Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Fundamental Purposes of Organized Religion

Long ago, as I was growing up, I was raised Catholic. My parents gave us a choice round about the time my siblings and I were 12 or 13: Do you want to continue in the Church, or not? Not many parents trust their children enough to let them make that kind of decision. Mine did.

My choice was to stop going to Sunday school (actually it was on Saturday) and stay home to watch cartoons in the AM. Moreover, I wasn't really grasping the concepts. The stories and allegories were difficult to understand and there was, frankly, too much faith involved. Sure the morals were good to learn, but I couldn't figure why we had to say ten Hail Mary's for swearing at your sister. Also, the whole idea of the Holy Trinity was beyond me at that age. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? Zoiks!

I took the no go option, and my parents let me. I figured, should I need to find religion, I would do some in depth research and expose myself to the different religions of the world to find out which one I felt was best for me. I have yet to accomplish that task.

What I did find was that there are about five fundamental purposes of organized religion. And, if you can find them where ever you worship, you are a lucky individual.

At one point, I felt like running was my religion. Indeed, I was practicing my "religion" twice a day to the tune of about 80 miles a week and testing my faith just about every weekend on the cross country course or the track. I also found a ready made community to which I belonged, but kept those who were not of the same mind (or ability) out. If you couldn't do a 5 minute mile or better, you were sunk.

To make the long story short, I am interested what people's thoughts are on organized religion and if there is more to it than my - well, let's call them
Windspike's Five Fundamental Purposes of Organized Religion. They are:

1) Organized religion provides one with a sense of belonging and a ready made community of likeminded friends to which not everyone has access.

2) Organized religion provides a vehicle by which one can, either alone or in concert with some advisors/friends, work to solve her/his own riddles and problems. This is accomplished via prayer, prayer groups, counseling by a priest and the like.

3) Organized religion offers members a sense of security and serenity with the idea of Death, as in comfort with the notion of an afterlife. This assuages one's fears about death and dying.

4) Organized religion proveds a rubric or set of beliefs and values to which one can adhear or deviate, but mainly sets the ethical tone by which high quality behavior is evaluated. That is, what is right or wrong to do has clear boundaries and members should behave accordingly.

5) Lastly, organized religion offers absolution of, or the forgiving of one's sins/bad behavior.

Fillabuster Frist

Those crazy kids at Princeton have a nice grass roots thing going on campus. You can watch them fry Frist live by fillibuster-provided their bandwith is not tapped out.

Here's a snip from another locatoin that is a fun little slice of American Patriots acting on their First Amdendment Rights to disagree with the W, Rove and Co.

Personal Versus Private

Just wondering, what's the difference between personal and private social security accounts?

The spin post 28 April speechifying is dizzying.


What did I miss? The president offered no specifics at all. He still says some portion of Social Security must be phased out and replaced with private accounts. And just as it has been since the beginning of Bamboozlepalooza, pretty much every thing he said was meant to deceive his listeners.

End Slice:

I suppose I am not the only one left unrequited on the in, those things within which the devil lies. It is always easier to be vague than specify them thar details, "fella."

Religion is a Personal Matter

I don't know what I was thinking regarding the transcript situation. I should have went directly to C-SPAN, Duhh! Of course. Thanks for the reminder Moxie. They tape everything - no commercials. You have got to love the unfiltered, unvarnished, unsanitized, unclipped, real deal video so you can hear our fair president in all his glory.

As it turns out, the Whitehouse Transcript that was accurate! This is a nice lesson for faithful readers of the NYTimes. If you choose to put yourself through the fact checking process, you will find the appropriate location at about 17:08 into the C-SPAN recording of the W's Q & A.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Which Transcription is Correct?

Doing a bit of fact checking, I clicked on over to the Whitehouse web location to review the same segment I and noticed the word "not" strategically located in the text. The NYTimes version of what happened is remarkably different.

Was anyone there to witness this portion of the Q & A and can testify that W said one thing or the other. Now, I am conflicted. I don't know whom to believe, the NYTimes transcriber or the Whitehouse version. Isn't that a shame?

Slice from the Whitehouse:

Q Do you think that's an inappropriate statement? And what I asked is --

THE PRESIDENT: No, I just don't agree with it.

Q You don't agree with it.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think people oppose my nominees because -- because of judicial philosophy.

Q Sorry, I asked you what you think of the ways faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society --

THE PRESIDENT: No, I know you asked me that. Well, I can only speak to myself, and I am mindful that people in political office should not say to somebody, you're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion. As I said, I think faith is a personal issue, and I get great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion.

The great thing about America, David, is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want, and if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim. That's the wonderful thing about our country, and that's the way it should be.

I Agree with the President

Last night as I reviewed the text of W's speech/Q&A, I found a number of points that I can agree with. The idea of advancing fuelcell technology is one.

But then I flash back to the one night I was watching him on television (which I didn't do last night as I was grading papers for my course) and he gravely announced we were going to carpet bomb Iraq because there were Weapons of Mass Destruction, and likely they would trickle into the hands of terrorists via Saddam. I believed him then, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt thinking, "hey, he must have a whole lot more information than we are able to digest, and this, while a tough decision, must be based on some high quality intelligence."

Of course, we have all been misled. So, every time I find myself thinking, "hey, perhaps W is onto something," I can't get past the fact that there were no WMD and that there is now more terrorist activity than before.

Can someone help me to trust the president again? I can't get past this. Given our shared history, why should we trust this man at this point in time?

Incidentally, there is a whole other post that could go on here about how the Mainstream Media Propaganda Machine cut away from the whole of the press conference - and there is more to the thing than the bullet points the media outlets distilled for us. See post below.

W speaks

The press office in the whitehouse must quiver with fear every time the President gets in front of a pack of reporters (whether they are stacked for or against him). I haven't had a whole lot of time to review the text of tonights speach/Q &A, but Zoiks...I am glad I am not on the clean up detail for this guy.

Example slice:

QUESTION: Do you think that's an inappropriate statement? And what I ask is...

BUSH: No, I just don't agree with it.

QUESTION: You don't agree with it?

BUSH: No. I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy.

QUESTION: Sir, I asked you about what you think of...

BUSH: No, I know what you asked me.

QUESTION: ... the way faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society generally.

BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office should say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion.


Right about here, if you are anyone remotely close to needing to do clean up for the prez, you are shaking in your shoes - thank goodness he restates what he actually means and cleans up his own mess, but my goodness...


As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion.

The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim.

And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

You Scratch My PAC, and I'll Scratch Yours

This sure sounds spurious, not unlike money laundering deserving of federal racketeering charges. When they talk about reform on Capital Hill, PAC and Lobbying Function elimination should be at the fore of the list. Of course, how can we expect our congressional reps to disconnect themselves from the artificial political lifesupport when they can't even make effective decisions about much of anything these days?


Dozens of Republicans who have received sizable campaign donations from Representative Tom DeLay's political action committee have also donated to his legal defense fund, in a few cases making the contributions within months of receiving their campaign checks.

..."I think the House ethics committee would frown on the practice, if in fact it was earmarked for the legal fund," said Jan Baran, a prominent Republican elections lawyer.

The Texas contributor-recipients included: Representative Michael Burgess, who received $15,000 in 2002 and 2003 from the DeLay political fund-raising operation and gave $5,000 to the DeLay legal fund in 2004; Representative Kenny E. Marchant, who received $10,000 in April 2004 and gave $5,000 in the first quarter of 2005; Representative John Carter, who received $20,000 in 2002 and 2003 and gave $5,000 in 2004; and Representative Henry Bonilla, who got $10,000 in 2002 and gave $10,000 in 2004, in addition to the $5,000 he gave in 2001.

