Saturday, July 05, 2008

Jesse Helms RIP

President Bush: "Jesse Helms was a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called 'the Miracle of America.' So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July."[here]

Helms, known as "Sen. No" opposed:

Martin Luther King Day (King was a communist)
AIDS research and treatment (because every single case was due to sodomy)
Civil Rights
Voting Rights
United Nations

The truth of the matter was that Jesse Helms was a bigot and a homophobe but speaking ill of the dead is just not done I guess. You can read about the real Jesse Helms in this article published by Fair and Accuracy in Reporting.

Much, much more on Jesse Helms here.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Today, the 4th of July is reserved for talking about patriotism and what it means to us. For many, it's all about flying the Flag, wearing flag pins, hanging magnets on their vehicles and watching fireworks. None of these things seems particularly patriotic to me, but that's just me. I'm all about the Constitution of the USA and the Bill of Rights. Patriotism to me is believing in the Constitution and working towards fulfilling it's promises. Hoping that someday its promise of equal justice for all will be forth coming.

This is a presidential election year, which typically means the Republicans proclaiming that Democrats and liberals are not patriotic. Republicans follow Reagan's belief in "unambivalent National pride". In other words, where patriotism is concerned there is no room for self-criticism or humility. The world needs to know that the USA is #1, populated by God's chosen people and if the USA does definition it is the right and moral thing to do. It has always confused me that many Republicans proclaim their love for their country while at the same time stating how much they dislike it's government.

We have already seen questions from Republicans concerning Barack Obama's patriotism. But by now we should be used to that. I'm sure the attacks are just begining.

Patriotism is not saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, it is not singing the national antham or flying the Flag on holidays. Patriotism is born of love of country. But to me, the Constitution defines the USA, not a flag or a song or a pledge. Forget about handing out flags on the 4th of July. How about giving every person a pocket copy of the US Constituttion?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gillibrand - It's not retroactive immunity

A couple weeks ago I criticized Kirstin Gillibrand for being in favor of Telecom immunity by voting for the FISA Bill. She doesn't see it that way. Here is part of her return email explaining her vote:
Second, the revised law did not provide retroactive, blanket immunity to the telecommunications companies that conducted searches of phone calls and emails at the behest of the administration without warrants, which I stand strongly against.
This is confusing to me. If you are strongly against retroactive immunity for telecoms, why would you vote for this bill? Rep. Gillibrand goes on:
In addition, Title II of the bill rejects blanket immunity for telecom companies and instead directs federal district courts to determine whether "substantial evidence" supports civil protection for telecom companies that aided the government after 9/11. The administration wanted full retroactive immunity from lawsuits and so putting the onus on the telecoms to prove their innocence represents a fair compromise that ensures oversight of the executive branch.
Oh, now I understand. The Bill doesn't give telecoms retroactive immunity. But from everything I've read, what the Bill does give the telecoms basically results in immunity. The telecoms do not need to prove their innocence, they only need to show evidence that the President requested that they help out with warrant less spying.

One thing I must say however, is that Rep. Gillibrand has responded to every email I've ever sent her.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The 7 Year National Nightmare

What are the ten worst moments of the Bush administration? There are so many, it's really hard to narrow it down to only ten worst moments. But Brad Reed of Alternet has published his version here in an article called The 10 Most Awesomely Bad Moments of the Bush Presidency.

For those who don't want to click the link, here they are in a very short form:
10: Bush Gets Re-elected
9: Alberto Gonzales’ Congressional Testimony
8: North Korea Conducts a Nuclear Test
7: Colin Powell’s Bogus WMD Presentation at the U.N.
6: The Terri Schiavo Affair
5: Bush and Condi’s Excellent Gaza Adventure
4: “Brownie, You’re Doing a Heckuva Job”
3: Abu Ghraib
2: 9/11
1: “Mission Accomplished”

Keep in mind this doesn't include outing CIA agents, warrantless wiretapping, signing statements, fake turkey, groping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, extraordinary rendition, support for junk science, no bid contracts, bin Laden still at large, etc. etc. etc. But Clinton did lie about having consensual!

