Monday, December 31, 2007

3,900 Flags Presented to the Wives and Children at the Funeral

Close to 4000 American military men and women have lost their lives in the George Bush War. The sad story will be told a few years from now that the sacrifice these families endured was not needed. It was all a grand neocon scheme of the rich and powerful fought by the lowly peasants. An enduring theme throughout the ages of mankind.
[photo by Aaron Thompson]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whither Ohio? Or, Wither, Ohio.

'Caging.' Remember that word. It is as important an issue as voting itself. Caging.

The years 2000 and 2004 were very important dates for America and Ohio. Ohio was a dud. Ohio could be a trifecta by November 2008. Ohio failed the nation and produced the ugly Bush/Cheney coup of democracy. Unless Ohioans are extremely vigilant, the ugly mess might continue.

It's caging and the voting machines. Period. Not too complex to understand, at least for Republicans. The Democrats apparently are slow learners, very slow. They are way too naive, many paces behind the GOP. And if the Dems don't get it early in 2008, the game's over for America.

Here's a primer:

Voting machines- a machine to cast and count votes. Or, in the 21st century, only the first half applies. The GOP is way ahead of the Dems on technology, way ahead! Recall this name: Diebolt, associated with Diebolt Voting Machines. We talked about them last semester, do you recall? That, dear students, was only phase 1 of a concept known as vote manipulation. Can you imagine what the new technology has produced in that field? That 'touch screen' method with a paperless trail provides easy opportunity for a little technical hankie-pankie. 'Gosh, a computer error wiped out 1200 votes. Sorry.'

Caging- not animals, but people. Specifically minorities, blacks preferred. The term has made its way to Wikipedia: Caging is a term of art in the direct mail industry, as well as a term applied to a technique of voter suppression. A caging list is a list or database of addresses, updated after a mailing program is completed, with notations on responses received from recipients, with corrections for addresses that mail has been returned undelivered from, or forwarded onward from. Obtaining a CD of the voters in a county is simple: pay $3 and it's yours. I have one for Lucas County, October 2006. Every name, every address, phone numbers, precinct number and, best of all, party affiliation. A prize possession of every GOP county party chair in the state of Ohio.

Right now, print-outs of every voter in 'certain' voting precincts across Ohio lie on GOP Headquarter desks. Only certain precincts, you know. Special precincts. Here in Lucas County, the letters are no doubt already addressed and stamped to the 'folks' in 14-C, 8-E, 17-D, 2-B and 4-E. It doesn't take too many brains to identify the correct ward and precinct. The 'caging' is up and running throughout Ohio.

What is Ohio's Democratic chairman, Chris Redfern, doing about all of this? Will he be 'surprised' after Ohio goes into the GOP column next November? Gosh, who could have known? Is he awake yet from his long slumber since the '06 election? Is he still basking in those victories, believing that every thing's OK here in Ohio? Drop him a note to see if his address has been caged.

All Ohioans ought to read this article, Will Ohio Be the Next Ohio in 2008? on the need for optical scanning machines in every precinct in Ohio by November 2008. Optical scanners with two paper trails: the original paper filled out by the voter plus a printed summary of each vote.

No doubt the GOP are already spinning the accuracy of the touch screens as well as the 'expense' of changing to a new system.' Right, the expense.

Bottom line: Will Ohio Be the Next Ohio in 2008? Could be in Democrats and independents sit back and click their ruby heels and wish...

Ouachita Baptist University

Ten to one: bet you never heard of it. It's the largest industry in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. That's a clue. Some of its more famous alumni are: Sharon Evans - Miss Arkansas 1967 Helen Rose Gennings - Miss Arkansas 1968 Donna Jo Connelly - Miss Arkansas 1970 Lisa Stevens - Miss Arkansas 1984 Beth Anne Rankin - Miss Arkansas 1994 Lauren Davidson - Miss Arkansas 2002 Lacy Flemming Miss Arkansas 2004. No doubt they were cheerleaders too: Go Ouachita!

Other alums include Eva Ware Barnett - composer of "Arkansas," Arkansas state anthem
Shelley Breen, Heather Payne, Denise Jones, and Terry Jones (singer) of Christian pop music group Point of Grace.

Still more: William Miller - professional football player in the Canadian Football League and the USFL. Nell I. Mondy - biochemist and international expert on the potato; Augustus Albright - noted outdoorsman and conservationist, former Arkansas Gazette columnist; Cotton Cordell - inventor of the world's best-selling fishing lures; Cliff Harris - former All-Pro Dallas Cowboys safety; Tommy Patterson - former NBA forward for the Baltimore Bullets; TJ Bingham - Former NFL player.

I bring this college to your attention because, if he is successful in his presidential aspirations, Ouachita Baptist University will become a household name across the land. Yes, by now you have guessed it: Mike Huckabee is a grad of this esteemed university, Bachelor of Religion. He did very well there, one of the top academic graduates, edging out Miss Arkansas for top honors.

In a comment yesterday, someone said that Huckabee is just a Jimmy Carter.

That hit me like a brick, so I researched Huckabee and found his educational history which also includes attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas where he dropped out after one year.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, attended Georgia Tech and Jackson State University but graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Physics, finishing 58th out of 820.

Not that attending a prestigious university necessarily turns out competent graduates. After all, George W. Bush is a Yale grad.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Party Chit-chat Dilemma

I've been invited to a pre-New Year's Eve party on Sunday evening, an annual ritual with several of our acquaintances. They are all college grads and believe that they are fairly politically astute. Conversation always turns to politics which arouses me from my food-fireplace-induced stupor. As this group is left-leaning in their political posturing, save one lonely soul, discussion will center around the '08 election and which Democrat will be best. My wife and I are also invited to another party a few weeks later with the not-so subtle title, "Election '08 Get-together."

No doubt tomorrow evening one in the crowd will ask the same question that I have been asked by this group for the past several years: What's the name of your blog? They never remember and/or they couldn't care less, which is fine, as long as they are getting the information that they need. Information not only on who's who, but on what the GOP has been doing to suppress the vote of urban black voters. I have posted stories on that issue and receive few comments.

Surely most folks at the gathering on Sunday will expect an easy Democratic win, believing that the nation is fed up with Republicans. Yet they need to be reminded of their naiveté in both 2000 and 2004 when the GOP political machine maneuvered behind the scenes to skew the votes for the Republicans. Blind hope is easily trumped by determined scoundrels.

Microdot, a co-author of this blog, posted a comment yesterday that struck me. He said, "...but to be informed is the best defense against the usual gang of scoundrels next attempt to exploit this for their own terrorist fear mongering ends!"

Although he had directed this comment to the Bhutto assassination, it surely is relevant to any political situation, towards any group of thugs and deviants.

I will challenge the party-goers to wake up from their Pollyanna-like dreams and spread the word to all of their friends and acquaintances to be alert to the dirty election-day tricks that are already in place not only here in Ohio but across the nation. "to be informed is the best defense against the usual gang of scoundrels!"

Bush/Cheney Face Arrest in Vermont

George Bush has visited 49 states, and with this latest push to arrest Cheney and him on war crimes charges, it looks like Vermont will remain the only un-Bush state. Oh, to be so lucky!

A group in Brattleboro Vermont is petitioning to put an item on a town meeting agenda in March that would make Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest and indictment if they visit the southeastern Vermont community.

"This petition is as radical as the Declaration of Independence, and it draws on that tradition in claiming a universal jurisdiction when governments fail to do what they're supposed to do," said Kurt Daims, 54, a retired machinist leading the drive.

I would hope that the World Court in The Hague would be sending some lawyers to this town to help write the war crimes indictment. After all, they have been doing a fine job of that with other miscreants and scoundrel leaders for some time.

Were Karl Rove still advising Bush, I am certain that he would have planned an unannounced, midnight stop at the airport just to stick it to the insurgents in Vermont. The coward. But we already know that.

Good Immigarant/Bad Immigrant?

