Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Little Shrill, ness pa?

Our Dear Leader this morning:
"It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world," Bush said of the Amnesty International report that compared Guantanamo to a Soviet-era gulag.
No, Mr. President, it is not absurd. It is the judgement of the rest of the World on America. Instead of spinning off into your linguistic fairlyland, would you please, just for once, heed the voice of reason.


Sunday, May 29, 2005


In a caption to one of the photos on Yahoo there is this interesting bit:
" With four death sentences handed down within the space of days, judicial executions are set to return to Iraq where the authorities are desperate for a deterrent to halt rampant insurgent attacks."
Now, excuse me, but why would an execution be a deterrent to someone who was willing to commit suicide? Why aren't the Iraqis at least talking to one another? Are we so all fired stupid not to realize that negotiations with the insurgents with a cease fire would be a frigging public relations coup? After years of killing in Vietnam we finally started talking to the other side. Yes, it took another five years to get us out of that mess, but at least the killing eventually stopped. We can't WIN there. The best we can hope for is to avoid a civil war. Let Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran handle it. Jebus!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Some Humans

I always liked John Prine. I still sing his:
Came home from work this evening
There was a note in the frying pan
"Fix your own supper yourself
I run off with the Fuller Brush Man."
Unfortunately, John is no longer in his prime. But, he still cranks out some good lyrics, even if I can't understand the words half the time. Thanks for CD liners (I almost said album liners; how passe.) This is from his "Some Humans Ain't Human"
Have you ever noticed
When you're feeling really good
There's always a pigeon
That'll come shit on your hood

Or you're feeling your freedom
And the world's off your back
Some cowboy from Texas
Starts his own war in Iraq.
There you have it in a nutshell.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Crab Blogging

Thursday, May 26, 2005



How Many Governors?

How many Governors does it take to screw Maryland?



Just one (but he does it twenty-five different ways).

Oh, and as a bonus, you do it on Friday afternoon of Preakness Weekend. Talk about playing the news cycle. And, Gov, you are no Afleet Bob. You are stumbling in the home stretch and you are not even going to make it across the line. Mighty Martin is a'coming down the line.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

From Holden

From First Draft discussion:

From by Anonymous on Wednesday, May 25 @ 15:38:21 EDT
All this talk about embryos makes me want to tell a joke:

Did you hear about the traveling embryo who wanted a womb for the night?

But he wanted to make sure he could get womb service.


Sorry about that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Least We Forget

Stealing the Farm

Could it be that all this whup-de-doo about the judges is a smokescreen for other, much worse things? We who work with children should be much more upset about the budget. As Marian Wright Edelman states:
Children's Defense Fund Founder and CEO Marian Wright Edelman issued the following statement in response to passage of the 2006 Budget Resolution by both chambers of Congress:

"This Budget Resolution unjustly hurts our children and grandchildren by lavishing billions in new tax breaks on the wealthy even as it forces major cuts in critical investments that low-income children need to survive and thrive.

"Millions of our children will suffer twice from this unwarranted action. In the short term they will be denied vital investments in their health, their early childhood development and their education. In the future they will be saddled with a crushing debt in order to heap more tax benefits on the rich.

"The budget measure approved by the House and Senate will severely damage the framework of policies and funding levels that was crafted over many decades to protect the vulnerable through the Medicaid, Head Start and other programs. While the tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthy, they starve our nation of the resources essential to our children's health, education, safety and community stability. This is neither right nor sensible."
So, our work is cut out for us. We need to change the composition of the House and Senate (3 years for the presidency) and impeach any of the sorry judges that become outrageous.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

From Harris Poll Online CLICK GRAPH TO ENLARGE

A Parable

Once upon a time there was a king of a great city in Mesopotamia. His name was Belshazzar. This king was descendent from the great king Nebuchadnezzar II who had built the city Babylon into the greatest city of the world (think hanging gardens). Neb II was a very powerful ruler and conqueror. He subdued a local city state, Nineveh (think Mosul). Nineveh stretched for 30 miles along the Tigris river and was 10 miles wide. (that's pretty big; see the map below).

In any case, according to certain sources (the Book of Daniel Chap 5) Belshazzar called for his pipe, and called for his fiddlers three, but made the mistake of calling for his bowl. At least he claimed it as his bowl. But, actually, his bowl belonged to the Israelis. And, as everyone knows, the Israelis have nuclear weapons. They had them then. They have always had nuclear weapons.

