••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Monday, February 27, 2006

socrates café

i go to my local library a lot. i don't recall why, but one day last november i went to one a few miles further away. while there i found an old flyer saying a monthly philosophy discussion called socrates café would start at the library in january 2005.

i'd already missed the first 11 meetings and didn't even know if the thing was still going on. i had to ask 3 different people who worked there before one showed me a calendar that had it listed for december.

so i went. and it was good. it expanded to twice a month in january, so i've gone 5 times now.

last time we talked about justice, religion, selfishness, peace of mind, and whatever else came up. everybody took part and said what they thought whenever they wanted to.

somewhere along the way i learned it's a national thing started around 1996 in north jersey only about 5 miles from where i lived at the time, but i never heard about it then.

9 years wasted. o well. at least i know about it now.

our mission?

every time i hear somebody say if we pull out too soon iraq will fall apart, i wonder what they drink for breakfast.

we are the cause of iraq's instability.

if we hadn't invaded, none of the crap we're seeing would be happening, including the cartoon riots in other countries.

come to think of it, we destabilize almost everyplace we touch.

look at colombia. it was doing fine before our drug war.

before that we made a mess of chile and guatemala. haiti hasn't even begun to recover from our many interventions. and don't forget iran and korea.

maybe destabilization is our true calling. we seem to be able to do it without even trying.

more on screwy captions

i think computers closed caption typists use must be programmed to enter frequently-used phrases automatically to speed up the job.

bad idea.

yesterday on c-span2 i heard an interviewed author say something like: teheran sees itself as a hedge against american strategy.

but the closed caption said: teheran sees itself as a healthcare provider against american strategy.

i quoted from memory, so i might not've gotten it exactly, but the main difference is what it was, so i think you see what i mean.

the captions very often have mistakes, and the typos often make the dialogue unintelligible to hearing-impaired viewers or even reverse the meaning by adding or omitting a negative.

it doesn't happen just on noncommercial tv. i've seen plenty of ads with messed up closed captions, including political ads.

you'd think sponsors and candidates would want deaf viewers to be able to read their messages, wouldn't you?

dc vote

dc statehood came up again on tv. i don't know if it'll ever happen.

but i think dc residents can get almost all the benefits of statehood.

as i understand it, dc sits on land originally in maryland. some of it came from virginia too, but congress gave that back.

the land's really in maryland, so why shouldn't dc residents vote for federal offices as md residents?

the city would have a vote in the house and get to vote for the state's 2 senators. it'd lose its electoral votes, but its presidential votes would count toward md's total.

maryland would likely gain a seat in the house and an electoral vote, so it's to their benefit too, tho some other state would lose, maybe mine.

on second thought, forget the whole thing.

book tv conflicts

i love to watch book tv weekends on c-span2, but the schedule often irritates me.

2 weeks ago i wrote on philippe sands' talk. it's run twice, both at inconvenient times if you want to watch washington journal and can't stay up past 3am.

now it's happened with national review senior editor jeffrey hart, who wrote the making of the american conservative mind: national review and its times.

his talk's also been on twice, on consecutive sundays, first at 9:30am, then 6:30am.

washington journal runs on c-span 7 days a week at 7-10am, so half [tho opposite halves] of hart's talk conflicted with it both times.

wouldn't you think c-span2's book tv schedulers would know what's on c-span and be sensitive to viewers' needs?

they could make it easier to watch both after words and q&a too. one's on c-span sunday at 8 and 11pm, the other at 6 and 9 on c-span2. why not at the same time?

but i can't expect them to read my mind, can i?

michelle, my bad

when i first heard the title of michelle malkin's latest book, unhinged, i assumed it was an autobiography, but, in retrospect, i've got to admit she doesn't seem quite as irrational as ann coulter.

however, i think her attack on the left is a great example of projection.

billions very good, ABC even better

now and then the govt does something truly worthwhile.

prez bush's $15B AIDS fund has already spent over $5B in africa. many patients are getting treated who couldn't pay for medication before.

i think i also heard that da prez said something favorable about ABC (abstinence, be faithful, condoms) AIDS education recently, tho his administration has always opposed anything other than abstinence-only before.

could it be somebody told him all that dough pays for plenty of meds but doesn't cut the rate of transmission, while the only 3 countries in africa where the number of new cases is dropping are those using ABC?

