The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Greed is OK

I use natural gas in my home. We usually have relatively mild winters in North Carolina, but since the price of natural gas is supposed to rise dramatically, perhaps double, I am already thinking about ways to conserve energy and lower my heating bill:

Use more blankets when I sleep
Dress warmly while at home
Open blinds and shades to let more light in
Do more work at the library

I encourage everyone to conserve energy this winter, if not for political or philosophical reasons, then maybe just to save a little money here and there.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Look to the Liberal Blogs

The Democrats may be demoralized these days, but the Liberal blogs don’t seem to be demoralized. In fact, we seem to be particularly fired up. Somebody needs to go on the internet and read some of these blogs, like

There are lots of ideas out there. If the Democrats need energy and encouragement, much of that can be found online in the blogs.


President: Deborah White at said recently that Al Gore might be emerging as a top possibility for President in 2008. I'd love to see that.

Supreme Court: While we are speculating, I had a dream the other night that George W. Bush appointed Dick Cheney to the Supreme Court. He wouldn't do that, of course. Cheney is needed too much at the White House, and his age and health might mean he wouldn't serve for long. I think Bush wants someone young as his next pick, who'll be around a long time. But I was thinking, what if he chooses someone like Cheney, but someone who is young, healthy, not necessarily a judge, and who shares much of Cheney's ideology? Sorry, but that's scary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bush Links

Miss Cellania has some interesting links about George W. Bush on her blog today. These are definitely NOT pro-Bush links. Check it out. She has a good blog.


Over at Orwell’s Grave today, Stephen McArthur discusses President Bush’s quip to Kofi Annan about John Bolton: "Has the place blown up since he's been here?"

I think a lot of Bush's quips have to do with ignorance. Often he just doesn't know what is appropriate to say. For example, just after 9/11 he called the war on terrorism a "crusade." That was a bad choice of words.

Thing is, I have stopped expecting better from this President. Even in the midst of a crisis, when you would expect that he had been briefed extensively, that he had read background papers, and that he would have discussed the situation at length, it often still seems that he hasn’t mastered the material.

No one is immune from making stupid comments or quips, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to wait three more years before we can get a person in the White House who will issue more than talking points and platitudes, and who will make intelligent, insightful comments a majority of the time.

Good Thing, Bad Thing

One good thing about President Bush (or bad thing, depending on how you think about it) is that he seems to have so few ideas or principles of his own, that he’ll pretty much do whatever his most trusted advisors tell him (Cheney, Rice, Rove, Hughes, et al.)

But now he must have some other people talking to him, telling him he’s got to do something about New Orleans, do something about the poor, do something about energy prices. So he has responded by making a lot of speeches and attending a lot of photo ops. What has he actually done? What will he actually do? Much of that remains to be seen, especially as it filters through the prism of right-wing ideology that his Presidency has been based on so far.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Turn Out the Lights

This is something I thought I would never see: President Bush suggesting that we conserve gasoline. Next thing you know he’ll be saying that we need additional tax revenue to pay for some unexpected expenses.

I just remember back to May 7, 2001 when Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary at the time, said that high gasoline consumption was an American Way of Life, and that there was no need for real conservation. Also in 2001 Vice President Dick Cheney said that conservation is not a “sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” I guess even George W. Bush and his advisors can’t ignore reality forever.

But somehow the President just doesn’t come across as an effective cheerleader for gasoline conservation. Better men than he is have tried before and failed. For one thing his heart doesn’t seem to be in it; and for another thing he has been in denial for so long, I think he just hates to pull his head up out of the sand and face reality.

Besides, the American people aren’t going to buy conservation. Our entire society, from carpool lanes at schools and drive through lanes at fast food restaurants to gas guzzling cars and interstate highways, is geared toward consumption. The circumstances haven’t happened yet to change all that.

I am reminded of the expression, you make your own bed and you lie in it. If high gasoline prices harm Bush’s economy, well that is partly a problem of his own making.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Where's the Moral Compass?

In talking about President Bush's absence from Washington during the anti-war protest this past weekend, Tennessee Jed said, “You would think a man with Bush's education, training and background would not be afraid to face a little old crowd of grumpy simpletons and rest their worries face to face. I think it says a lot about a man, how he faces those who oppose him. What has it been saying about Bush not wanting to speak to Cindy and the gang, for example?