"Congressman Carter was a judge in central Texas for over 20 years and has a long history and knowledge of Ronnie Earle," said Gretchen Hamel, the communications director for Mr. Carter. She said the congressman believes Mr. DeLay "was wrongfully accused, and felt compelled to give to Tom DeLay's defense fund." About 260 House candidates have received a total of about $2.7 million from Mr. DeLay's political action committee from 2000 to 2004, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks campaign finance. A separate advocacy group, Public Citizen, did an analysis of the defense fund, which showed that about 20 percent of those also gave to the Mr. DeLay's legal fund. The defense fund reaped about $200,000 from that smaller group of Republican House members, who had received almost $700,000 for their campaigns.

...But Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that if money were donated from the political action committee to candidates with the expectation that some portion would be skimmed off and returned to the DeLay legal fund, "that would not be okay."

"You're not allowed to make a conduit contribution," she said.

Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, received $15,000 in the last two election cycles and gave $5,000 to the DeLay fund in late summer of 2004.

Perhaps more notably, Mr. Cole sits on the House Ethics Committee, one of five Republicans on the panel, all of whom have either received or given money to Mr. DeLay. The panel members' donations to his defense were reported in USA Today on Wednesday.

End slice:

This last paragraph fits officially right into the Holy Shit Category. As in, Holy Shit, can these guys get away with this? Zoiks...I suppose they are doing it right now.

Does anyone else see the tragic irony of the Republicans on the ethics committee not, or refusing to recuse themselves after having pitched in cash money to defend the man they are supposed to be investigating?

By the way, how many ordinary citizens get their legal fees covered by benevolent, wealthy friends like these? The public defenders office is open to DeLay, or he could choose to open his own wallet, but no.

No doubt, he is working to wrangle his way out so some serious legal problems. Why else would he need a legal defense fund?

More Proof the ROI for Iraq is Not Worth the Outlay

In the business world, ROI stands for Return on Investment. I don't believe that we will be seeing a positive ROI for the Iraqi outlay in either the near or long term; particularly if you count the number of dead and wounded.

If you are already having a bad day, I wouldn't click on these images. The Pentagon finally opened up some images of the numerous flag drapped heros. As the brother of a career military person, I can't imagine the pain and suffering these folks families have gone through, and for what?

Now, I just tried to find a link to the bulk of the photos, and really couldn't find it. If someone else out there can, please past the URL in a comment bellow.


The Pentagon, under pressure from open-government advocates, released hundreds of images Thursday of flag-draped coffins of American soldiers.

The Pentagon had previously refused to release such images, which were taken by military photographers. Nor has it allowed the news media to photograph ceremonies of soldiers' coffins arriving in the United States, saying it is enforcing a policy installed in 1991 to respect the privacy of families of dead soldiers.

The pictures were released in response to a request for all military photos of caskets containing the remains of American soldiers taken since the U.S. launched its attack on Afghanistan in October 2001. Some critics have contended the government is trying to hide the human cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon provided most of the images without context, so it was unclear where and when they were taken and whom they portrayed.

The Social Costs of Inadequate Education

Found an anouncement in the Chronicle of Higher Education for an interesting looking conference to be held at Teachers College (Columbia, NYC): The Social Costs of Inadequate Education. This will be held at TC in October.

Of course, when you are a stay at home parent, there are two major reasons you can't plan to attend such events: 1) Someone has to be here to take care of the kids while the spouse is at work all day, and 2) it could cost upwards of 1500 bucks just to be there - air fare, lodging, meals, not to mention registration (which I couldn't find the fee from the current web location)...That kind of cash will take our whole family to visit relatives in nicer locations = money more effectively spent.

That said, when I was gainfully employed, my employers often footed the bill for such adventures. That was a nice perk. I would greatly appreciate it if there were some NYC bloggers (or any other bloggers for that matter) who are planning to be at this function and blogging about it, that you toss your link into the comments to this post. This way, those of us who cannot be there phisically can have some kind of virtual experience that generates some kind of knowledge transfer and exchange.

Thank you.

Slice from the announcement:

The Symposium will highlight a major social rationale for seeking greater fairness in education for all populations. Major segments of society are not provided with education adequate to meet the requirements for full participation in American society, which at its most basic level is high school graduation. Due to this inadequate education, costs are imposed not only on these populations and their families, but on society. The costs to the latter are very high and are often underestimated because they are not obvious or accounted for in a standard way. Such social costs are found in a sacrifice of national income, productivity, and tax revenues, as well as in the public costs and other deleterious impacts of impaired health, crime, homelessness, public assistance, and the spawning of a new generation of at-risk students. The purpose of the conference will be to document the extent of educational inequities as well as both the magnitudes and consequences of social costs imposed when major segments of society are poorly educated. An attempt will also be made to compare the returns to society of improving educational equity and reducing inadequate education.

The symposium will be chaired by Professor Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College. It will be held on October 24 and 25, 2005, at Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University.


I confess. I grabbed this video link off of the Moxster's blog. It is very fun for a person who doesn't get to see these things.

Proves the point why satire is a very imporant medium for conveying a broader perspective. Click on the John Stewart report in your favorite format.

Cheers and enjoy.

The President's Embrace

Can you feel it? What sort of cologne rubs off Dubbya when he hugs ya? What benefit, this embrace?


There was a time, not so long ago, when commanders were expected to be accountable for the behavior of their subordinates.

That's changed. Under Commander in Chief George W. Bush, the notion of command accountability has been discarded. In Mr. Bush's world of war, it's the grunts who take the heat. Punishment is reserved for the people at the bottom. The people who foul up at the top are promoted...

...The abuses at Abu Ghraib, which seemed mind-boggling at the time, turned out to be symptomatic of the torture, abuse and institutionalized injustice that have permeated the Bush administration's operations in its so-called war against terror. Euphemisms like rendition, coercive interrogation, sleep adjustment and waterboarding are now widely understood. Yes, Virginia, it is the policy of the United States to kidnap individuals and send them off to regimes skilled in the art of torture.

Two things are needed. First, a truly independent commission, along the lines of the bipartisan 9/11 panel, should be set up to thoroughly investigate U.S. interrogation and detention operations, and make recommendations to correct abuses.

Second, the U.S. government should make it clear, beyond any doubt, that torture and any other inhumane treatment of prisoners is wrong, just flat wrong, and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

...If the president made it clear that men and women up and down the chain of command would be held responsible for the abuses that occur on their watch, the abuses would plummet. Instead, the message the administration has sent is that its demands for accountability will be limited to a few hapless, ill-trained grunts.

The big shots who presided over behavior that has shamed America in the eyes of the world can count on this president's embrace.

End slice:

This is exactly what I was suggesting in yesterday's post.

There are gas bills, and then there are bills for behemoths

I wouldn't want to be paying the fuel costs for the new A380. Nor would I want to be going somewhere where that many folks would like to arrive at the same time.

Come on, could you imagine deplaning in a major tourist location with that many other folks clutching their tour guides and toting their digital cameras itching to get a snap shot of any of the toursim icons?

There is big, and then there is the behamoth. Think of it like the Hummer of the Sky. Sure, we can build it, and we have the technology, but is it a good developement? Like the proliferation of prefab, fiberboard housing developments that are eating up our open space - named for places they've replaced (e.g. Elm Grove Homes, or Abbeywoods, etc...): Just because it can be classified as development doesn't mean that it is.

god dem! added to blogroll

FYI, if you haven't found Jet over at god dem! you aught take a look. There is a fantastic discussion going on about the democratic party, faith, religion and, well, basically the whole kit and caboodle.

Blog on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

W = Powerless

W is feeling powerless in the quest to fix the power/oil situation. This is an interesting choice of words riddled with double entendre. Meanwhile, the energy cartel burn us at the stake to grow their own wallets.

In W's own words - Slice:

Speaking to small business leaders, Bush lamented that he was powerless to cut gas prices. "I wish I could," he said. "If I could, I would."

End slice:

Of Course he could, but he just doesn't want to.

