Thursday, February 28, 2008

The one that got away...

As I watch the case of Roger Clemens unfold I am reminded of another public liar that got away. The one I am thinking of lied to the American people, the U.S. Congress, and our closest allies and the end result was another Vietnam.

On one hand, you have an aged and overweight pitcher sticking pharmaceuticals up his butt to extend his career, and on the other, casualties in the tens of thousands.

Which one finds room on Ms. Pelosi's table?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Turkish Invasion

Turkey has been attacking the Kurds in Northern Iraq:

Turks rolling along

The Kurds have managed to oversee one of the more stable areas of Iraq, probably because they hated Saddam Hussein so much (they were the "own people" in the sentence "He gassed his own people").

How will they view US inaction in the face of such an intrusion into the free and soverign, happy and virtuous, somewhat sandy Iraq?

What happens if the Turks mistake US soldiers for Kurds?

What happens if Iran decides to defend the Kurds?

What if the UN decides to send in peace-keeping troops (I know I'm being absurd)?

Isn't this story a little bit bigger than the attention it draws from the corporate media?

How much are the Kurds going to take?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I mentioned earlier that I don't like the word "Vegan" and it's true. What I don't like is that vegan doesn't describe someone that eats a healthy diet, but rather a whole lifestyle.

Perhaps I should go with "plant eater", or the Latin version "plantaedere", or "herbivorous", or "vegemite"? Whatever the phrase it should identify someone that predominantly eats plants, but isn't going to say no to thanksgiving dinner with friends or proper superbowl fixin's.

I need a word that means adopting the food for its' health benefits without rigidity, while rejecting the vegan-culture.

I suppose Americans working for social change in the sixties who weren't interested in adopting hippie culture faced the same grammatical challenge. Society likes its' pigeon-holes. Either you are "anti-war" or a "hawk", and you're not expected to oppose dumb wars on their demerits without being pegged a dove.

C'est la vie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mission Accomplished?

In 2007 901 US soldiers died in Iraq. That is a 3.4% increase from 2006's 871 deaths (details here). There is also no foreseeable political progress being made (the ostensible reason for the escalation), Iraqis are neither safe nor free, and yet Osama still is.

However, the public is being sold on the idea that this constitutes a "success". It is clearly a marketing success, and one favoring John McCain, the presidential candidate with the most enthusiastic aspirations for escalating and extending our occupation.

Studying The China Study

I have been raised as a carnivore with a fondness for gravy. I enjoy bacon, and steaks, and pork chops, and lamb chops, and fried chicken, and brisket and pulled pork, and grilled salmon. I am sure that over a lifetime I am personally responsible for more than one barnyard's decimation. And I don't like the word vegan either.

But, I have been reading "The China Study" lately, a book about nutrition by T. Colin Campbell. It is a book which promotes a whole-grain, low-fat, vegetable based diet, the benefits of which include...

Living longer
Having more energy
Lowering blood cholesterol
Reversing heart disease
Preserving eyesight
Stronger bones
Avoiding impotence
Avoiding strokes
Prevention of kidney stones
Avoiding Alzheimer's
A lowered risk of prostate, breast, and other cancers
Avoiding arthritis
and it may help to prevent diabetes.

The evidence suppporting Dr. Campbell's findings is scientifically based, well presented, and startlingly clear. So much so, that I am reconsidering the way that I eat.

I am reminded of a passage from Plato's Gorgias, during which Socrates wishes to denounce oratory by comparing it with "cookery"...

"Cookery puts on the mask of medicine and pretends to know what foods are best for the body, and, if an audience of children or of men with no more sense than children had to decide whether a confectioner or a doctor is the better judge of wholesome or unwholesome foodstuffs, the doctor would unquestionably die of hunger. Now I call this sort of thing pandering and I declare that it is dishonourable - because it makes pleasure its aim instead of good, and I maintain that it is merely a knack and not an art because it has no rational account to give of the nature of the various things of which it offers. I refuse to give the title of art to anything irrational..."

Source: Gorgias

Why is it that desire and reason pull in opposite directions?

