Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.
Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.
At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.
Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.
Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.
These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.
Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.
Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.
Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.
Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.
Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.
Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).
I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.
As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.
It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
I mean why does the rank and file, the average American, so avidly embrace war? The answer is boredom; war relieves the tedium of our everyday lives.
Absent war, "all the news just repeats itself like some forgotten dream." Which, of course, explains why Bush has recently lost the nation's confidence. This many years after the war's start, we no longer find Iraq amusing.
It's easy to see why 18-20 year olds long for war. Just look at their fathers, stooped and graying, tied to the same lathe, the same computer, the same dumb sales meeting for thirty years and what did it get them. War offers an opportunity, perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a little excitement, a chance to travel, to be part of a winning team.
But why would parents risk their 18-20 year investments? Ever sat in the stands at a football game? Or stood embarassed on the sidelines while the kids played soccer and their parents screamed. War is our chance to scream and yell, to unleash the hatreds we store up each day. (No choice but to store up frustrations when so much of our lives is under the control of others.)
War relieves our tensions and provides us with our one chance to excel, if only vicariously. (So what if there were no weapons of mass destruction. We wanted war and no sacrifice was too great.)
The theory that boredom results in war can survive several independent tests. Take the the born agains, self-righteous, smug, (forced to drink and fornicate under the table, to conceal their shame even from themselves), America's Mid-East crusades provide an acceptable outlet for all that ordinarily would be repugnant to a cheek turning, peace-loving Christ.
War offers the opportunity to do so much that cannot be otherwise justified. High school bullies can keep on bullying, even after graduation. And those that were bullied can now torture others.
As for the intellectuals, the peacenicks, always opposed to righteous causes, so out of step with the rest of us, this theory explains them, too. Intellectuals are like new arrivals at a party, two drinks behind. They find their avocations, if not their jobs, completely fulfilling. They solve equations, find cures, build bridges. They even get off on crosswords and sudoku. They're just not bored enough.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Though there have been some hints that the Bush administration may be beginning to reassess the goals, so far defined largely by slogans, of its unsuccessful military intervention in Iraq, President Bush's speech Thursday was a throwback to the demagogic formulations he employed during the 2004 presidential campaign to justify a war that he himself started.
That war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision-makers for motives still not fully exposed, propagated publicly by rhetoric reliant on false assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. It has precipitated worldwide criticism. In the Middle East it has stamped the United States as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs. Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam.
Now, however, more than a reformulation of U.S. goals in Iraq is needed. The persistent reluctance of the administration to confront the political background of the terrorist menace has reinforced sympathy among Muslims for the terrorists. It is a self-delusion for Americans to be told that the terrorists are motivated mainly by an abstract "hatred of freedom" and that their acts are a reflection of a profound cultural hostility. If that were so, Stockholm or Rio de Janeiro would be as much at risk as New York City. Yet, in addition to New Yorkers, the principal victims of serious terrorist attacks have been Australians in Bali, Spaniards in Madrid, Israelis in Tel Aviv, Egyptians in the Sinai and Britons in London.
There is an obvious political thread connecting these events: The targets are America's allies and client states in its deepening military intervention in the Middle East. Terrorists are not born but shaped by events, experiences, impressions, hatreds, ethnic myths, historical memories, religious fanaticism and deliberate brainwashing. They are also shaped by images of what they see on television, and especially by feelings of outrage at what they perceive to be the brutal denigration of their religious kin's dignity by heavily armed foreigners. An intense political hatred for America, Britain and Israel is drawing recruits for terrorism not only from the Middle East but as far away as Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia and even the Caribbean.
America's ability to cope with nuclear nonproliferation has also suffered. The contrast between the attack on the militarily weak Iraq and America's forbearance of a nuclear-armed North Korea has strengthened the conviction of the Iranians that their security can only be enhanced by nuclear weapons. Moreover, the recent U.S. decision to assist India's nuclear program, driven largely by the desire for India's support for the war in Iraq and as a hedge against China, has made the U.S. look like a selective promoter of nuclear weapons proliferation. This double standard will complicate the quest for a constructive resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem.
