Saturday, April 30, 2005

America's sons and daughters. See post below. Posted by Hello

Psychological Effects of Combat

It is our duty to each soldier
who makes up our armed forces
to know exactly
what price they will pay in the combat situations they face.
Every individual we send to represent us in combat
is worthy of our doing our homework
and consciously deciding that a particular war or 'action' is warranted.
We owe them at least this much.

Here is the first paragraph from the introduction to the Psychological Effects of Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman & Bruce K. Siddle.

An examination of the psychological effects of combat must begin by acknowledging that there are some positive aspects to combat. Throughout recorded history these positive aspects have been emphasized and exaggerated in order to protect the self-image of combatants, to honor the memory of the fallen and rationalize their deaths, to aggrandize and glorify political leaders and military commanders, and to manipulate populations into supporting war and sending their sons to their deaths. But the fact that these positive aspects have been manipulated and exploited does not deny their existence. There is a reason for the powerful attraction of combat over the centuries, and there is no value in going from the dysfunctional extreme of glorifying war to the equally dysfunctional extreme of denying its attraction.

The whole is an excellent read. May they all come home complete.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Search for Viet MIAs remains a priority

...the extraordinary effort is worth it to the families who've waited and hoped for so long that word would finally come that their son, husband, father or brother has been found and is coming home at last.

It's worth it to those who wear the uniform of their country and believe in a simple creed that we are Americans and we will leave no one behind on the battlefield.

That implicit contract is best expressed in the words of a letter that Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman wrote to his friend Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the end of the Civil War:

"I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if in trouble you would come for me, if alive."


Read the full article at the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau.

What a Wonderful Letter

Evolution is the way God created and is creating­

Dear Editor,

I don’t know how to put this, but we have come back from our time in Arizona with a renewed conviction that evolution is the way God created and is creating!

It was a good time, enjoying rain and rainbows, sunshine, blue skies, warm breezes, and the blooming desert with birds and bunnies enjoying their environment, and of course renewing our bonds with friends and relatives.The weekend after Easter, Ted and I were in northern Arizona on our way home, stopping to tour the incredibly beautiful canyons, including Canyon De Chelly in Arizona and Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah.

We decided that was to be our worship experience that Sunday. We learned that more than 300 million years ago a sea flowed into the Colorado Plateau and eventually evaporated over a million years ago, leaving a salt bed that became covered with debris that became compressed into rock (sandstone). Salt under pressure is unstable, so it shifted and buckled, thrusting the rock layers upward and dropping other pieces into cavities. Wind, water, and dissolving salt over the years resulted in the beautiful, unusual formations.We also learned about a cryptobiotic crust that covers the desert to protect it and preserve it so it can maintain flora and fauna. It is composed of cyanobacteria, lichen, fungi and algae.

This covering protects against erosion, absorbs moisture and provides nitrogen and other nutrients for plant growth. Walking or driving off the trail destroys this crust.

I’m so grateful for scientific minds that can explain how everything is related and dependent on each other, and how these things have come about. We also think that if we believe in God as the Creator of all things, we worship God best by appreciating and taking care of the creatures and creations.

God cannot be contained in a box, in a church or school or thought, but still reveals God’s self to us in love and creation.

It’s good to be back in this community too, but — on another subject — I was sad to hear of how, during the recent school board election, on the part of some voters candidates were judged by “how good a Christian” each candidate is or is not. God is the only one capable of that judgment and in God’s sight we are all sinners.

In voting, please learn to look at character and accomplishments. Anyone can talk like a Christian but the real question is, “Do they act in Christ-like ways, loving their neighbors as themselves?”

Trust your own intelligence, do your own research and don’t rely on your political party, friends, or a church group to tell you how to vote.

Carolyn Berkland
Burnett County Sentinel


Thank you, Carolyn, for a reasoned and 'from the heart' letter.

Blue is Better for Innovative Companies

Jim Clark: Progressive politics better for business

NEW ORLEANS — Multimillionaire investor and entrepreneur Jim Clark thinks “red state” Louisiana should be a little more blue if it wants to create a better climate for technology companies.

