Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin?

On his 72nd birthday, the third anniversary of Katrina, John McCain has announced Sarah Palin as his running mate for the 2008 election. Gov. Palin of Alaska, currently being investigated on ethics charges, wants creationism taught in schools, opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and supports drilling in ANWR.

Is McCain trying to throw the election? Or was Palin selected only to take the spotlight off Obama as everyone tries to figure out who she is? Will she soon step aside for the "real" VP candidate. She seems a stunningly bad choice designed primarily to take heat. Will she last as the veep choice through the GOP convention?

The only rational reason to choose Palin is as a distraction. Using only that criterion perhaps she is a good choice for the Repugnicans. Unless McCain distracts voters from the issues, this race is already over.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Forget About McCain

Forget about the busload of lobbyists on the DoubleSpeak Express. Forget about the economic troubles that are all in our minds according to his chief economic advisor. Forget about voting with Bush 95 % of the time. Forget a pro-war mentality that leads him to joke about "Bombing Iran." Forget leaving his first wife because she was disfigured in a car accident after she waited all those years for him. Forget that he left her for a younger, mid-life crisis trophy heiress. Forget the ginning up of the conflict in Georgia. Forget his advisor who is a lobbyist for Georgia. Forget that he doesn't know a Sunni from a Shi'ite.

Forget the flip-flops. Forget the $500 shoes. Forget that he seems to endorse a draft. Forget that he has urged a "surge" at home in law enforcement that would effectively declare martial law. Forget that he doesn't know how many houses he owns (the answer of course is zero. Cindy owns them all).

Forget that McCain will be 72 at time of inauguration. Forget that he seems out of touch with the modern world.

Forget that he thinks Czechoslovakia still exists. Forget that he doesn't know how to email without assistance and that he hopes to learn how to click the Internet icon any day now. Forget that McCain admits he doesn't know very much about the economy. Forget his energy policy firmly rooted in the last century. Forget that his health care solution is to do nothing at all.

Forget being concerned that his time as a POW will manifest as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the worst possible moment. Forget his noun-verb-POW response to my last statement. Forget the temper he is known to unleash.

You'd have to forget all these things to vote for McCain. Remember them all and forget about McCain.

Ridiculous Rogge

Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) criticized Usain Bolt of Jamaica for celebrating his victory in the 200 meters. His complaint seemed to be that Bolt celebrated in a manner too extreme. What?

First, let's address the substance of the remark. Bolt engaged in no more celebration than many other athletes at the games. There have been greater celebrations in preliminaries than the actions in question. My experience of the celebration was that Bolt was exuberant and taking in the whole experience of the Olympics. Second, it was a big deal. He had a right to celebrate. Given the adrenalin rush he must have been experiencing it is difficult to see how he could have been subdued. Finally, the celebration was good for the Olympics. To see an athlete not so completely jaded that he could be joyous and unguarded before the world was good for sports.

Usain Bolt appears to be a genuine human being with a warm glow in his heart. Jacques Rogge is absurd and ridiculous.

Kudos for the Coquille

The Coquille Tribe of Oregon has passed legislation recognizing same-sex marriage. As a sovereign nation the Coquille have joined the list of nations and states that recognize the fundamental right of ALL people to be treated equally.

As far as I am aware, the Coquille are the first Native American tribe to recognize same-sex marriage. I doubt that they will be the last. Although the Navajo and the Cherokee, the two largest tribes in the U.S., have laws against same-sex marriage, and same-sex marriage is not widely accepted among Native Americans, I predict that many tribes will follow the Coquille.

Discrimination is discrimination, no matter who is the victim. A history of genocide and cultural annihilation sensitize one to unequal treatment. It must be recognized that the right to be treated equally extends to everyone. You don't have to agree with someone or even like what they do or who they are to recognize that everyone has a right to equality.

Kudos to the Coquille.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dreyfus in Guantanamo

The Dreyfus Affair, in which a young French military officer of Jewish descent named Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason, still stands as a marker of the danger in accepting government proof as absolute in a political trial. Conviction largely centered around fabricated documents produced by military counter-intelligence. However, due to public outcry and later re-examination of the evidence, Alfred Dreyfus was acquitted.

Lucky for Dreyfus that he was in France in the 1890's rather than a prisoner of America during the early part of the 21st century. Prisoners held by America in Guantanamo have no expectation that there is any possibility that a miscarriage of justice will be overturned. Even the defendants attorneys are not allowed to see all of the evidence against them. How can any possible trial be fair under these conditions.?

Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, has just received a split verdict in his trial at Guantanamo. Even with secret testimony, coerced evidence and a trial where even full acquittal would have resulted in his continued imprisonment was labeled a "fair trial" by White House Spokesman Tony Fratto.

The FBI now assures us that Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax attacks. Of course, they were also pretty sure when they closed in on his colleague Mark Hatfill. Most of the condemnation of Ivins seem to rely on the idea that he was mentally unstable. If so, why was a man this unstable given access and permitted to work with biological agents?

