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

Justice

Is it right that a 76 year old woman who has worked pretty much all her life should have to worry about paying for maintenance medications?

Let’s ignore, for the moment, that this particular woman alleges that the meager amount of money she had reserved for this was taken from her by a care-giver to help pay for a vacation. There are lots of kinds of abuse in the world, but financial and emotional abuse of the elderly is one of the most egregious.

Let’s ignore also, for the moment, the fraud perpetrated by the Bush Administration by the so-called prescription drug benefits and cards, which actually raised the cost of medication for the elderly, to the benefit of the drug and insurance companies.

I will assume that the medical costs of this woman are $400/month. I hope that that is excessive, but with multiple medications I’m afraid it’s not. That works out to $4800/year. With the cost of an illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq now topping 164 billion dollars, this means that if that money had been spent differently, in excess of 34 million elderly with similar expenses could have been relieved of the financial burden of paying outrageous drug costs.

One person stealing the money from one elderly woman is egregious. The priorities and policies of the Bush Administration are crimes of enormous proportion.


If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention

Misplaced Priorities

tax chart

Quotes from John Bolton, Bush nominee as Ambassador to the UN

“There is no such thing as the United Nations … There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interests and we can get others to go along. And I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it is some disembodied entity out there that can function on its own.”\ -Global Structures Convocation, Feb. 3 1994.

“The (United Nations) secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”\ -Global Structures Convocation, 1994.

Sounds like a guy who can really relate to the concerns of the 191 member states represented in the UN, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, it’s a pretty clever strategy for the administration where each appointment is more egregious than the last. Who can worry about Wolfowicz at the World Bank, with Bolton at the UN to deal with?

More proof that the lunatics are running the asylum

Even here in Pennsylvania the creationists are making progress getting their religious beliefs taught in the public schools.

It is interesting that in a survey of life scientists (those actually involved in studying the process of life) 99.85% of them rejected strict creationism.

That’s right, a whopping .15% of people who actually know anything about life on earth would buy that the world was created about 10,000 years ago, in it’s present form. To put this in perspective, the rate of Schizophrenia in the general population is about .81%, or more than a 5 times greater rate than scientists who buy the creationist hogwash.

Even most of the lunatics won’t buy it.

I guess the ones who do are on the school board in Dover.

Proof the lunatics are running the asylum.

The idiots who make up the majority in Congress continue to astound, not only with their abrogation of the traditional values of the republican party such as reduced spending and non-interference of the federal government with the individuals and states, but also with their callous disregard for the rule of law itself. Bad enough that Tom DeLay is the hypocrite he is. His fellow Texas Republican John Cornyn actually stated in Congress that the murder of judges can be explained by exhasperation with their rulings.

From the New York Times:
\It was appalling when the House majority leader threatened political retribution against judges who did not toe his extremist political line. But when a second important Republican stands up and excuses murderous violence against judges as an understandable reaction to their decisions, then it is time to get really scared.

It happened on Monday, in a moment that was horrifying even by the rock-bottom standards of the campaign that Republican zealots are conducting against the nation’s judiciary. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, rose in the chamber and dared to argue that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who “are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.” The frustration “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in” violence, said Mr. Cornyn, a former member of the Texas Supreme Court who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which supposedly protects the Constitution and its guarantee of an independent judiciary.

Listeners could only cringe at the events behind Mr. Cornyn’s fulminating: an Atlanta judge was murdered in his courtroom by a career criminal who wanted only to shoot his way out of a trial, and a Chicago judge’s mother and husband were executed by a deranged man who was furious that she had dismissed a wild lawsuit. It was sickening that an elected official would publicly offer these sociopaths as examples of any democratic value, let alone as holders of legitimate concerns about the judiciary. \

So. John Cornyn and Tom DeLay have proved that they not only do not have the understanding of the basic checks and balances in our constitution that would be taught in any middle-school civics class, they will excuse threats and physical violence in the place of the rule of law, if it will advance their own political careers.

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention

Finally

Well. I was beginning to feel slighted and ignored: worried that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was not recognized for our contributions to the republican moral and ethical superiority in Washington.

Not to worry, though. Our own Rick Santorum has finally been recognized as the GOP Hypocrite of the Week. My only question is what took them so long?

The Schiavo Tragedy

Terri Schiavo will finally die in the next few days. One can argue, as I might, that she died 15 years ago, and the subsequent efforts to preserve what is left of her life are futile, heartbreaking, and false hope to her family.

Given all that, one can only feel the greatest of pity for her family. They cling to a vain hope that she could somehow be rehabilitated, fed to a large extent by support from bad doctors and others who would use their tragedy to promote their beliefs, or professional, or medical, standing. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a child die. Worse yet, what it would be like to be fed false hope for a decade and a half, and come to believe that hope existed, where in reality there is none. It is my fervent prayer that the family of Terri, and those who have identified with them, will find peace when this finally completes with the death of Terri’s body, fifteen years after the death of her mind.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be more horrific to me than those who would use the extreme grief of the Schindlers for gain, professional, financial, or political.

I __loath__ the attempts by the leaders of the republican party to use the grief of the Schindlers for political benefit. Given the current news, one would think these leaders were adamantly opposed to allowing a terminally ill patient to die, that Life, above all else, was paramount to them.

President Bush flew back to Washington specifically to sign legislation to allow the federal government to exercise an interest in the Schiavo case. Regardless of traditional republican values of non-interference in state issues, and the abhorence of federal power and interference, perhaps Mr. Bush has a strong personal belief in the sanctity of life and opposes allowing anyone to die. Unfortunately, a law he promoted and signed as governor of Texas allows someone to be taken off life support at the decision of the doctors, ignoring the wishes of the family. This law has quietly led to many cases of terminally ill being allowed to die, or to be cared for solely at the family’s expense.

That paragon of virtue and righteousness, Tom DeLay, who is desperate to deflect inspection of his numerous ethcial issues, has led the fight to have Congress intervene in the Schiavo case. Again, perhaps his principles demand support of human life in all cases. That would be admirable, except in 1988 he chose to have his own father taken off life support. One could only sympathize with the agony he went through. How he must have suffered with that decision. Imagine the agony he would have been in if the 1988 congress had chosen to interfere in his decision for political gain.

The hypocrisy of the Republican leadership has been astounding over the last four years. Now that they are actually interfering with the tragic, personal, decisions real families are forced to make constantly, perhaps the mindless sheep who voted them into office will see the what their stupidity has wraught.

If you are not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

Propaganda

From the Washington Post:
\The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government’s role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories — designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing — violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.\

Now, the administration has spent $254 million to produce “news stories” that can be run on TV. (essentially equivalent to the $300 million promised for Tsunami relief. Priorities?). These include actors posing as reporters, and are indistiguishable from actual, independent, news stories. If these are __not__ propaganda pieces, then why pretend that they are actual news stories? It is apparently not enough that conservative commentators are on the government payroll without disclosing it. Now we need to use the real news services to promote the government’s position, at taxpayer’s expense.

If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.

Death Toll

The US Military death toll in Iraq just hit 1500. This does not include the approximately 200 “Contractors” killed, some legitimate, some simply mercenaries, the 172 coalition soldier deaths, the 10000 or so crippled US soldiers or the approximately 100,000 dead Iraqi’s due to this war.

Dollars spent: $157,000,000,000
Ties to 9/11: 0
Ties to Al Qaeda discovered: 0
Weapons of Mass Destruction Found: 0

Let me put this simply:

If you voted for Bush, you are an Accessory to Murder.

Characteristics of Fascism

**The 14 Characteristics of Fascism**
by Lawrence Britt
Spring 2003
Free Inquiry magazine

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

**1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism**
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

**2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights**
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

**3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause**
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

**4. Supremacy of the Military**
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

**5. Rampant Sexism**
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

**6. Controlled Mass Media**
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

**7. Obsession with National Security**
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

**8. Religion and Government are Intertwined**
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

**9. Corporate Power is Protected**
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

**10. Labor Power is Suppressed**
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

**11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts**
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

**12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment**
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

**13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption**
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

**14. Fraudulent Elections**
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Copyright 2003 Free Inquiry magazine
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.