Saturday, January 19, 2008

I Need a Book Review: Thomas Paine and the Promise of America

Author Harvey J. Kaye appeared on Bill Moyer's Journal on Friday evening. You can read the transcript of his interview here.

I would invite UptheFlag to critique Kaye's thesis and to tell us how it connects with the upcoming US elections.

Politicians Don't Get It

So, Bush and Congress want to turn the federal piggy bank upside down
to prevent a recession. Probably too late, as many economists and Wall
Street say the country is already in recession. The initial proposal is
$145 billion of pump priming. Where is money coming from?

As Ron Paul and Walker, the Comptroller General say, the country is virtually
bankrupt. Must be our good friends the Chinese who will loan the
money. How about the Saudis? Bush just gave them $20 billion of arms
and missles. Better yet, the Israelis. Bush gave them $30 billion. Here
we are, one of the leading arms merchants in the world, selling more arms
to the volitile Middle East. Problem is Clinton would, Obama probably so.
Ron Paul probably wouldn't, as his congressional voting record would

In any event, we are going to presented with a "stimulus" package of some
where between $145-200 billion. This will encourage Americans to stimulate
the ecoomy by going out and buy some Nikes or Adidas, a suit from Men's
Warehouse, and a dress from Talbots. Now, just where are those items
manufactured? Uh, huh, you got it! This is a bad idea, and graft and waste
will accompany it.

Republicans and Democrats just don't get it. It's "the system". Once the money
is spent, if it is and not saved instead as was done with the last stimulus package
in 2201, there is still no available money from the middle-class on down. The m-c
has already tapped home equity and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that
96.4% of all American earners have the same income as in 2000 or lower. It has
not even kept pace with inflation. For example, the average automobile worker
Detroit-Toledo makes $72,000. Those that have lost their manufacturing jobs to
foreign competition, down-sizing and leaving the US for Mexico or China, and have
taken courses to re-train, now make $34,000. Do the math for the lost wages. Yet,
they vote to continue "the establishment", "they system."

The Republicans and the Democrats are promising the sun, the moon, and the sky to
American voters, an election year scam. More "fairy-tales" to soothe the voter. The
tooth fairy will make the rounds and put $500-600 under your pillow. We will just
go into debt more and pretend it's not there. The dollar will go down more. Stock market will fall 2,000 to 4,000 points. Convert now to cash my friends.

Wouldn't we be better off by telling the American people the truth, as Paul does? I believeI heard that 70% of our debt is oil. Therefore, pour the money into new energy sources.Indeed, I saw Marcy on C-span yesterday and heard her say the magic word, "hydrogen",energy. Will wonders ever cease, lol....Or, pass legislation requiring American companiesto return to the US or face heavy taxes, maybe even help with the return. Or, giving incentives for Americans to buy American goods. Or, if globalization is to be, then placea significant tax on the profits of American companies gone abroad on the backs of the American worker and the US tax system.

This alone would bring hundreds of billions into
the US treasury. Now, all this money goes to the Corporation. This money would re-build America. Think about it, all this foreign produced money now goes to the corporation.

But, the truth and imaginative options is too much for our "dumbed-down" citizenry to
handle. Just give them their $500-600 for instant gratification and a sure vote for
the incumbency. Hey that's it...Just like imperial Rome, give the citizens games. Why, if Washington gets on the face track, we can take that money and buy a new HD TV just in time for the SuperBowl...Will that be a SONY, Samsung, Phillips? Hmm, is there an American manufactured TV?

Rich Americans Living High on Your Tax Dollars

Not too surprised, are you? An expose of rich Americans living off of American tax dollars was one of the segments of Friday's Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS. David Cay Johnson is the author of the book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) .

Just a few examples to get your blood flowing:

Warren Buffet- He got a $665 million interest-free loan for the utility he has in the Midwest.

Donald Trump benefits from a tax specifically levied by the State of New Jersey for the poor. Part of the casino winnings tax in New Jersey is dedicated to help the poor. But $89 million of it is being diverted to subsidize Donald Trump's casino's building retail space.

George Steinbrenner, like almost every owner of a major sports franchise, gets enormous public subsidies. And Steinbrenner is getting more than $600 million for the new Yankee Stadium.

George Bush owes almost his entire fortune to a tax increase that was funneled into his pocket and into the use of eminent domain laws to essentially legally cheat other people out of their land for less than it was worth to enrich him and his fellow investors.
BILL MOYERS: By building this stadium in Arlington, Texas.

