Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day: Praise Bravery, Seek Forgiveness

For all our troops, past and present. A right-on editorial from Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune. Read on...

Nothing young Americans can do in life is more honorable than offering themselves for the defense of their nation. It requires great selflessness and sacrifice, and quite possibly the forfeiture of life itself. On Memorial Day 2005, we gather to remember all those who gave us that ultimate gift. Because they are so fresh in our minds, those who have died in Iraq make a special claim on our thoughts and our prayers.

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. [emphasis mine] In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

The "smoking gun," as some call it, surfaced on May 1 in the London Times. It is a highly classified document containing the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting at 10 Downing Street in which Sir Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair on talks he'd just held in Washington. His mission was to determine the Bush administration's intentions toward Iraq.

At a time when the White House was saying it had "no plans" for an invasion, the British document says Dearlove reported that there had been "a perceptible shift in attitude" in Washington. "Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The (National Security Council) had no patience with the U.N. route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

It turns out that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill were right. Both have been pilloried for writing that by summer 2002 Bush had already decided to invade.

Walter Pincus, writing in the Washington Post on May 22, provides further evidence that the administration did, indeed, fix the intelligence on Iraq to fit a policy it had already embraced: invasion and regime change. Just four days before Bush's State of the Union address in January 2003, Pincus writes, the National Security Council staff "put out a call for new intelligence to bolster claims" about Saddam Hussein's WMD programs. The call went out because the NSC staff believed the case was weak. Moreover, Pincus says, "as the war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs." But no one at high ranks in the administration would listen to them.

On the day before Bush's speech, the CIA's Berlin station chief warned that the source for some of what Bush would say was untrustworthy. Bush said it anyway. He based part of his most important annual speech to the American people on a single, dubious, unnamed source. The source was later found to have fabricated his information.

Also comes word, from the May 19 New York Times, that senior U.S. military leaders are not encouraged about prospects in Iraq. Yes, they think the United States can prevail, but as one said, it may take "many years."

As this bloody month of car bombs and American deaths -- the most since January -- comes to a close, as we gather in groups small and large to honor our war dead, let us all sing of their bravery and sacrifice. But let us also ask their forgiveness for sending them to a war that should never have happened. In the 1960s it was Vietnam. Today it is Iraq. Let us resolve to never, ever make this mistake again. Our young people are simply too precious.
Published May 30, 2005
© Copyright 2005 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On This Day: Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In 1787, the Constitutional Convention was convened in Philadelphia with 55 delegates (a quorum) to compose the US Constitution.

I can still feel its reverberations...faintly.

Twelve Die on the US Border

A big price to pay for supporting your family...(that's eating, BTW, not buying BMWs):

A grim toll of a dozen fatalities in just three days marks the rapid onset of this year's season of death along the US-Mexican border. As temperatures suddenly soared in southern Arizona this past week, so did border-crossing deaths.

Twelve border crossers were listed as dead in Arizona between last Friday and Monday. Border Patrol agents in western Arizona called this past weekend the busiest ever in a three-day period as they made forty rescues. An equal number were chalked up by agents in the Tucson sector.

Corpses of the crossers were scattered among different sectors of the border, with a majority found in the relatively unpopulated western part of the state. "What scares me is that there just continues to be very widely scattered deaths," said the Rev. Robin Hoover, founder of Humane Borders, a group that puts out jugs of water in remote areas used by illegal crossers.

US border control policy over the past decade has increasingly funneled the immigrant flow into ever more rugged and dangerous terrain. More than 3,000 people have died trying to make the crossing in the past decade.

More than 200 extra Border Patrol agents were deployed in Arizona precisely to prevent such deaths this summer. Last year about 200 people died crossing the line in Arizona. An almost equal number perished in California and Texas.

This past weekend's macabre tally comes as the national immigration debate simmers and as the first comprehensive immigration reform bill has been introduced in Congress.

The news of the border deaths this past weekend received minimal coverage, only a tiny fraction of the attention afforded last month to the shut-the-borders campaign staged by the Minuteman Project.

Just last week the Mexican Consulate undertook a public education campaign warning crossers that at this time of year they will face lethal conditions.