Here's a very good case in point - slice:

The president's call for a tax credit for gas-electric hybrid automobiles and for use of clean diesel is similar to a proposal in his budget earlier this year. The hybrid tax break was left out of the energy bill passed by the House last week.

End slice:

Looks like W stands for wormwood - his argument and sensiblity chewed by termites has his house falling down around him.

What would Jesus Buy?

Here's a fun location for Christians with extra dollars or tax refunds to burn.

Good Music with the flavor of Iran

Here's a nice link to let you know real human beings live and have lived in Iran, and Persians have both art and culture worth respecting, no matter what you feel about the government occupying their homeland.

I sure wish I understood Farsi as the commentary would also be enlightening.

When Will Justice be Meted Out?

While numerous reichwingers are distracted from the real call for Justice, there are folks who would like to see the right people with their feet in the fire.

Of course, at the time of Atonement, no one will escape her/his fate. Most certainly, some will pay heavily for their sins regardless whether they are held accountable in this mortal life.

Do you think that crimes committed will be forgiven simply becuase they were perpetrated under the auspices of and at the behest of W, Rove and Co.?


It has now been one year since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after the photos came out, President George W. Bush vowed that the “wrongdoers will be brought to justice.”

In the intervening months, it has become clear that torture and abuse have taken place not solely at Abu Ghraib but rather in dozens of U.S. detention facilities worldwide, that in many cases the abuse resulted in death or severe trauma, and that a good number of the victims were civilians with no connection to al-Qaeda or terrorism. There is also evidence of abuse at U.S.-controlled “secret locations” abroad and of U.S. authorities sending suspects to third-country dungeons around the world where torture was likely to occur.

To date, however, the only wrongdoers being brought to justice are those at the bottom of the chain-of-command. The evidence demands more. Yet a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.

As this report shows, evidence is mounting that high-ranking U.S. civilian and military leaders — including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — made decisions and issued policies that facilitated serious and widespread violations of the law. The circumstances strongly suggest that they either knew or should have known that such violations took place as a result of their actions. There is also mounting data that, when presented with evidence that abuse was in fact taking place, they failed to act to stem the abuse.

End slice:

Even if you don't agree with these folks, there is certainly cause for suspicion that warrants the hiring of an independent investigator a la Ken Starr. Certainly these war crimes are more egregious than someone getting a blow job in the oval office.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

With all the Investments, We Aught be Winning the War on Terror, no?

Humm, since the W, Rove and Co. have been at it, it seems there is more terror to spread than the opposite. This is discouraging.

Remind me again, how much tax payer dollars have we spent winning the war on terror?

More importantly, how many lives have been sacrificed for the effort?


The U.S. count of major world terrorist attacks more than tripled in 2004, a rise that may revive debate on whether the Bush administration is winning the war on terrorism, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

The number of "significant" international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed on the numbers by State Department and intelligence officials on Monday.

..."What it effectively means is that the Bush administration and the CIA haven't been putting the staff resources necessary and have missed 80 percent of the world's terrorist incidents" in past years, said a Democratic congressional aide. "How can you have an effective counterterrorism policy from that?"

A Republican congressional aide said it would be unfair of Democrats to claim terrorism was getting worse under the Bush administration, stressing that the 2004 and 2003 numbers were not counted in the same way and hence were not comparable. "

That is a conclusion that cannot be drawn because we have no baseline and certainly last year's revised numbers offer no accurate baseline of the universe of terrorist incidents," he said. "Without that you cannot reach an accurate conclusion."

End slice:

Do you exept anything less than rhetoric from the reichwing about how the numbers lie?

Surviving Chemo

Those of you who know folks or are personally experiencing a battle with cancer, understand the consequences of chemo-therapy. It's no picnic.

Saturday, I finally had a chance to connect, in person, with our friends who are currently battling breast cancer. If you follow this blog, you know that they are expecting their second child and there was a big decision to be made as to whether or not the chemo would affect the fetus. Aparently, not.

After their first round of four courses of chemo, I was expeceting the usual hororr scenario. Quite the contrary, I found the family to be both upbeat and very positive. Their older daughter was all smiles playing with our son. The Husband is very positive and optimistic. And his spouse, is as beautiful as the first day he met her. The fetus is doing well and they are at 5 months now (they think it's another girl, but her/his legs were folded during the most recent ultrasound so the certainty is minimal on that department).

A group of us have gotten together to fix them dinner periodically, and to also pitch in with child care and play dates for their daughter so that would give both Mom and Dad time together and time to recouperate.

As it turns out, they indicated that it would be nice to have meals delivered a day or two before rather than after the treatments becuase a person's tastebuds are shot after a course of treatment, and so, they wanted to be able to taste the yummy meals we trotted over to their place.

The next treatment is in two weeks, and our turn for a meal will come on the following treatment some time in May. The last is slated for June. They get progressively stronger/worse.

All of them were wearing the yellow livestrong bands. I think I am going to put mine back on as I wasn't wearing it for a while - at least until the chemo is over.

North Korea - Alive and Kicking

I had to post this as I really liked the header: North Korea, 6, Bush, 0. Unfotunately, the story is very distressing. I am quite surprised the fear mongers of W, Rove and Co aren't pushing this SouthEast Asian front a bit, but then again, it would make them look bad...which is contrary to their modus operandi.


Here's a foreign affairs quiz:

(1) How many nuclear weapons did North Korea produce in Bill Clinton's eight years of office?

(2) How many nuclear weapons has it produced so far in President Bush's four years in office?

The answer to the first question, by all accounts, is zero. The answer to the second is fuzzier, but about six.

The total will probably rise in coming months, for North Korea has shut down its Yongbyon reactor and says that it plans to extract the fuel rods from it. That will give it enough plutonium for two or three more weapons.

The single greatest failure of the Bush administration's foreign policy concerns North Korea. Mr. Bush's policies toward North Korea have backfired and led the North to churn out nuclear weapons, and they have also antagonized our allies and diminished America's stature in Asia.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Why We Shouldn't Trust People Who Simply Report Direct Info From the Whitehouse

Looks like W, Rove and Co's Condi Rice is doctoring up the data. We have to ask, what's the good Dr. Rice (she has a Ph.D.) up to, and what is the difference between favorable and unfavorable facts? I suppose that, becuase they are pretty free with the whiteout on official documents in the W, Rove and Co, we will never know.

This is why when they say, "You have to trust us," they really have no credibility in that department.


Mr Waxman said: "There appears to be a pattern in the administration's approach to terrorism data: favourable facts are revealed while unfavourable facts are suppressed."

Ms Rice's spokesman, Richard Boucher, denied the change was politically inspired and said Ms Rice had decided the statistics would be better handled by the national counter-terrorism centre.

However, intelligence officials said there were no immediate plans to publish the figures.

End slice:

Note, they didn't deny doctoring up the data. They were/are just blowing smoke up our skirts about why they did it.

On Valor Lost - Subtittle: The Tragic Fall of Tom DeLay

In thinking about the situation involving our good republican friend Tom DeLay, I found nice passage by Melville that addresses his situation quite elloquently. From page 114 of my copy of Moby Dick:

"Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him as his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact through all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man. Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars."

Heads buried in Iraqi Sand

The folks of W, Rove and Co have their heads buried in the big kitty litter box we know as Iraq. The economy may be going well for them and their investors/base, but they have their noses so deep and long in the stench they think it smells like roses. Unfortunately, these folks can't see past their own good fortunes [obtained to the detriment of so many others]. Real Americans know otherwise.


According to John Snow, the Treasury secretary, the global economy is in a "sweet spot." Conservative pundits close to the administration talk, without irony, about a "Bush boom."

Yet two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup say that the economy is "only fair" or "poor." And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse.

Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so.

...The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.

...The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income.

...In that context, it's worth noting two more poll results: in one taken before the recent resurgence of violence in Iraq, and the administration's announcement that it needs yet another $80 billion, 53 percent of Americans said that the Iraq war wasn't worth it. And 50 percent say that "the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction."

