Friday, February 29, 2008

Fear mongering and patriotism

I wish every American would read this and think about it:

It is the quality of patriotism to be jealous and watchful, to observe all secret machinations, and to see publick dangers at a distance. The true lover of his country is ready to communicate his fears, and to sound the alarm, whenever he perceives the approach of mischief. But he sounds no alarm, when there is no enemy; he never terrifies his countrymen till he is terrified himself. The patriotism, therefore, may be justly doubted of him, who professes to be disturbed by incredibilities...

-- Samuel Johnson

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The war on science

Please take a look at an Alternet column entitled "The Bush Administration's War On Science". Here's how it gets started:

Over the past eight years, the lives of millions of people in the United States and beyond have been endangered by the US government. No, I'm not talking about the war in Iraq. I'm talking about the quiet, systematic war the government has been waging against science.

You may have heard about gross examples of the government censoring scientific documents. For example, it was widely reported last year that a government regulatory group excised at least half of the statements Centers for Disease Control director Julie Gerberding was set to make at a congressional hearing about how climate change will affect public health. You may also have heard about the scandal in 2004 when a whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that five of the seven members on a panel of "independent experts" stood to gain financially from shutting down a scientific investigation of a controversial mining technique called "hydraulic fracturing." The panel claimed that in its expert opinion, the technique didn't require regulation, despite many scientists' concerns that it might pollute groundwater.

But these are the stories that hit the headlines. There are hundreds more where they came from, and many of them are documented meticulously in a study released earlier this month by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) called
"Federal Science and the Public Good."

The UCS report documents, in chilling detail, how agencies have fired scientists who disagreed with government policies. For example, in 2003, experts in nuclear physics were dismissed from a panel within the National Nuclear Security Administration because some of them had published about how the George W. Bush administration's beloved "bunker buster" weapons weren't very effective. And scientists who spoke out against the administration's stem cell policy were booted from the President's Council on Bioethics.

I really think we are well on our way to the extinction of the human race. What's sad is that it is so unnecessary. And what's really tragic is to see greed trump survival over and over.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The real downside to Obama-mania

Here's a comment that was left on an article asking the question if the news media have been unfair to Hillary Clinton:

Aw, gee, Jack. Just because everything she and President Clinton say and do are attacked by the media, and Obama gets continual positive coverage and commentary, you are asking if the media is unfair to her??? I’m shocked, I tell you - shocked!!

In all my 40+ years watching politics I have never seen anything like the obsessive, relentless pro-Obama bias that is rampant right now. Many of us out here know why: it’s to get him nominated, and then to ambush him with a far bigger smear campaign than was set upon Kerry, Gore or Dukakis. The only thing that amazes me is that Obama’s supporters refuse to see this coming.

I'm actually quite concerned about this.

RIP William F. Buckley

I agreed with him on very little and he used to irritate me no end but he was truly bright, literate, well informed and, unlike so many conservatives today, civil:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- National Review founder and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. died overnight in the study of his Stamford, Connecticut, home, the magazine announced on its Web site Wednesday.

He was 82.

"He died while at work," said Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the National Review Online, in a written statement. "If he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas."

I'll never forget the time he had the Dalai Lama on his television show, Firing Line. He was so very gracious and respectful. I appreciated him for that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Overdoing it with the flag

Run over to Common Dreams and read a snarky little article called "Fetishizing the Flag". Here's a sample:

An article in Sunday’s New York Times reports on conservative hostility to Obama. He doesn’t wear a flag pin, they complain, and he doesn’t put his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. In Monday’s Times, William Kristol added insult to injury with a hyperbolic ad-hominem attack on Obama, calling him “grandiose” and accusing him of “moral vanity.”

I remember when Americans weren’t obsessed with outward shows of patriotism. People only flew flags at their homes on Flag Day or the 4th of July. Now every day is Flag Day, and private homes can be hard to distinguish from government offices. I’ve fantasized knocking on doors and asking for a packet of stamps.
You know who used to wear little patriotic pins on their clothes? The Commies. I have a flag pin that dates back to the 80s; I sometimes wear it as a puzzle, to ask people if they can identify it. It’s the flag of the German Democratic Republic. East Germans and Soviets were wearing flag pins long before Americans decided they were necessary signs of patriotism. Perhaps if you were bedecked with tiny metal badges, it protected you from the KGB.

