Thursday, June 30, 2005
Senate Republicans are blaming their anti-war colleagues and the media for the Army’s difficulty in rounding up enough warm bodies. Yahoo has a fairly lucid article on the matter.
Here’s the lead paragraph:
Several Senate Republicans denounced other lawmakers and the news media onIn my cynical Texas drawl my comment is, “Ah reckon.” Do those idiots think that daily reports of the death of young Americans and photos posted on the internet showing freshly bombed human remains aren’t reason enough to find employment elsewhere?
Thursday for unfavorable depictions of the Iraq war and the Pentagon urged
members of Congress to talk up military service to help ease a recruiting
America never had a legitimate reason for invading Iraq to begin with and anyone who refuted the presented “facts” were subjected to abusive and illegal treatment.
The fallout from this idiocy will definitely not be in our best interest. The best thing we can do right now is put Saddam back in charge and pay a huge war indemnity. It’ll save money and lives down the road.
Monday, June 27, 2005
I am somewhat amazed at the cases handed down by the Supreme Court over the last few days. Texas can have a marble monument to the Ten Commandments standing on the Capitol Grounds in Austin, but a couple of counties in Kentucky can’t have framed representations of them hanging in their court houses.
Confusing? I hope to smile. One of these days someone may come to their senses before it’s too late. American culture has its roots in multi-millennia Greco-Roman civilizations, and for the most part our law comes down from English Common Law which is based on those very same Ten Commandments. No matter what one's religious convictions that is how we established the ethos, and to deny their place in that history is just plain wrong.
In another ruling, it’s quite okay for the city to condemn your home under Imminent Domain as long as the community benefits from it no matter which developer gets richer. Oh, brother!
I visited a friend in Bucharest, Romania, a few years back. One of the tapes he showed me was a History Channel production of the country under the megalomania of Ceausescu’s dictatorship. With a wave of the hand, the man decreed homes that had been in families for generations be plowed under to make way for some grandiose project or other. Those monuments to his ego were cracking and pealing when I was there. The gorgeous subways graffitti ridden, the grandiose buildings standing empty or not completed.
The same result could easily obtain here; the dictator being who ever has a pile of cash. The thing about it is this, development commissions are easily bribed. When big bucks developer thinks it’s really a good idea to put a Walmart in a given location, he can whip out the ready cash to overcome everyone’s objections.
The property hereabouts is downright pricey. The dot com boom brought a lot of people in and the cost of housing and rentals went sky high. So much so, that a lot of strip malls were razed in favor of housing with a much higher density than was ever allowed before. When the pendulum swings the other way, and new office/manufacturing buildings need to go up the developers are going to be after the older housing. That’s a shame. There is so much character in some of the older neighborhoods here.
So we are sawing away at our roots and diminishing the principle that a man’s home is his castle.
Thomas Jefferson said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." He wasn't faced with these circumstances when he made his timeless observance, but I am given to wonder what his opinion would be if he were.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
I dropped by Trader Joe’s yesterday to stock up on some of their delicious Spicy Cider. In the process I stopped by the sample booth, as from time to time there is something very good to eat there plus a sample of their very excellent coffees.
What the demonstrator had prepared was ginger granola dressed with maple yogurt and garnished with a slice of banana.
I guess I’ve gone native. This morning’s breakfast substituted soft dried apple for the banana but was otherwise the same.
I remember the line in a country song played on KFAT decades ago. It was something to the effect that living here was like living in a bowl of granola. Those of your neighbors that aren’t fruits or nuts are flakes.
I wonder what’s next? Birkenstock Sandals?
Friday, June 17, 2005
Teri Schiavo is dead and buried. Right? No; we are still getting news updates on her situation even though she died of dehydration March 31.
Her long awaited autopsy report was aired this week and it substantiated every particular of the medical findings over the past decade. The courts ruled time and again that her husband, Michael, was the responsible person to decide when to terminate the extraordinary efforts to keep her alive.
Her parents sued in every court that would give them a hearing. Jeb Bush, the Republican Governor, seeing a way to get some good press coerced the Florida legislature to get into the act, The U.S. Congress, not wanting to miss a bet at currying favor with conservative Christian blocs, enacted special legislation to bring the matter into Federal courts.
It had been to the Federal Supreme Court no less than 5 times, so lower courts kicked it back to Florida courts who continued to reaffirm Michael Schiavo’s sole conservatorship of his wife.
The dead woman’s parents maintain their intransigence in the face of scientific findings and are looking for a new venue in which to file suit. Who the target might be and what satisfaction they might seek is a mystery yet to be disclosed.
Jeb Bush, who is still pandering to the Christian far right, has instructed the State Prosecutor to look at the time line of her collapse and the time the emergency call was placed.
Puhleese . . . any crime committed in 1990 other than premeditated murder or treason is well past the statute of limitations. The DA, who more than likely knows what to kiss and when, is now obliged to expend scarce funds chasing a dust devil.
One of these days the rancor will die down and we can all recall the tragedy that became a cause célèbre with deep sympathy and prayers for her family.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
It’s one of those days the Chamber of Commerce would have you believe are a constant occurrence. Gorgeous in other words. The overnight low temperature was 52°F and is expected to climb to 85 today.
I’m moving a little slowly this morning. Dawdling over the news, comics, and crosswords. It’s weird where the mind goes when its not compelled to do a given chore.
