Sunday, July 31, 2005

What would you do if mortar shrapnel tore into your skull?

Some see heroes. Others are outraged. There are many levels of twistedness laced throughout this article. In the end, I want to know when will those responsible for sending our troops to Iraq be held accountable for this foolishness.

"Relax, relax," Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell said, resting his hand on the corporal's shoulder. "Just wanted to see how you're doing."

"Doing good, sir. How about you?"

"I feel like I got no brain left," Maxwell said. "My brain got whacked pretty good. I kind of have to fake it to get by."

On Oct. 7 in central Iraq, mortar shrapnel tore into Maxwell's skull, causing severe brain damage, and lacerated the left side of his body. Seventeen days later, a rocket exploded near Ferguson in western Iraq, shredding his lower left leg.

The two Marines had never met before the 40-year-old colonel sought out the 22-year-old corporal in the physical therapy ward of the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune this month. Their encounter was part of an extraordinary endeavor by a Marine officer with a faulty memory and a speech impediment, in which the walking wounded help care for injured comrades.

The Obsolescence of Schools of Education

Having been trained exclusively in schools of education in public universities, one might think I would be highly critical of this recent NYTimes article. Unfortunately, my experience won't let me. Some of the worst teaching I have ever witnessed and was forced to matriculate through as the courses were required were the ones unpacking "proper" pedagogy. Think about it - a full hour and a half on how to hold your chalk? Like that helps you with controlling discipline in the classroom or teaches you how to handle parents who lie for their children so they can get out of doing the homework you assign.

I asked one School of Education researcher once, after she had gone through an elaborate discourse on her year long research venture where she video taped a mathematics classroom for a whole year, "do you think that by studying what is going on rather than conducting experiments on what can be done better you are only furthering mediocrity in the classroom rather than change and innovation?" She was dumbfounded and didn't answer. Of course, the question really nullifies more than a year’s work on her part and the expense of so many graduate students doing the actual labor on the research project. She didn't like the underlying sentiment laced in the question, but I was trying to make a point.

What we need is wholesale reform from the ground up. That is, we have to ask difficult questions like, "how do we train people to train teachers?" Why is it that the beginning teachers rather than experienced teachers are tossed into the more challenging classroom settings (say, teaching delinquents math over honors algebra)? There are much better questions to discuss and answer rather than simply taking a look at what is going on in classrooms today.

If we were to dream the perfect school and the most dazzling educational experience, it would look considerably different than what has emerged from about 150 years of staid wrote practice of how it was done before. The students of today shouldn't stand for it, and neither should we.


Today, education schools face pressure to improve from all directions. A flurry of new studies challenges their ideological bias and low admissions standards. Critics now question their very existence, with competition from fast-track routes to certification threatening their long-held monopoly on training teachers. The soul-searching has accelerated with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which demands a "highly qualified" teacher - state certified, with a bachelor's degree and proven knowledge of subject - in every classroom by the end of this coming school year.

In fact, No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on standards and hard data, has placed national policy in direct conflict with the prevailing approach of many colleges, where the John Dewey tradition of progressive education holds sway, marked by a deep antipathy toward testing.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Work of Fiction

After finishing Moby Dick, I picked up a lighter read to dive into: The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.

Here's an interesting quote from the paperback version (p. 104):
I have noticed that if you look carefully at people's eyes the first five secons they look at you, the truth of their feelings will shine through for just an instant before it flickers away.
I know the book is a work of fiction, but is there any truth to this? Perhaps there are some bloggers out there have experiences that verify such a statement. If so, I will thank you to share your story here in the comments.

Little Rascals

Anyone remember the old television show call the "Our Gang?" I loved that show as a kid and was remembering it on my AM run the other day and thinking, with all the nicknames bouncing round the Whitehouse these days, it is a lot like the Little Rascals have taken up shop at the head of our government. Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, and the rest of the gang, perhaps could make a better administration then the current lot, and they certainly had better nicknames than Turd Blossom, Shrub, Rummy and the like.

Even so, it feels like the "He Man Women Haters Club" is being re-installed in the SCOTUS. And I also recall the episode where Spanky goes bug hunting....a lot like swatting terrorists. No matter how many you kill, there are still more to replace the ones you aim for, and, there is a lot of collatteral damage when the killing is done - if it ever stops.

Internet Fritz

I do have to apologize for the lack of posting as of late. We have been experiencing very finicky router and modem boxes here at our place. So, our internet connection has been some what frisky and on the fritz for longer than just small periods of time.

We should have new boxes for installment fun shortly and the problem could be remedied as early as Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mid Afternoon Nap for the Insomniac

All Images Copyright Windspike 2005
I took this shot about 3:00 PM mid-July trying to get in a nap while some very rowdy children played downstairs. Alas, no sleep for me. Instead you get this shot I call: Mid Afternoon Nap for the Insomniac.

St. Mary with the Blue Eyes

All Images Copyright Windspike 2005

I didn't feel much like posting on the politcal today. Thus, you get a couple of recent shots I took this month. This one I call St. Mary with the Blue Eyes. I have converted it to black and white, but I think because of the stark color contrasts it works well in full color (what you see here).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Releasing Documents

I don't know about y'all, but whenever folks are reluctant, dare I say recalcitrant, to release documents, I get suspicious. Regardless the rationale, the intent and action speaks volumes about the desire for the W, Rove and Co. to cover up what it can. And it appears there is a lot to sweap under the rug at the Whitehouse - perhaps there isn't a rug big enough.

