Monday, June 30, 2008

So are guns REALLY for self-defense?

Take a look at this excerpt from a CNN article called "More than half firearm deaths are suicides":

The Supreme Court's landmark ruling on gun ownership last week focused on citizens' ability to defend themselves from intruders in their homes. But research shows that surprisingly often, gun owners use the weapons on themselves.

Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation's nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There was nothing unique about that year -- gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years.


Goodness. I had no idea that was the case. How very disturbing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Common Good

I just came across an article called "Who Stole the Common Good?: The Shadow of Ayn Rand" by Julian Edney. It ends like this:

So, do you want to find out if your friends, coworkers or spouse understand the common good? Some do, some don't. Try a simple game you can play called the Nuts Game -- with things you find around the house.

Three people sit around a kitchen bowl. You, the fourth person, with a timer, start off placing ten small items in the bowl -- quarters, dollar bills, or nuts. Tell the three players the goal is that each of them get as many items as possible. Tell them one other thing before they start: every ten seconds (you have your watch ready) you will look in the bowl and double the number of items remaining there by replenishing from an outside source (a separate pile of quarters on the side).

I used to run this game with college students. You would think the players would have figured out that if they had all waited, not taking anything out of the bowl for a while, the contents of the bowl would soon have grown very big, automatically doubling every ten seconds. Eventually they could each have divided up a pot that had grown large. But in fact, sixty percent of these groups never made it to the first 10-second replenishment cycle. Group members grabbed all they could as soon as they could, leaving nothing in the bowl to be doubled (destroying the common good), and each player wound up with none or a few items. I saw the bowl knocked to the floor in the greedy melee. And even if allowed to try again, not all groups cooperatively worked out a patient, conserve-as-you-go playing style, necessary for eventual big scores. They didn't trust each other.

This is really so, so sad. I wonder if this is true in all cultures or only in capitalist societies.

Christians in Iraq

I'm watching "60 Minutes" right now. The report on at the moment is about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. Christians were safe under Saddam. It's that old "law of unintended consequences." You can read the transcript or watch the segment right here.

Iran and Israel

This is very unnerving. It's from the Times Online:

Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.

The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.

The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.

Major-General Mohammad Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told a Tehran daily: “This country [Israel] is completely within the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime – despite all its abilities – cannot confront it.”

An editorial in a government newspaper, Jomhouri Eslami, said: “Our response will hit right at their temple.”


Oh my. What's going to happen next?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Tabby Queen

Conservatism

I found this over on Daily Kos:

It must be really scary to be a conservative. To be one, you must live in constant fear of terrorists nuking the United States, of gay people on the verge of convincing you that you really enjoy sodomy, of Spanish becoming the official language of the United States next week, of every African-American voting seven or eight times in the next election, of radical Islam suddenly becoming the latest hip thing among kids across the country, of perpetual lesbian orgies in girls bathrooms in high schools across America, of liberals forcing everyone to become a vegan, of Christians being rounded up into concentration camps, and of Democrats outlawing private property if they were to ever take power again.

So it's all about fear. Sad.

Irony (or something like that...)

Actually all you really have to do is look at the headline: Pastor Who Officiated at Jenna Bush Wedding Launches Pro-Obama Website.

But I'll give you an excerpt anyway:

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, leader of the largest Methodist congregation in the country, launched a website yesterday titled "James Dobson Does Not Speak For Me." The site is a jab at Dobson, a stalwart of the religious right who this week called Sen. Barack Obama's interpretation of the Bible in a 2006 speech distorted "to fit [Obama's] own world view, his own confused theology."

Caldwell's site launched a day after Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program aired a harsh assessment of Obama's speech on faith and public policy and encourages readers to sign a statement declaring that Dobson does not represent them.

"I think it's a crime and a shame that Senator Obama has had to explain the fact that he's a Christian," Caldwell said in a recent interview. "Criticize his politics. Criticize his stance on whatever, but don't question his faith. Never in the history of American politics has someone said that he is a Christian and someone came back to say, 'No you're not.'"

