Saturday, January 26, 2008

Free at Last! Free at Last! Gazan Palestinians are Free at Last!

Voice of America reports: Gaza Palestinians Continue to Cross Into Egypt for Fourth Day. Thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are crossing into Egypt for a fourth day since militants destroyed a border barricade Wednesday. For the first time, hundreds of vehicles crossed into Egypt Saturday, after a group of militants used a bulldozer to open a new section of the barrier.

Free at last! Having been closed-off at the north by the Israeli Army, the Palestinians can at last freely move into Egypt to visit relatives and buy products that the Israelis forbid them to have. What joy these beleaguered people have found.

They must feel like the southern blacks in 1865 and again in 1963 when they were recognized [legally] as fully-human beings. The Gazans have suffered immensely by the controlling Israelis just as the blacks suffered under the slave masters and the southern sheriffs.

Congratulations to the Egyptians for their magnanimity.

"Liberals Can be Christians Too" Duh!

Author Donald Miller was featured in The Blade's religious section under the curious title, "Liberals can be Christians too, author says." Miller has written four books, but BlueLikeJazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality was the focus of the AP article.

The BlueLikeJazz website features the author's words on the book:

When I started writing this book I just wanted to end up with something like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, because in Traveling Mercies it felt like she was free, free to be herself, to tell her story, to just vent, to rant, to speak as if she were talking to a friend. Traveling Mercies helped me write this book, and in a way, for a while, Anne will be "The Beatles" of spiritual books, because she has influenced so many of us.

I definitely feel as though I got permission from Anne Lamott, permission to be human and to interact with God without all of the mind-melt that comes with growing up in a religious family. I never believed it would be published, and so I was pretty open in this book. My career was dead when I started this thing, so I felt like I was just talking to myself, or to the little reading group that met at my house.

Sting has this song where he says that he is alone on an island and puts a message in a bottle and throws it into the ocean, only to wake the next morning and have a hundred million bottles washed upon his shore. He sings "I guess I'm not alone at being alone." and I think that sums up how I feel about Blue Like Jazz. It feels like I thought I was alone but woke up one morning to discover nothing could be further from the truth. And people have been incredibly kind."


Back to The Blade title: Liberals can be Christians too. Funny stuff. As if the conservatives, the fundamentalists have a corner on Jesus. Naturally, they will tell you that they do if you should ask, but I'd advise that you don't ask. Should you, you'll be in for much more than you could have imagined. It seems that Jesus belongs solely to them.

Poor Jesus, he has been spun into the ancient god of Israel, Yahweh, whose name could mean 'storm,' the derivation of the name from Hebrew hawahor and/or Arabic hawa . Storm, lightening and thunder- to scare the dickens out of you! Conservative Christians love to do just that as guilt plays a major role in their theology.

In the writings attributed to Jesus we see a 'storm' of sorts, but a storm waged against bigotry, hypocrisy and injustice. These three social ills were the prime topic of many of the writings. His choice of Mary Magdalene as close confidant is perhaps his greatest slap in the face of those righteous Sadducees who ran the Temple during his time. She is quite the thorn in the side of today's conservative and fundamentalist Christians. They don't know what do do with her and so she is often ignored, even though it is she who is at the side of Jesus at his crucification, burial, and resurrection.

Odd stuff, indeed. Many believe that Jesus was quite the liberal as he demonstrated throughout his life. Author Miller has brought that Jesus to our attention in BlueLikeJazz. Send a copy to your conservative friends and ask if they would like to begin a book discussion based on the book.


Scientists Build Bacterial Chromosome

Engineer of Knowledge, frequent commenter on this blog sent me this article for our enrichment.

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 25, 2008; A04

Scientists in Maryland yesterday said they had built from scratch an entire microbial chromosome, a loop of synthetic DNA carrying all the instructions that a simple cell needs to live and reproduce.

The feat marks the first time that anyone has made such a large strand of hereditary material from off-the-shelf chemical ingredients. Previous efforts had yielded DNA strands less than one-twentieth the size, and those pieces lacked many of the key biological programs that tell a cell how to stay alive.

On the basis of earlier experiments, the researchers believe the new, full-length loop would spontaneously "boot up" inside a cell, just as a downloaded operating system can awaken a computer -- a potentially historic event that would amount to the creation of the first truly artificial life form
Team members emphasized that they have not done that yet but expressed confidence that they would do so before the end of the year.

Lead scientist J. Craig Venter said the goal is to design novel microbes whose handcrafted genomes endow them with the ability produce useful chemicals, including renewable synthetic fuels that could substitute for oil.

