Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sand Castle at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The trouble with a sandcastle, as every child sadly learns, is their impermanence. What's that line from the Bible warning about building a house upon sand?

Some folks, this author included, knew right off that the naive governor of Texas, the ne'erdowell son of the president, was mostly made of sand-stuff rather than star-stuff. We could see the grains under his fingernails.

They crumble: sandcastles. Many children learn that their 2nd one ought to be further away from the waterline; some apparently never get it. They'd rather be right than competent. The stuff of children, but thankfully, most grow up and become more wise. Some even become wise adults who learn from their adolescent failures.

I recall reading a line in one of my many books on George W. Bush, some metaphor of The Emperor's New Clothes, in which the author says that it will happen, ever-so slowly, here in America, and that it will first be just a giggle, then laughter, and finally, full blown hilarity as more and more Americans see Mr. Bush as that Andersen character. At the time I read it, few snickered; many Americans were still horns-waggled by the fear and lies. I said to my wife,"that will be a long way off."

His incompetence is transparent, like the clothes, but it brings tears rather than laughter. This emperor has blood on his hands. Seven out of ten Americans have come to realize it; the other three are chronically gulliable.

He is not finished playing with guns yet: he sees another Muslim nation in the crosshairs and has his trigger finger ready to blast. And why not? What has he to lose? Clearly not his reputation; that, like the sandcastle, has eroded long ago. He hears voices, too. Some are surreal, like the Father, others are real, like the fundamental Christian zealots shouting at him to pull the trigger. His wife stands beside him, smile plastered on her non-empathetic face, like a Greek statue.

Garrison Keillor penned a short essay nearly two years ago for titled, "The little Man." His closing paragraph is heartbreakingly accurate:

"So why does he still seem so small, our president? In his presidential library, he'll be portrayed as Abraham Lincoln after Chancellorsville and FDR after Corregidor, but to most of us, the crisis in Washington today stems from a man intellectually and temperamentally unequipped to rise to the challenge. Most of us sense that when, decades from now, the story of this administration comes out, it will be one of ordinary incompetence, of rigid and incurious people overwhelmed by events in a world they don't dare look around and see."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Christians United for Israel: Dangerous Military Zealots

Bill Moyer's Journal this evening on PBS focused on a group of evangelical Christians, Christians United for Israel, whose leader, John Hagee, is encouraging President Bush to pre-emptively strike Iran 'before they get nuclear weapons.' This fanatical leader says he had 50,000 pastors and their congregations behind this military move 'to save Israel.'

The end-timers in his organization, dream of Armageddon occurring soon, in their life time, right there in Israel, where Jesus will come and take them directly to heaven. Christians United for Israel are lobbying Congress and are finding many members sympathetic to their cause. Senators Mc Cain and Lieberman fully support such a military move.

What a scary group of people these folks are to our democracy! They want to use the power of the United States military to begin the end-times so that they can get to heaven now.

I have not heard such skewed thinking like this in all of my 6 decades as a US citizen. But, they take advantage of two things which might lead to success for their harebrained idea. First is a lackadaisical citizenry who is unplugged and disinterested in politics. Second, they see in George Bush a man with nothing to lose by initiating such a military strike. After all, he talks with God and he has been sent by God.

Frightening? Totally! Spread the word about these un-American fundamentalists who seek to ruin our way of life here in America.

Bill Moyer's Journal

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rick Santorum is Coming to Town: Praise Jesus!

When my mother became unable to handle her mail, it was sent to my house; she died six years ago, but I receive quite a lot of her junk mail. Today she was invited to attend a Foundation for Life benefit at The Pinnacle on November 14. She will not be able to attend.

The keynote speaker for the event will be recently-defeated Senator Rick Santorum. Says the flier, "In the Senate this prolife champion spearheaded the passage of key legislation to ban partial-birth abortion, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act."

My mother could check one of several boxes for her donation: Advocate for life @ $250 or Leader for life @ $500. But wait, there is Champion for Life @ $1,000 and Defender of Life @ $2,500. Still better @ $5,000 she could become Guardian of Life.

Thus, depending on the donation, one could rise from a mere 'advocate' through 'champion' all the way to the top as 'guardian.' Reminds me of the Bush/Cheney 'pioneers' and 'rangers.'