Twelve Die on the US Border
Marc CooperTue May 24,12:54 PM ET
at Yahoo News from
The Nation

Comment from Wild Rider: If someone can prove that criminals are the ones that come across the border I may change my tune. But, as I see it, 98% of the people coming here want to work, provide for their families and become productive citizens. They do the jobs no one here wants to do. They pay taxes, which are taken out before they recieve their paychecks (or not, if they are paid by unscrupulous American employers who hire them under the table). They contribute, for crissakes! We should emulate, not disparage them. Okay, off the soapbox for now...

Go Figure! (You'll get the pun shortly...)

...the Texas legislature has decided that sexy cheerleading is our nation's undoing.

Forget the fact that it was the state of Texas that made sexy cheerleading part of our national cultural life. (This state, which wanted to be an independent nation, has also given us the execution of women and the mentally handicapped, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush.)

... my favorite part of this legislation is that it requires every school district to hire a sexy cheerleading commissar to enforce the proposed prohibition of "overtly sexually suggestive" cheerleading routines...Big government conservatism at your service.

As we fight fundamentalism abroad, it is crucial to know that we are fighting it here at home...

Cowboy Cheers
by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Tue May 24, 2:12 PM ET
at Yahoo News from
The Nation

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The New World's Founding Population

How many people made up the original group that crossed the Bering Land Bridge from Asia to make the New World their home? Approximately 70, says Jody Hey, Professor of Genetics at Rutgers University. By using a computation using genetic information to create models of population divergence, Professor Hey can not only determine how many, but when -- approximately 12,000 to 14,000 years ago -- the split occurred. This is roughly consistent with the dating for most of the archaeological evidence.


From Archeological Digs. Read the rest at EurekAlert.

One vs. the Power of the State

I thought this picture an apt visual for us all to keep in mind as our current government wages war in Iraq for its oil company cronies and feeds its voting block of rabid religious dominionists. We are the company we keep. Telling, don't you think? Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

Which direction will America take?

Byron Williams makes much sense in his article, U.S. Patriots Need a Reality Check, posted at Working for Change.

...As we collectively stand at the intersection of patriotism and nationalism, we are presented with a question: Which direction will America take?

Patriotism and nationalism, especially in moments of crisis, are often confused.

Patriotism is simply defined as love and devotion to one's country, while nationalism is the devotion to the interests of a nation; a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.
Nationalism itself does not carry a negative connotation, but that which is currently practiced in America is cause for great concern.

While patriotism finds its roots in dissent and questioning, the contemporary form of American nationalism depends on the power of groupthink. The Nazi regime remains the gold standard of nationalism gone awry.

Nationalism tends to sound like patriotism, especially when married to fear. It is the emotion of fear that causes one to focus on self-preservation -- seductively lured into seeing the world as good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, or us vs. them...

His other great writing can be found at his website,

A Big Truth on a Little Button

While on vacation in Utah/Colorado last week, my husband found this little button.

How did our oil get under their sand?

Please, Mr. President, no more blood for oil.

Who Wins and Who Loses...

[snip] Will future historians portray George W. Bush as the heroic leader of a new world empire and reborn Christian nation? Or, will they treat him as one of America's worst presidents ever?

It all depends on who wins and who loses.

As Winston Churchill cautioned, history is written by the victors, and the current battles have only just begun, whether in Iraq, Iran, or at home. But, even in the early rounds, it would be shortsighted and self-defeating to give Mr. Bush too much credit - or blame - for the direction our country is taking.

With or without his hand at the helm, two areas of concern - religion and oil - now drive our nation's destiny, and how Americans resolve them will determine who writes the history of our times. [snip]
Read the complete (and very interesting article), When Neo-Cons and Theo-Cons Meet at Armageddon, written by Steve Weissman at Truthout.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Raw History of Steak Tartare

Interesting and disgusting all at the same time...from the New York Times News Service.


Thirty years ago in Normandy, a Frenchwoman with whom I was boarding insisted on feeding me raw horsemeat every Wednesday as a restorative for what she regarded as my weak constitution.

She would buy the meat, finely ground, from a butcher shop with a golden horse head hanging over the door - the sign of butchers who sell horsemeat in France - and mix it with salt, pepper, mustard, chopped shallots, parsley and a raw egg. I ate it with fries and a piece of baguette. I went on to work that summer on a horse farm and have not eaten one of those animals since, but the primordial appeal of uncooked meat stayed with me...

