Thursday, May 31, 2007


Paul Rogers sent me the following quotes about war:

"I have known war as few men now living know it. It's very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes."
--Douglas MacArthur

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind."
-- John F. Kennedy

"People don't start wars, governments do."
-- Ronald Reagan

"All war represents a failure of diplomacy."
-- Tony Benn

"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."
--Thomas Mann

"After each war there is a little less democracy to save."
--Brooks Atkinson

"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world."
-- Robert E. Lee

"War is what happens when language fails."
-- Margaret Atwood

"To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman."
-- George Santayana

CBS Silences General Dissent

You're probably tired of hearing me say that I no longer watch television news. Here's one more reason. Check out the article by Amy Goodman entitled "CBS Silences General Dissent". Here's part of what it says:

Listening to retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, you sense his intense loyalty to the military. He commanded the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, capping a 31-year Army career. So why did CBS News fire him as a paid news consultant? A straight answer from CBS seems as elusive as those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The short answer: Batiste appeared in a television advertisement sponsored by, a nonpartisan group that advocates for veterans. In the 30-second spot, he said, in part: “Mr. President, you did not listen. You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps. I left the Army in protest in order to speak out. Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril.”

Batiste is one of the six retired generals who called for the resignation of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the spring of 2006. Of those generals, he alone both served at a high level in the Pentagon and commanded 22,000 troops in Iraq. Despite a promised promotion to three-star general, which would have made him the second-highest-ranking officer in Iraq, Batiste made the difficult decision to retire and speak out.
CBS News has reached a new low when it censors even a pro-war Republican retired general merely for criticizing the president. The power that the broadcasters have amassed, their craven servility to the Bush administration and its failed wars, and their refusal to offer airtime to dissenters all amount to a direct threat to our democracy, a far greater threat than Saddam’s imagined WMDs.

To say that the president has placed our nation in peril is very strong. It's also true. Shame on CBS for punishing General Batiste for saying so.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A reply to Sheehan and Bacevich

Yesterday I told you about the anguish of both Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich, both of whom have lost sons in the Iraq war. Here is an article by Michael Richardson in reply which is entitled Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich did not fail their sons. Mr. Richardson gave his permission to reprint the entire article:

This Memorial Day weekend brought heartfelt statements of failure from two grieving parents whose sons died in Iraq. While the politicians were posturing and pandering these two parents, Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bacevich, told us of their pain and frustration with an eloquence born of tears and sorrow.

Both spoke of their sons' courage, dedication and sacrifice. Casey and Andy will no longer sit at the family table but they will never be far from the thoughts of Cindy and Andrew and others that loved them.

Both parents closed their essays with painful declarations of failure.

But Cindy and Andrew did not fail. The American public failed. Cindy and Andrew led, we did not follow. They spoke, we did not listen. To be sure, there are voices calling for an end to the war that started with a lie. But the war goes on. The death count climbs in a macabre self-fulfilling prophesy where violence begets more violence.

Both Cindy and Andrew talked of the shared responsibility for the carnage by the Republican and Democrat parties. They understand that corporations and great wealth fuel the war. They bemoan America's pop culture and self-indulgence blinding us to the realities of our actions…and inaction.

The war machine races on robbing our treasury, numbing our conscience, and killing innocents. We have made a dictator's palaces our own and renamed an imperial sanctum the Green Zone. We fight in the streets, bomb urban neighborhoods, and terrify the people we claim to protect. We fight a war we don't understand and spawn suicide bombers. Kidnappings, torture and murder now are part of everyday life in Iraq after we destroyed the infrastructure of a nation.

When George Bush was appointed President, after being defeated by a half-million votes, the die was cast. The President campaigned that he wouldn't engage in "nation-building" and sounded like an isolationist. Instead, Bush is an expansionist and is trying to make Iraq a safe place for American business.

The war in Iraq is a devil's brew of religious strife we don't understand, a class struggle where we are on the side of wealth, and a political quagmire. It is not a war on terror, it is a terrifying war.

Now two grieving parents who have both lost their sons have announced failure. To be sure, the war goes on, but Cindy and Andrew are not to blame. They have spoken when others were silent. They have acted while others watched.

The Republican and Democrat parties, and the corporations that control the two parties, remain in charge. The elite still decide the fate of those caught in the awful carnage of war. Cindy and Andrew alone could never hope to stop the war machine so the failure is not theirs. It is our failure, it belongs to each of us. In America, the people are responsible for the government. The war in Iraq is our collective fault and moral responsibility to end.

Cindy and Andrew, you are entitled to your grief but your self-blame is misplaced. You have not failed your sons. You have been our conscience and spoken the truth.

I hope these two courageous parents read this article and are strengthened and consoled by it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A retired colonel who opposes the war

I want to share with you something that was written by Dr. Andrew J. Bacevich and I want to tell you about him before I give you excerpts from his article. Dr. Bacevich teaches history and international relations at Boston University. He is the former director of its Center for International Relations (from 1998 to 2005), and author of several books, including American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of US Diplomacy (2002) and The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War (2005).

Wikipedia says the following:

Bacevich graduated from West Point in 1969 and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, serving in Vietnam from the summer of 1970 to the summer of 1971. Afterwards he held posts in Germany, the United States, and the Persian Gulf up to his retirement from the service with the rank of Colonel in the early 1990s. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998.

Now read the following excerpts from his article entitled "I lost my son to a conflict I oppose. We were both doing our duty":

Parents who lose children, whether through accident or illness, inevitably wonder what they could have done to prevent their loss. When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death.

Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.

This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops - today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty.

What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way?

Among the many ways to answer that question, mine was this one:

As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen.

Please read the rest of the article to see just how Dr. Bacevich went about being a good citizen. Pay close attention to this passage toward the end:

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.

Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation's call to "global leadership." It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech into little more than a means of recording dissent.

This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works.

This is unutterably sad. Pray for an end to this unspeakably horrible war.

