Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sometimes it's the simple things that are the most eloquent and moving

AP photo

The headline on Yahoo, "Sign tallying military deaths upsets Army," caught my eye and I clicked on the link to find the image above showing Scott Cameron of Duluth, Minnesota, sitting beside his simple, poignant sign.

That's right... That's why I got involved in political blogging in the first place. Not over whether the right team or the left team wins or loses, but because there's a human cost in fighting a war that was begun primarily to enhance the prestige of a President.

Sometimes it's just the simple things, a small sign with numbers that change daily, or a mom sitting in a folding chair near the entrance to an estate, that cut through the noise of ideological competition and remind us why we're competing in the first place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

If you really think about the intelligence of the designer...

The University of Kansas Religious Studies Department will be offering a new course next semester called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies." (Update: The course has since been cancelled.)

And of course, the Intelligent Design Network's John Calvert, an attorney and managing director in Johnson County, Kansas, reacted to the offering of the course by saying "To equate intelligent design to mythology is really an absurdity, and it's just another example of labeling anybody who proposes (intelligent design) to be simply a religious nut. That's the reason for this little charade."

"Little charade." That reminds me of Kristinn Taylor calling Cindy Sheehan's vigil a "publicity stunt."

Since I've been thinking about intelligent design for about four and a half decades (I'm 49 now and I probably started seriously thinking about God creating the heavens and the earth when I was around 4), you can imagine I've developed a few opinions on the subject. A couple of years ago, while I was writing an episode of my yet-to-be-produced drama series, the topic of the origin of the universe came up, as it usually does whenever I write about characters who are deep thinkers. In this episode, the central character, Zeph, who is from a deeply religious Amish background and is now an agnostic, has a long, laid-back discussion with a new friend, Sadiq, an Iraqi-American who grew up in a mostly secular environment and is now exploring his Muslim heritage. This is an excerpt from the dialogue.

Have you kept any of your faith from when you were Amish?
Mostly I've been describing myself as an atheist. But to be truly scientific, I need to acknowledge the possibility of the existence of God, and so I should call myself an agnostic.
You acknowledge the possibility of the existence of God?
It's a long shot, but sure, it's possible. Since we learned from Hume in philosophy 101 that nothing can be conclusively proven, we know that we can't conclusively prove the non-existence of God. Of course every fervent believer takes that as absolute proof that God exists, because his non-existence can't be proven.
      (Looks to Sadiq apologetically)
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to—
It's okay. I'm not a fervent believer.
Have you always believed in Allah, or was that something you had to develop when you returned to Islam?
I've always believed there was something, some supernatural entity. Some self-aware, creative energy-accretion. And so it was a simple matter of applying the name Allah to that entity when I started studying Islam. Actually, the book I started with was Islam for Dummies.
You didn't. Heh.
Then I read a few other books. I couldn't accept every statement I read about the nature of Allah. But studying those books...felt good. I felt a profound sense of well-being. A connectedness with past generations.
Zeph nods in recognition.
Yeah. I miss that.
You can't come to the point where you can accept the idea of just an entity, a guiding presence in the universe? Forget names. Any names we've come up with for the entity are wrong. It has its own name.
Zeph shrugs and frowns and hesitates before responding.
I acknowledge the possibility of it.
It's hard to explain. It's like... Picture somebody blowing smoke rings up into a dark room. Or I guess they would be smoke domes. Smoke balloons. It's a dark room, but there's enough light that we can see these smoke domes slowly expanding and dissipating. Okay, now, at the microscopic level, think of all of the particles of soot that make up that smoke. Incredibly fine, tiny particles of soot. Okay, now think of each tiny particle of a galaxy.
Sadiq processes this a moment and then chuckles.
Not just a star, a galaxy of stars in each particle of soot. "Billions and billions."
Heh. "Come with me..." Okay, now locate the speck of soot that represents the Milky Way.
Yeah, I see your point—an entity who can relate to the universe at that scale, how can it interact with us at our scale?
It's totally possible that an entity exists who finds the spread of galaxies no more complex than a city. Or a motherboard. And it's totally possible that an entity exists who can interact with our daily lives.
Yeah—but how can those entities be the same, the scales are so vastly different. I see.
And it's entirely possible that there are nested entities ranging from the local to the universal. And beyond! But then you're starting to talk about a corporate chart. A population of entities.
And if you don't like something about the local entity, can you go to its supervisor?
Heh. But then again, after reading about quantum weirdness, I have to admit that my thinking about scale is limited to my three-dimensional experience.
Quantum weirdness... Schrödinger's cat. Superposed states.
Yeah. Split a beam of electrons, alter one of the beams, and the other beam is altered simultaneously, regardless of the distance between them.
Yeah, I remember a lecture on this. It's as if the separated particles are actually the same particle in a different dimension.
So, in a six-dimensional universe, this universe might be fairly easy to manage. It's possible.