The Netscape founder and Tulane University board member told a crowd this morning at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development in downtown New Orleans that places that are more progressive and liberal are better breeding grounds for innovative companies.

“Liberal means open to new things,” he said. “You need an environment where it’s OK to take risks.”

He argues that conservative business climates discourage risk-taking and are more likely to go along with the status quo.

Clark, who once lived in New Orleans as an undergraduate student at Tulane’s University College and later as a graduate student at Louisiana State University, was the keynote speaker at the conference. He spoke of his experiences growing multibillion-dollar companies like Silicon Graphics in the early 1980s and Netscape Communications in the ’90s. Clark is now chairman of online photography site

He was invited to speak to share his success stories and talk about technology trends on the horizon. However, politics and the increasing influence of the religious right are pressing business concerns for Clark.

He said people shouldn’t see the liberal label as a four-letter word.

“I think it’s very important to have a liberal political environment,” he said. “I’d make the argument that most of the progressive business environments in the country are blue,” he said, referring to areas that voted more heavily for Democrats in the last presidential election.

Clark pointed to tech hotbeds like Palo Alto, Calif., Boston, Mass., and the Northwest as evidence supporting his theory.

While he is a major supporter of university research and committed more than $100 million to Stanford University, he rescinded $60 million after President George W. Bush enacted rules prohibiting federal money to be used for stem cell research. Most university research is supported by federal grants. In making the policy change, Bush sided with religious conservatives who oppose stem cell research on moral grounds.

Clark said that the country’s leaders shouldn’t use religious fundamentalism to influence policy decisions concerning science and technology. If we don’t invest in stem cell research, the country will fall behind in cutting-edge treatments, Clark said.

“I think our current government being so directed by a religious fervor is severely limiting the United States in development of business because you need to keep religious beliefs separate from policies and (business development),” he said.

By Keith Brannon
The Biz Network
April 21, 2005 02:35 PM

Friday, April 22, 2005

Who’s Donated Money to Tom DeLay’s Legal Expense Trust

April 18, 2005

A February 2005 report by Public Citizen lists contributors to the Tom Delay Legal Expense Trust during the period 2000 to 2004 by congressmember, industry and company.

As a public service, we’re posting the URL of the report, and giving you a few samples of companies that have contributed – meaning the executives of these companies have conveyed funds to Tom DeLay’s Legal Expense Trust.

As usual, we urge you to vote with your wallet, avoid doing business with those who work against you, and buy blue.

American Airlines $5,000
Anheuser-Busch Company $250
Ashland Inc (& PAC) $2,000
Bacardi USA, Inc. $3,000
Bell South $3,500
Coors Brewing Company $500
Dominos Pizza $5,000
Exxon Mobil $300
Hewlett-Packard $2,000
Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. $1,000
Nissan North America Inc. $5,000
Philip Morris $5,000
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. $17,000
Reliant (and subsidiaries) $20,000
Sinclair Broadcasting Group $1,000
Verizon Services Group $5,000

Posted by Martha at April 18, 2005 08:46 PM

Thanks, Martha!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

History Repeats...

[An historically prophetic excerpt from Ernest Hemingway...]

For Whom the Bell Tolls

"Do you have no big proprietors (in America)?" Andres asked.


"Then there must be abuses."

"Certainly. There are many abuses."

"But you will do away with them."

"We try to more and more. But there are many abuses still."

"But there are not great estates that must be broken up?"

"Yes. But there are those who believe that taxes will break them up."


Robert Jordan, wiping out the stew bowl with bread, explained how the income tax and the inheritance tax worked. "But the big estates remain. Also there are taxes on the land," he said.

"But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes. Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary. They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here," Primitivo said.

"It is possible."

"Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here."

"Yes, we will have to fight."

"But are there not many fascists in your country?"

"There are many who do not know they are fascists but who will find out when the time comes."

"But you cannot destroy them until they rebel?"

"No," Robert Jordan said. "We cannot destroy them. But we can educate people so that they will fear fascism and recognize it as it appears and combat it."

