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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

America Needs a Leader
Well you see, Hillary Clinton has to appear like a hawk. No one is going to elect a woman unless she appears strong on defense and security issues. The reason, I think, is that no one believes a woman would take us to war. Women are perceived as weak, and Kathleen Blanco’s milquetoast response to Katrina, for example, did much to harm women’s political causes in this country. The only problem with Hillary Clinton’s speeches, letters, and emails about the war, it seems to me, is that she never seems to take a clear position. At least Howard Dean, for all his negatives, was against the war. The President is for the war. Even Senator Clinton’s husband has said the war was a mistake. Senator Clinton, I think, appears timid, unwilling to commit herself. And that is why I think she doesn’t really deserve to be President. They say, "No guts, no glory." If you want some glory, Ms. Clinton, show some guts. How? Maybe you could start by showing some righteous indignation over being misled into war. Maybe you could come out on the attack instead of being on the defensive. In other words, maybe you could lead instead of follow. I know you’re not "running for President" yet, but you are a United States Senator, and senators can lead.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Soldiers: Poor, Rich, or Sick?
There is an article in USA Today that debunks the myth that soldiers in our military come disproportionately from lower income groups. I’m willing to accept the conclusions of these writers, although I do reserve the right to some skepticism. I know full well how easy it is to selectively choose statistics to make any point you want to make.

All that aside, however, here is what I would like to see: since we have an all volunteer military, how many well-adjusted, psychologically fit volunteers do we have? With a draft, it was possible to have a truly balanced and democratic cross-section of the population. With a volunteer force, only certain kinds of people volunteer for the military. With the abuses at Abu Graib, etc, I just wonder what proportion of the military is sadistic or sociopathic? How many are well-adjusted and psychologically fit? Abuses like those we have seen don’t just happen by accident. There has to be an underlying cause. I’d like more attention paid to finding out what that cause is.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

The Tao of George W. Bush

Still available

The Tao of George W. Bush

Perfect Christmas Gift

See my other books at right>

Monday, November 28, 2005

No More Abortions
There is a report in the British press that as many as fifty babies each year are alive after their mothers undergo an abortion. This news, it seems to me, is like an unwanted taste of reality. It is easy enough for a woman to say, “Well, you just perform an abortion, the fetus goes away, and then you can get on with your life.” With this latest news that, after an abortion in England you end up with a living person in your hands that you then have to kill, I don’t think you can ignore the harsh reality: abortion is murder. No one has a right to kill another human being. So, instead of finding better ways to perform abortions, ones whose outcomes are not so embarrassing, why don’t we just stop all the killing?

Bird Flu
Join me in The Tao of Biotechnology for a discussion of Avian (bird) flu.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Iraq Pullout Timetable
Iraqi leaders are now advocating a timetable for withdrawal of all foreign troops from their country. I wonder what the Bush administration’s reaction will be to this. It’s pretty hard to stay the course when even the Iraqi government doesn’t want us there.

Here’s what we’re looking at today in The Tao of Biotechnology:
Could a new AIDS-like pandemic be inevitable?
Fruits and Vegetables could make you sick.
Updating efforts to combat bird flu.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Biotech Blog
Please join me at The Tao of Biotechnology for a more balanced discussion of the science that will change all our lives.
Political Notes
Former Senator Bob Graham has an interesting perspective on the situation prior to the Iraq war. I’m sure some will attack him as having a political agenda. But it is interesting to me how often, when I hear Democrats talk, they sound very reasonable and respond to questions directly; and how often, when I hear Republicans talk, they respond with negativity and talking points.

It’s about time we had a frank discussion of the Iraq war. The president has been hiding behind the enemy for so long, with no one daring to challenge him lest they commit political suicide, but now it is time to ask some tough questions and get some straight answers. After all, discussion of this kind, in a democracy, is healthy. Secrecy is not.

Speaking of the president, has anyone seen video of the him in Asia? He doesn’t look good or sound good. He looks like he wants to go someplace and hide. Maybe he is suffering from jet lag, but I’m worried about him. Sometimes I get the impression he is teetering on the edge.

Other News of Note
Apparently Hadley is Woodward’s source?

Simply Left Behind has some interesting, ongoing discussions.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Democratic Agenda
Carl and his readers at Simply Left Behind are working on a Democratic Agenda. Join the discussion there. It's democracy at work. Good luck Carl.