If a proponent of intelligent design wants to make bold, confident statements about its validity, he or she must be as familiar as possible with the nature of the known universe for those statements to be informed and credible. But when the human brain honestly tries to grasp the incomprehensibility of, say, the number of atoms in the known universe, or the time it takes light to travel from here to the edge of the known universe, confidence usually isn't the result.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Alito's 1971 pro-gay stance complicates things

Samuel Alito in 1971An Associated Press article by Calvin Woodward, quoted below, reveals that, as an undergrad at Princeton, Alito chaired a student conference which drafted a report condemning sodomy laws and discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation, along with other forms of invasion of privacy.

Of course, that was more than three decades ago.

It will be interesting to hear Alito's responses to questions about the report and whether his views have significantly changed since that time. I suspect they have or he would never have been nominated. But Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign is hopeful that Alito hasn't moved all the way away from his youthful philosophy.

Time will tell.
WASHINGTON - In college, Samuel Alito led a student conference that urged legalization of sodomy and curbs on domestic intelligence, a sweeping defense of privacy rights he said were under threat by the government and the dawning computer age.

President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, in a report written years before ubiquitous personal computers made electronic privacy the everyday concern it is now, warned of the potential for abuses by officials and companies collecting data on individuals.

Three decades before the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex, Alito declared on behalf of his group of fellow Princeton students that "no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden." Alito also called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring.

As a federal appellate judge, Alito has built a scant record on gay-rights issues and a mixed one, at best, on privacy matters generally, in the view of civil liberties advocates who are still examining his opinions.

But they saw in the 1971 report a prescient thinker taking on issues ahead of their time, including the need for computer encryption, stronger oversight of domestic intelligence and curbs on the surveillance powers of states.

"The document itself is amazing," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It is a dramatic statement in support of the right of privacy.

"Nonetheless," Rotenberg went on, "his decisions as an appellate judge over the last 15 years do raise some significant concerns about his willingness to apply Fourth Amendment privacy standards." Rotenberg cited an example in which Alito appeared to support the strip search of two people involved in an authorized search but not named in a warrant.

The college report was first reported in The Boston Globe.

The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates gay rights, said the report gives senators the basis to question Alito on that subject and privacy matters broadly in his confirmation hearings.

"If these are his views today - and there is no indication they are not - it's a hopeful sign that may provide some insight into his philosophy," said David Smith, the group's policy vice president. "This isn't pop-the-champagne-cork time. His views need to be explored."

Even so, Smith was struck that Alito's report would raise a subject few tackled back then, and come down so unequivocally on it. "Very few people were standing up for gay Americans 34 years ago," he said.

Harriet Miers, whose withdrawal from contention led to Alito's nomination, had gone on record in 1989 as favoring equal civil rights for gays but opposing repeal of the Texas anti-sodomy law, since overturned by the Supreme Court. Smith said that in comparison with Miers' known views on gay rights, "Alito wins and it isn't by a nose."

Alito is listed on the paper as the chairman of the conference, entitled the Boundaries of Privacy in American Society, and author of the report's seven-page summary of findings. It was done for Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Alito was a senior acting as a "commissioner" for the undergraduates in his group.

Mark Dwyer, a college roommate of Alito's, said such class projects were typically "one of those academic exercises of 'let's pretend in the real world.'"

Rotenberg said the report sounds much like one produced later by a national committee drawn together by that era's Health, Education and Welfare Department. Recommendations in that report became the basis of the landmark 1974 Privacy Act.

"A lot in this paper is surprisingly forward-looking," he said.

In it, the young Alito writes that the Census Bureau should be barred from asking unnecessarily intrusive questions, federal privacy ombudsmen should be appointed and the government should face strict conditions for keeping and distributing dossiers on citizens.

Much as privacy-savvy Web sites today promise not to disseminate personally identifiable information, Alito said the government should limit its use of information on individuals to "bulk statistics."

"The cybernetic revolution has greatly magnified the threat to privacy today," he said.

In one recommendation that was commonly debated at the time but a nonstarter today, he said all computer systems should be licensed by the federal government.

The report, two years before Roe v. Wade affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, does not address that subject. Abortion-rights supporters consider that right to be a fundamental matter of privacy.

As an appeals court judge, he held that states can require women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Also on the bench, Alito supported a high school student who was taunted because he was perceived as gay, and a family seeking to adopt an HIV-positive child. The adoption had been challenged on grounds that the child posed a medical threat to the family's other child.

Alito also, however, wrote the majority opinion in a 1999 decision overturning a school district's wide-ranging anti-harassment policy, ruling in favor of Christian students who wanted to preach against homosexuality.

EDITOR'S NOTE - Associated Press writer Rosa Cirianni in Princeton, N.J., contributed to this report.
My note: When seeing a current photo of Alito, I can't help but wonder if he isn't in the closet. He doesn't look fem, of course, or stereotypical. His look is much more that of a nerd. But that smile... He trips the gaydar lightly.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I have an idea! Let's not investigate each other!