A lot of the magic of the Bush Presidency has been wearing off lately. The American public has been getting a more honest peek behind the scenes. The President has been described as petulant, among other not so flattering adjectives. I saw photos of him sitting at the UN this month looking like an angry schoolboy. I was also thinking the other day that maybe Bush is just put out because of all the actual work he is having to do. As he said in his debates with John Kerry last year, “It’s hard work.” But I don’t think he realized how hard.

People with Bush’s education, training, and background don’t have to act the way he does at times, but I’ll just go back to what I’ve said before: I think the job is too big and complex for him. When confronted with a problem of considerable magnitude he just doesn’t know what to do, so he does nothing, until the outcry becomes so loud that he can no longer ignore it. I guess we can be thankful that eventually he does do something, although we could wish he were a little quicker on the uptake.

Monday, Monday

The following articles are very eloquent:

According to Andrew Sullivan, George W. Bush is spending like a Socialist. And spending. And spending.

Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times, besides offering a critique of the Democrats, says that for the $200 billion we plan to spend on Katrina we could just give each of the displaced families $400,000.

The Waste of War? An article from the Independent (UK) says we have expended six billion bullets in Afghanistan and Iraq 2002-2005. That works out to 250,000 bullets for each insurgent killed. Manufacturers can’t keep with our demand, so we have had to buy bullets from Israel.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Does anyone believe it is just a coincidence that the President is in Colorado today while tens of thousands of anti-war protestors are in Washington?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Things Come in Threes?

An unpleasant thought: if the conditions remain the same as they were for Katrina and Rita, we could have a third hurricane in the Gulf area.

Disaster? Which Disaster?

The Newsweek article “Disaster, Take Two” argues that “the debate over the deficit, at least for the White House, is less about real numbers and more about politics.”

I would argue that it is all about politics. George W. Bush is a politician. That is all. For him, it always boils down to politics. That’s all he knows. He doesn’t know foreign affairs. He doesn’t know effective management skills. Half the time I don’t even think he knows what’s going on. His speeches, statements, and news conferences are reflective of that. Half the time he sounds confident and knowledgeable, and the other half he seems to be hesitant, groping for words.

The President will never raise taxes to pay for anything. He saw what happened to his dad when he went back on his “read my lips” pledge. George W. Bush will stubbornly maintain his position so that when the Democrats finally call for tax hikes, he can say, “Oh, the Democrats are just tax-and-spend Liberals,” and he can score more political points.

We currently have two major American cities that are paralyzed and effectively shut down. But I might argue that the real “Disaster, Take Two” occurred during last year’s Presidential election when George W. Bush was given a second term.

New Prostate Cancer Test

I applaud the new blood test for prostate cancer that is supposed to be better than the old PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. The old test has false positives 80% of the time, resulting in many unnecessary biopsies. The new test is correct about 80% of the time.

As anyone who has ever had one can tell you, a biopsy is no fun. It is like getting snapped in the butt a dozen times by a big, old rubber band. It hurts like hell. It’s enough to make someone want to never go through that experience again. And it is expensive. If you consider that with the PSA test a biopsy is unnecessary 80% of the time, then it is no wonder that medical costs in this country seem to be going up.

There are a lot of unnecessary procedures being performed out there. Of course some of that stems from the inadequacy of some of our diagnostic tests, but I also think part of it stems from the fact that a doctor buys expensive equipment, which he then has to use in order to recuperate his cost.

I’d like to see doctors try some alternative treatments when prostate cancer is suspected and not resort immediately to the biopsy.

In any event, hooray for the new prostate cancer test. Maybe it can help eliminate some needless suffering and wasteful spending.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Evacuation Plan

There has got to be a better way to evacuate a major American city than sending a million cars out on the highway at the same time like they've been doing in Houston.

Can't they use something like a zip code system, or something like that? All the people in a certain zip code can leave at noon, and then all the people in another zip code can leave an hour later or two hours later.

We need to come up with a better plan than we've got now, because this kind of problem could happen again, and we don't want to be as unprepared next time as we are this time.

The Trouble With Harry

I’m trying to decide where to file Harry Reid’s planned opposition to John Roberts’ confirmation: Profiles in futility? Profiles in pettiness? Profiles in senility?

I’m sure Senator Reid has his reasons for voting against Judge Roberts. He’s not up for reelection, and the final result is inevitable.