Friday, November 18, 2005

War Notes
How must the troops feel when they hear that members of Congress are calling for withdrawal from Iraq? They might feel relieved, and glad to know that they could be coming home soon.

For those who say that such talk only emboldens the enemy, well it seems to me that the enemy is pretty bold now, so that argument just doesn’t wash.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Misleading Statements
If anyone wants to see the way we were misled into war in Iraq, check this story out. George W. Bush and all his henchmen ought to be confronted with the truth. Please, everyone, pass the truth along.
Health Notes
Vaccines being developed to combat bird flu may be ineffective because by the time the vaccine is produced the virus may have mutated into a different form. Additionally, there have been proposals in China and the UK to replace all the world's chickens with genetically modified ones that would be immune to the bird flu, but doesn't the same problem exist with this plan? If you modify the chickens and the virus mutates, then it seems to me like all you have is a bunch of genetically modified chickens that may or may not be effective in preventing a pandemic. And once you change the world's chickens, you can't go back. They're gone forever. But of course the corporation that patented it would be doing well. The world eats a lot of chicken.

Britain plans to ban importing all captive birds (except chickens.) Well, that sounds like a real solution to beating a bird flu pandemic.

Here's another example of scientists sticking their, uh, nose where they shouldn't. Doctors developed a technique through which they can use a device to help infertile couples get pregnant by injecting a human sperm directly into a human egg. Only problem, they find out now that babies born using this technique may be more prone to having more birth defects. Did you ever think that maybe there's a reason those sperm were not impregnating those eggs? Did you ever think that maybe nature wants the strongest sperm to pass on their traits, not the weakest? I don't know if any of this is the reason for the birth defects, but it's worth looking into. (Note: here is an interesting article. It says that this technique is used mainly for male infertility, and when the man doesn't produce good quality sperm.)
Attacking Lies

It should be easy enough to determine if Congress saw the same intelligence as the White House. Can't we just go back and look at the intelligence? They have to keep all that stuff, don't they? They can't throw it away. All the pre-war intelligence should still be available, and it could be examined.

Also, one fruitful avenue to explore, I think, is in the administration's attitudes leading up to the war. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that Bush decided to go war independent of any intelligence, even soon after he took office in early 2001. As Ray McGovern, a former analyst with the CIA said, "The decision to make war on Iraq pre-dated the intelligence. It was made at the latest in the spring of 2002 – intelligence had not yet spoken [at that point]." And the Downing Street memos said that the facts were being fixed around the policy. All this doesn't sound like a commander-in-chief with an open mind, who would have responded well to resistance, or to the word "no." It doesn't sound like a commander-in-chief who wanted to exhaust all his options for peace, and use war as a last resort. But that is what he was saying in public. Doesn't that alone constitute lying to the American people? Doesn't that alone constitute misleading us into war?

Background: Murtha speaks out (Post, CNN) --- Bush/Cheney on the attack (Post) --- Another attack (Post) --- Cheney attacks (NYT) --- Democrats are not all bad (Post)

Wrongs of the New Millennium

So Bush was wrong about WMDs. Now 2000+ are dead, $200 billion is spent, 15,000+ wounded and maimed, with no end in sight. Pretty expensive mistake. Don't we pay the president to get it right? Isn't this mistake alone enough to condemn him? Other people and countries -- including the oft-maligned French -- were telling him he was wrong. He ignored them all. He was determined to go to war, no matter what the real threats were. He did not use war as a last resort, as he said he would. I think that ignoring the truth, along with sending men into battle with faulty intelligence ought to be a punishable offense.

I know that if I cost our country 2000 lives and $200 billion I would be in big trouble. The president should be in big trouble. Getting it wrong ought to matter and it ought to have consequences. Getting it wrong certainly has had consequences for the 2000+ dead and the 15,000+ wounded and maimed. It certainly has consequences for all our citizens and for our economy. President Bush seems to be trying to pass the buck. Where does the buck stop? Don't we need to get people in there who don't make the kinds of mistakes that George W. Bush makes? Hmmm?