Rep. Schiff, informed us today that on the House ethics committee "Republicans and Democrats have agreed not to investigate each other." Is this true? If it is, it more or less negates the need for an ethics committee.

MoveOn also says that "It takes a complaint from just one member of Congress to get the process moving." They recommend signing ethics complaints against Rep. Cunningham and Rep. Ney. Two complaint forms in PDF format have been prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. I'm sure you've received these forms from other constituents, but if not please let me know how to forward them to you.

Background information prepared by CREW is abvailable here:
Rep. Cunningham
Rep. Ney
Thanks very much.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -'s email:
Dear MoveOn member,

Republican Rep. Randy Cunningham is being investigated by federal authorities for accepting bribes from a defense contractor. But he's not being investigated in Congress, where the ethics committee could force him out of his seat. That's because the House ethics committee is deadlocked—Republicans and Democrats have agreed not to investigate each other.

Last week, Democrats stood up to Republican corruption on the House floor. Republicans had initially lost a vote on a new energy bill that amounted to a huge giveaway to oil companies, but they held open the vote until they could force some representatives to change their position. They ended up winning 212-210. When Democrats realized what was happening, they started yelling "Shame!" on the House floor. You can watch the video of chaos erupting here.

Now, Democrats have an opportunity to clean house. By signing ethics complaints against a few key Republicans like Rep. Cunningham, they can break the deadlock, get the ethics committee working again, and make sure that Republican representatives are held accountable for their actions. Your representative, Rep. Schiff, could be the signature that would get this process going.

Ask him to sign an ethics complaint today at:

It takes a complaint from just one member of Congress to get the process moving.
Republican corruption is one of the key reasons why Americans will vote for Democrats in 2006. But re-starting the ethics committee is also a good in its own right—it helps ensure that all representatives, Republican and Democrat, obey the rules and steer clear of slimy deals with lobbyists.

Democrats have been understandably wary of working with a Republican controlled ethics committee. But now Tom Delay has been indicted for money laundering. Bill Frist was subpoened by the SEC for possible insider trading. Karl Rove is implicated in a criminal investigation of who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. It's clear to everyone there's an ethics crisis in Washington at the highest levels and America would be scrutinizing every move the ethics committee makes.

It's time for Democrats to "go big" against corruption, and breaking the "ethics stalemate" is one of the best ways to do that. Until it's broken, there is little incentive for members of Congress to obey ethics rules—they know they won't get investigated. This is how people like Tom DeLay managed to stay in power for so long.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, has prepared ethics complaints against two members of Congress—Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). In order for an investigation to begin a member of the House of Representatives must sign the ethics complaint and forward it to the ethics committee in Congress.

Ask Rep. Schiff to do that now at:

Thanks for all you do.

–Tom, Eli, Rosalyn, Nita and the Political Action Team
Friday, October 14th, 2005
Just a thought, but I don't know that Americans will vote Democrat in 2006 because of Republican corruption. It's possible that most Americans are corrupt as well.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miers' appointment is early for Trick or Treat at the White Haunted House

The more I learn, the less I want to know.

After reading the following email from, I'm mystified by Bush's appointment of Miers to the Supreme Court. I get the impression that, while in office, Bush hasn't learned anything about making controversial decisions that lower his approval rating. Why do you think that is? Because he believes that great men don't learn, they teach?

But, then again, this post by Hugo Zoom is even scarier than the email below.

Golly. Witches' hats, white sheets and life-size chessmen.

Hey kid, want some candy?

Dear MoveOn member,

Two days ago, President Bush nominated his personal lawyer and long-time friend Harriet Miers to Sandra Day O'Connor's crucial swing seat on the Supreme Court. With no judicial experience and an extremely thin public record, even leading right-wing pundits are calling her "transparently a crony"1 with "non-existent"2 qualifications.

President Bush has refused to release any documents from Miers' time in the White House,3 and claimed he could not "recall" any conversations with Miers about abortion over 10 years of friendship and legal service.4 The people deserve the facts.

Next week our senators will be home on recess, and will be looking closely at the local press for their constituents' reactions. This is a perfect time to write a letter-to-the-editor urging the Senate to demand real answers about Harriet Miers' views.

You can write and submit your letter online, and it only takes a few minutes. Please write one today:

Immediately after Miers' nomination, MoveOn members stepped up to try to fill the information void. In the last 48 hours we've collected nearly 5,000 facts about Harriet Miers' record, and we're working to get this information into the hands of the media and our partner organizations. But it's remarkable how, even after collecting nearly everything that's publicly available, Miers' position on major constitutional questions and her qualifications to be a judge are still almost completely unknown.