I just read that Tom Tancredo, our most rabid anti immigrationist and most specifically the loudest anti illegal Mexican voice has just endorsed Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney, in his across the board, trying to be everything to every Republican has done his part to pander to the illegal Mexican immigration hysteria being milked for votes.
Here's some very interesting history......
Mitt Romneys father, George, who went on to become the two term Republican governor of Michigan in the 1960's was born in Mexico and was an illegal immigrant to boot!
George was born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1907, the son of Gaskell Romney and Anna Amelia Pratt. The Romneys had lived in Mexico since 1884, when Miles Park Romney moved the family there from Utah.
Miles Romney was a Morman polygamist who realized that as Utah approached State Hood, the United States Government would not tolerate thte Mormon Polygamist communities there. The 1882 Edmunds Act stripped polygamists of their rights of US citizenship, denying them the riught to vote, serve on juries or hold office.
Like today's immigration raids, polygamists were hunted down and arrested. They were asked to leave the country or risk jail.
Miles chose to renounce his US Citizenship and move to Mexico with his multiple wives and children. At that time, many Mormons were leaving the American territory to establish Mormon colonies near the border. The Mexican government also had laws declaring polygamy illegal and the Mormon polygamists were coming into Mexico in direct violation of Mexican immigrattion law.
Utah became a state in 1895 and as part of it's conditions for Statehood, it passed a state constitution forbidding polygamy.
The Romneys stayed in Mexico and there are still descendants of the original line living there. Gaskell and Anna Romney left in 1912 , at the hieght of the Mexican Revolution, when the rebels menanced the Mormon settlements. Their Relative, Junius Romney was able to negotiate a safe passage for many of the Mormons who wanted to leave, including Gaskell, Anna and their infant son, George.
They entered the United States illegally as citizens of nebulous status of Mexico with no formalities or border searches and ended up settling in New Mexico.
For an illegal Mexican immigrant, George did pretty well for himself. He rose up through the hierarchy at GM and entered politics and became a very successful governor of Michigan and led the state through some it's most traumatic years.
Perhaps the family history gave George some of the personal tools and morality that guided him through the dark days of the Detroit Race Riots. He embraced the principle of Dr. Martin Luther King and as his last political gesture, opposed Richard Nixon for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1968, publically breaking with the Party to oppose the Vietnam War.
Perhaps it's more than just Tom Tancredo who needs to be reminded of the Romney family history.

Huckabee's Vigilance on Pakistani Illegals

Thank god we have another born-again Christian fighting to save America from those damned illegal immigrants trying to sneak across our borders. Rev. Huckabee ought to get one of those tin 'Medal of Freedom' awards that George Bush likes to hand out to 'folks fight'n for freedom.'

Singlehandedly yesterday, Rev. Huckabee identified +600 Pakistani illegals who had snuck into America- the 2nd highest number of illegals next to you-know-who! No doubt his sleuthful vigilance will carry him forward in Iowa to an even greater victory margin.

Rest safely tonight, my fellow Americans, with Rev. Huckabee at the helm of our nation we will be even more safe that we have been with that other born-again Christian fellow who has been guiding out ship of state so well for the past 7 years.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lakota Sioux Declare Independence From US

The Lakota Sioux nation is well represented in Nebraska where I live. On December 18, it served notice to the US, asserting itself as a sovereign nation. They will issue their own passports and drivers license and there will be no income tax for those who renounce their US citizenship. Lakota land spans 5 states (NE, SD, ND, WY, MT).

The Lakota Sioux claim that none of the treaties have been fulfilled with the US. And they continue to fare poorly because of current policies. They believe that it’s time for them to self govern.

To check out the area of the Lakota Sioux, click here. It is amazingly massive.

"None of the treaties have been fulfiled.' Imagine that. Looks like they want to be on the government dole!!

Here's what I'd say to these ungrateful people: if you don't like our country, go back to where you came from!

2007: How Science Came Full Circle has a fascinating article on some of the major science discoveries of 2007. It is a great review of how scientists are helping us live better and saving the earth.

America's Love-Affair With Dastardly Dictators

We really ought to have a dictator of our own because, apparently, we love them [to death]. Our dictator d'jour is Pakistan's General Musharraf. The Bush Administration has funded this dictator to the tune of $5 billion. How much is in his Swiss bank account?

Why do we love dictators? Do we secretly have a love-affair with strong men? Do we subliminally long for a king? Our history seems to prove it. Look at the list of dictators that the U.S. Government has funded to prop-up their power-hold on the people of their nations:

Pervez Musharraf
Saddam Hussein
Shah of Iran
Augusto Pinochet
Anastasio Somoza
Hugo Banzer
Saud family
Papa Doc, Baby Doc
Fulgencio Batista
Montt name the most obvious.

Why would a nation, the world's first democracy, a nation that fought a bitter war to gain its independence from a ruthless monarch, prop-up other sordid scoundrels around the world? For those of us who have paid atention in our history classes, we know. Which is precicely the problem for America: their history classes were most often a boring babble of dates and names which posed few challenges to the intellect. A nation of history-illiterates is the prize of scoundrels and other ignoble leaders.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan's ex-PM Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Pakistan's ex-PM Benazir Bhutto is killed in a presumed suicide attack, a spokesman for her party says. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died after a suicide bombing that killed at last 14 of her supporters, former Pakistan government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan and Pakistan's primary television networks said. Bhutto was shot in the aftermath of the bomb attack.

What does this mean for Mushariff? Wha does it mean for the United States and its relationship with him and his country? Should we have been paying more attention to Pakistan than Iran? So many questions...

Ron Paul: "People are starving for the truth!"

Ron Paul said it on MSNBC this morning as part of his answer on why he is running for president. His statement is crystal clear and obviously true, but the timeless question still stands: what is truth? Clearly we will not find truth flowing from the tongue of a politician nor from most elected officials. There are few in Congress who stand before the citizens and tell the truth.

Which, of course, leaves the citizens of this republic uninformed and lied-to. Where is he truth? The media has proved itself untrustworthy, especially in the run-up to the Bush War. Radio talking heads present well-spun and pre-digested information to the listener. Blogmeisters wear their own colored glasses. Internet sites are often skewed. What's left? Word of mouth?

Yes, Mr. Paul, 'people are starving for the truth!' Do you provide it? Who does? What's a citizen to do?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's the Time of Year for Those "Top 10 of 2007"

I generally gag at the list of nonsense that people collect and rank, yet the American public seems tobe transfixed by Top 10 lists. What if we created our own list this year? We have 5 more days left in 2007, clearly enough time to come up with our own list. Let's give it a go.

How about the Top 10 Actions that Most Damaged our Republic in the Year 2007? Let's see if we can collectively come up with 10. If we get more, we'll have a vote on the most severe. If you don't mind, I'll start off:

Top 10 Actions that Most Damaged our Republic in 2007

The destruction of the CIA torture tapes.

Peace Zealot Sticks Her Neck Out Once Again

No doubt when she returns home from work, Sally Keller's answering machine will be filled with the usual vile and filth that she has become used to. They love to call and vent their anger, especially as she is a woman. Yet she continues expressing her opinion in quite the open forum of a letter to the editor in The Blade.

The same people call me when I have a letter published. The odd thing is that the callers are so skewed in their thinking that they negate their own 'logic' with each ugly word that flows from their mouth. The callers generally like the trumped-up propagandized sentence, "We're bringing freedom to them!" They also enjoy the classic, "Freedom is not free!" Sadly, they have drunk deeply the propaganda fed to them by Rove and Cheney.

Unaffected by their ideals, they deny the writer these very freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Of course, that document is getting rather tattered these days by this administration. Nonetheless, they carry on with their righteous pronouncements interspersed with a dozen or so expletives. Often they end with, "Why don't you go back to [ ] and leave America to real Americans."

One caller who vomited in my voice mail forgot to do *67 before his exploitive-filled rant, so I called him back. Shocked by my return call, and quite unprepared for a challenge, he hung up on me. The coward. I called back, but he took the receiver off the hook for the next hour.

