Friday, June 30, 2006

Minimum wage

Just think about this:

If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, at the minimum wage, you earn $10,700 a year.

(Found in a comment on Eschaton.)

H for hyposcrisy

Republicans denouncing Clinton for committing troops to Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News,

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
-- Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)
Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy.

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Sally Lloyd

Great bumper stickers

Oh boy! Carolyn Loomis send me the most outstanding collection of bumper sticker messages. Here they are:












(No exceptions)


-- William Shakespeare (King Lear)

-- Benjamin Franklin





IS IT 2008 YET?

-- Thomas Jefferson

















1999 - $19 BARREL
2006 - $70 BARREL


I think my favorite is this one: "Annoy a conservative; think for yourself." This is why I'm so committed to staying informed. I don't want the mind control people shaping what I think.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

George the non-reader

Pure snark:

President Bush is so angry at the New York Times he said today he's not even going to pretend to read it anymore.

-- Jay Leno

Some good news

It's rare that I can bring you good news on ecological matters. But take a look at this article from CNN entitled, "Gray whale births rebounding on Pacific Coast":

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The number of gray whales born along the Pacific Coast has rebounded from record low levels, suggesting that pregnant females are thriving despite a warming Arctic feeding environment, federal biologists said.

The number of calves that passed Point Piedras Blancas near San Luis Obispo jumped from 945 last year to 1,018 calves in 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Fewer than 300 of the 3-month-olds were spotted in 2000 and 2001.

The whales have traditionally migrated to summer feeding grounds in the northern Bering Sea, but have been forced farther north in recent years because warming air and water has reduced the population of its favored prey, the fatty amphipod.

In 1999, about 270 whales washed up dead or dying on the Pacific Coast, some severely malnourished, according to NOAA.

But the whales appear to have taken advantage of melted polar sea ice, discovering new routes to food and finding enough crustaceans in the mud to nourish pregnant females, scientists said.

We've had so much really terrible ecological news just lately that it's truly heartening to learn about this come back.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Let's REALLY take the Bible seriously

Take a look at this:

The Bible contains something like 2,000 references to the poor and the believer's responsibility for the poor. Sadly, that obligation seems not to have trickled down into public policy.

-- Randall Balmer

And remember, Jesus said not word one about homosexuality. Not a single word. But he had a lot to say about our responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. He also said it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I really don't understand these evangelicals and fundamentalists who go on and on about Jesus and yet seem not to take any notice of what the man actually said.

Abrupt climate change

I must say, I find willful ignorance a bit hard to comprehend. The president's smug assurance that he would not be viewing Al Gore's movie about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, comes to mind. Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article entitled, "Earth's Climate Warming Abruptly, Scientist Says" and I think we really need to pay attention to this. Here's part of what it says:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Earth's climate is undergoing an abrupt change, ending a cooler period that began with a swift "cold snap" in the tropics 5,200 years ago that coincided with the start of cities, the beginning of calendars and the biblical great flood, a leading expert on glaciers has concluded.

The warming around Earth's tropical belt is a signal suggesting that the "climate system has exceeded a critical threshold," which has sent tropical-zone glaciers in full retreat and will melt them completely "in the near future," said Lonnie G. Thompson, a scientist who for 23 years has been taking core samples from the ancient ice of glaciers.

Thompson, writing with eight other researchers in an article published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said the ice samples show that the climate can and did cool quickly, and that a similarly abrupt warming change started about 50 years ago. Humans may not have the luxury of adapting to slow changes, he suggests.

"There are thresholds in the system," Thompson said in an interview in his lab at Ohio State University. When they are crossed, "there is the risk of changing the world as we know it to some form in which a lot of people on the planet will be put at risk."

But right now, what the Republicans are claiming is the right to pollute in order to raise short term profits for big business. I simply do not comprehend their inability to take long term consequences into account. They can believe global warming is a "myth" till the cows come home and that won't stop it from being true. Our situation is so very dire. But how to get the people in power to pay attention? I just don't know.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who REALLY hates our troops?

Here's something John Aravosis said over on AMERICAblog that really caught my attention:

Republicans don't care about our troops. Oh they talk a good talk, and love to accuse Democrats of hating the military. But as Atrios wrote once, if he really hated the military he would simply send them to war in the wrong country, in insufficient numbers, with insufficient equipment, and without a plan for victory - and oh yeah, he'd keep them there to die long after we'd already lost.

That's the sign of a real America-hater.

I so agree. The way George Bush has abused the military is reprehensible.


Well, the New York Times is reporting the following about bird flu:

ROME, June 23 — An Indonesian who died after catching the A(H5N1) bird flu virus from his 10-year-old son represents the first confirmed case of human-to-human transmission of the disease, a World Health Organization investigation of an unusual family cluster has concluded, the agency said Friday.

The W.H.O. investigators also discovered that the virus had mutated slightly when the son had the disease, although not in any way that would allow the virus to pass more readily among people.

"Yes, it is slightly altered, but in a way that viruses commonly mutate," said Dick Thompson, a spokesman for the agency in Geneva. "But that didn't make it more transmissible or cause more severe disease."

The greater importance of the slightly modified virus is that it allowed researchers from the W.H.O. and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States to document that the virus almost certainly was passed from person to person.

Are we prepared in this county for the pandemic that's coming? All I have to say is this: remember Katrina.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thank God for Leno

This is rich:

The government of Afghanistan has sent a letter to the news stations and journalists ordering them to report only favorable news about the government. That sounds harsh, but you have to remember, they don't have Fox News over there.

-- Jay Leno

Upcoming Supreme Court case

All right. This is important. CNN is reporting on a Supreme Court decision that could well determine the fate of the earth. Take a look:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether the Bush administration must regulate carbon dioxide to combat global warming, setting up what could be one of the court's most important decisions on the environment.

The decision means the court will address whether the administration's decision to rely on voluntary measures to combat climate change are legal under federal clean air laws.

"This is the whole ball of wax. This will determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency is to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and whether EPA can regulate carbon dioxide from power plants," said David Bookbinder, an attorney for the Sierra Club.

Bookbinder said if the court upholds the administration's argument it also could jeopardize plans by California and 10 other states, including most of the Northeast, to require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles.
"Fundamentally, we don't think carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and so we don't think these attempts are a good idea," said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing oil and gas producers.

This is the problem: the anti-science bias of the administration and big business. This is why I gave you the creation/evolution website below today. It's critical that we educate ourselves regarding what science really is and isn't. Otherwise we won't know how to combat the anti-science global warming deniers.


I've blogged this website before but I want to call your attention once more to Talk.Origins which is dedicated to the anwers mainstream scientists give to people who question the validity of evolutionary theory. Here's a sample:

Q: I thought evolution was just a theory. Why do you call it a fact?

A: Biological evolution is a change in the genetic characteristics of a population over time. That this happens is a fact. Biological evolution also refers to the common descent of living organisms from shared ancestors. The evidence for historical evolution -- genetic, fossil, anatomical, etc. -- is so overwhelming that it is also considered a fact. The theory of evolution describes the mechanisms that cause evolution. So evolution is both a fact and a theory. See the
Evolution is a Fact
and a Theory FAQ
, the Introduction to Evolutionary Biology FAQ and the Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution FAQ: Evolution is Only a theory.

