Going back in time to the point when GWBush was first running for president, his famous statement, “I’m a uniter, not a divider,” now appears more and more likely not words of earnest assurance on his part, but a stroke of genious on the part of the speech writer who thought them up.
In a similar vein, the excessive use of religious reference by the president has also been part of the ploy to win the support of the religious community, especially those who are easily led to accept the words of the Bible as the Word of God. Singing songs in church while waving one’s upraised arms from side to side have much the same psychological effect as the hysteria created by the cheerleaders at a sports event on the thousands of spectators in the audience, spreading even from there by radio and television to fans in their homes.
The growing mountain of deception on the part of the administration, spreading as it is from member to member and department to department, is hard to understand in terms of unifying moral and ethical values among the American populace.
How easy it was to impeach Bill Clinton for the high crime of lying about sex, but how hard it seems to be to find people who support and/or believe in George Bush who would even consider impeaching him! Even many Democrats are afraid to stand tall with the likes of John Murtha and Dennis Kucinich, who apparently almost alone courageously have their fingers pressed into the dike against which the flood of governmental usurpation is pressing.
Meanwhile, in England, Prince Harry has made his final decision to go with his fellow men to join the hopeless battle in the Middle East. God bless Prince Harry!
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While you're making up your mind if you really want to bother getting involved, listen and watch as Limbaugh plays "Barack The Magic Negro" on his show.
Trying to catch everyone up on Moyers' recent and upcoming activities. on PBS. He had a special last night (Wednesday) entitled Buying the War. Truly alarming and disgusting! If you missed it, be SURE to get it on film on the internet.
In addition, his regular series, The Bill Moyers Journal, will be back beginning on Friday, on PBS. It will be from 8 to 9 on the west coast, and probably close to the same time in the evenings elsewhere.
This is a really great article by Robert Scheer.
It was he, of course, who as the Commander in Chief planned the invasion of and made the final decisions on the conduct of the Iraq War following the attack upon the Twin Towers in New York. He and his chief advisor Dick Cheney started a war which they proclaimed would be over in a matter of days, then weeks, followed by months and then years, with the prospect of decades to shield them from blame upon leaving office in 2009.
Bush’s promised veto of the proposed support for our troops by Congress today, with the proviso that there will be a time for withdrawal included, will, of course, put off the funds getting to the troops still farther into the future. I have emailed both Congressional leaders suggesting that if he will not agree to a plan for withdrawal they include in their proposal a demand that he institute a draft of those who have been comfortable with those who are presently fighting and dying for us without joining them.
It appears to me that the Second Amendment to the Constitution was written for the good of the country, and at a different time in history, rather than as a right to own and use firearms for any reason that might come to mind. The tragic events in Blacksburg, Virginia don’t appear to be what the signers were thinking of when they signed the Constitution.
In the days following Blacksburg, we read and hear of copycat events such as schools being locked down and threats being made. The nation, of course, must look back to the killings at Columbine. At the same time, right now, there is a hostage situation with shots having been fired, at the Johnson Space Center in Texas.
There is a certain type of person who finds it very manly to own and use weapons. Those without criminal intent like guns, of course, to kill animals who can’t compete and are useful chiefly as trophies and for “recreational” purposes. A very, serious side-effect of all uses of guns is the harm that the bullets they spread across the countryside have and will kill into perpetuity many animals, especially birds, who ingest them.
Then there are the many types without moral or ethical constraints, who just like to use them for any event that might arise, including for criminal purposes. It is logical for banks and businesses to have weapons or guards. Small businesses are extremely vulnerable.
And then there are the many people who have firearms in their homes to protect themselves and their families. These are the ones who bring questions to my mind.
We have considerable statistics concerning people killed or injured by weapons, mostly by criminals or by accident, but we do not have any real statistics that I am aware of about how many home-owned weapons have been successfully employed in the defense of an owner’s home or family. To the contrary, we have a great many instances of weapons in homes being used by children either to do mischief or to play with, with deadly results, as well as weapons stolen from homes by others.
Apparently there are few uses for home-owned weapons, whether from a safety or a moral point of view.
Attorney General Gonzales on Display
CNN has interspersed portions of the Senate hearing on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys with further stories and reruns of the Blacksburg Massacre today. Important and tragic as the massacre was and will always be to the people involved, leaving out portions of this extremely important hearing seems to me to be a great disservice to the American public as a whole.
The hearing will undoubtedly be reshown in its entirety on C-Span at least one or more times over the next few days. As for the live screening, that has also been interrupted in order to switch to procedures on the floor of the House and Senate, which are also of great importance, but unfortunately it has been juggling oranges with golden apples. Talk about feet of clay!
For the sake of other neocomputerists, I discovered that by going to http//www.cspan.org./ I could watch and hear the hearing on C-Span 3, which we don’t have in this area.