My horsemeat experience had led me to believe the widely repeated myth that steak tartare was a horsemeat dish that originated with the horse-eating Mongols of Central Asia who swept across Central Europe 800 years ago. The most common tale is that Tatar horsemen would place a slice of horsemeat beneath their saddle in the morning and retrieve it, tenderized by the pounding, to eat raw for dinner. They supposedly left their raw-meat-eating habit behind, and, according to one version of the story, it was carried by German sailors to Hamburg, where the taste for ground beef begat both hamburgers and steak tartare.

But as with many good tales, a little research suggests it's not true: "The Cambridge Medieval History" of 1924 says the story was started by early chroniclers who saw Mongol horsemen putting thin slices of raw meat beneath their saddles, but that the meat was meant to help heal the horses' sores rather than fill the men's stomachs. The book notes that the meat would have been impregnated with sweat and inedible by the end of the day.

The dish may have started out as horsemeat, and, if so, Germans did play a role, but not by bringing the Tatars' horsemeat-eating habits to France. The Roman Catholic Church banned the consumption of horsemeat in Europe in medieval times, and France developed a taste for the noble steed only when beef ran short in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war.

Boucheries chevalines have been around ever since, and because of a relative lack of parasites in the meat and a belief in its therapeutic powers, raw horsemeat became a kind of health food that is still eaten by some people today, though it has rarely appeared in restaurants.

Raw chopped beefsteak first appeared on menus in France's grand hotels at the turn of the 20th century, when expanding European tourism fueled a period of culinary cross-pollination. Here is where Soulier may be right: The dish was originally called "beefsteack a l'Americaine."

"It was an epoque of internationalism in restaurants," explains Patrick Rambourg, the French food historian, though he says it's not clear why the dish was associated with America. In any case the dish did not become popular until later in the century.

"The vogue for steak tartare really started after the Second World War, in the 1950s," he said.

Beefsteack a l'Americaine (as it was spelled at the time) was served with a raw egg yolk atop the raw ground meat and with capers, chopped onion and chopped parsley on the side. Steak tartare was originally a derivative dish, named not for raw-meat-eating Tatars, but for the tartar sauce that was served with it.

Tartar sauce had appeared earlier in the century and anything served with it was known as "a la tartare." Alexandre Dumas mentioned "goat a la tartare" in his 1846 novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo" and Honore de Balzac wrote about "eel a la tartare" four years later, around the time of his death.

The sauce bore little resemblance to the glutinous pickle-dotted muddle Americans eat with their fish sticks today [our bland and greasy tartar sauce -- yuck], but was a subtler melange of pureed hard-boiled egg yolks, vinegar, chives and oil...

The whole raw tale [sorry, I couldn't resist] can be read at The Raw Truth: Don't Blame the Mongols (or their horses) by Craig S. Smith

May. 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Friday, May 13, 2005

Our beautiful earth. Coyote Flats from Dale's glider.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Rich are Unfairly Segregated!

I found this excerpt hilarious from The Phantom Professor.

...[A student] accused me of "discrimination" against the wealthy. She didn't appreciate my attitude toward thin, beautiful young Ashleys. This writer equated it with racism.

Come to think of it, I guess the rich have been unfairly segregated by society. All their lives they've been forced to ride at the front of the bus. They live in gated communities designed to restrict their freedom of movement. Their clothes are tagged with identifying logos -- little Polo players and crocodiles -- that tell the rest of us who and what they are. Their children attend separate schools (and wear uniforms!). Where is Amnesty International? Why isn't the UN working to liberate these rich people and let them mix freely with the rest of us?

The rich may be an oppressed minority, but given the current White House administration's compassion for the over-privileged, I'm sure there's someone in Washington willing to take up their cause. Maybe they could organize a Million Billionaire March that begins at the Dallas Country Club and ends in the parking lot at Neiman Marcus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Nick Burbules of Progressive Blog Digest has some interesting thoughts on the five year anniversary of the election of our fearless nincompoop, The W.