For now I am going to incorporate more vegetables and fruit into my diet and take things one meal at a time. I'll write about this book some more, and leave you with a handy link for more information:

The China Study

Friday, February 15, 2008

Singing Friday

Sung to the tune of Cocaine, by Eric Clapton


If you wanna end war you better not vote for; McCain
When Saddam is gone and you wanna fight on; McCain
It's no lie, It's no lie, It's no lie; McCain

If you wanna drop bombs, bombs on Iran; McCain
Don't forget this fact, we're still in Iraq; McCain
It's no lie, It's no lie, It's no lie; McCain

If you got bad news and wanna keep them blues; McCain
It's a pain in the ass all this expensive gas; McCain
It's no lie, It's no lie, It's no lie; McCain

He won't leave, He won't leave, He won't leave; McCain


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mitt Out

Mitt Romney has decided to call it quits.

Details here
Read his speech here

Let's take a look at the math for the Republican race:

The total number of Republican delegates is 2,380
The total number of delegates awarded so far is 1,197
Therefore, there are 1,183 Republican delegates left

Republican candidates need 1,191 delegates to win

John McCain has 714 delegates
Therefore, John McCain needs 477 more delegates, or 40.32% of those remaining.

Mike Huckabee has 181 delegates
Therefore, Mike Huckabee needs 1,010 more delegates, or 85.38% of those remaining.

If all of Mitt Romney's delegates (286) should go to Mike Huckabee, then he will have 467 delegates.
Therefore, Mike would need 724 more delegates, or 61.20% of those remaining.

Ron Paul has 16 delegates.

I'll leave that math as an exercise for the reader

From JFK to GWB with love

Someone took one of the latter speeches of John F. Kennedy and set it against images which place the Bush years in context.

I think the speech was given at Columbia University shortly before Kennedy's murder, and is referred to as, "Speech on Secret Societies and Freedom of the Press".

His voice and his words still have the power to linger, specifically these for me:

"Even today there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its' arbitrary restrictions. Even today there is little value of insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I'm just saying...

Mike Huckabee, the candidate, manages to wear his religion on his sleeve even more than his Mormon opponent. So on a day that he swept the south, I find it interesting that...

Tornadoes swept the south, killing at least 45

In the Bible God shows his displeasure via natural forces. So, if you're a Bible-believing Christian in "Huck's Army", then how do you reconcile these rare, winter, killer tornadoes with your enthusiasm for Huckabee?

Mike Huckabee won in Tennessee and tornadoes killed 24 there.
Mike Huckabee won in Arkansas and tornadoes killed 13 there.

Kentucky voters are leaning towards Huckabee (Survey USA).

I can't find a poll for Mississippi, so the case is incomplete.

Could God be trying to warn the faithful here, or is it a simple coincidence?

How does one know for sure?

ADDENDUM: Alabama, which Huckabee also won, is now under tornado watch.

ADDENDUM2: Alabama wound up one of the "worst hit states" joining Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Here are pictures of the devestation: BBC News

Storm Cloud Norman

In a January 23rd Wall Street Journal article Norman Podhertz has an argument with himself and defends the position that he was right all along about Iraq and somebody needs to bomb Iran. He argues...

"The upshot is that if Iran is to be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, it is the United States that will have to do the preventing, to do it by means of a bombing campaign, and (because "if we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long") to do it soon."


Some of the assumptions in the piece are:

[*] It is the 2005 NIE (which corroborates his opinion) that is correct, not the 2007 NIE (which does not).

[*] There is only one solution to the problem of Iran and it involves dropping bombs on Iran. Every other idea is crap.

[*] The threats of Russia and China are irrelevant considerations.

[*] George W. Bush will get this one right (third time is the charm).

[*] Once the bombing is finished, Mission Accomplished. There will be no appetite or instrument for revenge.

[*] Our military doesn't have enough to do at present and would be delighted to escalate the conflict.

[*] Israel will escape the bombing our bombing is concerned about.

[*] All the other western nations need weathermen to know which way the wind blows.

[*] A democratic president, or John McCain, couldn't possibly be a match for Bush-administration competence.

