In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist

This is LittleBill talking: Because most of you, as well as I, care deeply about overpopulation, particularly as it relates to racism and the rights and needs of others, as well as to the other creatures on this earth, I am posting once more two of my blogs which are of special interest to me, and I hope to you. “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me”. 12/30/06

Over Population Solutions
Sunday, July 09, 2006

It is both encouraging and alarming that there are so many letters and articles these days about overpopulation; encouraging because of the growing awareness of the problem, and alarming to realize that it may already be too late, that human beings are breeding themselves to extinction and taking the rest of the world’s creatures with us.

War, hunger, illiteracy, disease, violence, mental illness, and hatred between groups and nations are not discrete problems. Overpopulation, is the BIG problem. It is worldwide, and it is a web in which we are all enmeshed.

Let’s start with some irrefutable facts:
· The earth is of unchanging size.

· The earth’s resources are finite and being rapidly depleted, especially by the developed and developing nations, the United States leading the pack.

· Human beings, like all creatures, do not live forever. We die at different ages from different causessome old, some young, some ill, some healthybut we will all die.

Envision two cows in a corral with only enough food to keep one alive. Obviously, one will die. Almost certainly both will eat some of the food, so both will die.

Some humans live in big corrals with plenty of food for the body, the mind, and the soul. But millions are living in tiny corrals with little or nothing to sustain them. And, as the numbers increase, they draw ever closer to each other. Folks, it just ain’t gonna work.

There is only one possible solution: Humans will have to start dying faster than they are being born.

Following are my suggestions for partial solutions:
· The number of children per family should be limited to one for all those on public support and two for all others, irrespective of personal wealth or religious belief, and it should be strictly enforced. Birth control should range all the way from abstinence to abortion and sterilization. The method should be the prerogative of the woman, and it should be fully funded by the government for those who cannot afford it.

· The Hippocratic Oath (first, do no harm) should be rethought, both for the benefit of the people involved and for their caregivers. The evolution of scientific knowledge with regard to prolonging human life can frequently result in more harm than good.

· Babies born with no chance for any quality of life should (with the assent of their parents) be allowed to die mercifully at birth.

· All adults should be made aware of and sign a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (or similar legal form) stating how they should be cared for in case of catastrophic injury or illness. In the case of children or adults who have left no instructions, their families or their surrogates should be allowed to make the decision for them, rather than having them drag on forever unable to make the decision for themselves.

· Suicide should be relieved of its stigma and the humane means of accomplishing it for any reason, physical, mental, or emotional, and people who are dying should not have to wait for a period of time set by others.

· The last suggestion is difficult and equivocal. Logic would say that those people in prison for life for terrible crimes should be considered not worth saving. The main problem with this is that although science makes it increasingly possible to be sure the right sentence was pronounced on the right man or woman, there are many in prison who have not been afforded that proof.

And then, of course, there is the final solution, of unending war, pestilence, starvation, and violence of every sort, marching over the face of the earth as I write, the option- of-choice of the compassionate religious right.

Rumination on a Different Direction
Thursday, August 03, 2006

It has suddenly crossed my mind that each nation in this fractious world should withdraw within its own boundaries and learn to live on what’s left of its own resources with whatever time is left before the complete collapse of civilization.

For the poorer countries it should be relatively easy because their lives are more engrossed with survival than with frills. They are accustomed to expecting less and dying sooner. But the resources of their own country would then at least belong to them.

It will be more difficult for the wealthy countries, because so many of the resources of other countries, including cheap labor, are what supply our creature comforts. This will be especially hard for the people of the United States who have been encouraged by our capitalist society to believe in the ethic of personal frolic and consumption, and to fear the personal shame of not supporting our country if we do not make the mall and world travel the cornerstone of our days.

Free trade does not appear to benefit anyone to any particular extent except the corporations and the very rich. The rest of us may benefit to some extent, but at the expense of the people who are employed by our corporations in foreign lands for meager pay, similar jobs that are lost to American workers, and the immigrants here, both legal and illegal, who can’t make a living wage in this country either.

Tribalism exists throughout the world. There is a great deal of tribalism within the United States: ­economic, political, financial, “social”, racial, and especially religious. When it becomes time for history (if there is anyone here to record it), the Great Divider will be remembered best for his faith-based fragmentation of his country and this world.

But it is not entirely his fault. Unfortunately, the Great American Dream of a country that said, after we got rid of the Indians, “Come one, come all, and we will live forever in peace and harmony” has become the world’s nightmare, aggravated by the increasing closeness in which we live.

Another Look At Illegal Immigration

It's time for a more reasoned perspective on illegal immigration. Sure, we need to be worried about the international atmosphere created by the Bush team. And there are certainly many illegal immigrants coming across our borders. But most are paying an awful physical price for the journey in terms of death by starvation and/or fatal dehydration.