What is clear is the deep personal and professional connection shared by Harriet Miers and George W. Bush. Here's what some members have uncovered about their long relationship:

From David of Howell, MI:
When Miers was Bush's appointee to head the Texas State Lottery Commission, the lottery was accused by a former director of awarding multi-million dollar no-bid contracts to a technology firm represented by former Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes. Barnes has since said he helped Bush escape active duty in Vietnam, and the lottery director alleged that Barnes demanded (and under Miers received) the lucrative public contracts to keep quiet about Bush's military service.6
From Paula of San Mateo, CA:
As Governor, Bush signed a law blocking Texas consumers from collecting a $6 billion dollar judgment against car dealers for predatory lending and keeping secret kickbacks. The law firm Miers headed represented the auto dealers.7
From Nancy of Austin, TX:
Miers was hired as legal counsel on both Bush's gubanatorial campaigns. Among other things, her research was used to persuade a local judge to excuse then Governor Bush from jury duty, a civic task that would have forced him to disclose his 1976 arrest for drunken driving in Maine. He was then able to keep his arrest secret until late in the 2000 presidential campaign.8
From Stephen of Birmingham, AL:
Miers's personal friendship and allegiance to Bush has been cited for years in connection with her promotions, including to her highest post of White House Counsel.9
Cronyism on the Supreme Court is a serious threat to our democracy. In fact Alexander Hamilton specifically argued that the Senate should be empowered to confirm or reject judicial nominees in part to prevent the President from using the Court to reward friends and political allies.10

The call to reject cronyism and secrecy is bipartisan. As conservative columnist George F. Will put it today, "The president's "argument" for [Miers] amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons."11 We may have different reasons not to take Bush at his word, but we can all agree on the need for more information.

It's now up to us to make sure our senators demand that information and refuse to offer a lifetime appointment to a swing seat on the Supreme Court as an act of faith. If you write a letter-to-the-editor today, you can help make sure the media, your community and the Senate hear this message loud and clear.

Please write one today:

Thanks for all that you do,

Ben, Jennifer, Eli, Adam and the Political Action Team Wednesday, October 5th, 2005


1 Statement by Michelle Malkin, October 3rd, 2005

2 Statement by Patrick Buchanan, October 3rd, 2005

3 "Bush Seeks to Quell Criticism of Court Nominee from the Right," New York Times, 10/4/05

4 "Bush base rattled by court pick" Atlanta Journal Constitution, 10/05/05

5 "Conservatives are wary over President's selection", The New York Times, 10/04/05

6 Texas Speaker Reportedly Helped Bush Get Into Guard" The Washington Post, 9/21/99

7 "What's the deal with Harriet Miers?" The Village Voice, 10/03/05,webmondo3,68426,2.html

8 "Miers ties to Bush include personal lawyer" Associated Press, 10/03/05

9 "Bush promotes Miers from staff to Counsel" The Washington Post 11/18/04

10 Federalist Papers #76 by Alexander Hamilton

11 "Can this nomination be justified?" George F. Will column in the Washington Post, 10/05/05

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Following up on the March on Washington

Representative Adam Schiff
United States House of Representatives
326 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

Dear Representative Schiff,

As of today, 28 September, there have been 1,929 American troop deaths and a total of 2,124 coalition troop deaths in the war in Iraq, which we entered without accurate information regarding the threat that Saddam presented.

You will probably recall reading or hearing that journalist Helen Thomas said of President Bush "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war."

It's significant that, on the day when Hurricane Rita made landfall, 24 September, the turnout for the March on Washington that same day was three times the expected number of 100,000. Even though the nation's attention was on the plight of the victims of the hurricane, the American people were still concerned enough about the crime of falsifying information to justify going to war that they showed up to protest in unexpected numbers.

Like them, I join in the demand that Congress take action to hold George W. Bush, and those who conspired with him, accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors and to introduce Articles of Impeachment.

(Submitted through an easy-to-use form on the website.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

My email to Anderson Cooper regarding war-protest coverage

Contact CNNAnderson,

I think it's significant that the CNN website doesn't mention the war protest in Washington once. Not one link to a story under Politics or US or Developing Stories or any other section [as of about 12:30pm EDT, 9:30am PDT].

Yes site visitors are more interested in Rita coverage. However, "news" also includes the important less-popular stories.

How many TV minutes have been spent on the war protest? Your coverage of Rita has been great and shows your willingness to put yourself in harm's way to give us a clear picture of Rita's power.

However, the war protest in Washington is an important expression of the growing disaffection in the U.S. with the administration, and the protest shouldn't be blown away too by Rita.


It doesn't produce the dramatic footage that Rita does, but in terms of casualties, isn't it on par?

Friday, September 23, 2005

The left is doing it again, just like the Vietnam era

Kristinn Taylor is a he?? Who knew? I really did think he was a perky co-ed.

Apparently he's a graduate of Dubya University's Rove School of Conservative Whitenoise. The last time I heard from him, he called Cindy Sheehan's vigil a publicity stunt. This time around, he's saying
We made a vow after Sept. 11 that we would not allow the anti-American left to do to us this time what they did during Vietnam, which was wear down the morale of the American.
A protest in 1968What a great guy, huh? He's looking out for you.