At this point, sources state that a magic finger appeared and "Wrote Upon the Wall." (apologies to Simon and Garfunkel). What this magic finger wrote was, again according to sources, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL and PARSIN." Well, that was a stumper for sure. So the king took a Harris poll as to what it meant, but that didn't help. So, he called in this guy Daniel who said:
"And this is what it means. MENE means that God has counted out the number of days you will be king, and they are over. TEKEL means that God has tested you, and you have not passed the test. And PARSIN means your kingdom will be divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians."
You see, the writing was in Aramaic, and the king could only read French.

A low and behold the Persians (think Iranians) came busting up to the walls of Babylon and Belshazzar was pretty confident that they would go home, because he lived in the Green Zone. In fact:
Belshazzar and his officials assumed that the city of Babylon could never be taken. It had been built as an impregnable fortress with massive walls, and with vast stores of food, water, and other supplies to withstand a siege.
But, Herodotus (think English Patient) tells us that they simply diverted the Tigris river around the city, and then marched under the walls. Pretty simple, heh? Thus ended the Babylonian empire.

(Now, if I had been that finger, I would have said "Babba, Babba, Yar" which means "when the river stops flowing, watch the big hole it came in through." But then, what do I know about disembodied fingers.)

In any case, the moral of this parable is:
When the Finger Speaks, Get the Hell out of Iraq!

How big was Nineveh?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Usual Farce

As usual, when looked at closely, something that the Bush Administration is up to is deeply flawed. For instance, as per the Liberal Oasis who links to Texans for Public Justice:
More than $500,000 (37 percent) of the $1.4 million that Owen raised for her two Supreme Court campaigns came from lawyers and litigants who had cases in her courtroom.

Owen ranks No. 2 on the court in the share of campaign money that she took from these docket donors.

Owen’s 11 biggest litigant-donors (including Enron Corp., Farmers Insurance and Dow Chemical) appeared in her courtroom 26 times.

While these big docket donors prevailed an enviable 77 percent of the time before the court as a whole, Owen was even kinder—favoring them 85 percent of the time.
Now, excuse me, but this is corruption. It is not the way our Constitution is supposed to play out in the day to day. And this corruption extends all the way to the White House. God help us if Frist and his "nuculer option" wins out.

Friday, May 20, 2005

What our president believes:

From the Gaggle today via Holden (Scottie is out until Monday):
MR. DUFFY: Well, the President was asked if he thought the photos would inspire the insurgents. The President responded that the insurgents have already been inspired, way prior to these photos, to kill and murder innocent civilians in America and around the world. The President has been briefed on the situation regarding these photographs, and he strongly supports the aggressive and thorough investigation that's already underway. (emphasis added)
You see, the insurgents in Iraq have been able to transmigrate themselves out of Iraq onto our streets and have killed innocent civilians here, and, of course, elsewhere. Unless the President is resurrecting the meme that Saddam was behind 9/11. Or maybe suggesting that the scrawny old guy in underoos is actually running the insurgency from prison like a Mafia Don. Wow!

Friday Crab Blogging

The Dead

One of the things that we lack as Americans is perspective. The following graphs were constructed from:





My New Meme

Mea Maxima Culpa

Well, it looks like I have been stepping in Godwin's Law:
Godwin's law (also Godwin's rule of Nazi analogies) is an adage in Internet culture that was originated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states that:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
I do apologize to any and all readers. I promise not to go this way again. I think I will move over to Alaric as my meme.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Occasional Notes

Last year more than 180,000 infants and 30,000 mothers died from tetanus—often acquired during the birthing process. A simple vaccine that nearly all Americans receive as children would spare these mothers and their precious babies.


Sort of puts things into perspective, doesn't it.

Senate Bolides

Senator Bill "Bolide" Frist is bringing his show to the floor. It will be interesting to see the conclusion. I don't think it is going to be what he expected.

From here:
The term bolide (from the Greek βολις, bolis, missile) can refer to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth, or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface...If the meteor is brilliant enough to cast shadows, it is a fireball.
That's like in "Bolus the 'roids, Dr. Casey."

I'm predicting a fireball. There will be shadows on the Capitol walls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Guess who...

