Saturday, December 24, 2005

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Break The Law and Spy on Americans

Well the (domestic spying) plot thickens and so do the lies told by the Bush Administration in an effort to deceive the American people. In case you haven’t heard, Bush authorized (in his secret Executive Order) the NSA to tap into telecommunication hubs throughout the United States—all without a warrant—in an effort to get those ever elusive terrorists.

To its credit, the Administration reluctantly admitted half of the truth, but of course left the juicer tidbits on the White House basement floor for the real patriots to shift through and expose the appalling truth to the world. Yes, fellow American, our President (and I use the term very, very loosely) has morphed into an un-enlightened despot while the majority of us were cowering in our basements muttering “give me security, make me safe Mr. President, I’m afraid of everything. I don’t give a damn about my Fundamental or Civil Rights; the Bill of Rights, what is that?” But I digress.

From the New York Times Article:
“Citing current and former government officials, the Times said the information was collected by tapping directly into some of the U.S. telecommunication system’s main arteries. The officials said the NSA won the cooperation of telecommunications companies to obtain access to both domestic and international communications without first gaining warrants.”

As other enlightened pundits have pointed out, liberty is stolen from the populace in bits and pieces usually under the guise of protecting national security. But I ask you, fellow Americans, if we loose our freedom, will this American society, this American Republic be worth defending? Our government, led by our slow-witted and malleable President is slowly turning America into what we are supposed to be fighting, and in the process defecating on the very Constitution they have sworn to uphold and protect. Never forget, the Nazi’s were voted into office, and those who ignore history’s life-affirming lessons do so at their peril. Aren’t you tired of being lied to?

Friday, December 16, 2005 - Report: Bush eased domestic spy rules after 9/11 - Dec 16, 2005 - Report: Bush eased domestic spy rules after 9/11 - Dec 16, 2005
As a former member of Naval Security Group who routinely participated in foreign intelligence operations on behalf of NSA, I state categorically state that what the President authorized is a violation of Federal law. Before each mission it was drilled into our heads that we were not to target Americans anywhere! If we encountered communications by Americans we were to cease and desist.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Bush Administration is a threat to the American way of life. No American is supposed to be above the law of our nation even the President. If proven, this is grounds for impeachment!

Thursday, November 10, 2005 - Frist concerned more about leaks than secret prisons - Nov 10, 2005 - Frist concerned more about leaks than secret prisons - Nov 10, 2005
Every time I start to get a warm and fuzzy about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, he opens his month and says something really stupid and ruins it all. So the man is more concerned about leaks—which are a part of Washington politics as scandals, sex with interns, and graft—but he is not concerned about the undermining of American ethics and values, not to mention a gross subversion of the law! Is it okay to use the word Nazi and Frist in the same sentence, or would that be considered poor taste?

"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security -- period," Frist said, but the continued ill-treatment of Muslims and others does nothing to undermine the so-called War on Terror? We have become that which we despise; we are the bully, the aggressor, that country that spits on the façade of the Scales of Justice; that nation whose people think themselves above the law. We are no longer a nation whose government respects the rights of others, but a nation whose government looks, acts, and speaks like a third world dictatorship. We are the nation that no longer respects human rights, we are the nation other nations should and do fear, we are no longer the shinning light on the hill (as if we ever were), we are instead the hill itself, dark, hard, and unfeeling. Our Constitution is dying a slow wicked death at the hand of men without principles our moral suasion. God (if there is one) no longer blesses us…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - Kansas school board redefines science - Nov 8, 2005 - Kansas school board redefines science - Nov 8, 2005
Just when you thought it was save to learn again in Kansas the level-headed, radial folks on the state Board of Education have once again proved that ignorance comes in the form of religion and religious intolerance. Though the proponents of Intelligent Design insist that religion does not play a part in the fabrication of their fantasy, those with half, hell a quarter of a brain can make the connection between God and ID.

Pity the poor children of Kansas, and shame on the parents who would allow their children to be mis-educated, misled, and disadvantaged by such nonsense. - Eyes On the Off-Year Election Prize! - Eyes focus on tight New Jersey, Virginia races - Nov 8, 2005
Time to see if the American people have awoken from their 9/11 induced stupor in which half of us were led to believe that the Republican Party was the answer to all ills; that its members had the lock on leadership, even if their collective vision and common sense was hampered by a haughtiness that would do Hitler proud (did I say that?).

In addition, it is time to see if the citizens of Detroit, MI have had enough of a corrupt Mayor who acts more like an African dictator then mayor of a dying (major) American city, whose inhabitants are close to 85% Black. How about citizens of Detroit do you deserve better, or are you content to see your once proud city dye while Kwame Kilpatrick parties the night away on your dime(s)?

And in California, the experiment in true Democracy—albeit failing—is once more rearing it ugly head, spurred on as it is by the actor turned terrible Governor. Will the largely Democratic state—the largest in the Union in terms of population—tell Arnold not to bother coming back for a second term? Lets hope so!

Monday, November 07, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | Timeline: French riots

BBC NEWS | Europe | Timeline: French riots

BBC NEWS | Europe | French plan curfews to stop riots

BBC NEWS | Europe | French plan curfews to stop riots
What is going on in France? Who would have thought 12 days ago that such a thing could happen in France? But racial tensions have been brewing under the veneer of French society for quite some time now. And France is not alone in its immigrant tribulations; Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Denmark, indeed most of Western Europe also have large immigrant populations. Might rioting in one, some, or all of these nations be next? How long before the French get fed up wit the systematic destruction of their cities and resort to violence the put down the uprising?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Embattled ex-chairman resigns from PBS board - TELEVISION -

Embattled ex-chairman resigns from PBS board - TELEVISION -
Anyone who listens to or watches NPR or PBS on a regular basis is well aware of the dark cloud of Conservatism surrounding Tomlinson’s tenure as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Saying that NPR and PBS were biased towards the liberal viewpoint, Tomlinson tried his best to move both institutions to the political right, much to the chagrin and amazement of longtime listeners who know better like myself.

I, for one am glad he is gone, and is taking with him his skewed viewpoint of the world.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

AP: E-mails show new dimension in DeLay case - Politics -

AP: E-mails show new dimension in DeLay case - Politics -
And the liar lies get darker and Delays betrayal of the American people grows deeper. Are these people (Republican Congressman) so near-sided that they lost touch with the real reason they entered public service? The whole episode is nauseating in the extreme.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons - Highlights -

CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons - Highlights -
What kind of country has Bush and his Republican Party turned the U.S. into. Are we now morphing into a country where the rule of law is no longer respected? What is happening to us; are we becoming that which we fought so long to overcome. What happened to our moral suasion, our principles as Americans? Have we brought to power a Party that is so arrogant that they believe that they do not have to follow the Constitution? Absolute power corrupts absolutely; never has this maxim be so apt…

BBC NEWS | Europe | Paris riots prompt extra security

BBC NEWS | Europe | Paris riots prompt extra security
Who knew the French were so passionate. France has long had a love/hate relationship with its growing immigrant population, most of whom come from former French colonies across Africa. It just so happens that many as Muslim as well, which only adds to ardor of the immigrant population whenever they feel Islam has been slighted.

I am growing increasingly convinced that religion does more harm then good in human communities. Perhaps it time we divested ourselves of it and began to accept the world as it is and not how we might want it to be.

Monday, October 31, 2005 - Bush Nominates Alito to Supreme Court - Oct 31, 2005 - Bush nominates Alito to Supreme Court - Oct 31, 2005
Listen can you here it, listen closely, it’s a chorus of conservative right wing Republican religious zealots praising Bush’s latest appointment t0 the nation’s highest court. They finally have “their” man, the judge who is going to help them push their narrow minded religious inspired and informed agenda upon America. Who needs freedom anyway?

Judge Alito is widely considered to be the Scalia clone the Conservative Right has been clamoring for; MSNBC cataloged some of Alito’s most notable decisions:

ACLU v. Schundler
168 F.3d 92 (3d Cir. 1999)
Wrote the opinion in a case that said a Christmas display on city property did not violate separation of church and state doctrines because it included a large plastic Santa Claus as well as religious symbols.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey
947 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1991)
Disagreed with the majority in a ruling striking down a Pennsylvania law that required women to notify their husbands if they planned to get an abortion.