...But Americans are feeling a sense of dread: they're worried about a weak job market, soaring health care costs, rising oil prices and a war that seems to have no end. And they're starting to notice that nobody in power is even trying to deal with these problems, because the people in charge are too busy catering to a base that has other priorities.

End slice:

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Got skunked this weekend on the windsurfing front. Little opportunty given the number of strom fronts moving through the area.

Folks were out on Friday for about a two hour window when the gusts were ratcheting upwards of 40 knotts. The few people I knew who were on the water said it was, "hell, like a machine gun - spitting at you one minute and the next, no wind."

Regardless, I didn't make it out given the spouse broke a promise to come home from work early and relieve me of the parenting responsibilities. Alas, the boys and I had fun post nap playing with trains, drums and a whole mess of other toys.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with high rain clouds and rain, but never relized the clearing winds that usually follow storm fronts out of the bay, even after it got sunny in the late afternoon.

Harumph, no sailing which makes for a very grumpy dad...maybe next weekend.

Driving Somewhere this Summer?

What is our fair president doing about oil prices? I recall one administration ago that a certain president opened up the reserves to undercut our good OPEC friends.

Humm, but the increase in gasoline and crude prices really only helps his buddies in the industry. So I suppose we souldn't expect much from W, Rove and Co. ...that is, unless it means desecrating our wilderness lands in the name of fixing a problem that needs a much more dramatic, short and long term solution.


Running for president five years ago, George W. Bush pledged to jawbone energy-exporting nations to keep oil prices low and to win passage of legislation to spur more domestic energy production.

Delivering on either count has proved difficult for the Texas oilman.

Soaring oil and gasoline prices are beginning to take a toll on U.S. economic growth and on Bush's approval ratings. To get his long-stalled energy agenda passed, the president is putting more of his political prestige on the line.

...Still, the president acknowledges that there is little that he or Congress can do to quickly lower gasoline prices, which have climbed past $2.20 a gallon nationwide.

Critics also claim that Bush's energy bill does little to promote conservation or alternate energy approaches, and that he has done little of the lobbying of oil-country leaders that he promised during in his first presidential campaign.

...Jerry Taylor, an energy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank that advocates less government regulation, said the idea that "jawboning OPEC or arranging for nice relations with OPEC will somehow get us more oil is utter illusion."

"The Saudis will produce as much oil as they think is necessary to maximize revenue. Period," Taylor said.

End slice:

Well, this is not a novel idea - the bottom line is indeed the bottom line. If it makes the already rich more money, then so be it. Of course we could select, as Cesar Chavez once suggested, to boycott. But the average American won't be willing to give up on their wheels, not even for a day.

Or, could we do that one day? Boycott oil and not buy any and not use any for one whole day?

A Signal to the End of the Tyranny of the Majority?

Responsible republicans? Questioning their leadership? Perhaps cooler heads will prevail in Congress as the reichwingers are definately giving responsible republicans a bad name.


Mr. Bush is still sticking with Mr. Bolton and Mr. DeLay. But Republican concerns undercut his attempt to paint the criticism of both men as partisan. The fast-emerging question for him and the other Republicans is, when they will realize that nothing in the American system provides for the party that wins an election to do whatever it wants, no matter what objections are raised by the minority party or even some of its own members? The point is not lost on American voters: primal party loyalty is no substitute for effective, democratic government.

End slice:

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Updated Blog Roll

In case you didn't notice, I wanted to point out that I have cleaned up my blog roll by deleting the people I don't visit very often or at all anymore. The blogs now listed are vibrant and viable. No dead links.

Also, I am looking for other great blogs out there to blog roll. Thus, if you were only able to view one blog a day - every day for a month (besides yours) which would it be and why?

I am currently watching Porquoi Pas, God Dem, Bring it on, and the Right Wing Nut. Open to suggestions, but not spam.

Do They Still Hate Us?

Yup...I suppose bombing the crap out of Iraq is not the best way to win friends and influence people.


"I will not apply for death," Mr. Moussaoui said. "I will fight every inch against the death penalty."

Judge Brinkema, a soft-spoken judge who has been in charge of the case from the start, offered evidence of familiarity with him and his habits as she questioned him closely about whether he fully understood the implications of his plea. She flattered him with compliments on his sophistication about the law, and added that Mr. Moussaoui, who has advanced business degrees from a college in England, "is extremely intelligent with a better understanding of our legal system than some of the lawyers who have appeared in court."

Mr. Moussaoui told her, "I know I cannot expect any leniency from the Americans."

As marshals led him out, Mr. Moussaoui shouted: "Allah akhbar! God curse America!"

End Slice:

Just a short question to get the dialog rolling: Is his god the same god we worship?

Do the Republicans Think They Will be the Majority Forever?

With a fair number of "high" powered politicians (including one Dick we know) flapping their gums about fillabuster, you would think that the reichwingers feel like they are going to be in the majority in perpetuity.

Perhaps they might like to do a little more protection of minority rights than squandering the built in safeguards that keep the majority from tredding all over the minority for the time when they are no longer our "moral" majority.

Don't Tred On Me.


Vice President Dick Cheney plunged the White House into the judicial confirmation battle on Friday by saying he supported changing the Senate rules to stop the Democrats from blocking judicial nominees and would, if needed, provide the tie-breaking vote.

..."If the Senate majority decides to move forward and if the issue is presented to me in my elected office as president of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up-or-down vote," he said. "On the merits, this should not be a difficult call to make."

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, responded by accusing Mr. McConnell of bluffing and President Bush of lying.

"Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules," Mr. Reid said in a statement, referring to a breakfast held between President Bush and Congressional leaders. "Now it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power."

End Slice:

Perhaps the W, Rove and Co. should consider appointing new people rather than rehashing the last week's cassarole for the courts. These folks have green mold growing all over them. With the number of lawyers out there, I am sure they can find some new candidates to consider rather than change some longstanding and very useful tools that do indeed prevent the tyranny by majority.


I say, Kinky for Governor! Yeehaaa! That would be a hoot. Let the voters of Texass decide.


Friedman, a nonpracticing Jew who lists Jesus Christ among his heroes, describes his campaign as spiritual and a natural attraction for unaligned and disenchanted voters. Texas has taken an image beating, he believes. The cowboy has become an international symbol of recklessness, not the stoic rider of the purple sage Friedman sees.

He wants to rally his fellow Texans to a new level of confidence in their state.

"What I'm trying to do is maybe use a little humor to knock down the windmill that is politics as usual, and to get all of us together and make that Lone Star shine again," Friedman told the Houston gathering to sustained applause. Later, Friedman acknowledged that his biggest challenge is to get people to take seriously the man who wrote such songs as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and his chauvinism-laced "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed."

Even he isn't sure how serious he was at first.

"It's the Bee Gees kind of thing, you know, 'I Started a Joke,' " Friedman says, citing the 1969 pop song. "Maybe it was that at one time, maybe not so much a joke but certainly an impossible dream…. But you know, I believe we can do this."

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Classic Case of Fry the Little Guy

Looks like the big fish are getting away...and the even bigger fish of W, Rove and Co. will get off on the whole Abu Ghraib torture flap just plain old scott free - with their halos all shined up for public viewing.


After her change-of-command ceremony at Huachuca last month, Fast said of the Abu Ghraib debacle, "Could I have done something to prevent this? I think we all ask ourselves that question."

End slice:

I have an answer - how about not going to Iraq at all, like GW Senior advised in his telling of Desert Storm.

