Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The following is an excerpt from an article found on .

Bush’s approval rating falls to new low
53 percent say they disapprove of president in new Post-ABC survey
By Richard Morin and Dan Balz
Updated: 12:02 a.m. ET Aug. 31, 2005

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found Bush's job approval rating at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.

The war has been a drag on Bush's presidency for many months, but his Iraq approval ratings in the new poll were little changed from two months ago, despite widespread violence, a rash of U.S. casualties, antiwar protests outside the president's Texas ranch and a growing debate about reducing U.S. troop levels.

Snave's notes: The rest of the article can be read at While I do enjoy seeing Bush's approval ratings gradually decline, the news here isn't all great for Democrats, as a majority of those polled believe our party's leaders are not doing a good job challenging Bush, and that they should be more aggressive about it. This is especially true among those respondents identifying themselves as either Democrats or Independents. We need to seize the opportunity. Kicking someone when they are down isn't a very nice way to go about doing things, I will admit that. But if we want Bush out of office, the time is now, when he is down. Where are our party's leaders when we need them? Are they out there taking money from corporations, and paying lobbyists large sums, like their counterparts? Probably. At least a few Dems in the Senate and Congress have the cojones to speak up, forcefully. Maybe more will join in, and the duet, trio or quartet will become a chorus.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Dear readers and fellow bloggers,

Spam, spam, spam, spam... I've been getting a lot of it in my comments sections lately, and it is indeed tiresome. Sometimes it's infuriating, and as I found out this evening, highly offensive.

Today someone posted three identical comments which included a porn picture, in response to the article below ("Fun Song Lyrics"). Where my "personal photo" picture is of the Eraserhead guy, this person's picture was of two men engaged in oral sex. The perpetrator is even using the name of another left-wing blogger on whose blog I leave comments.

If people want to engage in gay or lesbian sexual activities, more power to them... I don't think they are hurting anyone; it isn't my bent, but it doesn't bother me. What does bother me is getting unsolicited pornographic images of such activities in the comments section of Various Miseries. I try to keep this place at a PG-13 level or lower, although it may sometimes approach R... but I don't want NC-17 or X-rated stuff here.

I decided to do the "word verification" thing to keep the numerous spammers at bay... hopefully there won't be any more of them clogging up the Comments sections. But I believe the person who sent the porn pictures is not a classic spammer. On this supposed "weblog" was a website address for ANOTHER blog, and I checked it out. It was one that contained the same pornographic picture but this site was aimed at the right wingers. Ugly... and yet another address on this second site led me to a THIRD site... a sad, dark place, which may be the source of the trouble. I won't name the site here, because they know who they are and I don't need them coming here to harrass me and other people.

Unsolicited pornography is something I don't want on this weblog. Someone is sending it here because I said some anti-conservative or anti-Bush things, or things they didn't like at my friend's blog or possibly at another blog. It may have had something to do with my responses to something I get tired of reading from rightwing bloggers who have been in the military and who like to answer criticism of Bush or the war with remarks like "So, how many years have you served?" Mindless stuff, but I feel it deserves a response in any case.

Anyway, while this person may think he or she is having fun, this kind of stuff is feeble and cowardly at best. What they are doing goes beyond the realm of gentle fun and practical jokes.

I like blogging and plan to continue Various Miseries regardless of people who might hate it so much that they resort to shenanigans like anonymously posting porno shots on other peoples' weblogs.

I do feel I have to warn you, dear readers... someone out there who doesn't like left-wingers is getting nasty. It's even possible that someone who doesn't like right-wingers started it all... who knows. But I highly doubt it was my blogger friend that started this thing. He appears to be more of a casualty in this case than an instigator.

Anyway, I will monitor the comments sections of Various Miseries as often as possible to keep that kind of stuff from appearing here. If any of it does appear here, I apologize. It would never be my intent to post such things. I'll look in Settings and Comments and see if there's a feature for showing or not showing "personal photos" of those who comment, and if there is, I will use it. There isn't anything I can do about obscene language in comments, except for using the little garbage can symbol in the Comments sections, which I will gladly do as I see fit.

In the meantime, I recommend you all turn on the Word Verification feature. To access it, go to Settings and then to Comments. Blogger has found a way to keep the Spambots out, but evidently we still have to watch out for the TROLLS... and it seems there are some angry ones about.


XTC has been one of my favorite bands for a long time now. Their bassist, Colin Moulding, has written some great songs for the band. The following is one I consider a classic...


Well man created the cardboard box to sleep in it
And man converted the newspaper to a blanket
Well you have to admit that he's come a long way since swinging about in the trees

We're the smartest monkeys The smartest monkeys
The evidence is all around, our brains are bigger, this we've found
The smartest monkeys

Well man discovered the park bench can make a transition
And the rubbish tip makes a valid form of nutrition
With discoveries like these, civilisation agrees... to give itself a pat on the back

We're the smartest monkeys The smartest monkeys
The evolution's plain to see, we're the dominant of the species
The smartest monkeys

We brought the caveman from the stoneage to the subways of the modern world
Quick call the Guinness Book of Records
Well you have to admit... We're the smartest monkeys...

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Snave's note: Unlike George, I do care who I offend, so my apologies in advance to those who find the following reference to the Pope offensive. And for that matter, apologies in advance to any reader here who thinks their faith is something that shouldn't be criticized. Faith is, after all, a highly personal thing, and I realize this. On the other hand, I also happen to like George Carlin's observations. Whether or not we like the following quotes, they might provide some fodder for discussion. I asterisked-out enough letters to make some of what George says appear slightly sanitized (able readers can use their imaginations). For the record, I am in complete agreement with this first group of quotes:

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

"This is a little prayer dedicated to the separation of church and state. I guess if they are going to force those kids to pray in schools they might as well have a nice prayer like this: Our Father who art in heaven, and to the republic for which it stands, thy kingdom come, one nation indivisible as in heaven, give us this day as we forgive those who so proudly we hail. Crown thy good into temptation but deliver us from the twilight's last gleaming. Amen and Awomen."

"If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else."

"I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it."

"Here's another question I've been pondering -- what is all this sh*t about angels? Have you heard this? Three out of four people belive in angels. Are you f*cking stupid? Has everybody lost their mind? You know what I think it is? I think it's a massive, collective, psychotic chemical flashback for all the drugs smoked, swallowed, shot, and absorbed rectally by all Americans from 1960 to 1990. Thirty years of unadulterated street drugs will get you some f*cking angels, my friend."

"I credit eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, 'This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.'"

Snave's note: the following gem is from Carlin's cranky late-90's HBO show immortalized on CD as "You Are All Diseased". The part about having tried to believe hits home for me in a hard way... I know what he is talking about. And I'm a "science" kind of guy, a "show-me" guy, someone who tends to need some proof about claims I find questionable... I tend to be pretty skeptical, and I also tend to be a militant agnostic (i.e. "I don't know and you don't either!")

I think Carlin is a bit harsh here in some instances, but I still laugh out loud every time I listen to these observations:

"When it comes to bullsh*t, big-time, major league bullsh*t, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullsh*t story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you.

He loves you, and He needs MONEY! He ALWAYS NEEDS MONEY!

He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Sh*t!

But I want you to know something, this is sincere, I want you to know, when it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really, really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God, who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize, something is f***ed up.

Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of sh*t you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would've been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago. And by the way, I say "this guy", because I firmly believe, looking at these results, that if there is a God, it has to be a man.