Building on something my colleague David Prochaska said, if someone had been saying five years ago that electing George Bush would result in any of the following, they would have been branded as a paranoid conspiracy nut:
• the largest budget surplus in history would be squandered through tax cuts and turned in just a few years into the largest deficit in history
• the government, through lies and manipulation of intelligence, would construct a phony “imminent threat” from another country in order to trick the U.S. people into approving a war costing hundreds of billions of dollars in debt and tens of thousands of U.S. dead and wounded
• following a horrible terrorist attack that brought international sympathy from nearly every country in the world, the U.S. government would within months turn us into a country despised and mistrusted nearly everywhere because of their arrogance, duplicity, and “with us or against us” rhetoric
• the U.S government would secretly approve, and publicly rationalize, the widespread use of prisoner torture and mistreatment expressly forbidden by the Geneva Convention, forever sullying the nation’s moral stature
• a President and Vice-President long affiliated with oil industries would preside over energy policies that they let oil company execs write, turn over to their corporate donors billions in war profits, let them impose extortionist gasoline price hikes, and carry out the aforementioned war in order to boost oil supplies – all without a serious investigation or public outcry
• survivors of the Iran-Contra affair would be rehabilitated and returned to positions of power to re-establish the very same practices of skullduggery and deception that almost brought down the Reagan administration
• religious groups would extend their influence into nearly every corner of public life, taking encouragement from an openly evangelical President to demolish the Constitutional wall between church and state – indeed, denying that such a wall even exists
• the first election of George Bush would come down to a razor-thin vote count in the state run by his brother. When a call is made to recount the vote, the case is taken all the way to the Supreme Court, where the five Republican-appointed judges put a halt to all recounts, saying that their ruling “only applies to this specific instance.” All objective data show after the fact that a full and fair recount would have turned the state, and the election, against Bush. The Secretary of State who oversaw the election in Florida subsequently won election to Congress with strong Bush administration support
•the re-election of George Bush would feature a vast increase in the use of electronic voting machines that are easily hacked and which produce no paper trail of votes – yet when the reported vote totals in two major Bush states (Ohio and Florida) are found to be seriously out of accord with exit polling (polls which are so accurate they are routinely used to check the accuracy of vote tabulations), suddenly it is the exit polls that are thrown into jeopardy. No serious investigation is carried out despite widespread evidence of vote suppression and other electoral irregularities. The Secretary of State who oversaw the election in Ohio now is seeking election as Governor, with strong Bush administration support
• a ruthless and radical House Majority leader would repeatedly violate House ethical standards and abuse the privileges of the majority party without losing his job, or even being seriously admonished
• a handpicked and underqualified Senate Majority leader would be installed in power and then encouraged to dismantle decades of Senate traditions and institutional checks and balances in order to drive through a slate of judicial nominations that include “activists” of the most extreme order
• a candidate openly contemptuous of the United Nations would be seriously considered as the U.S. representative to the same, despite copious evidence of unreasonable, unethical, and possibly illegal conduct
• a plan would be relentlessly pursued to demolish the most successful and egalitarian social welfare policy ever invented
• despite all of this the major media networks, cable news, and even public t.v. and radio would continue to praise the decency and personal popularity of the man presiding over these policies, and not a single major figure would be tried, punished, or removed from office for any of them – in fact, several would receive conspicuous government awards and/or promotions

No this is not a nightmare, it is America 2005 – and this is Year Two of Progressive Blog Digest...

It is becoming more and more apparent that the true struggle over the filibuster is over religious judges and the far-right Christian agenda. Listen to what their leaders say, and you will see why the Republicans take this fight very, very seriously.

Just Some of the W’s Faith-Based Policies

"When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some." Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun in Lee v. Weisman (90-1014), 505 U.S. 577 (1992)...

And marching forward with eyes wide shut, Bush issued executive orders aimed at granting evangelicals access to federal funding and federal contracts and grants, despite two centuries of law and policy to the contrary. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” reads the first Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Bush failed to win Congressional approval of his faith-based plan after two years of trying. So in December 2002 the Bush Administration took matters into its own hands and issued Executive Order 13279: Equal Protection of the Laws for Faith-based and Community Organizations. Section 4 of the order allows federal agencies to award grants or contracts to religious organizations that discriminate in hiring for publicly funded positions on the basis of religion...

In Chris Mooney’s report “
W’s Christian Nation” we learn that in October 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services gave $30 million to 21 religious and community groups as part of the faith-based program. $500,000 went to Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing. $700,000 went to the National Center for Faith-Based Initiative, founded by Bishop Harold Calvin Ray, who has declared church-state separation "a fiction." All the religious recipients of Health and Human Services grants were connected to Christian ministries, mostly evangelical ones.

Excerpted from
Abstinence, Suffering, and Christianity - The Bush Administration’s Faith-Based Policies. Read more at Buy Blue.

Monday, May 09, 2005

You Can't Beat News Like This!