Compounding such political dilemmas is the degradation of America's moral standing in the world. The country that has for decades stood tall in opposition to political repression, torture and other violations of human rights has been exposed as sanctioning practices that hardly qualify as respect for human dignity. Even more reprehensible is the fact that the shameful abuse and/or torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib was exposed not by an outraged administration but by the U.S. media. In response, the administration confined itself to punishing a few low-level perpetrators; none of the top civilian and military decision-makers in the Department of Defense and on the National Security Council who sanctioned "stress interrogations" (a.k.a. torture) were publicly disgraced, prosecuted or forced to resign. The administration's opposition to the International Criminal Court now seems quite self-serving.
Finally, complicating this sorry foreign policy record are war-related economic trends. The budgets for the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are now larger than the total budget of any nation, and they are likely to continue escalating as budget and trade deficits transform America into the world's No. 1 debtor nation. At the same time, the direct and indirect costs of the war in Iraq are mounting, even beyond the pessimistic prognoses of its early opponents, making a mockery of the administration's initial predictions. Every dollar so committed is a dollar not spent on investment, on scientific innovation or on education, all fundamentally relevant to America's long-term economic primacy in a highly competitive world.
It should be a source of special concern for thoughtful Americans that even nations known for their traditional affection for America have become openly critical of U.S. policy. As a result, large swathes of the world — including nations in East Asia, Europe and Latin America — have been quietly exploring ways of shaping regional associations tied less to the notions of transpacific, or transatlantic, or hemispheric cooperation with the United States. Geopolitical alienation from America could become a lasting and menacing reality.
That trend would especially benefit America's historic ill-wishers and future rivals. Sitting on the sidelines and sneering at America's ineptitude are Russia and China — Russia, because it is delighted to see Muslim hostility diverted from itself toward America, despite its own crimes in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and is eager to entice America into an anti-Islamic alliance; China, because it patiently follows the advice of its ancient strategic guru, Sun Tzu, who taught that the best way to win is to let your rival defeat himself.
In a very real sense, during the last four years the Bush team has dangerously undercut America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle. Because America is extraordinarily powerful and rich, it can afford, for a while longer, a policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued with historical blindness. But in the process, America is likely to become isolated in a hostile world, increasingly vulnerable to terrorist acts and less and less able to exercise constructive global influence. Flailing away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming "I will stay the course" is an exercise in catastrophic leadership.
But it need not be so. A real course correction is still possible, and it could start soon with a modest and common-sense initiative by the president to engage the Democratic congressional leadership in a serious effort to shape a bipartisan foreign policy for an increasingly divided and troubled nation. In a bipartisan setting, it would be easier not only to scale down the definition of success in Iraq but actually to get out — perhaps even as early as next year. And the sooner the U.S. leaves, the sooner the Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis will either reach a political arrangement on their own or some combination of them will forcibly prevail.
With a foreign policy based on bipartisanship and with Iraq behind us, it would also be easier to shape a wider Middle East policy that constructively focuses on Iran and on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process while restoring the legitimacy of America's global role.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Is there anybody here that thinks they're only serving on a raging storm?
Is there anybody here, glory in his eye, loyal to the end, whose duty is to die?
I want to see him
I want to wish him luck
I want to shake his hand
I want to call his name
Pin a medal on a man
Is there anybody here who'd like to wrap a flag around an early grave?
Is there anybody here who thinks they stand taller on a battle wave?
Is there anybody here who'd like to do his part, soldier to the world, and a bullet to the heart?
I want to see him
I want to wish him luck
I want to shake his hand
I want to call his name
Pin a medal on a man
Is there anybody here so proud of the parade,
Who'd like to give a cheer to show they're not afraid?
I'd like to ask him what he's trying to defend;
I'd like to ask him what he think's he's going to win.
I want to see him
I want to wish him luck
I want to shake his hand
I want to call his name
Pin a medal on the man
Is there anybody here who thinks that following the orders takes away the blame?
Is there anybody here who wouldn't mind a murder by another name?
Is there anybody whose pride is on the line, with the honor of the brave and the courage of the blind?