If Rev. Caldwell's name sounds familiar, it may be because he is the same Rev. Caldwell who introduced President Bush at the 2000 Republican National Convention and last month officiated at Jenna Bush's wedding ceremony at the presidential ranch in Crawford. This election Caldwell is firmly in the Obama camp and doggedly trying to help the campaign bring other pastors and parishioners along.

And here's a comment to this article that hurts my heart but I certainly understand it:

Like thousands of other Americans, I left the USA (I was born in Iowa, the son of fourth generation Americans whose sons and daughters have fought in every war since the turn of the twentieth century) because of the lies, deceits, hypocrisy of George W Bush and his cronies. While I do not support Obama, I could never support McCain who is a harsher version of Bush and Dobson. I have lived abroad 5 years now and know the USA is definitely among the most hated nations on earth: despised for the butchery in Iraq, the extortion of the oil countries that have inflated oil prices, the arrogance of American tourists who believe their dwindling dollar value is god, and more. I had hoped to return to my native land, but race baiting and sexism is still alive and fluid. Dobson makes me ashamed that I was ever a Christian.

-- Posted by: Dr Arthur Frederick Ide

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breaking news on hand guns

Oh my. Look at this from CNN:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a sweeping ban on handguns in the nation's capital violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The justices struck down the ban in a 5-4 decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority.

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said he was disappointed in the ruling...
...
The Second Amendment says, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The wording repeatedly has raised the question of whether gun ownership is an individual right, or a collective one pertaining to state militias and therefore subject to regulation.
...
Breyer expressed concern in his dissent that the majority's ruling could jeopardize the "constitutionality of gun laws throughout the nation."

Okay, folks. Just watch the murder rate go up in the District of Columbia.

And all you gun freaks out there: please go look up the word "militia" and, while you're at it, look up the meaning of "dependent clause." If the Second Ammendment were really about the individual right to bear arms, that clause about the militia would have been unnecessary, not to mention irrelevant.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

McCain's mental health

A question I found over on All Hat No Cattle:

The question no one asks about McCain is, "Should a psychiatric test be given to a man who was held prisoner and tortured for five years, in order to be president?"

Now, why isn't this question being asked?

An American Radical

Here's something George Carlin said as quoted in George Carlin: American Radical by John Nichols:

Let’s suppose we all just materialized on Earth and there was a bunch of potatoes on the ground, okay? There’s just six of us. Only six humans. We come into a clearing and there’s potatoes on the ground. Now, my instinct would be, let’s everybody get some potatoes.

"Everybody got a potato? Joey didn’t get a potato! He’s small, he can’t hold as many potatoes. Give Joey some of your potatoes.” “No, these are my potatoes!” That’s the Republicans. “I collected more of them, I got a bigger pile of potatoes, they’re mine. If you want some of them, you’re going to have to give me something.” “But look at Joey, he’s only got a couple, they won’t last two days.” That’s the fuckin’ difference! And I’m more inclined to want to share and even out,” he explained in an interview several years ago with The Onion.

I understand the marketplace, but government is supposed to be here to redress the inequities of the marketplace,” Carlin continued. “That’s one of its functions. Not just to protect the nation, secure our security and all that shit. And not just to take care of great problems that are trans-state problems, that are national, but also to make sure that the inequalities of the marketplace are redressed by the acts of government. That’s what welfare was about. There are people who really just don’t have the tools, for whatever reason. Yes, there are lazy people. Yes, there are slackers. Yes, there’s all of that. But there are also people who can’t cut it, for any given reason, whether it’s racism, or an educational opportunity, or poverty, or a fuckin’ horrible home life, or a history of a horrible family life going back three generations, or whatever it is. They’re crippled and they can’t make it, and they deserve to rest at the commonweal.

And here's another quote from that article:

Carlin did not want Americans to get involved with the system.

He wanted citizens to get angry enough to remake the system.

I think it's an important distinction. And I so agree.

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P George Carlin

One way of recognizing tyranny

We need to think about this, folks:

When a person goes to a country and finds their newspapers filled with nothing but good news, he can bet there are good men in jail.

--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

An imperative regarding peace

This is a very important point:

Those who love peace must learn to organize as well as those who love war.