Some are carrying drugs because the market for illegal drugs in this country evidently makes the gamble worthwhile. Whose fault is that?

A good deal of crime also crosses the border with them, but, hey, we have plenty of that here already, physical, social, and corporate.

And, so far, we haven't found any nuclear weapons on them. So cool it.

If you're going to think in terms of illegal immigration, you must also think of unbearable population, and not enough people are thinking about that yet.

About the Draft - Part II

It is not surprising that the White House and its supporters would be firmly against a draft, but it is very disappointing to me that some Democrats are already showing a great lack of courage by agreeing with them.

The idea seems to be that we can just train and/or rearrange the armed forces we now have in order (with a little help from recruitment) that we can make do with the forces we now have. Sending them back to hell sooner or for longer stints might help. No need to get into a long and costly process of drafting and training people who have never been in a war.

The armed forces who are there now are (or were) human beings. I could stand to see the results of just one roadside bomb or take part in the invasion of a home full of frightened people just once, and that would be the day that I would commit suicide. I'm not the only one who would feel that way. There are many more suicides in this war than there have been in any of our previous wars.

I sincerely commend Charlie Rangel for his courage in continuing to call for a renewal of the draft in the hope that that will make us think twice about being a "country at war" as Bush likes to refer to us. There are men and the are MEN, and there are values and there are VALUES. Charlie Rangel is a MAN with VALUES.

Happy Holidaze!!

The Rev. Alan Jones is dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Here is his column in Today's San Francisco Chronicle:

It's good to know that word has come down that it is OK to greet each other at this time of year with "Merry Christmas!" The current crop of vociferous atheists have OK'd it, and it's good to see that they are in agreement with those on the political right who want Christmas to be honored. From the atheists' point of view, what is the harm because the holiday is meaningless. It is the winter solstice and we can all -- atheist and believer alike -- enjoy a bit of holiday cheer. I put off Christmas as long as I can (because it does not really begin until Dec. 24) but the pull of the season (as in shopping) gets harder and harder to resist -- all that struggling in a shopping mall, looking for presents that people really don't want.

In our effort to honor the separation of church and state, we get worried around religious festivals and do our best to squeeze out all spiritual significance. In spite of the recent rehabilitation of "Merry Christmas," some of us have a sneaking feeling that it would be better to greet each other with the generic "Happy Holidays!" rather than "Merry Christmas." Better Frosty the Snowman than the crèche. Better the Sugar Plum Fairy than the Shepherds and the Magi.

We like the chance for a break from work but are anxious about "beliefs" spoiling the holiday season. We don't want one set of beliefs dominating at the expense of others. In some places, the holiday symbols get all mixed, like the image that once appeared of Santa jolly on the cross in the big shopping district of Tokyo. But maybe we're going about the question of religious symbols and the holiday season the wrong way.

Lurking beneath the surface of our culture, there is a serious error in the way we have come to view the role of beliefs in our lives. I think beliefs and convictions are important, but we tend to put the cart before the horse. Most people still equate faith with believing certain things about God or the sacred. The mistaken idea is that you have to swallow a few correct beliefs before you can embark on the spiritual journey.

It might come as a bit of shock for a priest to admit that I find it increasingly hard always to tell the difference between believers and nonbelievers. The difference that matters to me is between those who are awake and those who are asleep, between those who are open to a change of heart and those who are not. Noted religion writer Karen Armstrong points out, "In all the great traditions, prophets, sages and mystics spent very little time telling their disciples what they ought to believe." They were invited to trust that "despite all the tragic and dispiriting evidence to the contrary, our lives did have some ultimate meaning and value. You could not possibly arrive at faith in this sense before you has lived a religious life. Faith was thus the fruit of spirituality, not something that you had to have at the start of your quest."

It would be great if believers and unbelievers would call a truce and recover this ancient wisdom of inviting people to live a certain way before they were clobbered with doctrines of belief or unbelief. How about leading a compassionate life? How about recognizing the dignity of others? How about showing up at rituals and ceremonies which help us wait before mystery?

So, what about Christmas?

When I am asked questions at this time of year about the divinity of Christ and the status of Mary in the life of faith, I invite people simply to look lovingly at a woman (in the first instance, any woman) with a baby (in the first instance, any baby) in her arms or at her breast, and ask themselves, "In the light of this image, how should I be in the world? How should I behave? How should I treat others and myself?"

As I am touched and moved by the symbols and stories of other traditions, I live in hope that the symbols and stories of my tradition might touch and move others without there being any sense of religious imperialism. A woman holding a baby is hardly threatening, and surely an image that is not owned by any particular religion exclusively. The point is, there's only one family -- a holy family -- and it's us -- all of us together. I mean all of us -- without exception. There's only one ethnic group. All of us -- together, of whatever belief. We're in this together.

Happy holidays!

If You See Pekka before I Do. . .

