Thursday, March 31, 2005

Found a good scapegoat

Oops. Sorry, Iraq. Can we get a do-over?

Slice:

"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," the commissioners wrote.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sick

Got the crud that is going round. I haven't managed to keep abreast of anything going on at this point. Don't expect much, but perhaps I may have a will to post in the delerium of my fever.

Have a wonderful day whilst you can.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Jackson jumps on the Schiavo bandwagon - where has he been?

Is College Worth it?

According to Melville, and he may well be right, not really. From page 110 of my copy of Moby Dick:

And, as for me, if, by any possibility, there be any as yet undiscovered prime thing in me; if I shall ever deserve any real repute in that small but high hushed world which I might not be unreasonably ambitious of; if hereafter I shall do anything that, upon the whole, a man might rather have done than to have left undone; if, at my death, my executors, or more properly my creditors, find any precious MSS. in my desk, then here I prospectively ascribe all the honor and the glory to whaling; for a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.

Blogger Comment Posting SNAFU

Okay, I have recieved word that blogger comments are not functioning. I have also had trouble commenting on some friends' blogs who also use Blogger.

Sorry. I am working on fixing it. Sent an Email to blogger support but no reply. I did republish the entire blog, which sometimes takes care of it.

I do apologize. I love getting comments. Please don't be discouraged and come back to comment often.

Thanks

Windspike

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Right Kind of Flip Flop

Humm,Why is no one calling DeLay a murderer?

Slice:

LOS ANGELES -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has helped lead a congressional effort to keep Terri Schiavo alive, joined members of his own family nearly 17 years ago in allowing doctors not to take extraordinary measures to extend his father's life, a newspaper reported Sunday.

DeLay had just been re-elected to his third term in Congress in 1988 when his father, Charles DeLay, was severely injured in an accident. As the elder DeLay's vital organs began failing, the family chose not to connect him to a dialysis machine or take other measures to prolong his life, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, citing court documents, medical records and interviews with family members.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old mother, told the Times. "Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

"Tom went along" with the family's decision, she said.

Let's take our Social Security Bux to Vegas!

Any one who plays the markets (NASD, NYSE, and others) realize and know that such "investing" really is just legitimized gambling. Short, long selling. Buy Low, Sell High, if you can. I have said this before: The folks who really stand to win big in the privitization of SS accounts are the money managers who will work the funds - Buy Low, Sell High. Or, Buy High, oops, Sell for a loss (may be down 100%). It doesn't matter. When you make a trade, the managers take their cut.

Anyway, the professionals are saying this about the W, Rove and Co plan to privitize accounts:

March 28 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush, promoting his plan to set up private Social Security accounts, is betting that stock returns will remain strong even as economic growth slows. Economists and equity strategists aren't so sure.

Bush is using forecasts from the Social Security Administration that say the economy will expand less than 2 percent a year -- the slowest sustained rate since the 1930s -- after 2020 as population growth eases. At the same time, the agency projects that stocks will return an annual average of 6.5 percent after inflation.

Thirty-nine of 58 economists and strategists surveyed by Bloomberg News say that if the economy slows that much, Bush's stock outlook is too optimistic. Over the last 50 years, as the U.S. economy grew 3.4 percent a year on average, almost twice as much as the agency is forecasting, the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index returned only 6.8 percent after dividends were reinvested.

``A 6.5 percent real equity return is not realistic'' at the growth rates being projected, says Thomas McManus, chief investment strategist in New York at Banc of America Securities LLC. ``If it were, we will not have a Social Security problem in 2050 because shareholders will be so wealthy they could easily fund the shortfall.''

End slice:

In case you are wondering, yes, I do invest my own money in securities. Just so you know, I am not talking out my rear end on this one. My single best investment stil has to be Starbucks. It is well over ten times the value I put in. My single worst (and I have had many more losers than winners) investment is a net loss of 100% in WebVan (I can still sell the paper stocks on Ebay for fun - I wonder what they would be worth if I did that). I thought they were going to go long. Who knew they would bankrupt themselves?

Who is President, Really?

Found an interesting quote today in the Times:

"All roads lead to Karl."
KENNETH J. DUBERSTEIN,
a Republican lobbyist, on Karl Rove's policy and political roles in the White House.


Don't you think that this person, who was not elected at all, has a bit too much power in the Whitehouse?

Slice:

WASHINGTON, March 27 - Jack Kemp was causing problems for President Bush's drive to overhaul Social Security, and it naturally fell to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's strategist, enforcer and closet policy expert, to take him on...

...But as the confrontation with Mr. Kemp suggests, Mr. Rove is assuming a more expansive role, bringing the same intensity to the big issues in Mr. Bush's second-term agenda that he brought to the president's re-election campaign. In naming Mr. Rove deputy White House chief of staff for policy last month, on top of his continuing catch-all title of senior adviser, the president formally recognized Mr. Rove's affinity for the nitty-gritty of governance and publicly acknowledged his influence over whatever deal might emerge on Social Security, his No. 1 domestic priority....

...But the intensity of Mr. Rove's involvement in politics and policy makes his current status unusual and gives him remarkably broad authority inside the White House and out. And in giving Mr. Rove his new title, Mr. Bush, freed from the need to think about re-election, seemed to acknowledge what everyone in Washington knows: that in this administration, as in all others, politics and policy are inextricably intertwined.

"Karl Rove is the crossing guard at the intersection of policy and politics," said Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who previously observed Mr. Rove for years as an aide to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, and as legislative director of the Christian Coalition.

"He blends political hack and propeller head in a way no one has ever achieved," Mr. Wittmann said. "No one is going to question his political expertise or his policy expertise. The question for him is always one of hubris."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Powerful 100 Year Old Notion

Saw Harley Granville-Barker's "The Voysey Inheritance" last night at the ACT. Free tix from a friend with season seats - nice ones - Row B, center.

Although this play was writen 100 years ago, there are many quotes salient for today. Here's one I recall:

"It's strange the number of people who believe you can do right by means which they know to be wrong."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

More Empty Boots


Unfortuantely, there are more empty boots to place in the display.

Found these posted in the SF Chronicle web location. Will have to try and make it and snap some of my own images. But, like the AIDS Quilt, no doubt it is not altogether a happy location.

Another dissapointing slice:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A car bomb struck a U.S. military patrol Saturday in the Iraqi capital, killing two American soldiers and injuring two others, and a Marine died in action in a restive central province, the military said.

Boots on the ground


Boots on the Ground in San Francisco, and the display grows.

Tears for Tinkerbell

This is a sad day for fans of the San Francisco Zoo. We have been there a number of times, and the older son loves the place, the animals and the elephants in particular. I am not a lover of zoos out of principle. However, it is one of the most educational locations to bring kids and a lot cheeper than going to Africa or Asia to see the real deal in the wild.

Anyway, I thought, given the whole Schiavo situation, that people would like to know that it is possible to euthanize in a humane fashion and it is appropriate to stop the suffering. Tinkerbell was the first elephant my son heard trumpet. Scared the pants off him, but he became enamored with her.

While the notion that Tinkerbell has any equivalence to Terri Schiavo is debatable, and many will argue that it is not even close, but Tinkerbell had great personality. And, with little or no protest, and certainly no governmental intervention, Tinkerbell was celebrated and put to death.

Slice:

In the final moments, she had a chain to play with and sugar cane to eat.

And then Tinkerbelle was put to sleep -- a sad and quiet end to the life of an Asian elephant who had charmed San Francisco Zoo visitors for more than three decades before turning into one of the most political animals in the country.

The 39-year-old pachyderm was euthanized early Thursday afternoon after collapsing at the Sierra foothills sanctuary she moved to in November. "We've all known that her condition was what I guess you'd call terminal, " said Pat Derby, founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, which runs the Ark 2000 refuge in San Andreas.