"Anti-American left." Amazing. People on the left are ardently trying to bring the U.S. back to a place where it isn't considered a unilateral bully by the rest of the world, and that's anti-American. People on the left care so much about what's happening in the country with the shifting economic and social priorities that they're protesting like they haven't in years, and that's anti-American. How can they be anti-American if they're so emotionally involved with America?

If the dictionary definition of "American" is actually "getting rich quick and paying no taxes," then, well, yeah I guess they are sort of anti-American. I remember thinking during Schwarzenegger's speech at the GOP convention that the term "hard work" was actually a euphemism for "wealth," getting as much as you can and keeping what you get. Who in the entire party actually honors hard work just for itself? But that is the underlying agenda, isn't it—getting as much as you can and keeping what you get and not having to share it with anyone else because, well, you earned it. Underneath it all, underneath all the smoke and whitenoise and powdered wigs and flags, that's the track that guides the elephant's circus train. Rich rich rich get rich rich rich get rich rich rich get rich rich rich get rich rich rich...

Hey, Republikids, I've got a guessing game for you! Wanna play? Okay. I'll give you a Bible verse, and you tell me the reference. Book, chapter and verse. Okay? Are you ready? Here we go. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, where thieves break through and steal." All right, who can tell me where that verse is found?


You don't just rattle off that reference from memory? How come? Because that verse isn't as important as those verses in Leviticus? Okay, I've got another one for you. Who was it who said "For ye are not under the law, but under grace"?


You Republikids sure know your Bible well. Anyway, if we're no longer under Old Testament law, why are the Leviticus verses more important than the verse in Matthew—drat! I let it slip. Anybody know? I'll tell you. Because you selectively believe. If you didn't believe selectively, your mom wouldn't be driving that really cool SUV because it would be out of your parents' price range. Bummer, huh?

Anyway, Kristinn, keep up the good work with the whitenoise! Doin' a great job! You're on your way to becoming a major player!

(Can't you hear him sputtering "I already am a major player!!")

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sign's petition in support of an independent Katrina Commission is gathering signatures on a petition in support of a Katrina Commission. They will begin delivering the signatures and comments to Congress the morning after Bush addresses the nation on Thursday night.

Monday, September 12, 2005 at the March on Washington on Sept. 24

I-10 in Los Angeles on 15 December 2003. See more images at
The signs read "485 dead, 2,779 seriously wounded, 3,264 blood-soaked uniforms, and we impeached Clinton over one lousy dress." is organizing a contingent for the anti-war March on Washington on September 24. Click on the T-shirt to learn more.

Impeachment: It’s not about getting even anymore.

For more information on the March, click on the poster.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Schwarzenegger's planned veto of marriage equality legislation

Governor Schwarzenegger:

My gay partner and I have been "married" for fourteen years. We mark our "anniversary" date as June 9. Email the GovernorUnfortunately, I've been covered by his health insurance as a domestic partner for only the last couple of years. Had we been officially married, would I have had to wait that long for coverage?

I urge you not to veto the marriage equality legislation. I understand that you have been quoted as saying that same-sex marriage is "fine by me" in the past. Why the change on this issue? The fact that both the Senate and the Assembly have passed this legislation is a strong indicator of what the will of the people of California is regarding this issue in 2005.

Please sign the marriage equality legislation into law.

Fourteen years.

Thanks very much.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Requiring the disclosure of the Pennsylvania Avenue Memo

Congressman Adam Schiff
29th District of California (website)

Congressman Schiff:

The website lists you among those holding out from co-sponsoring H. Res. 375, a resolution of inquiry requiring the White House and the State Department to "transmit all information relating to communication with officials of the United Kingdom between January 1, 2002, and October 16, 2002, relating to the policy of the United States with respect to Iraq."

I can see no real reason for not requiring disclosure of communication between UK and US officials within this timeframe, and I urge you to support this resolution by 14 September.

As you will recall, in February 2002, Senator Bob Graham was told "We have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq." From June 2002 to March 2003, "Allies flew 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, attacking 349 carefully selected targets" before war was even declared on 30 March 2003. In July 2002, appropriations for the war in Afghanistan were diverted to prepare for the invasion of Iraq, and Congress was not informed of this. I believe these pieces of information (and many more are available at are enough to indicate what the Administration's policy was regarding Iraq between 1 January and 16 October 2002.

Please support H. Res. 375.

"FEMA's portable housing remains hundreds of miles away unused"

The more I learn, the less I want to know. sent out an emailing today:
Ten days after Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans is still mostly underwater and hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, yet NBC Nightly News reported last night that FEMA's portable housing remains hundreds of miles away unused. It is now obvious that the federal response to Hurricane Katrina is a national scandal that requires a proper investigation. But Republicans in Congress have proposed an investigation that would be run by them. Democrats are insisting on an independent commission with its own independent investigators and subpoena authority—modeled after the 9/11 Commission.

So far the media isn't exposing that the Republican leadership is trying to cover over the Bush administration's failure to keep us safe. We need to make sure the media get on the case. One easy way to do that is on the Letters to the Editor page of newspapers. We've set up an online tool that makes submitting a letter easy. You write your letter, choose where you want it to go, and click to send. Will you write a letter to the editor? Click below to get started.

Your letter will be very timely. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is introducing legislation that would establish the independent Katrina Commission. According to Sen. Clinton's website: "The Katrina Commission would be charged with providing a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of what could and should have been done to avoid the extraordinary damage, the loss of life, the evacuation problems and the inadequate relief efforts that have exacerbated the dislocation and suffering of thousands of Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina."

But while Sen. Clinton's proposal is exactly what we need to do, many in the media are reporting on this as a squabble between Democrats and Republicans. Your letter can send a signal to the media that the public wants an independent commission modeled after the 9/11 Commission that is widely respected and viewed as the right way to look into failures by our government. Please write a letter today.

This wouldn't be the first time the Republicans tried to stack the deck in an investigation. After September 11, they tried to push a phony investigation and only after 9/11 widows insisted on an independent investigation did they pass legislation to establish the 9/11 Commission.

The heads of that commission are now speaking openly about the failures they saw during Katrina. We need those independent voices.

We need to insist the media reports this right by making it clear that people want an independent commission much like the 9/11 Commission—a Katrina Commission.

Please write a letter today. Thanks for all you do.

—Tom, Justin, Wes, Micayla and the Political Action Team
Friday, September 9th, 2005

P.S. More information:

Details on the Katrina Commission from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"9/11 commission heads see repeat failures with Katrina," Reuters, Sept. 8, 2005.

"Sen. Hillary Clinton Calls for Independent FEMA Probe," ABC News, Sept. 7, 2005.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The thing to remember about Pat Robertson... that he's Pentecostal, which means that the Holy Spirit speaks directly to him, which means that he hears voices in his head, which means that he is probably to some degree schizophrenic.

Wikipedia is a quick source of information, and its Pentecostalism page provides history, statistics and other information. Among the adherents of Pentecostalism listed there are Elvis, Dolly Parton, Al Sharpton and John Ashcroft.

Schizophrenia is characterized by, among other things, an inability to distinguish between internal and external experience, hallucinations and/or delusional beliefs. Hearing voices is a significant criterion of the diagnosis.

Some links have been theorized between schizophrenia and shamanism, which is "a range of traditional beliefs and practices that involve the ability to diagnose, cure, and sometimes cause human suffering by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits." Alec Foege, in his book The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine, describes several incidents where Robertson, on his TV show The 700 Club, mentioned the medical malady of an unseen, unknown person and then said something similar to "God is healing you right now, even as we're speaking." Shamans have been known to claim the ability to control the weather, and it's been mentioned on several websites that Robertson claims to have once commanded a tornado to change its course.

In this light, Robertson's casual call, on The 700 Club on Monday, for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shouldn't be surprising. It makes perfect sense to him.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A memo, a flight suit, a vigil and Babylon

"For us, the organizers of the vigil are phony-baloney, betraying the sacrifices that those men and women make in Iraq, by demanding that we pull our troops out now and leave Iraq to go to hell," said Kristinn Taylor, co-leader of the [] group's Washington, D.C., chapter. "This is a publicity stunt."
A publicity stunt? Did Cindy Sheehan conduct her vigil on the top of a telephone pole? Kristinn, that's a publicity stunt.

What Sheehan's genuine protest has accomplished, among other things, is to illustrate in human terms the fact that there had been inadequate planning for the post-war occupation in Iraq, the time period in which Casey, Sheehan's son, was killed. Had there been adequate planning, would the occupation have been as bloody? Would Casey still be alive?

The State Department memo from 7 February 2003 which was declassified recently and which warned State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky about U.S. Central Command's lack of planning for the post-war phase is another illustration, an Exhibit B. One can only imagine what the response of the "top CENTCOM officials" was when Craner, Dewey and Simons of the State Department offered "technical assistance" to them. I can picture the CENTCOM officials smiling and saying "No thanks. We're good." Or "We can handle it. We're professionals."