Ask him something for me, will you?

I have always wondered about my good friend Pekka, with whom I have shared many political opinions and from whom I benefited greatly from his generous support as well as helpful criticism. Everyone who has encountered him, has experienced someone who exudes great wisdom, spirit and kindness. On the occasion of the Solstice, I wish to salute and celebrate this very good fellow.

In time, I learned that he claims both Canada and Finland as 'homelands'. I have speculated on what activities binds these two countries together for him and naturally thought of skiing and hockey as obvious choices, only to learn that Pekka is death on team sports such as hockey and soccer.

Then I discovered a little known fact: Canada and Finland are known to be world centers of a well established but not widely practiced sport of wife-carrying.

The sport originated as a joke in Finland, supposedly reminiscent of a past in which men courted women by running to their village, picking them up, and carrying them off. The Wife Carrying Contest has very deep roots in Sonkajärvi's local history, despite its humorous aspect. In the late 1800s a brigand ancestor of Pekka's, called Rosvo-Ronkainen, was staying in the area. He allegedly only accepted troops who proved their worth on a challenging track. Village raids were conducted where women were stolen and carried off as if by Rosvo-Ronkainen's bandits.

The competition has been somewhat modified these days. (To begin with, all wives have to be returned.) But the tradition of carrying someone else's wife is still very much alive. Even in the enlightened 21st century it's not necessary to carry your own wife - it can be yours or that of someone you know. The only restriction is that baggage (and we use this word in its technical rather than descriptive sense) must be over the age of 17.

The sport is now practised around the world and has a category in the Guinness Book of Records.

Several types of carry may be practised: piggyback, fireman's carry (over the shoulder), or Estonian-style (the wife hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband's shoulders, holding onto his waist).

Prizes are generous, with the champion receiving the wife's weight in beer, and, intriguingly, "a bag full of wifecarrying products".

The original track in the rough terrain with fences, rocks and brooks has been altered to suit modern conditions. These following rules set by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee apply:

  • The length of the official track is 253.5 meters, and the surface of the track is partially sand, partially grass and partially gravel
  • The track has two dry obstacles and a water obstacle, about one meter deep
  • The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbor's or you may have found her farther afield; she must, however, be over 17 years of age
  • The minimum weight of the wife to be carried is 49 kilograms. If it is less than 49 kg, the wife will be burdened with such a heavy rucksack that the total weight to be carried is 49 kg.
  • All the participants must have fun
  • If a contestant drops his wife that couple will be fined 15 seconds per drop
  • The only equipment allowed is a belt worn by the carrier, the carried must wear a helmet.
  • The contestants run the race two at a time, so each heat is a contest in itself
  • Each contestant takes care of his/her safety and, if deemed necessary, insurance
  • Also the most entertaining couple, the best costume and the strongest carrier will be awarded a special prize.
  • Participation fee is 50 euro.
Along with the main event there are also a team competition, a triathlon and a "classic" race. The track is the same but three men in the team carry the wife in turn. At the exchange point the carrier has to drink the official "wife carrying drink" before continuing the race.

This event might seem tailor-made for all those unreconstructed males who still believe the little lady enjoys a bit of macho muscle-flexing.

So, for all of these reasons, I suspect Pekka has qualified as a master in this event, with an international ranking.

If you see him before I do, ask him about it.

And don't believe the first (few) answers he gives you!

Musings from a Failing Mind

First, let's think about immigration (legal or illegal). Our middle class, upper class, and the I-don't-have-to-work class all benefit from the slave labor which provides many of our wants, but we are furious that OUR taxes have to provide for their health and education needs. It hasn't occurred to most of us that if they earned a living wage they might be able to provide for health and education themselves.

Now let's think some more about the wars in Iraq and elsewhere. Have any of you ever heard of the word "propaganda"? There has been a ton of it issuing from the Bush administration ever since 9/11, and it is particularly useful in recruitment and training of the armed forces. Keeping in mind the fact that the propaganda and outright lying began with 9/11, I would divide the groups of members of the current military into the following categories:

Men and women who had chosen military service as a career.

Patriots of any kind and from any level of society who enlisted in the service in their country's time of need.

People who were out of work and facing few alternatives.

Young people, many uneducated and not yet mature in their view of life.

Macho types who are turned on by the idea of the HUNT.

(Feel free to add, subtract, or criticize the above. We need statistics on these.)

There is a great deal of handwringing about the loss of American lives, but practically none about anyone else. That tells you something about religion and values right there.

At his press conference today, Bush indicated that he hasn't the slightest intention to follow anything proposed by the Iraq Study Group. Instead, he wants to increase our military forces, adding to the permanent standing forces. He mentioned the word "recruitment" but not a whisper of the word "draft". The people who are rich and the people who are enlightened about this war and this leader are unlikely to sign up.

