Thursday, July 28, 2005

Judge Roberts' Latest Decision

The current administration was able to recently avoid the Geneva Convention in the case against a Mr. Hamdan, supposedly Osama Bin Laden's driver. From Bruce Shapiro at The Light of Reason:

Well, one day after being interviewed by President Bush, a Federal Appeals panel, three judges of which Judge Roberts was a member, handed down a unanimous decision—all three judges, by the way, Reagan-Bush appointees—permitting the tribunals to go forward, reinstating them, and in particular, invalidating those Geneva Convention protections, and saying, in fact, that the courts had no business reviewing this question of Geneva Convention status, that it was purely a matter for the Executive Branch.

Judge Roberts has already been very useful to the Bush Regime. Although we don't know much about John Roberts' meager judicial record, we can assume he will favor an unrestricted Executive Branch over the "quaint" Geneva Convention.

The Pentagon and the Scouts

Here's an amazing article about how the Pentagon has taken over funding for Scout Jamborees, apparently to circumvent any questions the ACLU might ask about their anti-gay stance.


More from Dubyasworld...

Cash Problem for Big Oil

Profits are up, couldn't you tell?

Exxon up 44% for the first quarter over last year.

Shell profits up 40% over last year.

Congress appears ready to pass another 8.5 billion dollar giveaway to the oil companies in the so-called Energy Bill.

Tom Delay has slipped in another 1.5 billion dollar benefit for Texas oil companies that our legislators weren't even allowed to see before a vote was to be taken.

Exxon executives are concerned that they could have too much cash on hand, perhaps 40 billion dollars by the end of the year.

Calculate your salary going up by 40%plus in one year; maybe then you could afford to buy gas.

More from Think Progress...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Albert Camus

From Albert Camus' Notebook, May 1935 :

Moment of adorable silence. But the song of the world rises and I, a prisoner chained deep in the cave, am filled with delight before I have time to desire. Eternity is here while I was waiting for it. Now I can speak. I do not know what I could wish for rather than this continued presence of self with self. What I want now is not happiness but awareness. One thinks one has cut oneself off from the world, but it is enough to see an olive tree upright in the golden dust, or beaches glistening in the morning sun, to feel this separation melt away. Thus with me. I became aware of the possibilities for which I am responsible. Every minute of life carries with it its miraculous value, and its face of eternal youth.

From Bartcop

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Outrageously Hypocritical Quote of the Day

This kind of statement would be bothersome, if we weren't getting so used to it that we practically expect this kind of lying attitude. From Ezra Klein :

"Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American dream, and that tax is growing every year." -George W. Bush

Why does he bother to say such things when we all know he has sold us all out to the oil companies and to his close personal friends like His Royal Highness, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (in Arabic: صاحب السمو الملكي الأمير بندر بن سلطان بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود)?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Cheney and Terrorism

The White House is attempting to block legislation that prohibits "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" of prisoners, called detainees ( a euphemism for "Can we detain you for the rest of your life without telling you or anyone else why?"). Legislators, including John McCain, have proposed several amendments to the current spending bill that would limit treatment to the current specifications in the Army manual. Our Vice-President is against this, saying that such restrictions would limit the President's authority to fight against terrorism. In Wapo:

One McCain amendment would set uniform standards for interrogating anyone detained by the Defense Department and would limit interrogation techniques to those listed in the Army field manual on interrogation, now being revised. Any changes to procedures would require the defense secretary to appear before Congress.

Apparently Cheney thinks "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" is not only acceptable, but a necessary tool in our war against terrorists. A Prisoner of War like McCain knows otherwise.

Judicial Activism

Roberts' nomination needs to be rejected because he makes an already conservative Supreme Court even more right wing. Even if the Repugs have the votes, Democrats need to unite and vote against him. Don't cave in to be nice. The Rehnquist Court has overturned dozens of U.S. Laws, more than many a named court. Progressives need to remember that the most activist decision of all time occurred when this court forced our country to accept Bush as president based on a bogus criterion of "Equal Protection". Though Republican thugs insist we forget about it, we won't until people like Rush Oxycontin desist from blaming Clinton for eveything they don't like that has happened in the last 15 years. That's not going to happen, is it ?

Monday, July 18, 2005

From uggabugga

Sunday, July 17, 2005

On the Outside Looking In

Upon returning to a computer during my summer vacation, I'd like to recommend a wonderful novel I recently read called Housekeeping.

Last month I wrote appreciatively about Marilynne Robinson's current novel, Gilead, which has won this year's Pulitzer Prize. Now I'd like to praise Ms. Robinson's only other novel, Housekeeping, which she brought out 20 years ago to become an instant classic exhibiting consummate artistry rarely seen in a first novel.

