Thursday, November 30, 2006

Unbelievable sense of entitlement

Colin Rowan, of Environmental Defense:

Among all states, Texas is by far the No. 1 emitter of greenhouse gas pollution. But Texas has no plan to stop it, slow it down or deal with the consequences. We don't even have an official state inventory of what's at risk. Other states are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but Texas is poised to build 19 coal-fired power plants that will emit an additional 110 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution a year. That's a pretty good snapshot of the path our leaders have taken us down.

What's wrong with these people? Their children and grandchildren have to inherit the same damaged earth as the rest of us.

Justice Scalia on global warming

I want you to go read an article entitled "Supreme Court tackles global warming" and then look at this:

In the arguments, Justice Scalia said, "I'm not a scientist, I don't want to deal with global warming."

I just wish he felt that way about presidential elections.

--Former Vice President Al Gore, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

We are so screwed

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I came across two articles today each of which reported on a major scientist's predictions about humanity's future. One is entitled "Humans must colonize other planets: Hawking":

LONDON (Reuters) - Humans must colonize planets in other solar systems traveling there using "Star Trek"-style propulsion or face extinction, renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking said on Thursday.

The other article is entiled "Gaia Scientist Lovelock Predicts Planetary Wipeout" . Here's part of what it says:

LONDON - The earth has a fever that could boost temperatures by 8 degrees Celsius making large parts of the surface uninhabitable and threatening billions of peoples' lives, a controversial climate scientist said on Tuesday.

James Lovelock, who angered climate scientists with his Gaia theory of a living planet and then alienated environmentalists by backing nuclear power, said a traumatized earth might only be able to support less than a tenth of it's 6 billion people.

"We are not all doomed. An awful lot of people will die, but I don't see the species dying out," he told a news conference. "A hot earth couldn't support much over 500 million."

"Almost all of the systems that have been looked at are in positive feedback ... and soon those effects will be larger than any of the effects of carbon dioxide emissions from industry and so on around the world," he added.
Lovelock adopted the name Gaia, the Greek mother earth goddess, in the 1960s to apply to his then revolutionary theory that the earth functions as a single, self-sustaining organism. His theory is now widely accepted.

I simply do not understand the level of denial existing in the world's leaders. Even the ones who accept the science do not seem to have the sense of urgency that is required.

And the leaders of the world's religions are virtually silent on this subject. They should be shouting about this from the housetops.

Our Sinful Economy

The title caught my attention immediately. Our Sinful Economy. The little article is by Matthew Rothschild and it spells out our economic reality in simple and very clear terms:

A story on the front page of The New York Times business section on November 28 spells out the problems.

Average real incomes fell by 3 percent between 2000 and 2004.

Most Americans actually lost more than 5 percent.

But not those who were on the top 95th to top 99th rungs of the income ladder. Their income went up 53 percent. And check this out: Those on the top 0.1 percent rung saw their incomes more than triple between 2000 and 2004.

That is obscene.

We have a plutocracy in this country, not just of the rich or the very rich but of the unbelievably rich. This 0.1 percent are the ones who benefit most from the George Bush economy.

As he once put it, “Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.”

Meanwhile, the poorest 60 million Americans “reported average incomes of less than $7 a day.”

Later Rothschild spells out what we need to do as a society:

I do believe we should have higher taxes on that top 5 percent, and especially on that top 0.1 percent.

I do believe in preserving, or even increasing, the estate tax.

But I’d settle simply for a floor of decency, so that no one has to go hungry or survive on only that one McDonald’s meal a day, no one has to go without health care coverage, no one has to cut prescription pills in half to make the medicine stretch, no one has to work 50 or 60 or 80 hours a week just to take care of family.

To build this floor of decency, we need to guarantee every American health care, every American the right to a free college education, every American an annual income of, say, about $20,000 or $25,000.

This guaranteed annual income, an idea espoused by people stretching from Martin Luther King Jr. to Milton Friedman, would remove the cruel coercion of the marketplace and outlaw the immorality of letting tens of millions of people suffer.

It would not be that difficult. The plan is sensible; it's humane. And it's too compassionate and fair for it ever to be seriously considered in this country, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quote of the week

This is from a Sojourners email:

My position is, unless we are caring as much for the vulnerable outside the womb as inside the womb, we're not carrying out the full message of Jesus. ... They began to think this might threaten their base or evaporate some of their support, and they said they just couldn't go there.

- - Rev. Joel Hunter, explaining his resignation as president-elect of the Christian Coalition, after realizing he would be unable to broaden the organization's focus to include issues such as poverty and the environment.

Changing the world

Is this still true?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

-- Margaret Mead

Certainly the original neo-cons qualified as a small group of committed citizens. Would you call them "thoughtful"? (I don't know. Fanatical, maybe.) But they certainly did change the world - for the worse. Is it still possible for a small group to change it for good? I don't know. I hope so.

But the children ARE left behind

I'm so glad I'm no longer a classroom teacher. I'd go nuts over the "No Child Left Behind" law. There's nothing more spirit destroying than teaching to a test. And on top of that, the program is not adequately funded. Take a look at a CNN article entitled "Schools, teachers fight No Child Left Behind in court" :

CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) -- School districts in three states and the nation's largest teachers union asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to revive a lawsuit challenging the way government-mandated programs are funded.

The National Education Association and districts in Michigan, Vermont and Texas had sued to block the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush's signature education policy. They argued that schools should not have to comply with requirements that aren't paid for by the federal government.

Chief U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit dismissed the lawsuit in November 2005.

Attorney Robert Chanin, representing the Pontiac, Michigan, school district and the other plaintiffs, told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday that states submitted compliance plans based on their understanding of the level of government support that would be provided. But Congress appropriated far less than needed, leaving local school districts to make up the difference, he said.

Government attorney Alisa Klein told the panel that the intent of the law was never to fully fund the provisions laid out in No Child Left Behind.

You know, just when I think I can't get more cynical someone makes a statement like that. All along we intended for you to make do without the funds you need. Man, that's COLD. It's also sinister. It gives credence to the conspiracy theorists out there who believe that the real purpose behind NCLB is to destroy the public schools. The religious right folks are openly in favor of this, by the way. They think public schools should be destroyed and education should be turned over to the churches. I shudder at the very thought.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Left Behind video game

This morning I got an email from Christian Alliance for Progress about their protest of the Left Behind video game. Here is their statement:

The Christian Alliance for Progress deplores the release of the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces in which the game's object is to convert or kill any who stand in opposition to the ideology that the game and its companion book series seek to promote. We urge the game's sponsor, Tyndale House, a Christian publishing business which used to be concerned with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, to recall its values and withdraw its support for such an un-Christian enterprise as this.

