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

despair and hope

I am sitting here, feeling completely down. Work is boring, and it is humiliating to have nothing useful to do. I am on staff for scout leader training this weekend, but it is clear that I am not part of the “core” team, and though my contributions are valued, I’m really not part of the main group. Personally I feel useless and unneeded. I continue to worry about my mother, as well as my brother’s family in Florida as they struggle to deal with my disturbed sister in law. In addition, I am never out of the cloud of despair over what is the state of my country. While we have the potential to be the greatest good on earth, we wallow in the paranoia and insecurities of an incompetent administration.

As I sit here, I am watching the end of a movie I have seen perhaps a dozen times, Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks. With it, I am forced to acknowledge not only the inner strength that we as Americans have to get us through troubles, but also the inner strength we as a country have, and the miracles that our grasp of technology can work.

While I am never not moved to tears by this film, for some reason this time it is almost uplifiting. In spite of my despairs, I am reminded that we have resources within us for ultimate good and success, and our technological superiority is an integral part of our resources, not a detraction from them. I’m sure no one who did not live through the Apollo 13 experience can understand the immediacy it has for me, and people of my age.

There is hope. NASA needs our support, for no other reason than to give a solid form to that hope.

Unprecedented Criminal Enterprise

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Republican National Committee launched a wide-ranging legal assault Wednesday on more than two dozen political groups working to defeat President Bush.

The committee says the groups are part of an “unprecedented criminal enterprise” to circumvent federal campaign laws and pour illegal soft money contributions into the 2004 race.

Wow. An “unprecedented criminal enterprise.”
I would have thought driving a country nearly to bankruptcy might be unprecedented, or lying in order to start a war that has so far cost 600 american soldiers their lives might be unprecedented, or giving sweet-heart deals worth billions to your own companies might be unprecedented, or bragging about your military experience after being AWOL might be unprecedented, or exposing a CIA operative under deep cover, and hence her contacts, because her husband criticized you might be unprecedented.

I guess what is unprecedented criminal behavior is having the temerity to object to those things.

Ungrateful Bastards

From CNN:

Four civilian U.S. contractors were killed in a grenade attack today in central Iraq, U.S. officials said. A cheering crowd in Fallujah pulled the charred bodies from burning vehicles and hung them from a Euphrates River bridge. At least one of the bodies was dragged through the streets, witnesses said.

Sure am glad 599 americans have given their lives to “liberate” Iraq. Don’t they realize how lucky they are to be occupied by the enlighted forces of the Great Satan?

I’ve got to stop reading the news for a few days.

Pat Buchanan

Remember Patrick Buchanan, that ultra-conservative who ran for the republican nomination for president twice? Surely he supports the President and his foreign policies.

umm, maybe not….

If the price weren’t so high for this country, this would almost all be funny.

This isn’t America

From an article in the NY Times:

Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, “This isn’t America; the government did not invent intelligence material nor exaggerate the description of the threat to justify their attack.”

So even in Israel, George Bush’s America has become a byword for deception and abuse of power.

I don’t make this stuff up, folks. For the rest of the editorial, click the “More Text” Link Below.


Condi’s Sex Life

So, Condoleezza Rice will testify under oath before the 9/11 commission. Perhaps they relented after the NY Times reported:

While there is precedent for the White House argument that incumbent national security advisers and other White House advisers should not be required to testify in public, constitutional scholars say that the position is based only on past practice, not law, and that presidents have repeatedly waived the privilege, especially at times of scandal or other intense political pressure.

Now if they will only ask her about her sex life, since for the prurient republican members of congress, those are the only lies that seem to concern them.

This and That

Had a great time on Saturday – Kitty and I went to see a play called “Wintertime” at the Wilma Theater, and then to dinner at Morimoto’s.

The play was by Charles Mee who is rapidly becoming my favorite current playwright (as though I know any at all…) and has been described as a “surreal romantic tragicomedy” which is about as close a description as you can get. Morimoto’s is the extremely upscale restaurant by one of the “Iron Chefs” of TV fame, and was perhaps the best restaurant meal I’ve ever had. (Warning, you’ve got to love Japanese cuisine with lots of raw or lightly cooked fish, but I do).

Sunday I was up at seven to meet the troop at a weekend campout. Unfortunately when I got there, they were off at a firehouse breakfast. That sounds like fun, but I was a little perturbed as it kind of defeated the purpose of the trip, which was to get everyone up to speed on camping skills. It also meant there was a lot of fresh food left over, paid for but not used. As a leader I don’t really approve, but I didn’t want to say anything at the time. After that, home, quick change, and off to the homebrew store, where we were swamped, very busy. Home, collapse, and watch Xavier lose, unfortunately.

On the national front, I see where the bush-league wants to declassify portions of Richard Clarke’s earlier testimoney before a congressional panel investigating the September 11 attacks in 2002 to prove he lied under oath. Fascinating. They are willing to hide behind executive privilege to keep Rice from testifying (and weren’t they blistering when Clinton tried to use that tactic?), but want to declassify other testimony for political gain. Even better is the response from Clarke. He told them fine, as long as you declassify all of it and not just a line here or there, and that that would prove he was not lying. I bet that shuts them up if they can’t just pick and chose a few sentences for political purposes. I find it amazing how the whitehouse attack machine can try to paint a 20 year veteran, known as a policy hawk, and who was extremely supportive of the current Bush’s father, as just a hack trying to cash in on a book.

Richard Clarke was a career member of the Senior Executive Service, having begun his federal service in 1973 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In other words, about the same time the current president was hiding out in Alabama, dodging his national guard service.

A big laugh

In the sidebar to the right is an updating counter of the dead and wounded from the illegal Iraq war. As I write this, it stands at 588 dead and 3355 wounded.

I wonder how many of their families feel, as President Bush obviously does, that after his administration hammered on these weapons as a justification for attacking Iraq, that not finding them is a big Yuck?

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza RiceDoes anyone but me find it interesting that Condoleezza Rice can spend hours attacking Richard Clarke, quoting reams of internal memos and emails to supposedly rebutt him, but can’t be bothered to testify herself before the 9/11 commission?

Richard Clarke was apparently respected enough to serve in four consecutive administrations, including the conservative Reagan and Bush I years. One explanation being put forward is that Clarke is just disgruntled because he was ignored, and Rice has said that he was not always “in the loop.” According to her official government biography Rice during that time:

In June 1999, she completed a six year tenure as Stanford University’s Provost, during which she was the institution’s chief budget and academic officer. … As professor of political science, Dr. Rice has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and has won two of the highest teaching honors — the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

In other words, despite a few stints as a special advisor for this or that, she was an academic. In fact, her specialty was arms control and Russian relations. Nothing against academics, but if you keep someone on staff with 20 or more years of practical experience wouldn’t you value and seek out their advice and input?

I guess having Chevron name an oil tanker after you can go to your head.

Why we invaded Iraq

From the interview with Richard Clarke on 60 minutes:

“The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

“I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.’

“He came back at me and said, “Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection.’ And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.”

Clarke continued, “It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, ‘Will you sign this report?’ They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer. … Do it again.’

Gee, no…. Don’t tell me the administration has been wrong and pig-headed about this! Who would believe that? Thanks to the republicans in the administration for 580+ american dead, on the order of $10,000 Iraqi dead, $108 billion spent on an illegal war, a world less safe that it was before the invasion, and the hopeless squandering of any american prestige in the world. And that’s the best thing they can find to campaign on. Well, at least they didn’t do anything serious, like lie about their sex lives.