August 31, 2007

Justice Dept. Probing Whether Gonzales Lied
-- By Dan Eggen and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer and washingtonpost.com Staff Writer

The Justice Department's inspector general indicated yesterday that he is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress . . . .

Click here for the complete text.
^^^
You know, I'm not sure being a reporter at the Washington Post is such a great gig.
After all, I'm sure they can't get health insurance. Who would insure someone who lives in constant danger of poking his tongue completely through his cheek this way? Or someone who is at constant risk of getting a hernia as they restrain themselves from falling on the floor laughing?

The Justice Dept. is probing it's old boss? And asking people who passed muster to get their current jobs under the old system to come forward with how they came to get those jobs in the first place?
And the WaPost is expected to report on the entire exercise with a straight face?

I can see the notes that come back from the National Editor: 'No, you may not say, "Who Do They Think They're Kidding?" This isn't the editorial or the comics page we're putting together here.'

The Way to Ensure Failure: Let George Do It

Let's see--
Bush proposed the Division of Homeland Security--then promptly cut funding to all the agencies under its umbrella.
He took us to war and immediately cut salaries and benefits to the troops.
He started the 'No Child Left Behind' Act and cut funding to our schools.
He proposed a mission to Mars and cut NASA's funding by one third.
He packed the supreme court then tried to make it irrelevant by banning it from hearing certain cases.
Now, he wants to research alternative energy sources. Well--so much for renewable fuels, wind and geothermal power. . . .

Back in February of 2006, the governors were up in arms about the fact that the Bush administration wanted the Pentagon to cut funding, salaries, etc. to the National Guard. They made the cuts while so many in the National Guard were serving in Iraq that those remaining here at home were thin on the ground.

The governors said that in the event of a national emergency—anything from a hurricane, tornado or forest fire to a terrorist attack to a pandemic—we just didn’t have the people to meet the crisis. So, what did the administration suggest to meet these threats? Pay cuts.

Way to go, George. Let’s make absolutely certain that no one wants to serve in our defense against the numerous things that might go wrong in this house of cards we live in. Let those tempests blow—and make sure we have no defense against them.

August 30, 2007

The Hurricane Next Time

The Flooding Didn't Destroy Enough Houses by Harry Shearer --
The Huffington Post
Along with other New Orleanians, I've been amazed at the lack of alacrity with which both Republicans and Democrats have approached the problem of a federally caused flood . . . .
Now the answer becomes clear: the post-Katrina flooding just didn't destroy enough houses.
^^^
Or at the right time.
As Shearer mentions in his article, those folks in NOLA should've had the sense to schedule Katrina during primary season.

August 29, 2007

Trying to Change the Subject

Stating, 'I'm not gay,' doesn't address the issue.
To think it does says where Senator Craig is coming from.
He suggests that gay people regularly approach strangers in public bathrooms to solicit sex.
Wrong. Gay people don't do that. Perverts do that.

And, it's particularly perverted to do that if you're a 'family values' senator who [no I don't know his record -- but I have my guesses] would vote to legislate marriage as 'a union between one man and one woman,' and would claim that the requests by the gay community to legislate against gay-bashing are, 'asking for special privileges.'

Katrina Two Years Later

What is there to say to this?

August 28, 2007

Something Else You Might Like Over at Scattershot?

More beyootifull shadow art over at my playground. Just for what it's worth.

Quote of the Day

Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.
Heinrich Heine

Another Head in the Place the Sun Don't Shine

Today, I heard some republican on the msm trying to sell the fact of Bush's approval rating climbing to 32% as GOOD news!
Only 2/3 of the American people hate him and think he's a fool -- and that is spun as a positive. . . .

August 27, 2007

Play Handel's Chorus

[To accompaniment of Handel in background]
HE'S OUT!!!!!!

Wish I had time to post more-- but I'm severely handicapped and it's taking forever to get this in as it is. Suffice go say, couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy-- well, yes it could-- and I'm hoping it does, though I'm not holding my breath.

Now, I'm going offline to go listen to the news and try to figure out setting up Vista at the same time.
cu all.

August 26, 2007

The Inquisition--Take 2

Recently, I watched an episode of The Secret Files of the Inquisition. I was struck by the parallels going on in the US today.
***
During the 16th century, sixty years after Martin Luther nailed his concerns to the door of a church, a majority of the people of Europe were moving away from the Catholic faith and toward Protestantism. Faced with a loss of souls, a loss of revenue and a loss of territory, the Roman Inquisition began. The goal? The suppression of religious freedom and the rejoining, as had been the case for centuries, of Church and State with the Church in the lead position.

The acceptable view was that the earth was the center of the universe, Rome was the center of the earth and the Pope was the leader, appointed by God, of Rome.
Studying medicine was heresy because to dissect the body was to question God’s creation.
Worshiping in one’s own language was heresy because to do so encouraged the asking of theological questions which was tantamount to questioning God.

Rome turned its eyes toward the universities because they were places where free thought was encouraged.
A student at the University of Padua had converted to the Lutheran view. His name was Antonio Algerio. After his trial and imprisonment, in 1455, a monk was sent to urge him to recant his views. If he recanted, he would be strangled before his body was burned. He refused. A new form of execution had been devised and Antonio was the first to experience it: he was boiled alive in a cauldron of oil, tar and turpentine. He survived for fifteen minutes.

At about this same time, the Church cast its eyes toward the Jews.
For over 1000 years, twenty-three Popes had tolerated and protected the Jews. They were respected for their skills and were recognized as boons to local economies.