The game, which comes with a copy of one of the books in the series, represents a relatively novel way of interpreting the book of Revelation and the biblical passages that treat the end of history and the coming kingdom of God, whose origin is less than 200 years old. It thus rejects the historic ways of reading Revelation and the coming of God's kingdom that have sustained followers of Christianity for two thousand years. It also rejects the insights of biblical scholarship and deliberately misreads Revelation as a book of prophecy, rather than the kind of literature it actually is, which is apocalyptic.

Worse, rather than seeking to close the gap between neighbors, as Jesus did in his ministry, the game's purpose is to drive a wedge between people, teaching teenagers that what God intends is for them to slaughter those who do not share their beliefs. Because of the predominance of Christian fundamentalists on television and radio in the past generation, the American people have been left with the false impression that this strange way of interpreting the Bible is what Christians have always believed and taught. We are here today to challenge that view and to name it for the error that it is.

Today in Phoenix, Arizona the Christian Alliance for Progress will join with CrossWalk America, the Beatitudes Society and The Center for Progressive Christianity in a joint press conference to protest the release of this horrible game. I hope they get the media attention they deserve. It's time the nation's news organizations recognize that the fundamentalists do not represent all Christians.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I just came across a very interesting CNN article entitled "Study: Humpback whales have 'human' brain cells". Here's part of what it says:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Humpback whales have a type of brain cell seen only in humans, the great apes, and other cetaceans such as dolphins, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

This might mean such whales are more intelligent than they have been given credit for, and suggests the basis for complex brains either evolved more than once, or has gone unused by most species of animals, the researchers said.

The finding may help explain some of the behaviors seen in whales, such as intricate communication skills, the formation of alliances, cooperation, cultural transmission and tool usage, the researchers report in The Anatomical Record.

It's so important that we protect these magnificent creatures. It saddens me when the desire to protect them is lampooned or disparaged.

The role of shame

I didn't weigh in on the O.J. book and television show situation a while back because I tend to avoid sensationalist news. But today the Washington Post has published an article about it that I think you ought to see. It's entitled "Abandoned O.J. Project Shows Shame Still Packs a Punishing Punch".

The whole project was pure shamelessness. A controversial former football star, who many believe got off scot-free after killing two people, writes a book about how he might have committed the murders. It was an end zone dance in the worst possible taste. Everyone was outraged but had to concede that O.J. Simpson, once acquitted, was beyond the reach of the law.

But Simpson and his publisher, Judith Regan, were within reach of another powerful tool that is not much used in American society: shame. Facing growing outrage and scorn, News Corp. chief executive Rupert Murdoch canceled the book project last week.

For Stephanos Bibas, a law professor and former prosecutor, the saga was grounds for celebration, because it showed that shame remains a powerful tool in America.
in the past decade or two, a number of scholars have become interested in the uses of shame, especially in the criminal justice system. Bibas and others think the steady erosion of shame in U.S. courts and society has proved financially costly to the country, deprived victims of a sense of vindication and kept wrongdoers from feeling remorseful.

"I was very pleasantly surprised to see shame, and the shaming of Rupert Murdoch, triumph over O.J.'s shamelessness," Bibas said. "There are, apparently, some things that still go too far."

Let me say here what I'm NOT suggesting. I don't believe children should be shamed as a form of punishment. Made to apologize for wrongdoing, yes, but not shamed. In critical stages of a child's development that can be internalized and result in chronic self-loathing or, at the very least, low self-esteem. But I do think society needs to send the clear message that there are social consequences to unacceptable behavior. And I'm very glad that O.J.'s shamelessness did not go unpunished.

Computer woes AGAIN

This time it was the dog. (Yes, MadPriest; I know you don't believe me!) While I was in the shower, Izzy managed to pull my lap top off my desk and onto an open drawer. It now won't boot up at all. As I write, I'm waiting for my computer guru to phone. In the meantime, there will be light posting as I must use Cynthia's computer at the Center and I don't have round the clock access to that!

Cynthia said to me that my animals have cost me so much money that if it weren't for them, I'd be a rich woman. Well, not quite, but I'd be a good bit better off! But still, children cost people a lot of money and what parent would not have had a beloved child just because of an accident or two?

I'll get back to normal posting when either my computer is fixed or I get a new one (oh, I hope it doesn't come to that...).

Ah well! I get to do some equanimity practice now, don't I?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Condemning slavery - the historic kind, that is

The Guardian/Observer has published an article today entitled "Blair: Britain's 'sorrow' for shame of slave trade":

Tony Blair is to make a historic statement condemning Britain's role in the transatlantic slave trade as a 'crime against humanity' and expressing 'deepsorrow' that it ever happened.

The Prime Minister plans to go further than any previous leader in seeking to distance himself from the actions of the British Empire, nearly 200 years after the 1807 legislation that led to slavery's abolition. However, he will stop short of making an explicit apology despite years of pressure from some black campaigners and community leaders.

Well, I read that and thought "What about TODAY'S slavery? When is that going to be condemned? But, of course, we'll just pretend it's not happening because it supports capitalism."
Fortunately, that issue was addressed toward the end of the article:

The Observer revealed the campaign for an apology two years ago when Rendezvous of Victory, a group which seeks to combat the legacy of slavery, said it would call on the Queen to issue an apology. Its joint co-ordinator, Kofi Mawuli Klu, said he was disappointed by Blair's suggestion that slavery is a thing of the past: 'He's missed the point. They do not understand contemporary enslavement. There is nothing in this statement about the enduring legacy of slavery in terms of racism and global injustice.'

Then there is the problem that Blair's statement isn't technically to be an apology:

Klu criticised the absence of the word 'sorry', claiming: 'It's adding insult to the lingering injuries of the enslavement of African people by the European ruling classes. The message is that if you commit crimes against African people you cannot be held responsible; even when you acknowledge that you have done wrong, you do not feel it necessary to apologise.'

What is the resistance to making a true apology, anyway? Is it a legal issue? Would an apology be the sort of admission of culpability that would then imply liability? Would it legally give the descendents of slaves the right to reparations? These are true questions. I don't know the answers and I would like to.

Do not lose heart

From Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times:

Do not lose heart, we were made for these times...

-- Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Whan it's a matter of taste

This has absolutely nothing to do with the usual topics of this blog but I thought it was funny:

When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock and roll, there's a good chance the transmission is shot.

~Larry Lujack

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Our national conscience

Well put:

Our greatest challenge if we are to remain a great nation is not terrorism, and not Iraq. Our greatest challenge is to recover our national conscience. Many will choose to do this with the help of religion, and some without. But the only way to honor God's blessing of America is to become conquerors of poverty and ignorance, and not remain defenders of greed and arrogance. Only in this way can we actually be as good as we already see ourselves.

-- Todd Huffman

However, it will never happen

Impeachment, I mean. Although I fervently wish it would. Take a look at this brief passage from an article published by Smirking Chimp:

"Americans can't handle another impeachment." So say the supporters of George W. Bush in their anti-impeachment propaganda.