No woman could or would ever f*** things up like this. So, if there is a God, I think most reasonable people might agree that he's at least incompetent, and maybe, just maybe, doesn't give a sh*t. Doesn't give a sh*t, which I admire in a person, and which would explain a lot of these bad results.

So rather than be just another mindless religious robot, mindlessly and aimlessly and blindly believing that all of this is in the hands of some spooky incompetent father figure who doesn't give a sh*t, I decided to look around for something else to worship. Something I could really count on.

And immediately, I thought of the sun. Happened like that. Overnight I became a sun-worshipper. Well, not overnight, you can't see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I'm big on that. If I can see something, I don't know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know? So everyday I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, reflections on the lake, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we're not setting people on fire simply because they don't agree with us.

Sun worship is fairly simple. There's no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don't have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I'm unworthy. Doesn't tell me I'm a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn't said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun. But, I don't pray to the sun. Know why? I wouldn't presume on our friendship. It's not polite.

I've often thought people treat God rather rudely, don't you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday His day off. It's not nice. And it's no way to treat a friend.

But people do pray, and they pray for a lot of different things, you know, your sister needs an operation on her crotch, your brother was arrested for defecating in a mall. But most of all, you'd really like to f*** that hot little redhead down at the convenience store. You know, the one with the eyepatch and the clubfoot? Can you pray for that? I think you'd have to. And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan?

Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn't in God's Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn't it seem a little arrogant? It's a Divine Plan. What's the use of being God if every run-down schmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and f*** up Your Plan?

And here's something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? "Well, it's God's will." "Thy Will Be Done." Fine, but if it's God's will, and He's going to do what He wants to anyway, why the f*** bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn't you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It's all very confusing.

So to get around a lot of this, I decided to worship the sun. But, as I said, I don't pray to the sun. You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he's a good actor, okay? To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't f*** around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.

For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that c***s***er out with one visit. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat.

So I've been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit's foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles, it's all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself.

And for those of you who look to The Bible for moral lessons and literary qualities, I might suggest a couple of other stories for you. You might want to look at the Three Little Pigs, that's a good one. Has a nice happy ending, I'm sure you'll like that. Then there's Little Red Riding Hood, although it does have that X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn't care for, by the way. And finally, I've always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I like the best? "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again." That's because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. None, not one, no God, never was.

In fact, I'm gonna put it this way. If there is a God, may he strike this audience dead! See? Nothing happened. Nothing happened? Everybody's okay? All right, tell you what, I'll raise the stakes a little bit. If there is a God, may he strike me dead. See? Nothing happened, oh, wait, I've got a little cramp in my leg. And my balls hurt. Plus, I'm blind. I'm blind, oh, now I'm okay again, must have been Joe Pesci, huh? God Bless Joe Pesci. Thank you all very much. Joe Bless You!"

Thursday, August 25, 2005



Snave's notes: I have to wonder if what is described in the following article is something that is going on all over our country, i.e. a kind of "trickle-down" effect from the 2000 presidential elections... or if it's an isolated thing?

Since the GOP succeeded in taking their troubles, which I think were based largely on their anger at having been defeated twice by Bill Clinton, all the way to impeachment proceedings, we have seen a Democrat governor recalled in California, and I have seen several recall elections in the red-state-oriented area in which I live... All have been by conservatives targeting elected officials they don't like, whether those officials are Republicans or Democrats. If a tendency for conservatives to mount "recall" efforts against those duly elected officials (usually Democrats) with whom they disagree has become an acceptable way of doing business after they have seen it done that way at the top, is this a "trickle-down" effect?

If GOP officials at local levels have seen certain election "strategeries" work at the top, are such methods now accepted and used more frequently by that party at the state, county and city levels?

It's easy to make judgments when there isn't solid evidence or data. Of course the conservatives out there would likely respond to my questions by saying things like "Bush won both times, isn't that enough data for you?" or maybe something as clever as "Get over it." I can understand those sentiments to a point, because they might view us lefties as sore losers (like I viewed them after the presidential elections of 1992 and 1996).

My hypothesis: Bad behavior at the top that goes unquestioned or unpunished is seen as "o.k." by those who see the displayed behavior as a means to achieving an end, leading to a corresponding increase in the bad behaviors at all levels.

But I would still like to see some data on whether or not the frequency of recall elections has increased nationwide since the Clinton impeachment proceedings, who is tending to do the recalling, and if vote-tampering has happened more frequently in the United States during the last five years. If I find anything to those effects, I will post them here.

The GOP Payoff Begins
By John Solomon
San Francisco Chronicle

Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.

James Tobin, the president's 2004 campaign chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.

A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls to overwhelm the phone banks in New Hampshire and prevent them from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day 2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close race that day to be New Hampshire's newest senator.

At the time, Tobin was the RNC's New England regional director, before moving to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

A top New Hampshire Party official and a GOP consultant already have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Tobin's indictment accuses him of specifically calling the GOP consultant to get a telephone firm to help in the scheme.

"The object of the conspiracy was to deprive inhabitants of New Hampshire and more particularly qualified voters.... of their federally secured right to vote," states the latest indictment issued by a federal grand jury on May 18.

Since charges were first filed in December, the RNC has spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent, a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly. The firm's other clients include Bill and Hillary Clinton and former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

The GOP's filings with the FEC list the payments to Williams & Connolly without specifying they were for Tobin's defense. Political parties have wide latitude on how they spend their money, including on lawyers.

Republican Party officials said they don't ordinarily discuss specifics of their legal work, but confirmed to The Associated Press they had agreed to underwrite Tobin's defense because he was a longtime supporter and that he assured them he had committed no crimes.

"Jim is a longtime friend who has served as both an employee and an independent contractor for the RNC," a spokeswoman for the RNC, Tracey Schmitt, said Wednesday. "This support is based on his assurance and our belief that Jim has not engaged in any wrongdoing."

The Republican Party has repeatedly and pointedly disavowed any tactics aimed at keeping citizens from voting since allegations of voter suppression surfaced during the Florida recount in 2000 that tipped the presidential race to Bush.

Earlier this week, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, the former White House political director, reiterated a "zero-tolerance policy" for any GOP official caught trying to block legitimate votes.

"The position of the Republican National Committee is simple: We will not tolerate fraud; we will not tolerate intimidation; we will not tolerate suppression. No employee, associate or any person representing the Republican Party who engages in these kinds of acts will remain in that position," Mehlman wrote Monday to a group that studied voter suppression tactics.

Dennis Black and Dane Butswinkas, two Williams & Connolly lawyers for Tobin, did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment. Brian Tucker, a New Hampshire lawyer on the team, declined comment.

Tobin's lawyers have attacked the prosecution, suggesting evidence was improperly introduced to the grand jury, that their client originally had been promised he wouldn't be indicted and that he was improperly charged under one of the statutes.

Tobin stepped down from his Bush-Cheney post a couple of weeks before the November 2004 election after Democrats suggested he was involved in the phone bank scheme. He was charged a month after the election.

Paul Twomey, a volunteer lawyer for New Hampshire Democrats who are pursuing a separate lawsuit involving the phone scheme, said he was surprised the RNC was willing to pay Tobin's legal bills and that it suggested more people may be involved.

"It originally appeared to us that there were just certain rogue elements of the Republican Party who were willing to do anything to win control of the U.S. Senate, including depriving Americans of their ability to vote," Twomey said.

