Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wishing Doesn't Make It So

One in a recent series of articles on the so-called Evolution - Creationism conflict in the NYT, this article really disturbs me. Here's the gist of it:

In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released yesterday found that nearly two-thirds of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.
The article goes on to detail how many of our deluded citizens think various things about creationism; all of which are too depressing to go into.

I've stayed mostly out of this "debate" because I get so angry that I can't be sure if I'll get my point across or, indeed, make any sense at all. But this most recent article has just been one too many. Here's my take: It doesn't matter what you want. There is no debate among real biologists: evolution is fact. None. Hell, I wish that Thermofluid Dynamics had been a little easier when I was in college; all of my classmates did. But that didn't make it so. In the same way, it doesn't matter to scientists what stupid people want or wish or believe. In science class, science should be taught. Not religion. And no matter how pretty a face the IDiots put on Intelligent Design or whatever the current euphemism is, it's still religion.


If we think that our schools are graduating a crop of morons now, just wait and see what happens to our technological standing in the world if these people have their way.

Now excuse me while I bang my head on my desk some more...


To see what other people are saying about this, start with Steve at the Yellow Doggerel and also read several entries at Americablog. You can also search the NYT (registration required) archives for their previous articles.

Monday, August 29, 2005

BushCo Allergic to the Truth

Last week it was the Justice Department statistician who dared to tell the truth about the differential treatment of minorities received during traffic stops. This week it's a contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers who raised questions about non-competitive bids awarded to Halliburton subsidiary KBR in Iraq. From the NYT:

A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.


Ms. Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.


Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said. Often she hand-wrote her concerns on the contract documents, a practice that corps leaders called unprofessional and confusing.
The lesson should be clear to everyone now; do not, under any circumstances, bring this administration news that doesn't conform to its predetermined world-view. It's a good way to get your head handed to you...

Friday, August 26, 2005

What's On Your Bookshelf?

The FBI wants to know.

BushCo. has repeatedly stated that it has never used the section of the USA Patriot Act to peek at what Americans are reading. But we all knew it would only be a matter of time.

Using its expanded power under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, the F.B.I. is demanding library records from a Connecticut institution as part of an intelligence investigation, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.

The demand is the first confirmed instance in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has used the law in this way, federal officials and the A.C.L.U. said. The government's power to demand access to library borrowing records and other material showing reading habits has been the single most divisive issue in the debate over whether Congress should extend key elements of the act after this year.
Not only was this request made without judicial review, as allowed by the Patriot Act, the "institution" served with this request (we're not even allowed to know whether this is a library or a book store) is not allowed to tell anyone that it happened.

The best thing we can do, other than making sure to voice your displeasure with such unconstitutional intrusions into our freedom of speech, is to make sure that your book shelf contains at least one copy of everything on the FBI's trigger list. Of course that list is also classified, so we'll have to guess. I'm thinking things like "The Anarchist Cookbook," but I'm sure my readers can come up with others. Leave your recommedations for the "FBI's Most Wanted Reading List" in the comments. I'll make sure to publish the list in a future post.

Failure at the CIA?

A report this morning on MSNBC states that the CIA's inspector general has recommended that current and former high-ranking officials at the agency be disciplined for failures leading up to 9/11. There are some doubts about whether Director Porter Goss will follow through with the recommendation.

In this case, I have to agree with Goss.

Here's the problem - not only will such a disciplinary undertaking target officials once and still popular within the CIA and not only will it pull people away from important work - but wasn't it the CIA who produced a memo, ignored by its intended audience titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside the United States?"

I think there are others who should be disciplined...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Innocent in GITMO

Everyone in BushCo. involved in GITMO, no matter how tangentially are war criminals. If you have any doubt, read this article on MSNBC (from the Washington Post).

Although our supposedly-democratic government admits that the men in this story are innocent, they have refused to tell them so for months on end, have refused them legal counsel for years, and finally have just refused to let them go. This little bit of the story only hints at the criminality involved:

In the meantime, the men are still treated as prisoners. Sabin P. Willett, a Boston lawyer who volunteered to take the cases of two Uighurs in March, finally met with them last month, after he and his team went through their own FBI clearances. One of the Uighurs was "chained to the floor" in a "box with no windows," Willett said in an Aug. 1 court hearing.

"You're not talking about your client?" asked Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington.

"I'm talking about my client," Willett said.

"He was chained to a floor?" Robertson asked again.

"He had a leg shackle that was chained to a bolt in the floor," Willett replied.
Remember, BushCo. has admitted - in court - that these men are innocent.

This is what our country has become. This is what BushCo. has made of us. Despite the protestations of the right the last time the comparison was made, our country, the "beacon of democracy" in the world, is running its own gulag.

This is a crime. Morally and legally.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Pat Robertson, so-called Christian, has gone off the deep end.