AP: Coast Guard Warned About Intelligence Gaps In UAE Ports Deal

Friday, February 24, 2006

links to nuclear, energy, and environmental sites

2 nuke or not 2 nuke

with bush's new interest in nukuler energy to fight global warming, a few things need pointing out.

• the US is a lot bigger than france. just to catch up with france's percentage of electricity generated by nuclear plants, we'd have to build 18 reactors a year for 40 years. by then it'll be too late.

• claims that nuke energy is a lot safer than it used to be are exaggerated. the NRC staff is greatly reduced, so the govt relies heavily on self-inspection by operators. serious accidents are known to have been narrowly averted.

• the waste problem hasn't gone away. france's neighbors have complained about dumping in the english channel. a number of experts say yucca mountain is about as unsafe as a storage site can be.

• the oft cited 2¢ per kwh cost doesn't take capital expense into account. low cost won't come till after lenders get paid back and investors make a profit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

are we pandering to people's fears?

david brooks thinks the furor over the port deal is due to politicians and "reactionaries" of the left and right playing on public ignorance and xenophobia of anything arab. after all, the dubai firm was fully vetted by an interagency panel, and nobody objected.

i'm not so sure it's really pandering, tho. we've lived in an atmosphere of fear since 9/11, and the story didn't break till after the new management arrangement was a done deal, so public anxiety was inevitable.

if the review had been completely out in the open—with full congressional involvement as suggested by the constitution's commerce clause—the ground would've been prepared gradually. the wisdom of having our ports run by a firm owned by a foreign government could've been hashed out. folk would've had ample opportunity to get informed and assured.

but no. that's not the way this administration does business. everything gets done on the sly and snuck past us, because what we don't know won't hurt us.

the monkey wrench in the works is that the truth will out. bush's crowd seems to think it won't matter if we learn what they've done after it's a fait accompli. we'll all be content to know they're watching over us and we don't have to worry our pretty little heads about a thing.

what they fail to anticipate is that when the truth comes like a bolt from the blue, all us little chickens will think the sky is falling.

it's basically the same phenomenon we just saw when ariel sharon, with g w bush's backing, ordered the israeli pullout from the gaza strip. it had to happen sooner or later, so why not do it and get it over with without any fuss, right? the master strategists totally failed to foresee the explosive palestinian reaction and hamas's ability to take credit for forcing the withdrawal. to avoid that and the hamas election win, all they needed was to strengthen abbas's hand by negotiating the pullout rather than doing it unilaterally.

like the sharon-bush decision, the port deal was made behind closed doors. bush can pass the buck as he always does by saying he knew nothing of it, but his people did it, and he hired them, so almost nobody's buying his excuses for a change—at least for now.

but the spin doctors haven't finished. we've yet to hear from big guns cheney, rummy, and rice, all of whom i'm sure will have "no doubt" about dubai, just as they had none that saddam was lying about wmd.

and if congress acts now, bush's veto threat still stands.

why are these men smirking?

could it be because this...

is now this?

btw, you may see the golden mosq in samarra, but i see ft sumter....

Jedi Helps Democrats Strike Back

and a few older relevant links: 1, 2, 3.

and in case you still doubt it, look at how neocons see it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Press Can Be Prosecuted for Having Secret Files, U.S. Says

did i miss any?

good wine needs no bush
—shakespeare, as you like it, epilogue

bush baby
bush basil
bush bean
bush broom
bush clover
bush coat
bush cranberry
busheled, -elled
busheled iron
busheler, -eller
busheling, -elling
bush honeysuckle
bush house
bush huckleberry
bush jacket
bush league
bush leaguer
bush lot
bush parole
bush pea
bush pig
bush pilot
bush poppy
bush telegraph
bushtit, bush tit
bush trainshed
bush trefoil
bushwa, -wah

you may be asking what happened to bush dog?

well, the answer is he's right here!

darth's wild youth

thanks, sirreene, for this update on dick.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

2005 National Environmental Scorecard

The League of Conservation Voters 2005 National Environmental Scorecard reflects a session of the United States Congress steeped in controversial anti-environment legislation.

click on headline to see the rest and look up voting records for senators and reps.

don't blame me i voted for the other guy dept

i missed it when it came out last week that the bush admin wants to turn over the ports of ny-nj, philly, baltimore, miami, and n'orleans to a company from dubai, one of the 7 little persian gulf coastal territories that form the federation known as the united arab emirates, which lies between qatar and oman and gave us 2 of the 19 on 9/11. (that's 2 more than iraq!)