Temple of Understanding

I have just discovered the Temple of Understanding and I want to share a couple of quotes by its founder:

It all began on a day in 1960, sitting in the kitchen of my Greenwich home with a friend, snacking on peanut butter sandwiches, talking about what a mess the world was in, with the spectre of nuclear Armageddon not a remote possibility, when as if out of nowhere, a light turned on in my mind and I excitedly saw an antidote -- an ongoing forum where dialogue and understanding could be promoted by bringing all the world's religions together under one roof.
There is so much work yet to be done. It is so clear to me that all we have to do is awaken to the fact that we are all ONE, or as my friend Father Thomas Merton has so rightly said, 'We are already ONE . . . what we have to become is what we already are.' It seems so simple, doesn't it? Yet so much more work to do. So much more work.'

-- Juliet Hollister

"What we have to become is what we already are." Oh my. If only we were, as a world community, able to accept that and put it into practice.

Cindy Sheehan gives up

Oh, this is so sad. Take a look at the CNN article entitled "Anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan gives up her protest":

(CNN) -- Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared Monday she was walking away from the peace movement.

She said her son died "for nothing."

Sheehan achieved national attention when she camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, throughout August 2005 to demand a meeting with the president over her son's death.

While Bush ignored her, the vigil made her one of the most prominent figures among opponents of the war.

But in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.

She wrote that she is disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

This is pure burn-out. I do wish she had had a meditative practice that would have supported and refreshed her in her peace witness.

She will be greatly missed.

UPDATE: I thought it would be good to give you a link to Cindy Sheehan's statement about her decision. How I wish she had received more support and also taken better care of herself.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Another way

More words to ponder:

We must inoculate our children against militarism, by educating them in the spirit of pacifism... Our schoolbooks glorify war and conceal its horrors. They indoctrinate children with hatred. I would teach peace rather than war, love rather than hate.

-- Albert Einstein

Whitman on war

Walt Whitman

This bears pondering:

I was in the midst of it all - saw war where war is worst - not on the battlefields, no - in the hospitals … there I mixed with it: and now I say God damn the wars - all wars: God damn every war: God damn 'em! God damn 'em!

-- Walt Whitman

Memorial Day and Veterans Day

Please go read the article by Stephen Lendman entitled "Memorial and Veterans Day Hypocrisy". Here's part of what it says:

Both holidays wouldn’t be needed in a nation dedicated to peace, but one committed to perpetual war for an unattainable peace dishonors its youth in life and disingenuously honors those who died in imperial wars for conquest and plunder. Nations waging wars only guarantee more of them in an endless cycle of violence, militarism, brutality and shameless inhumanity for those made to suffer and die in combat theaters - so the privileged who get to stay home can profit from them.

People don’t want wars but can always be made to support and fight in them using the proved method of choice that always works - fear based on shameless lies and deception by governments with hidden motives unrevealed because who would go along with them if they did. Only by deceitfully scaring people enough to believe the nation’s security is threatened will they support foreign wars and fight in them thinking they must. When traumatized enough, those wanting peace can be convinced to go along with the most outlandish schemes planned that if ever explained would be condemned and never supported.
These two federal holidays warrant special condemnation. They represent a galling legacy of endless wars and false patriotic glorification of them including the so-called “good” one there was nothing good about as Ben Franklin knew and once said “There was never a good war or a bad peace.” Choosing days to honor the dead who sacrificed everything is a sacrilege and failure to note they died in vain on the altar of power and privilege for the few. Their deaths assure an unending cycle of violence and killing with legions of nameless, faceless grave sites ahead only to be known by those who’ll experience unconscionable loss.

These commemorative days stand above other federal holidays as symbols of this nation’s depravity and ultimate crime against humanity and wasted lives it’s taken.

When are we going to have a Peace Day? If we are to survive as a species, that is what we need.

UPDATE: Actually, it turns out there is a Peace Day. Funny. I'd never heard about it. But on an impulse I googled it and there it was. Do click through and read all about it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The American promise

Here's something from a commencement address by Bill Moyers:

America's a great promise but it's a broken promise.

It's not right that we are entering the fifth year of a war started on a suspicion. Whatever your party or politics, my young friends, America can't sustain a war begun under false pretenses because it is simply immoral to ask people to go on dying for the wrong reasons. We cannot win a war when our leaders don't have the will or courage to ask everyone to sacrifice, and place the burden on a few hundred thousand Americans from the working class led by a relative handful of professional officers. As is often said - America's not fighting the war; the American military is fighting the war, everyone else is at the mall. Our leaders are not even asking us to pay for it. They're borrowing the money and passing the IOU's to you and your kids.
Like democracy, civilization has to be willed, practiced, and constantly repaired, or society becomes a war of all against all.

Think it over: On one side of this city of Dallas people pay $69 for a margarita and on the other side of town the homeless scrounge for scraps in garbage cans. What would be the civilized response to such a disparity?

Think it over: In 1960 the gap in wealth between the top 20 percent of our country and the bottom 20 percent was 30 fold. Now it is 75 fold. Stock prices and productivity are up, and CEO salaries are soaring, but ordinary workers aren't sharing in the profits they helped generate. Their incomes aren't keeping up with costs. More Americans live in poverty - 37 million, including 12 million children. Twelve million children! Despite extraordinary wealth at the top, America's last among the highly developed countries in each of seven measures of inequality. Our GDP outperforms every country in the world except Luxembourg. But among industrialized nations we are at the bottom in functional literacy and dead last in combating poverty. Meanwhile, regular Americans are working longer and harder than workers in any other industrial nation, but it's harder and harder for them to figure out how to make ends meet…how to send the kids to college…and how to hold on securely in their old age. If we're all in this together, what's a civilized response to these disparities?

It's worth reading the whole thing. Heck, anything by Moyers is worth reading in its entirety.

God, I hate this war.

Last night I came across a CNN article entitled "Boy beaten to death while mother serves in Iraq". Take a look:

CALUMET CITY, Illinois (AP) -- A man beat his girlfriend's 4-year-old son to death after she left the boy in his care while she was deployed to Iraq, police said.

Donnell Parker, 23, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of Cameron Smith. The boy was found dead in his bed Thursday in a suburb south of Chicago.

Parker told police he beat the boy, but would not say why, said Calumet City police Chief Patrick O'Meara. It was not immediately known if Parker had an attorney.

Cameron was punched in the head, stomach and chest, and whipped with a belt from Tuesday to Wednesday evening, O'Meara said. An autopsy found he died of blunt-force trauma to the abdomen and head, O'Meara said.

