Wednesday, March 30, 2005

We report you decide

I found the range of journalistic perspectives concerning Annan's role in the oil for food program interesting. Here are some headlines:

New York Post

'Hell no, I'm not quitting'
Electric New Paper

UN seen slamming Annan in report
CNN International

Annan cleared of wrongdoing
London Free Press

Oil, Food Probe Faults Annan for Mismanagement
ABC News

Oil for food inquiry clears Kofi Annan of corruption
ABC Online, Australia

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Good versus Evil – The saga continues

I’m not sure what media organizations did for news before the “values” war. We now seem to have a daily example of judicial activism or bible bashing. The Colorado Supreme Court was correct in its decision to commute the death sentence of Robert Harlan to life without parole. If jurors had to turn to the bible to convince themselves and others that the death penalty was the most suitable punishment, then the justices made the right decision. I’m just perplexed as to why there were two dissenting opinions in this case. What were they thinking?

Again we are going to hear a lot of outrage from evangelicals saying that the judicial system has lost touch with reality and is fostering anti-religious decisions that denigrate the fabric of our beloved constitution. Not true. If the case involved a Jewish defendant and the jurors turned to Mein Kampf to “help” them elucidate a punishment would that be fair? I’m sure those two judges wouldn’t be dissenting on that one.

A taste of democracy

Who would have guessed? Without any party holding a clear majority the Iraqis are finding it difficult to come to a consensus on who should do what. It’s ironic that one of the key disagreements between the Shiites and the Kurds is over who should head the oil ministry. That position is more coveted than the presidency. I’m shocked after years of sectarian warfare they just can’t all kiss and make up.

The US may get their puppet leader after all. Allawi is an artful politician who is thriving in the current amateur environment. He has declared that he will represent the opposition party. If the Iraqi people get fed up with the lack of progress made by Jaafari then, by the time the next round of elections occur in December 2005, Allawi will be poised to take over. That would be a best case scenario for the Bush administration but for the Iraqi people he may be a “Saddam Lite”.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Another leech

I'm sure you are all wondering who this extraordinarily successful looking women is. She's the beautiful, but aging, Doctor Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist with dubious links to the UCLA. She's best described as the medical equivalent to Gloria Allred, another person who has been successful taking "moral" stances in high profile cases.

From her website:


(Los Angeles, California) "As Terri Schiavo starves to death, it is time to alert more lawmakers to the truth: the wrong person is being 'punished' for Terri Schiavo's current state," says Carole Lieberman, M.D. a Board Certified Psychiatrist on the Clinical Faculty of UCLA. Having interviewed Terri's father on her radio show ("Dr. Carole's Couch" on, Dr. Lieberman uncovered the fact that Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, fits the profile of a wife-abuser, the same profile that fit O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson. At Terri's father's request, Dr. Lieberman put her opinion in writing (see below) so that the family could provide it to their attorneys, Governor Jeb Bush and Florida DCFS, who subsequently have begun investigating the possibility (supported by medical records and witnesses) that Michael Schiavo may well be the one responsible for the collapse that Terri suffered 15 years ago. Even offers of $1 million were not enough for Michael to take the risk of Terri being around to talk'. "Since writing my preliminary opinion, further information has come to light that continues to support this position. Unless this travesty of justice is stopped, the answer will truly lie where the bones are buried," warns Dr. Lieberman."

This is great stuff. How did she arrive at her diagnosis? She spoke to Terri Schiavo's parents. Call me a fascist liberal whiner but isn't it unethical to diagnose a patient without an examination?

Enough is enough

So now it turns out Tom DeLay agreed with the decision to let his own father die following a tragic accident. Conservatives are claiming this is a left wing, liberal elite, media conspiracy. But the similarities between the two cases are remarkable.

What's even more remarkable is that he made this comment last week, "Unless she has specifically written instructions in her hand, with her signature, I don't care what her husband says." Interesting since his father also did not have a living will.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter

You say you're the son of God, so let's see the DNA test.

From The Age March 26, 2005 - Leunig

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Prozac, Poverty and Pistols

The shootings in Minnesota are another example of a violent crime committed by a Prozac user. The study released by Eli Lilly in December after keeping it under wraps for 15 years indicates just how more likely a patient is to become violent while prescribed Prozac compared with active ingredients in other anti-depressants. The news has been quick to blame the Jeff Weise’s low income environment as a prime reason for the shootings, but I’m not convinced socio-economic factors are behind this crime.

Native Americans do live in poverty and it is important that this case highlights the tragedy of how the majority of them live, however the the cause of this crime has no socio-economic basis.

I realize that conservatives expect liberals to whine about gun control laws and how acts like this could be avoided with stricter gun laws. How many children would Weisse have killed with an axe? I’m not sure but I’m willing to bet it may have been one or two as opposed to ten. Guns enable people like Weiss to commit mass murder, Prozac was a major factor in triggering the violent act and he’s impoverished background will be the media’s excuse.

