July 31, 2008

From The Washington Post:
The Torture Paper Trail -- by Eugene Robinson

I still find it hard to believe that George W. Bush, to his eternal shame and our nation's great discredit, made torture a matter of hair-splitting, legalistic debate at the highest levels of the U.S. government.
For the record: I don't-- and never did.
In fact, I wish I could find it hard to believe.
Three previously classified administration memos obtained last week by the American Civil Liberties Union add to our understanding of this disgraceful episode. The documents are attempts to justify the unjustifiable -- the use of brutal interrogation methods that international agreements define as torture -- and to keep those who ordered and carried out this dirty business from being prosecuted and jailed.
A clear and urgent duty of the next president will be to investigate the Bush administration's torture policy and give Americans a full accounting of what was done in our name. It's astounding that we need some kind of truth commission in the United States of America, but we do. Only when we learn the full story of what happened will we be able to confidently promise, to ourselves and to a world that looks to this country for moral leadership: Never again.
And to think that the phrase, "Never Again" [with all that it implies] should be applied to this country is appalling.
Click here for the complete text.

July 27, 2008

Well, I Saw This Coming

Last winter the Science Channel broadcast a program about Helium Three [He3]. It’s an essential ingredient in the development of nuclear fusion and nuclear fusion is, according to many scientists, our next step when it comes to powering our cities and, maybe one day, our cars. IF we can figure out how to do it. And, with lots of HE3 available, we just might.
The sun has been steadily churning out HE3 since it first turned on 4.5 billion years ago. The earth, though, has a magnetic field that has effectively shielded the planet from all that HE3. The moon and Mars don’t have magnetic fields and are literally covered in HE3 dust.

So, the Science Channel reported that the Moon and Mars are covered in this stuff. So what?
Well, my first thought when I saw it was, ‘We’re off to the races and we’re going to make the 1st space race look like a stroll in the park.' After all, that was just politically motivated. But this time thar’s MONEY on them thar planets! The tax payers will foot the bill to get there and the CEO’s will make the profits. What could be better?
Sure enough, toward the end, the program trotted out several men who are high-up muckity-mucks in the energy industry to get their thoughts on these facts. One went so far as to call the Moon the next Middle East. Oh, wonderful—just what we need. Star Wars.
Then, several weeks ago, I heard Bush going on and on about funding NASA at levels we haven’t seen since the original space race. He talked about colonizing the Moon and Mars.
He was careful not to mention HE3 or mining but, if you had watched the program on the Science Channel it was easy to see what he’s up to: His family is in the oil business. But we’re running out of oil. So, he’s positioning his family to be involved early-on with the next major energy commodity that HE sees as important. Is it a relatively low-cost, renewable resource that can be harvested here on earth? Not on your life! It’s the most expensive, hard-to-get-at product out there—after all, we don’t want the equivalent of bathtub gin that anyone can make and even sell back to the grid. He and his family and the other uber-rich folks want something that the rest of us have to buy from them.

And, tonight, I saw Phase 3: Sixty Minutes either wittingly or unwittingly [my guess is they knew exactly what they were doing—they’re lots smarter than Bush is, fwiw] was gushing on and on about colonizing the Moon and Mars. They dressed the whole thing up in romantic clothing but, bank on it, the government wouldn’t be spending all this money on going back into space in a big way if there wasn’t something in it for them.

Sixty Minutes was sent out as an advance guard to convince the rest of us that this is a Good Idea.
btw—on the first program I saw—and blogged on [I’m going to hunt down that article and repost it sometime soon] there was one lone scientist who begged us to look at the unintended consequences we’ve encountered when we’ve galloped off in all directions in the past—before we do it again.

And, tonight, 60 Minutes trotted out the opposition [one senator] to suggest that taking on this formidable task when our country is in the toilet economically might not be the best use of our scarce resources. Not surprisingly, he got about ½ minute air time—in a 20-minute segment.

We’re heading out to mine the Moon and Mars, folks. And nothing’s gonna stop us [and China, and Russia, and Japan, and India, and Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, and Jordan, and Israel, and Britain, et al.] and Star Wars here we come, ready or not.
Another btw: in that first blog post, I talked about buying an acre plot on the Moon. They ARE available for sale for about $37 per acre, if memory serves. I bought 2 for myself and several for friends when I first heard about this plan to strip mine the Moon. I think it’s time to buy a few more—soon—before the government puts a stop to such sales. Right now it’s legal and mining rights are included. But who knows how long that will last with this push starting up in earnest?

Get ‘em before they become too hot folks. They could be worth quite a bit of money down the road.