You know, when I was a kid I distinctly remember being taught at school that you put your hand over your heart for the Pledge of Allegiance but you stand at attention for the National Anthem. Sheesh!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why we're here

This is very moving:

To this day I believe we are here on earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

~ Rosa Parks

Afghan women today

Afghan woman

Back in 2001, I had an argument with an old friend about the U.S. plans to attack Afghanistan. My friend insisted that the war was a good thing because we were going to liberate women from the Taliban.

Well, take a look at this excerpt from an article entitled "Women's lives worse than ever":

Grinding poverty and the escalating war is driving an increasing number of Afghan families to sell their daughters into forced marriages.

Girls as young as six are being married into a life of slavery and rape, often by multiple members of their new relatives. Banned from seeing their own parents or siblings, they are also prohibited from going to school. With little recognition of the illegality of the situation or any effective recourse, many of the victims are driven to self-immolation – burning themselves to death – or severe self-harm.

Six years after the US and Britain "freed" Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, a new report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases.

Projects started in the optimistic days of 2002 have begun to wane as the UK and its Nato allies fail to treat women's rights as a priority, workers in the country insist.

The statistics in the report from Womankind, Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On, make shocking reading. Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse – half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced.

Very distressing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

WHAT is his problem?

This is just disgusting. Take a look:

Ralph Nader is entering the presidential race as an independent, he announced Sunday, saying it is time for a "Jeffersonian revolution."
"He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush and, eight years later, I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about," Sen. Barack
Obama said a town hall meeting Sunday.

Calling Nader's move "very unfortunate," Sen. Hillary
Clinton told reporters, "I remember when he ran before. It didn't turn out very well for anybody -- especially our country."
Nader was criticized by some Democrats in 2000 for allegedly pulling away support from Democrat Al Gore and helping George Bush win the White House.

Noting that he ran on the Green Party ticket that year, Clinton said Nader "prevented Al Gore from being the 'greenest' president we could have had."

If Gore had won the election we might have turned global warming around. I hope Nader is happy being perhaps the one who ends up being responsible for the extinction of humanity.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For your listening pleasure

Some great bluegrass!

The Pentagon on Climate Change

Today Matt Hukulak called my attention to a 2004 Guardian (Observer) article entitled "Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us" that I remember reading when it first came out. I think I even blogged it then. It's worth another look because, sadly, the report has had very little effect. Here's part of what it says:

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
Last week [February, 2004] the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.

But that didn't happen, did it?

No two ways about it. We're screwed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A good question

I found this on Byzigenous Buddhapalian.

Friday cat blogging!

Pure adorable-ness!!

Chomsky quote

Short. Focused:

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.

~Noam Chomsky

Congressman Kagen on health care

Now this is the moral thing to do:

This essential legislation will guarantee access to affordable care for every citizen by bringing an end to the discriminatory practice of allowing insurance companies to deny life-saving medical coverage to citizens due to any pre-existing medical conditions.

Our Constitution protects all citizens against discrimination, and it is time we apply this established principle to health care.

The No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act also establishes a competitive and transparent health care marketplace by requiring all insurance companies to openly disclose their prices and charge every citizen within the region the same fee for the same service - just as restaurants do when they hand you the menu and then charge every customer the same price for the same service.

The essential elements of this necessary legislation are: (1) No Discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, (2) Open Disclosure of all prices, and (3) Every Citizen is allowed to Pay the Lowest Price available. These ideas must be included in any successful comprehensive health care reform legislation.

This bill has been proposed by Rep. Steve Kagen, M.D. of Wisconsin who has also refused his congressional health care as a protest until all Americans have access to affordable care.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What triggers revolutions

I want to call your attention to an article called "When Change Is Not Enough: The Seven Steps To Revolution":

Here's an excerpt:

Progressive modern democracies run on mutual trust between classes and a shared vision of the common good that binds widely disparate groups together. Now, we're also about to re-learn the historical lesson that liberals like flat hierarchies, racial and religious tolerance, and easy class mobility not because we're soft-headed and soft-hearted — but because, unlike short-sighted conservatives, we understand that tight social cohesion is our most reliable and powerful bulwark against the kinds of revolutions that bring down great economies, nations and cultures... [T]he stage for revolution [has historically been] set when the upper classes broke faith with society's other groups, and began to openly prey on them in ways that threatened their very future. Not surprisingly, the other groups soon united, took up arms, and

And here we are again: Conservative policies have opened the wealth gap to Depression levels; put workers at the total mercy of their employers; and deprived the working and middle classes of access to education, home ownership, health care, capital, legal redress, and their expectations of a better future for their kids. You can only get away with blaming this on gays and Mexicans for so long before people get wise to the game. And as the primaries are making clear: Americans are getting wise.