They got it wrong on pre-war intelligence, wrong on Katrina, wrong on tax cuts for the rich, wrong on cuts in benefits for the poor, wrong on burgeoning deficits. How much else are they wrong about? How long are we going to take it? George W. Bush and the Republicans are just Wrong for America.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Health Notes
Not everyone is enthusiastic about Genetic Engineering. There are still a lot of critics out there. And the public would do well to think more critically about this subject. I know there is a lot to think about in this crazy, chaotic world, but shouldn't we give a little thought to the food we eat?

Chemicals in Teflon are toxic. Is anybody still using Teflon? I never did use it because I thought it might be DANGEROUS.

Children in car crashes may suffer traumatic stress? Really? You think?

You know, I was worried about drinking a glass or two of red wine every evening, but there are some people out there who are drinking 190 proof grain alcohol. Who drinks 190 proof anything?
Attack of the Aliens

As if we needed anymore evidence that people don’t always know what they’re doing, here it is. Just when we were so worried about bird flu, now it seems we also have to worry about things like killer bees and snakehead fish. Lots of living things, these two included, have been introduced by man into habitats where they do not normally live. They often wreak havoc with indigenous species, and it is often nearly impossible to get rid of one of these “alien species” once they have gotten a foothold, not to mention the economic and environmental damage that may ensue.

We are doing the same thing sometimes with Genetically Engineered (GE) crops. Many of them certainly meet the criteria to be called an “alien species,” first because they have never existed before (they are somebody’s new invention), and additionally because they have never existed alongside natural crops. Often the GE crops cross-pollinate with the natural crops, resulting in a sort of hybrid, and often they supplant them entirely. Sometimes it is nearly impossible to get rid of the GE species once it has gained a foothold.

While countries around the world are trying to prevent the spread of “alien species” maybe they could do something about Genetically Engineered species as well. Not everyone views them as the boon that some scientists and businessmen do.

Democratic Agenda?
There has been some talk recently about a Democratic Agenda, or a lack thereof. If you visit the Democratic Party website, you will find a fairly extensive agenda there.

The Tao of George W. Bush

Still available

The Tao of George W. Bush

Perfect Christmas Gift

See my other books at right>

News of Note
More on Woodward and Plame --- Senate Resolution on the War --- National Energy Policy --- Future’s So Dark We’ve Gotta Get More Light

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Observations from Mars

Woman has sex with teenaged boys and goes to prison. Administration officials and oil execs have secret meetings to determine national energy policy. Conclusion: it is all right to screw the country, but it is not all right to screw teenaged boys.

First Siegfried and Roy are attacked by tigers. Then two Iraqi men claim the military used lions to torment them. Note to self: what is America’s fascination with large cats?
Snidely Snippets
Question: So either you're a liar or extremely incompetent? Great choice.

If the mushroom cloud assertion by the Bush administration was false, and if they knew it was false, or even if they suspected it was false, then they terrorized the American people.

There has often been speculation that officials in government have been playing politics with terror. Keith Olbermann talks about this in great detail in his "The Nexus of Politics and Terror." Scaring the American people for political purposes is Terrorism. Does the Bush administration engage in this behavior?

Let's welcome Gorrila Culture to the blogosphere. He has an interesting video on Despotism.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Blame Game

If you tell me that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, and I go and tell someone else that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, am I then to blame for believing you when we find out he doesn't have weapons of mass destruction, more than 2000 men have died, and $200 billion is spent, or are you to blame?
(White House Press Release)
Who's the Patriot?

The Bush administration may not have pressured people to change intelligence and lie, but they most certainly pressured everyone to accept their view of the situation in Iraq, including by falsely threatening mushroom clouds, and by questioning our patriotism, because that is what they are doing now: they are pressuring everyone to accept their version of things, and they are using the same tactics as before, including questioning our patriotism. It not unpatriotic to question this war. It is unpatriotic not to.
(Washington Post, NYT)
Fed Up With Bush

I don't know how many times I can say that I think the president is a jerk for taking us to war for no reason. I don't know how many times I can say that we need a change in Washington. You see, I've made up my mind, based on the president's record for the past five years (actually I decided a long time ago) and I'm ready to move on. Unfortunately we can't move on. We've got this guy and his policies in the White House for the next three years. We may have had a lot of pain so far, but we have a lot more pain to go through in the future.