I want to see him
I want to wish him luck
I want to shake his hand
I want to call his name
Pin a medal on the man
Monday, September 19, 2005
This cannot be accounted for by "cowardice" but rather by the fact that the Dems are beholden to the same special interests as the Republicans: the oil tycoons, the barons of the military-industrial complex and those that thrive on empire, from the major banks to Bechtel and Halliburton. Take, for example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is for "staying the course." Antiwar sentiment is solid in California, yet she refuses to embrace it even though it would strengthen, not weaken, her. No, the Democrats are simply the other war party. And in defying their constituencies that are overwhelmingly antiwar, they are in fact quite courageous.
JOHN V. WALSH
Friday, September 09, 2005
Monday, September 05, 2005
Sir, they were told like me. Every single day. The cavalry is coming. On the federal level. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves and we're almost a week out.
Three quick examples. We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, FEMA comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards said no one is getting near these lines.
The guy who runs this building I'm in. Emergency management. He's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in a St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming. Son? Is somebody coming? "And he said yeah. Mama. Somebody's coming to get you.. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night. And she drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For god's sakes, just shut up and send us somebody.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
In a major city in the United States of America, it took days for food and medical supplies to be delivered, for guard troops to be brought in and for sick and elderly people to be rescued from rooftops.
Bodies lay in streets, floated in rivers, piled up at morgues in the Gulf states, and nobody seemed to know who was in charge of rescue efforts.
As lives hung in the balance, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert all but suggested that New Orleans should be bulldozed because of its precarious geography.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday on national radio that he was unaware of the chaos and suffering at the sweltering convention center, where thousands lived in unspeakable filth.
All of this is somewhat less surprising when you consider that it was the president who set the tone for so casual a response to death, a president more intent on saving face in Iraq than saving lives in the United States.
President Bush, who last year slashed an Army Corps of Engineers request for flood protection in New Orleans, waited four days to visit one of the deadliest disasters in American history.
When Bush finally arrived in the city where levees could have been bolstered with a few weeks' worth of the cost of the war in Iraq, he told the nation he'd had lots of fun in New Orleans in his day. He said he was satisfied with the hurricane response but not the results — decipher if you can — and then he boarded Air Force One and flew home without visiting the sick and suffering at an airport triage center.
Why the quick exit? There is work to be done back in Washington, where the agenda includes another round of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and gigantic cuts in benefits to the poor, many of whom we saw in the black neighborhoods of New Orleans for several days running, clinging to life and waiting for someone to throw them a line.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Don’t blame Bush for the tardy and inadequate response of Federal authorities to Hurricane Katrina. In contrast to the 9/11 terrorist attack for which Bush had several months of advance warning, Katrina came as a total surprise, more so, as in contrast to most Texas ranchers, Bush has little or no interest in the weather.While Bush's response is often unfavorably compared with his actions following 9/11, he was as inadequate then as now. A promise to confiscate the funds of those who’d financed the terrorists was abandoned once Bush learned the monies came from his campaign backers in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, though the lack of a central computer kept authorities from tracking the activities of the terrorists as they moved freely about the country, the INS (now a minor branch of Homeland Security) still lacks that computer today.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Our nation, already on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of our engagement in unnecesary foreign wars has been pushed over the edge by foreseeable, but unplanned for natural disasters. New Orleans was built below water level, over-built California is perched atop large-scale faults in the earth, and much of the Midwest lies along tornado alleys created by the Interstate Highway System.
We need to tax wisely and spend wisely. The first source of tax revenue for the States should be gasoline taxes. Every freshman economics student knows the theory of supply and demand. Raise the price and demand drops. Alas, the supply and demand curve for gasoline is relatively inelastic. The price of gasoline can be raised again and again without demand being affected. But there is a limiting price at which consumers will, finally, begin to balk. Oil companies have raised their prices again and again searching for that limit. To date, all the profits have gone to the oil companies. By adding a dollar or more in tax to each gallon of gasoline, we will arrive at that limit sooner than expected, with the happy result that all the profits along the way will go back to us the taxpayers.