As I write this, it was just reported on MSNBC at approximately 9:40 am that a woman believed to be assisting al-Qaeda has just been taken into custody and is being brought to the U.S. Her family denies she has any connection to terrorism. Will we ever see the evidence?

France had the one Dreyfus. With have at least three good contenders at the moment and that's if we don't count the hundreds of others held in Guantanamo or spirited around the world in our secret prisons. History condemned France for the Dreyfus Affair. What will history say of this period in American history?

How much longer will we let our country commit atrocities and ignore our own laws and Constitution? As the Dreyfus Affair illustrates, subverting your own values serves no purpose other than gaining a badge of humiliation.

British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill Costs

  • 11 workers killed in initial blast
  • Damage to Ocean Ecosystem
  • 35,000 to 60.000 Barrels of Oil Per Day. That's somewhere between 1,500,000 to 2,500,000 gallons a day or 150 to 300 million gallons already spilled into the ocean as of July 27th by that estimate.
  • Gulf Fisheries Industry
  • Gulf Tourism (ongoing costs)
  • Long Term Health Effects to Humans and Wildlife (to be determined)

Worst Oil Spills

  • Kuwait 1991 - 520 million gallons: Gulf War I
  • Gulf of Mexico 2010 - 206 million gallons: BP Oil
  • Mexico, Bay of Campiche 1979 - 140 million gallons: Pemex Oil
  • Trinidad & Tobago 1979 - 90 million gallons: Greek Oil Tanker Atlantic Empress
  • Russia 1983 - 84 million gallons: Leaky Pipeline collapsed into Kolva River
  • Iran 1983 - 80 million gallons: Tanker collided with Oil Platform
  • South Africa 1983 -79 million gallons:Tanker Castillo de Bellver sank
  • France 1978 - 69 million Gallons: Amoco Cadiz ran aground and broke in half.
  • Angola Coastal Waters (700 miles at sea) 1991 - 51-81 million gallons: ABT Summer exploded at sea.
  • Italy 1991 - 45 million gallons: M/T Haven Oil Tanker exploded.
  • Source: Mother Nature Network. The 13 largest oil spills in history. by Laura Moss. Friday July 16, 2010.

Nuclear Accidents (Under Construction)

  • 1957 Windscale, UK
  • 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US
  • 1979 Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1984 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1985 Athens, Alabama, US
  • 1986 Plymouth, Masachusetts, US
  • 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine, USSR
  • 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US
  • 1989 Griefwald, Germany
  • 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
  • 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US
  • 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan
  • Source: Benjamin Sovacool

Mining Disasters (Under Construction)

  • China 1942 - 1549 deaths
  • France 1906 - 1100 deaths
  • Japan 1963 - 447 deaths
  • Wales 1913 - 438 deaths
  • South Africa 1960 - 437 deaths
  • Source: Epic Disasters Website
  • Note: Do not look at the dates herein and conclue that mining disasters are a things of the past. Every year thousands of miners die worldwide in largely unreported accidents.

OIL IS OVER! - Resources

  • Hibbert's Peak - "The" source that explains why Oil is Over.
  • Tragedy of the Commons -Garrett Hardin
  • The Land Ethic - Aldo Leopold
  • Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight - Thom Hartmann
  • Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching


  • The Dirt People - Ray Bawarchi (yes, that's me)
  • The Razor's Edge - Somerset Maugham
  • Demian - Herman Hesse
  • Black Elk Speaks - Black Elk (as told to R. Neimur)
  • The Quiet Don - Mikhail Sholokov
  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  • Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Delicious Laughter - Jallahudin Rumi
  • The Sybil - Par Lagerksvitz
  • The Fixer - Bernard Malamud
  • Spirits Rebellious - Khalil Gibran
  • The Quiet American - Graham Greene
  • Midaq Alley - Nagib Mafouz
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Farenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
  • We - Yevgeny Zamyatin


  • John Coltrane - St. John the Divine
  • Patti Smith
  • The Clash - the only band that matters
  • Billy Bragg
  • Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
  • Art Blakey
  • Death - pre-punk visionaries from Detroit
  • PJ Harvey - Polly Jean, Polly Jean
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Michael Franti (Spearhead)
  • Public Enemy
  • Ray Charles - the Genius
  • Bob Dylan
  • Velvet Underground
  • Flaming Lips
  • John Doe & X
  • The Beatles

opiate of the masses

  • God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. - Voltaire
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and inellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
  • The ink of a scholar is worth far more than the blood of a martyr.- Mohammad
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. - Sheldon Kopp
  • No one will be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. - Louisa Mae Alcott
  • When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.- Voltaire
  • If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The god I worship is not short of cash, Mister. - Bono
  • Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine. My sins they only belong to me. - Patti Smith
  • God sure baked a lot of fruitcake baby, when Adam met the Eden lady. - Joe Strummer