The truth is Americans CAN handle another impeachment. They CAN handle the truth. In fact, if Americans don't bring Bush and Cheney to justice after the atrocities they've committed, this nation will never reclaim its moral authority. And the people of this nation will be despised for unleashing these dangerous men on the world.

"Americans can't handle another impeachment" isn't a truth. It's a device. Like 'weapons of mass destruction.' 'A mushroom cloud.' 'Gassed his own people.' 'Sought significant quantities of uranium from A-f-r-i-c-a.' These are the sound bytes, the parroted propaganda, which brought us to war. Each is a proven lie, told time and again by well-rehearsed pundits. Verbatim delivery. Robotic form. Repeated ad nauseam by grown-up children of the damned. It sounded good for Nicholson in "A Few Good Men," but rings pretty hollow here. Americans CAN handle and probe for the truth.

But will we? Sadly, I doubt it very much.

Bringing back civility

Well, I hope I don't come across as an old fogey here but I was really glad to read the CNN article today entitled "Professor's advice on returning civility to classrooms". Here's how it gets started:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- During lectures, they answer their cell phones, text message their friends and play games on their laptop computers.

Are college students really that rude?

Yes, they are. The last time I gave a talk on meditation to a college class I swore I'd never go back. I was simply gobsmacked.

Read on:

Yes, says Delaney Kirk, a professor of management at Drake University in Des Moines.

But, she adds, it's not their fault.

"It's the same behavior we're seeing in the rest of society," Kirk says. "There's a general lack of social skills."

Sparked by her own experience with distracted students, Kirk has become something of an expert on managing such behavior. She hosts workshops around the country, helping faculty deal with what she says has become a problem at campuses large and small.

Part of the problem is the lure of the techno-gadgets that students bring into the classroom -- cell phones, Blackberries and laptop computers.

"Students think they can e-mail, text message, check the Web and listen to you, and they can't," Kirk says.

No kidding.

Here's the conclusion:

Kirk first began thinking about students' manners six years ago.

"I had this one class where students were sleeping, talking to each other and cheating ..." she says. "First, I whined to my colleagues, but then I said, 'You're teaching management, you need to manage this."'

She says her lessons extend beyond the classroom.

"It's better to learn it here than to show up for work late the first week and get fired," she says. "These are good students. There is just a lack of what's appropriate and what's professional. It's about developing some good habits."

Ah, well done Professor Kirk. May your tribe increase.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Gaul versus gall

One of my friends in the UK, Rosemary Williams, sent me an article (by snail mail) from the Guardian Observer entitled Julius Caesar Had Gaul; Bush Just Has Gall by Terry Jones. Well, I read it and was struck by the fact that it is - quite simply - very, very, very good snark all the way through. Fortunately it wasn't hard to find on line. Here's how it gets started:

In 59BC, Julius Caesar declared he was so shocked by the incursions of the dangerous Helvetii tribe into Gaul, and the suffering of the Gaulish peoples, that he had himself appointed 'protector of the Gauls'. By the time he'd finished protecting them, a million Gauls were dead, another million enslaved and Julius Caesar owned most of Gaul. Now I'm not suggesting there is any similarity between George W Bush's protection of the Iraqi people and Caesar's protection of the Gauls.

For a start, Julius Caesar, as we all know, was bald, whereas George W Bush has a fine head of hair.

The article goes on like that and just doesn't let up. Here's another sample:

When Julius Caesar claimed his glorious victory over the Helvetii, he made it sound as if he had destroyed a vast army of 'wild and savage men'. Julius Caesar reckoned he had slaughtered more than 250,000 'insurgents'. In fact, documents found in the remains of the Helvetii camp showed that out of 368,000 people, only 92,000 had been capable of bearing arms.

In other words, it wasn't an army that Julius Caesar massacred, but a whole population including women, children, old and sick, which, I suppose, is one thing that George W Bush and Julius Caesar do have in common: pretending civilians are armed insurgents.

But there the similarity ends. One of the most fundamental differences between Julius Caesar and George W Bush is that Julius Caesar counted his dead, whereas George W Bush can't be bothered.

You know, it really is very sickening. It makes me wonder how the man sleeps nights. But, from all apprearances, he sleeps just fine. I guess sleep is not a problem when you don't have a conscience.

We need labor unions

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I want to steer you toward an article entitled Organized Labor in Retreat: Why the World Needs Trade Unions Now More Than Ever. A lot of horror stories are outlined about the way workers are treated throughout the world. Then these observations are made:

Of the total 2.8-billion employed, half of Earth's toilers are wage-slaves earning less than $2 a day, 27-million are actual slaves, and 186-million more are jobless.

Globally, the race to the bottom is gathering momentum. U.S. corporations export jobs to Mexico to cash in on cheap labor. In no time at all, though, tens of thousands of Mexicans lose their jobs to Asians who will sweat for less.

Everywhere you look, the divide between "haves" and "have nots" widens. From 1980-88, the ratio of "Fortune 500" CEO to employee pay rose from 42 to one to 419 to one.

That ratio is obscene; pure and simple.

Of course, the "haves" are really hurting themselves in the long run. Their lack of vision is tragic:

[M]uch of management hasn't yet learned by increasing the wages of employees it not only increases corporate productivity but boost employee purchasing power. As workers spend their paychecks, they drive demand upwards. And profits.

Americans alarmed by illegal immigration haven't learned it's cheaper to export union organizers to Mexico to drive up wages than to build a new Great Wall along the southern border to keep out the desperate migrants who would stay home if only they could find a job that paid.

Without the spread of strong unions in an age of globalization you can forget about societal stability, decent living conditions, overcoming poverty and disease, and world peace. There won't be any.

I have belonged to three unions: The National Education Association, The American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Musicians. And, let me tell you, I paid my dues every year happily and with gratitude. I've also been on the receiving end of union busting activity and that was not fun. I know how ugly it can get.

We need strong unions. Otherwise, workers will be exploited and oppressed and utterly ground down - as they are where unions do not exist.

Go read the whole article. It will open your eyes.

Friday cat blogging!


Cats do love boxes, don't they? I got this box out with the plan of dumping the contents of my brief case in it and organizing all that stuff. But the cats had other ideas. Both of them just love that box! (That's Izzy, the big dog, curled up in the background, by the way.)

Sanity and insanity

Abba Anthony

One of the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers:

Abba Anthony said, "The time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane, they will attack that person saying: 'You are insane because you are not like us.' "

Just think about it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Oh this is so true

I found this quotation on a cool site called God-u-like:

The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

-- Attributed to Harlan Ellison

Happy Thanksgiving!

Practicing gratitude

This Thanksgiving Day, I want to steer you toward an essay simply called Gratitude by Zen master Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Here's a rather wonderful excerpt:

[Brother David Steindl-Rast] sent me an article he wrote about gratitude. In it he writes, “do you remember a time when you went outside at night and looked up at the stars, seeing them as if for the first time?" He quotes Eugene O’Neil: "For a moment I lost myself - actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the...high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life.. - to Life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way. For a second you see the secret - and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning!"