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter….God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter…… To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.
Let us pray in this hour that nothing can divide us, and that God will help us against the Devil! Almighty Lord, bless our fight!
The...Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.
In the same way, the Government..., which regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation...
I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator.
And on. And on. And on.

From here.


My way or the Highway

Don't you love Congress. A billion here, a billion there, but you know the rest:
The U.S. Senate yesterday passed a $295 billion highway bill with a vote of 89 to 11, putting Congress on a collision course with President George W. Bush, who said he would veto any bill that exceeds the $284 billion House version. The current highway bill, which has been extended six times, is set to expire on May 31.
These are the same stingy guys that wouldn't come across with a few bucks for sick kids.

If only children drove trucks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Boss of the Year (1945)

Which One's a Witch?

Juan Cole, in his excellent posts, brings up the presence of a witchhunt for former Baathists in the current Iraqi "government." [Why they are not purging themselves of Ahmed Chalabi is another story.] But, according to one of Dr. Cole's correspondents in Iraq:
The Baathist purge office has been reactivated, again under the guidance of Chalabi, and this cannot accomplish anything except make the insurgency worse. The average Iraqi does not care about mid-level Baathists, they care about peace, and if peace is contingent upon keeping or hiring a few Baathists with ties to Saddam, that is an acceptable contingency.
It is interesting what the United States will tolerate in the way of "formers." The picture above is of Wernher von Braun.

The official US biography of this man states:
Wernher Von Braun was one of the world's first and foremost rocket engineers and a leading authority on space travel. His will to expand man's knowledge through the exploration of space led to the development of the Explorer satellites, the Jupiter and Jupiter-C rockets, Pershing, the Redstone rocket, Saturn rockets, and Skylab, the world's first space station. Additionally, his determination to "go where no man has gone before" led to mankind setting foot on the moon.
Is this the same Wernher von Braun?
At the end of W.W.II, the U.S. Army had a special team of well trained soldiers travel through Western Europe to conscript German scientists into the W.W.III effort against the Soviets. They put the word out that any German scientist would be allowed to live in comfort if they came over to the Western side. Soon war criminals from all over Europe were scurrying for the safety of the U.S. Army.

One of these men was Wernher Von Braun.
Why, yes it is. And there is more:
He had used concentration camp victims to produce his V-1 and V-2 for Hitler. Many of his slaves died of starvation while working in his underground factories. Other were beaten to death for not being fast enough. 25,000 slaves died for Von Braun's dream.
Now just scroll down the page or click on this link to refresh yourselves how Werner and his buddies treated their "slaves."

So, you see, it depends on whose ox is being gored (I love that simile) as to whether you are evil or not. Sort of like that guy Karimov.

Reminds me of that old John Phillip Sousa march: "Under the Double Standard."


This Ain't Kansas, ToTo

The great drama of the explosion of the religious right is reaching its finale. However, as with most great opera, there are some nasty little episodes that have to play out before the denouement. It looks like Kansas won the privilege of having the first scene:
TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas school board's hearings on evolution weren't limited to how the theory should be taught in public schools. The board is considering redefining science itself. Advocates of "intelligent design" are pushing the board to reject a definition limiting science to natural explanations for what's observed in the world. (emphasis added)

Instead, they want to define it as "a systematic method of continuing investigation," without specifying what kind of answer is being sought. The definition would appear in the introduction to the state's science standards.
Now it seems to me that the time the Pope got involved in this dispute he eventually came to have egg on his face. Actually, its pretty funny:
Galileo's 'Dialogue on the Two World Systems' was supposed to present both points of view impartially. Instead, it came down clearly on the side of Copernicus' system with the Sun at the center. In it, Galileo made the Pope look foolish. It is never wise to make an enemy of someone in a position of power and influence! Galileo himself was convinced that this was the main reason for his problems.
Well, its not hard to make the Intelligent Designers look foolish. But, then, they have a powerful friend in Bush (sort of like that old hymn, "What A Friend I have in Jesus.")

Oh, by the way, don't tell the Astronauts that the Sun revolves around the Earth. They might take a wrong turn.

But this is getting a little foolish, don't you think? Here we are, at the pinnacle of scientific development, and they want to say the method is faulty? For crying out loud, Mr. Bush, the method brought you electricity, telephones, penicillin, heart transplants, insecticides, television and, your favorite, atomic bombs.