What are they trying to hide this time around?
The White House said on Tuesday it will refuse to hand over to the Senate some documents related to Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' legal work for the U.S. government in a sign of a possible partisan battle ahead with Senate Democrats.

Senate Democrats, who have demanded access to relevant information as the confirmation process gets under way in the U.S. Senate, reacted skeptically and demanded more documents.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration would make public between 62,000 and 65,000 pages of documents concerning Roberts' work during the Reagan administration.

But he said the Justice Department will withhold internal memos generated from 1989 to 1993, during Roberts' work as deputy solicitor general during the presidency of George Bush, father of the current president and a fellow Republican.

It was during this period that Roberts wrote a legal brief on the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized a woman's right to abortion. He said in the brief that "we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bush Naked

Is it me, or does our emperor have no clothes? Frank Rich puts it nicely:
PRESIDENT BUSH'S new Supreme Court nominee was a historic first after all: the first to be announced on TV dead center in prime time, smack in the cross hairs of "I Want to Be a Hilton." It was also one of the hastiest court announcements in memory, abruptly sprung a week ahead of the White House's original timetable. The agenda of this rushed showmanship - to change the subject in Washington - could not have been more naked. But the president would have had to nominate Bill Clinton to change this subject...

...But the scandal has metastasized so much at this point that the forgotten man Mr. Bush did not nominate to the Supreme Court is as much a window into the White House's panic and stonewalling as its haste to put forward the man he did. When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It's Mr. Gonzales's proximity to this scandal that inspires real fear.
W lacks courage in the worst possible way (see today's Doonesbury comic strip). Unlike the Cowardly Lion who had it all along but didn't realize it, W thinks he is courageous, but in fact, is not. In reality, he is lost any connection to the integrity he and his party espouse and lost his valor long ago when he shirked his responsibility to serve in the military. The man is a shadow of the person elected and shames us all and the office.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A source of Inspiration

End of an era, maybe. Perhaps Lance's last ride will catapult him to further greatness off the bike. Time will tell. Most of all, he is an inspiration to all - a survivors' survivor. Screw reality television. Lance is the real deal.

Ride on.
When Lance Armstrong claimed his first yellow jersey on 3 July 1999 he gave millions of people hope. At the age of 27 the all-American champion proved there was life after cancer. He had ridden the Tour de France before, won stages in fact, but victory in his first appearance since he was struck down by the illness was a triumph of spirit. But surely his time in the overall lead of the world’s biggest bike race wouldn’t last much longer than the first week. Aficionados of the event knew his name and they recognized his weaknesses.

Before cancer, the Texan couldn’t climb and his ability in the time trial was reasonable at best. Tactically he’d made more than one faux-pas. He was a star but not a rider capable of holding onto the ‘maillot jaune’. Lance proved that the cynics were wrong. And he has continued to do so every year. In the final race of his career there was nothing left to prove. At the age of 33 he had eclipsed the efforts of the greatest cyclists in history in the race which matters most.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

One, Eleven, Forty-Six = Seven

Just about cements the victory for Lance. His legs were pistons, cranking, and no one could stop the runaway truck. Wow.
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France's final time trial on Saturday, all but guaranteeing him a seventh consecutive - and last - race victory to round out a stellar career.

Armstrong beat second-placed Jan Ullrich by 23 seconds in the 20th stage to extend his already comfortable race lead - setting him up for a victory ride on the last leg into Paris on Sunday, when the 33-year-old will retire.

Another McMessage from McClellan

Meanwhile, back at the Whitehouse, Scott McMessage McClellan continues to deflect and obfuscate. I love the transcripts from these press briefings. Let's hope the mainstream press continues to ask for and provoke an answers because, unlike Guckert/Gannon, we can't get into the press room.

Q Why does Karl Rove still have security clearance and access to classified documents when he has been revealed as a leaker of a secret agent, according to Time magazine's correspondent?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there is an investigation that continues, and I think the President has made it clear that we're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation.

Q You already have the truth.

MR. McCLELLAN: We're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation through --

Q Does he have access to security documents?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- through media reports. And these questions came up over the last week --

Q Did he leak the name of a CIA agent?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I was trying to tell you, these questions have been answered.

Q No, they haven't.

Q Let me ask --

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, David.

Q And they most certainly haven't. I think Helen is right, and the people watching us know that. And related to that, there are now --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me correct the record. We've said for quite some time that this was an ongoing investigation, and that we weren't going to comment on it, so let me just correct the record.

Q If you want to make the record clear, then you also did make comments when a criminal investigation was underway, you saw fit to provide Karl Rove with a blanket statement of absolution. And that turned out to be no longer accurate --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and there were preferences expressed by those overseeing the investigation that we refrain from commenting on it while they're continuing to look at -- investigate it.

Q White House officials have been very clear through their attorneys or through other leaks to make it known that it was essentially journalists who educated them about who Valerie Plame was, what she did, and her role in sending her husband to Niger. It has now come to light that in fact White House officials were aware, or at least had access to a State Department memo that the President's own Secretary of State at the time had with him when he was traveling on Air Force One to Africa, which indicated both who she was, what she did, and her role in the Niger trip. So did the White House, in fact, know about her through this memo, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: I thank you for wanting to proceed ahead with the investigation from this room, but I think that the appropriate place for that to happen is through those who are overseeing the investigation. The President directed us to cooperate fully, and that's exactly what we have been doing and continue to do.