The boy's 7-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother had also been in Parker's care, O'Meara said. They were put in the custody of their maternal grandparents after Cameron was found dead. Cameron's mother, Sgt. Lavanda Smith, 28, was headed back to Illinois Friday after spending only 10 hours at her new duty station in Iraq.

She was called to active duty in April with her Army National Guard unit and was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, on May 12 in preparation for deployment, said Lt. Col. Alicia Tate-Nadeau, an Illinois National Guard spokeswoman.

Family members said Cameron's father, Gary Smith Jr., 27, had been deployed to Iraq last August and last saw his three children on a brief leave in January.

Okay. First of all, the National Guard should not be serving overseas. They're supposed to defend the homeland and help out during natural disasters. Secondly, there really ought to be law that a child can't have TWO parents deployed to Iraq. If one parent is deployed, the other ought to be automatically exempt. Third, what on earth are we thinking sending the mothers of small children to war anyhow? Common sense, people. Common sense.

P.S. You know something else? We ought to require parenting classes and anger management classes for every young person before he or she can have a driver's license. That really might help us prevent a lot of child abuse.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Democrats again

I want to call your attention to an article called "Fractured: What the Dems Did on Iraq, What They Could've Done, What It Means". Here's how it gets started:

First, let's dispense with the nonsense once and for all. If Democrats like Joe Biden and John Murtha want to reinforce the notion that setting withdrawal deadlines is somehow "abandoning our troops," there's a simple way to fix that. Just insert a paragraph like this into your bill: "Troops shall be fully provided with all necessary resources while in the field of battle, and must be withdrawn from combat zones before being deprived of said resources." See? That wasn't hard.

Why didn't they do that this week? I can only come up with two possible explanations. The first is they cut a deal. Maybe these Dems negotiated with GOP legislators, perhaps with the best of intentions, to revisit the issue in September. The other explanation is that they're so terrified of being labeled "cut and run" that, even with more than 60% of voters behind them, they're afraid to take a stand.

Neither explanation is flattering. If they cut a deal, they did so with a group that has consistently broken such agreements in the past and is likely to do so again. If they're simply afraid, then they've let down the troops, the Iraqis, and the American people out of weakness.

And now look at this paragraph:

Whatever their motivation, the Democrats who caved this week didn't just reinforce the War Party's primary talking point. They also undercut their own two leading Presidential candidates, Sens. Obama and Clinton, who voted "no." Most gravely, they've fractured their own party base - a group whose opinion on the war is shared by most Americans.

It's that circular firing squad again. I would be so disillusioned if I weren't already sadly cynical when it comes to the Democratic Party.


Why didn't we listen?

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

--Harry S. Truman

Friday, May 25, 2007

Something to ponder

Lisa over at All Hat No Cattle said the following today:

Do you ever wonder what we don't know that Bush has done? I do.

Now that's scary. Really, really scary.

Fie on the Democrats

The title of the article I want to tell you about says it all: We Gave Them Our Hearts, They Gave Him A Blank Check. Take a look:

It is a dark day in our nation’s history. That sounds melodramatic - but it is true. Today America watched a Democratic Party kick them square in the teeth - all in order to continue the most unpopular war in a generation at the request of the most unpopular president in a generation at a time polls show a larger percentage of the public thinks America is going in the wrong direction than ever recorded in polling history.

The numbers are not pretty. First,
216 House Democrats cast the key vote to send a blank check Iraq War funding bill over to the Senate. As I reported at the beginning of the day and as the Associated Press now confirms, the vote on the rule was the vote that made it happen. As the AP said: “In a highly unusual maneuver, House Democratic leaders crafted a procedure that allowed their rank and file to oppose money for the war, then step aside so Republicans could advance it.” Nauseating.

In the Senate, we saw lots of promises and tough talk from senators telling us they were going to do everything they could to stop the blank check. Some of them bragged that they were going to vote against the bill - as if that was the ultimate sign of heroics. Then,
not a single senator found the backbone to stand up to filibuster the bill a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. To quote the Big Lebowski, “These men are cowards,” because apparently, Senate club etiquette comes even before the lives of our troops.

The blank check
sailed through the upper chamber on a vote of 80-14 with 38 Democrats (the majority of the party) voting yes. In all, at a time when 82 percent of Americans tell pollsters they want Congress to either approve funds for the war with strict conditions or cut off all funding immediately, 90 percent of House and Senate
Democrats combined voted to give George W. Bush a blank check.

The worst part of it all was the overt efforts to deceive the public - as if we’re all just a bunch of morons. House Democrats have the nerve to
continue to insist the blank check they helped ram through the House was all the Republicans doing, and that a sham vote on a GOP amendment today - which most Democrats opposed for show - was the real vote for the war. But, again, as the AP reported, it was their parliamentary motion - passed so quickly and under the devious pretenses of mundane procedural necessity - that showed their calculated complicity. Now, tonight, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actually sending out fundraising emails claiming “the House just passed legislation that will go to the White House that includes critical issues Democrats have been fighting for including canceling the President’s blank check in Iraq.” Beyond nauseating.

Sigh. Very deep sigh.

Friday cat blogging!


The new dark age

We have definitely entered a new dark age. Read this:

Next week, the religious right will take a bold new step in its campaign against science education in America. The creationist organization, Answers in Genesis, will open its $27 million "Creation Museum" in northern Kentucky. The Disney-like museum is dedicated to promoting the falsehood that science supports the notion of men and women cavorting with dinosaurs on a 6,000-year-old Earth.

From denying the facts of evolution to lying about the known age of the universe, the "museum" represents an assault on our children's basic understanding of fundamental scientific principles.

Please sign the petition to voice your opposition to the religious right's campaign of ignorance.

If you're an educator - a teacher, a professor, an academic administrator - please take a stand against this latest attack on science education by signing the
special educators' petition.

Please click through and sign the petition. And stand up for legitimate science education every chance you get.

