Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Is It All Just a Show?

The most notable thing about the current congress is the lack of confrontation with the White House. How many bills have been vetoed? Where are the late night sessions where the House leaderships works to hammer out a deal with the President so that he’ll sign the tough legislation? How many times has the Vice President been called in to break the close tie vote in the Senate? None of these things have happened, because the Congress has been a rubber stamp of the administration. But we all know what Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” and maybe that is exactly what the Republican Party has in mind.

Instead of strong leadership in the congress fighting for the American people, the congress has taken to supporting the talking money of the lobbyists. The truth here is that the Republican Party that told you back in the early 1990s that they would rid government of “special interests” has brought their own brand of special interests to Washington. Instead of groups wanting laws to keep the air and water clean, we have groups that want companies to be able to drill for oil wherever they please and not be responsible to clean up afterward. Instead of groups fighting for fair labor conditions across the board at all companies in America, we have groups of companies that want to hire cheap labor who will work 24/7 without regulation of any kind. The interests have changed, but the “special interest” groups are still calling the shots in Washington. And, the Republican Party has made their job even more efficient than the Democrats ever did.

With such an organized effort going on, there isn’t any room for conflict, or even a pothole in the road. Unfortunately for the Republican congress the lack of conflict looks like the congress is in lock step with the President. If the two branches of government are working together, then what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that the President’s approval ratings are awfully low. The Congress’s approval ratings are awfully low. Logic would have you believe that if the approval rating are low and there is no conflict, then the government is not doing what the people would like the government to do. This makes sense to the average American. This makes sense to the Congress and the Bush administration as well.

So, maybe the brilliant political mind of Karl Rove has decided to create some theatrics in order to help the congress get reelected. After all, it doesn’t really matter what the President’s approval ratings are this year. But, it does matter what the approval ratings are for 33 members of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives. Perhaps if a few of the close races were to be energized with a little screaming of sorts, then the people would feel as if their congressman was actually fighting the good fight against the tyranny in the form of a misguided President. And, maybe the conflict could be resolved just before the election with the President changing his mind on a key issue or two. Perhaps then the Republicans could get back to screwing the American people in the name of special interests.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Sane Republican Sighting - Pete McCloskey

It seems so rare these days to hear a sane Republican talk about the things Republicans used to talk about but never acted on once they were in power. Today I heard a sane Republican who is in the Primary race for the California 11th Congressional district. This is the seat currently held by the lap dog of the administration Richard Pombo. The forum was supposed to be a debate between the Republican candidates. However, since Richard Pombo was able to acquire a huge fortune in lobbyist contributions through his connections with Jack Abramoff he didn’t need to show up for the debate, and he didn’t.

I should point out that the Republicans in California’s 11th congressional district should certainly be paying attention to this race, because of the gerrymandered district it is highly unlikely that the race could be won by a Democrat. In a sense this is the election, and November is only a formality. If you go to Richard Pombo’s web site you can see for yourself the odd nature of the shape of this district. If you know something about the San Francisco Bay area you should realize that the district subtends the coastal range of mountains which would normally be a natural divide between two unrelated areas. The district includes a large portion of the agricultural San Joaquin valley, blue collar towns of Stockton and Manteca which would normally vote Democrat, along with the bedroom communities of Tracy and Pleasanton and Morgan Hill which would be likely to lean more Republican. Richard Pombo is a far right Republican with a history of land development that can easily ignore the Democrats and environmentalists in his district. He has consistently voted against protecting any land and is active in selling National and State Park land to developers. In order to move up in the Republican power structure in Washington he has voted for lobbyist interests and against the people’s interests, including a vote against Veterans benefits and rehabilitation for Iraqi vets returning from the war. His personal interest is in putting a road through the coastal mountain range to link San Jose to the Central Valley. Of course, he fails to mention all of the land that he has purchased along his proposed route through the mountains.

In the Republican primary Richard Pombo is running against former Rep. Paul "Pete'' McCloskey, and Tom Benigno. Tom Benigno is clearly in the race for himself. This seems like a bold statement to make, but if you’d listened to the discussion you would agree with me. When asked about Richard Pombo, he tells us how corrupt he is, but when asked if he would support the Democrat or Pombo in the November election he uses the cocky politico speak of saying that won’t happen, because he is going to win the primary. Who really wants a representative in Washington who refuses to imagine that something other than his or her own plan could actually happen? Isn’t that the problem we have in Washington right now? How could this be a change?

Pete McCloskey is certainly the type of Republican that would benefit his district and Americans in general in Washington DC. He makes no bones about the difficulty of running a campaign against a well funded and well back candidate. He is honest about the uphill battle that he is fighting. When asked the difficult question about the possibility of Pombo winning the primary, he tells us that he would back the Democrat over Pombo. That is how corrupt Richard Pombo is. Hopefully Pete McClosky will get the backing and support he needs, but June 6th is not far off. Perhaps instead of money he needs media attention.

From my point of view as a moderate I can certainly support a moderate Republican that cares about the environment and our National Parks. I can certainly support a Republican candidate that wants to put ethics back into government. I can certainly support a Republican candidate who has no problem reaching out across the aisle to make this country stronger for all Americans and not just the lobbyists who have bribed Richard Pombo and the current leadership of the Republican Party.

Pete McCloskey is a sane Republican that has experience in leadership, and if you are voting in the Republican primary for the California 11th congressional district race on June 6, 2006 look for his name. You could do a lot worse.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I just finished the first part of reading Kevin Phillips book, “American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury.” He has divided the book into three parts, each of which deals with Oil, Religion and Finance in that order. Obviously I haven’t read the entire thing yet, so I wouldn’t be able to comment on the Religion or Financial parts of the book, but there is plenty to write about in the Oil section.

It is quite interesting to hear people say that Oil is the lifeblood of the American economy. Obviously this statement is technically true, but it is also biased at the same time. The point that this statement is missing is that energy is America’s lifeblood, but oil is the current carrier of that energy. Kevin Philips points out that coal was the lifeblood of the British economy in the 1800s and when they failed to make the switch to oil in the early twentieth century America was able to surpass the British as a world power. Well, I am not certain that the failure to make this switch was clearly the only reason, because there were also two world wars that may have had some impact, but it is clear that the British continued to play catch up from the 1940s on.

It is also very important to know when to change and grow with new technology. If we still used coal for our energy, we may still be using steam engines for transportation, heat, and heavy industry. But, oil made it possible for individuals to live in the suburbs and drive into the city to work every day. The suburbs would look at bit different today if everyone used the steam powered train everyday instead of the automobile. But, just because oil works for us today does not mean that we should be considering other means of energy for the future.

The point is not just energy, but cheap energy. Or, from an environmental concern cheap clean energy would be the main point.

The average American has no idea how they get their energy. They also have no idea how they get their food either, and the people selling food and energy like it that way. Just like the snake oil salesmen of the Old West you can’t pull a scam when people know what you are doing. But if you can make enough people believe what you tell them, then you can swindle a lot of cash and get out of Dodge before they know what’s hit them. We only have to look as far as ENRON to know that this is true. Enron was able to swindle the state of California by artificially raising the price of energy by buy up all the energy available and selling it back into the market before any money or energy actually changed hands. If the government leaders knew that Enron was able to do this they never would have let it happen, but the market was unregulated and Enron could do as it pleased without being watched.

Well, the oil industry works the same way. When oil is scarce the price goes up. If oil was the only way to get energy, then oil producers would have a monopoly on the energy market. But, coal, nuclear energy, wind, solar, hydrogen and alcohol all play a part in the energy market. But oil currently plays the biggest part in the market. Since the oil producers control so much of the market they are able to spend money to grease the wheels of government in ways that the other energy producers could only dream of greasing. In fact, the oil producers have someone from their industry at the head of the most powerful nation in the world. And Dick Cheney has used his power to protect American oil producers around the world.