But it's not just the war. It's also the way this president treats the citizens he governs. He claims to be a compassionate conservative, yet it seems that compassion is never his reaction to anything. How many times can we go through the litany of missed opportunities by this president, including such opportunities as that of Katrina? I don't know.

Is America better off today than she was five years ago? More than 2000 of our soldiers are dead and many more thousands are maimed for life. Untold numbers of poor people are poorer today than they were five years ago. The Republican Congress keeps trying to cut many social programs like food stamps and Medicaid, while at the same time cutting taxes for the rich.

I want Bush out of office, but I have to wait and just hope he doesn't screw up the country too much before he finally does leave office. And I also have to keep going through the litany shortcomings, errors, and downright malicious acts (especially toward the poor) committed by this administration because Americans tend to forget, and we can't let them forget. We have to keep harping on this every day until the next election. And after that we need to harp on it every day until the next election. We must let America know that things may be bad, but that help is on the way. And then we need to elect some Democrats, because we care about all Americans. (For further reading, see E. J. Dionne's column, USA Today article, CNN)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Al Gore Sighting

Al Gore speaks out on capitalism, terrorism, and global warming; and scientists say that global warming could promote the spread of the plague.
Health Notes

Scientists, it seems, will do a study on almost anything. (study) I don’t believe in the validity of a lot of these studies. Maybe there should be a study analyzing how many of the studies out there are worthwhile and how many are worthless. Maybe there should be a study analyzing how many studies are conducted for the improvement of mankind and how many are conducted for money alone. (Oh, and here’s another case in point.) Can we spend our money curing diseases and not doing studies?

After two years and 32 deaths, hospital closes liver transplant program. It's about time.

So elderly people using sleeping pills may actually face more risks? You think?

And sleepy students don’t perform well in school? Really? I don't need a study to tell me that.
Political Notes

Since when did the United States become an oil exporter? Have we joined OPEC? While there are increasing energy shortages here at home, we can afford to send petroleum abroad? Oh, it's the oil company execs who are sending (selling) oil abroad. That explains everything. Just business as usual. Forget about national security. So now we have to pass a law to get them to stop. Great. --- Business people in Asia say that the policies of the Bush administration have been destabilizing for their region. They also characterize Washington as something of a bully. So much for American good will abroad. --- At home, the Bush administration has not taken steps to deal with the many health problems of servicemen returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Don't you think it's about time we looked into that? --- Surprizingly, to me at least, a large number of soldiers returning from war in the Middle East are unemployed and homeless. Yet President Bush continues to paint a rosy picture, while the picture is anything but rosy. How about a little compassion here? Oh that's right, it's compassionate conservatism that got them in this mess. --- President Bush might say "We don't torture," but sometimes there's not much difference between torture and interrogation. --- Bush rules out White House bid for 2008. Jeb Bush, that is. Well that's good news.

Other News of Note

1100 lawyers leave Saddam's defense team? I don't blame them for quitting, with so many of them getting murdered, but how many lawyers does he have? --- A lot of people would like to know how Andrew Stimpson beat AIDS. Should he undergo further testing to answer those questions? Mark Jaquith at Tempus Fugit blog says no. --- We're still talking about the heated bra? Ok, I'll give up my opposition to them if they'll give free lessons on how to unhook them.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Political Note

President Bush said Friday that it is “legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war.” Well, public opinion on those two issues is hovering in the range of 60% of Americans against. So, yes, Mr. President, we are criticizing your decision to go to war. It was not necessary. And we are criticizing the conduct of the war. More than 2000 Americans have lost their lives in a war that was not necessary. That is wrong. Wrong.

Observation from Mars

Newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that the desire to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is “an indulgence bordering on decadence.” Meanwhile, millions of Americans continue driving trucks, SUVs, Hummers, etc., as well as wasting gasoline in fast food drive throughs, and letting their cars idle for twenty minutes while waiting for someone to return from a “quick” dash inside a store. Conclusion: those blue areas of the planet Earth must be composed of gasoline; and Charles Krauthammer, who seems to be the only one worrying about gasoline, should consider using anti-anxiety medication.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Utterances of the Rich and Famous

Gee, you know, when I'm 75 years old I hope people pay as much attention to what I say, and discuss my pronouncements as much as they are discussing those of Pat Robertson. (I don't want to say too much about this, however. I'm afraid he will start praying that I die.) But to me he really seems like a silly old man, maybe a throwback to the Old Testament prophets. I don't think his utterances deserve this kind of attention.