i think AP had it first.

bill maher picked it up for his friday hbo show, and c-span put it into a question to washington journal viewers over the weekend.

i don't recall hearing a single favorable comment.

the closest to neutral was a guy who asked if callers attacked the scheme because the company is arab or because it's foreign.

a woman said if bush wants to outsource the ports he ought to outsource the secret service. when asked what the connection was, she said if he's going to farm out our security he should farm out his own personal security too.

there was also a very emphatic and determined caller of the type i call a last-straw gop, a lifelong republican who says he'll never vote gop again.

last but not least was somebody who had finally come to the conclusion that bush has mush for brains—which is, of course, a euphemism.

now bush says he'll veto any bill congress passes to block the deal.

david irving gets 3 years in austria

holocaust denial is—strange as it may seem—a crime there, irving knew he was under indictment for it, yet he accepted a well-publicized speaking engagement and went to austria as if there was no risk.

maybe he thought he had nothing to lose, since he ruined himself financially when he unsuccessfully sued deborah lipstadt in 2000.

now at least he'll get 3 years of free room, board, and—if he plays his cards right—maybe even therapy in the very country where freud started psychoanalysis.

Friday, February 17, 2006

is this statement true?

...extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. ...moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
—Barry M Goldwater, acceptance speech, 1964 GOP Convention

answer: no. it's wrong. on both counts.

hurray for bush!(?)

the president's recent advocacy of education in science, math, and engineering merits praise and support.

i'm glad to have a chance at long last to say i agree with him on something, not only because the US is falling behind in those fields, but because the world needs more scientists and engineers to solve problems like hunger and disease.

800 million people don't get enough food, half of them farmers trying to eke out a living on small, underproductive plots of land. when drought hits, it compounds the problem, causing children to die. another 25% live in rural areas, so three quarters of world hunger could potentially end if farm productivity were sufficiently raised in poverty-stricken areas.

faith won't do it. technology might.

now, when will bush realize global warming is real, "intelligent design" is junk, and embryonic stem cell research is ethical?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

dick diversion

terrible as the vp might feel about what he did to his bud, let's not forget the headline that appeared not too many days before the shooting.

if scooter libby indeed confirms that dick c authorized him to leak classified info, the next "minor heart attack" to make big news may be darth's own.

whatever twist of the hunting accident story the media next explores, the diversion it provides will prove temporary at best.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Abu Ghraib misery that US wanted to hide

cartoon reality

...How hard it is—and how necessary it is—for us to become—and to remain—humans. That means a lot. It means not giving in to the comic-book version of who we are, not giving in to all this medieval rhetoric. It means not doing that. We know, deep down, what's right and what's true and what's needed. We've got to get there. We just have to.
Toni Morrison, Charlie Rose Show, PBS, (2003?)

somebody—i'm not sure who—wants denmark to apologize.

for cartoons? like the whole country is to blame for what one newspaper did?

are they supposed to apologize to rioters who burned their embassy, or what?

for anti-terrorist toons?!

they also burned a norwegian embassy—i guess the secret's out: all scandinavians are alike—so is norway supposed to say it's sorry too? how 'bout sweden?!

and who do the rioters represent? is all of islam so thin-skinned it can't handle criticism? does all of islam condone violence? do they want rioters to speak for them?

blaming the paper for not foreseeing the trouble made no sense either. no reasonable person would anticipate such extreme overreaction. toons didn't incite the riots. saying so is just an excuse of the truly guilty.

the danes ought to tell rioters to eff themselves and demand reparations from countries where their property got damaged.

if muslim nations want to stay in the civilized community they need to follow civil norms, and their governments must enforce those standards when necessary.

loose shotgun

well, darth cheney, vater figure of the bush legions, is doing what he most intensely despises: making news.

the w house tried to hush it up by delaying the report a day till after the sunday morning news shows, but of course it got out that the master of the dark side of the force apparently thought he heard a wild quail sneaking up behind him saturday, wheeled, and blasted his "friend" (not tom, definitely not dick, but) harry "no mouse" whittington, 78, a prominent texas lawyer who had slipped off into the bushes and returned without announcing his presence.

birdshot has a fairly short range, and quite a few folk say they've been "peppered" by it without their skin getting broken, but cheney was so close that a pellet penetrated whittington's chest wall and lodged near his heart. at that range you like to think you'd know a medicare-eligible chest from a ground-dwelling game bird.