Our current plutocratic nobility may soon face the same stark choice its English, French, and Russian predecessors did. They can keep their heads and take proactive steps to close the gap between themselves and the common folk... Or they can keep insisting stubbornly on their elite prerogatives, until that gap widens to the point where the revolution comes — and they will lose their heads entirely.

I wonder if revolution is even possible any more, however. There are such sophisticated methods of crowd control these days as well as surveillance methods. I wonder if it's possible for there to be a successful uprising.

Quote of the week

From Sojourners:

There have been some errors. It's something we regret.

- U.S. military spokesman Maj. Brad Leighton, commenting on how groups of U.S.-allied militias in Iraq have quit working with American troops after incidents in which U.S. soldiers killed their members.

Well, now. Isn't he the master of the understatement?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well, this is definitely a new low:

Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 15% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 79% disapprove.

It's from the American Research Group, Inc.

"I love the Army, but I can't be quiet any more."

The party of family values again

Here's part of an article entitled "Judge quits after DUI bust":

A 63-year-old Massachusetts federal bankruptcy judge has resigned a week after he was arrested for driving under the influence in New Hampshire while reportedly wearing a woman’s dress, heels and stockings, and carrying a purse.
Somma worked in private practice for years in Boston before he was appointed to the bench by President Bush in December 2004.
When cops arrived, the paper reported, Somma was wearing a cocktail dress, fishnet stockings, women’s heels and fumbled through a purse for his driver’s license.

Somma had a hard time keeping his balance, smelled of alcohol and slurred his speech, the paper reported, citing the Manchester police report. He failed a field sobriety test and took a breath test at the station that registered a blood-alcohol level of .12.

He told police he drank two gin and tonics at a Manchester bar. He said he came to New Hampshire because his wife was out of town and nobody knew him in the city, the paper reported.

No comment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Predatory lending

Take a look at this excerpt from an article called "U of U Professor Coauthors Study Mapping Correlation Between Christian Right, Payday Lenders":

Payday lenders, creditors that charge interest rates averaging about 450 percent, are more prevalent in Conservative Christian states, according to a new study coauthored by University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson. The study, which is based on the most comprehensive database of payday lender locations yet compiled, maps a surprising relationship between populations of Christian conservatives and the proliferation of payday lenders.

“We started this project hoping to find out more about the spatial location of payday lenders and were surprised when a pattern reflecting a correlation with the American Bible Belt and Mormon Mountain West emerged,” said Peterson, who conducted the research and coauthored the article with Steven M. Graves, an associate professor of geography at California State University, Northridge. “The natural hypothesis would be to assume that given Biblical condemnation of usury there would be aggressive regulation and less demand for payday loans in these states, but ironically, the numbers show the opposite is true. It’s sad that states with a pious and honorable religious heritage now disproportionately host predatory lenders.”

I knew the interest rate at these places was high but I had no idea HOW high. 450%. That is simply unbelievable. How can anyone justify such a thing?

Cluster bombs

I learned this horrible information on Common Dreams:

Four out of every ten people killed or injured by cluster bombs are children, delegates at a major conference on cluster munitions being held in Wellington were told today.
Cluster bombs are built to explode above the ground, releasing thousands of bomblets primed to detonate on impact. But combat statistics show between 10 percent and 40 percent fail to go off and lie primed in the target area to kill and injure civilians.

UNICEF deputy executive director Hilde Frafjord Johnson, speaking on behalf of 14 United Nations entities that form the United Nations Mine Action Team, said the UN wanted cluster bombs banned.

When will we get a conscience?