"But now that the RNC actually is bankrolling Mr. Tobin's defense, coupled with the fact that it has refused some discovery in the civil case, really raises the questions of who are they protecting, how high does this go and who was in on this," Twomey said.

Federal prosecutors have secured testimony from the two convicted conspirators in the scheme directly implicating Tobin.

Charles McGee, the New Hampshire GOP official who pleaded guilty, told prosecutors he informed Tobin of the plan and asked for Tobin's help in finding a vendor who could make the calls that would flood the phone banks.

Allen Raymond, a former colleague of Tobin who operated a Virginia-based telephone services firm, told prosecutors Tobin called him in October 2002, explained the telephone plan and asked Raymond's company to help McGee implement it.

Raymond's lawyer told the court that Tobin made the request for help in his official capacity as the top RNC official for New England and his client believed the RNC had sanctioned the activity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Pat Robertson on Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:

“We have the ability to take him (Chavez) out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.”

“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”

Chavez may indeed be a skunk, but I find it difficult to stomach when people from our country who are as influential as Robertson say things like this. To Ronald Dumsfeld's credit, he was quick to disassociate himself from Roberston's comments.

Monday, August 22, 2005


The following is from . Thanks to Jolly Roger of "Reconstitution" at . Check out his site! And if this topic interests you, there is also some interesting information at the Deism Links Page .

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians
by Steven Morris, in Free Inquiry, Fall, 1995

"The Christian right is trying to rewrite the history of the United States as part of its campaign to force its religion on others. They try to depict the founding fathers as pious Christians who wanted the United States to be a Christian nation, with laws that favored Christians and Christianity.

This is patently untrue. The early presidents and patriots were generally Deists or Unitarians, believing in some form of impersonal Providence but rejecting the divinity of Jesus and the absurdities of the Old and New testaments.

Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer whose manifestos encouraged the faltering spirits of the country and aided materially in winning the war of Independence: I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all." From: The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, pp. 8,9 (Republished 1984, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY)

George Washington, the first president of the United States, never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment. On his deathbed, Washinton uttered no words of a religious nature and did not call for a clergyman to be in attendance. From: George Washington and Religion by Paul F. Boller Jr., pp. 16, 87, 88, 108, 113, 121, 127 (1963, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX)

John Adams, the country's second president, was drawn to the study of law but faced pressure from his father to become a clergyman. He wrote that he found among the lawyers 'noble and gallant achievments" but among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces". Late in life he wrote: "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!"
It was during Adam's administration that the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion." From: The Character of John Adams by Peter Shaw, pp. 17 (1976, North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC) Quoting a letter by JA to Charles Cushing Oct 19, 1756, and John Adams, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by James Peabody, p. 403 (1973, Newsweek, New York NY) Quoting letter by JA to Jefferson April 19, 1817, and in reference to the treaty, Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 311 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June, 1814.

Thomas Jefferson, third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, said:"I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." He referred to the Revelation of St. John as "the ravings of a maniac" and wrote: The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained." From: Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate History by Fawn M. Brodie, p. 453 (1974, W.W) Norton and Co. Inc. New York, NY) Quoting a letter by TJ to Alexander Smyth Jan 17, 1825, and Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., pp. 246 (1991, Madison Books, Lanham, MD) quoting letter by TJ to John Adams, July 5, 1814.

James Madison, fourth president and father of the Constitution, was not religious in any conventional sense. "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." From: The Madisons by Virginia Moore, P. 43 (1979, McGraw-Hill Co. New York, NY) quoting a letter by JM to William Bradford April 1, 1774, and James Madison, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Joseph Gardner, p. 93, (1974, Newsweek, New York, NY) Quoting Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments by JM, June 1785.

Ethan Allen, whose capture of Fort Ticonderoga while commanding the Green Mountain Boys helped inspire Congress and the country to pursue the War of Independence, said, "That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words." In the same book, Allen noted that he was generally "denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian." When Allen married Fanny Buchanan, he stopped his own wedding ceremony when the judge asked him if he promised "to live with Fanny Buchanan agreeable to the laws of God." Allen refused to answer until the judge agreed that the God referred to was the God of Nature, and the laws those "written in the great book of nature." From: Religion of the American Enlightenment by G. Adolph Koch, p. 40 (1968, Thomas Crowell Co., New York, NY.) quoting preface and p. 352 of Reason, the Only Oracle of Man and A Sense of History compiled by American Heritage Press Inc., p. 103 (1985, American Heritage Press, Inc., New York, NY.)

Benjamin Franklin, delegate to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, said: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble." He died a month later, and historians consider him, like so many great Americans of his time, to be a Deist, not a Christian. From: Benjamin Franklin, A Biography in his Own Words, edited by Thomas Fleming, p. 404, (1972, Newsweek, New York, NY) quoting letter by BF to Exra Stiles March 9, 1970.

The words "In God We Trust" were not consistently on all U.S. currency until 1956, during the McCarthy witch hunts.


KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

"Let's take a look at the evidence," said ECFR senior fellow Gregory Lunsden."In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says, 'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity making them fall—just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7, we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everything down, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety? This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligence governs all falling."

Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravity is a provable law based on empirical observations of natural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however, insist that there is no conflict between Newton's mathematics and Holy Scripture.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"

Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

(The previous article is from The Onion. Check it out at !)

I would say that the picture has to be of "Man descending from an ape". Sorry, I couldn't resist... !


(Thanks to friend Joe D. for forwarding this article to me!)

By Fareed Zakaria

Donald Rumsfeld, fresh from wrecking U.S.-European relations over the last three years, has decided to try his hand at Asian affairs.

If you look at two recent events, you might well conclude that the Chinese are a lot smarter at handling the United States than we are at handling them. This week China National Offshore Oil Corp. (Cnooc) ended its bid for the American energy firm Unocal, scared off by rising opposition to the deal from Congress. The deal would not have given China any special lock on energy supplies. The only real downside to its collapse is that we will never get to see the merger fail, as it likely would have, and recognize that the Chinese had overpaid for a second-tier firm. Recall that before the Japanese went on their real-estate spree in the 1980s (which scared Americans silly and produced the 1988 law that allows the government to block such deals), they bought oil reserves and other such commodities, thinking they'd gain special advantage through direct ownership of them. But markets didn't work like that then and it remains to be seen if that strategy would work now.

More important, the way in which the United States killed this deal has sent a bad signal around the world. It suggests that we're intolerant of China's economic rise and want to stop it. It also suggests hypocrisy. For years the United States has been pushing countries around the world to open up their energy sector to foreign investment. In particular, we've been making this case aggressively to China and Russia. When protectionist officials in other countries want to fend off a bid from an American (or other foreign) company, they invoke national-security concerns. Now they have a perfect precedent. And if the effect of the Unocal affair is to close the energy sector around the world to foreign investment, the damage done to American interests probably outweighs any gains in killing the deal. It also slows the opening of the Chinese economy, which is bad for the United States for both economic and political reasons.

Now take the second event, the recent announcement of the "East Asian Summit" in Kuala Lumpur this December. The summit will include the Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia. In other words, it is not simply an East Asian gathering but rather a broader one encompassing the major nations of the Asia-Pacific, with one notable exclusion: the United States of America. Despite being the dominant military and political player in the region, America has not been invited, the first time it has been excluded in such discussions.