Pope Paul IV wrote a bull that overturned all that. For the next 300 years the Jews were placed in ghettos. They were locked in every night and suffered more and more repression. They were not allowed to own any book except the Torah [the Christians' Old Testament]. All other Hebrew books were burned. Finally the logical conclusion began being carried out: the choice to either convert or face torture and execution. Often, even after conversion, either true or false, the individual was executed simply because he or she was of Jewish ancestry.

In 1559, Pope Paul IV died. Immediately after his death, the people of Rome erupted into the streets, freed the prisoners of the Inquisition of Rome and toppled the statue of Paul IV to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea where it remained for almost 500 years.

His legacy, however, lived on. Books continued to be banned and torture and executions continued. Most of the presses in Venice were closed. Finally, the entire city of Venice was excommunicated. The list of banned books remained in effect thus suppressing furtherance of knowledge.
***
Oh, and something that came as a shock to me: the Inquisition lasted until late in the 19th century -- in fact the final bit [the forbidden reading list] was finally repealed in 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

And, within the last decade, in 1998-- Pope John Paul II apologized for the Inquisition and the harm it caused. Though I disagreed with much he did, when I heard about that my respect for the man rose about 2000 percent. That action took courage.
^^^
Today, however, the parallels with the Inquisition period of history are stunning. People in power are leading us into another Inquisition. They torture and kill those who disagree with their views. They do so for many of the same reasons Pope Paul IV created his reign of terror.

In the 16th century, there were some mitigating circumstances. The Renaissance was just beginning. The majority of people still lived lives filled with superstitions left over from medieval times. Some people were still emerging from feudal times when they had been told what to do and what they were allowed to believe by their earthly lords as well as by the Church.

Only the educated few understood that the earth was not flat and stable and that the sun did not move around the earth. Everyone believed that God created every animal in its final form. The sciences we know today did not exist. And they did not have previous Inquisitions to serve as warnings as to what the authorities, when granted total power over the populace, are capable of doing to the people.

We do not have those excuses for what we are allowing to happen to us.

August 25, 2007

What The Hey Is Happening To Me?

Hey, folks--
Given the radical changes in my lifestyle since I moved, I'm not sure how much longer this blog is going to survive.
I'm so busy, these days, Molly and Huck [the computers] often get a wave and a nod as I speed by.

I've joined the neighborhood watch, I'm planning on volunteering at a local hospice soon and I've begun TRYING to interest the people around here in recycling [an uphill battle if ever there was one.]

This morning at 7 [what used to be the middle of the night, for me :) ] I went to the weekly koffee klatch [sp?]. Then home for my weekly ritual/worship service [ aka: Car Talk and Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! on NPR] and THEN --
because everyone else in my neighborhood has been doing it [and 'Yes, Mama, if all my friends were jumping off cliffs, I would, too :) ] I went to Best Buy and bought a laptop.

So, I spent the afternoon at a friend's home as we worked our ways through the intricacies of Vista and restrained each other from taking baseball bats to our respective puters [her first, my fifth or so -- but we were both thoroughly frustrated within a few hours.]
xxx
All this is to say that my posts are very likely to drop to 3 or 4 times per week again. There just aren't enough hours in the day, these days.

I'll make my daily rounds to your places, time permitting and I hope you'll keep dropping by here -- at least for a while to see if I'm keeping my head far enough above the rising tide to get the occasional post put up.

Who knew this hermit would suddenly become a social butterfly? _I_ sure didn't!

August 24, 2007

Brilliant, Giuliani!

This from the Huffington Post:
Giuliani: Worse Than Bush -- by Stephen Schlesinger
The Republican presidential frontrunner, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, has just written his foreign policy credo for Foreign Affairs magazine. It is a truly unnerving pronouncement -- even worse than Bush-ism. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Giuliani backs all of the most brazen features of the Bush administration's global agenda. But he tosses in several deeply scary initiatives of his own that George W. never touched.

Giuliani first provides a post-facto assessment of the Vietnam War which serves as his base doctrine. He believes we could have won the war but we precipitously "withdrew" our support in 1972. Had we stayed, he says, South Vietnam would have achieved "political self-sufficiency." Instead, by caving into an "expansionist Soviet Union." we created a "weaker America."
^^^
. . . [H]e fails to acknowledge the fact that 58,000 American soldiers had already died for a South Vietnamese government that was hopelessly corrupt and had no popular support -- and that the American public was utterly fed up with the conflict. Nor does the former mayor address the secondary point that the putatively omnipotent USSR 17 years later lost the Cold War to the apparently "enervated" USA.
Click on the article's title for the complete text.
xxx
So, Giuliani seems interested in continuing with a 'more-of-the-same policy.
Doesn't he get it??? GW is TANKING! And he wants to stay-the-course.
What a great idea. . . .

Our glass-half-full situation at the moment is that no Republican stands a snowball's-chance-in-hell of getting the Presidency. Thank goodness.

I Get So Tired of Being Blamed

I used to joke that I was born during the first ten minutes of the Baby Boom. Technically, that’s not true—I was born during the second year of the phenomenon—still. . . .
No more, though.

Even before I became aware that there was something different about my generation, I felt blamed for being alive.

Because the government saw us coming and did nothing about it, I went to kindergarten in a church and 1st and 2nd grades in army barracks; I attended an overcrowded high school that held classes in the cafeteria and the auditorium and anywhere else a free corner could be found; when I went away to college, new dorms were being constructed at breakneck speed—and we were crowded four to a room that had been designed for two. Until then, students had been required to live on campus. During my sophomore year, off-campus housing began becoming standard practice.
We regularly attended classes that enrolled 500+ students. And, because the idea of teachers’ assistants who would attend to students’ needs hadn’t been thought of yet, individual attention from teachers was non-existent.

