Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Burning Bush: Biblical Prophecy, Not WMD, Reason for Iraq War

In a shocking revelation, we now learn that George W. Bush used Biblical prophecy to justify the war in Iraq. A book by former French President Jacques Chirac recounts what Bush said to him:
“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

Chirac was astonished by Bush’s comment and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.” At the time Bush was assembling the so-called “coalition of the willing” to join the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Chirac stalled and asked a theologian, Dr. Thomas Romer, to analyze Bush’s bizarre comment. Dr. Romer noted that in the Old Testament Book of Ezequiel (Chs. 38 and 39), Gog and Magog are sinister entities that threaten Israel. God vows to strike them down ruthlessly, a sentiment re-emphasized in the Book of Revelation.

There is a solid foundation for indicting Bush for war crimes on the basis of nonexistent WMD. If, in fact, Bush initiated and prosecuted a war with Iraq based on religious prophecy, this is a criminal violation of the constitutional separation of church and state, which caused the deaths of more than 4,000 American troops and thousands upon thousands of Iraquis.

According to legal scholars, Bush can be impeached and convicted even after leaving office.

And he should be -- To the fullest extent of our SECULAR CONSTITUTION AND LAWS.

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry with this one..

All other industrialized democracies guarantee health care for everybody - young, old, rich or poor, native or immigrant. To judge the content of a nation's character, look no further than its health-care system. See this excellent article here:No Country for Sick Men.

El Sistema: A Great Music Program for the Poor Children of Venezuela

There was a time in this country when the Arts were an integral part of good public policy. Today, the first thing to be slashed from public school budgets is the music program, and symphonies in smaller markets throughout the country are struggling to survive without public funds.

In Venezuela, "El Sistema is a publicly financed voluntary sector music-education program originally called Social Action for Music. This state foundation oversees Venezuela's 125 youth orchestras and the instrumental training programs which make them possible. The walls of the crowded Caracas head office are plastered with photographs of generations of beaming children and their instruments, so many smiling children that there is hardly any blank wall left. El Sistema has 30 symphony orchestras. But its greatest achievement are the 250,000 children who attend its music schools around the country, 90 percent of them from poor socio-economic backgrounds."

For those who live under a rock and venture out occasionally to attend town halls or go to the shooting range, the democratically elected president of Venezuela is Hugo Chavez, a socialist. The right wing in this country has fits when his name comes up, for no reason I can discern. He's certainly not a threat to the U.S., his relationship with President Obama is cordial, and he made some uncivil comments about W. in a UN speech -- something about the smell of sulphur lingering after W.'s speech. Granted, I have a twisted sense of humor, but I thought this was hilarious.

Anyway, thumbs up to El Presidente. You've done good for the poor children of Venezuela.

Here's a brief video about El Sistema:


Monday, September 21, 2009

Been a bit scarce..

DINOS Not goin’ to Disneyland

MEMO to DINOS: Forsake Us at Your Peril. Signed, Big “D” Democrats.

Progressive and liberal Democrats are PO’d. Not with the racist ugliness of the lunatic fringe, or right wing corporate tools spewing vitriol at town hall meetings, or even at Republican obstructionists like Snake-in-the-Grass-ley hissing demagoguery and satanic lies to his base.

(I must have missed this one: Grassley was heard whining pathetically last week that the President said mean things about him … Aww, Chuckie was crying because his BFF Max Baucus decided to go solo on their taxpayer-funded giveaway to the (W)ealth insurance industry; Maxie invoked his chairman’s prerogative, cut his losses, and decided not to play “ranking member” privilege games anymore.)

Progressives are seething at false members of the Democratic Party, a.k.a. Democrats in Name Only (DINOS), whose refusal to embrace the mainstream Democratic compromise of the public option -- despite polls showing solid public support for it -- runs counter to every principle of representative democracy.

Outrage is meaningless without action. Take a look at these ads:

This ad, directed at Senator Baucus, was produced by an uninsured dad. It’s an awesome example of Netroots citizen advocacy at its best:

Tomorrow markup starts on the Baucus bill. It’s such a craven giveaway to the (W)ealth insurance industry, said industry whistleblower Wendell Potter, that even their lobbyists wouldn’t be so brash as to claim its authorship.