July 25, 2008

ColorOfChange called out FOX and O'Reilly on their blatant racism yesterday.
Colbert took note though FOX didn't. It refused to accept the petition. Speaking of color -- Color me surprised.

July 24, 2008

Christian the Lion

If you haven't seen the video of Christian the Lion and you feel like having a good cry, hop over to Scattershot Thoughts. Take kleenex.

July 22, 2008


Yesterday I read, over on Morning Martini that the talking heads say that we can’t focus on more than one issue at a time.
So, now that the economy is tanking, they don’t need to give us any info on the wars or the state of D.C. or the upcoming elections or how NOLA is doing post-Katrina or what's happening regarding our educational or health care systems, etc. etc. etc.
Or the beginning, finally, of the ‘war-crime’ tribunal which opened against bin Laden’s driver today. [This is the man who was accused of being the ‘terrorist’ who helped bin Laden escape to Pakistan. Hello! He was bin Laden’s CHAUFFEUR, for God’s sake! He was the hired help. That was his crime.]*

Anyway, if what the media say were true, their jobs would be a heckuva lot easier, I’m sure.
But, I’m here to demonstrate that we’re ambidextrous and, what’s more, we can even walk and chew gum at the same time.
Here are 2 unrelated [or, at least, only peripherally related] articles—both of which are important in today’s world.
Timelines in the Sand -- by Eugene Robinson.
Throwing Honesty out the Window -- by Sebastian Mallaby.
I’ll bet you can read and think about both.
*By the way, the first thing the court did in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan was to throw out all evidence gleaned by ‘harsh interrogation measures’. Great News! Information based on torture will not be allowed to stand!
Now, all we have to do is arrest the people who arranged for the torture in the first place.
Yeah, yeah, I knew I should quit while I was ahead. It seems Congress can either curry favor with big business and raise funds to run for office OR govern-- but it can't do both.
Maybe that's where the MSM got the idea that we can't think about two things at once, huh?
See? We can even think about THREE things! [Four if you count impeachment for war crimes.]

July 20, 2008

Suck It Up, Whiners!!! Everything's Just Fine.

Make no mistake about it: before he disagreed with Phil Gramm, McCain agreed with him.
Listen to him make the case for the current economy being 'all in our heads',

listen to him throw Gramm [his 'friend' of 25 years whom he tried to help to the presidency in 1996] under the bus,

then listen to what the pundits have to say about it all,

and finally, there's this article from the Huffington Post that may help make sense of it all-- at least a little.
And, before we dismiss ALL politicians as having this ivory tower, above-it-all viewpoint that prohibits them from being able to see the plight of the rest of us, remember the Kennedy’s who [despite being brought up with such great wealth that their father presented each of them with $1,000,000.00 on their 21st birthdays so that they would be able to tell him to, ‘Go to hell,’] never seemed to forget where they had come from. Maybe that explains why they were Democrats back when being a Democrat meant something.

If I’d been able to vote in 1960, I might’ve passed JFK over as a lightweight. And it’s hard to see past his halo now [because of the way he died] but I do think we can all agree that he wasn’t so far removed from us that he couldn’t empathize — even sympathize — with our situations. And, I believe, that was even more true of Bobby.

I've heard all the arguments against Obama — from lightweight to corrupt. But, idealist that I am, I'm still hoping that he'll remember where he came from and act accordingly.

July 16, 2008

I'm again nagging about
The Handmaid's Tale -- by Margaret Atwood.
Forgive me, I can't help myself.

"Offred [pronounced 'Of Fred'] is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to the food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read.
"She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because, in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.
"Offred can remember the years before when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke, when she played with and protected her daughter, when she had a job, money of her own and access to knowledge.
"But all that is gone now.

"Atwood takes many trends that exist today and stretches them to their logical and chilling conclusions. An excellent novel about the directions our lives are taking. Read it while it is still allowed."
Houston Chronicle

July 14, 2008

There-There--Doesn't That Make You Feel Better?

Read in Time Magazine:
America's Medicated Army By Mark Thompson
Jun. 05, 2008
Prozac and other antidepressants along with prescription sleep-aids are being ladled out to our troops. Last count, more than 20,000 troops are receiving such meds in Afghanistan and Iraq. What a good place to be hopped-up on psychotropic medications.
And if you think they're getting follow-up visits to the psychiatrists who prescribed the drugs -- think again. The mental health professionals are spread just as thin as the soldiers are. They're in a 'take-a-number' mode.
Not to mention the fact that 'young people' [which include most of the soldiers we're talking about here] can have such side-effects as increased suicidal ideation.
SO--let's increase thoughts of suicide among kids with guns. Another great idea.