The Assault On Reason

Al Gore

I've told you before that I don't watch TV news anymore. Al Gore explains why in his latest book, The Assault on Reason. Here's an excerpt from an article about Gore's conversation with Harry Shearer on the subject:

"The Assault On Reason" is a powerful indictment of the lack of fairness and honor in media. Of media's misuse of information to manipulate and promote fear. Of media using inane and sensational stories like the OJ trial, the Laci Peterson case, and Tom Cruise's leap onto Oprah's couch to dumb down the population. Gore bemoans screaming pundits and the danger of sound bytes as communication tools. He disdains media consolidation and recognizes the potential for democracy's demise without an open and transparent government. He uses the comical, yet woeful phrase "committing candor" as metaphor for truth-telling in the Bush Administration, where honesty is akin to a crime.
In "The Assault On Reason," Al Gore's stated goal is "to lead us to an understanding of what we can do, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason and safeguard our future."

Seeing Al Gore on television is emotional. Seeing him in person is even more emotional when considering what could and should have been. He's a contradictory testament to all that is good with this country and all that is bad.

WHAT IS GOOD is his patriotism. His dazzling knowledge of history. His dedication to country and family. His desire to restore this nation and make it heal. His innate goodness. His ability to discern what is important for the planet and focus on it with unselfish intent. His mastery of technology. His respect for science. His introspective nature, which translates into reasoned thought and action.

WHAT IS BAD is that as much as Al Gore understood the pitfalls of media, he fell prey to them anyway. What is bad was the media's egregiously successful effort to demonize him throughout the 2000 campaign, choosing to promote the inferior man instead. What is bad is the dishonest, out-dated election system that permits winners to lose. What is bad is the politicized Supreme Court that awarded the governance of this nation to a culture of corruption from which it may never return.

Sandra Day O'Connor has a lot to answer for. Now, of course, she is on record as being horrified by the Bush administration. But her vote the other way on Gore v. Bush would have put Gore in the White House.

I really recommend that you click through on the link to the title of The Assault on Reason. Al Gore has a message there for Amazon readers and answers some questions. Very illuminating.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Great Leno quote

I heard this the other night. The irony is something else:

Under this new congressional plan, illegal immigrants would be able to live in the United States if they pay a $5,000 fine. $5,000? So, that would rule out working people or parents trying to support a family. However, you would get to keep all the drug dealers.

--Jay Leno

Military fires Arab language experts

For being gay. Can you believe it? When our national security depends on being able to translate the "chatter" we pick up? Take a look at these excerpts from an A.P. article entitled "U.S. military continues to discharge gay Arab linguists, and Congress members seek hearing":

WASHINGTON: Lawmakers who say the military has kicked out 58 Arabic linguists because they were gay want the Pentagon to explain how it can afford to let the valuable language specialists go.

Seizing on the latest discharges, involving three specialists, members of the House of Representatives wrote the House Armed Services Committee chairman that the continued loss of such "capable, highly skilled Arabic linguists continues to compromise our national security during time of war."

One sailor discharged in the latest incident, former Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Benjamin, said his supervisor tried to keep him on the job, urging him to sign a statement denying that he was gay. He said his lawyer advised him not to sign it, because it could be used against him later if other evidence ever surfaced.
"At a time when our military is stretched to the limit and our cultural knowledge of the Middle East is dangerously deficient, I just can't believe that kicking out able, competent Arabic linguists is making our country any safer," [Democratic Rep. Marty] Meehan said.

Get this straight. The Republicans don't really care about keeping you safe. They care very much about what you do in your bedroom.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just one more example of hypocrisy

Okay. It's a small one but in another way it's not. It's irresponsible for a president to be careless about his own safety. Take a look at these excerpts from an article entitled "Bush's seat belt usage not locked down":

President Bush encourages people to wear seat belts. Whether he routinely does so himself is not as clear. The question arose Tuesday, Bush's first full day back in town after a weekend at his ranch in Texas — where he was spotted driving a pickup truck without wearing a seat belt.

The timing comes just as Bush's government is sending the opposite message. This week marks the launch of law enforcement's annual seat belt campaign, known as "Click It or Ticket."

In his morning briefing with reporters, White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked whether Bush wears his safety belt while riding in his armored limousine.

"Does he wear a seat belt in the limo?" Snow said in some disbelief. "I don't know."
Seat belt use came into national focus last month when New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine sustained severe injuries during a crash. He later apologized for not wearing a seat belt.

Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the government.

I guess responsible practices concerning safety are just for the little people - not the exceptional and entitled folk like Bush.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

McCain's temper

I've heard about this before and it's very disturbing. Take a look at this article called "McCain's temper back on campaign's front-burner":

An angry, profane exchange between Sen. John McCain and another Republican senator last week prompted a new round of questions Monday about whether McCain's legendary temper is becoming a liability to his campaign for the presidency.
McCain's political handlers have plenty of experience in explaining his salty language and strident attacks. His temper has ranged far and wide, directed at other members of the Senate, congressional staffers, government agency chiefs, corporate chieftains, military officers and teenage campaign volunteers.

McCain has shouted at people for any number of reasons, including errors of judgment, disagreements on public policy and even how to set up a podium.

"In McCain's world, there aren't legitimate differences of opinions," said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which differs with McCain on some issues. "There is his way and there is evil. That is how he approaches issues. That is one of the reasons for conservative nervousness about him."

His temper has been an issue for years.
"We have had eight years of cowboy diplomacy, and McCain is even more of a cowboy than the current president," said Roger Salazar, a Democratic political consultant who worked for John Edwards in 2004. "The public wants somebody who is strong but can sit across from allies and adversaries without lunging at them."

This is very disturbing. We really need someone with a cool head leading our nation. That should go without saying.

The immigration bill


It looks like the Senate and the president have finally agreed on an immigration bill. ... This one looks like it could become law and, of course, nobody likes it. The conservatives say the bill gives amnesty to the illegals. The liberals say it doesn't go far enough to protect the hardworking immigrants here in America. And the L.A.P.D. doesn't know who to beat up.

--Bill Maher

Monday, May 21, 2007

Letterman rules!

Oh, the snark:

Here's news from Washington, DC: We now have a new war czar. Yes, he was appointed by President Bush, so what could go wrong?

--David Letterman

26 Global warming myths

I came across an article today in New Scientist called "Climate change: A guide for the perplexed". Twenty-six common myths held by climate change deniers are explored and debunked. Here's part of the introduction:

Our planet's climate is anything but simple. All kinds of factors influence it, from massive events on the Sun to the growth of microscopic creatures in the oceans, and there are subtle interactions between many of these factors.

