Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Jews don’t feel good or safe when flags and religion get all mixed up."

This line is from an op ed in the Kennebec Journal by Naomi Schalit titled, Religion-Politics Mix Gives Rise to Fear. She begins her story like this: I grew up in a household where among our many guests were older people with tattooed numbers on their arms. They spoke with accents — Polish, German, French and what they spoke of, over and over again, was the danger that comes when government dictates which religion is good and which religion is not (and thus which religion’s adherents are good or bad).

Ms. Schalit further says, "But these days, I see that changing. I’m a Jew and I’m scared.
It’s not just that Mike Huckabee, an Evangelical and self-described “Christian Leader,” won the GOP Iowa presidential caucus last week. It’s the photos of his supporters praying and holding American flags."

She and I both commented fairly similarly on this: My jaw dropped when Mitt Romney said that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” I wrote about this in another thread just after he said this ridiculous statement, pandering for the right-wing fundamentalist votes in Iowa.

Not only Jews are 'scared' about what Ms. Shalit sees but surely Muslims, atheists, and traditional Christians are equally mortified at what has been happening in the GOP this electoral season. Apparently the history teachers of America are slack in helping our students understand that this nation was founded implicitly because of religious intolerance in Europe.

Did our public school teachers fail us or does the problem lie in Sunday school? Are these religious teachers failing their children by telling them that 'this' faith is the only true faith; that all others are corrupt and incomplete? That there is only one way, their way, to God?

Perhaps the pendulum has begun to swing back to where it was in Europe in the 1700's, when religion defined the person, the family, the culture.

My g-g-g-g-g grandfather had to leave his home in Lyon France in 1720 because he was a Huguenot living in a Catholic culture. My grandfather left Germany and came to America in the 1800's because of Bismarck's Kulturkampf, the oppression of his Catholic faith. Freedom of religion and, more importantly, freedom FROM religion.

George and Dick Sure Want Another War!

But why, one might question, would Dick and George want another war? After all, the two wars they started aren't going too very well as it is.

Cover-up. Remember that other GOP president who had to resign because of the cover-up of the Watergate debacle?

Cover-up is the name of the game. If three wars are raging all at the same time, perhaps the citizens would be so confused that they wouldn't realize that all three are hoaxes.

Today's headlines: U.S.: Iranian bombs rise in Iraq

Yesterday: US discloses two other incidents involving Iran speedboats

Three days ago: Iran speedboats 'threatened suicide attack

Of course you and I 'get it.' But do the dumbed-down voters?

Methinks they Arrested the Wrong Group

Eighty people were arrested at the Supreme Court Friday in a protest calling for the shutdown of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Demonstrators wearing orange jump suits intended to simulate prison garb were arrested inside and outside the building in the early afternoon. "Shut it down," protesters chanted as others kneeled on the plaza in front of the court.

They were charged with violating an ordinance that prohibits demonstrations of any kind on court grounds. Those arrested inside the building also were charged under a provision that makes it a crime to give "a harangue or oration" in the Supreme Court building.

I believe it would have been fitting if Dick Cheney, George Bush, Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Don Rumsfeld had been put into those orange jumpsuits with black bag headcovers and transported to Guantanamo.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Garden of Eden: A Radioactive Beach

So Adam and Eve were on a tropical beach with palm trees and some radioactive sands for a little excitement. A leading astrobiologist claims that the basic building blocks of life on Earth began on a radioactive beach.

Zachary Adam, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, believes that life on our planet first evolved through the collection of radioactive material on a beach. Adam [coincidence?] suggests that the more powerful tides generated by the moon's closer orbit billions of years ago compared to today could have separated radioactive material from other sediment. [link]

Adam showed that such a deposit could generate the chemical energy which is required to produce some of the molecules in water that create amino acids and sugars, the key building blocks of life, when irradiated. Further, a deposit of a radioactive material called monazite would also discharge soluble phosphate, another important ingredient for life, into the gaps between sand grains, thus making it available to react in water. "Amino acids, sugars and [soluble] phosphate can all be produced simultaneously in a radioactive beach environment," he said.

Atomic-Adam and Bionic Eve were thus created. Apparently God used radioactive beach 'mud' [Ce, La, Th, Nd, Y)PO4] to form the pair. It brings up the question: should the hunt for that Garden of Eden now move to those tropical islands rather than the heart of the Ethiopian rift valleys?

Surge: Emerge? Purge? Verge? Submerge? Splurge?