Q But you don't deny that attorneys for Rove and others in the White House are speaking about these matters, creating a lot of these questions, right, that you say you can't speak to?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, we're not getting into talking about an ongoing investigation. That's what the President indicated, as well.

Q Can I ask you something on a different topic?


Slippery little weasel, isn't he?

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Found some good video clips posted over at Shea's blog, Constantly Amazed...

My first reaction was "ah, shit." Then I was pissed that my tax dollars are supporting the use of uranium (nuclear weapons) on the people of Iraq. WTF Outloud and outrageous. Ten year old kids getting breast cancer?!? How nice we supported that.

Moby Dick, OBL & W

I took me a while, but I finally finished Melville's Moby Dick. What an ending. They certainly don't write tomes like that any more, or they come across only so often. I won't spoil the conclusion, but can soundly recommend the book to those wanting something a bit more dense than Harry Potter.

In the last pages, I got to thinking that Melville was particularly prescient and his work is a marvelous parable reflecting today's political situation. If Osama bin Laden is Moby Dick, that makes W Ahab. This begs the question, if this parallel can be drawn why is it that OBL has been reduced to a secondary or even tertiary concern for W while Ahab never relents. Perhaps it is because W read the book. No, that can't be. He doesn't read.

Here's the segments that got me thinking on this thread. From page 552 of my copy:

"Great God! but for one single instant show thyself, " cried Starbuck; "never, never wilt thou capture him, old man - In Jesus' name no more of this, that's worse than devil's madness. Two days chased; twice stove to splinters; thy very leg once more snatched from under thee; thy evil shadow gone - all good angels moving thee with warnings: - what more wouldst thou have? - Shall we keep chasing this murderous fish till he swamps the last man? Shall we be dragged by him to the bottom of the sea? Shall we be towed by him to the infernal world? Oh, oh, - Impiety and blasphemy to hunt him more!"

..."And as mechanical," muttered Ahab. Then as the men went forward, he muttered on: "the things called omens! And yesterday I talked the same to Starbuck there, concerning my broken boat. Oh! how valiantly I seek to drive out of other's hearts what's clinched so fast in mine! - The Parsee - the Parsee! -gone, gone? and he was to go before: - but still was to be seen againere I could perish - How's that? - There's a riddle now might baffle all the lawyers backed by the ghosts of the whole line of judges: - like a hawk's beak it pecks at my brain. I'll, I'll solve it, though!"

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Plot Thickens

So, Rove and Libby were helping "fix the facts" to justify the wartime profiterring venture in Iraq, all the while working to smear a perfectly fine CIA Agent. How nice, slice:
At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative's identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa...

In addition to ferreting out the original leak, the grand jury is examining the truthfulness of its witnesses, comparing each account with previous testimony. One apparent area of interest is the conflicting accounts given by Mr. Rove and Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine correspondent who has said he spoke to Mr. Rove about Ms. Wilson, about why they spoke on July 11, 2003.

Mr. Rove, said a source familiar with his testimony, told prosecutors that the conversation began under the pretext of discussing welfare reform.

But Mr. Cooper said he had no record or memory of actually talking to Mr. Rove about welfare reform, instead only discussing the Wilson case in their brief chat. The grand jury focused on that apparent discrepancy, Mr. Cooper wrote in an account in Time this week.

If these guys aren't sweating it so far, they should be. This ain't small stuff.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Supporting the Troops?

I spotted this bumper sticker on an Nissan Armada while out and about last week. There was nary a yellow ribbon to be found. I was a bit confused.

Sure, it's got a nice military olive drab hue . And, obviously, the owner likes the W, Rove and Co. But, do you think they really support our troops given that they drive this gas guzzler (bear in mind that the Armada is the largest vehicle that Nissan makes and gets a reported 13 in town MPG)?

Rove the Albatross

Perhaps Rove, who once brought great fame and fortune to the Bush Administration and their faithful (Halliburton and the remainder of the war machine capitalist set), will soon bring the stench of death and bad luck as did the summarily killed albatross in Coleridge's famous poem.

As Rove rots, hung round W's neck, perhaps then we will come to know the full truth revealing the ill gotten bounty and blood soaked dollars smashing against the sharp shoals of ethics and moral living espoused but unpracticed by this group.

Let us hope that the smaller of ships is the one that sinks rather than the whole of the mighty America, for we certainly cannot afford to let the albatross foul our fine country. It is time for the republican majority to rid our fair nation of the dead albatross. It is their beast made and their burden to rectify.


I needed coffee. Two weeks away left the old grounds stale. With 13 bucks stashed in my small pocket, I stopped by my favorite outlet for a quick grind (1 lb. Arabian Mocha Java) and a free cup to go, at the tail end of my AM run. And I felt lucky. Lucky to live in such a wonderful country.

As I crossed the street a set of emergency vehicles, sirens full scream, blazed up the road. Responding to, perhaps, another alarm and cry for help. Again, I felt lucky, and thankful that my tax dollars support such services. Simultaneously, I was ashamed for people who spend a great deal of energy (and large sums of money to their accountants) skirting their responsibility to pay their taxes.

With the political scene fouled with so much negativity, partisan power plays and top-level smear and run leak campaigns, it is easy to slip into a negative perspective and take all for granted. That we actually have government that can be replaced without violence, again, I feel lucky.