The second major source of revenue will be estate taxes. This country was founded two hundred plus years ago on the theory that inherited wealth didn’t mean diddlysquat, that the right to the pursuit of happiness would be open to all regardless of birth. Acting within our democratic principles, the States should impose a tax of 50% on all estates in excess of $2 million and of 90% on all estates in excess of $5 million. Bill Gates is entitled to all the results of his hard work and good judgment; his kid isn’t.
The Soviet Union fell apart when it became evident that the sons and daughters of its dedicated if ruthless leaders had no taste for work (though plenty for cocaine and fast cars). Don’t let this happen here.
The third source of revenue is based on a proposal by Abraham Lincoln when he found himself engaged in a war he did not want. Let those who profit most from a country be the ones to pay to preserve it. And the President asked Congress to impose a graduated income tax. Let him do so once again.
The rich will flee the country will they? Right. Just as earth quakes and mudslides have forced so many executives to move from California.
Which reminds me. Let a dollar-for-dollar assessment be levied against any and all attempts by American residents to make deposits in offshore accounts. Let a two-dollar per dollar assessment be made against any American business that raises prices during a natural catastrophe. Let a 90% tax be levied on all profits from sales to the Department of Defense or its contractors.
Now, how do we spend this revenue?
1. Rescue efforts.
2. Housing for the homeless and those without funds.
3. Rebuilding water supplies and sewage lines nationwide. The allocation of monies thereof to be determined on the basis of population, made locally by individual Congressmen, and audited by the General Accounting Office.
4. To local police departments for training and additional personnel.
5. For education to replace the monies slashed by “The No-Child Left Behind” Act.
6. To hire meat and agricultural product inspectors.
7. On computer equipment for the immigration and naturalization service so they may track visitors, temporary residents, and potential terrorists.
8. On increased personnel for the border patrol so they may prevent illegal immigration.
9. On increased personnel for the immigration and naturalization service so they may track down and deport illegal immigrants who’ve made it past the border patrol. (This could include the payment of bounties to local police departments for turning over illegals to the INS.)
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
I didn't think Cindy Sheehan, the mother waiting on that dusty Texas road for a chance to ask President Bush why her son died in Iraq, was having much effect.
Then I saw her being "Swift-boated" like John Kerry, whose medals and Purple Hearts were all a mistake.
Sheehan, word went out, is a flip-flopper. She'd once accepted the condolences of the president and there was an article in her local paper, which quickly found its way to reporters, to prove it. In it, Sheehan was quoted as saying that Bush wanted "freedom for the Iraqis," felt "some pain for our loss" and that he was "a man of faith." All true, and not at all at odds with what she's saying now, which is that the war is not a "noble" cause, as Bush would have it, and that no one else's child should die in it.
What that excerpt from her Vacaville paper, provided to the Drudge Report, conveniently left out was the part about the family's decision to behave in a decorous way on a solemn occasion, despite their feelings about the war.
As she waited for Bush near his ranch in Crawford this week, Sheehan recalled that first encounter with her president, two months after strangers knocked at the door to say her son, Casey, a 24-year-old Army specialist, had been killed in an ambush in Sadr City. She was still in shock at the time of the meeting and didn't know how to act, she said. Afterward, she didn't want to tell the local reporter how let down she felt by a president who behaved like he was at a social event, who called her "Mom" and didn't seem to know the name or gender of her child, referring to him only as her "loved one."
Even hardened reporters can be flummoxed by Bush. It's not hard to picture Sheehan dazed by him as he mixed up his styles — guy next door, president, the "mission accomplished" commander in chief — with that of a somber undertaker invoking the "loved one" a few too many times. You can picture Sheehan, a small-town mom with good manners, not wanting to disappoint the folks back home with too much candor.
That time is gone, as Sheehan taps into a growing majority of Americans who wonder if the president gets it. That majority now has its own song (the Rolling Stones' "Sweet Neo Con"), its own candidate (Iraq war veteran and Democrat Paul Hackett, who nearly upset the favorite in a Republican stronghold in a special House election in Ohio) and a concession by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (the "war on terror" has become "the global struggle against violent extremism").