Blood Test Could Save Lives of Thousands of Women

A NEW blood test could save thousands of lives by helping to spot ovarian cancer before the main symptoms develop, according to new research.

Ovarian cancer is responsible for the deaths of nearly 5,000 women a year in Britain and has been called the "silent killer" because it is usually advanced and hard to treat by the time symptoms appear.

The new test has the potential to save lives by allowing identification of the disease at a stage when it can be effectively treated. But, with an accuracy of 95 per cent, it is still not precise enough to be used in national screening programmes.

At present there is no way to detect the disease reliably at an early, curable stage.
Just under 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United Kingdom and a large proportion - almost 4,700 - will die of the disease. It kills more than 300 women a year in Scotland.

The new test was developed by scientists in the United States led by Dr Gil Mor, from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. It relies on four marker proteins, whittled down from an initial list of 169. The four - leptin, prolactin, osteopontin and insulin-like growth factor II - identified cancer with 95 per cent accuracy in a test group of more than 200 women.
Each of the proteins had previously been suggested as a possible cancer biomarker. But, in the study, no protein on its own could completely distinguish cancer patients from healthy participants.

The findings were reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers pointed out that the test would have to be improved before it was good enough for national screening, which required an accuracy of at least 99.6 per cent...

EDWARD BLACK from The Scotsman

Interesting Florida Demographics...

This picture is what stopped the ballot recounts in Florida shortly after it seemed that legitimate President Gore had a lead. The "citizens" started what was later called "the preppy riot". Screaming, yelling, pounding on the walls, these "outraged citizens" intimidated the polling officials to halt the court mandated recount. A closer look reveals who they really were. They were bussed and flown in at Republican lawmakers expense. Some even flew in on Tom Delay's private plane.

Posted by Hello

Makes Sense to Me...

If Mussolini defines fascism as "the merger of corporate and government power" what does that make the Republican party?

See Old American Century for more on our country's current crisis.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

In There Where It Matters

Yuri Kochiyama: Heartbeat of Struggle

Yuri Kochiyama was the first to rush to the aid of Malcolm X when he was shot by assassins on February 21, 1965, at New York’s Audubon Ballroom. She was photographed cradling Malcolm X in her arms as he died. Kochiyama had already been involved with the African American civil rights movement for some years, and she had come to that movement due to the plight of her own people. Kochiyama’s family, along with all other Japanese Americans, had been placed in US concentrations camps during the Second World War. The camp Kochiyama’s family was sent to was located in Arkansas, and it was there that the young Yuri Kochiyama witnessed the racist discrimination practiced by whites against blacks. She linked that bigotry to how her own people were being treated, and from that point on she became an activist for human rights and social change.

Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama is the first biography of this courageous woman, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during the 1960s. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama's family, friends, and the subject herself, author Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama's life from an "all-American" childhood to her achievements as a tireless defender of-and fighter for-human rights. Ms. Fujino is associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara -and is herself a scholarly activist dedicated to the civil rights of Asian Americans.

Author Diane C. Fujino will appear with Ms. Kochiyama in their first book signing and speaking engagement of their book tour. The event will take place at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, at 11:00 am, Sunday, April 24, 2005. The program with Ms. Kochiyama is included with Museum admission. The Japanese American National Museum is located in LA's historic Little Tokyo, at 369 East First Street, Los Angeles, Ca 90012. Phone: 213-625-0414. For directions and more information, visit the museums' website. (posted by M. at The Black Moon)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bumper Sticker Wisdom

I saw a bumper sticker the other day. As much as I resented Clinton's loose zipper, the wisdom of this sticker certainly makes a point.

Nobody died
when Clinton lied.

1,500 and counting plus untold Iraqis.

Making Up History as He Goes...

This article from Think Progress, one of many blogs reporting on the leaked British memo with links included.

British Memo Busts Bush

Sure, we all knew it.

But now there’s even more proof the White House was determined to go to war no matter, without letting pesky facts stand in its way.

According to recently leaked notes from a 6/23/02 meeting between Britain and President Bush, the chief of Britain’s intelligence service worried Bush had made up his mind to overthrown Saddam Hussein and was pushing to manipulate intelligence into backing him up.

(Side Note: Keep in mind, in June 2002, President Bush was telling Americans there were no plans yet to attack Iraq. In August 2002, remember, the State Department deputy spokesman said shot down ideas that the administration was pushing for war saying, “There are no plans to attack Iraq on the President’s desk. He has said that.")

