Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 August 2010 Back to school again- lessons not learned.

Too early, too loud, too bad! The alarm rips any potential sleep away from me, returning me to a schedule of my own making but not of my desire. The new semester awaits, the parking lot dance begins again. In fact, the dance was more difficult this semester than last. The lots are filled; the ones I hope to use have lines of people circling, in an adult game of musical chairs. I take another tack, wind up unbeknownst to me in a carpool lot. Warned by another driver I hang my disabled tag, hope it wards off tickets, and then succumb to insecurity, call the traffic office for re-assurance, and am re-assured. I hate the injuries that make the tag possible. But on a morning such as this, I’m happy to make use of it.

Rogers-Stout hall, room 101 is a new type of classroom for me. Comfortable chairs and lined up tables with power and Ethernet outlets on each desk/table make it so easy to link to the campus network. This has the feel of a more modern classroom. Perhaps the class will meet my hopes for a deeper level of participation by students. The course, History of Modern Warfare, is taught by the History dept. chairman. That could be good, could be bad. How much fire for discovery and preservation has been surrendered to the demands of an academic position.

I’ve begun the recommended reading with a short history of warfare in Europe.

First impressions are favorable. Dr. Baxter speaks with some brand of English accent, easy to understand.

Class began on time. What a small thing to rejoice about but I want him to value class time as mine, not to be wasted with BS as Fritz was wont to do last fall.

Discussion is encouraged and there are other students in the class not afraid to speak up. Two other class members are veterans. I’m the senior, the only Vietnam vet. There are several males and females who turned up wearing current BDU’s – must be ROTC students.

Baxter did not rush out immediately at the end of class, again, favorable.

I’ve had time to get to the library to pick up my on-hold book, look for and reserve another, plus find a Dorsey novel. Productive hour.

Back on campus, find a remote disabled slot, walk to student union to stand in line and buy a badly made Quizno’s sub. Asked for Ice tea, they had none. First coke in years. The thrill remains gone.

Walked back to the Pathfinder and down to the next class’s building to see if I could move my truck. No joy, but noticed Gloria is on site now. At the last minute before hiking back to the truck a truly obese man is walking toward a line of disabled vehicles. I ask him to hold the spot until I can walk up and drive back. He does. Gloria is walking to her car as I pull in to my slot. We get to make out on campus for the first time this semester.

I’m cooling off in the air-conditioned lecture hall. No wi-fi available. I’m behind a door in the back of the room typing away; young women and her cell phone wander in, see me, and beat feet as if I am infectious. Not to my knowledge, but saves me the trouble of making unwanted small talk.

The Art History survey would be far more interesting if

a. I could hear what is being said

b. There was no four hour delay between my 1st class and it

c. The auditorium seating was not designed for people with the lower bodies of wading birds.

I now have to decide whether to keep taking this class, to look for another section on T-Thr, or to drop the course. It doesn’t look as if we can work out a schedule that allows us to share the trip.

Sushi, spring rolls, and inari for dinner.

That’s all folks!



Who Else Will Speak Up?

Published: August 30, 2010

“The hate-filled signs carried recently by protesters trying to halt plans to build an Islamic center and mosque in Lower Manhattan were chilling. We were cheered to see people willing to challenge their taunts and champion tolerance and the First Amendment. But opportunistic politicians are continuing to foment this noxious anger. It is a dangerous pursuit.

Bob Herbert is correct. There is no logical reason to keep feeding troops into Afghanistan.

We Owe the Troops an Exit


Published: August 30, 2010


At least 14 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan over the past few days.

That’s all that needs to be said by me. Read the article, please.

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 August 2010 History of modern war - lots of current material to study

We are currently fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, unofficially in Pakistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and other East African states. Wars are being waged in Africa, Eastern Europe, South Asia, Mexico, and South America.

I begin my history of modern warfare class tomorrow. There should be no lack of material.

In Israel, Settling for Less


Published: August 29, 2010

“ the status quo cannot last — and Israelis and their supporters need to confront this fact. The most pressing problem with the settlements is not that they are obstacles to a final peace accord, which is how settlement critics have often framed the issue. The danger is that they will doom Zionism itself.

If the road to partition is blocked, Israel will be forced to choose between two terrible options: Jewish-dominated apartheid or non-Jewish democracy. If Israel opts for apartheid, as the settlers wish, Israel will betray the beliefs it was founded on, become a pariah state and provoke the Arab population to an understandable rebellion. If a non-Jewish democracy is formally established, it is sure to be dysfunctional. Fatah and Hamas haven’t been able to reconcile their differences peacefully and rule the territories — throwing a large Jewish population into the mix is surely not going to produce a healthy liberal democracy. Think Lebanon, not Switzerland.

In truth, both options — and indeed all “one-state solutions” — lead to the same end: civil war. That is why the settlement problem should be at the top of everyone’s agenda, beginning with Israel’s. The religious settlement movement is not just secular Zionism’s ideological adversary, it is a danger to its very existence. Terrorism is a hazard, but it cannot destroy Herzl’s Zionist vision. More settlements and continued occupation can. “


Sunday, August 29, 2010

29 August 2010 lots of words little change

School begins for us, again, on Tuesday, 31 August.

This semester Gloria continues to study metal-smithing as applied to art and jewelry.

I’m taking a history course in Modern Warfare and a survey art-history course that may improve my cultural base a bit.

Tomorrow I have to put my parking sticker on the Pathfinder and Gloria has to sticker her Tucson. We can’t afford any parking violations.

We watched the series finale of “Pillars of the Earth” last night. I’m tempted to find the novel it was based upon and read it. I should have a book at the library on hold this coming week. So one more in the queue shouldn’t matter.

Pool maintenance today, added chlorine tabs, scooped bugs and am now adding water to bring the level up. The gas tank for the heater is full so we can run it another month. The solar blanket has been quite helpful this summer. There is some small benefit to this being a record-breaking summer. We’ve had only one night this month with a 60°F low. The rest have been in the middle 60’s to low 70’s. I’m looking forward to autumn.

When I began this blog a year, 366 posts ago I intended it as something that would force me to use some portion of my brain to connect to and relate to the world around me using language. I’ve written a lot of words, shot a few photographs, and linked to the work of established writers, pundits, and researchers. Some of what I linked to has amused me, some astounded me, and some has left me wondering when the sun is scheduled to go nova and clean the surface of the planet. Despite that frustration I’ not missed a day’s writing in the past year. That is its only benefit as far as I can see the steady mental exercise that took me nowhere but showed me a lot about other people and places.

I knew at the onset that I had absolutely no chance of changing the course of local, national, or world events. Despite that I’ve put a lot of words on virtual paper in the hope that someone, someone who can make a difference, might peripherally happen to intersect what I wrote and undergo a change in outlook. That hasn’t taken place and I am not surprised that it didn’t. Still, a twinge of regret lingers when I think back to how much I’ve written about the political idiocy that we have to deal with today.

Glen Beck, recovering drug addict, LDS fanatical convert, political commentator/used car salesman chose yesterday to try to lay claim to the civil rights struggle that took place before he was expelled into the world. Another oily, propaganda-spewing bigoted, hate-monger working for Fox News; he’s trying to add evangelical religion to racism, anti-intellectualism, anti-abortion, and other wedge issues that prime the sludge-filled blood streams of red state right-wingers and theocrats. Personally, I can think of nothing about the man that is socially redeeming. He’s the current male counterpart to Sarah Palin, feeding off the illiterate, spewing hatred and lies for a fee. In a nation that valued education more, these two would be quickly discovered for what they are and relegated to the also-ran pile before they had time to do any real harm. In the badly polarized America that exists today, they can make a career feeding the polarization, fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry, and contributing nothing positive to the political process.