They Both Hate Rats, After All


"Conservative and liberal groups normally at each other’s throats over the direction of government are finding common cause in wanting to gut major provisions of the government’s premier anti-terrorism law.

"The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and the Free Congress Foundation are among several groups that formed a coalition — Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances — to lobby Congress to repeal three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Bringing Families Together, the Bush Way

First there was this.
Now, we have this.

You won't hear the Bush administration talk about it. They only talk about Social Security because they can conjure up images of the stereotypical undeserved entitlement recipient in the minds of Bush supporters. FDR. Social programs. Welfare.

They won't talk about this, because they know that most people are probably aware that people on Medicare need Medicare. Too bad. Better that the megawealthy should never have to pay taxes on their inherited wealth than poor, elderly and disabled people should get some sort of health care.

By the way, guess where old-folks homes get their money? Better make up the couch.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


There are group of doctors that question whether Terri Schiavo is brain dead. Two of them are Dr. William Polk Cheshire and Dr. Bill Hammesfahr. Hammesfahr appeared on Hannity and Colmes and Cheshire is the state government's key witness in it's latest appeal to Judge Greer.

Can anyone that reads this blog indicate my religious belief? Probably not. Although you could make an educated guess, I don't wear my beliefs on my sleeve particularly when I'm trying to impartial. These Doctors clearly wear their religion as a badge of honor. Cheshire believes in embracing the tenements of the Old Testament and forming a stronger relationship with Jews. Hammesfahr writes like he is priest and obviously considers faith to be a large part of his success. According to him "80% of patients treated had improvement in their ability to function by the end of the first 3 weeks".

Hammesfahr claims to be a Nobel Prize nominate Doctor. Not true, he has never been nominated by the Nobel committee, he's Congressman nominated him. Not quite the same thing considering he now has to wait 50 years before the committee will consider his nomination. His peers also believe that his methods are flawed and it would be interesting to see him try and validate his statistical claims.

With all the extremists that this "right to life" debate brings out of the woodwork I'm concerned for the safety of Michael Schiavo and Judge Greer. While both have stood resolute in upholding the principles of our laws they have been castigated by a "Right to Life" machine that has ignored the truth and pushed a singly focused agenda. Meanwhile the conservative media is eating it up.

I hope the Schiavo case will serve as a wake up call for moderate conservatives. When during a time of war and massive debt, a vocal minority group is able to direct the attention of the President to further it's cause Republicans should be dismayed. I know I am.

Which Finger Do You Use To Say, "We're Number One?"

No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1,"... Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American"... We're an "empire"... that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close. The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.
The Roman Empire. The Mongols. European Imperialism. Napolean. Empires rise and fall. Do you feel like you're going uphill... or down?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

While Americans, including me, focus on the Schiavo case the rest of the world has inexplicably kept rolling along. The Fed raised interest rates another quarter point, sending stocks plummeting on the news that the inflation had still not been checked. Support for Bush’s social security plan has diminished despite his attempt to speak to carefully selected groups of future and current retirees at barnyard meetings across the mid-west and south. There is a still massive problem with border security between Mexico and the US that billions of dollars in funding hasn’t solved. And Tom Delay is still the most corrupt US politician with a job.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Time to move on

Now that a judge has refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube the entire US population should breath a collective sigh of relief. The US Government's pressure on the Federal court system to challenge fundamentally state issues could have had dire consequences. Had James Whittemore ruled in favor of the Schindlers it would have set a precedent despite claims by representatives to the contrary. I think the outcome of an appeal is a foregone conclusion. I would be shocked if the appeals court ordered her fed at this point. But who knows...

I don't really think the Republicans will stop now that Whittemore has ruled for Michael Schiavo. From the PATRIOT Act to No Child Left Behind they have persistently legislated without really caring about the negative ramifications for the citizenry.

On a related note it's interesting that law makers were silent on the case of a black baby in Texas that was recently removed from life support at the request of the hospital. Apparently Bush signed the bill into law that allowed the hospital to pull the plug.

Why are people that are protesting outside Schiavo's hospice being portrayed by the media as supporters of Terri Schiavo? Sure they support her parent's contention but obviously they don't support her wish to die and therefore they don't support her.

Monday, March 21, 2005

News Snipet on Neolibs

This is interesting. It's from a conservative guy's blog. He often has some good posts. It never ceases to amaze me how people, left or right wing will cease constructive debate and turn personal.