Brother David sees this sudden and immediate sense of belonging that you sometimes can feel, and that I think is fostered by our practice, as being the condition of gratitude. When we see ourselves as separate atomized individuals in a world full of other separate atomized individuals, we don’t feel grateful. Quite the contrary, we are complaining all the time because there is plenty to complain about. We have so many things we want and need, and whatever we actually get is never enough. No amount of love or possessions or gratification could ever fill the gap between us and the world. So we're looking for something, thirsting for something, always dissatisfied. In Buddhism they call this trishna, thirst. Like hungry ghosts we are thirsting endlessly for something that we never can get. We are deeply restless and dissatisfied.

But when we feel suddenly a rush of belonging like the one O’Neil describes- something that comes really for no reason, something that we haven't earned or created for ourselves, but it just arrives, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, perhaps when we are not expecting it at all, we naturally feel a profound existential gratitude. Brother David says, "Why do I call that wild joy of belonging 'gratefulness'? Because it is our full appreciation of something altogether undeserved, utterly gratuitous -- life, existence, ultimate belonging - and this is the literal meaning of grate-full-ness. In a moment of gratefulness, you do not discriminate. You fully accept the whole of this given universe, as you are fully one with the whole."

This beautiful belonging and gratefulness - this at-one-ness with the Universe - transcends politics. It is because of this gratefulness that we can be politically involved and active without losing our souls.

May you be happy. May you be well. May you be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


George Eliot

I found this on the Cynter of the Universe blog:

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?

~ George Eliot

Worth pondering in preparation for Thanksgiving, I think.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blogger troubles again

Hello, everyone.

I apologize for the lack of postings. Blogger has been down for the last 36 hours or so, I'm afraid, so I haven't been able to post.

I'll get caught up as soon as possible.

Bye for now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday prayer blogging

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.

- Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Bankruptcy looming

Frank Ford sent me the following:

Imagine that you are a stockholder in a major corporation. Imagine that your corporation hired a promising young CEO with a swagger, charisma, and a cute but compelling "all hat, no cattle" style. Your corporation handed him a healthy salary, out-of-this-world benefits, his own jet, and an eight year contract.

Things went fairly well for awhile. But then something changed. Your CEO began pursuing his own interests at the expense of your company. You had handed him a healthy market share and lots of capital when he took the helm. But now his spending is out of control and the corporation's debt load threatens to bankrupt the company.

And yet...there are still two years left on his contract. You and your fellow stockholders just hired a completely new board. You felt sure that they would address the obvious problem - surely they would. But they've come out publicly and stated that they have no intention of firing the CEO. "It's off the table," they tell you at the annual shareholders meeting.

Unless something is done, your stock in the company will become worthless soon. Your entire future is at stake. Even the future of you children is at risk. You stand to lose everything. What are you going to do?

© Timbre' Wolf, 2006

Well, my two objections to this piece are 1) the idea that The Chimp was ever "promising" and 2) the assertion that "things went fairly well for a while." No, I don't think so. For either one.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Our Leno

Here you go:

For the second week in a row, the number one movie, ‘Borat’ this week, bringing in more than $29 million. Actually, normally they would do this, but the producer of ‘Borat’ said there won't be a sequel 'cause it is too hard to fool people the second time around, as the Republicans found out last week.

-- Jay Leno

That swagger

Here's an interesting article that's published in Common Dreams. It's called "America’s Election: Daddy’s Swagger vs Mommy’s Care" and it offers a sensible analysis of the recent elections:

The world will long wonder what took the American people so long to realise that George W Bush, the swaggering, macho, faux rancher from Texas, was an incompetent and dangerous man who threatened the democratic foundations and moral credibility of the United States.

The answer, I believe, can be summed up in one word: fear.
As long as they thought they had a strong masculine president who would protect them, Americans seemed willing to give up all kinds of constitutional liberties and
rights. As long as they felt comforted by the illusion of safety, Americans also seemed willing to tolerate Bush's arrogant attitude toward the rest of the world.

But such hubris almost always ends in tragedy. Eventually, people began to notice that the emperor wore no clothes. When hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans, Bush's
incompetence and lack of compassion could no longer be hidden behind a strutting swagger. As people drowned, he dined. As people died, he ignored their plight. Widespread corruption and sexual scandals among conservative Republicans further undermined the illusion that Bush - the man who believed God wanted him to be president - had anyone righteous on his side.
As New York Times columnist
Maureen Dowd put it: "This will be known as the year macho politics failed - mainly because it was macho politics by marshmallow men. Voters were sick of phony swaggering, blustering and bellicosity, absent competency and accountability."

And so they turned to the Mommy party. Victories by
fifty Democratic women in the House of Representatives helped their party gain control of both houses of Congress and catapulted Nancy Pelosi, a feminist liberal from San Francisco, to assume leadership as the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, second in line to the presidency.

Let's just hope the people who are ruled by fear don't start valuing that swagger again. Personally, I don't see how anybody stomached it in the first place.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ethel - in memoriam

Ethel Finlay (? - November 15, 2006)

I am so grateful for the words of sympathy sent to me by so many about both Edgar and Ethel. I thank you from my heart.

Bush appointee

This is beyond outrageous. Words simply fail me. Take a look at this excerpt from a Washington Post article entitled "Bush Choice for Family-Planning Post Criticized":

The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women."

Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.
The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman's Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts

Can you believe it? A family planning chief who doesn't believe in birth control. That is breathtakingly crazy.

And senate confirmation is not required for this appointment.

I hope nobody thinks that just because the Democrats took control of the House and Senate that we can all rest easy. The Bush administration is obviously out to do just as much damage as humanly possible.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is pollution the answer?

I want to call your attention to a CNN article entitled Scientists: Pollution could combat global warming. Here's part of what it says:

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.

Reaction to the proposal here at the annual U.N. conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such "massive and drastic" operations, as the chief U.N. climatologist describes them.

The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first made the proposal is himself "not enthusiastic about it."

"It was meant to startle the policymakers," said Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this."

Serious people are taking Crutzen's idea seriously. This weekend at Moffett Field, California, NASA's Ames Research Center hosts a closed-door, high-level workshop on the global haze proposal and other "geoengineering" ideas for fending off climate change.
The Dutch climatologist, awarded a 1995 Nobel in chemistry for his work uncovering the threat to Earth's atmospheric ozone layer, suggested that balloons bearing heavy guns be used to carry sulfates high aloft and fire them into the stratosphere.

I don't know whether to be horrified or hopeful. It is certainly an intriguing idea. If it will work then we might be spared the absolute disaster that is sure to befall us if nothing is done.