One interesting thing about oil production is that not all oil wells produce oil for the same cost. New oil fields have oil at higher pressure, therefore requiring less energy to actually extract the oil from the ground. The more oil that is removed from the wells the more expensive it is to retrieve more oil from those fields. And, it turns out that Iraqi oil is some of the cheapest oil to produce in the world. No wonder that Dick Cheney was so eager to attack Iraq before 9/11/2001 when he met with American oil company executives. He was already deciding how to divvy up the Middle East oil, before Iraq or Iran was invaded. Imagine the smiles of glee when Dick Cheney proposed that American oil producers could sell the $1.00/barrel oil in Iraq for $30/barrel on the open market. But, now with oil over the $70.00/barrel mark these guys still believe that Iraq invasion was worth it. After all, it wasn’t like they had to spend their own money. Maybe a few of them did have to risk their own lives though, but they charged the government for the work.

Let me stop for a minute and look at the energy situation from the point of view of an average American who wants to drive a car at will and wants electric power when he/she flips on the switch. They want cheap energy at any cost. If the oil producers were to run people off their land and steal the oil the average American wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as it doesn’t cost more at the gas pump or when the electric bill comes due. Americans don’t seem to care how they happen to get their energy.

Now, we know that corn is grown cheaply and alcohol may be made from the corn mash. This alcohol may be burned in an alcohol-powered engine. It has been burned in Indy racecars since the 1970s. In fact, in Brazil Ford has created cars that burn both alcohol and gasoline allowing competition between two different forms of energy. When alcohol is cheaper the consumer may buy alcohol. When gasoline is cheaper the consumer may buy gasoline. Would anyone like to guess why Ford hasn’t sold these cars in the United States?

Similarly, hydrogen is another fuel that burns cleaner than any hydrocarbon, because hydrogen and oxygen burn to produce water and energy. Hydrogen may be created by using solar panels and water. Maybe hydrogen isn’t the instant answer to the energy problem, but certainly hydrogen could be one answer for the future. People could personally create hydrogen during the daylight hours with solar panels on their roofs and use the hydrogen as a type of storage reservoir for energy needed in during the evening hours. This technology has been demonstrated to work in a house set up on the Mall in Washington last year. Imagine producing hydrogen for your home and your car in the future. But what would the energy producers think of this kind of individual energy production? And, would a government with the concerns of the oil producers ahead of the average American help to get this technology jump-started?

Of course, oil producers have been able to hijack the Republican mantras of “government waste” and “no new taxes” in order to prevent people from getting this type of research off the ground. Only small scale demonstrations have any hope, as long as the oil companies have the possibility to buy the technology and develop it at the proper time. Of course this is code meant to delay the technology until the oil producers have been able to burn as much oil as possible before new energy carriers win the advantage over oil.

Kevin Phillips tells us how this didn’t work for Britain. Coal was superseded by oil as the new technology and Britain suffered by loosing status as world power. He argues that just because the United States wants to hold on to oil as its technology, which won’t prevent other countries from marching forward and displacing the United States as the world power. Imagine China or India being closed out of the oil markets and developing hydrogen as the obvious next step in energy distribution. Suddenly two fifths of the world is making their own hydrogen and developing the infrastructure for this entire industry. Who ever is first to market will certainly file patents and control this type of energy for many years securing their economic domination for the next century. The United States will continue to be tied to old energy as it runs out and Asia becomes to new world power.

Obviously when I get to the third part of the book Kevin is bound to tell me about the United States debt that China holds. It certainly seems sad that we are basically handing over the reigns of power to China and the average American has no idea that this is happening. When will the average American wake up from his electronically induced feeling of euphoria and realize that the people in charge know what they are doing and they are doing for themselves and not the common good of the average American?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mr. Bravado

“Bring It On,” “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

These are signature phrases of George W Bush.

And, yesterday George W Bush claimed that uttering this tough talk was the number one mistake of his presidency.

Why was this a mistake?

George W Bush says that this tough talk was misinterpreted by “people.”

What can anyone say about this?

Well, this shows us a couple of things about George W Bush. First of all, he still doesn’t get it. How was he expecting this kind of talk to be interpreted? I’m confused, when he first screamed this nonsense sane people were surprised that the leader of the free world would stoop to name calling. Sane people know that provoking a wounded animal is stupid, but George W Bush was sitting there poking the snake in the face with a stick. Sure, anyone can cut the head off a snake, but George W Bush chose to poke al Qeada in the face. Normally this would be a sign of insecurity. A bully is most likely to be a kid using force to deal with insecurity. George W Bush fit the profile like a glove.

But, he also says that this was misinterpreted by “people.” What “people” misinterpreted this? How was it misinterpreted? It seems pretty clear that the conservatives in the United States thought his reaction was brilliant. Did they misinterpret the tough talk? Or, was Bush just saying this to energize his base for his benefit, without any thought of those outside the US that might hear his words?

Maybe George W Bush means that the subject of his statements believed that he was actually encouraging them to bring it on. What a silly notion. I don’t know how anyone could come to that conclusion. I personally wonder what he really meant, because I only know one way to interpret “Bully Talk.”


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Goofy Exercise Post

This is going to be a goofy post. It is Friday and my mind is wandering. So, I am just going to talk about myself. You have been warned.

As I have mentioned several times before, I have lost 50 pounds over about 18 months. Exercise was the only change in my lifestyle and I am happy to report that I have continued to maintain my weight over the last 6 months. If my weight drops below 145 pounds I will be in the underweight category for my height and sex. Needless to say, I am very excited about this, and that’s why I am writing about it.

The interesting thing, from my egocentric perspective, is that before I lost this weight I didn’t really care if I was a little over weight. I weighed about 165 pounds through college, which is within the normal range for my height and sex, and I never thought that I should loose weight. The weird thing is that since I have lost this weight I feel healthy, perhaps even healthier than I did when I was in college. I have more energy and my attitude toward exercise has gone from “what a pain!” to “when do we go next?” I don’t really understand this myself.

I have never been the obsessive-compulsive type. But, exercise could easily become an obsession. Maybe its because that hour of exercise has become my own time. When you have kids, it is certainly hard to find the time to sit down and read the paper. And, when you finally do, you are interrupted time and time again. (That’s funny, I am at work and I was interrupted while I wrote that last sentence.) Maybe it is more about perception than reality?

Oops, I guess I got a little off track, what was I going to talk about? I believe I was talking about exercise and how I feel about it. That’s silly, I could just go back and read what I wrote to figure that out. But, no, I attempted to remember what I wrote instead of actually rereading what I wrote.

Getting back to exercise, I was wondering why people do it. Obviously people want to stay healthy, because if you don’t have your health, what do you have? But, some people obsess about exercise, and it seems that I am beginning to move in that direction. Currently I get up at 5:00AM and go to the club. I do this almost every day and I could imagine going to the club again in the evening. It would be more fulfilling than watching TV. But, I might lose out on some of my reading time. But, why would I do that? I already have my weight just above the “underweight” mark. I can’t do much better than that. But, the silly thing is that I like to swim and now I actually like to run. I have mentioned that I once hated running, but that has all changed recently.

So, why do I desire a need to exercise more? Well, since I haven’t actually acted on this urge then I believe it really isn’t all that important. But, this feeling is certainly the complete opposite of how I once felt about exercise. In the past I had felt that exercise would have a desired effect on my body, but I certainly would rather sleep than get up at 5:00AM. I once thought that if I moved around a bit around the house, or cut the grass, or pulled weeds that type of activity would be adequate. But, I soon discovered that hiking up and down hills got me quite winded. I guess it wasn’t enough activity.

But doesn’t it all come down to what really makes us happy. Happiness is a tricky thing, because happiness is tied to expectations. If you expect to be happy and later your expectations are not fulfilled you may become disappointed. If you expect to be unhappy and later you become happy, then that happiness may turn out to experienced as jubilation or extreme happiness. So maybe, when I get up in the morning I have the expectation that my workout is going to be painful or dreadful and when it turns out to be better than I thought I become happy. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Sometimes I feel that I might like to stay in bed, but then I think, “I’m up already, might as well go to the pool.” I believe that means that my expectations are neutral. But, I get to the pool and it is certainly colder than I would like when I first get there. Now that I have about 4% body fat everything makes me cold, so the pool is no different. However, after 3 minutes of swimming at a good clip I seem to warm up enough. At this point I expect to be cold for this first few minutes, then I expect to be comfortable as far as body temperature goes. So, my expectations meet with reality.