Sheehan and others trying to get to Bush's ranch were forced by county police to walk in a three-foot-deep ditch along the side of road and stop five miles short. She ended up pitching a small tent in a tiny patch of shade.
Sheehan has two great advantages: It's the August dog days of news, and she didn't set up in front of the White House. There she would be competing with anti-nuclear, anti-fluoride and anti-globalism protesters. All around her sit satellite uplinks and reporters, finally with something worthier of their attention than Rafael Palmeiro's steroids and Katherine Harris' makeup.
Sheehan is part of a small group of parents who have lost children in Iraq and hate the war. There is a much larger group of parents who believe that Bush is doing everything he can and that he couldn't have anticipated an insurgency whose bombs and members would grow more sophisticated and deadly by the day. For them, their children's deaths were not in vain and most have disdain for all who hold the other view.
Members of Sheehan's tiny Gold Star Families for Peace believe that the president was wrong and is now clueless about what to do. They have stepped into the abyss of regret and senselessness that comes with knowing a child died for a mistake.
Sheehan reminds me of Lila Lipscomb, the Flint, Mich., mother who lost a son and got lost amid less compelling material in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." Lipscomb was an ardent supporter of the military who was devastated because she had encouraged her son to join up to get the education she couldn't afford to give him.
After a "9/11" screening for press and politicians in Washington, Lipscomb said a few words. When the lights came up, the audience spent a long time picking up its things. No one wanted to be seen crying, especially when our privileged positions protect us from ever having to endure what Lipscomb had.
On Friday, Bush will have to pass by Sheehan in his climate-controlled car with its tinted windows, or forgo a fundraiser nearby. He lives in a bubble — his prescreened audiences applaud him for platitudes and for his resolve. He goes nowhere alone. He took Dick Cheney to his interview with the 9/11 commission.
He isn't refusing to see Sheehan because he's callous but because he's like those of us listening to Lipscomb. Alone with Sheehan, he might find himself crying over something his privileged position means he will never have to endure.
"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)
"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years." -- Joe Scarborough (R-FL)
"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?" -- Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99
"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home." -- Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area." -- Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
2. Whether Gays can marry is entirely up to their religion.
3. States can authorize civil unions and can grant civil union status to any marriage.
4. States can restrict the granting of civil union status on the basis of public policy. For example,
they may demand that both members of a prospective couple be tested for AIDS, syphillus, or any other STD and that the results be made known to both prospective partners. They may establish a minimum age at which an individual may enter into a civil union. They may deny civil unions to incestuous relationships.
5. At issue is whether a state can deny civil union status on the basis of sexual orientation. Were they to do so, would not the next steps be to deny the protection of the courts, employment, housing, and even food on the same basis?
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?
Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?
Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?
Why do kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Whose idea was it to put an "s" in the word "lisp"?
If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?
Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?
Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end you first try?
How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "it's all right?" well, it isn't all right so why don't we say, "that hurt, you stupid idiot?"
why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?
In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
If at first you don't succeed, shouldn't you try doing it like your wife told you to do it?
And obviously if at first you don't succeed, then don't take up sky diving!
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends, if they're okay, then it's you.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
The indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan by the United States during the period from 28 June to ?? July 2005 should be not confused with the massive “rastrellamento” the German SS conducted of the mountainous region around Marzabotta, Italy from 29 Sept to 1 Oct 1944 which killed thousands of civilians. They were Nazi's. We aren't.
Besides, I have not now, nor ever been a member of the Neoconservative Party. I was opposed to the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia. Alas, any sign of protest on my part would have been greeted with indignation by my neighbors. In any event, I was just following orders.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
This new sobriety was exemplified by President Bush's speech at Ft. Bragg on Tuesday. Beforehand, as the TV camera panned across row upon row of soldiers in red berets, a commentator warned that the speech might last a long time because it was likely to be interrupted by numerous rounds of applause from this loyal military audience.