For instance, a man was convicted of killing his 8 months pregnant girlfriend and her 2 year old daughter. The conviction was murder with “special circumstances” which means he is eligible for the death penalty. If that’s his fate, he is assured of a long life of ease. Watching TV and reading anything he can lay hands on.
Cause célèbre subject, Scott Peterson, was hustled off to death row a few months back to await the outcome of the appeals process before he gets his trip to the little green room. He’s a young man in apparently good health. I’d give even money odds that he will never get there.
The reason for my cynicism? Peterson became the 644th person awaiting execution in California. We have a laborious appeals process which is run by several under funded NGOs. It takes a long, long time for eyes to get dotted and all the tees crossed before the case is kicked back to the trial court or the execution date is set. The shortage of funds lengthens the process to well past two decades. The fact of the matter is people are being sent to death row at a much greater rate than they are leaving it.
The execution rate is about 2 a year, so if that holds up, Scott will get his just deserts in the year 2327 or thereabouts.
There is a bit of irony in all this; a dozen or so years ago, a hardened criminal kidnapped a twelve year old girl from her home, raped, and killed her. Please believe me, the state was in an uproar over the crime. So much so, that by the time the killer/rapist was convicted, the three strikes law was overwhelmingly passed as a ballot initiative.
Justice plodded inexorably on. The man was convicted and a second jury took up the issue of whether he should be imprisoned for life or sent to the execution chamber. The second jury voted for death which in his case was really life. Had he been tossed into a general prison population, he would not have lived too much past the first exercise period.
As it is, he occupies a single cell at San Quentin, eats thrice daily, showers every other day, gets to exercise daily, can order books from the library, and have a TV set if he buys it.
If anyone asks, the answer is “yes.” California does have a death penalty . . . sorta.
In another charming story this morning, the mother of the twelve year old boy killed by the family’s pair of pit bulls is busy convicting herself with her public statements. Mom thought leaving the kid with the dogs might be risky while she was out shopping, so she locked her son in the basement from whence he escaped. Duh. If the safety of her child is not the first priority in her life, she’s setting herself up for a long stay in Merced.
Here’s the kicker. The state says that dogs cannot be banned by breed by county or city governments. It does, however, outlaw ownership of .50 caliber rifles. I’ve yet to hear of someone getting whacked by a .50, but dangerous dogs maul several people (mostly children) to death each year. I’ve never heard of ferrets doing in anyone either, but they, too, are on the proscribed list.
If you like the weird, the kookie, the strange, and the bizarre, you might consider this as your destination of choice. I mean, where else will you find that your child’s third grade teacher has purple hair, tattoos, a face full of metal, and is named “Rainbow?”
Monday, June 06, 2005
Extremism begets extremism, or so it seems. You bomb us, we’ll nuke you. There’s always escalation; it wouldn’t be extremism if there were any sort of self imposed restraint.
I was deeply saddened by two events of rather minor significance in the last few years. The Taliban’s destruction of the Buddhist shrines in Afghanistan along with the antiquities in the National Museum in Kabul and a Federal Court ordering the removal of a sculpture of the 10 Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building.
That one act in a far away country of the desecration of one religion’s icons by another religion's zealots hardened my attitude irrevocably towards right wing Islamists.
My own feelings are centrist for the most part until something strikes me as being wrong. What I perceive as an injustice sparks my own extremism. After 9/11 I was delighted the Taliban didn’t cough up Bin Laden and company. It gave us every reason in the world to bomb them back to the stone age. I am personally offended that any Taliban still lives to draw a breath.
The other instance highlighted the Federal Courts’ slow but inexorable movement into the twilight zone of arcane inconsistencies by slavishly following case law and losing sight of right and wrong.
We are losing touch with our roots and who we are and what we stand for. This nation was founded by English-speaking Christians who promptly allowed for freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights in the first clause of the very first amendment. To wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”
Seems pretty simple to me; do your own thing and the government has nothing to say on the matter. But the courts do and do they ever. Madalyn Murray’s suit to end coercive bible reading and prayer in the Baltimore School District opened the door to successive actions by legislature and courts that moved the country further and further from its foundation in Judeo-Christian principles as embedded in the Ten Commandments.
Now before you get the idea that I am an adherent of the hell fire and brimstone variety of Christian, let me disabuse you of that notion. I am the kind who when he announces his affiliation draws gimlet-eyed stares from Baptists and Catholics alike. Being pretty casual about observances, I’m sure all those fine Christians are praying for my soul.
Justice Myron Thompson’s order to the Alabama Court strikes me – as well as 77% of those polled by CNN on the matter – as wrong. When over three quarters of the electorate think you’re out to lunch, Judge, you can bet there will be repercussions.
If you can recall the history of post Civil War reconstruction, you will remember the Ku Klux Klan was raised to counter the excesses of the occupation. Nathan Bedford Forrest, it’s founder, disbanded it when it became the gang of racists thugs for which it will always be remembered, but not before it committed even greater crimes than it was set to counter.
Excesses are always countered by greater excesses, and as best as I can tell, that’s what’s happening as I write this. Extremism looks to be the way of the future, so get your tickets early and you can get a front row seat just like George Carlin said you could.
Life is a freak show and Americans get a front row seat.
— George Carlin