the "minor heart attack" whittington experienced yesterday was major enough to put him in intensive care and is no fun.

for a wyoming "inhabitant," the vp sure spends a lot of time birding in other places. the first time it made news, antonin scalia was his hunting partner. el niño subsequently refused to recuse himself from judging a lawsuit against the sith lord. knowing which side his bird was bettered on, he avoided a snootful of birdshot.

now darth denies he's the source of scooter libby's leak of official secrets.

looks like he's feeling pressure. is he anxious the media will figure out texas (near corpus christi?) is his "undisclosed location"? or did he find out it's a felony to reveal classified info to somebody with no "need-to-know"?

or maybe he's just taking a page out of the reagan coverup notebook, calling libby a liar like the gipper did ollie north.

you can embellish this stuff, but you can't make it up.

a note on the cheney/vader allusion

it's true jon stewart referred to dick cheney as "darth" on the daily show a number of times before i began blogging.

however, i thought of it independently before he used the idea publicly, so i claim intellectual sovereignty over it and will continue to use it unapologetically till you're sick of it!

coming home to roost

i hope c-span2 gives us another chance—or better yet, several chances—to hear philippe sands talk about his book lawless world: america and the making and breaking of global rules from fdr's atlantic charter to george w bush's illegal war.

the first time the talk was shown on book tv, it overlapped the other c-span channel's washington journal time slot on a november sunday morning. the only rerun so far was at 2 o'clock this monday morning nearly 3 months later. i'm sure they didn't mean to bury it, but those are both hard times to watch.

it's a very important presentation. sands lays out, clearly and thoroughly, how the bush administration has so rapidly and callously torn apart the framework of international law so painstakingly built up by the united states and the other democracies over more than 60 years.

the audience—at the UC's hastings law school in san francisco—asked penetrating questions that can reinvigorate the flagging spirit of anyone who fears bush cheney rice rumsfeld gonzales & co will get off scot free with their crimes.

even if we fail to impeach them or try them here, they won't hold power forever, and they can get indicted in any country and arrested any time they set foot outside our borders, just like pinochet and fujimori.

Friday, February 10, 2006

preying for votes

i'll tell you frankly, when they asked da guy what political philosopher or thinker influenced him and he spat out "christ!" i thought he was cursing because he couldn't think of any philosophers. i should've known better.

let's face it, a politician's looking for your vote, not your prayers. if you ask about religion, s/he ought to say "you go to your church, i'll go to mine. i don't want to know how you pray. i want to represent you, not preach to you. i won't stop you from praying for me or against me, but i don't want to hear about it, and i won't talk about it till i retire from public office."

if you ask a politician to name a thinker or philosopher, and he names his god instead, you must know he did it to get votes, don't you?

so how can you trust him?

latest from working assets

here's a few items from my january phone bill:

Quote of the Month
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.
—Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961

Stop Silencing Justice Department Whistleblowers
The nonpartisan career lawyers in the Justice Department concluded that the highly unusual mid-cycle redistricting plans engineered by Republicans in Texas and the discriminatory voter-ID law in Georgia clearly violated the Voting Rights Act. But in both cases Bush administration appointees overruled the civil servants and prohibited them from speaking publicly or releasing their conclusions. They even went so far as to prohibit the nonpartisan analysts from forming conclusions or recommendations in voting rights cases in the future.

Tell Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at 202/514-2001 to reverse his practice of censoring recommendations from Civil Rights Division lawyers.

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You
The Toxics Release Inventory is a little-known but highly effective defense against dangerous pollutants in your neighborhood. Published annually by the EPA, it shows which companies are releasing pollutants in your community, what they're releasing and how much. Since the EPA began forcing companies to report this information, in 1988, the volume of dangerous toxics released in the U.S. has dropped 60%. But now, bending to pressure from industry, the Bush EPA is proposing to severely weaken this law that does so much to protect your health.

Urge EPA Administrator Stephen L.Johnson at 202/272-0167 to reject changes to the Toxics Release Inventory.