Bush plowed on with his rather wooden speech, wearing that curious, rigid half-smile of his, with the mouth turning down rather than up at each end. Afterward, the same commentator who had warned to expect rounds of applause speculated, with an equally authoritative air, that the White House had suggested restraint to this audience so it would not appear that the president was both requesting coverage from the TV networks and exploiting the nation's military for a political rally. But then, perhaps soldiers who actually risk their lives for Bush's policies in Iraq, and have lost comrades there, would not have been in a mood to applaud anyway.
Bush's speech once again presented Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror — the GWOT. He mentioned the Sept. 11 attacks six times; weapons of mass destruction, not once. We have to defeat the terrorists abroad, he said, before they attack us at home. As freedom spreads, the terrorists will lose support. Then he made this extraordinary statement: "We will prevent Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban — a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends."
Consider. Three years ago, when Bush started ramping up for war in Iraq, Afghanistan had recently been liberated from both the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorists who had attacked the U.S. Iraq, meanwhile, was a hideous dictatorship under Saddam Hussein.
But, as the 9/11 commission concluded, Hussein's regime had no connection with the 2001 attacks. Iraq was not then a recruiting sergeant or training ground for jihadist terrorists. Now it is. The U.S.-led invasion and occupation has made it so. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark put it plainly: "We are creating enemies."
And the president says: Our great achievement will be to prevent Iraq becoming another Taliban-style, Al Qaeda-harboring Afghanistan! This is like a man who shoots himself in the foot and then says, "We must prevent it turning gangrenous, then you'll understand why I was right to shoot myself in the foot."
Whether or not the invasion was a crime, it's now clear that — at least in the form in which it was executed — it was a massive blunder. And the American people are beginning to see this. Before Bush spoke at Ft. Bragg, 53% of those asked in a CNN/Gallup poll said it was a mistake to go into Iraq.
That's the new sobriety, and here are a few more indicators. First off, neocons are no longer calling the shots. As a well-informed Washingtonian tells me, tapping Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank and John Bolton to be ambassador to the U.N. actually shows they have been "kicked upstairs."
What's more, there is little talk now of proud unilateralism and the U.S. winning the GWOT on its own. The State Department is setting out to repair old alliances and to forge new ones. It wants a strong European partner. On Iran, which even six months ago had threatened to become a new Iraq crisis, the U.S. is letting the E3 — Britain, France and Germany — take the diplomatic lead. And if the European diplomacy does not work, what is Washington's Plan B? To take the issue to the U.N.! What a difference three years make.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is right. It would be suicidally dumb for any European to think, in relation to Iraq, "the worse the better." Jihadists now cutting their teeth in Iraq will make no fine distinctions between Washington and London, Berlin or Madrid. Any European tempted to luxuriate schadenfreudishly in the prospect of a Vietnam-style U.S. evacuation from Baghdad may be awoken from that reverie by the blast from a bomb, planted in Charing Cross tube station by an Iraq-hardened terrorist.
But it is a fair and justified historical observation that U.S. policy has gotten better — more sober, more realistic — at least partly because things in Iraq have gone so badly. This is the cunning of history.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I realize that some of you have been thinking, what in the tarnation are we doin in Iraq. Some of you still think Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Thank you for that. Uncle Dick said I can't say it anymore, now that he has said there was no connection, but *winks* you and I know whats goin on right?
Anyway, I am concentration on the future and the war on terror. I've been strategemitizing with some army generals, and navy generals, and even some guys from the air force, and we've decided that Iraq just isn't a vitaminable target anymore...that means, its not a good idea. So, we've used a lot of top secret intelligence, stuff we got from the Russians, and the Chinese, and a guy on the ground named Sneaky Pete, and we've decided to invade Madagascar. Apparently there are a whole bunch of terrorists runnin around there, and they are escaped convicts to boot.
This is a war we can win, y'know, I lost the popular vote in my first election, and some say that if it wasn't for the judges my daddy and his boss put on the big court in the United States, that maybe I wouldn't have been president at all...but Uncle Dick fixed that, and I won the second election easy. Uncle Dick even knew how many votes I'd win by before the darn thing started! Well, I think this war will be the same way, now that I've got my feet wet, I'll be much more better effective in the next conflict, plus Uncle Donald said the place in Madagascar has a pool.
