Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Now 981 American soldiers dead, six times as many as before “Mission Accomplished.”

Still no WMD

Still no sign Iraq was working with Al Qaeda

And, sadly, about 50% of the population seems to think this is a good thing.

The past is prologue

Actual picture from the 1969 Yale Yearbook (including caption):

sucker punch

For an interesting discussion of what this says about the character of president, see here.

Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Census data, as reported by CNN/Money:

Survey: More Americans in poverty

Census Bureau report says 1.3 million slipped below benchmark; health care coverage also declines.
August 26, 2004: 11:04 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 1.3 million last year as household incomes held steady, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

The percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.5 percent from 12.1 percent — as the poverty rate among children jumped to its highest level in 10 years. The rate for adults 18-to-64 and 65 and older remained steady.

The bureau also said that the share of aggregate income for the lowest 20 percent of Americans fell to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

According to The money spent so far in Iraq (ignoring the thousands of lives) could have funded health insurance for 55 million kids for a year, or funded 1.9 million public housing units. Of course, Halliburton probably wouldn’t have gotten those contracts.

A Quiz from the ‘New Yorker’ Magazine

From New Yorker:

The Thirteenth Hundred Days
by Paul Slansky
Issue of 2004-08-30
Posted 2004-08-23

1. Three of these statements were made by George W. Bush. Which one was made by Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)?

(a) “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

(b) “Tribal sovereignty means that it’s sovereign. You’re a—you’ve been given sovereignty and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity.”

(c) “Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country, and we will help them rid Iraq of these killers.”

(d) “Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security—standing up and defending marriage?”

Who’s who?

2. Alberto Gonzales.
3. Tony Robinson.
4. Steven Galson.
5. Thomas B. Griffith.
6. Devon Largio.
7. Terry Holt.

(a) The Bush federal-appeals-court nominee who practiced law in Utah for four years without a state license.

(b) The college student whose honors thesis found that the Bush Administration offered twenty-three different rationales for the Iraq war.

(c) The federal drug official who rejected the 23-4 recommendation of an advisory panel and refused to allow a morning-after birth-control pill to be sold over the counter.

(d) The former Army interrogation instructor who said of the Abu Ghraib prison photographs, “Frat hazing is worse than this.”

(e) The author of the 2002 memo to George W. Bush which said that the war on terrorism “renders quaint” certain provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

(f) The Bush campaign official who referred to stem-cell researchers who oppose restrictions on their work as “mad scientists out of control.”

8. Complete George W. Bush’s statement: “The reason ______________.”

(a) I can’t stop saying ‘the American people are safer’ [is] because the American people are safer

(b) I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda

(c) people all over the world think the United States government authorized torture [is] because the United States government did authorize torture

(d) Jenna stuck her tongue out at those reporters [is] those reporters deserved to have their tongues stuck out at

9. What caused Dick Cheney to say to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), “Fuck yourself”?

(a) Leahy had said, “So, Dick, you didn’t think you needed to check with the boss before ordering planes full of civilians to be shot down?”

(b) Leahy had made a comment comparing Cheney’s “quintuple-deferment war record” with John Kerry’s heroics.

(c) Leahy had pointed out how many no-bid contracts had gone to Halliburton.

(d) Leahy had said, “Cheney’s turned into a James Bond villain.”

10. Three of these statements describe Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Which one describes his boss, Donald Rumsfeld?

(a) He publicly understated the number of deaths of United States soldiers in Iraq by more than two hundred at a congressional hearing.

(b) He scoffed at the notion that prisoners’“quality of life” was compromised at Abu Ghraib, saying, “Whether they have a PX or a good restaurant is not the issue.”

(c) He told a House committee hearing that so many negative stories are coming out of Iraq because reporters are “afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors.”

(d) He conceded, after a good deal of questioning by a Senate committee, that putting a bag over someone’s head for seventy-two hours was “not humane.”

11. In May, the White House announced that George W. Bush would deliver five weekly speeches intended to shore up support for his Iraq policies. How many of the five did he deliver before abandoning the effort?

(a) One. (c) Three.
(b) Two. (d) Four.

12. Which statement did Ron Reagan not make?

(a) “Dad . . . never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians: wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.”

(b) “My father didn’t know George W. Bush from Adam.”

(c) “Cheney brought my mother up to the casket . . . she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don’t think he’s a mindful human being.”

(d) “My father wouldn’t have had to prove how macho he was by waving around Saddam’s gun.”

13. Where was the Cheney rally at which people were refused admission unless they signed this statement: “I, (full name) . . . do herby [sic] endorse George W. Bush for re-election of the United States”?

(a) Missouri. (c) Nevada.
(b) Michigan. (d) New Mexico.

14. How did George W. Bush pronounce the name of Abu Ghraib prison, the site of the abuses that he claimed to have been “disgusted of” and “disgraced about”?

(a) “Abugah-rayp.”
(b) “Abu-gareff.”
(c) “Abu-garon” and “Abu-garah.”
(d) All of the above.


(1) d, (2) e, (3) d, (4) c, (5) a, (6) b, (7) f, (8) b, (9) c, (10) b, (11) a, (12) d, (13) d, (14) d.

When you think they can’t sink any lower….

Face it. Kerry was right, Bush and his minions are using the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” as a front group:

From CNN:

A lawyer for President Bush’s re-election campaign disclosed Tuesday that he has been providing legal advice for a veterans group that is challenging Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s account of his Vietnam War service.

Benjamin Ginsberg’s acknowledgment marks the second time in days that an individual associated with the Bush-Cheney campaign has been connected to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which Kerry accuses of being a front for the Republican incumbent’s re-election effort.

So. There is a direct link between the Bush campaign and the group which is desperate to contradict their earlier statements, and their own citations, to lie about Kerry. These are the same people who questioned McCain’s service, and most abhorrently, Max Cleland’s who gave three limbs to the service of his country while Bush was getting drunk and Cheney had “other priorities.”

There used to be principled Republicans. It appears they have disappeared from the national party, leaving nothing but pond scum, leaving a trail of stink and corruption everywhere they go.

I’m disgusted. Can you tell?

Bush and Sports

Wow. What a fun day for news….

From Sports Illustrated:

PATRAS, Greece — Iraqi midfielder Salih Sadir scored a goal here on Wednesday night, setting off a rousing celebration among the 1,500 Iraqi soccer supporters at Pampeloponnisiako Stadium. Though Iraq — the surprise team of the Olympics — would lose to Morocco 2-1, it hardly mattered as the Iraqis won Group D with a 2-1 record and now face Australia in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Afterward, Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, “At this Olympics there will be two more free nations — and two fewer terrorist regimes.”

“Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign,” Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. “He can find another way to advertise himself.”

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush’s TV advertisement. “How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?” Manajid told me. “He has committed so many crimes.”

Guess these weren’t the guys waving flags and throwing flowers as we “liberated” Iraq.

Recollections of War

It seems one of the “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” who claim Kerry did not actually come under enemy fire for his medal, Larry Thurlow, in fact received a Bronze star for the self-same engagement. Apparently in the 35 years or so since, he never bothered to read the citation for the award he received.

“Despite enemy bullets flying around him, he leaped aboard the damaged boat…” “He quickly radioed for medical evacuation of the wounded and, while still under fire, with complete disregard for his personal safety, …” Gosh, that’s a pretty impressive stuff! How humble can you get to not read that any time in the last 3 1/2 decades? I guess now that he has, he’ll be turning the award back to the government, since it never really happened.

And isn’t it amazing that so many different people claim to have seen and have opinions on John Kerry’s service, but we still can’t find a single person who actually saw George W. Bush show up for his ANG duty in Alabama?

What goes around, comes around

From Reuters:

In a marked escalation of a war of words between Iran and its arch-enemies Israel and the US, Tehran has for the first time threatened a preemptive strike against US troops in the region.

“We will not sit [with arms folded] to wait for what others will do to us,” Iran’s defence minister, Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV yesterday when asked if Iran would respond to a US attack on its nuclear facilities.

“Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly.”

If we can strike someone pre-emptively, in violation of established international law, we can only expect others, who view us as hostile, to take exception to the hundreds of thousands of troops we have bordering them, and consider the same option.

Madness, at all levels, and from all parties. What can of worms have we opened?

Beware. Religious content

I am going to allow myself a brief foray into a discussion of religion. If you feel this may offend you, read no further.

I read today on on CNN :

“BRIELLE, New Jersey (AP) — An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.

Church doctrine holds that Communion wafers, like the bread served at the Last Supper, must have at least some unleavened wheat. Church leaders are reluctant to change anything about the sacrament.”

Now, some of the greatest thinkers in the last 2000 years have been catholic, not only in the field of theology, but in science, politics, arts, and everything else. I have tremendous respect for the Jesuit scholars who taught me in graduate school at Fordham. Doesn’t the above, though, indicate a religion turned upside down, where the forms of the ritual “magic” completely override the inward spiritual truth?

Even the catholic church defines a sacrament as an outward expression of an inward reality. Since when did the form of the ritual become important enough to jeopardize the health, and potentially the life, of a person undergoing the ritual magic? I am truly disgusted that any religious body would take a stand like this.