"I had hoped that she'd have a year or two." Bob Jenkins, director of animal care and conservation at the San Francisco Zoo, said Tinkerbelle was suffering from degenerative joint disease and chronic problems with her feet.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Help! My Marriage Needs Protecting

I was listening to NPR's "Your Call" this AM. One of the commentators mentioned that not very many people have made the link between the Terri Schiavo case and the denegration of the institution of marriage. Lets think about this a bit.

Aparently, the sanctimoneous prophelactic the reichwingers have been trying to wrap around heterosexual marriage has been ruptured inseminating words of hatered and venom toward all those who believe contrary to their "right-to-life" extremist views. Every dagger slung toward Michael Schiavo makes a bigger hole in the argument for protecting marriage and the sanctity of the institution between a man and a woman.

Why hasn't the government pushed the position of protecting Michael Schiavo's rights as a Husband to know what the wishes of his wife are? Every move made in this whole sad case of Terri Schiavo works to further kill the movement to protect marriage in general - between man and a woman, or any other permutation it takes.

Another Somber Post

I was out with the guys last night (a once a month thing) and found out that our friend with Breast Cancer is going to need Chemo-therapy. Her husband said, "its a good news, bad news thing." He proceeded to explain that the tumors they took out were small, and hadn't traveled at all, but (here's the bad news) the work up on the lumps exposed them to be a particularly bad form of cancer.

Thus, she is going to have to endure a month and a half of the stuff. Up side is that, if you can believe this, it won't hurt the fetus. Their daughter is begining to suspect that something is wrong. She said to her dad a few nights back,"Why isn't it Mommy's turn to put me to bed?" They take turns, but lately, Daddy has been doing it a lot to give Mommy her rest.

In the long run, she is going to beat this cancer, but what hell.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Knowing Grief

From page 35 of my copy of Melville's Moby Dick:

Oh! ye whose dead lie buried beneath the green grass; who standing among flowers can say - here, here lies my beloved; ye know not the desolation that broods in bosoms like these. What bitter blanks in those black-bordered marbles which cover no ashes! What despair in those immovable inscriptions! What deadly voids and unbidden infidelities in the lines that seem to gnaw upon all Faith, and refuse resurrections to the beings who have placlessly perished without a grave.

Proper Checks and Balances or is it a Supreme Court packed with Activists?

Given that this is the same court full of Activists that put W, Rove and Co in the Whitehouse, I'm just wondering what the reichwing spin will be on the latest Supreme Court decision not to intervene in the tragic Terri Schiavo situation.

Seems to me, the legal route being exhausted, that the fair extent of justice has been meted out. Time to grieve, if you must, and get on with life.

Life is, after all, for the living.

Slice:

"That is not an exercise of legislative power, but trial by legislature. ... Any law that suspends, nullifies, or reverses a final court judgment is an exercise of judicial, not legislative power," the filing said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Republican Sens. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mel Martinez of Florida filed a friend-of-the-court brief late Wednesday siding with Schiavo's parents.

"This is not about Terri anymore. This is all a political view," Scott Schiavo, Michael Schiavo's brother, told CNN on Thursday. "They're being bullied, actually, by these right-for-life people, basically telling them, `If you don't go our way, you won't get our votes.'"

Yahoo! Windsurfing Season has Hit

Finally, the wind gods are with us and the rain has stopped. By the sychronicity of it, I managed to wrangle my dear Mother-in-law to sit the kids and the wind cooperated.

Out for the first time this season: Crissy Field luanch. Winds SW about 18 or so, gusts to about 21 with stronger on the outside. Rigged the 5.4 North XXX, slapped it on the Exocet 85 liter Original Wave. Ripped it up on the outside for about an hour. That's about all I can handle until later in the season and I have burned off the Winter Excess.

I always forget how much fun it is to participate in life and get out on the water rather than be a spectator...which is hard not to be given that the College Hoops sesaon is winding down.

Remember: Shred Until your Dead.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ah, Those Silly Bush Boys

Finally have another new vid published on GNN. Check this out if you need a break from pointing to the the hyporcicy of the Schiavo Situation:

How can their women stand living with them?

Copy of the Intro page:

DJ Danger Mouse's video assault on the first family

GNN is proud to publish the first of many videos from independent video group subMedia TV.

In early 2004, DJ Danger Mouse became world famous for his “Grey Album,” the Jay Z/Beatles mash-up that sent hundreds of lawyers into convulsions. Months earlier, Danger Mouse had dropped his acclaimed hip-hop record Ghetto Pop Life. “Bush Boys,” an anti-Bush anthem with lyrics by MC Jemini, was part of that masterpiece. The video for “Bush Boys” is a collaboration between Danger Mouse and his longtime friend, video producer Alex Motlagh, who had access to CNN’s vast library. The video was first seen in “Under the Influence,” a compilation DVD by Atlanta’s film collective YETI. subMedia put the video online on April of 2003 and since it has been downloaded over 100,000 times. “Bush Boys” will be included in subMedia’s upcoming DVD/Zine “Molotov.”

Links:

Grey Album Download

POP Films Latest Project

Danger Mouse

submediaTV



Credits

Music: Danger Mouse and Jemini

Director/Producer: Alex Motlagh, POP Films

Submitted by Franklin Lopez, Submedia TV

The Search for The Right Kind of Activist Judge Continues

Terri's parents and team of well healed lawyers are, if nothing else, tenacious. Still searching after 15 years for their brand of Activist Judge. Not requited by the many layers of legal proceedings already pursued, and not content with the amount of taxpayer buxs already spent on their daughter.

Slice:

The parents also have vowed to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida legislature. They have long battled their son-in-law over whether their daughter's feeding tube should be disconnected. State courts have sided with Michael Schiavo, who insists his wife told him she would never want to be kept alive artificially.

End slice:

Why does this particular family warrant such special treatment and attention when there are so many others hanging on by a simliar or thinner thread?

And, once again, the hypocracy is so self-evident, even the Republicans are pointing it out:

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing."CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Republican congressman of Connecticut, on the Schiavo case.

P.S. By the way, if you haven't looked at Terri's husband's viewpoint on the matter, perhaps you should. I found this article via BE and another blogger (tiny grain of sand):

Slice:

...Instead of worrying about my wife, who was granted her wishes by the state courts the past seven years, they should worry about the pedophiles killing young girls," Schiavo said, referring to a local case. "Why doesn't Congress worry about people not having health insurance? Or the budget? Let's talk about all the children who don't have homes."

He said U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is leading a charge to extend Terri Schiavo's life, is a "little slithering snake" pandering for votes.

"To make comments that Terri would want to live, how do they know?" Schiavo said of the members of Congress who want to keep his wife alive.

"Have they ever met her?" Schiavo said. "What color are her eyes? What's her middle name? What's her favorite color? They don't have any clue who Terri is. They should all be ashamed of themselves."

Schiavo said he was going to stay at his wife's side through the entire ordeal and said he wouldn't back down in his fight to have her wishes carried out.

"Terri died 15 years ago," Schiavo said, referring to the collapse and cardiac arrest that doctors say virtually destroyed her brain. "It's time for her to be with the Lord like she wanted to be."



Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Sanctity of Life

Since when has human life been considered sacred to the degree that people in positions of supposed authority are allowed to purport themselves as representatives of god and move people to action simply because they believe in the "sanctity of life?"

Furthermore, why is it that people who hold human life in the sacred continuously disregard the reciprocal sacredness of other lives that they would and do willingly sacrifice for their cause (e.g. military deaths in Iraq heading toward 1600, Civilian Deaths in Iraq uncountable large numbers)?