So Rick Santorum is 'a prolife champion.' Pro-life is an interesting phrase as I noted in previous posts. This morning, before my mail delivery, I wondered if pro-lifers ended their 'concern' for life after the 9th month in the womb. Let's see how concerned Senator Santorum is with 'life.' I searched [Google] santorum senate record and found these results:

• Santorum voted for unfair trade deals like CAFTA that send our jobs overseas.

• He tried to eliminate the 40-hour work week and cut our overtime pay, and opposed creating new jobs protected by prevailing wages.

• Santorum supported $14 billion in cuts to Medicaid and voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act as well as the Patients’ Bill of Rights.

• Santorum co-sponsored a bill to create private accounts and voted against protecting Social Security benefits.

• Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives.

• Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

• Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

• Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

• Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

• Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore.

• Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy.

• Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals.

• Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment.

• Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

• Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction.

• Voted YES on giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.

• Voted YES on defunding renewable and solar energy.

• Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%).

• Voted YES on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months.

• Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.
• Voted YES on permanent normal trade relations with China.

• Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.

• Voted NO on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.

• Voted YES on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

• Voted NO on background checks at gun shows.

• Voted YES on maintaining current law: guns sold without trigger locks.

• Voted NO on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics.

• Voted NO on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug.

• Voted NO on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

• Voted NO on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

• Voted NO on increasing tobacco restrictions.

• Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border.

• Voted YES on allowing more foreign workers into the US for farm work.

• Voted NO on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship.

• Voted NO on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25.

• Voted YES on repealing Clinton's ergonomic rules on repetitive stress.

• Voted NO on increasing tax deductions for college tuition.
• Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

• Voted YES on welfare overhaul.

Seems to me that Senator Santorum's definition of 'pro-life' is quite narrow and, in fact, seems limited to those 9 months in the womb. After that, too bad kid!

Quigley for Toledo Mayor

Chad Quigley is contemplating a run for mayor of Toledo. He has the chutzpah to pull it off. He has begun a new blog for the purpose of introducing himself and his ideas to his fellow Toledoans.

He lives in the inner city and has spent a great deal of time bringing new life back to home on Putnam Street. The result can be seen in this photo. Chad has been very active in neighborhood improvement and safety. Unfortunately and not unusual, he has run into red tape when trying to deal with city bureaucracy.
Nonetheless, he does not give up the good fight to bring his neighborhood back to its once good standing in the city. In fact, I had an uncle who lived on Putnam all of his life and that street was once a grand display of many fine, well-kept homes. You can read more of his efforts on neighborhood improvements as well as his own personal struggle with safety in his area on this blog.
Good luck, Chad, and drop by to tell us the latest in your quest.

The Right to Life...but not health care

Those folks who plaster their bumpers with Right to Life stickers right next to their, now fading, W 04 sticker are a hoot. They are a determined lot, to be sure, and quite the narrowly focused one too. They will demonstrate, yell, write letters to the editor, and participate in all sorts of activities to save the fetus, but, once delivered, they pack up and go home to rant about welfare cheats and those damned tax and spend Democrats.

Apparently the 'right to life' ends at the 9th month. Once the baby is born, it's on its own: good luck kid!

Most Right to Lifers are, interestingly, members of the Republican Party, as were my parents . They, too, railed against abortion and, in the next breath, condemned most of the social welfare programs. They grumbled about public school taxes and thought that Franklin Roosevelt was Mao himself. They didn't like their tax dollars spent on 'those' people. You know who 'they' are.

Very odd, isn't it? Guard the fetus with all of their might, but to hell with the kid after that.

No doubt many 'lifers' thought that George Bush's veto of the Children's Health Plan was exactly the right thing to do: taxes, you know. Don't want my money spent on those kids.

No doubt many 'lifers' cheered Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq; after all, he killed his own people. Do they grieve for the 3,800 US military deaths? Do they grieve for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are dead, injured, homeless?

I wonder if it is OK to spend a trillion tax dollars on war? What if that trillion was spent on children- health, education, housing? I wonder how different our nation would have been in 10 years if those trillion dollars were spent right here on our families, our children?