What's the problem?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Answer to Iraq

I am still horrified by what I saw of the concentration camps in Germany. I had dinner last night with an old friend. Her husband, now deceased, was among the American troops that liberated Belsen. He apparently didn't say much about it. I can understand why.

The spectacle of literally thousands of bodies being dumped into a large pit by the captured SS guards, with the townspeople standing by, was deeply disturbing. I'll be honest, it was more the antipathy of the townspeople, the "it was none of our business" attitude, that cut deepest.

Because, in many ways we are the same vis a vis Iraq. God knows that we should have learned our lesson in Vietnam. For years many of us opposed that war that eventually led to as many as a million Vietnamese civilian deaths. (We are still criticized for resisting this mindless bloodbath and there is still a lot of guilt out there unassuaged.)

We must not let this happen again. We must come to some consensus on how to vigorously oppose the war in Iraq. I have believed for some time that it is only because there is no draft that there is not a rallying of support from World youth. Many are with us in this fight (liberalAvenger, redJalapeno, jack*, and many more). The blogsphere has been a rallying point. But we are still in the stage of pissing and moaning. We are not yet at the stage of action. Because, and I will be blunt about it, action brings consequences.

I thought for a while that the political process that we felt was the best that could be invented, American Democracy, would correct this horror. It has not. It is questionable if it will. Do we have enough time to wait while it does? It has rumbled along for five years and, by all appearances, seems to be heading over a cliff.

This is the crux of our lives in the first quarter of the 21st Century. Either we solve the problem of the war in Iraq, and all the sidestreams it entails, or the America that we know will disappear, along with a lot of innocent people.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Concentration Camp Horror

I don't have a blog roll, but if I did, Liberal Avenger would be at the top. He links to Frontline, a documentary filmed at the liberation of the concentration camps in Germany 60 years ago this April. It is truly horrific.

The most poignant moment comes when the happy, fat, villagers are confronted with the horror. Their answer?

"None of our Business."

And our answer to the War in Iraq?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Crab Blogging


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Our Dear Pope

From the Daily Star (via Mark From Ireland):
Benedict XVI urges new diplomatic ties with Vatican

Blah, blah, blah.....
Recalling his experience as a youth in Nazi Germany, he said, "I come from a country where peace and brotherhood are dear to the hearts of all the inhabitants, particularly those who, like me, have known the war and the separation among brothers belonging to the same nation because of devastating and inhuman ideological reasons.
Excuse me but: (a) This man was in the Hitler Youth when he was young and (b) Nazi Germany at that time acted without any consideration for anything except raw, unadulterated power. They were responsible for the death of at least 6 million Jews, Gypsies and other ethnic minorities plus maybe 20 million on their ill fated invasion of Russia.

Where does this guy get off, anyway. How about a big APOLOGY!


I've got to think about this:
It's often called a cognitive steroid because it can make people better at whatever it is they're doing. When scientists administered amphetamines to Stanford's varsity swim team, lap times improved by 4 percent. According to one recent study, as many as one in five college students have taken Adderall or its chemical cousin Ritalin as study buddies.........

I asked half a dozen psychiatrists about the safety of using nonprescribed Adderall for performance-enhanced journalism. Most of them told me the same thing: Theoretically, if used responsibly at a low dosage by someone who isn't schizophrenic, doesn't have high blood pressure, isn't on other medications, and doesn't have some other medical condition, the occasional use of Adderall is probably harmless............

But there are larger costs, and risks, to Adderall. Though the Air Force furnishes amphetamine "go pills" to its combat pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is a very common medication in childhood. Its purpose is to allow the child to learn. What exactly is it doing to this young brains?

I'll be honest, I prescribe a lot of Adderall. I assume it is going to the appropriate person but I am beginning to wonder.

The other problem, of course, is that it can be ground up and snorted. This can, in many cases, be as addictive as cocaine.

What a quandry. I wonder if I have inadvertently stepped in a big pile of trouble.

Think I'll have another hit of that altar wine down there

Nuts to you

Sent in by an alert reader:


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 10

The Medicaid Crisis

Medicaid is a large program. It serves the old, the poor and children. If you have read any of my past posts about this, you will know that I think that our American Civilization is defined by how we treat the old, the poor and, of course, children.