This is how the Chinese challenge presents itself. It is not a crude attempt to corner the world's energy supplies but rather a quiet effort to establish itself as the dominant player in Asia. China pursues this strategy not by making noisy threats, but by making itself crucial to other countries in the region. Consider the turnaround in Indonesia. Ten years ago, when Indonesian officials spoke of their security concerns, China was usually on top of the list. Today, they speak of China only as a partner.

China's growth strategy has been different from that of Japan. When Japan rose to power, it did so in a predatory fashion, pushing its products and investments in other countries but keeping its own market closed. China has done the opposite, opening itself up to foreign trade and investment. The result is that growth in countries from Brazil to Australia increasingly depends on the Chinese market. China is making itself indispensable to the world. Even India, which is wary of China's rise and is a counterweight to it, will not ignore this reality. In three years its largest trading partner will be China, displacing the United States of America.

The Bush administration does not seem to know how to handle this new challenge. Donald Rumsfeld, fresh from wrecking U.S. -European relations over the last three years, has decided to try his hand at Asian affairs. He's off to a characteristically clumsy start. Rumsfeld made a speech in Singapore recently where he complained about China's rising military budget. It's a cause for concern, but Rumsfeld handled it crudely, producing a backlash. Singapore's Straits Times was one of dozens of regional newspapers that reported on the speech by pointing out that "the U.S. military budget consumes more than $400 billion annually [closer to $500 billion if you add in Iraq and Afghanistan] and accounts for almost half of global defense spending." "Experts estimate," the newspaper continued in the next sentence, "that China spends between $50 [billion] and $90 billion on defense." Now instead of talking about China's military growth, Asians are talking about Rumsfeld's paranoia.

China's rise presents great opportunities and great challenges for the world. But they are new and quite complex. There are some in Washington—like Rumsfeld—who seem to see it as a replay of the cold war, with China playing the role of the Soviet Union. This misunderstands both present-day China and the world we're living in.

George Santayana famously observed that those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Here's my variation: those who only remember the past are condemned to misread the future.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Even though India now has 80,000 licensed dentists, nearly 100 "street dentists" continue to operate in dusty, open-air "offices," performing extractions and "fitting" used dentures for, typically, 1 percent to 2 percent of what a licensed dentist would charge. One patient of practitioner Mahender Singh, observed for a June dispatch from Jaipur in The New York Times, was "spitting streams of blood into the gutter" after removal of an incisor that, said Singh, "was not working right" and "kept turning left and right when he ate." Singh uses anesthetic but said some patients still pass out from the pain. [New York Times, 6-7-05]

Fetish du Jour: In July in Exeter, England, Paul Pennington pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity in a public restroom, while incidentally dressed in a baby diaper, bib and girl's dress and carrying a baby bottle (but also wearing a stuffed bra). And Sean Kelly, 35, was arrested in Sebastian, Fla., in July, and charged with fraudulently attempting to obtain health-care services after he showed up at a clinic complaining of back pain but dressed in a baby diaper (which he eventually "loaded," demanding a change). And Calvin Milo Alvarez, 30, was arrested in Fayetteville, Ark., in May on a child pornography charge after he was found by police, arguing with another man at an apartment house, with Alvarez dressed in a baby diaper and bleeding from the mouth. [Western Daily Press, 7-15-05] [Vero Beach Press-Journal, 7-10-05] [Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville), 5-10-05]

The bodies of Kentucky State Reformatory inmates Avery C. Roland, 26, and Michael Talbot Jr., 24, were found in a nearby landfill the day after they went missing in July; a Department of Corrections official said they had probably hidden inside a garbage truck without realizing that, to prevent escapes, the prison requires that garbage be compacted twice before it leaves the grounds. And four days apart in July, two 19-year-old men (in Sheboygan, Wis., and Louisville, Ky.) fell to their deaths while car-surfing at high speeds. (According to a witness, the Sheboygan man's fatal fall came shortly after he yelled to his driver, "Is that all you got?") [WLEX-TV (Lexington, Ky.)-AP, 7-15-05] [WLKY-TV (Louisville), 7-12-05] [WBAY-TV (Green Bay, Wis.), 7-8-05]

The above items are from News of the Weird on MSNBC's website.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Thanks to Fred from Truth Serum for mentioning this Bush quote:

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the President, that's part of the job," he said on Saturday. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

Does this mean that he doesn't consider people who disagree with his policies part of his life? Just wondering.

Here are some more, from sources such as and others:

"I grieve for every death. It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one. I understand the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place."
Crawford, Texas, Aug. 11, 2005

Only understands the anguish that "some" feel? Which people are those?

Bush once observed "There are more Americans in our nation today than ever before", so the next quote could follow that train of thought, couldn't it?

"More Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history."
Albuquerque, New Mexico, Aug. 8, 2005

I have a hard time arguing with those assertions.

"The war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room. Their resolve is as strong as my resolve."
Auchterarder, Scotland, Jul. 7, 2005

Does this mean that other leaders have finally come up to his high level?

"I spent some time recently with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and had an opportunity to express our heartfelt condolences to the people of London, people who lost lives."
Auchterarder, Scotland, Jul. 7, 2005

I'm sure he meant to say "people who lost loved ones".... otherwise, Bush is able to speak to the dead.

"It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way."
Prime Time Press Conference, White House, Apr. 28, 2005

This shows that Bush does care about the welfare of all human beings, even those who would want all of us Americans dead! He must want to get them out of harm's way before we can kill them! Heeheehee

QUESTION: Can we win [the war on terrorism]?
DUBYA: I don't think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the -- those who use terror as a tool are -- less acceptable in parts of the world.
Aug. 30, 2004

Well, so that settles that! We CAN'T win the war on terrorism. And that's straight from the horse's mouth!

"It's a different kind of war than we're used to in America. It's a war that requires patience and focus."
Mar. 4, 2003

So the first and second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War I lacked patience and focus? I guess we had to wait for GWB to come along before America could wage war with patience and focus?

"I've not made up our mind about military action."
White House, Mar. 6, 2003

I'm awfully glad Bush controls our minds.

"Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better."
Washington, D.C., Sep. 24, 2001

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, and we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease."
Warsaw, Poland, Jun. 15, 2001

"Vice President mentioned Nigeria is a fledgling democracy. We have to work with Nigeria. That's an important continent."
Presidential debate, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Oct. 11, 2000

Crack open an atlas once in a while, George.

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."
Sep. 29, 2000

Our Cold War against nature continues.

"There is a baby boomer generation getting ready to retire. I'm pretty aware of that. I am one."
Mar. 10, 2005

Yes, he is an entire generation unto himself!

"I'm also running [for re-election] because I want to keep us -- I want to enable us to be the innovative society that we are."
May 3, 2004

Not higher than we are now? I'm glad to know Bush likes us just the way we are.

"The world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership.
Oct. 28, 2003

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

"Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of "Hop on Pop."
Apr. 2, 2002

Me too, Dubya! Me too!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Saturday, August 13, 2005


President says force would be 'last option' to get Tehran to give up nukes
Updated: 5:12 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2005

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - President Bush said on Israeli television he could consider using force as a last resort to press Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“All options are on the table,” Bush, speaking at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, said in the interview broadcast on Saturday.

Asked if that included the use of force, Bush replied: “As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we’ve used force in the recent past to secure our country.”

Snave's note: The rest of this article can be seen at

I find it reassuring that this president will only use "force" as a "last resort" (which in this case means, when you've been given a couple of chances to comply with his demands and you have failed to do so). But... oh! This article was about IRAN, not Iraq! Sorry! Hehehehehe! Sure, I don't want the Iranians to have nucular, er, nuclear weapons either.