For the roads, the trails, and the parks and the beaches; for my family and friends; for the police and fire fighters, and even in spite of recent terrorist attacks abroad, I feel relatively safe, again, I feel lucky.

To have been born here, in this country, indeed, I am lucky, and thankful. But for one small twist of fate, I could have been born to some other family, some other state.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Not from this Planet

Amrstrong is poised to bust open a whole new classification of super human capacities. This from his teammate who won today's stage:
"It's true - there is only one Lance Armstrong. The more I watch him the more I realize that he's not from this planet," said Savoldelli, a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia, in 2002 and 2005.

Treason: In the Eye of the Beholder

Given the timely appointment of the heretofore unknown John Roberts, the W, Rove and Co. have managed to shift attention away from Mr. Karl Rove and his obvious connection with the Valerie Plame Leak. Only for a moment.

With an ever shrinking ethical standard for employment with the W, Rove and Co. (from no leaks tolerated, to people who leak being fired, to only convicted criminals let go), let's refresh our memories of the definition of Treason (Stipulated in Article Three of the US Constitution - Section 3):
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Or by law:
In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation. A person who reneges on an oath of loyalty or a pledge of allegiance, and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."
Now with Scott (McMessage) McClellon (click on the 18 July 2005 press briefing audio) obfuscating and setting the stage to blame the press - or anyone else besides Rove - for the leaking of Plame's name ( you can view text of the briefing as well), who's to say if Rove committed treason? In the end, the results of the Grand Jury investigation should be interesting to review.

Perhaps determining whether a person has committed treason is as gray an area as finding an activist judge you can get behind for the supreme court. Shouldn't the Whitehouse have a higher, rather than lower, moral and ethical standard for employment than simply not employing criminals?

Incidentally, with a great number of very well qualified women sitting on benches today, why didn't GWB have the courage to nominate a woman to replace Justice O'Connor.

Back in the Game

Finally back to internet access - sorry for the drought during such fertile blogging fun given the W, Rove and co.'s current shenanigans.

Let's start off on a light hearted note with a nice spam induced joke brought to me via another friend who thought it was quite funny - Enjoy:
How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to change a light bulb?

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed.

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the
light bulb needs to be changed.

3. One to blame
Clinton for burning out the light bulb.

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either responsible for
changing the light bulb or for darkness.

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb.

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a
janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner: Lightbulb Change Accomplished.

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark.

8. One to viciously smear #7.

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light
bulb changing policy all along.

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between
screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Friday, July 08, 2005


As a stay-at-home parent, sometimes you are in the right place at the right time for a fun snap shot. This is my son, being a silly goose as usual. So, I thought I would leave you for the next couple of weeks with a bit of humor and a nice look at the Kid's three year old feet.

Five Questions

Whilst I'm out of touch, I thought I list five questions I have been mulling over lately to let the discourse continue in the comment area. Please respond at will to the following questions:
1 - Are the current batch of "Conservatives" in elected office truly conservative?

2 - Is Karl Rove a National hero or some brand of evil?

3 - If Karl Rove is truly behind dirty politics and unethical (and some would consider illegal) activities sprung from the Whitehouse, why is it that he has never been caught with his hand in the cookie jar?

4 - How are we going to extricate our troops from Iraq without screwing the Iraqis doing it?

5 - What is it about W that cause ordinarily smart thinking people to fall in line and support him, still?

Don't Stare Too Long Into the Fire

From Page 494 of my copy of Melville's Moby Dick:
"I have sat before the dense coal fire and watched it all aglow, full of its tormented flaming life; and I have seen it wane at last, down, down to the dumbest dust. Old man of oceans! of all this fiery life of thine; what will at length remain but one little heap of ashes!"

'Aye," cried Stubb, "but sea-coal ashes - mind ye that, Mr. Starbuck - sea-coal, not your common charcoal. Well, well! I heard Ahab mutter, 'Here some one thrusts these cards into these old hands of mine; swears that I must play them, and no others.' And damn me, Ahab, but thou actest right; live in the game, and die in it!"
For regular readers, know that I will be with out internet access for a couple of weeks. Fear not, for I will return to regular posts when the faucets get turned back on. Until then, delve deep into the archive, or read some of the folks on the blogroll, but remember, don't stare too long into the fire.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terrorism & Terrorists

The point of terrorism is just that - terror. As a means to any sort of end, the exploded bomb has already accomplished the point.

Beyond that, these thugs are unable to move beyond ejaculating all over themselves to produce another or die doing it. There is an infinite number of ways to perpetrate some kind of terrorist act, and the very act of trying to prevent one kind of terrorist act only begets something you were not prepared for at all. These buggers are as creative as they are malicious.

Even incarcerated, terrorists work to emotionally threaten by any means necessary. It is readily apparent they respect no one, not even their own lives. Perhaps the best end to a terrorist is a dead end, but the question then turns: Does the killing of people to prove that killing people is wrong lead only to more killing of people?

Indeed, we control our own response to such acts and standing together with great purpose and resolve is the best reply. The people of England and, more specifically, London rise together in the face of great tragedy and serve as roll models to all. Those things that do not kill us make us stronger. Those things that kill people we know, hurt & hurt hard, but strengthen our resolve to put those who would perpetrate terrorism asunder.