The Canadian commercial seal "hunt" is the largest mass slaughter of marine mammals in the world. Canada intends to kill over 325,000 seals this spring
Canadian author and naturalist (and Sea Shepherd International Chairman), Farley Mowat, estimates that for every seal landed, another is shot and lost under the ice, not to be included in the count.
The Seal Shepherd Conservation Society says:
Clearly, the government of Canada is willing to sacrifice everything (from their national reputation, to the wrath of the taxpayers, to economic hardship from boycotts) to continue their seal hunt which is nothing more than a make-work project for out-of-work fishermen.But help is on the way. Nature is restoring some balance in a small way.
. . . . The Canadian government looks for as many avenues as possible to profit from their annual, government-subsidized slaughter. Currently, Canada exports the following seal products: sealskins (furskins/pelts and leather), seal oil, and seal meat. Unfortunately, due to a revived fashion trend, the demand for seal pelts has sky-rocketed, especially in Europe.
America at the Crossroads
HEADS UP Everyone!
Robert MacNeil, formerly of MacNeil Lehrer, will be hosting a VERY IMPORTANT six night series, beginning this Sunday, April 15th on PBS. Entitled America at the Crossroads, it will air every evening for two hours through Friday.
On the west coast, it will show from 9 to 11 each night. (I assume it will also air in the evenings wherever you are.)
Here is the lineup:
- Sunday, 9 p.m.: "Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind al Qaeda" provides an in-depth look at radical Islamic groups as well as the ideas and beliefs that inspire them. It focuses on al Queda leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was killed last June.
- Monday, 9 p.m.: "Warriors" profiles American soldiers -- five men and one woman -- as they serve in Baghdad in 2005, coping with its dangers and difficulties.
- Monday, 10 p.m.: "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" is built upon a project created by the National Endowment for the Arts to gather the writing of servicemen and -women who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With dramatic readings, it covers a full literary spectrum -- poetry, fiction, memoir, letters, journals and essays -- in expressing the wartime experience.
- Tuesday, 9 p.m.: "Gangs of Iraq" examines the failure of an extensive and costly four-year training effort by the United States to "stand up" Iraq's new army and police forces and how these coalition-trained forces have been infiltrated by violent sectarian militias. This film was co-produced by "Frontline."
- Tuesday, 10 p.m.: "The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom" follows former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle as he travels the globe articulating and debating the neoconservative case for the war in Iraq and an assertive American foreign policy.
- Wednesday, 9 p.m.: "Europe's 9/11" explores homegrown terrorism through the lens of the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid. It draws connections between those bombers and al Qaeda cell activities in Milan, Italy, as well as the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in November 2004.
- Wednesday, 10 p.m.: "The Muslim Americans" chronicles the diversity of Muslims in America while contrasting life for them after September 11 in the United States with the lives of Muslims in Europe. This film was produced in conjunction with "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer."
- Thursday, 9 p.m.: "Faith Without Fear" joins Irshad Manji (best-selling author of "The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith") on a quest to reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom. One of many people she meets is Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard, who explains why he's willing to turn his young son into a martyr.
- Thursday, 10 p.m.: "Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia" travels to a nation where the practice of Islam reflects a centuries-old tradition of tolerance, compassion and inclusiveness. Even so, in recent years Indonesia has become both a target and a breeding ground for Islamic militants -- and the arrival of democracy in 1998 has proved to be a factor in the rise of violence.
- Friday, 9 p.m.: "Security Versus Liberty: The Other War" tells three stories arising from new government policies after September 11 that, in the name of preventing future terrorist attacks, may have damaged individual liberties.
- Friday, 10 p.m.: "The Brotherhood" investigates a secretive international movement dedicated to the spread of a fundamental version of Islam throughout the world. This movement may also be offering support and encouragement to terrorists.
. . . is significant because . . . it deals with vital issues in a different way, a sustained focus. . . It is a concentrated look at the origins of Islamist terrorists and why they have made us their target. . .
Iraqis united now -- U.S. get out. Robert Scheer, Creators Syndicate Inc. ... This article appeared on page B - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle (13-Apr-07) ...
Just a short time ago today, I heard the last part of a speech by Sen. McCain, in which he echoed The Great Divider, maintaining that losing the warS in Iraq and Afghanistan is the worst thing that could possibly happen to this country. Their approach, I gather, is that we should always win whether we are right or wrong, which we were, at least in the case of Iraq.
Bush (jeez, I hate to say his name!) has called for a meeting with the Congressional leaders to meet with him to discuss the funding for our military exploits, at the same time stating firmly that there will be no compromise on a date for withdrawal.
Okay, so I recommend that Reid and Pelosi state just as firmly that if we are to pursue the wars there must be an immediate installation of a draft.