Bleeding heart conservatives

The political intrusion into the Terri Schiavo case is nothing short of sickening. The parents now seem to have found allies in anyone that wants to further there careers on the back of a brain-dead woman. The presence of anti-abortion activists aligning themselves with the Schindler's is telling. What the hell are the Republicans trying to pull? How can a party that claims to be based on the need for less government intrusion into people's lives, advocate against a citizens wishes and force her to be kept alive? The Washington Post stated a memo distributed to Republican senators said the Schiavo situation is "a great political issue" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives in the 2006 elections.

DeLay has weighed in on the argument with this gem: "Obviously every hour counts and time is not on Terri Schiavo's side. The few remaining objections of House Democrats have so far cost Mrs. Schiavo two meals already today, and no fluids, and now we hope to resolve this in time for her to get some food and water tonight."

Last night Bush made the following statement, "In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life". Not a single court appointed doctor in 13 trials has expressed any doubt or questions about the possibility of Terri's recovery. The full text of the bill passed last night can be found here.

AP described the following scene outside the hospice, "A crowd of about 50 people prayed and sang. One man played Amazing Grace on a trumpet, as a pickup truck pulled a trailer bearing 10-foot-high replicas of the stone Ten Commandments tablets and a huge working version of the Liberty Bell." Here come the evangelicals. Let's see if our court system has the fortitude to put them back in their place.

A friend made the following observation, "The fact that there was a broader bill that would allow the federal courts to serve as a guardian for all incapacitated persons is unprecedented. State courts have sole jurisdiction over these issues. In fact- maybe Congress forgets, but there is a Domestic Relations Exception doctrine (in the federal court system) which holds that federal courts will not hear cases arising from domestic disputes, there is ultimate deference to state courts on matters within personal relationships."

I'm really struggling to understand exactly what the Republican party is trying to stand for. They don't have an interest in lowering the deficit, creating jobs, fiscal conservation or less government. Maybe the Schiavo case is the bone Bush is going to throw Christian conservatives for his election win. I hope it's the bone they break their teeth on. It's already looking unpopular with Americans.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Where's the Outrage? Part II

The second half of Jacoby's column can be found here. He supplies the arguments that most torture opponents give:

1. It's illegal -- period.
2. It's unreliable.
3. There is the possibility of torturing the innocent.
4. It's not worth it.

I applaud Jacoby for taking such a rational, humane stance on this issue; I hope other conservatives and GOP-ers will follow suit.

(The first half of Jacoby's article was discussed here.)

Go wild on Spring break and join the army

Did anyone else notice that the MTV Spring Break 2005 is sponsored by the US Army? I guess that in between games of beer pong the kids can stumble into the recruiting area, enter to win a plasma TV, and sign themselves up for a year long stint in Falluja.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wait 'Til You See the Extra Features on the DVD!

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction
United Press International

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

© YellowBrix, Inc. Copyright 1997-2005
Taking this baby on the road was murder. It's hard enough on Broadway. But wait until the movie comes out - I hear the special effects are awesome...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Guess I wasn't dreaming...

I hoped that over the course of today I would come to the realization that Bush hadn't nominated Wolfowitz to head the IMF and it was all just a horrible dream. It would have made more since to nominate the CEO of McDonalds as the Security of Health than to put a crusading war hawk in charge of the IMF. What is Bush thinking? Last month he's in Europe telling them all that his main focus will be rebuilding relationships with allies. It was going to be a lot of "hard work". He must have decided it would be too hard, between Bolton and Wolfowitz the actions are speaking much louder than the words.

It's unlikely the Europeans will put up much of a fight, the real losers will be developing nations.

Let's hope that the faith based charity initiative isn't extended globally. Non-Christians don't tend to do too well out of that scheme. Republicans may respect Wolfowitz's directness and ability to argue, but how often is he right? Wasn't it Wolfowitz that claimed Iraqi's would greet US soldiers as "liberators"? Even more perplexing is how someone with no relevant experience can head an organization like the IMF.

The next few weeks will be an interesting lesson in the subtleties of global democracy. European reaction is very negative, hopefully this negativity results in a veto.

Happy St. Patrck's Day :)

Well, happy St. Patrick's Day (also 1, 2, & 3)

Now, how does all that fit into the context of Liberal Thought?

It reminds me of the wonderful interview conducted with George Bush by an Irish journalist (a real journalist, not a pre-packaged neocon shill providing soft, scripted questions). The interview begins 15:25 minutes into the program if you click on the link "entire show", but I encourage you to watch the whole thing.

Bush was so befuddled by some of these unscripted questions that he went loopy, behaving like a petulant child. It was simultaneously sad and amusing, though much less amusing as one realized this buffoon is the President of the United States. There was a time when American presidents were greeted like royalty over there. It is disheartening to recognize how much damage he has done to America's standing in the eyes of the rest of the world (and to those who say the rest of the world doesn't matter: please encourage Bush to continue his stated plan to go to Mars, and then go there, and please, take him with you).

