Archive for November, 2006

Keybored?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Quill pen set

Are you bored by keyboarding? Does your soul cry out for a time when the written word was handmade and permanent? Check out this neat gift idea from the Virtual Liberty Bell Museum. (Their telephone numbers place them in Connecticut; the Liberty Bell itself is 200 miles [320 km] away in Philadelphia). According to their site

The Quill Pen and Ink Stationery Set includes 15 sheets of antiqued parchment-like paper, stained and edged, 10 matching envelopes, a feather quill, hand blown glass ink bottle tied with a red, white and blue ribbon, cork top, packaged dry ink, history and instructions for use.

Hmmm, parchment-like paper; not quite authentic, but close. Note also that the kit includes “instructions for use.” You know we have wallowed too long in the digital swamps when we need instructions on how to use a quill pen.

With its red, white and blue ribbons, this attractive set will appeal to patriots on both sides of the political fence. Two species of quill are available: Goose for Democrats, and Turkey for Republicans.

Our future in Iraq

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double

— The Clash

All of a sudden, the Pentagon is pretending to consider alternatives for the Iraq War beyond “staying the course.” The options are few: Keep troop levels as they are; increasing troop levels to gain control and expedite training of Iraqis; or withdrawing troops and letting what happens, happen. Among local alternatives, one recurring suggestion is to partition Iraq into Shiite, Sunni and Kurd regions. Rather than seeking a better solution, we must find the lesser evil, and hope.

We own Iraq. We invaded without justifiable provocation, and many people believe our government knowingly lied to us about the need for this war. I’m one of them. Having raised our voices all along, it’s tempting to say the heck with Iraq, let’s get out. But what would happen if we removed most or all of our troops now?

Iraq is a desirable piece of real estate. Unlike Darfur, or Zimbabwe, or any of the other hells on earth, Iraq sits astride an ocean of oil. Whoever controls that oil automatically becomes a major factor in the future of the whole world, not just Iraq’s or America’s. Iraq is surrounded by nations whose populations run the gamut of Shiite, Sunni and Kurd, not to mention the secular Baathists in Syria. The level of violence in Iraq now pales in comparision with what will ensue if we remove our military forces. Every country in the region will feel threatened, and be unwilling to stand by while the competing factions fight for control. An American withdrawal will likely result in a regional conflagration. As we learned in Iraq, wars are easier to start than stop. Because so many other countries depend on Middle Eastern oil, we can’t expect them to remain uninvolved in that regional conflict. Leaving Iraq now could lead to global war.
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More troops to Iraq

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

With the Democrats running the House and Senate again, Americans probably thought we’d start pulling troops out of Iraq soon. In a previous post, made a week ago, I said “What lies ahead now that another leftover from Bush I has been appointed to SecDef? Here’s a hint from the Birds: Watch for massive troop movements into Iraq.”

Democratic Party leaders have already said they won’t try to stop the war by cutting off funding. Bush and Cheney are lame ducks. Having already cost their party the 2006 midterm elections, they have nothing to lose by going for broke in Iraq. And guess what?

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Political Science

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Science is at once a blessing and a curse. Science has cured many diseases, taken us to the moon and the ocean depths, and brought us the marvels of the Internet. Science has also exposed us to nuclear weapons, air, water and soil pollution, and global warming. No wonder so many people view science and scientists with suspicion as well as awe.

Science is impartial, of course. The negative consequences of science are largely the fault of public policy, or the lack of it. The Bush Regime is responsible for some of the worst applications of public policy to science ever seen. In their hands, science is a political tool, subject to the same lies and distortions as any other fact-based information. Global warming is dismissed as hearsay, and science itself is perverted to that cause through selective release of data collected by the government’s own scientists.

Science often conflicts with religious beliefs, especially in the areas of evolution and the age of the universe. This Regime preys on religious beliefs, implying certain beliefs of its own, to secure a foothold in what is unfortunately a large bloc of the American electorate.