When I finish I am tired as I expect all along, so I don’t see why I do this, or why I would want to do more of it. Maybe I just like the way I feel after I workout. I do feel slightly better when I exert myself, like going hiking or playing with the kids or walking into town. But, as far as just sitting around reading or watching TV, I can’t say that I feel much different. So, what is the part of exercise that has gotten its hooks in me? I have heard that ones body produces endorphins that make ones body feel euphoric. If this is true, then my idea of euphoria and others idea of euphoria are certainly different.

But, I haven’t even addressed the aches and pains associated with exercise. At least when I started exercising I certainly felt quite a bit of pain. For example, a couple of years ago I thought that I might walk/run a 5K with my kids. I finished the race and I was certainly exhausted, but the next day I was in pain. It hurt to climb the stairs. After riding in the car for an hour it hurt to get out of the car. I was in bad shape. Why would I want top put myself back through that torture again? I don’t understand it myself, but I did. I figured out that I needed to run more often so that I wouldn’t be in that much pain again. But, the thing is that if you push yourself to the extreme the pain will come back and you will be sore again. So, maybe my body knows that exercise is its defense against being sore. But, that doesn’t really make sense, because I would really need to run more than once a week or so to prevent myself from feeling that pain, but my body craves more than the current one hour per day.

Well, this writing is a bit disappointing for me, because I haven’t really accomplished answering my question. I still have no idea why I want to exercise more and more. Fortunately my common sense and logic keeps the urge to be at the club every day for hours on end. But I don’t really understand why I have this urge at all. Is it like my urge to eat or drink? Is exercise a “basic body need” that people train themselves to avoid? Maybe it is just like writing for me. Maybe I just need to do it to be me.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Arts and Crafts

Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner made a big impression in the wider community even if the actual attendees didn’t hoot and holler at the jokes. The point is that humor has a way to connect with people that the straight facts don’t. And, satire does this in an even more subtle way. Satire disarms the audience in by encouraging the audience to agree with the comedian until you realize the satire is absurd. A comedian that is able to do this over and over again truly has a remarkable gift. And, most importantly this gift allows the communication of ideas in such a way that the audience isn’t able put up it’s automatic defense walls and some of the ideas may break through.

Politics is about people learning to live with each other. When groups separate themselves from each other and build political walls between each other then communication doesn’t happen and the country is worse off. One only needs to look at countries where leaders from minority populations use fear to keep their power. The rest of the country suffers at the hands of a few. Do we truly want America to be just another minority controlled country?

If you’ve read this far I hope you agree with me that political communication is the only way to move us forward. And, hitting people with facts and figures will obviously be just like hitting them with sticks and stones; they will either ignore them or it will only make them angry, even if they are wrong. What is needed is a way to disarm those who blindly follow the Republicans and let them believe that they understand what is happening until they realize that they didn’t understand. Then they can finally come to the conclusion that, to quote Weird Al, “Everything you know is wrong.”

Stephen Colbert proved that satire works. We already knew this, but it’s still nice to know when you are right. But we should also remember that other forms of communication work as well. Parables and stories that entertain but also contain a message will certainly do the job. But, the right wing talk radio has created the paradigm that “Hollywood is wrong.” So, movies with positive liberal images of people working together to create a better world just don’t work anymore. Those John Wayne movies will never convince people of what the “True America” is supposed to be.

Art itself communicates in important ways. Paintings like Norman Rockwell give people the romanticized feeling of the way life once was in America. Conservatives like to build on these images as the positive reason to turn the clock around to 1890, 1910 or 1950. But these paintings don’t capture the real life struggle of the workers getting paid just enough to live on so that they are attached to the mining, manufacturing or farming businesses with no where else to turn. An artist that portrays the advances in labor that the Democrats have won for labor is a subtle but important political statement needed in this time of political erosion.

There are many ways to communicate effectively to the “moderates” who will be the deciders of who will govern us. Obviously, straight forward writing as I have done here is more effective in communicating to the converted. People who are undecided don’t generally care about the facts and details that I often write about. People in the middle who are undecided can be convinced of “good” points on both sides of the issue. They are also even more aware of the “bad” points on each side of the issue. In fact, the fear of selecting between to “bad” choices often keeps these people from going out to vote. But, some common sense positive reasons communicated through an alternate means of communication may be the difference in casting and not casting a vote.

All people really want is protection. People want to be protected from all those things that could possibly cause them problems. People want economic security that allows people to take risks on new ideas or businesses and risks are what make America strong. People want to be protected from disease, health problems or the economic problems associated with the loss of health. People want to be secure from the threat of crime, violence or even war. People want to know that the planet they live on today will still be inhabitable for the future generation of their family for centuries to come. And, these are the ideas that need to be communicated as the Democratic ideas to make the world a better place.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hastert Under Investigation

ABC News is reporting that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert is under investigation. What does this mean? Is the FBI taking revenge on Hasert in his defense of William Jefferson yesterday? Or, was Hastert angry yesterday, because he has something to hide?

There may be no bottom to the corruption scandal in Congress. It was really a good thing that Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich made sure that the Lobbyists on K Street couldn’t do business with the Democrats if they wanted to do business with the Republicans. The Democrats really need to thank these guys or this scandal might have looked a bit different.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Delay Hacked?

Over at Think Progress they posted a link to Tom Delay’s defense fund, and they are laughing at the fact that someone posted a video of a Stephen Colbert interview of Movie creator Robert Greenwald promoting his latest movie. The deal is that his latest movie is called: “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress.” My guess is that someone hacked Tom Delay’s web page, and the interview will soon be gone. So, for those interested I uploaded the audio so everyone can listen. And, if by chance Tom Delay or his crew actually meant for this to be up there… well lets not go there.

Stephen Colbert Interviews Robert Greenwald


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Awash in Irony

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post talks about Irony today. He points out how Ironic the current actions of the Neocons are if you compare them to their motivation from the beginning. They formed their group in reaction to the disorder brought to the cities in the 1960s. Now they are sowing their own disorder in Iraq.

Read his piece here at The Washington Post.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Truth So Far

Every once in a while it makes a lot of sense to step back and look at the big picture. Over the last few months (maybe 18 or so) a lot of things have happened on the United States political scene. Each change has come and gone and by now these events are only distant memories that the 24-hour news cycle encourages us to forget. The 24-hour news cycle is a microscope looking at every detail in the long parade of history.

So, lets go back in time to the November 2004 presidential election. We should all remember that the race was very close and the arch nemesis George W Bush defeated John Kerry by the electoral votes of the state of Ohio. This time George W Bush won the popular vote, this election was actually once again decided by the electoral votes of one state, and that particular race was very close. And, in his speech following the announcement of winning the election George W Bush claimed that he had won “political capital,” that he had planned to spend immediately. Well, as we have seen George W Bush spent all of his political capital, then he went to the bank several times where he borrowed even more political capital to spend just like all the real capital he is borrowing to wage his war in Iraq.

During the 2004 election George W Bush avoided contact with anyone that might even hint at disagreeing with him. He did this in order to insulate himself from public scrutiny. When people are shown large crowds of supporting people, the viewer tends to believe that the person subject to the praise deserves it. Without thinking, the viewer is persuaded to support the object of praise believing he is praiseworthy. Of course the truth may or may not be close to the images viewed, but the psychology certainly influences support. Of course, the opposite is also true, and the right wing smear machine managed to do the dirty work of the Bush campaign with a large number of lies and deceptions. The end result was undeserved success of the extreme right in the United States of America. But these people wanted their pound of flesh from George W Bush’s pile of political capital.

These people wanted religious laws to be made secular law. They wanted George W Bush to pass their discriminatory anti-homosexual laws prohibiting families from legally living together. They wanted abortion to be criminalized. They wanted government money to go to religious schools. They wanted government money to go to religious aid organizations. They wanted creationism to be taught in public schools. They wanted the United States to continue to fight the good fight in Babylon in the hopes of bringing on the “End Times.”