Anyway, I thought folks in the blogisphere might like to see a different perspective on the detainees at Guantanamo, possibliy giving us a look at the mentality of these so called terrorists:
Last week, I was privileged to be part of a Department of Defense trip to the Joint Task Force - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I got to see the operations of this “controversial” facility up-close – something particularly important after Sen. Richard Durbin’s comparison of its guard to Nazi stormtroopers and calls of leftists to shut the center down. Our group went to GITMO to check out tales that the military was being too tough on these terrorist detainees. We left convinced that America is being extraordinarily lenient – far too lenient. After speaking with soldiers, sailors, and civilians who collectively staff Gitmo, I left convinced that abuse definitely exists at the detention facilities, and it typically fails to receive the press attention it deserves: it’s the relentless, merciless attacks on American servicemen and women by these terrorist thugs. Many of the orange jumpsuit-clad detainees fight their captors at every opportunity, openly bragging of their desire to kill Americans. One has promised that, if released, he would find MPs in their homes through the internet, break into their houses at night, and “cut the throats of them and their families like sheep.” Others claim authority and vindication to kill women, children, and other innocents who oppose their jihadist mission authorized by the Koran (the same one that hangs in every cell from a specially-designed holder intended to protect it from a touching the cell floor – all provided at U.S. taxpayer expense). One detainee was heard to tell another: “One day I will enjoy sucking American blood, although their blood is bitter, undrinkable….” These recalcitrant detainees are known euphemistically as being “non-compliant.” They attack guards whenever the soldiers enter their cells, trying to reach up under protective facemasks to gouge eyes and tear mouths. They make weapons and try to stab the guards or grab and break limbs as the guards pass them food.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

You Know you have a Problem When Your Liver is Turning into Pate

I finally got around to viewing Supersize Me last night on DVD. Astonishing is all I have to say. I can definately recommend the flick to all, but suggest you view two items on the bonus selection on the DVD: 1 - The Smoking Fry, and 2- the interview with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. Both segments are eye openers.

You have got to know that there is a problem with your food when the salad you are eating has more calories than the Big Mac and the french fries don't grow mold - even after thirty days in a jar (see suggestion 1, above).

Incidentially, Morgan Spurlock - the guy who ate McDonald's for thirty days and made the movie - blogs. Check him out.

W used Calvin College as a Political Pawn

Some of you may have followed the news surrounding the graduation speech given by W at Calvin College and the flap raised by a large number of faculty, staff and students who didn't agree with the President's policies or agenda.

As it turns out, Calvin was not necessarily going to invite the President to give the talk. They, in fact, had someone else already lined up to give the address. W's "handlers" picked Calvin and only then did Calvin issue and invitation formalizing the deal (at the great expense mandated by the W, Rove and Co. of 50K for upgrades to handle the extra security and press).

If you ask me, every venue that the President uses to promulgate his agenda is suspect - and that is a sad statement. If everything a person does is for political gain, in front of audiences that are supposed to agree with the positions, that tarnishes his actions and discredits his mission.

The Article is longer, but I thought I would give you the the whole segment from the Chronicle of Higher Education, since you need to pay for a subscription to get the full article:
It's not so much that Calvin College chose President Bush to speak at its graduation ceremony this year. It was more that the White House chose Calvin College.

The evangelical, 4,300-student college in Michigan has played host to a few White House officials over the years at its Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics. Through those relationships, Calvin earned a positive reputation among members of the Bush administration, says Phil de Haan, director of media relations at the college.

"Some White House officials thought our campus was the kind of place that would be a good fit for President Bush," he says.

The president traditionally gives two graduation speeches each year, rotating one of the addresses among the military academies, and choosing one other college.

Although colleges extend formal invitations to the president, it is his handlers who choose the politically strategic locations where he will speak -- a process usually amplified during an election year. For example, when Democrats took aim at the Republicans' stronghold in the South during the presidential campaign last year, Mr. Bush gave the address at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.

This year the White House made it known through Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, a Michigan Republican, that the president was interested in giving a commencement address at Calvin.

"After that, we extended an invitation to him," Mr. de Haan says, adding that the college spent an estimated $50,000 to meet White House demands for better lighting, a new backdrop behind the podium, and extra telephone and Internet connections for a temporary media center.

Before the president formally accepted the invitation to speak in late April, the college had already asked Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, a former Calvin professor and alumnus of the institution, to give the address.

Mr. Wolterstorff, who recently retired as a professor of philosophy at Yale University, told The New York Times that he was "a Yale professor being bumped by a Yale graduate with a very average college record," adding that he planned to stay home and garden instead of attending the ceremony. (Calvin officials say that Mr. Wolterstorff has accepted an invitation to speak at next year's ceremony.)

Mr. Wolterstorff wasn't the only one who was annoyed. On graduation day The Grand Rapids Press published a letter signed by 120 Calvin professors criticizing President Bush for, among other things, the war in Iraq, and arguing that some of his policies "favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor."

A speech that would have probably amounted to a brief mention on the nightly news generated national buzz about the tiny college for days. Mr. de Haan, for one, didn't mind.

"The attention of the national media gave people a chance to better understand who we are because I think most people only knew us as a fundamentalist Christian college," he says. "We received a lot of e-mail saying that it was refreshing to see this kind of discussion taking place here. Honestly, this kind of dialogue happens all the time, because we have room for a variety of viewpoints."


In today's parlance, what does the label "Conservative," mean?