This time it's Ethel

Ethel Finlay (? - November 15, 2006)

It is with great sadness that I tell you that Ethel was hit by a car last night and died almost instantly.

She had been depressed with the loss of Edgar and was not eating. I can only surmise that she was not at her best and therefore momentarily lost her usual street smarts.

I'm still in a state of shock. It's hard to believe that I lost them both in the span of six days.

But I'm glad they are together now. Somehow I can't imagine Ethel being happy without Edgar. Now she has joined him.

Even though she would rarely let me touch her, I loved her very much.

Good-bye, dear Ethel. May you rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sauce for the goose and all that

This posting is about that sorry excuse for a news organization, Fox News. I should rather call them Fox Propaganda Machine. I'm linking you to an article entitled "Will John Moody be Forced Out of Fox Like Dan Rather from CBS?" The answer, obviously is "no". But check out the reason the question was asked:

Four producers for Dan Rather were fired when they did not double check documents they used in a "60 Minutes II" piece about Bush's service in the National Guard. Eventually, Rather was moved out of the anchor desk and pushed out of CBS entirely. Most of this was based on the perception that they were slanting a story.

The independent panel selected to investigate the National Guard story said they
found no evidence of a political agenda against Bush, but that the documents should have been more thoroughly vetted.

Now, we have an instance of Fox News Channel clearly and indisputably slanting their whole lineup of news against the Democratic Party
in an internal memo sent by the Vice President of News, John Moody. Instead of covering the Republican losses in the elections, they choose to focus on, and in some cases invent, stories of how insurgents might be emboldened by the Democratic victory. They push the story line of Democratic infighting on a day that had bitter Republican finger pointing on who was responsible for their momentous losses. And they call a Democratic legislator a "political hack."

Now imagine if the Vice President of News of any of the networks had called an elected Republican a political hack? What do you think the reaction would be by conservatives? Is there anyone who would make the argument that they wouldn't ask the person be fired immediately? Why should Fox "News" Channel be held to a different standard?

Ha! Because they don't even pretend to be objective, that's why.

Jesus dolls rejected by Marines

Talking Jesus doll

This is simply unbelievable. The fact that these dolls were donated to the Marines in the first place, I mean. The article I'm linking you to is by CNN and it's entitled "Toys for Tots rejects talking Jesus dolls" . Take a look:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A talking Jesus doll has been turned down by the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program.

A Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the 1-foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season.

The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on biblical figures.

But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.

Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Virginia.

As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."

Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."

And why? Would LaRoe like his children to receive a talking Krishna doll that recited parts of the Bagahvad Gita? I can't believe that this story is even news. It should go without saying.

I stumbled upon a right wing blog yesterday that reported on this story and that writer asserted that "the Marines hate Jesus." Good grief. NO THEY DON'T. I'm sick of right wing Christians acting persecuted when they're not given special favor.

UPDATE: I found that right wing blog. The actual quote is "Democrats take over and now even the Marines hate Jesus." You can see for yourself right here.

UPDATE 2: It seems I owe the writer of the blog I mentioned above an apology. He was speaking tongue in cheek when he said that Marines hate Jesus. I do so apologize and I have said so on his blog to make sure he receives my apology. Perhaps I can be forgiven for the mistake, however. His remark was only ironic because so many members of the religious right do, indeed, say that kind of thing and we see from the CNN article in question that the manufacturer of the dolls just doesn't get why they are inappropriate for the Toys for Tots program.

UPDATE 3: It seems the Toys for Tots program has found an appropriate use for the dolls after all. Here's what their website says:
The Talking Jesus doll issue has been resolved. Toys for Tots has found appropriate places for these items. We have notified the donor of our willingness to handle this transaction.

I would certainly like to know the details. That information has not yet been published.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Time for Leno

For the life of me I don't understand how pro-military types support a man who first was a draft-dodger and then went AWOL from his cushy Air National Guard service:

Next week, President Bush is going to Vietnam. So it looks like he's finally going to finish up that National Guard duty.

--Jay Leno

Snark, snark.

Gay marriage in South Africa

Well, here's part of an AP article entitled, "S. Africa parliament OKs gay marriages":

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The South African parliament on Tuesday approved new legislation recognizing gay marriages — a first for a continent where homosexuality is largely taboo.
The bill provides for the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union." It does not specify whether they are heterosexual or homosexual partnerships.
"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly.

As John Aravosis noted on AMERICAblog, we are now behind South Africa in terms of civil and human rights. Sad.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My problem with bi-partisanship

Really good news

The Independent has published an article entitled Democrats Purge Climate-Change Skeptics. Here's the main information:

This week's seizure of both houses of Congress by the Democrats means that two key Republican opponents of action to confront climate change - Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Richard Pombo of California - will lose their positions as the chairmen of Congress's two environmental committees.

Mr Pombo, who lost his bid for re-election, will leave the House altogether. Mr Inhofe, who once said the threat of global warming was, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people", will probably be replaced by the California Democrat Barbara Boxer. She has promised to curb carbon emissions and strengthen environmental protection legislation.

"I think this represents a huge shift in the political dynamic of environmental politics," said Karen Wayland, legislative director of the National Resources Defence Council, a environmental group in Washington.

It is a personal embarassment to me to be living in the same state as Inhofe. I am SO happy to see him lose his position on the environmental committee. I hope Barbara Boxer hangs tough.

Hopeful next steps

The Los Angeles Times has published an article entitled Democrats Are Set to Subpoena. Here's part of what it says:

It has been 12 years since Democrats were in control of both the House and Senate. But they are looking to make up for lost time, and in some cases, make the Bush administration and its business allies sweat.

With control of every committee in Congress starting in January, the new majority will inherit broad powers to subpoena and investigate. And that is expected to translate into wide-ranging and contentious hearings.

The agenda is likely to be dominated by the Iraq war, but could include probes into the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance, environmental policies and new prescription-drug program for seniors. Industries, such as oil companies, could also come under closer scrutiny.

Of course, the main thing they need to do is impeach the president but Nancy Pelosi says that's off the table. Pity.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Shrine for Edgar

Well, I've started a little shrine for Edgar. The little stone sleeping cat was given to me just yesterday as a memorial for such a fine, fine kitty. I will be adding some flowers and a photograph soon.

New blog of interest

I found a new blog yesterday that's called Markham's Behavioral Health. While browsing through the archives, I came across the following:

One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering. Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not - that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation. Indeed, religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are highly immoral - that is, when pressing these concerns inflicts unnecessary and appalling suffering on innocent human beings. This explains why Christians like yourself expend more 'moral' energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide. It explains why you are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research, And it explains why you can preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year.

-- Sam Harris, Letter To A Christian Nation

The blog is an interesting combination of postings on mental health, public health, social work, education, politics and spirituality. I recommend that you take a look.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day awareness

An article called We Failed Our Children, with War ends with the following paragraph:

On Veterans Day we usually remember the past, honoring the service and sacrifice of those who served. But in the midst of this war, a better way of honoring our veterans, old and new, is to act in the present and apply the lessons we learned so painfully a generation ago. Let's start with an apology to the Iraq war generation. We failed you, and we are sorry. Our job now is to get you home.