Fatin v. INS
12 F.3d 1233 (3d Cir. 1993)
Agreed with the majority that an Iranian woman seeking U.S. asylum could establish eligibility by showing that she had an abhorrence of her country's "gender-specific laws and repressive social norms," or because of a belief in feminism or membership in a feminist group.

Friday, October 28, 2005

BBC NEWS | Indictment rocks Bush administration

BBC NEWS | Indictment rocks Bush administration
Two Down…

How many will fall before this widening scandal is quit? What ever happened to vaunted Republican virtue, integrity, and moral suasion? All seem to have been lost in a virtual maelstrom of corruption, greed, arrogance, hubris, myopic pursuits, and damned lies. It is refreshing however, that the American system of justice is working, albeit slowly to bring these thugs to heal; stay tuned…

Thursday, October 27, 2005 - Gov. Bush: Wilma response will 'be better' - Oct 27, 2005 - Gov. Bush: Wilma response will 'be better' - Oct 27, 2005
I am in total agreement with Governor Bush on this issue, and I applaud his courage and his willingness to tell it like it is. The residents of Florida are no strangers to the strength, ferocity and capricious nature of hurricanes; the state is the target of at least one of the storms almost every year; hell three hit the state last year, and one so far this year. So the cries and harping fall on deaf ears.

And it is not as if Hurricane Wilma cropped up overnight and blew ashore with little warning; Floridians had a week and a half to prepare for the Category Three storm, so there is no excuse for the level of complaining we now hear coming from the state’s residents, and no excuse for the long line we see as people wait for food, water, ice handouts. And wouldn’t the prudent person fill up the gas take BEFORE the storm hit? There isn’t a resident in the state—unless he or she was living in complete isolation—that will get to believe that he or she was caught off-guard by the storm; please!

Have we Americans become so accustomed to the government taking care of us that we have lost the ability to take care of ourselves? Increasingly there is a case to be made that too much government help is detrimental to the proper functioning of any society. Citizens owe so level of responsibility to themselves and society to take care of their persons and family; certainly having three days of food, water, and other essential supplies on hade in a state prone to natural disasters is not an unreasonably request.

And let us not forget, that our fellow citizens lack of proper preparation for an event that should be second nature to them by now, costs us all… - Miers Withdraws Her Name From Consideration! - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News
She’s out! And I do not know where I stand on the issue. On the one hand I think Ms. Miers would have made a fine jurist, but on the other hand the ground swell of opposition from almost every conservative corner made it increasingly difficult for even Republican Senators to throw their full support behind her.

Now I wonder, with the Right Wing of the Christian movement so adamant to get “their person” on the Supreme Court, who will Bush nominate next? Will he stay in the center or Kowtow to the religious zealots and thrust an ultra-conservative down our throats. These are dark days indeed for the country, and we are all holding our collective breathes…

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them

I thought the Bush Administration was supposed to usher in an era of American politics and leadership, one which returned honesty, humility, and integrity to the White House and Capitol Hill. No so it would seem, not so at all; every day seems to bring revelations of new Republican wrongdoing. One has to wonder where will it all end.

Today Tom Delay admitted that he had once again thumbed his pasty nose at the law and the rules of the House by failing to disclose contributions to his legal defense fund. Senate Majority leader Bill Frist continues to obfuscate the truth about his HCA stock sell which netted him million of dollars days before the company reported deepening losses. And then there is what is now being referred to as Plamegate a deepening scandal in which now the Vice President may now be knee deep in, and has lied about, both to the American people and perhaps to a Federal Grand Jury.

It is the height of irony and hypocrisy that some high ranking Republican politicians and political pundits actually have the audacity to advance the notion that perhaps lying to Federal Grand Jury is not such a bad thing after all. Excuse me, but didn’t the Republicans impeach a President over perjury charges? How now is it okay for high government officials to stay in office for the same offense? Do they (the Republicans) think our memory that short? They must to spew such nonsense.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US death toll in Iraq hits 2,000

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US death toll in Iraq hits 2,000
Is it enough to be disgusted at the obscene waste of human life this very ill-advised war has cost on both sides? Is protesting enough if impassioned cries to get our of Iraq land on deaf ears, closed minds, and cold hearts?

In America this is the poor mans war; it was recently reported that a disproportionate number of the U.S. Serviceman being killed in Bushs’ War are from rural America. Those in the city apparently have better things to do with their time and lives. City dwellers seem detached from this War, it has become a side show, an occasional annoyance on the evening news. Life for most of us goes on as it always had, and perhaps that needs to change.

2000 Americans dead and rising, and we may never know how many Iraqis have given their lives for this unjust, un-noble and illegal cause. Was, and is the War worth the sacrifice of so many for so little tangible gain? I say NO, NO, NO!! But how are we now to disentangle ourselves from the morass Bush and his arrogant posse have led us into? We cannot cut and run, for Iraq is already become Afghanistan II only worse for what better proving (and hunting) ground could terrorist hope for then the one we’ve provided for them in Iraq? It is maddening to give prolonged thought to, and maddening still to think that more then half the population of America thought it was a good idea to invade and occupy a sovereign nation.

2000 Americans dead and rising…for what, for what, for what?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bush: Military action against Syria Last option - Mideast/N. Africa -

Bush: Military action against Syria Last option - Mideast/N. Africa - "former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri."
So are we in the business of invading other countries (as a last option of course) because they oppose us on well, anything? What is the ludicrous talk of invading Syria as a last resort? Are we back in 1914 when all it took the simple assassination of one man to start a World War and bring about the death of millions? Has the United States under George W. (kick me I’m stupid) Bush becomes the world’s bully, threatening counties with military action if they don’t kowtow and give us what we demand?

Not that Syria has much to fear from the United States military, sad to say. The Army is in no condition to invade Marco Island, let alone a large country like Syria with a rather large standing Army; ditto for the Marines. The most Syria has to fear is a few cruise missiles fired its way from U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean of Air Force bombers, probably out of Iraq. Little more could be done, and even that is nonsense.

If the Syrian government is responsible for the assignation of former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri, then the United Nation should hold the country account. The United States should not act unilaterally, or in concert with Great Britain; use the U.N. and let that be the end of it. Enough talk of WAR, WAR, WAR!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Prelude to a Leak - Newsweek National News -

Prelude to a Leak - Newsweek National News - MSNBC.comOh what a tangled web they weaved when first they sought to deceive—the American public, and the People trust. The much lauded and ever changing goals for the Iraqi invasion have all gone by the way side, side lined and supplanted by the stupefying ineptness in which the invasion and resulting occupation is being handled. War is always supposed to be a last resort, a nasty little thing we never aspire to unless America and Americans are directly threatened.

As time and numerous news stories have revealed, Saddam was no threat; at least not to America or its citizens. Now 2000 dead American serviceman and as yet un-enumerated dead Iraqis later, the Middle East is worse off then when we invaded. Bush ruins everything he touches, and his Administration is an abysmal failure, mired by scandal, and shoot through with corruption and ineffectual leadership at every level.

It is becoming increasingly evident to this American citizen that Bush and his arrogant cronies have set up a shadow government and are keeping their own counsel, creating a family of inbred siblings who have taken America down a dangerous and disastrous road to ruin. I would like to thank my fellow citizens—those who voted for Bush not once, but twice—for their lack of reflective thought and hysterical political blindness. Are you proud?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - Arrest warrant Issued for DeLay - Oct 19, 2005 - Arrest warrant Issued for DeLay - Oct 19, 2005
Excuse me while I rosin up my bow and tune my singing voice! Who said a little bit of humility is good for the soul? Well Tom Delay is about is about to be humbled before the American people, whose interests he has worked so long and hard to undermine. V. Edward to Tom: please, please rise to the occasion and refuse to appear before the Court! That way the music can continue as they haul you away in handcuffs; what a party that would be!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Did Vanity Fair lighten Beyonce's skin? - Access Hollywood -

Did Vanity Fair lighten Beyonce's skin? - Access Hollywood -
Despite protestations to the contrary, there is a fair chance that Vanity Fair has lighten Beyonce’s skin. Magazines have been lightning Black folks skins for decades; I guess they thought we wouldn’t notice, or just blame it on lighting. It’s a shame that that in 2005 the face of beauty still has to come wrapped in a white or near off-white package in order to be appreciated.