In each of those instances, adults looked at us as if we were causing them terrible inconvenience. I felt it. I know I wasn't alone.

Then, I got out of school and there were no jobs. It was in all the magazines and newspapers that we were swamping the markets. According to the articles, we had no one but ourselves to blame—there were just too many of us. I remember a cartoon of a young man knocking on the door of a home and asking, ‘Would you like to have your lawn fertilized by a Doctor of Philosophy?” It was no joke, though. How were we to support ourselves when there were no jobs?

Eventually, the market sorted itself out. As we finally began to make some money and started buying things, manufacturers began needing workers and sales people and executives to oversee them in order to supply the burgeoning market.
The economy began booming again.
No one said, ‘Hey, Boomers, thanks for buying our stuff!’ In fact, there were articles in those same magazines about how self-indulgent we were. This line was being touted, by the way, while I was living in a) the back of a truck b) a cave and c) various communes and crash pads. Housing was still in short supply—and we were blamed for our eccentric lifestyles.
*_*_*
Now, fast forward to today:
Throughout my working life, I’ve paid for Social Security. In fact, having been self-employed for much of that time, I paid double.
Given the numbers of us, there should have been ample funds to support all the seniors who came before us AND put some aside to pay for ourselves. Instead, Congress treated the surplus like found-money. Need to fund a highway or bicycle path? Need to dam a river? Want money for some pet project so you can show your constituents you’re ‘creating jobs’? Tap the SS fund. It’s just sitting there.

And, here we are again.
Get out the stick. It’s time to beat up the Baby Boomers.
We’re going to retire soon—and we’re all going to do it at about the same time. That’s how it works when a lot of people all got born at the same time. And, the government would like us to believe that we are causing a terrible inconvenience to everyone else by asking for our Social Security allocation.

Hey! We paid the tax. Month in, month out—we paid it.
The government officials knew we would be retiring one day. And, they didn’t care. Let the future worry about it.
But, one thing is certain: whatever else may happen, the future has a way of arriving—right on schedule.

Now, I’m not talking about the red herring Bush tossed out there a couple of years ago when he tried to privatize Social Security. THAT was part of the Right Wing conspiracy to dismantle the New Deal and get rid of the program.

I’m talking about the real thing that, if some real, substantial steps aren’t taken, will occur in forty years or so. When our grandchildren are ready to retire, the funds will be drying up.

The reason won’t be because there were too many Baby Boomers way back when. It will be because, when there was a surplus of people paying into the program, Congress was spending the money on everything else.

But, it’s easier to blame the Boomers than it was, 54 years ago, to build schools, 41 years ago, to build dorms or, 38 years ago, to build housing.
And, it's easier to blame us than it was, 42 years ago, to put the money aside or than it is today to come up with thoughtful solutions to the dilemma. So almost certainly, once again, nothing will be done to address the problem—and the conservatives will finally get their way: Social Security will die. And, millions of our elders will die in poverty that was preventable.

At least, by then, the Boomers will be dead and the government will be able to blame us—again—without a voice being raised to challenge it.

August 23, 2007

Hey, folks--
I'll be out-and-about most of the day.
My cousin is disabled, so doesn't get out much-- and gets cabin fever. Am getting him out of the house, today.
Have a wonderful day -- or as good as can be expected under our current circumstances.
See you tomorrow.

Hypocrite-In-Chief

Back in February, 2006, Congress, considered bills that would have allowed stem cell research using embryos that are slated to be destroyed anyway. These are fertilized eggs that were left over from in-vitro fertilizations and frozen in case the initial implantations didn’t result in a child. When the couple who were trying to have a child successfully became pregnant, these eggs weren’t needed and have remained in stasis.

The eggs can’t remain frozen forever, though. They have a shelf-life of a certain number of years after which they must be destroyed or the cells will simply die. So, they’re thawed out and thrown into the trash in bio-hazard bags. Thousands of eggs are destroyed weekly.

Of course, Bush promised to veto any bill that crossed his desk that sought to use these eggs rather than throw them away because he ostensibly believes that using them to save lives diminishes them. It is lacking in ‘dignity’. Being thrown in the trash is preferable to benefiting people who are, I guess, less human, more expendable, and somehow less deserving of dignity than the embryos are.
*_*_*
Now, fast-forward to a person who was an embryo once upon a time. A soldier who is stationed in Iraq. He or she is driving around in a truck that has no armor. It has no doors, either. In his or her time off, the soldier scavenges for spare steel plating and doors, hunting for ways to make his or her truck stronger and safer. This young man or woman, whom Bush sent to Iraq, is less deserving of protection than an embryo.

When a roadside bomb goes off, assuming the person survives, she or he may lose an arm or a leg or part of his or her brain because our government sends our troops into battle with inadequate equipment.

Ironically, the research that Bush has vowed to veto could one day conceivably restore this soldier to health—along with my mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease—and someone with Parkinson’s Disease—and someone else with cancer or heart disease.

But that soldier, my mother and the person with Parkinson’s aren’t deserving of dignity. I guess they should have had the good sense to remain embryos. They shouldn’t have grown into children and matured into adulthood. Then, according to Bush, they would have been worth protecting.

btw-- The research might help my cousin, too [see post above.] He might be able to go back to work if his spine could be repaired.

August 22, 2007

What A Wonderful World

Hey, folks, please stop by scattershot for a beautiful piece of shadow art. :)

Just How Scared Are They?