Each day, more die. Let us hope that the Democrats will act quickly to get our sons and daughters home.

Sheehan sizzles

Cindy Sheehan

Wow. Cindy Sheehan has written another letter to George Bush that is so scorching you have to handle it with forceps. Take a look:

Americans (you remember us, don't you?), turned out in huge numbers the other day to hold you accountable. You had yourself another accountability moment there, and you lost, didn't you? We Americans did not vote to retain the Republican status quo of murder, mayhem, and oppression. We voted to change politics as usual in this country. We voted against you and your wars of terror. We voted against you and your spies. We voted against you and your torturers. We voted against you and your definition of freedom as something that can be spread by bombing a country into oblivion. We voted against you and your definition of peace as something that can be spread by violence. We voted against you and your definition of security while your state sanctioned terrorism is creating more terrorists. We voted against you and your most atrocious and abominable exploitation of the right to life to continue your genocidal policies in Iraq.

We the people have a mandate for change. If you think that we are going to squander our mandate and permit you to slide away into obscurity in Crawford, as a footnote as the worst president in US history, to lick your wounded pride and count your stacks of ill-gotten gains, you are wrong. You are not escaping punishment as other war criminal presidents have in our past. No matter if you and Rep. Pelosi become best buddies and take tea regularly in the oval office, we the people with our mandate are not going to allow you to get off scott-free.

Just go read the rest of it. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rest in peace

Edgar Finlay (? - November 9, 2006)

Ethel and Edgar

Dear friends, it is my sad duty to tell you that Edgar had to be put down last night. The circumstances are too complicated and painful for me to go into right now but be aware that he was FIV positive (feline AIDS) and that that was part of it.

He had a very beautiful death. He purred right up to the end when he died with his old head on the arm I was cradling him with. Needless to say, I am heartbroken.

Ethel will miss her life partner. Now she is all alone. Unlike Edgar, who was a real love muffin, Ethel is still quite wild and will rarely let me touch her - and then only for a second or two. I have tried to invite her in but she won't come. Perhaps when it gets cold and Edgar is not there for her to snuggle with, I will be able to coax her inside. We shall see.

I'm having Edgar cremated. Perhaps I will bury his ashes in the yard where he was so happy. Perhaps I'll come up with another plan. I'm not sure yet.

Do remember me in my grief and say a prayer or spare a thought for Edgar as he makes the great transition.

He was a good, good kitty.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Something I just HAD to show you!

More Leno

The homophobes among them must really hate this part:

The GOP was concerned about Republican turnout. And in fact, between the Congressmen and the preachers, this will be the first year more Republicans came out than turned out.

- Jay Leno

The broken health care system

Slate has an article up right now called Time To Socialize Medicine: How Democrats can make themselves useful. Here's how it ends:

It's a given that the government will be forced to take over health care. Just about every doctor I've ever questioned on the subject has said so, even though one consequence may be that doctors will lose income by becoming salaried employees rather than fee-for-service entrepreneurs (a system widely agreed to have increased the number of unnecessary and sometimes dangerous medical procedures). Will the cost be prohibitive? Obviously if more people have access to medical care, that will push costs up. At the same time, though, eliminating the ever-more-elaborate financial game-playing between insurers, doctors, and patients would save an enormous amount of money, and so would eliminating costly medical care required when a patient has failed to receive preventive care, which is comparatively inexpensive. Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration all have their faults, but they all manage to deliver health care more cheaply than private insurance, and the VA, which actually employs doctors and owns hospitals, is widely understood by experts to provide better care than private hospitals do. Krugman and Wells note that when Taiwan switched to a single-payer system in 1995, overall health-care costs went down:

"[T]he percentage of the population with health insurance soared from 57 percent to 97 percent, yet health care costs actually grew more slowly than one would have predicted from trends before the change in system."

The practicalities of politics may shun putting socialized medicine at the center of the Democratic agenda. But the practicalities of life demand it and will soon reverse the political calculus. People are dying, and corporations are
going broke.

Let's get started.

The point was also made that hospitals are severely overloaded with the burden of treating the uninsured. We've simply got to do something. I hope the Democrats are paying attention.

And the Senate, too!

Jim Webb of Virginia

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Madam Speaker

Nancy Pelosi

Two heartbeats away from the Presidency.

Here's her website.

The world reacts

CNN has an article on line that reports on the world's reaction to our election results:

Regardless of the effect on world events, global giddiness that Bush was finally handed a political black-eye was almost palpable throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In an extraordinary joint statement, more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament hailed the American election results as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world" and gloated that they left the Bush administration "seriously weakened."
One Frenchman, teacher Jean-Pierre Charpemtrat, 53, said it was about time U.S. voters figured out what much of the rest of the world already knew.

"Americans are realizing that you can't found the politics of a country on patriotic passion and reflexes," he said. "You can't fool everybody all the time -- and I think that's what Bush and his administration are learning today."

I hope they are learning it. But I doubt it. I think it's likely that the only thing they've learned is that they did not play dirty enough. This crew is not self-reflective enough to learn anything edifying from losing.

Now about the Senate...

Here's a little excerpt from an article called Jim Webb and Jon Tester are the Winners:

Jim Webb and Jon Tester have won the initial count in Virginia and Montana. It is clear and indisputable that they deserve the same presumption of victory that George W. Bush received in 2000. They are the winners until conclusively proven otherwise by every method of counting and court review possible.

We have winners in Virginia and Montana. The question is whether George Allen and Conrad Burns can petition the courts and the electoral process within their states to change those outcomes.

As it stands, the Webb and Tester leads are conclusive. They will not be over taken in the regular count. The vote count shows that they have been elected as the new senators from their states.

Of course, Allen and Burns can spare their states the grief and the hassle of a recount (I believe these were the kind of words used against Gore in 2000, and I haven't even gotten to constitutional crisis), if they gracefully accept the will of the people.

Unlikely, of course. The Republicans are both sore winners and sore losers.

Also, Webb should have won by a larger margin in Virginia. There was major voter suppression by Republicans going on there. You'd think Allen would prefer not to have the scrutiny of a recount. However, he'll undoubtedly try to cheat on that too.

Here's the official statment of the DSCC:

Both Jon Tester and Jim Webb have won their races in Montana and Virginia but want to make sure that every vote is counted. We expect to have official results soon but can happily declare today that Democrats have taken the majority in the U.S. Senate.

Ah! Music to my ears.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Evil and ignorance

Something to ponder as we await the election results:

The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. There can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.

~ Albert Camus

The politics of hope

Something inspiring for right now:

Hope is not for wimps; it is for the strong-hearted who can recognize how bad things are and yet not be deterred, not be paralyzed.