Critics, however, countered that without better oversight of the fledgling field, synthetic biology is more likely to lead to the creation of potent biological weapons and runaway microbes that could wreak environmental havoc.


Critics. They always have a bucket of cold water nearby, don't they? I wonder, as well, if some 'religious' reason that will raise its ugly head in denial. Those who see science as evil seemingly have endless supplies of doubt to throw at scientists as they work to uncover the 'secrets' of nature. There may be some crackpot member of Congress who will raise roadblocks against this research, having received pressure from some interest group in his district.

Venter said the work was green-lighted by government offices, the National Academies and an independent ethics review board. Wouldn't it be great if all research scientists were allowed to be left to their creativity without having outsiders snooping through the windows of the laboratories?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wolfowitz: He's BAAAAAAAK!

What does a CEO do with a failed, untrustworthy staff member? Right! Reassign them to another post in the administration. Of course, this only happens if the CEO has a BA from Harvard and has the last name Bush.

Yes he did! Old Paul [Neocon] Wolfowitz, the architect of the preemptive invasion of Iraq has been appointed head of a government advisory panel- the International Security Advisory Board. This department is “a source of independent insight, advice, and innovation on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, political-military issues, and international security and related aspects of public diplomacy."

What a swell appointment. Old Paul gets to play around with more military toys. Perhaps he'll advise George on a preemptive invasion of Iran. After all he has experience in these matters.

What a Great Freakin' War!

What a Great Freakin' War! is the latest post from David Michael Green of the Regressive Antidote. I saw not only William [Neocon] Kristol's op ed but also John [Neocon] Podhoretz's op ed in another paper- he, too, praising the Bush War as a grand and successful adventure. No doubt, Mr. Bush will award these two with that tin Metal of Freedom award that he also gave to Rumsfeld and Michael [Katrina] Brown.

The sad thing about these two deceivers is that only we who are paying attention know that this is pure deceptive propaganda. The run-of-the-mill, inattentive American will read the glorious spin from these two architects of the war and actually believe them.

That's why I am very worried about this November's election: the American people have shown time and again that they are easily duped, easily bamboozled.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hey Nancy Pelosi: Why All of the Secrecy?

Nancy Pelosi is behind guarded closed doors making a deal with the Bush Administration about a give-away stimulus for the American people. Why weren't these meetings out in the open, Ms. Pelosi? Why did you and Harry Reid close the doors to the people of America as you work on a 'deal' to bail out our sagging economy?

Closed doors send red flags my way! What would happen if these dealings were broadcast live on C-Span or CNN? Would we see something that many of us already suspect: complicity in action? Would the citizens see that neither you nor Mr. Reid are too much different than the Bush Administration in who will receive the biggest share of the give-away?

I suspect foul play and why shouldn't I? There has been a subtle conspiracy ever since the Democrats became the majority. A conspiracy that seems to always favor the upper classes at the expense of the middle an low income folks here in America.

Secrecy is what we expected under Stalin and Saddam, but not here in America.

21st Century Iwo Jima Photo

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

George W Bush, White House told 935 lies after September 11

This is the headline from the Australian news site, Our 'good allies' the Aussies who followed Bush like a Blair poodle into Iraq, must be wondering today how they could have been so dumb. Of course it wasn't the Australian man in the street nor the British man in the street who kissed Bush's behind, it was Blair and Howard who sent their armies to quixotically fight those evasive windmills and search for those elusive WMD's.

Imagine that, 935 lies told over and over again. The top three, as if we who pay attention didn't know were: WMD's, Saddam's connection to 9-11, and the mushroom cloud. Bush himself garnered over 200 of the lies. Each lie is now documented in as searchable data base. Visit the Center for Public Integrity to see the data.

Here's the worst part of this revelation: impeachment of Bush, Cheney, and any of their minions will never occur. They will skate through the next 360 days in office and leave in high style, waving to the crowds. As if this never happened.

When that happens, our democracy will have begun its demise, its slide to imperialism, and then it will be too late. Too late to attempt to the next president to the truth, to the principles outlined in the Constitution. We may as well burn that document, because its rules and laws will have become meaningless.

Don't give me that, 'They only have less than a year" nonsense! They were liars and lied us into a war. That is high crimes and misdemeanors, pure and simple.

If this Congress does not impeach them, then we ought just close down the Capitol and establish a dictatorship. At least we'll not be surprised by their actions.

Why No Apologies?

They voted for Bush/Cheney twice but they won't say that they are sorry for their lack of judgment. We might forgive their vote in 2000, but clearly not their 2004 vote. By November 2004 it was clear to all of us who were paying attention that Bush and Cheney's War on Iraq was a farce, an unnecessary incursion into a foreign nation based on lies and cherry-picket data. But many Americans voted for them yet again.