Thanks to The Flypaper Theory for this Hemingway clip.

Why Should We Teach the Responsibilities of Citizenship?

A vitally important safeguard to our unique rights at citizens of the United States and any democratically-based country...
The preservation of civil rights and liberties is linked to performance of responsibilities. For example, the right of political participation means little when most citizens fail to exercise it. Furthermore, the right to free expression of political ideas is diminished when individuals do not gain knowledge about government. Responsibilities of citizenship--such as voluntary service to the community, participation in the political system, acquisition of knowledge about civic life, and public commitment to the values of constitutional democracy (e.g., liberty, justice, and the rule of law)--are essential to the health of a free society.
Originally found at World History Blog, visit ERIC Digests, an educational clearinghouse, for ideas.

A good place to start is with the Constitution. One of my fellow bloggers, Scriptor, at Historium, read the constitution through and published some of his observations, Constitutional Notes I, II and III. Quite interesting. I was intrigued and will be reading through the Constitution myself.

Modern Technology Reads Ancient Formerly Unreadable Texts

Hot stuff for history lovers!

For more than a century, it has caused excitement and frustration in equal measure - a collection of Greek and Roman writings so vast it could redraw the map of classical civilisation. If only it was legible.

Now, in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

In the past four days alone, Oxford's classicists have used it to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world, lost for millennia. They even believe they are likely to find lost Christian gospels, the originals of which were written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament.

The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".

Read the complete article at Rogue Classicism.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The true meaning of a fundamentalist Christian

As a non-Christian, I am considerably heartened by this article at

Byron Williams -

04.15.05 - I am a fundamentalist Christian who trusts women to make the right choices with their bodies, supports marriage equality and opposes the death penalty.

With such declarations, it is not likely that I will be categorized with the usual fundamentalist suspects like the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the 700 Club's Pat Robertson.

As the great labor organizer Saul Alinsky stated: "Whoever controls the definition, controls the outcome." Therefore, I contend that many of those who most commonly labeled "fundamentalist Christian" are the ones out of step with the teaching of Jesus.

Theology's role in the public conversation has been largely vacuous since the days of Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King Jr. Replacing them has been a series of religious neophytes whose allegiance to a political party appears greater than any contribution to American discourse.

In America, the term fundamentalist is often intertwined, and therefore misunderstood, as being synonymous with evangelical. But evangelical, which comes from the Greek word "euangellismos," simply means gospel or good news.

An "evangelical Christian" can either be conservative or liberal in origin, ranging in practices from proselytizing, systems of belief or affiliation of denomination.

Fundamentalism is linked to a literal interpretation of the biblical text, the way an "originalist" like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia approaches the Constitution.

So much of what fundamentalist Christianity espouses is designed to maintain some notion of a status quo. It is a religious doctrine that seems to be wedded as much to an antiquated notion of the Constitution as it is to scripture.

Early Christianity was a rebellious underground movement until Roman Emperor Constantine made it his religious practice in A.D. 312 and his successor, Theodosius I, made it the official religion of Rome in A.D. 380.

I submit those who self-define today as Christian fundamentalist are closer to being heirs to the nationalistic religiosity originated in Rome than to the teachings of Jesus.

The blending of church and state into one national voice by segments of the Christian fundamentalist movement runs counter to any notion of American democracy of which I am aware.
Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, writing recently on the tragedy of Terri Schiavo, acknowledged and justified fundamentalists' attempt to blend church and state: "True, there is an arguable federalism issue: whether taking the issue out of a state's jurisdiction is constitutional. But it pales in comparison with the moral issue."

How can arbitrary notions of one's privately held morality trump constitutional due process?
It seems quite paradoxical for fundamentalists to periodically invoke the name of Jesus in their rhetoric while advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, militarism and authoritarianism, along with the exclusion of certain Americans from the public conversation.

Such beliefs do not play well, however, with a Jesus who emphasized love, justice, hope and opportunity. The very idea of something called a "fundamentalist Christian" as currently practiced is by definition oxymoronic.