So why was there inadequate planning for the occupation? Mickey Herskowitz, who in 1999 was removed as the ghost-writer for Bush's autobiography, told interviewer Russ Baker in 2004 that the idea of a "small war"—a quick get-in-get-out engagement—dates back to the Reagan-Thatcher years. Apparently it was Cheney, then the Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, who said something like "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade." The Bush administration must have been convinced, right through the "Mission Accomplished" publicity stunt, that that's what they would be able to do. They would wage a small get-in-get-out war that they could walk away from and enjoy the prestige that a successful military campaign always provides a political leader. The concerns that were raised about the aftermath of the war were confidently ignored. It's probably safe to say that the Bush administration's obssession with invading Iraq wasn't motivated by a desire to bring about Armageddon and the
return of Christ, even though Bush has close ties with Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels, of which 60 million copies have been sold. The premature "Mission Accomplished" stunt suggests pretty clearly that they expected to follow a get-in-get-out plan. Had Bush wanted to precipitate the "Rapture" and the "Tribulation," he would not have expected to be around to see the end of the war, except from a vantage point in Heaven with the other raptured faithful. Even so, this quote from a Rolling Stone article from January 2004 is a little chilling:
But the idea that Bush, in going to war against Iraq, might have been moved not by politics but by an apocalyptic vision is terrifying to some. Last October, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance wrote a formal letter to Bush, saying, in part, "Please assure the American people that you are not developing foreign policy on the basis of a fundamentalist biblical theology that requires cataclysm in Israel in order to guarantee the return of Christ." So far, he has not received an answer, and the White House didn't return calls from Rolling Stone asking whether the president has read Left Behind.
As far as pulling our troops out now and leaving Iraq "to go to hell," as Kristinn described it, my suspicion is that the insurgency would diminish to the degree that the American presence in Iraq diminishes. If American troops were to pull out immediately, as Sheehan recommended, the very reason that the insurgents are fighting would be eliminated. I imagine they would celebrate the withdrawal beneath Arabic banners reading "Mission Accomplished."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 is organizing Cindy Sheehan solidarity vigils for August 17 reports that there are currently 945 vigils scheduled for tomorrow (8/17). This page includes a zip-code search to allow you to find a vigil in your area.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 is collecting signatures in support of Cindy Sheehan

My statement of support to Cindy Sheehan via's letter to the President and two-page ad in the Waco Tribune Herald:

The real reason Bush went to war was revealed by ghost writer/journalist Mickey Herskowitz when interviewed by Russ Baker in 2004: "No president could be considered truly successful without one military 'win' under his belt." That's it. Underneath all the layers of manufactured justifications for going to war, the real reason was to be a "successful" president. Of course he won't tell you that, Cindy. He won't be as candid with you as he was with Herskowitz in 1999, before he was even elected, about wanting to invade Iraq. You won't get the truth from him, but the act itself of demanding the truth is just as important as actually receiving it. Thank you so much for being a representative there in Crawford for so many Americans who want to know the truth.
As of today, 1,840 American moms could be there with Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas. And that's only the American moms. Adding in the moms of coalition troops brings the total up to 2,033.

Over 2,000 angry moms.

It brings to mind the image of Buster Keaton being chased by angry brides in Seven Chances. Can you picture it? More than 2,000 angry moms chasing Bush across the Texas terrain. There can be humor in tragedy, but there is tragedy in the humor.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Misty watercolored memes of the way we are...

CK at Language Games and Miscellaneous Arbitrary Marks tagged That Colored Fella with a meme about gay-blogger relationships, and he in turn tagged me.

My first meme. Not sure what to do with it. Should I perform a Western blot on it?
I being the gentle iconoclast that I am, I hope it will be all right if I don't tag anyone with it.

CK thought it would be interesting to know:

1. If we are single or in a monogamous relationship?

Monogamous relationship.

2. How long we have been with our partner/significant other/boy/girlfriend?

Fourteen years as of June 9.

3. How we met?

We both lived in Orlando at the time and frequently visited the local pre-Internet BBS The Back Door. We happened to be in the same chat room and I looked up his profile. I thought he sounded interesting and sent him a private message. He sent me one in return and invited me into private chat. We chatted for an hour or so and then made plans to meet to see the movie Soapdish that Saturday at Disney's Pleasure Island. We must've seen the movie first, before having dinner at Jungle Jim's, because I remember waiting for him in front of the theater. He told me later that he was in his parked car scoping me out as I waited and that his initial assessment of me was "He's little and cute." I thought he was cute too in his pink polo shirt as he crossed the parking lot toward me.

4. What we like to do together?

Explore the leafier neighborhoods of L.A., especially West Hollywood. Try new restaurants that offer adventurous choices for him and whitebread choices for me. Have season tickets for the L.A. gay chorus concerts at the Alex. Watch CNN during dinner.

5. If we are single, what life with our ideal spouse/partner would look like?

I feel undeservedly fortunate that I'm not in this category. I actually don't do single well. And I haven't really spent much of my adult life as a single person, given my seven years with my ex-wife and my fourteen years with my partner. Undeservedly fortunate. And I don't know whom to thank. Random particles? The energy matrix that forms the particles? Anyway, thank you, universe, for allowing our particles to collide.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Connecting the dots...leads back to Clinton?

And now I learn that Enron is one of the dots. As the plot of this spellbinding novel of deadly international intrigue has unfolded from Rovegate back through the Downing Street Memo, I learned that John Bolton and even Jeff Gannon/Guckert are involved along with more familiar names like Rumsfeld, Miller and Libby. But the trail of dots doesn't stop at 10 Downing Street in 2002. It continues back from there through 1999 with Mickey Herskowitz's revelation that candidate Bush was looking forward to having the opportunity to invade Iraq if elected President.