Monday, February 18, 2008

McCain and torture

Here's part of a Boston Globe opinion piece about McCain and torture:

JOHN MCCAIN this week had a choice between his principles and propping up a failed president. He chose the latter.

The Senate joined the House in passing an intelligence bill that would ban the CIA from using waterboarding as an interrogation tactic. The CIA would have to abide by the Army Field Manual, which also prohibits beatings, electric or temperature shocks, forced nudity, mock executions, and the use of dogs. Some of those abusive techniques were on global display in the torture photos from Abu Ghraib.

McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, has long condemned waterboarding as torture, making him more sensitive than President Bush on an issue that stained America's image. But the Arizona senator and virtual Republican nominee to replace Bush voted against the bill. Bush says he will veto the measure.McCain said that while he remains opposed to waterboarding, "We always supported allowing the CIA to use extra measures."

Extra measures? Then what are rules for?

What indeed? We have become monsters in this country.

A no cost way to help animals

Here's something I found today:

Over ten million animals are abused, neglected or abandoned yearly. You can help each day with a free click!

Visit The Animal Rescue Site at daily and click the purple button. That simple action gives food to an abandoned or abused animal.

There is no cost to you! Funding for nutritious food is paid by site sponsors and goes to nonprofit animal welfare organizations who use it to feed animals living in their shelters and sanctuaries.

The Animal Rescue Site was launched in July of 2002 and generated 22.9 million bowls of food for animals in its first year, and more than 28 million bowls in 2003! your help, many more animals will benefit in 2004. It all depends on the number of people who visit the site.

Please click at The Animal Rescue Site once a day and forward this email on so more people can help give animals the happy, healthy lives they deserve!

Every little bit helps. Please bookmark this site and click on daily!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Break in blogging

Hello, friends. I'll be away for the next couple of days. Blogging will resume on Sunday evening!

Click to play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quote of the week

From Sojourners:

I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual.

- Steven Spielberg, announcing his resignation as artistic advisor for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, to protest China's support for the Sudanese government and "the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Our appalling ignorance

Here's an excerpt from an article entitled "Darwin’s Belated American Birthday Present" by Susan Jacoby:

In 2006, a Gallup Poll found that only 30 percent of Americans continue to believe in the literal truth of the Bible, with its six days of creation - a 10 percent decline over the last three decades. It is difficult to reconcile that finding with the results of a 2005 poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, indicating that only 48 percent of American adults accept evolution (even if guided by God) and only 26 percent are convinced of the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection. If only 30 percent believe that the Bible is literally true, why do so many more Americans reject the evolutionary theory considered settled science in the rest of the developed world?

The answer is ignorance - and Americans may be no more ignorant about evolution than they are about other aspects of science. According to surveys conducted for the National Science Foundation over the past two decades, more than two-thirds of adults are unable to identify DNA as the key to heredity. Nine out of 10 Americans - nearly 63 years after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima - do not understand what radiation is or its effects on the body. One in 5 believes that the sun revolves around the Earth.

This knowledge deficit has nothing to do with religion, but it does point to a stunning failure of American public schooling at the elementary and secondary level. One should not have to be an intellectual or, for that matter, a college graduate to understand that DNA contains the basic biological instructions that make each of us a unique human being or that the Earth is not the center of the solar system.

The chickens will eventually come home to roost, you know. There will be consequences to our ignorance. The rest of the developed world will simply leave us behind scientifically.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Just read an article on Alternet called What Dems Need to Know About John McCain. Here are the big points:

Democrats know well that Republicans are relying on Sen. Clinton winning the Democratic Party presidential nomination so that her polarity delivers a victory for the GOP in November. While conservatives distrust Sen. McCain - they will shelve it and vote for him if Sen. Clinton is the presidential nominee of her party.

Democrats should also know that if Sen. Obama is the nominee then a larger than anticipated portion of Democratic white males may balk at casting a vote for him - reluctant to give up the franchise when they can cast their vote for a white male with war hero status and an ability to work with the most liberal Democrats in Washington, DC to get things done.

It's very worrying.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fearing McCain

Here's an excerpt from an article from Newsmax called McCain Should Be Feared, Writer Says:

Presidential hopeful John McCain is being billed as the Republican that liberals can live with, but his credentials as a “bipartisan progressive” are in fact a “lazy, hazy myth,” according to liberal pundit Johann Hari.