- Dr. Martin Luther King

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prayer for the Earth


The earth is at the same time mother,
She is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her are the seeds of all.
The earth of humankind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power.
It is in so many ways fruitful.
All creation comes from it.
Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God's son.

Hildegard of Bingen

Yes, I know Earth Day is long past. But we continue to destroy the earth minute by minute. And somehow, somehow we need to see what we're doing. Please God, let us see.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"More and better Democrats"

Oh, my. I agree. I hope this woman is elected:

Today's CNN QuickVote

I think it's clear what the American people think about this:

Should Vice President Dick Cheney testify before Congress about the leaking of a CIA agent's identity?

Yes - 83%

No - 17%


"A dangerous and unbalanced moral coward"

Ah, to see ourselves as others see us:

To Europeans, George W Bush has always appeared as a dangerous and unbalanced moral coward ~ swinging away at imaginary enemies while creating countless more with his self serving neocon agenda ~ while a patronizing mainstream press and Congress let him get away with it.

- Dr. Allen Roland

Friday, June 20, 2008

No dirty tricks

Waterless car wash

Okay, folks. I'm not kidding. This stuff is AMAZING! I used it for the first time today and I'm definitely sold:

Lucky Earth "Waterless" Car Wash cleans all solid surfaces such as paint, glass, fiberglass, plastic and chrome. Containing organic soaps/surfactants and other high-quality organic ingredients, it can be used on a wet or dry surface. It dissolves dirt and creates a non-stick surface.

Protect your car, protect your family, and protect the earth!

The difference is clear, unlike traditional car wash and polishing solutions, Lucky Earth uses alternatives that do not create harmful fumes and toxic residues.

Yes, it's expensive to start with and you have to use microfiber towels. But once you've bought them, you've bought them.

I got both the spray solution and the towels at Akin's in Tulsa. The Lucky Earth website has a list of stores for various cities.

Just THINK of all the water you'll save. I'm serious. You need no water at ALL as long as your car is not seriously mud-caked or covered with sand.

The truth about health care coverage

Go on over to Common Dreams and read an article called Health Care and Ghosts of War by Norman Solomon. Here is an excerpt:

In the latest edition of “Health Care Meltdown,” author C. Rocky White identifies himself as “a conservative Republican who has always held an entrepreneurial ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ free-market philosophy.” A longtime physician, White describes “the frustration I began to experience while trying to provide compassionate, quality health care in the context of a market in which the accustomed rules of business economics don’t apply.”

Dr. White immersed himself in research on health care policy and finance. Then he pored through reams of the latest data on the tradeoffs of reform options. “No matter how I turned the cube,” he writes, “the answer never changed. That answer was nearly impossible for me, a free-market Republican, to accept.”

Here are Dr. White’s two key conclusions in his own words:

* “Until we remove the motive of profit from the financing of health care, we cannot and we will not resolve our current health care crisis.”

* “Any group that proposes reform policy that maintains the use of for-profit insurance companies in a so-called free market is being driven by one single motive — to protect the golden coffers of their share of the $2 trillion cash cow!”

Dr. White adds: “To continue down this road is paramount to suggesting that we privatize our fire and police services and turn them into for-profit organizations. You do that and people will die — just like they are dying now under our current health care system!”

If a free market conservative can come to this conclusion, that says something. We need a single-payer system!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Christianity and torture

This is the Sojourners quote of the week:

It is a powerful way to be a witness for Christ, by demonstrating your capacity to not judge the way everybody else is judging and to serve unconditionally.

- Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, a military lawyer for a Guantánamo detainee, who has persistently challenged Bush Administration policy as "designed to get criminal convictions" with "no real evidence," and asserted that Pentagon prosecutors "launder evidence derived from torture."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Innocent detainees

Please go over to Common Dreams and read Oops Nation by Ted Rall. Here's an excerpt:

In December 2001, Kurnaz was a 19-year-old German Muslim studying in Pakistan. He was pulled off a bus by Pakistani security services, who delivered him to the CIA for a $3,000 bounty. He was flown to Guantánamo concentration camp, where he received what The Village Voice’s Nat Hentoff calls “the standard treatment: beatings, sleep deprivation, and special month-long spells of solitary confinement in a sealed cell without ventilation.”

He went on hunger strike, and Kurnaz’s tormentors apparently worried he might starve to death. After 20 days “they gagged me and shoved a tube up my nose, stopping several times because the tube filled with blood,” Kurnaz remembers.

What did this “worst of the worst” do to deserve such treatment? Nothing. But don’t take my word for it. Six months into his ordeal, the U.S. military determined, there was “no definite link or evidence of detainee having an association with Al Qaeda or making any specific threat toward the U.S.”

The U.S. government knew Kurnaz was innocent. Yet they held on to him another three and a half years.

Oops.

I'm ashamed to be an American. Yes I am. We need to do penance before the whole world.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh my. This is so good.

Ojibway prayer

Grandfather,
Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk the Sacred Way.
Grandfather,
Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion, and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today's CNN QuickVote

This is very interesting and encouraging:

Should same-sex marriage be legal in all 50 states?

Yes - 55%

No - 45%

Sunday, June 15, 2008

True selfishness and unselfishness

Oscar Wilde

This is what bothers me about the so-called "social conservatives":

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it.

-- Oscar Wilde

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who Killed the Electric Car? (Part 1 of 11)



This is definitely worth watching. The entire documentary is on YouTube. I'm posting Part 1 here. You can continue with Part 2 right here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

O'Brien joke

Snark, snark:

Barack Obama said his differences with Hillary Clinton are, 'infinitesimal, tiny, minute, trivial and inconsequential.' That's what he said, yeah. When he heard this, President Bush said, 'That guy knows way too many words to be president.'

--Conan O'Brien

Today's CNN QuickVote

This is current reality:

Can you get by without a car?

Yes - 14%

No - 86%

And I'm afraid I had to vote "no".

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MSNBC live vote

I know these online polls are not scientific but of the people who chose to answer this is a huge percentage who think Bush should be impeached:

Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment?

Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting him on trial. 89%

No, like any president, he has made a few missteps, but nothing approaching "high crimes and misdemeanors." 4.1%

No, the man has done absolutely nothing wrong. Impeachment would just be a political lynching. 4.5%

I don't know. 2%


Sunday, June 08, 2008

A little break

Hi, folks. I just need a little break from blogging. I'll be back soon!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

RFK: November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968


Today is the day. It is the 40th anniversary of the death of Bobby Kennedy by assassination. Here's a little something from an article called My Bobby Kennedy and Yours by David Emblidge:

Robert Kennedy’s To Seek a Newer World reflects his growing discomfort with the way things were trending in America and abroad. It’s the roadmap Bobby would have taken, had he lived to win the presidency. He did not live, and there’s the pity, and yet he does.

Bobby was no saint. Occasionally ruthless, he even served for a time, at his nefarious father’s behest, as assistant counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy’s infamous
anti-communist committee. Yet, Bobby had a capacity for growth, right in the public eye, as few politicians ever do. He investigated, pondered, analyzed, and changed course, drawing us onwards with him. Today, when the world seems, again, to be going to hell in a hand basket, with all of us complicit in the planet’s undoing, Bobby’s model is tonic.

It was the courage to confront the errors of our ways and the losses in our lives that humanized Bobby Kennedy. Victim though he was, he was also triumphant, for he embodied the tragic vision of Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Moving, now, toward the November election, and slouching toward our collective future, we all have regret and shame on our hands, and yet, as Bobby would have had us remember, we can change, and we must, and it can be for the better.

I have long valued that Aeschylus quote. It is deeply consoling. And today I need it. I have a challenge before me right now that I don't think I'm really at liberty to disclose. But, of your charity, will those of you who pray please pray for me.

Blessings on all!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What is WRONG with people?

This makes me want to cry:

A polar bear that swam more than 200 miles in near-freezing waters to reach Iceland was shot on arrival in case it posed a threat to humans.

The bear, thought to be the first to reach the country in at least 15 years, was killed after local police claimed it was a danger to humans, triggering an outcry from animal lovers. Police claimed it was not possible to sedate the bear.

