Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Amazing Film

In the Shadow of the Moon is a remarkable documentary about the American Space Program, up through the "Apollo" moon landings. In the words of the surviving Apollo astronauts, most now in their late-70s, it is a powerful testament to the ability of human spirit and ingenuity to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The film shows the humanity and even spirituality of these men, as they reflect with wonder upon their achievements so long ago. Perhaps such stories will inspire in us a similar drive to overcome today's challenges.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Attack of the Left-Handers!

I had a chance to watch Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton debate last night at the University of Texas at Austin. (CNN streamed the debate live on the internet, a welcome service to those of us who are TV-challenged. Thanks, CNN!)

I knew there was a reason I empathize with Obama. Not only is he left-handed, but he writes back-handed! (Like yours truly.)

You can be sure that, before the year is ended, Conservative Republicans and astute political observers like Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly and Hannity will attack this revealing indicator of radical liberalism.

(Regarding the debate, I was impressed with Clinton's ease and confidence, but agree with Obama that we need a significant shake-up in Washington, that he's more likely to deliver. Actually, I'm hoping they quickly figure out the winner, then determine to run as the Presidential-Vice Presidential ticket. It was hardly a stimulating debate, and it was quite humorous when "" anchor Reggie Aqui repeatedly asked us to pay close attention to how the "debate dial" audience reaction meters responded to the candidates' statements. It was like watching ripples on still water.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is Waterboarding Torture? Take Another Look at That Hamburger.

While Washington debates interrogation techniques, inside our food industry, "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment ("torture") is the norm. (Should we really regard animals with any less respect than our fellow humans?)

If we are going to eat meat (and I certainly intend to), there is an alternative to industrial farms and feedlots. We can support family farmers and ranchers raising organic, grass-fed meat. One example is California's Niman Ranch brand, representing an association of 650 family farms, who CEO Jeff Swain claims adhere to the mantra "no added hormones, no antibiotics, no animal products in feed, ever."

But before you order that hamburger, you might want to read this Independent UK article about cattle ranching in Brazil, a prime driver of deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Deforestation has been cited as the second greatest contributor (behind CO2 emissions) to Global Warming. (And when deforestation leads to cattle ranching, the Global Warming impact is compounded with methane production.)

The growth of global fast food chains in "developing countries" is subsidized by their most affluent markets, in North America, Europe and Japan. Even though Brazilian beef may not be imported for their U.S. restaurants (due to opposition from American ranchers), Brazilian beef may be used to supply their other markets. Deforested tracts of Amazon Basin are also a major source of soy bean feed demanded by industrial farming operations.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Jess and Sergio are off to Costa Rica...

and Honduras and Peru and Argentina and...

Click here to visit Jessica's travel blog.

Friday, February 08, 2008

John McCain: War President Wannabe

This nation cannot afford another "War President".

The following comes from "":

Senator John McCain presents himself as a maverick and a critic of the Iraq war. But a close read of his record indicates that his position on the Iraq war has consistently matched President George W. Bush's.