It's important not to pass up opportunities to educate ourselves since we seem to be entering a new Dark Age in terms of the public's understanding of science.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sojouner Truth's wisdom

I logged on to today and found the following:

When an angry heckler shouted "I don’t care any more for your talk than I do for the bite of a flea," Sojourner Truth replied, “The Lord willing, I’ll keep you scratching!” Her integrity had unstoppable power to set captives free, and her fiery fearlessness continues to rouse us to action.

That's wonderful. Even though the ruthless and dishonest neo-cons are in power we can act like persistent fleas and keep them scratching!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What Fourth Amendment?

Remember the Cheney shooting? Remember how he was questioned the next day about it? (Undoubtedly to wait until the alcohol was out of his system.) Well, check out some good snark:

The Supreme Court has ruled that with a warrant police no longer have to knock before kicking your door in. Unless of course you're Vice President of the United States, and they want to talk to you about shooting a guy in the face. Then they'll come back tomorrow.

-- Jay Leno

You know, I don't even know if it's a good thing that we can laugh about the erosion of our freedoms. You'd think we'd be in the streets with torches and pitchforks. But no, as long as we get to maintain our consumerism we just accept the way our country is being destroyed from within. Tragic. Truly tragic.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Always remember this

important truth:

The answer to terrorism is not to be terrorized.

-- Salman Rushdie

If only Bush understood it.

Oh, the grandiosity

I found this on All Hat No Cattle:

Of course not. I remind them: I AM the law!

-- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales , denying that his two children ever download music illegally, after his address Tuesday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on intellectual property theft.

Definitely the right attitude!

Cynthia Burgess sent me the following. I love it!

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

--Anna Quindlen

Of course, the one person who definitely would never understand this is our non-reader President.

Friday cat blogging!

This picture of Sam-the-Cat was sent to me by Sally Lloyd.

Well now they're snooping on our bank records.

And without a warrant, too. How can the Fourth Amendment be shredded like this?

The New York Times reports the story in an article entitled, "Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror". Yeah, right. Like I believe that. They're doing it to strengthen Big Brother; that's why they're doing it. Take a look:

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of sensitive data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

They SAY they're only monitoring the records of terrorist suspects and they SAY that multiple safe guards are in place to assure the privacy of ordinary Americans. Do you believe that? What they're saying is, "Just trust us." Suuuure.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Leno again!

Well, I learned something here:

Republicans in the Senate have announced they are moving on from gay marriage -- that's over -- to a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. They want to ban flag burning, this so we can join the only other three countries in the world that ban flag burnings -- China, Cuba, and Iran.

-- Jay Leno

Give peace a chance

Found on All Hat No Cattle

This is just too sensible and ethical ever to be considered:

A message to you big, tough, badass Evangelical hawks: has it ever occurred to you that the way to spread freedom and democracy is through PEACE? I didn't think so.

-- Grant Gerver

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


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A word from Leno

Pure snark (and well deserved):

Congress, the other day -- very quietly -- they voted themselves a $3,300 pay raise. Why not? Job well done. A lot of added expenses this year: legal fees, criminal defense lawyers.

--Jay Leno

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Same old excuse

Well you certainly can't accuse the Bush administration of being creative now, can you? Take a look at what Cheney has said now:

I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered.

Haven't we heard that before? "I don't think anybody anticipated the levees being breached." "I don't think anybody anticipated people flying airplanes into buildings." Good grief. It's their freakin' JOB to anticipate stuff like that. Their stock excuse just exposes their unbelievable incompentence.

Okay, folks, listen up. It's simple: You invade and occupy a country and the people are going to fight back. That's how it works. How much intelligence did that take, now? Really!

A word of encouragement

I posted this wonderful passage from the Talmud over on Meditation Matters but I think it belongs here too. It's so easy to get discouraged with all the distressing news that's out there and that we really need to know about lest we slip into the mind poison of delusion. But we also need encouragement to keep on keeping on. This fits the bill:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

So let us go forward and take heart and do what we can to make the world a better place.

Life in Baghdad

It's bad. Really bad. I want to encourage you to click through and read an article called, "'Wash Post' Obtains Shocking Memo from U.S. Embassy in Baghdad" as I can't do it justice in a brief excerpt. But I'll show you a little of what it says:

The Washington Post has obtained a cable, marked "sensitive," that it says shows that just before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, "the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees."

This cable outlines, the Post reported Sunday, "the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government."

It's actually far worse than that, as the details published below indicate, which include references to abductions, threats to women's rights, and "ethnic cleansing."
-- One embassy employee had a brother-in-law kidnapped. Another received a death threat, and then fled the country with her family.

-- Iraqi staff at the embassy, beginning in March and picking up in May, report "pervasive" harassment from Islamist and/or militia groups. Cuts in power and rising fuel prices "have diminished the quality of life." Conditions vary but even upscale neighborhoods "have visibly deteriorated" and one of them is now described as a "ghost town."

-- Two of the three female Iraqis in the public affairs office reported stepped-up harassment since mid-May...."some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative." One of the women is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.
-- The overall environment is one of "frayed social networks," with frequent actual or perceived insults. None of this is helped by lack of electricity. "One colleague told us he feels 'defeated' by circumstances, citing his example of being unable to help his two-year-old son who has asthma and cannot sleep in stifling heat," which is now reaching 115 degrees.

I cannot imagine trying to tolerate 115 degree heat without air conditioning. And to think that women are being forced to cover up in this heat. We have created utter chaos in a country that, despite having a dictator in charge, used to be a secular state where individual freedoms just to live normally were protected. How we can justify letting women be oppressed in Iraq is simply beyond my comprehension.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tradition or traditionalism?

I like this:

Tradition is a living relationship with the dead; traditionalism is a dead relationship with the living.

-- Jaroslav Pelikan

My God, the neo-cons are quite mad.

Please take a look at this brief excerpt from a Guardian article that Frank Ford sent me entitled "Cheney has no regrets over Iraq invasion":

According to Vanity Fair Mr Cheney's first thought on visiting Moscow's Red Square in the 1980s was: "'Well, I guess we're at ground zero' of any American nuclear strike."

These people want nuclear war; they want it. Imagine that being the first thing you think. That's what they think about - annihilating part of the world. The problem is, once the nukes start flying it won't be "part". It will be the whole world that is destroyed.

They are either insane or demonic or both.

More on Bishop Schori

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You will forgive me, I hope, for continuing to be ecstatic over the election of Bp. Katherine Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. I want to share with you an article found on the website of the Diocese of Washington (D.C.) that gives some more details about yesterday's historic event. It's entitled, "Jefferts Schori elected presiding bishop". Here's an excerpt:

In addition to being the Church's first female presiding bishop, Jefferts Schori is also believed to be the first presiding bishop with a Ph. D. in the sciences (oceanography) and a pilot's license.

“She is brilliant. She is thoughtful. She brings clarity of vision... and she speaks Spanish!" said the Rev. Gay Jennings of the Diocese of Ohio, in supporting Jefferts Schori's election in the House of Deputies. [She gave part of her acceptance speech in Spanish.]

