Saturday, January 19, 2008



>Quintessential symbolism – One of Bush’s stops on his Middle-East tour was the wealthy country of Abu Dhabi. Upon his arrival “Bush was given a large necklace encrusted with hundreds of rubies, emeralds and diamonds and a medallion with a hand-painted enamel American flag.” The necklace is a fitting gewgaw for the man whose presidency enabled Arab oil-producing pals and wealthy American business and defense industry titans to become even wealthier. Let’s hope that Laura has a good chiropractor.

>Quintessential Bush – While visiting United Arab Emirates Bush described this country as a model society. As pointed out by smintheus at “the UAE is an oligarchy that appoints government officials... 80% of residents, immigrants who make up nearly the entire workforce in the U.A.E., have few rights, no chance to become citizens, and virtually no opportunity for improving their lot.” The U.S. State Department in June 2007 reported “the UAE remains a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purpose of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation... Some foreign women were reportedly recruited to work as secretaries, but were trafficked into forced prostitution or domestic servitude. The U.A.E. may also serve as a transit country for women trafficked into forced labor in Oman and Sudan, and men deceived into working involuntarily in Iraq.” With my stomach turning I will only provide a link to the part about kidnapped children. A model society from perdition!

>Never mind ~ again – Recall how our president kept telling us how he was listening to the generals for their advice on Iraq – although it turned out it was only those generals who told him what he wanted to hear. Bush is treating the combined opinion of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in a similar fashion – yes, the agencies that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year. The agencies opined “with high confidence” in the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had ceased building a nuclear weapons program. Speaking to the Israelis last week Bush “told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views about Iran's nuclear-weapons program.” Billions of dollars is being spent on intelligence but GWB concludes he is better informed consulting with his dog Barney and a Ouija board.

>Just what the Middle East needs ~ more weapons – In Saudi Arabia “Bush is promising them 20 billion dollars in sophisticated weapons—including 121 million dollars worth of precision guided bombs.” Aside from being an oil pal of Bush the country would never permit democracy, is home to some of the most radical Muslim clerics in the world and treats their camels better than their women (they recently sentenced a woman to be whipped because it was determined that her rape by about 10 men was her fault). Arming Neanderthals while on a fools errand. I suggest that George W. Bush be on the no-fly list.

>Casting a long shadow ~ where the sun does not shine – While in the Middle East President Bush is making a long-term strategic agreement with the Iraqi government, ostensibly obligating the U.S. government well beyond Bush’s term of office. I would like to see the Democratic presidential candidates and especially the Congress publicly state that any commitment made by the U.S. government must be approved by Congress – since approving treaties is one of their responsibilities.
Update – on Wednesday Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Iraq Strategic Agreement Review Act of 2008, which would require the administration to consult with Congress on the agreement and withhold funds for the agreement if it did not come in the form of a formal treaty. It remains to be seen if Congress can pass this bill as well as override a probable Bush veto. As pointed out at a similar bill was introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton last month but it faces considerable Republican obstructionism. At least there is an attempt at some reasonable governance, which may be the best we can hope for before January 2009.

*Questions about the media:
~Where in our Constitution does it say that television executives can determine which of the legitimate presidential candidates can participate in a debate? NBC and FOX are abbreviations for “idiot”.
~Why is Chris Mathews so obsessed with the Clintons, especially Hillary? He even interrupts himself when ranting on the subject. I wonder if “Hillary” was the name of a powerful female figure in his youth.
~Why do conservatives dominate the political radio talk shows? It cannot be entertainment value.
~Why do Sunday morning political/news shows feature Republicans over Democrats? This past week the 5 major shows had 9 featured guests, 7 of whom were Republican. This is not atypical. Is it due to media ownership?
~Why does John Edwards receive so little press coverage compared to Clinton and Obama? He has been running a strong third. It is likely that even if he does not get the nomination many of his positions will influence the Democratic platform at the nominating convention.
~Why does Fred Thompson continue to receive so much press coverage even though he is running a weak fourth or fifth? Both he and his campaign are on Ambien.
~Why are reality shows so popular? Each morning that we wake up we experience a reality show. Perhaps it is a reflection of the paucity of quality programming.
~Why is the media not asking the candidates about the environment? According to the Sierra Club, in 2007 national reporters asked the candidates 2275 questions. Three of those questions involved global warming.