Finally, Bush does not know, although he has used the words "victory" and "peace" that they are not synonymous.

To end on a positive note, hot damn if I didn't hear our Great Leader call again for the American people as a whole to SHOP.

Our Debt to and for Iraq

I'll say it again:

There is only one morally right and conceivable solution to the horrific error made by our deeply religious man in the White House. He should admit to the world that he bears total responsibility for the fiasco that he has visited upon us. Because of his enormous ego and sense of self-importance, he invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and he is personally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, ours as well as theirs, and the misery of millions more across the globe.

He should withdraw all of our troops immediately, regardless of the military consequences from all sides, apologize daily for the rest of his life to the Iraqis, as well as to the American people, especially to those who have endangered their lives at his behest, and submit himself to Congress for impeachment, without taking the coward's way out by resigning.

By his decisions, he has made it certain that what we leave behind will be a greater hell than exists in Iraq at this moment, and there is nothing that can be done about it. It will just have to evolve. God, do not forgive the people who put him where he is.

Person of the Year

Time Magazine has Named the Person of the Year
and it's . . . .


Yes, you.

You control the Information Age.

Welcome to your world.

The World Wide Web of the Internet has exploded as a Big Bang allowing unprecedented collaboration and community of shared information. Web-based logs have become known as 'blogs. Annually printed encyclopedias have been reinvented or morphed into a continually updated Wikipedia. And there's also a million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace, none of which I pretend to understand as yet.

Time thinks this cosmic and dynamic compendium of knowledge will will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.


Inconvenient Truth Must Move On To Congress

Al Gore says:

Now comes the hard work. We have to take this message to Washington. And we can't do it without you.

Yes, the new majority in Congress will be much more receptive on the importance of global warming. That's the good news. But I know from personal experience that the only thing that will make Washington really take notice and do more than give lip service to the problem of global warming is the prospect of millions of committed citizens taking action. It's time to join together and make that happen. Can you help?

I'm asking folks to hold house parties, in thousands of homes across the nation, to show the film and spread the word. Please sign a postcard!

Happy Un-Hallmark Christmas!

This morning I awoke to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Joy to the World, and I realized that I was in fantasyland again. As with Christmas last year, I am in a quandary. Shall I write my Christmas letter as if I worked for Hallmark, or shall I let LittleBill do it? (LittleBill, as those of you who do not have computers may not know, is one of my cats. He is the author of my personal blog, In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill.) He has been acting strangely all week, and he drove me nuts until I finally got up and gave him the go-ahead to say what he wants. He wrote my biography, which you who read him found in my blog some time ago, and you know he's pretty strange, so don't blame me.

The major change in my life this past year took place last December when the friend of a friend gave me an old computer. I had never touched one in my life until that was all hooked up. Then a friend insisted that I start a blog, and he set it up for me. This has worked out very well, especially since the local paper here went to hell and many of its readers and contributors, including me, have cancelled our subscriptions. Much to my amazement, it has opened up a whole new world for me. There is a downside too, however, the main problem being that I am shaped like a cashew nut. But LittleBill is chewing my ear and clawing at my hands, so I have to let him go ahead.

If you remember my biography, the first half of my life was an ocean of misery as an unloved child in a privileged family. That must have been the reason that rescuing animals became so important to me. I have rescued (and kept for the rest of their lives) over 100 animals of various types, mainly cats and dogs. Now that I am too old to go where there are animals in trouble, I adopt them from adoption centers, and I always ask for the one that no one else wants. My little secret is that they are the best kind. In fact, when my family went to school recently so that my son-in-law could give the children a look at Mercury crossing the face of the Sun, someone was giving away a litter of kittens. To make a long story short, I ended up with the runt of the lot, who fit comfortably in my hand at that time. I named her Mercury and LittleBill adores her. She is now a hellion, and when I went to see the source of a crash, I found a lamp shade on the floor, and triumph on her face.

In a nutshell, I have my daughter and her family living nearby, my son living happily on Kauai, and my dear 7 cats and one remaining dog living in our little pool of happiness.

Most of my friends have been birdwatching companions, which was a major turning point in my life. I will never forget my first time out, when I saw a brown bird at some distance sitting on a fence. I raised my newly purchased binoculars to my eyes for the first time and saw that it was a Western Bluebird, with a lovely blue back and rosy breast. Unlike nature lovers who like to kill, birders are undoubtedly the major sponsors of the environmental movement.

It is hard to think that oceans of happiness spending money and time consuming what the earth has to offer for one's particular comfort and pleasure should be a person's main goal in life, as it has come to be for so many Americans. At the same time that many of us are treating ourselves to bawbles and huge SUVs, women of Africa are being raped and slaughtered in front of their children, and thousands are starving to death. And at the very moment you read these words, there are dismembered bodies still writhing and screaming on the streets of Baghdad. It is virtually impossible to realize that such disparate lives coexist on this planet.