Yet despite all the complexities, a firm and ever-growing body of evidence points to a clear picture: the world is warming, this warming is due to human activity increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and if emissions continue unabated the warming will too, with increasingly serious consequences.

Yes, there are still big uncertainties in some predictions, but these swing both ways. For example, the response of clouds could slow the warming or speed it up.

With so much at stake, it is right that climate science is subjected to the most intense scrutiny. What does not help is for the real issues to be muddied by discredited arguments or wild theories.

Examples of the myths explored are "Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter" and "We can't do anything about climate change". Click through to see all twenty-six.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The reality of corporate wrongdoing

I found this today in Church Times:

Generally, the Church only ever sees the good in the idea of community. Yet, in the name of community, all manner of nastiness and bigotry is frequently excused. Precisely because we are so focused on the sins of the first person singular, our radar is insufficiently attuned to those committed in the first person plural. It’s a moral blind spot.

-- Giles Fraser

He's right. I know what it's like to be on the receiving end of horrible nastiness committed not by a given individual but by community. There is nothing that hurts so much as the message, "You aren't one of us; you don't belong."

Of course, this is what we regularly do as a nation. And we call it patriotism.

Jimmy Carter on George W. Bush

Jimmy Carter

Oh my. Please click through and read the A.P. article entitled "Carter: Bush's impact 'worst in history'". Here's part of what it says:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Former President Carter says President Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The criticism from Carter, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative funding.
Douglas Brinkley, a Tulane University presidential historian and Carter biographer, described Carter's comments as unprecedented.

"This is the most forceful denunciation President Carter has ever made about an American president," Brinkley said. "When you call somebody the worst president, that's volatile. Those are fighting words."

Good for him. Somebody needs to say these things.

2008 and popularity

I want to call your attention to an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor entitled "Wrong way to judge a candidate: We need leadership, not 'likemanship.'". The title pretty much tells it all but here's part of what it says anyway:

With Election Day 2008 more than a year-and-a-half off, already the presidential campaign is – sigh – energetically under way.

And already – groan – we hear the media discuss it as a popularity contest. As in 2000 and 2004, the media are at it again: Candidates are rated for "likability." Once again, we Americans are asked: With whom would we rather hang out? Once again, extraneous factors such as voice (Hillary Clinton's) and lack of hair (Rudy Giuliani's) are noted and mocked.

By these superficial measures, President Bush's perceived affability trumped the stiffness of Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry in the 2000 and 2004 elections. And look what it got us: a president who leaves an abysmal record that even many Republicans disavow.

Because of that record, America at present is caught in what poet W.H. Auden called a "night full of wrong." Given this unhappy state, why on earth would the media revive the high-school standard of leadership? And, apologies to the nation's responsible teenagers, but, developmentally, it's the adolescent who obsesses about and calibrates likability.

Yet likability and desirability as a lunch pal – key tests for some voters – are again echoed by the media on all sides: mainstream and new, on the left and right, in hip venues and in those trying hard to be. And already, all are applying this test to rate winners and losers. Who gave the media the authority to preselect our candidates?
To chart our way upward, we need character, vision, strategic thinking, sobriety, and the antique quality of virtue in our leaders. Moreover, the next president must possess the maturity both to repair what may have been broken by today's administration and to cede power back to the legislative and judicial branches, recalibrating what the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called "the imperial presidency." The 2008 election begs not for "likemanship," but for leadership.

I agree, of course.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A new one on me

Hmmm. I've never come across this before:

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.

-- Leon Trotsky

Thought provoking. And certainly the important word there is "may".

A 2008 possibility

I've just got to pass this opening line on to you:

A ticket of Al Gore for president and Barack Obama for vice president would create an electricity and enthusiasm that would transform American politics and send shock waves of excitement throughout a world yearning for new American leadership.

It's from an article entitled "American Dream Team: Draft Gore-Obama for 2008". Look, I'm not supporting anybody in particular yet but this makes me think.


Okay. I'm not a fan of Christopher Hitchens. But this is truly refreshing:

Global warming development

I'm sorry to report to you that matters are even worse than we thought. The article I'm calling to your attention is entitled "Earth’s Natural Defenses against Climate Change ‘Beginning to Fail’" and it's published by The Independent. Here's how it gets started:

The earth’s ability to soak up the gases causing global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a long-feared sign of “positive feedback,” new research reveals today.

Climate change itself is weakening one of the principal “sinks” absorbing carbon dioxide - the Southern Ocean around Antarctica - a new study has found.

As a result, atmospheric CO2 levels may rise faster and bring about rising temperatures more quickly than previously anticipated. Stabilizing the CO2 level, which must be done to bring the warming under control, is likely to become much more difficult, even if the world community agrees to do it.

I wonder if we, as a species, will do anything to save ourselves. I really do wonder.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Too good not to show you!

The Religious Right and now

How interesting. I just came across a brief opinion article by Jim Wallis entitled "The Religious Right's Era Is Over". All I can say is, I sure hope he's right. Take a look:

As I have traveled around the country, one line in my speeches always draws cheers: "The monologue of the Religious Right is over, and a new dialogue has now begun." We have now entered the post-Religious Right era. Though religion has had a negative image in the last few decades, the years ahead may be shaped by a dynamic and more progressive faith that will make needed social change more possible.
Evangelicals — especially the new generation of pastors and young people — are deserting the Religious Right in droves. The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq. Catholics are returning to their social teaching; mainline Protestants are asserting their faith more aggressively; a new generation of young black and Latino pastors are putting the focus on social justice; a Jewish renewal movement and more moderate Islam are also growing; and a whole new denomination has emerged, which might be called the "spiritual but not religious."

Living in the "Buckle of the Bible Belt" as I do, it's hard to see what Wallis sees. But if he's right, I'm very encouraged.

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Ellie Finlay

The Guardian on Jerry Falwell

It's as accurate an obituary as you'll find. Here's part of what it says:

Of the evangelical preachers who came to prominence in 1980s America, the most loved and loathed was the Rev Jerry Falwell, who has died of heart failure aged 73. In 1979, after consultations with theologians and political strategists, he founded the Moral Majority, the first of the rightwing fundamentalist movements crucial to the rise of US conservatism, of which he was an influential leader.