Odd stuff; odd people. Anyway, here's Sally Keller's latest exercise of her First Amendment right:

Not surprising tapes of torture destroyed

I do not understand why Democrats in Congress are acting so surprised about the destruction of videotapes of Americans using torture.

This has been the most vile and corrupt administration in my 50 years, and the Democrats have rolled over and played dead since Sept. 11, giving this President unprecedented power. They continue to fund a war that is gouging the taxpayers and lining the pockets of the war profiteers.
Every American knows that torture is being carried out and 70 percent want an end to the Iraq war, a war that the leading Democratic presidential candidates refuse to address, and that two out of three voted for.

I am not in the least bit surprised that evidence of torture has been destroyed, and I am fed up with having my intelligence insulted, not only by President Bush but also by the people I have voted for to represent me in Congress.

Sally J. Keller
Sabra Road

Sunday, December 23, 2007

An Ode to Living in the Great Lakes in Wintertime

"Mother! Mother!" cried the little boy as he ran to the kitchen, stocking cap still on his head. "Mother, I saw the sun, I did, I saw the sun and my shadow!" he said.

It burst out from behind the clouds and shined down on my face."
"OK, son," the mother kindly said, " I'll look out the window and look for myself, to see if that's the case."

"Oh, son, I can't see it now, but I'm sure you'll see it again. Go back outside and play, but come in if it starts to rain."

Redeem Your Book Gift Certificate: American Gospel

Should you receive a gift certificate to a book store this Christmas, you might want to consider this new book from Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, American Gospel. Considering the religous war now raging in the GOP, a bit of solid historical fact might be important when debating with a right-winger.

Here is a review of the book from Publishers Weekly:

Historian and Newsweek editor Meacham's third book examines over 200 years of American history in its quest to prove the idea of religious tolerance, along with the separation of church and state, is "perhaps the most brilliant American success." Meacham's principal focus is on the founding fathers, and his insights into the religious leanings of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Co. present a new way of considering the government they created. So it is that the religious right's attempts to reshape the Constitution and Declaration of Independence into advocating a state religion of Christianity are at odds with the spirit of religious freedom ("Our minds and hearts, as Jefferson wrote, are free to believe everything or nothing at all-and it is our duty to protect and perpetuate this sacred culture of freedom"). Meacham also argues for the presence of a public religion, as exemplified by the national motto, "In God We Trust," and other religious statements that can be found on currency, in governmental papers and in politicians' speeches. Subsequent chapters consider a wartime FDR and a Reagan who grew increasingly enamored of Armageddon. All are well-written, but none reach the immediacy and vigor of the chapters on the nation's birth. Two extensive appendices reprint early government documents and each president's inaugural bible verses. Meacham's remarkable grasp of the intricacies and achievements of a nascent nation is well worth the cover price, though his consideration of Reagan feels like that of an apologist.

Hoover and Cheney?

I'll wager that Dick Cheney idolized J. Edgar Hoover. That Cheney thought Hoover knew how to deal with those 'un-Americans' who litter our landscape. "Lock 'em up!" That's how you deal with dissent!

No doubt-Cheney, no doubt, already worked out a plan similar to that unveiled today of J. Edgar Hoover to round up and detain 12,000 'dangerous Americans.' According to a newly declassified intelligence document, Hoover sent the plan to the White House on July 7, 1950. In it, Hoover asked President Truman to essentially sign off on mass arrests of individuals around the country -- about 97 percent of whom were U.S. citizens, the FBI director said.

Who would doubt that Dick Cheney has already suggested that plan, perhaps as far back as 2002? Surely, anyone who has not drunk the Kool-Aid wouldn't put it past this devious bastard.

Look at this Cheney-connection: "All of the names on the list had been compiled by the FBI over a period of 2 to 3 years and included individuals that the Bureau believed were potentially dangerous to national security. Hoover's plan was to arrest roughly 12,000 suspects and lock them up in military prisons like the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Cheney's fingerprints are all over this one. And, for those whose Kool-Aid has not completely exited their system: "Hoover, seeking to achieve such status, asked President Truman to declare the mass arrests necessary to "protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage."

'Dangerous to national security.' To 'protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.' Words that flow easily and often from the tongue of Dick Cheney.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Soldier's Suicide: Did he Have to Die?

What the soldier's father, Chris, would learn about his son's final days would lead the retired Special Forces commando, who teaches at Fort Bragg, to take on the very institution he's spent his life serving — and ultimately prompt an investigation by the Army Inspector General's office.

The documents, obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests filed by Chris Scheuerman, reveal a troubled soldier kept in Iraq despite repeated signs he was going to kill himself, including placing the muzzle of his weapon in his mouth multiple times.

Pfc. Jason Scheuerman nailed a suicide note to his barracks closet in Iraq, stepped inside and shot himself. "Maybe finaly I can get some peace," said the 20-year-old, misspelling "finally" but writing in a neat hand.

This Associated Press story brings to mind a recent conversation I had with a person in the mental health field. I was told some sketchy information about a local National Guard soldier just back from Iraq who is suffering severe Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was back from his 2nd 15-month tour and fears greatly that next December, he'll be back in Iraq.

The soldier said that one in his platoon already committed suicide and another attempted it twice but chickened out. He said, "So did I!" The man is terribly angry with everybody, including family members, but especially so of 'foreign looking people.'

The mental health worker told me, 'Luckily he doesn't have a weapon [he says] because if he did, he'd shoot somebody, I'm sure of that.'

I asked if the government was paying for his counselling sessions. Because he is a Reserve Member, he doesn't get Veteran benefits.

I have been thinking of this man for many days now and wonder how he will do in the next few days. Even trauma-less folks often find these days stressful.

The Reserve and National Guard surely have been abused by this administration and apparently it is showing. I heard on NPR on Friday that the newest mental health report on active-duty servicemen and women showed a large uptick in suicides and attempted suicides. The reporter said that the length of the war, the seemingly no end in sight, and the 15-month tours have contributed greatly to the demise in the mental health of the troops.

I am most angry with the right-wing talking heads who continue to pump up this war, sitting back in their easy chairs, with no blood on their hands or on their children's hands. "It's an all-volunteer army!" they cunningly proclaim, as if that inoculates them and the tragic deaths and injuries suffered by the soldiers and Marines.

But what of the National Guard and Reserves? They are not professional soldiers. They are, as their names suggest, an auxiliary force to be used in times of emergencies. Iraq is hardly an emergency and never was. Yet these brave men and women are called upon again and again to put their jobs and families on hold, and go into hell for 15 months and then return home to a 'normal life.'

Never in my life have I witness such a blatant misuse of our resources. Never. And it goes on and on, no end in sight.

Right-wing Blog Closes Before Giving Me My Major Award!

Wouldn't you know it! I get nominated for an award and, damned if the blog closes down before I can give my acceptance speech. I would have rather had the grand-prize winning leg lamp, though.

Back to the award. The now-defunct right-wing blog, KoozNews, listed several [first] annual awards last week and this blog swept up the #1 position for the 'Worst Blog in Toledo.'

I have never won a major award before this one. When I saw that I was the first place winner, I went to my writing desk, pencil and paper in hand, and began writing my acceptance speech. It was a beauty! I did 7 re-writes until it was just perfect.

Well, all of that work for nought! Nada, nothing! Wouldn't you know, Mr. Kooz shuts down his crummy blog before I could accept the award and give the speech.

Drat! And his was such a neat and tidy blog, too. Just like you would expect from a tight-ass right-winger. He even vetted the comments before posting them. Only two of mine made the final cut. Apparently I tilted just a little too far left for his good taste.

Oh well, another blog down the proverbial drain. Glug! Glug!

