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Wednesday, August 31, 2005
On this day:

High Water Everywhere

As inspired by this post at Dependable Renegade: I'm reminded of prophetic words by Bob Dylan from the Love and Theft CD.

The Song? High Water

I snip some parts I can remember - those that seem painfully poignent.
High water rising, rising night and day,
All the gold and silver being stolen away...

...Nothing standing there, high water everywhere...

High water rising, the shacks are sliding down,
Folks lose their posessions, the folks are leaving town...

...You dance with those they tell you to or you don't dance at all.
Its tough out here, high water everywhere...

...Things are breaking up out there, high water everywhere...

High water rising six inches above my head,
hardwood coffins floating like ballons made out of lead...

..."don't reach after me", she said, "can't you see I'm drowning too."
It's rough out there, high water everywhere.

...they got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway 5,
Judge says to the high sheriff "I want him dead or alive,
Either one - I don't care." High water everywhere...

The Kuku is a pretty bird she warbles as she flies.
I'm preaching the Word of God - I'm putting our your eyes...

...It's bad out there, high water everywhere...

My heart goes out to everyone. While our government takes out more loans from the Chinese, having exhausted all resources for Operation Desert Quagmire, much needed help may be slow in coming. May you find the strength you need within...

Create THIS!

Ok: I've just about had it with the Creationism/Intelligent Design coverage in the media. To call this a debate would be to lend unwarrented credentials to what amounts to a smoke screen of political manufacture at the core of our new-found interest in unscientific silliness.

I'm going out on a limb here, and a lot of people will be offended by my saying this: There Is No God. Can anyone scientifically prove of disprove the existance of a human-manufactured concept rooted in the ignorance of thousands of years ago? Why do we cling to such nonsense? We have done so to the continued and unequivical detriment to humanity. The widespread damage to societies throughout history - caused by proponents of theism - far outstrips the benefits the few, humble believers have gained. To think that theism is the only answer available to humanity with which to enhance our spiritual potential is likewise ridiculous, and likewise dangerous.

To believe in a intelligent "creator being" has an effect to absolve humanity of taking command of its own destiny, sidestepping responsibility for accoutibility of its own actions - singly and collectively. Resulting in some of the most murderous societies and regimes in history being strongly associated with theism, and they still are.

To believe in creationism is to subsume an unprovable "fact" of the existance of God. This cannot be sidled up to imperical studies as an alternative. It is insulting to those few humans that have the capacity and courage to look the universe in the eye and question. Our highly technical global culture has evolved by direct result of the work of countless fearless questors. We owe them thanks for the miracles they have brought us, not insults for failing to believe in fairy tale miracles.[/RANT]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
On this day:

Getting an Edu-ma-cation

Via BadCatholic, a take on the future curriculum in American schools. This would be funny if there weren't actual people endorsing such silliness.

On a different note: Orcinus has an interesting post on how the Right is trying to associate the worst of our home-grown fringe groups with Lefties, and how this is patently ridiculous.

Lastly, Col. Pat Lang calls the Iraqi constitution irrelevant.

Obviously, I am too busy reading tonight to write my own stuff. After reading these fine bloggers, I sometimes feel inadequate...

Monday, August 29, 2005
On this day:

A Bunny's Tale: Part 2

Bunnatine Greenhouse, after 20 years of exemplary service at the procurement department of the Army Corps of Engineers, is being demoted for - what the Army calls - poor performance. It seems Bunny (that's what her friends call her) is uppity when is comes to doing her job. Always a stickler for the rules, when the Army wanted to sidestep long-established procedures to allow a Haliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, access to no-bid contracts, She tried to stop it. She even wrote her misgivings on the official documents involved in the dealmaking.

Ms. Greenhouse fought the demotion through official channels, and publicly described her clashes with Corps of Engineers leaders over a five-year, $7 billion oil-repair contract awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root. She had argued that if urgency required a no-bid contract, its duration should be brief.

Ms. Greenhouse had also fought the granting of a waiver to Kellogg Brown & Root in December 2003, approving the high prices it had paid for fuel imports for Iraq, and had objected to extending its five-year contract for logistical support in the Balkans for 11 months and $165 million without competitive bidding. In late June, ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel, calling the Kellogg Brown & Root oil contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career." She also said the defense secretary's office had improperly interfered in the awarding of the contract.