Max ‘Hamlet’ Baucus was willingly enticed by Republican obstructionists “Snake” and Enzi into chasing after rainbows of ‘bipartisanship’. It’s just beyond the glen, they said. In the end, Baucus could have saved us all a lot of grief had he released this very same bad bill two months earlier before the August screamers filled the vacuum and corporate opponents geared up. Once he said that listening to President Obama was like listening to a symphony. It would be funnier if not for the fact that millions of Americans depend on his sound judgment on healthcare reform.

“Snake” Chuckie’s outburst presaged the whimpering death throes of the Finance Committee ‘Gang of Six.’ At the end of a long day this is a positive thing, even if the White House seemingly ignored our early entreaties that it would come to this. In the process, they lost control of the message, House and Senate Democrats teetered, and Republicans were emboldened by the basest instincts of their base.

So it’s best not to rely on assumptions that the White House has a grand design us mere mortals cannot divine.

On a positive note, the politics has shifted for the better, though some pundits have yet to catch on. Embracing the Baucus bill, David Brooks of the NYT smugly predicted the public option is “dead” with supporters going through stages of "withdrawal." What he fails to understand is that with the demise of the ‘Gang of Six’ its endangered moderate Republican member, Olympia Snowe, is no longer in a commanding position to determine the outlines of the final bill.

Sure, we’d like her vote, but we can take it or leave it. President Obama admitted (conceded?) over the weekend that he’d like Republican votes but he’s resigned himself to a Democrats-only bill. As such, we need 51, not 60 votes. The 60 votes are required to defeat a filibuster, and woe be it on any Democrat who votes to keep a Republican filibuster alive.

The key Senator on the Finance Committee is not Republican Olympia Snowe; it’s Democrat Jay Rockefeller. During his years in the Senate, the progressive Sen. Rockefeller deferred to Ted Kennedy on healthcare issues. But coming from West Virginia, a poor state with special health needs, Rockefeller is no back bencher. He has always cared deeply about healthcare policy, and most importantly, he’s a fierce advocate of the public option.

It’s significant to note that before President Obama said he may go forward with Democrats only, he had a long one-on-one meeting with Sen. Rockefeller. If Rockefeller isn’t satisfied with the bill that Finance produces he has stated he will vote against it unless it changes in amendment “by vast amounts.”

Where does that leave us? Quite simply with the original Ted Kennedy bill, voted out of Kennedy’s Health Committee, which contains the public option.

This is what it means to have a governing majority.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Timeout: Sports Briefs

This was a mostly good and eventful sports Sunday.

First, back-to-back wins by the Bears and Giants with interesting parallels, not least a quartet of young receivers: Johnnie Knox and Kellen Davis for the Bears and for the Giants, Mario Mannigham and Steve Smith. Knox and Manningham, with their blazing speed, breakaway moves, and sure hands look like budding stars.

Jay Cutler played to expectations. Impressive. The Bears seem to be an excellent fit. I like his pressers. Very laid back, like Eli. Winners, both. I can't say the same for Tony Romo, in my view the most overrated "marquee" quarterback in the game. This guy can find creative ways to lose, so I was quite confident the Giants would spoil Jerry Jones's bread and circuses Cowboys Coliseum extravaganza. With W. in attendance it was extra enjoyable. Have I mentioned yet how much I hate the Cowboys?

Both games ended on last-play field goals. Gould is good as gold. In the Cowboys game their coach, Wade Phillips, called a timeout to "freeze" the kicker after the ball had sailed off his foot. It literally skimmed the left post. (Thanks for the practice kick, Wade.) The next kick was right down the middle. Imagine if the first kick was a miss ... Phillips would've been in Tony Romo territory then. I think they deserve each other.

The Cubs have finally had enough of Milton Bradley, suspended for the season. It's unlikely he'll ever play for this team again. In tight economic times, $30 million is a hell of a costly mistake for the Cubs to swallow. Check that; it's costly under any circumstances, but in times like these the extravagant waste is all the more galling. At least other overpaid jackass athletes (A-Rod) make a minimal effort to behave professionally.

Should the GM's head roll for this, even though it was his decision?