I think a simple air strike would probably do the job of ending the Iranian program, and it would boost Bush in the polls. Of course there would be collateral damage in the loss of Iranian lives, and it would fan some already-fairly-large flames in Iraq... but, oh well. As long as the PNAC People can stay in power here in the US, I don't suppose it matters much to them how they achieve it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Snave's notes: I found the following article through a link at the wonderful weblog known as "BlondeSense". If you haven't been there yet, go there! It's in my links, but to get there even quicker, go to now. The article is from The World Socialist Web Site. I don't agree with everything in the article, but I wouldn't put much past the Bush administration. I'd hate to see our country under martial law, and I can't imagine it at all under a fundamentalist-religion-influenced administration such as our current one.

Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US
By Patrick Martin9 August 2005

According to a report published Monday by the Washington Post, the Pentagon has developed its first ever war plans for operations within the continental United States, in which terrorist attacks would be used as the justification for imposing martial law on cities, regions or the entire country.

The front-page article cites sources working at the headquarters of the military’s Northern Command (Northcom), located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The plans themselves are classified, but “officers who drafted the plans” gave details to Post reporter Bradley Graham, who was recently given a tour of Northcom headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base. The article thus appears to be a deliberate leak conducted for the purpose of accustoming the American population to the prospect of military rule.

According to Graham, “the new plans provide for what several senior officers acknowledged is the likelihood that the military will have to take charge in some situations, especially when dealing with mass-casualty attacks that could quickly overwhelm civilian resources.”

The Post account declares, “The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement.”

A total of 15 potential crisis scenarios are outlined, ranging from “low-end,” which Graham describes as “relatively modest crowd-control missions,” to “high-end,” after as many as three simultaneous catastrophic mass-casualty events, such as a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attack.

In each case, the military would deploy a quick-reaction force of as many as 3,000 troops per attack—i.e., 9,000 total in the worst-case scenario. More troops could be made available as needed.

The Post quotes a statement by Admiral Timothy J. Keating, head of Northcom: “In my estimation, [in the event of] a biological, a chemical or nuclear attack in any of the 50 states, the Department of Defense is best positioned—of the various eight federal agencies that would be involved—to take the lead.”

The newspaper describes an unresolved debate among the military planners on how to integrate the new domestic mission with ongoing US deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign conflicts. One major document of over 1,000 pages, designated CONPLAN 2002, provides a general overview of air, sea and land operations in both a post-attack situation and for “prevention and deterrence actions aimed at intercepting threats before they reach the United States.” A second document, CONPLAN 0500, details the 15 scenarios and the actions associated with them.

The Post reports: “CONPLAN 2002 has passed a review by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and is due to go soon to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and top aides for further study and approval, the officers said. CONPLAN 0500 is still undergoing final drafting” at Northcom headquarters.

While Northcom was established only in October 2002, its headquarters staff of 640 is already larger than that of the Southern Command, which overseas US military operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

About 1,400 National Guard troops have been formed into a dozen regional response units, while smaller quick-reaction forces have been set up in each of the 50 states. Northcom also has the power to mobilize four active-duty Army battalions, as well as Navy and Coast Guard ships and air defense fighter jets.

The Pentagon is acutely conscious of the potential political backlash as its role in future security operations becomes known. Graham writes: “Military exercises code-named Vital Archer, which involve troops in lead roles, are shrouded in secrecy. By contrast, other homeland exercises featuring troops in supporting roles are widely publicized.”

Military lawyers have studied the legal implications of such deployments, which risk coming into conflict with a longstanding congressional prohibition on the use of the military for domestic policing, known as posse comitatus. Involving the National Guard, which is exempt from posse comitatus, could be one solution, Admiral Keating told the Post. “He cited a potential situation in which Guard units might begin rounding up people while regular forces could not,” Graham wrote.

Graham adds: “when it comes to ground forces possibly taking a lead role in homeland operations, senior Northcom officers remain reluctant to discuss specifics. Keating said such situations, if they arise, probably would be temporary, with lead responsibility passing back to civilian authorities.”

A remarkable phrase: “probably would be temporary.” In other words, the military takeover might not be temporary, and could become permanent!

In his article, Graham describes the Northern Command’s “Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center, which joins military analysts with law enforcement and counterintelligence specialists from such civilian agencies as the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service.” The article continues: “A senior supervisor at the facility said the staff there does no intelligence collection, only analysis. He also said the military operates under long-standing rules intended to protect civilian liberties. The rules, for instance, block military access to intelligence information on political dissent or purely criminal activity.”

Again, despite the soothing reassurances about respecting civil liberties, another phrase leaps out: “intelligence information on political dissent.” What right do US intelligence agencies have to collect information on political dissent? Political dissent is not only perfectly legal, but essential to the functioning of a democracy.

The reality is that the military brass is intensely interested in monitoring political dissent because its domestic operations will be directed not against a relative handful of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists—who have not carried out a single operation inside the United States since September 11, 2001—but against the democratic rights of the American people.

The plans of Northcom have their origins not in the terrible events of 9/11, but in longstanding concerns in corporate America about the political stability of the United States. This is a society increasingly polarized between the fabulously wealthy elite at the top, and the vast majority of working people who face an increasingly difficult struggle to survive. The nightmare of the American ruling class is the emergence of a mass movement from below that challenges its political and economic domination.

As long ago as 1984—when Osama bin Laden was still working hand-in-hand with the CIA in the anti-Soviet guerrilla war in Afghanistan—the Reagan administration was drawing up similar contingency plans for military rule. A Marine Corps officer detailed to the National Security Council drafted plans for Operation Rex ’84, a headquarters exercise that simulated rounding up 300,000 Central American immigrants and likely political opponents of a US invasion of Nicaragua or El Salvador and jailing them at mothballed military bases. This officer later became well known to the public: Lt. Colonel Oliver North, the organizer of the illegal network to arm the “contra” terrorists in Nicaragua and a principal figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.

As for the claims that these military plans are driven by genuine concern over the threat of terrorist attacks, these are belied by the actual conduct of the American ruling elite since 9/11. The Bush administration has done everything possible to suppress any investigation into the circumstances of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—most likely because its own negligence, possibly deliberate, would be exposed.

While the Pentagon claims that its plans are a response to the danger of nuclear, biological or chemical attacks, no serious practical measures have been taken to forestall such attacks or minimize their impact. The Bush administration and Congress have refused even to restrict the movement of rail tank cars loaded with toxic chemicals through the US capital, though even an accidental leak, let alone a terrorist attack, would cause mass casualties.

In relation to bioterrorism, the Defense Science Board determined in a 2000 study that the federal government had only 1 of the 57 drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools required to deal with such an attack. According to a report in the Washington Post August 7, in the five years since the Pentagon report, only one additional resource has been developed, bringing the total to 2 out of 57. Drug companies have simply refused to conduct the research required to find antidotes to anthrax and other potential toxins, and the Bush administration has done nothing to compel them.

As for the danger of nuclear or “dirty-bomb” attacks, the Bush administration and the congressional Republican leadership recently rammed through a measure loosening restrictions on exports of radioactive substances, at the behest of a Canadian-based manufacturer of medical supplies which conducted a well-financed lobbying campaign.

Evidently, the administration and the corporate elite which it represents do not take seriously their own warnings about the imminent threat of terrorist attacks using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons—at least not when it comes to security measures that would impact corporate profits.