City of Toledo's Partnership Registry Open for Business

An ordinance passed by Toledo City Council and signed into law by Mayor Finkbeiner a few weeks ago went into effect yesterday. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner on Nov. 21 signed the law that made Toledo the largest city in Ohio to create a domestic-partner registry. It requires the clerk of council to set up a registry for domestic-partner couples, whether of the same or opposite sexes.

The Blade reported that one of the first partnership registry requests was from a Universtiy of Toledo provost, Carol Bresnahan. Ms. Bresnahan, who is the vice provost of the University of Toledo, said bigotry is to blame for those who oppose the law. "It's their religious beliefs, and bigotry in the name of religion is still bigotry," Ms. Bresnahan said.

>An example of this religious bigotry came in the form of a letter from the bishop of Toledo which he mandated be read at all weekend masses just before council voted on the measure. A statement from the Toledo Catholic Diocese said that Bishop Leonard Blair was "confident that he speaks for many, many people in Toledo in expressing deep disappointment that both the City Council and the mayor have taken this action."

That letter angered many Catholics in the Toledo diocese causing some to decide to leave the church. I personally know of two such people.

The Blade reports that Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with a 2006 population of about 47,100, enacted such a registry in 2003 after passage of a citizen initiative.

Keep the Solstice Fires Burning

I hope your Solstice fire is still lit. Be sure to maintain it for the next 3 days and nights otherwise the sun will sink into the ocean. In 3 days the wizard will tell us if our sacrificial fires have caused the sun to rise once again!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Imploding Imperial Presidency

We knew it would. Those of us paying attention knew it wouldn't be able to withhold the layers of secrets and deceit. There were too many, like a child trying to balance blocks too high, we knew it would all fall apart. Some might be happy about it, thinking vengefully. They got what they deserved. I do not. I am saddened and disgusted by it all and terribly afraid that it may not be able to be fixed at all.

The damage to our republic by the Bush/Cheney Administration is almost too much to innumerate. Congress ought to appoint a czar to investigate it all but, of course, they are a large part of the problem, too. After all, a strong Congress would have stopped this president in his tracks before March 20, 2003. But they didn't and because they did not exercise their constitutional mandate, the imperial presidency saw a green light and moved forward like an unstoppable bulldozer, crushing anything in its path.

The CIA torture tapes were perhaps the last straw, but maybe not the last one. Who can list all of the lies, spin and outright illegal deeds that have been done by this White House in these past seven years? I have lost track and that is exactly the problem. That czar ought to collect them all and write them on a poster board [or two] to re-educate the citizens on the damage that their careless votes has meant.

The photo of George Bush above is priceless. I am a keen observer of the face and this face shouts loudly to me of frustration and disdain. Disdain that it is over: the tightly sealed box of secrets has been pried open. It is the face of a tired man. Any man, no matter how strong, will show the strain of keeping secrets for so long. He, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and Rice have, like the Wizard of Oz, kept us so fearful that we dare not probe too deeply into their affairs. But Toto barked and now the ruse is at an end.

What do discredited men do after it is all over and they have been publicly shamed? Many take to suicide; others flee to distant lands or hide in spider holes. Some are hung in public.

What will George W. Bush do? That is the only secret we don't know.

Andrew North, the departing BBC Baghdad correspondent, looks back on the 2003 US-led invasion.

Many Americans have blocked out 'the war,' especially at this time of the year. Those hopeful for an end were greatly disappointed in this past year, after the Dems swept into Congress. Others, especially those who once supported the war, don't want to think about that support now. So, who wants to read the review of all of the mistakes and blunders of that idiotic Bush/Cheney War?

Well, if you still have some intellectual curiosity as well as the courage to look at all of this, then Andrew North's piece will be the perfect read for you. The BBC titles it: Iraq: The trauma and the mistakes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Nanowire Battery Holds Great Promise

ScienceDaily reports on new nano technology that could revolutionize the lithium battery strength. They report:

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices.

The new version of the battery was explained by Yi Cui. He explained that 'a laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers. "It's not a small improvement," Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development."
The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. "Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly," Cui said.

Now we have to ask the question: how long before it will be ready for the automobile? It seems to me that replacing the conbustion engine is of paramount importance if we wish to save the planet. How will Big Oil react to this potential new energy source?

lots of questions...

Everything I need to know about the regressive right I learned in junior high

David Michael Green has written an article he calls, "Everything I need to know about the regressive right I learned in junior high." He writes:

I suspect that for most of us, these were the nightmare years of awkwardness, emotional pinball, and deep wounds over small slights. Oh, and zits, too – just in case you were somehow feeling too good about yourself on any given day.

But for those of you who have for some reason been wishing that you could return to those golden years, I’ve got news for you: You already have! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Courtesy of the regressive right and its Grand Old Party (and isn’t it just grand?), we’re reliving all those many joys again and again.

I was wondering how he was going to tie junior high to Republicans when I first received Green's email a few minutes ago. Let's see how it all unfolds...

But here’s the good news: Once you understand this, there’s no longer any mystery to figuring out these clowns. That’s ‘cause everything you need to know about the regressive right you already learned in junior high. For instance:

Elitism Is For Elites! What’s wrong with some people having all the goodies and most everybody else having little or none? That whole egalitarianism critique is for tenth-graders, man! When you’re in junior high, though, it all just makes perfect sense. Certain golden children were born to rule, and the rest were born to have it lauded over us, when we weren’t being laughed at, that is! You can certainly see that today in regressive policies on war and taxes, to name just two. Rich people paying taxes or Republicans going to Vietnam? Pshaw! Why do you think they keep us hoi polloi around, anyhow, other than to fight their wars and pay their tax bills?!?!

Green goes on comparing those ugly days in junior high with today's GOP. His topics include:

Personal Destruction Is Cool!
It’s A Really Scary World Out There.
Lying, Cheating, Secretiveness and Hypocrisy Will Get You What You Want.
Tantrums Will Get You What You Want.
Thinking For Yourself Is Highly Frowned Upon.
Girls Are Really, Really Scary.
It’s All About Me!

As I was reading through this essay I was thinking that this is déjà vu all over again! For the past 7 years I had the feeling that I'd been through this Bush/Cheney stuff at some other time and no wI realize that, in fact, I had! What a punishment.

Ohio's Voting System Has "critical security failures."

Testers looking at the performance of Ohio's voting machines identified numerous risks to election integrity ranging from minor to severe. Among their findings: a magnet and a Personal Digital Assistant (i.e. a Treo) may be all that is needed to hack into Ohio's voting systems. The NYT reports:

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.
“It was worse than I anticipated,” the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state’s voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters.

Naturally, this calls into question the results of the 2004 presidential election. During that election, the Secretary of State of Ohio was also the chairperson of the Bush/Cheney re-election team, Kenneth Blackwell. Mr. Bush made an 'exceptionally strong' showing in the Buckeye state.

Rolling Stone Magazine printed a story in June of 2006 written by Robert Kennedy Jr. titled, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Kennedy says, "The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House."

Is anybody surprised by all of this? Stolen in 2000 and again in 2004. The only question remains is: will it be again in 2008?

While Bush Was Busy Bullying Saddam...

You've probably sat in a classroom or two with the class bully. The holiday hit, A Christmas Story [you'll shoot your eye out!], features one. I had one for all 8 years of my grade school years. Today he's a fugitive from the FBI.

Vladimir Putin is Time Magazine's person of the Year. No, he is not the bully I was thinking of. In fact, I would bet he is no bully. Bullies are cowards and Putin is no coward. Cunning, calculating and dangerous to be sure.

George W. Bush is the bully I had in mind. Reports of his childhood shooting frogs at the pond is a good indication. Osama bin Laden mastermind the 9-11 attacks on America, but Bush went after the soft, safe, easy target of Saddam Hussein. Bush's toady, Cheney, helped him with the ruse.

In fact, Bush did that other cunning thing that bullies do: they soft-soaped the real tough guy, Putin. He declared that he saw his soul and it was a pure as the driven soul. Ha! Bush was able to get Tony Blair for his other toady, to help with the ambush-snowball fight.