It is impossible to be a fundamentalist Christian and not apply a strict adherence to the belief of "love your neighbor as yourself," a concept Jesus placed as a high priority. In short, a fundamentalist Christian must be a fundamentalist to love.

A genuine definition of Christian fundamentalism would demand that love, justice, hope and opportunity be central to its understanding.

In addition to King, Mother Teresa and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are authentic examples of a Christian fundamentalist. In fact, Gandhi's embodiment of the teachings of Jesus, as a practicing Hindu, remains far superior to the claims of orthodoxy by the vast majority of 21st century Christians.

The challenge is to wrest the title "fundamentalist Christianity" away from those who have narrowly defined it as a tool that works in tandem with the state for its own purposes of greed, domination and a limited interpretation of morality.

The way to accomplish this is to be living examples of a strict adherence to love, justice, hope and opportunity, thereby authentically being fundamentalist Christians in word and deed.
Moreover, such fundamentalism is possible universally, even if one is not Christian.

Byron Williams writes a weekly political/social commentary at Byron serves as pastor of the Resurrection Community Church in Oakland, California.
(c) 2005,

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Toast to Your Health! And Why...

Here's just part of the interesting evolution of the ritual we call "toasting" from Interesting Thing of the Day.

What’s the significance of the clinking glasses? And why do we call it a toast?

It all has to do with poison.

Let’s go back a few millennia to ancient Greece, where one of the preferred means of disposing of an unwanted political rival (or spouse) was to invite the person to share a nice meal with you and slip a little something into the wine. This happened a surprising number of times before people started to catch on and realize that they might want to think twice before imbibing. And yet, it would have been incredibly impolite not to drink what you were served. The solution to this problem was for the host to take the first drink after the wine was poured from a single bottle or decanter; if he didn’t keel over forthwith, the guests could be assured the wine was safe for them to drink too—and they ceremonially tossed back a preliminary sip from their own glasses. This, then, is the beginning of the notion of “drinking to one’s health.”

Now jump ahead several centuries and across the water to Rome, where much the same customs (namely, poisoning and goodwill drinks by the host) were in force. It was a peculiar Roman practice to put a piece of burnt toast in a wine glass. The usual reasons given are almost certainly incorrect—this was done neither to add flavor to the wine nor to provide a “treat” at the bottom of the glass; if someone wanted wine-soaked bread, a quick dip would be more than adequate. Rather, it was a way to remove undesirable flavors from the wine. In particular, the burnt crust reduced the wine’s acidity, making it more drinkable—especially if it happened to be a cheaper variety in the first place.

If that sounds rather strange, bear in mind that the water filter in your kitchen most likely contains activated charcoal, a special, oxygenated form of carbon that has a tremendous ability to absorb unpleasant odors and flavors—not to mention certain toxic substances. Burning toast carbonizes its surface, making it a very crude, primitive approximation of a modern chemical filter. Although a burnt toast crust is not activated charcoal and does not have anywhere near its absorptive capacity, you will get at least a bit of the same effect. You can’t count on toast to protect you from hemlock or whatever other poisons your enemies may have put into your wine, but it is at least remotely plausible that at some point in history, a particularly inept poisoner was foiled by a piece of toast.

If you want to know why we "clink glasses" when we toast, check out the whole article (link above). Happy toasting!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I'm Glad My Party Doesn't Have to Claim These People...

This alarming piece is from the American Constitution Society blog.

Conservatives Call For Impeachment Of "Satanic" Justice Anthony Kennedy

The Washington Post reports on the harsh words some conservatives have for Reagan appointee and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem."


Christ! Where do these people crawl out from?????????????

Thursday, April 07, 2005

50,000 pages of history online

This could be a real find...

History World International
World History From Ancient Mesopotamia To The Present
A Collection Of World History Related Essays, Documents, Maps and Music From World History

This World History site contains a history of the world from the Neolithic era to the present including Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Sumeria, Ancient Akkad, the Ancient Hittites, Ancient Assyria, Ancient Babylon, Ancient Egypt, Hieroglyphics, Cuneiform, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, European Middle Ages, Franks, Celts, Renaissance, The Enlightenment, the discovery of the New World, The United States, American Civil War, World War One, World War Two and the fall of Communism. It is our intention to present World History in a non-biased manner without interpretation or opinion. We will present the historical record and you draw whatever conclusions you believe appropriate.