Another page from the Rove Playbook

It happened again...I was making a comment over on the Cranky Liberal and decided the comment would make a worthy post. I believe my comment can stand alone, but in concert with Cranky, it becomes a more powerful dialog. I suggest you take a look at the Crankster's post from today and then come on back to review my comment:

Here's my comment (which you could see also on the Crankster's post):

Sun Tzu also murdered the favorite mistress of his employer to make a point. You do have a point. The huddled masses have actually no clue what is going on in congress and would rather not have to think about it becuase they have been anethestitized by the Mass Media Propaganda Machine. When they are done working two or three jobs, there isn't much energy left to fight the reichwing who are well endowed to continue doing what they do best. The trouble is that Rove is so good at what he does that most of us have no clue what we are paying him (taxpayer bux pay his salary) to do. The reichwingers are simply following the playbook of the master.

If we adopt those tactics, we then sink to their level. And when you select to lie down with the dogs, you too, will get fleas.

As to where that leaves us, on the ethical and moral high road, I suppose that makes us look self righteous and again, another black mark is set against us for the reichwing is very good at taking very postive attributes (intellectual, activist) and making them sound oh so very bad.

Let's vote the bastards out in 06. Aside from faxing or calling your congressional rep, is there much else we really can do?

Hope, dare I say pray? As our President today goes to the National Parks to display his prowess as our "environmental" president and gets set to sign legislation that encroaches on the ANWR, the average person takes a look at the still images and is fooled yet again..remember the aircraft carrier landing with the "mission accomplished" banner. If the perception is that it is true, then that is all that matters for the spin miesters in W, Rove and Co.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Naked Act of Resistance

Oh, this man has some courage - Chutzpah, I think...but he does have point.


As the student who asked Justice Scalia about his sexual conduct, I am responding to your posts to explain why I believe I had a right to confront Justice Scalia in the manner I did Tuesday, why any gay or sympathetic person has that same right. It should be clear that I intended to be offensive, obnoxious, and inflammatory. There is a time to discuss and there are times when acts and opposition are necessary. Debate is useless when one participant denies the full dignity of the other. How am I to docilely engage a man who sarcastically rants about the "beauty of homosexual relationships" [at the Q&A] and believes that gay school teachers will try to convert children to a homosexual lifestyle [in oral argument for Lawrence]?

Although my question was legally relevant, as I explain below, an independent motivation for my speech-act was to simply subject a homophobic government official to the same indignity to which he would subject millions of gay Americans. It was partially a naked act of resistance and a refusal to be silenced. I wanted to make him and everyone in the room aware of the dehumanizing effect of trivializing such an important relationship. Justice Scalia has no pity for the millions of gay Americans on whom sodomy laws and official homophobia have such an effect, so it is difficult to sympathize with his brief moment of "humiliation," as some have called it. The fact that I am a law student and Scalia is a Supreme Court Justice does not require me to circumscribe my justified opposition and outrage within the bounds of jurisprudential discourse.

Law school and the law profession do not negate my identity as a member of an oppressed minority confronting injustice...

If you cannot stomach a breach of decorum when justified outrage erupts then your support is nearly worthless anyway. At least do not allow yourselves to become complicit in discrimination by demanding obedience from its victims...

We protestors did not embarrass NYU, Scalia embarrassed NYU. We stood up to a bigot for the values that make NYU more than a great place to learn the law. I repeat my willingess to discuss this issue calmly with anyone who respects my identity as a gay man. I have had many productive talks with classmates since Tuesday and I hope that will continue.

End slice:

Debatable or not, the only enforcement of sodomy laws will no doubt be prosocuted on homosexual couples and not heterosexual couples, thus making the law constitutionally unbalanced. You can't descriminate. If sodomy is to be against the law, that must mean for all combinations of couples, not just the one's you don' t like.

$ 600.00 Dollar Jeans?

Okay, so if you are paying upwards of 6 big ones for your denim, I suppose you don't care how much a gallon of gas costs, or that you can get them a lot cheaper elsewhere, or made by some one else.

But hey, at least your taxpayer bux are being well spent in Iraq. Six more folks go down proving again that the ROI isn't worth it.

Chart your Monetary Progress

Found this via a link from the Crankster. Thought you all might like to have a look a the success our current Administration has had in helping us folk in the middle class.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


I have always said:

Trust takes a lifetime to earn and a moment to break.

If that is indeed the case, why do so many folks still trust W, Rove and Co?


Sometimes Blog Explosion delivers. Found what could be a fantastic video feed via another BE personality: While I haven't had time to watch the full run (it takes about 50 mins for just part one and some serious bandwidth), the first few minutes give you a sense of what I have been talking about re: the Mainstream Media Propaganda Machine.

Regardless your political/religious ideology, you should enjoy the piece if you can spare the time and you have big pipes.

More Tax Breaks for the Already Rich

No doubt, we won't see any kind of windfall due new drilling in Alaska...more to the contrary, the big fat capitalist pigs will get bigger in the short, near, and long term...and we will still be getting hosed at the pump. As gasoline prices go past 3 bucks, you don't think the industry will shrink the price when they are used to such exorbitant profits, do you?


The bill calls for $8.1 billion in tax breaks over 10 years, most of it going to promote coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas energy industries.

Development of the Alaska refuge has been a contentious issue for nearly a decade. Environmentalists fear a spider web of drilling platforms and pipelines would harm the area's polar bears, caribou, migrating birds and other wildlife.

Senate Democrats have pledged to filibuster any energy bill that would open the refuge to oil companies. An amendment to strip the Alaska refuge provision from the energy bill failed Wednesday night 231-200.

A final vote on the energy legislation is expected by the House on Thursday.

End Slice:

Humm, could we perhaps fund public transit to the tune of 8.1 billion instead and still have the same economic affect? Or, perhaps we could give folks a tax break to put solar panels on their roofs to the same number and spread out the wealth a bit rather than have the energy moguls have their way with us and our Congress.

Good Christian Behavior

Just wondering if spitting tabacco juice in someone's face constitutes good Christian behavior?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bush Family Values

Humm...what might those be? Curious? Click away.

One more post on DeLay

Found a great link via the Crankster.

Here's a handy map in case you are getting confused by Tom DeLay's shenanigans.

More on Activist Judges

I just had to link you to this article. I loved the's what I have been saying all along.


The idea that liberal judges are advocates and partisans while judges like Justice Scalia are not is being touted everywhere these days, and it is pure myth. Justice Scalia has been more than willing to ignore the Constitution's plain language, and he has a knack for coming out on the conservative side in cases with an ideological bent. The conservative partisans leading the war on activist judges are just as inconsistent: they like judicial activism just fine when it advances their own agendas...

...When it comes to judicial activism, conservative judges are no better than liberal ones - and, it must be said, no worse. If conservatives are going to continue their war on the judiciary, though, they should be honest. They do not want to get rid of judicial activists, a standard that would bring down even Justice Scalia. They want to rid the courts of judges who disagree with them.

End slice:

Every judge is an Activist. It all depends upon one's perspective. And we all know, truth is a slave to perception.

What gets you out of bed in the AM?

Oh, to have only a modicum of Lance Armstrong's drive and spirit. His name is certainly not a misnomer. At one time, I think one of the shoe conglomerates was going to spark a new slogan campaign - Super Human is Redundant. I would say in Lance's case, you betchya.

"If I was to win it, I would be the oldest champion in modern history and my dream is to go out on top. But I'm scared of going one race too many. All champions worry about losing -- it's the fear that gets them up early."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bush in Thirty Seconds

All you ever need to get a little bummed out and perhaps lifted up that many folks see through the smoke and mirrors of the W, Rove and Co.

Found one on Education. There are many other video clips to watch if you follow the links.

Evidence we are Losing This War On Terror

Shea at Constantly Amazed...has a nice post yesterday presenting the litany of evidence that W, Rove and Co are really up to no good and could actually be justifiably tried for War Crimes..and most certainly, they are not winning the war on terror.


In other words: Bush & Co. are losing the war on terror! Want to know why? Because they had no intention of winning it! They are the terrorists, and they are perpetuating the war for their own profit!

