Wednesday, August 22, 2007


*The Supreme Court rejects public school desegregation by a vote of 5 to 4. The Bush appointments of Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court were a very significant gain for those with a far right philosophy. This influence may be felt for decades. For this reason it is very important that the next couple of Presidents that we elect encompass a center to left-of-center political philosophy. If not, this less than supreme court will take us back to the less than good old days of the 19th century.

* Chinese Food – Non-Take Out category – Farm-raised seafood (catfish, dace, basa, shrimp and eel) has been added to the list of tainted and defective products from China. Chinese officials insist that their products are guaranteed. That warranty leaves me with the same feeling I had when several years ago it was announced that a particular type of fish caught off of the New Jersey shore was okay to eat unless you were a pregnant woman or child under 12 years of age. I have no familiarity with the Chinese language but wonder if basa translates as mercury and dace as diethylene glycol.

*On July 15, 2007 postal rates for magazines will experience a substantial increase. Actually, this is only partially accurate. It seems that the lobbyists for Time Warner (Time magazine, Sports Illustrated) convinced the postal authority that they would face only a small increase and in some cases even a decrease in postal fees. This is another example of a mega-corporation having undue influence on the bureaucracy of the Bush administration. The potential damage of this fiasco is that it threatens the existence of many smaller publications. The Nation magazine, for example, faces an annual postage cost increase of $500,000. This continuing consolidation and influence of a few large corporations controlling the media in television, radio and print does not bode well for a democratic nation that must rely on informed and varied opinions to function properly.

*Tired of the same old, same old. Here is a refreshing change within our military. Former Army colonel Douglas Macgregor expects a policy change when Navy Vice Adm. Eric Olson takes charge of military operations. Macgregor said that under the direction of Donald Rumsfeld special operations became a “giant killing machine”. Macgregor added, “If you have to kill someone, then for God’s sakes, kill the right people…That’s been lost over the last several years.”

*June was the third month in a row that that saw over 100 U.S. military deaths. The Bush “surge”!

*The movie Sicko by Michael Moore is riveting, informative, provocative, sad and entertaining. I highly recommend it. It is interesting to note that CNN assigned reporters to investigate the accuracy of the many claims and statistics presented in the movie. The investigation found little to criticize.

*In the latest CBS News poll:
77% of Americans say the war is going badly, fewer than one in five feel that the troop surge is helping, 66% say that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq should be reduced and 40% who want all troops removed from Iraq. The pro-Iraq war pundits and major media have presented the anti-war sentiment as far left Democrats. The reality is that anti-war sentiment is felt throughout a broad vast majority spectrum of American citizens.
In the same poll 75% of Americans feel that our country is headed in the wrong direction. In the cockeyed-optimist category 19% think that the country is on the right track. This latter group must either gain their “what’s happening” from the pulpits of the likes of James Dobson and Pat Robertson, from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News or Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard.

* I rarely agree with the conservatives who worship the iconic Ronald Regan. However, there is much waste in government spending. An example is a 1.5 mile barrier built on the U.S./Mexican border near Columbus, NM to prevent cars from illegally entering the U.S. A routine aerial survey showed that part of the barrier protruded on Mexican soil by one to six feet. The mistake could cost the federal government over $3 million to correct. That would buy a lot of burritos or books or vaccinations or condoms. Never mind – I forgot that our government no longer purchases condoms that would, in effect, help prevent the spread of AIDs. Instead they are spending tens of millions of dollars to promote sexual abstinence by young Americans. Recent studies have found that “abstinence” describes the success of this program.

*The Bush administration and the Department of Justice maintain that the firings of U.S. Attorneys was not political, did not break any laws and that everyone acted above board. Since congress began investigating these firings seven senior officials at the Justice Department have resigned. The resignation announcements generally occur late Friday afternoons when it is perceived that news receives less attention. Perhaps that is when the 19% who feel the country is on the right track read the news.

*The British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) reports that McDonalds in England will convert all of its delivery trucks to be fueled by a combination of its used cooking oil and rapeseed oil. Following a successful trial this past year McDonalds estimates it will save over 1650 tons of carbon annually. Is there anyone in the industrialized world aside from President Bush, Senator Imhoffe and the “scientists” funded by energy companies that remain ignorant of the environmental crisis our planet faces?

*Lofty Goals – In a speech given at the U.S. Navel War College President Bush said, “We’ll have succeeded in Iraq when it is like Israel (the U.S. goal in Iraq is not to eliminate attacks but to enable a democracy that can function despite violence). Since Bush generally means something other than what he says has The Decider become The Proselytizer? First he converts America to Southern Baptist and then he converts Iraq to Judaism. Bush the Crusader!

*Reading the news to improve ones vocabulary – Ann Coulter, author, she-devil, and spokesperson for all that is wrong with the right referred to John Edwards’ wife Elizabeth as a “harridan”. The Encarta dictionary defines this word as “an offensive term for a woman that deliberately insults her age as advanced and her temperament as assertive” When I looked up the word “offensive” I found a picture of Ann Coulter.

*Jim Nussle is Bush’s nominee for White House budget director. Perhaps a good choice since Mr. Nussle knows about pork barrel spending. As a former congressman for Iowa he pursued earmark funding for the Grout Museum. I hope that this puts an end to the deprecating humor about Iowa not being an exciting place to live. Is grout a cereal, a cement or a nerve condition?

* Almost everyone that I know takes a prescription drug. These drugs may ease a problem, prevent a problem from getting worse or even save our lives. Aside from the cost there is another important issue of concern to many. Once a drug is approved, the FDA relies upon the drug company to continue evaluating side effects. Independent research and law suits have demonstrated that the drug companies are not always forthcoming with their findings. There is an upcoming bill in the House of Representatives (drug safety bill HR 2900) aimed at improving transparency in our drug safety laws and providing the FDA with more tools to ensure safe drugs. You may want to urge your Representative to vote for this bill. It could save your or a loved one’s life. Experience has demonstrated that self-policing does not work in society, in congress or in industry.

*Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut, says that the surge in Iraq has the “enemy on the run”, that the U.S. should attack Iran, is fundraising for Republican Senator from Maine Susan Collins, and has supported almost every disingenuous “cut and run” political attack Bush and his neocon boosters have unleashed on Iraq war critics. It seems to me that it is time for the Democratic leadership to cut and run from Lieberman by removing him from committee chairmanships in the Senate.

Really supporting the troops – The Bush administration often trots out the politically motivated “Support the Troops” in spite of a history of not deploying sufficient numbers of troops, inadequate training, inferior armor, extended and erratic periods of deployment and continually reduced down times. Senator Jim Webb (former Secretary of the Navy) has an amendment to the 2008 defense spending bill that does support the troops. It would require the Pentagon to give active-duty troops at least as much time at home as they spent on deployments and mandate that National Guard and reservists get to stay home for three years following their one-year deployments. The devastation to military families goes beyond death and physical and mental injury. Not to be forgotten is lost jobs, bankruptcy, broken homes and too often an inability to return to normal lives. Not to be forgotten is the destruction of manpower and equipment in our National Guard and its reduced ability to protect American citizens during times of national disasters (such as floods and hurricanes) and terrorist attacks.

*The Decider becomes the Commuter for the Scooter. Our lame duck leader lifts his hind web foot to soil the deliberations and guilty verdict of a jury of peers and the rulings of a conservative Republican and Bush-appointed judge. If the evidence does fit you still must acquit.

*I came across the following at Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Meade

Have a nice weekend.

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