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.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Iraq: We flew right past number 2000, didn’t we? Now we’re at 2024 and, regrettably, still counting.

Also: Iraq, a country of about 26 million people, is paying a high price for freedom: one person in 1000 dead as a result of Bush’s war.

It might not have been a pretty sight, but Britain had it right when and they killed and burned all those cattle after they were threatened by mad cow disease. Something like that, perhaps more extreme, is going to be necessary to prevent the spread of bird flu.

Maybe Bill Gates could pledge $258 million to fight bird flu instead of malaria.

Let’s hope we’re not going to create anymore monsters like the GM mosquito with glowing gonads.

For more Genetic Engineering/Biotechnology, visit The Tao of Monsters.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Big Oil, Little People

Well you see, this is one thing I don’t blame the oil companies for (read article). But while I’m not blaming the oil companies, it is the public that is really getting screwed, as usual.

But this is one thing I do blame the oil companies for. You see, even though companies like Google may have huge profit margins too, Google didn’t take their money out of my pocket. The oil companies did. Look, we’ve tried having a President in the Oval Office who is chummy with Big Oil, Big Business, etc. Don’t we want to try having a President who cares about people like you and me? Not only that, but doesn’t this article shine a light on the fallacy of supply side economics? I mean, these oil companies have so much cash they don’t know what to do with it. So, are they going to use it to build new refineries? No. Are they going to use it to create jobs for people who need jobs, like the Bush economic theory is supposed to go? I doubt it. Are we going to get rebates? I'm not holding my breath.

Yes, the country is moving in the wrong direction, and we need a change, bigtime.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Following Links

The way that many in the media are talking about the CIA leak case is interesting. I hear a lot of discussion of links: who is linked to whom in the investigation? Where do the links lead?

That reminds me of the blogosphere. Of course the entire nervous system or even skeletal system, if you will, of the blogosphere relies on links.

Patrick Fitzgerald's case seems to rely on links.

I think a twenty-first century metaphor, the link, has come of age.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Would you believe . . .

. . . our Vice President doesn't adhere to the Golden Rule? Whatever happened to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?" When you start doing what the enemy does, don't you become like the enemy?

. . . if there was no reason to go to war, then there was no reason for 2000 soldiers to die, and no reason for thousands to be wounded and maimed? And if that is the case, then wasn't their sacrifice, which they and the country thought was noble, meaningless? Wasn't it for nothing? Nothing? Those are the hard questions that the country and the Bush administration have to answer. And that's what this leak probe is all about.

. . . the best way to honor the 2000 soldiers who have died in Iraq is to send 2000 more soldiers to die?

Genetic Engineering/Biotechnology: Visit The Tao of Monsters.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just Watching the News

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Would you believe . . .

Perjury is Serious

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has characterized perjury as some sort of technicality, but of course perjury is serious, and one reason is that if you commit perjury, then you have obviously done something that you don’t want to tell the truth about. So you lie. Perjury is not an isolated act. It has its roots in the original infraction that brought you into court. And while a Grand Jury may not know, or be able to find out exactly what you did in the first place, they know it was bad enough, at least in your own mind, for you to lie about it. A lie is connected to the reason for the lie. And perjury really is serious.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Would you believe . . .

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Genetic Engineering

I wrote many essays on genetic engineering from 2001 to 2003, as well as criticism of science and of sci-fi films. Come and read some at The Tao of Monsters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday's Notes

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In War, Who Wins?

Corporations have their no bid contracts, and President Bush used the war to help him get re-elected, but the American people are not really benefiting from the Iraq war.

Our soldiers are dying. Many of them are returning home with shattered lives. Nearly a quarter of Americans believe the war has made us less safe. And at almost $6 billion per month I don’t think we are really getting our money’s worth.

If we’re winning the war in Iraq, I would hate to see us if we were losing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Would you believe . . .

Monday, October 17, 2005

Democratic Agenda? Justice For All

Some people have said that the Democrats don’t seem to be able to capitalize on the recent chaos in Republican ranks by coming up with an agenda of their own and thereby offering a real, substantive alternative for future elections. So, what about a Democratic Agenda? Actually nothing could be easier. For example you could start with:

Fiscal Responsibility and a Balanced Budget;
Fair and Just Taxation, with every American paying his or her fair share of taxes;
Homeland Security, which concentrates on protecting the homeland and thwarting terrorism, not on settling grudges and preemptive war;
Real Family Values and Real Compassion, not just lip service or slogans;
Really fixing Social Security, not creating more problems;
Honesty, Openness, and Bipartisanship;
And Justice for All.

President George W. Bush gives us many examples of what government should not be. It is not enough, however, to be anti-Bush, or to do everything the opposite of the way Bush would do them, but that would not be a bad approach.