Perhaps the Best Song of All Time

Dusting off some of my old albums. Came across the Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits Album. One of my all time favorites as well as, poetically, perhaps the most powerful song ever written is on that album - Kathy's Song

Here are the lyrics:

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies

My mind's distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you're alseep
And kiss you when you start your day

And a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I

What about doubt, you have a vote as to the all time best song ever composed and sung: What are they? Leave a comment below and fill us in.

Catherine the Great

For those of you who don't follow marathoning, the results of the women's race in Boston today were nothing short of extrodinary. Catherine Ndereba won a fourth victory in a come from behind...well, actually, the others didn't really stand a chance. She smoked them. This puts her in some stellar company.

Now We Know

Lance announced that this July's Tour de France will be his last. Razor sharp focus places him, obviously, in the favorite category. Also, when it comes down to the Tour, there are not many that can hang with Lance, particularly if he musters the same or an improved team as he had last year.

Win or lose, Lance is stepping off the competative bike. Either way, it will be exciting to watch.


I will cut right to the chase and say that after a lot of thought, considering the season and the races I was going to do this year, and having decided to focus on the Tour, at the same time I have decided that the Tour de France will be my last race as a professional cyclist. (Lance was visibly choked up as these words came out.) So July 24th will be the last one after more or less 14 years in the professional peloton, it will be the last one - win or lose. Having said that, I am fully committed to winning a 7th Tour.

There are a few people I would like to thank that have been very helpful along the way. First and foremost, I think the biggest inspiration in my life now and the biggest inspiration to this decision is my children. They are the ones that make it easier to suffer, but they are the ones who have told me that it's time to come home. And so without them, none of this would be possible. The second is my mother, she's been a great force that I have learned a lot from.

Patriots Day and The Boston Marathon

Today is Patriots Day in MA. The marathon from Hopkinton to Beantown is underway. Having run the thing once myself, I can just picture the race as it is run. The good thing about the internet is that I can tap into the action almost as it happens. I think OLN (the Canadian broadcasting network is showing it live), but I get much more work done while seeing the updates at Runners World.

At this point, it looks like it is going to be a strategic and tactical race rather than the usual Kenyan blow out. The men have been turning in 5 minute miles up until the last one where they ran 4:55. Those times are altogether slow for winning the race. The person who won London yesterday finished in 2:07 - now that is smokin'. Incidentially, the folks stacked up in the front pack are capable of running faster than that. Perhaps the cheering section through Wellesley will be a nice pick-me-up for the pack as they pick up the pace toward the latter part of the distance. It is going to be a day of negative splits no doubt.

Run Harriers, Run.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Weekend Windsurfing Report

Okay, so I wimped out and didn't jump in at Ocean Beach. Waves were too washed out and hairy, with bigger ones on the horizon. The breeze was about 4.7-able, but too on shore to make it easy to get out over the break. There was one or two guys out with more to follow - and one really good local named Jeff riding a 5.0 and an 85 liter board. He was very good and had no trouble. There is something to be said for experience and lcoal knowledge.

Anway, I tooled over to Crissy and dropped in with the 85 liter board and the 5.4 square meter sail. Big fin. Flood tide all afternoon but I was able to make it up to Fort Point, but there wasn't much of a wave to be found bending around the point. Alas, it was a beautiful day and the sun was out and because it wasn't super cranking, there were only two to four guys out there as they came up wind to take a look.

Missed yesterday as my second son turned one on Friday and the party was Saturday afternoon. It was a good time, but that left no room for windsurfing.

Any day on the water is better than not.


Fitness is "a side benefit," said 57-year-old Susie McGuire of San Diego. "Being in the water is uplifting. It's better than Prozac and beats any antidepressant on the market."

Each One Teach One

There is another fine post just up at Common Sense regarding the state of education in America.


If you teach a child to throw rocks at windows, you can’t very well be angry with him when you come home and all of your windows are broken out. He is just using the knowledge he learned in the way he was taught. In the same vein, if we allow our children to sit in front of a television or video game for hours at a time, if we allow them to ignore their teachers or disrespect us as parents, if we give them everything they ask for and expect nothing in return, we can’t blame them for becoming uneducated, disrespectful, anti-social adults.

End Slice:

Whether you want to be or not, you are an educator. This puts a different light on statements from professional athletes indicating their lack of desire to become roll models. The shift for society needs to go from independence and the boot strap model for success toward a system of values that encourages each individual to become expert in some arena and value that expertise to the degree that we feel comfortable having that person teach our children that skill.

I have often said, and been chastised for it, that what we need, instead of a draft for the military or something like Americorps (which in and of itself is a fine program), to make it mandatory for all individuals (for two years at any point in their lifetime) to teach in a local school system. That is, when they feel that they are expert enough in some area, they would then be trained to deliver that expertise to some students in their local area. Wouldn't it be great for students to learn scuba and marine science from a professional in that field? What about learning knitting from the local expert in that subject.

This idea requires, of course, not the trashing of the school system as we know it, but an expansion of our definition of what is good teaching, and what comprises a high quality curriculum. We most certainly would still need a professional corps of highly trained and professionally educated teachers that instill the basics - reading, writing, mathematics, problem solving, and how to learn on your own, etc... This same corps of professional teachers could continue the basic "college bound" curricula. The professional corps of teachers would also have the responsibility of teaching these citizen teachers how to convey their knowledge to students. Because the number of citizen teachers would vary every two or so years, the curricular choices for students would change continuously and no doubt, students would find something to wet their appetites and move toward a more expeditionary mode of learning.

One year, students could take business practices and ethics from a local company CEO. The next, they could take ichthyology from the curator of the local science museum. Moreover, students would be encouraged to follow their own curiosity. While they could be guided down the path to fulfilling college entrance requirements, not all students would be pushed into that kind of restrictive curriculum. Not all students want or need to go to college either. Graduation requirements would have to flex as well, but I am certain, that once students are exposed to the citizen experts, they will find something or some area of interest that lights their fire and gets them productively involved in contributing to our society in a positive way.

Now this idea is very raw and pretty much a radical shift from what we are doing in schools today, but in this day and age, where information is available at the click of a button, educators ought be in the business of igniting the expeditionary spirit among students and then getting out of their way, and providing the proper resources and support to help them get to where they want to go.

Remember as kids, when you accidentally dropped a magnet in the sand box and found it covered with iron fillings? I spent days dragging all my magnets though the sand to collect as much as I could. I was fascinated by the project, which led me to many questions about what was happening. I am sure I was learning about physics, and exploration, and learning how good it feels to be successful at something, that it ignited a spirit for learning, that despite the best efforts of our public schools (and I have attended public schools exclusively for my whole academic career), that spirit was never quashed. Unfortunately for kids today, their expeditionary spirit is trampled some where during 2 and 7th grades and the main motivation to attend high school for many is purely social.

Unleash the expeditionary spirit, provide them with educators of many stripes, and get out of their way. Each one should teach at least one, but expanding the pool of both teachers and subject matter will open the door to all kinds of learners and all kids can find a niche that allows them to be the best that they can be. This is a move away from a "contribute if you can" modus operandi toward an "everyone has something of value to teach another." That is, value is placed on each and every individual and the assumption is not one of complacency, but that each individual has the capacity to learn toward the level of excelling in a particular area and also could teach in that arena once they are able to become expert (which they can and do) in their own field.

Have We Lost the Judicial Appointee Battle, or Not?

This just in on the wire. Even if we have failed to block the filling of the courts with folks the reichwingers support, many appointees still judge according to the law rather than their religious beliefs as DeLay and co would like. Just take for instance all the judges in the Schiavo situation.


The looming battle over President Bush's nominees to the U.S. appeals courts might derail the Senate, but it probably won't make much difference in the federal courts. That's because Republican appointees already dominate them.