I start this semester with less hope than the last. Let’s see how many words I add to the polarization while hoping for a shift to the positive in the midterm elections.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 2010 Snow in Hell today I agree with Al Sharpton

This is the sort of news item that is all too often buried on a back page and then overlooked. The fact that two kilograms of any isotope of uranium were being stored in the garage of former police officer in one of the former Soviet states is very troubling. We’ve heard how lax nuclear material security is in the former USSR. This is yet more proof.

“3 arrested in Moldova in uranium smuggling plot


The Associated Press

Wednesday, August 25, 2010; 3:31 PM

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Two former policemen and another person were arrested in Moldova on suspicion of trying to sell four pounds (nearly two kilograms) of uranium on the black market, authorities said Wednesday, although the amount was too small to be used in a nuclear warhead or a "dirty bomb."

Officials identified the material as uranium-238 and said it had a value of euro9 million ($11.35 million).

Uranium-238 can be enriched into the fissile material of nuclear warheads or converted into plutonium, also used to arm nuclear missiles. Both processes are complex and need much more of the material than the amount reported seized, which also was much too little to be used for a "dirty bomb."

Interior Ministry officials said the traffickers were trying to sell the uranium, which was kept in the garage of a former policeman, to people from unspecified countries.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner congratulated Moldova's government for the break up of what he called a uranium smuggling ring and said an FBI team had assisted Moldovan authorities with "technical analysis."

Moldovan authorities have sent the uranium to a German atomic center to establish the percentage of enrichment and country of origin.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna declined immediate comment on the case. “


Demagogue Glenn Beck will try to co-opt the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s today. He will cloak his money grubbing in the guise of raising money for the children of SpecOps troops KIA. Beck is another of the flag-waving pseudo-patriots that will be happy to fight any war to the last drop of someone else’s blood while he stays home and becomes richer selling bigotry and hatred of non-WASPs on a GOP house-organ “news network.”

Beck is another in the long line of hate mongers and liars who have chosen to ally with the GOP to benefit the ultra-wealthy and do away with the middle and working class in this nation.

I have my doubts that the scholarship fund will receive much money from Beck. The rally expenses will be “greater than expected.” So will Beck’s share. I imagine that the empty-headed former governor of Alaska will recite her ghost-written speech for her usual fee and leave without ever understanding what a charlatan she has become. The team of Beck and Palin celebrates the unholy high school reunion of a home-coming queen and a self-aggrandizing alcoholic. The damage they can wreak on others is of no concern to them. They simply can’t stand to leave the limelight of the money to be made selling lies and innuendo. Palin, like Beck, will send the troops out to die for corporate ventures and never understand why she is wrong at every possible angle.

Where will Glenn Beck rally money go?

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, August 27, 2010; 3:09 PM

Glenn Beck has billed his "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday in part as an opportunity to focus attention on those who have served in the military.

I recall the 1963 event as well as I can for having heard and seen it by television rather than at the actual event. Sharpton’s comments below seem to me to be exactly correct. King spoke about social justice, about ending war, about the equality of human kind in this nation. Beck profits from dividing our population into the bigoted state that it was prior to the Civil Rights movement and laws. Sharpton calls for peace and equality, Beck champions greed, hatred, and lies. I know whom I have to support and whom I will never support.

Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton: The rallies of 8/28

“Sharpton, who as a teenager worked with some of King's lieutenants, plans to lead a march that is to end near the site of the Beck rally. His event is part of an annual commemoration of King's iconic speech, and Sharpton intends to issue a call to reform education and "reclaim" the dream, which he said Beck is trying to "hijack."

King "came to ask for a strong federal government," Sharpton said. "If some of these folk read the speech, they may understand that they don't want to celebrate a dream they haven't really read."

Friday, August 27, 2010

27 August 2010 Local restaurant reviewer probably asked for ketchup

Recently, we were fortunately able to eat at a local restaurant, Babylon, in Johnson City TN. Our two visits for meals allowed us to sample a moderately broad spectrum of the menu. We enjoyed both meals enough that we plan on dining there as often as possible.

Today’s newspaper contained the regular Friday “mystery diner’s review. Rather than reviewing a local hotdog stand, or featuring a review of a carnival food stand at the local county fair, now ongoing, he chose to review Babylon. The level of misinformation, lack of understanding of various cuisines, and just poor journalism is pathognomic of local food critic columns.

He began his review by making fun of a possible typographical error on the printed menu. The item in question was listed as Garden Blue Chicken. He decided it must be “chicken cordon bleu” and began demanding the waitress tell him how it was made. He then made fun of her in his column. Her linguistic skills certainly outclass his. She’s working in a second, foreign language while dealing with a customer whose native language is foreign to him.

We’ve made it a point, on our visits, to talk to the wait staff. They are Iraqi immigrants, working hard to provide excellent food at fair prices. They don’t need a local bozo making fun of their accent or hammering them about a menu typo at a peak load hour.

The restaurant serves freshly made baked on the spot pita-type bread. It has an excellent flavor and is quite well prepared to be used when dining Middle Eastern fashion. Our noble reviewer felt it to be too doughy and decided it must be pre-baked and then nuked on demand. He has obviously confused what they served with the dust-dry “pocket-pita baked for vegans, vegetarians, and dieters. When we were there, we were told that the bread was being baked for us. When it arrived, hot to the touch, wonderful in texture, tough enough to serve as silverware, there was no doubt that it was freshly baked

The routine review turned in by this columnist rarely details why the food was acceptable or not. He writes about everything else but the food quality unless he’s reviewing a breakfast stop or a fast-food store. Today’s review was no exception. In the last couple paragraphs he said that the lamb shanks were well cooked and that the hummus was to his taste.

The hummus we were served was a relatively blank slate, prepared to be augmented with oil and spices to the diner’s taste. I can only assume he failed to understand this. He certainly did not pass on this information to anyone not already familiar with real Middle Eastern food.

During our visits we have been served truly excellent kabob sandwiches, on fresh rolls, dressed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini, which came with French fries. Various appetizer plates contained hummus, fresh, chewy, pita, peppers, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes sufficient to stave off serious hunger. The falafel appetizer plate is adequate for a lunch by itself. The falafel was wonderfully spiced, not at all greasy or oily, and came wrapped in pita and vegetables. Various sauces were provided to add flavor.

During one visit, we were unexpectedly provided with bowls of an excellent lentil soup which we had not ordered. We asked about the surprise and were told that they wanted us to have something while the bread was baking.

We like this restaurant quite a lot. We want them to succeed but such unschooled reviews as the one published today won’t help them. He did a very poor job of introducing a restaurant that offers a cuisine unfamiliar to most local residents. Instead, he made fun of hard working people, failed to educate anyone about the food he was served, and possibly damage the chance that this restaurant will succeed.

We’ve complained to the newspaper about this columnist several times before. I think it is time to do so again. This writer failed dismally to sample anything beyond his comfort zone of local cuisine. He seems more interested in assigning letter grades to pizza, burgers, fried chicken, and biscuits.

He owes an apolgy to the restaurant and readers for failing to review the food they feature, and he owes the waitress a huge apology for his rudeness to her there and later in print.

I’ve written my letter to his boss. He’ll get a copy, too. Perhaps he’ll assign it a letter grade.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

26 August 2010 Tool boxes, library, and groceries

That’s today’s mission.

Lowes provided the tool box, for a fee. It also provided paper towels and several Dremel tool parts.