In formulating a Democratic Agenda, however, the goal should be Justice For All.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Victoria Plays Hardball

Victoria Toensing, in discussing the Karl Rove, Valerie Plame CIA leak controversy Wednesday night on MSNBC’s Hardball, really trashed Plame’s husband Joe Wilson, calling him an idiot, giving me the impression that he had been totally discredited, and that nobody takes him or his job seriously. What is she talking about????? As far as I can tell from everything else I have seen and heard, Joe Wilson is a respected public servant, bright, articulate, and highly knowledgeable. He answers questions directly, unlike most politicians or some pundits you hear, and discusses the issues openly. What's wrong with Joe Wilson? I'd like to know.


What about this scenario: Dick Cheney resigns, Bush appoints Al Gore Vice President, then Bush resigns, making Al Gore President?

I mean, IF both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby go (possibly Cheney???), and if the public outcry becomes much louder, I can imagine Bush throwing up his hands and saying to Gore: here, you take it if you think you can do any better. It’s all yours. You got more votes in 2000 anyway. I am outta here. I’m going back to Texas.

I know, I know, it’s not going to happen, but sometimes on a rainy Autumn afternoon it’s nice to fantasize.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Smart Bush, Dumb Bush

I never know which George W. Bush is going to show up, the smart one or the dumb one. Wednesday, during a photo and question op with the President of Poland, the President of the United States seemed confident, articulate, and a master of his material. At least half the time, however, he seems unsure, unprepared, and he stumbles his way through appearances. That kind of presentation may have seemed folksy or quaint during his first term, but with his poll numbers plummeting, and a plethora of crises swirling around him, his own performance often contributes to our negative feelings. It is as if we are willing to support the Smart Bush, but we have little patience with the Dumb Bush. And it seems as if lately he has been getting Dumb and Dumber. We may not need an intellectual in the Oval Office, but we need someone who, by his demeanor, can inspire the public’s confidence. We don’t have that now, at least not consistently.

On Harriet Miers

For a humorous perspective on the newest Supreme Court nominee, check out the October 14 installment of The Alternate Patriot.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Miers, Disappointing Pick

So, according to President Bush Harriet Miers is one of the top 50 women lawyers in the country. What I’d like to know is, which one is she? Is she number 49? If so, that would mean there are 48 other women lawyers who are better than she.

Is she number 10? I don’t think so. If that were the case, then he undoubtedly would have said that she was one of the top 10 women lawyers, and he didn’t.

Harriet Miers is one of the top 50 women lawyers? Big woop. Top 50 is not good. It just points out how many more people would have been better choices for the Supreme Court, not to mention all the qualified men.

If my basketball team was only in the top 50, I would be in for a disappointing basketball season. With the Harriet Miers nomination, we’ve already been disappointed and can look forward to more disappointment.

Would you believe . . .

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Before today the best news I had ever heard was when Dean Smith, head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team, retired. Smith was a highly successful coach who repeatedly broke the hearts of the fans of many other teams, including my NC State Wolfpack. The day he retired was glorious. Finally his near-monopoly would be broken. Of course Coach K competed on an equal, perhaps superior level, and did not ingratiate himself to many non-Duke fans, but Coach Smith had been around for 30 years. It was time for him to go, and we were glad.

Today is also a glorious news day (although it doesn’t rival the retirement of Coach Smith). With 50% of Americans in favor of impeaching President Bush because of the Iraq War, and with Al Gore looking better and better for 2008, the world, which has recently seemed to be spiraling down toward doomsday, may have hope after all. And considering all the recent GOP scandals, and the fact that Dick Cheney might end up as the target for the CIA leak investigation, I’m a happy man. I’m an optimist anyway, so I was just looking for something to feel good about.

President Bush, like Dean Smith, has broken the hearts of many opposing fans (especially Democrats) as well as those of many of his most ardent supporters. When he leaves office January 20, 2009, it will be none too soon. It won’t be the happiest day of my life, but almost.

Would you believe . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Would you believe . . .

We Need an Intellectual

Charles Krauthammer’s October 7 column "Withdraw this Nominee" was interesting. In it he said, "To serve in Congress or even the presidency, there is no requirement for scholarship or brilliance. For good reason. It is not needed. It can even be a hindrance, as we learned from our experience with Woodrow Wilson, the most intellectually accomplished president of the 20th century and also the worst."

Whew! That’s a lot to chew on!

True, there are no real job requirements, as there are for most other jobs, to serve in Congress or in the Oval Office. Those positions usually go to the best politicians, not to the most competent. Apparently Mr. Krauthammer thinks that’s a good thing. I don’t. You wouldn’t run a company that way, and you shouldn’t run a country that way either. When you do that you end up with someone like George W. Bush, who is arguably one of the least intellectually curious presidents in history, and some people would say that’s being generous.