Okay, I know this guy's been a nut-case for years; but a televangelist calling for the assassination of a foreign head of state? It will be very interesting to see how BushCo. and the rest of Robertson's audience of mouth-breathers will react.

Really, Pat... what would your invisible sky fairy do?

Monday, August 22, 2005

You Don't Speak For Me!

The thing I find most galling - in a long, long list - about the chicken-hawks and their supporters in this mis-administration is their predilection to put words in my mouth (and the mouths of other veterans and service members). Those who were just too busy to serve in the armed forces of our country or who served under mysterious circumstances (yeah, I'm talking to you, W), have no moral stand whatsoever to say what actions might "dishonor" service members or veterans. They have no right to declare that one action or another would make our sacrifices be "in vain."

As an ex-soldier and a veteran, I can tell you that nothing dishonors a soldier more than to waste his time or to risk his life or the lives of his buddies for no good reason. Nothing could be more in vain than to give up life or limb in the prosecution of a war sold to the American people as a lie.

Listen up, all of you who support this continuing disaster in Iraq, unless you've served, unless you're a veteran, you have no idea what you are talking about. You have no right to make claims on our honor. Keep your goddamn words out of our mouths; we can speak for ourselves.

You do not speak for me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

We All Have Questions

I haven't blogged about Cindy Sheehan since so many others are doing such a great job of it. But two events conspired to get me to write this post. Last night's candlelight vigils around the country in support of Cindy and an e-mail that I got earlier this week.

The vigils held all around the US and in several countries around the world have only increased the public and media focus on all of the false reasons we were given for invading Iraq and the resulting mayhem and deaths of our soldiers. You can read about them here. Finally, perhaps, the press and the country are waking up to what's really going on in Iraq; sometimes it takes something to hit you in the heart rather than in the head.

The second event that inspired this post had to do with a friend I mentioned in an earlier post who had been killed in Iraq; Colonel Ted Westhusing. On Monday, I received an e-mail from Ted's oldest brother thanking me for the kind words I'd written in the above post and in a letter that was published on Eric Alterman's Altercation blog on MSNBC.

This was a wonderful gesture on the part of Ted's brother. It was also a harsh reminder that despite the lack of real sacrifice asked of the rest of us, there are many among us, not just the Cindy Sheehans who get on TV, that have lost something in this neocon misadventure. So as the right-wing spin machine begins its knee-jerk sliming of everyone involved in the vigils and as the amnesiac media moves on to the "next big story," we should all remember and mourn with the mothers, fathers, spouses and children - and big brothers - who have lost a loved one in a war of choice and a war of lies.

Cindy Sheehan is just one reminder of this; a reminder, it appears, that this country sorely needs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Thanks to Michael at Musing's Musings, I now know that the word I was looking for in yesterday's post was "Panglossian". Here's what the Merriam-Webster has to say about that word:

Main Entry: Pan·gloss·ian
Pronunciation: pan-'glä-sE-&n, pa[ng]-, -'glo-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Pangloss, optimistic tutor in Voltaire's Candide (1759)
: marked by the view that all is for the best in this best of possible worlds : excessively optimistic
It's no wonder I couldn't remember it, I hadn't read Candide since high school. Yet as soon as I saw the title I remembered it like it was yesterday. (Well, maybe more like the day before yesterday, it was nearly 30 years ago...)

And for a hint at a possible reason why BushCo's outlook remains so panglossian check out this post from Joseph's blog, Corpus Callosum.

It's no wonder these guys can't stop grinning like the cat that ate the bird...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's On the Tip of My Tongue...

What do you call someone who, despite all evidence to the contrary, continues to see things in only the rosiest of light? I know there's a word for that affliction...

While Bush remained on a monthlong vacation at his Texas ranch, he issued a statement saying, “I applaud the heroic efforts of Iraqi negotiators and appreciate their work to resolve remaining issues through continued negotiation and dialogue. Their efforts are a tribute to democracy and an example that difficult problems can be solved peacefully through debate, negotiation and compromise.”
If only I could remember that word!

Anyone out there got an idea?

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Scaling Back Expectations"

Why does BushCo. want our soldiers' sacrifices to be for nothing?

Eric Alterman at Altercation points out this on MSNBC's site (from the Washington Post):

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society where the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
"Never realistic..." haven't we read that somewhere before?

"Shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning." Really? An unreality that so many of us warned of at various times from the beginning right through to yesterday?

And all that stuff in the first paragraph; right after Weapons of Mass Distraction, wasn't all of that BushCo's primary excuse for starting this whole damned thing?

If the media - and more importantly - the American public lets these idiots get away with all of this: thousands of lives lost, the creation of more terrorists and billions in our money wasted, I swear my head is going to blow up. And then, finally, I'll be moving to Canada.

And then you red-state, republican-voting, bible-thumpin', intelligent-design-believing morons can all go screw yourselves.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Apple Season

It's actually still much too early here in upstate New York for any kind of apples. But I'm typing this on the sweetest looking Apple ever. If you haven't seen the new iMac you're in for a sweet treat:

That's the whole computer. All of it except the keyboard and mouse. It comes with built in wireless networking, Bluetooth and a CD and DVD burning Superdrive. Of course the entire suite of Apple's digital lifestyle programs comes with it as well: iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie HD, iDVD, GarageBand and lots of others. This means that, unlike most Windows machines, there's nothing else to buy to immediately begin creating amazing digital content. It's blazingly fast with a 2.0 GHz G5 processor and 1 GB of RAM. It was easy to set up and easy to work with and - like all Apples - beautifully designed.

The new operating system, OS X v10.4 is more beautiful than the machines it runs and makes Windows look and feel like an awkward kludge. It works. All the time, every time.

The combination is an absolute joy to work on.

Now I'll stop gloating.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Too Disgusted to Blog...

There's so much going on right now that disgusts me, worries me, angers me that I can't settle on a subject. So I thought I'd let someone else do the blogging for me. So here comes my first Liberal Coalition Blogabout in a long, long time...

Mustang Bobby at BBWW gets a little riled up over NARAL's ad taking probably future SCOTUS member John Roberts to task.

Over at Dohiyi Mir, NTodd's getting an early start on Friday Dog Blogging.

Liberty Street's Kathy decries the conditions in Baghdad - so bad that soon the entire professional class will have fled. To where is not clear, but who'll be running things when the last engineer heads for the hills?

Norbizness takes on Rumsfeld's September 11th March and Country Jamboree with his usual subtle and dry wit here.

Friday... Baby Blogging? Now Rivka at Respectful of Otters has gone too far, no?

And finally, Steve our resident Yellow Doggerel Democrat, tells it like it is about Cindy Sheehan's little camping adventure in Crawford, TX.
When you're done checking out these folks, doing the blogging so I don't have to, go through the rest of the blogs on the Liberal Coalition blogroll. You won't be disappointed. Honest.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings; Signing Off

Last night, succumbing to lung cancer, Peter Jennings died after a much too short fight.

You can read the details at ABC's site, but this was a guy who earned his news chops the hard way; despite an early appointment to the anchor desk. In the retrospective shown on ABC this morning, I recognized his reporting from all the major news events of my life. Most vividly, his was the calming voice and focused manner that I remember during the confusing and horrific days immediately after 9/11 in contrast to the shrill and sometimes ugly reporting at other networks.

It is a sad commentary on the times that the message boards at ABC are already being peppered with comments from people you just know were sent there by right-wing bloggers and followers of that "network which must not be named." They are repeating the lie of a liberal bias in the news while damning him for his idealism, his reporting and his Canadian background.

If you enjoyed his reporting or you care at all about common human decency, if you value the independent voices of the news networks, already mostly gone, leave your message of condolences to the ABC family and help to balance the shrill voices of the right.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I wonder if the word even has any meanings for our Congress members. Given recent events, I'd have to say, "no."

A couple of days ago they put off deliberation on the Defense Authorization Bill so that they could give the NRA a pre-summer gift of legal immunity. And now this:

The leaders of a Congressional panel wrote to Major League Baseball yesterday to ask for a broad set of records related to Rafael Palmeiro's steroids suspension.


...the Congressional committee wanted to determine whether Palmeiro might have committed perjury when he testified that he had never used steroids.
Nevermind that Bush and numerous other administration members lied to Congress, the public, the UN and the world about Iraq. Nevermind that those lies resulted in a war that has killed over 1,800 soldiers and uncounted thousands of Iraqis.

Nope. Pay all of that no mind.

We're talking important stuff here... You know; a grown man, playing a kids' game, for millions of dollars, who just might have taken steroids.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What's Another Thousand?

Twenty today, seven yesterday; the count is now about 1,815.

If you're like most Americans, which you're not because you're reading this, you might not know what those numbers above refer to. The few of us who are really paying attention know that the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq is too rapidly approaching 2,000.

As in wars past, those who die are predominantly young; for argument's sake let's say that these soldiers averaged 20 years old. When today's average 20 year-old can look forward to living to at least 85, that's 65 years gone in an instant. 130,000 combined years of experiences never to be known; love never found, adventures never had.

With so few people having a stake in what goes on in Iraq, especially those counseling us all to "stay the course," it's no wonder that the loss of those fine soldiers elicits so little reaction. Hundreds of hours of television and radio time were taken up this week discussing the small lies and the even smaller consequences of a baseball player who claims never to have "knowingly" taken steroids. The loss of 1,815 lives merits only a mention in the headlines.

"Bread and circuses," my friends... and our own Nero fiddles, blind to the flames around him.