The nerve! Who does this woman think she is - a Senior Executive Service-rank employee? Oh, right. She was just that - when she testified in court over her concerns of questionable practices. Since that time the Army began a papertrail of negative performance review in anticipation of today's official demotion. The connection is obvious when viewed on a timeline, yet the Army typically asserts otherwise.
Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, said the administrative record "clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse's removal from the S.E.S. is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made."
The Army secretary's office was investigation Bunny's case, but her promotion went through despite an order to delay action:

Her demotion was delayed when the Army's senior legal officials said they would first seek an independent investigation of her reprisal complaint. "The Army has referred this matter to the Department of Defense inspector general for their review and action, as appropriate," said an Oct. 22, 2004, letter to Ms. Greenhouse's lawyer from Robert M. Fano, the Army's chief of civilian personnel law. The acting secretary of the Army, Mr. Fano wrote, had also directed the Corps of Engineers to "suspend any adverse personnel action so that Ms. Greenhouse remains in her current position until a sufficient record is available to address the specific matters you raised."

But on July 14, the Army secretary approved Ms. Greenhouse's demotion, effective Aug. 27. With his request to proceed, General Strock had provided an unsigned nine-page memorandum, reviewing Ms. Greenhouse's recent performance ratings and responding to her allegations of impropriety.

Mr. Kohn said Sunday that the inspector general had not finished investigating the matter and that the demotion violated the Army secretary's commitment to wait on any action.

Mr. Kohn said that when he telephoned Dan Meyer, director of civilian reprisal investigations in the inspector general's office, on Aug. 24, Mr. Meyer was "shocked" to learn that the corps had proceeded against Ms. Greenhouse. Mr. Meyer said that he was immediately opening a "civilian reprisal" investigation and faxed forms to Mr. Kohn to initiate the process, Mr. Kohn said.

A Pentagon spokesman said Sunday that the inspector general's office could not be reached for comment.

This is just smoke-and-mirrors, folks; this is a "Done Deal." If Mr. Meyer was "shocked" its because he was smoking something handmade. Bunnatine Greenhouse is just the latest victim of BushCo's abortion of an administration. Nothing is sacred in our national leadership, only the All-Mighty Dollar. I would take solace in the eventuality that Messrs. Bush and Cheney will rot in a Hell of their own making but for one small detail: They're taking the rest of the world with them.

Sunday, August 28, 2005
On this day:

Smokescreen Politics

On the issue of “Intelligent Design,” President Bush announced: "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought." Interesting this coming from an Administration that has spent most of the last five years squelching dissention of its policies. For years to openly criticize the war on Iraq is to invite hate speech discrediting you motives, your patriotism, and sometimes even your sanity. So; for our Nitwit-in-Chief to spout such hypocrisy about the need for different schools of thought is beyond ridiculous.

Another famous hypocrite, Bill Frist said, "I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future." We do indeed have a pluralistic society, to the collective chagrin of most fundamentalist ideologues like Senator Frist. The past strength of our nation is in diversity, but today we have a group of people that aw working very hard to reverse our diversity, to steal back powers Americans have fought for over the past century, and to create a New American Century™ of White, Christian supremacy. So-called “Intelligent Design”, really just bible-thumping, is only one of many fronts in our culture war.
To bring up this old argument is also another way for our Failure-in-Chief and his sycophants to deflect attention away from our failing war; a smokescreen of emotive power that, when used, deliberately buys time for development of an exit strategy.

No. I’m not talking about the troops; I’m talking about how our Washington Mafia is going to leave through the political back door with all their hard-earned loot. As I understand, there are still plenty of south Pacific islands for sale, to be bought with the staggering proceeds wrought from no-bid contracts, closed-door deal making and other hitherto unknown nefarious methods. When a group of influential people get into their collective heads that “The Rapture™ Is Now,” there is no end to the mischief they’ll reationalize.

So up does the Darwinian Debate, as thick and pungent as mustard gas, and just as friendly. Out goes the public support and - soon to follow - our elected leaders and their appointed lackeys who, I suspect, have orchestrated our current catastrophe, off to a remote island of their choosing.

Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain, as we all debate the methods of the Great and Powerful OZ, said men are making clean their getaway.

Saturday, August 27, 2005
On this day:

The City That Works: At It Again

Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley was questioned yesterday for two hours by Federal authorities regarding a massive hiring scandal that has besieged city hall for the last few months. Many opponents of both the mayor, who has been in office for the past sixteen years, and of the Illinois Democratic party has been having fun spouting the usual hyperbole and rhetoric about how corrupt is…well, you know how this type of thing plays out.

Corruption is a problem. But to spin facts and infer that said corruption is partial to any political party, group or sub-group is in itself an effect of the same corrupt minds. If Party A is involved or under investigation for alleged crimes, Party B comes out of the woodwork to smirk and shake admonitory fingers at them, thereby inferring guilt in the press and in the public eye before all facts are collected. Thus Party B also acts in a corrupt manner for using the doubt created by the investigation and spinning it for its own benefit. That in itself is another example of corruption; the correct thing for Party B to do is to stay mum and let the investigation go on unhindered.

But that is not how things are done in America. Why? Because over the years the entire system has fallen, much as its Roman predecessor, into a corrupt state. No longer can this nation function within the ideals and limitations accepted by our founders. We have strayed off the path too far and are lost in the jungle of political backstabbing and advantage. We are too greedy for personal gain to understand that to benefit society is ultimately to benefit ourselves. America has lost its way, and in so doing, it has lost itself.

Whether Richard M. Daley is involved in the city’s penchant for questionable hiring practices, bribery, patronage, is beside the issue. The greater issue is no matter who is guilty, Chicagoans lose, no matter who replaces the guilty, the new people will soon become corrupted; because that’s how the system works, that’s how business is done. The problem of corrupt government trickled down, as George H. W. Bush informed us; as state and local government must take their cues form the federal level.

As my departed brother liked to say: illegal is only getting caught. The corrupt within government are the guilty, if you never get caught, then you are a viewed as a saint. But even the so-called saints deal with unethical practices, they must or they would not be able to accomplish anything. No amount of finger-wagging will dry their hands of the muck.

Chicago is "The City That Works." In order to function in our political climate, one must "Do What's Necessary" and "Bite the Bullet" to "Get Things Done." Once in a while you'll get caught - just the law of averages playing out. Does that Make our Mayor "Evil?" No. To have juggled so much for so long and stayed mostly in the clear makes him effective, if not pure. But then, may those without sin cast the first stone.

Friday, August 26, 2005
On this day:

Rabblerousing: A Fantasy Speech

"You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy," He said. “I think more people should die because of greed, paranoia and the pursuit of the American Hegemony. We’re emptying the nation of undereducated troublemakers, clearing the way for progress as we clear the farms of our fathers for the suburbs of today.” He smiled over the microphone; pleased he used such big words. “It would be a crime to let the terrorists in our country run amuck during the upcoming election cycle. Everyone knows they all vote Democratic, hate homophobes and despise our god-given rights as Americans to sell guns to underprivileged people around the world and within our own ghettoes. Americans have the right to blow away anyone they feel like, as America has the same right to destroy any enemy I see fit to declare.”

Glancing aside at his speechwriter, he paused for approval. Why is she looking at the floor? He told her he forgot his glasses and will try his best. Sniffs and coughing is coming from the gallery, and people look uncomfortable. Still, the soldiers know when to applaud, as their CO’s have grunts waiting to hold the signs up. Summoning up all his failing courage, he smirks into the cameras and tries hard to remember all the big words What’s-her-name used.

“We need to push America forward, into the faces and countries of our enemies, appropriating their resources so we can continue our unchecked consumption, riding an economic train wreck as far as the tracks will take us,” He smiles, pleased. What was that called, he thinks, a metamorph or something like that. “We will ride American rails of global supremacy to the bitter end, delivering our enemies justice and creating a better world in our own image.” A chair squeaked along the sideboard as his speechwriter hurries around the crowded room. He wonders if she ate something bad, but he doesn’t let that stop him:

“And god bless America.”

Thursday, August 25, 2005
On this day:

A Fantastic Fable

Once Upon a Time...

Putting the pieces in place of exactly how the American conservative movement has placed this nation in the dire stratights we now find ourselves in. In a simplistic, fable of arms deals and paranoia, betrayal and subterfuge, we see how the past twenty years of American foriegn policy has led us to this war that we cannot win.

...And They All Lived Happily Ever After. NOT!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
On this day:

The Light of Reason is Shining Today

I am thankful that somebody is keeping an eye on us. Too bad it's a critical eye...

The Devil's Donkey

Pat Robertson should apologize. Notwithstanding the obvious mental attrition the aging evangelical is suffering from, any comments remotely suggesting assassinating anyone is as far from the Christian doctrine as a man can get. Such is the height of hypocrisy that a man of his public image can consider speaking such un-Christian words in a religious broadcast. I have but two words: American Jihad.
Either this man is drunk with his own power over his easily influenced mob of mindless fans, or he’s insane. I’ll even suggest that he’s in late-stage Alzheimer’s and thinks he’s president, announcing ruinous American foreign policy in a State of the Urinal Address, but he couldn’t do much worse that what we already have…
I am angered at the kid gloves our administration uses to handle this outrage. Instead of treating Old Pat as a foolhardy blowhard, they just shrug as if an errant, toothless dog just tried to gum the postman; “Aww, shucks!” Angered, but not at all surprised; after all, Biker George the Cowboy has had his hands in Pat Robertson’s pockets for so many years, (edited sexual analogy), it’s almost indecent. If the offending comment came from a political antagonist…well, you know.
Trust the Holier-than-Thou crowd to publicly announce Jihad on a democratically elected leader, as our good Christian Americans watch as their chosen leaders murder families, ruin economies, and destroy whole cities in the name of White Man’s (version of) Democracy.
Thousands of Americans - who actually are good Christians - who try to lead wholesome lives, are victimized by the comments of one sanctimonious jackass; just as all of America is a victim of another jackass’ delusions of grandeur. I guess that’s why they get along so well.

Perhaps the Muslims are right; perhaps America is the Seat of Satan after all…

Monday, August 22, 2005
On this day:

Welcome to our Police State.

Rick Santorum can’t even play at celebrity. As the heir apparent of all things nasty about Christian Dominionist Extremism, he can’t even attend a book signing without an escort of hired thugs. To our guy Rick, a carload of teenage women is too threatening; they must be forcibly removed from the local Barnes & Noble by a rent-a-thug in full police regalia. As it turns out this example of Delaware’s Finest cannot be reached for comment. But a spokesperson from the bookstore chain claims that management wasn’t consulted before Mr. Triggerhappy took matters into his own hands to expel them from the store and to threaten the ladies with jail time for the gumption of speaking their own minds within earshot of the Exalted Senator.

I’m curious as to the screening process used to filter out the progressives from the off-duty state police rosters, or how they pick only the worst and dimmest officers to “maintain peace”. Also. I wonder about exactly how much money one gets for such an obviously dangerous assignment and from whom does the money originate?

This unfortunate by-product of our current leadership is quite telling: ordinary people, the youth of America no less, have no right to attend public events. These are the same kids, mind you, whose names are being fed into the Department of Defense’s computers in preparation for the inevitable upcoming draft. They aren’t allowed to voice their opinions, but they’ll be allowed to die for the glory of our Corporate Hegemony as a God-given right. And as we all know George W. Bush is Lord.

Such behavior in public as exhibited by these young women cannot be seen too lightly; as the conservatives know, these children must be punished – for their own good - as example to all God-fearing Americans. The Christian Right, as exemplified in Senator Santorum is under attack, and so only militaristic responses are appropriate. Such unwholesome behavior in the face of a Senatorial book promotion will, I feel, seriously abbreviate the good Senator’s (gack!) book-signing tour, which will adversely affect the profitability of said Tome of Enlightenment, thereby undermining the possibility of another publisher’s willingness to take on future projects by this author. (See? Some good can come of this!)

Sunday, August 21, 2005
On this day:

Nothing News

Ever since I returned from vacation two weeks ago, I feel disassociated from the blogosphere, the news, and even my own life. Reportage, such as is it on a blog, is work these days. I broke the spell. I work on translating my vacation journal to a digital format to avoid the tedium of researching for blogdom.

But what is there to write about? The news hasn’t changed much this last month: Cindy and Casey Sheehan (yawn), sure she’s a figurehead of the anti-incumbent crowd, but the usual suspects are acting in the usual ways – how boring; the pullout of Gaza is interesting in light of my latest adventures, but most Americans don’t really care, and the news media is getting the whole thing wrong – as usual; Downing Street seems to have gone down the tubes while I was away (another yawn). Viewing the media top stories is like viewing summer reruns; nothing has changed, the punch lines are all the same and even the laugh tracks sound strained.

Here are four op-eds from NY Times today: All boring.

Walking the Wrong Way: About the ill-concieved Freedom Walk planned for September 11 this year. It’s too late to bolster support for the war, both the war and its attendant propaganda campaign are lost causes. Bushies are gathering on the poop deck of a sinking ship (yawn).

The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan: A brief history of Karl “Don’t Call Me Marx” Rove and his favorite tool, the smear campaign, and its failure to work on Cindy Sheehan. More pabulum about the failing war and America’s slow awakening to reality. The really sad part is America will never unite behind punishing our leaders for their crimes; end result, nothing (yawn).

Live From Gaza: A New View of Israel: a Palestinian viewpoint that is anything but new: “We won’t be satisfied until Israel is exterminated,” and Gaza is just the start (yawn). Such single-minded disassociation from reality is worthy of an American political regime. Hello, folks, the Jews are winning! Divorcing the remaining Israeli Arabs from reality, those who believe (mistakenly) that there will ever again be a Palestine, has not fared well.

The Dispossessed: Elie Wiesel pipes in about Gaza, remonstrating Palestinians for doing their favorite dance: Death to Israel Shuffle. Specifically he mentions the fist-pumping that is endemic in the Palestinian so-called “Authority” for acting as thugs by reveling in the pain of the relocated Jews of Gaza (*Blink, blink* – I must have fallen asleep). To celebrate another’s pain is foolish and against the Koran. These hate mongers are neither good citizens nor good Arabs. It’s no wonder that they have not been able to create jobs, economies, or education for their people. Their singular attitude is causing their extinction faster than anything the Israelis can dish out (yawn).

There’s nothing new on the news, nothing worthy of attention; as humanity make the same mistakes all over again, as different players rewrite the same plays for the benefit of nobody.

I think I’ll go to sleep early tonight…

Saturday, August 20, 2005
On this day:

A Bunny's Tale

Cindy Sheehan, move over. It’s not that I think your story has run its course, not at all – its just another one needs to be brought to life. That is before it’s stamped into the blood-soaked quicksand that is All Things Iraq.

Have you ever heard of Bunnatine Greenhouse? You should become acquainted with her story, at least. Political Sapphire is beating the drum and all good, Bush-fearing liberals should dance along…

Watch me dance (don’t laugh too loudly…)

Crossposted @ Left of Center:

Fundimentally Speaking

Axis of Logic is validating my world view (again) with a feature article about Fundamentalist Christianity as a "Dangerous Force."
The Roman Empire's unlikely demise came three centuries later. Edward Gibbon, author of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", blames Rome's fall in part on the ascendancy of Christianity.


America is behind in cloning and stem cell research, now led by South Korean, Italian and British scientists. American fundamentalists seek to outlaw stem cell research on the arbitrary and totally unproven premise that "life begins at conception," a recent concept contrary to the teaching of St. Augustine and the allegedly infallible Roman papacy for some 1,500 years.


President Bush's recent endorsement of teaching "Intelligent Design" perpetuates this same denial of science. ID proponents have never had an article on ID published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal. They do not conduct experiments that would prove or falsify their hypothesis. Their religious conjecture under the guise of science makes no useful predictions, nor can they model it mathematically. There are no research labs doing ID science because "Intelligent design" is not science, it is religion!
My snark runs thusly: If an omniscient entity created all; why is therepain, war, hatred, and greed? If there is a god, so equipped as to have created everything out of nothing, why does s/he show the same imperfect human faults and frailties? And, if there is such an all-knowing creator being, surely when looking down upon us, s/he must know s/he F&*#ed up!

So much for divine perfection.

Friday, August 19, 2005
On this day:

Shooting the Message: A Ramble

If you can’t shoot the messenger, shoot the message: that’s what pro-slaughter warhawks are trying to do with Cindy Sheehan. Rush Limburger compares her to Bill Burkett, who tried to blow the whistle about Our Favorite Shrubbery’s lack of National Guard duties. Bill O’Reilly, as usual, claims that Cindy is “associating with the most radical elements in this country,” but then he likes to call others extremists when they disagree with his extremism. David Horrorwitz on MSNBC states that Cindy “exploits the death of her own son,” and by saying so exploits her anti-war message for his own agenda.

It’s the message, the meaning of Cindy’s protest that’s being smeared and obscured; she just wants an answer to a simple question: What is this “Noble Cause” the President talk about that led her son to fight and die in a war overseas?

But the answer is increasingly obvious: there is none. What we are doing to Iraq is anything but “Noble,” and we have no “Cause” to do it. Our Vacationing Shrubbery cannot respond; to answer honestly would condemn him to answering other tough questions he has on the table, to answer dishonestly would likely lead to the impeachment some optimistic Democratic-type dream about. You know the phrase: Catch 22 (thanks, Joseph Heller, wherever you are.)

Like any massive object, American political opinion is turning the corner. Too late for hundreds of fine American idealist killed and wounded, too late for their families, whose lives will forever be scorched by the flames of war, and far too late for the thousands of Muslims who, just like their American Christian counterparts, just wanted to live out their lives as unaffected by political ideology as possible – even in a difficult political environment. These so-called “Brown People,” are just like us. It is important to recognize this fact.

Because our nation is more capable of military retribution, real or contrived, for acts of extreme violence toward this country does not make it a god-given right to destroy another nation. There are many nations in our sad, confused world that are killing off their people, far more heinously and hideously than did Saddam Hussein. The question I see no one asking is why not war against these states?

Cindy Sheehan’s question is akin to most blunt political queries: either academic or rhetorical. If academic, there are no answers that do not involve personal bias, if rhetorical; the answers are so obvious as to not require utterance.

Such is the case against this war: Why are we here? Because some in America believe that after the cold war ends, the time for American Imperialism begins. Why in Iraq? Because that’s where the oil is, and we, as a national economy, are too afraid to take the necessary sacrifices to find other fuel sources. Finally: what is this so-called “Noble Cause?” Fattening the coffers of war profiteers, of which there are many in Texas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
On this day:

Parenting Lessons

Finally! Someone understands how children learn.

Imagine, if you will, a child on the cusp of first grade from a stable and nurturing background who feels OK about himself. This fictitious child will trust his parents as they tell him how much fun he can have in school because he know they are trustworthy and look after him. He will be nervous, but not fearful about his new adventure. He will trust his new surrogate parent that is his teacher, because in his experience grown-ups are nice.

This child will make new friends easily because he likes himself, thereby assimilating into the classroom environment smoothly. He will soon begin to look forward to seeing his new friends – including his new grown-up teacher friend – and will want to go to school. He will learn because his teacher and his parents repeatedly stress the importance of education, and because he wants to get positive feedback from the adults in his life, which further reinforces his wellbeing.

This hypothetical child will excel throughout his educational career because he has the necessary emotional education to achieve. With this sound base and firm understanding of his “OK-ness” he will develop the social network needed to further a social education. So it is that a foundation of emotional stability creates a social cohesion that leads to educational excellence.

No amount of educational programs mandated by governments of any level will be able to compensate for a firm grounding provided by good parenting. It is impossible for any mandatory testing and accountability program to reward a child in a way that is emotionally satisfying; in a way that leads to a level of self-esteem that creates self-motivation. If we want to revamp the education in this country, we need to address the standards of upbringing to which our children are exposed.

That’s why I’ve harbored fantasies about child-rearing classes as part of schools curriculum starting at junior high school. Why not? Our nation demands, in its infinite folly, what used to be called sex education in my day, but what has been pared down to a more politically correct moniker of Teen Health - wherein a detailed study of human reproduction occurs. In Sixth- and again in Eighth-grade our children are taught inadvertently how to become Deadbeat Dads and Unwed Mothers.

Talk about the Law of Unintended Consequences!

It’s only fair to our hapless youth to also teach them the responsibilities of such powerful new reproductive concepts as mandated by the Federal Government; other skills should be taught as well - such as child psychology, household economics, basic first aid, conflict resolution and anger management, to name just a few useful skills not found in education curriculum. With these and other tools at hand, future parents would have a better chance to ground their children in the emotional and social foundations necessary for academic achievement.

Among other benefits, well-centered children will improve the cost-effectiveness of educational budgets by reducing the cost of special education to provide services for behavioral disorders, policing schools, and other modern social problems. Perhaps the surplus could be spent on improving the monetary compensations for teachers as an industry, thereby motivating more of our best and brightest to be teachers.

I know – I’m dreaming again…

Monday, August 15, 2005
On this day:

To Whom Does a Land Belong?

Having just returned from Israel and learned about several of the most pressing issues with which that state is wrestling from an actual Israeli, I find it hard to suffer the foolish, arrogant mandates emanating from the American mediaplex regarding what Israel should or should not do. As the reversal of Jewish settlements in the Gaza region is foremost in the news this week, the NY Times has the chutzpah to tell the Bush Administration (not that they’re listening) what not to accept from Ariel Sharon (not that he cares).

Who wrote this? No by-line is present on the website; perhaps the hack should step forward. Anyone with credentials on the matter would surely list them, the lack of such braggadocio is telling.

What the NY Time is trying to tell our deaf leaders is to not let up on the demand to force Israel to relinquish control of the West Bank. Apparently, to this unnamed reporter, compromise solutions that affect the safety of the State of Israel are unacceptable. Israel is not supposed to give a little to get a little in return, but to give all and hope for fair treatment from a fledgling authority that hasn’t yet been tested from the people it is supposed to represent, an institution that cannot even be called a government. This article is full of “Should” and “Must” as if spoken by one of real authority who just happens to want to remain anonymous; curious, that.

Boston.com has actual reportage occurring on this issue, offered by Herbert C. Kelman, co-chair of the Middle East Seminar ad Harvard University and a professor emeritus of social ethics. The differences in credentials (or lack thereof) clearly shows; facts are laid out, consequences of possible mishandling the Gaza pullout from both sides are expressed, and the inevitable “Shoulds” are offered light-handedly and backed up with cool reason. Professor Kelman even offers a framework for future peace negotiations that attempt to alleviate the largest problem in this complicated issue: mutual distrust.

Professor Kelman insists on the possibility of a two state solution. From my own observations as a neophyte political outsider, I return home from Israel convinced that neither party concerned truly wants a joint custody agreement; Israel as a nation and as an economy is just too small.

I recall driving past the fenced-off Palestinian sections outside of Jerusalem. They were slums. For almost sixty years, while the world forced the Israeli Jews to the negotiating table, the Palestinians taught their children how to hate and kill Jews. Hamas, once a social service organization, used money that should have gone to education and welfare to train and equip suicide bombers and other radical factions within the so-called Palestinian state. Outside the same fences, the Jewish people planted millions of trees to turn the once barren deserts into a fertile landscape on which they can build a nation and grow an economy. Inside the fence lay desolation of a land and its people, self-inflicted; outside, a flourishing of the same land by different people. To whom does the land belong: to those who nourish or to those who destroy?

And the American media, so sure of itself, loathes a winner and roots for the underdog that will chew off it’s own leg to prove a point.

Sunday, August 14, 2005
On this day:

A War Lost

You’ve all heard this by now: (From Reuters )
"The terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve. That will not happen on my watch."

The terrorists, who loom large in the collective imagination of our so-called leaders, cannot defeat us because we’re defeating ourselves. Terrorism and/or its alleged perpetrators have nothing to do with our nations plummeting credibility – not only worldwide, but within our borders as well. As Frank Rich of the NY Times has noted, this was is already over, and we’ve lost. One would expect a paper like the Times to say such things, but a more telling conviction is how the Washington Post hasn’t said a peep to deny such claims.

As for loosing nerve: perhaps that explains why Mr. “Crawford Cowboy” is too chicken to meet with one poor grieving mother. As inferred, such will not happen on his “watch.” It begs the question as to what he’s watching, the dissolution of American credibility or re-runs of Bonanza?
"Withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely would betray the Iraqi people and would cause others to question America's commitment to spreading freedom and winning the war on terror," Bush said. "So we will honor the fallen by completing the mission for which they gave their lives and by doing so we will ensure that freedom and peace prevail,"

I find it interesting to note how he is more willing to continue to betray the American people under the guise of refusing to betray the Iraqi people. After all, it’s not like he has to worry about re-election. America has failed, on his watch, to spread anything but anarchy, lies and imperialism. So, if freedom is not being spread and the “War on Terror” ™ cannot be won, as is increasingly obvious to even the most devout NeoCon, what reason to stay this disastrous course?

Finally, exactly who are the “fallen” that we’re supposed to be honoring? Perhaps it’s the fallen approval ratings suffered by our “stick to you guns” administration, perhaps it is the future falling out of congressional Republicans who face the very real possibility of becoming used car salesmen, or other proverbial flimflam artists, in a couple years. At least we know they have the skills at hand for their inevitable career changes.

As for our Chickenhawk-in-Chief, well, he can soon enjoy a permanent vacation paid for in full by the blood of Iraqi non-combatants, the sweat and idealism of the American military, and the pain and grief of some of the same people who voted him into office.

Saturday, August 13, 2005
On this day:

Is This Man Brilliant, Or What?

Every time I read this blog, I com away scratching my head, literally and figuratively, as I ponder his words for days after. David Brin is BRILLIANT! To Wit:

Or will Pax Americana last forever, as our mad neocons contend?

(Hint: their behavior is actively shortening Pax Americana's reign. Indeed, that is a chief complaint against these bright fools. At present I see no possible WCN on the immediate horizon that can claim to be better than PA has been, for 60 years of relative peace and growth. But the neocons will end it all, the way Alcibiades helped end the reign of flawed-but-noble Athens.)
Lately he's been whacking both political camps in America - and with good reason! Who else do you know that can remain objective enough (or brave enough) to blast all camps with one salvo? I urge you to read his latest few postings, as they are connected, and come away viewing the world a little differently. See: Contrary Brin

Thursday, August 11, 2005
On this day:

Words of Wisdom Two-fer

I've got some catching up to do, after vacation and all. My mailbox had 1107 emails in it when I got back. buried deep in the pile are the following two gems, courtesy of Lama Suryas Das:
The whole idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. In fact, meditation is dealing with the question of whether or not there is such a thing as purpose. One is not on the way somewhere. Or rather, one is on the way and is also at the destination, at the same time.

~ Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche
from Meditation in Action

This from the founder of the Shambhala tradition of Western Buddhism, how was remarkable in his grasp of western psychology and how to reframe the dharma to appeal to the modern mindset.

But this weeks quote hits a bit harder, I think, because it doesn't come from a reknown buddhist teacher, but from a contemporary American novelist who happens to think like one. To wit:
Nearly everyone is aware of dramatic changes in the world. Yet we continue to live in the assumption that we can ride out the changes without changing ourselves, coasting, as we have always coasted, on the historic wave of human development. What it will take to wake us up is a wave of equal size traveling in the opposite direction. That wave is already on its way.

~ Verlyn Klinkenborg, NY Times

Can't we all feel the freight train coming? Complacency has its price, and it's steep. Humanity has been far too willing to do nothing about the state of the world. We'll pay for that, and soon.


Cindy Sheehan: poster girl for accountability in government. She deserves our support. She deserves answers, not empty platitudes. If her son was gunned down in the street, she would expect and she would get more answers as to why during the resulting criminal investigation or trial. But her son died in a war, just another faceless expendable, so she gets nothing: no answers; no solace; no peace.

As she gets no quarter from the administration, so she gives no quarter. Her vigil outside of our Worse Ever President’s vacation hideout is commendable. This man gets more vacation time than a tenured CEO, and he needs to know that there is no place to hide from the lies, the atrocities he’s committed. I say “Hang in there, Cindy!” you and many others, silent in their grief, deserve to hear why America’s young are dying. All grieving parents, all Americans need to hear the truth about the war in Iraq.

For the rest of us, who so far have not been personally touched by Georgie’s War, we have ways to show our support for Cindy Sheehan and the many she represents. Act For Change has a link set up to petition the President and First Lady to meet with Cindy, here. The Pen is writing a harder line with another petition, here. Show your support, get on the grass roots bandwagon!

Or is that a lawnmower, hmm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
On this day:

The New Democracy

In Baghdad, during a real Desert Storm, the mayor was deposed and replaced by a member of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite militia. The new ex-mayor, Alaa al-Tamini, says, “This is the new Iraq. They use force to achieve their goals.” He is now in hiding, fearful of his life.

The group responsible, the Badr Organization, insists Mr. Tamini is in no danger, that they have the authority to replace him. They have been keeping peace in several areas heavily populated by Shiites, creating order through conservative Shiite law.

Mr. Tamini was appointed by the central government, but L. Paul Brenner III, the top American administrator prior to the formation of the Iraqi government, put him in place. Now, a uniquely Iraqi political presence, outside of the American-sanction government, is making its moves. Mazen A. Makkia, who led the deposition, claims, “This is not a coup. If we wanted to do something bad to him, we would have done that. We really want to establish the state of law for every citizen.”

This is Democracy in action. This is not, however, what America wants to see. While the chaos and lawlessness reign in the streets, Iraq is trying to right itself. As bad as Saddam was, he did establish law, and most people could live and feed themselves under his oppressive rule. What America brought was murder and anarchy, creating a long-lasting legacy of anti-American sentiments that will likely play out for the next hundred years. It is only natural that Anti-American Shiites gain control of whatever form of government Iraq will settle for. Hatred for the wanton destruction of their country, hatred for the perpetrators of such destruction, is a natural and powerful motivator, and a unbeatable banner to rally behind for many of the families brutally touched by American aggression.

They hate us, and will continue to hate us for generations to come. This hate will create a new State for Iraqis, and the harder America tries to steer the formation of their government, the harder they will resist, the stronger the resentment will grow. We’ve tried nation building in Iraq before, that’s how Saddam came to power. It failed miserably, and it will fail again.

That’s Democracy in action.

Monday, August 08, 2005
On this day:

Happily Jetlagged

I return to the world of anal-retentive America, home of ideological idiot-arians, land of the expensive and fearful. Ah! It’s good to be home!

Actually, I’m surprised to see that nothing of consequence happened over the last fortnight: we continued to erode our standings in the world; the war hasn’t miraculously ended; people are still beating the dead horses named Downing Street, Bad War and Impeach Bush; and Judge Roberts is still in the news cycle (yawn).

At this point I cannot begin to relate my two weeks in Israel or how my perspective has changed. I already know I’m not the same wolf I used to be; how this will manifest will likely surprise us all. For now, I’m happily jetlagged, both glad and sad to be home, and covered in cat hair (being pestered by our pets whom are too relieved we’ve returned to remember to be upset we left).

As promised, I’ve kept a journal (paper, no less!) of our adventures and, after embellishments and editing, will add this to the Tannish Page. Hundreds of photos were taken, too many for my meager web storage capacity; some of them will be posted as well. For now, I prepare for work in the AM and a resumption of life-as-we-know-it, such as it is.