The Rove Legacy -- By Peter Baker -- Washington Post Staff Writer

As he packs his desk just 15 steps from the Oval Office, Karl Rove says he will not join any 2008 presidential campaign. That's just as well because none of the Republican candidates presumably could afford the association even if they wanted his strategic smarts. Besides, none of them is running the campaign quite the way he would. The candidate who seems to be adopting his style and methods the most so far? Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Click here for the complete text.
^^^
I'd dearly love to know Peter Baker's political leanings.

From everything I see, I think Clinton has the Republicans running scared. They seem to be terrified of her. They certainly keep bad-mouthing her and predicting dire things should she win next year. I haven't seen them doing the same with Obama or Edwards.

And now to link her name with the great Satan himself? This smacks of dirty pool, to me. What a spin!

August 21, 2007

btw--this is unrelated to the above vid but, oh, what the hey--
I shamelessly stole this link from Left of Centrist weeks ago [thanks for posting it, Robert].
Check there to find out how your representative voted on further eroding our liberties.
Please, write them. Let them come back from their vacations to find their in-boxes crammed with mail. Remind them that WE VOTE, TOO and, if the Constitution is so unimportant to them and their vacations so important-- they can go on PERMANENT vacation!

I wasn't surprised by my current rep's vote; he's a Republican, after all. I'll do whatever I can to send him packing next year.
And, I was pleased [though again, unsurprised] to see that my former rep in MO, voted nay. Since I can't do anything to help him stay in office, at least I could drop him a thank you note. So, I did. It's just as important to let them know when we're pleased by what they're doing as to let them know when we want to kick some ass.

August 20, 2007

I’m finally getting to that Thoughtful Blogger Award so thoughtfully given to me by Mary Ellen, The Divine Democrat . Thanx, M E.

First, I’d like to mention the fact that I feel a little cheated here as I’d really like to award this honor to Mary Ellen, herself. She lives up to the spirit and the letter of it so well. But, since she gave it to me, I think that’s probably against the rules.

Also, I want to give an honorable mention to Robert Rouse of Left of Centrist .
He would’ve been on my list as well except, when I checked back on the rules, I found that he had given it to Mary Ellen who then gave it to me. So, it seems to me that that, too, would be beyond the Pale.
Still, his Blog World Report is so thoughtful and helpful to the rest of us, I can’t let his efforts go unmentioned.
xxx
My understanding of the award is that it is given to bloggers who respond to the commenters on their blogs—thus starting dialogs rather than creating monologs. While monologs have their places, imho, Blogsville isn’t one of them.

The TBA is also for those folks who link their blogs to those of others, who visit the blogging community and drop their 2c in various comments sections, keep discussions civil even when they disagree with other folk’s points of view, etc.

Given those considerations, I’m very happy to nominate the following folks for the Thoughtful Blogger Award:

Polishifter of Pissed on Politics.
This is one of my must-stop-by blogs daily. Poli is always good for informative posts well thought out. I have to admit, there’ve been times when my well was running dry, I’ve blatantly lifted stuff from Poli and given my take on it. He’s always been more than generous when I’ve grazed his pasture.

Knight Errant of Major Conflict.
Always good for current [and often off-the-beaten-path] information about this house of cards we’re living in. Again, I stop by here daily—though I spend more time lurking than commenting.

James Joiner of An Average American Patriot.
James recently sent me his well documented [frightening] ideas about this country. Btw—James, I apologize. When I was midway through it, I got sidetracked by family business and have yet to get back to it. I will—I promise.

Sad but True of Les Enrages. org.
Another blog I read daily. SbT ferrets out that article that's getting past the rest of us and shines a light on it. A service we all can certainly make use of. And, he is an encouraging commenter, always civil, in short, always thoughtful.

All these folks live up to the spirit and the letter of the Thoughtful Blogger Award and I recommend them highly.

Suicide: The Price of War on the Cheap

I've been reading all over the place about the suicide rate among the troops so I did some digging:
According to Frontline on PBS, in 1981 [the year the articles are comparing today's rate to] there were 2,113,254 troops stationed worldwide [under Reagan -- the last guy, I think, we all perceived as a war-monger (we sure didn't know when we were well off, did we?)].

Today, during major wars Bush is waging against 2 countries [not counting this one], there are 1,414,254 troops worldwide.

hmmmmmmmm---
I think if I was a soldier and was expected to carry on 2 wars with 0.6692 the number of troops that were on the ground during a time of relative peace, I might be feeling the strain.
What do you all think?
^^^
Once again, Bush shows his colors: if you're no longer a fetus, you're an expendable commodity -- unless, of course, you're a member of the Young Republicans for Bush. That group is in this country hyping the war, and not going to war, in record numbers.

Bush Can't Help It, He Just Lies

Rumsfeld Resigned as Defense Secretary on Day Before Elections -- By Michael A. Fletcher -- Washington Post Staff Writer

CRAWFORD, Tex., -- Donald H. Rumsfeld, who came to symbolize the Bush administration's problems in the war in Iraq, resigned as secretary of defense one day before last fall's elections, although President Bush did not announce the move until the day after the elections.

The White House confirmed on Wednesday that Rumsfeld's letter of resignation was dated Nov. 6, 2006, the day before voters -- many of them furious about the war in Iraq -- evicted Republicans from the leadership of the House and Senate.
^^^
Not only did Bush not telegraph his intention to replace Rumsfeld, but he also publicly stated in the days before the elections that he envisioned Rumsfeld serving in his administration for the foreseeable future.