Before The War:
  • McCain used many of the same arguments as Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and President Bush when advocating going to war with Iraq.
  • McCain co-sponsored the Use of Force Authorization that gave President George W. Bush the green light—and a blank check—for going to war with Iraq. [SJ Res 46, 10/3/02]
  • McCain argued Saddam was "a threat of the first order." Senator McCain said that a policy of containing Iraq to blunt its weapons of mass destruction program is "unsustainable, ineffective, unworkable and dangerous." McCain: "I believe Iraq is a threat of the first order, and only a change of regime will make Iraq a state that does not threaten us and others, and where liberated people assume the rights and responsibilities of freedom." [Speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2/13/03]
  • McCain echoed Bush and Cheney's rationale for going to war. McCain: "It's going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East." [Fox, Hannity & Colmes, 2/21/03]
  • McCain echoed Bush and Cheney's talking points that the U.S. would only be in Iraq for a short time. McCain: "It's clear that the end is very much in sight. ... It won't be'll be a fairly short period of time." [ABC, 4/9/03]
  • McCain said winning the war would be "easy." "I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women." [CNN, 9/24/02]
During The War:
  • Senator McCain praised Donald Rumsfeld as late as May 12, 2004, after the Abu Ghraib scandal.
  • Asked if Donald Rumsfeld can continue to be an effective secretary of defense, McCain: "Yes, today I do and I believe he's done a fine job. He's an honorable man." [Hannity and Colmes, 5/12/04]
  • Senator McCain repeatedly supported President Bush on the Iraq War—voting with him in the Senate, defending his actions and publicly praising his leadership.
  • McCain maintains the war was a good idea.
  • At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq, said that while weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam once had them and "he would have acquired them again." McCain said the mission in Iraq "gave hope to people long oppressed" and it was "necessary, achievable and noble." McCain: "For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush
  • Senator McCain: "The war, the invasion was not a mistake. [Meet the Press, 1/6/08]
  • Asked if the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, McCain: "It was worth getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He had used weapons of mass destruction, and it's clear that he was hell-bent on acquiring them." [Republican Debate, 1/24/08]
  • McCain defended Bush's rationale for war. Asked if he thought the president exaggerated the case for war, McCain said, "I don't think so." [Fox News, 7/31/03]
  • McCain has been President Bush's most ardent Senate supporter on Iraq. According to Michael Shank of the Foreign Policy in Focus think tank, McCain was at times Bush's "most solid support in the Senate" on Iraq. [Foreign Policy in Focus, 1/15/08]
  • McCain voted against holding Bush accountable for his actions in the war. McCain opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the development and use of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. [S. Amdt. 1275 to H.R. 2658, Vote # 284, 7/16/03]
  • McCain praised Bush's leadership on the war. McCain: "I think the president has led with great clarity and I think he's done a great job leading the country..." [MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03]
  • Senator McCain has constantly moved the goal posts of progress for the war—repeatedly saying it would be over soon.
  • January 2003: "But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily." [MSNBC, 1/22/03]
  • March 2003: "I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short." [NBC, Meet the Press, 3/30/03]
  • June 2004: "The terrorists know that this is a very critical time." [CNN, 6/23/04]
  • December 2005: "Overall, I think a year from now, we will have a fair amount of progress [in Iraq] if we stay the course." [The Hill, 12/8/05]
  • November 2006: "We're either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months." [NBC, Meet the Press, 11/12/06]
  • Senator McCain opposed efforts to end the overextension of the military that is having a devastating impact on our troops.
  • McCain voted against requiring mandatory minimum downtime between tours of duty for troops serving in Iraq. [S. Amdt.. 2909 to S Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 341, 9/19/07; S Amdt. 2012 to S Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote #241, 7/11/07]
  • McCain was one of only 13 senators to vote against adding $430 million for inpatient and outpatient care for veterans. [S Amdt. 3642 to HR 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06]
  • Senator McCain has consistently opposed any plan to withdraw troops from Iraq
  • Senator McCain repeatedly voted against a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. [S. Amdt. 3876 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #438, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.. 3875 to S.Amdt.. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote # 437, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.3164 to H.R. 3222, Vote # 362, 10/3/07; S.Amdt. 2898 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #346, 9/21/07; S.Amdt. 2924 to S.Amdt.. 2011 to H.R.1585, Vote #345, 9/21/07; S.Amdt.2 087 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #252, 7/18/07; S.Amdt. 643 to H.R. 1591, Vote #116, 3/27/07; S.Amdt. 4320 to S. 2766, Vote #182, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766, Vote #181, 6/22/06; S.Amdt.. 2519 to S.1042, Vote # 322, 11/15/05]
  • Senator McCain has consistently demonized Americans who want to find a responsible way to remove troops from Iraq so that we can take the fight to al Qaeda.
  • McCain: "I believe to set a date for withdrawal is to set a date for surrender." [Charlotte Observer, 9/16/07]
  • McCain called proponents of a congressional resolution opposing the troop surge in Iraq intellectually dishonest. [Associated Press. 2/4/07]
The Future:
  • Senator McCain now says he sees no end to the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
  • McCain: "[M]ake it a hundred" years in Iraq and "that would be fine with me." [Derry, New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, 1/3/08]
  • McCain on how long troops may remain in Iraq: "A thousand years. A million years. Ten million years. It depends on the arrangement we have with the Iraqi government." [Associated Press, 1/04/08]

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Bush Seeks $3.1 Trillion Budget"

White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

"We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents and other generations."

- President George W. Bush, "The State of the Union" Address, 2003

And today, the President handed his proposed budget to Congress, a $3.1 Trillion Budget calling for a $407 Billion deficit.

(See New York Times: "Bush Seeks $3.1 Trillion Budget")

While cutting social programs, the President proposes a 7.5% increase in military spending (exclusive of supplemental funding for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

During his term in office, President Bush has increased The Pentagon's budget by 30%, in addition to $600 Billion in "supplemental" war spending.

In the spirit of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the President can denounce the "tax and spend liberals" while leaving a path of debt and destruction that reminds one of General Sherman's March to the Sea.

One must ask, "who benefits from this shift in public treasure?" Follow the money, and it is clear who this President (and his allies) represent. Follow the money and you will see who the President does not represent.


Dear President Bush,

Please explain how you are not "pass(ing) along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents and other generations."