On television, Falwell tried to appear reasonable, a religious radical, but tolerant. Frequently, however, he made statements, usually off-camera, of such outrage and hatred that he earned himself a website called Foulwell that listed his harshest remarks. The nastiest, in a conversation with the Rev Pat Robertson on the latter's evangelical TV channel, came three days after nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Falwell said: "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularise America - I point the finger in their face and say: 'You helped this happen.'" Later, on CNN, he issued a half-hearted apology.

There's no doubt about it. He was truly a hateful man.

About Hillary by Bill

Remember what it was like to have an articulate president? Listen to this:

Look, I don't agree with her on everything. Not at all. But I think she'd be good. And I'd feel safe with her in charge.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Falwell's prayer

Well, I've been hestitant to weigh in on Falwell because of the old custom of not speaking ill of the dead. But I have a great appreciation for irony so I want to bring you this comment by Don Alejandro that I found on Common Dreams:

God answers Falwell’s prayer with a resounding “No”

Shortly after upgrading, umm, I mean updating Falwell’s condition from “gravely serious” to merely dead, CNN aired footage from an interview Christiane Amanpour conducted with Falwell only a week before he died.

The Associated Press reported:
In that interview, Falwell said he was praying for another 20 years so that he could see the completion of his expanding University. He pointed to a Biblical figure who was dying and prayed for an extra 15 years, and got it. “I am praying the same prayer, with an option to renew,” he said.

I think I'll make no further comment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Pope and the Brazilian Indians

Frank Ford sent me an article today entitled "Brazil's Indians offended by Pope comments". Here's part of what it says:

Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's "arrogant and disrespectful" comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step.

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity, he said.

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.

Many Indians today struggle for survival, stripped of their traditional ways of life and excluded from society.

"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab.
"The Pope doesn't understand the reality of the Indians here, his statement was wrong and indefensible," Cimi [an Indian advocacy group] advisor Father Paulo Suess told Reuters. "I too was upset."

I think maybe the Pope has led a sheltered life and really doesn't understand how what he says will be perceived. At least, that's the charitable way of looking at it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A VERY worthy cause

Hawk - African Lion

Today I stumbled upon the website of an organization called Noah's Lost Ark which gives a permanent haven to unwanted and abused exotic animals. Please read the story of Hawk who was taken to the refuge with two other abused big cats:

Hawk arrived with Pumpkin and Tonka. He is approximately 7 years old. He lived in this cramped, manure laden cage, never being able to run. Weighing in at 150 to 200 pounds upon arrival, most male lions weight closer to 450 pounds or more! Severely malnourished, weak, caked with feces, he could only crawl over to us. His sides, legs and stomach were all urine-burned from lying in his own unclean waste. Severe lacerations were all over his face, especially on his nose. The end of his tail was cut off, oozing blood with bone showing through. We put straw down for them and fed them, brought them home and immediately called our vet. All were given antibiotics and vitamins and we must monitor their food intake carefully, slowly building them up to where they should be. He deserved better. This beautiful, regal creature was not shown the respect he so richly deserved. He is loved now, and starting to heal. It will take a long time. Every time he sees us, he calls out to us. He is happy and he knows we saved him, for he had not much time left. He has an enclosure big enough to run and play now. His spirit soars......That is why we called him Hawk!

Stories about abused animals are almost more than I can bear. I urgently encourage you to explore the Noah's Lost Ark website for there you will find many more such stories. Because of the organization's dedicated work, these animals enjoy a happy ending after all.

I have already sent in a donation by snail mail but you can also contribute on line. Here's the link:

And here's their contact information:

Noah's Lost Ark, Inc.
Telephone: 330-584-7835
Postal address: 8424 Bedell Rd., Berlin Center, Oh 44401
Electronic mail:

Please, please send them a donation - even if only a little bit. Small donations really add up. I know! That's how St. John's Center survives.

Health care in the US

Well, we know this already but I wanted to call your attention anyway to a Reuters article called "U.S. healthcare expensive, inefficient: report":

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans get the poorest health care and yet pay the most compared to five other rich countries, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Germany, Britain, Australia and Canada all provide better care for less money, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

"The U.S. health care system ranks last compared with five other nations on measures of quality, access, efficiency, equity, and outcomes," the non-profit group which studies health care issues said in a statement.

Canada rates second worst out of the five overall. Germany scored highest, followed by Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

"The United States is not getting value for the money that is spent on health care," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said in a telephone interview.

The group has consistently found that the United States, the only one of the six nations that does not provide universal health care, scores more poorly than the others on many measures of health care.

Congress, President George W. Bush, many employers and insurers have all agreed in recent months to overhaul the U.S. health care system -- an uncoordinated conglomeration of employer-funded care, private health insurance and government programs.

The current system leaves about 45 million people with no insurance at all, according to U.S. government estimates from 2005, and many studies have shown most of these people do not receive preventive services that not only keep them healthier, but reduce long-term costs.

There's more if you want to click through.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Today's QuickVote

This is disturbing. Do you remember when I blogged about the troops and censorship on Saturday? Look at this poll question (from the CNN site):

Is the Defense Department right to block troops' access to YouTube, MySpace and other popular Web sites?

Yes - 39%

No - 61%

I am horrified that so many people think it's right to keep our troops ignorant. Very disturbing.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day and the peace movement

Please take a look at these excerpts from an article called "It’s Mother’s Day Again and We’re Still at War":

But it’s now Mother’s Day. Few Americans know that Mother’s Day was initially suggested by two peace-minded mothers, Julia Ward Howe, a nineteenth century anti-slavery activist and suffragette who wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Anna Reeves Jarvis, mother of 11, who influenced Howe and once asked her fellow Appalachian townspeople, badly polarized by the Civil War, to remain neutral and help nurse the wounded on both sides.

Howe had lived through the barbarism of the Civil War, which led her to ask a question that’s as relevant today as it was in her time: “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the costs?” Mother’s Day, she insisted, “should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines.”
Sadly, on this Mother’s Day, peace seems further away than ever. How many more war widows and grieving families do we need? Do we need yet another war memorial to the dead in Washington? Do we really need to continue disseminating the myth - and lie - that an idealistic America always fights for freedom and democracy?

On Mother’s Day 2007 nearly 3,500 American soldiers and Marines have already been killed, and many more have been wounded in body and mind, not to mention dozens of thousands of Iraqis. They all had mothers.


Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Church and State

I found this comment on the Bill Moyers Journal blog:

The closer the church gets to the state, the more the political process will work to corrupt the church. Do the faithful really want that?

-- Max Kaehn

Counting the cost

Bill Moyers

Last night I watched Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. And I was very moved by the closing essay entitled "The Cost of War". Here's an excerpt:

Entering its fifth year, the war's costs are soaring so fast the Web site uses a non-stop digital counter to keep up with the spending. In today's dollars, it's projected to become the most expensive war in recent history - reaching nearly one-trillion dollars.

According to the National Priorities Project, the money spent on the war so far could have provided America:

1.8 million new teachers.

Over 20 million college scholarships.

Health insurance for over 60 million children.

Or nearly 4 million new housing units.

But no price tag can be put on the lost human lives. Our government hasn't wanted us to see the human cost of the war.

No transcript can do justice to this piece. You really need to see the video. Please click through and watch it.

The current Monica problem

I found this article excerpt on Dependable Renegade. It's originally from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 11 — Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers.

Monica Goodling is accused of partisan influence in Justice Department hirings and firings.“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.”
Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.

And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

By the time Ms. Goodling resigned in April — after her role in the firing of the prosecutors became public and she had been promoted to the role of White House liaison — she and other senior department officials had revamped personnel practices affecting employees from the top of the agency to the bottom.

NOW, do you know where Monica went to law school? Regent University - Pat Robertson's school. Guess they don't have much of an ethics department.

(Read here to find out what Paul Krugman has to say about the school.)

UPDATE: You really need to see what Bill Maher has to say on this subject.

Oh my goodness. Please forgive me one more video. You just have to see how Jon Stewart handled this:

What we spend on arms

This is really disheartening;

Today, America spends more on armaments than all other nations combined.

--Sherwood Ross

Gas prices

Depressing, isn't it?

How much are you folks paying for gas? Get ready. ... It could be $4 a gallon this summer. It's all part of President Bush's 'No Oil Company Left Behind' program.

--David Letterman

The troops and censorship

The only way to keep them fighting is to keep them ignorant, apparently. Take a look at part of an article I found on OpEdNews:

Starting May 14th, the Department of defense, citing security reasons, will block troop access to some of the most popular websites on the planet.
The sites blocked include Myspace, Youtube, MTV, Blackplanet , photobucket, live365,,,, and other sites.

The troops WILL be allowed to access the sites from home computers. But, since most troops on assignment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, etc. are using DOD networks, they would not be allowed to use THEIR personal computers on DOD networks.

So. Those who are "fighting for freedom" have their freedom taken away. I wonder if anybody responsible for that decision is aware of the irony.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We have truly lost our freedoms

Please go read an article picked up by Common Dreams called "Top Teacher Shown the Door After Showing 'Baghdad ER'". Here's how it gets started:

Michael Baker worked for the Lincoln, Nebraska, public schools since 1981.

But after he showed the documentary “Baghdad ER” to his geography class on April 18, his career there was over.

This, despite the fact that in 2006, Baker was one of only 47 teachers in the state to win National Board Certification, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, which broke the story.

Baker tells The Progressive that he cannot talk freely about what happened because he reached an agreement with the school district. Part of that agreement prohibits him from saying anything “disparaging” about it, he says.

But he does acknowledge this: “The morning after I showed the documentary ‘Baghdad ER’ was my last day in class.”

HBO, which aired “Baghdad ER,” describes it this way: “2-time Emmy Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army’s premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, Baghdad ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war.”

Even the conservative magazine the National Review gave it a good review, calling it “refreshingly earnest.”

Baker waxes philosophical about his departure. “Teachers that teach against the grain often have difficulties with school systems,” he says. “What has happened to me is certainly not unusual.”

Notice that in addition to losing his job, he's lost his freedom of speech.

Limbaugh is disgusting

Check out this excerpt from a BBC article entitled "US DJ criticised over Obama song":

US talk show host Rush Limbaugh has come under fire for airing a racially charged song about the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Limbaugh has been playing a song called Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon.

The right-wing talk show host defended himself by saying he is an entertainer and the song is a parody.

There was a time when that would simply have been unacceptable in this country. We have really deteriorated into a culture in which bigotry is considered okay. It grieves me more than I can say.

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Ellie Finlay

Dalai Lama at Smith College

Somehow, I never thought the Dalai Lama would ever retire. But that's what he says he's going to do. Here's an excerpt from a CNN article entitled "Dalai Lama eyes retirement":

NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, said he was ready to retire in a few years but will keep championing causes to help the Tibetan people, culture and environment.

Speaking at Smith College in Massachusetts Wednesday to about 5,000 students, faculty and invited guests of the Tibetan community, Tibet's exiled and revered spiritual leader said he already sees himself semi-retired.

"Within a few years' time, I will retire completely," the 71-year-old monk and Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharamsala, India, in the outer Himalayas, since 1959. He was active in establishing there the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibet's government in exile. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Wearing a yellow-and-maroon robe, he said he was honored to have been recognized in the world for his "small contribution to the welfare of humanity." He suggested the elected Tibetan leadership in exile can soon carry on his mission.

The Dalai Lama says he wants greater autonomy, not independence, for his predominantly Buddhist homeland, but China considers him a separatist and accuses him of continuing to promote Tibetan independence.

He has done much good in the world.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

China and our economy

This is a scary thought:

[I]f China wanted to take us down, it has only to convert its huge dollar holdings into Euros, stand back and watch our economy collapse.

--Joyce Marcel

McCain attacks Planned Parenthood

I just read the following on Common Dreams:

John McCain’s presidential campaign has taken a troubling turn. This week, the Los Angeles Times reported that John Weaver, a strategist for John McCain’s presidential campaign, verbally attacked Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading reproductive health care advocate and provider. Weaver called the 90-year old provider of birth control, cancer screenings, sex education and abortion services “one of the most radical pro-abortion groups in the country.”For the record: Ninety seven percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are focused on prevention, including family planning, contraception, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Three percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortion care. The remark was an attack driven by the McCain campaign’s need to score political points.

The above is the introduction to a piece entitled "My Response to the McCain Campaign’s Attacks on Planned Parenthood" by Cecile Richards. Do click through if you want to read the actual letter.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Criticizing the poor

When I'm home on a Wednesday night I usually watch Criminal Minds which typically starts out with a quote by a well-known writer. Tonight's opening was this one:

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.