A number of deputies pointed out how fitting it was that she was elected at the convention where the church celebrated the 30th anniversary of women's ordination. Deputy Sarah Lawton said she remembers in 1976 she was 10 years old when the General Convention endorsed the ordination of women. "I will be so glad to bring the news to my daughter who's almost 10 that the presiding bishop is a woman," said Lawton.

John Vanderstar, of the Diocese of Washington said, “I rise to add another male voice to the chorus [of those speaking in favor of confirmation]. If you listen carefully, you will hear and I hope enjoy the sound of another glass ceiling being shattered.”

That's a wonderful statement! Just wonderful.

I held my nose last night and ventured on to one of the extremist/conservative blogs to see what their reaction was. For the most part, they are sputtering mad. One headline said, "ELECTION OF WOMAN PRESIDING BISHOP IS SLAP IN THE FACE AT GLOBAL SOUTH." This actually exposes them for the bigots they are. They are not only homophobic, they are misogynistic. Well, the conservatives in the developing world (and here at home) will just have to get used to the fact that "the first shall be last and the last first". That is, after all, a teaching of the Christian religion.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Some spectacularly good news for a change!

The Episcopal Church has elected a woman Presiding Bishop. This is BIG, people. Take a look at what CNN has to say about it in an article entitled, "Woman elected to lead American Episcopalians":

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman elected to lead a church in the global Anglican Communion when she was picked Sunday to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

It was another groundbreaking and controversial move for a denomination that consecrated Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop just three years ago.

Standing before cheering delegates to Episcopal General Convention, Jefferts Schori said she was "awed and honored and deeply privileged to be elected." Outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was at her side as she was introduced after closed-door balloting.

The choice of Jefferts Schori may worsen -- and could even splinter -- the difficult relations between the American denomination and its fellow Anglicans. Episcopalians have been sparring with many in the other 37 Anglican provinces over homosexuality, but a female leader adds a new layer of complexity to the relationship.

Only two other Anglican provinces -- New Zealand and Canada -- have female bishops, although a handful of other provinces allow women to serve in the post.

Still, there are many Anglican leaders who believe women should not even be priests. Those opposed to female clergy often cite the unbroken tradition of male priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and in the Anglican Communion until about 30 years ago.
Gasps could be heard throughout the vast convention hall when Jefferts Schori's name was announced. The Rev. Jennifer Adams from western Michigan, speaking from the floor, called Jefferts Schori "a woman of integrity, consistency and faith. I have no doubt her election as presiding bishop will be a gift to our church."

Needless to say I am absolutely overjoyed. It's going to upset the conservatives throughout the world mightily. But it's wonderful to be a part of a church that has some spine and a sense of justice.

UPDATE: My goodness, the Presbyterians have done it too. They've elected a woman pastor as their moderator. Here's an excerpt from an article called, "New moderator reflects on faith-walk adventure":

BIRMINGHAM, June 15 — Fresh off her election and installation as the new moderator of the 217th General Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Rev. Joan Gray suggested to a group of reporters, "Maybe we could reframe our current situation as the struggle in which God meets and blesses us."

Gray and the other three candidates stressed the need for unity. Gray encouraged commissioners to find value in living with ambiguity rather than prematurely press for clarity on the issues that divide us before God leads to that clarity.

Wow. Imagine that. A religious leader who sees value in living with ambiguity. You do realize, don't you, that the favorite buzz word for conservatives today is "clarity". The Rev. Gray's response to that is a good one.

We are so screwed.

It's about permafrost - the thawing permafrost scientists haven't previously taken into account. What it means is that global warming is much, much worse than we thought. I'm quoting a Reuters article entitled, "Thawing permafrost could unleash tons of carbon":

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ancient roots and bones locked in long-frozen soil in Siberia are starting to thaw, and have the potential to unleash billions of tones of carbon and accelerate global warming, scientists said on Thursday.

This vast carbon reservoir, contained in permafrost soil in northeastern Siberia, contains about 75 times more carbon than the amount released into the atmosphere each year by the burning of fossil fuels, the researchers said in a statement.
As the Siberian permafrost thaws, it will release the carbon contained in old grass roots and buried animal bones into the atmosphere, in what could be an unstoppable contributor to global climate change, according to the researchers.

Earlier climate models may have failed to account for this possible component of global warming...

"You have anthropogenic (human-generated) carbon that's making things a little bit warmer, and that causes the permafrost to warm up and carbon is then released from the permafrost," [ecologist Ted Schuur] said. "It goes into the atmosphere and makes things warmer yet again, so then more permafrost thaws."

We just have to face the fact that we're probably headed for extinction fairly soon. That's a grim thought, I know, but that's what seems to be happening. There have been great extinctions before in the history of the earth and it can certainly happen again.

UPDATE: Frank Ford just sent me an article about a heat wave in Toronto. You know, they don't have much air conditioning up there. The Red Cross is driving around handing out bottles of water to try to encourage people to stay hydrated. Here's an excerpt from the Toronto Star article:

The Red Cross heat information line was busy with inquiries about how to keep cool. "We quite often have to tell people how to use a fan," said volunteer Kathy Ross-Waugh, explaining that a window needs to be open so air can circulate.

Toronto Public Health is planning to launch a program this month encouraging landlords whose buildings are not air conditioned to implement a hot-weather protection plan.

If the heat continues today, the Red Cross plans to set up cooling stations around the city.

This is really very alarming.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Not a nice commentary

Found this on a blog. It's true:

Americans don't actually "do" foreign policy - what they do is policy for foreigners that effects the domestic bottom line.

-- Cernig

A Brit talks about our King George

I've posted before about Bush's infamous "signing statements" in which he basically says he is above the law. Now the wonderful British newspaper, the Guardian, is weighing in on that issue. The article is entitled, "America's problem is again a usurping king called George". Here's part of what it says:

Imagine a country with a different kind of monarch from the one we are used to. Forget the nation-binding human monarch whom Archbishop Rowan Williams praised so deftly this week. Imagine instead a monarch who, like many of Elizabeth II's ancestors, routinely reserved the right to override laws passed by the legislature, or who repeatedly asserted that the laws mean something they do not say. Imagine, in fact, King George of America.

On April 30 the Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage wrote an article whose contents become more astonishing the more one reads them. Over the past five years, Savage reported, President George Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws that have been enacted by the United States Congress since he took office. At the heart of Bush's strategy is the claim that the president has the power to set aside any statute that conflicts with his own interpretation of the constitution.
Too late in the day for comfort, Bush's approach is coming under greater scrutiny. In February the bipartisan Constitution Project warned of "the risk of permanent and unchecked presidential power". Last week the American Bar Association announced an independent inquiry into the practice. A powerful article in the New York Review of Books by the veteran writer Elizabeth Drew has also given the subject higher saliency.

To their credit, even some Bush supporters are alarmed. If Bill Clinton had done what Bush is doing, the Republican senator Chuck Hagel has pointed out, Congress would be up in arms. If Bush were to bequeath the powers he claims to Hillary Clinton, the right would soon go berserk with indignation at the threat to American values. Which is why the most pertinent comment so far on the president's strategy has come from the anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist. He told Drew: "If you interpret the constitution's saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws, you don't have a constitution: you have a king."