We are about to embark on an attack against these defenseless citizens. The same people that brought you multiple $100 Billion tax cuts and a $300 Billion War, are now going after the old, the poor and the children:
States Propose Sweeping Changes to Trim Medicaid by Billions
WASHINGTON, May 8 - Governors and state legislators have devised proposals for sweeping changes in Medicaid to curb its rapid growth and save billions of dollars.

Under the proposals, some beneficiaries would have to pay more for care, and states would have more latitude to limit the scope of services.
Please tell me how taking money from children is "saving it?" Saving it for whom?

In order to do this draconian thing, States are going to have to change the law. Not that this ever impeded a Republican on the scent of easy money. The law currently insists that everyone be treated equal. That is, if the State is providing the money for medical care, the care should be the same as if it were in the private sector. They have farmed this task out to private, for profit, insurance companies, the famous Manage Care Organizations.

These MCO's are supposed to insure that the old, the poor and children receive the same care as the rich Republicans if they have Medicaid, no matter whether they are wealthy to begin with or not. Sounds like a good idea to me and one that would be compatible with a compassionate government. After all, the government should be there for all the people.

Of course, I am being cynical here. The MCO's make their big money, but do not provide equivalent care for the patient. Let me give you a quick example. One of the largest MCO's that manages State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) in Maryland is Priority Partners. A child comes into your office with a bad laceration. You spend 20-30 minutes sewing it up. You submit a charge of $150 which is reasonable and customary. Priority Partners pays you $13.25. No kidding. Now the child got the same care as any other, BUT, some day I am going to go broke. Then there won't be anyone to sew the cut up. There will be a two tier system. It is coming.

Recently in Oklahoma the two tier system was successfully challenged:
(Tulsa, March 23, 2005): Judge Eagan's ruling in the case of OKAAP et. al vs. Fogarty is a great victory for the children and families of Oklahoma. The Judge's ruling strongly affirms what Medicaid recipients, providers, and advocates have known and asserted for years - that the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) has failed its obligations to ensure that low-income and disabled children in the Medicaid program have access to adequate medical care in a timely fashion. For those who have been frustrated and ill-served by the Medicaid program, this is a moment of real hope.
Not so fast there, Jackson. I was shocked, shocked I say, to read the following in the above cited article from the NYT:
John Adams Hurson, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates who is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said: "I am a Democrat, a liberal Democrat, but we can't sustain the current Medicaid program. It's fiscal madness. It doesn't guarantee good care, and it's a budget buster. We need to instill a greater sense of personal responsibility so people understand that this care is not free."
This man is not a liberal Democrat. He doesn't give two shakes about real people. (Incidentally, I can think of a list of someones who need a "greater sense of personal responsibility" that includes: George W. Bush, Thomas DeLay, Dick Cheney, Douglas Firth, Bill Frist, and includes John Adams Hurson.) Just because he has a sexy name doesn't mean that he speaks for the people. His District should let him know immediately that he is a jerk.

I think we are rapidly coming to a crisis point in this country. The poor really have no idea what the John Adams Hursons of the world are cooking up for them. But then, they voted these yo-yo's into power.

Again, the NYT:
Moreover, they say, states should not have to offer the same comprehensive set of benefits to all Medicaid recipients, but should be allowed to provide some people with more limited benefits, like those offered by commercial insurers and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

States should be able to establish "different benefit packages for different populations, or in different parts of the state," the governors say in a draft of their new policy.(emphasis added)
Limiting benefits for the old, the poor and children. Its what we are all about as Americans. Too bad we can't just bomb them back to the stone age.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 09

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Social Security

As I have posted in the past, the CEO of United HealthCare made $38 Million in cash in 2003. Yet, he only paid social security tax on the first $90,000. Would someone please do the arithmetic and tell me if we would have a Social Security problem if he paid on $38 Million? I realize that he won't receive those benefits when he retires but he just received a big tax break on the other end, so lets even the playing field.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I don't know how to say this, but I think my Country is going to crash. I have tried to read Billmon's examination of this situation but I must confess, I don't understand my own finances let alone international finances. I guess I just don't see how we can continue to borrow money at the rate we are borrowing and survive. Especially since we owe the money to such great "friends" as China and Japan. I have not doubt that at the bottom of their hearts, both the Chinese and Japanese, for different reasons, would like to do us in. How stupid can we get owing our souls to these two nations?