Who really knows what George W Bush was thinking. Perhaps he was afraid that he would loose his moderate supporters, or his fiscal conservative supporters, but he ignored these folk and decided that he would try to reform the Social Security Insurance system. He came up with the idea of everyone saving for their own retirement, instead of having a common insurance fund. He used the same hyperbole in describing the dire need to make this reform immediately. Fortunately the majority of Americans actually were able to figure out that everyone could already do this on their own by depositing their money into an IRA account. The only change would be to remove the protection of having a social security insurance fund. Looking back on history this seems to be the beginning of the public actually being able to see through the veils of the Bush administration secrecy.

Once the Republicans realized that the Social Security reform sham wasn’t going to happen, they turned their collective backs on George W Bush who continued to push his plan for a couple of weeks more. This feeble push was finally seen as an example of the weakness of staying the course regardless of public opinion. George W Bush spent the remaining political capital that he had with this effort, but this is America and capital can be found everywhere.

He had his chance to win his political capital back when Sandra Day O’Conner announced that she would retire. The Bush administration had been planning for this day for the last five years, so John Roberts was waiting in the wings all ready to go. His public stance on many issues was sufficiently cloaked in mystery in order to be passed by the Senate without objection. However, Republicans used their secret codes to communicate to the social conservatives that John Roberts was their buddy. He would strike down abortion once he got the opportunity.
However, before John Roberts was confirmed Chief Justice Rehnquist died, throwing a wrench in the Republican strategy. And, without a second choice standing in the queue Bush offered his secretary Harriet Miers the jobs. Like they say, “If you can’t keep it in your pants, then keep it in the family.” Or, maybe that has to do with something else. The point here is that Bush spent very little time thinking about his appointment, so he picked a person in his close circle of friends. This bad move lifted the veil of how the Bush administration operates just a bit higher and the social conservatives were given cause to pause. Finally his supporters were seeing what the Democrats had been saying all along.

Of course we all know that most people have already forgotten Harriet Miers’ name. And, the Bush crew likes when people forget their mistakes. But, after five years in office the web of lies was getting quite thick. For example, George W Bush told us how he really hated when people leaked information to the press. And, leaking the name of a CIA operative was certainly a serious offense. He even hired a guy to investigate the source of the CIA leak. And, by this time Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy hired to find the leak was zeroing in on top levels of the White House. The veil was being lifted even higher and the man behind the curtain continued to pull the levers and tell us not to look at the man behind the curtain. When Dick Cheney’s right hand man was indicted the brighter Americans knew that George W Bush knew who leaked the CIA agent’s name. Even the bright Republicans knew this and had another cause for pause.

Over in congress Tom Delay was having trouble defending himself against blatant breaking of Texas election law. His connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff were coming to light as well. Then when Duke Cunningham plead guilty to his corruption charges, people began to learn that the White House wasn’t the only seat of corruption in Washington. Republicans tried to smear the Democrats with this corruption scandal, but it soon became clear that they couldn’t win that argument, because the lobbyists on K street were overwhelmingly Republican oriented, because of Tom Delay’s demand that Republicans refuse to deal with a lobbyist that also dealt with Democrats. They dug this grave, now they are on their own.

In September and October two hurricanes hit the Gulf coast. And, because the Bush administration and the Republican’s goal of smaller government aid agencies FEMA was being left to slowly bleed to death from lack of funding. By appointing a political hack to be FEMA director the agency was given less power which took away agility the agency once had. FEMA now had a director without an emergency relief experience trying to communicate with the president through the Homeland security director. As my kids would say, “That’s just messed up.” They failed miserably with Katrina, then we all witnessed the disorganized evacuation of Houston only a few weeks later. We learned a little more about how the Bush administration rewarded political hacks with government jobs regardless of their qualifications. Hence the veil was practically removed from the White House. But there are still many who refused to look in that direction. There are many who would rather close their eyes and walk into walls than to witness the corruption, deception and lies coming out of the White House and the Republicans Party.

But, I haven’t even mentioned the debacle in Iraq yet. But that isn’t necessary, because last week Karl Rove conceded that the War was a weak point. He told us that the American people don’t like President Bush because of the War in Iraq. I am sure that there are many people who don’t like the president because of the war in Iraq, but they didn’t like him long before now. They didn’t like him when he broke international law and invaded a sovereign country. They didn’t like him when he killed thousands of innocent Iraqis in his invasion. They didn’t like him when they put American soldiers in harms way without a legitimate reasoning that the action was in the self-defense of our country. But, these people felt this way three years ago. Karl Rove is finally coming around to acknowledging it.

Well, I was just trying to bring all of these facts back into focus, because with the quantity of information it is quite difficult to remember the big picture. There are many many more things that I could have mentioned, like Dick Cheney’s shooting incident, but this were more like humorous sidelights that weren’t really illuminating the fact that Dick Cheney likes to shoot lawyers or kill farm raised poultry. We also have the bravery of many people who opposed the administration and did their part to expose the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. I believe that these people did their part, and of course we all need to keep the pressure on. Every time that the opposition lets up the Republicans declare victory. This reminds me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. The Republicans seem to have adopted the “stay the course” mantra of George W Bush. The opposition could severe every limb on the body politic, and the Republicans will continue to cry out, “What are you afraid of? Come back here and fight like a man!” And, so our job is never done.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, May 22, 2006

Michael Stanely Band - WMMS Coffee Break Concert

Michael Stanely Band - WMMS Coffee Break Concert

If you are from Cleveland, or grew up in the Cleveland during the late seventies or early eighties you already know who these guys are. But, the rest of the country missed out this truly Cleveland phenomena. In my opinion, these guys played Rock-n-Roll in the Bruce Springsteen working class tradition. They wrote songs about things that the average Clevelander cared about.

Well, on February 17, 1982 the Michael Stanley Band played the Cleveland Agora Ballroom at 10:00 AM, for a radio concert. This was a WMMS tradition during those days. Cleveland artists like MSB, Alex Beven and others played on the radio to a free concert at the Agora.

Way back when I actually taped this concert. Today I wish I had taped other concerts as well, but that is not the case. The tape floated around for years; I listened to it from time to time. I actually converted it two mp3 files a couple of years ago. I burned the mp3 files to a couple of CDs. And, now I am posting the files to the internet.

The problem with posting the files to the Internet has always been the size of the files. Since each file is about 30 minutes long, the files are about 30 Mbytes each. Most file sharing and e-mail accounts couldn’t handle the file size. But, today I discovered MegaUpLoad which claims to be able to handle 250 Mbyte files.

Although these are not podcasts they are audio files that you need to get through the server. Click on the link below and follow the download instructions. They will remain on the server until no-one download them for more than a month…

Coffee Break Concert part 1
Coffee Break Concert part 2


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Political Intelligence?

Marilyn vos Savant is a columnist in the Sunday Parade Magazine published in many newspapers across the country. Her column “Ask Marilyn” is a very eclectic question answer column where people send a diverse range of question and Marilyn publishes answers to them. I find the column quite interesting and read it quite often. However, this past Sunday Marilyn tried to answer a political question and did a very poor job in her attempt.

What is the difference between the two main political parties in the United States? And she answered that the parties are basically the same.

The poorly answered question is certainly not entirely Marilyn’s fault. First, the problem with trying to answer political questions is that there are a wide variety of correct answers to many social and political issues. Secondly, the format of a newspaper question and answer column limits how well a question may be answered. And third, there are many ways to define what it means to be a smart person. Marilyn certainly possesses a skill in being able to distill the important points of an answer to a difficult question and create a short concise answer to some very complex questions.