You might like to read the transcript to see other billionaires getting tax dollars for free so that the next time some right-wing GOPer tells you that he's sick of welfare mothers cheating the tax payers, you'll be able to cut him off at the knees.

I've Lost Track of His Total incompetence

There have been so many examples during the past seven years of George Bush's incompetence as our president that I've frankly lost count. Each time there is a new one, my memory just clicks, 'one more,' without registering it for future reference.

I do recall the sword dance he did in Saudi Arabia; that one is etched in my memory. Let's see, why did he visit Saudi Arabia? Oh, yes, their oil. Seems that the George Bush Energy Plan for America has, well, never existed and as a result, he had to go begging to the Saudi princes to lower oil prices. Even after his saber dance, even after holding his hand, even after smiling politely, they told him to go to hell.

It didn't work in the United Arab Emerits either, nor in Kuwait, a nation 'saved' by his father. No magic touch for the son, the bungling ne'erdowell came home empty handed to face the recession tumbling downward in his own nation.

Odd that he didn't visit Iraq along the way. He didn't set foot in his 'model of democracy' in the Middle East. Not one minute in Baghdad, but overnight in Riyahd. Apparently the Bush dream of making Iraq into a model democracy didn't works so well and thus he spent the night in a theocracy with a terrible human rights record run by men who support terrorists. That's what has become of George W. Bush. Disgusting at best, treasonous at worst.

Anti-Semitism Classes Held in Toledo

Freedom from religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution apparently is not working in America. David Yonke of The Blade reports today that lessons on how to deal with anti-Semitism were held at the Jewish Community Center in Sylvania. Imagine that. People of the Jewish faith are targets of their own faith and are in need of ways to deal with ignorant folks who poke fun at their religion.

Ignorant folks, intolerant people living in 'the land of the free.' "Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.." apparently has an asterisk.

This election season all of the GOP candidates save Ron Paul are boasting of their Christian credentials, Huckabee calling himself the Christian candidate. What a fool. And how foolish of us to tolerate such an un-Constitutional message. Yet millions of Americans are embracing his message. Huckabee is poised to win the GOP primary in South Carolina.

How far we have fallen from the original American dream, the dream of freedom from religion as written at the inception of this nation.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'd Like to Clone Myself

Doctor clones human embryo from his own skin cell is the title of an article from TimesOnLine. It begins:

"A human embryo has been cloned from a named person for the first time, in an experiment that also advances research aimed at creating replacement tissue that is genetically matched to individual patients. One of three cloned embryos created by Stemagen Corp carries DNA from a skin cell donated by Samuel Wood, a fertility doctor who is the California-based company’s founder."

The photo is from BBC and shows the developing blastocele of Dr. Wood. Imagine the pleasure of looking at yourself growing and developing right before your own eyes! What a precious moment. Of course, Dr. Wood had to terminate himself due to ethics laws, but, in a nod to Dickens, what might have been would be fascinating. You could be there at your 'own' birth, looking at 'yourself' and hearing 'your' crying. Younger folks already know that sound as their parent's videocams recorded the event for them.

Surely in future times, when religious zealots are not as forceful in our society, human cloning will be routine. What interesting science answers could be found regarding the so-called nature vs. nurture theory. How would the environment shape the cloned child? How would I have grown differently than my black and white childhood photos show me? How would my personality be shaped by different parents and childhood friends?

How would my body be different from not having suffered through chicken pox, mumps, measles and the various strains of flu? Would I be as muscular as I am, having grown up in the 40's and 50's when I walked and rode my bike everywhere? When we played out-of-doors all day long and into the twilight, only coming in to eat. Or would I be a couch potato, lying on a soft chair, using just my fingers on my GameBoy?

Would my personality be greatly different than during the post-war era when boys and girls played games outdoors and made up rules and argued and compromised about rule-breakers? When we invented stuff from scraps of wood in the garage? When we met new kids on a daily basis as we rode our bikes in packs to find other packs of kids roaming around.

Surely my clone would have much better opportunities in school than I because teachers these days are much better prepared to present meaningful lessons, rather than reading aloud paragraph after paragraph in some dull textbook.

