*Are you sitting down? – I believe I have identified an issue on which President Bush and I would agree. The Portland, Maine school board approved a measure allowing middle-school students to obtain access to prescription birth control medications “without” notifying parents. I cannot imagine a more egregious and overreaching decision. In the first place no outside authority should be administering “any” prescription drug to a child without parental knowledge. In the other first place absolutely no one should be administrating birth control to 13 and 14 year old teenagers with or without parental knowledge. The members of this school board should be suspended for truancy.
*WMD Redeux – In July Israel secretly attacked a Syrian site. In September rumors of the event began to appear with much speculation as to the reason for the attack. Israel and Syria offered little information. One widely posited theory was that North Korea was supplying Syria with materials to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, “According to current and former intelligence sources, the US intelligence community has seen no evidence of a nuclear facility being hit… US intelligence “found no radiation signatures after the bombing, so there was no uranium or plutonium present,” said one official, wishing to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject.” Recall the Bush administration playing the “weapons of mass destruction” card to justify the invasion of Iraq. “What concerns intelligence officials is what appears to be manipulation of the press and strategic leaks to the public of false information, undercutting professional intelligence analysis, similar to what occurred before the Iraq war in an apparent effort to bolster support for engaging Iran.” These are dangerous times for America and the people leading us are equally dangerous.
*Prominent Republican advocates cloning – Lynne Cheney said that she would like Hillary Clinton to be more like her husband, VP Dick Cheney. I imagine that the offer must be “appealing” to Sen. Clinton. By emulating Cheyney she could initiate an unprovoked war, sell out the country’s energy policy to oil interests, torture alleged enemies, reduce the civil liberties of Americans, empower the executive branch beyond constitutional boundaries and, be bald.
*Obama losing my consideration – Our country is certainly complicated and polarized. Managing a presidential candidacy in such an environment has challenges. Barack Obama finds himself in such a situation. In an attempt to appeal to “people of faith” and Black voters he is embarking on a gospel tour with several performers. One of the performers is Donnie McClurkin, a gospel singer and preacher who has battled a gay tendency for 20 years. He preaches that religion can change a person’s homosexuality (it apparently is not a speedy process). Both his scientific understanding of the subject and his approach of crusading against “the curse of homosexuality” are wanting. McClurkin’s right wing religious orthodoxy and pulpit anti-gay bashing is not what I want a presidential candidate to be endorsing. We have had almost 7 years of that mentality. Senator Obama and the other presidential candidates must be accountable as to their message and the America that they envision.
*A Social Conservative will be somewhat missed – Sam Brownbeck has withdrawn from the Republican presidential race due to lack of money and broad recognition. I did not find many of his positions appealing but I admired his intellectual honesty. What he stood for during his candidacy was the same as before he sought the nomination. This cannot be said for most of the Republican candidates whose positions are a function of political expediency. When I listened to Mr. Brownbeck in interviews I had a sense that he believed what he espoused.
*Fetish diplomacy ~ Panty Power – Activists are sending women’s panties to Burmese embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore. The campaign is called “Panties for Peace” and it is a protest against the military junta in Myanmar (formerly Burma). “The maneuver is a calculated insult to the junta and its leader, General Than Shwe. Superstitious junta members believe that any contact with female undergarments will sap them of their power.” Since the early part of the 20th century when the mass production of bloomers first gained popularity, men in our culture understand the power of these garments. We call it libido.
*Game time – Which of the following is attributed to the current leader of the United States of America?
-I think, therefore I am.
-The veto pen is one way to ensure that I am relevant.
*Still breaking ground – Congratulations to Marin Alsop, the new conductor for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She is the first female conductor of a major symphony orchestra in the United States. I find it interesting that in the year 2007 there are still situations in America where there are gender, racial and ethnic “firsts”. We have come a long way but the road has not ended and there will be potholes going forward. Some may call it defects in human genetics and others may call it prejudice.
*There is more where that came from – I have previously noted evidence of corruption, misspending and missing funds in the administration of the Iraq war. President Bush is asking congress for $46 billion more for Iraq as we learn that another $1.2 billion is unaccounted for. “…the work of DynCorp, the State Department’s largest contractor, is in such disarray that the department cannot say “specifically what it received” for most of the $1.2 billion it has paid the company since 2004 to train the police officers in Iraq.” And congress continues to refill the trough!