In politics a bright smart person could be a lawyer that knows the details of the law and is able to draw a road map for a person to be within the law and still cheat the people and enable a politician to take political power and personal cash for themselves. But also in politics a bright person might be a similar lawyer that knows the same law and is able to draw a road map for a group of people to defend themselves against those who would like to take advantage of cheap labor, cheap land and cheap garbage dumps. Smart is certainly dependent on ones point of view. And, when Marilyn steps back and looks at the total political system in America she sees a political system colored by her own personal political view. So, when Marilyn answers the question she tells us that both Democrats and Republicans are basically the same, and she adds that this is good for America.

Marilyn does not tell us about the divisive issues that polarize the current political environment. Instead Marilyn cites the history of peaceful changes of power as proof that the Political Parties are not that different. In other words, Marilyn sees American politics of past history of the political indifference to who is in power as proof that there isn’t much difference between the two different American political Parties. This argument could be used to say that in the past there wasn’t much difference between the two political parties, but it ignores the current polarization that has people shouting at each other on talk radio and political TV talk shows. The two political parties could have once been much closer, but Marilyn ignores the fact that many people see them as much further apart today. Time seems to be one variable that lawyers use to their advantage and the average person ignores it in the discussion. And Marilyn ignores the dynamics of time in her argument as well.

Politics is defined by the interactions of people. Politics grows based on these interactions. Political Parties are created to group people together who share a common view on a multitude of political issues currently of importance. It would certainly be true that if both parties were primarily controlled by the wealthiest Americans, as they were in the past, then both parties would share a common set of issues that the parties would agree to protect. In a way there are many issues in which both political parties share a common interest, number one of which should be to protect the freedom and liberty of all Americans. Other issues however may be hidden and best protected if the general public didn’t know the details. This may include the protection of the seats of each individual politician currently in office. If those issues never made it into the public spotlight, then it would never really matter how those issues were dealt with. And, if those issues were your own personal issues, then you would certainly see the two Political Parties as two faces of one government.

Some issues, however, have been chosen to be prime issues by one Political Party or the other and these issues are meant to distinguish the two political parties from each other. And, if these issues have a high emotional factor associated with them, then they become wedge issues that drive voters to one party or another. And, these issue polarize our political atmosphere and drive us into our own political corners. If Marilyn vos Savant does not recognize these issues that are driving our country apart, then how is she able to even understand the question from the reader. Surely her personal view of politics has clouded her vision on these facts, because that seems to be my only way of understanding how she could ignore the assumption made in the question.

It is certainly funny how some people acquire the aura of being a “smart person.” But as I have already written, intelligence is more than memorization. Knowing a lot of facts will certainly be helpful in understanding how the world works. Everyone knows a lot of facts, but not everyone is considered intelligent. This is because the facts that are important to you personally are judged be others for their value. If you know a lot about the celebrities in Hollywood, then your information may not be as valued as the person who knows a lot about the “Hot Stocks” on Wall Street. If you know a lot about science and math you may have a higher value in the eyes of some than the person who knows a lot about literature and art. And, if you pride yourself on solving puzzles you certainly have a valuable ability recognized by those who value winning games and maybe even winning elections.

So, Marilyn’s question strikes close to home for me personally. I may not have been able to see the whole picture, because I may be too close to the subject. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t ask questions about it and perhaps attempt to answer those questions. Marilyn says that there isn’t any real difference between the two political parties. If this is true, then that means that there must be “something” other than ideology separating the two major political parties. What is the “something” that keeps the parties apart? Otherwise, wouldn’t the two parties be stronger if there were just one big party? Perhaps social issues are the major “wedge” issues. If that is so, then we have the party of religion and the party of secularism. Or, maybe the government spending of your tax dollars is the issue. Then we have the party of compassionate care for those in need against the party of selfish materialism. However, these too different issues do not seem to line up as expected.

As a cynic I could take Marilyn’s answer and assume that it is true. If both parties are the same, then what is the purpose of having these two political parties? Maybe the whole idea is for a small group at the top to control the country and their own issues by playing the two political parties off of each other in an attempt to distract the public. This could be true, but it seems to be as likely as the “vast right wing conspiracy” theory of Hillary Clinton.

What do you think?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Drug Use is Down

Polls can tell us a lot about the health of the country. So, it is quite interesting to evaluate the recent polls posted at Rasmussen, Real Clear Politics and Survey USA. I like to look at this collection of web pages to get the political temperature of the American people and maybe a bit more.

Actually, looking Real Clear Politics gives us a good overview of almost every poll taken for the last 5 years. One thing is certain about looking at this collection of polls is that Everyone agrees that George W Bush’s job approval has been going down since the day he was elected in 2000. His popularity spiked at two points in his presidency, when we were attacked on 9/11/2001 and when we attacked Iraq in March of 2003. These were rapid increases of support that increased and then slowly decayed over time. Why would the American people react in this way?

Obviously the answer is because of drug use. We all know that major traumas result in stress. After very stressful events people have been known to self medicate, or even seek professional help and prescription drugs. And, we also know that drug use can cloud ones mind. A person under the influence of drugs certainly is not responsible enough to drive a car or operate heavy machinery. In the past many locations across the country banned the sale of alcohol on election days, because many leaders agreed that alcohol could cloud the judgement of the voters.

But, alcohol isn’t the only drug capable of clouding ones mind. Many other illegal drugs could cloud ones mind. And, even many prescription drugs come with disclaimers that warn against the use of heavy machinery under the influence of these drugs. If we add to these drugs the high number of people being prescribed prosac, ritilan and other known mood changing drugs that aim to effect the illness of depression, then we must have had a huge number of people that were taking drugs immediately after 9/11/2001 and in March of 2003. This drug use obviously explains the huge surge in support for George W Bush.

Imagine the following scenario. On the morning of 9/11/2001 when the attacks were first broadcast people begin to watch TV or listen to the radio. The impact of the tragedy begins to sink in and the stress comes and then the depression comes. I know that many people felt this, because I for one felt it. Since we live in America we have many options in dealing with stress and depression. Some people have a ready supply of mood altering substances available, and they may even share with neighbors and friends. By the evening many people have self medicated themselves. Many people chose to take off several days of work. Imagine what the response of one of these drug-influenced people would be to a telephone survey asking if you believe that George W Bush is doing a good job. I am guessing that many people who were flying high would connect their happy feeling to the President’s action. Other’s might just be feeling generous and therefore share their happiness with the president and give him a pat on the back. Still others may be crying in their beer, and they can only imagine that George W Bush is having it even worse, so they give him a good job approval out of pity. But, the main point is that drugs have obviously been taken and they have influenced why the Bush job approval rating was so high after these tragedies.

But, everyone knows that drugs are not the answer. So, after some time people realize that they have lives to get back to. They realize that they need to be safe when they operate their heavy machinery. And gradually they reduce their self-medication and other drug use. When they reduce their drug use their minds gradually become clearer. But, at this point their health is still in a fragile state. People in this condition will typically avoid stress if they can. They can avoid stress by ignoring the news, be it on the TV, radio and especially the newspaper. So, the information might be there, but it isn’t being absorbed by a large number of people. And when the pollsters call these people may be generally ignorant of the real job that George W Bush was doing, but they have bits and pieces of what they believe he is doing. As more and more people gradually get off drugs and find out what George W Bush is really doing George W Bush’s job approval ratings fall.

And, now we find ourselves almost 5 years down the road from 9/11/2001. The American people seem to be kicking their drug habit and we can see this evidenced by the polls. After all, what sober person could possibly give George W Bush a “strongly approve” job evaluation? But, if we look at the Rasmussen poll, which keeps track of these things on a daily basis we see that there are still 15% of the American people surveyed that give this response. My guess would be that these 15% of the American people need serious help. They really need to break their drug addiction.

So, the solution is to set up more drug addiction clinics. But where should we set up these much-needed clinics? Well, fortunately we may use the Survey USA poll to answer this question. The Survey USA poll gives us the job approval rating of George W Bush for all of the 50 states in the United States of America. From this poll we see that only three states in the union give the president a positive approval rating. They are Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. And, now it becomes clear what is happening. It turns out that these states have very few drug rehabilitation clinics. And, with out this much needed help many people living in these states will go for years addicted to drugs, and believing that the president is doing a very good job.

