Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fighting Poverty, Bush Style

It seems the Bush administration's policy of tax cuts for the rich has had it's desired effect. It has made rich people richer. Meanwhile in 2004, 1.1 more Americans now live in poverty. Does anyone else agree that this may indicate trickle down economics isn't working? Before you say that's because of illegal immigration, it isn't. The gains are largely attributed to non-Hispanic whites. That brings the total number of citizens living in poverty to more than 37 million or 1 in 9 people. Is that acceptable?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I Like It!

I'd like to simply plug someone else's blog if I may. I have no idea who the good people at The Blasphemy Blog are but I think they have some nicely stated points, not the least of which is this one about the "spirit" of Cindy Sheehan's movement, and this one that is an eloquent musing about the "spirit" of capitalism. I like that blog. That's why I'm making this plug. (NeoLibs has more robust commenting though.) Long live thoughtful liberals!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cutting fuel taxes is not an option

Anyone that thinks a solution to the rising cost of gasoline is to cut the fuel tax is misguided. The money received by the federal government is spent on highways, mass transit and environmental projects. Driving is not a right, it's a privilege. Citizens should expect to pay, through taxes, for the infrastructure to support this privilege. If you don't want to pay gas taxes; walk or ride a bike. Americans have been spoiled by some of the lowest pump prices of any western country and now are being punished for driving SUVs that they can't afford to fill. The upward trend in oil prices will have a positive impact if it causes Americans to alter their lifestyles to limit their dependence on a finite natural resource. I'm willing to suffer a short term economic downturn for a long term environmental gain.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

They Lie (surprise...)!

Bush supporters spread lies about Cindy Sheehan!

...And here is the proof.

Could the Bush administration, and their supporters, even exist without lies? I think not. Since day one ("election" day 2000) their reign has been predicated on a foundation of lies. But as far as American history is concerned, the only lies that matter are the ones involving sexual activity.

The Neocons: Liars. Murderers. Thieves. Traitors. "Morally superior."

Working Hard

President Bush talks a lot about "hard work" in his speeches. He must have used the expression almost as often as "freedom and democracy". So now he's on a 5 week vacation in Crawford. The average fortune 500 CEO takes 2.3 weeks of vacation per year. Our President has spent 25% of his presidency either at or on route to Crawford. Republicans will say he's still getting briefed, still answering calls. Big deal, I check my email on vacation and answer work related calls, most of us do.

Fact is this guy sucks, he's hopeless, he's done nothing for America. Now he's trying to hide in his ranch and work out how the hell to get rid of Cindy Sheehan, another thorn in his side. Meanwhile what happened to fixing this country? Where is the talk about social security, Medicare, education and poverty? What about that massive deficit and the inevitable real estate crash? While we've all focused on Iraq, banks have been lending money hand over fist and now the Fed seems to be intent on putting more pressure on over-streched consumers. Oil prices are out of control. Apparently Bush's Saudi buddies aren't towing the line and the promise of an abundance of Iraqi all has really materialized. All this is having a huge impact on the ability of average Americans to make ends meet.

So where is Bush? What's he doing about all this? Oh that's right, he's on his ranch, "working hard".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

At least he had the guts to say it...

I'm sure a lot of conservatives share Pat Robinson's sentiments for Hugo Chavez. Some people in America feel threatened by a socialist leader who has the support of his countries poor, particularly when that country is oil rich. Chavez is a thorn in the side of US foreign policy. It's difficult to label Venezuela as a threat to US security but Chavez is building strong relationships with enemies of "freedom and democracy" aka capitalism. As oil prices continue to rise it will be interesting to see where the administration decides to turn next. Perhaps the assassination of Chavez is on the agenda, more likely is a CIA sponsored coup. We will have to wait and see.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A constitution not the Constitution

I don't want to discuss the "fundamental law of the United States, framed in 1787, ratified in 1789, and variously amended since then" but the one we have insisted the Iraqis create so that Americans can relate to progress.

My opinion, better to delay the process and have the Sunni's buy into the agreement. It's a chance for us to let the Iraqi's do something positive that may actually benefit them.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

War and Human Natures

I borrowed the title for this post from Paul Ehrlich's book, Human Natures. Ehrlich's theory is that there is no one human nature but that phenotypic expression (our genetic make-up added with our environment and culture) combined with the uniquely human ability to choose makes up different human natures.

I'm sure all of us would agree that the killing of other people is fundamentally wrong. In nature there are factors that drive species to kill animals of the same species, but indiscriminate killing is rare and can usually be attributed to a survival instinct. Take the example of a family of baboons at an evaporating waterhole in the southern Sahara. A documentary follows their plight until the waterhole has completely evaporated. Initially as the crocodile infested water recedes family members risk their lives to save others but over time they focus more on their own survival and eventually begin attacking each other.

Understanding that humans and baboons are different, although genetically very similar, it's interesting to contemplate how much choice has enabled us to advance. Choice allows people to invent and innovate without being restricted by the slow evolutionary process of natural selection. While invention and innovation are products of choice war can also be a choice.