In the leaked memo, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated, “Bush has made up his mind to take military action.” The British intelligence chief went further, charging “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Straw also noted, “the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

After the invasion of Iraq failed to turn up any weapons of mass destruction, the White House tried to shrug off accountability and just blame faulty intelligence. Last summer, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report slamming U.S. intelligence community. Taking place in an election year, the Committee sidestepped the question of White House culpability, saying they would do a second phase report after the November 2004 election.

Recently Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, blew off the second phase of the report, saying it would be a “monumental waste of time” to investigate further. As this new memo shows, it would be a monumental mistake not to.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Radical in the White House

April 12 was the 60th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "I have a terrific headache," he said, before collapsing at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga. He died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage on the 83rd day of his fourth term as president...

That more wasn't made of this anniversary is not just a matter of time; it's a measure of the distance the U.S. has traveled from the egalitarian ideals championed by F.D.R. His goal was "to make a country in which no one is left out." That kind of thinking has long since been consigned to the political dumpster. We're now in the age of Bush, Cheney and DeLay, small men committed to the concentration of big bucks in the hands of the fortunate few...

Roosevelt was far from a perfect president, but he gave hope and a sense of the possible to a nation in dire need. And he famously warned against giving in to fear.

The nation is now in the hands of leaders who are experts at exploiting fear, and indifferent to the needs and hopes, even the suffering, of ordinary people.

"The test of our progress," said Roosevelt, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Sixty years after his death we should be raising a toast to F.D.R. and his progressive ideas. And we should take that opportunity to ask: How in the world did we allow ourselves to get from there to here?

NY Times Op-Ed: A Radical in the White House
April 18, 2005

Desert Wildflowers--the east side of the Carrizo plain, in the Temblor Range, (about 50 miles due west of Bakersfield, CA).
 Posted by Hello

Just Another Commie Pinko...

If you're interested in how the fringe religious right responds to freedom of thought, check out's article: Bull's Eye: Targeted by the Christian Right.

As these e-mails prove, [says Mel Seesholtz,] Traditional Values Coalition doesn't value friendship with unfriendly columnists.

May 4 2005

atta, boy!

Democratizing Iraq

This is an interesting take on our 'mission' of democratizing Iraq as seen through our own European beginnings. [Excerpted from St. Francis's Failure -- Marrying Islam to West is No Easy Task by James Muldoon in The Providence Journal of Thursday, May 5, 2005.]

In 1219, Francis of Assisi paid a visit to the sultan of Egypt in order to instruct that Muslim ruler in Christian doctrine. The sultan treated the visitor kindly, listened to him, and then sent him home -- instead of killing him, as Islamic law demanded. Francis was not the only Christian missionary to enter the Muslim world to preach the Christian gospel. Many others made the effort, and, like Francis, failed to make converts.

What these medieval missionaries overlooked was that the conversion of Europe had taken place over a thousand years or so -- it was a slow, difficult process. It was extraordinarily foolish to assume that a process of religious transformation that had taken Europeans a millennium to complete would appear so obviously true to Muslims that they would immediately accept baptism. obvious as the value of these elements of Western society are to us now, they did not appear so to our ancestors. These qualities are the product of a thousand years of development that began in the Middle Ages...

We are now asking the Iraqis to undergo in a few months a process of transformation that took us a thousand years. They are to undergo the church-state conflict, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment of the 18th Century, and become modern at the wave of a wand. Why should we expect them to immediately accept the truths that our ancestors did not? Why assume that their response to the calls for change will be any less violent than European responses? The call for religious reform in 16th Century Europe unleashed the bloodiest wars that the continent had ever seen, and would not see again until the 20th Century. While it may seem noble to assume that the Iraqis, once presented with the truths of modern Western liberal democratic society, would see the truths and accept them, the odds are against it. [italics mine]

Does this mean that the Iraqis and Muslims generally are incapable of creating liberal democratic societies? Of course not. What it means is that over the past thousand years, Western Christian European society developed along one course, and Muslim society developed along another. For most of that time, the Muslim world was more successful than Europe, and thus a military threat to Europe. After all, the last great Muslim invasion of Europe ended only in 1683.