Now Vladimir Putin has his dour photo on Time Magazine's cover. Saddam is dead; the easy target. Mission accomplished. Bin Laden and Putin linger on.

That's what we get for electing a bully as our leader.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Have You Zillow-ed Your House Lately? is a real estate evaluation site that has some clever software program that give you the value of your house on today's market. You can 'zillow' your entire neighborhood as well if you care to. You can also find homes with similar characteristics as yours, their locations, and their prices.

It is a fun site to play around with. [I ought to get come compensation for this promotion]

The Out-of-Sync Child

There is a website called The Out-of-Sync Child which relates the story of certain children who, as the title suggests, seem to be just a little off the norm. In the introduction to the disorder, the author says:

Most children enjoy such activities because they have effective sensory processing—the ability to organize sensory information for use in daily life. They take in sensations of touch, movement, sight, and sound coming from their bodies and the world around them, and they respond in a well-regulated way.

Some children, however, such as Andrew, Ben, and Alice, did not enjoy coming to my classroom. Faced with the challenge of sensory-motor experiences, they became tense, unhappy, and confused. They refused to participate in the activities, or did so ineffectively, and their behavior disrupted their classmates’ fun. They are the children for whom this book is written.

As Carol Stock Kranowitz notes, many teachers become frustrated with children like this and are quick to 'label them' as lazy or uncooperative. They are the children who march to the beat of a different drummer who become the scorn of some in the teaching field. Kranowitz notes that a pediatric occupational therapist named Lynn A. Balzer-Martin was diagnosing and treating young children who had academic and behavior problems stemming from a neurological inefficiency – then called “sensory integration dysfunction.”

Today this disorder is called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and it "can cause a bewildering variety of symptoms. When their central nervous systems are ineffective in processing sensory information, children have a hard time functioning in daily life. They may look fine and have superior intelligence, but may be awkward and clumsy, fearful and withdrawn, or hostile and aggressive. SPD can affect not only how they move and learn, but also how they behave, how they play and make friends, and especially how they feel about themselves."

No doubt the parents of these children cry out for answers as to why their child is so 'different.' Unless the child is tested and diagnosed, the child remains just an enigma, a quirky kid with a dicey future ahead of them.

"Preschoolers, whose nervous systems are still developing rapidly, stand a good chance to benefit from therapeutic intervention. Lynn knew that if SPD could be detected in three-, four-, or five-year-olds, these children could receive individualized treatment that would prevent later social and academic impasses."

The author says that although early intervention is best, even adults with the disorder can be helped. The key is in recognizing the symptoms and getting a diagnosis.
The SPD Network has a website with much more information on this disorder including behaviors to look for in a child which seems 'out-of-sync.'

Gov. Strickland's Ban on Utility Shutoffs Too Late for One Toledo Boy

FirstEnergyCorp, Toledo Edison, shut off the power to his house and, for nearly two weeks, he lived in his cold house, heated by only a small kerosene heater. So did his 6 brothers and sisters and grandmother. They had the heater in the small dining room, closed off by some bed sheets. The smell of kerosene was ghastly, but the room was warmer than the cold house. At bedtime, he lay in his cold, unheated bedroom.

His mother argued with Toledo Edison that she did not owe the $600 electric bill, that it was from the previous tenant who left town with many unpaid bills. Toledo Edison said, 'No, it is your bill.' The mother said to my wife, "I've only been in the house for a month and couldn't have a $600 electric bill." Edison shut it off. The house went dark and colder with each passing day.

I met Elijah at the Padua Center, the former now-closed St. Anthony Church's rectory. The Diocese of Toledo opened it as a neighborhood resource. Sr. Virginia Welsh operates the facility which offers free bread and rolls and coffee to the neighborhood. Elijah's two younger brothers came over for tutoring and told Sister that they were cold at home. Sr. Virginia then investigated and went to the home and found the family cold and in the dark. The mother told the story to her.

Elijah is severely autistic and does not speak and has violent outbursts. He's 14 and strong. He and his mother, grandmother and the youngest children were at the Padua Center warming up and eating pizza that Sister had made for them. I was introduced and when I shook the boy's hand it was literally like a corpse hand; I never felt colder skin than his. He was restless and paced back and forth and only sat down when his mother pulled him next to her. His eyes were wild and darted back and forth. Clearly he was out of his element and, as such, is very distressing to an autistic child.

This was on a Friday morning, the 8th day of no power. The mother told us that she had gathered the $600 from relatives and friends and was going to pay the bill that afternoon. We provided electric camping lanterns and flashlights so that the family would not continue to use candles to light the house at night. The tragic death of 3 children and their mother a few days earlier prompted our action.

For the whole story click [here] to read my earlier post. Power, however, was not restored until the afternoon on Tuesday, four days later. Several phone calls to Toledo Edison by my wife and I were met with belligerence, incompetence and plain ignorance. When the power finally was restored, the furnace ran and ran, trying to heat the house whose temperature had fallen into the 40's. We thought the family's long nightmare was at last over.

The phone call on Thursday ended our happiness. Elijah was in St. Vincent Hospital's ICU with burns on his neck, arms, and chest. He had been so thoroughly chilled literally to the bone, that he pressed himself up against the oven in the kitchen and his clothes caught fire. His burning shirt stuck to his skin as he screamed in pain. I cannot imagine what went through a boy's mind at that time, especially a severely autistic boy.

He lay in the ICU for days, waiting for his skin-graft operation. His mother never left his side; she slept by his side and would quiet him when he would become agitated. He pulled out his IV's and bandages several times and cried quite a bit, his mother tells us.

Tomorrow Elijah goes home, his mother reported. It will be good for him to get back to familiar surroundings and it will be good for his mother to be able to sleep, once again, in her own bed. What a nightmare for this family. Oh, and by the way, Elijah's mother told my wife that Toledo Edison called her at the hospital and told her that they made a mistake! She did not owe $600, it was the bill of the previous owner. They would credit her for the money.

Can you imagine that? An error. An error by Toledo Edison that caused three weeks of pain and agony for a poor, inner-city family.

I applaud Governor Strickland's decision to stand for families like Elijah's and ban utility shut-offs during the winter. At least other Ohio families will not have to suffer like this one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mars: A close-up

Tonight planet Mars will be the closest to the Earth since 2003; the next time it will be this close will be in 2016. The red planet is now the brightest "star" in the evening sky, easily visible by mid-evening until dawn. It comes closest to the Earth today at 6:46 p.m. EST, when it will be 54,783,381 miles (88,165,305 kilometers) from us.

USA Today: 'Family values' lower on agenda in 2008 race

USA Today posts an article titled, 'Family values' lower on agenda in 2008 race. They say:

Religious and cultural conservatives, unhappy about the rise of abortion and divorce, have made "family values" a staple of Republicans' political strategies for three decades. The phrase took on new life in 1992, when then-vice president Dan Quayle blasted fictional TV character Murphy Brown for having an illegitimate child. Family values were at the heart of a 2004 drive to put same-sex marriage bans on state ballots and draw conservatives to the polls.

They mention that only Mitt Romney regularly talks about so-called 'family values.' They note that "there are signs that family values have lost their punch as a campaign issue. Most voters say family values in general are important to them, but a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds they don't care much about candidates' personal lives. Political analysts say voters and candidates have broader, more immediate concerns: the ongoing U.S. action in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, the threat of terrorism and an economy that's putting stress on low- and middle-income people."

Family values and the USA Today story was the topic of discussion on this morning's Washington Journal on C-Span. The phone calls on the Republican line seem to indicate the truth of this article. There were only two who talked about gays, pornography, and church. The others addressed the economy as more of a 'family value' to them.

Three-quarters of the voters in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll last month said family values are extremely or very important to them. Asked what the term means, one-third said "strong families." Some called it a "ploy" by conservatives to win votes; others mentioned health care and abortion.