[*] A tanking US economy, stretched thin by tax-cuts, corruption, and war, can survive an energy price hike.

It must be nice to live in a world where you are always right and every disaster serves as confirmation of your conceit.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Obama Super Tuesday Conundrum

What most unsettles me about Barak Obama is:

1. There seems a well-oiled hand guiding the love-fest and I don't know who that is. Here I am thinking about a "Business Roundtable" type organization (not angels or aliens). He has raised too much money for an unknown, garnered too many fawning press articles of adoration, and has too rapidly built an efficient political machine out of whole cloth. Bugs Bunny would say there is something that doesn't add up.

2. He has on a number of occasions used words and phrases which reinforce conservative ideology, for instance attacking Hillary over "mandates", praising Reagan, and so-on. Whatever Hillary's faults she doesn't attack the left, knowing to do so preconcedes the issue. Here's a very interesting take on this issue:

Freedom riders

3. The Obama campaign is committed to the democratic party only to the extent that it supports Mr. Obama: See here

What I like about Obama is that on Iraq he spoke up when it mattered and his speech stands up rather well to history:

October 2, 2002

What I don't like about Barak is where was his follow-through once he achieved Senatorial powers?

Who is this man and where does he want to go?

The most pronounced problem in America isn't that we haven't been left enough, or right enough, or center enough. It is that our leaders are too beholden to corporate string pullers to serve the common good. We can no longer implement an idea that works for everyone if corporate lobbyists tug their little strings.

Free-market fundamentalists would argue that unregulated capitalism is best for everyone. I sez, "Poppycock!"

I argue that Enron is one recent example of why that isn't so. I argue that executive pay packages are bilking owners of their earnings. I argue that Japan opened a car factory in Canada recently because Canada provides health care to their citizens (meaning health-insurance premiums are becoming a drag on our economy)

Are any of the candidates that remain going to cut some of those strings?

Is Obama?

That is what I'd be asking myself heading into the voting booth.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The debate

The democratic candidates have been whittled down to two, Obama and Hillary. Here they are in a debate which took place in Hollywood on 1/31/08:

Both Barak and Obama did very well swiping at Mitt Romney and the notion you need a CEO to run America (into the ground).

I thought Barak stumbled out of the gate and I am weary of his platitudes. I've never seen a candidate get such a free ride in all my life.

Hillary seems to be a candidate-by-rote. There is an automaton vibe in her coached gestures, smile, and answers.

What most interested me was the healthcare section of the debate.

Universal single-payer healthcare is cheaper, covers everybody, is employed successfully across the globe, and easy to understand. Canada has it and their economy is doing better than ours. It is too bad that neither candidate is willing to support it outright. Why not make the republican defend the mess we have now?

Barak says "special interests" a lot. Usually that is code for "unions". Is Obama fervently anti-union?

Hillary's healtcare "plan" was a disaster that we're still stuck with. Insurance was better and cheaper before politicians like her got involved. So why does she always bring it up as if we should be impressed?

Obama is fast on his feet. He stumbles a bit getting what he wants to say out, but his answers are usually steered in an intelligent direction. He got to the word "balance", as in balanced tax burden, when talking about funding his healthcare plan and that is something even people like Warren Buffet agree with.

There are a lot of things Hillary "would do", "when" that she "hasn't done", "now or then". As the president Bush has pillaged and plundered where was her outrage and thunder? Where was her opposition to the tax cuts, to the war, and on and on and on.

After all that talk about healthcare I have my doubts if either Obama or Hillary will be able to make anything better. The piecemeal approach they both talk about can be defeated on 1,000 fronts.

The point Wolf Blitzer wanted to hammer home and did was their plans require tax increases. What if either of them had talked about the savings that come from going to a universal single-payer healthcare system?

Friday, February 01, 2008

From and From

From the Constitution of the United States:

"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law"

From the president Bush in response to a Law passed by Congress which forbids using federal funds to establish permanent US military bases in Iraq:

The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.


This is a rather obvious illegality that even Ms. Pelosi seems to have noticed and I didn't think she noticed anything that mattered.

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin