November 29, 2007

To Exploit the Moon

I watched a documentary on the Science channel, recently. And the reason why Bush is bent on reinstating NASA’s planetary exploration program became clear.

First, some background. There’s a man out west who got the bright idea of selling plots on the moon. Never mind that he doesn’t own the real estate he’s selling. When he started, it was just a lark. At $36.00 per plot, he has, so far, sold $9,000,000+ worth of property up there—and no one has stopped him. In fact three presidents, Carter, Reagan and G.W. Bush, have bought moon plots, so far—along with a lot of other people.

Now, fast forward to today.
Nuclear fission has been, so far, the only practical way to create nuclear energy for powering our civilization. Nuclear fusion on a large scale simply isn’t possible—if you are bound to the earth. But, it turns out, the sun continuously churns out helium three [he3]. The particles are blocked by the atmosphere from reaching the earth. But, they’ve been building up on the moon for millennia. So, now, several countries [including the US and Russia] are waking up to the riches that can be gleaned by strip mining the moon.
Enter the idea of colonizing the moon. Whoever can get there first and lay claim to it can make $billions or trillions by exploiting the he3. They're going so far as to call the moon the Middle East of the twenty-first century. Now, that's a chilling thought.

Here we go again. When the possibilities involving oil began to be realized, no doubt the numbers were bandied about much as people are doing now. ‘There are billions of tons of oil under the ground. All we have to do is drill for it. It’s all around us!’ How fast have we run through that oil? And, how many wars have occurred, and how many people have died, because of it? Obviously, people are willing to pay any amount—so long as their gas-guzzlers are kept running.

Now, a scientist has discovered how to squeeze water out of moon dust. It takes enormous amounts of energy—but it can be done. So, the main ingredient for terra-forming the moon is available on site. And all that he3 is just sitting there waiting for the greediest to seize it.

The race is on.

November 27, 2007

And for your reading -- ummmm -- 'pleasure' isn't exactly the word I'm looking for here:
Once again, I'm pushing Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale. A possibly prophetic portrait of the United States.
Visit the link for an excerpt.

Vetoing Our Veterans

When Bush vetoed SCHIP, I heard lots of rhetoric about the fact that the 'children' being supported by the bill were as old as 25 years old -- that many of these 'so-called-children' were living in their parents' homes.
What was, so conveniently, left out of the talking points was the fact that many of these children were VETERANS OF THE AFGHANI AND IRAQI WARS.

As reported by Tom Harper at Who Hijacked Our Country and Larry Sadler of Let's Talk, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joined with Senator Christopher Dodd and a bipartisan coalition of Senators to introduce an amendment to the SCHIP bill which would extend the Family and Medical Leave Act to family members of wounded soldiers from the current three months to six months.
Furthermore, these family members would be assured, for up to one year, that they would not forfeit their jobs if called upon to take a leave of absence in order to care for a veteran family member. Co-sponsors of the amendment included Senators Dole, Graham, Mikulski, Chambliss, Brown, Salazar, Cardin, Menendez, Kennedy, Boxer, Reed, Murray, Harkin and Lieberman.

And, amazingly, there's even more.
I can't make the points more succinctly than Larry Sadler can, himself. So I'll quote directly from his post:

"We have heard for years from President Bush, his Administration, and the Republicans. If you are not for us, you are against us. Well the question to this President, his administration and the Republican party, who vetoed the SCHIP that would help our troops as well as our children; If you are not for our Troops, You are against them!

"If that's not bad enough for us. The Bush Administration wants to cut the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a move which will literally leave 30 million low-income households in the cold this winter.

"Yes you heard it right, he wants to cut government-subsidized heat to low-income households this winter. . . ."
That's right, folks -- George W. Bush, who cries crocodile tears over our troops when demanding money to fund the war, VETOED a bill that will help those who have been grievously wounded in battle after they get home from the battlefield.
is how our President shows his 'Compassionate Conservatism -- an oxymoron if ever there was one.

November 23, 2007

Et Tu. PBS?

Tonight on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, Shields and Brooks were asked about McClellan's statement "Bush may have been instrumental" in outing Valerie Plame. As one, they down-played the importance of the issue. They ignored the facts that Libby and Cheney certainly were involved and, instead, focused on the idea that Bush "may have" been.
Essentially, they looked only at the matter as it will affect the next election and Brooks wrapped up his statement with the words, "This election isn't about Bush."

Then, both Washington Week and The McLaughlin Group said nothing about the book.

Once again, the media are ignoring the fact that our "leaders" broke the law with impunity--and, from the look of things--with immunity, as well.

November 22, 2007

Hey, folks--
I've been off-line for a few days.
I spent one day making the pattern for a pair of shoes I've never made before. The second day I cut out the leather for the first one and sewed it. Amazingly, it even fit on the first try! Then, yesterday I put the finishing touches on the 1st shoe of the pair. This weekend, I hope to make the second.

These are what I call an 'Arrogance Design'.
That means that, although the people who made the original shoes have had approximately 10 to 12 thousand years to perfect the design, Two Crows pipes up and says, 'Hmmmm, I think I can do better.' :)
And, lo and behold, I think I may have, for the first time ever, actually pulled it off! The original design was a Yukon boot-top. I modified the design to make a shoe instead [I won't be needing boots in Florida, for goodness sakes!]

I'll take pics when they're done and, probably, post em on Scattershot Thoughts. They're purdy if I do say so myself. At least the first one is.
AND, I spent part of yesterday COOKING! Notify the poison squad!
Well, technically no -- I didn't actually do something as radical as COOK. I premixed the filling for the pie I'm taking to the communal Turkey Day dinner in my community. Today, I'll bake the crust and fill it and THEN I'll cook the raspberry topping that covers the whole thing.

Still, the point is, I DID spend part of the day in the kitchen [of all places!!] actually putting foods together that didn't come with instructions that included, 'Place in microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for X number of minutes.' In my household, that is a Dangerous Undertaking.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 21, 2007

Wounded Soldier: Military Wants Part Of Bonus Back PITTSBURGH, KANSAS (KDKA -- A CBS affiliate) ―

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

Click here for the complete text.
Leave it to Bush to pose with the soldiers for photo-ops while stabbing them in their backs.

November 19, 2007

Iacocca's Take On Things

So here's where we stand:

We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving.
We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.
We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.
Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy.
Our schools are in trouble.
Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way.
These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: "Where have all the leaders gone?" Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo. We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again.

Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when "the Big Three" referred to Japanese car companies?

How did this happen?
And more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change?

Had enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope. I believe in America . In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America 's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises -- the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this:

You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play.
That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to action for people who, like me, believe in America . It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the horseshit and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had enough.
Excerpted from Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
(Copyright) 2007 by Lee Iacocca. All rights reserved.

November 15, 2007

Seen on BBC International News this morning:
So called 'honor killings' are rising alarmingly in Iraq. The most common reason seems to be 'improper dress' as the bodies are often found covered by an abaya or some other form of traditional dress.

The police are not acting-- reportedly because they're afraid to intervene.
I question this evaluation, though. In a culture where killing of women is perceived as accepted practice, I wonder how much incentive the police have even if they are not intimidated.

Interestingly, when the anchor interviewed the reporter in Iraq, she blamed the American occupation and predicted that such killings might decrease if the US forces would leave--thus lowering the tensions in Iraq.
The Constitution that was up for adoption in Iraq [I don't know if it passed or not] was protested by The National Organization for Women because, although it asserts equal rights for women in one section, it contradicts itself and leaves room for denying those same rights, as well.
The US, hungry for a PR win, pressured Iraq to accept this constitution although women's rights were bargained away.

November 14, 2007

Recently I've neglected Scattershot Thoughts even more than P,P&D.
I did, though, finally get a new post up over there. And, ok, ok -- I couldn't help myself -- politics continues to creep in over there. **sigh**

Another Sure-Fire Veto

Veterans Week 2007: We Sent Them to War, Why Can't We Send Them to College? -- by Paul Riekhoff
Click on the title of Riekhoff''s article for the full text.
Of course, Bush will do whatever he can to veto any moneys to help the troops once they get home.
As he does with children [supporting them while they're in the womb and abandoning them once they're out], he'll use the troops as photo-op props and a method to get elected -- after that, they're on their own.

An Anti-Science Eye-Opener

Now, this frightens me.
Last night, PBS aired the program on NOVA, Judgement Day -- Intelligent Design on Trial.
Beginning November 16, the entire show will be available online here.

The town of Dover, Pennsylvania was torn apart by the intrusion of religion into the classroom by the attempt to force the presentation of Creationism -- **ahem**-- 'Intelligent Design' in the 9th grade science classroom.

Witnesses received hate mail during the trial.

The judge [a Bush appointee (was he later fired by Gonzales? I wonder)] received death threats after finding that a majority of the members of the school board had attempted to circumvent the First Amendment of the Constitution in order to force their religious beliefs to be taught in the public school. He and his family [including his young children] were placed under protective surveillance for fear of what the Christians of the community might do to them.

It was also proved that a number of Board Members committed perjury during the trial.

Pat Robertson publicly wished a natural calamity of some sort upon the town of Dover. I wonder if he prayed that one might happen?

During the NOVA presentation The Wedge Strategy which bewails the removal of God from our culture was outlined. I noticed that the people who claim that our society is falling apart as a result of the removal of God from our culture are backed by the very people who sent those hate mails, who made the death threats and who [in the person of Pat Robertson] wished a natural disaster upon the town.
A 'Wedge Strategy' indeed.

Funny, I don't see the 'Godless Liberals' engaging in such tactics.

In the final moments of the program, the founder of The Wedge Strategy admitted defeat THIS time and vowed to continue the battle to roll the clock back to medieval times.
God help us.

A Pitiable Place in History

This from the Huffington Post: What Is It Like to be a Democrat -- by David Bromwich

On Thursday night, the Senate voted to confirm Michael Mukasey as the next attorney general.

The 53-40 majority included all the Republicans present and six Democrats who crossed over. Love of power, privilege, and punishment express the soul of the Republican party today.

The Democrats are a sadder story. When you have given up this much, what is there left for you to be?

Four Democratic senators were not present to cast a vote: Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama. One of three Republicans who did not vote was John McCain.
Obama, Clinton, Biden and Dodd had declared their opposition to Mukasey earlier in the week. They could not find the time to leave their campaigns for an election a year away, to show up for a vote more critical than any they are likely to see for months. Nor did they use this occasion for a major statement.
Click here for the complete text.
So, now I'm at a loss. No one among the available candidates stood up against torture. So, who can I stand up for in the primary?
Of course, I'll vote against the Republican -- whoever he may be. But, once again, I will not be voting for anyone, come next November [unless Edwards gets the nod -- since he's not a Senator at the moment, he couldn't have voted.]

But-- so sad that this is what our country has come to.

November 13, 2007

The End of the Economy As We Know It

This from the Washington Post:
Life Under Murdoch by Howard Kurtz

An air of resignation has settled over the Wall Street Journal newsroom.

With Rupert Murdoch's takeover of parent company Dow Jones . . . completed, Journal editors and reporters have been pondering what life would be like under the mogul who owns Fox News, the New York Post, Times of London, Weekly Standard and other media and entertainment properties.

While some reporters have sent out their résumés -- and others are being courted by rival news organizations -- those contacted say they have little choice but to try to adapt, especially in a tight job market.

"There's a lot of apprehension, but I don't think there's panic," one veteran staffer says. "There are some people who in conversation will say they're not hanging around. Other people are going to wait and see. I don't know anyone on our news staff who was rooting for this outcome. As with everything else in life, you accept it."

Says another staffer: "There are people who say this means doom for the paper, but I find sentiment is turning. People are right to be anxious, but what's the alternative? You've got this guy who loves newspapers, believes in newspapers, and wants to open his checkbook to make sure the Wall Street Journal makes it to the other side."

Journal employees are acutely aware of Murdoch's history of meddling in news coverage, particularly when his political or business interests are at stake. The question is whether he would be unusually restrained in the case of this acquisition, a theory described by the Journal veteran as "he's too smart to wreck the franchise, because that would wreck the economic value of what he's paying $5 billion for."
Not to mention the nation's [possibly the world's] economy.
Oh, that's right-- Murdoch perceives that as being in the 'Not My Job' department.
Silly me.

Let the Conservatives Entertain You

This from the Huffington Post:
Tell Me What You Watch (And Listen To And Read) and I'll Tell You How You Vote -- by Marty Kaplan

Click here for the complete text.
I must admit I'm not quite as open-minded as Marty paints the majority of liberals. At least, I haven't listened to Rush in years. I'm not interested in replacing my radio on a weekly basis after hurling it out the nearest window.

I do, though, subscribe to NewsMax and read The Washington Times regularly-- so I suppose all is not lost. :)

November 12, 2007

Alert: The War in Real Time

Right now, it's Monday, November 12, noon Florida, USA time.
On the History Channel, there's a program airing: Band of Bloggers.
The viewer is taken to Iraq in real time -- the troops are taking videos of their raids and other experiences and blogging them online as soon as they return to base [at the 'Internet Cafe']

THESE experiences aren't prettied up with editing and flags and lovely music in the background. Please see this if you can. And pass it on.
In case you missed it will re-air tonight at 6:00.

Drew Carey makes good points in this video.

November 8, 2007

Huh! For All the Good It Did --

A few weeks ago I wrote my Senators and Representative [again] begging them to get on the ball and impeach Cheney.
Soon thereafter I received an email from my 'Democratic' Senator saying, 'Don't you worry your pretty little head about such matters -- leave the decisions to us grown-ups who understand such things.'

Then, this morning, I received an absolute brush-off from my [Republican] representative. He didn't even mention the impeachment issue at all -- he simply 'thanked' me for my letter using a full sheet of paper, an envelope, and ink to do it with along with the gasoline used for its delivery.
Now, THAT was a complete waste of resources merely to say, 'I know you won't vote for me anyway, so the hell with you and the hell with the Constitution which, by the way, I swore to uphold and defend. But, what's a little oath before God when important issues are at stake -- like paying back my corporate backers?'

Full text of both letters and my reply to Senator Nelson are below.
There's no point in responding to Bilirakis as you'll see.
Dear Ms. C_____:

Thank you for informing me of your views. Many Americans would agree that certain actions taken by this Administration warrant impeachment.

While I’m also frustrated by the failures of the White House in both foreign and domestic policy, such action would be impractical. The president’s and vice president’s terms conclude next year. In the months immediately ahead, I believe the officials in Washington need to focus on working across the aisle to get results on the major challenges facing our country--not only on Iraq, but also on health care coverage and retirement security for all Americans.

I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Bill Nelson
I took him at his word and sent him this:

Dear Senator Nelson:
I recently wrote you concerning impeachment of Vice President Cheney and President Bush.

You wrote me back--and thank you for the letter. I could not forgo one response.

I'm aware that it is never convenient to impeach an administration. However, these are not normal times. When our Constitution is daily being shredded and we are on the verge of being taken into yet another war on false pretenses, some sort of action must be taken.

Your argument that this is not a convenient time is simply not sufficient right now.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Then, this morning, I received this:

Dear A______:
[and btw-- I hadn't been aware I was on a first-name basis with this man. I used his title when I wrote to him.]

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on the Republican leadership. I appreciate hearing from you.