Yesterday, Census Bureau chief C. Louis Kincannon, and Hermann Habermann, who ran the census operation, resigned. Habemann’s resignation revealed no details, but Kincannon’s did. What this Regime has consistently done with government-developed data about global warming, they are trying to do with census data. Voting districts, from which congressional representatives are chosen, are determined directly from census data. Kincannon’s and Habermann’s sin was to probe more deeply into remote parts of the country inhabited by minorities and the poor — often bastions of Democratic Party support — than Republicans could tolerate. Cooking the data is safer than cooking the elections, as uncounted voters have little say when it comes to congressional redistricting. Voter disenfranchisement, another favorite tactic of this Regime, gets noticed; who cares whether a million scattered citizens are counted by the census or not?

It’s time that people who take a fair-minded approach to science regain control of this runaway plutocracy. (more…)

Karl Rove: It’s time to gloat

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

“I believe Karl Rove. Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington.” — Joshua Bolten, White House Chief of Staff, before the elections.

I should have posted this right after the midterm elections last week, but it slipped my mind. An excerpt from an interview with Karl Rove, conducted by National Public Radio’s Robert Siegel. (more…)

Nuremberg Revisited

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

The final battle of WW2 in Europe was fought at the Nuremberg trials, at which many ex-Nazis were convicted for war crimes. Several were sentenced to death. Worth noting is that such trials are always staged by the winning side. In a balanced world, the Allies would have faced justice for war crimes as well, notably the bombing of Dresden and the firebombing of Tokyo. Robert McNamara, later Secretary of Defense under presidents Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, was an aide to Gen. Curtis LeMay, who planned the firebombing attacks on Tokyo. Those attacks caused hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, far exceeding those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. McNamara said LeMay admitted to him that, had Japan won instead, LeMay and his group would have been charged with planning and committing war crimes.

Now another former U.S. Secretary of Defense may actually be charged with war crimes. Time is reporting that Germany may indict Donald Rumsfeld, as well as Attorney General Antonio Gonzalez, former-CIA Director George Tenet, and several other military leaders and administration officials in connection with the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay incarcerations and abuses. (“Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse.”) One probable witness for the prosecution is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of prisons in Iraq. Karpinski was sacrificed in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib abuses. According to Time, Karpinski has issued a statement saying, “It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”

I’m glad to see light being shed on these stains on our nation’s character. What bothers me is that Germany is holding the torch. (more…)

Dumping Dick

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Now the Democrats have control of both houses of the legislature, the word on everyone’s lips is “impeachment.” No president in memory is more deserving of impeachment than George Bush, but consider the consequences. Are you really prepared for President Richard B. Cheney ? The chances of dumping both of them are pretty slim, and Dick’s the bigger fish. Bush is a puppet, incapable of a coherent idea, much less a grammatical sentence. It was Cheney, with his ties to the neocon Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that got us into Iraq. Getting us out of Iraq only solves half the problem.

Last week Bush said he was perfectly happy with Dick and Don. Then he dumped Don, excusing the lie by saying he didn’t want to influence the elections by telling the truth. And telling enraptured audiences across the land that a victory for the Demcrats would be a victory for the terrorists was better?

Back in July I said we should demand the immediate dismissal of Rumsfeld, and I was hardly the first to make that suggestion. If Karl Rove were half the genius he’s made out to be, he would have told Bush the same thing. With a new face at the Pentagon the Republicans may have held onto the Senate, if not the House. Now I say that if Bush were smart he’d force Cheney to quit. There are plenty of good excuses, such as his allegedly defective heart, though many of us question whether he even has one. Bush could then appoint someone the Republicans would like to run for president in 2008. (You may think the Republicans don’t have a prayer in 2008, but a lot of us were saying that in 2004, too.) (I wasn’t the first to suggest dumping Dick, either. See this April 2006 article in the London Times.)