-- Frances Moore Lappé

Another good one from Leno

I wouldn't be surprised if this were not a joke:

President Bush said today that both Cheney and Rumsfeld will remain with him for the rest of his second term. You know what that means -- whatever they got on the President, it must be good.

- Jay Leno

Those fraudulent "robo-calls"

I wrote to you yesterday about how Republicans are making annoying robo-calls pretending to be Democrats and calling people all night long with the objective of pissing off voters so they don't vote for the Democrats. Well, it gets worse. Look at what John Aravosis of AMERICAblog says:

Now [in Nebraska] the Republicans are actually using Democrat Scott Kleeb's voice and calling people several times an hour in order to harass them, and tick them off against Kleeb. This has been happening across the country simultaneously. It's been happening in states where the Republican party hired a specific company that makes these kind of calls. This is a coordinated nationwide effort by the Republican party to suppress voting through fraud.

They are also calling Democrats and telling them that their polling place has changed. They have sent out flyers to poor neighborhoods saying "Skip This Election" and voters have called election boards asking if the election has been cancelled. They have worked to purge voter lists of likely Democratic voters. There is no low to which these slimy people will not sink, I'm afraid.

It could happen to you

Don't think the Military Commissions Act applies only to non-citizens. "Any person" means any person. Read this:

Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States ... shall be punished as a military commission … may direct.

-- from the Military Commissions Act of 2006

Who has allegiance or duty to the United States but American citizens? And what does "aid" mean? Is criticizing the president aiding an enemy? Members of the administration have publicly said so.

Creating reality

I want to share with you what I believe we face if the Republicans win this election. This is an excerpt from an article entitled "America's Slide to Totalitarianism":

If some last-minute polling trends showing a powerful Republican comeback carry through the Nov. 7 elections, the end of America as we have known it for more than two centuries will be at hand.

In a political version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” the country might look the same – people driving their SUVs to the mall or eating at fast-food restaurants – but it will have internally changed. Election 2006 will have been the ratification of George W. Bush’s grim vision of endless war abroad and the end of a constitutional Republic at home.

Though not understanding the full import of their actions, the American voters will have endorsed the elimination of the “unalienable” rights handed down to them by the Founders, instead allowing “plenary” – or unlimited – power to be invested in the President. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights will have been turned into irrelevant pieces of paper.

Bush will have the authority to send American young men and women to war wherever he chooses; he will have the power to spy on anyone he wants; he could imprison citizens and non-citizens alike under the Military Commissions Act while denying the detainees the right to file motions with civilian courts; he could order harsh interrogations which could then be used to convict defendants (assuming they are ever brought before one of his hand-picked tribunals for trial, conviction and execution); he could ignore or reinterpret any laws that he doesn’t like; he would have rubber-stamps in Congress and very soon in the U.S. Supreme Court; he and his potential successors would be, in effect, dictators.
Indeed, one reason this new America has the look of incipient totalitarianism is that the Right has created such a powerful media apparatus that it can virtually create its own reality. Most often, the cowed mainstream media tags along, as happened with the media frenzy over Kerry’s misinterpreted joke.

Assuming the Republican comeback trends continue through Election Day – and the GOP holds both houses of Congress – it will be hard to imagine how this right-wing juggernaut will ever be stopped.

Robert Parry, the author of this article, is a mainstream journalist with an impressive history. Would you ever in the recent past have imagined a mainstream journalist talking about American totalitarianism and dictatorship? Dear God, what have we come to?

I'm experiencing a deep sense of dread this election day. I hope I'm wrong. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The most important vote

Gore Vidal

This is the most important vote that you’ll probably ever cast. Because should this gang of thugs continue in the two houses of Congress, there isn’t any chance of getting the Constitution back....

-- Gore Vidal

(Hat tip to Frank Ford.)

The dirtiest of dirty tricks

Maybe by now you've heard what the Republicans are up to. It's beyond despicable. Take a look:

In various key states and districts, Republicans have initiated this dirty "robocalling" trick. Here, based on preliminary reporting coming in -- and Josh Marshall's website ( is right on it -- is how it works:

On an automatic-redial system, registered Democrats are called again and again and again and again, at any time during the day or night, to hear what appears to be a message from the Democratic Party in support of the local Democratic Senate or House candidate. The object is to harass and annoy the hell out of these voters, to the point that they'll take out their anger on the Democratic candidate by not voting for him or her, or maybe deciding not to vote in the election at all.

In other words, yet another version of voter suppression in tight races, reminiscent of what Republican operatives (with ties to the White House) were convincted of in New Hampshire last year. In that case, involving the 2002 Senate election, the Republicans automatic-redialed the Democratic Party headquarters' phone lines in the final days before the election so that the Dems' get-out-the-vote campaign was totally jammed and rendered useless. The GOP candidate won the election. (Check out the story at
here. )

The point here is that these 2006 "robocalling" attacks aimed at Democrats are happening at the last minute, and many Democrats may believe them to be real and get thoroughly pissed off at the Democratic candidates and decide to not vote for them or to stay home and not vote at all.

How is it possible that this is not against the law? Perhaps it is and the Republicans don't care. All they care about is winning the election. Then they can worry about their legal troubles later.

The above excerpt is from an article by Bernard Weiner entitled "URGENT! URGENT! Karl Rove's Last-Minute 'Robocalling' Tactic to Steal the Election".

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Responding with love, not hate

Etty Hillesum

I went through a period in my life in which I collected concentration camp stories. I was trying to tap into what makes a person courageous in the extremes of life. Lately, I've come to think that it's time to review those stories now that Bush is able to hold us without trial. Here's something from Etty Hillesum whom I've admired for a long time and who died at Auschwitz:

By suffering I learn. I learn to accept that we have to share our love with the whole of creation, with the entire kosmos. But this love also gives us access to the kosmos ourselves. But the admission ticket is costly and hard to get. Only with blood and tears can one save enough to afford one.

It takes great courage to move from suffering to love rather than to hatred. We have much to learn from Hillesum.

Here's something else she said:

Even if there is only one decent German, they would deserve to be protected from the barbarian rabble and for that one German's sake one should not pour out one's hatred for the entire people.

You might like to investigate her diary: An Interrupted Life

The Saddam verdict and sentence

Well, there's no way you can convince me that the timing was coincidental. The Bush administration manipulated that nicely so as to come right before the elections.

I want to share with you a few comments I found on AMERICAblog that I think are worth thinking about. Here's one by Anonymous:

They can hang Saddam for all I care but they should have had a REAL war crimes trial at the Hague, where people could have heard what Saddam had to say about the U.S. involvement in putting him in power.

They want him dead because he knows too much.

And one in reply:

Anonymous, most of the world knows that this was a kangaroo court and show trial. No matter how much they try to cover up America's involvement with Hussein, documentary evidence exists. Stronger than that, photographic evidence exists.