As a resident of Florida's Ninth District, your comments and opinions are an important source of information to help me carry out my duties as your federal representative. In that regard, please do no hesitate to contact me in the future on any issue important to you. Also, if you would like to be informed more frequently about my work in Congress and in Florida's Ninth Congressional District, please visit my website at *** to sign up for regular email or to send me a message.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Sincerely yours,
Gus M. Bilirakis
Member of Congress
Well, what can I say?
I've known for years that the era of representative government was past.
I just hadn't expected to have my nose rubbed in it quite as flagrantly as this.

November 7, 2007

Chris Dodd Speaks to the Debate That Didn't Happen

This from the Huffington Post:

Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential debate in Philadelphia included some of the most serious discussions of Iraq, Iran, and global warming that we've had thus far during the campaign season.

But they aren't the only areas where the stakes are high and there are clear differences among the candidates. And so, today I want to talk about a few things we weren't asked by the moderators Tuesday night at Drexel University.

Click here for the complete text.

The Guys Who Can't Shoot Straight Do It Again

This from the Washington Post:
There He Goes Again -- by Al Karnen

'Seems that Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff has become a serial apologist of late. Every time you turn on the tube, there he is, apologizing for some bonehead move by a senior agency official. Might as well just book a daily half-hour into his schedule for the morning mea culpa.

'First there was the now-classic phony FEMA news conference on the California wildfires by Deputy Administrator Harvey E. Johnson a couple weeks ago, which White House press secretary Dana Perino and Chertoff roundly condemned.
'Yesterday, Chertoff was at it again, apologizing at length for the latest blunder, this one by DHS Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Julie Myers.

'At an agency Halloween party Oct. 31, Myers was on a three-judge panel that gave a "most original costume" award to a white employee dressed in prison garb. He wore dreadlocks and dark makeup, making him look African American or Hispanic, according to a source who was there.

'Myers had her picture taken with the winner.
. . . [Then] the costumed employee was put on administrative leave while the agency determines "the appropriate sanction," Chertoff said, adding that he has "zero tolerance for racism or discrimination." '
So, DHS giveth and DHS taketh away.
First, they give the guy a prize, then they suspend him.
Meanwhile, does ANYTHING happen to the bonehead who tolerated racism at the party?
And what does this say about their policies generally?

Click here for the complete text.

November 3, 2007

Be Afraid -- Be Very Afraid

Bring It On -- By Jane Smiley in the Huffington Post

'There is an article in today's New York Times about the way Michael Mukasey has been hedging on waterboarding. The difficulty . . . is, as "Jack L. Goldsmith, . . . wrote in his recent memoir, The Terror Presidency, that the possibility of future prosecution for aggressive actions against terrorism was a constant worry inside the Bush administration." Another expert points out that future prosecutors "...would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it. Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that's why he'll never say it's torture."

'I have to say that I am both glad and amazed that the Bush administration is with it enough to worry. That is a good sign.'

Click here for the complete text.

November 1, 2007

A Couple of New Entries at Scattershot--

Check these out -- :)

Hey, Folks--
Just a word about my online absence, lately:
My posts have been and will probably continue to be rather thin on the ground and consist of stuff I've already got in the hopper for the next week or so.

I've been winding up the wall-texturing [it's DONE finally!] and cleaning up the flecks of wall paper paste and the paint spatters all over the living room floor -- and rehanging the curtains, finishing up the guest room, cleaning the rest of the house that has been so sadly neglected during the project--and grocery shopping.
My first ever Florida house guest is arriving tomorrow and will be here for a little over a week. So, I'm likely to be out of pocket as I escort him over to Zephyr Hills [a 2 hour drive or so from here] to an airport where he will be **gasp!** jumping out of airplanes a lot.
[I'll be cheering him on from below with my feet planted firmly on the ground.]

I'll resurface after I've seen him off on the big airplane that will be taking him home.
And, yes, I plan to write a note on his hand reminding him not to try to jump out of the DC-10 or the 727 on his way back to Missouri [though why anyone would voluntarily return to Missouri from Florida is beyond me.]
c u in a week or so --
assuming we still have an internet and soldiers haven't confiscated all the computers by then.