Harbor Freight provided a hammer, two drier vent brushes, and a Digital volt meter that is selling below cost. Makes me wonder if it will detonate upon use or if I will detonate upon using it.

The library received returned books, provided Gloria with several to bring home. I elected to reserve “Winter’s Bone” by Woodrell. I’ve heard several movie reviews and one interview with the author. I generally prefer to read books before seeing a movie related in some manner to the book. Since I know the region the book is about and have survived minimal contact with people who people the book; I don’t want to go near the movie without my own images of the characters and locations firmly in place.

Earth Fare provided several sorts of cheese, salads, dried figs, crystallized ginger and almonds. Yerba Mate, Nan bread, cannoli, and a St. Louis-trimmed slab of spareribs fell into our cart as well. Ingles, provided milk, soy milk, pineapple-orange juice, yogurt, sugar-free cookies, sugar-free brownie mix, langoustines, raw tuna from Indonesia, chuck-eyes, and some cleaning supplies. For our delivery of money in exchange for food, Ingles awarded us $0.10 price reduction/gallon of gasoline, up to 25 gallons. We accepted, gassed up, came home, dragged the dog, and put away all the food.

Dinner tonight will be an adaptation of Shrimp with lemon grass, a VietNamese favorite of mine. I haven’t tried this recipe yet. Dinner will tell. There is always left over burrito filling from last night’s beef & black bean burritos.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25 August 2010 Treat the patient, not the chart

Or at least read the damned chart before not treating the patient.

I could have predicted this. In fact, I did predict it.

In mid July, the schedule used by VA to control ordering and tracking of meds combined with the delivery schedules of the US Postal Service to provide me with two unopened containers of tracked meds plus about 2-3 days in an opened container the day before I had a scheduled appointment. I’m required to bring in meds for pill counts at visits with my primary care provider. I had discussed this situation with her at my last visit in January. So, of course, on 15 July I carried my meds and my concerns into Johnson City.

The ordering schedules are established and enforced by some oversight committee. The required re-order frequency is to phone in for renewal 21 days after receiving a shipment. I’m a retired clinical lab scientist. I am, by profession, mildly obsessive-compulsive. I don’t miss medication doses and don’t miss scheduled renewal times.

My primary care physician suggested that I not renew at the next 21 day interval and let the problem self-correct. I waited an additional two weeks, making it a 37 day interval between my last shipment’s arrival and my re-order.

Yesterday afternoon my cell phone rang, unusual in and of itself. Before I could get to it my provider’s office nurse left voicemail telling me to call a VA extension for message from my provider. The message indicated that I am believed to have 2 shipments on hand and do not need to re-order at this point. Exactly what I was afraid would happen. I’ve followed every guideline, every legality, and now I’m likely to be skewered by a provider who noted what I would do in her chart but has not seemed to follow up on what she charted.

I’ve spent the better part of two hours on hold or talking with various clerks and RN’s while trying to clear up the misconception that I have more meds than I do. Of course, the layers of access and triage keep me from speaking with the two people I need to speak with most, my provider and her office nurse. The way the system is configured, there is no way I could have re-ordered my meds as required and not wind up with an excess amount on hand. If I don’t re-order on time I can be considered in violation of my medication agreement with VA.

I’ve spoken with two triage desk RNs this morning, trying to make it clear to them that I need to speak with my physician and that I no longer have the two shipments I had on 15 July. I’ll wait out the afternoon, hoping that she understands that I need to speak with her. She doesn’t really want to talk to me by phone if she can avoid it.

I use VA for healthcare for two reasons. First, I’m entitled to it. I earned it and I see no reason not to call in that claim. And reason two is affordability. Even if I could find a competent and capable physician willing to accept another patient with no insurance but Medicare, the out of pocket expenses would be too great. If I left the VA system my medications costs would double what we’re currently paying per month for meds.

By and large, I’ve received relatively good care from VA. The system is overloaded, underfunded, understaffed in many areas. The bulk of its employees want to provide quality care for veterans. But when something like this happens the built in redundancy, inescapable delay, and bone-shattering annoyance at being unable to deal with the right person when a problem first arises can make the nature of the system an unwitting obstacle to quality.

Congress needs to fund the VA system at a much higher level. There are millions of vets who rely upon it for all their health care. I want to be able to trust my providers, not cringe at the thought of dealing with a feudalistic structure.

There’s an additional facet to the overall clusterfuck. The relief mail carrier, who covers weekends and some Fridays and Mondays, has repeatedly not made any attempt to deliver medication packages that require signatures. He has failed to attempt delivery. He just drops off a notice that a certified package can be picked up the next day at the branch post office. If this happens on the day before a holiday weekend, that package, my meds, can sit in the branch 4-5 days before the regular carrier returns and delivers the mail as he is supposed to deliver it. So I need to make my physician aware of the possible delay in receipt if she waits too long to renew my meds. We’ve complained to the Postmaster but he can’t guarantee the timely delivery if he’s dealing with someone who will sign the package out but not attempt delivery intentionally.

I’ve made all the calls I can make today. I’ll be surprised if I hear from anyone else this afternoon. At least, the problem became apparent in midweek, not Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

24 August 2010 Fighting for theocracy in the U.S.A.

I rarely cite the Huffington Post but chose to do so in this instance. The punishment of U.S. soldiers for refusing to attend an evangelical concert is beyond any excuse offered by the general who established the series of evangelical concerts, or by his staff members. This falls under religious discrimination and is prohibited by U.S. Army regulations, Dept. of Defense regulations, and by the United States Constitution.

Such discrimination, combined with a history of frank proselytization by an evangelical flag officer is grounds for immediate relief from command and discharge from the Army. “Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concerts” is a thinly veiled attempt at conversion to Christianity, an attempt to build an all-Christian military.

Given the recruitment catch basin for the U.S. armed forces, southern whites, poor blacks and whites, and others who grew up with a strong tradition of church attendance; there seems to be little awareness among the troops of the intent to proselytize, and even less objection as these troops have grown up with and been reinforced with the pairing of fundamentalist Christianity with patriotism. Today’s volunteer enlisted soldiers grew up as targets of Nixon’s, Reagan’s, and Bush’s southern strategy. They don’t see the illegality of anyone trying to use the military to spread and export Christianity. Nor do they see the impact such actions have upon the world outside our borders. They essentially have grown up with the mindset that tells them non-Christians are as much their enemy as the insurgents they battle in Asia.

One of my regular correspondents suggested that the removal of Major General James E Chambers from command and from duty will be interpreted as “”a war against Christianity.” My response was that I viewed his actions as unconstitutional, illegal, unethical, and providing justified. General Chambers has, in effect declared a personal war against all non-Christians by his actions. He’s willing to send troops that he views as his own contribution to a new Crusade against Islam into battle. He’s safe in knowing that his “born-again” ass will never be at risk of harm in battle. How despicable he is.

The U.S. armed forces are assembled and trained to protect the security of this nation, its citizens and its properties and territories. It is to have no ties to any religion. Its commanders are to serve the nation, not demagogues, evangelists, and ideologies based upon ancient myths. Just as the loyalty of troops to Islam’s ideology can and has fallen into question since the attacks of 2001; so can the loyalty of Christian troops fall into question. We’ve seen multiple examples of internal terrorism carried out by Christians. The question of where loyalty begins and ends must be faced with all religions, not just Islam.


U.S. Soldiers Punished for Not Attending Christian Concert

“For the past several years, two U.S. Army posts in Virginia, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, have been putting on a series of what are called Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts. As I've written in a number of other posts, "spiritual fitness" is just the military's new term for promoting religion, particularly evangelical Christianity. And this concert series is no different.