Happy 1st Anniversary: Bush Surge. Thirty-thousand new troops into Iraq. Most GOP pundits and talking heads as well as presidential candidates like John McCain state flatly, "The surge is working." McCain crows that whenever he gets a chance; he did so loudly yesterday in South Carolina, the home of Ft. Sumpter, the opening battle of the southern insurgency. Those South Carolinians are surely a warmongering lot and McCain loves to show off his toughness. He told them that without the 'surge' al-Qaeda would not be defeated. The poor man.

Beyond the spin, one might look back at this year of the surge to weigh its effectiveness. After all, the financial cost alone merits such an evaluation. The human cost, naturally, supersedes the money. So, what did Mr. Bush get for the blood and money investment called the surge?

On January 10, 2006, in his address to the nation, Mr. Bush stated that the principle reason for the extra troops was to quell the violence so that the law makers could resolve their differences and move the government forward.

It hasn't happened. The violence is down, but the legislators are still split between the two or three religious factions.

Now what? How long do we wait? Why are our troops playing policeman?

So many questions; so few answers.

Perhaps Mr. Bush was thinking of Demiurge but 'surge' came tumbling from his twisted tongue.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Car for $2500: Tata Motor's NANO People's Car

In Delhi India this morning, the People's Car was unveiled. Pictured here is the luxury edition. According to the BBC, it costs about $2500 for the standard edition.

The Tata Motors website notes that the 2-cylinder engine gets good mileage and passes the standard crash tests.

Imagine paying only $2500 for a new car. A person could buy and sell 10 of them over a period of years and not pay more than $25K for the set.

GM, are you paying attention?

Fighting Them Over There: Plundered Over Here

Were I a political cartoonist, I would draw a castle with a high wall and a deep moat with Sir Georg Bush looking out and saying, "We're safe from the barbarians!" Behind him, inside the castle walls, the people are starving and dying of disease.

Recall the excuse for spending $1,000,000,000,000 on the Bush War? To refresh memories, "We're fight'n them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here.!" Lots of Americans nodded their heads in agreement. That was some 5 years ago. A few bobbleheads still are, but most are shaking their heads as they look at their own economic situation.

The Consumer Price Index for November 2007, the latest data, compared with November 2002 shows these data:

Housing costs up 16%

Transportation costs up 23%

Food cost up 17%

Health care costs up 23%

While most Americans were shaking with fear about the 'terrorists' over there, we were being shorn, like sheep, by big business. Few sheeple noticed because they trusted that their government was protecting them from the dangers 'out there.' Yet, like Sir Bush in my imaginary drawing, the folks were dying inside the walls, starving to death within the moat.

Recession is upon us. No-doubt-Cheney doesn't give a damned about that; he's made his money and the money for his energy friends. So has Sir Bush, for his friends in the military-industrial complex.

I think of those ruined castles that I walked through in Germany during my visits there. Grotesque tombs of times past. Glorious bastions of defense against the marauding barbarian forces wanting to get in and plunder. They did. Soldiers died, but all was plundered.

We've been plundered too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

BBC: "Six US troops die in Iraq blast "

The headline from BBC: Six US troops die in Iraq blast The story lead: Six US soldiers have been killed in a blast in an explosives-rigged house in Iraq's troubled Diyala province, the US military has said.

Six more. Two the day before. One on Friday... Trickle of deaths. John McCain told the folks in New Hampshire that he was the only one who supported the surge. "It's working," he crowed.

Working? Wasn't the surge supposed to calm down the violence so that the law-makers could nail down the political situation? Sure, that was the plan, but like all of the other 'plans' configured for the Bush War, few things work.

So there our young men and women sit, being picked off two-by-two or six-by-six, mediators in the civil war. We seem not to care much about it all. "Oh, THAT war." The concern for THAT war has fallen way down the list of important issues in this presidential election. Religion, taxes, border fences, immigration, all are discussed but few politicians want to bring up THAT war.

Does 'pathetic' cover it?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Will the Ohio Democratic Party Fizzle Again this Presidential Year?

The Ohio Democratic Party is looking for a win. So is Ohio State football, but that's a relatively unimportant event. The Presidency of the United States is on the line and I'm not sure if the Ohio Democratic Party under the 'leadership' of chairman Chris Redfern is up to the task. He couldn't even get the feuding Lucas County Democratic Party to unite. How will he deliver Ohio to the blue column this November?

A week ago I wrote about the voter-suppression tactic 'vote-caging,' successfully used in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections by the GOP. Vote-caging targets minority voters and intimidates them at the voting booth, charging them with illegal residency. The GOP operatives have a 'return to sender' envelope sent back to them by the Post Office, proof that this voter does not live at the address on the voting roll.

Just after that post, I emailed the ODP at the link I posted in my post. I asked what the ODP is doing to address this tactic. I have not received a reply. A few days ago, I sent another email from another email address I have; no reply yet.

Tomorrow I will phone the ODP and listen to their excuses for not emailing me the answer. It will be interesting.

While George Bush Was Playing Macho With Saddam

There must be what, a handful of people here in America, who still believe the line of bull that George Bush laid about the Weapons of Mass Destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein. Even fewer are looking for the 'mushroom cloud' spoken of by Dick and Condi. What a farce!

That radio jock in Cleveland bought the entire package and is still ranting about WMD's and mushroom clouds to his doltish audience, but the rest of us have moved on. Actually quite a few of us never bought the package at all. Many Americans wondered why, in middle of the Tora Bora mission in Afghanistan, our troops were being deployed to Iraq. Why was that? Did Mr. Bush or Cheney ever fully explain that to us Americans?

Experts tell us that indeed Osama bin Laden was at Tora Bora. Right there. Yet the massive air power of the United States could not blast him into paradise? Something is fishy. A piece of this puzzle seems to be missing. My gut wants to know.

"We're fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them here!" How many times did you hear that one? But where is 'there?' Afghanistan? or Baghdad? I think back to those videos of the al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, the same guys going over that wall again and again; I must have seen it four dozen times. Training camp, eh? Hardly a good location for what al-Qaeda does best- urban terror. Now if only al-Qaeda could set up a training camp in a large urban area, they would really have fertile ground to fully-train their recruits.

Baghdad comes to mind. A sprawling city of 6 million people with distinct neighborhood settings and many areas of vacant land. An ideal location for terrorist training.

Too bad George Bush never studied military tactics while in the Texas National Guard. Yet his military 'training' trumped Dick Cheney's. Condi Rice's work with Chevron hardly helped the tactical military sessions held in the WH. Then there were the neocons like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, ideologues who knew what they wanted but had no idea of how to get there.

Today we read of two suicide bombers who killed 14 in Baghdad yesterday and over in Pakistan, 8 tribal leaders opposed to al-Qaeda were slain.

It seems that al-Qaeda is stronger than ever and operating with impunity anywhere it chooses. Tora Bora was the moment. Lost. And now we all are paying the price for the incompetence of George Bush.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Why Impeach Bush and Cheney?

George McGovern wrote an op ed in the Washington Post Sunday titled, Why I Believe Bush Must Go. The rest of the title is: Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse. in the article, McGovern lays out the 'high crimes and misdemeanors' which he believes ought to be charged to both Bush and Cheney.

At the end of his article, he says:

I believe we have a chance to heal the wounds the nation has suffered in the opening decade of the 21st century. This recovery may take a generation and will depend on the election of a series of rational presidents and Congresses. At age 85, I won't be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I'd like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin.

Nancy Pelosi said when she came to power in January 2007 that impeachment was off the table. Period. Quite the odd statement and, as I recall, few challenged her decision. One wonders why she closed the door on impeachment. Too few years left? Too divisive? There are other things that require Congress' attention?

I cannot remember who it was that said it was important to impeach these two as a lesson to future presidents, to be reminded that their power is only one-third of the governance of this nation. The person was worried that the 'imperial presidency' so enlarged by George Bush, would continue to expand with each succeeding president until we lost the governance-intention of the Constitution.

I think that is a wise comment and a timely lesson to be learned.

Did Rudy Giuliani's Italian Grandparents Speak English?

During the recent debate Giuliani demanded that any of the 12,000,000 illegals living in America who wanted to stay here had to learn to read, write, and speak English. How odd. How stupid. Pandering to the base [literally] of the Republican Party.

Where on the Statue of Liberty does it say, "...and they will speak English"? Surely as mayor of New York, he has taken the ferry to Ellis Island to look for the records of his Italian grandparents. Were they required to speak English to the customs officer upon their arrival?

Pandering for votes surely reduces a man to his most primitive level, doesn't it.

Ron Paul Exposes GOP Vulnerability

He's a thorn in the side of the other GOP candidates, an annoying gnat that just hangs around. Ron Paul brings up 'the' question time after time in the GOP debates and is scorned for doing so. The other day Charlie Gibson of ABC News asked about the $100 dollar oil and how America could address the growing need worldwide for that oil.

The other candidates spun and spun, defending the status quo, some suggesting more drilling, others suggesting that within a decade we should have more efficient cars or some other platitude. Then it was Ron Paul's turn. No doubt the other 5 candidates gritted their teeth. "When you spend a trillion dollars on a war and borrow that money from China, and the value of that dollar keeps falling, then you get $100 dollar oil," he said wryly.

Fred Thompson, apparently the hit-man for the team, laughed and belched some one-line retort at him. He responded, "It's true and then our government prints more money and it becomes even less valuable." Thompson's big grin stayed on his face and he grunted again.