Actions speak louder than political hot air. The constant elevation of issues through litigious means simply because you don't agree with the outcome is tantamount to going to the mob to inflict real justice on one's enemies. The trotting of Terri Schiavo through the courts over the last 15 years and the rolling of her corpse out through the House and Senate is plain and simply, appalling and at the same time embarrassing.

Assassination is final, yet death is a fact of life. If you truly believe in a benevolent god, perhaps euthanasia would be less of a sin and more of a kind and humanitarian action. Certainly, it is much more humane than murder by lethal injection, electrocution, or firing squad, or for that matter Carpet Bombing an entire City (just ask the folks on Death Row and the fine upstanding citizens in Iraq).

Why is it that the moral outrage is on flagrant display for one poor, unfortunate political football? Where is the outrage for the innocent children in Iraq dismembered by our tax dollar sponsored weapons of mass destruction? Is it simply by the miracle of being born in Florida rather than Baghdad that one deserves more attention and protection? Shouldn't the children and innocent citizens in Iraq and around the globe deserve and equal, or grander, display of protection?

Monday, March 21, 2005

W, the Texas Baby Killer

Found this post on DailyKOS on a tip from a friend:

Slice:

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

End slice:

We also know that W, presided as Governor of Texas during a period of numerous executions. We also know the horrendous record he has of being pro-life for innocent individuals in Iraq.

So, in action, W, Rove and Co are certainly in favor of murder (justified or not), and killing innocents. In words, they espouse a pro-life agenda. This is stupefying if anything else.

I am sure others have better words to explain this. Please comment to this post.

Activist Judging: In the Eye of the Beholder

With the latest punt by Congress regarding their favorite poor, unfortunate, political football, Terri Schiavo is being used as a shuttle to root out and find Activist Judges that the Reichwingers enjoy.

What it means to be an Activist Judge and whether it is bad, is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Like art and pornography, will we know it when we see it? Or, will the politicos bucking for reelection keep searching about until they find a judge that decides the way their constituents feel?

More tax payer dollars have gone to waste bringing our congressional reps to the fore on a rare and unusual Sunday Session. You would think we were going to war with North Korea.

More Domestic Terrorists We Can't Predict

Another tragic day for America's schools. Lessons from Colombine didn't help the folks in Minnesota.

Slice:

Eight people were shot dead on Monday by a student who killed his grandparents and opened fire at a school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota before killing himself in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in six years, authorities said.

General George Patton Knew More About War Than Most

Had this to say about war:

"Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning"

& "The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his."

Others also knew more about war that those of us sitting in our comfortable homes tiptapping away on the blog

Bertrand Russel also had a point:

"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."

Douglas MacArthur:

"The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

Questions ring for me:

1) Are we gaining anything by fighting the Iraq war?

2) Were we right to go in?

3) Was there another alternative?

4) Are people praying for peace?

5) When & how will it end?

Guilt by Association

Aparently, the Marines are having a PR problem with their Dress Uni.

Slice:

With the toll of Marines killed in Iraq mounting, the Marine Corps is no longer requiring the Marines notifying families of such deaths to wear the Corps' distinctive dress blue uniform.

The change, authorized by Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee, was made because the public was beginning to associate the blue uniform, usually worn during ceremonial or joyous occasions, with death and tragedy, officials said...

...But Gunnery Sgt. Cindy Grubb, operations chief for the Corps' casualty branch, said wearing the dress blues while notifying families had begun to associate the uniform unfairly with bad news.

"We want to keep that positive image of the blues," she said.

The latest casualty count shows 1,513 members of the U.S. military killed in Iraq, including more than 460 Marines. Most of the Marines were part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton.

End slice:

I know many a military family dreads the silent approach of a men in dress uniforms.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Aging Commie Pinko

Lately, certain slang terms used primarily in a derogatory manner have been recycled (like W, Rove and Co. judge appointees) by the reichwingers in their atempts to discredit otherwise insightful commentary. Like the use of the suffix -gate to indicate scandal (e.g. watergate, fajita-gate, etc..) it is time to put these tired old aphorisms to rest. They simply don't apply nor did they really hold any water when it comes to discrediting individuals.

Two of my favorites are "Hippie," and "Commie," or "Pinko Commie." These tired old terms simply don't apply to folks in this Millenium. Moreover, using such slang to attempt to discredit an argument doesn't work. Try for a change, calling things as they are, and using logical rhetoric and factual references to tell us that you think we are wrong.

Slinging hate, and in partucularl, using out-dated words and phrases to do it is just plain unoriginal. Let's put these terms to rest, and invent some new ones.

List your favorite terms that should be retired in a comment below.

Thank you

Saturday, March 19, 2005

What is a Patriot?

Have you ever been blogging and have an urge to comment, but then find your comment actually might make a fine post on your own blog? This happened to me this evening. I was reading Ken Grandlund's Common Sense - which really do have to slice out some time to read as his posts are very well thought out and lengthy - not your usual blog fodder....

So, I came up with in interesting angle on his recent post as I found myself thinking about how to become a better Patriot.

First off, I know that there is a difference in how people define it and what it means to each person can vary. So, my first question naturally flows:

1) What's the definition of Patriot?

Here's one: One who loves, supports, and defends one's country.

But that is a fairly broad definition, so, as we have the www at our fingertips, I thought I would google it. "What is a patriot" provided numerous hits, and at the top of the list was the USA Patriot Act.

Now, for the life of me, I scanned the thing, and couldn't find any definition of the term patriot. There was a lot of talk about terrorists, and what is terrorism, but missing was a good, clean, definition of Patriot.

Unrequited, I copy and pasted it into word and did a search, and did you know that the word "patriot" only appears three times in the whole of the 132 pages? And each time, it was to name the act.

This left me empty on what it means to be a patriot, except to turn in suspicious individuals.

Looking further, I found references to football teams, and the movie the Patriot, and finally hit on an "official" White House page where you can actually register yourself as a Patriot. Did you know you could do that? I didn't. This is something like the "do-not-call list, but better (if you take a look at the page, it really is a satirical piece, as in funny, ha ha):

Looking further, I found a self proclaimed watch dog group called the Patriot Watch.Interesting.

Slice from their page:

"As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." Justice William O. Douglas

Before my eyes blured over, I found the Fallen Patriot Fund, perhaps the most worthy of your review and spare cash/time to volunteer - interestingly, located right next to the Rightwing e-rag, the Federalist Patriot.

Still, I have not come away from my search with a fantastic definition of Patriot. So, I thought I would pitch it to the blogiverse - What are your thoughts about being a Patriot?

Before I leave this post, let me give you the preface - I was commenting on the environmental post on Common Sense and got to thinking how one could be Patriotic - read further if you like as here's the salient portion of my comment originally posted on Common Sense:

Anyway, I think the solution has to start with the individual. If we each pledge to go as green as we can and reduce consumption, we would do well.

Keep in mind, this simple thought - the most strategic reserve of oil sits parked in the driveways and parking spaces of America. Every time you make a decision to fire up the combustionable, you burn up another chance to save and increase our reliance on OPEC oil. So, perhaps the most Patriotic thing one can do is ride a bicycle, or walk or take public transit to work....or use only clean/efficient vehicles....

That's my idea on where to start. We can all do our part, now isn't that Patriotic?

The Fallacy of Abstinence

Humm, it is rather spurious that some group called the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, located in Sioux Falls, S.D is being given federal dollars to support their work (read: tax payer bux), when abstinance doesn't actually lead to the holy grail of chaste lives until "marriage."

This cherished "christian" result is misleading and again been poven a lofty, unobtainable goal. In fact, yet another emperical study shows that those who pledge abstinence are more likely to have anal sex. Hummm, is that what they Clearinghouse wants?