According to the Washington Post article “Words That Will Haunt,” Senator Reid's explanation of his planned vote will come back to haunt Democrats the next time they get a chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Yeah, I guess that’s true, or at least possible. I don’t know if Senator Reid has taken that into consideration, or if he even cares.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Reid wants to send the President a message that his next choice, the one to replace retiring Judge O’Connor, better not be too far out. And I think he is trying to make a statement that he didn’t like the way the process worked this time with access to materials, etc.

So with all that in mind I will file this under Profiles in Courage. Harry Reid isn’t telling the President that he can’t have his nominee confirmed. After all, he’s just one small voice out of one hundred. But he is telling the President that he doesn’t approve. And he has that right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saving Birds

In New York City they are planning to turn off the lights in their skyscrapers at certain times of the year in order to save the lives of migratory birds, which are apparently attracted by the light and run into the buildings. My question: if you turn off the lights and the birds can’t see the skyscrapers, wouldn’t they still run into them?

Apparently this strategy has been used in Chicago and Toronto. And apparently it works. It just seems a little odd to me.

Anything to save the birds is fine with me. I have a soft spot for birds anyway. I often watch them sitting on electrical wires all over town watching us, and I wonder what they might think about humans and our effect on the environment. That is not as immediate a concern as turning off lights in skyscrapers, but the environment is nonetheless a valid concern, one that I think about every day.

I wonder if President Bush thinks about it. And I wonder: if President Bush could “turn off a few lights,” figuratively speaking, to save a few birds, would he? And what would he say to the birds if they were to ask him, “Did you help us or harm us today?”

Odds and Ends

Foreign Perspective: American Dream Eludes the Poorest.

Survey: the Environment is a problem, but not enough to influence our votes.

Harry Reid plans to vote against John Roberts.

Senators discuss potential Supreme Court nominees with the White House.

Kathleen Townsend will lead the White House inquiry into Katrina response.

Peace Day

Today is the International Day of Peace. Pass it on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Engulfed by the Floods

It seems to me that President George W. Bush is being inundated by several rising floods simultaneously:
  • the rising flood of hurricane waters in New Orleans
  • the rising flood of American blood spilled in Iraq
  • the rising flood of American red ink
  • the rising flood of American tears
  • the rising flood of American anger

How much longer can he tread water/stay afloat?

( An article you might want to see)

1904 Too Many

Remember when U.S. casualties in Iraq topped 1700? 1800? It was only this past Spring. Now they have topped 1900 (Troop Deaths Hit 1904 In Iraq).

I wish this were not the case, but at the current rate of American deaths this figure could top 2000 by Thanksgiving. Isn’t that an awful prospect? It doesn’t have to be.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Debt and Deficits

Everybody is worried about spending $200 billion in Iraq? $200 billion on Katrina? We spend more than $300 billion each year for interest on the National Debt.

Now if, as Bill Clinton said on Meet the Press Sunday, we are borrowing money from nations like Japan, China, and Korea “every day to cover our deficit,” then aren’t we paying the interest to them?

Do you see how we are squandering the riches of this country, throwing away money for nothing except interest? I think running up the National Debt ought to be a crime. In my mind it already is.

P.S. Also on Meet the Press was Vice Admiral Thad Allen. He is very knowledgeable and articulate, the kind of man you need to do a tough job like the one in New Orleans. We need more men like him

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Reality Check

In discussing the Washington Post article on President Bush’s plan to pay for Gulf coast relief, one blogger said that the American public is “already tapped.”

How is the American public, especially the top 2%, already tapped out? I don’t see it. In fact, I see the contrary: people with lots of money who are out there spending it on Hummers, trips to exotic locales, second homes, etc.

It makes more sense to me to say that the Federal Treasury is tapped out, since it keeps going further and further in debt.

Such endless borrowing, with no thought for tomorrow, is to me irresponsible.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ideologue of Ideologues

In light of his refusal to raise taxes to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief, it is gradually (or quickly, depending on your perspective and involvement in the issue) becoming clearer how George W. Bush intends to conduct his Presidency: cut taxes, no matter what; never raise taxes, no matter what; wage war in Iraq, no matter what; run up deficits, no matter what it does to our country or to future generations.