On May 13, 2010, about eighty soldiers, stationed at Fort Eustis while attending a training course, were punished for opting out of attending one of these Christian concerts. The headliner at this concert was a Christian rock band called BarlowGirl, a band that describes itself as taking "an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God."

Any doubt that this was an evangelical Christian event was cleared up by the Army post's newspaper, the Fort Eustis Wheel, which ran an article after the concert that began:

Following the Apostle Paul's message to the Ephesians in the Bible, Christian rock music's edgy, all-girl band BarlowGirl brought the armor of God to the warriors and families of Fort Eustis during another installment of the Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concert Series May 13 at Jacobs Theater.”

“The Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concert Series was the brainchild of Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, who, according to an article on the Army.mil website, "was reborn as a Christian" at the age of sixteen. According to the article, Chambers held the first concert at Fort Lee within a month of becoming the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee in June 2008. But he had already started the series at Fort Eustis, as the previous commanding general there. The concerts have continued at Fort Eustis under the new commanding general, as well as spreading to Fort Lee under Maj. Gen. Chambers. The concerts are also promoted to the airmen on Langley Air Force Base, which is now part of Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

In the Army.mil article, Maj. Gen. Chambers was quoted as saying, "The idea is not to be a proponent for any one religion. It's to have a mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds." But there has been no "mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds" at these concerts. Every one of them has had evangelical Christian performers, who typically not only perform their music but give their Christian testimony and read from the Bible in between songs.

Another problem with these concerts, besides the issues like soldiers being punished for choosing not to attend them, is that they are run by the commanders, and not the chaplains' offices. It is absolutely permissible for a chaplain's office to put on a Christian concert. It is not permissible for the command to put on a Christian concert, or any other religious event. Having a religious concert series that is actually called and promoted as a Commanding General's Concert Series is completely over the top.”


Pentagon Investigating Christian Concert Coercion

Posted on: August 24, 2010 11:31 AM, by Ed Brayton

Meet the Military Man Battling Dangerous Christian Extremism in the Military

A pervasive Christian supremacist milieu exists inside the U.S. military that's a danger not only to constitutional order, but to the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Monday, August 23, 2010

23 August 2010 Better than a sharp stick in the shoulder

Up early this morning to drive into Johnson City. I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgery department to re-evaluate and to treat my shoulders.

The drive in took longer than usual. There were large areas of thick fog and I had the misfortune to be behind a school bus and a long line of vehicles following the bus for about 33% of the trip. There was a large assembly of roadside mowers at the 107/81 junction which caused a delay in the left turn lane. Highway 67, leading from 81 into Johnson City had active mowers deployed at all points where passing is legal. I entered the parking lots at VA with ten minutes to park and hike into the hospital to check in. Check in for this clinic is on the opposite side of the building from the parking lots.

After the PA reviewed my case, looked at the most current X-rays, did her exam, and questioned me about pain levels, ranges of motion, etc.; I asked her to inject both shoulder with cortisone rather than making me return another day. The time since the last series was long enough to allow a bilateral treatment.

By the time I hiked back to the Pathfinder I could feel the lidocaine in the injection having some effect. I had so little range of motion Saturday that I didn’t even try to take part in the dance we attended. This morning I was unable to pull a door closed behind me using my right arm; had to turn and use the left arm. By tomorrow I’m hoping for enough temporary analgesia to let me catch up on the yard work I need to do.

We discussed the possibility of surgical repairs and changes in pain control before I left the ortho clinic. The recommendations remain the same. Due to my medication history and the nature of my injuries, combined with the arthritic changes in my shoulders and C-spine, I’m not a candidate for surgical repair. Fortunately, I can look forward to medical intervention such as took place this morning about 2-4 times/year.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Iran inaugurates nation's first unmanned bomber


The Associated Press

Sunday, August 22, 2010; 7:48 AM

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country's first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an "ambassador of death" to Iran's enemies.

The 4-meter-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), according to a state TV report - not far enough to reach archenemy Israel.

"The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship," said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country's national day for its defense industries.

The goal of the aircraft, named Karrar or striker, is to "keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases," he said, adding that the aircraft is for deterrence and defensive purposes.

The president championed the country's military self-sufficiency program, and said it will continue "until the enemies of humanity lose hope of ever attacking the Iranian nation."

Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo and now produces its own tanks, armored personnel carries, missiles and even a fighter plane.

Iran frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

State TV later showed video footage of the plane taking off from a launching pad and reported that the craft traveled at speeds of 560 miles per hour (900 kilometers) and could alternatively be armed with two 250-pound bombs or a 450-pound guided bomb.

Iran has been producing its own light, unmanned surveillance aircraft since the late 1980s.

The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear program.

Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity.

Referring to Israel's occasional threats against Iran's nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad called any attack unlikely, but he said if Israel did, the reaction would be overwhelming.

"The scope of Iran's reaction will include the entire the earth," said Ahmadinejad. "We also tell you - the West - that all options are on the table."

Ahmadinejad appeared to be consciously echoing the terminology used by the U.S. and Israel in their statements not ruling out a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities.

On Friday, Iran also test-fired a new liquid fuel surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, with advanced guidance systems.

Iranian Karrar at launch 22 Aug 2010

This weapon reportedly does not have sufficient range to reach and attack Israel. It is not supersonic in performance and has a relatively light warhead capacity.

The wording of the press release is hostile and presents the weapon to “the West” as if Iran has designated Europe, Israel, and the U.S. as being all but at war with Iran. Such language may play well to the Religious extremists in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards units that control missile forces and most likely will control any nuclear weaponry Iran acquires.

The demonstration of this weapon in conjunction with the initial fueling of Iran’s first nuclear power reactor is most probably calculated to raise fear of Iran’s weapons program. While the weapon may be lacking in payload and range, it is significant in that it is manufactured in Iran. Even if every fragment of its design is pirated or reverse engineered from older technology, demonstration of capacity to manufacture and deploy such weapons while under severe weapons embargo by the West speaks loudly of Iran’s intent to become a world power. Like many other nations that have reached and lost imperial status, Iran still has rulers who dream of a restored Persian Empire ruled by Islamic fundamentalists.

Israel, Europe, and the U.S. need to block any export of this weapon to Iranian client states or to Iranian backed terrorist groups. Its limited range is not a problem if it can be shipped to Syria, Lebanon, or Gaza. It can also be tweaked to fire from a cargo ship off the coast of the U.S.

The Technology may be lacking compared to modern weapons in the western arsenal. But the technology is somewhat similar to that of the post WWII/early Cold War level. Those weapons were good enough to serve as deterrents against the Soviet Union’s nuclear capability. In the hands of Islamic fundamentalists or any other group with NBC warhead capability this weapon is of serious concern.

Iran seems hell-bent upon acquiring nuclear warhead capability and will likely not hesitate to provide such weapons to anyone willing to target and deploy them against Israel and the U.S.

The weapon is reminiscent of the WWII V-1 Buzz Bombs launched at England by the German Army. It is, therefore reminiscent of the Regulus and Regulus II cruise missiles developed by the U.S.



“specifications for the project, now named "Regulus," were issued: Carry a 3,000-pound (1,400 kg) warhead, to a range of 500 nautical miles (930 km), at Mach 0.85, with a circular error probable (CEP) of 0.5% of the range. At its extreme range the missile had to hit within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of its target 50% of the time.