Of course, they say, these folks who pledge abstinence had not pledged "true" abstinence. So, now there are qualifications to the term abstinence?

Slice from the article:

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

...Millions of teens have signed written pledges or verbally promised to abstain from sex, part of a church-led effort to discourage premarital sex and the spread of disease.

President Bush has boosted funding for abstinence-only education in schools. Critics say that education needs to be coupled with safe-sex education to be effective.

"If adolescents only had sex in monogamous, married relationships, by definition there would be no STDs," Brueckner said, echoing President Bush's remarks in last year's State of the Union address. "

But the majority of adolescents don't live like that. They do have sex." Last year, the same research team found that 88 percent of teens who pledge abstinence end up having sex before marriage, compared with 99 percent of teens who do not make a pledge.

End slice:

Sounds like another Spend and Spend program (the kind that grows the National Debt) sponsored by W, Rove and Co. that doesn't work, and in fact, would actually work better if it didn't exist.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wrong War and Vice Versa?

A good thought for the weekend, from page 97 of my copy of Melville's Moby Dick:

"But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself."

Slice from Iraq:

By RAWYA RAGEH, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq - When U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq two years ago, Adnan al-Eiby was thrilled. He thought that once Saddam Hussein was toppled, Iraq would become a flourishing Western-style democracy.

"But now, I walk down the street and all I see is death — innocent people blown up by terrorists and others shot by the Americans," said the 32-year-old chauffeur. "I'm fed up with life. We pinned our hopes on the Americans but they let us down."

End slice:

Is W, like Ismael, weaving his own tourniquet and tightening it about his neck and eyes?

No More Lumps for now

Good news from the Cancer Battle front. Our friend's second surgery went well, and she is feeling good and the fetus is doing great. So, the non-invasive eradication of the two lumps last friday is over. No lymphnode traveling. And, yesterday's removal of pre-cancerous cells is done and hopefully we are done with it. Now, it is recovery and watching carefully.

Cronyism, Nepotism, and Narcisism, Oh, My.

W, Rove and Co. are at it again. Hey, let's give some folks we know a no-bid contract and hope the public won't find out. We are all deeply familiar with the modus operandi re: Halliburton.

This just in from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Mercyhurst College, a small Roman Catholic institution in the hometown of the former secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, has been awarded a no-bid contract to train intelligence analysts for the department.

A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department said on Wednesday that Mercyhurst, a liberal-arts college in Erie, Pa., was the only institution qualified for the job. Mercyhurst began training a class of 20 analysts last week at a department facility in Northern Virginia.

"The college was the one able to meet our time lines and bring their established program to a local training location at no additional cost," said Thomas P. Burke, the spokesman. He said the department had consulted with other colleges before making its decision. Mr. Ridge did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

But the $90,000 deal has raised eyebrows at the Center for Public Integrity, a government-watchdog group based here. The nonprofit group says the department should have conducted an open review that would have allowed larger, local programs to compete.

Mercyhurst's Institute for Intelligence Studies has been around only since 2004, although the 4,000-student college has been training undergraduates for intelligence jobs since 1992 and has offered a master's degree with an intelligence concentration since 1995. Georgetown University and George Washington University, both located here in Washington, have had security-studies programs in place for at least two decades.

Officials at Georgetown and George Washington said they had not been approached by the department but would have been interested in applying for the contract had there been a competition.

"There may be legitimate reasons why Mercyhurst was a better candidate, but you're not going to find that out without an open competition," said William A. Allison, a spokesman for the Center for Public Integrity. "This does create an impression that there is some favoritism" at play.

End Slice:

Humm...Georgetown, GW? Don't we know these institutions a bit better than Mercyhurst? Let's see, a program that is less than three years old, versus, well established programs at very substantial institutions that have been around a lot longer?

The way this administration works, no wonder they went with Mercyhurst. Regardless whether it is cronysim or nepotism, the narcisistic boys and girls of W, Rove and Co don't see the wrong (as in hear no, see no, speak no). Ah, but we do! For shame.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The big Dick Cheney Rubber Stamp - Sub title: Activist Judges on the Right wing are called? What?

Found this via Move On. Any one have $ 25K to get this thing aired?

Also, the text of Robert Byrd's speech at a recent rally can be found at Move On.

Slice:

An ill wind is blowing across this country. That wind blows the seeds of destruction. Our Constitution is under attack. We must speak out and kill this dangerous effort to rewrite our precious Constitution.

Our freedom of speech is in jeopardy. Some in the United States Senate want to “bully” the American people and the Senate and force feed us far right wing judges.

End slice:

If folks on the reichwing think judges who rule in favor laws that they don't agree with are "activist judges." Well, turnabout is fair play. What shall we call the rejects from the last term that W, Rove and Co. are trying to shove down our necks? Any suggestions?

Blue Sky Above


Image Copyright Windspike 2005.

I do apologize for those of you still frought with winter, but I took this shot mid-day on the Ides of March. Thought some might like a dose of cherry blossoms to brighten the otherwise mundane repetativeness of St. Patrick's salubriousness.

Letting Terri Go

Found this quote via blogexplosion:

"Please Pray forTerri Schindler-Schiavo,she only has one day before she is to be murdered"

It is rather interesting that those who claim to be "for" Terri Schiavo only advocate that she be artificially fed and kept alive. Don't you think that one could also be "for" Terri and advocate for her to be let go in a humane way?

Those who advocate keeping her alive artificially invariably argue that her husband has no legal basis for making decisions for her or that she couldn't have indicated that she didn't want to be kept alive artificially. In the end, how could the general public know the wishes of this poor, unfortuante woman? They don't; nor is it their business.

Let her go, and grieve if you must, but is long time for people to stop using Terri as a political football.

For those who disagree, would you trade places with her?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Another Bad Day for Scott Peterson

Well, no doubt, you have already heard. Scott Peterson gets the State sponsored (and tax payer dollar supported) trip to the chemical drip.

That is, until he exhausts the appeals process.

I'm wondering: Do you think the good Christians in favor of artificially feeding Terri Schievo are jumping for joy on this news?

Got Job?

Found a nice bumber sticker slogan on the following url:

"Osama still has his job, do you still have yours?"


This is paradoxically funny and sad given that the jobs created underneath W, Rove and Co. is unacceptably low. Not only that, but W, Rove and Co have setting new records: 1, 2. The cost of oil is making them richer, and us poorer at the gas pump. How nice - so much for your 400 dollar tax credit/rebat courtesy of W, Rove and Co. - ours went right into the gas tank several times over - and right into the big oil pockets.

Hemingway was No Dummy Either

Found a nice Hemingway quote:

"We have come out of the time when obedience, the acceptance of discipline, intelligent courage, and resolution were most important, into that more difficult time when it is a person's duty to understand the world rather than simply fight for it."

The Only Thing to Fear

Dusting off some high quality '80s tunes, I came across REM's Life's Rich Pagent album. Clicked play on the RioPlayer. Turns out Michael Stipe isn't always just pretentious, but can be insightful.

This set of lyrics from Hyena is rather powerful:

The only thing to fear is fearlessness
The greater the weapons the bigger the fear

Two Lumps Eradicated

For those of you who follow my posts, you know that a close friend's family was confronted by breast cancer earlier this monthg. Good news.

She had two, small millimeter sized lumps removed this past Friday. No traveling down the lymph system that they could find. However, they did find some pre-cancerous cells lingering about that also need to be removed. She goes in for more surgery tomorrow. This should eliminate the immediate threat of malignancy, but she will have to be under constant survelance and vigiliance.

Her Mother-in-law is in town to support, so they have family about, which is great.Hopefully we will get over there for a play date for the kids this afternoon, post nap, to insert some normalcy to their otherwise disrupted situation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Who da April Foo?