“The truth is that McCain is the candidate we should most fear,” writes Hari, a columnist for The Independent in Britain, in an article that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Not only is he to the right of Bush on a whole range of subjects, he is also the Republican candidate most likely to dispense with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.”

Hari writes of McCain: “Rage seems to be at the core of his personality. Describing his own childhood, McCain has written: ‘At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out.’”

McCain has distinguished himself as an uber-hawk on foreign policy, according to Hari, who is on the editorial board of The Liberal magazine.

“To give a brief smorgasbord of his views: At a recent rally, he sang 'bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran,' to the tune of the Beach Boys' ‘Barbara Ann.’ He says North Korea should be threatened with ‘extinction.’

“McCain has mostly opposed using U.S. power for humanitarian goals, jeering at proposals to intervene in Rwanda or Bosnia . . .

He also thinks it's fine for us to be in Iraq "a hundred years". Of course, I'm most worried about his temper. There's been a lot written about it and I don't like the idea of someone who has rage attacks having his finger on the button.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Crime and Punishment

I want to call your attention to an article over on Common Dreams called "Crimes Without Punishment" by Sherman Yellen. In it, Yellen talks about the new documentary No End in Sight about Iraq. Here's part of what the article says:

There is a point where incompetence and willed ignorance, infused with constant lying, becomes a criminal act. And this has happened to the Bush administration, where their mistakes have become crimes. This film is a stunning indictment of our President and his cohorts and the hell that they brought down on the Iraqi people, and its consequences for all Americans, beyond the insurgency — the hatred that makes us so vulnerable today from any terrorists that our president created.
Just today the news reported the accidental killing of a group of adult Iraqis and a small child by our soldiers who were seeking insurgents and killed the innocents in error. Each of these incidents adds to the crimes that this administration has brought to the world, and the hatred for America. I love this country, and it hurts me and many like me to discover that we are regarded as enemies of peace. Here is the big questions raised in my mind. Will these crimes go unpunished? Will an Obama or a Hillary, if elected, advise us that we must look ahead, not backwards to the recent past? I long for the bad-old days, the really bad old days when a Napolean was exiled to Elba and St. Helena to spend his last days in exile after being responsible for the deaths of millions, cut off from the company of mankind. Chances are Bush will return to Crawford, start work on his library, and attempt to revise history so that his crimes are made to appear bold actions, not the murderously stupid, irresponsible acts that they were. If ever there was an argument for keeping our base at Guantanamo it would be that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, together with Condoleeza Rice would be sent there into permanent exile. This won’t happen, of course, but one can dream.

Of course, Bush will not retire to Crawford. He has bought property in Paraguay - a fact completely ignored by the mainstream press. Yes, Nazi criminals escaped to South America too. Makes sense to me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Oh good grief!

Take a look at this:

Responding to complaints from the Religious Right, Congress has passed legislation mandating that the phrase "In God We Trust" be moved from the edge to the back or front of the new presidential dollar coins.
The U.S. Mint has been releasing gold-colored dollars honoring each non-living U.S. president. Four coins are released per year. The first four coins, honoring George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were issued in 2007.

Under a mandate from Congress, the Mint was required to place the national mottos "In God We Trust" and "E Pluribus Unum" along the edge of the coins. The idea was to allow for more dramatic portraits on the obverses of the coins and better art elements on the reverses.

But many in the Religious Right went ballistic after a batch of coins was inadvertently produced without the mottos on the edge. They also complained that the words were hard to read and that they would wear off over time.
Although there was never any evidence that the Mint was considering removing the motto, many Religious Right activists insisted that relegating "In God We Trust" to the edge of the coins was some kind of nefarious plot to ditch the phrase altogether.

Sigh. Deep sigh.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Here's the cover of a book I've just come across. I've been concerned about the relative absence of the affluent from the military for some time. Here's a blurb:

Military service was once taken for granted as a natural part of good citizenship, and Americans of all classes served during wartime. Not anymore. As Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer assert in this groundbreaking work, there is a glaring disconnect between the "all volunteer military" and the rest of us. And as that gap between the cultural "elite" and military rank-and-file widens, our country faces a dangerous lack of understanding between those in power and those who defend our way of life.