Well, that's what we have in all but name. The amazing thing is that he gets away with it given that his poll numbers are so low. An unpopular king but a king all the same.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Opinions on Iraq pull-out

Well, this is very interesting. CNN conducted a poll about pulling out of Iraq. Take a look:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans -- 53 percent -- favors setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, with 47 percent saying the deadline should be in a year or less, according to a CNN poll released Friday.

Among those who favor setting a deadline of a year or less, opinions also are divergent. The survey found 13 percent of Americans want withdrawal within a few weeks; 15 percent want it in six months; and 19 percent want it in a year.

I guess the majority of Americans don't buy the "we can't cut and run" argument.

The 10 Commandments

Okay folks, this is truly beyond belief. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), who has co-sponsored at least four pieces of legislation pushing the 10 Commandments, went on the Colbert Report and was asked to name them. Here's what he said:

I can't name them all.

Oh, the unbelievable hypocrisy!!! How does he know he's not breaking them if he doesn't know what they are?

Here's the link if you want to check.

UPDATE: Go here to watch a video of the segment. It's hysterical!

Friday cat blogging!

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Here's another picture of Sweet Iris, my friend Sally Lloyd's cat when she lived in California.

We have lost our moral authority.

Well, we already know that. But we need to be reminded of it over and over so that we don't tune it out and become utterly deluded. I'd like to quote from an article by Len Hart entitled, "How America lost its moral authority throughout the world" :

It was not too long ago that many people looked to the U.S. for leadership and not so long ago, our nation was still thought to be a democratic nation of laws, due process, and a prudent separation of powers. Now the U.S. is reviled; Bush is seen the world over as having betrayed his own people as he wages aggressive war against a nation that even he concedes had nothing whatsoever to do with 911, a nation about which he lied in order to justify his dirty, evil little war. The war on terrorism is phony.

And now, Bush proves everything that is said about him by refusing to close Guantanamo, by refusing to end practices of torture and rendition which he denies —even as he defends them.
One rightly suspects Bush's motives. Even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, before the attack on Afghanistan, Tom DeLay sponsored legislation that exempted U.S. soldiers from war crimes prosecution at the International Tribunal at the Hague. Did anyone in Congress stop to ask why? Were we planning to commit crimes for which we sought exemption from prosecution? Wasn't it clear to any thinking person what Bush was up to? Are we not the good guys? [Amendment to H.R. 1646,
The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2001]

Clearly --the Bush administration was, in fact, planning to commit war crimes but wanted to make them legal if done by the U.S. I cannot possibly hope to document in a short internet essay the various circumlocutions that have been indulged by the Bush administration and its chief apologist: Alberto Gonzales. All, however, are intended to make legal the very acts that are prohibited by Nuremberg — but only if those acts are done by Americans. Bush is at least consistent in this respect: neither would he press for trials for non-Americans. He would simply decree their imprisonment and torture.

Why aren't these questions asked? Why would we exempt ourselves from prosecution for war crimes unless we were planning on committing them? Why didn't the press ask these questions? Yes, I know. The mainstream press is bought and paid for by big business which benefits from war and is in bed with the administration. Sickening.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

About Republicans

Is this cynical or what?

Which is the bigger lie: that Republicans believe in fiscal responsibility, or that they believe in ethics and morality?

-- Zing!


Read this and get sick:

Q: Tony, American deaths in Iraq have reached 2,500. Is there any response or reaction from the President on that?

MR. SNOW: It’s a number, and every time there’s one of these 500 benchmarks people want something.

"It's a number..." Good God. This administration is callous beyond expression. Utterly callous.

Did you know about this?

Here's something that makes my blood run cold. It's a passage from a Joe Bageant article called "As America rots from the inside out":

Yet, unimaginable as it may seem, there are even worse things afoot to contemplate. Forces such as the emerging Christian militia, the Joshua generation, a runaway military establishment, to name a few, working fanatically to make our obedience ever more lethal. Yesterday I saw a picture of 25,000 young fundamentalist Americans marching in Philadelphia and San Francisco in support of a theocratic state. I can honestly say I was completely unnerved by it. Those little electrical nerve waves went through my entire body. I live around fundamentalist Christians, my whole family is fundamentalist Christian and I know what they are capable of and indeed are planning to do given the chance. They are being led by the same types who formed the old white militia movements in the Seventies and Eighties before Timothy McVeigh rendered their public position untenable. I couldn't shut up about it and friends. But even the most "informed" ones looked at me like I was crazy, or at the very least, weirdly obsessive. These are not stupid people. They are simply Americans. And because we are friends, we moved on to another topic. This is the sort of strange national disconnect that has so many folks like myself silently screaming inside our heads.

If I weren't a meditator, I too would be silently screaming inside my head. I understand Bageant being completely unnerved by this. I'm unnerved too.

Change those light bulbs!

A while back I encouraged you to take the pledge to change one incandescent bulb in your home to a compact fluorescent bulb. I want to urge you to do that again and then work up to three bulbs. Take a look at the following passage that explains how effective this action is:

Global warming is a huge problem. Is it really true that all I need to do is change light bulbs in my home?

Global warming is too big a problem for any one change to solve it. But, changing old-style incandescent bulbs for more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) is a simple, cost-effective step every American can take.

If every household in America changed three bulbs, it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road.

So far, I've changed two. And I'm planning to change some in my office as well. It's so simple and I haven't noticed the difference so far. Compact fluorescent bulbs have improved over the last few years with regard to the quality of light they give off.

The above question and answer is from a page on the Environmental Defense web site.

Simple justice

Now here's an idea that makes sense:

Productivity's up. Profits are up. But people's wages are not up.

I have introduced legislation that would tie the minimum wage to congressional salaries.

No more increases for Congress until we raise the minimum wage.

~~ Hillary Clinton

The problem with this congress is that they have no shame. I would be ashamed to vote myself a raise when the poorest among us can't support themselves on the minimum wage.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sad commentary

Check this out:

Actually, Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, made about $2 million this past weekend, whereas X-men made about $150 million. That just shows we're more interested in the fake people saving the fake earth than the real people trying to save the real earth.

--Jay Leno

This is unnerving

There's an article on CNN's website this morning entitled, "More of your information than you think might be online". Did you know that government websites often display Social Security numbers? This is very worrying. Take a look:

(CNN) -- If you are worried about a thief stealing your identity, it's not your wallet that needs guarding -- it's your state and local governments.

That's the alarm Betty "BJ" Ostergren, the self-proclaimed Virginia Watchdog, has been sounding for the past four years from her rural Virginia home.

Sitting at her computer, she shows us with just a click of the mouse she can find Social Security numbers, birthdates, bank loans and even digitized signatures that a clever thief could easily manipulate onto official-looking documents. Everything anyone would need to steal your identity is right online, put there by local and state government agencies.
It happened, Ostergren said, in an effort by state and local governments to move toward a paperless society. That means records that once required a trip to a local courthouse or government office building to get can now be accessed from anywhere in the world simply by logging on and zeroing in.