Ninety-four of the 162 active judges now on the U.S. Court of Appeals were chosen by Republican presidents. On 10 of the 13 circuit courts, Republican appointees have a clear majority. And, since 1976, at least seven of the nine seats on the U.S. Supreme Court have been filled by Republican appointees.

...Even if Bush wins approval for the dozen disputed nominees who have been blocked by Senate Democrats, only one circuit would change its ideological balance — hardly a seismic shift. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, now evenly divided, would become 10-6 Republican.

Though it remains a staple of conservative rhetoric that the courts are "out of control" and driven by "liberal activists," the GOP's control of the White House for 24 of the last 36 years has given Republicans — if not conservatives — a firm grip on the federal judiciary.

But the fact is that party labels don't necessarily mean much on the bench...

End Slice:

The propensity for the reichwingers to label judges "Activists" - as if that should be something negative - simply because they decide in favor of the rule of law over what certain senators and their ilk think/feel the ruling should be is yet another ploy to monger fear to the pedestrian populace in hopes that we don't think it through. This is yet another case of the pots calling the kettles black.

Would Privitizing the Rail System Work?

Amtrak is having trouble keeping the busy Boston to DC rail corridor open and on time, even with fancy new trains and having finished the infrastructure to support the Acela (which runs right through the wonderful little town where I was raised).

I have oft thought it would be wonderful to have a larger and more extensive rail system that negated the need to own a vehicle, sort of like Europe. The trains there may be off schedule a lot, but you can get to many places with out so much as a comfy pair of walking shoes. Even so, the size of the US may be prohibitive, but certainly you should be able to travel the coasts without having to get on a bus to link - but alas, on the West Coast, you can't. Travel by train is, at least for me, a romantic way to go. The last thing I want to do is interrupt an adventure by getting forced to use some bus that smells like a public toilet because they never open the windows and always use re-circulated air.

Is it time to end the public subsidy of the Amtrak Rail system in favor of privatizing the system and allowing the competitive forces of capitalism work that hopefully would improve it? Or, would it prove to be a failed experiment like the deregulation of the energy markets?

P.S. This is totally aside, but since I mentioned the energy markets, does anyone know what the heck is happening to Kenny boy Lay, by the way? Does he still have his hand deeply entrenched in W's pants pockets?

Saturday, April 16, 2005


If it has a Christian orientation, isn't it still a Jihad?


Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.

Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern. The message is that the Democrats who oppose a tiny handful of President Bush's judicial nominations are conducting an assault "against people of faith." By that, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.

...We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on "moral values." Even if that were true, that's a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.

End Slice:

Perhaps, we should be working to prevent the onslaught of faith and the pushers of Christian religion upon those who believe differently instead. Vote the bastards out.

Even if they don't use bombs but emotional terrorism to exploit their cause, doesn't that make them equaly devious as other terrorists?

Here's a solution. Let's not turn on the television when this broadcast comes out. If they speak into the forest and there is no one there to listen, at least the Nielson Ratings will be down.

Think of the push to tell people about the forthcoming testimonial as part of the Mass Media Propaganda Machine that is pushing the reichwing Al Jazeera uses videos of beheadings.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Here's another vid that deserves its own slot on the liberation of Iraq.

New Vid to Tease Your Paradigm

Shea at Constantly Amazed...has been a busy blogger lately digging up some really interesting links and evidence that point the finger of blame directly on the W, Rove and Co. I would encourage you to take a gander at some of the more recent posts there in, but also have a look at the following vid from UK source. Note, it is not coming to you live from middle America...

P.S. here's an oldy, but a goody for those of you interested in Facism....and another fun song from the same location about one particular idiot.

Power Corrupts

Lord Acton was right, unfortunately. But there is more to his quote:

'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men'.

Melville speaks a bit more descriptively on the matter. From page 246 of my copy of Moby Dick:

"Now, as you well know, it is not seldom the case in this conventional world of ours - watery or otherwise; that when a person placed in command over his fellow-men finds one of them to be very significantly his superior in general pride of manhood, straightway against that man he conceives an unconquerable dislike and bitterness; and if he have a chance he will pull down and pulverize that subaltern's tower, and make a little heap of dust of it."

I am wondering if there are republicans (the democrats being obvious) out there that have been pulverized by W, Rove and Co and left in their wake as they elevated themselves to the throne of our current Theocracy. If so, who might they be and what would we learn from their stories?

Beware the Christian Crusader

Like those that went before them, we should be wary of Christians who suggest they fight on our behalf.

From page 212 of my copy of Moby Dick:

For even the high lifted and chivalric Crusaders of old times were not content to traverse two thousand miles of land to fight for their holy sepulchre, without committing burglaries, picking pockets, and gaining other pious perquisites by the way.

Social Security Privatization is all Good for Professional Money Managers

Here's a fun little video clip I found surfing various blogs regarding W, Rove and Co's stance on privitizing Social Security.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Meanwhile, The Rich are Set to Get Richer

W, Rove and Co are on a mission to help out "their base." Rich people. Congress, the rich folks that they are, are set to give themselves and their supporters/donors another tax break.

Remember, "Behind every great fortune is a crime." – Honore de Balzac, French novelist (1799-1850).

Unfortunately, there are not more wealthy individuals who subscribe to capitalism with a conscience.


In 1997, the estates of fewer than 43,000 people — fewer than 1.9 percent of the 2.3 million people who died that year — had to pay any estate tax. The Joint Committee on Taxation projects that the percentage of people who die whose estates will be subject to estate tax will remain at about two percent for the foreseeable future. In other words, 98 of every 100 people who die face no estate tax whatsoever.

To be subject to tax, the size of an estate must exceed $675,000 in 2001. The estate tax exemption is rising to $1 million by 2006. Note that an estate of any size may be bequeathed to a spouse free of estate tax.

End Slice:

Given that most of us don't qualify, nor will we ever qualify to be taxed under the existing and the changing law, why are more people not outraged by the pending action by Congress?

Equal Opportunity for Edcuation

As the tag line reads in my header, "There is a big difference between an equal opportunity for education and an equal opportunity for an equal education," in light of Ken's post and my reply there may be more needed to clarify.

Indeed,"equal opportunity for an equal education" may inherently require unequal treatment in different school settings.

Let's just ask three questions here. What's the difference between public schools in Compton, CA and Beverly Hills, CA? Given that both school districts are in the general Los Angeles vacinity, why are they so different and how should we fix the disparity between the two?

Common Sense on Public Education

There is a very fine post raised by Ken over at Common Sense regarding the status of public education. As usual, I had to reply and the comment makes a fine post on its own. I am pasting it here, but you may want to visit Ken's location to read his tretise laden with some very fine questions about public education:

My two cents - for what its worth:

Fine post and many challenges, Ken. The nub of it is that the trouble with public education involves the whole of society.

Where steroid laden ball players are paid exhorbinent salarys to swing a bat or toss a ball, teachers can't afford to live in the cities within which they serve. On the other hand, paying teachers more is not often on the docket for politicians, local, sate or federal because that usually involves an increase in taxation. It is mystifying why people are willing to pay more to keep prisoners and build new state of the art prisons, but can't seem to muster a few bucks per student to improve the schools. It costs more than 30K a year to house and feed and keep a prisoner. Students, on the other hand are substantially cheeper - less than 10K. Schools, good ones, keep people out of prison. go figure.

On another front, when Sun Micro Systems put up their new, brand spanking campus up in East Palo Alto, the local middle school was litterally falling down around the kids, teachers, administrators and parents. We have to ask ourselves, why is it that corporate folks wouldn't think of going into a building that they couldn't see out of the windows (as they were designed), but are willing to have the local kids founder in the dimly lit, moldy rooms that are a sad exuse for shools. What we need is capitalism with a conscience. If it is good enough for Sun, then it is good enough for the school five blocks away from the palacial spread of a campus that capitalism built.