*Perhaps there is justice - Several prosecutions instituted by the Justice Department under the direction of Bush’s personal attorney and pretend Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are being scrutinized for being politically rather than criminally motivated. Both federal judges and congressional investigative committees have instituted inquiries. Suspicions that Bush’s political brain Karl Rove, from within the White House, influenced the replacement of Justice Department attorneys as well as prosecutions for political ends has been circulating for some time. History has demonstrated that the truth eventually is revealed. Nixon and Viet Nam are such examples. Unfortunately, truth after the fact usually does not repair the damage.
*The Iraq insurgency - The web site crooksandliars.com brought to my attention a new film “Meeting Resistance” that offers an alternative to the claim that our troops in Iraq are being attacked “primarily” by al Qaeda. “The insurgents featured in this film are ordinary citizens who are resisting the occupation of their country by a foreign army.” A provocative question: what would Americans do under similar circumstances? A synopsis, a trailer of the movie and a schedule of screenings can be seen at: http://meetingresistance.com/index.html
*Foreign policy sans context – Congress is considering condemning Turkey for the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against Armenians almost a century ago. Yes it was a horrible act of inhumanity. But this condemnation is certain to upset Turkey – a key ally in the Middle East and the main and practically only avenue of supply to our troops in Iraq. Concurrently, congress and President Bush decided to honor the Dali Llama. He is an icon of spirituality and a wonderful human being. He is also a symbol of Tibet and therefore honoring him is a guarantee to upset China – whose assistance is desperately needed in controlling Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. The practicality of foreign policy requires an assessment of current conditions. If a country’s past inhumane history guided our current policies, alliances would preclude Germany, Japan, Russia, China, and a host of other countries – all of whom committed atrocities since the Armenian genocide took place. Benjamin R. Barber writes at the huffingtonpost.com, “The bad news is that when it comes to international affairs, America remains trapped in self-righteous and self-defeating provincialism.” If we could see ourselves as others see us…
* No Vote Zone - We have heard about the small amount of time our Senators actually meet in session. There is a broad consensus that they accomplish little. In a recent week 153 bills were passed without actually voting on them. Consideration or lack thereof on the bills was done by telephone. A reader sent me an article that identifies this procedure. Apparently, if the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders agree to pass a bill, each senator’s office is called, asking them to vote on the bill within 15 minutes. Perhaps this procedure is prudent when it involves the naming of a new post office. It is not responsible when it authorizes millions of dollars in new spending as was the case.
*No Fly Zone – From the Associated Press, “Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized… Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers… A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits.” And we pay this idiot’s salary! I remember when the mere mention of “NASA” generated pride and respect.
*No Transparency Zone – Our state and federal legislators enact laws that affect us. They also create the laws that govern and oversee their own behavior. And this is where we have a major problem. For example, at the federal level congress determines the breadth of their ethics committees and rules for interfacing with lobbyists. The result is almost no meaningful rules and oversight. A good example of a similar weakness at the state level is Pennsylvania. A house committee just approved Open Records bill (HB 443) that “intended” to bring transparency to state government. It is pretend reform. Some of the worst aspects include:
• The independent Office of Public Records bill would not have oversight over the legislature, state attorney general, auditor general or treasurer.• The governor, not the Ethics Commission, would appoint the director of the oversight office - creating potential conflicts of interest.• Agencies would be permitted to outsource research, which would be exempt from public disclosure.• Penalties for public officials who violate the law would be paid by tax dollars instead of the guilty party.
The half of eligible Americans that actually vote in this country, especially below the federal level, generally select candidates by party affiliation or how good they look on TV or that they are not the incumbent currently screwing up. And then these “elected” officials govern our lives. It has never been different. It somehow has worked. Maybe it will work in the future. Our country has overcome much so there is optimism.
Who is wise?
He that learns from every One.
Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions.
Who is rich? He that is content.Who is that? Nobody.
Benjamin Franklin, US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)