The anti-terrorism scare has a propaganda purpose: to manipulate the American people and induce the public to accept drastic inroads against democratic rights. As the Pentagon planning suggests, the American working class faces the danger of some form of military-police dictatorship in the United States.


We rocked and rolled at the La Grande High School 30-year Class Reunion (yes, I'm a "class of '75" graduate!) Mark is on the left, playing the guitar. I'm sitting at the keyboard and singing, Mike is playing bass. Visible in the background is our guest Pat, on tenor saxophone. Not in the picture are drummer Joel and guitarist Steve. More pictures may be posted as they are available! Thanks to my good friend Al for the photo!


Snave's note: What happens in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas!

Lawsuit Claims Human Feces Found in Circus Circus Casino Hotel Bed

By Andrea Uhde
The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jul. 9, 2004 (Reuters)

A Virginia Beach man claims in a lawsuit that his Las Vegas honeymoon was ruined when he found a pile of human feces in his hotel bed.

Milciades M. "Mikey" Cedano Jr. filed a complaint last week in Clark County, Nev., saying that he got in bed late one night in January at the Circus Circus casino hotel and made the foul discovery.

His suit says hotel employees considered the situation to be a joke and that the incident caused emotional stress that has forced him to seek therapy.

Cedano is suing the parent company of Circus Circus, Mandalay Resort Group.

His suit seeks at least $40,000 in damages, but he said in an interview that he wants at least $100,000.

Cedano and his wife, LaVett Brown-Cedano, were married in 1997 and took a belated honeymoon the week of Jan. 22. On their last day in town, they arrived at their suite at midnight.

Cedano, worn out after several nights of playing craps, said he scooted into the sheets and caught a whiff of strong odor.

"Oh, God, I know that's not what I think it is," he recalls thinking. He said he jumped out of bed, screaming, and turned on the lights. He said his face was covered with feces.

He said he immediately called for a hotel supervisor. That individual and others "acted as if the whole incident was funny, further demeaning, humiliating and injuring the Plaintiffs," according to the lawsuit. The suit also says that hotel employees began referring to the suite as "the brown room."

That morning, the couple returned to Virginia. But Cedano said he was sick for weeks.

"I was throwing up," he said. "I was so sick, because I kept thinking about somebody else's feces on my face."

Barry Levinson, Cedano's attorney in Las Vegas, wrote in the complaint that hotel workers might say that the couple staged the incident. "This attitude only adds to Plaintiff's damages," he wrote.

Levinson took a light-hearted approach to the complaint, peppering it with defecation jokes. "It's so bad and outrageous that you have to make light of it," he said in an interview.

Levinson sought publicity for the case through a news release, and Las Vegas papers have reported on the suit.

Cedano, 32, is an assistant manager for one of the Lowe's home improvement stores in Hampton Roads. He said co-workers have called him rude names and that he has visited a psychologist for five sessions because of the incident.

Circus Circus has about 3,700 rooms and is on the north end of the Las Vegas strip. Officials at the hotel and the parent company either would not comment on the pending lawsuit or could not be reached for comment.

Cedano and his wife said they will not return to Las Vegas.

"This was our first honeymoon we'd been waiting for so long to take," he said. "And it turned out to be a horrible one."


( )

South Korean left seat in Internet cafe only to use toilet, take brief naps

Updated: 6:43 p.m. ET Aug. 9, 2005
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) - A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old man, identified only by his family name Lee, had been playing online battle simulation games at the cybercafe in the southeastern city of Taegu, police said.

Lee had planted himself in front of a computer monitor to play online games on Aug. 3. He only left the spot over the next three days to go to the toilet and take brief naps on a makeshift bed, they said.

"We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a Taegu provincial police official said by telephone.

Lee had recently quit his job to spend more time playing games, the daily JoongAng Ilbo reported after interviewing former work colleagues and staff at the Internet cafe.

After he failed to return home, Lee's mother asked his former colleagues to find him. When they reached the cafe, Lee said he would finish the game and then go home, the paper reported.
He died a few minutes later, it said.

South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has a large and highly developed game industry.

Snave's note: Could 50 straight hours of blogging be just as dangerous?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


... this picture was taken May 1, 2003!! That's almost 27 months ago! The following article was printed 10/29/03, nearly 22 months ago! That's close to two years...

From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- What was once viewed as a premier presidential photo op continues to dog President Bush six months after he landed on an aircraft carrier to declare "one victory" in the war on terrorism and an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

Attention turned Tuesday to a giant "Mission Accomplished" sign that stood behind Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln when he gave the speech May 1.

The president told reporters the sign was put up by the Navy, not the White House.
"I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way," the president said Tuesday.

Now his statements are being parsed even further.

Navy and administration sources said that though the banner was the Navy's idea, the White House actually made it.

Bush offered the explanation after being asked whether his speech declaring an end to major combat in Iraq under the "Mission Accomplished" banner was premature, given that U.S. casualties in Iraq since then have surpassed those before it.

During the speech in May, Bush said, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on."

The speech and events surrounding it were widely publicized and served as the symbolic end to the war in Iraq.

At the time, it appeared that every detail of the day's events had been carefully planned, including the president's arrival in the co-pilot's seat of a Navy S-3B Viking after making two flybys of the carrier.

The exterior of the four-seat S-3B Viking was marked with "Navy 1" and "George W. Bush Commander in Chief."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN that in preparing for the speech, Navy officials on the carrier told Bush aides they wanted a "Mission Accomplished" banner, and the White House agreed to create it.

"We took care of the production of it," McClellan said. "We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up."

The banner has been used by critics of the Bush administration as evidence of bravado and an unclear sense of how dangerous the postwar conflict in Iraq would be.

Assigning responsibility elsewhere, especially to the military, is not a typical move for the Bush administration and raised suspicions among critics.

Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman, defended the president's assertion.
"The banner was a Navy idea, the ship's idea," Chun said.

"The banner signified the successful completion of the ship's deployment," he said, noting the Abraham Lincoln was deployed 290 days, longer than any other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history.

At the time of the event, Democrats worried President Bush would use his speech and the dramatic landing for political gain.

On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidates, hoping to make it a political liability for Bush, accused him of trying to shift blame for the stagecraft to the Navy.

"Landing on an aircraft carrier and saying 'mission accomplished' didn't end a war, and standing in the Rose Garden and stating that 'Iraq is a dangerous place' does nothing to make American troops safer," Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said in a written statement Tuesday.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean also issued a critical statement.

"Today, we heard him try to walk away from the USS Abraham Lincoln 'end of major combat operations' announcement, absurdly claiming that the White House was not responsible for the 'Mission Accomplished' banner that decorated the flight deck," Dean said.

Snave's notes: I think Democrats need to keep pressing on the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco as an example of both hubris and propaganda on the part of the neocons. The longer the mission is not accomplished and the longer we are stuck in Iraq, the sillier Bush will look... and the more the American people may begin to realize that those Democrats who were critical of the administration's premature show... were correct!

I'm beginning to think Bush needs to land on another aircraft carrier for another highly-contrived photo-op, with a new banner behind him that reads "Mission Creep Accomplished". To me, that seems like a much more appropriate slogan.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. The term often implies a certain disapproval of newly adopted goals by the user of the term. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs. The term was originally applied exclusively to military operations, but has recently been applied to many different fields, mainly the growth of bureaucracies.