And here's something I didn't know:

In World War I, the United States imposed a military draft for a reason that seems strange today: to prevent too many of the nation's most privileged citizens from rushing toward the sound of the guns. A draft would spread sacrifice beyond the elite, went the argument, and ensure that the country didn't lose too many future leaders. Contrast this with the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003, when the New York Civil Liberties Union challenged a federal law allowing military recruiters to contact graduating seniors at public high schools. "Students," the organization's executive director said, "have a right to not be bothered by aggressive military recruiters."
In 1956, 400 of Princeton's 750 graduates served in uniform. By 2004, only nine members of the university's graduating class entered the military.
"When those who benefit most from living in a country contribute the least to its defense and those who benefit least are asked to pay the ultimate price, something happens to the soul of that country," write the authors.

I agree. I've long believed in universal service. Those who are truly consciencious objectors can do some kind of humanitarian work. But all our young people need to be brought up with the idea that life is not just about getting ahead but is also about giving back.

The Edwards Effect

You might like to read the New York Times piece by Paul Krugman entitled "The Edwards Effect". Here's part of it:

At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004.

If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit.

It’s hard, in particular, to overstate the importance of the Edwards health care plan, introduced in February.

Before the Edwards plan was unveiled, advocates of universal health care had difficulty getting traction, in part because they were divided over how to get there. Some advocated a single-payer system — a k a Medicare for all — but this was dismissed as politically infeasible. Some advocated reform based on private insurers, but single-payer advocates, aware of the vast inefficiency of the private insurance system, recoiled at the prospect.

With no consensus about how to pursue health reform, and vivid memories of the failure of 1993-1994, Democratic politicians avoided the subject, treating universal care as a vague dream for the distant future.

But the Edwards plan squared the circle, giving people the choice of staying with private insurers, while also giving everyone the option of buying into government-offered, Medicare-type plans — a form of public-private competition that Mr. Edwards made clear might lead to a single-payer system over time. And he also broke the taboo against calling for tax increases to pay for reform.

Suddenly, universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration. In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party’s base that it was a dream they shared, by emulating the Edwards plan. And there’s little question that if the next president really does achieve major health reform, it will transform the political landscape.

There's more. Click through and read it!

Pity. I think we lost a really good candidate.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

An anniversary of note

I heard a report on NPR today called "The Woolworth Sit-In That Launched a Movement".

Here's how it gets started:

On Feb. 1, 1960, four students from all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College walked into a Woolworth five-and-dime with the intention of ordering lunch.

But the manager of the Greensboro Woolworth had intentions of his own — to maintain the lunch counter's strict whites-only policy.

Franklin McCain was one of the four young men who shoved history forward by refusing to budge.

McCain remembers the anxiety he felt when he went to the store that Monday afternoon, the plan he and his friends had devised to launch their protest and how he felt when he sat down on that stool.

"Fifteen seconds after … I had the most wonderful feeling. I had a feeling of liberation, restored manhood. I had a natural high. And I truly felt almost invincible. Mind you, [I was] just sitting on a dumb stool and not having asked for service yet," McCain says.

"It's a feeling that I don't think that I'll ever be able to have again. It's the kind of thing that people pray for … and wish for all their lives and never experience it. And I felt as though I wouldn't have been cheated out of life had that been the end of my life at that second or that moment."

I remember this well. I was ten years old and in the fifth grade in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The event sent shock waves throughout the South.

How incredibly brave these young men were. We all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Ann Coulter endorses Hillary (sort of)

This campaign is starting to get really strange:

Worst. Presdident. Ever.

Some biting remarks:

This week marked the one-year-left point in the Bush presidency. Folks, I'm with you, but stop cheering. He is still allowed to touch things. I pray he doesn't have one more giant f--- up in him, because, you know, he does keep trying. He tried to screw up Social Security, right? He tried to appoint his cleaning lady to the Supreme Court. He tried to get a war cry going to attack Iran. It's not like he's going to quit. He's going to be the worst president ever to the very last minute of the very last day. ... So I'm still nervous about this last year. I have the same feeling about this last year of his in office as I have when I'm on the highway and I have to go to the bathroom and I just passed a sign that says 'Next Rest Stop: 28 miles.'

--Bill Maher