But it also doesn't stop there. John Loftus, a former Justice Department prosecutor, wrote in an article on 31 May 2002:
In the early 1990’s, a []consortium of American oil companies (lead by Unocal) had hired []Enron to determine the profitability of building an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan.
Former Afghanistan CIA agent []Robert Baer has recently published a book charging that the cover-up of the 1990's pipeline negotiations [with the Taliban] revealed extensive financial corruption inside the []Clinton administration, and contributed to the lack of intelligence before 9/11.
Having now learned this, I'm surprised that the right isn't beating the drums about Clinton's coverup of the pipeline negotiations being solely responsible for 9/11 and the war in Iraq. However, the left does need to accept the fact that the Clinton administration shares part of the blame for allowing the situation to go on as long as it did. According to Loftus, "The Taliban negotiations temporarily collapsed in 1999 after Clinton reversed his NSC advisor's policy, and ordered a missile strike against terrorists in Afghanistan." But during the first month of the Bush presidency, Cheney "allegedly reinstated the []intelligence block and expanded it to effectively preclude any investigations whatsoever of Saudi-Taliban-Afghan oil connections."

And, as you can probably guess, it doesn't stop there. The dot that precedes Clinton is Bush Sr., who, according to Loftus (but with no supporting information, so caveat lector regarding Loftus), "was business partners in the Carlyle Group with the []Bin Laden family during this period." Loftus states that Bush Sr. "lectured" Bush Jr. that he should placate the Saudis. Loftus then writes that Bush Jr. ignored his father's advice

and secrtely ordered all American troops to begin a total withdrawal from Saudi Arabia. White House sources began a steady drumbeat of leaks about Saudi involvement with terrorism, and even authorized long-delayed raids on the Saudi charities in Virginia that served as a money laundry for terrorist operations against Israel.

Suddenly, President Bush made a sudden and startling switch to adopt a more pro-Saudi view. The []documents seized in the Virginia raids are barely being translated, let alone investigated.
A plausible explanation for the dramatic policy reversal is that someone (allegedly Cheney) told President Bush to call off the dogs at CIA and FBI, because if the Saudis went down, they would take his father down with them.
But it doesn't stop there. To follow the dots to their logical origin, we need to go all the way back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, when Carter had one year left in his term. According to Loftus:

[]Saudi intelligence (not the CIA as has been reported) funded the early Taliban faction and later []Al Qaida as part of the insurgency to throw the Russians out of Afghanistan. A few years afterwards, US energy companies (Enron, as the Afghan pipeline consultant for UNOCAL) used the Saudi intelligence connection to the Taliban to begin negotiations for a pipeline across Afghanistan.
It's doubtful that the negotiations with the Taliban had begun yet in the final year of the Carter presidency, and so the origin dot should be placed within the Reagan administration. An oil pipeline was dreamed up by American energy companies, and negotiations with the Taliban were subsequently covered up by the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations. Those negotiations finally collapsed in August 2001, precipitating the 9/11 attacks. offers a detailed timeline that begins on 1 December 1998 with Wolfowitz publishing an article stating that Saddam must be taken out.

Following is a sampling from the timeline.

On 16 December 2000, Powell states that "Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time."

In February 2001, the Bush administration suggests that replacements for Saddam be interviewed.

On 24 February 2001, Powell states that Saddam "has not developed a significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

On 11 September 2001, Rumsfeld is quoted as saying "[I want the] best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden]. ... Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

On 20 September 2001, Bush tells Blair "We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq."

In February 2002, Senator Bob Graham is told "We have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan. We are []moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq."

From June 2002 to March 2003, "Allies flew 21,736 sorties over southern Iraq, attacking 349 carefully selected targets."

In July 2002, "They get the []money [to prepare for the invasion of Iraq] from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved...Congress was totally in the dark on this."

23 July 2002: The Downing Street Minutes are written.

In September 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency reports "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

On 18 September 2002, Saddam offers to allow inspectors to return and Bush calls this "his latest ploy."

At the Doo-Dah Parade in Pasadena, California on 24 November 2002.

28 January 2003: The State of the Union Address includes "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

20 March 2003: U.S. forces invade Iraq.

On 30 March 2003, Rumsfeld pinpoints WMD in Tikrit and Baghdad in an ABC interview.

1 May 2003: "Mission Accomplished."

On 14 May 2003, Rumsfeld says "I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons."

On 6 July 2003, Wilson concludes "that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

11 July 2003: Rove's conversation with Cooper.

14 July 2003: Novak outs Plame.

16 September 2003: McClellan denies Rove involvement.

On 22 January 2004, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald presents a grand jury with evidence regarding the Plame leak.

6 October 2004: The Duelfer Report regarding WMD is published.

1 May 2005: The Downing Street Memo is leaked.

7 June 2005: Bush says "There is nothing farther from the truth. My conversation with the prime minister was, 'How can we do this peacefully?'" it turns out, if you connect the dots, you get a detailed picture of an oil pipeline crossing the arid terrain of Afghanistan. Suitable for framing. Free with any purchase, while supplies last.