Found another great link via SheaNC. 1 April 2005 is going to be a special day: I love my country, but I am still embarrassed by the President Day.

Don't forget to wear your brown ribbon.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are aggressively taking care of their own, while screwing the rest of us

This just in from the Move On email list serve:

The Republican budget that's on the table cuts gives huge tax breaks to the rich, cuts education and health care for middle class folks and the poor, and sends the debt burden for future generations through the roof....
  • Republicans are pushing through the budget this week before critics and the media can point out huge program cuts and corporate giveaways.
  • The Republican budget explodes the deficit—adding more than $400 billion to our national debt, when you include the extra money requested for the Iraq War. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, the deficit is due mostly to the gigantic tax cut legislation and Iraq spending—two things Congress and the president want to make worse, not better.
  • The Republican budget gives the wealthiest Americans permanent tax breaks, while cutting programs for the middle class and poor.
  • The Republican budget would make gigantic cuts in health care—especially for Medicaid—which are unconscionable. Medicaid principally serves two groups: senior citizens and the working poor. Most seniors in nursing homes count on Medicaid.
  • The Republican budget slashes education funding, especially funds for middle class and low-income Americans. The budget leaves out the needed funding for No Child Left Behind and funds to help moderate-income Americans afford college. Pell Grants are dramatically hurt in the budget.
Send a letter to the editor using a form from move on, or do it yourself.

Batter up

Now that they spanked Bernard Ebbers, it is time to go after Kenny Boy Lay.

Let these capitalist pigs cook till they are super crispy.

Biased Treatment

While not original, this quote has been bouncing around my brain for the AM.

"There is nothing more inherently unequal than the equal treatment of unequals."

Lots out there if you google the phrase (eg. 1, 2, you get the idea)

Would the PC world have us believe that this is an overly biased simplification of many a complex problem?

Why Can't Kids Learn?

The NYTimes editorial section had an interesting post and view point shared about the trouble with high schools. The tendency to want to shift blame away from the learner is endemic to the whole of our troubles. That is, college and university faculty members tend to blame the high schools. This person wants to blame the junior high schools. No doubt, the junior high school faculty members will want to blame the middle and elementary school systems.

In the end, the parents are responsible for instilling a strong desire to learn and a learning ethic in their children. And, fundamentally, it is the individual that is responsible for their own learning. With all the support you can give kids, the best school systems in the world will have some students fail.

What we need is a shift from rote memorization of "facts" & test preparation toward a curriculum that centers on expeditianary exploration of topics until the students tire of the subject matter or move on to another more powerfully interesting topic. Having taught math to ninth graders before, I know how boring fractions can be if the relavence is not transparent. It is very challenging to teach fractions to anyone, let alone those who have failed mathematics courses in the past. Another shift that might present a fix is twisting the promotion and tenure process to shuffle new teachers away from the difficult courses to teach and put them into honors or high level classrooms. This would leave the general or remedial courses to the most experienced and skilled teachers and disciplinarians. The reason why I don't teach at the High School level any more is because I was given five courses (four preparations) in my first year of teaching. These four preps were all but one general or remedial courses. So, I spent the better part of my day disciplining some one else's children rather than teaching. Students were so disruptive and disrespectful that it was very difficult to maintain a line of thinking on the subject at hand without getting side tracked. Secondly, I know for a fact, that instead of doing the homework, these students were out on weekends, doing drugs, or simply watching television all evening. Parents were completely disengaged from the child's educational process, and in more than one case, I caught parents out right lying to make excuses for their children's poor performance.

I can go on, but will save more on this for either comments or another post should folks be interested.

Here's the slice from the article mentioned above:

To understand why, you have to consider what the high schools are dealing with. When American students arrive as freshmen, nearly 70 percent are reading below grade level. Equally large numbers are ill prepared in mathematics, science and history.

It is hardly fair to blame high schools for the poor skills of their entering students. If students start high school without the basic skills needed to read, write and solve mathematics problems, then the governors should focus on strengthening the standards of their states' junior high schools.

And that first year of high school is often the most important one - many students who eventually drop out do so after becoming discouraged when they can't earn the credits to advance beyond ninth grade. Ninth grade is often referred to by educators as a "parking lot." This is because social promotion - the endemic practice of moving students up to the next grade whether they have earned it or not - comes to a crashing halt in high school.

It makes no sense to blame the high schools for their ill-prepared incoming students. To really get at the problem, we have to make changes across our educational system. The most important is to stress the importance of academic achievement. Sorry to say, we have a long history of reforms by pedagogues to de-emphasize academic achievement and to make school more "relevant," "fun" and like "real life." These efforts have produced whole-language instruction, where phonics, grammar and spelling are abandoned in favor of "creativity," and fuzzy math, where students are supposed to "construct" their own solutions to math problems instead of finding the right answers.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sadness and Humor

Found these on Not Polite to Point.

Site one are some very well done photos taken in Iraq: By Farah Nosh.

Second, unrelated, but fun nontheless: Shredding video clips.

One for sadness, the other for humor.

Capitalism is Racist

I was on the bus, heading home about an hour ago. Catching a movie without the kids. Spotted some interesting graffiti (I take no credit for the tag):

"Capitalism is Racist"

Any thoughts?

Good news on Protecting Marriage

Finally some good news on the same-sex marriage front.

As the concerns over interracial marriage failed in stoping marriage between people of different colors, so too will the bigotry and fears associated with the reichwinger's attempt at stopping same sex marriage.

Slice:

In a victory for gay rights groups, a California Superior Court judge ruled on Monday that the state's voter-approved ban on homosexual marriage is unconstitutional....

...
"The denial of marriage to same-sex couples appears impermissibly arbitrary," wrote San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer. "Simply put, same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so."

Referring to California legal code, Kramer added: "This court concludes that both sections are unconstitutional under the California Constitution."

In his ruling, the judge said creating benefits for same-sex couples without allowing marriage was insufficient and referred to the landmark 1952 Brown v. Board of Education civil rights decision. "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal," he wrote.

INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE

The judge's tentative decision also cites a 1948 decision striking down California's ban on interracial marriages.

Condi not running...at least not now, but 2008 is a bit away.

Obviously, this is not new news. Anyone want to bet Condi is a part of some 2008 ticket on the reichwing side of our dualistic democracy?

Get you Condi Bobble Heads here - 3 for 59.97 (Who prices these things, by the way?)

Another witness for Stronger Environmental Protection than W, Rove and Co. deliver

"There used to be rivers of butterflies, but now there are years when there are no butterflies at all. This is a village full of ghosts, not of people, but of nature, a paradise lost."HOMERO ARIDJIS, a naturalist in Contepec, Mexico.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Halliburton is being watched

Found a nice link via SheaNC. If you want to have a look at what the watchdogs are viewing, you may want to click on over to Halliburton Watch.

Slice:

Halliburton admits it 'may have' criminally rigged bids on contracts
2 March 2005

WASHINGTON, March 2 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal inquiry into possible bid-rigging on foreign contracts by Halliburton, the company revealed Tuesday.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company said "information has been uncovered" that former employees of KBR "may have engaged in coordinated bidding with one or more competitors on certain foreign construction projects and that such coordination possibly began as early as the mid-1980s...."

End Slice:

Ahh, now, is this a perfect ethical and moral training ground for a Vice President of the USA or not?

Unleash the hounds and sic 'em:

WHISTLEBLOWERS

The source or sources of information received by HalliburtonWatch.org from Halliburton employees or subcontractor employees shall always remain confidential.

Information about Halliburton which would be useful to law enforcement or investigative journalists can be sent to:

HalliburtonWatch.org
c/o Essential Information
P.O. Box 19405
Washington, DC 20036.

You can also send information via fax to (202) 234-5176, or via email to info@halliburtonwatch.org.

