Saturday, August 05, 2006


Blackwater: Inside America's Private Army

After Blackwater contracters were killed in Iraq, their families have decided to sue the company.

Firedoglake has a great entry on all this, and informs us:

The company’s defense is that "although it is a private company, it has become an essential and indistinguishable cog in the military machine and, like the military, should be immune from liability for casualties in a war zone."

Well, well, well. If it's part of the military, it's going to have to act like the military and *integrate into it*. Be subject to -- and accountable through defined channels -- the UCMJ, the laws of war, etc.

You do not get to have your cake and eat it, too.

Global Warming and Non-Helpful Mutations

If you've never thought about it, take a moment and reflect on the fact that the reason strictly-white-bread colored people exist is b/c a low-melanin mutation was non-harmful, and even beneficial, in Western and Northern Europe.

Still with me? That was a lot, compressed. Evolution, race, and geography. (Even some bits on Intelligent Design, if you're interested.)

But, really, it never occurred to you to ask why low-melanin slobs like me never evolved in sub-saharan Africa?

Now, what about a warming globe, with the potential for higher and higher rates of skin cancer?

That mutation's maybe not so beneficial anymore, is it?

So here's my message to all the white supremacists out there: time to do something about emissions, bucko, before skin cancer gets you. 'Cause you can only slather on so much SPF 3000.

Just a thought.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Muslims and Jews: Common Ground

Muslims and Jews: Common Ground

The author says a lot of things that make sense, and has an interesting suggestion about the introduction of a stronger role for the clergy in negotiation of a peace.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Haditha probe supports accusations against Pendleton Marines

Haditha probe supports accusations against Pendleton Marines

I used to live in Oceanside, CA, which is just south of Camp Pendleton. When the Marines shipped out, the town really felt it.

I was driving along in my truck one day, on the...south, yes, south side of the 78, running some errand, when I spotted a Marine on the side of the road and pulled over to give him a lift. He was trying to reach a cell-phone store and wound up on the wrong side of the highway, so I saved him about 20 minutes of hoofing it in major heat with a big ol' backpack.

We talked. It's not like we bared our souls or anything -- it wasn't a long ride.

He'd just finished training in something and was looking forward to shipping out to Iraq. When I let him out in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart, I told him to "stay safe".

This was back when we were still the good guys. It never occurred to me to tell him, "stay true". Because he was a Marine, and they've always been faithful.

When I talk about honor being stained, I'm talking about Semper Fidelis being spat on. I'm talking about oaths betrayed. About a proud military tradition being sullied.

This is no small thing. This is about our character as a nation.

Jimmy Carter on the Current Mid-East Situation

It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens [referring to the kidnapped Israeli soldiers], but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified.

Stop the Band-Aid Treatment

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Diebold Electronic Voting -- Worst Flaw


I would just like to remind the world that when I worked as an election inspector in Southern California, the number of voter ballots allegedly issued (by my machine) and the number of voter signatures counted (by one of my colleagues) had nothing to do with one another.


Monday, July 31, 2006

U.N. to U.S.: Close Secret Jails

U.S. Should Close Secret Detention Centers, UN Panel Says

The U.S. ``should immediately abolish all secret detention and secret detention facilities'' as well as ``grant prompt access'' by the International Committee of the Red Cross to prisoners, says the 12-page report, published today. The U.S. must also stop transferring prisoners to countries where there is a risk they will be tortured and ``acknowledge the applicability'' of international law for individuals.

And the U.S.'s response? "Hey, man, North Korea's even worse."

The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying it was ``disappointed'' with the findings of the report and the committee ``loses perspective and credibility'' by spending more time criticizing the U.S. than ``countries with no civil and political rights'' such as North Korea, it said an e-mailed statement.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Reverend Says Churches Should be Apolitical

Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock

Mr. Boyd says he is no liberal. He is opposed to abortion and thinks homosexuality is not God’s ideal. The response from his congregation at Woodland Hills Church here in suburban St. Paul — packed mostly with politically and theologically conservative, middle-class evangelicals — was passionate. Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

But there were also congregants who thanked Mr. Boyd, telling him they were moved to tears to hear him voice concerns they had been too afraid to share.

“Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”

That title is a misnomer, you know that? He didn't rattle his flock, he rescued 3/4s of them to speak their minds.

Mr. Boyd said he never intended his sermons to be taken as merely a critique of the Republican Party or the religious right. He refuses to share his party affiliation, or whether he has one, for that reason. He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into “idolatry.”

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Way to go, Reverend!

This problem politicization of religion is why, if I ever were to run for office, my response to any religious question will include a reading of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution:

Article VI

All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.[Emphasis added.]