St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland... I wish it were as easy to drive the snakes out of the White House.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Italy, staying or going?

Italian politics has always been a source of entertainment. Now it's getting serious. Berlusconi's party is about to head into elections with a suffocating cloud hanging overhead, in the shape of Iraq. Unlike Blair, I think Berlusconi realizes support for the US will result in his political demise. Blair will probably weather the storm.

After the Italian pull-out it will almost exclusively US and British troops in Iraq.

"At its peak, U.S. and allied forces numbered about 300,000 troops sent by a total of 38 countries. The contributing states have dropped to 25 and troop strength to about 170,000.

About 150,000 U.S. troops shoulder the bulk of the responsibility and suffer the most casualties. Excluding U.S. forces, there are 22,750 foreign soldiers still in Iraq."

At this point Chirac must be chuckling to himself. With the war now in perspective he has earned the respect of both the electorate and in some respects the Administration.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Future's So Bright...

Who Benefits?
The big winners of Private Investment Accounts

George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security has nothing to do with enhancing workers’ retirement income. Rather, it is a scheme to redistribute money from the majority of people who work to the minority of people who own the banks and brokerage firms.

A worker retiring in 2042 after having earned average compensation would ordinarily receive about $20,000 a year in Social Security benefits. If nothing at all were done to offset a Social Security Fund shortfall due in 2042, and all future benefits were paid to that worker out of payroll taxes at the time, that worker would still receive approximately $18,000 in benefits. With the Bush plan, that same worker would have his benefits reduced to less than $15,000 a year, according to the center’s analyses.

So who are the real winners here? The answer is clear: Big Finance.
It just figures, doesn't it? I mean, really. And you know what else reeks about it? They decry social programs because of "redistribution of wealth." Yeah, right. They just want to "redistribute" it into their own coffers.

The Ten... Um, Eight... Um, Six... Okay, I guess Five... I Mean, Three... Okay, Maybe Not Three, But Two! Two Commandments!

Dissecting the Ten Commandments
reprinted from Counterbias

March 9 2005
Doug Griffin

With the debate raging over the display of the Ten Commandments at America’s courthouses and other government buildings, I wanted to analyze each commandment with something called logic.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

First of all, what does this commandment have to do with law? Nothing says control like “obey me and only me.” This is the most blatant attempt by the authors of the Christian Bible to control you. You are not allowed to question this, only accept it. I’d question anything that says, “this is the only way and all others are false.” These are the edicts of an insecure god, not a powerful one. Also, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, there is no need for the middleman (Moses of old, Benny Hinn in modern times) to deliver the message to the masses. Throughout history there have always been hucksters—and I'm sorry but, theoretically, Moses might qualify—saying that they are delivering the message of God. I heard D. L. Hughley once say, “everybody that says they work for God, isn’t necessarily being truthful.” Or something to that effect.

Jesus is quoted as saying, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

This is one of those quotes that you won’t hear often at church because the statement basically cuts out the middleman—your pastor(s). If you claim to be Christian, it stands to reason that you would follow the words of Christ—and not necessarily the Old Testament which Jesus supposedly made null and void. For all you fire-and-brimstone conservatives, that means you’ve got to let go of a lot of your beliefs. That is, if you are truly a Christian. But that requires change—possibly your biggest fear.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Again, nothing to do with the law. And again, here is another control mechanism. Do you realize that only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—they're all related) require you not to question their respective validity? From a logical standpoint, does it make sense that an all-knowing, all-powerful entity needs:

A) hucksters and charlatans to spread the message? B) your total, unquestioning obedience to soothe God’s ego? And last, but not least, C) your money?

I think if one can think logically, the answer to these questions is “No.” But logic has no place in organized religion, otherwise, most wouldn’t exist.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Again with the vanity. And again, not a law. Why anyone with higher than a third grade education—around the time I started questioning religion—buys into the absurdity that any omnipotent figure would be this petty, is beyond me.

IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Almost halfway through and no laws yet. The true Sabbath is Saturday; the origins of the word Saturday bear that out. In Spanish, Saturday is Sabado. Christianity can’t get their own days right in this respect, so they go to church on Sunday. Obviously it is okay to question or even change some rules to suit your needs. This too should be a reason to question. But most Christians wish to continue the status quo and be slaves to their beliefs rather than think for themselves as Jesus Christ—again, the namesake of the religion—directed.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Five commandments in, and so far nothing resembling any laws we have on the books. Maybe this one should be a law considering the way we treat elderly people in this country.