Smokin'

How fast can you run 400 meters?

Surfing the web today and found that some 19 year old kid running for Florida bested Michael Johnson's world best by .06 seconds...which is a lot at that rate of speed.

Slice:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Kerron Clement has struck down a world record held for a decade by one of the greats of track and field. And he's only 19. The Florida sophomore seemed as surprised as everyone else when he ran 44.57 seconds at the NCAA Indoor track and field championships Saturday night, breaking the mark of 44.63 set by Michael Johnson in 1995.

"Winning is never having to say, I quit."

The latest post by Joe Henderson offers more insight from the legendary Dr. George Sheehan. Although Doc passed away a fair while ago, his wisdom still speaks. While I am not a huge fan of Henderson's writing, he was good friends with the Doc, and some times shares things we cannot always get from Sheehan's long list of writings.

Here are two from Henderson's post 562:

1) One of the last races George ran was the Crim 10-mile in Michigan. He ran along in last place with another man, a younger one who was injured. That runner turned to George and complained, "You know, Doc, we used to be good."

George came right back with, "We're as good as we ever were. We're doing the best we can with what we have. You have an injury, and I have an illness. But we're still out here, giving our all. No one can do more, or should do less..."

2) "Winning is never having to say I quit."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Do Christians and the NRA Mix Well?

I don't think so. This is tragic; Slice:

The victims were all in the same room at the hotel, Tushaus said. The suspect, a man of about 45 who was armed with a handgun, was affiliated with the church, which had been meeting at the hotel every Saturday morning for four or five years.

Tushaus did not identify the victims but gave approximate ages. Two boys ages 15 and 17, a 72-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman died at the hotel. Three men ranging in age from 44 to 58 died later at a hospital.

Four other people were hospitalized in serious condition.

End slice:

What is the NRA saying about this incident?

Nothing on their front page.

Nothing on any of the first five most pominent posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Drunk and Stupid or Vice Versa

Saw an interesting quote in the NYTimes this AM:

"It wasn't fun for me. I was stupid. I could have died."
HOLLY GODBEE,
who downed 17 drinks on her 21st birthday in a tradition called "power hour."


End slice:

Drinking and College students are so synonymous that there is a perennial joke told by college administrators: "What makes a great College President? Plentiful parking, good football teams, and beer for the students."

The sad state of affairs is that many campuses are host (inadvertent or not) to a wide array of celebrated "party" weekends (e.g. Spring Weekend at UConn, MayFest at U Utah, Poly Royal at Cal Poly SLO, or Case Day at Gustavus Adolphus College, to name a few). Even worse are the underground and above ground abuses of alcohol by Pan-Hellenic organizations, and just students in general.

Sadly, our society is so twisted morally that drinking to the binge degree is the modus operandi for numerous pre-legal age drinkers. And when they turn the magical age of 21, they go off the deep end, and some as a result have wrapped their cars around trees or front ended some innocent drivers and are later jailed for manslaughter. About five years ago, the University of Michigan had a 19 year old first year student get herself drunk and fell to her death out of her own residence hall window.

The lessons of drinking tend to be the harder ones to learn. Every year (at least once) some "news" outlet does some "expose" on binge drinking thinking it a new phenomenon. It is not. Perhaps it is time to consider the elimination of the Reagan Era forced law that pushed the legal drinking age to 21.

I may be mistaken, but in places where there is no drinking age, it seems as though people do less binge drinking and drinking behavior is more controlled and responsible. As we learned from Prohibition, banning it doesn't work (which, by the way is the same for the argument of legalization of pot). Instead of legislating morality, perhaps we ought trust parents to help their children learn about responsible drinking (like the reichwingers suggest about abstinence) in the safety of their own homes with out it being a criminal activity. Maybe then, our children, who then will hopefully live long enough to become adults, can learn about moderation and responsible use, rather than sink into the trap that can be repetative abuse and binge drinking.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogging and the Unabomber

If a blogger blogs in the woods, and no one reads their post(s), does that make them the Unabomber?

Numerous folks have complained about the misleading and genuinely bigoted slant to a number of blogs out there. I have an extended list of folks I don't read (eg: caosblog.com and his/her misleading adverts on the BE banners), unless I am looking for a good laugh and to see what the reichwing is thinking. This leads me to the question posted above.

Anyone have an answer?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

No Matter that it is One Lump or Two if they are Malignant

I was at a gathering of friends last night. Bad news. This is a good news/bad news story where it is challenging to be happy about the good news portion. Friends with a daughter that is a frequent playmate for our older son shared:

Good news - They are pregnant and expecting their second child.

Bad news - Two lumps on a breast were found to be malignant. The extent the Cancer has metastasized is unknown given that they were not able to perform an MRI becuase of the fetus.

Upside: They found it early and the lumps were small.

Downside: Anesthesia could affect both the mother and fetus.

Recommendation: Surgery - lump-ectomy. Follow the lymphnodes to be sure to remove all the cancer. This surgery has a high rate of succes. Happens this friday.

All around, hugs and tears. Just offered to sit their daughter any length of day on Friday should they need the support.

Any other suggestions on how to help when Cancer Hits would be greatly appreciated. This is my first close call with the stuff since my Sister had her thyroid removed about 10 years ago (still cancer free). Although it is not our family that is working through it, these are very close friends and we want to be supportive without being intrusive.

Sorry for the somber post, but thanks in advance for advice.

This a reminder that we are all mortal and politics don't always matter.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

On Christian Kindness

Melville points to our thought for the day - on page 51 of my copy of Moby Dick:

"I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy."

Melville was ahead of his time on Same Sex Marriage

Also, from page 51 of my copy of Moby Dick, Melville reveals to us that Marriage is more a state of mind and a powerfully bonded relationship than some supposedly preverted sexual act:

"He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country's phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply."

on to page 52:

"How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg - a cosy, loving pair."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Academic Freedom and the First Amendment hang in the Balance

You may not like what Ward Churchill said or says, but that doesn't give you the right to oust him from his job.

Slice from the 4 March Chronicle of Higher Education ( page A48):

No less that Newt Gingrich said: We're going to nail this guy and send the dominoes tumbling....Mr. Churchill defiantly said he would fight for his job: "If they try to deep-six my ass, I'm going to butcher them in court."

End slice:

And he should win, that is of course, unless W, Rove and Co. win their push to insert reichwing Activist judges (read: those who were stopped in the last four years) into the courts.

Orphans


Mudered Italian security guards hold no candle to the newly generated orphans, thanks to the trigger happy folks at various US Military check points in Iraq.

What did these kids do to deserve two murdered parents?

Slice:

American and Iraqi officials say they have no figures on such casualties, just as they say they have no reliable statistics on the far higher number of civilian deaths in the fighting that began with the American-led invasion nearly two years ago. But any Westerner working in Iraq comes across numerous accounts of apparently innocent deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers who drew American fire, often in circumstances that have left the Iraqis puzzled as to what, if anything, they did wrong.

Let's replace W's penis with a uterus

Found a nice op-ed commentary today in anticipation of tommorow's International Women's day.

It long over due for legal and policy (federal, state or local) decisions made that only affect the female sex to be proposed and decided upon by women only. Given that women are the only ones who can know what it means to opperate and survive in the real world with female genetalia, it is time for men to step down and stop making wholesale decisions about what should be against the law for women.

Slice:

Tuesday is International Women's Day, a worldwide celebration of women's fight for equality and human rights. In light of this commemoration, it is especially disappointing that the Bush administration is working so hard to restrict women's rights.

Ten years ago, a landmark U.N. conference in Beijing adopted a platform seeking to establish global equality for women. Along with recommendations on issues such as domestic violence and education, the platform states women should be able to "decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality ... free of coercion, discrimination and violence." It also asserts that abortion should be safe in places where it is legal and criminal charges should not be filed against women who undergo illegal abortion...