One caveat: The sentence below on the site's Home page made me squint my eyes and ponder...

[snip] Civilization is a triumph of mind over matter, of reason over instinct, and of the distinctly human over mankind's animal nature. These are what have made possible civilization, as well as culture, its constant and necessary companion. [snip]

I don't get what's so "bad" about matter, instinct or animal nature that civilization supposedly 'triumphs' over. We are all of the above. I, for one, would not want to leave out my baser instincts. They're quite juicy, actually.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Thoughtful View on the Iraq "War" from a Knowledgeable Source

Gen. Wes Clark appeared today before the House Armed Services Committee. He is succinct, thoughtful, clear, pragmatic and packs a wallop. He deserves a large hearing, especially if our current Administration proceeds with this untenable war...

Opening Statement of General Wesley Clark
House Armed Services Committee Hearing
April 6, 2005

Mr. Chairman, Congressman Skelton, distinguished members of this Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. From moment one, this Committee has been strongly supportive of the men and women in uniform, and I want to commend you for that -- and thank you for the support that so many of you gave to me during my time in the military. As a former soldier, I can't stress enough how important these deliberations are to our armed forces and military families stationed around the world -- and to the thousands of veterans I've met with over the past two years. I have also heard from thousands of people over the internet who wish to express their gratitude for your efforts and concerns about the situation in Iraq. On their behalf and on behalf of my own family, I thank you.

It is a privilege to appear today to present my thoughts on Iraq and our armed forces, to offer a brief retrospective on the mission there, to sketch out a successful way ahead, and to discuss the implications for the U.S. armed forces.

In September 2002, you invited me to testify about the looming crisis in Iraq. At the time, based on the information provided by the U.S. intelligence community, we all believed that Iraq possessed some chemical and biological weapons, and had an ongoing effort to gain nuclear weapons. It made sense at the time to go to the United Nations and get strong diplomatic reinforcement to end Saddam's weapons programs.

But the critical issue then was how to end Saddam's weapons program without detracting from our focus on Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network, and our efforts to deal with other immediate, mid- and long-term security problems. As you may recall, I counseled at the time that we needed a Congressional Resolution -- not at that point authorizing the use of force -- but rather expressing the intent to use force if all other measures were to fail. I testified that we should then use this Congressional Resolution to press for UN action, that we should work patiently to forge world-wide legitimacy, and that force should be used only as a last resort, after all diplomatic means had been exhausted -- and then only after we had fully prepared to handle the post-conflict process in Iraq.

After a Congressional Resolution and an aborted U.N. inspection effort, the U.S. invaded Iraq. We did not use the U.N. process effectively to enhance our legitimacy or build our coalition. The Administration did not heed the warnings of General Shinseki and others who warned of the force strength necessary to win the war and win the peace. In short, the Administration did not give our military adequate planning or sufficient resources to handle the post-conflict situation in Iraq. These errors were compounded by weak strategic decisions, including dissolving the Iraqi army and outlawing Baathist participation in new governmental structures. The prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib has provided our enemies with a propaganda bonanza resulting in a recruiting windfall in Iraq and throughout the Arab world.

More fundamentally, with its armed occupation of Iraq, the Administration lost focus, and was substantially distracted from worldwide efforts against Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network are still at large, terrorist incidents have continued to take innocent life, and U.S. military actions in Iraq have provided a magnet for recruiting and training large numbers of extremist youth in continuing warfare. If Iraq is today the center of the war against terrorism, as some in the Administration have contended, it is not because the terrorists were there originally, but because they have been recruited there to the fight against us. Our military action in Iraq is more a catalyst for terrorists than a cure. Whatever results may ultimately come from removing Saddam Hussein from power, ending the terrorist threat against the United States of America is not likely to be one of them.