VI. Thou shalt not kill.

Finally, a law! The problem is that people, including Christians, kill all the time. From the original Crusades to the modern day Crusades of President Bush (a devout Christian), and everyday across America. The man accused of being the “BTK” serial killer is reportedly a devout Christian and active member in his church—probably a registered Republican too. Go figure. Additionally, abortion clinics have been bombed by Christians—ironically called pro-lifers. Those bombings took the lives of innocents as well; some of the victims have been pregnant women, who would no more think of abortion than the most avowed pro-lifer, but whose only mistake was working in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!Huh? Can I get an Amen?

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Another no-brainer, but not a law. If it were, the sanctity of marriage might actually mean something, rather than the ridiculous and un-constitutional notion of banning gays from it. If you would not want your spouse to cheat on you, why then would you cheat on him or her? Why does one need a commandment to uphold their marriage vows? If you follow one of the most basic of Christian doctrines—Do unto others—you need only think to yourself before you break that vow, “How would I feel if my spouse were to do what I am about to do?” If you're honest with yourself, you wouldn’t like it. It might even make you want to kill someone.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

Hey, another law. That’s two. We’re cooking with gas now!

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

This one is only a law if you are under oath. This falls under the do unto others category.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Again, do unto others… but not a law.

So, only two of the ten commandments are actual laws on our books. Why then must the commandments be displayed on government property?

Jesus reportedly summed up the Ten Commandments with two:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.

Buddhism simply says, “Cause no harm.”

That sums up everything that Commandments 5 through 10 discuss in one simple sentence. It sums up life in general. Is what you are doing at this moment causing harm to anyone—ncluding yourself? That’s the only question you need to ask yourself before you do anything—lie, cheat, steal, kill, abuse—to any person or animal.

Commandments 1 through 4 basically feed the alleged vanity of God. Again, I ask, why would an omnipotent being be vain and need ego-stroking?

The question has to be asked, again, why display something at our courthouses that really has nothing to do with our laws?

It is the ego of Christianity—not of God—which compels Christians to insist the Ten Commandments be displayed. Everyone does not worship the Christian God and it does not make those people wrong because they do not. Nor should it diminish the power of the Christian God simply because the commandments are not displayed. Give God a little more credit!

To me, one of the biggest problems with Christianity, indeed Judaism and Islam as well, is the arrogance that each have in saying that theirs is the only way. If you notice, the further west you go on the globe, the more arrogant the practitioners of the religion in the region. And you just don't get any further west or more arrogant than the United States of America.

I am not an atheist. I grew up in the Baptist church. I started questioning the contradictions in the Bible—and there are many—a long time ago. However, I do still believe in a higher power. I just don’t believe that I am as detached from that power as the messengers of Christianity would have us believe. I believe that we are all God. I don’t need a filter nor do I need to be told how to connect—I am already connected to God.

It has been my experience that getting to heaven is the sole motivation for Christians to do the right thing.

In that respect, I ask two final questions:

Is it best to do what is right because you have a perceived reward waiting for you in the hereafter? Or, is it best to do what is right simply for the sake of doing what is right?

Cause no harm.

Monday, March 14, 2005

No DeLay

It's time for Tom DeLay to face up to the allegations against him and move on. Although as a Liberal I would be more than happy to see him stay into 2006 so the number of improprieties can mount, it's in the public interest not to have a corrupt politician leading the House of Representatives. From the Buckham allegations to the gerrymandering in Texas and his protection of tax breaks for sweatshop owners DeLay has been the quintessential non-compassionate conservative.

Of all his errors in judgment the worst is probably the vote he tried to pass in December that would have allowed him to carry on as leader even if he had been indicted for a crime. At that point even some Republicans started to cringe. The next few weeks will be telling. If the national media decides this is a story they want to actively pursue then DeLay is in deep trouble. If not then he may be able to bunker down with his Republican supporters and weather the storm. DeLay is so arrogant that there isn't much likelihood of him going quietly.

Bird Flu

Person to person transmission of avian flu (H5N1) is cause for alarm. Considering the US government’s handling of last year’s flu vaccine shortage I’m sure that we can expect a muted initial response to World Health Organization reports. WHO has forecasted a pandemic that could result in the deaths of millions of people.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


The recent tragic shootings in Georgia and Wisconsin will hopefully encourage more debate on gun control. According to the CDC 12,000 Americans were killed intentionally by firearms in 2003. To me that's a staggering number. I wonder whether Brian Nichols would have been able to cause the mayhem he did if the deputy he disarmed had been carrying a can of mace instead of a handgun. The Constitution should protect people's rights but at some point we should address whether there is any real benefit having guns in society.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Choreographing Social Security

Reading the speeches the President has made in the South over the last few days I was struck not only by the scripting of the speech but of the questions following the speech. Here are a couple of classic exchanges:

Question from Ms Hays
“MS HAYS: Every couple of weeks, about $40 is deducted from my paycheck, and that's going into Social Security. But I'm afraid that with the system as it stands right now, that will not provide a safety net for me when I'm ready to retire.
THE PRESIDENT: We're happy you're putting in the $40 right now, aren't we? (Laughter.)
MS. HAYS: You're welcome. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: The question is, will there be something for you?
MS. HAYS: Exactly. And with your new reforms, I think that this is a positive thing for my generation especially, and I think it will also give us incentive to study economy and to know what's going on around us, as well as educate us in how to invest our own money wisely.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it's amazing, you know, there is -- a lot of people are learning what it means to invest their own money, 401(k)s. I presume people out here have got a 401(k). That's a Defined Contribution Plan. That is your money, you're watching it grow, you're investing it, and it becomes your -- part of your retirement package.”