"I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign," Bush said when asked about the statement by reporters. "And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer." [emphasis added]
***
OK-- it's out now. It's obvious for all to see.
The man is absolutely incapable of telling the truth. And, when caught lying, he perceived the above answer to be a reasonable response to the question. In other words, 'Oh, yeah, I lied. So what?'
Even when the truth would've HELPED his own party's candidates, even when the truth would've secured another rubber-stamp Congress [though it's not all that different from the one he got, apparently, but he couldn't have known that at the time], he lied.

OR -- chilling thought -- maybe he was looking further ahead than I'm giving him credit for:
Maybe he wanted to give Congress to the Democrats knowing there was no way they would 1] impeach him or 2] be able to clean up his mess in two years and, thereby hand the NEXT congress back to the Repugs -- so the next president would be saddled with a bull-headed, do nothing congress.

On second thought -- nah. I can't imagine Bush would do anything self-sacrificing like that.
I'm reverting to my first judgment. The man is a pathological liar, plain and simple.

August 19, 2007

Karl Rove's Destination

Stop the GOP Electoral College Power Grab in California -- by Barbara Boxer

. . . If you haven't heard already, Republican strategists recently announced plans to begin raising money for a dangerous initiative that would radically change the way California apportions our electoral votes in presidential elections. Rather than awarding all of California's electoral votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote -- the way it works in every single state except the small states of Maine and Nebraska -- their scheme would divvy up California's electoral votes based on the number of Congressional districts each candidate wins.

I'm a strong advocate for election reform. But it's absolutely wrong for California to go it alone. It's just patently unfair for a large "blue" state like California to change our system for awarding electoral votes while other large states which trend "red" like Texas and Florida don't change their system at the same time. [emphasis added]

Click on the article's title for the complete text.
^^^
So NOW we know what Karl Rove's next move is as he heads out the door of the White House!

A Year in the Making -- Still, Maybe?

Judge's ruling could provide grounds to impeach Bush -- By CHB Staff -- Aug 18, 2006 [note the year]

If a judge's ruling that declares President George W. Bush's domestic spying program unconstitutional holds up under appeal, the President will be guilty of violating federal law at least 30 times and that could provide grounds for impeachment, says a leading Constitutional scholar.

Jonathan Turley, a recognized expert on constitutional law, says the ruling Thursday by a federal judge in Detroit raises "serious implications for the Bush administration" and indicates that the President "could well have committed a federal crime at least 30 times."

"This ruling is a bad situation that just got worse for the White House," says Turley. "These crimes could constitute impeachable offenses."

Turley knows a thing or two about the impeachment process. He worked with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr on the investigation that led to impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.

Click here for the complete text.
^^^
Well, if he worked with Starr, I think they'll have a hard time making the inevitable 'partisan' argument stick.
/\/\/\
\/\/\/
Judge: 'I feel like I'm in Alice and Wonderland' -- by Kevin Poulsen -- August 15, 2007 [note the year]

The hearing involves two cases: one aimed at AT&T for allegedly helping the government with a widespread datamining program allegedly involving domestic and international phone calls and internet use; the other a direct challenge to the government's admitted warrantless wiretapping of overseas phone calls.
. . .
Judge Harry Pregerson suggested the government is asking the courts to "rubber stamp" the government's claim that state secrets are at risk "Who decides whether something is a state secret or not? ... We have to take the word of the members of the executive branch that something is a state secret?"

Garre countered that the courts should give "utmost deference" to the Bush administration.

Judge Pregerson: "What does utmost deference mean? Bow to it?"
Click here for the complete text.
^^^
Maybe SOMETHING has been happening behind the scenes, after all?

August 18, 2007

A British Magazine -- But The Sentiment Echoed Across the Pond

I hadn’t known, till Mary Ellen of The Divine Democrat brought it up, that today is the anniversary of the final ratification of the 19th Amendement to the Constitution, tho I had known it passed in 1920.
So, one hundred forty-four years, 1 month and 14 days after the signing of The Declaration of Independence, and after a long struggle, women were allowed to participate in government affairs.

So, it seemed this was a good time to post the magazine article my [male] cousin sent me a few years back.

Who knows? Maybe women, who had been a vital part of the work force just a decade earlier, were acting uppity and were perceived as needing a refresher course in the propaganda. See what you think--
xxx
Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May, 1955—no author attributed.
[Male? Almost certainly. Interesting, however, that no one was willing to put his name on it.]
***
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready in time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon n your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables.

Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first—remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and, as such, will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.
[emphasis added]
xxx
Slavery, anyone?

I noticed, too, that the children are listed with the appliances to be kept quiet. In the accompanying drawing [which is from the original article] they certainly look cowed.

Just one more note:
My mother [who is very much alive, today] was born 2 days after the 19th amendment was ratified. And I was born 27 years after that.
That sure puts things in perspective for me.


Edward Kennedy: 'I just couldn't bear the thought of anyone drowning in a river while trying to make a better life for themselves.'


I also think of those who've died of exposure in the desert, those who've been asphyxiated in their own CO2 in truck trailers, etc. etc. etc.

All they're trying to do is what my ancestors did about 160 years ago-- come here to make their lives better.
So-- what makes my relatives [and me] better than them? Timing?

August 17, 2007

Eulogy for an Unknown Soldier

To save your world, you asked this man to die.
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
W.H. Auden

Warning to Today's Americans: Don't Get Born

Highest Army Suicide Rate in 26 Years -- by Paul Rieckhoff -- The Huffington Post

According to the Army Suicide Event Report (ASER), 2006 marks the highest rate of military suicides in 26 years, and more than a quarter of those troops killed themselves while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of ninety-nine U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year.

Our troops are facing serious mental health problems, and they aren't getting the treatment they need.