OK, LittleBill, I know you had to get this off your mind, but that's enough. For the rest of you, I love you all and care for you and wish you happiness living in what I hope are little pools of happiness. I will be mailing pictures to some of you after Christmas.

Anne, LittleBill, Mom, Grandma, Duck Duck, Rudy

We Are Not Going To Give Up

Bush appeared before the press a short time ago to announce that virtually nothing has changed in his ossified mind. He was flanked by officers whose expressions were inscrutable, but interesting.

We really ought to add Our Interestststs to our list of revealing subjects in his book of brainwashing, right up there with the Terroriststs. (He loves S's.) The interests of the rest of the world, or even the citizens of this country, are immaterial. Losing is the one thing he cannot accept, at any cost.

As usual, he said that if we turn the leadership of Iraq over entirely to the ELECTED leaders before they are ready, the terrorists will surely use Iraq as a base from which to attack us here at home. There are a couple of things about that:

  1. I thought I heard him announce after the "democratic" election that the government was now in the hands of the people and the government of Iraq to work out for themselves. Now there is continuing talk about possibly changing the democratically elected government, though it is being denied at the moment.
  2. If we withdraw our forces before we WIN, it is certain that the terrorists will follow us here.
Hell, the so-called terrorists (which all of them may or may not be) are making up for not killing us here by killing us over there through the deaths of our armed forces. Not only that, they will shortly surpass the numbers killed in 9/11 over here.

Big Al Sounds Off!

Al Gore Tells It As It Is!

Matt Lauer:

So you know, probably, what we know about this Iraq Study Group's report. What stands out in your mind?
Al Gore:
Well I haven't read it yet. I've read some of the newspaper accounts. There are a lot of very good people who are part of the group but whether it's a lowest-common denominator committee result or not I really don't know. The fact is this is a very bad situation. Our country has to find a way to get our troops out as quickly as possible without making the situation worse, even worse in the manner of our leaving. . . .

And they're all basically saying the same thing, Matt. This is an utter disaster, this was the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States and now we, as a nation, have to find a way in George Mitchell's words to manage a disaster. But I would urge the President not to, to try to separate out the, the, the personal issues of being, of being blamed in history for this mistake and instead recognize it's not about him, it's about our country and we all have to find a way to get our troops home and, and to prevent a regional conflagration there.

. . . . There were clear warnings before the decision to invade Iraq that it was gonna be a catastrophe. This was predictable. And the, the head of the Army said, 'We don't have enough troops.' Others said this is a terrible mistake. And now what we're seeing with this report and all of the others is a situation that really where there are no good outcomes because the warnings were . . . .

What Now in the Middle East?

This was an excellent article entitled What Now in the Middle East? in the Chroncicle for 30-Nov. It is in Open Forum on the Opinion pages. The author is Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor from l998 to 2005.

Here are some excerpts:

The political and security situation in the vast region between the Indus Valley and the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean is a cause for grave concern. When the United States intervened militarily in Iraq in 1991, the intention was to effect fundamental change in the entire region. Today it is clear that hardly any aspect of this policy has succeeded. Even the success of free elections in Iraq is threatening to divide rather than unite the country.

The existing power relations in the Middle East have indeed been permanently shaken and, indeed, revolutionized. The effect however, has not been a domino-like democratization; instead we are threatened with a domino effect of descent into chaos.

The decision to go to war against Iraq to liberate Kuwait, back in 1991, marked the beginning of America's role as the sole hegemonic military power in the region. The decision to go to war against Iraq for a second time, and then to occupy the country in March 2003, transformed this hegemony into direct U.S. responsibility for the future of the Middle East.
. . . .
The very character of the war in Iraq has been transformed from a democratizing mission into a stabilizing mission high in casualties and in cost. Instead of the intended radical realignment of power relations in the region, the aim is now to simply maintain the status quo.

The most the United States can hope for at this point is a withdrawal that saves face. The November elections in America were a referendum on the war in Iraq. Their results, in fact, set a timetable for the "Iraqization" and U.S. withdrawal -- before the next presidential election.

Behind the all-too-foreseeable end of the American stabilizing mission lurks a civil war in Iraq, which threatens to turn into an Arab-Iranian proxy war for dominance in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and beyond. Moreover, there is an acute risk that the power vacuum created in Iraq will fuse the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan into one regional mega-crisis.
. . . .
Washington's realization that Iraq can no longer be won or even stabilized unless the regional framework changes, has come late -- perhaps too late. . . .

If this policy shift had taken place a year ago or even early last summer, the prospects would have been better. And with every passing day, America's position in the region is weakening further and the chances of a successful new political strategy become more remote.

. . . . there remains a chance to stabilize the situation. . . it will be necessary to offset, or at least balance, the interests of the most important actors in the region. This means a strategy based on political leverage not a threat of military intervention or regime change. In their stead must come direct talks, security guarantees and support in political and economic integration.