Michael Smerconish Speaks Out

Conservative radio host Michael Smerconish took over the "Radio Factor" for Bill O'Reilly. I doubt Bill O will ask him back. Smerconish had the following to say:
“I’m going to tell you something else many of you are not going to want to hear,” namely, “We’ve squandered resources in Iraq.” He added, “To my ear John McCain represents more of the same on this issue.”
Listen to it for yourself.

Smerconish also said:
I have never voted for a Democrat for President. I could do it on the strength of this issue alone because of my disagreement with the Administration and my fear that John McCain represents more of the same.

Some Anniversaries

100 years ago today was the Tunguska explosion in Siberia. What caused it? Antimatter? Meteor strike? Crashing alien space ship? Comet explosion? A tiny black hole? Read all about it here. Or, here at the BBC.

150 years ago today, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace's papers titled “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection” were read at the Linnean Society of London. You can read those two papers here.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Oil Shale?

You are going to be hearing a lot about oil shale in the coming months as the arguments on how to become energy independent heat up. There are huge oil shale (actually organic marlstone) deposits in the Green River Formation located in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. It is estimated that there is ~800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in this formation. This is far larger than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

The organic marlstone deposits in the Green River formation has been known about for several decades. So why hasn't it been tapped? Because it was too expensive - until now...maybe. Getting the oil involves heating the organic marlstone, which takes energy. Shell oil is proposing a method called in situ retorting. This involves heating a 6 x 6 mile x 1000 ft deep area of land to 700 degrees and keep it that hot for 3 years while the liquid fuel is pumped out. This could theoretically produce 20 billion barrels of oil. But here is the thing:
Although Shell's method avoids the need to mine shale, it requires a mind-boggling amount of electricity. To produce 100,000 barrels per day, the company would need to construct the largest power plant in Colorado history. Costing about $3 billion, it would consume 5 million tons of coal each year, producing 10 million tons of greenhouse gases. (The company's annual electric bill would be about $500 million.) To double production, you'd need two power plants. One million barrels a day would require 10 new power plants, five new coal mines. And 10 million barrels a day, as proposed by some, would necessitate 100 power plants.

So if we are going to get oil from shale in the near future, we better start building those power plants.

John McCain Works Well With Democrats

Sen. John McCain worked very well with Democratic Senators John Glenn, Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini and Donald Riegle in helping the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association by interfering with the Federal Home Loan Bank Boards investigation of the thrift's activities. This was known as the "Keating Five Scandal" of the 80's and 90's.

Considering the amount of coverage of the Clinton "Whitewater Scandal", it's surprising that I've yet to hear anything from the press on McCain's involvement in the Keating Five Scandal. Afterall, John McCain did receive $112,000 in campaign contributions from Charles Keating and his associates. The Lincoln Savings and Loan bailout by the Federal government ended up costing taxpayers $2.6 billion. The Senate Ethics Committee determined that John McCain did nothing improper and McCain donated $112,000 to the US Treasury. But no one ever proved the Clintons did anything improper either.

An Excuse to Beat Your Wife

Here is just one more reason I am not religious. Dr. Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has this excuse for when you need to beat your wife.
"And husbands on their parts, because they're sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged
God has given man authority over their wives. If the wife doesn't toe the line, she shouldn't be surprised if she gets a five finger mary. See, the husband only has one other recourse for a disobedient wife and that is to become passive and give up his responsibility as leader of the family.

Dr. Ware has a few other choice comments about women.
"It means that a woman will demonstrate that she is in fact a Christian, that she has submitted to God's ways by affirming and embracing her God-designed identity as--for the most part, generally this is true--as wife and mother, rather than chafing against it, rather than bucking against it, rather than wanting to be a man, wanting to be in a man's position, wanting to teach and exercise authority over men," Ware said. "Rather than wanting that, she accepts and embraces who she is as woman, because she knows God and she knows his ways are right and good, so she is marked as a Christian by her submission to God and in that her acceptance of God's design for her as a woman."
Sometimes it's hard to believe we are living in the 21st century.