The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs aren't ready to cope with the problem. 90% of military psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers reported no formal training or supervision in the recommended PTSD therapies, and there is a general shortage of trained mental health professionals in the military. And even VA officials have admitted that waiting lists render mental health and substance abuse care "virtually inaccessible."

And this report does not even include the unknown number of military personnel that have committed suicide after they have left the military's payrolls.

Click on the title of the article for the complete text.
^^^
As I've said repeatedly-- as far as Bush is concerned, life is sacred and precious as long as it remains in the womb. Once we're out, we're on our own.

August 16, 2007

Why Wait?

This from the Washington Post:
Rove's Blind Spot -- By Harold Meyerson

. . . [A]rchitect of an enduring Republican majority? The great realigner? What were the pundits of 2002 and 2004 smoking?

In fact, Rove exhibited astonishing blindness toward some of America's most basic political realities -- in particular, a pervasive economic insecurity that undercut the prospects of the Bush administration's program.

In a brilliant and fortuitously timed article on Rove in the new issue of the Atlantic, reporter Josh Green (a former American Prospect colleague of mine) notes that realignments in American politics tend to emerge from periods of wrenching change: the Depression of the '30s, the racial and cultural revolutions of the '60s. They are not willed by political consultants who fancy themselves deep thinkers.
See here for the complete text.
^^^
The article predicts that, decades from now, historians will wonder why Rove was hailed as a genius.
HELLO???
Why wait decades? I know a LOT of people who are beating the rush.

All Right Children-- Are You Ready for Your Bedtime Horror Story?

This from Chuck Baldwin-- May 25, 2007
xxx
'. . [B]ack in 2001. . I predicted . . that George W. Bush would do to the Republican Party much the same thing that Bill Clinton did to the Democratic Party. . . I could not then realize the magnitude of that prediction.
'. . Bill Clinton helped to elect more Republicans than the Republican National Committee could ever dream about. Now, the same thing is happening with George W. Bush. In spades!


'I warned my audience in 2001 that George W. Bush had every intention of invading Iraq, and once there, did not plan to leave. . . I also predicted that Bush would seek to facilitate illegal immigration and create the working group to create a hemispheric government.

'I then said that if Bush did as I suspected he would, it would be the end of the Republican Party as a major force in American politics.'

^^^
'George W. Bush is driving the GOP off the cliff. . .

'The GOP is in a self-destruct mode, and I don't believe anyone can do anything to prevent it.

'Dr. Jerry Corsi reports that President Bush has just signed a Presidential Directive that would give the President dictatorial powers should he decide to declare a "national emergency."

'Corsi writes, "President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president."

'"[W]hen the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over."

'Is George W. Bush an egomaniac. . , or is he a bumbling, stumbling, simpleton-cowboy. . , or is he deliberately and meticulously . . orchestrating
America's entrance into Daddy Bush's "New World Order"? I personally believe the correct answer is found behind curtain number three. [emphasis added]
Click here for complete text
***
This op-ed is one I would expect to see from a liberal-- sounding the klaxon to other liberals that it's time to head for the hills. But, from what I can make of him, Rev. Baldwin is a fairly ultra-conservative. For instance, he would vote for president only for: Judge Roy Moore [of 10 Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court fame], Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, or Ron Paul.
He has taken off the rose- colored glasses.

It's even more frightening reading something like this from a died-in-the-wool Conservative.

August 13, 2007

Still Wishing The House Had Landed On Him

Ding Dong! Rove is Gone!
The munchkins are dancing all over the yellow brick road!

Of course, we all know this guy 's track record when it comes to **ahem** telling the truth **ahem**.
I just HOPE he stays out of politics in future.

And, oh, btw-- Does anyone believe the BS about wanting to spend more time with his family?
^^^
Note to Dem party -- 'Can you indict him NOW?'
Uh-huh.

Still, I'll take what I can get. I'm pulling on my striped stockings and bloomers and running out to join the munchkins.
^^^
Aha! I've got it!
Maybe it IS for the sake of his family.
Here're a couple of scenarios:
His wife goes to the 7-11 to buy bread and milk wearing a heavy veil for fear she might be recognized and have her car egged -- or worse.
Or she's hiding in the basement when the meter reader comes to determine what the next electric bill will be.

"Karl! You've got to DO something!!!"
"Yes, Dear."
Uh-huh.

August 12, 2007

We're Not Only Incompetent -- We're Crooks, Too

I heard yesterday morning --
1] FEMA has been trying to suppress [with Bush apparently urging them to do so] the fact that the trailers handed out during Katrina's wake had, from the outset, unsafe levels of formaldehyde in the floors, walls and ceilings.

2] Two years after Katrina tore up the gulf coast the vast majority of survivors remain homeless. Many are housed in what are, essentially, concentration camps.

3] Those who survived Katrina against horrific odds are giving up in vast numbers..
Their suicide rates are climbing catastrophically now. This may be a result of reaching the 2-year anniversary with virtually no progress toward resolution. No one knows for sure-- though that is a very good guess, imo.
and
4] Bush didn't mention Katrina in his State of the Union speech last January.

Meanwhile, we're spending vast amounts on the war in Iraq -- which has been proved to have had NO role in the events of 9/11. Today, Bush denies he ever said it did. There is, tho, much film documentation that he said exactly that.
And, people in this country, whom Bush promised to help are still dying.
What kind of world are we living in?
^^^
Please watch these videos. The last one shows the plight of the animals in New Orleans as of this past June.

one year later

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=715Ix5kdbDM

18 months later
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRmx2Apfy_A

June 22, 2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOlXawoqRv8

August 11, 2007

'Yes, We're Incompetent. WANNA MAKE SOMETHING OF IT?'