Talk about ideologues, President Bush seems determined to conduct his Presidency according to a certain rigid ideology, one that he believes is good, but that I find particularly irresponsible. But hey, who am I to say? History will judge, and the American people will judge in the elections next year.

Our country is seriously out of whack. It’s time we swung a little back toward the left, just a little. A lot of people agree.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Being Presidential

Dan Balz has an interesting article today.

If President Bush starts acting like a Democrat, he is going to find that he still has a Republican Congress to deal with.

One Dimensional President So Far

We have no reason to think that the President’s speech last night was anything more than politics as usual from one of the most political Presidents ever to hold the job. In the coming weeks, months, and years we shall see if he can govern as well as he can campaign for office. And history will judge too if this President can finally be a uniter instead of a divider.

Our Food Is Important, Isn't it?

Why are we talking about President Bush having to go pee? Are we all like in the eighth grade or something?

I am much more interested in the three mice infected with Bubonic Plague that escaped from a lab in New Jersey. You think Hurricane Katrina caused mass destruction, just wait until you see something like The Plague in the streets of a major U.S. city.

Our country’s Biotech industry is just a huge accident waiting to happen, whether it is something as dramatic as a virus that escapes and kills thousands of people, or something slow and insidious like the unintended spread of GMOs that pollute our food supply with unwanted genetic material.

I have often said that we are being distracted from discussing important issues like Genetic Engineering. I know we have a lot on our plate with wars, natural disasters, terrorism, etc. But if we turn some killer virus loose, or if our food supply is somehow compromised to our detriment, then we’re just adding more problems to our plate. And, like the war in Iraq, it is something we could have chosen not to do. Let’s not intentionally bring more disasters upon ourselves. There are enough out there in the world without our creating more. Let’s take greater care in the handling of biohazards like Bubonic Plague, Ebola virus, etc. And let’s stop engineering all the food so that nobody knows what’s in it anymore.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Odds and Ends

Prayer or Pledge?

A Federal judge has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance, as currently written, is unconstitutional. (See story FOX, CNN)

You know, I wouldn’t have a problem with their taking the words “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember reciting the Pledge without those words, and I remember when the words were added. I was just as happy with them out as I am with them in.

We tend to think that you’re not a good patriot if you don’t accept the Pledge of Allegiance as it is and recite the words “under God,” but the words were added in 1954 only after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal society of Catholic men. I respect the Knights of Columbus, but why should they get to tell us how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance? Besides, were all those people wrong who recited the Pledge before 1954? (Incidentally, the Pledge of Allegiance is not written in stone. If you read the article by John W. Baer you will see how it has changed over the years and how many versions there have been.)

And I wonder if God would want His name invoked in that way. I can imagine God saying, “Look, if you’re really serious about being a nation under God, you might want to change the way you treat poor people and minorities for starters, then get back to me.”

If, as the Baer article states, the Pledge is now “both a patriotic oath and a public prayer,” I would have no problem losing the prayer part. Besides, religion should start in the home. I remember my mother reading the Bible to me, and I remember praying at home and in church. Praying in school is a little incongruous, don’t you think?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush Sinks In My Poll

The more I read or hear about George W. Bush the less I like him as a person. Has everyone read this week’s Newsweek article “How Bush Blew It”? It depicts the President as uninformed, surly (“cold and snappish”), and not really doing his job. Of course I first heard about the article on Countdown Monday night, and I couldn’t wait to get my copy in the mail yesterday.

A President should be informed about what is happening with his fellow citizens, and he should want to be informed. This whole episode just reinforces what everybody on the Left already knew: George W. Bush is not really qualified, in many ways, to be President. The job of President is a tough job. If you don’t want to pay attention to the plight of New Orleans (that is part of the job, you know) then get out and let someone be President who will.

I reiterate: If you want a President who cares about you, and how acts like he cares, vote Democratic. We won’t abandon you suffering at the Superdome.

P.S. Something is evolving that is getting harder to ignore. There seems to be an Impeach Bush movement flourishing on the internet. The Impeach Bush Coalition has an interesting website. They make the argument that if you can bring charges of criminal negligence against the owners of the rest home where 34 people died, then the President could be charged with criminal negligence for his part in the much larger catastrophe that befell New Orleans under his watch, or something to that effect. It is an interesting read.

Also, there is apparently a March on Washington scheduled for the weekend of 9/24. Wow, this is getting interesting.