Of great concern today and, frankly, in the years ahead is that the focus on Iraq has deprived the Administration of the time, diplomatic support, and military resources to act effectively against other, more dangerous sources of WMD proliferation. The "red line" established by the Clinton Administration against North Korea's reprocessing of spent uranium fuel to make plutonium has now been breached. North Korea has announced that they have reprocessed and presumably now have the fissile materials to make at least a half dozen additional nuclear weapons. Furthermore, this Administration has refused to participate in the discussions aimed at persuading Iran to permanently renounce its uranium enrichment capabilities.

From the outset, the military mission in Iraq has been complicated by factors other than making the best decisions for success. Operations to destabilize Iraq were apparently viewed as the start of a broader campaign to destabilize or overthrow a number of governments in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Libya, and Sudan. The start of the campaign was rushed, for reasons that have never been made clear by the Administration. And once U.S. forces were inside Iraq, U.S. diplomacy failed to take measures to undercut regional resistance from countries such as Syria and Iran.

If we are to succeed in Iraq, we must move along three tracks; first, improve security and at the same time reduce the exposure and commitment of the U.S. forces; second, strengthen our ability to facilitate Iraqi political development; third, we must reduce regional resistance to the emergence of a democratic Iraq.

On the first track, the U.S. military must shift away from the battlefields and move into more of a reserve role, relying on a cadre of U.S. advisors to strengthen the newly-minted Iraqi forces. This will entail risks, as U.S. forces turn over combat responsibilities, so it must be paced to improved Iraqi capabilities and the development of an advisory structure.

On the second track, our Embassy obviously has to play a behind-the-scenes role. Without usurping Iraqi responsibilities, we should be able to do more to gain local political information, shape alternatives and facilitate the emergence of democratic governance inside Iraq.

On the third track, we should to be talking to all of Iraq's neighbors, including Syria and Iran in a regional framework. Delaying this until we can change the governments in Damascus and Tehran, which seems to be the current policy, puts increasing pressure on our troops and raises the risks inside Iraq.

The U.S. armed forces are caught up in an over-extended ground campaign that is rapidly using up our ground combat strength. In equipment terms, each year in Iraq puts about five years of normal wear-and-tear on the equipment. The wheeled and tracked fleets from the first combat rotation into Iraq have not yet been fully repaired and restored. Reserve component units are leaving much of their equipment behind in Iraq for follow-on units, thereby crippling their recovery and retraining at home.

Even more importantly, the human costs to the all-volunteer Army, especially, have been staggering. The Army currently has 17 brigades deployed in Iraq, from an active force of 33 brigades, which should grow to 44 brigades as the result of internal Army restructuring. Most reserve component brigades have already been called up and deployed. The result is that active duty soldiers can expect to be deployed every other year to Iraq for a year long combat tour, unless either the size of the American commitment to Iraq is reduced or the size of the active force is significantly increased.

And even maintaining the force at its current size is likely to be challenging. While the active force is meeting its retention objectives, recruiting for the Army and Marine Corps is lagging behind both for the active and the reserve component. Ultimately, if the current combat levels in Iraq continue, this recruiting gap is unlikely to be closed by more financial incentives. Most married soldiers just can't contemplate indefinitely deploying for a year, every other year, away from their families.

Even worse is the treatment that the United States is meting out to its returning reservists, Guardsmen, and other veterans. Over the past three years there has been a substantial erosion of veterans benefits -- hospitals have closed or reduced treatments, usage fees have risen, returning reservists and Guardsmen have lost jobs, had their homes foreclosed on, credit scores ruined, suffered family tragedies, and significant stresses. The adjustment mechanisms to receive home our soldiers and then to sustain them and care for them as a grateful nation should are simply inadequately developed and funded. We owe our veterans -- and we owe their families as a pragmatic matter, if we don't do more, we'll never be able to raise the forces we need to sustain our commitments.