The article concludes this way:

"We are very stupid in this country," Ostergren said. "Very stupid. This is just spoon-feeding criminals if there ever was such a thing."

No kidding. The damnable thing is that there doesn't seem to be a solution. Whatever is done now is like shutting the stable door after the horse gets out, according to one official.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The GOP and severe storms

Frank Ford sent in an article published by Capitol Blue entitled, "Clinton blames Republicans for severe storms". Here's how it gets started:

As Tropical Storm Alberto threatened to strengthen into the ninth hurricane in 22 months to affect Florida, former President Clinton predicted Monday that Republican environmental policies will lead to more severe storms.

"It is now generally recognized that while Al Gore and I were ridiculed, we were right about global warming," Clinton said at a fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party. "It's a serious problem. It's going to lead to more hurricanes."

Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," chronicles the former vice president's efforts to educate the public about global warming. It's in limited release around the country.

I wonder if we, as a society, are going to act in time to prevent world wide catastrophe. Frankly and sadly, I doubt it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Letterman nails it

You can't possibly fault him for this:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the world's most unhinged lunatic. He's now dead, so that moves Ann Coulter up to first place.

--David Letterman

The Guantanamo suicides

PLEASE go on over to Smirking Chimp and read Mike Whitney's article entitled, "When suicide becomes resistance". It is biting, intense, powerful. Every American needs to read it. Here's how it gets started:

The only positive thing about Guantanamo is that no one seems particularly mystified by what Bush is doing. He's tip-toed around the law by erecting his state-of-the-art concentration camp where the compliant Supreme Court won't shut him down. That's allowed Rumsfeld to skirt the niggling issues of habeas corpus and due process and establish a neocon haven for permanent detention.

Just what the doctor ordered.

Still, no one is really taken in by the White House public relations campaign. The prison has only increased the recruiting efforts of groups like Al Qaida and fueled anti-American hatred around the world. It's done nothing to fight terrorism, as all the recent polls clearly indicate. Instead, it's just added another black stain to the already sullied reputation of the waning superpower.

By most accounts, the inmates at Guantanamo are generally low-level militants or tribesman who were scooped up by the warlords and delivered to the US for the $1,000 bounty. The al Qaida kingpins have all been bundled off to torture-friendly allies who are more skilled in the dark art.

The real purpose of Bush's premier-gulag is to familiarize the American people with the tectonic shift in American justice. By shoving Guantanamo under their noses, the public is forced to accept this new and strange reality. "Everything has changed"; principles have been abandoned, commitments discarded, liberties forsaken. America will no longer play by the rules. There are no more guarantees on personal freedom; the law is being reshaped to meet the requirements of new world order.

And here's how it ends:

Guantanamo is the face of America under Bush. It has changed how we are perceived in the world and it has eroded our moral authority. We should be grateful to the 3 men who sacrificed their lives in the struggle against barbarity and cynicism. They have nudged us ever-closer to the day when Bush and company will be held accountable for their crimes. Maybe then we can tear down the gun-towers and block walls at Guantanamo and erect a monument to the countless victims of this vile and vicious regime.

I don't think Guantanamo has merely eroded our moral authority. I think it has ended it. I wonder if we will ever win it back. I grieve the loss of the great American ideal. How could we let it be so destroyed? How could we?

About the economy

I want to recommend a very interesting article in The Nation entitled "The Future I Now" about the economy and what we need to do. What really caught my attention is the following paragraph:

You wouldn't know it from reading the newspapers, but substantial and often overwhelming majorities of Americans have repeatedly endorsed governing concepts that conventional politicians dismiss as radical or unrealistic: Universal healthcare. A job for everyone who wants to work, guaranteed by the government. Secure retirements. Stronger enforcement of environmental laws. Stronger defenses against encroaching corporate power. Union protection for workers against exploitative employers. The list goes on. These widely endorsed goals assume an activist government that nurtures people and society first, ahead of corporations and capital. Imagine a political agenda that sets out to give the people what they say they want.

Imagine, indeed. And why isn't this reported by the mainstream press? Because it is owned, body and soul, by the very corporations the people want reined in, that's why.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More on Zarqawi

For the third day in a row, Zarqawi's dead face has been on the front page of CNN's website. Personally, I think that's propaganda; we're being manipulated to celebrate this death and to take pleasure in the display of death. I think it's uncivilized and hypocritical. We're not even allowed to see the coffins of our own dead as they're flown back home but we see the picture of the corpse of our enemy plastered on every news site for three days in a row.

I want to share with you Riverbend's take on this. Riverbend is a young Iraqi woman who's been keeping a blog about the war called Baghdad Burning. She is eloquent and articulate. Occasionally her blog postings are picked up by Smirking Chimp. Yesterday's entry is just entitled, "Zarqawi...". Here's part of what it says:

So 'Zarqawi' is finally dead. It was an interesting piece of news that greeted us yesterday morning (or was it the day before? I've lost track of time…). I didn't bother with the pictures and film they showed of him because I, personally, have been saturated with images of broken, bleeding bodies.

The reactions have been different. There's a general consensus amongst family and friends that he won't be missed, whoever he is. There is also doubt- who was he really? Did he even exist? Was he truly the huge terror the Americans made him out to be? When did he actually die? People swear he was dead back in 2003… The timing is extremely suspicious: just when people were getting really fed up with the useless Iraqi government, Zarqawi is killed and Maliki is hailed the victorious leader of the occupied world! (And no- Iraqis aren't celebrating in the streets- worries over electricity, water, death squads, tests, corpses and extremists in high places prevail right now.)

I've been listening to reactions- mostly from pro-war politicians and the naïveté they reveal is astounding. Maliki (the current Iraqi PM) was almost giddy as he made the news public (he had even gone the extra mile and shaved!). Do they really believe it will end the resistance against occupation? As long as foreign troops are in Iraq, resistance or 'insurgency' will continue- why is that SO difficult to understand? How is that concept a foreign one?
How do I feel? To hell with Zarqawi (or Zayrkawi as Bush calls him). He was an American creation- he came along with them- they don't need him anymore, apparently. His influence was greatly exaggerated but he was the justification for every single family they killed through military strikes and troops. It was WMD at first, then it was Saddam, then it was Zarqawi. Who will it be now? Who will be the new excuse for killing and detaining Iraqis? Or is it that an excuse is no longer needed- they have freedom to do what they want. The slaughter in Haditha months ago proved that. "They don't need him anymore," our elderly neighbor waved the news away like he was shooing flies, "They have fifty Zarqawis in government."

You can't blame Iraqis for being cynical, now can you?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The American Dream as seen by a Brit

I always log on to the British newspaper, the Guardian, every morning. And today I found an article entitled, "Wake up: the American Dream is over". Here's the introduction:

Even America's richest think they're getting too many tax breaks from a government determined to keep the poor in their place. As poverty in the US grows, Paul Harris wonders what happened to the Land of Opportunity.

I want to give you an excerpt about the richest thinking they're getting too many tax breaks. Here, take a look:

Bush's first-term tax cuts notoriously benefited the upper strata of American taxpayers. So much so that even Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world who benefited to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, has said the tax cuts 'scream of injustice'. As head of a hugely successful investment firm, it is hard to paint Buffet as a lefty liberal who hates Wall Street (though, bizarrely, some conservatives do try).