But, on the much-needed positive note we certainly can all agree that national drug use is declining at a very good rate.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Injustice in Paradise?

How can the known violation of Human Rights in the United States of America go on for more than ten years without being addressed by the law?

Maybe it is because the abuse sounded so outrageous that nobody believed that it could be true. Maybe it was because politics was against them. Maybe it was because this injustice happened in an area of the United States that falls into a special category requiring special laws that are full of exceptions to human rights and the Bill of Rights that the rest of us take for granted.

The politics of this obscenity is fading away in the Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay scandals and people are finally willing to tell the truth without fear. The awful truth has come to the mainstream in Ms. Magazine this month.

If you don’t know what I am talking about already, then read carefully what I am about to tell you. Rebecca Clarren of Ms. Magazine has written an investigative story about the abuse of Human Rights occurring in Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands. Most Americans have no idea where this island is, let alone that it belongs to the United States of America. But, it isn’t a state, but a territory. And because of it’s special status the normal federal laws don’t apply to this place. It is like the special status of Guantanamo Bay Cuba that allows the twisted special laws to enable the CIA to torture people without fear of prosecution.

In the Northern Mariana Islands federal minimum wages do not apply. In the Northern Mariana Islands federal immigration laws do not apply. In the Northern Mariana Islands federal OSHA standards do not apply. And, Tom Delay has said, that Saipan was a model of an economic miracle. Obviously these people have a different idea of what an economic miracle is. This economic view of the world has everything to do with the vision that the Republican Party has for our country.

In Saipan labor is cheap. Human Resources are shipped in like the old slave trading days. But, these people are not slaves, because technically they are being paid. But like the sharecroppers of over a hundred years ago these people are not free until they pay off their debt, which is prolonged as long as possible. And when these people have paid off their debt they are free to go, but they can never leave. They need to double their labor just to be able to afford the trip home. And, if they don’t bring any money to their Chinese families when they do go home they will suffer the embarrassment of a failed daughter. The constant import of cheap labor keeps wages low, the ideal of the current Republican leadership. And, the only plentiful jobs on the island are in these sweatshops or prostitution. Isn’t it wonderful that these leaders in the Republican Party view prostitution as a legitimate job for a retired garment worker? But, the Republican Party has always been in favor of cheap labor in mainstream America as well. Why else does George W Bush want to turn the current illegal immigrants into guest workers? To keep labor cheap, of course!

Cheap labor keeps the corporations making a profit, and that’s why companies have been sending their manufacturing jobs to countries with cheap labor. However, when products are made in Saipan, these products may bare the “Made in the USA” tag, which means that patriotic Americans will pay more for these items. It is just another form of deception, which is so popular with the Republican Party.

But keeping the laws on this tiny island free from scrutiny was where Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay played the biggest role. These corrupt politicians were able to deflect more than twenty laws passed by the Senate that tried to reform the laws on this island. Jack Abramoff paid key congressmen with “free” trips to Saipan for family vacations on this tropical paradise. These congressmen were able to vote down in committee all of the more than twenty reform laws passed by the Senate. And, if one were to slip by, Tom Delay would have been able to use his influence to prevent scheduling a full House vote on it. Some of these reform laws were passed unanimously by the Senate, which demonstrates the degree that Tom Delay was able to control the legislature.
The sad thing is that in 1998, a religious group calling themselves the Religious Freedom Coalition of the Southeast had written about this. But, their efforts were silenced.

How could this happen in the United States of America? I’m guessing it has a lot to do with money. Money talks and that’s how the laws in Saipan were protected from changes.

The good news is that many of these companies are taking their business elsewhere. It isn’t because the United States passed any laws to stop the abuse. Instead it is a result of the GATT treaty, which does away with tariffs on products from other countries. Companies are moving manufacturing jobs off Saipan, because even though labor is cheap, it is even cheaper in China and India. But, the people on Saipan are already there and they aren’t going anywhere, which means that the number of prostitutes on the island is increasing. But, now that Tom Delay isn’t in the congress anymore there is hope at the end of the tunnel once again.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Rose Colored Glasses

In the 1960s the progressive movement that changed the world was often accused of looking at the world through “rose-colored glasses.” This was a boon for the tinted glasses industry, because rose colored glasses actually became a short lived fashion trend. But, after almost 40 years looking at the 1960s through the rear view mirror, it seems that many of the optimists of the 1960s were wrong in assuming that things could be changed as permanently as they had hoped. The opponents of the many social reforms of the 1960s have regrouped and reasserted their strength through the conservative religious groups. Similarly the wealthy conservatives have been able to ride the wave of the social conservatives to write new laws to protect their wealth. The recent extension of the tax cuts on dividends shows that their power hasn’t waned.

The truth is that the rose-colored glasses are now on the faces of the supporters of the Republicans and the conservative movement. These people who are wearing these glasses continue to support the Republican agenda and the Bush administration, regardless of the truth that has been pouring out over the last three or four years. And, over these last three or four years the Republicans who were wearing those rose-colored glasses were willing to only see the world in those shades of pink and red.

For example, the deception used to maintain support of the American people during the build up to the War in Iraq was classic manipulation. The supporters of the Bush administration and the Republican leadership donned their rose-colored glasses and accepted the version of the need for war fed to them by the conservatives planted in the media. When the bias in the Fox News version of the war became apparent, these supporters continued to wear their trusty rose-colored glasses and continued to believe what they were told. These glasses either filtered out the ability of the wearer to watch other networks, or believe what they said. Journalists like Judy Miller continued to pound the “facts” that the Bush administration fed her, without checking into the truth of what she was told. And, those wearing these special glasses used her biased writing to support their rose-colored view of the world.

The Bush administration told us about weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which was a clever way to group chemical, biological and nuclear weapons together. In this way the administration was able to warn us of the dangers of WMD, because “…the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud.” This statement about WMDs clearly referred to the nuclear component of this group. In logic we would ask the question: “If WMDs include chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and we know that there are WMDs in Iraq, then do we know that there are nuclear weapons in Iraq?” Obviously, it is clear that we do not know that, but the American people don’t do so well on logic tests. So, the Bush administration was able to use fear by grouping these three types of weapons together, and distorting the logic. The Bush administration was fairly confident that Iraq had chemical weapons, because the US sold them to Saddam Hussein and he used them in the Iraq-Iran war. The Bush administration used the following logic to gain support for the war they already decided to enter based on the Downing Street memos. They told us to fear WMDs, because WMDs contain nuclear weapons which are really bad. They told us that they knew that Iraq had WMDs, but they didn’t mention that they were sure about this because they knew they had chemical weapons. And, the Republicans wearing the rose-colored glasses never questioned this flawed logic.

This strategy was so successful that the Bush administration thought that they could use this same logic again. This time they decided to use it on the immigration issue. In George W Bush’s speech on Monday night he told us that amnesty for illegal immigrants was bad. In this way he hoped to keep the support of the xenophobic conservatives who make up 20% of the Republican Party. The common understanding of amnesty is forgiveness for breaking a law. So, the Bush administration is using the twisting of logic once again in order to keep these conservatives on his side without attacking 12 million illegal immigrants living in our country. The reason he doesn’t want to enforce the law, is not because deporting 12 million people from the US would break up families. No, Bush does not want to deport 12 million people from the US because this would drive wages up for the types of work that these people do, namely agriculture, meat packing, garment sewing and even manufacturing. This might sound good for the US economy, but the truth is that a sudden change like this would cause an unknown economic effect. And, fiscal conservatives don’t like sudden economic changes of any type, because it means increased risk.

In the long run, setting wages to a reasonable level would reflect the true cost of these products and even if food and clothing will go up in price so will wages until equilibrium is found once again.

So, George W Bush has decided that changing the status of illegal immigrants from illegal to guest worker will solve the opposition to “amnesty” issue. But, since amnesty does not really depend on the status of a person, unless the status changes from illegal to legal. And, changing a person status from illegal to guest worker does actually change their status from illegal to legal. So, this really is forgiveness to a person who broke the law, which by definition is amnesty. George W Bush is just trying to avoid the use of the word amnesty by granting amnesty under another name. This is typical George W Bush (or should we say Karl Rove) deception, just on another issue. Whatever your stance on the immigration issue one must admit that George W Bush is spinning another yarn once again. And, since the American people aren’t that great with logic they might not see this, especially if they have their rose-colored glasses on.