In the meantime a dozen explosions kill and maim hundreds in Iraq, Hurricane Ophelia batters the North Carolina coast, and the beat goes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

John Roberts: Advise and Consent

If George W. Bush is seemingly doing such a poor job in so many areas, what makes us think he is not also doing a poor job at choosing Supreme Court justices?

We may have to live with his picks for the next twenty-plus years. They could change the entire character of the Court, and negatively impact the lives of citizens who can least afford that impact.

We should think long and hard about President Bush's Supreme Court nominees. We should ask tough questions and get answers. Once they are seated we won't get another chance.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Judy, Judy, Judy

I miss Judy Woodruff. Apparently she left CNN back in June. I also miss Inside Politics. It was a very good program which I could rely on for concise, insightful information. I don’t watch Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room which has tried to replace Inside Politics. I tried watching it, but I have a difficult time dealing with three hours of seemingly random information, not to mention all the commercials. I admit that Blitzer occasionally had some good interviews on his show, but the show needs to be organized better. I much prefer Connected on MSNBC and Hardball with Chris Matthews. If The Situation Room would clean up its act I might try again to watch it. In the meantime I’ll stick with MSNBC. Also, I discovered, during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, that Fox News Channel sometimes has good coverage.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Federal EMERGENCY Management Agency

  • FEMA needs to be headed by an Army General, or the Army Corps of Engineers, or someone who knows how to do a tough job; someone who knows how to move men and material. Definitely not a politician, or someone with no emergency management experience.

  • FEMA needs to remain in a constant state of preparedness.

  • FEMA needs to start with the assumption that, after a national emergency, people will be suffering. That's why it's called an emergency. Their suffering needs to be alleviated as soon as possible, within hours, not days or weeks. There needs to be compassion for all the victims.

Now, having said all that, there was a segment on Countdown last night in which they compared the emergency response after last year’s Florida hurricanes with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina. Last year was an election year, of course, and the relief effort in the home state of the President’s brother was magnificent, to say the least. The relief effort in New Orleans this year was . . . somewhat less than magnificent. Was it all about politics? Are relations between President Bush and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco strained? Does the President care more about white Floridians than he does about black Louisianans? I don’t know. That’s something the American public will have to decide. My current thinking is that there is not a lot wrong with FEMA, but there is a lot wrong with our leadership in this country. All that needs to be looked into. In the meantime, for God’s sake do something so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes the next time there is an EMERGENCY.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Refugees? Storm Victims.

I can understand how some people might not want to be called refugees. How about "storm victims?"

Wednesday's Thoughts

So in the future we have to worry about not only the hurricane but also Rick Santorum?

Barbara Bush’s comments Monday were interesting.

I hate to see the remaining people in New Orleans forcibly evacuated, but if their lives are in danger, explain the danger to them and then evacuate them if you can. Some people won’t leave, but I think it is their right to stay.

The Right Wingers seem to be self-destructing these days, but I think they’re only showing their true colors.

If you want elected representatives who care about you, and who act like they care, vote Democratic.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Water, Water Everywhere

The Tao Te Ching, chapter 78, says: “There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it.”

I never really paid much attention to this passage until I saw the havoc wrought by the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina. We would all do well to ponder these words for a while.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day Thoughts

I have to give Bill Frist credit for going to New Orleans and volunteering his help as a doctor.

I wish President Bush had gone to New Orleans. I really think that is the kind of thing a President does. His presence would have done wonders to bolster the mood of the city and of the nation. Instead it is a lost opportunity.

This administration has seemingly dropped the ball on several occasions. It is getting to be a pattern. When I think back over the Clinton administration I have the overall impression that someone was in charge and responding to the crises of the time. I don’t have that with this administration.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Arab Revenge and Hatred?

I recently picked up a copy of The Haj, a novel by Leon Uris. The notes on the back cover state that the book is a "sweeping tale of a land where revenge is sacred and hatred noble."

Revenge is sacred? Hatred is noble? Is this what we have gotten ourselves into in Iraq? If this is true I can't wait until we get out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Get Out

I was mowing the lawn recently, and I must have run over a hornet's nest, because I got several painful stings. I didn't take anything for it and my foot turned purple and swelled up real bad.

I learned that, sometimes when you're in a hornet's nest you just have to get out as fast as you can.