Like you, I've been hearing about the increase in suicide among our troops. What I didn't know is that our government was helping to elevate the numbers not only by forcing them to return time-after-time-after-time but by giving them drugs that increase the chance they'll actually, you know, kill themselves.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is thinking about increasing the scope of the Purple Heart to include the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Oh, that's OK, then.
Click here for the article in Time.

July 13, 2008

It's About Time ---

Capitalism's Reality Check -- by E. J. Dionne Jr.

You know the talking points: Regulation is the problem and deregulation is the solution. The distribution of income and wealth doesn't matter. Providing incentives for the investors of capital to "grow the pie" is the only policy that counts. Free trade produces well-distributed economic growth, and any dissent from this orthodoxy is "protectionism."

The old script is in rewrite. "We are in a worldwide crisis now because of excessive deregulation," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview.
"Free trade has increased wealth, but it's been monopolized by a very small number of people," Frank said. The coming debate will focus not on shutting globalization down but rather on managing its effects with an eye toward the interests of "the most vulnerable people in the country."

In the campaign so far, John McCain has been clinging to the old economic orthodoxy while Barack Obama has proposed a modestly more active role for government. But the economic assumptions are changing faster than the rhetoric of the campaign. "Reality has broken in," says Frank. And none too soon.
I'm not so sure not shutting down globalization will really do any good. But, of course, to do that politicians would have to get out of Big Business' pockets. And when is that going to happen?
Click here for the complete text.

July 12, 2008

Heard on NPR

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I learned this via Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! a current events quiz show [and a great news source].
True story:
Airlines will soon begin issuing immobilization bracelets before flights. If you turn out to be a terrorist and start posing a threat to other passengers and/or staff, a jolt of electricity will be sent through the the bracelet temporarily disabling you so that you can be wrestled to the floor and handcuffed to your seat for the duration of the flight.

You should eye your neighbors askance-- particularly if they own a dog:
Pet-owners are more likely than non-pet-owners to vote for McCain.
I am currently living with a cat though its not entirely by choice. I hadn't planned on adopting Jake -- but when he wandered into my life I didn't have the heart to say no.
Maybe that distinction accounts for my freakish plan to vote for Obama even though I'm absolutely un-thrilled by his voting record. Yes, there's a pet in my life but I'm not a true-believer. . . .

So, "Do you have pets? Who are you planning to vote for?"
Of course, McCain would be better cast as pet than president.
I had heard some time ago that there is a negative correlation between eating curry, even occasionally, and Alzheimer's Disease.
Now, I hear that there is a positive correlation between eating tofu and dementia.
Trade-offs, trade-offs. :.-(

Wellllllllllll -- there's not that much tofu in hot and sour soup, anyway, is there?
[Maybe if I sprinkle in a little curry???]

July 10, 2008

And the Band Plays On

I was amazed yesterday. A friend, not some stupid, lunatic fringe person but an intelligent woman, told me that she believes Iraq had WMD's.
When I asked her where Saddam had hidden them that we haven't been able to find them in 5 years, she was totally unwavering in her conviction that they're still there. Somewhere.


Until that happened, I still held hope that we might not get dragged into yet another pointless and illegal war.
But when I hear this woman who: 1] has no use, at all, for Bush 2] calls him a pathological liar 3] hates the way the country is going STILL buy the WMD story wholesale, I absolutely despair for us all.

The people Bush wants to attack for no reason are PEOPLE NOT TARGETS.
The people he wants to send are OUR KIDS -- NOT ASSETS.
And, I fear he will get away with it. Again.

July 8, 2008

Carter = Cassandra//Reagan -- Not So Much

Wish Upon A Pump -- by Richard Cohen
Perusing the Sunday newspapers with plagiaristic intent, I come across an article about who's responsible for the current energy debacle. Politicians are mentioned along with the amazingly shortsighted auto executives and the oil industry itself. Names, lots of names, are dropped, everyone from the current President Bush to the previous Bush to Clinton, but not a mention of the culprit in chief, Ronald Wilson Reagan -- still, after all these years, the Teflon president.
Please click here for complete text.

July 6, 2008

I've just finished watching a program on global warming.
Even while issuing warning after warning, the narrator kept using the word, 'If'---
"IF the heat continues to climb--"
"IF the drought continues--"
"IF the US can no longer feed itself, let alone the world--"
Simultaneously warning and soothing, the program just kept on delivering a double message. Even as it spoke of what the scientists have been discovering and warning us about for a generation, it was _so_ careful not to point the finger at any government.

What a tightrope the narrator walked.
I'm hoarse from screaming at the TV -- which did no good, of course.

July 5, 2008

Just Fun :)

I captioned the first one myself.
If you're not a fan of STNG, you won't get it.