The design was 30 feet (9.1 m) long, 10 feet (3.0 m) in wingspan, 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter, and would weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds (4,500 and 5,400 kg) After launch, it would be guided toward its target by two control stations. (Later, with the "Trounce" system, one submarine could guide it). The first Regulus flew in March 1951.”

Ships fitted with Regulus

USS Tunny launching a Regulus I in 1958.

The first launch from a submarine occurred in July 1953 from the deck of USS Tunny (SSG-282), a World War II fleet boat modified to carry Regulus. Tunny and her sister boat USS Barbero (SSG-317) were the States’ first nuclear deterrent patrol submarines. They were joined in 1958 by two purpose built Regulus submarines, USS Grayback (SSG-574), USS Growler (SSG-577), and, later, by the nuclear powered USS Halibut (SSGN-587). So that no target would be left uncovered, four Regulus missiles had to be at sea at any given time. Thus, Barbero and Tunny, each of which carried two Regulus missiles, patrolled simultaneously. Growler and Grayback, with four missiles, or Halibut, with five, could patrol alone. These five submarines made 40 Regulus strategic deterrent patrols between October 1959 and July 1964, when they were relieved by the George Washington class submarines carrying the Polaris missile system. Barbero also earned the distinction (and undying fame among philatelists) of launching the only delivery of Missile Mail.

Regulus I fired from the USS Los Angeles (CA-135), 1957.

Regulus was deployed by the US Navy in 1955 in the Pacific onboard the cruiser USS Los Angeles (CA-135). In 1956, three more followed: USS Macon (CA-132), USS Toledo (CA-133), and USS Helena (CA-75). These four Baltimore class cruisers each carried three Regulus missiles on operational patrols in the Western Pacific. Macon’s last Regulus patrol was in 1958, Toledo’s in 1959, Helena’s in 1960, and Los Angeles’s in 1961.

Ten aircraft carriers were configured to carry and launch Regulus missiles (though only six ever actually launched one). USS Princeton (CV-37) did not deploy with the missile but conducted the first launch of a Regulus from a warship. USS Saratoga (CVA-60) also did not deploy but was involved in two demonstration launches. USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) and USS Lexington (CV-16) each conducted one test launch. USS Randolph (CV-15) deployed to the Mediterranean carrying three Regulus missiles. USS Hancock (CV-19) deployed once to the Western Pacific with four missiles in 1955. Lexington, Hancock, USS Shangri-La (CV-38), and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) were involved in the development of the Regulus Assault Mission (RAM) concept. RAM converted the Regulus cruise missiles into an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV): Regulus missiles would be launched from cruisers or submarines, and once in flight, guided to their targets by carrier-based pilots with remote control equipment.

“Wording on the Regulus I Placard at Bowfin Park, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The placard reads:

"From 1959 through 1964 Regulus was the submarine-launched retaliatory missile in the Pacific
The Regulus Missile Deterrent Strike Force operated from Submarine Base Pearl Harbor, under the operational control of Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, and was supported by Guided Missile Unit Ten. Less than 800 men and their fight-ready submarines maintained their warheads within minutes of assigned targets under the most arduous conditions. They undertook a most difficult and challenging task and saw it to a successful conclusion.

This missile is dedicated to those submariners and their boats who, for five years, carried the shield."

Replacement and legacy

Production of Regulus was phased out in January 1959 with delivery of the 514th missile, and it was removed from service in August 1964. Regulus not only provided the first nuclear strategic deterrence force for the United States Navy during the first years of the Cold War and especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis, preceding the Polaris missiles, Poseidon missiles, and Trident missiles that followed, but it also was the forerunner of the Tomahawk cruise missile.”

“The Regulus missile was a large turbojet powered missile. Its barrel-shaped fuselage resembled that of numerous fighter aircraft designs of the era, but without any cockpit. Its swept wings and rear fin were also smaller than those of most aircraft, while additionally, when the missile was ready for launch, it was fitted with two large booster rockets on the aft end of the fuselage.


A second generation supersonic Vought Regulus II cruise missile with a range of 1,200 nautical miles (2,200 km) and a speed of Mach 2 was developed and successfully tested, but the program was canceled in favor of the Polaris ballistic nuclear missile.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

21 August 2010 Un-trustworthy at all pay grades


Making Afghanistan More Dangerous


Published: August 20, 2010

“UNDER orders from President Hamid Karzai, over the next four months Afghanistan will be phasing out almost all foreign private security companies, a move meant to bring the country’s vast security apparatus under tighter government control.

It’s a laudable goal. But it also means that foreign aid workers, government officials and companies will have to rely instead for security on the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army — arguably two of the most corrupt and incompetent organizations in the country. Without a more effective replacement for foreign security companies, Mr. Karzai’s order could make the situation in Afghanistan significantly worse.

More than 30,000 private armed personnel are employed by more than 50 companies across Afghanistan. They provide security for the allied forces, the Pentagon, the United Nations mission, aid and nongovernmental organizations, embassies and Western news media. Foreign contractors also provide security for helicopter flights by the United States Agency for International Development and other civilian organizations.”

I fail to find any justification for the use of private contractor – read mercenary- manpower to pull security duty for any official arm or agency of the United States Government. I’ve listened to right wing supporters of these private armies maintain that it is not cost effective to use our armed forces for one of the purposes every army is assembled, the protection of leaders, bases of operations, logistics dumps, etc.

The same people will claim that we have too few members of our armed forces to provide troops to fill these duties. They will claim the low rates of pay and retention to be at fault. Then they will justify the use of mercenaries at exorbitant rates of pay rather than pay our troops living wages. As long as the almighty free market can provide private armies to show profits by billing the government for jobs that troops can and should be doing, they will never object to the use of mercenaries.

There is a fairly steady stream of men who have left the employ of the U.S. armed forces in order to sign on with the various private contractors providing security guards, convoy drivers, and other manpower needs at a higher compensation rate than that authorized by Congress for our men and women in uniform. The parent contractor companies such as Xe (formerly Blackwater) operate with little or no military command oversight; they have been implicated in murders, rapes, and other crimes that would result in the death sentence under the UCMJ. But these private armies operate in lands with poorly defined security and public safety services. They often operate outside all civil and military law, their only restraint coming in the form of dropped contracts.

These billion dollar contracts are awarded to cronies of Congress people and high ranking or formerly-high-ranking military officers. They have been demonstrated to be essentially private crusader forces, claiming to be fighting for Christianity while being paid by the U.S. Such action is directly opposed to the 1st Amendment restraints regarding establishment of a state religion.

And each time such a contract is granted, the question of loyalty is raised. Private armies don’t arm and fight under the auspices of the United States government. They are hired out to the highest bidder for a particular purpose. At some time in the not too distant future I foresee the loyalty decision falling toward opponents of the United States. After all, mercenary armies are loyal only to the money they receive. It is conceivable that these former United States soldiers will be lured to a foreign power of foreign agency while under contract to the U.S. It’s happened to us when we were paying mercenaries in South East Asia. The cost is immeasurably high. It needs to be illegal for the U.S. to employ contract forces comprised of former service personnel. If we need more troops, the answer is to pay our own troops livable wages and to recruit the numbers of people we actually need to field a self-contained army. That will be substantially cheaper than hiring uncontrollable and potentially traitorous mercenaries.

Friday, August 20, 2010

20 August 2010 Where did all those angry Moslems come from, General Custer?

20 August 2010 Where did all those angry Moslems come from?

'Burn Quran Day' an outrage to Muslims

By Akbar Ahmed, Special to CNN

August 20, 2010 9:18 a.m. EDT


“Editor's note: Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. He is author of "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam," Brookings Press 2010.