And still another:

Ok. He was found guilty of murder with weapons we sold him or gave him, he was the rightful ruler of a country we invaded. Anyone find this a bit odd? If they kill him it will bring Iraq into a new era of violence like we haven't seen before. We destroyed a country and killed thousands of people. For what?

And finally one with which I particularly agree:

Still against the death penalty, even for war criminals....

If killing people is wrong, then we shouldn't kill people, even killers.

I really agree that the trial should have been held at the Hague. But we manipulated that one too.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard update

Well, he's been ousted. CNN has just now published an article entitled "Church forces out Haggard for 'sexually immoral conduct'". Here's part of what it says:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- The Rev. Ted Haggard agreed Saturday to resign as leader of the New Life Church after its independent investigative board said he was guilty of "sexually immoral conduct."
"We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard," a statement from the church said.

"Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."

Haggard, 50, and his wife were informed of the decision, the statement said, and "they have agreed as well that he should be dismissed."

The church's statement said the investigation would continue to determine the extent of Haggard's misconduct.

President Bush, of course, has already been distancing himself from Haggard. Surprise, surprise.

But check out this paragraph from an article in Harper's Magazine:

Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday, is a handsome forty-eight-year-old Indianan, most comfortable in denim. He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy. In addition to New Life, Pastor Ted presides over the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), whose 45,000 churches and 30 million believers make up the nation's most powerful religious lobbying group, and also over a smaller network of his own creation, the Association of Life-Giving Churches, 300 or so congregations modeled on New Life's “free market” approach to the divine.

Pastor Ted will serve as NAE president for as long as the movement is pleased with him...

I guess the movement isn't pleased with him now.

Joy in the Episcopal Church

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Bishop Jefferts Schori

I have spent the last two hours watching the live webcast of the Investiture of the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. Needless to say, this ocassion has brought me much joy.

I want to give you an excerpt of the sermon she delivered during that service:

That vision of homegoing and homecoming that underlies our deepest spiritual yearnings is also the job assignment each one of us gets in baptism - go home, and while you're at it, help to build a home for everyone else on earth. For none of us can truly find our rest in God until all of our brothers and sisters have also been welcomed home like the prodigal.

There's a wonderful Hebrew word for that vision and work - shalom. It doesn't just mean the sort of peace that comes when we're no longer at war. It's that rich and multihued vision of a world where no one goes hungry because everyone is invited to a seat at the groaning board, it's a vision of a world where no one is sick or in prison because all sorts of disease have been healed, it's a vision of a world where every human being has the capacity to use every good gift that God has given, it is a vision of a world where no one enjoys abundance at the expense of another, it's a vision of a world where all enjoy Sabbath rest in the conscious presence of God. Shalom means that all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation. It is that vision of the lion lying down with the lamb and the small child playing over the den of the adder, where the specter of death no longer holds sway. It is that vision to which Jesus points when he says, "today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." To say "shalom" is to know our own place and to invite and affirm the place of all of the rest of creation, once more at home in God.

You and I have been invited into that ministry of global peace-making that makes a place andaffirms a welcome for all of God's creatures. But more than welcome, that ministry invites all to feast until they are filled with God's abundance. God has spoken that dream in ourhearts - through the prophets, through the patriarchs and the mystics, in human flesh in Jesus, and in each one of us at baptism. All are welcome, all are fed, all are satisfied, all are healed of the wounds and lessenings that are part of the not-yet-ness of creation.

That homecoming of shalom is both destination and journey. We cannot embark on the journey without some vision of where we are going, even though we may not reach it this side of the grave. We are really charged with seeing everyplace and all places as home, and living in away that makes that true for every other creature on the planet. None of us can be fully at home, at rest, enjoying shalom, unless all the world is as well. Shalom is the fruit of living that dream.

She speaks of a vision of radical welcome, radical inclusion. May it be so!

Shalom to you all.


UPDATE: There's a CNN article up about the event that you can find right here.

UPDATE 2: Here's another article from Episcopal News Service that describes the service more thoroughly. I was struck by a quotation that was printed in the service booklet that everyone had. It is by Hélder Pessoa Câmara, the retired Roman Catholic archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Brazil:

The bishop belongs to all. Let no one be scandalized if I frequent those who are considered unworthy or sinful. Who is not a sinner? Let no one be alarmed if I am seen with compromised and dangerous people, on the left or the right. Let no one bind me to a group. My door, my heart, must be open to everyone, absolutely everyone.

It is very heartening that Bp Katharine chose that quotation. She is sending the strong message that she will not be pigeon-holed or co-opted. Good on her.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What does God care about?

I found these two quotes in the comment section of Father Jake Stops the World. The first one is by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1964 - 1973 and one of my personal heroes:

Gracious God, when we would make much of that which cannot matter much to thee, forgive us.

-- John Elbridge Hines

The second is by the founder of the Jesus Seminar:

Love your enemies is probably the most radical thing Jesus ever said, unless of course, one considers the parable of the Samaritan. There the admonition is to let your enemies love you.

-- Robert T. Funk

These express a truly different religious outlook from that of the evangelicals and fundamentalists - a religion of inclusion and bridges rather than a religion of exclusion and separation.

Leno at his best

I'm proud of Leno here:

President Bush demanded that Kerry apologize. Can you imagine that -- Bush demanding an apology for someone stumbling over his words? ... Kerry should have tried the Bush strategy: say so many stupid things, no one cares anymore.

--Jay Leno

Kerry's joke

I found this on All Hat No Cattle:

Hi Lisa,

Is it just me, or did other people also notice that John Kerry's remark got a much faster response than Hurricane Katrina?


Apt observation, Anthony. Yes, indeed.


Okay, folks. It's not the sex, it's the hypocrisy. Take a look at CNN's latest:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- The Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned as one of the nation's top evangelical leaders, admitted Friday he had contacted male prostitute Mike Jones for a massage and bought drugs from him.

Haggard said he never had sex with Jones and never used the methamphetamine drug he bought.

He was one of a group of religious leaders who regularly participated in conference calls with White House aides.

Haggard told reporters earlier this week that he did not know Jones, who claims to have had a three-year sex-for-money relationship with the pastor.

Haggard, 50, resigned Thursday as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals -- a group representing more than 45,000 churches and 30 million people -- and he also stepped down temporarily from leadership at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

All right. Here's what we know for sure: Haggard lied, he bought drugs and he solicited a gay hooker "for a massage". And that's just the part he's admitted.

Bill Maher said that the next Republican Convention ought to be held in a closet. Heh.

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Ellie Finlay

I got rhythm,
I got music,
I got my cats --
Who could ask for anything more?

I got kitties
On my comfy couch,
I got my cats --
Who could ask for anything more?

I got my blog
On my own web page,
I got my cats --
Who could ask for anything more?

-- Lyrics found on Eschaton