Donations Spotlight: Project on Government Oversight
Always remember: the government works for you. But it doesn't work very well—unless somebody keeps an eye on it. Good thing we've got groups like Project on Government Oversight, which is dedicated to exposing waste, fraud and corruption in Washington. POGO works to make taxpayers aware of sweetheart deals like the Homeland Security Department's $37 million gift to superprofitable oil companies for guards, cameras and fencing. And the no-bid contracts, outrageous charges and questionable expenses attached to Hurricane Katrina relief. POGO is just one of the hundreds of outstanding organizations Working Assets has supported since 1985. To learn more, go to Pogo.org

New Year, New Groups
What's your New Year's resolution? Lose weight? Save the world? We can't help you with the first. But, together, we are on our way to making the world a better place. In 2006, you'll help preserve organic-food laws, aid war refugees and strengthen democracy in the U.S. You'll fight gun crime, battle corporate corruption and defend a woman's right to choose. All without breaking a sweat. This year we're raising money for groups like Organic Farming Research Foundation, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Planned Parenthood. For a complete list of the groups we're supporting this year, please see the enclosed pamphlet or go to WorkingAssets.com/recipients

Thursday, February 09, 2006

fear: liberty's first natural enemy

fdr made a truly brilliant choice when he named freedom from fear as the final component in his january 1941 four freedoms speech.

when terrorists kill one person, they terrorize thousands. when they kill hundreds, they terrify millions, who get down on their knees and beg the state to do whatever it takes to make them safe.

when government coerces or manipulates citizens into giving up rights, fear is the power behind its authority.

fear is a wall of flame that arises in moments of danger to surround the body, becloud the senses, and befog reason.

it makes us overreact to real threats and react unnecessarily to imagined threats.

thus we lose our ability to choose appropriate effective action.

to preserve liberty, we must defeat fear.

a new dualism?

i don't know why all things considered gave sam brownback (r-ks) the free publicity, but today i got another chance to hear him declare his faith and repeat his formula "the unborn child is either a person or a piece of property," which is really dumb, because there are lots of things that fall into neither category. like, is a tapeworm a person or a piece of property?

the answer, obviously, is "no," but sammy seems to think it has to be one or the other.

i'm glad he agrees phone taps need oversight, but there's something missing from his logic about abortion rights.

at least he doesn't start blubbering in committee meetings like that guy from the state south of his.

is this an anniversary or something?

ok. an al qaeda plot to fly a plane into a los angeles building 4 years ago got uncovered in time by other countries.

so why bring it up again now?

look out darth, scooter's gettin' ready to squeal

1, 2

what's this about frist?

ok. frist denies rigging defense bill to protect drug mfrs against lawsuits.


so who did rig it?

articles on riotous cartoons

1, 2

did harry reid do it? (link)

flash to muslims: you don't need to martyr yourself to get virgins in paradise! (link)

Two points need to be noted. First, there is no mention anywhere in the Koran of the actual number of virgins available in paradise, and second, the dark-eyed damsels are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs.

btw, speaking of gonzo, didja notice this?

GONZALES: I gave in my opening statement, Senator, examples where President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance of the enemy on a far broader scale -- far broader -- without any kind of probable cause standard, all communications in and out of the country.

gonzo law

i got a real kick out of alberto gonzales's judiciary comm testimony the other day when he condescendingly said the bush admin would be glad to listen to the ideas of members of congress.

the latter must've felt that kick in their stomachs.

the constitution doesn't say the executive branch will listen to the ideas of congress. it says congress has power
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

as for making war, the constitution makes congress the ultimate rulemaker for what the armed forces may or may not do and what they may or may not be ordered to do:
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

manifest justice

three great forces drive this nation: equality, freedom, and justice; but the first two cannot exist without justice; and justice depends on law.

it's been said that public officials must behave as caesar's wife, giving not even an appearance of impropriety. when the highest officials in the land make the law their plaything, changing the clear meaning of its words at their convenience, their example reduces respect for law itself and thus undermines justice.

can loss of freedom and equality be far behind?

fellow americans, the time has come to unite and emphatically tell our leaders that if they refuse to adhere strictly to the law, or if they continue to use sophistic rhetoric to claim they follow the law when they do not, or if they keep callously inflaming people's fears to win craven support for further incursion beyond lawful limits on their actions, then they are no longer our leaders and must resign or get impeached.

for a free society to remain free, there can be no other alternative.

haiti bleu et rouge

if rené préval gets returned as expected to the presidency of the poorest country in the western hemisphere, his election will repudiate not only the thugs who overthrew haiti's first elected chief executive, jean-bertrand aristide, 2 years ago, but also the bush administration, which 1) allowed the coup after colin powell promised the US would prevent it, 2) assisted it by spiriting aristide out of the country, and 3) probably helped start it or, at least, encouraged it.