I can proudly say that it never crossed my mind to vote for those two ever! I saw right through that cowboy veneer and slick frat-boy style back in 2000. What did the other people see in Bush? Gore was a former senator and a sitting Vice-President for 8 years, but they chose the ne'erdowell part-time governor of Texas to lead this nation.

And they did it all over again after watching him prove his incompetence and bungling for 4 solid years. Today Bush's ratings hover around 30% at best. That's 70% negative. Where were these people on November 5, 2004? Why did they go into the voting booth and check Bush/Cheney knowing what a mess these two had made of our nation and our standing in the world? What were they thinking?

What about an apology? I'd like to hear a heart-felt apology from a 'double' Bush supporter. Something like, "I'm truly sorry for being so reckless in having voted the Bush/Cheney ticket twice." Odd, though, I've never heard those words.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot

My son sent me this link with fond remembrances of our evenings 25 years ago when we watched the episodes of the science series, Cosmos together. Carl Sagan died a few months after this recording, but his words and his photographs are timeless. For a bit of nostalgia, click the link for a 3 minute trip down memory lane.

Impeach Cheney Website

Congressman Robert Wexler [D. Fl] is aggressively encouraging his fellow members of the House of Representatives and the American public to begin impeachment hearings against Dick Cheney. This website created by Wexler contains a bevy of resources to identify the impeachable offenses as well as how the American citizen can become involved in this movement.

As of today, 212,000 citizens have signed up for that process and information on the progress of the process. Wexler has written letter to the members of the House in which he makes the case for impeachment. That letter can be read on this site.

Wexler raises these points that, in his judgment, rise to 'high crimes and misdemeanors:'

"We have an obligation to ask questions -- to determine whether in fact the Vice President purposefully manipulated intelligence, bringing us into war; ...whether he knowingly ordered the illegal use of torture; ...whether he knowingly exposed covert agents for political purposes; ...whether he obstructed federal investigations. "

For the few of us who have been paying attention, the answers to all of these questions are: YES, YES, YES, YES. For most Americans, sadly, they may shrug and say, 'I dunno.' No doubt many voted for the man, twice.

If the House of Representatives cannot muster enough votes, even when they were able to against the sex lies of Bill Clinton, then our country is doomed to go down as one more failed experiment.

Bush White House Rewriting The Science

CBS's 60 Minutes profiled James Hansen, the world's leading researcher on global warming. He's the head of NASA's top institute studying the climate. CBS reports, 'this imminent scientist says that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.'

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

At the link above you can see the altered reports that Hansen wrote; they have been reworded so as to not malign the coal and oil industries. Words like 'certain' have been changed to 'possibly' to protect those industries and enable them to continue to release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

Dick Cheney, in my opinion, will go down in history as the #1 culprit of global warming. Number one! His secret meeting in early 2001 with the CEO's of the energy industry was a blank check to them to continue to produce and pollute without any meaningful government oversight.

That fact combined with the nearly minuscule resources allocated to alternative energy research have combined to produce 7 straight years of oil and coal production making the U.S. the #1 producer of greenhouse gases.

Dick Cheney is the man. One man who controlled the destiny of our planet and promoted the continuation of global warming while denying scientists to tell the truth to th American public. There would be few scoundrels who have done more to damage the earth and the people living today than Dick Cheney.

He surely replaces Osama bin Laden as the most notorious person alive today.

CIA Incompetence: Curve Ball and Ashes

Four brilliant men discussed the CIA, terrorism and the incompetence of the Bush/Cheney administration late last evening on C-Span. Gathered together on the dais were 4 brilliant and competent men to discuss the state of U.S. intelligence and how intelligence-gathering will shape American foreign policy under the next president. They were:

John C. Gannon, Deputy Director (1995-1997), Central Intelligence Agency, Intelligence

Tim Weiner, Correspondent, [New York Times], Intelligence

Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

Bob Drogin, Correspondent, [Los Angeles Times], Intelligence
Drogin is the author of Curveball: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War. Drogin says that the George Bush Iraq War was propelled into action through the lies of a former Iraqi refugee who told German intelligence agents of his work on an ongoing Iraqi program that produced biological weapons in mobile laboratories. The hapless CIA, which had little good intelligence about Saddam Hussein's regime and was fixated on the threat of Iraqi WMDs, which later became a centerpiece in the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq. This spy, naturally, lied, but Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice were embolden by these tales and used them as talking points in the run-up to the war.