Black—or-brown—is beautiful and every time I look at my wife I sigh, she is so damn beautiful! - Chertoff, Chao promote guest worker program - Oct 18, 2005 - Chertoff, Chao promote guest worker program - Oct 18, 2005
All I can say is: it’s about time! The U.S. immigration policy has been just plain stupid for far too long; an illegal immigrant should be an illegal immigrant no matter what his or her nationality. It has taken the Bush Administration far too long to address this issue; it is now some four years after 9/11 and we are just now moving to close our Southern Border!!

But for all of the bravado this announcement entailed, predictably a crucial element was missing; namely a promised crackdown on employers who employ illegal aliens. After all without jobs, there would be little reason to risk life and limb to come here. And no I do not buy the argument that illegal aliens are filling jobs Americans do not want. Granted they may be true in some very low level service jobs, but not in industries such as construction, warehousing, food service, call centers, highway construction, and other (living wage) jobs that have traditionally gone to lower class or teenage Americans. The runaway greed of American business must be addressed with equal vigor if the illegal immigration problem is ever going to brought under control. - E-mails show FEMA infighting, frustration - Oct 18, 2005 - E-mails show FEMA infighting, frustration - Oct 18, 2005

It is quite clear to the American citizen that Bush’s culture of incompetence has permeated every corner of the Federal Government save the military and they have had their moment over the last five years. FEMA used to be a government agency that worked and worked well; not so under Bush and the Republican regime.

There is general feeling among those of us who did not vote for Bush (those of use still capable of rational and reasoned thought) that the man has ruined our country—both internationally and domestically; the can do country and society has devolved into the cannot nation. Bush’s mediocrity has sickened the nation with a cancer, and it will take bold leadership to cure it. Bush’s lack of leadership, intellect, vision, wisdom, and inability to see beyond his arrogant nose has led us to this place. But I don’t blame him, he never claimed to be a deep thinker and has proved this time and again; I blame the people who were dim-witted enough to put him in the White House, not once, but twice. Shame on you!

Monday, October 17, 2005 - Bush's job rating continues to drop - Oct 17, 2005 - Bush's job?rating continues to drop - Oct 17, 2005
I would cry if I weren’t so happy! Gloat, gloat, gloat! I wonder how many, if any Republicans are having buyer’s remorse? Its still hard for me to believe that more then half the voting public reelected this Moron to a second term…

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Iraqi constitution seems likely to pass - Conflict in Iraq -

Iraqi constitution seems likely to pass - Conflict in Iraq -
And so it begins, and continues, but to what end, to what end? Given the s0-called low level Civil War already underway in Iraq, can a piece of paper no matter how noble really make a difference of the people do not believe in its cause? The Iraqi Constitution is already flawed, and as written has already sowed the seeds of oppression into the soured soil of the fledging Iraqi democracy.

I have long asserted that the tough decisions have yet to be made. There is a logical division within the failed Iraqi stated that with the right guidance, leadership and vision (never happen) could divided into three separate and equal states. To my thinking, this is the only way to bring real lasting peace to the war-ravaged country.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 - Crowds gather?for Millions More Movement - Oct 15, 2005 - Crowds gather?for Millions More Movement - Oct 15, 2005
I am not sure what to think of the Million More March on Washington DC in view of the fact tat the Million Man Mach didn’t amount to any tangible change in the life of Black American males. Nor did it do much to change the fortunes of Black American families. There are stall far too many Black American families headed by Black women, and still far too many or our brethren in prison.

I think it is disingenuous of Farrakhan and the gang to charge America with “criminal neglect,” without taking the Major of New Orleans to task as well. It was he and not the federal government who was responsible for evacuating his city. I think the whole exercise is a waste of time and energy. What good will come of it all, probably nothing, but time will tell… - DeLay's campaign goes after prosecutor - Oct 14, 2005 - DeLay's campaign goes after prosecutor - Oct 14, 2005

Oh Tom Delay has hit a new low going after the man who after all is said and done, is just doing his job. Would it be too much to ask for a sitting member of the United States House of Representatives to maintain some modicum of decorum in this situation and at the very least act like a man? A petulant child comes to mind after reading this story!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Prosecutor subpoenas DeLay phone records - Politics -

Prosecutor subpoenas DeLay phone records - Politics -

I am trying very hard not to gloat at Tom Delay’s misfortune, but it becoming an increasingly difficult undertaking. I have never disguised my intense dislike for this man and his one man crusade to undermine everything our Representative Democracy stands for. His arrogance makes my stomach turn and my blood boil. I am glad that our system of justice is immune—insofar as possible—from political upheaval and undue influence.

I, for one, hope to see Tom in orange sometime soon…

Monday, October 10, 2005

Shall We Dance and Fiddle Why the Republican Party Burns?

Is it right to gloat? Is it right to sing and dance a jig over the news of another's misfortune, or in this case the misfortune of an entire political party? When it's the Republican Party I think the answer should be an unqualified YES!

I can hardly conceal my glee at the unhappy and unenviable position the conservatives find themselves in scant a year from the mid-term election cycle. The Bush Administration continues to implode as the sheer weight of its stupefying, mind boggling incompetence makes itself felt throughout the Executive Branch and to the American people. The Vice President’s Chief of Staff Mr. Libby may have, and probably did, break the law by revealing the identity of a CIA operative, and the seemingly untouchable Mr. Rove may be ripe for indictment for the same offense (yes Virginia there is a Santa Clause and he is delivering my presents early this year)! But what can we expect, we have a less then laudable personage in the White House, who arrogance, stupidity, and general lack of ability, should have disqualified him from the job, but incredibly enough did not.

To add to the Party’s woes, Tom Delay, The Hammer has finally gotten nailed not once, but twice, and the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frisk is operating under a cloud of suspicion ala Martha Steward. The Party is in mounting disarray over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and their deep ties to the Religious Conservatives is now more of a nasty hindrance then a help as the apples of morality fall in discourse from the tree of self-righteous unity. And now it seems that the Republican Party is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit people willing to run against Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections. Even they can see the damage Bush and his insular cronies have done to the nation and Party and want no part of it.

A recent Washington Post article started out by stating:

Republican politicians in multiple states have recently decided not to run for Senate next year, stirring anxiety among Washington operatives about the effectiveness of the party's recruiting efforts and whether this signals a broader decline in GOP congressional prospects.

Prominent Republicans have passed up races in North Dakota and West Virginia, both GOP-leaning states with potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Earlier, Republican recruiters on Capitol Hill and at the White House failed to lure their first choices to run in Florida, Michigan and Vermont.

Oh how can I not gloat, how can I not sing a song of mirth and dance the jig of joy? Is this the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as we know it, a fracturing of the Party that could lead to the Democrats winning back the house and Senate and eventually the White House?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - Federal judge?declares Pledge?unconstitutional - Sep 14, 2005 - Federal judge?declares Pledge?unconstitutional - Sep 14, 2005

And the battled is joined anew. Laying aside the fact that I agree with the court for a moment, I think the Supreme Court will find it hard to dodge the bullet this time since parent have join the main litigant in the suit this time. While he may not have standing they certainly do. And with the Federal District Court in Virginia taking a different track of this case, the High Court almost has to hear the case in order to settle the dispute. All of this hinges on the 9th Circuit taking up the case; I think it a safe bet they will agree to hear the case.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Open Letter to Barack Obama, Senator Illinois

September 5, 2005

Senator Barack Obama
John C. Kluczynski Federal Office Building
230 South Dearborn St.
Suite 3900 (39th floor)
Chicago, Illinois 60604

Dear Mr. Obama,

I, like most of my fellow Americans, was stunned, transfixed, one might say, as the human drama played (and continues to play) itself out in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And I like most of my fellow citizens, be they black or white, or yellow or read or varying shades in between, are asking ourselves how could government at the local, state, and federal levels fail so catastrophically at one of its core functions: protecting the populace, and providing leadership in times of national crisis.

The most vexing problem—as I see it—in New Orleans, as well as Biloxi, Gulf Port and other communities devastated by Katrina, was and is the inability to evacuate the populace to a central location wherein food, water, adequate housing, and medical care could be provided.

