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

Random quotes that seem interesting at the moment.

No well-informed person has declared a change of opinion to be inconstancy. [Lat., Nemo doctus unquam mutationem consilii inconstantiam dixit esse.]
-Cicero, Epistoloe ad Atticum (bk. XVI, 8)
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do not plan for ventures before finishing what’s at hand.
– Euripides
Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.
- Bernard Berenson
And finally this one, which seems particularly appropriate as my 50th birthday approaches:
Magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life.
- Frances Cornford

Who would Al Qaeda prefer as president? Ask our allies….

From the UK Guardian:

The Foreign Office was thrown into turmoil yesterday after the British ambassador to Rome, Sir Ivor Roberts, described President George Bush as “the best recruiting sergeant ever for al-Qaida”.

His comment, made at a closed conference of about 100 British and Italian diplomats, politicians and journalists in Tuscany, was leaked to an Italian newspaper, provoking embarrassment in London.

According to one of those present, Sir Ivor had been taking part in a discussion on which candidate Europeans would back if they had a vote in the US election. The ambassador said they would vote for Mr Kerry but some people would want Mr Bush, not least al-Qaida.

“If anyone is ready to celebrate the eventual re-election of Bush, it’s al-Qaida. Whereas it is clear that the Palestinians hope that a Kerry victory will unblock the situation,” he said.

The Foreign Office, which warned before the war that Iraq could become a breeding ground for al-Qaida, did not deny yesterday that Sir Ivor made the remarks. “We are not making any comment other than the fact they do not represent government policy,” a spokesman said.

The Foreign Office is taking a soft line because Sir Ivor had not intended his comments to be made public and there was a breach of Chatham House rules, meaning the conference had been held on condition that all comments should be kept off the record.

Never, Ever, Ever listen to your hat!

“Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.”

–George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2004

It’s easy to forget

“There are people in this world who do not love their fellow man, And I HATE PEOPLE LIKE THAT!!!

- Tom Lehrer

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is sometimes easy to get caught up in the righteousness of a cause, or the passion of a political season, and forget what the root of your beliefs really are. If I truly believe that all humankind is valuable, that we all have “that of God” in us, then I must love everyone, including those with whom I dramatically disagree. Hatred only begets hatred, war only begets more war. While I resist that in my country and my leaders, I must also resist it in my own spirit.

“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

- Matthew 5:43-47

Justification for Iraq war

Isn’t the crux of the administration’s rationale for the war a tie between Iraq and the events of 9/11? Already disproven are the claims of weapons of mass destruction, the claims that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons, and the claims that Iraq somehow had other weapons which could threaten the United States.

An article on CNN today indicates that despite claims to the contrary, even the administration is now admitting there were no ties.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on “Meet the Press”

“We know that there had been connections and there had been exchanges between al Qaeda and the Saddam Hussein regime. And those have been pursued and looked at,” Powell said on the program.

“But I have seen nothing that makes a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and that awful regime, and what happened on 9/11.”

Dick Cheney said on Friday, “al Qaeda organization had a relationship with the Iraqis.” But last June said “we don’t know” whether Iraq was involved in 9/11.

In September 2003, Cheney said Iraq under Saddam had been “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”

But at the time President Bush said, “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 [attacks]. What the vice president said was that he has been involved with al Qaeda.”

“The independent, bipartisan panel that investigated the attacks released its final report July 22. The 9/11 commission found there were numerous contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but it said those contacts did not result in a “collaborative relationship.”"

Another quote from the article, this time from Kerry: “The president needs to answer the question: Who do you think is right? Vice President Cheney or Secretary Powell? And if it’s Secretary Powell, will you direct your vice president to stop misleading the American people?”

The Kerry statement continued: “On an issue of such importance, where U.S. troops are bearing nearly 90 percent of the burden, and American taxpayers are paying $200 billion and counting, the administration has an especially solemn obligation to conduct itself in an honest and straightforward way.

“Unfortunately, in its desperate attempts to reinvent a rationale for the Iraq war, this White House has repeatedly chosen to mislead the American people.”

Bush as world leader

Want to know what the world thinks of Bush’s leadership? A new poll among 35 countries, many of whom are our “allies” in Iraq, show what the world thinks of Bush, and whether they would prefer Kerry as president:

Country Kerry Bush
Norway: 74% 7%
Germany: 74% 10%
France: 64% 5%
Italy: 58% 14%
Spain: 45% 7%
UK: 47% 16%
Canada: 61% 16%
Mexico: 38% 18%
Brazil: 57% 14%
China: 52% 12%
Japan: 43% 32%
Indonesia: 57% 34%
India: 34% 33%

Too bad they can’t vote, they are clearly more perspicacious than the sheep in this country who believe anything they are told.

But Bush shouldn’t feel bad, the people in Nigeria and Poland prefered him (by slight margins)

My latest letter to the editor. I doubt it will be published.

Today the casualties in Iraq passed the 1000 mark. Given the current polls in the presidential race, I have a few observations, and one question.

First, the observations. To date 1005 American soldiers have given their lives in Iraq, believing they were fighting terrorism. This does not include the approximately 150 “Civilian Contractors” of the American government who have died, nor the in excess of 10,000 Iraqi’s who have died, nor the nearly 7000 American wounded, who have given limbs and more to this fight. In the time since we invaded Iraq nearly two years ago, we have found not one shred of evidence of the alleged weapons of mass destruction, not one bit of evidence that Iraq was in any way allied with Al Qaeda, not one shred of evidence that Iraq could threaten the United States in any way. While the Bush administration strives to tie the Iraqi War with the “War on Terrorism,” there is no demonstrated connection whatsoever between them. Americans have died, cheated not only of a life and future, but even of a meaningful death, and American world leadership has been lost, because we were mislead into a war we never should have entered. How do the Iraqi’s feel about this? Ask their olympic soccer team midfielder who commented on Bush: “How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes.”

President Bush will finish his first term with a net loss in US jobs, the first president to do so since the beginning of the Great Depression. The gain in jobs in the last month that they have trumpeted are not enough to keep up with population growth, let alone overcome previous losses.

The National Debt as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product has decreased under every president since Franklin Roosevelt with the exception Of Ronald Reagan, George Bush the first, and George the second. Under George W. Bush it surpasses 70%, the highest level since the Truman administration. It was approximately 30% under Carter.

Fiscal years 2003 and 2004 both set records for the highest national deficit in one year. In fact the deficits of 2003 and 2004 accounts for 10% of the national debt alone, and fiscal year 2005 promises to be included with the preceding two years as the highest three years of national debt in history. In 2003 the US government spent $61 billion on Education, $56 billion on transportation, $15 billion on NASA, and $318 billion on payments on the National Debt. With the deficits of 2003 – 2005, this percentage will only increase, saddling our next generation with crippling debt. Taxes haven’t been reduced, they have been transferred to our children.

In the last year, according to the Census Bureau: “The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 1.3 million last year… 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.”

Given these facts (not opinions, facts) I have a single question for those who support the reelection campaign of George W. Bush:

Are you insane?

Not only OB/GYN’s…

“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYN’s aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”

óGeorge W. Bush
Sept. 6, 2004, Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Contractor Casualties

A little publicized fact about the Iraqi war is that the 2nd largest contingent there is not the British, but actually the civilian contractors hired by the US government. Many of these are American, many are not. Some are cooks, cleaners, and so forth, some are “Security Personal”, or mercenaries.

Casualty figures for these civilian contractors are very difficult to find, the government for obvious reasons doesn’t publish them with the “official” US casualties. I have looked for this information for a while, and recently came across this page.

While incomplete, this shows 150 deaths among the contractors, of which about 45 are Americans. In perspective, our largest official ally, Great Britain, has had 65 fatalities.

I do wonder about the anguish of the families of these dead. While the death toll of the military personnel there is unconscionable, they at least get some recognition from the government, which just pretends that these deaths don’t exist.

What do budget deficits mean?

An interesting factoid I recently discovered, particularly relevent as we go into our third year of record national deficits:

In Fiscal Year 2003 the U. S. Government spent $318 Billion on interest payments to the holders of the National Debt.

In contrast, the government spent $15 Billion on Nasa, $56 Billion on the Department of Transportation, and $61 Billion on Education. And the much maligned National Endowment for the Arts? .115 Billion (115 million, less than 1/8th of a Billion)

The administration is not cutting taxes, despite what they would tell you. They are simply postponing them until the next generation of taxpayers. Essentially they are buying votes, spending the welfare of the children of those from whom they are buying the votes.