Weiner is the author of the 2007 winner of the National Book Award, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. According to a book review, "He presents the agency's saga as an exercise in trying to change the world without bothering to understand it. Hypnotized by covert action and pressured by presidents, the CIA, he claims, wasted its resources fomenting coups, assassinations and insurgencies, rigging foreign elections and bribing political leaders, while its rare successes inspired fiascoes like the Bay of Pigs and the Iran-Contra affair."

Of course, this all played right into the incompetent hands of the Bush Administration who came into office in January 2001 with the outline plan to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. The false information from the spy, Curveball, as well as the quixotic mania of the CIA combined with the Machiavellianism of the neocons advising the naive governor of Texas all combined in mid 2002 to create the biggest farce this nation has ever perpetrated.

The results of this Bush fiasco are only now emerging for everyone to see, not just the more astute. Beyond the 3900 American military deaths and 30,000 life-altering injuries that these men and women suffered, is the open and festering wound that now festers in the Muslim world. The final comment in the C-Span program came from former CIA Director Gannon. He said that the United States will suffer at least another decade or more of terrorist threats because of this preemptive War on Iraq.

I have to laugh [or cry] at that early battle cry of Bush and Cheney and naturally on the lips of the right-wing media: "We're fight'n them over there so that we won't have to fight them over here!" So many Americans nodded their heads in bobblehead unison that it was hard for some of us to mover our own heads in the opposite direction. Those of us who did were castigated by the masses as un-American treasonous trouble-makers. We were spat upon as we stood in the cold winter of 2002 with our NO WAR signs.

I get little enjoyment or satisfaction out of having been right. Too much damage has been done for me to gloat. I have been in a low state of depression ever since 'Shock 'n Awe' commenced in March 2003. Now that more and more truth has come out, my mood is one of anger; anger not only at Bush and Cheney and his toadies, but of the media who went belly-up and were sycophants for the entire scheme.

"How did you know?" was a question an acquaintance recently asked my wife. "How did you know that the war was about nothing?" she asked. How about this as an answer: because we have been paying attention, just like our history teacher in high school warned.

Billions, Trillions, Zillions

It's the economy, George! That's the 'terror' we face. No it wasn't Saddam and it isn't Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's YOU, Mr. Bush. Just think, while you were scaring us to death over WMD's, mushroom clouds, and links to al-Qaeda, the bottom fell out of our economy. Gosh, who coulda known, right?

World markets plunged yesterday and the DOW futures this morning [7:50 EST] are down 500. Bank of America and Wachovia both announce tremendous losses this early morning, but you want us to focus on Iranian speedboats. What a sap we are for listening to you and Dick.

Will the dumbed-down American electorate finally begin to laugh with the rest of us who 'got it' many years ago? The joke about the Emperor with no clothes? Will they at last understand what a complete fraud they twice elected? Will they be more careful this November?

Or will they be bamboozled once more by the check that's in the mail and go back to sleep?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Let's put the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it"

Some folks who serve in high places are politicians, others are statesmen. "Let's put the jam on the lower shelf so the little people can reach it," was spoken by Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough who served that state from 1957-1971. Contrast that thought with the 'compassionate conservatism' spoken of by Texas President George W. Bush. The politician merely throws around phrases whereas the statesman actually backs up his statements with action.

'What's the Matter with Texas?' ought to be the sequel to Thomas Frank's, 'What's the Matter with Kansas?' about the 180 degree shift in politics in that state. The Yarborough philosophy has been dumped in Texas and is now represented by John Cornyn, a far-right toady of George Bush. Rather than lowering the jar, Cornyn voted against renewing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance for the children of working families who can't afford private coverage but don't qualify for Medicaid.

Cornyn apparently expresses the views of many Texans as his re-election is not in doubt. Interestingly, Cornyn scores in the single digits in the Project Vote Smart category Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. Enough of this ultra-conservative Republican as he is typical of most if not all southern Republican senators.

What is praiseworthy about Senator Yarborough is that he was unique among southern Democratic senators in 1964. Of the 21 southern Democrats, only Yarborough voted FOR the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In fact, he had been voting for civil rights throughout his time in the senate. Those other southern Democrats, it is to be noted, left the Democratic Party after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Johnson, himself a Texan, knew that by signing that bill 'his party out loose the South for a decade.' Or four decades.

Today Texas is solidly red with Republicans in office throughout the entire state, tightening their grip on the state through Karl Rovian gerrymandering of the voting districts to favor Republicans.

Texans like Yarborough have been replaced by sordid folks like John Cornyn, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Alberto Gonzales, and Karl Rove and the rest of the bunch of slick politicos that George Bush brought with him to the White House. One thing is for sure: during the 7 years of the Bush Administration, "the jam jar has been put on the highest shelf so the rich people can reach it."

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