Personally I am going to try and cut back to the bare minimum. When you really think about it, all one really needs is a good chair and some good books. Maybe an occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I hate being such a pessimist (no, I don't, its in my genes). And, I hope I am proven wrong.

Our Dear Gov - 08

After Munich - After Iraq

In 1938-39 Europeans thought that peace had been achieved after they capitulated to Hitler and let him occupy the Sudentenland, and then all of Chezkoslovakia.
Chamberlain set out on two missions to meet with Hitler: One at Berchtesgaden and another at Godesberg. Chamberlain's background was in business and he felt as though Hitler could be handled like any other negotiation. The key to success was to determine his opponents bottom line; and, if possible, give it to him. Once Hitler is satiated, he will cease to be a problem. When Hitler revealed that the Sudentenland was his final territorial request, Chamberlain came to believe it was a small, if unseemly, price to pay for the prevention of a continental war. It never occurred to Chamberlain, as was feared by Churchill, that Hitler was lying. He asked for the bottom line and got it. What Churchill would have taken with an enormous grain of salt, Chamberlain gladly swallowed without issue. By the time the four powers (Britain, France, Italy, and Germany) met at Munich, Czechoslovakia's fate was already sealed. The Munich Conference was about how to give Hitler his prize rather than whether or not he deserved it.
One of my main reads, Juan Cole, now points out that things are pretty dicey in the MidEast these days.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Will Iran get the Bomb?
It seems pretty obvious that Iran will get the nuclear bomb and there is not much anyone can do about it. I'm not saying it is a good thing. I'm just saying that I can't imagine what would stop it.
Thus, it is now fairly certain that Muslim Iran will get the Bomb and join the ranks of, among other States, Muslim Pakistan. Arrayed against these two Muslim States is Israel and its backer, the U.S. Cole goes on to review how all this happened and how difficult it will be, if impossible, to stop them from getting the Bomb. Its an interesting read. It doesn't even mention the other nemesis, North Korea.

Iran will have the Bomb, just as Hitler got all of Europe, while we have been tied up trying to do something in Iraq that no one is quite sure of at this time. Of course, maybe Bush has calculated that, when the balloon goes up and Iran nukes Israel, no one will remember Iraq. Probably true.

But we do remember Munich.

Could Bush and Blair be our Chamberlains?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Friday Crab Bloggin

What do you call this?

From the highest levels of the British Government via Juan Cole:
But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
There is no other conclusion but that George W. Bush has lied about the invasion of Iraq. But, of course, we knew this.

Hard and incontrovertible facts. And what will be his response? And how will the American people deal with this certainty?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 07

The Defense III

The plot thickens:
Graner told Pohl that pictures he took of England holding the leash were meant to be used as a training aid for other guards. But England had told Pohl when she entered her plea that the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards. (emphasis added)
Excuse me, but it they were meant to be used as a "training aid" then sombody was doing the training. This would, one would hope, not be oxygen deprived and educationally challanged Lynndie England. Does the term fall girl mean anything here?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 06

The Defense - II

Well it looked like our creative lawyers were successful:
FORT HOOD, Texas - A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, saying he was not convinced the Army reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photos in the scandal knew her actions were wrong at the time.
Though I don't see anything about the lack of oxygen. To me, there is a definite lack of oxygen these days, but it seems to center on Pennsylvania Ave. About 1600.

Our Dear Gov - 05

Creative Lawyers

A Correspondent makes the following observation about Little Lynndie:
I don't know what it says about our Government but it does say something about 'creative' lawyers. Using excuses like those cited give credence to Shakepeare's hatred for lawyers.

To take this line of defense further, it sounds like Pfc. England may wish to have her attorney sue her mother's OB/GYN and the delivery hospital for malpractice. And another suit against the school system for allowing her to continue through school without labeling her as a 'special needs' student.
I find the concept of creative lawyers fascinating. As you can imagine, my love for lawyers is not overwhelming. Actually, my lawyer is a pretty good guy. He's my age and our outlook is about the same. Its just that when you call him up and the taxi meter starts clicking, you wonder why docs can't do the same thing. But, there you are.

If I were a lawyer, I would be worried about the breakdown of polity. That is, I would worry that the friendliness of the American people is starting to fade. Then again, the more fights the more lawyers needed, so maybe they welcome this trend. I shouldn't be that cynical.