Question from Ms Lyons
“MS. LYONS: I am living with my son and wife, and their two children. And I have two grandchildren here today.
THE PRESIDENT: That's great. You know, let me stop you right there. A responsible society is one in which people take, first and foremost, responsibility for their family, and I want to thank you for taking responsibility for your mom after she took responsibility for you all these years. (Applause.)
MS. LYONS: Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President, you've already answered my Social Security question that I had for you.”

I don’t understand why we a tolerate leadership that won’t answer tough questions from real people with real concerns. How does the administration develop policy if dissent is not tolerated? I guess the answer obviously is that they don’t. Someone has an idea that the President is able to comprehend and therefore likes, then the White House runs with it, blinkers on, until it eventually is presented to the Senate.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Highway to HELLiburton

Where does one begin? It's important not to forget that these vile, morally bankrupt, robber barons have free reign over the Whitehouse. They take whatever they want, they gleefully endanger the lives of Americans both soldier and civilian, and you're paying them a crapload of money to do it (both in earned and stolen $). Liars and thieves. The republican neocon ideal.

- Halliburton Watch(Main Site)
- Investigations
- Halliburton bills taxpayers $45 per case of soda, $100 per bag of laundry
- Halliburton faces criminal inquiry into its business ties with Iran
- Halliburton operates in Iran despite sanctions
- Bribery investigation could lead to indictment of Cheney
- Total value of Halliburton's military contracts equals $21 billion
- Halliburton expands economic ties with U.S.-declared 'enemy' Iran
- U.S. Paid Iraq Contractors With Cash
- Halliburton could get $1.5bn more Iraq work
- Halliburton admits it 'may have' criminally rigged bids on contracts

What do you think the republicans would say if this was happening under a democratic administration? Would they defend democrats' doing business this way? Would they say they are violating the law? Would they say they deserve to be prosecuted? Would they call them traitors? What about the moral implications of making their money dealing with a country that has been on our enemies list for years? Oh, who are we kidding? The republicans would destroy a democratic government that did what they do, but they will defend Halliburton no matter how much taxpayer money they steal, laws they break, or lives they destroy. It's only Right.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Money Is Good

Just one more reason why it's good to give money to the tsunami victims. (See "Money Talks") This sure goes against the email forwards the right has been so fond of passing around, which writes of the curious number of Muslims killed and a tsunami victim with a picture of Osama on his t-shirt.

Ann Coulter is insane

It's official, Ann Coulter's last column clearly illustrates that she is indeed mentally unstable. That means she is ready for a position in Bush's cabinet. Secretary of Defense comes to mind...

As much as I hate directing people to Coulter's site it really is worth reading her latest comments on the Jeff Gannon affair. This is probably her most intellectually challenged comment: "Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president. Still, it would be suspicious if Dowd were denied a press pass while someone from Talon News got one, even if he is a better reporter."

I think we can all get over the she's a RILF thing and come to the realization she has nothing of value to offer society. Ann Coulter is a racist, a moron and a proud Republican.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Still $5.15 an hour

Attempts to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour were squashed by the Republican lead Senate. It would have marked the first increase in 9 years for America's lowest paid workers. A worker earning minimum wage takes home less than $200 per week. I can't even begin to imagine how workers living in red states are able to survive let alone provide adequately for their families.

It's stunning that Republicans can claim that the tax break was needed to jump start the economy but raising the minimum wage would cause its demise. Republicans claim that tax relief for Americas wealthiest has resulted in a trickle down affect that has benefited the rest of us. By this logic minimum wage laws aren't really necessary since business owners will give their workers additional dollars just because they a great people. Tell that to the 2 million people in America that earn minimum wage.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Another odd decision

Just when I thought Bush was going to get serious about smoothing over relations with our allies he appoints an outspoken critic of the UN to be ambassador to the UN. I guess it was to be expected, after all Porter Goss was made head of the CIA after he said in an interview that he didn't think he was qualified to work for the CIA. On the bright side it will surely result in a lot of fun blogging.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Trip to the supermarket

A new supermarket has just opened near my house. Grocery shopping this afternoon I had a craving for Japanese rice crackers. After some consultation with a fellow shopper I headed to the "international" section. There was a whole isle dedicated to supposedly foreign foods. There were five regions represented: Italy, Spain, Asia, China and Exotic. I have no idea why China was not considered part of Asia.