I was thinking about this on my AM run. Usually, I like those in favor of conservation - land, open space, green space, energy, money, water, etc... But the dissonence for me has been in the actions taken by self proclaimed conservatives that is anything but related to conservation of any kind. As the President of the USA ratchets up the National Debt after being left with fiscal surplus under Clinton, isn't the label conservative really a misnomer for persons in the W, Rove and Co?

What is wrong with the so called Conservatives in America and why are the real ones letting their leadership go so far astray of the Conservative Agenda?

Which One of the SCOTUS Justicies is an Activist?

Question: If a Supreme Court Justice was appointed by a Republican President and they make decisions that the reichwing doesn't like, does that make them "activists" in the derogatory sense (becuase reichwingers usually connote negativity when they use the word "activist")?

We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices appears below.

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more "liberal" - Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens - vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled "conservative" vote more frequently to do so. At least by this measure (others are possible, of course), the latter group is the most activist.

To say that a justice is activist under this definition is not itself negative. Because striking down Congressional legislation is sometimes justified, some activism is necessary and proper. We can decide whether a particular degree of activism is appropriate only by assessing the merits of a judge's particular decisions and the judge's underlying constitutional views, which may inspire more or fewer invalidations...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

W in Drag?

W, doing his best Scarlett O'Hara drag, or is he giving yet another ridiculous speech? No one likes a heterosexual in drag, let alone a "conservative"...but I digress.

Let's see, we invade Iraq, and that is simililar to the American Revolution, how?

The challenges that America faces in Iraq, President Bush said at an outdoor rally here on Monday, are like those that confronted the country on its first Independence Day.

"On July 4, 1776, more than five years of the Revolutionary War still lay ahead," Mr. Bush said.

"From the battle of New York, to the winter at Valley Forge, to the victory at Yorktown, our forefathers faced terrible losses and hardships. Yet they kept their resolve," he said. "They kept their faith in a future of liberty, and with their hard-won victory, we guaranteed a home for the Declaration's proposition that all are created equal.

End Slice:

If you ask me, this man is working to denegrate our forefathers and severly under represents the work that true Patriots did to build this great nation.

Brits plan to Leave Iraq, Why Can't We?

Hat tip to Aerojad for pointing out this article:
The Ministry of Defence has drafted plans for a significant withdrawal of British troops from Iraq over the next 18 months and a big deployment to Afghanistan, the Financial Times has learnt.

In what would represent the biggest operational shake-up involving the armed forces since the Iraq war, the first stage of a run-down in military operations is likely to take place this autumn with a handover of security to Iraqis in at least two southern provinces.

Defence officials emphasised that all plans for Iraqi deployments were contingent on the ability of domestic security forces to assume peacekeeping duties from UK troops. Iraqi forces have so far proven unable to take over such roles in areas where the insurgency is most intense, and progress has disappointed coalition officials.

But senior UK officers believe the four south-east provinces under UK command, which are largely Shia and have not seen the same violence as more Sunni-dominated areas north of Baghdad, may be ready for a handover earlier than those under US command.
This sounds like a decent plan, and more bad news for the US - meaning, we won't be getting our troops home or out of Iraq, at least, any time soon.

The Antithesis of Apathy

Jet, over at God Dem has a nice new look and pledges to tighter writing. I liked this quote from her in the comments on her latest post:
The antithesis of apathy is endeavor.


Aparently I was slow on the uptake on this article as it's at the number 2 spot of most emailed article on Yahoo, and was posted about 21 hours ago.

Here's the sentence that put a smile on my face:
Rove, whose gaping maw recently vomited forth that Democrats didn't care about 9/11, is atypically silent.
Here's an Arab saying, also posted in the article, that is fitting:
But as the Arab saying goes, arrogance diminishes wisdom.
Incidentially, if you are a little fuzzy on the history of Nine Eleven, there is at least one link you can examine that condenses the lengthy, but well written, Commission Report (and is probably not something Readers Digest will be doing any time soon). Slice:
On August 6, 2001, the CIA submitted a Presidential Daily Brief to Bush entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” This was the organizations 36th PDB item so far dealing with Bin Laden or al Qaeda. The 9/11 report states that Bush felt the PDB was “historical” but that’s about it. If you haven’t read this PDB before, I suggest you do so. It is presented in the 9/11 report on page 279 in the pdf version.
Just wondering, if W hadn't stolen the presidency in Y2K, would there had been an attack on Nine Eleven? There is no way to tell, but there could be a connection between W getting into office and the activation of the terrorist cells to execute the plan.


Given that the Downing Street and other related memos came recently to light, it's no wonder the W, Rove and Co. didn't and still don't like Joseph Wilson:
07/06/03: (New York Times) WASHINGTON. Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

Of course, the W, Rove and Co. response was a leak:

Retired U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson is accusing the White House of orchestrating a smear attack against him and his wife. Wilson gained headlines earlier this month when he revealed that he had personally traveled to Niger in 2002 in a CIA-financed trip to investigate any nuclear link between the African nation and Iraq. Wilson set off a firestorm of debate when he told the media, the White House and CIA were both warned in 2002 of his findings.

Wilson now says the White House deliberately leaked to the press that his wife, Valerie Plame, is a covert CIA operative thus damaging her career and compromising past missions.

Will anyone in the W, Rove and Co. get Jail Time?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Flying Flags at Half Staff over the Fourth of July Holiday

I can't recall where I saw this idea, but those of you with actual flag poles can make a strong statement by flying your American Flag at half mast over the holiday, given Tuesday's suggestion by W.

