn't serve due to boils on his backside, but that was deemed irrelevant.

I found the whole thing disgusting, but many of my fellow Americans seem to have deemed the strategy vote-worthy.

Should we be shocked that the president is comparing the Iraq war to Vietnam, which was a war that brought "agent orange", "napalm girl", "hippies", and "embassy rooftops" into the American lexicon?

The lessons of Vietnam are referred to as the Powell Doctrine. Colin Powell was marginalized and then tossed aside by the Bush administration in what was perhaps the most ignorant achievement of the Messiah of mismanagement.

The New York Times has written a feisty op-ed with attention paid to the Vietnam analogy. You can read it here.

I think all you need to know about Vietnam is this.

I think all you need to know about Iraq is this.

Democrats I suggest you do not get muddled or confused by the president's attempt to rewrite the past in order to reinterpret the present. What I suggest is that you glom onto his mistake for once and cement the analogy in the minds of Americans. If he wants to be proud of achieving a foreign policy disaster that is the equal of the Vietnam catastrophe then he is like the child crudely changing his F to an A on his report card. The A is not to be congratulated and treated as an achievement in this case is it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A seat at the table

There are lots of references to tables in politics, this is on the table, that is off the table, we need to give so and so a seat at the table. Rarely does anyone talk about what happens under the table, which is perhaps the best application of table metaphor to politics.

Be that as it may, when John Edwards was recently asked about giving health insurance lobbyists a "seat at the table" he had a crowd-pleasing answer:

See here

Monday, August 27, 2007

APA Cowardice

Recently the A.P.A. (American Psychological Association) failed by wide margin to endorse the following statement:

“Be it resolved that. the roles of psychologists in settings in which detainees are deprived of adequate protection of their human rights, should be limited as health personnel to the provision of psychological treatment.”


Cowardice is the word best suited to describe that institutional stance.

Mary Pipher shows the proper light in which to regard these unhealthy practices, by returning a Presidential Citation. As she put it, "I know that the return of my Presidential Citation from Dr. Koocher will be of small import, but it is what I can do to disassociate myself from what I consider to be a heinous policy."

Only collective willpower and conscience will repel the evil in our midst. Guantanamo is a stain on America's honor. Lose honor and you lose morale. You can see that in action everywhere you look.

The key to success in Iraq is not conformity to the norm, nor blind loyalty to that which is unAmerican. We cannot project democracy abroad if we cannot defend it at home. American Constitutional freedoms and liberty are what is worth fighting for. Without those we are a lost tribe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


It is time to show you why I provide a handy link to the website of Robert A. G. Monks on this website.

Mr. Monks is an aristocrat that lives his life as if there were more to it than making piles of money into bigger piles of money. He has noticed there are these things all over the world called "people" and that they come in different shapes and sizes. He has also noticed that corporations are harming many of these "people" and thinks they ought to behave better. He has spent a great deal of his personal time advocating for shareholder rights and more accountability from corporations. He feels that corporations have a duty to be good citizens that many aren't fulfilling.

Incredibly, Mr. Monks has shown that transparently run corporations that obey laws are more likely profitable than their corrupt counterparts. This is surprising because stockholders are sometimes willing to excuse corruption in their own portfolios by assuming it will be to their financial gain. Perhaps Enron's collapse has failed to have enough impact as a teaching moment.

So, Mr. Monks would like to change that self-detrimental corporate greedy culture into something better run, more accountable, and subservient to a healthy role in society.

That's the sidewalk version of who he is. If you click the link for his site you can find out about the Cambridge/Harvard education, the boards he's served on, and the companies he is currently running.

But back to our sidewalk...

Mr. Monks was in the movie "The Corporation", which looked at what kind of person a corporation would be if it were a person (it is regarded as such by U.S. law). I won't spoil it for you by telling you the diagnosis, but I will give you a hint and tell you it coincides with something Kurt Vonnegut said about the administration of George W. Bush.

And...Mr. Monks has written a new book called:

Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World's Greatest Wealth Machine -- And How to Get It Back

I am not familiar with the term corpocracy, but I imagine it is a modern oligarchy where a few wealthy corporations replace a few wealthy elites. An oligarchy is a regime that places money as the highest goal and that certainly sounds like a credible way to describe a corporation.

I hope that the leading democratic candidates plumb Mr. Monks for more than cash donations, since his greatest treasure may come in the form of policy advice. It is all well and good to talk about "Taking back America" (with exclamation points), but focused actions will be needed to turn rhetoric into results.

I look forward to this book and hope you appreciate the tip.

I am reminded of a quote from Teddy Roosevelt who said, "We propose to make it worth while for our business men to develop the most efficient business agencies, but we propose to make these business agencies do complete justice to our own people. We are against crooked business, big or little. We are in favor of honest business, big or little. We propose to penalize conduct and not size."