Italy consisted of pasta and tomato sauce, Spain was all Goya soft drinks and beans, Asia was interestingly enough populated with pork rinds, China was rice and Exotic didn't consist of sex toys, but spicy sauces from far off places like Louisiana. There were a few other odds and ends but the majority of all these products were produced in America.

I wasn't really surprised, it seemed typical of the world a large US supermarket chain would want their shoppers to believe they live in...

Pro-fetus versus pro-family

Howard Dean's support of pro-life candidates is disheartening. I really thought he would be able to build a new Democratic party that reflected the values of American liberals but instead he already seems to have capitulated to the Republicans. Rather than spending the next 2 years discussing US problems we can suffer the stupidity of 2 candidates claiming that they both value life equally. The supreme court ruled on abortion, why don't we address issues that affect people who have already been born? I'd like to discuss healthcare and jobs. If Dean doesn't pound this message home from the outset we are going to end up in another values war that Democrats can't win. Remove abortion and gay marriage from the agenda and get on with explaining why we are headed for an economic meltdown.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Will Italy stay?

I'll be interested to see what the outcome of the most recent incident in Iraq has on US - Italian relations. I understand that the US soldiers at checkpoints in Iraq are under immense pressure but I'm skeptical that trained Italian agents would be stupid enough to race towards a checkpoint after warning shots had been fired. It also makes me wonder how many incidents like this involving innocent Iraqi civilians have occurred. Is it standard practice to shoot first at the checkpoints?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lefty Suicide?

Jeff Jacoby takes a harsh view of Hunter S. Thompson’s recent suicide, calling him selfish and cruel. While Thompson’s preferred method of suicide was indeed strange (blowing his brains out while his wife was on the phone and his family in the next room), Jacoby goes a bit overboard in his vitriolic condemnation of Thompson.

For one thing, he rewords a statement by a Thompson admirer that stated he was “at a high point in his life.” Jacoby sneers, “What warped moral universe is a man's pointless and ignoble death the ‘high point in his life?’” The author was not stating the suicide was the single high point of Thompson’s life, but rather that he was at a single high point in his life. Semantics? Perhaps.

I’ll agree that Thompson’s decision to end his life so bloodily while his 6-year-old grandson was in the next room was a horrid choice. Adults, even family members, can possibly understand Thompson’s decision to end his own life. Children can’t, and they should not have to be subjected to such a scene.

Jacoby attempts to draw a parallel between Thompson and the Pope. The Pope, he says, has a “passionate belief in the sanctity of life remains unwavering, even as Parkinson's disease slowly ravages him.” Living through pain is certainly admirable, especially when one turns it into inspiration, as the Pope has done. But Thompson was not a religious figure; he was just a man -- one who was apparently in a great deal of pain.

Jacoby mocks the writer’s family, refusing to believe that anyone could ever understand his choice to commit suicide. Anita Thompson said, “This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure,” to which Jacoby scorns, “That is either unhinged grief speaking or rancid counterculture leftism. Either way, it is grotesque.” How he found a way to relate this suicide to leftism is beyond me, especially because he doesn’t explain himself.

I am not sanctioning suicide. I believe it is perhaps one of the most hurtful acts a person can inflict on their loved ones. But there are instances in which people may be in so much physical pain, their family may recognize why they choose it. Granted, it’s a rare case that a family would be so understanding towards Thompson’s gruesome end, but he was a strange guy. And it’s quite possible that he had a strange family as well.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Alive and Kicking

According to John Leo of US News “Liberals might one day conclude that while most Americans value autonomy, they do not want a procedural republic in which patriotism, religion, socialization, and traditional values are politically declared out of bounds. Many Americans notice that liberalism nowadays lacks a vocabulary of right and wrong, declines to discuss virtue except in snickering terms, and seems increasingly hostile to prevailing moral sentiments.” He concludes by announcing, “In their bafflement over rejection of their product, liberals have been lacing speeches with religious phrases and asking mainstream Americans to vote their economic interests by rejecting Republican fat cats. It will take a bit more than that.”

By patriotism, religion, socialization and traditional values I assume he means nationalism, Christianity, racism and discrimination against gays and woman with unwanted pregnancies. Saying that liberals have no definition of right and wrong isn’t insulting, it’s an affirmation that we understand the circumstances play a role in life. Conservatives, like John Leo, would wish liberalism dead. The liberal ideal is ingrained in American culture and it is reflected in government programs like Medicaid, Medicare, social security, public education and food stamps. If liberalism is dead then compassion has also died. That hasn’t happened yet, has it?