For me, this acomplishes three things:
1) Shows respect for the GIs that have given their lives,

2) Honors the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our Country,

And, 3) points out that you believe that the decision to go into Iraq was the wrong one.

The one caveat here is that now that we are in the terrorist's quicksand, stuck in the Iraqi quagmire, we must be responsible for our actions, and clean up the mess with a smart exit strategy.

It's July and You Know What That Means

While you are busy dusting off your grill for the requisite burning of steaks and tofu pups in honor of the Declaration of Independence, many members of the "rich, powerful, elite" (no doubt, all good, practicing, mainly-white Christians) are dusting off their pagan ritual gear for the annual fete in Bohemian Grove.

Bohemian Grove? What's that? Funny you should ask. Let's have a look.

Slice 1:
The club's famed annual gathering has been held for more than 100 years at the 2,700-acre Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, about 70 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. This year's event drew in notables such as former President George Bush, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, retired Gen. Colin Powell, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dow Chemical Chairman Frank Popoff, as well as actor Danny Glover.

The men gather to celebrate what they call "the spirit of Bohemia," said Peter Phillips, a Sonoma State University sociology professor who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Bohemian Club. "This is a place men can go and hang out with people who are similar to them," he said.

The annual gathering near the Russian River, which was first held in 1879, starts with the "Cremation of Care" ritual, in which the club's mascot is burned in effigy, symbolizing a freedom from care.

Members also perform several plays, and gourmet food and expensive wine are plentiful. While the club was formed in 1872 by a group of San Francisco journalists, the male-only club now bars journalists from membership to protect the group's privacy. Membership is coveted, and people routinely wait 10 or 15 years before gaining admittance. There are currently about 2,700 members.
Slice 2:
For two and a half weeks every July, two thousand of the top movers and shakers in business and government attend the Bohemian Club's summer encampment. Although highly selective, the club has a national membership and is among the most prestigious of affiliations in neoconservative circles. Its membership is known to include Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Gerald Ford, William F. Buckley, Jr., Frank Borman, Justin Dart, William Randolph Hearst, Jr., Caspar Weinberger, Charles Percy, George Schultz, Edward Teller, Merv Griffin, and a large proportion of the directors and chief executive officers of the Fortune 1000. Daniel Ludwig, the richest private citizen on earth, is a Bohemian. Conspiracy nuts think the Bohemian Club meets each summer to plot to take over the world. These guys ALREADY run the world.
Slice 3:
Who are the present members? The Club has evolved into an association of rich and powerful men, mostly of this country (there are similar organizations in other countries). Some artists are allowed to join (often at reduced rates), because of their social status and entertainment value. The membership list has included every Republican U.S. president (as well as some Democrats) since 1923, many cabinet officials, and director; & CEO's of large corporations, including major financial institutions.

What industries are represented among the members? Major military contractors, oil companies, banks (including the Federal Reserve), utilities (including nuclear power), and national media (broadcast and print) have high-ranking officials as club members or guests. Many members are, or have been, on the board of directors of several of these corporations. You should note that most of the above industries depend heavily on a relationship with government for their profitability.

Slice 4:
Now, for the First Time in History, an Outsider Has Infiltrated Bohemian Grove with a Hidden Digital Video Camera and Caught the Ritual on Tape. That Man is Alex Jones, the Exclusive Digital Video is Just Part of His Shocking New Documentary: DARK SECRETS: INSIDE BOHEMIAN GROVE
Slice 5:
The Bohemian Club's summer encampment is the institutionalized embodiment of elite class privilege, a de facto celebration of race and gender exclusiveness, and a slap in the face to democratic process in the United States. Institutions of elite privilege like the San Francisco Bohemian Club run counter to the core American values of equality, due process and political openness. Americans deserve a public apology from the Bohemian Club for their celebration of eliteness, ongoing full disclosures of their lectures and presentations, and the transformation of the club to one of public service and gender and racial inclusiveness.
So, while you are flippin' burgers over the holiday weekend, should we think about this wonderful, uplifting organization and thank our lucky stars they have the freedom of assembly or should we be scared, very scared and rather suspect of their lot?

Incidentially, here's Phillip's dissertation if you want a closer look at it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Who's worth more?

Who is worth more? The teachers who taught the boy, or the boy himself?

Given the discrepancy between salaries of, well, lets say the average tenured veteran teacher and just the bonus for signing rookie baseball players, the market speaks volumes and, of course, its the boy.

The happiest day of his life thrust 18-year-old Michael Durant toward a manhood for which he did not feel ready. Even a dream come true, he learned, has untold consequences.

On June 7, the Philadelphia Phillies selected Michael -- a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior at Berkeley High, whose raw power, agility and baseball intelligence had attracted a flock of major league scouts -- in the fourth round of the first-year player draft, fulfilling a dream the young man had nurtured since fourth grade. Within 24 hours, the Phillies offered him a $245, 000 signing bonus to turn pro, and if he accepted he would report to their rookie league club in Clearwater, Fla., by June 24.
End Slice:
And the American population wonders why there is a problem with recruiting high quality teachers.

Iraq Facts

Buried in an article about Rove possibly being the leak that caused the outing of Valerie Plame is a short sentence as to what the motive for the leak might had been. Karl, his plump white body greased with Iraqi crude, may well slip out of this noose, but the W, Rove and Co. may ultimately get hung on the whole rationale for invading Iraq in the first place.