As in Gilead,a single character, Ruthie, tells of her life and her impressions of the world she sees. Ruthie, and to a lesser extent her younger sister Lucille, are detached from the world by their tragic family circumstances. The two sisters, who never knew their father, are orphaned when their mother drives off a cliff into the lake near their town of Fingerbone. The girls are passed from relative to relative until they end up with their spacy Aunt Sylvie, who curiously enough, often tells stories of people she has met on buses or trains. Ruthie repeatedly explains why she is an outsider, always feeling like a passerby looking into a brightly lit window at the people inside on a cold winter's night. Lucy manages to join into normal society, but Ruthie finds a compatriot in Sylvie and they end up drifting through the West together.

This is a rather short gem of a novel done with enormous heart and skill.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


At the same time the U.S. is negotiating with North Korea and Iran over nuclear weapons, we are expanding our nuclear arsenal. Of particular interest to the Bush Plan (under the aegis of the Department of Energy) are smaller nukes that can be pinpointed for more surgical use which also don't require testing. Nukewatch gives us the rundown and warns us about new developments:
    Perhaps even more sobering, there are growing indications that DOE and the weapons labs are working on completely new designs. These are likely to involve low-yield weapons ("mini-nukes" in the 5 kiloton or below range), which are inherently more dangerous because they are more likely to be used. There is now proposed Senate legislation that will require DOE to undertake mini-nuke research and development, a direction that has been legislatively barred since 1994. LANL Associate Director for Nuclear Weapons Steve Younger has argued that "reliance on high-yield strategic weapons could lead to 'self-deterrence.'" He has posed as a possibility the design and deployment of "a new set of nuclear weapons that do not require nuclear testing to be certified. Such weapons might be, but do not need be, based on simple gun-assembled uranium designs [like the Hiroshima bomb] that do not require a plutonium infrastructure......." Sandia National Laboratories Director Paul Robinson has publicly stated that the U.S. will someday need a mini-nuke.

It would seem that the current government wants others to do what they say, not what they do. We are the Good Guys, but we are also the only country to ever use nuclear weapons. We have learned that we really can't use the large megaton weapons without drawing a similar response. This is why it is so disturbing to see our leaders developing more "usable" weapons.

Monday, July 04, 2005

From Bartcop Today

Sunday, July 03, 2005

At War Against Science

Perhaps the most destructive trend in the current political culture is the anti-intellectual disparagement of scientific fact in favor of ideology to an extent unprecedented in memory. At times, the facts get in the way. Our government selectively looks at relevant scientific study, and, when the scientific findings disagree with the need for profit for big business, our current government ignores it, censors it or changes it. Whether it's simply understood at all levels that such censorship procedures are to be done, or is a directive from higher up, it's impossible to know for sure.

Though there exists substantial concern for the effects of global warming, the current political bureaucracy does not acknowledge it even exists (even when their own researchers admit to it). Similarly, pressure is applied by conservative religious groups to displace solid scientific method with judgments based on faith or guesswork, just as industry lobbies its view. How does an informed citizen separate the two?

For instance, Intelligent Design cannot be tested in a scientific way; it does not possess the scientific import of a theory. An adherent of ID can make a hypothesis, but they can't very well set up an experiment or make verifiable observations to prove their supposition. The strongest ID arguments are based on observations of complexity in Nature which suggest to some exponents plausible conclusions of Godly creation, but with no corroborating, rigorous experimental evidence. Even before Darwin, evolutionary scientists were measuring, examining, and verifying the evidence of our fossil record. This is not to say that ID might not be a possibility, but this is the best they can do, to suggest that this complex stucture must have been designed by higher powers. This is not Science; ID has no place in a Science classroom. In fact, proponents of ID tend to attack the scientists for their studies, claiming victimhood for their Christian beliefs. Of course, evolutionary theory does not conflict with ideas of God or spiritual values. Evolution does conflict with literal word-for-word interpretations of the Christian Bible like the creation story in Genesis. Such strict readings of the Bible would have us condoning slavery, as it does in the Book of Leviticus.

Recently, it was reported that administration "scientist" Phillip Cooney had left out or edited information in government studies on the relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming, just as he resigned to go to work for Exxon. So we are paying our tax dollars for an oil lobbyist to censor valid science in favor of elite industry, not the public good. Sidelight: Exxon has yet to pay a cent to Native American victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster. However, this company has paid $55 million (over the last six years) in political contributions, largely to Republicans. So we have a situation as we so often do in the current political climate where issues of profit are somehow tied to "moral", religious issues and overrule actual efforts to arrive at a true understanding of the science.

With all the lies and misrepresentations the public has been presented on the war and on social security, it's imperative to be skeptical. The American people deserve no less than proper Science.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

From Steve Bell in The Guardian