Don Imus’s Second Calling
Speaking as one of many who do not follow Don Imus, I have heard and seen enough in the past few days to realize that he has a split personality.
Taking him off the air for a two week suspension is fine, but I think it should go farther than that. He and the stations who have, unfortunately, made money from his rants by appealing to people who think and speak as he has, should now draw upon his other personality to come forth.
Imus should draw permanently on the personality that has funded so many meaningful charities and institutions through his own personal efforts. If he loses his old audience, so much the better. If, on the other hand, he is able to turn minds and hearts 180 degrees, he should be able to redeem himself by redeeming others. And he should not be forced to take the punishment on his own. The networks should share blame for sponsoring programs which enjoy success and make money at the expense of others. If they all make less in the future, so be it.
Don Imus and Al Sharpton Square Off Over Racial Remarks
I am never shy about kicking a man when he's down as long as I didn't like him much to begin with. So today, I want to highlight the self-immolation of Don Imus, a shock-jock who ran amuck last week.
Now he's trying to save his job. Here I offer his vain attempt to save his public ass, publicly, on Rev. Al Sharpton's Radio Show. Adjust your speakers, click DOWNLOAD and give a listen. You can settle back in your chair or continue to surf the Internet while you listen.
Now, Al Sharpton is not a perfect guy himself, but over time, he has won my respect. Imus, I have never respected.
Bypassing the Electoral College
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Monday, April 2, 2007; A15
"The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States. . . . "
That is not some reactionary piece of propaganda denying your right to choose the next president. It is one of the more memorable sentences from the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, the hard-to-forget 2000 case that put the current occupant in the White House.
And strictly speaking, the court was right. As the majority opinion went on to note, we have the right to use our ballots to pick members of the electoral college -- which in turn chooses the president -- because every state legislature has decided on "statewide election" as the way to get the job done. In theory, legislatures have the power to pick electors without even consulting the voters. . . .
It does not have to be this way. As someone who lives in Maryland, I am proud that my state may pioneer a process that could lead to popular election of the president. The state Senate passed a bill last Wednesday that would commit Maryland's 10 electors to voting for the winner of the nationwide popular vote. The bill is expected to pass in the House of Delegates this week, and Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he would sign it.
The law would not take effect unless states representing a 270-vote electoral college majority pass similar laws. The idea is to create a compact among states genuinely committed to popular rule.
Yes, this is an effort to circumvent the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution. That's the only practical way of moving toward a more democratic system. Because three-quarters of the states have to approve an amendment to the Constitution, only 13 sparsely populated states -- overrepresented in the electoral college -- could block popular election.
Remember, states get one electoral vote for each member of the House of Representatives plus both senators. No matter how small, every state has at least three electoral votes. The three electors from Wyoming, with an estimated 2006 population of 515,004, represent 171,668 people each. California, with a population of 36,457,549, gets 55 electors, each representing 662,865 people. A presidential vote cast in Wyoming thus has nearly four times the value of a vote in California.
The democratic solution is for legislatures to agree to use their electoral votes to support the winner nationally. Devised by John R. Koza, a consulting professor at Stanford University -- he also invented the scratch-off lottery ticket -- the idea has been advanced by the National Popular Vote campaign and, in Maryland, by state Sen. Jamie Raskin, a longtime champion of more democratic election and campaign finance laws. Comparable bills have been approved by one legislative chamber in Arkansas, Hawaii and Colorado.
Opponents of popular election invent scary scenarios to continue subjecting our 21st-century nation to a system invented in the far less democratic 18th century. Most frequently, they warn about having to conduct a nationwide recount in a close election. . .
Here's hoping Maryland sets off a quiet revolution that brings our nation's electoral practice into line with our democratic rhetoric. Individual citizens should have the right to elect their president -- directly.
A Sermon Against Sermons
My title is not entirely accurate, because some good things are suggested in church. What I don’t like (and what, in addition to nonbelief in God as we are led to know him, led me to give up going to church after boarding school) is the idea of going to church to have someone else tell you how to think and live your life. I feel that should come from inside your mind and your heart as a result of your total life’s experience.
An example of what I’m talking about could be a suggestion by the pastor that a group go down to the beach to clean up the junk that has either been left there by others or drifted in from the ocean. That is a great idea that I heartily approve of. What bothers me is that it is suggested by one person to other people who may not have thought of it. And beyond that, if they go down on Saturday, do they go down again later on as a group? Better yet, does each individual’s mental process kick in so that they go down alone—or even pick something up somewhere else?
Let me give you some examples of what a wider experience in the environmental movement led me to do. You can laugh if you want, because they are tiny things, but they have taken me on to other tiny things. And they are tiny things that have been internalized by other people, not just me. Here is the list: dog poop, cigarette butts, and paper clips, and they weren’t learned in church.
