Monday, October 15, 2007


*Opportunistic demagoguery ~ meet Ann Coulter - The conservative spokes witch is on tour promoting her book. True to form, Ms. Coulter conjures up an outrageous attack that feeds the hatefulness of her followers. On this occasion she suggested that Jewish people can perfect themselves by converting to Christianity. This nadir of nonsense adds, “An ideal America would be one where everyone is Christian.” Any individual with a sense of brotherhood and an understanding of democracy will be offended by her comments. It is interesting to note the congruity of her effluence with John McCain’s assertion that America was established to be a Christian nation. I imagine that Jesus and Ben Franklin are debating whether to laugh or cry at this infantile interpretation of their work.

*The Rendition of America – A German of Lebanese descent was seized by U.S. federal agents, taken to Afghanistan and kept in captivity in a secret prison and tortured for five months. He had been mistaken for a terrorism suspect with a similar name. The abduction is known as “extraordinary rendition”. The victim sued the U.S. government and the Bush administration argued that the case should be dismissed because it involved “state secrets”. Lower courts agreed with this claim and the Supreme Court decided that it would not consider the case. While “protecting” America, federal agents can do anything and then be cloaked with state secrets. And, our courts protect such actions! “State secrets” was a hallmark of the communist and fascist governments that democratic societies so disdained. Who and what we are has been extraordinarily renditioned.

*The Rendition of Society – Pennsylvania will soon consider legislation requiring all hospitals to provide victims of sexual assault with information about and access to the emergency contraception drug known as Plan B. This law is necessary because a woman who has been raped can be denied the means to assure that she did not get pregnant following this physically and psychologically brutal attack. Plan B denial is a result of the religious beliefs of one sect being imposed upon others. If one finds a religious system that is enriching, that makes existence more meaningful, it is a blessing. The imposition of that system and structure on another is arrogant and lacking understanding. To contend that a particular belief is what a Universal force intended for every person walking this planet demonstrates a wanting concept of humanity and spirituality. If birth control, even under extreme circumstances, is not right for a particular individual, do not use it. It does not justify being rapacious with the free will of another human being.

*Ring-tones and much more - If color-coded terror alerts, invented themes such as “Islamo-Facism” and a U.S. foreign policy that has substantially increased the number of terrorists in the world has not sufficiently scared the hell out of you, help is on the way. You can now subscribe to AlertUSA, a Terror Alert/Incindent Notification Service for mobile devices. From the web site: “AlertsUSA gives you an information edge, regardless of your location, with timely notification of substantial terrorist threats, warnings, advisories and other events and incidents of national significance - sent direct to your mobile device. …A discreet text message delivers core alert information.” The next Ipod will probably feature a Geiger counter and Arabic dictionary.

*Polling for relevancy ~ the miracle of statistical sampling – I just read a recent “national” poll that said 44% of conservatives favored so-and-so for this and 29% of woman were against so-and-so for that. I am saying to myself that this is fairly interesting, especially with the claim, “The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.” I then learn that for this study 1,114 adults were polled over a four day period. We have 300 million people in this country and this “respected” poll is asking me to believe that the query of 1,114 people yields the pulse of the country. With a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5% call me a skeptic.

*Reality television - Another presidential debate and another audience left wondering who really did cut taxes as mayor or improve health care as governor. Parry and thrust, bluster and blather. Too often we do not know truth from fiction. I say the potential is there for great reality television programming. An independent panel of experts would be gathered off stage to determine the veracity of the candidates’ statements. The panel’s conclusions would be depicted on a 25 foot high electronic TruthoMeter. If a candidate’s responses reach the level of “Liar, liar pants on fire” he or she must immediately leave the stage and not return until the next show. After 3 disqualifications the candidate is barred for the season. Maybe it is not such a good idea. After 3 shows there probably would be no qualified candidates.

*Rudy fact check of the week 1 – On his web site Rudy Giuliani claims that while he was mayor of NYC, 1994 to 2000, he increased the police force by 12,000 officers. It seems that the number is marginally inflated. Actually, 7100 were already housing or transit police who were administratively folded into the police department. Liar, liar pants on fire.

*Rudy fact check of the week 2 - Rudy Giuliani said the United States has disrupted 23 terrorist attacks since 9/11. I guess that he is demonstrating that he is even tougher on terrorism than President Bush, who claims only a dozen thwarted attacks. Homeland security experts were baffled by Rudy’s statement. They are not alone.

*Help Congress Grow a Spine – This is a campaign by the organization People for The American Way. “The fight to restore oversight, accountability and your constitutional rights is on! Congress still has the chance to say NO, definitively and without equivocation, to spying on Americans without a warrant.” At their web site you can sign a petition to your congressmen urging that your rights under the Constitution be protected.

*Hairdressers under greater scrutiny than presidential candidates – During the recent Republican presidential debates Chris Matthews asked Mitt Romney, “Does Congress need to authorize a strategic attack on Iran? Romney replied that he would have to consult his lawyers. Basic knowledge of the U.S. Constitution appeared to be a stretch for the former governor of Massachusetts. Licensing is required of the people that cut your hair to verify their proficiency. Perhaps there should be a similar requirement for individuals seeking to lead our country.