In some ways the coverage of Pat Robertson is like when the cable networks covered that JetBlue plane circling the airport for hours, burning fuel because its landing gear had malfunctioned. Many people stayed glued to the TV, obviously prepared to see a plane crash. Similarly, people now are glued to the Pat Robertson story. Maybe he'll say something else controversial and we can talk about that for weeks. Of course he is rich, and he does have a following, so who knows? I guess he is at least as newsworthy as a plane crash. And in some ways he is more entertaining than Al Franken.

For those of you who just have to read more about Pat Robertson, there are articles at CNN, The Washington Post, Fox News, and background in Wikipedia.
In a Parallel Universe

In a parallel universe we are trying to increase programs for the poor, not cut them; (Post)
we are more concerned about torture and secret prisons than we are about leaks; (CNN, Post)
our White House doesn't need a refresher course on ethics; (Post)
all men are brothers and there is peace on earth; (Post)
and no one ever has to attach electrodes to his testicles. (Ananova)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

News of Note

You know the world is getting decadent when people can now buy real estate that exists only inside a computer, while people who exist outside computers are homeless, starving, and dying.

Do we really want a heated bra? Has anyone thought about the possible medical implications of having something that unnaturally heats the breasts?

So America might have used incendiary devices in Iraq, but it wasn’t in civilian areas, and besides the US didn’t sign the international treaty restricting white phosphorus devices, so that makes it all right?

A new test for Down syndrome: will it result in fewer abortions or more?

Is the world really ready for another monster?

The Tao of George W. Bush

Still available

The Tao of George W. Bush

Perfect Christmas Gift

See my other books at right>
Health Notes

As if the people of the Pakistan earthquake don't have enough to worry about, now they are afraid it might rain.

Why did 30 people waiting for liver transplants at UC Irvine Medical Center die 2004 - 2005? It wasn't because there weren't enough livers to go around. In fact there were 122 livers. --- If you needed another reason to stay out of hospitals, this one is pretty scary.

Estimated costs associated with bird flu keep rising. --- Concerning bird flu, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and dies like a duck, then it's probably a duck.

The FDA wants to limit claims that lycopene is effective in preventing cancer. But we can still eat all the spaghetti we want. --- The Food Industry profits by targeting certain foods to people with certain diseases. --- And now there is no more free ride with tinted contact lenses.

Finally, donating your sperm might end up being more complicated than you think.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Tao of Love

Available as e-book

or paperback

More information here

a nice Christmas gift too. . .

Health Notes

If we were more careful and moderate in this country about what we eat, and if we all lost a little weight, we wouldn’t need so many pharmacists, pharmacy schools, or pharmaceuticals.

It’s interesting how we go to the UN when we want to, but badmouth them and leave them out of the loop at other times.

I don’t eat meat, but if there are flaws in our country’s efforts to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, I hope someone corrects them and corrects them quickly.

Asian poultry industry faces wrenching change from bird flu”? Good. It’s about time. Asia needs to change, and change quickly, and change drastically if we are to avert a pandemic – that is if we are not too late. Thing is, it’s going to take a concerted effort from all Asian countries, not just a few.
Political Notes

Democrats won the two governorships up for grabs yesterday. You know, if the Democrats could just win one of the houses of Congress in the 2006 elections, it seems like they could spend years investigating the excesses and abuses of the past five years, and really drag out the Republican pain for a long time.

When Harry Reid criticized the Vice President the other day, Cheney got angry I guess and accused Reid of "malicious conduct." I consider the conduct of Libby, Rove, and anyone else involved in outing Valerie Plame as malicious also. Hooray for Harry. The Democrats actually have some leaders after all.

Executives from the nation's largest oil companies are appearing before a Senate committee today to answer questions about their recent huge profits while the rest of the country is fretting over high energy profits. This should be interesting.

Since the countries of Asia are the major source of the world's avian flu, it only makes sense for President Bush to ask them for more help in battling this disease. At this moment, particulary in Asia, I think battling bird flu is our biggest priority. Let's hope the President doesn't get distracted when he attends the APEC forum in South Korea later this month.

Parents of a dead Palestinian boy, in what some call "a gesture of love," have donated his organs for use in Israel.