I ought to stop the dreaming because the older 'I' may not live to see the rest the life of my cloned-self, especially his adulthood. Yet I would hope that he would be a caring man to his wife and children; that he would have made long-lasting friendships along the way; that he would stand up for the weak and downtrodden; that he would speak up for the voiceless; and that he would be satisfied at the end of his life that he lived it well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena

Just in case you have finished reading all of the holiday books you received, here is a chance to choose your own book with that gift certificate you got from Aunt Tillie.
According to the reviews:

Based on more than 250 occurrences and extraordinary experiences that have served to lift believers out of the mundane world and place them in contact with a transcendental reality, The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena explores unusual and unexplained physical events, apparitions, and other phenomena rooted in religious beliefs. Alphabetically arranged, Religious Phenomena includes more than 100 illustrations.

Well-known religion expert, J. Gordon Melton takes readers on a tour that includes visits with angels, Marian apparitions (including Guadeloupe, 1531; Lourdes, 1858; and Fatima, 1917), and religious figures such as Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, and Tao Tzu. Melton reports on dreams and near-death experiences; feng shui and labyrinths; statues that bleed, drink milk, weep, and move; snake handling, speaking in tongues, and stigmata; relics, including the spear of Longinus and the Shroud of Turin; and sacred locales such as Easter Island, the Glastonbury Tor, the Great Pyramid, Mecca, and Sedona.

From sacred mountains, shrines and places of pilgrimage to visions, out-of-body travel, and holy laughter, The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena offers a balanced presentation of otherworldly phenomena: each entry includes a description of the particular phenomenon and the religious claims being made for it as well as a discussion of what a scientist might have to say about it. Transcending the mundane, the entries take no sides and make no arguments: the journey is the experience and the experience is the journey.

Canada Puts United States on the Torture List

Yes, Canada, that benign neighbor to the north has declared that the U.S. uses torture. The BBC says:

"The United States has been listed as a country where prisoners are at risk of torture in a training document produced by the Canadian foreign ministry.
It also classifies some US interrogation techniques as torture.
The manual - part of a training course on torture awareness for diplomats - also includes Israel, China, Iran and Afghanistan on its watch list."

Well, well, we're now on par with China, Iran and Afghanistan according to the Canadians. Thanks to the Bush/Cheney miscreant adventures, our nation has now descended to the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

I have to laugh at that Republican Party questionnaire I inadvertently received in the mail today. The part that claims that a President Hillary will "gut our military and intelligence services" is quite the joke! They truly are hypocrites, aren't they.

My "Survey" From the GOP

I received a survey from the National Republican Party in the mail today. It begins, "Dear Fellow Republican..." WOW! How did I make the GOP listing? It's from Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, Chairman.

My now-deceased mother, bless her soul, was a strong Republican and I received much of her mail for a few years after her death, but that was 7 years ago. They surely didn't confuse her with me, did they?

Anyway, that doesn't matter, because we still can have fun with the survey. I scanned it and here it is for your reading pleasure. Note the "Hillary" references. Seems that the GOP thinks it can scare its base by bringing up Hillary in the survey. What a load of crap.

By the way, they want my money and if I don't give it to them, "Senator Clinton will become President and with the full compliance of a large liberal majority in Congress will raise your taxes and pack the judiciary with left-wing activist judges, gut our military and intelligence services, ignore the problem of illegal immigration, expand the federal government's power and influence, and staff every federal agency and bureaucracy with cronies, Big Labor bosses and radical environmentalists."

Imagine that awful scenario, especially the part about 'gutting the military.' I think that's already been done very well by George W. as well as the expanding the federal government's power.

If you want to send your check let me know and I'll give you the mailing address.

Why are We Bombing Iraq 5 Years After Mission Accomplished?

The Washington Post this morning leads on its front page with this:

The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power.

We're still bombing Iraq? what the hell for? Haven't we damaged enough of that country already? What kind of a jackass military policy includes dropping 1,447 bombs on Iraq years after the Commander-In-Chief declared, 'Mission Accomplished'?

Is this really a Vietnam redux? I couldn't believe that I was reading an early 2008 article' it was 1970 all over again. We are a stupid lot, really the fools. Do we ever learn anything so that we don't repeat the same gross mistakes again? What an embarrassment this nation has become!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michiganders Wanted Hope not Reality

Mitt Romney peddled hope to Michigan and beat McCain by 9 points. McCain was the realist and told the folks up there that their jobs were gone and they needed to retool themselves for a different kind of job. Apparently the voters believed Romney when he filled them with dreams of a revived auto industry and those old jobs coming back.

Hope is one thing but blindly following the piper is quite another. The fact the Michiganders can be bamboozled so easily by a slick-looking and slick-talking businessman doesn't give me much confidence that we will choose the best leader for our nation this November.