A new Middle East policy will thus have to concentrate primarily on four aspects:
  1. a comprehensive offer to Syria to detach the country from Iran and settle open conflicts;
  2. an offer to Iran for direct talks about the perspective of a full normalization of relations;
  3. a decisive and realistic initiative to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict
  4. a regional security architecture that centers on stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan.
This came out ahead of the Iraq Study Group's report, and bears it out.

I'm Not Saying Nuthin'

'ceptin' that I liked this picture...

But if Lil'Bill doesn't like it, it'll be gone in a New York minute!

Winning and Losing

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the Supreme Leader had gone through a number of motivations for the War On Iraq, coming to rest finally on the terrorristststs. But now I realize that I was wrong. The real motive, from the day of 9/11, was Bush himself, and WINNING. Looking back at the picture of Bush standing on the ruins, with his arm around a rescuer and a megaphone in his right hand, you can see that that was the moment when he was deified by God to remake the world.

None of Bush's other motives, from spreading democracy and Christianity throughout the world, to getting rid of Sadam, to destroying a hell of a lot of lives in the hope that some of them were terroristststs, have panned out exactly as he had planned. The result is that he has turned into one of the most prolific killers in human history.

But WINNING is of paramount importance to him and his view of himself. Odd, isn't it, that the primary slogan of his first "election" was that he was a uniter, not a divider? He has sewn hate over most of the surface of the earth. He has divided his own country as it has never been divided before. And he has nothing to show for it but ruin wherever he looks, including into the future.

Funny thing is that it has never occurred to him that the best way to win is to have all sides win, whether it is within families, towns, countries, or cultures. To WIN means that someone else has to LOSE. You would think that a man who is so devout in his beliefs could figure that out.

Ode to LittleBill

What is a cat
if his chief good and sweetness of his soul
be both to
play and sleep,
that's LittleBill for sure.

The rescue of kitten Mercury
gave rise to godlike gentleness and care
which my dear
LittleBill has used.

E pluribus unum?

Does everyone still remember what that means?

Keith Ellison wins his seat in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District. He made national news by becoming the first Muslim ever elected to Congress. And he said weeks ago that he'll use his religion's holy book, the Koran, when he takes his oath.

But the right wing fear mongers are up in arms. Dennis Prager argues that America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on:

. . . . because the act undermines American civilization. . . . and exemplifies multiculturalist activism . . . . America is interested in only one book, the Bible . . . .

Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath?

. . . . Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America.

. . . . If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11 . . . .
Note that the photo of the Koran along with the caption displayed above appears imbedded in Prager's column.

These are unbelievable statements, IMHO. I would use much, much stronger language, but Lil'Bill would kick me out of these pages if I did. Let me just say, as an American, America should celebrate its diversity, not restrict it.

Rosa Brooks recently reminded us that ‘E pluribus unum’ means We’re in This Together. She asks if everyone still remembers what that means. If not, she says, it's never too late to change it: just recall all our currency.

World Terrorist

This man is getting scarier and less realistic day by day and hour by hour. He has, of course, talked about "terroristststs" ever since he embarked on his catastophic adventure in the middle east.

Now, however, his motivation has definitely changed again. First, it was Sadaam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, but that didn't pan out exactly as planned (we found out). Next it was bringing democracy to Iraq (with all eyes on the future and the distance). That is not going well, either, with more and more Iraqis demanding that we get the hell out. They, a people unused to voting, were suckered into the process on the day the vote began, motivated by hope, but with little knowledge of what it was supposed to achieve for them. (That is not hard to understand, seeing as how we, the citizens of the world's greatest democracy, were suckered into two of the most preposterous elections in human history, with hangers-on reportedly still at work on the same tactics in the election earlier this month.)

So now he is highlighting the terroristststs and stressing that if we do not defeat them over there, they will attack us over here. Unless his government can do alot better at preventing the terroristststs from attacking us here at home, it won't make any difference if we prevent them from attacking from Iraq. On what basis can he make a reliable claim that killing everyone in Iraq through the deaths of thousands of our own forces will be successful at anything beyond reducing the populations of both countries? And, of course, this does not take into account the morality of his methods, if morality is high on your list of values.

It is very likely that if you took transparent copies of all of his speeches and laid them, one on top of the other, that all of the words would line up. They are heavily laden with words like freedom, values, liberty, freedom of religion, peace, happiness, families, freedom, liberty, faith, values, freedom, etc. on one side, as opposed to terroristststs, hate, killing, terroristststs, etc. on the other.

As of today, Muqtada al-Sadr and his coalition have left the government, supported by members of other groups, as promised, following the meeting between Bush and al-Maliki. Their meeting, incidentally, accomplished nothing but a carbon copy of his earlier speeches.