Still the tax cuts go on. This week one of the main political debates in Washington has been about scrapping the 'estate tax' whereby those who inherit large amounts from their relatives will be taxed on it. This overwhelmingly affects the wealthy. The estate tax is already set so high ($4m) that only one in 200 estates pay any tax at all when they are inherited.
Yet the White House and many politicians, overwhelmingly Republican, want to get rid of it. The lobbying campaign against it has been financed mostly by 18 business dynasties, including the family that owns WalMart. At the same time the Bush administration has sanctioned millions of dollars of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the education budget as part of a measure aimed at reducing the spiraling deficit. This is, frankly, obscene.

Interesting to see how we're viewed overseas.

And can working hard get you out of poverty?

The effect of all this has been to scotch that long-cherished notion of the American Dream: that honest toil is enough to reap the rewards and let even the poorest join the middle class, or maybe even strike it rich. A survey last year showed that such economic mobility (a measure of those people trying to make the Dream come true) was lower in America than Canada, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. In fact, the only country doing as bad as America was Britain (food for thought, there).

The enormity of the current disparity between rich and poor is just not right. And yet we not only tolerate this disparity in the U.S., we celebrate it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

"I am a progressive."

Some guy on Eschaton named Kent made the following statement:

I'm for equality and same rights for everyone, I believe in an honest and accountable government, I'm for protecting the rights our forefathers gave us in the constitution, that my grandparents and great grandparents fought and died to protect. I'm for supporting our troops - which to me means giving them the best equipment (body armor, protected Humvees, etc), the best military plans they need to win, the best mental health support they need after a war, the best veterans' benefits possible - I'm for a strong middle class, I'm for shrinking the poverty gap not growing it, I'm for the separation of church and state, I think women should have the right to choose if they want to have an abortion or not, I'm against legislating Religion on people, I believe it's every individual's choice, I'm for strong marriage bonds - regardless of who the 2 people getting married are, I'm for basic social services, I believe that people born into severe poverty do not operate on the same playing field as those born into wealthy families, thus deserve more help, and I don't have a problem with that burden falling more heavily on the wealthiest 1% of Americans. I'm pro alternative energy and I believe in the science of global warming, I'm for protecting America without taking away civil liberties, I'm against torturing another human being. I believe every American has the inherent right to basic, affordable health care. I'm pro humanity. I'm a progressive.

You know, those things just sound like what a decent person would be for. But we've lost the value of decency in our society. Tragic.

Some questions by Cindy Sheehan

I'm linking you to an eloquent article by Cindy Sheehan called "When Will We Ever Learn?". Here are the questions that caught my attention:

I often have to ask myself why we, as Americans, so blindly follow our leaders down this path of violent destruction, and it has always been so. From the genocide and virtual extinction of our native population to dehumanizing black people so that they could be used as human chattel and still be oppressed, even today, to still be the only so-called "civilized nation" that executes people. Why do we allow our leaders to kill and oppress people in our names? Is it so we won't have to look at our own destructive behavior?

Are we as a nation so devoid of hope that we are ready to live our lives in "quiet desperation" watching BushCo destroy Iraq, destroy the USA and destroy the world for their own wicked ends? Do we see any difference in jumping in our huge, gas guzzling and polluting SUVs to go to a job we hate to be able to buy things we don't need in contrast with invading a country to control its oil reserves to give the people who run companies that profit from death and destruction more money so they can buy their jets and build palaces that they don't need?

Are our visions of a future that is one endless war after another in competition for resources and for a dwindling planet so bleak that we are condoning the destructive behavior of the Bush administration because we are competing with our neighbors to have the best and brightest new thingamajig that Madison Ave tells us that we need?

Why don't we ask these questions as a society? Thank God there are voices - albeit few - who are asking them for us.

Cancelling climate satellites

This is simply unconscionable:

NASA is canceling or delaying a number of satellites designed to give scientists critical information on the earth's changing climate and environment.

The space agency has shelved a $200 million satellite mission headed by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor that was designed to measure soil moisture -- a key factor in helping scientists understand the impact of global warming and predict droughts and floods. The Deep Space Climate Observatory, intended to observe climate factors such as solar radiation, ozone, clouds, and water vapor more comprehensively than existing satellites, also has been canceled.

And in its 2007 budget, NASA proposes significant delays in a global precipitation measuring mission to help with weather predictions, as well as the launch of a satellite designed to increase the timeliness and accuracy of severe weather forecasts and improve climate models.

The changes come as NASA prioritizes its budget to pay for completion of the International Space Station and the return of astronauts to the moon by 2020 -- a goal set by President Bush that promises a more distant and arguably less practical scientific payoff. Ultimately, scientists say, the delays and cancellations could make hurricane predictions less accurate, create gaps in long-term monitoring of weather, and result in less clarity about the earth's hydrological systems, which play an integral part in climate change.

We need those satellites.

The above article is from the Boston Globe and is entitled, "NASA shelves climate satellites: Environmental science may suffer".

Zarqawi's death

Here's a comment I found on AMERICAblog that sums up my position pretty well:

I've been noticing how much the media is playing up the "al Qaeda" angle, giving everyone the impression that killing Zarqawi is a blow to the same organization of 9-11 and Osama bin Laden.

There's absolutely NO discussion of how these two al Qaedas are basically unrelated organizations with no reported organizational ties, and that Zarqawi is pretty much just a wannabe who changed the name of his group to "al Qaeda in Iraq" in order to glom onto the original al Qaeda's notoriety.

I suppose that most of the media thinks this point is too "subtle" for most Americans to grasp? Or maybe they don't even know themselves, because so many "journalists" nowadays are nothing more than White House stenographers?

I'm also disgusted by the rejoicing that's going on in the press. We call terrorists and insurgents barbaric when they kill helpless people and show it on the web. And yet we're allowing our basest instincts and desire for revenge and aggression take over in our response to Zarqawi's death.

How do we look to other people around the world when we respond like this? We're certainly not presenting an admirable or moral face to the rest of the world. And we're also not setting a good example for our own children, either.

It's too much to hope for really to expect the press to do its job.

I know I'm being cynical today. Sorry. But I think it's warranted.

Friday cat blogging!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photo by Ellie Finlay

That vast right-wing conspiracy

It's for real, actually. And the press is in collusion.

I want to call your attention today to an article entitled, "How the press discriminates against Democrats". The subtitle is, "John Murtha, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton are just the latest Democrats to face biased media coverage -- but they won't be the last."

I've blogged about this before, as you know, and I just can't overemphasize how harmful this is and what an uphill battle we have. Here's how it gets started:

Last week, MediaMatters wrote:

"At this point, you'd have to be blind to miss the pattern. Every prominent progressive leader who comes along is openly derided in the media as fake, dishonest, conniving, out-of-the-mainstream, and weak. We simply can't continue to chalk this up to shortcomings on the part of Democratic candidates or their staff and consultants. It's all too clear that this will happen regardless of who the candidate or leader is; regardless of who works for him or her. The smearing of Jack Murtha should prove that to anyone who still doubts it."