So Mr. Krauthammer says that scholarship and brilliance are not needed. They may not be needed, as in a job description, but if they are utterly lacking, I think the country is in trouble. Besides, I would rather have a president from the top 2% of IQs than one from the top 2% of income.

Of course it is possible to have it both ways, genius and wealth. Then you end up with FDR and JFK.

But to carry Mr. Krauthammer’s absurd argument against intellectualism even further, Doctor Bill Frist should not be in politics because he is too well educated. Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were too intellectual for the presidency. Got that?

Shouldn't we be trying to attract the best and brightest to the presidency instead of something much less?

Finally, Mr. Krauthammer singles out Woodrow Wilson as the worst president of the 20th century. I thought he would have named Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. Wilson? I don’t know. What about Hoover or Nixon? They might get some votes for Worst President of the 20th Century. Maybe Keith Olbermann will do a segment like that on MSNBC’s Countdown. In the meantime we have Mr. Krauthammer’s assessment, and what an assessment it is.

The job of president is a hard job and it is getting harder. We need people with the intellect, energy, commitment, curiosity, creativity, and vision to handle the job. Oh, but that’s right, we do have Dick Cheney.

But seriously, I yearn for a strong president again like FDR, JFK, LBJ. When they were in office you had the feeling that someone was in charge; that someone was working hard for all the people, not just for a few; and that someone had all those positive attibutes to lead our country to better times. I just don’t have that feeling now.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Don't Sue Me, It's a Joke

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show today, took a swipe at court TV programs like Judge Judy and The People’s Court by saying, “I think there’s something sick about making entertainment out of real people’s legal problems.”

He said he will miss Sandra Day O’Connor because she makes better cookies than Justices Ginzberg or Souter.

When asked about the 2000 Presidential election, he said that he felt lucky to be one of only a handful of Americans who got to vote twice.

He went on to say that the process for choosing Supreme Court justices and Presidents has become too politicized.

Would you believe . . .

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Would you believe . . .

Friday, October 07, 2005

NO to Hillary and to JFK2

I think we should forget about Hillary Clinton and John F. Kerry for 2008. They both helped get us into the mess we find ourselves in now (IRAQ, for example.) How can they make a credible case for change when they are part of the problem?

The only people I can think of who are not tainted by the past five years are Howard Dean and Al Gore; perhaps Wesley Clark. Sure, they ran and lost, but maybe they were just ahead of their times. For one of them at least, maybe his time is 2008.

Would you believe . . .

Miss Cellania on Delay

Miss Cellania is delving into politics again, this time with a humorous column about Tom Delay. Some of this stuff really is double-edged: it’s funny on the one hand and serious on the other. Thanks to Miss Cellania for providing some entertainment and perspective on this Friday morning.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

For a change

Sometimes things get so bad, and there’s so much bad feeling in the country, that you just have to make a clean break and have a fresh start. That’s what happened in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected, bringing a new sense of optimism to a country wallowing in high interest rates, a hostage crisis, malaise, etc. That’s what happened in 1932 when FDR came along and pulled us out of the Depression.

Now the country is wallowing in bad luck, red ink, flood waters, poverty, spilled blood, tears, anger, raw nerves, high energy prices, political scandals. The country is in desperate need of a change. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the current group of politicians until the next election.

If the President is the symbol of the country when it is doing well, he is also the symbol of the country when it is not doing so well. That is what George W. Bush has become, just like Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover before him.

He can't run for re-election, so we don't have to worry about that. But the members of Congress can run for re-election, and they are, in some ways, just as much a symbol of what is wrong in this country as is the President. They gave him his judicial appointments. They gave him his tax cuts. They gave him his wars. They collaborated in creating the mess we find ourselves in now.

It’s going to take a while to turn our country around, but we can start in 2006. I suggest that we vote out as many of the President’s allies in Congress as possible. Then in 2008 we do more of the same, with the additional opportunity to elect a Democratic President.

America is a great country. We deserve great leaders, not just great politicians. In 2006 and 2008 we can get rid of some of the politicians and elect some leaders, for a change.

Would you believe . . .

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bush, Nobel Laureate?

The Nobel Prize committee today announced that President George W. Bush has been under consideration for an unprecedented six Nobel prizes this year:

Economics, for cutting taxes on the rich and helping more people into poverty;
Physics, for his astute observation that no one could have foreseen the breach of the levees in New Orleans;
Medicine, for his plan to send the Army into the streets of America to fight the Avian Flu;
Chemistry, for the obvious chemistry that exists between him and his nominee for the Supreme Court;
Peace, for sending Karen Hughes to tell the women of Turkey that waging war promotes peace; and
Fiction (to be shared with Colin Powell,) for his 2003 State of the Union Address.