It is clear that the government needs to establish and maintain—via FEMA and or American Red Cross personnel—a series of at least three, but as many as six, inland Regional Emergency Evacuation Centers (REEC). These government run and equipped centers could be used in case of dire national emergency to house large numbers of citizens, most of which would need to be evacuated from our nation’s cities. And by large, I mean in excess of 75,000 people. Not only could these emergency evacuation centers be utilized for natural calamities, but man-made emergency’s as well; e.g. (NBC) nuclear, biological, or chemical attack.

The REEC’s would need the ability to house and service up to 75,000 people in relative comfort, and provide basic modern human habitation needs; i.e. hot meals, clean running water, personal hygiene facilities, communications, limited transportation, financial services, security and entertainment. These centers could also be utilized and staffed by the American Red Cross.

I am well aware that the above is a large and some might say overwhelming task, but fortunately the country already has the infrastructure in place to make REEC’s a reality: abandoned, or soon to be abandoned military bases. These facilities, especially large bases, are and were small cities onto themselves, designed to support large military contingents and their families, and can provide, with limited additional monetary outlay, the necessary services to support a large population of displaced citizens.

All large military bases have barrack for single enlisted and officer personnel that could be used to house individual citizens, as well as single family homes that could be used for displaced families. Medical, dining, recreational, shopping, and communications facilities, electrical, facilities management, and sewage are also part of military establishments. In short closed, or soon-to-be-closed military bases would make the ideal REEC’s. All of the necessary food, water, and medical needs could be stockpiled at the REEC’s. The REEC’s would be staffed by skeleton crews of FEMA personnel when not otherwise in use.

Establishment of the REEC’s would represent a common-sense, economical solution to a very vexing problem facing our nation, one that is clearly demonstrated by the ongoing events along the Gulf Coast. The evacuated citizens are being dispersed throughout the nation, with little hope of returning to the lives they once knew. Still others are wandering around the devastated area, homeless, and hopeless. A place to be and recover from the event that tore their lives asunder would only hasten the healing process and return them the bosom of society, productive citizens.

It is clear from the disaster of the past week, that the local, state and federal governments still lack a cohesive plan for sheltering, protecting, and caring for American citizens when disaster visits our shore. This to me is inexcusable so long after 9/11. Is the Department of Homeland Security just a hollow shell? With this round of base closing we have a chance to restore the ordinary citizen’s faith in the government, by establishing and funding REEC’s.

Its time to think outside the box; its time for visionaries and leaders to take the field and show the world that the globe only superpower is not run by a bunch of arrogant incompetent fools. Government has failed the people of the Gulf Coast by not being prepared, and by inept leadership. You Mr. Obama and the other visionaries of the U.S. Congress have it within your power to effect a change by adopting my proposal, or at least giving it considered thought. Can we as a nation afford another New Orleans? Don’t the American people deserve better?

With Regard,

Vincent Martin
Aurora, IL 60504

o Richard Durbin, Senator, Illinois
o Dennis Hastert, Representative, 14th District, Illinois & Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives.
o Michael Chertoff, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
o Michael Brown, Director, Federal Emergency Management Administration

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Is The White House Admitting Defeat in Iraq?

Now that the White House has drastically lowered expectations in Iraq, and as much as admitted that everything we have fought for was for naught, We The People have to ask the next logical question: was (and is) the violence, death and mayhem of the last three years worth the cost in American (and Iraqi) blood. And if the Administrations stated goals are no longer achievable, is this a U.S. defeat?

'What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. 'We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning.'

What was the point of this exercise in human suffering? One by one the President’s stated goals for Iraq have fallen by the wayside, as have our reasons for invading the nation in the first place. And now is seems as though our last (and best) stated goal--bringing democracy and the rule of law to a country led by a man clearly afflicted with a cult of personality disorder--has proven daunting to say the least. The insurgents are winning; the violence is ever escalating and ever more brutal; the Iraqi constitution looks as though it will deny more rights than it will affirm; the American people are growing restless, and the Administration has done that which it said it would never do: see a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.

But according to Bush as stated in his radio address yesterday,

Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed...

Really, where are the Iraqi people taking control of their country? How free will the Iraqi people be if the nation continues to be seized by indiscriminate terrorist sponsored violence? And if the U.S. military cannot defend the nation against the ongoing insurgency, how do we expect the Iraqi security forces to do so with far fewer people and far less lethal weapons and tactics when we pull out? Isn't it time for the Administration to admit that the insurgents/terrorists have now encamped themselves in Iraq for the long haul? And finally, where and how have we helped Iraq succeed? Succeed at what, becoming a terrorist proving ground; a fundamentalist Islamic state?

With these latest revelations from the White House, the Administration is setting the stage for an eventual U.S. withdrawal from Iraq with the mission wholly incomplete, carrier landings and grand pronouncements aside. We have in essence given up on Iraq after we failed to get it right time and time again. And what will we leave in our wake? Most certainly a fundamentalist Islamic nation whose temperament toward the United States is more hostile than the proceeding regime. Or worst yet, an Iraqi civil war that will destabilize the region, and put future oil deliveries in jeopardy. How will this Iraq act as the seed to spread democracy to the rest of the Middle East? Truth: we are being defeated in Iraq, spin it as you will, the administrations constant back-peddling, the lack of a coherent and workable policy, the increasing violence, and continued U.S. military deaths all point to a Vietnam--style defeat!

Failure in Iraq was almost a forgone conclusion. And my question is for what? In my estimation is that American fighting men and women and Iraqi civilians have died for nothing. Others (on this board) disagree and still hold the seriously myopic view that Iraq can be saved, can become this bastion of democracy that will be emulated throughout the Middle East. That train has left the station, and even the smoke from its fast moving locomotive has cleared the desert air. And they died for what?

U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor - New York Times

U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor - New York Times

Will the nightmare ever end?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Don't You Just Love the Smell of Vietnam Throughout Your Day?

Is there any end to the chaos, maelstrom, malice, and violence that has become Iraq? How many out there in pundit land still think that attacking this country was a good idea? Is this Bush's idea of democracy? Is it anyone's?

More U.S. troops have been killed in the opening days of this month then all of last month, and the blood letting show no signs of letting up. Iraqis too are dying at record numbers as it appears old scores are settled between the two opposing factions of Islam. If this keeps up, there will not be a country left saving, nor Army or Marines Corps left to police it with. That of course is a gross exaggeration of the case but, how many more American men and women have to die to establish democracy in a region that has never know it, nor shows any sighs that they will ever embrace it?

In continuing violence, the United States military announced today that four American soldiers were killed on Tuesday and six others were wounded when insurgents attacked a patrol near Baiji in northern Iraq. Two Iraqi policemen and four civilians were killed in a suicide car bombing today in western Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said.

Lets fact it, the invasion of Iraq was a fool's errand from the beginning, instigated by a supercilious dullard whose grasp of the world is confined the back of Crackerjack box. And what he can gleam from the Where in the World is Matt Lauer segments of the Today Show. Is my anger and distain for Bush, his Administration, and this life-wasting enterprise they are calling the War on Terror showing? I hope so!

Our men and women are dying for nothing and Iraqis are loosing their lives because our President (and I use the term very, very loosely) wanted to show the world how big an idiot he really was, as if opening his mouth and speaking of that which he knows not of, wasn't enough. I still scratch my head and wonder that Bush won re-election. That two men, or women kissing, and loving one another enough to want to create a family (you know that thing conservatives claim is the backbone of American society, yet they undermine every chance they get), was more important to half the electorate than their sons, daughters, wives, husbands, cousins, and in-laws dying in grand numbers for an unjust cause in a desert thousands of miles from home. And that championing the rights of the un-conceived and just-conceived were more important then the millions of children at risk because they lack decent, affordable healthcare. Or more important than their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers have to go to another country for affordable medichine...but I digress.

The Task Force Liberty soldiers were investigating a rocket-propelled grenade incident when an anti-tank mine exploded and hit an armored Humvee, a military spokesman in Mosul said.

Iraq has now become this generations' Vietnam, only without the protests (college students, returning soldiers, others, where are you?), the anger at home, the burning flags, or the spit at the airport. But the senseless violence and dying are the same, as is the failed policies that took this nation to war once more without a plan to win, and the wanton disregard for the rule of law. And now it appears as though Iran has joined the fray, if we can trust anything Rummy has to say. So many lives lost for what? For what? FOR WHAT?