I bet that if some 'damned liberal' Democrat wanted to spend a trillion on American children the outcries from 'the right,' the 'lifers' would have echoed from Maine to California.

Tax and spend Democrats! Communists! They want to turn America into a socialist country!

If it weren't so serious, it would be humorous. War is never humorous, neither is lack of care for our children.

“I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance.” (Jn 10,10)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our Bonhoeffer Moment: Civil Disobedience or Endless War

The article in Common Dreams by Jeff Leys has the title, "Our Bonhoeffer Moment," and speaks to us Americans the words and actions of that brave Lutheran minister who worked against the Nazis in his own beloved Germany. He wrote:

We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?”

Some of us have not been 'silent witnesses' but the majority of Americans have. oh, sure, lots of people grumble about 'the war' but don't lift a finger to do anything about it. And I don't buy that sorry-ass slogan, 'What can I do about it?' Luckily Bonhoeffer never said that.

Get active! On October 27 there will be massive demonstrations in 11 large cities throughout America against the insipid Bush War. And we ought to call it the Bush War because clearly, it is HIS war, his choice, his responsibility. But it becomes our responsibility to stop him, to stop the madness. Our silence is his encouragement. Your inaction is 'yes' to war.

Is Our Children Healthy: Sequel to The C+ President

What do you get when you mix war and health care in the same budget? Of course. But the further question is this: Why were so many American citizens so ignorant when they elected him back in 2000? Wait. I've a better question: Should those folks who voted to re-elect him in 2004 have their voting license suspended for the rest of their natural lives?

I wonder how the GOP spinmeisters will handle the veto of the Children's Health Bill? Perhaps one of our local Bush apologists will offer an answer. They show up here on a regular basis.

I would have to advise, however, that in their spin, they dare not use the word money or the phrase 'too expensive' or 'budget-buster.'

A bit of preemption here: one cannot both support a veto in health care for our children citizens and at the same time cheer spending 5 times that amount on a war. After all, "We the People" ought to come before some idiotic and frivolous war.

Mr. Bush: the teachers were generous with your grades.

Longing for the Truth: And its Consequences

My vertigo keeps me away from roller coasters and cleaning the gutters. On rare occasions my head spins for no apparent reason. Antivert® to the rescue! I wonder if I'm so inundated by the daily barrage of spin from 'inconvenient truth' that my sensibilities have become inactive.

Just yesterday there was a story of the Chinese toy conundrum: to buy or not to buy- that is the parents' question. Not to worry, said a representative for the Chinese toy industry, 'let the children decide.' Yes, that's what he said. My wife and I shock our heads and reached for the off button. More money for the Mattel Corporation.

CNN reported that there aren't enough meat inspectors to safely assure the public that the product they are about to consume is safe. Yet, buried in the recently passed Farm Bill is a provision to do away with federal inspection of meat; the states ought to do it. The Congressmen forgot to read the bill before voting, 'Aye.' Don't worry though, the state inspectors will do a good job. Who doubts that meat producers will flock to the states with the most lax inspection standards? More money for the businessman.

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince assured lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday that the men in his private security force are all professionals and only shoot in defending their clients. They have sucked a billion tax dollars from the Treasury. A job at Blackwater is a dream world for the 20-something angry white male: all the gun power to keep the dark-skinned people at your mercy. It's the best violent video game with 'real life' action. Another CEO sitting atop a pile of money.

Wisconsin Democrat Obey wanted to introduce a bill yesterday for a war tax. Rather than adding a trillion dollars to the National debt, he said, let's pay for the war as we go along. Outrage! shouted the White House and the Republicans. There goes those tax and spend Democrats! was the cry heard all across the land. Speaker Pelosi, deer-in-the-headlights look, couldn't imagine such legislation. Oh no, not us! We're not tax and spend Democrats, we're borrow and spenders, just like the Republicans. Whitened sepulcher politicians.

I had intended to give some more examples but the spin, the bobbing and weaving forces me to lie down.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fascinating Story of IED's in Iraq : Unlearned Lessons of History

MSNBC has posted a 5-page story on the IED problem in Iraq and how impotent the United States seems to be to counter this deadly insurgent weapon. "New type of bomb is unexpectedly lethal in Iraq," is the title of the piece and this opening paragraph frames the story:

"On Aug. 3, 2005, the deadliest roadside bomb ever encountered by U.S. troops in Iraq detonated beneath a 26-ton armored personnel carrier, killing 14 Marines and revealing yet another American vulnerability in the struggle against improvised explosive devices."