Other News of Note

It doesn't take a scientist to see Kansas as backward, particularly after their Board of Education approved new standards for teaching science "that cast doubt on the theory of evolution." CNN also has a story on this, as does the BBC, New York Times, and Washington Post.

It's not often that one hears the truth these days, but when French rioters say, "We hate France and France hates us," I wouldn't be surprized if they were right on both counts.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Health Notes

There is no magic pill. It seems that for every good thing, there is also something bad about it. Now they're saying that regular aspirin use can reduce a person's risk of skin cancer. That may be true, but regular aspirin use can also cause a person to develop tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. I know people who have committed suicide because of tinnitus. If you don't want to develop skin cancer, stay out of the sun, or use sunblock, etc.

Vietnamese farmers are apathetic about fighting bird flu. If we don't bring them onboard, we may never bring this disease under control.

Everything has a price tag. For some things the price is calculated in dollars or euros, or in some cases human lives. A recent estimate suggests that a possible flu pandemic may cost $550 billion dollars, 100,000 - 200,000 deaths, 700,000 hospitalizations, etc.

Now China is talking about developing genetically engineered chickens, presumably to be immune to the bird flu. I don't like it when science proposes to change an entire species of animal. I just don't think it is a good idea. As far as I'm concerned the chicken is not the problem. I talk about this a lot at my other blog, The Tao of Monsters. But the main problem I have with this article is the way the author seems to actually be promoting this technology, and also seems totally non-skeptical. Dorothy Nelkin wrote a 1995 book Selling Science: How the press covers science and technology. In it she details how the press often promotes the science that it should be reporting on in a non-biased way. I think the author of this article on Chinese GM chickens displays an attitude that is too biased.

Then of course you have countries like Turkey that, even though they have had actual cases of bird flu, continue to downplay the risks involved. I swear this is how the world will end, with us standing around quibbling about whether this is the bird flu or not, while birds drop dead all around us from flu-like symptoms. If the world is to avoid serious consequences from bird flu, it requires that we take serious measures, not half measures.

Bush Joke
How many members of the Bush Administration does it take to screw in a light bulb? Find out at Rational Dissent in an Imperfect World.

Further Reading
French riots --- Sex at school --- Media Minimizing Iraq War Crimes? --- Election Day

Monday, November 07, 2005

No to torture!

Check out Simply Left Behind for a pretty powerful anti-torture statement.
Would you believe . . .

. . . Halliburton overcharged Iraq and did shoddy work? I'm shocked!

. . . when President Bush said that the US and Brazil were the world's two largest democracies, he was talking land area? Brazil is almost three times larger than India.

. . . Hugo Chavez was more successful this weekend than President Bush was? And Chavez called Bush a loser?

. . . somebody provided intentionally misleading data in the Iraq affair? Maybe more than one person?

. . . Senator Barbara Mikulski is not happy?

. . . we're still talking about Red States and Blue States? I wrote a book about the subject.

. . . there's a lot of disinformation to dismantle? For help in getting started visit The Democratic Daily.

Still available

The Tao of George W. Bush

Perfect Christmas Gift

See my other books at right>

Further reading

White House Ethics 101 --- Cheney and Detainees --- Domestic Surveillance --- So many lies, and such blinders on --- Blair rode shotgun on the way to war --- Judge Alito --- Put food on the table! --- French Youth Seek Recognition --- Safe Cigarette?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Does Nothing Change?

"Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship… voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

This quotation has been attributed to Hermann Goering. Some people claim it is an urban legend, but it is difficult to argue with the logic of the quote.

Noting the News

If we build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, what's next? A wall from Washington State to the state of Maine? Ah, life in Fortress America. But who knows? After all it worked for the Chinese.

If I were a betting man, I would be willing to bet that President Bush is going to ignore Allen Greenspan's "harsh warning on the US budget deficit." After all, didn't Reagan prove that deficits don't matter, or something like that? Maybe Vice President Cheney could refresh my memory.

Isn't there an old adage that says something like it's too late to close the barn door after the cow is gone? I think that applies to trying to control the budget deficit at this stage of the Bush presidency.