Some suspect that the White House leaked her name in retaliation for a July 6, 2003, op-ed piece in the New York Times written by Wilson, her husband. He accused the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq.
We already know that this administration is okay with killing people for a cause because "it is worth it," so the connection of these dots is not beyond the stretch of imagination. If true, it is indeed criminal, carrying a max sentence of 10 years.

In addition to putting an end to Valerie Plame's operational usefulness, the revelation of her identity poses a substantial, perhaps even mortal, threat to whatever foreign officials or private citizens might have been supplying her with information about their nations' attempts to create WMD capacity. It is quite likely that some of those people are now in dungeons having their fingernails pulled out, or being subjected to whatever alternative form of encouragement the local secret police like to use.

That will tend to have a discouraging effect on future agent recruitment efforts. Thus, unlike most violations of security regulations, "outing" Valerie Plame as a CIA officer could well have caused palpable damage to U.S. national security.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

Live 8's been getting a lot of smack time on the blogisphere as well as the Mainstream Media Propaganda Machine. Found this snap of Robert Smith from The Cure. Is it me, or does it look like this guy has had a bit too much of the Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll?

Don't get me wrong, I've been listening to the Cure since "The Head on the Door," and dancing to the tunes ever since New Wave was actually, well, new. Even so, this guy's been round the block and back again.

Rock On Robert!

Rove Caught as Leak that Led to Death of CIA Op?

Looks like the shitstorm is headed directly to Mr. Rove (who is, by the way, sponsored by your tax dollars, even though you didn't elect him). Go check out Moxie - she's got the scoop.

"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's emails-within Time Magazine, uh, are handed over to the grand jury is the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is. And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of-for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time Magazine's going to do with the grand jury."

Can He Make it Seven?

Lance has got something to prove - and it will be exciting to watch:

Here are the links I am following for those interested/addicted to the Tour de France.

Meanwhile, the Little Guy Gets Screwed by the "Ownership" Class

The recent decision regarding the unfortunate New London homeowners is now having immediate ramifications for folks all over - including those otherwise productive little folks (small business owners and the like).

The recent SCOTUS ruling is going to have a deep and hurtful affect on anyone who thought they might like to persue the "American Dream" and own a slice of the pie - not to mention start a small business and employ a few people rather than "develop" a property and charge market rate rents for it. Is this court (comprised of primarily of justices appointed by Republican Presidents) that made this decision to be considered Activists of one brand or another?

Slice from the Disssent:
Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded–i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public–in the process.
Slice from the news - QED:

...But to John Revelli, whose family has operated a tire shop near downtown Oakland for decades, the implications hit home on Friday. A team of contractors hired by the city of Oakland packed the contents of his small auto shop in a moving van and evicted Revelli from the property his family has owned since 1949.

"I have the perfect location; my customers who work downtown can drop off their cars and walk back here," said Revelli, 65, pointing at the nearby high- rises. "The city is taking it all away from me to give someone else. It's not fair."

The city of Oakland, using eminent domain, seized Revelli Tire and the adjacent property, owner-operated Autohouse, on 20th Street between Telegraph and San Pablo avenues on Friday and evicted the longtime property owners, who have refused to sell to clear the way for a large housing development.

The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision last week paved the way for local governments to buy out unwilling property owners, demolish homes and businesses, and turn that land over to new owners for development.

Last week's ruling expanded on earlier decisions that allowed agencies to take property only if it is considered "blighted" or run-down. "The city thinks I cause 'economic blight' because I don't produce enough tax revenue...''

Now is the Time for the Self Proclaimed "Uniter" to do just That - Or can he?

With Sandy D out the door, and Rehnquist on his last leg, W, Rove and Co have the spotlight. It's their choice. They can choose wisely, or not.

They are either going to foul the SCOTUS up for the next thirty years with their brand of Activists, or dare we be optimisitic, perhaps they might elevate a moderate to left leaning judge (if that is possible to find outside of San Francisco) to fill the current vacancy and the pending one.
"Everyone was expecting a conservative replacing Rehnquist. Now you have the question of a woman or a minority for the swing vote on the Supreme Court. That's a sensitivity the White House will really have to grapple with." KENNETH M. DUBERSTEIN, White House chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan.
But if Reagan can do it, can't this administration, or do they lack the sensitivity?

Can W perform as the "Uniter" he professes to be, or will he further cleave this country down party and theocratic lines? Do we think this administration is smart enough to elevate two positive judges to the SCOTUS, or will they shrink into their theocratic ideology and nominate Activist Judges that will work to hammer their square version of what is "right" into the round hole that the Constitution provides. If past performance is any indication, the battle is going to be long, bitter, divisive.

Here are two judges that would be fun to have on the SCOTUS to square out the balance, but they most certainly will be too lesbian to qualify for consideration.

Friday, July 01, 2005

It's about to get Interesting

Time for the "Minority" to step up and earn their paychecks. Out with the old, in with the new, this is, of course, if W, Rove and Co are smart about their appointees (history speaks for itself here).

Incidentially, if Time is not above the law, why is it that the self proclaimed moral right leaders of their party think they are?
"I found myself really coming to the conclusion that once the Supreme Court has spoken in a case involving national security and a grand jury, we are not above the law and we have to behave the way ordinary citizens do." NORMAN PEARLSTINE, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, on the decision to comply with a grand jury's subpoena.