If we are to sustain the all-volunteer force, and restore our defenses, we will need to augment the size of the active force substantially, fully fund our materiel requirements, enhance the benefits and support for our reserve force, and as both a pragmatic and moral imperative, fully fund the VA and improve our support structure for our veterans.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you again for your support of our troops. I will be pleased to take your questions.

This article is from Securing America.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Is Jesus Pro-rich, Pro-war and Only Pro-American?

Righteous Anger
Washington Post Book Review by Steven Waldman,
editor in chief and co-founder of Beliefnet

God's Politics
Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It

By Jim Wallis

[snip] The problem with religious conservatives is not that they invoke religion too much, but that they practice "bad theology," he argues. He notes that although religious conservatives focus on homosexuality and abstinence, Jesus and Isaiah and Micah had much more to say about poverty and economic justice than sexual impropriety. Therefore, he writes, the Bush administration's tax policies reflect a "religious failure." And also: "An enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity has taken place. . . . [M]any people around the world now think Christian faith stands for political commitments that are almost the opposite of its true meaning. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American?" [snip]

Such a good question!

Jim considers himself a religious progressive. I must say, I don't agree with a lot of Jim's observations, but I appreciate (relish, actually) disagreeing with his well thought out views...

You can check out God's Politics at Amazon.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Bog People - Part 1

I love history. I couldn't resist putting this up. The exhibition runs through May 2005.

[snip] We visited 'The Mysterious Bog People' exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester the day after we had visited a number of prehistoric sites in North Wales. The fact that we had just seen some of the great monuments built by people contemporary with those human beings exhibited in the show gave it more weight, more meaning and somehow more reverence.

One of the most powerful exhibits to me were a pair of plaits of hair which had been put on a piece of wood and deposited into the bog at Odoorn, NL. In December, we visited Odoorn to see the hunebed [megalithic tomb] there...
Posted by Hello

The Bog People - Part 2

Just like the precious locks of hair I have of my children cut when they were tiny. Next to it in the display case was a bronze age ball of wool. Exactly like the balls of wool my grandmother had. Exactly the same.

So connected do you feel to these ordinary people, who we know were just like you and I are now, that when you come face-to-face with the Weerdinge couple you feel as if you somehow knew these guys.

It didn't feel ghoulish, disrespectful or freaky at all. Quite the reverse, in fact. You wonder, instead, what these men felt when they were dispatched. Did they know they would be sacrificed and placed in the bog? If they did, how did they feel about that? Special? Scared? Both? And what about their families?

Did Yde girl know what was coming? The mortal remains of this 16-year-old lie on a hospital bed, as if waiting to be put into a MRI scanner. I looked closely at her shrunken, deformed leathery head, her little mummified toes peeping out from beneath a blanket and thought - this was once someone's beautiful daughter, perhaps someone's beautiful mother. I saw her life, not her death. [snip]

Excerpt from the The Modern Antiquarian
Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Lurching toward theocracy, lurching towards fascism

As year five of the reign of George W. Bush unfolds, consider Team Bush's modus operandi: a cabinet in lock-step with the president; secret policy-making meetings and back door deals with the corporate elite; legislation crafted by a Republican-controlled Congress with little dissent by a timid opposition party; misinformation and disinformation campaigns; a permanent war on terrorism that tolerates the widespread abuse of detainees and secret prisons; and the chipping away at civil liberties.

"With the same party controlling all branches of government, there has been minimal public debate over the policies of the current Bush administration, even as it launched two wars, reversed long-standing policies on worker safety and the environment and cut taxes for the rich while 2.7 million private-sector jobs have been lost and the number of unemployed Americans has increased by more than 45 percent under its watch," John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton point out in Banana Republicans -- How the Right Wing Is Turning America Into a One-Party State (Tarcher/Penguin 2004).

Don't expect the jackboots to march around the corner tomorrow. Don't expect homes to be indiscriminately raided. Don't expect citizens to be hauled off in the dead of night -- although that has been the case with indiscriminate arrests of many Muslim immigrants since 9/11.

Consider, however, the anti-democratic warning signs: the Patriot Act and subsequent civil liberties-busting legislation; election snafus seamlessly fading into history; a war carried out on the basis of misinformation and disinformation; secret prisons where captives are tortured.