When I was teaching Mathematics in a high school in Connecticut, and I dared to fail some students, the parents would go over my head and see if they could fudge the numbers up so little jonny or sally could at least pass out of learning fractions. I had parents outright lie for their kids and I had kids who did so many drugs over the weekend that they fell asleep in my classroom. Who's fault is that?

As you hit the nail on the head, the solution lies in the whole of the society. We need a bigger hammer, and we need everybody swinging. Unfortunately, the federal government is so distracted by politicing that we end up with poorly funded new programs (no child left behind) and underfunded programs that actually work (head start). That, my friend, is twisted. In the end, the kids suffer, and our society needs to figure out what to do with unproductive, poorly educated work force.

As you can tell, the argument is cyclical. Like the chicken and the egg questions, you have to start with one or the other, but it is best if we work on all the fronts by talking about educational reform not from the stance as a school problem, but one that is a burden on the whole of society.

Our schools are only as good as the communities within which they are embedded. If the community doesn't care, change won't happen. And, indeed it does need fixing.

Leathal Hypocricy

I do folks who subscribe to the "Culture of Life" paradigm reconcile someone like Eric Robert Rudolph?


"Because I believe that abortion is murder, I also believe that force is justified and in an attempt to stop it."

"Practiced by consenting adults within the confines of their own private lives, homosexuality is not a threat to society. Those consenting adults practicing this behavior in privacy should not be hassled by a society which respects the sanctity of private sexual life. But when the attempt is made to drag this practice out of the closet and into the public square in an "in your face" attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior as being just as legitimate and normal as the natural man/woman relationship, every effort should be made, including force if necessary, to halt this effort."

"The plan that I finally settled upon was to use five low-tech timed explosives to be placed one at a time on successive days throughout the Olympic schedule, each preceded by a forty to fifty minute warning given to 911. The location and the time of detonation was to be given, and the intent was to thereby clear each of the areas, leaving only uniformed arms-carrying government personnel exposed to potential injury."

"After the disaster at Centennial Park, I resolved to improve my devices and focus the blasts upon a very narrow target. Toward this end I acquired a quantity of high explosives (dynamite). I shaped the charges in order to minimize the potential range of their destruction. However, I was still using clock timers which put the detonation outside of my control, thus leaving room for the same kind of disaster that occurred at the Park."

"Two attacks were carried out in the winter of 1997. The first in January was an abortion mill (Northside Family Planning). The second was a homosexual establishment (The Otherside Lounge). The abortion mill was closed that day but occasionally there was staff on hand to clean their blood-stained equipment, and these minions and the facility itself were the targets of the first device. The second device placed at the scene was designed to target agents of the Washington government."

"Despite the inherent dangers involved in timed devices, all of these devices used in both of these assaults functioned within the parameters of the plan, and I make no apologies."

"I really do not understand the psychological process that goes into the making of an abortion mill worker. "

"And now after the agreement has been signed the talking heads on the news opine that I am "finished," that I will "languish broken and unloved in the bowels of some supermax," and but I say to you people that by the by the grace of God I am still here — a little bloodied, but emphatically unbowed."

End slices:

Perhaps Rudolph should have looked more internally at the elevation of his own muderous intent and fixed that first?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bully Pulpit Promotes Bullies

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised about Bolton's pending confirmation for our rep to the UN. It smacks of the typical cronyism that has taken on mythic proportions in the W, Rove and Co.


The longer John Bolton's Senate hearing for the post of United Nations representative went on, the more outrageous it seemed that President Bush could have nominated a man who had made withering disdain for that world body the signature of his career in international affairs. Some fear that the aim is to scuttle the United Nations. It's more likely, but just as disturbing, that this is another example of Mr. Bush's rewarding loyalty rather than holding officials accountable for mistakes, especially those who helped build the case for war with Iraq.

Whatever the explanation, the hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee only added reasons for denying the job to Mr. Bolton. It turned up a third incident (we already knew of two) in which Mr. Bolton tried to have an intelligence analyst punished for stopping him from making false claims about a weapons program in another nation, notably Cuba. Trying to tailor intelligence is enough to disqualify Mr. Bolton from this job. But the hearings also provided a detailed indictment of his views on the U.N., multilateral diplomacy and treaties.

...Some of Mr. Bolton's Republican allies tried the "no harm, no foul" ploy, saying his misbehavior shouldn't count because he had ended up giving an accurate speech. Others said the issue was just a question of management style. But they are wrong. With America's credibility as low as it is, the last thing the nation needs is a United Nations envoy who tries to force intelligence into an ideological construct.

End Slice:

The bigger question for us should be was Bolton a source for the WMD scare mongering about Iraq?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Two Quotes

I'm a fan of clicking to an Email's bottom to witness the interesting things people value as stipulated in a person's signature tag. If it is worthy of putting at the close of every email you send, that's saying something.

I'm also big on clicking to read a blogger's first post. If s/he can't say something profound in his/her first post, then perhaps the rest of the blog is not worthy of attention going forward. That said, in juxtaposition, the difference between a person's first and most recent post is also a good indicator of improvement.

Here are two quotes from a email signature I recieved the other day:

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand---melting like a snowflake." ---Marie Beyon Ray

"Time is a great healer, but a lousy beautician!"

Two quotes deserve two questions:

1) Do you have a favorite signature tag quote? Share, if so.

2) Do you have a favorite first blog post? Give us the link so we can follow it.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Street Protests are Folly for the Disenfranchised

I had another one of those moments - surfing different blogs and came up with a comment that would be a suitable post. Check out Moxie Grrrll for a post relating a interview with someone who was posted at Abu Ghrab for a bit.

Here's my comment:

Thanks for the update. I hadn't seen the interview, but frankly, I am not surprised in any way. The atrocities of the actions of war criminals are always hienous. But if those folks happen to be on the winning side, they never get prosocuted for their crimes.

As to the disaffected youth, make that all of placated, plump, supersized America. The folks who protested the Vietnam Conflict are still alive, but they remain silent.

The downside is that protest really doesn't work. If we all really didn't believe in the work of W, Rove and Co. we would just simply not send in our taxes. Or just staple our tax returns together with short note to the President saying, "Dear Mr. Bush. Don't use my tax money to kill innocent Iraqi citizens. Thank you."

That aught to snarl up the works a bit.

Revolutionary Movements

These words by James Connolly (1907) are painted on the wall of the Starry Plough in Berkeley California:

No revolutionary movement is
complete with out its poetic
expression. If such a movement
has caught hold of the
imagination of the masses,
they will seek a vent in song
for the aspirations, fears, and
hopes, the loves and hatreds
engendered by the struggle.
Until the movement is marked
by the joyous, defiant singing
of revolutionary songs, it lacks
one of the most distinctive
marks of a popular revolutionary
movement; it is the dogma of the few
and not the faith of the multitude

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mean Kids

Interesting question from my three year old son: "Daddy, why are some kids mean?"

Anyone have a good reply?

Judicial Supremacy?

Is "Judicial Supremacy" the new form of bigotry (Like White Supremacy)? DeLay must be preparing the courts for when he is brought to trial for his malfeasance.


"Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy," DeLay (R-Texas) said Thursday. Congress, instead of just complaining about federal courts that "run amok" in defending the right to abortion and banning school prayer, must set limits and "make sure the judges administer their responsibilities," he said, according to a report Friday in the New York Times.

He spoke by video to a conference titled "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith." Its sponsor was the Traditional Values Coalition, social-issue reactionaries who back legislation to restrict federal courts from ruling on anything involving God or basing any rulings on the precedents of foreign courts (for instance, in death penalty cases). Its so-called Constitutional Restoration Act is sponsored in Congress by Sens. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Reps. Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

...Judicial independence is one of this nation's distinguishing traits and a hallmark of our constitutional scheme. To endure, our democracy requires that legislators respect the independence of the judiciary, even when it comes to decisions they don't like.

End slice:

By the way, the Constitution needs "Restoration" like marriage needs "protecting."