(CNN) -- In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host "Burn a Quran Day" to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes"

“At a recent dinner in Washington, a host for one of Pakistan's top TV channels confided in me that he "didn't dare" report the story because if he did, "not a single American would be safe in Pakistan." He and the cameraman were quivering with anger as they asked me to explain why Americans hated Islam.”

“Gen. David Petraeus, the head of American forces in Afghanistan, has repeatedly expressed the need for winning the "hearts and minds" of local people by treating them with dignity and respect. When Afghans see that their holy book is being burned, it will cause riots and attacks that will put U.S. troops further at risk. There will be similar riots and attacks in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. It will inflame the entire Muslim world and fuel acts of terrorism.”

“As objectionable as the prospect of Jones' Quran burning is, it may not cease with the holy book of the Muslims. I have always maintained that this kind of vitriolic hatred of one religion is a descent on a slippery slope, as no one can say who will be next. I was not surprised, therefore, when I heard Jones recently agree, when asked to do so in an internet podcast interview, to burn "a couple of copies of the Talmud" too.”

I’ve written about this particular idiot previously. I was not aware, until today, that he has also planned to include copies of the Talmud in his bonfire. I, of course, object to all his plans to burn religious books, not just to his plans to burn the Talmud. The inclusion of the Talmud and perhaps a Torah scroll apparently has to do with a mis-translated and badly twisted interpretation of a Talmud tractate concerning what may be done with incorrectly copied books on Shabbat. The view taken by Jones and many other anti-Semites is that the Talmud commands the burning of New Testaments. In fact, the Talmud was completed before the Roman and Orthodox churches defined what was to become the New Testament. Jones and his simple-minded, hate-mongering sycophants are most likely deluded by their belief in yet another lie based upon the Protocols.

I hope the IRS is looking into the political nature of his actions and the current tax exempt status of his church. Nothing would please me more than to see his plant get shut down and seized for tax fraud and back taxes.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

19 August 2010 Can I get a star and a crescent?

Federal appeals court says highways' crosses are unconstitutional

By Bill Mears, CNN Senior Producer

August 18, 2010 5:42 p.m. EDT


The question is,” What is an acceptable highway monument?”

There are others, as well.

“Should there be roadside markers?”

“Should the marker denote the religion of the deceased officer?”

“Would the sponsoring organization allow religious designation for non-Christians?”

“Should there be markers for persons who died in traffic accidents on highway right of ways?”

The Atheist organization in Texas picked a tough target. Most of us are not opposed to memorializing the on-duty deaths of law enforcement officers. I’m not opposed to the use of public right of way for such markers. Then what is an acceptable marker? Is a cross suitable? The cross is commonly used to denote cemeteries, hospitals, and churches on maps. The use of a cross evolved due to the religious nature of the organizations that organized, ran, maintained, and owned those places. As the dominant religion in Europe was Catholic in one form or another, the choice was not surprising. The cross also wound up, in conjunction with the caduceus on ambulances, denoting first aid stations, and in the logo of the International Red Cross. Not surprisingly, nations with other dominant religions use other logos to denote such things. Israel uses a red Magen David. Arab states use a Red Crescent.

Any marker should be easily identified as to purpose. If one wants to memorialize a law officer’s on duty death, I would suggest that a badge or shield is nearly unmistakable in denoting who is being honored. There is no need to display the personal religious faith of these officers unless one is trying to demonstrate numerical superiority in a populace, or to aid in proselyltization. There is also no other real purpose to using a Magen David, Red Crescent, Pentangle, or any other logo designating religious faith. To honor a fallen law officer, the shield or badge is the best choice. Grave markers can display religion in a more appropriate place.

I have to wonder at the percentage of non-Christian state police in Utah. Still, there is no need to display religion on any roadside monument. Objection to the use of crosses does not constitute a “war on Christianity.” In my reasoning, the use of crosses is un-necessary and should never be allowed on public right of way. I would make the same restriction for stars, crescents, pentangles, etc. The 1st Amendment applies in this instance as in any other.

It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court deals with this case. I think it will ultimately wind up there.

There is also the matter of roadside markers placed by families or by friends at the location of auto accident deaths. I object to these things on several levels. They are essentially litter. They often are found at locations where drivers need to focus their attention upon the task of driving, not upon trying to look at a roadside shrine. Given the national obsession with public mourning that has grown over the last several decades, the amount of litter, in the form of flowers, stuffed animals, posters, and other soon-to-be trash; the size of these min-shrines keeps increasing.

The dead are not there, waiting to hitch-hike to the prom or home from the beach. The appropriate place to mourn them is at home or in a cemetery. Stuffed animals and flowers dropped off by family who miss them or who feel guilty, or by classmates who, too often, knew nothing of them until they died, are suggestive of a drive through funeral. Is that what we’ve become, the land of the “drive through funeral?”

0.87 inches of rain so far today. It arrived in a heavy thunderstorm about 0540-0730, and in a heavier thunderstorm about 1500-1630.

Barbeque sandwiches tonight.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

18 August 2010Ms Universe contestants in body paint spark complaints

18 August 2010Ms Universe contestants in body paint spark complaints

Contestant: It’s art.”

Me: “Oh, really?”

Huffington Post: “Fox411 has slammed Miss Universe, saying the competition has "sunk to a new low" after some contestants posed topless for a promotional photo shoot. As Courtney Friel exclaims, they "even used body paint like the Playboy Bunnies!"


Aug 18th 2010 By Julieanne Smolinsk

“Miss USA, Rima Fakih, had this to say: "I've always wanted to do body paint, and the fact that we get to do it with Miss Universe, that just shows you that there's going to be a lot of professional artists." See, guys? Art! I can agree with Rima on this. If being painted to look like the wall of a hippie coffee shop in Portland is so wrong, I don't want to be right.”

“today, in the wake of the controversy, can we just take a moment to ask ourselves why we're still even having pageants?

Are some people upset that the contestants are semi-nude because, as "Miss Universe," the winner would be our galactic ambassador in the event of an alien invasion? Don't worry, guys! Pageants actually don't mean anything. These women are not responsible for the fate of human diplomacy in such a case.

They are, apparently, pretty much sexy, live versions of the "It's a Small World" ride -- but naked-er. As the pageant's V.P. of marketing and P.R. said in a statement about the photographs, "The contestants who compete at Miss Universe are diverse, as they represent more than 82 countries around the globe. Many of their cultures embrace nudity." Whoa, not the United States! We're not one of those awesome countries where you can show nipples during yogurt commercials. “

Change in nature from hoping to lever the nation into some degree of reality about Islam and the other religious myths that keep us at each other’s throats. Well, actually, this may not be as much distance as I intended. After all, the body modesty that surrounds most of us is religiously derived and reinforced.

The various beauty pageants, held semi-naked or nude, are events that I’ve never understood. I fully understand the beauty of the female human body. I understand that some have a greater degree of pulchritude than do others. I understand that minor pigmentation and hair differences can cause more or less exotic appearance.

What I don’t understand is the costuming and the attempt to make the women who participate into something other than what they are. Expensive ball gowns and high-heeled shoes don’t interest me. Nor do I care for high heels with swimming suits. I’ve heard the excuse, “It makes your legs look better.” I don’t buy it.

I don’t care for make-up. Most women do not need make-up. If they knew how much of that stuff originated in grease traps and other unsavory catchments, they might think differently before painting it on with trowels.

I really don’t care for breast implants. They have a valuable place in reconstructive surgery. But otherwise I find that they detract from the beauty of a woman. We’re in a media and fashion driven lunacy that wants us to believe that only big breasts are acceptable. Men, being essentially hormone driven, have bought this myth. Surprisingly, women have too.