The good news is that some conservatives from the xenophobic 20% of the Republican Party have seen through George W Bush’s redefinition of amnesty. Now, the truth should be sought and the problem should be dealt with honestly, but honesty isn’t something that George W Bush is good at. But, maybe some good could come out of this issue. If the xenophobes in the Republican Party realize that George W Bush is pulling this logic trick on them because they took off their rose-colored glasses, then maybe they will look around at the other George W Bush deceptions while they have those glasses off. And, once they begin to realize that the “amnesty” redefinition isn’t the first and only deception they just might begin to be honest about the other issues that they had once supported.

Or, maybe not, maybe I am just looking at the mess we are in here in America through my own rose-colored glasses, hoping against the odds that we will be able to correct the damage that this administration has done.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Before and After

In olden days before the Internet it was written, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873)

This seems to be a reasonable assumption. A person writing a pamphlet, for example, like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” was able to start not one but two revolutions. A little known piece of history was that Thomas Paine tried to start a revolution in England before he came to America in 1774. And, when he arrived in America he found that America was ripe for revolution. He spread his revolutionary words anonymously through out North America and made a good penny doing it. But, not only that, after he left America he went to France and was instrumental in the spread of the revolutionary word there as well. So, one man, three countries and one pen were able to bring about enormous change.

Today the strength of the pen means more than ever before. However, instead of a pen we are armed with a keyboard connected to the world through the Internet. And, because of its easy access to the community of the world mankind may be saved by individuals like Thomas Paine spread their ideas around the world.

Like the sword, however, power is neither “good” nor “bad.” When evil men wield a sword great damage may be done. And, with a weapon more powerful more damage may be done. We have seen this already with the damage the right wing extremists have done to America by spreading the lies of the right and making it possible for George W Bush to be elected despite the truth.

It may seem hopeless for those who look out among the masses of Americans believing the lies of the right. In your heart you know the truth, but you can not make those you love believe the truth. Sitting around the dinner table at Christmas or Easter you might find yourself arguing with your cousin or uncle, begging him to believe the truth. And, after those meals you go home and feel the pain of a broken relationship. “Can you ever forgive their ignorance?” you think to yourself. But deep down you pray that these people you love will come to see the truth. This must be the feeling that a disillusioned Fundamentalist Christian must have when they see the people they love reject their extremist views of religion. The feeling is the same, but the truth is the solution.

Truth isn’t always easy to come by, but it seeps into reality through the cracks in the doors and windows of constructions that the liars create. The truth surfaces when people see the inconsistencies in the web of lies. The liars hope to hide the inconsistencies by directing attention away from them. Time erases memory, and liars use this to their advantage. Forgetting certain facts and highlighting other “facts” is the strategy used by liars to keep their lies alive. But, when the old facts resurface the inconsistencies resurface as well. Pointing to the inconsistencies over and over again is the best way to shine the light on the ongoing deception.

One example of this is the fact that the Bush administration pressed for war by lying to the American people by scaring them with the potential of being attacked with nuclear weapons. Both George W Bush and Condi Rice warned us “…the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud.” But today these liars tell us that bad intelligence, bad terrorists, or bad Saddam make the current ongoing destruction in Iraq worthwhile. Well, at least that is what they said until Karl Rove has decided to change the lie and put a new face on it.

Yesterday Karl Rove began to tell us that people like George W Bush, they just don’t like the War in Iraq. What?!!! George W Bush is the man responsible for this WAR, and Karl Rove is trying to deflect the criticism of this debacle? Is this not deception? The Obfuscaters in the White House are deceiving us in the hopes that the most naïve will say, “Oh, that’s right I’d like to have a beer with this guy.” Or maybe, “He has a cute way of saying nuclear. He’s just like me. I mispronounce words too.” Or even worse, “He’s stupid just like me. I like that.”

But, this is when we need to use the pen just like a sword to defend the truth. We need to use the Internet to remind the world of the lies that were told by this guy that Karl Rove is trying to paint as your Buddy-In-Chief. It is your duty to go out there and remind us about those lies that this guy told us, and we all need to repeat them often.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Trail Running Part II

After rereading what I wrote yesterday I found myself being disappointed that I never actually described the experience of the race itself. What I wrote about it did not communicate why I liked the trail run. So, I am going to try to write about the run as a description of my personal experience.

I guess that I have to begin with getting up in the morning. Since the race was at 9:00AM and according to MapQuest it was almost two hours away we had to leave at 6:00AM to allow time for registration, changing clothes and finding the place. We got out of the house at 6:20AM and stopped for hot chocolate. But, we were on the road by 6:30AM with only a small room for error.

Fortunately, the times given by MapQuest seem to assume that a little old lady from Pasadena would be driving and we made the trek with plenty of time to spare. We were early and found a place to park that was quite close to the registration area. The surroundings were wonderful. The run was in a park set in the middle of a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable for running, I would guess that the temperature was in the upper 50s Fahrenheit. We got our numbers, pinned them on and used the clean convenient restrooms.

It was announced that we would wait a few minutes longer than the scheduled race time to allow for stragglers that might have gotten lost. The pause wasn’t a problem as we had the beautiful park everywhere we looked.

My daughter, wife and a friend from the athletic club we train at were with me. But, the rest of the people at the race were quite friendly. The director of the race gave us instructions, like follow the signs pertaining to your distance. Our group had all signed up for the 5.5-mile race. The other races were 10.5 miles and 16 miles which was once around 5.5-mile and 10.5-mile course. He also told us that the trail Marathon had been cancelled this year because it had taken some of the people seven hours to complete.

Then he went down the road a bit with the group that would run the 10.5-mile race. He would start them first, and we would wait 5-minutes for them to get down the path before we would start. As we waited I began to shiver. I just wanted to get started so I could get warm.

Finally the moment happened when the director of the race said, “Go!” But, we only moved slowly through the gate at the beginning of the trail. The trail was only wide enough for two or three people, so squeezing over 100 people through that tiny opening took some time. This was probably the worst part of the race, because our group had been standing at the back of the pack and we had to wait until almost everyone got started before we could actually begin to run. I looked at my watch and I believe that it took nearly 5 minutes before I got up to a jogging pace, only to be stopped at another traffic jam on the path.

After traveling only a short distance of walking and slow jogging we made it to a road crossing where I could pass by a large number of people and begin to pick up my pace. But right across the road was the first hill. It wasn’t very steep, but it did require a bit more energy to accelerate and pass by some of the runners on the path. At this point my wife called out, “See you later,” as I began to pick up speed. My daughter and our friend had been stuck in the crowd and they were already behind us.

It quickly became apparent that running on a trail was different than running on the street. There were sticks, mud and logs lying across the path in places. When you are walking a stick isn’t a big deal, but when you are running and step on a stick your foot will roll and you may lose your balance. This happened to a person directly behind me at the beginning of the race. I heard a thump, and turned to see someone on the ground. I asked if they were OK, and they said yes as they got up and began to run. “I’d better be careful,” I thought to myself.

Over the next mile or so I passed quite a few people, one by one and I finally managed to get to a good pace. I saw the first mile marker on the path and I was certainly in a groove. I heard heavy breathing behind me, and I anticipated that someone was about to pass me so I moved over. But they just stayed behind me for quite some time. I was looking for the mile 2 marker for quite some time, but I never saw it. Based on what I expected my pace to be I had guessed that I had passed it quite some time ago, but the race didn’t seem that clear anymore. In fact the rest of the race is blurred together in my memory.

I do know that the racecourse took us to a waterfall that must have been 30 feet high. The race went down a set of stairs to the observation platform, then turned around and went back up. It was a bit disappointing to see some of the runners going halfway down the stairs, then turning around, but it wasn’t like we were trying to win the gold medal in the Olympics or anything.