The trillion-dollar-war was brought up again later to the group with a similar grin from John McCain, who grunted some idiotic statement about al-Quada's rise had we not gone into Iraq. Paul used it a third time when the topic was universal medical care for Americans.

The trillion-dollar-war is a noose ready to be hung around the GOP candidate in the general election; the other 4 candidates have gladly stuck their necks out defending George Bush's War. It would not take too much refinement of the Ron Paul statements for the Democratic candidate to hang the GOP nominee. Thanks to one man who was not afraid of opening Pandora's Box.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My Next Car!

I think I just saw my next car. I put us on the list to be notified when they
go on the market in 2009.
These are the MDI Air Cars. They represent the cleanest auto technology to date.
They actually clean the air instead of polluting it.
The car is powered by a cutting edge compressed air engine.
At this point in development, a full tank of air is good for 200 kilometers.
The city cars are totally air powered and have a top speed of 50 km/h.
The road cars are hybrid and and have a fuel powered engine that kicks in at speeds
above 50 km/h. The radical design of the hybrid engine can attain a top
speed of 220 km/h and has a fuel efficiency that at current fuel prices should be
about 1 Euro for 100 kilometers.
The air tanks can be filled at any service station that has compressed air for tires.
There is also an onboard compressor to keep the tanks full.
The air used to power the car must be filtered to protect the engine, so a
radically different air filtration device was invented. This means that the air used by the car is actually cleaner than it was before it was put into the tanks!
Because the compressed air exhaust temperature is between 0 and -15 degrees, it is
a totally free byproduct that will be used in the air conditioning system.
The on board electronics are charged once a week by plugging the car in for 4 hours
to an electrical outlet.
Guy Negre, the developer of the car has been an innovator in energy efficient
engines for a few decades now. He designed Formula One racers and has a few radically different engines in production by other companies.
The MDI Air Car has been in development since 1993 and he has envisioned and put into motion a radically different production and distribution system.
If you are technically minded and would like to know more,
see the Web Site!

I have to agree with Hilary on one point

The back-to-back debate format on ABC last evening showcased the great differences between the batch of Republican candidates and the four Democrats. As she side-stepped the question asked of her, Hillary Clinton said that it was clear that there was a great difference between the four Democrats and the Republicans on that stage. Barack Obama, similarly side-stepping, agreed with her, saying that 'fear-tactics' are not what this election is all about.

Gaud, what an array of Republicans were assembled on that stage last night, white men who want Americans to put them in to the Oval Office after 8 years of George Bush. Do they really believe that Americans are dumb enough to do it all over again! One would hope the 'third time is the charm' would be on the minds of the electorate this year.

I watched last night with two dozen other Toledo folks gathered at a potluck, people who barely listened to the first set of people on the tube. They munched away on the pot-luck foods and had their own private conversations while the GOP actors babbled on. In fact, the TV was muted for most of their performance, and no one asked to have the volume turned up. These folks knew the script and were tired of it. Fear, fear, and fear. It's not a tremendously complex scenario. A re-run of Jaws would have elicited more interest.

The room became absolutely still when the first Democrat bounded onto the stage. "Shush, shush!" they called. And, for the next hour and a half, the assembled group sat in silence, absorbing every word that was uttered. A woman sat on the piano bench, two others on the fireplace hearth. Several were on the floor, others stood in the back.

The people hungered for intelligent ideas and fresh ways to address the enormous issues facing our nation; they were not disappointed. I looked around during this time at the people gathered in this room and saw on these faces the hunger for new possibilities as they studied these four candidates. Here were intelligent people who have been beaten-down for the past seven years by the blunders and lies of the Bush/Cheney administration. People who expected that our nation would continue to be the beacon of democracy and hope, a model for the rest of the world. Rather, their dream became a nightmare, a long and bloody scene of war, torture, lies, and shame. The folks last night were a beaten-down and terribly disappointed group of American citizens, many ashamed of what our nation had become.

Yet, for these 90 minutes, hope for better leadership excited these men and women as their thoughts turned to, as Dickens wrote, 'Christmas future.' As Scrooge stood in that dark and cold cemetery and was told of a new life and new possibilities in the future, so too these folks dreamed of better times ahead.

Surprisingly, at the conclusion of the debate, we were handed an evaluation form to rank the candidates on their performance in ten categories. The host and hostess clearly took this evening seriously as did their guests. We sat in silence ranking the candidates on foreign affairs, taxes, education, national defense, health care and other important issues.

It was a serious night, but an enriching one as well. I think it was important for each of us to experience that there were other Americans in other living rooms across the state and nation who also took to heart what they saw and heard that evening. Serious people, serious issues. How refreshing. How hopeful.

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