They're Not Stupid?They're Lazy - The real reason American high-schoolers have such dismal test scores. By Alexandra?Starr

They're Not Stupid They're Lazy - The real reason American high-schoolers have such dismal test scores. By Alexandra?Starr

And they suffer from an acute lack of pride! - Mother missed signs of 'choking game' - Aug 10, 2005 - Mother missed signs of 'choking game' - Aug 10, 2005

Don’t we parents have enough to worry about without our children inventing new ways to excite, harm and ultimately kill themselves? But we (adults) are partially to blame for cultivating a society where life is thirty second commercial filled with moving images too fast for the human eye to digest. Life is not to be lived at a pace that does not promote excitement. Woo onto thee who is boring!

I never even thought of doing something like this to myself when I was growing up. The most excitement we had on my block was playing kiss and feel hide and seek, which is pretty tame compared to the games children now seem to be playing. Sometimes I feels are though or society is on the road to Hell and there is precious little room to turn about. Whatever happened to curling up with a good book and letting your mind get lost in words? That to me is a rush, a high that stays with me well into the day, or fosters dreams when I rest at night if I read right before bed. I rather that then have my magnificent, wondrous, and fantastical brain drown in a pool of alcohol or choke and slowly die for lack of air!

Are we as a race of beings getting stupider by the generation? - Chavez: U.S. will 'bite the dust' if it invades - Aug 9, 2005 - Chavez: U.S. will 'bite the dust' if it invades - Aug 9, 2005
As if the United States didn’t have enough countries hating us, Venezuela decides to step into line. Ever feel surrounded? Hasn’t the world realized the pure socialism as prescribed by Karl Marx will not work? Does Chavez really believe what he is saying or is he just trying to remain in power by casting the U.S. as the ultimate villain?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

And the Quagmire Grows Ever Murkier

My heart is heavy and my soul is angry, seething in fact as they both come to grips with the death of 24 more Marines in just the past week at the hands of these pesky, backwards, insurgents, whom we are this close to overwhelming. Can you feel the heat from the fire of Rome's hallowed halls?

As a Veteran of fifteen years in the U.S. Navy, I feel a deep affinity for my brethren still wearing the uniform, still under arms. When one of them dies in the line of duty, a profound sadness pervades my soul and I have to pause and in remembrance and reflect upon what it means to be an American, less I fail to grasp the significance of their sacrifice. And in my own way I honor each one in my heart, and my deeds.

Yesterday Bush stood before a crowd in Texas and stated that these young men and women (they are not kids and it dishonors them to refer to them as such), are not dying in vain, that they are dying for a just and noble cause, and that their struggle was selfless one. I agree that their devotion to duty and country is selfless, but I highly disagree that the cause they are dying for (and being maimed for in large numbers) is just or noble. I wonder how long the cause would remain just, and the mission noble, if one of the Presidents daughters were to join the all volunteer force and find herself in Baghdad, or Haditha? Of course there is little to no chance that one of Bush's daughters would undertake so selfless a sacrifice for their country. That measure of devotion to country is left to those of lesser (economic) means, and higher moral purpose. The Bush twins are about as shallow and witless as they come.

That aside we don’t belong in Iraq and we never did. Invading Iraq was a glaring mistake made by a man and Administration with a limited grasp on reality, intelligence, and vision. It is an invasion that squandered-and continues to squander-limited resources and diverted our Armed Forces attention from the real threat hundreds of miles to the East.

With each passing day, the quagmire that is now Iraq grows ever deeper and the terrorist who now openly use the country as their own private how-to-be-a-terrorist proving ground, grow ever stronger. We have after all swelled their ranks with our stupefying and habitual disregard for the rule of International Law, and complete respect for any human life not wearing an American flag on his or her arm. Iraq has now become what our government claimed it was, but wasn't before we invaded: a terrorist training facility, complete with ready made live targets for them to practice their evil craft upon. Why shoot at a plywood dummy or sandbags when a multitude of real American soldiers and helpless, hapless, powerless Iraqi civilians are at your disposal?

Yesterday's IED was the largest yet; powerful enough to penetrate the armor of a Marine Corps Amphibian Assault Vehicle and flip it on its side. Fourteen men died at the hands of an insurgency that in the mind of the Vice President of the United States, is taking its last breath. And how did six Marine snipers get wiped out if the insurgents, the terrorist were not tracking them? The attacks bespeak of an enemy who is become more cunning with each attack. We are now stuck in a hell of our own design, how can we even think of drawing down troop strength under such circumstances?

What we need now is bold insightful leadership to help get us out of this mess; what we have instead is Bush and his fumbling, arrogant band of neo-conservative idiots whose vision is marred by the dark clouds of stupidity that hang perpetually over their heads. And now and for the foreseeable future, I have to steal myself for more death, and sadness, and anger, and hope that it does not permanently sour my already astringent soul.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bush: Schools should teach intelligent design - Politics -

Bush: Schools should teach intelligent design - Politics -

If ever one needed further proof that Bush is intellectually challenged, the events of the last tow day should edge you along in the right direction. So Bush actually believes that Rafael Palmeiro took steroids by accident! Please! And teach Intelligent Design? Where are the scientific underpinnings of this speculative musings on the origins of man and the Universe? And yet Bush believes its okay to teach our children. How much further back in learning do we want to be as compared to other societies?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Frist breaks with Bush on stem cell research - Politics -

Frist breaks with Bush on stem cell research - Politics -

Senator Frist the flip-flopper. But it is about time the man found his own voice, and stopped being the mouthpiece of the President on the Senate floor. Do you suppose he finally read the Constitution and figured out that he is in a separate branch of government?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

This (Pharmacists) Madness Must Be Stopped

Several states allow pharmacists to decline to fill prescriptions based on their conscience. Other states are trying to require that pharmacists provide medicines that doctors have prescribed. Now federal lawmakers are holding hearings on so-called 'duty to fill' laws.
So went the introduction to a story on NPR's Morning Edition I listened to this morning.

In my mind this debate can have only one outcome: the doctor/patient relationship should be upheld in every case. No third party should be allowed to insert their moral judgment into the doctor/patient relationship, period, unless invited to do so! Pharmacists, like the rest of us, have a right to their opinions, however misguided, but they should not be allowed to let those opinions adversely affect the people they are supposed to be serving. And yes, they have a right to their individual principles, but those principles should not be allowed to interfere with patient care.

And make no mistake, they are in the service industry, all they do it dispense drugs, and occasionally dole out advice. Pharmacist, though a valuable link in the chain medical chain of care in America, are not indispensable, and are certainly not specialist, like doctors. Who, after all, is a Pharmacist to substitute his or her judgment for that of the doctor or the patient? Frankly, I find the whole business of refusing to dispense drugs because of you religious beliefs repugnant and just another sign of how far the falsely righteous will go to foist their belief system on us all.

If they are morally opposed to birth control and might be required by their employers to pass out prescription birth control pills or the morning after pill, then their professionalism and duty to their customers should prevail. If they still object, then they should find another profession, one in which their conscience will not be overly burdened. Or at least have to decency to refer the customer to another Pharmacist whose brain is not clouded with self-righteous religious dogma.

Will a bill pass out of Congress that will end this madness once and for all and compel Pharmacist to fill prescriptions or find another job? Its doubtful, and even if the a Bill did manage to pass both houses with its common sense still intact, Bush would never sign it into law because he lacks; well he is just lacking so much its hard to know where to begin.

Bill Wouldn't Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports, Analysts Say

Bill Wouldn't Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports, Analysts Say

Would be too much to ask for real leadership and vision from Washington on this issue? If other nations can put together a coherent energy policy; e.g. France and Japan, why can’t the United States? Must we bicker and fight about everything? - Roberts faces questions - Jul 25, 2005 - Roberts faces questions - Jul 25, 2005

I don’t think there is any doubt that in the long run Roberts will be confirmed as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, all questions aside.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - Suicide car bomb kills?22 near police station - Jul 24, 2005 - Suicide car bomb kills?22 near police station - Jul 24, 2005

Yes, we are continuing to turn the tide of against the insurgency in Iraq, we have them on the run, they have no place to hide; we are routing them out, rounding them up and ending their rein of terror. The people of Iraq should rejoice, shouldn’t they?