You can read the entire speech here: Progressive Covenant with the People.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A funny thing happened on the road to Democracy...

President Bush likes to pretend that Iraq is moving towards a free and peaceful and democratic society with a smiling leader duly elected by a free and good-looking populace.


If you want to see how widely that is viewed as a joke, then read this article in which Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) "put out a call to have the prime minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki removed from his post" (Source)

How do you suppose talk like that would go over if, say, Canada's Premier Ministre Stephen Harper "put out a call to have the president of the United States George W. Bush removed from his post"?

Can you imagine the punditular indignation if some cold-blooded Canadian had the effrontery to suggest such a thing?

It is the enamel-toothed, helmet-haired ones that I feel sorry for. Pundits are having a difficult time believing we aren't "interfering" with the free, democratic, sovereign, and corner-turning state of Iraq without overt fantasy contradictions like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bill On Iraq

"I'm giving it two more months."

- Bill O'Reilly -

Radio Factor
June 20, 2007

Hem. Hem.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Worthy of Karl

I have been waiting for that goodbye that seemed worthy of Karl Rove's tenure. I hoped maybe the Daily Show would mark the occasion appropriately, but their treatment felt flat to me (see here).

I think I have found what I was looking for in this letter written by Garrison Keillor, legendary radio host of Prarie Home Companion.

Getting out of Dodge

I think if Garrison had things like that to say about me I'd be mightily ashamed. He is a national treasure and a good and decent human being.

Garrison, that is, not Karl.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What's wrong with that?

"There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

"We can't send millions and millions of dollars to Pakistan for military aid, and be a constant ally to them, and yet not see more aggressive action in dealing with al-Qaeda."

- Barak Obama -

If you ask me nothing is wrong with that statement, and if you ask Michael Smerconish he'll agree.

The Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden camps and folks in traditional media seem to think saying you want to hunt down and kill Osama bin Forgotten, even if it means offending Pervez Musharraf, is naive.



3,000+ Americans killed on American soil and The Voice of Experience says preserving polite formality is more important than smoking out our committed enemies?

Well call me naive.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thinking it through

Let's see...

We are fighting a "global war on terrorism". Our pupose seems to chase and harass and otherwise "deny terrorists bases of operation".

Do I have that right?

The US has just designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists (story here).

Does this thereby place the onus on our armed forces to chase, harass, and otherwise deny the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a base of operation?

Do you think that president Bush has learned that starting wars is easier than stopping them yet?

I have my doubts.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Leading by example?

I love it when "environmentalists" get called out for opposing renewable energy projects near them. In this satisfying video the Daily Show looks at the politics surrounding a proposed wind farm in Nantucket.

There once was a man from Nantucket

Friday, August 10, 2007

The transitive property

If it is the Truth that sets you free, and Americans are free, then it stands to reason that Americans must know the Truth.

If Osama bin Laden "can't stand freedom", and the Truth sets you free, then it also stands to reason that Osama bin Laden can't stand Truth.

It is now an inescapable conclusion that Osama bin Laden would applaud Mr. Alberto Gonzales' recent testimony before Congress, fraught as it was with contempt of the Truth.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

**** This is satire ****

09 August 2007

"Credible" Threat Information Prompts Homeland Security Warning

U.S. government boosts threat level for specific agricultural centers

U.S. intelligence-gathering operations have obtained "new and unusually specific information" on potential fruit fly attacks on major U.S. agricultural centers, according to Rudi Ohlendorf, the secretary of Agricultural Security Services (A.S.S.).

That information prompted the agency to issue a "Code Nightshade" (high risk of tomato attacks) warning for agricultural incubation facilities in Dubuque (IA), Kansas City (KS) and the greater Lake Oconee area (GA).

Secretary Ohlendorf noted that, “intelligence reports that triggered this action are themselves unusually specific as to potential targets”, but admitted, "there is no information that indicates a specific time for these attacks beyond the period leading up to our 2008 elections."

The heightened security measures, both real and imaginary, that accompany the heightened threat level "create added layers of peeling to an already vigorous onion security effort across the country," Ohlendorf said, at the same time urging citizens to increase their vigilance and "to be on watch, to be aware of heightened insect activity, and to seal your fruit bowls with a layer of duct tape."

Ohlendorf asserted, "It will take more than fruit flies to weaken the American spirit or dampen our resolve. Let me be clear: should al Qaida smuggle homosexual fruit flies into our biology maturation facilities our spirit will not be weakened and our resolve will remain powder-dry."

Following is the text of Ohlendorf’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Department of Agricultural Security Services
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: (426) 668-3733
[Washington, D.C.]
August 9, 2007
(Remarks as Prepared)

Good afternoon. President Bush has told you, and I have told you, when we have specific credible information, we will share it.