Check out the NYT's post today, Blue-Collar Jobs Disappear, Taking Families’ Way of Life Along

Huckabee Wants to Rewrite the Constitution

Even though the word 'God' never appears at all in the U.S. Constitution, GOP candidate Huckabee said in Michigan that it ought to be changed to reflect God's laws.

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Yes, he said that. I know, stop shaking your head. He did and he can't take it back.

The GOP is truly turning into God's party not unlike the Islamic Fundamentalists in Iran and Pakistan. They, too, want religion tightly wrapped in governance, siting Shira law as the law of the land.

Bringing Huckabee's 'god' into our Constitution is treason, pure and simple. Yet many millions of Americans bobble their heads in agreement with this flagrant statement. And, sadly, they vote.

Bob & Harvey's 3-Step "Ohio Plan"

Bob & Harvey's 3-Step "Ohio Plan" for fair and reliable voting and vote counts is the title of an article by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman. They contend that, given all of the dirty shenanigans of the past several election cycles, if 3-steps are followed, a more fair and more reliable election will ensue in the fall. Here are the 3 pillars of their argument:




The article contains reasons for each of these planks in their argument.

No doubt the GOP Spin Machine has been whirling feverishly to combat these three ideas so that they can keep the same-old, same-old hold on election day. Take your Dramamine® and watch for the GOP spin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ohio Democratic Party Ready for GOP Vote-Suppression Tactics

update below

I just got off the phone with Dora Rose, the Director of Voter Protection for the Ohio Democratic Party. Todd Hoffman, communications director for the ODP, contacted me after my previous post on January 8, 2008 Will the Ohio Democratic Party Fizzle Again this Presidential Year? Mr. Hoffman was quite cooperative in addressing the question asked in that posting.

Ohio is the only state to have a Director of Voter Protection and I said to Ms. Rose. "We certainly need one after the 2000 and 2004 elections." She agreed. I told her that I was particularly interested in the vote-suppression technique of vote-caging which I discussed on January 2, 2008 in my post, Vote Suppression: Vote-Caging 101.

There is good news to report on this front. Ohio Senator Brown was a co-sponsor to Rhode Island Senator Whitehouse's S 2305, the Vote Caging Prohibition Bill which will, in fact, do what the title suggests if it is passed and signed into law. Presently, it has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration . Whether it will be acted upon before November is unclear.

Secondly, and I am not clear on the specific legislation, the practice of challenging a voter's residency on voting day through the use of 'returned mail' will not be acceptable. All challenges must be made 19 days prior to election day.

These two pieces of legislation will sharply reduce the GOP's tactics of voter-suppression that it has successfully used in past years. Yet, in clear Karl Rovian style, no doubt there are new dirty tricks up those cuff-linked sleeves.

update 9:30 PM Jan. 15

Todd Hoffman sent me a link to an interesting encounter he had as he tried to attend a Republican Board of Election Members and Directors 'secret' meeting. The YouTube video is a great reminder of how the political system 'works.'

"There ought to be limits to freedom of speech."

That's a George W. Bush quote just in case you were wondering, but apparently, it is quite applicable to the way things are here in this bastion of democracy in which we live.

"NBC Blocks Kucinich From Debate" is another example of limits to free speech. It seems that NBC thinks that having Dennis Kucinich on the dais with Clinton, Obama and Edwards would be too distracting. Apparently, NBC hopes to cull more viewers with just the top three. According to the article:

Two days after inviting Dennis Kucinich to Tuesday's January 15 presidential debates, NBC decided to change its previously announced criteria and exclude the Ohio congressman. Friday morning, NBC political director Chuck Todd informed the Kucinich campaign that NBC would be "re-doing" the criteria for the debates and only Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards would be included.

Apparently American voters are not entitled to hear all sides of the political argument before they cast their vote. Well, what can you expect if you live in a 'democracy?'

Life's Ingredients Detected In Far Off Galaxy

ScienceDaily reports that some of the chemicals necessary for the production of life, methanimine and hydrogen cyanide -- two ingredients that build life-forming amino acids --have been discovered a galaxy some 250 million light years away. The article states that, when combined with water, the molecules form glycene, the simplest amino acid and a building block of life on Earth.

Astronomers focused their telescopes on a distant galaxy Arp 220, an ultra-luminous starburst galaxy and found the 'finger prints' of these important chemicals. "The fact that we can observe these substances at such a vast distance means that there are huge amounts of them in Arp 220," said Emmanuel Momjian, a former Arecibo astronomer, now at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, N.M. "It is indeed very intriguing to find that the ingredients of life appear in large quantities where new stars and planets are born."