-- Herman Melville

It moved me greatly. I wish it moved "the haves and the have-mores" that Bush claimed are his base.

Something to ponder

Linda Cole sent me the following meditation:

Let us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Let us remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Let us be reminded that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Let us remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slowly through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Let us remind ourselves each day that, of all the gifts we have been given, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. May we open our hearts not just to those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive and to show patience, empathy and love.

This is about remembering that everyone we meet is probably fighting some sort of hard battle. It's also about cultivating a little imagination.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

France's first battle

Nicolas Sarkozy

Needless to say, I'm not happy that France chose a right wing candidate to be its president. However, I'm very happy with his first foreign policy statement. Take a look at this excerpt from an article entitled "Sarkozy's climate promise a tough challenge":

PARIS (AFP) - In his first foreign-policy declaration, president-elect Nicolas Sarkozy has named climate change France's "first battle," but analysts warn that the combat is long-term and complex.

Sarkozy nailed his green colours to the mast on Sunday in a victory speech after emphatically winning France's top job against Socialist rival Segolene Royal.

In a bold move for a newcomer to the world's top political table, Sarkozy notably accused the United States of hampering efforts to tackle climate change.

While telling "our American friends" that France would stand by its side whenever it was needed, Sarkozy also said: "Friendship is accepting that one's friends can think differently.

"A great nation like the United States has the duty to not create obstacles in the struggle against global warming. Quite the contrary, it should take the lead in this battle.

"What is at stake is the fate of all humanity," warned Sarkozy. "France will make this battle its first battle."

I hope President Bush listens.

Large families and the planet

Well here's an interesting title for an article: "How condoms could save planet" And here's part of what it says:

Having a large family should be regarded as an eco-crime, according to a report published today.

The Optimum Population Trust (OPT) said a lower birth rate would help cut carbon dioxide emissions and warned that each UK citizen creates nearly 750 tonnes of carbon dioxide in a lifetime.

Stopping at two children was the cheapest and most effective personal strategy for tackling climate change, the campaign group claimed, and having larger families should be frowned upon as an eco-crime just like leaving lights on, making unnecessary car journeys and throwing away plastic shopping bags. It claimed having a third child increases a family's carbon footprint by the equivalent of 620 return flights between London and New York.

That makes me feel pretty good about having zero children.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Good job, Letterman

Not bad, huh?

How many of you saw the Republican presidential debate? There are ten Republicans who want to be president of the United States. Did you see them? I mean, they looked like guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.

--David Letterman

Saturday, May 05, 2007

"Bomb Iran" says McCain

You may have already read about this but I just found a Guardian article today entitled "Saved by the Bomb: Senator McCain has Hit Upon a Solution to All the Republican Party’s Woes: A Nuclear War with Iran". Depressing as hell:

Campaigning in Oklahoma the other day, the Republican senator John McCain was asked what should be done about Iran. He responded by singing, “Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran”, to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann. (Join the hilarity and see for yourself on YouTube.) How can any thinking person disagree? I mean, any country with a president who doesn’t shave properly and never wears a tie deserves what’s coming to it - a lot of American bombs, with a few British ones thrown in to ensure we don’t miss out on the ensuing upsurge in terrorism.

The problem is how to unload enough bombs on Iran before next year’s US election to bring about enough flag-waving to get the Republican party re-elected. This is essential if we are to safeguard the revenues of companies such as Halliburton - particularly at a time when the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction is discovering what a shoddy job Halliburton has been doing. In projects at Nasiriya, Mosul and Hilla - declared successes by the US - inspectors have discovered buckled floors, crumbling concrete, failed generators and blocked sewage systems - due not to sabotage but largely to poor construction and lack of maintenance.

The trouble is that the re-election of the GOP is becoming more problematic as opinion turns against George Bush’s little invasion of Iraq. Even Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah recently condemned the US action as “an illegal foreign occupation”; his nephew, Prince Bandar, hasn’t been returning calls for weeks.

More worrying is the plummeting popularity of the party, as White House corruption becomes ever more difficult to disguise. The LA Times reports that what Representative Thomas M Davis III called a “poisonous” environment has begun to dent fundraising - an unheard-of problem for the Republicans.

So the only solution is to bomb Iran, as Senator McCain so wisely and amusingly suggests. The real issue is whether to use regular weapons or do the job properly and go nuclear.

How can the Republicans be so cavalier about nuclear war? They seem to have no idea what it will really do to the world. And they seem to WANT the increased terrorism such an attack will trigger.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday cat blogging!

Molly and Thomas Yin-Yang
Photo by Gabe Horn

Let's hear it for cats!

Well, here's an odd piece of news reported by CNN. It's entitled "Cat too scary for Canadian mail carriers". Take a look:

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -- Canada's postal system has stopped delivering mail to a home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a mail carrier was scared away by a "very threatening cat," the Winnipeg Free Press said Friday.

A Canada Post spokeswoman said the agency was concerned about the safety of its carriers, although it hoped for an amicable solution to its dispute with cat-owner John Samborski.

"The letter carrier who delivers mail there ... was brought up on a farm, she is very comfortable with animals," spokeswoman Kathi Neal told the newspaper. "Apparently this is a very threatening cat."

Samborski told the paper that his 8-year-old, declawed, black cat Shadow is docile, and it was "ridiculous" for Canada Post to make him to pick up his mail from a post office instead of delivering it to his door.

Shadow "likes to eat and sleep and cuddle. You could drop a bomb and he'd just open one eye, take a look, then close them and go back to sleep," Samborski, 41, told the newspaper.

I sure wish they'd given us a picture. Of the cat and the letter carrier! :-)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Quote of the week

This was published by Sojourners:

You can’t take the evil of slavery out of the world and abolish it without making the world more just. You will never prevent people living in bonded labor or from getting caught up in sex trafficking while they are so desperate that they have no other choice but to sell themselves. As long as we in the West crave ever more excess, we conspire in their desperation, exploiting it and make ourselves sick in the process.

- Clare Short, Member of British Parliament and former Secretary of State for International Development. She resigned from the latter post over the U.K.'s involvement in the Iraq War. (Source: Ekklesia)