The operation to kill the animal was captured on film.

The adult male, weighing 250kg, was presumed to have swum some 200 miles from Greenland, or from a distant chunk of Arctic ice, to Skagafjordur in northern Iceland.

"There was fog up in the hills and we took the decision to kill the bear before it could disappear into the fog," said the police spokesman Petur Bjornsson.

Iceland's environment minister, Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir, gave the green light for police to shoot the bear because the correct tranquiliser would have taken 24 hours to be flown in, the Icelandic news channel Visir.is reported.

Sveinbjarnardottir's account was disputed by the chief vet in the town of Blönduó, Egill Steingrímsson, who said he had the drugs necessary to immobilise the bear in the boot of his car. "If the narcotics gun would have been sent by plane, it would have arrived within an hour," he said. "They could keep tabs on the bear for that long."

That poor, poor animal who was so brave to have survived for so long at such a great cost and then to think he was finally safe. Horrible. Horrible.

CNN Quickvote of the day

Not surprising:

Do you believe the economy is:

Getting better - 19%

Getting worse - 81%

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"The subject of your war"

Here's a brief quote from an article called "Princess Patricia and the Taliban" By Eric Walberg:

“We do not believe in counterinsurgency,” a senior French commander, clearly recalling Vietnam and Algeria, told Saunders. “If you find yourself needing to use counterinsurgency, it means the entire population has become the subject of your war, and you either will have to stay there forever or you have lost.”

Something to think about.

Monday, June 02, 2008

June is Adopt-a-Cat month

I found this out through an email from the American Humane Society. The Society puts forth the following very good reasons for sharing your home and your heart with a cat:

* Having a cat reduces your blood pressure and helps prevent heart disease
* Having a cat fights depression and loneliness
* Cats are entertaining to watch and fun to play with
* Cats provide companionship
* Cats will cuddle up with you on a cold evening
* Cats are independent and can be left alone while you’re at work
* A cat’s mere presence will ward off unwanted mice and pests
* Cats are comfortable in small spaces like apartments
* Cats are very clean; they bathe themselves!
* A cat’s purr is instantly calming and relaxing
* Cats are affectionate
* Just 15 minutes a day of playing with you will satisfy a cat
* Cats are easy to house train, especially adult cats, who are probably already house trained
* Cats bring a little bit of the wild into your house
* Indoor cats and spayed/neutered cats live long lives, providing up to 20 years of companionship
* Cats are cheaper to spay/neuter than dogs, especially big dogs
* Taking care of a cat can help teach a child responsibility and humane values
* Lots of cats need good homes; when you adopt one, you’re saving a life!


Here's some information from the Humane Society about the adoption process.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Another death in Iraq

This one is considered "non-combat". But it's still very much about the war. The person who died, Jason Dene, was Mia Farrow's nephew. Here's something his uncle wrote:

Because of the arrogant, corrupt lies of George W. Bush and his neo-con handlers my nephew is dead, and I am mad as hell...Jason Dene was not killed by enemy fire nor friendly fire but by Bush's brutal and cynical stop-loss program.

Because of Bush's abusive stop-loss policy, Jason had been sent into an unwanted third tour of duty. He was a father of three and could not afford to lose his pension. Some 'volunteer Army'.

During his three 15-month tours in Iraq, exposure to roadside bombs and other job-related injuries caused Jason to be hospitalized several times for concussion and internal bleeding and other injuries. Recently, Jason's condition was such that the Department of Defense flew him from Iraq to Dover Air Force Base for surgery. He was released from the hospital into the loving arms of the government who sent him directly back into Iraq. He was put on active duty while he was still on a liquid diet, unable to eat solid food because of a throat hemorrhage due to a botched surgery at a military hospital.

After his second tour Jason returned home with severe mental and physical issues. He was certainly in no condition to be pressed into a third tour. He wanted out of the army. But Jason was a victim of the liar's back-door draft...

He was still on a post surgical liquid diet and he was put on active duty? That is unconscionable. The military ought to be sued into oblivion. But, of course, they can't be. That's part of the fine print you agree to when you sign up.