So be ready America, we're winning the war on terror, irregardless of what my detraceables say. Stay the course, and don't forget about Poland!"
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Iraqi Lawmakers Call for Foreign Troops to Withdraw
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BAGHDAD
Iraqi lawmakers from across the political spectrum called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from their country in a letter released to the media June 19.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Some reading material for you:
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001by Steve Coll (Penguin Press, 2004) The prelude to 9/11; how we armed then abandoned Afghanistan.
Dude Where's My Country, by Michael Moore (Warner Books, 2003). Did Osma bin Laden really organize 9/11 while on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan?
The Record of the Paper Howard Friel and Richard Falk ask in this 2004 Verso text how the US justifies attacking Afghanistan after the Taliban agreed to hand over Osama bin Laden.
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler. (Random House, 1940, Bantam, 1984.) Moussaoui confesses after a year in jail incommunicado.
Bushwacked, Molly Ivins (Random House, New York, 2004, 348 pages, with index). Investigative journalism at its best. You’ll never eat lunchmeat again—now that the US no longer inspects its meat packing plants. Here is the truth behind each of Bush’s best lies.
Fraud. Paul Waldman (Source Books, Naperville, 2004, 308 pages with index). A very painful book to read as it details (almost) every one of the lies Bush and Cheney has told and how the “liberal” media, e.g, the LA Times, NY Times, the Washington Post have repeatedly failed to challenge and document their false assertions.
Worse Than Watergate, John W. Dean (Little Brown and Company, Boston, 2004, 253 pages, index, footnotes). How Bush and Cheney make Nixon look good by comparison. How close Bush/Cheney have brought us to the model provided by the Russian Soviet Government. How our “liberal” media has failed to protest the intrusions on our liberties.
Bushworld Mureen Dowd (G.P. Putnam, New York, 2004, 523 pages, no index) Hardly worth reading this easily-forgotten collection of op-ed columns, many about Poppy Bush.
International Job Placement. A desperate need exists in India today for programmers as a result of outsourcing by US firms. Your opportunity lies in matching India’s demands with the many unemployed middle-class Americans in your community. But you’ll have to act fast: the coyotes who supply corporate farmers with Mexican field hands are already trucking unemployed mill hands and garment workers in the opposite direction to fill the demand by the American government for made-in-Mexico uniforms.
Just in: Saudi Arabian employers prefer US-born domestics as they are willing to work without any of the social benefits Asians, Europeans, and Canadians take for granted.
The Whorehouse Just Outside the Town Limits. The Bush administration has already permitted Trailways and Greyhound to discontinue service to many of America’s small-towns. No longer able to afford trips to the big city to get laid, America’s rural population is demanding service close at hand. And there is no shortage of potential employees as pregnant girls forced to go to term are already viewed as sluts. Prime real estate just outside the town limits for your house is available now, but it won’t be long.
Private Police Forces. With more and more displaced and hungry on the streets, Americans who can still afford it will be willing to pay for protection (unless payment is in the form of taxes). Many of your paintball buddies would die for the chance to fire real guns at real people. Give them the opportunity and make the big bucks in the process.
Meat Supplier. (Our thanks to James Tiptree Jr. for this suggestion.) With more and more unwanted babies, the opportunity arises to supply private clubs with delicious succulent antibiotic-free meat. Our advice: Take the extra step and establish your own delivery clinic (all you need are a table and stirrups). Offer free delivery and post-natal care in return for the kid.
Publisher. There is a growing need for Neo-Christian publications including a revised bible whose emphasis in on the positive aspects of religion—lying, torture, and killing rather than all that crap about loving your neighbor. You ain’t no goddam homo.
Filter Manufacture. Everyone wants clean air and water. Best of all, everyone now need clean air and water just to survive. There is a fortune to be made in desalinization, arsenic removal, and nose plugs. Profits are enormous as, in the absense of all government regulation and inspection, these devices don't actually have to work! (Thanks to John Brunner for the suggestion.)