The recent media treatment of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) illustrate this point: No matter who emerges as a progressive leader, or a high-profile Democrat, they're in for the same flood of conservative misinformation in the media. Too many people chalk up outrageous media treatment of, say, Al Gore or John Kerry to the men's own flaws, pretending that if they were better candidates, they'd have gotten better press coverage. That's naïve. The Democratic Party could nominate Superman to be their next presidential candidate, and two things would happen: conservatives would smear him, and the media would join in. To illustrate this, we look back over the last dozen or so years.

Go on and click through to the rest of the article to read the examples. It's a long article but we really need to be informed about how this stuff goes down. I'm afraid I'm very pessimistic about the possibility of change. Why does the press still favor Republicans and smear Democrats when Bush's poll numbers are so low? Undoubtedly it's because they've been thoroughly bought out by big business.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Americans want universal health coverage

Well, this is very interesting. Take a look at a CNN article entitled, "Americans want universal health coverage, group says":

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government should guarantee that all Americans have basic health insurance coverage, says a committee set up by Congress to find out what people want when it comes to health care.

"Assuring health care is a shared social responsibility," says the interim report of the Citizens' Health Care Working Group, a 14-member committee that went to 50 communities and heard from 23,000 people.

The committee describes its recommendations as a framework. The recommendations don't say who would pay for universal health coverage or how much it would cost. The concept of government-guaranteed coverage runs counter to the Bush administration's position that consumers should bear more responsibility for their initial medical expenses.

The group's findings will be officially presented to the president and Congress in the fall, but first comes 90 days of public comment. The president will submit to Congress his response, and then five congressional committees will hold hearings.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, came up with the idea for establishing a group that would work outside of Washington to find out what Americans want. He said they were tired of years of gridlock on health care issues.

CNN also took a Quick Vote on the issue. Here are the results so far:

Would you support government-guaranteed health care for all Americans?

Yes 79%

No 21%

Okay. So now we know. The public wants guaranteed health care. Now let's see what the Bush administration does with that information.

Well, this is encouraging.

A typically conservative population now believes in global warming and that something should be done about it. Take a look:

A new poll of hunters and fishermen finds the majority think the country is on the wrong track with its energy policy and should be a leader in combating global warming. In the poll of licensed hunters and anglers, 76 percent said global warming is occurring and 73 percent believe it is impacting or will impact hunting and fishing conditions. A full 78 percent said the solutions should involve conserving more energy, developing fuel-efficient vehicles and expanding the use of renewable sources.

The nationwide poll of 1,031 hunters and anglers was conducted by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia for the National Wildlife Federation.

The respondents had voted for President Bush in 2004 by about a 2-to-1 margin, and half of them identified themselves as evangelical Christians.

This is from an article entitled, "Hunters and Fishermen Want Action on Global Warming".

Interestingly, I used to live in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Very conservative part of the country.

Some history on the oil lobby

Today I got an email from the Organic Consumers Association and I learned something disgusing about the petroleum lobby. Take a look at this:

* Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp. In fact, when the diesel engine was first introduced at the World's Fair in 1900, it ran on peanut oil.

* Two decades later, Henry Ford was designing his Model Ts to run on ethanol made from hemp. He envisioned the entire mass-produced Model T automobile line would run on ethanol derived from crops grown in the U.S.

* Even in the 1920s, the oil industry had massive lobbying power in Washington. Lobbyists convinced policymakers to create laws favoring petroleum based fuels while disgarding the ethanol option.

* Nearly a century later, amidst oil wars in the Middle East, Global Warming, and a nearly depleted oil supply, the U.S. government is finally shifting attention to fuels that are more along the lines of Diesel and Ford's original ideas.

* In an interview with the New York Times in 1925, Henry Ford said: "The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumac out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust -- almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There's enough alcohol in one year's yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years."

Just imagine how different our situation today would be if we had supported ethanol as a fuel all these years. You can learn more about this right here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The true moral outrage

I found this comment on Father Jake Stops the World:

If people are so concerned about the moral health of our nation, then they should take a look at what Congress is about to do; repeal the estate tax. Now there's a real affront to all morals and decency.

The richest Americans are about to get what amouts to a government subsidy paid for by all the rest of us, and taking bread out of the mouths of the poor. Paris Hilton is about to get a huge multi-million dollar tax break while New Orleans still lies in ruins and our veterans (especially from the reserves) return from combat forced to buy their own health care coverage, and to benefits drastically cut by all those same chicken hawk legislators who yell the loudest to support the troops.

If you want to see a real scandal, then quit peaking in bedsheets and take a look at C-Span.

I just can't believe they're going to do this - and with our deficit too. It's obscenely immoral.

What is a progressive? The contest results

Well, I got an email today from Campaign for America's Future. Here is the winning entry answering the question, "What is a progressive?"

A progressive is someone who understands that it is the people of our country who make it great, and unless we take care of the people first, we'll never be successful in maintaining our greatness. Taking care of people means providing healthcare for everyone. It means keeping the environment clean, safe and preserved. It means great schools and great jobs. It means improving the lives of families, rather than lining the pockets of big business, or big politicians. It means taking care of each other here, and around the world. We're all in this together.

And here's the first runner up:

Progressives believe that a better life is possible for everyone. They know that when we make room at the table for everyone, we are all enriched. Progressives actively pursue new, more effective solutions to the problems we face as a people. Status quo is not a given -- it is a challenge to do better.

And the second:

A progressive is someone who believes in the common good -- in a fair shake for every person -- and is willing to fight for it.

All excellent. All inspiring.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

What Osama wanted

Could be:

I hate to say it, but that murdering terrorist Osama has really kicked America's ass right where it hurts the most: in the pocketbook. He knew Bush would overreact. And, it could end up costing us our Country...just the way he planned it.

-- Grant Gerver - Shot Off the Press

A light bulb campaign

I got an email today from the Environmental Defense people asking me to pledge to switch one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb. Actually, I've already done that but I'm pledging to switch one more. Here's part of what they said about it:

Join Environmental Defense's Make the Switch Campaign - a national campaign to reduce global warming pollution through the use of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

Our goal for the Environmental Defense community - to switch ONE MILLION light bulbs over the next year.

Here's what you need to know:

* Changing a light bulb makes a difference. If every US household replaced three 60-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs, it would be like taking 3.5 million cars off the roads!

* CFLs save you money. A 20-watt CFL, which screws into an ordinary light socket, is just as bright as a 60-watt incandescent.

* Today's CFLs are dramatically better than a few years ago. You won't miss your incandescent bulbs.

We're asking every member of the Environmental Defense community to pledge to switch at least one bulb in the coming year. If you and two friends do it, we'll easily meet our million bulb goal!

This is a painless way to reduce your personal contribution to the problem of global warming. You can take the pledge right here.

Hunger awareness

I discovered that today is Hunger Awareness Day on the blog, Father Jake Stops the World.

It's common in hunger awareness articles to talk about how children are affected but today, instead, I'm going to give you information about seniors. Take a look at this:

* The Census Bureau reported in their most recent release that 6.5 percent of households with an elderly person are food insecure. Over 460,000 of those households experienced food insecurity with hunger during 2004.