...Only 8 percent of women in Ethiopia have access to contraception, according to Population Action International. They have little or no control over when or whether they will have sex and repeatedly face unplanned pregnancies. They bear, on average, seven children. The maternal mortality rate is among the worst in the world. Rates of sexually transmitted infections are extremely high. The World Bank reports that more than 2 million Ethiopian women have HIV/AIDS.

Those rates are worsening because of the Bush administration's position on women. In 2001, President Bush reinstated the global gag rule restricting funding for family planning. Under the gag rule, family planning agencies that receive U.S. money may not offer abortion counsel or refer women to abortion providers, or lobby to make or keep abortion legal in their own country, even if they use separate funds not provided by the United States. Providers are forced to make a cruel choice: Give up vital assistance and try to afford to continue to counsel women on all pregnancy options, or withhold critically important information.

The gag rule restricts the simplest ways to improve the status of women: funding birth-control supplies so they can avoid unintended pregnancies and care for children they already have. In Ethiopia, abortion is illegal. Because most nongovernmental organizations that provide family planning have refused to abide by the gag rule, the resulting lack of U.S. funds has restricted the contraceptive supply, which means that abortion is also very common. Women take their lives into their own hands when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. If they cannot adequately care for another child, they try to end pregnancies with herbs, poisons or wire. Complications from unsafe abortions are the second leading cause of death for women, after tuberculosis, in Ethiopia.

As long as the Bush administration restricts women's rights by blocking access to contraception with the gag rule, unintended pregnancies will occur. So will abortion. The Bush administration's global gag rule and political posturing last week only exacerbate the situation. Women in all countries should have the right to make responsible decisions without coercion, discrimination or violence. They should have access to comprehensive information and health care. They should be able to own property, pursue an education, decide who and when to marry, and whether and when to have children...

...Rather than taking into account the harsh realities of women's lives and working to provide real solutions for women and girls, the Bush administration is playing politics with women's lives.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Bloody Oil Wars


Obviously, no post on Saturday. Hope you didn't miss me. Had a friend in, visiting from Boston, so we were doing the usual tourist junket.

Found this when we were gassing up her rental - the irony of the action hit me, so I took the snap.

While I don't condone vandalism, I thought the blogsphere might enjoy this style of freewayblog.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Is Separation of Church and State a Myth?

I've been wrestling with this one for a while. The reichwingers seem to think that the ideal, set down concretely by our founding fathers, of the separation of Church and State is unattainable, at best, and undesirable, at the very least.

I submit to the flaws of men, and realize many have failed at the goal. This is not to say that our leaders, past and present have been or need be agnostic. Even so, perhaps our forefathers were smarter than we give them credit for as they were much closer to governments operated when states and church entities were so entwined, they were one and the same.

Certainly, in the days when thinking over preaching prevailed, the drafters of our great Constitution were smarter, and prescient.

We may have failed. And in the W. Rove and Co administration, where Attorneys General drape statues for their offenses, we most certainly have a quasi-theocracy. But does this mean we should not strive to avert the disastrous shortcomings of the fornicating Church & State governments?

Hence my questions for the weekend. Is the separation of Church and State a myth? If so, which God should be installed in the Whitehouse; Allah, Buddha, or yours?

Sentimental Nihilism at its Finest

With all the brouhaha over Jeff Gannon/Guckert, or whatever his name really is, I had to pull out one of my favorite passages from Conel West's book Democracy Matters:

On page 36:

The political nihilism in America today is not limited to the arena of party politics; it has infiltrated our media culture as well in the form of sentimental nihilism. While an essential mission of the news organizations in a democracy should be to expose the lies and manipulations of our political and economic leaders - and surely many meadia watchdogs devote themselves to that task - too much of what passes for news today is really a form of entertainment. So many shows follow a crude formula for providing titilating coverage that masks itself as news. Those who are purveyors of the bastardized form of reporting are sentimental nihilists, willing to sidestep or even bludgeon the truth or unpleasant and unpopular facts and stories, in order to provide an emotionally satisfying show. This is dominence of sentiment over truth telling in order to build up market share. Our market-driven media have become much too constrained in the coverage of unpleasant truths, much too preoccupied with the concerns and views of middle-class and upper-class white people, and much too beholden to the political persusasions of the media moguls.

Hence we have witnessed the breakdown in media ethics - going after "good" stories even if the truth has to be stretched or outright fabrications are condoned. The overwhelming dominance of market-driven pressures has also lead to the blatant partisan punditry. And even the supposed do-gooders in the media often limit the depth of their analysis and the range of their truth telling so as not to offend advertisers and mainstream opinion...

...but our mass media are dominated by the ambulance chasers and the blatantly partisan hacks, mostly on the right. Many newspeople are deep believers in the principle of the free press and the special role it's meant to play in our democracy, and yet that belief all too often amounts to sentiment becuase they fail to act more consistently on that principle.

Stopping the miss use of the Suffix -Gate

Is it just me, or are we done with the use of the word -gate as a suffix?

Watergate is a hotel and apartment complex in DC. The embroglio involved Nixon and other corrupt politicians in 1972. This was a long time ago. There is no need to slap the term -gate at the end of some word to indicate the emergence of some kind of scandal.

Perhaps we should tax every person who coins or uses the term instead of calling a scandal just what it is. Put the money toward paying down the national debt that W. Rove and Co have gotten us into.

There are many offenses, including this one in San Francisco.

Please, let's just stop it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Don't Misunderestimate W

Found an interesting quote that is pertinent to our times, even though it was written by Melville in the late 1800s. This from page 29 of my copy of Moby Dick:

So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and to be spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.

W Should be Quacking Like a Duck

Can anyone say Lame Duck yet?

This just in from today's NYTimes pollsters:

Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues...

...Four months after Mr. Bush won a solid re-election over Senator John Kerry, 63 percent of respondents say the president has different priorities on domestic issues than most Americans. Asked to choose among five domestic issues facing the country, respondents rated Social Security third, behind jobs and health care. And nearly 50 percent said Democrats were more likely to make the right decisions about Social Security, compared with 31 percent who said the same thing about Republicans.

"There are so many other things that seem to me to be more critical and immediate: I think the national debt is absolutely an immediate thing to address," said Irv Packer, 66, a Missouri Republican. He added, "Another one that I'd really like to see people working on is the environment."

End slice:

Even some of my republican friends have turned off Bush and have reverted to watching American Idol instead of the news.

What was that Timothy Leary said: "Tune in, Turn on, and Drop out?" Perhaps the message to our wayfaring president should be: "Clue in, Clue on, or Get Out!"

Is Bush Insane? It Can Get Worse

Just checked out the smirking chimp and a post from yesterday - on a tip from a friend.

If you haven't seen any writing by Ray McGovern (ex CIA), you may want to keep an eye out for his work.

Slice:

The notion that the Bush administration would mount a pre-emptive air attack on Iran seems insane. But is proof of insanity needed?

By Ray McGovern, AlterNet
"'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.'

(Short pause)

"'And having said that, all options are on the table.'

"Even the White House stenographers felt obliged to note the result: '(Laughter).'"

-- The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin on George Bush's Feb. 22 press conference
For a host of good reasons the huge and draining commitment of U.S. forces to Iraq and Iran's ability to stir the Iraqi pot to boiling, for starters the notion that the Bush administration would mount a "pre-emptive" air attack on Iran seems insane. And still more insane if the objective includes overthrowing Iran's government again, as in 1953 this time under the rubric of "regime change."

But Bush administration policy toward the Middle East is being run by men, yes, only men who were routinely referred to in high circles in Washington during the 1980s as "the crazies." I can attest to that personally, but one need not take my word for it.