That one-third who mentioned 'strong families' is a key to the '08 election. of course, what makes a family 'strong' is up to interpretation. I would think that two items are of particular importance in creating a strong family: a roof and a job. Families disintegrate without either. Families without either or both don't care about a porn shop down the street or the gay couple two doors down. Or whether Mr. Jones is twice-divorced. Or religion, unless the church opened its doors to them and fed them.

What has this Republican administration done for families in the past 7 years? As reported earlier, they have foisted $450,000 worth of debt on them; they have watched the dollar turn into play money on the international markets; they have watched banks foreclose on their houses; they have watched factory after factory close and go overseas. They have seen the cost of drugs and health care rise like a jet taking off from the runway. They see roads, bridges and sewers collapsing. They see a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk at $3. They see Payday Loan shops mushrooming up all over town. They see more and more closed stores and shops. They see government waste and more and more corrupt government officials.

Family values. This is what it is all about, not some phony holier-than-thou crap about the Bible. Food, a house, a car and a job. That makes America a strong nation. After that, we'll worry about some trivial things like gay marriage.

Bush Nominates Fine-ridden Coal Executive to Top Energy Department Post

Stanley C. Suboleski is a former executive for Massey Energy, one of the nation's largest coal producers, which faces an estimated $2.4 billion in threatened federal fines for more than 4,000 alleged environmental violations in the past six years at its West Virginia and Kentucky coal operations. That's 4,000.

As is the custom with Bush appointees, their experience and moral character is not that important. If confirmed assistant secretary for fossil energy, Suboleski would oversee development of clean-coal technology and other fossil-fuel projects.

L. Paul Bremer. Donald Rumsfeld. Michael Brown. Harriet Miers. Alberto Gonzales.

It never ends.

Drunken Frat Boy's Credit Card Balance: $32 Trillion

Too bad we didn't elect as president somebody with a financial background like an MBA. Had we we may not have accrued $32 billion in debt during the Bush/Cheney Administration. Oh well, maybe next time we might be a bit smarter. Don't bet on it.

U.S. Comptroller David Walker, the only man in the U.S. Government with any real fiscal sense, reported that the federal government's fiscal exposures was about $20 trillion as of September 30, 2000. Now, federal government's fiscal exposures totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30, 2007. Do the math.

Not only has George Bush made a fool of himself with his international bungling and idiotic war, but he has bled the family back home. Walker reports that a typical American family has $455,000 debt to repay for his madness. That's $175,000 for every child in this nation.

A drunken frat boy. He still is. Why did we expect something different? The pattern was set during his adolescent years and that is very hard to change. A drunken frat boy with a credit card with no spending limit. And he still has another whole year to spend.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Quizzical Drawing of Ron Paul

My son sent me the link to this drawing of Ron Paul The article accompanying it, author James Tiscione said:

"Every birthday and holiday my daughter, a successful graphic artist, poses the same question to me, asking “what present would I like?” Usually I request the same thing; either something from her portfolio or one of her elaborate custom greeting cards featuring a caricature of me. But this year, she took the initiative, drawing inspiration from the numerous conversations we have had about the Ron Paul Revolution, and created a visual statement of his message, one we both firmly believe in. I need not explain more, for the essence of what she has captured in this portrait of Ron Paul speaks volumes."

Speaks volumes to me too like, why is the baby wrapped in the American flag?

Lieberman the Chameleon [as if we didn't know]

Those Connecticut voters sure were dumb. They re-elected good old right-wing, warmongering Joe Lieberman, the former Democrat who ran on the Democratic VP slot. Today he endorsed Republican John McCain for president.

Democrat-turned independent- turned Republican. How's that for a U-turn in politics. Odd that we here in Ohio saw it coming, but apparently the folks in Connecticut were blinded by the man. Oh well, it just goes to show you that politicians can't be trusted [as if we didn't know].

Recall, Connecticut, recall.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ohio Says NO to Abstinence Programs

The Washington Post reports that Ohio is one of several states who have rejected federal dollars for sex-ed classes that require teaching abstinence. in a piece titled, Abstinence Programs Face Rejection: More States Opt to Turn Down the Federal Money Attached to That Kind of Sex Ed. They report: 14 states have refused federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective.

Critics said they hope that if enough states drop out, Congress will redirect the funding to comprehensive sex education programs that include teaching about the use of condoms and other contraceptives.

A critic of the federal program said, "It's a canary in the coal mine of what's to come.
We hope that it sends a message to the politicians in Washington that this program needs to change, and states need to be able to craft a program that is the best fit for their young people and that is not a dictated by Washington ideologues."

No doubt those 'Washington idealogues' were prompted to legislate the abstinence program through pressure from fundamentalist churches as well as the Catholic Church. It seems that these two religious bodies enjoy crotch politics very much. After all, the Bible says...

Luckily there are more mature and wise folks behind this shift in sex education priorities in these 14 states, people who look at the data rather than some line in Leviticus to make a judgement on the health and safety of our youth.

Things like this happen when religious beliefs enter government. We have a grand example of this practice in the Muslim world. We ought not send representatives to Washington who have some religious agenda in their back pocket otherwise we may end up with the American Taliban operating in DC.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just Three Statesmen Left in Senate: Others Are political Hacks

Three men, and only three voted NO on giving the Military-Industrial Complex billions more of our tax dollars to fritter away as they see fit. Ninety others kowtowed. The Senate vote was 90-3.

Senators Feingold of Wisconsin, Byrd of West Virginia and Sanders of Vermont voted to stop the flow of billions of tax dollars to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon , General Dynamics, United Technologies and TRW Inc.

Only three. The others paid the piper.

So much for our republic.

An Interesting Holiday Card

Christians Against Christmas

Bruce David Forbes is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and author of the book, Christmas: A Candid History. The Blade reported on his views this morning. Forbes talks of several groups of Christians who do not believe in this holiday, contending that has pagan roots. Further, these folks find little credence in the story of the Nativity as reported in two references in the New Testament. Apparently the Puritans charged people with sin if they celebrated it in colonial time.

Many fundamentalist churches put on gala nativity scenes with lots of music, lights and spectacle. Odd that they seem to glamorize this holiday so intensely when, in fact, most of the 'story' is mythology borrowed from earlier times and pagan religions.

Odd, too, because many fundamentalists like to regularly slap 'sin' and damnation' onto anybody who doubts any line of the bible. Yet, they laud this thinly documented story. Of course, if the boy named Jesus had had an ordinary birth, like other boys at this time, then the prophesies about him would not be valid and their claim, Son of God, would be even more in doubt.

Strange, too, that when the nativity scene is packed away for another year, Joseph never gets another nod in the New Testament and Mary makes only one or two cameo appearances. One of them is a rebuke of her by Jesus himself. So much for family values.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fantasy Island: The dwindling refuges of creationism

I love that title. It belongs to William Saletan in a December 2005 op ed for Slate. He says in this piece:

Fundamentalists have lost the media, the colleges, and the science academies. The battleground has been reduced to public schools, and creationism has been reduced to intelligent design—a pathetic, agnostic, empty shell. Creationists can't teach a dogma, so they "teach the controversy." They accept more and more of Darwin's theory, narrowing the dispute to isolated systems—the eye, the flagellum, the blood-clotting system—that they say Darwinism can't explain. They just want science to stop short of denying God's possibility. A little bit of mystery, a parcel of unspoiled divine wilderness, is all they ask.

This 2005 story was linked from today's article, Cultural Selection: The evolution of evolution. I read the same article on a science website as he: Are humans evolving faster? Saletan quotes from the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences:

It concludes that human evolution has accelerated in the last 40,000 years and particularly in the last 10,000. One reason is that population growth has increased the temporal rate of mutations and selections. But in the case of humans, the authors note, "Rapid population growth has been coupled with vast changes in cultures and ecology … creating new opportunities for adaptation." Such "rapid cultural evolution" has "created vastly more opportunities for further genetic change, not fewer, as new avenues emerged for communication, social interactions, and creativity."