It is apparent in every word and gesture from Bush, that what he wants most to defend is his claim of calling from God to bring democracy and (Christian) faith to the world.

What Does Charlie Want?

I think he wants either Bush out or the draft in.

Frank Schaeffer's most recent book is Baby Jack a novel about class, politics, service, God, the military, and the America of today---where a few are asked to give their lives while most are asked to sacrifice nothing. Here's what he has to say about, Charlie Rangel, the Draft, And Bush:

Charles Rangel is right to call for a draft. The present system is unfair. We don't really have an "all-volunteer" military. We have a recruited military and the recruiting is mostly done where it works, in other words in middle class and working class neighborhoods and from "legacy" families where someone is already in the military. Where recruiters usually don't bother going---and often aren't even allowed to go---is to elite private high schools and colleges.

The spirit of the Vietnam-era deferments has carried into the all-volunteer era. There is a subtle unstated, unplanned but nevertheless real collusion between the upper middle class, the military and the civilian government. Everyone is happy to leave things the way they are. The upper classes aren't asked to serve. The government doesn't have to spend money on expensive ROTC programs in top schools or fight to get recruiters on anti-military campuses.

No one has done more to perpetuate the recruiting status quo than President Bush. After 9/11 he asked our military to go to war. He asked the rest of us to travel, go on vacation and shop.

Following 9/11, like most Americans, I rallied behind our president. And I had a very personal stake in the success of the "war on terror." My youngest son was a Marine. I desperately wanted to believe in the man who held my son's life in his hands. My response to friends who spoke against Bush was basically; "Go to hell, how dare you criticize my son's commander while my beloved boy is in harm's way?"

Bush said we were in a "global war" then sent fewer soldiers to Afghanistan than there are cops in Manhattan. He let bin Laden get away with murder and let jihad-funding Saudi Arabia off the hook. Bush called two-faced, terror-sponsoring Pakistan an "ally" and then attacked Iraq. The Commander in Chief changed his "reasons" for war from eliminating weapons of mass destruction to "building democracy." Then---by not sending enough troops to Iraq, for the post-war "reconstruction" phase---he showed himself to be one of the most incompetent war leaders in American history. And throughout Bush has never asked his own class, the most privileged Americans, to step up.

Do you remember after 9/11 how we were so ready to do whatever was asked of us? What did President Bush NOT ask?

My fellow Americans we are at war. I am calling on every American of military-service-age to consider volunteering including those of you fortunate enough to be in our best private colleges or employed in highly paid jobs. The spirit of defending our democracy requires that Americans of all classes fairly share the sacrifice we must now make.

. . . . Our response to unprovoked aggression must involve every American. So I'm proud to tell you that my military-age children walked to a military recruiting office this afternoon and volunteered. We are all in this war together. . . .

Rangel was quoted as saying*:
There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way.
I think he is right.

We are now so used to the anti-democratic and immoral status quo where we ask some to give everything while most Americans are asked to give nothing, that I'll bet Rangel's bill doesn't stand a chance. If the leaders of both parties haven't even asked their own children and their own class to volunteer why would they support a draft?

The Democrats and Republicans are as frivolous in wartime as the nation they represent. Today the Democrat's idea of a good potential Commander in Chief is Barack Obama, a man who never served, has no international experience and whose "qualification" for the presidency is that he's spent about as much time in Congress as he has on Oprah. And the Republicans have given us Bush, a president who is so incompetent a war leader that tolerating his "leadership" is an immoral act. If the Republican Party cared about our troops they would be asking President Bush to resign.

And the rest of us are little better. We prove every day that we are unworthy of the sacrifice our troops are making. We're still driving terrorist-funding gas guzzlers. And we're still playing "red-state" "blue-state" gotcha-political games. If 9/11 didn't get our attention what kind of cataclysm will it take?


Yes, I too am reveling in reading and hearing the words “The majority party, the DEMOCRATS!” as much as I savor reading and hearing “The minority party, the REPUBLICANS.” God, what a long, nasty fight it has been and now our moment has finally arrived. Oh, how we deserve this! I pray it will bring about a sea change.

I am hesitant about seeing the film. I was at The Ambassador all those years ago with my husband and friends who had worked for RFK. Our friend, Joel Siegel, was a speechwriter for him and my (ex)husband, a photographer, was on the stage next to RFK and Rosie Grier. (Just this year, via e-mail, he told me he never got his film back from the FBI.) I will never forget the exuberance and hope that filled that room as Bobby left the stage. The camera lights had been turned off and I was shuffling through the crowd toward the exit to look for my husband. Suddenly I heard what sounded like firecrackers. Then a tsunami of panic and pain hit me and the people around me and then spread behind us in fan-shaped waves to the back of the room and out into the foyer. People were screaming that he had been shot. I recall so vividly watching the wave as it engulfed smiling, laughing people turning the smiles and laughter to screams and tears. People in the front of the room were crying and shouting while people in the back of the room were still innocently smiling and laughing. The present, the past and the future in the same moment, in the same room. It was amazing. I jumped up on a table to look into the kitchen. I was worried about my husband who I had last seen right behind Bobby as he walked into the kitchen. I could see a crowd of people standing and kneeling around something on the floor. I kept hearing howls of “He’s been shot, God-damn it, he’s been shot. Not again, God-dam it. He’s been shot.” The helpless anger, rage and anguish in those voices I will never forget, nor have ever heard again.