Who are Bush’s likely choices? Wow, there are so many since Blue Tuesday. (more…)

Rummy, Rummy, Bush is a Dummy

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

The Republican’s “November Surprise” turns out not to be the death sentence of Saddam Hussein, but the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld. Too bad for them, it came too late to save the House, and maybe the Senate, too. Surely Evil Boy Genius Karl Rove has been pushing Bush to dump Rummy for months. What happened? Maybe Bush was too busy zipping around the country trying to salvage his party to check his email. When he finally pulled up in DC yesterday, I’ll bet he slapped his forehead and shouted, “Sweet Jesus, why didn’t I think of that!?” What can I say? He’s obviously been listening to the wrong guy.

Is Rumsfeld responsible for the catastrophic disaster in Iraq? Of course not. It’s the fault of the generals, Democrats, pacifists, French, Germans and Hurricane Katrina. Alas, we won’t have Don Rumsfeld to kick around anymore. If I didn’t despise him so much, I’d almost miss him.

What lies ahead now that another leftover from Bush I has been appointed to SecDef? (more…)

Ejection Day

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

The returns are coming in and the Democrats have regained the House of Representatives. They need three more wins to take the Senate, but at least they’ve trimmed the Republican majority there. Still undecided is Virginia’s senatorial race, in which the Republican incumbent is an outright racist. Of course, racism no longer exists in this country, so there must be another reason why the totals are only a few thousand apart with more than 2 million votes counted.

I seem doomed to live in states inhabited by idiots. I lived in Connecticut for 20 years. You never knew what to expect from that bunch. This year they re-elected Joe Lieberman, whose own party disowned him for being Bush’s lap dancer. Lieberman ran as an Independent and won. Not to be outdone, Floridians elected Charlie Crist, the Republican candidate, as governor. Crist’s television ads had one focus: His Democratic opponent, a congressman, had a bad attendance record. One Florida newspaper dissected the ad and told the truth: His attendance record was only poor because he was campaigning for governor. Prior to the campaign he had an excellent attendance record. But did his team suggest setting the record straight in their ads? No, and why should they? Ignoring the sleaze worked wonders for Democrat John Kerry in 2004, didn’t it?

A few bright notes in this election: Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is out, and Kathleen Harris, that same wonderful crazy person who gave us George Bush, lost her bid for the Senate. Up in Ohio, Kenneth (“Uncle Tom”) Blackwell, who ran for governor while at the same time acting as Ohio’s elections commissioner, still lost. When you own the voting system, disenfranchise your fellow blacks from voting, and still lose, it’s time to look for a new career.
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Ted Haggard’s Calling

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Ted Haggard’s forced resignation as head of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of the New Life Church, came as no surprise to me. Haggard, who outspokenly opposes gay marriage and gay relationships was accused of having a three-year pay-for-sex-and-drugs relationship with a gay man. Haggard’s hypocrisy is nothing new. More than a year ago, I commented on an email he sent to his followers, when he was trying to solidify the political power of his group:

If a camera is on you during a worship service, worship; don’t dance, jump, etc. Secular people watching TV are touched with authentic worship, but jumping and dancing in church looks too bizarre for most to relate to. Remember, people watching TV news are not experiencing what you are experiencing. They are watching and thinking. Worship indicates sincerity, dancing and jumping looks like excessive emotionalism.

The happiest people I know are those who feel free to be themselves. The most-unhappy people I know are those who feel they must conceal parts of themselves, must act a part to be accepted. Our true nature often overwhelms our conscious need to conform. Too frequently the results are personally devastating.

Haggard is a passionate and charismatic man. His New Life Church boasts 14,000 parishioners. Unlike other evangelicals, like the dreary Dr. James Dobson, Haggard didn’t limit his appeals to the knee-jerk Christian Right proscriptions against abortion and gay marriage. Haggard spoke against racism and poverty. Haggard was also one of the few people on the Right who believed global warming was a fact, and that we should be doing something to alleviate it.

We’ve known for a long time that homosexuality is not a choice, regardless of what the Bible says. Why do so many people continue to follow strictures set down more than 2000 years ago, by men who were at least as hypocritical as anyone alive today? If Haggard had made his career in social or environmental activism instead, his outing would not have removed him from his public position. Our country will be poorer if Haggard’s outing removes his voice from these important subjects.
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