Here’s the point and the truth. The beauty emanating from female breasts is about motion through time and space, shape, and proportionality. Look at classical Greek and Roman sculpture and see if you can get the idea. Cadillac/ICBM nosecones from the 1950s didn’t convey beauty. Those things designed to make women look like they’re wearing leather armor or like they just popped out of an injection mold don’t convey beauty.

As do women, breasts come in different sizes and shapes. They move when women move. They have nipples that become erect and then relax. We all know this. Trying to disguise it with implants and with badly designed clothing does not contribute to or convey beauty.

If sponsors really want to run a beauty contest, the rules should be simple: “Come as you are.” Anything else is just an arrangement with fashion houses, make up manufacturers, and breast implant manufacturers to pimp their products under the guise of handing out scholarships.

Scholarship candidates should apply to Jeopardy and display their intellect openly and honestly. For the less intellectually endowed, let’s do away with the “important questions about world matters.” Many of the contestants can’t find their homes on a street map or their nation of birth on a globe. If there is a surplus of “questions for beauty pageant contestants” they could be used to produce a panel program on Comedy Central. Sarah Palin has been a prime example of how potentially amusing that could be.

As for the pageants and our culture, I don’t care if skin gets shown on television. The glimpse of anatomy will not hasten the downfall of the United States. If it hastens the demise of religious fundamentalism and its grip on our laws, culture, and lives, so much the better.

Back to the beginning. Body paint is great if done well. I would rather see a body paint event in these contest than a ball gown or swim suit event.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

17 August 2010 Hallowed Ground

My long-time on-line friend Dwight Holmes posted this link on Face book. His opinion regarding the proposed GZ mosque is much like mine, grounded in a real understanding of the U.S. Constitution, opposed to theocratic fundamentalism of any brand. Thanks, Dwight, for initially posting the link to Daryl Lang’s excellent photo-essay.


“A few photos of stuff the same distance from the World Trade Center as the “Ground Zero Mosque”

In the words of the blogger, Daryl Lang who posted the photo essay linked above:

“What’s my point? A month ago, I wrote about my support for a group of Muslim New Yorkers—whom I consider my neighbors—and their right to put a religious building on a piece of private property in Lower Manhattan. Since then, the debate over the Park51 community center, inaccurately nicknamed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” has jumped from talk radio to mainstream conversation, and turned nasty in the process. Sarah Palin wrote that, “it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground.”

Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric.

At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.

Update: Read some samples of reader feedback on this post.

I’ll leave it to anyone who cares to read more of the commentary posted by Mr. Lang. I found it timely and appropriate.

The concept of “hallowed ground” in my thought processes refers most often to a battlefield. It is a place where people fought battles and died for various leaders over political and philosophical ideals that they might or might not have understood at the time they fought and died. The battlefields of the American Revolution meet the criteria, the demise of divine right monarchy and colonialism at the hands of leaders schooled in the Enlightenment and willing to sacrifice their lives to bring about a new nation founded in the principles of the Enlightenment.

The battlefields of the American Civil War are equally hallowed, as they saw the battles that ended slavery in the United States. There’s a terrible emotional impact present at these Civil War battlefields. Regardless of how valuable the land may become to developers, they should always remain undeveloped, a tribute to the men who stood shoulder to shoulder and marched dry-mouthed and shivering into massed musketry and artillery to make their nation a better place.

The WTC hole in the ground, now called Ground Zero, was a commercial site. It remains a commercial site. The deaths of thousands of innocents never were presumed important enough to prevent the site becoming anything but another commercial zone. The value of the land has always outweighed the cultural and social impact of the attacks. In fact, the attacks of September 11 2001 were intended to be a blow to the economy of the U.S. rather than to cause deaths. Those thousands of employees and rescue workers who died were, sadly, collateral damage. If they had all escaped unharmed the financial impact would have remained the same. In keeping with the nature of the location, the site has been presumed to costly to remain hallowed.

That is, until the demagogues of the GOP and the Tea Party mobs saw a means to increase their television ratings and to bring the Christian fundamentalists into positions where they might increase their grasp of political power. Suddenly hate mongering about Islam became the topic of the day for every GOP and Tea Party speaker. Fox News spun lie after lie and reinforced them by mindless repetition. Now, the ground is suddenly sacred, suddenly hallowed. I’ll believe it when the national park signs go up at the perimeter of a new historic park. Until then, I’m sorry for all those people who died at the hands of religious fanatics, who want to control how everyone prays. And I’m sorry for all the hatred being stirred up by religious fanatics who want to control how everyone prays. It’s good thing they call their supreme beings by different names. Otherwise it would be difficult to tell them apart when they kill people who refuse to live and pray the way the killers wish.

The threat of rain is high today. If we’re lucky we’ll get some more rain. Gloria and I broke down and subjected Loki to a bath of sorts this morning. Loki did not appreciate our efforts. We’ll see how long it takes for her to start talking to us again.

Corned beef and cabbage for dinner tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

16 August 2010 Ides, dog days, Dog Star, no dog nights

We never made it into the pool yesterday. But the day ended well. Any night that ends with us together is a day to be grateful for.

The pool needs water, the grounds need trimming, and the temperature will likely exceed 90°F by 1500. Since the reading at 1054 is 86.32°F with a heat index of 91°F, trimming, mowing, wood cutting, and other physically demanding chores will likely be shoved aside while we spend some more time in and around the pool.

If it passes 90°F today it will break the 2007 record for number of days exceeding 90°F. The record has previously been 47 consecutive days above 90°F. Just to point out the obvious, I receive no monetary or other compensation for the use of “°F”. in this or any other entry.

Today’s hike with Mike was graced with more traffic than normally presents. Loki found far too many things to fixate upon, slowing the pace. We normally walk at about 3.5 MPH but are slowed by the necessity of allowing cars and trucks the right of way. The local drivers expect that right of way and most of them will take it from the middle of the county road. They all drive as if they will be penalized for maintaining speed at or below the legal posted limit, and using one’s brakes is just not the “manly” thing to do.

There’s some sort of NASCAR event going on at the “Bristol” race track this week. “Bristol” is used because the track is not really in Bristol. The proximity and nature of the NASCAR franchise teams and all those fans means that every driver who thinks of his or her self as a possible replacement for any team vacancy, who ever had wet dreams over the noise of souped up un-muffled automobile motors, or who ever met an official driver, will automatically add 20 MPH in velocity to any trip onto the public roads this week. The closer to the actual race days, the greater the probability that the driver will run red lights and “stop” signs. This, while complaining that red light cameras “are an infringement upon their rights as Americans.”

It puzzles me greatly that someone who is incapable of spelling “infringes” chooses to claim to have a “right” to run red lights and stop signs. I don’t know of any legal right to violate traffic laws, in particular those designed to ensure the safety of people using public highways. But I’ve read and continue to hear objections to such cameras based on that argument. These must be the same sort of people who believe chaining a dog to a tree or post with no food, water, or adequate shelter is somehow protected by the Constitution.

In the end, we can expect to find such people proclaiming their simultaneous beliefs that Elvis and JFK still live with the aliens in Area 51 that Obama was born to be a deep-cover secret Moslem with forged birth documents somehow planted in Hawaiian newspapers and governmental files. You’ll recognize them t Tea Party rallies by their pseudo-patriotic costumes and signs directing the U.S. government to refrain from taking over Medicare and Social Security. They’re prime mob material.

They know the phrase “Dog Days.” “Dog Star is more elusive. Siriusly, I could play on that for a few more minutes but won’t.