In this morning’s paper, I read a “vent” where another catholic took exception with the statement that someone made about a pilgrimage that they “adore” Mary the mother of Jesus. They don’t “adore”, she said, they love her and pray for her intervention with her son. That seems like splitting hairs, to me. More importantly, praying for help to dead people who are not God seems simply like ancestor worship, no matter how you define it.

It troubles me greatly that those who call themselves Christian can wrap themselves in so many rituals, traditions, and beliefs that Christ never espoused, and ignore the simple lessons He taught. What is the greatest commandment? “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind” “And a second is like it: You shall love your Neighbor like yourself.” (Mat 22:36-40). How many people, not only catholic but in any denomination, will happily take communion, but still sanction the killing of thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis in an unnecessary war? How does that fulfill the commandment to love your neighbor? How would the prophet of Isaiah 1:10-17 feel about the question of wheat in wafer, or the murder of Iraqis?

There is an old joke: “I belong to no organized religion, I am a Quaker.” I am grateful for discovering the Quakers, and realizing that it is possible to fulfill those two commandments without special magic, or worship of a book, or ancestors, in place of God.

Bush Memorial Liberry

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

In anticipation of the day when George W. Bush is no longer in office, it is perhaps appropriate to give some thought to the prospect of a George W. Bush Presidential Library. The concept may seem oxymoronic to some. After all, how do we go about building a library for a man who appears so proud of his alienation from printed matter? He boasts of not reading newspapers, and there is little to be found in any of his public statements to suggest a familiarity with any book whatsoever. The thought of our current president reading, say, Shakespeare, defies imagining. It is difficult to think of him reading Danielle Steele, or John Grisham, let alone the Bard of Avon.

But if the Bush presidency has been about anything, it’s been about breaking free of the fetters of the traditional past. It was the Bush presidency, after all, that did away with the fussy old notion about the U.S. not engaging in unilateral acts of first-strike aggression against sovereign nations. It was George Bush, after all, who redefined a “conservative” as someone who believed in enormous deficits. And it was the Bush administration that accelerated the separation of language from action by constantly saying one thing while meaning another; i.e. “Clear Skies” initiatives, and “No Child Left Behind.”

Given all that, it may turn out that the George W. Bush Presidential Library (or, perhaps, “Liberry”) will be equally surprising in the ways it breaks with tradition, and with meaning.

But one tradition that probably won’t be broken is the time-honored practice of commemorating presidential bon mots by chiseling them in marble. Immortal ideas expressed in the president’s own immortal language.

Consider what might be chiseled in stone over the door to the education wing of the Bush Liberry, for instance. “Is Our Children Learning?” would make a most fitting presidential quote emblazoned above the portal to the Bush Hall of Lurning, a monument to the Bush administration’s heroic struggle to “leave no child behind.” Or, if a more timeless quality is required for future visitors to the Bush Liberry, the president’s observation from Jan. 23, 2004, might suffice: “The illiteracy level of our children are appalling.”

The wing of the Bush Liberry dedicated to the administration’s contributions to the space program could be entered by passing under the motto: “Astronauts … courageous spacial entrepreneurs.”

Heading west from the Space Wing of the Bush Liberry, visitors may find themselves approaching the Compassion Wing. What words would better express the President’s compassionate nature than these?: “There’s only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I’ve got an additional responsibility to hug and that’s me and I know what it’s like.”

Beyond compassion, history will want to record the visionary and far- sighted energy policy the administration promoted. Over the entry-way to the Energy Wing of the Liberry, we might find the following Bush words: “We need an energy bill that encourages consumption.”

In the wing devoted to Bush’s bold statesmanship, the visitor may well find these words, spoken about Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the war with Iraq: ” … you disarm, or we will.”

Over the archway to the Hall of Labor, we may find these Bush words: “We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work.” A fitting commemoration of the administration’s tireless efforts on behalf of America’s work force.

In the wing of the Liberry devoted to Bush, the partisan warrior, future visitors might find the following timeless words, uttered in an attempt to fight back the nefarious work of the Democrats: “They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it’s some kind of federal program.”

There is certain to be a wing of the Liberry devoted to George Bush, the dreamer.

That wing could be introduced with these words: ” … America — a literate country and a hopefuller country.” Or, in that same vein, try to imagine these words set in stone: ” My job is to, like, think beyond the immediate.” What could be more visionary?

At this point in time, the George W. Bush Presidential Liberry exists only in the imagination, but it won’t be long before such a place becomes a reality. Future visitors are, however, encouraged to bring their own books.

And crayons.

Jaime O’Neill teaches English at Butte Community College near Oroville.