When war is undertaken without a direct identifiable threat it is by definition a choice. Preemptive war is indicative of a human paranoia. Paranoia is a phenotypic trait some humans exhibit and others don't. Conservative people by their nature tend to be more paranoid than non-conservatives. They live their lives constantly in fear always contemplating "what if" scenarios. "What if I go to Disneyworld and terrorists launch a chemical attack? What if I fly to Paris and my plane crashes? What if I walk down the street and drunk driver mows me down? What if I don't send my troops to Iraq and they attack me?" All very low probability events, in fact not one has a probability of less than one in a million.

Every citizen should contemplate whether they want leadership that plays to the fears of a minority or a leadership that identifies and addresses actual issues. Poverty, the environment, healthcare, urban education, the defense budget, unemployment, gas prices, social security and corporate corruption are all current issues that are affecting our lives now. They don't depend on probabilities, they exist.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Someone once suggested that one of our frequent commenters and I should sit down together and have a drink. Here is how that meeting might look:

Friday, August 19, 2005

Immigration in 2006

The Republicans have decided the big issue in 2006 will be border control down south. On Fox, Hannity has spent the past week patrolling the border with immigration officers. Apparently the biggest threat to border patrols are gangs of rock throwing Mexicans. Scary.

The argument that without stricter border controls terrorists will get into the US and blow us up doesn't resonate with me. They will find a way, irrespective of what we do. The Republicans need to tread lightly with this issue, the benefit of making middle America scared of Mexicans may be lost if this issue energizes Hispanics and they start voting. Don't get me wrong I see a need for border protection but lets not lose site of the reality that determined people will find a way into the US.

As a society we need to start coming to terms with a reality. Hispanics will find a way into the US as long as they can't prosper in their own countries. Fix that issue and we won't have to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

When the News Sounds Like Satire, then Satire Sounds Like News...

From The Onion: Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory
As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"
Yeah, this is funny now... tomorrow it will be in the headlines, and the republicans will be appropriating funds in astronomical amounts (no pun intended) to study Intelligent Falling. Then we'll hear about the strange coincidence that an apple fell on Newton's head, and was also the fruit of the tree of knowledge... oh, the irony of living in a 'toon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Some words from Bill O'Reilly

"If Cindy Sheehan is really about getting the troops out of Iraq, why isn't she traveling to Washington to stand outside Hillary Clinton's home? The senator supports the war. Will Ms. Sheehan go to Nantucket and stand outside John Kerry's beach house? He isn't a cut and run club member.

So it's obvious Cindy Sheehan has become a political player, who's primary concern is embarrassing the president. She is no longer just a protestor. I don't think she ever has been, by the way."

You have got to hate those mothers who lose their children in war and get angry about it. The right wants to be real careful here, they would have been smart to ignore this story but instead they risk alienating a core constituency, parents.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Islam the new Communism

Watching a documentary about the Rosenberg’s I was taken with the similarities to today. I can’t help but wonder whether in fifty years time society will equate the treatment prisoners in Guantanamo with the trial of the Rosenberg’s, the Japanese internment camps or even the Salem witch trails. It seems that Islamic loyalists share a similar burden to the Americans that agreed with communist philosophy, up until its alleged fall during the Reagan years. I say alleged because Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and more than a billion Chinese seem to be keeping that dream alive.

I’m not making excuses for terrorists’ hell bent on killing innocent people but I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are most likely prisoners of war and acquaintances of people of interest who have been held in prison for almost 4 years that shouldn’t have been. Now and again I think of these people and the government’s insistence that their incarceration makes us safer and I wonder whether that is really true.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Super Size This

Apparently "Supersize Me" got it wrong, a McDonalds only diet will help you lose weight. A woman from North Carolina ate only McDonalds for 90 days and lost almost 40 pounds! This is great news for anyone feeling guilty about ordering a double quarter pounder with extra meat and cheese. Go ahead and watch the pounds melt away. I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Democrats, not to be outdone...

Holding Democrats Accountable...

...with stupid drawings.

Thought this site was kind of funny...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thinking long and hard

Bush on the mother who lost her son in Iraq:

"Listen: I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position," Bush said. "And I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is: Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so."

Do you think he could have said he was sorry for her loss? No because then he would have to admit people die in Iraq. Still I'm glad to hear him say that he's been thinking long and hard about this... That's always comforting.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What Goes Around, Comes Around

A quote in a recent newspaper article caught my eye:
"You don't know the good guys from the bad guys, just like we couldn't in Vietnam... To me, (the insurgents) are cowards, because they can tell us, but we can't tell them."
Very interesting on several levels:

Who do these camoflauged insurgents remind us of? Let me give you a hint: Once upon a time, a ruler named King George sent his soldiers to enforce his will upon the rebellious inhabitants of another land. King George's soldiers wore easily distinguished uniforms, while the indiginous rebels blended into the scenery, fighting as guerillas, demoralizing King George's army and inflicting damage by their use of tactics that were considered brutal, unethical, and unsuited for civilized warfare.

I'm sure that many of King George's soldiers said the same thing as the American soldier in the quote above:
"[They] are cowards, because they can tell us, but we can't tell them."
King George... of England.