Think about how things change slowly, yet dramatically, while good people either aren't paying attention or are too satisfied to raise their voices.

"As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." -- Justice William O. Douglas, US Supreme Court (1939-75)

The rest of this excellent article, excerpted from Dissident Voice, can be read here.

Life Brings No Guarantees

'Culture of life' is a culture of fear

On one side are the religious and social (no, they aren't all religious) conservatives who wave the "culture of life" banner. Basically, they are people who are afraid of uncertainty, ambiguity, and change in the realm of moral values. Their position is simple:

* moral values must be universal, timeless, unchanging truths
* we should receive them from religious traditions or authority figures
* once we get fixed truths, we should stick with them, no matter what

A society that doesn't believe all this is in great danger, they warn...For the right-wingers...the idea that "anything is possible" is terrifying. Their "culture of life" is really a culture of fear. They believe that human nature is basically selfish, competitive, and aggressive, If anything is possible, who can predict what crime or evil will happen next? How can anyone feel safe? The world would be spinning out of control. We need fixed rules that come from unquestionable authority. That's the only way to keep us all from running amok...

But if we trust the free mind to find the truth, we have to consider all points of view -- even the "culture of life." Do they have a persuasive point to make?...Either side might be right.

But that's just what the right-wingers can't admit. It's the "might be right" that scares them and drives them nuts. They need a "MUST be right" to feel safe, to feel that their own lives are under even minimal control.

We can't let them inscribe their fear-driven beliefs onto our laws. No compromise on that one. And we ought to encourage them to join us in a civil discussion about the issue. All the while, though, it won't hurt to remember that they are frightened and hurting.

The full article by Ira Chernus is here, at Smirking Chimp.

Peruvian Cocaine is Brisk Business

This is a photo of cars that pass the El Carretero Hotel / Hostal etc. in La Paz, Bolivia.

About every 10th vehicle is carrying Coca leaves; they make Cocaine from the leaves. This is obviously a big business and not a mystical wanna be spiritual type situation. Coca was used in the past in moderation but the making of Cocaine is a modern invention. The sad part is that Bolivian and most of South America is starting to use their own drug, so here come cheap drugs to South America.

A Peruvian woman in Cusco was telling me her belief that the Spanish encouraged Coca cultivation, then with the bringing alcohol this caused a major social problem.

The Inca Indians stopped growing food and grew coca, or worked for Spanish.They started growing more Coca and chewing the leaves.The Spanish hooked them on drinking alcohol.

They now had less vitamins in their diets, and the use of Coca and alcohol dulled the brains of the now Quechua Indians. It does seem that there is not much light in the eyes, and the quickness of the eyes is diminished. It would be very easy for me to believe this is true.

It behooves the Mestizos population to keep the Quechua hooked on Coca and Alcohol so they can keep them placid and passive. There are more Quechua people than Mestizos; however, the Mestizos run the country and take all the money. Therefore, there is a moneymaking reason to keep the Indians hooked on Coca leave, and more than just Cocaine.

The original article is at

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Prairie Dog Posted by Hello

Language of Prairie Dogs Includes Words for Humans

Well, we always knew our fuzzy friends were smart...

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Associated Press)

[snip] Prairie dogs, those little pups popping in and out of holes on vacant lots and rural rangeland, are talking up a storm. They have different "words'' for tall human in yellow shirt, short human in green shirt, coyote, deer, red-tailed hawk and many other creatures.

They can even coin new terms for things they've never seen before, independently coming up with the same calls or words, according to Con Slobodchikoff, a Northern Arizona University biology professor and prairie dog linguist.

Prairie dogs of the Gunnison's species, which Slobodchikoff has studied, speak different dialects in Grants and Taos, N.M.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Monarch Pass, Colo., but they would likely understand one another, the professor says.

"So far, I think we are showing the most sophisticated communication system that anyone has shown in animals,'' Slobodchikoff said. [snip]

(My husband swears that squirrels are next in line to rule the world...)

So here's the rest!