Stay tuned for more developments as they become available.

It's Always Something

For a long time I really didn’t worry about very much. That all changed in 1996 when Hurricane Fran roared through North Carolina leaving billions of dollars worth of damage. Ever since then I have taken hurricanes very seriously.

In recent years there has been a lot more to worry about: terrorism, fuel shortages, stock market collapses, more natural disasters, to name but a few.

Now we have the threat of a global pandemic from Avian Flu. Laurie Garrett, author of the 1995 book The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance gave an interview to Newsweek during which she spoke about the risks. Apparently this flu has not yet developed into a disease that would cause a pandemic, but it has tremendous potential to do so.

I agree that the world, as Ms. Garrett’s book title characterizes it, is indeed out of balance. But it is out of balance in more ways than one. Furthermore, my feeling is that if this flu doesn’t get us, some disease will, eventually. The conditions, worldwide, with the emergence of one new disease after another, just seem to be conducive to fostering and spreading new, virulent diseases.

I’m glad that Avian Flu seems to be on President Bush’s radar, but I really don’t agree with his solution of putting the military on the streets of the United States. I mean, what is it with this President? His solution to every crisis is a military solution? Do we have a deficit of imagination here, as well as our other deficits?

All in all, however, we seem to be pretty much on top of this situation, unless you factor in our not having enough medicine to treat it if it gets out of hand very fast.

We ignored other threats for too long. Right now, at least, it seems that we are not making the same mistake this time.

Would you believe . . .

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quintessentially Texan

One thing that may be overlooked in the discussion about Harriet Miers: she is a Texan.

When faced with the task of choosing someone to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, I am not surprised that George W. Bush chose a Texan. Texas is his real political base, and in choosing Miers he has solidified that base.

George W. Bush is intensely political. It is not surprising that he could not find someone outside of Texas who was better qualified. A lot of other Texans will agree.

Hurry it Miers

Palema of The Alternate Patriot says, “I think the real problem with this nominee (Harriet Miers) is not what we do not know, but what we do know: she is, first and foremost, a Bush loyalist.”

So true. And I agree. I know enough about her already to be really apprehensive of some of her decisions if she is confirmed.

I mean they are trying to rush through her confirmation by Thanksgiving so that she will be seated in time to consider an important abortion case, aren’t they?

Would you believe . . .

The Roberts Court

Here is how I think the US Supreme Court is going to shape up over the next few years:

John Roberts will emerge as the new swing vote, much as Sandra Day O’Connor has been the swing vote on so many cases in recent years.

Harriet Miers, if confirmed, will be more in the mold of William Rehnquist.

Don’t expect John Roberts to lead the Court into the Right Wing, at least not immediately. I believe Justice Roberts likes an appealing argument. I think he will sit back, see which side has the most appealing argument, and then go in favor of that argument. I also think that being in the middle, being the swing vote, appeals to a man of his intellect and judicial philosophy.

President Bush may be in for some surprises here. He may have gotten another Rehnquist and another O’Connor, just not ones of the same genders.

Monday, October 03, 2005


One thing I keep hearing about Harriet Miers is that we know nothing about her judicial philosophy. I also keep hearing that we can’t ask her about cases that might come up before the Supreme Court in the future.

But we have to find out more about her before she is confirmed, don’t we? Can’t we ask her what she thinks about certain issues? And can’t we ask her how she feels about cases that have been decided by the Court in the past?

There are questions she can be asked and there are answers she can give. If she doesn’t respond, well the Senate does not have to confirm.

Would you believe . . .

Choosing a Friend

If I wanted to choose someone to be the guardian for my son should I die, I might choose my friend Mike. I have known him for thirty years. I know how he thinks and what he believes. We agree on many issues, we share many values, and I could trust him to raise my son as I would raise him.

I think the same sort of analogy applies to Harriet Miers, President Bush’s choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor. She and the President are very close. He knows how she thinks and what she believes. They agree on many issues. They share many values. He can trust her with his legacy.

What does that mean? I think it means a neoconservative, right-wing agenda, just as if he had chosen someone like Dick Cheney.

If we were looking for a hard working person to fill the vacancy, Harriet Miers might be the perfect choice. But I thought we were looking for a thoughtful judge, someone like John Roberts, perhaps Maureen Mahoney, a highly respected person with Supreme Court experience, who would probably win strong bipartisan support.

Harriet Miers is much more difficult to justify to anyone outside the President’s inner circle. Her choice immediately evokes such words as “crony,” and there seem to be many other people out there who are much more qualified to be a Supreme Court justice than she is.

I think President Bush’s choice was made on an ideological basis. He chose someone who he could trust, and who, consequently, the right wing could trust. We could be in for a fight over this one.