This afternoon, we do have new unusually specific, legible information about where al Qaida would like to attack. As a result, today, the United States Government is raising the threat level to Code Nightshade for the agricultural incubation facilities in Dubuque (IA), Kansas City (KS) and the greater Lake Oconee area (GA).

Since September 11th, 2001, leaders of our agrarian institutions have demonstrated exceptional leadership in improving its security. However, in light of new intelligence information, we have made the decision to raise the threat level for this sector, in these communities, to bring protective resources to their highest capacity.

This will allow us to increase protection in and around those biological nurturing facilities that require it and also raise awareness for employees, residents, customers and livestock.

We know from experience that increased physical protection and added vigilance from citizens can thwart a terrorist attack. And that is our goal.

Compared to previous threat reporting, which was ambiguous and inaccurate, these intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific and inaccurate. The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple Fox reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen and is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.

While we are providing you with this immediate information, we will continue to update you as the situation unfolds. As of now, this is what we know: reports indicate that al Qaida is targeting several specific crops, including tomatos, blueberries, bananas, and citrus, with armies of fruit flies smuggled in through Canada. Let me assure you, actions to further strengthen security around these agricultural incubation facilities are already underway. Additionally, we're concerned about targets beyond the produce sector and are working to get more information.

Senior leadership across the department of Agricultural Security Services, in coordination with the White House, the FBI, CIA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Grange Hall Associations, and 4H clubs, have been in constant contact with the governors, mayors, farmers, immigrant fruit pickers, and homeland security advisors of the affected locations I just named.

At this time, there is no information that indicates a specific time for these insect attacks beyond the period leading up to our national elections in 2008.

Of course, just because we know where -- but not precisely when -- that does not mean that we cannot take pre-emptive action. Just the opposite: this president, in fact this entire administration, is bold, decisive, and unafraid of ignorant action. We will not cease to act – as our detractors would have us -- simply because our information is incorrect, unreliable, wildly speculative, or implausible. Tired of “swatting at flies” the president has ordered that a giant window-screen be erected to surround the terrestrial United States (not including Alaska or Hawaii) to halt the flow of Iranian insects infiltrating our homeland.

Understandably, security measures at each agricultural incubation facility will not be uniform in nature, given the scope and scale of fruit producing structures, access to and from roads and other variables, such as E=mc².

But you may expect to see special “free range” zones to secure the perimeters of biological reproduction compounds from unauthorized lemonade merchants; restrictions to affected underground earthworms; security personnel using identification badges and digital photos to keep track of honey bees entering and exiting crop facilitation areas; increased law enforcement presence, and robust screening of hooves, tails, and snouts.

These and other security measures, both real and imaginary, create added layers of peeling to an already vigorous onion security effort across the country. So let me be clear: While we have raised the threat level for the agricultural services sector, the rest of the nation remains at an elevated -- or Code Rhetoric -- risk of terrorist attack.

Rest assured, the most talented security professionals are working hard to protect all regions of the country and all sectors of our economy from this avian menace.

Don’t rest assured, since the horrific day of 9-11, more permanent protections are in place than ever before. You have seen and unseen them. They have become part of our daily life: additional farmland security, including shoe removal, asparagus marshals, hardened tractor doors, and bovine tipping restrictions. You have seen and unseen more visible law enforcement officers on silos, haystacks, and cattle transportation systems. You have seen and unseen increased inspections of our nation's produce, farmers, and immigrant potato pickers.

These added security measures mean that from seed to plate; in our public places and cyber spaces; on air, land, and sea; we are safer today than we have ever been from winged insect intruders.

We bring you this information today, and, again, will continue to update you if new specific information becomes available. Because with information comes action.

There is much we can each do to remain vigilant, to be on watch, to be aware of unusual crop circles, and to report suspicious genetic mutations. And so this afternoon, I ask our citizens for their vigilant fly-swatting arms, as we continue to monitor this horrific situation.

I realize that this is sobering news, not just about the intent of our avian enemies, but of their specific plans and methods.

This kind of information is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terra. The reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan. Such operations and partnerships give us insight into the enemy so we can better target our defensive measures here and away from home

Insurgent insects should know, in this country, this kind of information, while startling, is not stifling. It will not weaken the American spirit or dampen our resolve. Our resolve is indivisible -- and unyielding -- a weapon infinitely stronger than the plots, plants, and dating habits of those who wish to do us harm.

Al Qaida wants to intimidate us and prevent us from enjoying our fruit and exercising the full spectrum of our produce choices. And yet, liberty has no greater protector than the collective will of the American people. So, together let us take inspiration from this strength, and use it to our utmost to keep our great nation safe and insect free.

Thank you.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

For more information see: Source

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin