Friday, May 26, 2006

I love "Dear Prudence"

"Dear Prudence" is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I don't know why, but every week I have to see what moral dilemmas people are having, and I almost always enjoy the responses. If you have read "Dear Prudence" you know what it is all about, but if you haven't, it's a fun read every week.

Does the Bible support illegal immigration?

I have to say, that yes the Bible does support illegal immigration. I am sure that a book of morals, that is written to be so obvious as to what are good morals and what are bad, would not in any fashion say it is ok to not help people for a any reasons. I think the Bible gives a pretty good overview of what is and is not compassionate. Any excuse to turn people in need away is against morality, and thus against the Bible. Only people who wish to deceive would twist the words of a book meant to teach kindness and caring into a book used to justify hate and bigotry disguised as appreciation of the law. Those who use the Bible to validate their fears of illegal immigrants are just falling prey to the same entity of deception the Bible warns against.

Rumsfeld on Larry King

I watched the interview with Donald Rumsfeld on Larry King last night, and I just had to comment on something he said. I may not get the quote exactly correct, but I will try to update with some more thoughts and the actual quotes later. The thing that struck me the most was when Larry King asked Donald Rumsfeld what he planned on doing after he was done with being Secretary of Defense. His response was a little chilling to me. He said he did not really think about that, as he is to busy right now with what he is doing to think any further ahead. That to me sounded good, we should have a Secretary of Defense completely saturated by his work in time of war. However, he followed it up with, he is just having to much "fun" right now to be thinking about anything else.

"Fun", are you serious? How cold a person could Donald Rumsfeld be? Maybe I just don't see the fun in killing thousands of people, bombing civilians, sending our you men and women to be killed/maimed/mentally destroyed in a war of choice. I think Donald Rumsfeld gave a brief and honest glimpse into who he really is. History is filled with those who reveled in war, and saw it as "fun". Those people are sociopaths. Maybe Donald Rumsfeld would not think waging war and causing the horrible deaths of so many for reasons that are beyond suspect if he was actually ever involved with the actual fighting. Leave it to a Secretary of a Cabinet in an administration filled with chicken hawks to equate waging war to having "fun".

Pot Doesn't Cause Lung Cancer?

Well this is counterintuitive. How is it possible that smoking marijuana does not lead to a higher chance of lung cancer. It really does not make much sense, but apparently a study funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA concludes that there was
"no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect."
Dr. Tashkin also adds that
"earlier work established that marijuana does contain cancer-causing chemicals as potentially harmful as those in tobacco, he said. However, marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous."
Pretty incredible stuff.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bye Bye!

As a resident of California during the "fake" energy crisis from several years ago I must say there is a certain amount of pleasure I get from hearing about this morning's verdict. Kenny and Jeff, the dynamic duo, the thieves in your pocket, the modern day robber barons, have been convicted of crimes ranging from fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. One of our past national nightmares may finally be coming to an end. Thank you prosecutors. Thank you jury.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A few Jefferson quotes

I was browsing through and I found some really wonderful quotes on religion from Thomas Jefferson. I have to say I really enjoy the no beliefs website. Check out their Hitler and religion section, some of the parallels to what is going on and the reasoning behind some questionable, if not criminal decisions by our administration are a bit unnerving.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

This Day In History:5/25/06

On this day, 128 years ago, a great American artist, born to a machinest and choir singer, was born. Starting at the age of 12 he traveled around the country practicing his craft. He started in Vaudeville, performed on Broadway and became a famous movie star. He was a teacher to Sammy Davis, Jr. and Shirley Temple. Once the highest paid African-American, this man
"became (known as) a modern John Henry, who instead of driving steel, laid down iron taps."
Mr. Bojangles. The Mayor of Harlem. Mr. Bill Robinson was a monster of creative energy. He is one of America's great dancers.

Other Events On This Day:

1844 - Stuart Perry of New York City patented the gasoline engine on this day.

- The Ford Motor Company announced that its popular automobile model, the Model T, known as the Tin Lizzie, would not be rolling off assembly lines anymore.

1935 - Babe Ruth, then of the Boston Braves, hit home runs 713 and 714 on this day at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh -- home of the Pirates.

1965 - From the Look But Don’t Blink file: A very short, heavyweight title fight happened in Lewiston, ME. Cassius Clay knocked out challenger Sonny Liston in one minute and 56 seconds of the first round. Liston never saw the punch coming. Neither did an unbelieving crowd at ringside, nor those in theatres all over the world watching the fight on closed-circuit TV. The phantom punch was never explained, but Liston was knocked cold from whatever Clay threw at him.

1983 - Return of the Jedi, topped all previous opening day box office records with a gross of $6,219,629. It opened on 1,002 movie screens around the U.S


Ralph Waldo Emerson
Miles Davis
Frank Oz

Hat Tip to 440 International

Surprise, Surprise!

Why am I not shocked that good ol' Dennis Hastert is currently under investigation by the FBI related to the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal. Was he not one of many congressman who complained about the FBI raid on the Congressional offices of soon to be imprisoned Congressman William Jefferson. Imagine that, a Republican defending a Democrat. Or should I say, A corrupt Republican defending a corrupt Democrat. How much do you want to bet that the other outspoken congressman are facing some heat as well. I say bury them all.

hat tip to AmericaBlog

The Day Off

I had the day off today for reason I won't go into at this moment. Needless to say, I decided to take this opportunity to do some house cleaning and some relaxing. I rarely have a chance to just kick off my shoes, not think about work for the day and enjoy myself with some healthy entertainment. So, after a morning of completing my laundry and some basic cleaning I decided to catch a film I have been anxiously awaiting for.

I saw a 12:40pm showing of The Da Vinci Code.

When I first heard that they would be making a film about this entertaining book I thought to myself, "how could they make this into a 3 hour movie. There is so much going on. They run all over the continent while at the same time explaining so much about these secret societies." Well, they seemed to have found a way.

The film does not go into the type of detail presented in the book, but they do pay close attention to the story behind the book. It was fast paced and fun to watch. Two thumbs up from me. I would highly recommend watching the film, especially if you have read the book.

"Liberty over safety" by Robert Parry, May 19, 2006

My girlfriend sent me an article written by Robert Parry on May 19, 2006, and I thought it was excellent. America is a country that has always put freedom above safety, until recently. I guess the New Hampshire state motto will need to be changed to "Live secure or die".

Until now, every generation of Americans has traded safety for liberty. From the
Lexington Green to the Normandy beaches, from the Sons of Liberty to the Freedom Riders, it has been part of the American narrative that risks are taken to expand freedom, not freedoms sacrificed to avoid risk.

The Founders challenged the most powerful military on earth, the British army, all the while knowing that defeat would send them to the gallows. The American colonists spurned their relative comfort as British subjects for a chance to be citizens
of a Republic dedicated to the vision that some rights are “unalienable” and
that no man should be king.

Since then, despite some ups and downs, the course of the American nation has been to advance those ideals and broaden those freedoms.

In the early years of the Republic, African-American slaves resisted their bondage, often aided by white Abolitionists who defied unjust laws on runaways and pressed the government to restrict slave states and ultimately to eliminate slavery.

With the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves, the United States underwent a painful rebirth that reaffirmed the nation’s original commitment to the principle that “all men are created equal.” Again, the cause of freedom trumped safety, a choice for which Lincoln and thousands of brave soldiers gave their lives.

In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century and into the Twentieth, the Suffragettes demanded and fought for extension of basic American rights to female citizens. These women risked their reputations and their personal security to gain the right to vote
and other legal guarantees for women. When fascist totalitarianism threatened
the world in the 1930s and 1940s, American soldiers turned back the tide of
repression in Europe and Asia, laying down their lives by the tens of thousands
in countless battlefields from Normandy to Iwo Jima.

The march of freedom continued in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Rev. Martin Luther KinAndr. and other civil rights fighters – both black and white – risked and sometimes lost their lives to tear down the walls of racial segregation.

For two centuries, this expansion of freedom always came with dangers and
sacrifices. Yet, the trade-off was always the same: safety for liberty.

Reversed March.

Only in this generation – only on our watch – has the march reversed.

Instead of swapping safety for liberty, this generation – traumatized by the 9/11 attacks and under the leadership of George W. Bush – has chosen to trade liberties for safety.

Instead of Patrick Henry’s stirring Revolutionary War cry of “give me liberty or give me death,” this era has Sen. Pat Roberts’s instant-classic expression of self over nation. “You have no civil liberties if you are dead,” the Kansas Republican explained on May 18 before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he chairs.

Roberts’s dictum echoed through the mainstream media where it was embraced as a pithy expression of homespun common sense. But the commentators missed how Roberts’s preference for life over liberty was the antithesis of Henry’s option of liberty or

Roberts’s statement also represented a betrayal of two centuries of bravery by American patriots who gave their own lives so others could be free.

After all, it would follow logically that if “you have no civil liberties if you are dead,” then all those Americans who died for liberty were basically fools. Roberts’s adage reflects a self-centeredness, which would shame the millions of Americans who came before, putting principle and the interests of “posterity” ahead of themselves.

If Roberts is right, the Minutemen who died at Lexington Green and at Bunker Hill had no liberty; the African-Americans who enlisted in the Union Army and died in Civil War battles had no liberty; the GIs who died on the Normandy beaches or Marines who died at Iwo Jima had no liberAnd Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights heroes who gave their lives had no liberty.

If Sen. Roberts is right, they had no liberties because they died in the fight for liberty. In Roberts’s view – which apparently is the dominant opinion of the Bush administration and many of its supporters – personal safety for the individual tops the principles of freedom for the nation.

This security-over-everything notion has emerged as the key justification for stripping the American people of their “unalienable rights,” liberties that were promised them in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

But the American people are now told that the President is exercising “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as long as the indefinite “war on terror” continues. Bush has been ceded these boundless powers with only a meek request from the populace that he make life in the United States a little safer from the threat of another al-Qaeda

Discretionary Rights.

So, Bush holds discretion over the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial, the right to know the charges against you and to confront your accuser, the protection against warrantless searches and seizures, the delicate checks and balances designed by the Founders, the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, the power to wage war, even the right to freedom of speech.

In claiming “plenary” powers as Commander in Chief and arguing that the United States is part of the battlefield, Bush has asserted that all rights are his, that they are given to the people only when he says so, that the rights are no longer “unalienable.”

Like before the Declaration of Independence, the American people find themselves as “subjects” reliant for their rights on the generosity of a leader, rather than “citizens” possessing rights that can’t be denied. [For details, see’s “The End of Unalienable Rights.”]

As a trade-off for accepting Bush’s unlimited powers, the American people have gotten assurances that Bush will make protecting them his top priority. Yet, the presidential oath says nothing about shielding the public from danger; rather it’s a vow to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Since George Washington first took the oath, it has been the Constitution that is paramount, because it enshrines the liberties that define America.

Within that presidential oath and within the nation’s historic commitment to freedom, there is no assurance against risk or danger. There is no government guarantee of safety, nor is there a promise that harm might not come to American citizens.

Indeed, it has been assumed by all previous generations of Americans – dating back to the beginning of the Republic and ending only with today’s fearful generation – that risk and danger were part of the price for maintaining and spreading freedom.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

If the writer or publisher of this article would like this removed, please let me know and I will take it down immediatley.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A favorite music site all should know about

Some of you may already be aware of it, but for those who are not, there is a website called Live Music archive. It is a site with thousands of live recordings from thousands of bands. Granted, most bands on it are smaller acts, you won't find any U2 shows on the site, but there are many great bands worth a listen. Not only that, but for Deadheads, they got tons of shows from almost every year they played. Because they broke the Dead off the main page, below is a link to the Live Music archive of bands, and the next link will take you to the Dead shows.

Baboon gangs in South Africa attack!

How crazy would it be to just be sitting at home, minding your own business having a nice bowl of fruit, when out of nowhere, a roving gang of baboons run up and steal your food. That's what's going on in South Africa. Near an area of upscale homes, right next to the wilderness, baboons are getting more fearless and actually going into homes to steal food, right in front of the homeowners. I would have to say if a baboon came up and took my food from me, there would be some serious washing and a shower needed as I know I would lose some sort of control.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Get ready for a stormy season

When I wished Ray Nagin of New Orleans luck earlier, I meant it. The U.S. government has stated we could see 8 - 10 storms this season. 4-6 of them could be major. I hope the gulf is ready for what may be coming their way. Lets all hope New Orleans and the region are given all resources needed to keep people safe as it looks like this season will be rough.

What happens when an ignoramus reads the Bible?

There is this great blog on Slate about a very lax Jew who says he really doesn't know the Bible, so he is going to read it again as an adult with fresh eyes. There is a lot there, as he is blogging each chapter of the Bible as he goes and some of it is very funny, and all is worth reading. Check out the link to see an ignoramus reading of the Bible.

Great site of soldier poetry

Just some really good words by soldiers.

Insurgents fight Iraqi and U.S. forces to stalemate

Recently, and several times before, Cheney has said that the insurgency is in its last throws. Now if the insurgents are being beaten, and everyday we make "progress", then how is it possible our Coalition forces can be fought to an actual stalemate, and actually be losing ground to the insurgents? The Bush administration says this is not like Vietnam, as do many talking heads, but the longer we stay in Iraq, the more things start to look just like a place it is not. I read the following story I have posted below, and thought I had heard this tune before.