Al Qaeda leaders seen in control - Highlights -

Al Qaeda leaders seen in control - Highlights -

It doesn’t sound to me as if terrorism is on the run, on the wane, contained, or bottled. We are failing; we are loosing this war, which is more about ideas than it is about weapons. George W. Bush was not the man to lead us in this fight; he has not the leadership ability, intellect, vision, or wisdom to see us through this phase in American history.

We have been ill served by his bumbling attempts the stem the tide of terrorism across the globe; indeed he and his conceited minions have managed to swell their murderous, ideological ranks. It is only a matter of time before bombs and blood, murder and mayhem re-visit American shores. Thank you George Bush for your unflagging devotion to naiveté, myopic world vision, stupefying arrogance, and the lack of vision that now finds the world besieged by terrorism.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rick Santorum; Poster Boy for Intolerance and Ignorance

Rick Sandorum (R) Pennsylvania could be the poster boy for the intolerance and ignorance that has infested the body politic of the Republican Party like a cancer unchecked by common sense and a firm grasp for the principles of freedom that are supposed to provide the foundation for our Republic. What hateful people those in Republicans Right are turning out to be.

Was Senator Kennedy right to call Santorum on the carpet for his nonsensical remarks? I say yes. And just how does choosing an alternative life-style aid and abed the priest sex-abuse scandal? The fact that the wide-spread abuse came to light in Boston is just happenstance. What if the scandal had sprung to life in Philadelphia, would the good Senator have painted his own with the same sanctimonious brush?

And is the good Senator insinuating that all priests who molested children were homosexuals, are homosexual? If memory serves, children of both sexes were molested with equal vigor and vulgarity. And aren't most sex offenders heterosexual? Is their deviant behaviors caused by alternative life-styles as well, or is there another more heterosexual cause for their behaviors, like a dysfunctional family life, or bad parents?

What's the next step Santorum would have society take? Ban and or separate homosexuals and lesbians from heterosexuals? Should we create a state just for them, or perhaps banish them to Midway Island? Should be codify into law what so many conservatives advocate by word and deed, and relegate homosexuals and lesbians to second class citizenship once and for all for having the gall to love someone from the same sex?

Perhaps Senator Santorum's opinions and observations would not chaff as much if they were not drawn from the deep well of ignorance that almost every conservative seems to drink from. And if the source of that well water were not the Holy Bible, a tome that any reasoned person will admit is full of contradictions, and is little more then a really good book of fiction, none of which can be proved. On this I have to side with Senator Kennedy form the great state of Massachusetts. And by the way I love Boston!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Durbin Cries, Iraqis Die, Afghanistan Fries, and Bush Continues to Lie

While Senator Dick Durbin (from my state) breaks down in tears on the Senate floor, woefully decrying his remarks about Guantanamo Bay, and the insurgents poke a finger in the eye of the Administrations assertions that their daily carnage is winding down, the war in Afghanistan, which was supposed to be almost at an end, is flaring anew.

Is the Taliban coming back after having regrouped, refinanced, and gained new recruits from the ranks of those Muslims who now see America as a defiler of their sacred text? Does anyone with a rational functioning mind, the ability to use deductive reasoning and foresight, really believe that the ongoing debate surrounding our little Cuban holiday spot is doing no harm to America in the minds of those who need very little reason to do us harm? Even naiveté has it bounds?

Barely reported on the evening news cast(s) is the fact that all over Afghanistan, the war is flaring up, but it is particularly brutal in the south and east of the country where scores on both sides continue to die. Just yesterday the Pentagon reported that five American soldiers were wounded in fierce fighting in the southern Afghanistan. Talk of 11-hour gun battles does not sound like a situation that is well in hand from a military standpoint. How much longer is going to take to stabilize a country that would have been a done deal, if not for the lack of U.S. troops, concentration of effort, and adequate attention from the Bush Administration?

In hindsight (and foresight for that matter) how smart was it to invade Iraq with the job in Afghanistan incomplete? Now we seem to be fighting a two front war with insurgents whose numbers are seemingly limitless; there are after all over a billion practitioners of Islam.

Pretty soon Iraq is going to run out of cars to blow up; how long before the insurgent start importing them pre-rigged with explosives, if they are not already doing so?

The Bush Administration has lost all creditability with me and mine; the lies, half-truths, and just plain preposterous rhetoric that ooze from the White House on a daily basis make me ill. Do they (The Bushies) really believe half of the words that leach from their mouths like so much sludge from the Anicosta River? After Secretary Rice made a speech the other day in Egypt, on the importance of free, open and just elections, and opened the floor for questions, they all seemed to be about the desecration of the Muslim Holy Book. I wonder if her message got through? And Rice spent her time explaining how the U.S. respects all religions.

Actions, as they say, speak loader then words, and our action thus far when it comes to the treatment of those in Gito Bay send a very powerful message to the rest of the world: America and American are above the law; we believe in the rule of law, until it gets in the way of revenge and then, well, there is no rule of law. American life is sacred, all other life is well expendable, until we deem it worthy, and justice belongs to Americans; we are the law until further notice.

Anyone else feel as uncomfortable with the direction the "shining beacon on the hill" is headed. Our light seems considerable less bright, less comforting, less judicious, these days.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Understanding The Stem Cell Debate Part II - In-vitro Fertilization

The maelstrom swirling around stem cells seems to be one I cannot disengage myself from, probably because the arguments against using stem cells to research cures for some of the world's most vexing decease's, are so morally vapid, and devoid of common sense.

Those who oppose the use of embryos for stem cell research totally disregard the harm In Vitro Fertilization—the process that creates the embryos in the first place—does to unwanted embryos and those that do not take in the uterus and die as part of the process.

How many embryos are killed during the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process for just one couple trying to conceive a baby? Isn’t that the destruction of life? And yet not one Republican lawmaker and very few on the Christian Right have spoken out against the process. Dubya (President Bush) recently had a multitude of "snow-flake" babies (those babies conceived of donated embryos) to the White House for a photo opportunity to demonstrate that frozen embryos can still create life. But missing were the numbers of embryos that were destroyed in the process of creating the cute little snowflakes.

Up to four embryos can be implanted in the uterus during a typical IVF procedure; this is to ensure that at least one attaches itself to the uterine wall and becomes a viable baby. If the other three embryo's do not take, they die. Again isn't this the destruction of life? And aren't couples that engage in IVF destroying life in order to make life? How many embryos does the average couple go through before conceiving a child or children, in the case of multiple births?

According to the CDC—the government agency charged compiling national statistics for all Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures performed in the U.S., IVF only has an average 30.9% success rate. The ART report (from Year 2002) also found that about 69% of the IVF cycles carried out did not produce a pregnancy, and as the age of a woman increases, the chances IVF will work drop dramatically. And that even when IVF was performed on women under the age of 35 the success rate was less then 50%; I invite you to read the report entitled 2002 Assisted Reproductive Technology Rates National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports.

How many dead embryos do these statistics represent nationwide? And again, where is the outcry from the conservative camp about this brazen-and some might call it cavalier-disregard for human life? Where is the moral outrage from the Christian Right about this abomination; where is the indignation; where is Rick Santorum? Oh the hypocrisy is palatable and tastes oddly bitter, especially to those suffering from chronic diseases (like myself) who might find hope in a cure from research done with embryonic stem cells.

Perhaps it's because I am personally affected by the outcome of embryonic stem cell research that I feel so passionately about the debate. Or perhaps it's because I loath hypocrisy as one of the lowest forms of intellectual laziness, and self-induced ignorance. Or perhaps it’s because I value science over religious dogma (make no mistake this in a debate that springs from the fertile yet misguided minds of the religiously inclined); or perhaps it's a combination of all three reasons and many more I cannot name. But this remains a debate I cannot lay down because it insists on standing up and shouting that this issue stinks of wrong-headed politics and conservative religious doctrine. And we the American people lose once again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Understanding The Stem Cell Debate

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIn an all-too rare demonstrate of strong, bipartisan support, members of both ruling Parties in the House of Representatives joined together to overwhelmingly pass a bill to expand federally funded stem cell research. The measure would allow scientists to use stem cells derived from embryos created for in vitro fertilization which otherwise would be destroyed as medical waste. While many applaud the move as step in the right direction, predictably religious conservative have waved the abortion flag once again.

Is this fair analogy? Are the religious conservatives right; is using embryonic stem cells in research akin to abortion? I don’t buy the analogy; after all we are not speaking of a human life here, we are speaking potential human life. Every sperm, and every egg is a potential human life. The non-partisan American Progress Action Fund published this explanation of stem cell vs. abortion yesterday in their daily newsletter:

UNDERSTANDING STEM CELLS: Don’t confuse stem cell research with the emotionally charged debate surrounding abortion; they are very, very different issues. An embryo is not a fetus; it's a cluster of about 150 cells, also known as a blastocyst, which forms a few days after the joining of a sperm and egg, and is no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. Within the center of this cluster are the stem cells, which are like biological blank slates. These cells have the potential to become any of the 200 kinds of cells that make up the human body. Many scientists believe stem cell research could one day be used to treat people living in pain with serious illnesses such as spinal injuries, Alzheimer's, strokes, brain injuries, Parkinson's, diabetes and heart defects.

I must admit that I have a personal stake in the outcome of this debate, I have Diabetes and someone very close to me has lived with MS for the past ten years, both ailments that further stem cell research could help cure. The conservative Republicans speak of a culture of life but conveniently forget the life that has already been born. Does human life cease to have value after a baby is born? Does a group of cells frozen in a Petri dish have (equal) more value than a living breathing, disease stricken human being? A blastocyst is not a human life (although Tom Delay would disagree); it is a grouping of cells that could become a human life if implanted into a viable womb. A sperm is not human life either, it is a group of cells then when joined with an egg could produce a human life. Should they be protected as well, since they have the potential of creating a human life? And if so, how, the sex police? Billions are wasted every time a man uses a condom, every time I man masturbates; should we make condom use and male masturbation illegal under the guise of protecting human life. How far do we as a society what to take this?

George W. Bush and other religious zealots point to adult stem cells as an alternative to those harvested from embryos. But it has been widely reported that adult stem cells are not as viable as those from an embryo. Again the non-partisan American Progress Action Fund published this explanation of adult stem cell vs. embryonic stem cells yesterday in their daily newsletter:

ADULT VS. EMBRYONIC: Bush advocated scientists using adult bone marrow and umbilical cord blood instead of embryonic stem cells. Umbilical and embryonic stem cells “are not in any way interchangeable,” said David Scadden, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine and Technology. In a letter sent to President Bush, a group of 80 Nobel laureates agreed, saying “current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential.” The fact remains that stem cells derived from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood have less potential than those from embryos. Adult stem cell lines are difficult to work with and cannot develop – or “differentiate” – into all types of cells like embryonic stem cells can; for example, they are unable to produce insulin-producing cells to fight diabetes. Umbilical stem cells also are only able to develop into “the components of blood – red cells, white cells and platelets.”

Other countries are pulling ahead of the United States in this very critical area of study because we have let religious zealotry invade the body politic and in so doing insinuate itself into public policy. U.S. scientists are going overseas to do research on stem cells and South Korea just announced significant progress towards cloning embryonic stem cells. But this goes far beyond U.S. dominance of the bio-tech industry; it speaks to the very nature of our society and what for it will take in the future. The debate over stem cells is just one of many battles that pit logic, science and the public good, again religious ideology, and if it continues we all loose. Do we want a forward looking progressive society governed by logic and intelligent discourse, or do we want a society governed by religious ideological passion that will in time end our dominance of science and technology?

Friday, May 06, 2005

DeLay Calls for Greater Humility; Oh Please!

Is this guy kidding? Tom Delay calling for humility and responsibility, please, does he even know what those two words mean? Speaking at the 54th annual National Day of Prayer, Delay said,
Just think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door, if collectively we all spent less time taking credit and more time deserving it… if we spent less time ducking responsibility and more time welcoming it, if we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees.

Has the man no integrity at all, has he no ethics, no moral compass guiding his pathetic little life? How can a man who professes to know and love God be so far from the shadow of his teachings? How shallow, vapid, and pathetic a man. I didn’t think it possible to feel more distain for Delay, but…

Monday, April 25, 2005

Christian Conservative Activists Declare Holy War on the Nations' Courts

This week's Newsweek Magazine has an excellent article on the Christian Conservative Republicans' Jihad against the third branch of our government. This sort of rhetoric only serves to undermine the judiciary in the eyes and minds of the people. It is not healthy and serves only a portion of the American population.

That portion that would see our freedoms stripped away and replaced by religious inspired laws, limiting abortions, sanctioning discrimination against Homosexuals, introducing biblical verse and doctrine into public school curriculum, hanging the Ten Commandments everywhere, and silencing the Democratic Party, or anyone who dared speak out against their increasingly radical and intolerant views.

It is a sad frightening spectacle unfolding within the Republican controlled halls of Congress and within small-minded conservative organizations across the country. In my mind, they and not the Courts are the real threat to the American way of life and system of governance; they and not the Courts are the activist who would re-write our laws to suit their narrow view of life, and we, the majority must fight back!

There are some conservative Christian Republicans, Tom Delay and Representative Steve King who would fundamentally change the structure of the Court system. King recently stated: "We could reduce the size of the Supreme Court...It doesn't take nine judges, it only takes one. It would just be Chief Justice William Rehnquist with his card table." While it is true that Article Three does not speak to the size of the Supreme Court, any attempt to change the composition of the Court would cause (I would hope) tremendous upheaval in the electorate, because I dare say most Americans look to the Supreme Court as their last bastion best hope for justice. Congress would, at its own peril realign the Court.

It is ironic that while we have American troops dying oversea to secure the blessings of liberty for others, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are under sustained attack by conservatives here in America; that while we fight fundamentalist Islam oversea, fundamentalists Christians are on the march in America and threaten to do what Osama Bin Laden dreams of: bring down the American Republic and replace it with a Theocracy; that while the American government shouts platitudes about the rule of law abroad, the rule of law, and the cause of justice is under seize by religious zealots here at home.

Is this the America we want to live in, one dominated by religious zealotry? Is this the America we want to bequeath to our children, an America where the judiciary is stripped of real power by religious extremists and is but a rubber stamp of the Congress and President? What then of our rights under the Constitution? What institution will protect our fundamental and Civil freedoms? Will we all have to prey before class; will public office holders have to swear allegiance to God before being allowed to take office; will agnostics and atheists be persecuted wholesale? How soon before the U.S. slides into Third World nation status, and the bold experiment ended in failure because the ignorant shouted the loudest?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tom Delay's Dying Words?

Tom Delay that bastion of un-questionable morals and ethics, is once again speaking out of the side of his ill-informed mouth, once again attacking the third and co-equal branch of government for its failure to-gasp-rule the way he wanted them to in the Terri Schiavo case.

Speaking on Fox radio (where else?), Delay stated, "[W]e have the opportunity to set up courts; we can also dismantle courts and reorganize them." Huh? Do we now live in a Third World dictatorship where the Judiciary serves as a rubber-stamp for the power hungry, or worse yet, does not serve at all? This irresponsible statement from a man, a representative of the people, only proves that Delay is out of touch and out of step with the world.

Delay went on to attack Reagan appointee Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for having the audacity to look, in part, to International Law in formulating opinions, and for using the Internet to do legal research. Delay stated,
[W]e've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States. That's just outrageous. And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous.

Say Tom, isn't that ignorance dripping from the corners of your mouth? The foundation for American Black Letter Laws finds its beginnings in the federal and the many constitutions, but the courts also rely heavily on precedent established under Common Law. And our Common Law tradition springs not from the constitution, but from Great Britain, which has a long history of Common Law practice. Early Supreme Court cases were festooned with references to British Common Law cases, and indeed these cases formed the foundation of our own Common Law jurisprudence.

And America should not be an intellectual island where International Law is ignored because we arrogantly believe that our laws and our constitution are superior to all others, and that we have nothing to learn from other societies. That sort of hubris would never escape the lips of one more informed, more cultured, and more nuanced about the world at large.

As for Justice Kennedy using the Internet to research cases, ever heard of Lexis-Nexus, or Westlaw representative Delay? They are after all widely utilized legal references; V. Edward to Tom: here is a quarter, buy a clue! Delay's political demise cannot come soon enough for me.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bill Frist's Christian Jihad

In the latest broadside to be fired in the ongoing war between the Democrat's and Republican’s in the Senate over the time honored tradition of the filibuster, the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has decide to brand Democrats "enemy's of Christianity," on a nationally televised broadcast entitled "Justice Sunday" on April 24, sponsored by the ultra-conservative Family Research Council.