the gop hostility toward aristide is no secret. when the US and UN helped him return to power in 1994, 3 years after his first ouster by bloody military coup, the US increased economic aid to haiti but reduced it again after the gop took control of congress. aristide kept his pledge not to seek reelection, but he ran again 5 years later after the economy tanked under préval. when the US ended all aid, the next rebellion became virtually inevitable.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

cartoon mirrors

let me state upfront that only a tiny fraction of the world's muslims are rioting over the infamous cartoons.

i've said before that it looks to me as if the toons aren't even anti-islam or attacks on the prophet, but take aim at terrorists.

nevertheless, the intensity of the reaction is disturbing.

makes you wonder how so many could get so overwrought from a few little drawings they haven't even seen.

maybe it's because their culture is so different.

or maybe it's because so many of the political cartoons in the muslim world feature hideous caricatures of jews, so it's natural to assume "zionist" western media would return the favor in kind.

injustice has it's blind side too

another point prompted by the gop claim that leaking the existence of warrantless spying aids terrorists, which has led to an investigation to find the leaker:

if you dumb fucks had just followed the law, nobody would've said a word!

mediaphobes on the line

the woodruff wounding prompted c-span to ask washington journal's viewers yesterday if the press is making itself too much a part of the iraq story.

a few of the callers took the opportunity to let their outrage fly.

one complained that the wounded tv guys got treated by military medics. others said it was their own fault for riding in the open or for being there at all. one questioned why the iraqis carried them from the scene on a russian tank, since iraq should buy american. there were also complaints about biased coverage.

a woman said even c-span is overly enraptured with the new york times, interviews 4 times as many libs as cons, and takes twice as many calls from dems as from gops because dems call on the independent line.

she's wrong, of course. i see washington times and wall street journal articles read on the show probably about as often as ny times and washington post. the phone calls and guests seem pretty well right-left balanced too.

later in the show a caller wished the ACLU had been "in those buildings" on 9/11 instead of the 3000 that died.

get the picture?

powers of congress

below you'll find a list of congressional powers from article i, section 8 of the US constitution. some have been subjects of public discussion recently—and some controversy.

the commerce clause has come up at confirmation hearings of both new supreme court justices. the war powers relate to claims i hear a lot lately that the president conducts war, not congress. (you'll see below that congress not only declares war, it also sets the rules of what the armed forces can do and what they can be ordered to do.)

tho i was mainly interested in those issues, i've chosen to post the entire article because i've noticed that more than a few americans believe defense to be the federal govt's only legitimate responsibility. that may've been true under the articles of confederation, but it changed when the constitution went into effect 217 years ago. some folks just haven't caught up yet, i guess. behind the curve. whatever.

i decided to post the material during yesterday's senate judiciary committee hearing on warrantless eavesdropping, when attorney general gonzo said something about rules concerning captures, and the senator questioning him—i think it was lindsey graham (r-sc)—interjected "that's about ships, not people."

when you get to the clause, you can judge for yourself how well-informed a $158,000/year senator can be and perhaps get some idea of the quality of representation his state gets, tho graham's better than many others.

• The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

• To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

• To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

• To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

• To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

• To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

• To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

• To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

• To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

• To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

• To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

• To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

• To provide and maintain a Navy;

• To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

• To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

• To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

• To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

• To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

roll over mcguffey

covering coretta scott king's public viewing over the weekend, a reporter on cnn said she's the first person of her race or sex to have "lied in state" in georgia's capitol.

is there any way to get his employer to send him back to grammar school?

Monday, February 06, 2006


apparently the cartoons causing all the trouble first appeared in september and aroused protest but nothing more till they got reprinted. see headline link below.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

loony toons

al qaeda couldn't coordinate attacks better than political cartoonists did this past week.

tom toles provoked a 24-star letter from the joint chiefs of staff, and danish artists started a new wave of paranoid hysteria thruout the islamic world.

it needs to be said that both reactions were unjustified and excessive.

toles' piece is constantly misdescribed as showing a quadruple amputee soldier getting told by doctor rumsfeld that his condition will be listed as "battle-hardened." that false assumption naturally makes a lot of folk feel offended.

in fact, the name on the patient's chart clearly says "us army." he is not one soldier. toles' patient personifies the whole army lying gravely wounded while spinmeister rummy downplays it as usual.

i didn't see any of the danish cartoons till just now. the gutless US media won't reproduce them for fear of getting blamed if rioters damage american property the way they burned embassies.