* 9.8 percent of the elderly live below the poverty line - nearly 3.5 million older Americans. The rate of food insecurity among elderly households with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty line is 18.2 percent.

* Elderly households are much less likely to receive food stamps than non-elderly households, even when expected benefits are roughly the same.

* Seniors require greater consideration towards their health and medical needs that can become compromised when there is not enough food to eat. A study which examined the health and nutritional status of seniors found that food insecure seniors had significantly lower intakes of vital nutrients in their diets when compared to their food secure counterparts. In addition, food insecure seniors were 2.33 times more likely to report fair/poor health status and had higher nutritional risk.

* For seniors, protecting oneself from food insecurity and hunger is more difficult than for the general population. For example, a study that focused on the experience of food insecurity among the elderly population found that food insecure seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food but did not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, functional limitations, or health problems.

I found the above information on the website of America's Second Harvest.

Finally, I leave you with this:

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

- Matthew 25:35-40

Monday, June 05, 2006

Simply unbelievable

You know, I'm not easily shocked, but this shocked me:

You know, not even the Red Cross was interested in taking $1 million in donation for charity from us. We got a nice letter saying, thanks, but no thanks. Every tour cycle we donate money to a charity and we had wanted to put our money where our mouth was. When they turned down our money it made me so sad this could run so deep. You feel like all of a sudden you're poison.

- Martie Maguire, Dixie Chicks Fiddler

Of course, I made up my mind never to donate to Red Cross because of their incompetence during the Katriana disaster but this is beyond reprehensible. I had no idea their collusion with the Bush administration was so deep.

UPDATE: If you want the scoop on contributions to the Red Cross please read this article from the Los Angeles Times entitled, "The Red Cross money pit".

What you eat and climate change

It matters. Not only to your health and the well being of other animals besides humans, it also matters to the environment. Take a look at this excerpt from an article entitled, "Does meat-based diet contribute to global warming?":

What we eat affects not only our health but also our environment. Any nutritionist will tell you that most Americans are damaging their health by over-consuming meat and animal products, while under-consuming healthy and nutritious whole foods -- fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.

If you are going to eat meat, consume it in moderate quantities, and limit your intake to organic products coming from healthy animals that are grass-fed and raised humanely. Keep in mind that the bird flu pandemic, looming ominously on the horizon, is a direct result of raising larger and larger numbers of poultry under unhealthy and inhumane conditions.

Every day, for example, several hundred chickens routinely are crammed into manure-saturated 8-by-8-foot cages on poultry farms across China and other Asian countries. Living in filthy conditions, reared on contaminated animal feed laced with dioxin residues, antibiotics and slaughterhouse wastes; these animals are a biological time bomb waiting to explode.

On the environmental and climate change front, the facts are equally clear. Unless the U.S. and other nations drastically reduce the amount of our climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases by at least 75 percent over the next decade, our children and grandchildren will be condemned to live in a chaotic and dangerous world, where food and energy shortages will become the norm.

To avoid climate chaos, Americans must change our lifestyles and diets. We must decrease our consumption of energy and chemical intensive meat and animal products, along with highly processed and packaged convenience foods transported over long distances.
Organic farms worldwide use 50 percent less petroleum-derived fuel and inputs than conventional farms.

I buy organic food whenever possible because I don't want to consume pesticide residue. I'm also a vegetarian because animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends. But now there's another good reason to be faithful to both of those principles. Because I'm a vegetarian and buy organic I'm contributing less to global warming than I would be otherwise.

Please think about it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The biased press

I said below that the press (with the notable exception of Rolling Stone Magazine) has refused to report on what was definitely a stolen election and I linked to a Media Matters article about how the press smears and slams Democrats in areas where they give Republicans a pass. Here's a telling quote by Lawrence Grossman, longtime head of PBS and NBC News.

The job of the President is to set the agenda and the job of the press is to follow the agenda that the leadership sets.

Well! I thought the job of the press in a free society was to act as a watchdog with regard to the government and to report the news objectively and accurately. Even though Bush's poll numbers are in the toilet right now, I'm pessimistic about the country because the press is simply not doing its job.

Bush definitely stole Ohio

You just gotta read this article. Go read the whole thing. It's entitled, "Bush, the most hated president ever, stole both elections". Well, I've believed this all along but this article nails it. Here are a few excerpts:

The latest polls say Americans now dislike Bush more than any other president including even Tricky Dick. It only took the public five and half year to see through him.

That said, I wonder how long it will take people to accept the news that Bush never won either election and the country is in such a mess that it will take 50 years to get back to how it was when Bush took office.
Some people ended up standing in line for up to 12 hours. But only those people who could miss work and go without pay for a whole day and not get fired for not showing up. And as we all know those people who could not wait in line were certainly not Republicans.

I had never seen anything like it in my life. I knew Bush stole the election by the time the polls closed in Ohio.

I knew it because in working for a major media outlet, by late afternoon I knew that all the exit polls had Kerry winning. But by the time I left work to go home, the news channels were saying "all the exit polls" are wrong. Yea right, all the exit polls were wrong.

Don't people realize how impossible that would be?

I proceeded home to watch the returns and I for sure knew that Bush stole the election the minute the news programs showed him sitting with his family pretending to be all apprehensive when his face and body language told me that he somehow knew there were no ifs about it, his second term was in the bag.
Its worth noting here, that there were no problems with the Republicans voting. No waiting in line for hours or anything else. Check it out on the internet by reviewing the news articles in Ohio at the time, all went well in their neighborhoods.
And top that off that with the outright fraud that shows that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry in one county were counted for Bush instead. "That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes," says Mr. [Robert] Kennedy [Jr.], "enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."

Do you realize what a different country we would have today if Kerry had become president? Just think of the Supreme Court for starters. And environmental laws. And we wouldn't be saber rattling with regard to Iran. Oh, I could go on and on.

If the press were doing its job, we'd have investigative reporting on the validity of that election. But the press as a whole shills for the Republicans and slams Democrats. If you don't believe me go read what Media Matters has to say on the subject in an article about media treatment of Democrats. It will truly make you sick.

UPDATE: Read this:

The story of the stolen election of 2004 has FINALLY busted into the mainstream media, thanks to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Rolling Stone Magazine.

We all owe them great thanks.

Now we'll see if there's any further media follow-up. And if the Democratic Party actually DOES SOMETHING about the fact that America is about to be hijacked again in 2006, and then for the third straight presidential race in 2008.

The massive article in this week's RS focuses on the impossible contrast between exit polls showing a clear and overwhelming Kerry victory versus bogus "official" vote counts giving George W. Bush four more catastrophic years in the White House. It also details some of the horrific intimidation, manipulation and outright theft used by Ohio's GOP Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to deny hundreds of thousands of mostly Democratic voters their right to a ballot. And it discusses in some depth the fact that Diebold and other electronic voting machine and software producers make it possible for any inside operator to use a laptop and a few keystrokes to flip an entire election in a matter of seconds.

The above passage is from an article entitled, "RFK and Rolling Stone nail Ohio's stolen 2004 election, but much more must be done". Now let's see what the rest of the press does with this. Will Rolling Stone be denounced, supported, or met with media silence?

Here's the complete Rolling Stone article.