Many people pick up after their dogs “religiously,” if I may use that term. Many may also pick up after other dogs, as I do. Here is a hint that might help. We cannot recycle our newspaper bags here, unfortunately, so we recycle them by using them for dog poop. It may not have occurred to some recyclers that if you tie the bag in a knot at the bottom, and slide the bag up your arm again, you can use it for a second heap of poop that you come across. That way, the bag has been recycled twice. (Unfortunately, if our total rainfall here remains at less than two and a half inches for the year, we will only be getting rubber bands, which won’t work, and we may have to buy our bags or use produce bags instead of using them over again.)
Cigarette butts speak to me, and they say, “What the hell do I care if I clutter the street? My smoker didn’t care. So that’s two against one. In the second place, if the wind from cars going by works like a bellows on a forge and starts a fire, so what? That’s not my smoker’s fault. Get lost!”
Paper clips. For some unknown reason, when I go to the shopping center, I spot paper clips on the ground. These may get there inadvertently, but they do not add to the general decor. So I pick them up, and there is no way to count how many times I recycle them or send them to someone else who recycles them after me. End of sermon
Global Warming News More Ominous Daily
From what I gleaned from the news today, as well as recently, GW Bush plans to start thinking about what we should do about global warming somewhere near the end of his THIRD term as president. That is, of course, if the growing clamors by some Republicans for Dick Cheney to run are not able to persuade HIM to run instead. If Cheney should run, of course, that means talk of global cooling will have to wait for at least two more terms.
The reaction of the average person will be not to pay too much attention to the news. The non-average person will undoubtedly be worried, but the non-average person also will believe that there is not much we can do as individuals to affect the effect. Both will be wrong.
Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960’s and 1970’s, we were there for the flowering of the environmental movement. The cardinal rule that we all learned is that each of us has personal responsibility for what happens to the Earth. We may or may not live to see the future, one way or the other, but what we do as individuals will make our marks, great or small, for good or ill.
I have written before about the enormous change that each and every one of us can make by carrying cloth bags to ANY store, or using paper bags over and over and over, or declining to take a bag if your purchase is small. The saving here could be HUGE, both environmentally and economically, for the seller as well as for the buyer. I venture to say that the savings from the above could come very close to competing with the savings on gasoline if we drove less and with more planning.
There is more I have to say on this subject, which I will say in my next post.
I give you Bill McGuire!
On 15 October 2006, it was announced that McGuire would step down immediately as chairman and director of United Health, and step down as CEO on 1 December 2006 due to his involvement in the employee stock options scandal.
Simultaneously it was announced that he would be replaced as CEO by Stephen Hemsley, who has served as President and COO and is a member of the board of directors.
McGuire's exit compensation from UnitedHealth, expected to be around $1.1 billion, would be the largest golden parachute in the history of corporate America.
As I write this, the release has not actually physically happened yet, But Iran has promised that they will be released very soon.
Tony Blair announced that after negotiations, the British have expressed regret for the incident without admitting doing anything wrong.
The “discussers” on CNN were definitely of the opinion that after the hostages have been released and are safely home, Britain and the U.S. would feel free to return to the same approach they have used before. In spite of what one of the “discussers” said, I am sure that I heard or read an offer by Ahmajinedad at least once and quite some time ago to engage in diplomacy. As usual, the answer he got from Bush was that he didn’t talk to terrorists. If Iran couldn’t get our attention through diplomacy, what other choice could you have made in Ahmajinedad’s place?
The U.S. is holding 5 Iranians in Iraq. This would be an excellent opportunity for Bush to reciprocate with a compassionate release of those prisoners back to Iraq and accept the gesture toward diplomacy. Bush isn’t right about everything. Hell, as far as I can see, he hasn’t been right about anything!
Courage, persistence and resolution does not always win out over overwhelming odds. But it should win our respect.
Eminent Domain in China:
A Chinese couple's battle to stop developers from razing their home has finally come to an end with a negotiated agreement that results in their house in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality being demolished. Their house has been dubbed the "nail house" that refused to be hammered down, survived standing in the center of a ten-meter-deep pit dug by the real estate developer. They survived without water or electricity for two years! After all their utilities were turned off, they survived by tug a kitchen gas bottle to the house and other necessities up by rope!
Note their appeal to public sympathy based upon patriotism (flag) and the Constitution of China.
Two determined people who dogged it out: Wu Ping and Yang Wu, I salute you!
Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows
Prof. Emmanuel Saez, the University of California, Berkeley, economist who analyzed the Internal Revenue Service data with Prof. Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, said such growing disparities were significant in terms of social and political stability:
If the economy is growing but only a few are enjoying the benefits, it goes to our sense of fairness. It can have important political consequences.