"The classic example of mission creep is the Korean War. It began as an attempt to save South Korea from invasion by the North, but after that initial success expanded to an attempt to reunite the peninsula, a goal that eventually proved unattainable. That attempt resulted in a long and costly retreat through North Korea after the intervention of the Chinese.

"Although the term mission creep is relatively new, examples can be observed throughout military history. For instance, many of the wars of Louis XIV's France began with small limited goals, but quickly escalated to much larger affairs.

"When mission creep does not occur it can also bring criticism. After the defeat of the totalitarian powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan in WWII, some thought the Allies should build on their success and attack Franco's Spain or the Soviet Union. There are continued criticisms that the American led coalition should have ousted Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War after the ease with which the Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait."


When Pigs Wi-Fi
Published: August 7, 2005


This is cowboy country, where the rodeo is coming to town, the high school's "kiss the pig" contest involves a genuine hog, and life seems about as high-tech as the local calf-dressing competition, when teams race to wrestle protesting calves into T-shirts.

But Hermiston is actually a global leader of our Internet future. Today, this chunk of arid farm country appears to be the largest Wi-Fi hot spot in the world, with wireless high-speed Internet access available free for some 600 square miles. Most of that is in eastern Oregon, with some just across the border in southern Washington.

Driving along the road here, I used my laptop to get e-mail and download video - and you can do that while cruising at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile after mile, at a transmission speed several times as fast as a T-1 line. (Note: it's preferable to do this with someone else driving.)

This kind of network is the wave of the future, and eastern Oregon shows that it's technically and financially feasible. New York and other leading cities should be embarrassed that Morrow and Umatilla Counties in eastern Oregon are far ahead of them in providing high-speed Internet coverage to residents, schools and law enforcement officers - even though all of Morrow County doesn't even have a single traffic light.

The big cities should take note, said Kim Puzey, the general manager of the Port of Umatilla on the Columbia River here. "We'd like people to say, 'If they can do it out in the boondocks with a small population, that model can be applied to highly complex areas,' " he said.
Mr. Puzey, who says wireless broadband is central to the port's operations, argues persuasively that broadband is just the next step in expanding the national infrastructure, comparable to the transcontinental railroad, the national highway system and rural electrification.

Indeed, we need to envision broadband Internet access as just another utility, like electricity or water. Often the best way to provide that will be to blanket a region with Wi-Fi coverage to create wireless computer networks, rather than running D.S.L., cable or fiber-optic lines to every home.

So if the first step was to get Americans wired, the next step is to make them wireless.
Two pioneers in that process are Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia, which are both moving toward citywide Wi-Fi Internet access. Consumers will still have to pay for broadband, but only about half as much as they do now.

Still, Portland and Philadelphia won't have their systems in place until next year. Meanwhile, the system in eastern Oregon covers a larger geographic area, is free for consumers and has been up and running for more than a year and a half.

One reason it sprang up here is that a nearby Army depot contains chemical weapons, so there is special concern about what would happen if a cloud of nerve gas escaped from the depot. That fear helped provide a pot of federal money to underwrite safety systems.

Usually, the police and fire agencies communicate just by radio, but Hermiston decided to go with a public-private partnership that established a Wi-Fi network. The police chief, Dan Coulombe, showed me the wireless computers that all police officers now carry. They can download data and receive images from video monitors - and, if nerve gas ever escaped, display the cloud's direction and speed.

Fingerprint readers are now being added to these portable devices so a police officer can almost instantly run a person's fingerprint through a multistate database. And if there's a report of a burglary, the police rushing to the scene can download floor plans of the building, live images from video monitors and information about the alarm system.

The wizard behind the system is Fred Ziari, an Iranian immigrant and Wi-Fi pioneer who runs a high-tech company in Hermiston and Portland, EZ Wireless. Mr. Ziari contracted with the local authorities to provide the Wi-Fi service, which lets consumers piggyback for nothing.

Hermiston is already starting to introduce WiMax, the next generation of technology after Wi-Fi, offering much higher speeds and greater range.

Other American towns need to follow Hermiston, not necessarily in holding "kiss the pig" contests, but in ensuring broadband Internet access as reliably as they do water or electricity. The fact is, unless you're a cowboy here in eastern Oregon, you're behind the times.

Snave's note: I am definitely not a cowboy, but it's cool to know that some modern things are actually happening in this part of the world!


The following is a rather long essay, but I believe it provides some items of interest and some food for thought. Please check it out from beginning to end, if you can do so without falling asleep. I find the politicization of fundamentalist Christianity to be a scary thing for our country. That's what much of the following is based on, so here goes:

I do not profess to be a Christian, although I have always held a deep admiration for Jesus and many of the things he said and did. This is primarily because I have always been a pacifist, and because I believe Jesus was, at least, against war. I have great difficulty with some of the major tenets of Christianity, particularly an immaculate conception, the resurrection, and the concept of salvation. (I also don’t care much for “either you are for us or against us” as it is applied by our current administration!) I tend to be a “show me” kind of guy, skeptical of most things that involve what I consider superstitious or magical thinking. If something can be proven, that is, by science, I’m more likely to be a believer. Believe me, I have tried to make the “connection” necessary for becoming a Christian but it has simply never worked to the point that I would be able to escape the Christian “hell”, which is another concept I have difficulty accepting as being real… For the past five or six years, I simply have not bothered with making the effort, and I have never felt as relaxed or free. This is not to say that some people might find the same kind of freedom through “turning their lives over to Jesus”. I try not to think in absolutes when it comes to the religious beliefs of others; if my own religion is agnosticism/skepticism, I don’t think I am really hurting anybody, and that those who practice Christianity as Jesus instructed aren’t really hurting anyone either.

As for my religious background, I have been a regular attendee at a very progressive United Methodist Church in the past, for a total of 12 years during two stints, and I have read the New Testament through four times. I have studied various sections of it multiple times. I have only read the Old Testament through once, and I found it a chore, although I have read the first five or six books through, four or five times. I have visited numerous other churches including Catholic, Mormon, Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and various Foursquare/Pentecostal, and I have friends who adhere to each of those sets of doctrines. I have also tried meditation and some pagan stuff. Anyway, I don’t consider myself a slouch when it comes to Bible knowledge. I don’t like the way I see the United States heading when it comes to religion, because I believe politics and religion need to be independent of each other in order for us to retain many of our basic liberties as Americans. Thus, I offer you the following opinions, even though it is basically a politically-oriented rant.

I don’t see how so many people who profess to be Christians nowadays can support an administration that supports war as a means for controlling other nations. Interesting information can be found on war and Christianity at . In agreement with the author(s) at that site, I believe “it is difficult to justify even the just, defensive war if one takes seriously the message of the Sermon on the Mount, which is the heart of the Gospel” (Mat.5:28-42).

Consider these frequently-quoted words. I believe all are open to various interpretations, but if one accepts the Bible as inerrant, then these words should be absolute truth:

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword…”(Mat.26:50-54)

“You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Mat.5:33-41).

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (Mt.23:27-28).

Is the Iraq War at “just war”? It may well NOT be. The “Just War” concept has been around for a long time. St. Augustine considered war ethics in the 4th century, and St. Thomas Aquinas did similarly in the 13th century.

The following lengthy excerpt is from , and use here for illustrative purposes:

“The "Christian just war theory" (justum bellum), is a 1600-year-old attempt to answer the questions: 1- "When is it permissible to wage war?" (jus ad bellum), 2- And "What are the rules that govern just and fair conduct in war and after war, what are the limitations on the ways we wage war?" (jus in bello).”