1) What evidence supports Bush's theory that he served in the Texas National Guard?
2) President Bush said he would confiscate the bank accounts of those who financed the 9/11 terrorists. How much has he confiscated so far?
3) President Bush said he would provide hundreds of millions in aid to the Iranian town destroyed in an earthquake in 2002. How much has he contributed so far?
4) The enlisted men who abused Iraqui prisoners and shot Iraqui teenagers did so entirely without officer supervision. Just what is it that officers in the US armed services do?
The ones who more or less went along,
Having nothing against the Jews, the Czechs, the Slavs.
The news of intial victories was encouraging,
And nobody likes the French.
The tales of rapes, beatings, torture were disturbing
Better they sow their wild oats abroad.
Besides, wouldn’t the hated ones have done the same to us,
As they burned down the Twin Towers of the Reichstag.
Our training in torture will serve in good stead
When it comes to rooting out the disaffected here at home
Jews, Moslems, non-church going Christians.
Pounding our Christian blood into their matzos
Demanding “Car pool,” “Free Education,” “Free Medical Care,””Free Love.”
We know the signs now
Can spot them early
Drop the bombs
On Bagdad, Kabul, and the blue states.
He has solved the problem of social security by by cutting Medicare benefits and by eliminating the inspection of meat packing plants--the elderly are particularly susceptible to Listeria.
He has solved the problem of illegal immigration both by cutting wages and by destroying the value of the US dollar so that it is hardly worth while sneaking across the border.
He has removed 11 million from the unemployment roles--1.5 million in the military.KIA, and military support roles, and 9.5 million by not counting them as unemployed once their eligibility for unemployment benefits ends.
"A senior officer perforce had to trust his juniors, while still carrying the ultimate responsibility. If [Leuitenant] Harcourt should blunder, if he should be guilty of some indiscretion leading to a diplomatic protest, it would certainly be true that he would wish he had never been born; Hornblower would see to that. But Hornblower would be wishing he himself had never been born, too.]
"[To prevent a war, Hornblower had been forced to lie. ] He had ceased to be a gentleman. He was disgraced. Everything was at an end. He would have to resign his command; he would have to resign his commission. How would he ever face Barbara [his wife]. When little Richard grew up and could understand what had happened, how would he ever be able to meet his eyes."
Today, of course, a dozen enlisted men may be found guilty of abusing and torturing prisoners, and not one officer will be reprimanded. A chief financial office might cook the books and his billionaire superior found blameless. As for lying, t'is the surest way to promotion in the Bush Administration.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Here are nine reasons why:
i. Won't use much oil--can be done on bicycles.
ii. Give U.S. secure borders.
iii. Eliminate potential refuge for draft dodgers, runaway slaves, and other dissidents to-be-named later.
iv. Creates more jobs (at least, while war lasts).
v. Keep focus from our own decaying domestic economy and infrastructure.
vi. Provide natural launching pad for land invasion of Europe.
vii. Provide hundreds of thousands of acres of trees, minerals, and unspoiled wilderness Bush can share with his cronies.
viii. Stop Canadians bellyaching about acid rain, over fishing by USians, ozone-layer depletion, landmines, and arm sales that are really none of their business.
ix. Fewer Canadians killed by friendly fire.
President Lincoln introduced the graduated income tax to pay for the costs of a war he did not want. He reasoned that those who made the most money from our country gained the most from keeping our country strong. President Bush wants to abolish this tax, reasoning that the money is best kept in the hands of his family and their oil company supporters.
Mr. Congressman do you pay any taxes? Are you on half pay because of the strike? Worried that you won't be able to pay for medical expenses and groceries? Worried that yor job will be sent off shore along with the factory? Worried there aren't enough policemen? Or that your children's class sizes have doubled? Mr. Congressman give me my money and my services back. Support a graduated income tax (and heavy penalties for those who deposit monies off-shore).
1. The Executive hit man, Tom Delay, is the poster person for stupidity, meanness and arrogance, the button man for the Shrub administration. He alone is reason enough to not permit any Congressional representation from the state of Texas. The nation is doomed, penniless and morally bankrupt.