Perhaps we are not alone at all in the universe after all. Perchance there are other places with human-like life. If we ever should meet them, would our first instinct, so ingrained in our evolution, be to kill them? What an awful thought. Yet our human history is filled with many such awful deeds.

Ohio Wants Diebolt Voting Machines Replaced

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner wants Ohio to get rid of the Diebolt voting machines that are now in place in 57 Ohio counties and replace them with optical scanners with paper ballots. The Blade reports:

The issue surfaced first in Cleveland, with state officials determining that touch-screen voting machines used in Cuyahoga County were so unreliable that Ms. Brunner - the state's chief elections officer - ordered them dumped prior to the March 4 primary. If Ms. Brunner gets her way, those counties and the 48 others throughout Ohio that have some version of touch-screen machines will discard them in favor of an optical-scan system for paper ballots in time for the November general election.

The reason Ms. Brenner is concerned about the Diebold machines is their reliability. Adding fuel to this controversy is the fact that Mr. Diebold himself was a campaign operative for Bush/Cheney. Ohio's vote both in 2000 and 2004 was critical to the Bush/Cheney victories. The Ohio review raised serious security questions about the vulnerability of the touch-screen machines to hacking - with tools as small as a Treo smartphone and a magnet - and both human and computer errors. These questions prompted Ms. Brunner to propose switching to paper ballots, consolidating polling places, centralizing vote counting, and allowing early voting by mail.
All of this adds fuel to the usual controversy about Ohio elections which prompted the interesting question: Will Ohio become the new Ohio in 2008?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monsters to Destroy

Ira Chernus' new book, Monsters to Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin, his theme is refected in his newest op ed appearing on TomDispatch. Chernus' piece is titled, Is Religion a Threat to Democracy?

One review of the book on the Amazon website says this about Monsters to Destroy:

"Monsters to Destroy is a must-read for all those concerned about the reckless and dangerous role the United States now plays in the world and its interrelationship with religious conservative moralism on the home front. Ira Chernus puts forward a convincing and rather disturbing analysis of the lens through which President Bush sees the world and how he communicates what amounts to a simplistic morality tale to the American people. In doing so, Professor Chernus provides important answers to the questions as to why the Bush administration does what it does and how they get away with it."

In today's op ed, Chernus answers the question raised in the title; he says:

[W]hen it comes to religion and politics, here's the most critical question: Should we turn the political arena into a stage to dramatize our quest for moral certainty? The simple answer is no -- for lots of reasons.

For starters, it's a direct threat to democracy. The essence of our system is that we, the people, get to choose our values. We don't discover them inscribed in the cosmos. So everything must be open to question, to debate, and therefore to change. In a democracy, there should be no fixed truth except that everyone has the right to offer a new view -- and to change his or her mind. It's a process whose outcome should never be predictable, a process without end. A claim to absolute truth -- any absolute truth -- stops that process.

Many on the right will argue that Christian or Judeo-Christian 'morality' is a requirement for governance of this nation. Yet the word God does not at all appear in the U.S. Constitution, an indication of the authors that perhaps they had seen how religion divided the people of Europe.

You may wish to read the rest of his comments as well as the book, Monsters to Destroy.

Water to Baptize, Water to Waterboard

I was struck by the photo of Pope Benedict XVI as he baptized 13 infants in the Sistine Chapel during a Sunday Mass celebrated at the altar at the foot of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" wall fresco.

The 'last judgment' indeed. I could not help but think of that inhumane torture tactic used by some governments to elicit information from the captured person, waterboarding. Both baptism and waterboarding use water, that precious commodity, for two totally different purposes.

Let us hope that the baby above will never have another water-pouring event in his life as that practiced by barbaric people.

Twice Today I'm been Accused of the Sin of Liberalism

It is only 10:30 in the morning and already on two different message boards I have been castigated as a 'liberal.' Oh, the pain of that word! Twice!

There is an international message board that I occasionally visit and this morning a new thread about how the American voting system works was posted for the non-American audience. Many do not understand just how complex our system is compared with, for example, European Union voting.

I posted a comment about the added complexity of voter-suppression that occurs here aimed primarily at poor people of color. I talked about electronic voting machine manipulation and vote-caging tactics that have been used by the GOP in the past two presidential elections.