Heard on NPR News:
A spokesman for the drilling team that is trying to free the miners in Huntington Canyon, Utah actually said, in front of a live mike and numerous reporters, "Everything we're doing is going exactly according to schedule-- but not fast enough."
Huh?
Doesn't this beg the question, "Might you have scheduled things to go a bit faster, then?"

Does this statement suggest that the hole they drilled earlier-- you know, the one that strayed 40 feet off course, --was part of the original plan?

Truthiness

I was watching a documentary about Ramesses II who reigned in Egypt in the 14th century B.C.E. During the course of the show it was mentioned that, after a war with the Hittites which ended badly for Egypt, the Pharaoh built a war monument to himself.
Portraying himself as the supreme victor of the war, he was depicted as a giant surrounded by dead and dying Hittites and many slaves. According to the narrator of the show, this was more than propaganda. Ramesses’ and the typical Egyptians believed that the fact that they were written made such statements true.
*_*_*
I’m starting to get a glimpse into the mindset of President Bush:
“Weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq.”
“Mission Accomplished!”
“We must stay the course.”
“We are winning the war in Iraq.”
“America does not torture.”
“We don’t eavesdrop on American citizens unless we have a court order allowing us to do so.”
And on.
And on.
Maybe he truly believes that the fact that he says these preposterous things and that they are duly recorded actually makes them true.

The trouble is, BUSH isn’t surrounded by people who see the world the same way he does. So making up the world as he goes along doesn’t work any more.

August 9, 2007

The Ugliest Side of Capitalism

Back in the 1970’s I read a book entitled, ‘The American Way of Death.’ It gave an overview of the undertaker’s lobby and how Congress had helped the industry keep prices artificially high. It was a real eye-opener.

This week I discovered that the intervening 30 years have done nothing to change the status quo—except maybe make it more entrenched.

I’m my mother’s primary care-giver—an extraordinarily surreal experience when I’m half a continent away from her. Recently, following one of her ‘spells’ during which she was taken to a hospital where she proceeded to rip IV tubes out of her arms, my siblings and I came to the conclusion that it was time to enroll her in hospice care. So, I did that last week.
Then, the hospice suggested that we should begin the process of arranging for ‘disposal of the remains’ [such lovely euphemisms they use].

Our father’s body was cremated in 1998 and our mother has an adjoining spot in the same crypt reserved for her ashes. So, imagine my surprise when I attempted to pre-arrange cremation for my mother’s body and was told that that is impossible under existing laws.
Unless my mother has signed an ‘Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains’, our family is not allowed to pre-arrange cremation. Burial—yes. Cremation—no.
When the time comes—when my mother’s body is residing in a refrigerator in Texas—each of her four children has to sign an agreement to cremate her remains. And any one of us could, theoretically, refuse, enforcing a burial rather than cremation.
Set aside for the moment the fact that my mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, is in no position to sign anything. Do YOU feel comfortable bringing up this issue with your elderly parents?
And, guess which of the two processes is more expensive? Yep—you got it in one. Burial is, by far, the more expensive.

As with many families, these days, my siblings are scattered far and wide: One lives in Texas. Another in California. Another is in Missouri. And I’m in Florida. In the most important way, though, we are all together. We know our mother’s wishes and our father's body has already been cremated. None of us is going to have a last minute change of heart—although that was the excuse given me by the director of one of the funeral homes I contacted yesterday.
Uh-huh.
It’s obvious the undertaker’s lobby earned it’s money when this bit of legislation was passed. At a time when families are most vulnerable— when emotions are running high—an enormous amount of paperwork has to be faxed, FedEx’ed, overnighted or whatever back and forth among everyone involved. If consensus hasn’t already been reached [which thankfully, in our family, it has] it takes only one person to opt for the more expensive process to force it on everyone else.

Never mind the fact that such a rift might be long-lasting and cause years of strife within a family. The funeral director will have gotten his fee. The hell with the rest of us.
Addendum:
This post is hitting people where they live, apparently-- so I have a bit to add:
I can't stress enough to anyone who reads this -- address these issues now while your parents are healthy. Granted, it's not easy, but putting it off can be far worse.
Speak to a lawyer or a funeral director and find out the laws in your state so you can avoid the [luckily, fairly minor] obstacle my family is facing.

I am so grateful we communicated as much as we did a number of years ago. My mother and I [and later, she and my sister] discussed the fact that she wanted a Do Not Resuscitate Order and hospice care when the time came to let go.
Now that that time is here and we can't ask her what she wants, it's such a relief to know we're doing what she would do for herself if she were cognizant.

fwiw -- My discussion with my mother was prompted by the fact that I took my own living will to my parents' home and asked them to file it away for me. That naturally led them to discuss the issue with me. It made the situation far less awkward than if I had just jumped into the matter with them. I didn't plan it that way, it just happened -- but it's certainly one approach that can be used consciously.

Granted, it would be far easier to file the cremation paperwork ahead of time-- but that is a minor matter compared to knowing her wishes regarding resuscitation, hospice and end-of-life-care. And the fact that all four of us know that she made plans, years ago, to be cremated will make that merely a formality when the time comes.
xxx
Another thing I began doing a number of years ago was addressing with my sister [who lives on the other side of the country] and my cousin [who is a nurse and lives about 30 minutes from my home] what my wishes are. I brought up the matters to them-- and spared them the embarrassment of asking me about them.
I carry my cousin's contact information in my billfold so he can be reached in case of emergency. I also keep written instructions in my purse [and wear a homemade 'dog tag' under my shirt] so that hospital personnel won't place me on machines before contacting him. Just a few ideas to consider.