Then we made it to “Slippery Rock” the sign proclaimed. This was certainly the steepest part of the race. From the race profile posted on the Internet I learned that this steep climb was about 300 feet up in about two tenths of a mile. Most of the people were walking up the rock, and I was with them. I don’t know how anyone could actually run up this rock. But, I took long strides and I passed by about ten people just on the face of this rock. The three-mile mark was not posted, but it was somewhere on the face of this rock based on the race profile.

My wife had passed me by before we had gotten to the rock, but I thought that I might be able to catch her. But she maintained her speed and I remained behind her as we climbed the rock. At the top of the rock was the mid-course water station. I ignored it as I usually do. I don’t particularly like water sloshing around in my stomach as I am running, so I put off the water until the end of the race.

Then the course took us down the backside of the rock, which was a nice downhill run with only a few obstacles in the way. One interesting obstruction was a tree leaning against a cliff and the path went under it. I certainly had to duck, and I imagined that if I were too tired I might not have been able to find the strength to duck. Then I would have “hit the tree.” I began to think that it was funny to have “hit the tree.” I began to amuse myself by thinking that Marathoners “hit the wall” but trail runners “hit the tree.”

I know, it wasn’t really that funny, but that’s what happens when you exert yourself too these extremes. And, while I was thinking this I saw that I was getting close to my wife. I ran past her and told her to be careful not to “hit the tree.” She didn’t think that it was funny.

Of course the end part of the race is even foggier. I know that my wife passed me again on another uphill stretch. She certainly does quite well on the climbs. But, I didn’t let her get too far ahead of me. And, we passed the 4.5 mile marker very close together. I told her that we had less than a mile to go, and I passed her on an uphill climb for the first time. It wasn’t long after that that I saw the flags and the clock showing that we had reached the end of the trail. I saw that my time was 1:02:20 and I turned around to wait for my wife to finish behind me. When she did I saw that she finished at 1:02:35.

They had snacks and water set up at the finish, but it wasn’t for those of us who had just finished the race. Instead it was for the 16 milers who were just passing through on to the 10.5-mile loop. I wanted to get some water that was located up the hill at the registration table. My wife waited for my daughter and our friend to finish while I went to get some snacks and water. They had fresh fruit, trail mix, water and even candy. I grabbed some stuff and headed back to wait at the finish line. And, my daughter finished the race about ten minutes behind us. We had fun talking about the details of the race and eating snacks.

The amazing thing about this race was that the results were being typed in a laptop computer and printed out periodically. They put the results up at the snack table and we could see where we finished. And, that’s when I found out that I actually finished 9th overall in the race. I was surprised, I had never finished that high in the results before. I also found out that our real time was 57:20 and 57:35, because I had forgotten about the 5-minute delay for the start of our race. My wife finished second among the women in the race and I finished 3rd in my age group.

Well, we stood around talking with the other runners for some time and then we felt rested enough to hike a little ways through the woods. We thought that we might take some time to actually look around and enjoy the redwoods, waterfalls and banana slugs. We walked back to the “slippery rock” and the stairs that took us down to the waterfalls. This time we lingered just looking at the falls and the fish swimming in the creek at the bottom. Then we turned around and climbed the slippery rock one more time as we headed back home again.

I hope y’all like that better than what I wrote yesterday…


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Trail Running

I had such a wonderful experience this weekend that I find the need to write about it. And, you should remember that this is coming from a person who once wrote, “I hate running.”

First, a little back ground for those of you who don’t read every post that I make. I assume that’s most of you. Twenty some years ago I was on a swim team. I was pretty good and I swam for one year on my college swim team. However, because of the time required for swim team I decided that I should put that time toward studies and social activities instead, and my training went from several hours per day to dancing in night clubs over the weekend. When I went to graduate school I did even less dancing and even more studying. Without much more explanation most of you can imagine that I put on some weight and became much less athletic, to put it lightly.

Actually I really like swimming and I should have continued swimming on my own, but even though it was easy to find a pool while I was in school, it was certainly more difficult once I started working in the “real world.” My current employer actually had an option to join a nearby sports club at a discount, but it was difficult to find the time to use the membership. I actually ended up using the membership to play racquetball during lunch with some of the guys from work and injured my elbow in the process. But, over the twenty some years since my swim team days I gained about 50 pounds.

My wife had been trying to encourage me to run with her, but my memory of running always went back to my high school cross-country days. Fall was the off season for swimming, so I ran cross-country to try to stay in shape in the off season, but I always hated running. I hated almost everything about it. I find it boring. I didn’t like the dryness in my mouth. I didn’t like the pushing at the start of the race. I didn’t like the pain of trying to climb the hills. I just didn’t like it, but I hoped that I would be able to maintain my physical fitness during the off season none-the-less.

Back in 2001 when my son had been assigned a school project to write a report on a National Park our family took a trip to Lassen National Park to see the volcanoes. This was the first hiking that I had done in quite a while, and the critical moment of the trip was the family climb of the “cinder cone.” This grueling climb proved that I was truly out of shape, and that needed to be fixed. But like all good intentions that is all that they are until you take action. I started walking a bit more often than I had been, but running was still out of the question. I still had the thought of that pain and discomfort in the back of my mind. I just remembered that I hated running, and even when my wife tried to encourage me to jog a little I scoffed at her and let her run ahead.

But, three years later I was involved in an accident that changed my life. My car was rear-ended and I needed to take the car to the body shop to fix it. And, while I was waiting to drop the car off early one morning I saw an athletic center across the street that had just finished building a pool. The pool wasn’t quite finished, but by the time that they had finished I was a member of the sports club. And, I religiously went to swim laps every morning for at least an hour.

After about a year of doing this I felt much healthier and I had lost about twenty pounds. I wasn’t in a hurry to undo the weight that I had put on over the years, so I wasn’t disappointed with the slow progress. But I did feel that I might be able to run a 5K with my wife and kids one weekend. In fact, my wife actually ran a 10K while I ran/walked the 5K with my kids just to keep them occupied. And, I was so sore the next day, it made me remember why I hated running. However, being the insane person that I am I figured that the 5K was actually good for me, and when my wife entered another 10K I entered the 5K with the kids again. And, once again I was extremely sore for even more than a few days.

I didn’t understand how I could be so sore if I worked out every day, even if it was swimming, and still be so incredibly sore after running a 5K. But that didn’t stop me, because I searched the Internet to find the answer. I came to the conclusion that if I ran at least once a week my running muscles would not become so sore after a race. And, I began to run on the treadmill at the very same club at least once a week. A strange thing happened, I began to like running on the treadmill. I liked running on the treadmill because I could set a pace and push myself just the right amount to get stronger, but not exhaust myself too quickly. I could gradually increase my pace, and best of all I could stop any time that I wanted without having to walk all the way home from some strange place. Of course this worked to keep me from becoming so incredibly sore after running a 5K. Well, I entered a 10-mile race and a 10K in the last few months and I actually enjoyed the runs. I tried to run them as fast as I could. And, over the last couple of months I am still getting better.

This weekend we went to a completely new type of run. It is called a trail run. The idea is to run a race through the hiking trails of a park. Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages of this type of run, compared to the typical street run. The disadvantage is that there isn’t much room on a trail for a large number of runners, so this race was limited to only 250 people. Another disadvantage is that there are hills on the hiking trails that are quite steep. This must be one of the factors that help to limit the number of runners on the trail.

However, the advantage of running through the beauty of the park and the added challenge of the course outweigh any of the disadvantages. Just to give an idea of the grueling nature of the race that I ran, it took me 57:20 minutes to run 5.5 miles up and down hills. There was a slow start at the beginning of the race where over 100 people tried to squeeze into a trail that was only wide enough for two or three people. Last month I ran a 10K, which is 6.2 miles in 47:28 minutes. Of course, every race depends on its terrain and conditions. That is what makes the race unique.

So, after my experience of this race I can’t wait to run the next one. I am hooked on trail running. I find myself needing to write the sentence that I never thought that I could write.

I love trail running.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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