*Love at first sight ~ who knew? – In Britain “Twins adopted by separate parents soon after birth later fell in love and married, unaware they were related.” The marriage has been annulled. Their plight sparked debate over the rights of children to know the identity of their birth parents. Also being discussed is the broader issue of whether birth certificates should be changed to include information on both of the genetic parents as well as whether or not the child was conceived by a sperm donor. Life does in fact become more complicated with issues we never anticipated. Would you want to know or want it known that you were conceived from donated sperm?

*Kumbaya – This word is currently used in a sarcastic context to connote a blandly pious and naively optimistic view of the world and human nature. In today’s world we certainly could use a bit more optimism and a pinch of naiveté. It is also curious that expressing an optimistic view is too often demeaned. I wondered about the derivation of the word and interestingly it is the title of a spiritual folk song that has been recorded by the likes of Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. It is also associated with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. What song can we associate with the renewal of America when we regain our footing from the Bush years? “Let the Sun Shine In” would be one of my selections. If you have a suggestion please email it to me:

*Holy crap! – Mike Huckabee wants to amend the U.S. Constitution “so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view”. I must have been worshipping a graven idol while contemporary society was attempting to change God’s standards. But I do have sinful thoughts when a holier-than-thou pulpit proselytizer soars in on a wing and a prayer and wants to change the standards of my democracy and my country. The separation of church and state provided in our very basic law lead me to say to Preacher Huckabee, “Shut the perdition up”!

*Voting machines ~ controvertible confidence – Last week I noted that many are petitioning Congress to require a paper trail for electronic voting machines to ensure the accuracy of elections. I subsequently received an email from Brad Friedman (The Brad Blog), a leading authority on the unreliability and susceptibility to hacker manipulation of voting apparatus. Brad offered the following pointed observation: “We don't need paper trails. We need paper BALLOTS and ones that are actually counted at that!”
~You can help ensure that your vote counts. On Thursday Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) introduced a bill in Congress that will ensure all states' voting machines are backed up by a paper record. The citizen advocate group Common Cause offers a petition to Congress enabling you to be a citizen co-sponsor of this bill.

*The War on Terror ~ meet The War on Drugs – “The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops.” I find it interesting and ironic that the Iraqi farmers are being assisted by Afghanis, who have considerable experience with this crop. As reported by The Independent (UK), “The move of local warlords, both Sunni and Shia, into opium farming is a menacing development in Iraq, where local political leaders are often allied to gangsters. The theft of fuel, smuggling and control of government facilities such as ports means that gangs are often very rich. It is they, rather than impoverished farmers, who have taken the lead in financing and organising opium production in Iraq.” America is abetting quite a mess. Consequences!

*Electile Dysfunction – A reader notified me of a serious condition that he is experiencing: The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year. I am guessing that he is a Republican. I prescribed Votagra.

*Urinal Economics 101 – Republicans continue to push for additional tax cuts for the wealthy as a method to boost the economy. This would be in addition to the windfall granted the “have” class in the early years of Bush’s rule. The theory is that the wealthy will invest these tax savings and the investments will eventually trickle down to benefit the entire economy. We are currently experiencing rising unemployment, crashing house sales and slumping retail sales and an almost universal prediction of a recession. Based on its “success” the “trickle down theory” should be flushed.

*Cloned meats ~ an unappetizing prospect – On January 15th the Food and Drug Administration stated that cloned meats are safe AND it is not necessary to label products as “cloned”. At the same time “evidence surfaced suggesting that Americans and others are probably already eating meat from the offspring of clones... Executives from the nation's major cattle cloning companies conceded that they have not been able to keep track of how many offspring of clones have entered the food supply, despite a years-old request by the FDA to keep them off the market pending completion of the agency's safety report.” Self-policing and adherence to regulations by many in America’s corporate world is a laughingstock. Government acquiescence to and oversight of business is a joke. Last week I noted that Pennsylvania is barring milk producers who do not use growth hormones on their cows from labeling their products accordingly. Recall that it took decades before it was realized that asbestos and formaldehyde were extremely injurious to humans. Government by the people and for the people has transmuted into government by and for the special interests. Some may say it has always been that way. I would argue that it does not have to be.
~The organization True Majority Action is providing a petition to Congress asking that cloned meat products be labeled.
~Update – Late this week, as a result of strong opposition by consumer advocates and consumers, the state of Pennsylvania reversed its position on milk labeling. I find this encouraging and a verification that our voices can be heard.

* “There are four chief obstacles in grasping truth, namely, submission to faulty and un-worthy authority, influence of custom, popular prejudice, and the concealment of our own ignorance accompanied by an ostentatious display of our knowledge.” Roger Bacon (1214 – 1292) English philosopher

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