Our Dear Gov - 04

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Defense

FORT HOOD, Texas - Defense lawyers sought leniency for Pfc. Lynndie England at a hearing Tuesday to determine her punishment in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, with a psychologist testifying that the reservist was oxygen-deprived at birth, speech impaired and had trouble learning to read. (link was on Yahoo on May 3rd; now gone)

I believe that Lynndie England is 20-22 years old. This means that she was born circa 1983. Most delivery suites in the US at that time had the ability to deliver oxygen to newborns that were having trouble breathing. Been there; done that. So, what the hell does it mean that she was oxygen deprived? Furthermore, if she was this impaired, what was she doing in the US Army? Or, is that a rhetorical question.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 03

Civilization and its Contents - V

"You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."
George W. Bush, to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
Civilization is composed of people. Don't argue that its bricks and mortar, paintings, laws, music, poetry or literature. [And for God's sake, don't argue that its religion, although religion, in theory, has the sentiments of civilization. Tragically, in practice, religion is a disaster.]

In my mind, then, American Civilization is made up of American people, and how those people live and die. While this seems trivial, please bear with me. Certainly the bricks and mortar, paintings, etc. are important, but as primary artifacts. They are exponents of civilization. Ramifications, products, whatever you want to call them. Civilization itself is more ephemeral and, sadly, can die. There is no Roman Civilization at this time, of course. Again, this seems trivial, but bear with me.

American Civilization is set off from all others by the opening lines of its Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Why do I get a little chill up my spine every time I read this. I know, I know, this is about as anti-snark a position as you can imagine. Who would think a curmudgeon would feel this way. But, there it is.

No other Civilization had ever had this sentiment at its base.

In 1998, I traveled to Kaliningrad, the city formerly known as Konigsberg that was the Capital of East Prussia. The city now belongs to Russia but is separated from it by Lithuania. I had the privilege of being hosted by the vice mayor and the director of health. These officials cared for their people. While poor as dirt, as was most of the world in the Former Soviet Union, they still cared deeply for their fellow citizens. I was struck by this over and over again both at the hospitals and the orphanages that I visited. They cared about their children.

In 1993 I traveled to Siberia and in 1994 to Bucharest, Romania. I observed the same thing, they cared about their children. All three places had little in the way of "goodies." There were few cars, broken down trams (the back window of the bus was boarded up with plywood). But through it all, they cared about their children.

So, I'm going to make an observation. You can agree or disagree, or you can say its trivial.

American Civilization should be judged on how we care for our poor, our aged and our children.

Now, how are we doing in this regard? Well, you can answer that yourself, but from my standpoint, not very well. We are so obsessed with "goodies" that we have little or no time for these things. Getting ahead, Material Girl, etc. they all point to the same thing.

Our government wages War to the tune of $1 billion a week when it is cutting Medicaid, the health support for the poor (and giving a massive tax break to the rich). Our old people (and I am one of them) are shuttled off to limbo until they die. And when they die, in spite of the hullabaloo about Schaivo, they frequently die poorly. Things that are routine in European Civilization (concern for the environment, small cars, conservation, etc.) are dwindling in American Civilization.

A number of years ago there was a little book that was popular, it was called the "We-uns." It was an archeological dig many years in the future in what is now the US. (Get it, US = We). All I can remember was that the dig unearthed many trivial items, that was the joke. Trivia. I suspect the remnants of a Happy Meal were one. The American Civilization, that we think so highly of, may disappear without a trace.

Once we were on the road to something good. Where we went wrong, I don't know. Such grand sentiments in our Constituion, and the irony is that we have the means to implement them. If only greed had not got in the way.

Remember: the poor, the aged, and the children.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Our Dear Gov - 2

Pop Quiz

Tell me what's wrong here:

1. Top News Story on Yahoo:
Many in Runaway Bride's Town Feel Betrayed
AP - 19 minutes ago
DULUTH, Ga. - The hunt for Jennifer Wilbanks consumed this tight-knit town when she went missing four days before her wedding. Despite a safe return Saturday welcomed by family and close friends, some residents of this Atlanta suburb feel betrayed by what turned out to be an elaborate hoax.
2. Juan Cole at Informed Comment:
Sunday, May 01, 2005
11 Killed, 40 Wounded in Saturday Bomb Marathon
Guerrillas detonated at least 5 bombs in Baghdad on Saturday, killing 11 and wounding 40 persons. It was the second day of mayhem in the capital.