After the shots I found myself in a stupor in the foyer. Men were getting into fist fights over whether he was dead or not and were shoving each other into the fountains. Women were screaming and crying. I was holding some strange man as we sobbed together. Suddenly I heard loud shouts of “He’s got a gun, watch out, get down, he’s got a gun.” I was shoved to the floor. I heard lamps breaking, more screaming as the lights were going out. A sofa was overturned onto the man and myself. I managed to raise my head off the floor long enough to see Sirhan Sirhan being rushed through the crowd surrounded by police with long guns pointed outward like a moving human mace. I don’t recall how I found my husband or friends that night. I must have given my name and phone number to the FBI because they called me days later. I don’t know what I said. I wanted to say something helpful, something that would catch who had really done this because I just couldn’t believe, nor do I today, that 3 great men, all with similar dreams, were all gunned down in such a short time. I think that is when this new evil began.

Back at home with our baby son, mesmerized with horror, we watched over and over, as a 22-year-old mini-skirted me kept jumping onto the table. We heard over and over Walter Cronkite telling the audience to watch the young women jump onto the table and throw her hands over her face in horror and grief and then a hand reaches up to my back and I disappear into the crowd. My mother was on the phone when we got home(the FBI kept us there until early morning) as she had recognized me from the news and thought I had fainted and been hurt.

I remember waking in the morning and being devastated that he had died. I simply couldn’t comprehend that such a grand man could have been brought down even though we had just lived through the eerily similar murder of MLK and before that JFK. How could it have happened yet again I screamed. I grabbed my baby and ran to the elderly neighbor’s house and collapsed in tears. I cried for days. I gave up on politics for a long time after that. It was only this current poisonous administration that awakened that old passion in me. I wonder if we will ever return to something even close to what we had back then.I was watching the PBS special about RFK this year and burst into uncontrollable sobbing watching that scene again. It was grief not only for my lost youth but for a time when I had hope, when I never imagined anything like the administration we have(HAD!) today. The spectacular chasm between a man like RFK and bush was so overwhelming that it racked me with pain so deep, so profound and unexpected that I paced the floor and wept all night. Oh, God, what we lost that night!

I wonder who they interviewed for the crowd’s reaction to that terrible night at the Ambassador Hotel. It would interesting for me to know.

Thank you for your blog and for your dedication. Keep celebrating!!

Election Dichotomy

In the days following the recent elections, when the Democrats came out to announce their new leadership positions, it was with expressions not of glee but of joy. They stated first and foremost that they looked forward to reaching out to the Republicans, and that they were anxious to make headway on important matters such as healthcare, education, and the economy.

When the Republicans came out to announce their soon-to-be minority leadership positions, led by House majority leader John Boehner, their expressions were angry, and they stressed that their primary purpose for the next two years would be to take back the leadership of Congress. If they mentioned any specific programs, such as healthcare or education, I didn’t catch them.

Interesting dichotomy.

Presidential Qualifications

The Republicans are stepping up in droves to announce that they are forming exploratory committees to determine if they should run for president.

The Democrats, so far, have only Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and a couple of relative unknowns who are making moves in that direction. Hillary is a very divisive candidate, and both she and Obama have chosen to make their first conciliatory moves toward the religious right. (In that regard, Republican John McCain has gone so far as to be filmed courting Jerry Falwell and his followers.)

It is time for those of us who rely on reason more than on faith to make ourselves known and demand our right to be heard. There are millions of us out here, and our group consists of people of faith who also rely on reason, as well as those of us who may not subscribe to belief in a religious faith, but very strongly subscribe to the creation in which we find ourselves and the reverence it deserves.

There is no one I can think of who is better fitted than Al Gore. He has more qualifications than anyone else, having served in the Senate and as Vice President, as well as undoubtedly having won the presidency in 2000. But, of all his qualifications, I can think of no one who can contend with him on the most important issue of our time, the environment. Add to that, he is a man of faith as well as a man of reason.

If you are a person of faith, you must believe that the earth was created by a God in some form. If you are a person of reason but not a person of faith, you still must be unsure of creation, but in awe of this wondrous globe which we are riding through the heavens. What Man has been doing to it is obscene. We need a leader who can think beyond mere politics and into the future which none of us will see, but for which we will all be responsible.