There is also a link to a fascinating study of the evolution of a Jewish sect, "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence." The study concludes that what had happened to Jews was, as the authors put it, "natural selection, stemming from their occupation of an unusual social niche."

Is it coincidental that this report and the biblical report center around the people of Israel? Fascinating science like this is being reported every day and it is hard to keep up with all of the new discoveries that scientists bring us.

Sadly, the ID folks huddle in their church basements and lament this science and wail and cry over these new discoveries. Which is fine with me, as long as they do it in the basement rather than out in the open, making fools of themselves.

Rich Bitch About Taxes; Pentagon Out of Money

Two things for certain: death and taxes. My previous post about the Federal Inheritance tax drew some angry comments from two folks who think the rich pay too much tax. Both Republicans, not surprising. Patriots too. They love America. It's paying tax that irritates them. Especially having to pay tax on money they inherit: they want the whole enchalada.

The Pentagon will lay off 100,000 workers in a few weeks: seems there isn't enough money to pay for them and for the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The till is emptying fast. Apparently the $500,000,000,000 of tax-payer dollars has been spent fighting the two Bush Wars.

Were this a mom and pop store, the OUT of BUSINESS sign would have been freshly hung on the window. Were this a corporation, heads would have rolled. But this is the people's money so what the hell, who cares?

Apparently rich folks. That 1% who control 48% of the money in America. Mr. Bush had been good to them, making sure that their share of taxes were lowered on a regular basis. Just check the gift registry at the White House this Christmas.

"Gimme more!" is hardly a Christian demand as Jesus told his disciples to sell everything before joining him. "Gimme more!" is hardly a patriotic demand either. Imagine if folks in the colonies refused to fund Washington's army. Imagine if during WWII folks didn't plant victory gardens and collect tin and limit their meat intake so that the troops would have enough food to fight them 'over there.'

Just this morning we read that, to avoid another Bush veto, a war tax on big oil, unable to overcome a Republican filibuster against the new taxes, had to be removed from the bill. Republicans sure know how to protect the billion dollar corporate interests.

Guns or butter? For the GOP is is guns and butter. "Gimme more!"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Major Error By FirstEnergy Caused Much Pain and Anguish

They shut her power off and told her she had a $600 electric bill to pay. Her 7 children and her mother huddled around the small kerosene heater to try to keep warm. They lit candles so that the school-age children could do their homework. For two full weeks in freezing weather, FirstEnergy refused to restore the power to this family.

I wrote about this situation here and about her 14-year-old autistic son whose clothes caught fire trying to warm himself in this article. This afternoon my wife discovered, while visiting the boy in the hospital, that FirstEnergy made a gross error and she did not owe $600 at all! The $600 was from the previous tenant who left town without paying it.

What Fortune 500 company operates with this incompetence?

This family has suffered a great deal at the hands of FirstEnergy. Two weeks of living in a house as cold as a meat locker because of incompetence! An autistic boy needing skin grafts because he was so cold he leaned on the stove to warm his bones, literally.

I hope Anthony J Alexander, CEO of FirstEnergy, has some discomfort of his own over this debacle. Fortune 500 Corporation? Sure!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Jersey Ends Capital Punishment

Old Sparky will sizzle no more. The New Jersey state Senate voted by 21 to 16 to replace executions with life in prison without the possibility of parole for the worst offenders. The lower house is widely expected to follow suit tomorrow and convey the bill to Jon Corzine, the Governor, for signature in January. He has long favoured scrapping the death penalty.

Don't you just wonder who those 16 'no' votes were from? I bet I could make some fairly accurate guesses.

First I'd guess that most if not all were Republicans because, as we all know, they are the party that is 'tough on crime.'

Next, I'd guess that they are right-of-center Christians, perhaps evangelicals. After all, the Bible says...

Last, I bet they are angry folks, bitter about something in their personal lives.

I wonder how close to the truth I came?

Here's another question that just popped up in my brain: Which state will be the LAST state to ban capital punishment? Come on, think, think hard.... OK, here's a clue: remember the years 1995 - 2000 Do you need another one? Think nasty, think vengeance, think preemptive war...

Bush Plays Scrooge 2nd Time: Vetoes Children's Health Bill

I'll say a phrase and I dare you to keep a straight face. Want to try? OK, here you go and really try hard no to laugh................compassionate conservative.

Sorry, you laughed, but then so did 999 other people who looked at this.

Remember when the naive Texas governor first used it back in 2000? I laughed then, too. Did you? Slick phrase, but silly and meaningless as we have come to experience. The man and his party haven't an ounce of compassion in them. We've all experience that reality for the past 7 years.

Jester, yes. Trickster, of course. Spinner, naturally. Liar, absolutely. Fraud, for sure. Compassionate conservative-- I know, you just lost it again.

Greenland Melt Accelerating, According To Climate Scientist

"Bah Humbug! There's no proof that there is any climate change going on. It's all a left-wing conspiracy!"

Remember those right-wing lunkheads a few years back? Well, they actually are still around but a few of them have had their minds changed. If Al Gore had not said it, many more right-wingers would have accepted the truth much earlier.

Damned Al Gore. He's just doing this to keep his name alive so that he can run for president in '08.

Ya, for sure! It's nothing but a political scheme.

Oh, how I love to rub it in from time to time. They are sooooooo righteous and they never say they were wrong. Never. You might want to laugh at these jackasses but they really aren't worth the effort. Dinosaurs living in the 21st century. And they are all around us.

Reminds me of that old poem:

The dinosaurs are not all dead,

I saw one the other day raise his head.

He turned his head and looked my way.

Then opened his mouth and began to say:

"Tell me, have all the lunkheads died out yet?"
"Oh , no Mr. Dinosaur, there are lots still alive," I said with regret.

Can America Afford Another 'Gosh, Shucks' President?

America cannot afford another southern governor, especially another 'Aw, shucks' kind of guy. We've been living that nightmare for seven ugly years now.

Up pops Mike Huckabee on our TV screens: smooth talking southern guy with not many passport stamps. Shucks, he's a likable sole, ain't he? Kind of shallow but, what the hell, he has a nice smile. Church-going man, too; a former minister. Praise Jesus. Likes war and guns too. Doesn't care much for gays. Folks with AIDS either, as he said back in 1991, he'd like to corral them all in a pen to protect us from their infection. None too bright on the scientific level apparently.

Gosh, won't it be fun to have another 'regular guy' in the mold of George Bush running our country for another 4 or, praise God, 8 long years? I think he ought to pick Tom Tancredo as VP to keep that Darth Vader tradition alive as well.

Tom and Huck! Downright folksy.

Another Bush Lackey Going to Congress in NW Ohio

Negative advertising works. The citizens of Northwest Ohio can vouch for that fact. Our TV's have screamed negative, negative, negative at us for the last month. The ultra conservative Republican Bob Latta ran them against his GOP primary candidate, then just changed the name of his opponent and ran them in the special election. Those black and white, grainy photos, the somber voice-over, the fear mongering, labeling and name-calling spelled victory for Latta last night.

He painted himself as an ultra-conservative toady of Bush and the folks in Ohio's 5th Congressional district loved him. He won each of the 16 counties. His TV spots cast his latest opponent as an ungodly abortionist, illegal alien-loving liberal, while he stood in front of a church with his wife and family. The bobblehead voters believed it all.

As the map shows, these 16 counties were not all solid Bush '04 counties, yet his message of strict conservative 'values' swept him to victory.

What that says about the up-coming presidential battle next year is any one's guess. Three factors must be noted about this special election: his opponent was a woman, his father was a well-known politician and the weather was awful. Yet his sweep cannot be overlooked as the state gears up for the '08 election.

One thing is crystal clear: conservative voters do show up at the polling booth come rain or shine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vote in Jobs With Justice Grinch of the Year Contest

Jobs with Justice is holding their Grinch of the Year contest and you are invited to vote. There are 4 candidates plus room for a write-in vote. This year's candidates are:

SMITHFIELD Chairman Joseph Luter III
VERIZON BUSINESS VP for Human Resources Bob Toohey
AMERICAN AIRLINES President and CEO Gerald Arpey

Vote here.