By the way, those 14 Marines were reservists were from Ohio. I mention Ohio for two reasons. First, I am from Ohio and mourn the loss of any soldier, but one from my area tugs especially hard at my heart. Secondly, I think back to the early history of Ohio when the white settlers began to pour into this 'wilderness' and staked claims to this pristine area. Of course, they didn't ask the Native Americans living here whether they minded the intrusion. White folks seldom have asked brown-skinned natives for such permission.

The hunters and trappers who came to Ohio were little threat to the Ottawa, the Wyandot, the Shawnee and the Miami who called Ohio their home. But the farmer was the one whose presence and whose land-destruction policies riled the natives. Fences and the axe disrespected both Mother Nature and the native way of life.

The newly formed American government cared little about Native rights and began campaigns to suppress the natives who were trying to defend their lands. Two incompetent generals were sent to the Ohio territory by President Washington to do just that. However, both generals, St. Clair and Harmar, were badly defeated because the Native American tribes used 'insurgent' tactics on the hapless American forces.

I recall a list of military battle advantages and disadvantages that need to be assessed prior to engagement of troops. Romans, millenia ago, knew them. Some I recall include: leadership- purpose- tactics and formations - group cohesion - effects of terrain and environment - influence of equipment on tactics - deployment of battle lines - command and communication - morale - weather- discipline of troops and so forth. However, the sports term 'home court advantage' is one of the most important factors to consider.

The so-called insurgents in Iraq clearly have that home court advantage just as the Native Americans did in the late 1700's here in Ohio. Hopefully, our current set of military experts advising Mr. Bush have laid out this advantage before him; I could have done the same. Folks fighting for their own homeland are tenacious; that is a simple fact of history which Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld failed to grasp before their preemptive invasion.

IED's seemingly provide the ultimate advantage to the 'insurgents' which may, in fact, trump all of power of the mighty American military machine. One needs only recall our colonial fight with the mighty British military some 230 years ago to help understand home court advantage. Sadly, those ideologues who planned the Iraq War should have been better students of history.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Toledo Area Priest Named a 'Priest of Integrity' Bishop Disagrees

The medieval hierarchy of the Catholic Church is again in the spotlight here in Toledo. The very conservative bishop of Toledo, Leonard Blair, has been battling priests in his diocese who speak out on injustice issues. After all, the only 'justice' that the Catholic hierarchy recognizes is the muzzling of vocal critics of the institution. Seems that the Catholic Church has been doing that ever since they muzzled Galileo for suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun. He recanted that wild idea.

According to The Blade, "Rev. Stephen Stanbery has railed against sexual abuse, parish closings, and an alleged murder cover-up involving the Catholic Church." The article goes on: "In its announcement of the award winners, Voice of the Faithful said Father Stanbery has "been on a continuing crusade for integrity and transparency in his diocese since the sex scandals became apparent in 2002. He has worked tirelessly to root out the evil in the [alleged] coverup of a murder probe of a slain Catholic nun, clergy sexual abuse cases, closed parishes, and financial impropriety. He participated in the Oscar-nominated documentary Twist of Faith."

Catholic priests ought to know better than to open the large wooden doors of the Church and expose the secrets hiding inside; that is strictly forbidden by the oh-so righteous hierarchy who are masters of the Good Old Boys' Club.

The truths that Stanbery exposed, says Claudia Vercellotti, co-coordinator of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are secrets that the church does not want the faithful to know. According to Vercellotti, "Bishop Blair sent Father Stanbery a letter last month that "declares that Father Stanbery will not publicly challenge the bishop."He's been formally admonished and censured," Ms. Vercellotti said. "The reason he's being honored nationally as a model priest is the exact same reason the hammer has come down so hard on him in Toledo."