August 7, 2007

Hatred on the High Seas

This from AlterNet:
Neocons on a Cruise: What Conservatives Say When They Think We Aren't Listening -- By Johann Hari, Independent UK.


A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. "Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she says. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe."

. . . I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, . . . When I hear her say, " Of course, we need to execute some of these people," I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. "A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country," she says.

Click here for the complete text.
^^^
I came away from the article [and the comments on it] feeling very, very sad.

The neo-cons in the article wanted to kill all Muslims, brown people, liberals, poor people, conservatives who weren't 'conservative enough', in other words—anyone who wasn't exactly like them.

In the comments section, I didn't even have to read very far down before finding someone who wanted to strangle the ultra-conservatives. That's the word that was used, 'strangle'. I'm not certain, but I don't think it was meant metaphorically.

It seems that everyone hates everyone else these days. The mentality across the board seems to echo Bush's assertion—'If you're not with us you're with the terrorists.'

I sincerely doubt that's true of 99.9998% of the population—even when we don't all agree with each other.
But—no one seems to be listening to anyone who doesn't completely agree with his/her own opinion, these days. Everyone simply seems to be waiting for the other person to stop talking [or not even that long] so they can make their own point.

I don't have an answer as to what we do now that we all live in armed camps suspiciously eyeing each other across a no-man's land.
All I have is the observation. And, I'm scared.

Neither Liberty nor Safety

Surveillance Cameras: Fighting Crime or Invading Privacy? -- By Jennifer Agiesta

Are surveillance cameras in public places a helpful tool in solving crimes or are they a modern day Big Brother? Most Americans take the more benign view.

Seven in 10 respondents in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll said they support the increased use of surveillance cameras as a way to help solve crimes. One-quarter opposed the idea.

Click herel for the complete text.
^^^
It's downright frightening how many are willing to wake up one morning soon in a police state. Ben Franklin was right.

August 5, 2007

'Never Trust Your Own Senses' says Bush, 'I don't.'

This from the Huffington Post:
Bush Sets the Table for September: Who You Gonna Believe, Petraeus or Your Own Eyes? -- by Arianna Huffington

Bush is so gung-ho about listening to Gen. Petraeus not because he is an expert but because he is an expert who agrees with Bush.

Indeed, he is an expert who agrees with Bush even though it means disregarding his own expertise -- ie the Army's newly-revised counter-insurgency field manual which he co-authored and, according to which far more troops are needed for the surge to succeed than he's been given.
Click here for the complete text.
^^^
Bush fired enough generals till he found one that would toe his idiot-logical line that Petraeus certainly knows which side of the bread's got the butter.

So rest easy, children. Just listen to the general. He'll know what to do next month-- after more children have come home in wheelchairs and boxes and Iraq is in worse shape than it is now and al qaida has found yet more recruits.
And Petraeus will tell us that all of that equals progress.

August 3, 2007

Bush's Rush to Eavesdrop -- Again

Heard on Washington Week on PBS tonight:
Bush has finally met a vacation he doesn't like: Congress'.
He's telling Congress not to adjourn for its summer recess until he gets a wider OK to spy on US citizens. Those pesky impediments-- like warrants-- just cramp his style way too much.

And Gwyn asked a pertinent question: 'Why all the urgency now?'
[Bush sounds like your local hardware store ad pushing that barbecue at the end of the summer-- 'Hurry! 'For a limited time only!']
As Gwyn said, 'The White House has known since last spring that this was coming . Why is Bush urging this last moment "surge"?'

Could Bush be hoping that, in their hurry to get out of town they won't read the fine print?

Projection

You know how Bush is so fond of saying that the terrorists hate freedom and democracy and want to destroy them?
In psychology, there's a term called, 'projection.' It's the act of doing something, or thinking something or feeling something then accusing another of having done it or thought it or felt it.

Hello!!!

August 1, 2007

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot -- Again

One Tool America Needs -- By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, August 1, 2007;

'. . . Congress has chosen this moment to gut one of the most innovative and effective American outreach efforts since the Peace Corps.

'The Millennium Challenge Corp. is grown-up foreign aid. Under this three-year-old program, a board certifies countries that "are likely to use assistance wisely" -- nations committed to democratic and free-market reform and fighting corruption -- and works with them as partners on projects to combat poverty and encourage economic growth. . . . Nations that backtrack on reform and good governance have their "compacts" cut off, . . . [T]he MCC has made agreements with 13 nations.

'. . . Ambassador John Danilovich . . . , was in a state of dignified bewilderment. The Senate Appropriations Committee, demonstrating bipartisan shortsightedness, had just reduced funding for the MCC from the administration's $3 billion request to $1.2 billion, throwing future compacts into question. "Why," he asked, "do they want to undermine a foreign policy lever which is actually working?"

'[According to a] Pew survey . . : Eight of the 10 countries most favorable to the United States in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. It is not a coincidence that American bilateral assistance to African countries over the past six years -- to fight AIDS, malaria and poverty -- has quadrupled. As a rule, people do not hate you when you save their children.'
Click here for the complete text.
^^^
One suggestion: Check to see how your reps voted. Thank those who have shown they care about the people and the nations involved and for America's image abroad-- and reprimand those who haven't. Then remind them that you vote, too.

Lightening Up

After all the doom and gloom of previous posts, I've got to insert a bit of humor-- or I'm gonna be sick.
So, grab a cappacino, sit back and enjoy this.