Coalition forces move in for a short amount of time and fight off a few attackers. The attackers, which are a wide range of people, locals, Al Queda, or various foreign fighters, play their hit and run games targeting our soldiers. After our soldiers hold the area for a bit, they then leave and return to base giving the place back to the people we are fighting. I for one would hate to be a civilian in that environment. Even if you want to help the Coalition forces, why would you when there is no protection after they leave? How safe could a city be if the Police only came by at scheduled times, and when they left, you weren't sure if they were going to come back or not. Who do you listen to, the once in a while security force, or the all day every day thug knocking on your door with an RPG?

I remember hearing something along the lines of "We control the day, Charlie owns the night" from the Vietnam War, if anyone knows the exact quote and from who, please let me know. But nothing has changed, different war, same situation. My real fear at this point, is if we don't bring Iraq under control, do we stay forever, or do we just pull out? If Iraq is not stable, and we pull out, will the world see us as a country who invades others, then when it's not politically popular anymore at home, we just leave the chaos behind? How could anyone ever trust us again after doing something like that. But then if we stay, how could we ever live with ourselves leaving our soldiers in a country of chaos that can never really be controlled?

We are going further into a never ending cycle that will get harder to escape the longer we stay, yet we cannot just leave. I wonder if we are just going to have to "burn the village to save it". Maybe this will all turn around though, my hopes are it does, but my fears are it will just get worse.

The Greatest Song Ever!!!

Please indulge me as I go on a tangent and introduce the greatest American song. "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." It is heard thousands of times every summer as crowds stand up in approval and sing in unison. Even the shy among us will sing with the loudest voice! We all do it. We all love it. We all look forward to it. It's like an opera breaks out during a sporting event. Nowhere in sports does the entire crowd, and I mean everybody, stand up and sing a song together. Unity at its best. Shared pride rings out true and unwavering. It's marvelous and incredible! Stupendous and remarkable! Unbelievable and awesome! It's why baseball is the greatest game in the world!

Below is a YouTube video I put together last night. The seventh inning stretch recorded on a sullen Sunday afternoon in a game between the Dodgers and Angels. It's making me tear just thinking about it.


The Bet

As many of you know there is a new Iraqi Government that will hopefully bring about some stability to this war-torn country. It is the sincere hope of everyone, left wing- right wing, liberal- conservative, that this will forge a positive new chapter in this regions history. We must keep in mind, though, that there are risk and issues that continue to potentially hamper an Iraqi renewal. We must continue to keep our eye on the ball. Can the insurgency be stopped? Do the Sunni politicians have the power to stop the insurgents? Can the unity government end corruption? This mornings intelligence email from Stratfor gives a good run-down of the risks ahead and their strategy for ending the violence. Reprinted here in entirety.

(Everyday I receive free email reports from an organization called Stratfor (short for Strategic Forecasting). They are a risk assessment firm focused on assisting corporations and investors in assessing foreign policy risk for their business. Go ahead and sign up for their free email alerts. They give background about some very important news not usually covered in the mainstream media.)
Geopolitical Diary: Core Issues in Iraq

The new Iraqi government has been formed, apart from the ministers of defense and interior. The U.S. hope is that these officials will be named within the next week, but we suspect there is a fundamental issue at stake here. Saleh Mutlaq, the leader of the Hewar National Iraqi Front -- a small Sunni faction in the Iraqi parliament -- walked out of the discussions. His faction has only 11 out of 275 seats, so he isn't critical to the parliamentary process. However, Mutlaq refused to agree in writing that he would accept the program of the new government. As a result, he was denied a place in the government, and he walked.

This episode drives home the crucial point now. Mutlaq is close to the Iraqi nationalists in Anbar province, who are central to the insurgency there. His coalition's presence in parliament is minimal, but its support among the insurgents appears to be substantial. Thus, one question is whether the parliamentary faction among the Sunnis can forge a government, including the Defense and Interior Ministries. Another question, in many ways more important, is whether the Sunni insurgents will, to some extent, abandon the insurgency in favor of a political process. Mutlaq's move is not decisive, but it raises the fundamental question.

We are now down to core issues in Iraq. There is a government, and the Sunnis are participating. The basic assumption all along has been that the only way to bring the insurgency under control is to bring the Sunnis into the government. But now there are two questions. First, is it true that the Sunni political leaders can control the insurgents? Second, if this is true, will the Sunnis do so?

The Sunnis possibly are so divided that those speaking for them in parliament cannot speak for the insurgents, or for those who are providing them with cover. It must always be remembered that an insurgency on the scale that has been seen in Iraq can exist only if it has support from the populace, who provide sanctuary and cover, supplies and recruits. It is an assumption behind the U.S. strategy that if Sunni leadership is drawn into the political process, they will also be able to withdraw that support -- reducing if not eliminating the insurgency. Given that the jihadists also need this kind of support, they also would be affected. On the other hand, if the Sunni community is so deeply divided that the political leadership no longer can influence the community, then the entire project of creating a government serves little purpose.

It is also a question of whether the Sunnis want to reduce the insurgency. The Sunnis are caught in a vise between Kurds and Shia. Apart from the insurgency, the Sunnis, in their view, would have been crushed, with Americans taking the lead. The insurgency gave them a bargaining chip with the Americans and, to some extent, with the Shia. If they reduce the insurgency, their bargaining position potentially could be seen as decreasing. The violence gave them weight -- do they think they can maintain their weight without the violence?

The fundamental issue is this: Will the formation of the government induce the Sunnis to rein in the insurgency? If they can't or they won't, then the entire project fails. The only solution will be partition or civil war. The United States is making a bet that this agreement on a government can bring the situation under control. It is a plausible argument, and we have been making it for some time. We are, however, well past the point of argument. It now will either happen or not.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad says six months are needed to see what will happen. It will take six months or more to begin seeing an end to the insurgency, but the fact is that we will know if the Sunnis have changed their behavior in any meaningful way within weeks. Certainly, the hard core will now launch an offensive designed to destabilize the new government and the Sunni leadership that made the political deal. But if that leadership has the influence and the inclination, then we should quickly be seeing indications to that effect. Intelligence will flow to the Americans about the location of insurgents, and we will be hearing of U.S. sweeps in Anbar and other provinces. We will also hear of internal conflicts within the Sunni community. There will be a painful crunch among the Sunnis, sooner rather than later.

If this doesn't happen, the post of defense and interior minister still remain open. How those posts will be filled will depend, in some measure, on whether the Sunni leadership is engaged in suppressing the insurgency. The pattern will be an upsurge of violence from insurgents, followed by internal struggles within the Sunni community, followed by a decline (but not a disappearance) in insurgent attacks. We would say that the next six weeks, rather than months, will show us where things are.
PS. If someone at Stratfor would prefer that I not post this information please let me know. I will immediately pull it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I love elevator disco

If you have never seen the elevator disco clip, well, you've never seen it. If you have, just move along. The site does give you a pop up on top of the vid, so be warned.

What bribe? I came in with that pile of cash

You gotta love it when a politician gets caught red handed taking a bribe.

How many milestones can Iraq have?

All weekend long, I've been watching various news program's about the new Iraq Government. All the usual talking heads came up for air just long enough to say things are going to turn around now. How many milestones are going to come and go, be praised and then forgotten?

When the people in Iraq went to vote for Prime Minister, we were told, this was the needed step to stabilize the country. But instead the people of Iraq voted for someone Bush didn't like, so we quickly removed him from office as quietly as possible, and the country stayed the same. We were told forming a parliament would stabilize the country, but those have dissolved and reformed a number of times, and the country stayed the same. There is a long list of "this is the moment" type situations were everything is supposed to get better, but for some reason, things keep staying the same. Every day in Iraq the headlines are the same, roadside bombs, mass graves, car bombs, small arm retaliatory fire, execution victims, reprisal killings, and so on. When I was a child in school I was taught, you keep doing what your doing, you keep gettin what you got, and nowhere is this so painfully true as Iraq.

Just the way you want a new Cabinet to greeted.

Pat Robertson has been speaking to God again

So I know Pat's got the direct line bat phone to the almighty, and lucky for us, on occasion, when really important, he lets us all in on some of God's plans. Seems for some reason, God's got some rough weather to send our way. Not sure what that's all about, but if Pat's right, we better get our rain gear out.

Ray Nagin gets to keep his job

Congrats go out to Ray Nagin on his victory for Mayor of New Orleans. I have to say he is going to be in for one hell of a tough job, and I hope he gets the support and resources needed to bring back a city America cannot live without.

When Birds Attack!

A few weeks ago Bert, Ernie and frinds visited the Long Beach Aquarium for a morning of fun and wonder. Instead we saw a group of birds gang up on a another. It was crazy!