Apparently this was more information than could be handled and , bang off, I was slapped with the 'liberal jerk' moniker a few comments later. I'll bet that 'liberal' and 'jerk' are not easily separated in the mind of this person. On ToledoTalk this morning this guy said of me: 'you sick twisted liberal freak.'

My my, some people are angry folks. Where do they get this vitriol, this poison in their veins? I wonder if they are always angry, always 'on edge.' Who would be so hate-filled as to bash a person's political beliefs as if using a club? Is politics so terribly important? If given the chance, would this person actually use a club or fists or a gun?

At least it was a good example the the Europeans of how some folks at the far corners of our political spectrum operate.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Raise Your Hand if you Believe Bush's Trip Was for Peace

I see a few hands up but most of you seem not to believe the White House version of this Middle East trip being about bringing the Palestinians and Israelis to the peace table. So, why else would Mr. Bush want to go to that region? Huh?

Yes, you in the red shirt, in the back?

"I think he went there to look for more coalition of the willing players for his newest preemptive war, against Iran."

"So do I!" "Me too!"

OK, how many of you believe that this trip was just a shill to get Bush into the region to talk about the need to bomb Iran?

Wow! Look at all of those hands up!

Water-boarding 'would be torture' Oh, Really?

The BBC reports today: US national intelligence chief Mike McConnell has said the interrogation technique of water-boarding "would be torture" if he were subjected to it.
Mr McConnell said it would also be torture if water-boarding, which involves simulated drowning, resulted in water entering a detainee's lungs. He told the New Yorker there would be a "huge penalty" for anyone using it if it was ever determined to be torture.

If it ever would be determined... What a joke. Who would determine it, Mr. McConnell, the Bush Administration??

About that 'huge penalty,' would it be 'impeachment,' for example? That, too, would be a joke; just ask Nancy Pelosi about impeachment.

Nice story, but the main suspects, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Bush, will skate, as usual.

The End.

Bush, the Troops, and His Conscience

On his trip to the Middle East, George Bush, naturally, stopped for a photo-op with the troops. He gave a speech, cracked some jokes, told them that they were doing a fine job, shook a few hands, and got back into his secure vehicle and got the hell out of there.

If he has a conscience at all, and the jury is out on that, what does it say to him as he looks at these men and women whom he placed in war?

Franklin Roosevelt was the last president to honestly and justly send troops into a war. All others were optional. George Bush's was folly.

Does he think of that when he looks into the soldiers' eyes? Does his conscience speak to him and say, "I sent you to Iraq because I was too weak and a naive president who listened to people with an agenda of their own." Does it ever say, "A pre-emptive war on Iraq was not necessary at all and if I had waited for more data, it would not have been needed."

Naturally, this assumes his brain functions as a 'normal' man's would. That is not at all a correct assumption. The man has both organic brain damage due to excessive alcohol abuse as well as a personality disorder or a more severe mental illness. Few psychologists doubt that just from what they have seen and heard from the man in the past 7 years.

President U.S. Grant was a known alcoholic, but few would judge him as mentally ill. Nixon was mentally ill, but not an alcoholic. George W. Bush will have been the first president to suffer both illnesses while in the Oval Office. It is clear to all of us and especially clear to 3,918 dead American troops, that whatever conscience the man has, it functions very poorly.

Time for Some Straight Talk, My Friend

John 'Straight Talk' McCain needs to explain some simple mathematics using his famous straight talk. It's not too complex: how does the government cut taxes and pay down the debt? Here's part two: how does a state government cut taxes and provide services to the residents?

I heard a speech, no doubt the run-of-the-mill, insert name of town, stump speech he gave to a Michigan audience on Saturday. The phrase 'cut taxes' rolled off his lips like spittle from a hound dog. Before that phrase finished bouncing through the audience he praised the [insert name] 'fine community college' where laid-off auto workers would get the re-training they would need to get back to work.

Perhaps Mr. 'tax-cut' McCain could explain how the community college rose from the dirt; could it have been a supernatural miracle? Did it suddenly appear one morning without the financial resources of the county and state treasury? By the way, as long as you are listening, my friend, how will these laid-off workers pay for the college classes?

And that airport at which he landed- was that also a miracle creation as well? No doubt the highway his straight-talk bus rode upon was a mysterious creation too!

'Cut taxes,' he repeats mindlessly. Sure, Mr. McCain, let's cut taxes some more and borrow another billion from China or Saudi Arabia. Spend-and-borrow Republicans like John McCain live in quite the fantasy world, my friend.

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