The rebels were Americans. What goes around comes around.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Check's In The Mail

I personally feel that the GOP owes us a beer or two.

As told by CNN: GREENVILLE, South Carolina (AP) -- South Carolina Republicans say the Democrats owe them beer money. In April, Anheuser-Busch Co. -- based in St. Louis, Missouri -- wrote a $5,000 check intended for the state Republican Party. Instead, the envelope was addressed to the state Democratic Party, which promptly deposited the money.
Now, state GOP leaders say the South Carolina Democratic Party needs to return the beer money they are owed.

Democrats say the check is in the mail.

Katja Zastrow, Anheuser-Busch's regional director of governmental affairs in Washington, said in an e-mail statement that the check went astray "through a series of administrative oversights." She said the company is working with both parties to resolve the situation.
Democrats say they have sent a refund check back to Anheuser-Busch: "Nobody should expect us to write a check to the Republican Party," said Lachlan McIntosh, the Democratic Party's executive director. The GOP said the refund was sent only after it threatened a lawsuit.

Spend, spend, spend

Bush will fly to Illinois next week to sign an energy bill that is a testament to the new Republican mantra of “spend, spend, spend”. Hastert has secured more than $200 million for his district or $1000 per person for roads projects. LA secured less than $60 per person. The notion of fiscal conservatism has been lost to both the administration and senators. This energy bill is laden with funding for projects aimed to appease individual constituencies, millions for a bridge in a remote area of Alaska, $200,000 for a deer avoidance system in New York, and some of this money is excess to the budget.

As a fiscal conservative, the one aspect of a Bush win that appealed to me in 2000 was the chance for spending restraint. Instead not only do we have to deal with the social conservatism but the government has followed a fiscal policy that encourages overspending on unnecessary projects to placate a relative small proportion of the electorate.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Conservatives against Darwin

This is an awesome article. My favorite quote:

"Darwin was used by the devil to give the anti-God folk something to talk about, debate, get mad about, scream about, and have school committees for. Darwin was simply another mortal down through history who was instrumented by forces of darkness to war against Creator God. So what’s new?"

Really sums up the religious right. Dismiss progress as the work of the devil and live happily ever after in a fantasy world as you earn $5 an hour at Wal Mart and pray your son doesn't come home from Iraq in a box.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Moronic Design

It's official our President is a moron. Anyone that confused his stupidity with a steadfast resolve to stand behind his beliefs must now understand that his support of intelligent design puts him at odds with reality. Surely he can be impeached at this juncture for a lack of mental competency. What's intelligent about intelligent design? Nothing. It's predicated on either a god or aliens contributing to a non-evolutionary theory. It has absolutely no scientific basis and has no place being discussed as an education option in a progressive society.

On Tuesday a bunch of people handing out bananas in front of my train station were shouting the slogan, "Don't let evolution make a monkey out of you!". Huh? Yeah because as humans we are so fucking special there is no way we could be related to a monkey. It's time we got over ourselves. Scientists, believe it or not, have tried very hard to disprove Darwin's theories, and although there have been revisions and advances, the core principals of his work has stood the test of time. Meanwhile the bible with it's Adam and Eve crap is not accepted by anyone with half a brain. That of course excludes George Bush.

The conservative way

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The weighting of death

It's always interesting to see the type of news that warrants a lead article by a major news agency. A bus crash with one death in the US, a missing American teen in Aruba, 1 person killed by a suicide bomber in Israel (for Fox fans a homicide bomber is known to the rest of us as a suicide bomber), a marine killed in Iraq, an American killed in Afghanistan; all these have been lead articles by CNN, Fox and Reuters.

Meanwhile did anyone know that 1,000 people died in flooding in India this week, that 200,000 people in Niger are at risk of starvation, that last year's tsunami is still claiming lives in Indonesia, that each year in the US guns claim more than 30,000 lives?

Maybe large scale death is something we have become immune too, particularly when it doesn't affect suburban America. Makes me think that the media's reluctance to cover some of these issues diminishes their importance on the social agenda.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

An excuse to delay Roberts?

One quotation from a list compiled by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"Burns, Inhofe and McConnell Among Group Threatening to Block Nominees If Clinton Went Ahead With Recess Appointments. In 1999, 13 Republican senators threatened to block all of Clinton’s judicial nominees for a full year after he used his recess privilege. The Republican group, which was led by Sen. Jim Inhofe, also included Sens. Burns, McConnell, Thomas and Voinovich. [Washington Times, 12/23/99]"

I guess if Democrats exercise their right to block Roberts, Republicans won't be able to whine about it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A not so diplomatic process...

It doesn’t matter whether there are 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court and a house and senate stacked with Republicans. Even when his own party disagrees with him this President just goes around the process. What’s he got to lose? He is after all the least popular second term President ever. His social security policy has been a disaster and any chance of a meaningful legacy beyond sending troops to an unnecessary war and inability to crush Al Qaeda is looking less and less likely.

Let’s consider the definition of diplomat for a moment:
1. One, such as an ambassador, who has been appointed to represent a government in its relations with other governments.
2. One who uses skill and tact in dealing with others.
By this definition is Bolton a diplomat? How about Bush?