Tom Tancredo: Another Right-wing Marshmallow

"Bomb the hell out of Mecca! That will teach those islamofascists who's boss!" Tom Tancredo, the warmonger. The man still looking for WMD's in Iraq. The man who supports our troops 100%.

Hates Mexican immigrants too. He was the only GOP candidate absent from the Spanish-speaking debate a few days ago. Swell guy.

No doubt he has a flag in every room of his house. Yet strangely, he was absent when called up for service in Vietnam. Reminds me of Dick Cheney. Seems that young Tom fought hard to stay out of 'serving our country in a time of war.' He asked for a 1-Y deferment from serving in Vietnam. Why? Because he claims that he was treated for mental illness while in high school.

Go Tom Go! You DO support the troops, as long as it isn't you in that army khaki. What a fraud, like most of the bellicose right-wingers. They all love long as it is some other kid doing the fighting and dying.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Colorado Church Shootings

I don't often comment about sensational news such as the shootings at the two Colorado churches, but I am drawn to this shocking story by the comment in the YahooNews story that the family was "very, very religious." They report that the gunman was identified as Matthew Murray, 24, who was home-schooled in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household.

A homegrown, white terrorist, one of a string of young men who have opened fire on schools, shopping centers and now churches. The model is Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 167 men, women and children in an act of right-wing terrorism.

Eric Rudolph, whose targets included two abortion clinics, a gay and lesbian night club, and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, was another white man driven to terror. Some anti-abortionists think of him as a hero.

Of course, the KKK still lives on as knots of angry white men spew their hate at blacks and Jews across the nation. Apparently they have given up their lynching habits.

Two white teens slaughtered many at Columbine High School in the nation's deadliest school shooting. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold armed themselves to the teeth as they methotically carried out their plan and suicides.

White supremacists John William King, 23, Lawrence Russell Brewer, 31, Shawn Allen Berry, 23, dragged James Byrd to death behind a pick-up truck in Jasper, Texas.

Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, were convicted of the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student attending the University of Wyoming.

In Red Lake Minnesota, Jeff Weise, 16, killed his grandfather and companion, then arrived at school where he killed a teacher, a security guard, 5 students, and finally himself, leaving a total of 10 dead.

In Pennsylvania, 32-year-old Carl Charles Roberts IV entered the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School and shot 10 schoolgirls, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old, and then himself. Five of the girls and Roberts died.

All angry white men. Homegrown terrorists. Sick men with access to weapons.

And some people in this nation are worried about Mexicans coming across the border. Of course, they do have brown skin.

Autistic Boy in ICU Unit: FirstEnergyCorp Incompetence

He is now in the Intensive Care Unit of St. Vincent Hospital , a burn victim. The 14-year-old autistic inner city boy tried to warm up because of his cold house and his clothes caught fire. As I reported in an earlier post, FirstEnergy [Toledo Edison] had shut off the power to his house, and due to their incompetence in restoring the power, the autistic boy, still chilled to the core, used the oven for heat and caught his clothes on fire. He has 3rd degree burns on his arms and chest and is in need of skin grafts. He will remain in ICU for another week.

I wrote about this family a week ago [here] and today we were informed of the burned boy's condition. In that post I reported that the FirstEnergy bill and fine was paid on a Friday afternoon, but, due to much incompetence by Toledo Edison, was not turned on until afternoon on Tuesday. That afternoon I met the boy and could not believe how cold his hands were- they felt like the hands of a corpse!

The furnace at his rental house took a long time to bring the temperature back up from near-freezing and apparently his autism failed to warn him of the dangers of his action.

The $1.6 billion profit earned by FirstEnergy in the 3rd quarter comes at quite a human cost.

Supreme Court Eases Sentencing on Crack: Bush Appointee Disagrees

The Supreme Court on Monday said judges may impose shorter prison terms for crack cocaine crimes, enhancing judicial discretion to reduce the disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine powder. By a 7-2 vote, the court said that a 15-year sentence given to Derrick Kimbrough, a black veteran of the 1991 war with Iraq, was acceptable, even though federal sentencing guidelines called for Kimbrough to receive 19 to 22 years.

In a separate sentencing case that did not involve crack cocaine, the court also ruled in favor of judicial discretion to impose more lenient sentences than federal guidelines recommend.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

No doubt there is an uproar today on the right-wing talk shows, FoxNews, and blogs. "They" will be back on the streets to sell more drugs and rob more stores. The 'they' are, of course, the black inner city males who are the 'curse' on our society. Of course, most of the right-wingers don't live in the inner city or, for that fact, in cities at all. But they will scream and holler at this SCOTUS decision.

It feeds their racism.

Al Gore, the Peace Prize and Dickens

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

- Dickens, A Christmas Carol

How proud Al Gore looked this morning on live television as he received the Noble Peace Prize in Oslo, standing among the other recipients. Dignified, smiling, he arose from his chair and shook the hand of the other co-recipient, and accepted this august award for his doggedly firm stance on global warming and its consequences.

One can only dream, as Scrooge did, of what the past might have been if things had been different.

I contrast this proud moment to that of the man who won the White House; a man filled with arrogance, self-righteousness, swagger, and, above all, foolishness. And lies and death, destruction, and ultimately shame.

Peace be with you, too, Al Gore. You have lifted our troubled nation on this proud day from the morass in which we find ourselves.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Nancy Pelosi Kowtowed on Waterboarding in 2002

The Washington Post reports today:

In September 2002, four members of Congress met insecret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

So Ms. Pelosi, waterboarding met with your personal standards? Apparently she, like so many Americans just after 9-11, were so filled with rage and fear that standards of morality were nixed and the 'blind eye' became the norm. Violence begets violence.

As so many warmongers have said : "9-11 changed everything!" Apparently even morality standards.

Huckabee Outed on His Homophobia

That good Christian man, the one who wraps his arms around Jesus, apparently is a hypocrite, but who is surprised? Quite a few evangelicals fall into that category as they pick and choose- smorgasbord style- the teachings of Jesus that fit their agenda. There ought to be limits on 'love your neighbor.'

Homophobia and other crotch politics is a big stumbling block for many born-agains. Although Jesus never excluded anyone from his embrace, the current batch of righteous ones build walls of separation for some people. Literally!

No kidding. Literally, like that apartheid Israeli fence. A news story on YahooNews tells of the somewhat-less Jesus-filled man who literally wanted to fence in folks with HIV. They report:

In 1992, Huckabee wrote, "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

Leper colonies. Bells around their necks. "Keep away for I have HIV!"

The report continues:

"In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified," Huckabee wrote. "An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."

Love one another.

Luke 17:12 - 19
As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?“ Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Who Was the 2007 Deep Throat Who Saved Us?

W. Mark Felt was the Nixon-era Deep Throat who leaked information about the Nixon cover-up to the press that ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. He only revealed his identity in 2005, apparently afraid of some long-held fear of reprisal. His bravery saved our nation. Too bad that George Bush didn't grab one of those Medal of Freedom pins and pin it on him as he did to Rumsfeld.

Who is [are] the newest savior[s] of our nation over in the CIA? Clearly one or more brave senior members of that staff threatened to leak the NIE Report on Iran to the press if the Bush Administration did not release it. There is no doubt in my mind that Bush was forced to release it.

The right-wing talking heads and bloggers, fed by the White House PR Team, are right now castigating the report, hoping to save this president from the same fate as Nixon. As I type this, a bevy of Republican talking heads are making the rounds on the Sunday morning shows, spinning that report, watering it down, picking out parts of it to keep the fear alive, the fear that will keep the masses afraid, very afraid.

Hopefully in my lifetime, the name or names of these brave and patriotic Americans will be revealed. They along with Mr. Felt ought to be memorialized in statues on the White House lawn.

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