So, some of our lawmakers want to ban torture? That's refreshing. They might ban torture, but can they really stop it? The Vice President wants to allow torture, and don't we usually get what the Vice President wants? Now there is this article that says, "Cheney's office was responsible for directives which led to US soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan." I would say I'm shocked, but I'm not because, they've been torturing us for the past five years.

But I want everyone to get off President Bush's back, because he really does care about black people. After all, he's giving the Medal of Freedom to Muhammed Ali and to Paul Rusesabagina isn't he?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Just Wondering (Not)

I wonder if entering a plea of Not Guilty when a person really is guilty would constitute perjury. In some cases it certainly does constitute lying in court.

Medical Notes

If Asia wants to avoid three million people dead from a flu pandemic, they need to change the way they handle birds.

We have the best medical system, don’t we? I used to think so, but not since I discovered that more than one third of the patients in this country receive the wrong medical care.

Swans are beautiful, even when they are carrying the bird flu. This story reminds me of the film Last Year at Marienbad.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, my blood belongs inside me. For that reason I’m not going to Brazil anytime soon. Isn’t President Bush supposed to go to Brazil this weekend?

Armchair Advisors

CNN has an article which is comprised of e-mail from people who would like to give advice to President Bush if they could. Three in thirty of these e-mails mention capturing Osama bin Laden as a major goal. Are people still concerned about that? I suppose they are, but I was surprised that so many still place that as a high priority, especially after Katrina, Rita, the Libby indictment, and all the bad stuff coming out of Iraq.

Another three in thirty think the President is doing a great job, although most of these cited the war against terrorism and keeping America safe as the job at which he was excelling. Considering the fact that President Bush has displayed an appalling lack of leadership lately, especially with Katrina, the Harriet Miers debacle, and the Libby-Rove-Plame-CIA leak case (I think better leaders would have handled this a lot differently,) even if he was keeping us safe, which I really don’t agree with, I don’t think that alone is enough to offset all his negatives. Anybody could keep us safe, maybe some even better than Bush can.

The CNN article is interesting. Editing all these e-mails must have been a tough job. In some ways the resulting compilation reflects recent polls, with x% feeling one way and y% feeling another. In addition, however, it just shows that many of the people out there are just as out of touch with what is important to this country as the President is.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Those of you who haven't visited Zencomix lately ought to check it out.

Cheney Unchanged

Nicholas Kristof has an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times, “What did Cheney know, and when did he know it?” In the piece he urges Cheney to hold a televised news conference and answer a number of questions relating to the Libby-Wilson-Plame-CIA investigation. Either that or resign.

Will the Vice President hold a news conference? I doubt it. First, I think he believes he has done no wrong, and therefore has nothing to answer for. I think he believes this with the same conviction he believed that we should go to war in Iraq; that we should oust Saddam Hussein; that we would be greeted as liberators; and that people would throw flowers at our troops instead of IEDs. So don’t look for Dick Cheney to hold a news conference anytime soon.

Will he answer questions? You know, I can see Mr. Cheney going on something like The Larry King Show and having a fireside chat with Larry. But when the Vice President says something -- even when he talks about threats from mushroom clouds -- he says it with such authority that it is hard to argue with him. So yes, I can see him in some kind of softball situation. Don’t look for him to appear on Hardball.

Will the Vice President resign? I’ve got to admit I’m ambivalent about this. In some ways I’d like to see the whole lot of them out of there. On the other hand, who would run the country if Cheney resigned?

Mr. Kristof’s article was interesting, and I agree that the Vice President should answer questions about his role in the whole affair, but I’m not holding my breath.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More on Bird Flu

For an interesting discussion on the Bird Flu, check out Simply Left Behind.

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

Bird Flu

President Bush wants "every American to have a vaccine in the case of a pandemic, no matter what the virus is." This is like the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars: Let's put a shield up so that it kills all incoming threats. Sounds good, but is it plausible?

A vaccine is only as good as the disease it kills. When the disease changes or mutates, you need a new vaccine. Are we saying that we are going to pump our bodies full of vaccine every time a new flu virus comes along? Though that may be good for the corporations manufacuring the vaccines, it somehow doesn't seem good for the humans being injected with the stuff. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University says, "The notion is that prevention beats therapy." Of course he's referring to vaccination as prevention, and I agree up to a point, but vaccination should only be one approach. Some things in China and other countries must change if the world is to prevent this continuous onslaught of Asian diseases.