It is interesting to note that only two priests attended the one-time showing of Twist of Faith* the story of priest sexual abuse in the Toledo Diocese. One was Fr. Stanbery and the other was recently ousted pastor Fr. Tom Leyland. Leyland spoke out against the bishop several months ago about the slicing up of St. Rose Parish for the newly formed suburban parish. As a result of this insolence, Leyland was transferred to a small parish on the outskirts of the diocese. Leyland retired rather than being punished by the bishop. Bishop Blair was embarrassed when the replacement for Leyland confessed to having had a sexual relationship, thus breaking the vow of celibacy.

I would imagine that the Catholic hierarchy will continue to have incidents like these because they will not change, will not tolerate any fresh air to get into the closed chambers in which they live. As a result, more and more 'faithful' will leave because of that hypocrisy, taking their donations elsewhere. This loss of revenue has already hit the diocese and has forced them to downsize many of their departments.

Yet, there will be no change: they will batten down the hatches and hope to ride it out until all of the moderate and liberal Catholics have left the church. The conservative 'faithful' will remain and then, at last, the hierarchy will be free to operate in their medieval majesty once again.

* because of enormous pressure applied to theater owners in the Toledo area by the Catholic Church, Twist of Faith was never again shown in Toledo theaters.

Religious Right Blackmails 08 GOP on Abortion

"Giuliani is beyond the pale." It's just not going to happen. There's no way that conservative leaders are going to support a pro-abortion candidate. It was unanimous."

The words of one of those oh-so righteous Christian fundamentalists who gathered in Salt Lake for a special cleansing ritual to purge the GOP of ungodly people in the party. Reminds me of the Pharisees who challenged Jesus throughout his ministry.

The Giuliani quote is from Richard Viguerie, a direct mail pioneer, author of "Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Republican Base."

Hijacked! Did this Christian fundamentalist say, 'hijacked?' 'Hijacked the Republican Base.' Apparently hijackers don't recognize their own kind. Two other Christian hijackers at the meeting were Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins of the slickly named Family Research Council. The only 'research' that this group is into is to ferret out Republicans who do not toe the pharisaical mandate laid down by the Christian fundamentalists.

The three zealots, reports ABC News, spoke of their willingness to consider supporting a third-party presidential bid if a pro-choice candidate won the GOP nomination. They were speaking for the so-called 'values voters.'

One wonders if war is a value to these voters. One wonders if universal health care for children is a value to these voters. One wonders if job security is a value to these voters. One wonders if a safe work environment or a pristine environment is a value to these voters.

Or is it only about limiting a woman's choice about what she is allowed to do with her own body?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Peace March for Non-Violence to Honor Gandhi

About 100 people marched from Corpus Christi University Parish to listen to an in-character presentation of Gandhi on the University of Toledo campus. Dr. Shall Sinha represented Mohandas Gandhi in a presentation entitled, 'Conflict Resolution the Gandhi Way.'

The presentation was sponsored by the Hindu Temple and The University of Toledo. Prior to marching to the Doermann Theater, members of the temple gathered at the parish and were presented a tapestry of Gandhi identical to the one which hangs at the parish. It was a gift to the Hindu community from the Catholic community to hang in their newly remodeled facility.

As the marchers walked, in honor of both Gandhi's birthday and International Day of Non-violence, October 2, people held hands in solidarity and sang songs as they marched, representing Gandhi march to the sea.

Before the main presentation, children of the Hindu Temple danced several numbers in honor of peace.

Dr. Sinha, an engineer by profession, has spent the past 20 years casting himself in the role of Mohandas Gandhi. He spoke for nearly an hour and kept the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time. He told of his poor childhood and the prejudice he felt in India and in South Africa. Naturally, he spent much of his presentation speaking of his efforts for change, for justice using non-violent means.

At the end of the performance, he took questions from the audience ranging from India's nuclear bombs to the demonstrations in Burma. He was also asked about religious scripture which promoted aggression and about India's relationship to Pakistan. Each answer, not surprisingly, was wrapped in justice and acts of non-violence.

This was the first in the series: Initiative for Enhances Inter-Religious Understanding and is presented by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toledo. The next presentation in the series will be, 'The Dead Seas Scrolls and the Canonical shaping of the Hebrew Bible,' October 25. 'The role of women in religious leadership -Jewish, Christian and Muslim' will be on Feb. 12.

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