*Former top lawyer lawyering up - Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have resigned but the Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General continues to investigate him. With a good possibility that the Inspector will make a criminal referral to Justice’s Office of Public Integrity or call for the appointment of a Special Counsel, Gonzales has hired criminal defense attorney George Terwilliger. A primary focus of the investigation is whether Gonzales made false statements to congress. Such action is a crime and resignation from office does not provide immunity from prosecution. Regardless of the economy I expect it to be a bull market for defense attorneys over the next couple of years.

*Spooks spooked - It seems that the Director of the CIA has ordered an investigation of the independent Inspector General responsible for investigating the CIA. The move is considered by experts to be improper and possibly illegal. We have seen that “improper and possibly illegal” may also apply to the actions of the FBI, FDA, DOJ, EPA, DOI…XYZ. The servants of the Bush administration will make every effort to get out of town in January 2009 before the truth of their actions is revealed.

*A question for Obama - I recently expressed criticism of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and 74 other senatorial votes designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) offered his own criticism of Clinton’s vote. Clinton’s office then issued a response that I feel has merit. “Senator Obama was silent on the measure when it was considered on the floor. Despite serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he wasn't involved in Senate negotiations or discussions over the bill's language. He didn't speak out against it before it was voted on - he didn't even return from the campaign trail to vote. He didn't speak out against it at a nationally televised debate that night… If Senator Obama believed the measure was as dangerous as he says, wouldn't he have had some obligation to stand up, speak out, and fight against it?” This is the type of question that should be asked more often of all candidates.

*An Education Plan that we can learn from - Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson (NM) has offered his detailed plan for improving education in America. It is comprehensive and broad-based and worthy of inspection by anyone concerned with the state of learning in our country. There are knowledgeable individuals that feel his proposals dwarf anything that other candidates have so far proposed. As noted at ,“Richardson is calling for a massive $60 billion dollar education plan; an initiative that would put the focus back on education and creating saleable job skills in this country, and would make college affordable for everyone through a national service program… That is bold, decisive leadership of a presidential caliber”. Details are available at this website:

*They threw a Party but forgot most of the invitations - On PBS NY Times columnist David Brooks made an interesting observation. White middle class (annual income of $40,000 to 60,000) workers favored Republicans in the last presidential election by a whopping 23%. This group is currently quite apprehensive about their economic security. To date the Republican presidential candidates have offered this group nothing while many of the Democratic candidates have significant proposals that address the economic inequality spreading across America, loss of manufacturing jobs and ever-increasing cost of healthcare. It appears to me that the Republican Party has so narrowly tailored its appeal that winning a national election borders on the impossible. Based on their performance over the last decade this is cause for optimism.

*Not so trite ~ the rich get richer - New IRS data shows the top 1 percent of Americans are claiming a larger share of national income than at any time since 1920. Bush tax cuts and economic policy has in fact helped Americans economically. Only ninety-some percent of us have been left behind. With half of U.S. senators and a third of Congress being millionaires one wonders how interested they are in progressive policies that benefit a broad base of citizens. I recall Steven Wright saying that you cannot have everything because where would you put it? Maybe this explains the explosion of self-storage facilities across the U.S.

*Can you hear me now? – Articles are beginning to appear that indicate the Bush administration was working with telecommunications companies well before 9/11 to spy on Americans. If that is the case President Bush may have been less than forthright in claiming domestic spying was a response to the World Trade Center attack. And it obviously did not prevent 9/11. What was this program about? What oversight and investigation will congress provide? Bush and lobbyists for the telecommunication companies are furiously pressuring congress to pass legislation giving immunity from lawsuits to telecommunication companies for their cooperation in illegal wiretapping. Will congress once again yield to an administration that has for the most part emasculated the House and the Senate’s oversight responsibility?

Neocon Mantra Ad Infinitum Update um – I listened to William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer on FOX News. They say the surge is working, the situation in Iraq is improving and that a political solution in Iraq will come when the U.S. is able to achieve security on the ground. They go on to say that it will only happen if the administration gets Iran to back off. Five years of dismal prognostication and strategy has not diminished their enthusiasm for staying the course. “Iran” is now the roadblock to victory. Neocon thinking continues to be the long and tiring road to disaster. Are neo-conservatives Machiavellians in tailored suits and ties where any evil action can be justified if it is done for a good purpose? And whose good purpose? To date the only beneficiary of our Iraq misadventure is the defense industry.

*Who’s Sorry Now? – Jan Smiley at has written a powerful article concerning opportunism and its effect over the last seven years. I recommend the entire article and offer this excerpt: “Is it possible to have no sense of civic responsibility at all? Yes -- that's what Free Market theory, and the last generation of Republican culture is about. It elevates commerce and deal-making above every other human activity, and therefore glorifies opportunism. A generation of coaching by Free Market gurus has robbed Americans of the means of a decent existence. The reason we can't get out of Iraq is that none of the opportunists dares to admit why he or she wanted to make a war there in the first place, and so we, the American people, don't actually know what the goal was and can't ever judge whether it has been achieved. Though Cheney's goal was to secure the oil, he can't admit that to the Iraqis, who don't want to give up the oil. If the Iraqis' goal was to use our military to fight the battle and then take over themselves, they ceded that goal every time they flattered the Americans. If the Israelis consider their existence to be worth every American sacrifice of money, corruption, and human life, they dare not say so. If the military industrial complex really is happy to profit from death and destruction, do they actually pretend to their children that they are human?”

*“If the general remains silent while the statesman commits a nation to war with insufficient means, he shares culpability for the results.”
From an article “A Failure in Generalship,” by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling that appeared in the May 2007 issue of Armed Forces Journal

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