those arsonists haven't seen the toons either. only one muslim newspaper reprinted them in jordan after violence had already broken out. all the riots have been incited by telling folk that islam and the prophet have been attacked.

as far as i can tell, that's another misinterpretation. the cartoonists appear to have used images of muhammad to criticize terrorists, not their prophet or their religion.

seriously, can bush walk & chew gum at the same time or can't he?

any attempt to inject rational discourse into the debate over warrantless spying gets drowned in a swamp of rationalization and misdirection by da prez and his legion of apologists, but the constitution and law will get hamstrung if we give up the fight, so here—as clearly and emphatically as i can state it—is a refutation of their case.

the gop claim: we only listen to suspected al qaeda calls, and a terrorist attack could be so devastating that we must keep listening to them.

response: good. keep listening. that's not the debate. the issue is you must follow the law too. set up taps and get warrants. they don't conflict. you have to do both. take every step in the dance.

you imply a false dichotomy between surveillance and abiding by the law. you don't need to break laws to protect america. "the constitution is not a suicide pact." stick to it and you won't go wrong.

when you break a law you violate the constitution and your oath of office. it's a crime. you are a criminal. arrest yourself. now.

betty friedan, 85

even in death betty friedan still has power to stir up men's anti-woman phobias.

on today's washington journal, 3 (male) callers in a row blamed feminism for various societal ills or claimed it has failed or even had the opposite of its intended effect, never deigning to notice any number of other causal factors that might be more responsible, including biology, media, myth, and patriarchism.

eventually female callers started getting thru to tell how they benefitted. one said she's a professor—something unheard of when she was in college.

one woman described the sexist male callers as "neanderthals." it's hard to say if that characterization is accurate.

whether or not evidence exists of sexism among prehistoric peoples, we do know at least some neanderthals practiced ritual burial, so they probably had religion, and where there's religion, there may very well be phobia.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

trashing the bill of rights

they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
—ben franklin

the govt is gearing up to put the squeeze on reporters to learn who gave them the "sensitive" information that the NSA did domestic spying.

actually, the only thing sensitive about it is that da prez authorized doing it without the court consent the law requires.

if the administration classified that, then it was a further abuse of power, namely using official secrecy to carry out a coverup.

by going after reporters, they compound the offense.

da prez, both in the state of the union and since, and his apologists, like sen pat roberts (r-ks) in today's hearing, keep rationalizing warrantless eavesdropping with emotional appeals to terrified americans, trying to rally cowardly majority support that will trash the bill of rights in the name of national security.

we are forced to say to them: however pure your motives, if you succeed you set a precedent usable by possible future unscrupulous leaders.

don't dump the safeguards against that.

get warrants!


i must admit to pleasant surprise at a couple points in the state of the union speech: those on oil and science.

the oil addiction reference amazed me. da prez is an oilman. an oilman's solution to everything is "drill more!" yet he didn't mention anwr at all. the call for alternate technologies was predictable, but he went further than i expected. more nuclear energy is still a bad idea, tho, if only because of radioactive waste, even if no accident risk existed. and i haven't the slightest idea how to get ethanol from wood chips without prohibitive cost. [oops! spoke too soon on that.]

more advanced placement science teachers would be great. we really are falling behind india and china in producing scientists and engineers. the number proposed sounds unlikely tho: 70k would more than triple the current total. we don't just need advanced placement either. in spite of the proliferation of hi-tech gadgets, americans these days are woefully ignorant about science. sound science often gets labeled "junk," while real junk—like "intelligent design"—gets widespread public support.

even with the deficiencies, it sounds like da prez may've had an epiphany, and not the illusory kind that's held him in thrall till now.

did katrina put the fear of god into him?

"Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity...."

bush compares self to lincoln. but bush chose war at the cost of disunity.

grand ole opry speech text

state of union text

Bush Pushes Plan for New Math, Science Teachers

Student Reaction to State of the Union Address

Fact-Checking the State of the Union Address

The State of the Union: A Look Between the Lines

Landfill Methane an Alternative Source of Power

Switch Grass: Alternative Energy Source?

Cornell ecologist's study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy

Study Backs Ethanol as Gasoline Substitute

Bush Sends Mixed Message on Clean Energy

Professor Attacks Enthusiasm for Bio-Fuels

Train, Boat Diesel Engines Source of Deadly Pollution