Tough Sell

It's going to be an uphill battle for Bush to accomplish much in his second term. His plans to overhaul social security and further increase the deficit are not going to be accepted by the American people unless they can see compelling evidence of an immediate problem. According to the latest CBS/New York Times Poll when people were "asked to choose among five domestic issues facing the country, respondents rated Social Security third, behind jobs and health care."

Bush's plans to overhaul social security have the support of Greenspan. The Washington Post reported, "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday urged Congress to act soon to reduce future Social Security and Medicare benefits, warning that growing federal budget deficits threaten to cause economic stagnation in coming decades." The government should consider raising the social security tax limit beyond $90k and reversing tax cuts for those earning over 200k to get some immediate deficit relief.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

States' Rights?

Vermont residents vote on pulling US troops out of Iraq

"Vermont voters went to the polls Tuesday to overwhelmingly support a referendum to bring US troops home from Iraq, according to preliminary returns. The resolution urges President George W. Bush to bring US troops home from Iraq and also asks local lawmakers to review the Vermont National Guard's involvement in the war."

Go, Vermont! Imagine if more states began voting against the war! Voting to bring their reservists home!

What if the states shown on this map, or these maps, were allowed to particiapate in a democratic, accountable, paper-ballot vote... and they voted against the war!

...and the right-wing states' rights crowd would scream that it's unpatriotic to defy their big government federal mandate... there would be "rumors on the internets" about Vermont becoming a terrorist stronghold... ma ple syr up boycotts... coded messages hidden in the Vermont Country Store catalog... AARP members living together in log ca bins... and Lincoln Logs would become "Liberty Lumber"!

Nuke Em

Sam Johnson a Republican representative for the 3rd district in Texas had a novel idea for dealing with Syria. He said that, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore." I guess he watched "Independence Day" one two many times...

Coming from O'Reilly, Colmes or Scarborough I wouldn't think twice about a comment like this, but coming from a man who helps make the policy decisions that affect our lives it scares me.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Some Old, Some New... Tidbits From The Texecutioner's Compassionate Conservatism From Hell

Click on Dates for Source Links :)

As of 7:30pm EDT, December 7, 2000, 152 people have been executed during Bush's tenure as governor. This makes Texas Governor George W. Bush the most-killing Governor, in the history of the United States of America. Under the leadership of George W. Bush, Texas continues to rank dead last in virtually every social service area, yet first in executions. Texas has some of the poorest funded programs to help the mentally ill (who account for a good number of the prison population). Bush's response to this dead last ranking was to insist that the legislature pass a $5 billion tax cut.

In an interview, Bush ridiculed a death-row inmate for doing an interview with CNN broadcaster Larry King shortly before she was executed. "`Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, `don't kill me.'" In fact, during that Larry King-Faye Tucker exchange, Tucker never asked to be spared.

Sister Helen Prejean's 1993 book against the death penalty, Dead Man Walking, became a movie and even an opera. She said, "Honestly, it's hard to look at [Bush's] face on television because everything he says is so untruthful... He claimed Karla Faye Tucker's execution was a crushing weight on him and said, "God bless Karla Faye Tucker," and then, after she was executed, he mimicked her. I hate the way he uses religion. It's a sacrilege to me."

"I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you, our country is one that safeguards human rights and human dignity, and we resolve our disputes in a peaceful way," [Bush] said.

"A Canadian citizen, suddenly found himself caught up in the cruel mockery of justice that the Bush administration has substituted for the rule of law in the post-Sept. 11 world... he was seized by American authorities, interrogated and thrown into jail. He was not charged with anything, and he never would be charged with anything, but his life would be ruined... flown out of the United States to Jordan and then driven to Syria, where he was kept like a nocturnal animal in an unlit, underground, rat-infested cell that was the size of a grave. From time to time he was tortured... Among the worst moments, he said, were the times he could hear babies crying in a nearby cell where women were imprisoned. He recalled hearing one woman pleading with a guard for several days for milk for her child. He could hear other prisoners screaming as they were tortured... The Justice Department has alleged, without disclosing any evidence whatsoever, that [he] is a member of, or somehow linked to, Al Qaeda. If that's so, how can the administration possibly allow him to roam free? The Syrians, who tortured him, have concluded that [he] is not linked in any way to terrorism... [he] was deliberately dispatched by U.S. officials to Syria, a country that - as they knew - practices torture. And if Canadian officials hadn't intervened, he most likely would not have been heard from again... [he] is the most visible victim of the reprehensible U.S. policy known as extraordinary rendition, in which individuals are abducted by American authorities and transferred, without any legal rights whatever, to a regime skilled in the art of torture. The fact that some of the people swallowed up by this policy may in fact have been hard-core terrorists does not make it any less repugnant."