Criteria of a Just War:

The criterion of just cause classically and explicitly included one or more of three possibilities: 1- Defense against wrongful attack, 2- Retaking something wrongly taken, 3- Or punishment of evil.

The just war theory is a largely Christian philosophy that attempts to reconcile three things: 1- Taking human life is seriously wrong, 2- States have a duty to defend their citizens, and defend justice, 3- Protecting innocent human life and defending important moral values sometimes requires willingness to use force and violence.

A war is only a Just War if it is both justified (Jus ad Bellum), and carried out in the right way (Jus in Bello). Some wars fought for noble causes have been rendered unjust because of the way in which they were fought.

Jus ad Bellum: The conditions under which the use of military force is justified:
1- The war must be for a just cause.
2- The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.
3- The intention behind the war must be good:
- Good intentions include: creating, restoring or keeping a just peace, righting a wrong, assisting the innocent.
- Bad intentions include: Seeking power or imperialism, demonstrating the power of a state, grabbing land or goods, or enslaving people, hatred of the enemy, genocide, personal or national glory, revenge, preserving colonial power.
4- All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried fist: War must be the last resort!
5- There must be a reasonable chance of success.
6- The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace.

B- Jus in Bello: How to conduct a war in an ethical manner:
7- Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.
8- Only appropriate force should be used.
9- After the fighting is over:
- There must be respect and mercy for the defeated.
- There may be no acts of vengeance, nor cruelty, nor deeds of imperialism.
- If possible, the nation defeated should be helped to its complete restoration, physically, economically, and the welfare of the citizens... The USA did a good job after victory in Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and it is trying to do the same in Afghanistan, Iraq... North Korea is now a hell compared with the bliss of South Korea!
10- Internationally agreed conventions regulating war:
- Where countries have signed a convention governing warfare, soldiers are considered to merit punishment if they break any of the rules in that convention.

The "Just War" is a "theory", it has done good to educate authorities and to prevent some wars ... but it is not good enough! With it, hundreds of horrible bloody wars have occurred in the last 1600 years... and maybe it is time to think of a new way, for everybody, and most specially for Christians, considering the teachings of the Gospels and the personal pacifist attitude of Pope John Paul II and many other modern Christian leaders.

St. Thomas More in his "Utopia," or ideal society, allowed for war only as a defensive measure. But "in reality no war that he knew in history, in the present, or in the foreseeable future was just." So St. Thomas More used the Just War in theory to condemn all wars in reality.

Snave returns: Count me with Thomas More. Of course I am glad Hitler didn’t take over the world, and of course the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we warred against them. Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center towers, and we have been trying to figure out how to stop terrorism. Just the same, I don’t see how any war can be considered “good”, or even “just” when it gets right down to it.

In my mind, a “culture of life” should be the same as a “culture of love”, and the “culture of love” doesn’t have to be driven by any particular religion. It needs to be driven by respect for humanity and for life in general. I think that people who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible or who look to the Bible as a guidebook for their lives should mostly heed the words of Jesus. He was Christ, and the faith is referred to as Christianity, after all… it isn’t Paulianity or Mosianity. Jesus didn’t organize or sponsor wars, and he also never mentioned abortion or denying civil rights to people based on their race, creed, religion or sexual preferences. Sure, he did speak about bringing a fire, and about bringing a sword… but I believe his weapons were his words, and the fire he spoke of was a fire within.

Some of us, like me, have had difficulty connecting with that fire. Those who continue to seek that fire, or who believe they have connected with it, might consider questioning their faith from time to time. Questioning leads to answers, and digesting answers can lead to growth. If we need to grow toward a “culture of love”, or even toward a “culture of life”, then I think Christians should question whether or not they are acting as Jesus instructed. Those who blindly support politicians who support war may be especially in need. If you are the praying type, pray for them. If you’re like me, try and at least send them some good vibes.


by Will Lester
Washington Post

Americans' approval of President Bush's handling of Iraq is at its lowest level yet, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that also found fewer than half now think he's honest. A solid majority still see Bush as a strong and likable leader, though the president's confidence is seen as arrogance by a growing number.

Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq, which had been hovering in the low- to mid-40s most of the year, dipped to 38 percent. Midwesterners and young women and men with a high school education or less were most likely to abandon Bush on his handling of Iraq in the last six months.

American troops have suffered heavy casualties in Iraq in recent days. On Wednesday, 14 Marines were killed in the Euphrates River valley in the worst roadside bombing targeting Americans since the war began in March 2003.

William Anderson, a retired Republican from Fort Worth, Texas, said Bush "has the right intentions, but he's going about them the wrong way.''

"Iraq is one of the issues that everybody has a problem with,'' Anderson said. "There are some big discussions about it around town. Everybody's got their agreements and disagreements. It seems like there's no end. Is it going to end up another Vietnam?''

Continuing worries about Iraq may do more than drag down Bush's standing with the public. They could become a major issue in the 2006 midterm congressional races, and if the war is still going in 2008, they could be a factor in the presidential race.

Bush's overall job approval was at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. That's about where Bush's approval has been all summer but slightly lower than at the beginning of the year.

The portion of people who consider Bush honest has dropped slightly from January, when 53 percent described him that way while 45 percent did not. Now, people are just about evenly split on that issue — with 48 percent saying he's honest and 50 percent saying he's not.

The drop in the number of people who see Bush as honest was strongest among middle-aged Americans as well as suburban women, a key voting group in the 2004 election. A further erosion of trust could make it tougher for Bush to win support for his policies in Congress and internationally.

"The reason that trust is so important has to do with the long-standing belief that you could trust him, even if you don't always agree with him and don't understand what he's doing,'' said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas. "The honesty dip is partly caused by a loss of faith in his credibility on Iraq.''

The president said Thursday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, that threats from al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, "make it clear that Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war.'' Bush pledged to "complete this job in Iraq.''

Almost two-thirds in the poll described Bush as strong and likable.

"He's a man of character,'' said Cheryl Cheyney, a school bus driver from Cumming, Ga., and a Republican. "He's very honest in the things he says. I agree with his belief system, the way he believes in God and is not afraid to show it. That's very important to me.''

But the portion of people who view his confidence as arrogance has increased from 49 percent in January to 56 percent now.

"This country is a monarchy,'' said Charles Nuutinen, a 62-year-old independent from Greenville, Wis. "He's turning this country into Saudi Arabia. He does what he wants. He doesn't care what the people want.''

Six in 10 said they think the country is headed down the wrong track, despite some encouraging economic news in recent weeks.

"Iraq is just a great weight holding down perceptions of an economy that is quite robust,'' said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "Whenever you have troops in harm's way, people are anxious about things in general.''

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Aug. 1-3 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Snave's notes:

So, as the "honesty rating" decreases, should the "dishonesty rating" therefore increase? Karlyn Bowman said, in the article: "Whenever you have troops in harm's way, people are anxious about things in general.'' If that's true, the Bush administration may not be able to spin the Iraq war stories any further than they already have. I think it has already become the administration's albatross, and also the albatross of anyone in the Congress or Senate who gave Bush their "yes" votes.

Also, are any of us really all that surprised to see the administration talking about bringing some of the troops home, especially in light of Bush's slipping poll ratings and in light of important elections coming up in 15 months? If they repeat phrases like "the troops are coming home" often enough between now and then, many folks could start believing the war is either ending or at least winding down.