According to James Naughtie, author of The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency, former Secretary of State Colin Powell added an old soldier's adjective to the "crazies" sobriquet in referring to the same officials. Powell, who was military aide to Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger in the early 80s, was overheard calling them "the f -ing crazies" during a phone call with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw before the war in Iraq. At the time, Powell was reportedly deeply concerned over their determination to attack with or without UN approval. Small wonder that they got rid of Powell after the election, as soon as they had no more use for him.

If further proof of insanity were needed, one could simply look at the unnecessary carnage in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003. That unprovoked attack was, in my view, the most fateful foreign policy blunder in our nation's history ... so far.

It Can Get Worse

"The crazies" are not finished. And we do well not to let their ultimate folly obscure their current ambition, and the further trouble that ambition is bound to bring in the four years ahead. In an immediate sense, with U.S. military power unrivaled, they can be seen as "crazy like a fox," with a value system in which "might makes right." Operating out of that value system, and now sporting the more respectable misnomer/moniker "neoconservative," they are convinced that they know exactly what they are doing. They have a clear ideology and a geopolitical strategy, which leap from papers they put out at the Project for the New American Century over recent years.

The very same men who, acting out of that paradigm, brought us the war in Iraq are now focusing on Iran, which they view as the only remaining obstacle to American domination of the entire oil-rich Middle East. They calculate that, with a docile, corporate-owned press, a co-opted mainstream church, and a still-trusting populace, the United States and/or the Israelis can launch a successful air offensive to disrupt any Iranian nuclear weapons programs with the added bonus of possibly causing the regime in power in Iran to crumble.

...
An earlier American warned:

"A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation facilitates the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, infuses into one the enmities of the other, and betrays the former into participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. ... It also gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, who devote themselves to the favorite nation, facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country." (George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796)

In my view, our first president's words apply only too aptly to this administration's lash-up with the Sharon government. As responsible citizens we need to overcome our timidity about addressing this issue, lest our fellow Americans continue to be denied important information neglected or distorted in our domesticated media.

End slice:

The whole article is worth a read, but you get the idea. These are smart, intelligence professionals, who think our leadership has gone off the deep end. Don't you trust these people more than swift boat veterans for "truth?"

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

One Iraqi Viewpoint

I found this on a link from Moxie Grrrl's blogroll. If you haven't seen Porquoi Pas? you should check it out.

I am pasting the last lines from the post there of a letter from a US Educated, Iraqi citizen. The whole letter is very powerful. But the last paragraph should make some weep:

We do not hate America for its "freedom or democracy." We don't hate America. We hate the crimes, the destruction, and the devastation committed by America against the innocent people in our country.

End slice:

On whom should the shame and blame be placed?

Greenspan's got Chutzpah - Sub title: What's the difference between "Tax and Spend" and the Current practice of Spend and Spend?

At least someone is saying that the emperor has no clothes:

Slice one:

"We owe future retirees as much time as possible to adjust their plans for work, saving and retirement spending," Greenspan said, suggesting an urgency that dovetails with Bush's call for action this year on Social Security before its financial situation worsens.

Still, there were fresh indications of the difficulty confronting Bush as he tries to build support in the Republican-controlled Congress for remaking the Depression-era program — including a nationwide poll that shows support for his plans dropping as they become better known.

Slice Two:

"You cannot continuously introduce legislation which tends to expand budget deficits because down the road the impact of an ever-rising deficit, especially as a percent of the GDP, creates some significant weakness in the structure of the economy," Greenspan told the House of Representatives Budget Committee. "

Addressing the government's own imbalances will require scrutiny of both spending and taxes. However, tax increases of sufficient dimension to deal with our looming fiscal problems arguably pose significant risks to economic growth and the revenue base," he said.

End slices:

Well, there has to be a big difference between what conservatives call the Tax and Spend Mode of Democratic leadership and the current death spiral we are in at the behest of W, Rove and Co. For all intents and purposes, it looks a lot like: "Hey, let's spend and spend, and screw our children" modus operandi for the current administration.

An 80 Billion here, an 80 billion there...

...Meanwhile in Iraq, the death toll for our GIs breaches 1500. That's a very large number of some very sad families.

Gay Marriage Versus Sirial Polygamy.

Looks like another celebrity marriage is going into the great heterosexual hitch and unhitch dung heap.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I stand before you to testify that there are large numbers of gay/same sex couples that have been together in a monogamous, mutually loving, committed and caring relationship longer than many heterosexuals. These people are much better role models than Charlie Sheen and whichever starlet he necks next. Why must homosexual couples suffer the indignity of not being official recognized because some bigots still follow biased segments of the bible?

Again, let's not ban same sex marriage. Let's ban celebrity marriage, smokers and obese people from marring each other. It would serve their offspring better.

Couldn't the Republicans find a better way to spend 100 Million Dollars?

With all the shit goin' down, why are W, Rove and Co. having their friends spend 100 million dollars on pushing their Social Security reform ideas down our throats?

I am wondering, how much, if any of that 100 Mil will be derived from US Tax Payer Dollars?

I don't have any flashMedia expertise, but I am sure we will find a grass roots way to knock down this Goliath.

From Move on:

The Republicans are running a $100 million public relations blitz to convince Americans to privatize Social Security. Paying for private accounts would require benefit cuts for future retirees—with younger workers hit the hardest—while gutting a sound program and burdening the next generation with trillions in debt. All this to line the pockets of the Republicans' friends on Wall Street, who stand to make millions off the deal.

Well, we don’t need $100 million dollars because we have the creativity, intelligence, and talent of the American people, who know how to spot a scam and, better yet, know how to expose one in Flash! Hence our latest contest: Bush in 30 Years—A Flash Contest to Stop the Republican Social Security Scam.

End Slice:

Anyone with such skills should have a go. Could be fun. ...now I have this Buffalo Springfield tune running through my brain..."Stop, hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's goin' down..."

It's getting Drafty!

As Jim Hightower points out, the trouble with lying is that once you start, you can never stop.

Rolling Stone has caught W, Rove and Co with their lying pants on fire one more time.

Slice from today's Hightower commentary:

In last year's presidential run, young voters were wary that Bush & Co. was quietly preparing for a military draft. The concern was spreading so quickly that George himself was rushed out to denounce what he called "rumors on the Internets," and he flatly declared: "We're not going to have a draft – period." Donnie Rumsfeld went even farther, offering this absolute statement: "The idea of reinstating the draft has never been debated, endorsed, discussed, theorized, pondered, or even whispered by anyone in the Bush administration."

The problem for political liars is that they don't know when to stop. They keep piling it on until the lie becomes too extreme and too big to be true. Rumsfeld's denial, for example, was incredible when he issued it, and now we learn that it was patently untrue – ie, a bald-faced lie issued for political purposes.

Rolling Stone magazine recently unearthed an internal selective service memo that reveals the lie. It details a meeting with two of Rummie's top aides early in 2003, specifically to debate, discuss, ponder, and otherwise consider reinstating the draft. Indeed, the head of the selective service later testified before congress that, following "consultations with senior Defense manpower officials," the agency began preparing a plan to draft Americans who have special skills that the military needs, such as nurses and doctors....

End Slice:

Are the reichwing youth, of a draftable age, now shaking in their boots? Will Jenna and Barbara Bush be required to register with selective service when it happens? If they do, will they get a nice plum assignment like their daddy before them?

I went to the Rolling Stone location to try and find the memo that Hightower speaks of, and found a nice set of memos that point out some of the torture hypocrisy Rummy has shoveled us. And the reichwingers continue to eat up the fabricated truth, for whatever reason I cannot comprehend... Are they not paying attention?