Americans who go to Iraq with the intention of transforming that society should probably keep a small statue of St. Francis on the dashboards of their Humvees. It will remind them that they are not the first to attempt the transformation of the Islamic world, and they may not be the last.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Time for another picture of our beautiful earth. Kings Canyon taken from Dales' glider. Thanks, Dale. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

This is Pat's Country...

Pat Robertson was interviewed on ABC’s This Week. I'll let Pat speak for himself here. My comments are below.
Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday."Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," [see Note 1 below] Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," the 700 Club host said, but warned of "erosion at home" and said judges were creating a "tyranny of oligarchy."

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years - worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War [Note 2] - Robertson didn't back down.

"Yes, I really believe that," he said. "I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together."

[In his recent book, Robertson states...] "How dare you maintain that those who believe in Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims? My simple answer is, �Yes, they are." [Note 3]

Stephanopoulos asks: "Does that mean Hindu and Muslim judges?"

"Right now, I think people who feel that they should be in jihad against America (inaudible) the Islamic people saying they divide the world into two spheres: Dar al-Islam and Daral-Harb. The Dar al-Islam are those submitted to Islam. Dar al-Harb are those who are at the land of war. And they have said in the Qu’ran there’s a war against all the infidels. Do you want somebody like that sitting as a judge? I wouldn’t," [Note 4] Robertson answered.

"So I take it then, the answer to the question is that you believe only Christians and Jews are qualified to serve in the federal judiciary?"

Robertson then equivocates: "I’m not sure I’d make such a broad sweeping statement. But I just feel that those who share the philosophy of the founders of this nation, who assent to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, who assent to the principles that underlie the Constitution: Such people are the ones that should
be judges."
[Note 5]

1 I so enjoyed Pat's description of 9/11 as 'a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.' If I remember right, that was 5,000 (Americans) dead (possibly 700 Club members!) and destruction of a landmark known the world over as central to our national identity.

2 Yea, Pat, once you start down that path it's hard to backtrack. So you gulped, and stood firm.

3 Is Robertson actually saying that Muslims and Hindus are incapable of contributing to our governance because they are really all Al Queda? Or too 'different' than us (melting pot) Americans?

4 I believe Pat is actually talking about the Christian Right here.

5 The founders would never have recognized you, Pat. You are the equivalent of the Al Queda threat inside America.

My last comment on Pat and his ilk is simple, "bleh."

Sanity Returns

Press Release

House Members Announce Patriot Act Reform Caucus
Tri-partisan coalition will work to ensure that constitutional rights
are protected in Patriot Act reauthorization

WASHINGTON -- April 28 -- A coalition of conservative and progressive members of Congress today held a news conference to announce the formation of the Patriot Act Reform Caucus. Press conference participants Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Butch Otter (R-ID), called for initiatives that protect the safety and security of our nation, while ensuring that the laws we pass to fight the war on terrorism do not violate civil liberties or diminish our system of checks and balances...

...“The Patriot Act needs to be revised in places to bring it into conformity with the Constitution, and to enhance checks and balances,” Nadler said. “Our default should not simply be to accept an executive branch who says, �Just trust us.’ This caucus includes Republicans and Democrats, as well as the only Independent in the House, and we’re going to be taking a hard look at the bill’s various provisions. Some of the sunsetting provisions should be kept as is, but others shouldn’t. We’re looking forward to working together to shape the best bill possible.”

Supporters of the Patriot Act argue that its provisions have not been abused since its passage in 2001,” said Paul. In essence, Justice Department officials are saying: “Trust us-- we’re the government and we say the Patriot Act does not threaten civil liberties.” But this argument misses the point. Government assurances simply are not good enough in a free society. The overwhelming burden always must be placed on government to justify any new encroachment on our liberty. Now that the emotions of September 11th have cooled, the American people are less willing to blindly accept terrorism as an excuse for expanding federal surveillance powers.

Nice going, guys. One small step for working together, one giant leap for our precious individual rights.

A Tried & True Test of Slippery Slopes...

The US Bill of Rights


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Amendment XI
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.

Amendment XII
The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state [revised in Amendments XIX and XXVI].

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Amendment XV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XVI
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Amendment XVII
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

Amendment XVIII
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XX
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission.

Amendment XXI
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Amendment XXII
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress.

Amendment XXIII
Section 1. The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXV
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Amendment XXVI
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXVII
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


My comments on the highlighted areas will be forthcoming. A wonderful document for all of us.