Jihad: Islamic campaign against nonbelievers: a campaign waged by Muslims in defense of the Islamic faith against individuals, organizations, or countries regarded as hostile to Islam...

The Councils' president Tony Perkins has stated in a letter to supporters that "[W]e must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith." The letter went on to state: "[F]or years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms...filibustered nominees are being blocked because they are people of faith and moral conviction...[T]hese are people whose only offense is to say that abortion is wrong or that marriage should be between one man and one woman."

Is there any wonder that I have such a bad taste in my mouth whenever the words Religious Right are uttered in my presence?

Now it is one thing to visit a church or religious organization in search of votes, quite another to deliberately set out to brand your opposing Senators anti-Christian; attack a co-equal branch of government whose only offensive is doing their constitutionally mandated job; and debase yourself and your institution by groveling at the feet of the ignorant Bible-quoting minority for votes. Whatever respect I have for Bill Frist—and trust me it could be measured in stingy spoonfuls—has completely evaporated with this detestable stunt.

Have Republican lawmakers completely lost sight of their fundamental obligation to the constitution, to the American people, and America itself? Or is that they do not understand, or respect the document, We The People, our country? How much longer are the silent majority going to remain so while the fundamentalist Christians chip away at our constitutional institutions and rights as citizens? Enough is enough already!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Looming American Theocracy

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances…US CONT, amend 1.

The Founding Fathers have failed. They knew the dangers of allowing religion to invade the body politic and infect it with misplaced righteousness, and they attempted to separate the two, leaving politics to the Public Square and religion to the privacy of church and home. They attempted to enshrine the notion in the federal constitution, but their wording was too vague, their intent is lost on the often rudimentary and perfunctory understanding most Americans (including politicians) have of their own founding document. The Founding Fathers have failed, or is it we who have failed them?

There has been a new trend afoot across the landscape of American society. It arguably started with the election of Ronald Reagan and it continues apace today. That trend has taken religion out of the private sphere and thrust it—sometimes by force—into the Public Square with disastrous results to the fundamental rights of all Americans. Across this great land, the Religious Right populated by Christians of all stripes is making its voice heard, from pharmacists refusing to dispense medications, to the insistence by some that the Ten Commandments be displayed in public venues; from the new push to teach Intelligent Design alongside The Theory of Evolution, to the pervasion of religious rhetoric in the body politic; from the right to life movement to the enshrinement of discrimination in state constitutions in an attempt to deny homosexuals and lesbians the right to marry—in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the federal constitution. Across this great land, secularism is under siege.

It is in my mind a dangerous trend that borders on fanaticism, the same extremism we are fighting in other parts of the world that seek our destruction. It is ironic that we seem to be accomplishing from within, what they seek to bring about from without; namely the collapse of American democracy, and the rise of Theocratic state, one based not on Islam, but on Christianity. It was faith, or more accurately, misplaced, and misrepresented faith that saw the Congress of the United States pass a law designed to help the one, and not the many; that saw the Congress cross the line and violate the separation of powers so vital to the continued well-being of our nation; that saw the President violate his Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. It is this religious fanaticism and the pandering to thereof that increasingly pits the Legislative and Executive against the Judicial in an effort to discredit the latter in the eyes of the American public.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States…US CONT, art. VI, clause 3.

The seminal 1947 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Everson vs. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing et al. laid the legal and Constitutional foundation for the Separation of Church and State Doctrine that is both embraced and rejected by the American populace. In it the Court ruled:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State."

The case itself, which I counsel all to read, is stimulating and illuminating reading in that the justices recount the history of religious persecution and the oft disastrous results of mixing religion and government. And the case points out that the Founding Fathers had solid reasons for erecting a wall between religion and government. Their reasoned arguments make sense to those who seek to keep religion private and prevent it from unduly influencing public law and policy. On the other hand their arguments seem to fall on the deaf ears of those who seek to make all citizens subject to the conservative dictates and confused morals of Christianity.

As we sail deeper into the bosom of the 21st century, America is ever morphing into a multi-cultural society, one in which peoples from diverse religious backgrounds increasingly interact both publicly and privately. Islam, by all accounts, is the nation’s fastest growing religion; like it or no, the religion is here to stay and flourish. But so too is Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions of the Far East. Yes, we are a nation born of Christian people, but we can hardly lay claim to being a wholly Christian nation when so many religions are practiced freely within our borders.

The government (state and federal) must represent these Americans too; the message must not be sent through plaques and monuments erected on public property, or through political rhetoric, that other religions have no place in America; that Christianity is the favored religion. That is a direct affront to the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Nor must the government seek to ban personal freedoms based on religious dogma as the Republicans seek to do by banning Gay Marriage and trying to enact an Amendment banning abortion. Nor must School Boards seek to force our public schools to teach religious dogma; we rail against this in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, how can we condone it here in America?

I am personally of no faith, I am an agnostic, and came by my position within myself, using logic, history, and the oft heinous behaviors of mankind towards one another as my guides. I do not prescribe to the belief that the Bible (which is full of glaring contradictions, wonderful poetry, spectacular fables, and is after all is said and done a great work of fiction) holds the answers to all of life’s mysteries and problems, and I certainly do not believe that our government received its mandate from God as many of those in the Religious Right movement believes. Our government springs from the will of the people as embodied in the Constitution. It is the constitution politicians owe their “public” allegiance to, not the Holy Bible.

Not that I do not understand the need for religion in some peoples lives. Indeed, religion can offer stability and focus in lives that suffer from a lack of both. It can offer moral grounding, and sound societal principles that can last a lifetime, but religion is not for everyone, and everyone does not need religion to live a happy and whole life. The government must represent ALL American on a fair and equal footing before the law, not just those Americans who clutch the Bible close to their breast. The government must not be seen to endorse any one religion over another in order to hold true to the spirit and letter of the First Amendment. To do otherwise is to invite the very melding of religion and government the Founding Fathers sought to avoid.

Ask yourself this question: is worship of the Devil a legitimate religious practice, and if so, if that religion seeks to have the Ten Commandments of Devil worship displayed on public grounds, on what basis could that be prevented if the Ten Commandment of God are also displayed therein? And if the answer is no, that Devil worship is not a valid form of religious worship, why not; what makes it any less legitimate than the worship of God? After all, the Devil is actually mentioned in the Bible, in the very first chapter. And what of worship of Witches, and Pagan worship, and the other myriad religions that now make up the American cultural landscape; should they be given equal footing and display rights in the public square that Christianity now enjoys? If the government were to hold true to the First Amendment, how could they be legally be denied equal access and space? Remember the 1st Amendment proclamation: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…

Religion and religious teaching and dogma have no place in the public arena, they should remain private. If Christians—who now claim by the way that they are being persecuted by not being allowed to insert Intelligent Design into public school curriculum—want to limit their personal freedoms that is their choice to make; do not seek to impose your beliefs on others. If you morally object to contraception, do not practice birth control, and do not become a pharmacist, where you can interfere in the (legitimate) health care of others; if you do not believe in pre-marital sex, don’t engage in it; if you do not believe in Gay marriage, don’t practice it; if you do not believe that abortion is right; don’t have one; if you believe in Intelligent Design, or Creationism, learn it in the church or at home, but do not seek to have it taught in the public schools.

Leave the rest of us alone; don’t seek to have your misguided beliefs legislated into public laws that we all must follow. If you want you have a right to freedom of religion, then conversely, I—and others of like mind—have a right to freedom from religion.

History has shown that any society that sought to incorporate religious doctrine into the very fabric of public law, has suffered at the hands of those who would use such laws to oppress the populace, especially women and minorities. And one only has to look at modern-day Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and other countries where Islamic law holds sway to validate my assertions. In all of these countries, women and minorities are the ones being oppressed in the name of religion. Real human progress has stopped and whole segments of the population are valueless. Is this what we want for the U.S.; a Theocracy, a nightmarish script straight from the pages of A Handmaid’s Tale? Is this where the Grand Experiment in representative Democracy is leading us? Are we casting aside the constitution if favor of the Holy Bible?