We are receiving our first rainfall in over a week. It’s free water to add to what I’ve added to the pool already today. The creek and the trout in it will benefit. We’re going to have to harvest a few of the bigger trout before they fall to the drought conditions. 0.12 inches of rainfall is next to negligible but we’re thrilled to have it. The accompanying thunder and lightning that spooks Loki also brings some comedic relief. She doesn’t like being out in the rain at all. But today she tried to climb into the shower with me when the thunder grew too loud and too close. I wonder which dislike would have taken precedence.

There is a horde of race fans already parked off the highways around the Bristol track. Many of them are in motor homes, camper-trailers, and there may some tenting. I’ve tented in 90°F + weather and comparable humidity. I found it most unpleasant. I can’t imagine being in a trailer with no surrounding shade or overhead.

The nights never get cool enough to stop one from sweating. They are, no-dog nights. Sitting there, waiting for the opportunity to enter the race track structure must be like going from as slow braise to a full broil. We haven’t even begun to speak about the noise of maintenance, training, competition, and the overlaying selections of local radio stations and those “music” selections emanating from every campsite. I don’t think there’s any sort of entertainment that would cause me to put up with such unpleasant conditions before, during, and after the event. Fortunately, I don’t have to.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

15 August 2010 The dog says, “Look what I can do!”

15 August 2010 The dog says, “Look what I can do!”

The opportunity to sleep in this morning vanished when I woke up to the sound of Loki depositing yesterday’s bone treat and subsequent dog food meal onto the floor. Keeping true to dog custom, she then inspected the mess and wandered ten feet or so from the initial deposit and produced a second upheaval. While I began cleaning up, Loki felt the need to inspect and to sample. That is a need I have never encountered.

The upsetting substance must not have been eliminated, or she re-ingested enough to trigger further upset. She has vomited lesser amounts three more times as I write this. No time stamp will be applied.

Dogs seem to be social vomiters. Every dog I’ve owned has seemed compelled to demonstrate their regurgitation prowess by choosing a site within close proximity before beginning the gut reversing process. Loki managed to keep her largest expulsion next to our back door. In doing so, she also fouled a rug which now sits drying in the sunlight.

The basic direction for the day is bound to be upward after we finished cleaning.

We anticipate some pool time before dinner. The forecast calls for 50% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon but the storm tracks have seemed to slide around us for the last 15 days. We’ve had 0.67 inches of rain since August 1. The creek is getting low and warm, hard times for the trout.

Dinner tonight will be leftovers, salad, perhaps tuna fish.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14 August Cheese does not arrive in cellophane-wrapped square sheets!

14 August Cheese does not arrive in cellophane-wrapped square sheets!

Childhood recall or adult construction? Which satisfies the craving more completely?


From Eatocracy.com CNN

Grilled cheese and...grape jelly? Not on my plate!

Like many boomers I recall a processed cheese food labeled “Velveeta. Today it comes foil-wrapped in cardboard boxes which are stocked un-refrigerated in the aisle shelving of grocery stores. Older boomers may recall when it came in thin wooden boxes and was stored in the refrigerator after being opened. Someone made a decent living selling refrigerator containers shaped to hold the opened Velveeta brick so that it stayed somewhat moist.

It was impossible to handle the glass container without eventually dropping it. Cleverly constructed, only the lid or the container would break when dropped, almost never both. But the piece that broke rendered the “cheese” within inedible due to the myriad glass fragments that instantly became attached to the “cheese.” I’ve broken at least a dozen of these things over the decades. Just ask Gloria.

To make a “grilled cheese” sandwich with Velveeta requires a cast iron skillet, white bread, butter, or margarine, and Velveeta. Place wire cut slices of the “cheese” between two pieces of white bread. Butter the outer sides liberally, and place them into a pre-heated skillet. When browned to taste on the bottom, flip and continue to brown the other side to taste. Part of the “cheese” will liquefy and, if you’re fortunate, char a bit. Be sure to scrape this up and plate it with the sandwich. It’s that simple. As the sandwich cools, the Velveeta will congeal into some semblance of cheese once more. On the other hand, some companies market a synthetic “Velveeta” that apparently has higher oil content and, once melted, will never fully resume solid state. If presented with this ersatz product, opt for peanut butter.

Velveeta makes a passable “memories of days gone by” grilled cheese. Adding pickles to the melted cheese before serving will increase the flavor levels. So will adding deli-sliced ham. When you’re hungry, it goes down easily and will prevent one’s belt buckle from abrading the anterior vertebral surfaces. Happy recall, boomers!

My choice for an adult grilled cheese requires something above the level of processed cheese food. I’m partial to a dual cheese presentation. I prefer emmentaler or gruyere slices and very sharp Vermont cheddar slices on thickly sliced sour dough bread. Spread the interior surfaces of the bread with fresh Dijon mustard. Layer on the cheese slices. Layer orange marmalade onto the cheese slices. Add several slices of crispy thick-sliced bacon. Butter one outer side of the bread and place it into a hot cast-iron skillet. While the buttered side is browning, butter the remaining outer slice of bread. When the sandwich is browned to taste, flip it and let the other side brown to taste. As with above, if any cheese melts and chars, save it and serve it. This sandwich goes well with pickles. It does not require tomato soup to complete it.

The glass refrigerator dishes are now vintage and collectable items. Technology has advanced to the point that we no longer run the risk of having to throw away glass-contaminated cheese every time we build a sandwich. Here’s a toast to freezer bags and to cold cuts that come in re-usable but ultimately disposable plastic boxes. The wooden “Velveeta” boxes are also rarities if you happen to find one. They wound up as pencil boxes, spare parts containers, and filling untold numbers of tasks limited only by the imagination of boomer kids who made them serve as pretend ships, tanks, trucks, and space ships. Like a lot of things, the packaging rewarded imagination.

Today marks the end of the Perseid meteor shower. Gloria and I have tried to view the shower every year since 1996. Tropical storms, poor positioning with regard to the debris field, overcast skies, and all manner of things have kept us from seeing much of the annual light show. We’ve had fun staying up late, floating in the pool, and listening to the night sounds while hoping to see meteors. The two previous nights, 12 & 13, have been overcast or mostly cloudy. Last night, after the regional thunderstorms drifted by, we were rewarded by clearing skies. We moved out onto the back deck at 0030 and watched the skies over head. We were lucky. Within five minutes we were seeing meteors burning up and out. Gloria saw 6-7, I saw 5-6. It all depended on who blinked when. It made a nice end to the day. After 15 years of trying, we enjoyed our bit of the Perseid display.

Friday, August 13, 2010

13 August 2010 Something happening here What it is ain’t exactly clear

13 August 2010 Something happening here What it is ain’t exactly clear

Unfortunately, it is all too clear these days.

“United States of Islamophobia?

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

August 13, 2010 9:09 a.m. EDT”


“as author and journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic rightfully noted: "Americans who seek the marginalization of Muslims in this country are unwittingly doing the work of Islamist extremists. ... We must do everything possible to avoid giving them propaganda victories in their attempt to create a cosmic war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Muslim civilization. ...The fight is not between the West and Islam."

Reader comments from the article above include:


Any chance we could compromise? Stop blowing yourselves up to harm others, stop murdering, flying planes into buildings, oppressing your women, whipping women for drinking in public, freaking out over cartoons, harvesting opium, and mooching off of the US while you fun jihad against us, and you can go ahead an open your mosque.

• David1154

I don't recall "Christian Extremists" flying airplanes into the WTC, or the Pentagon, or bombing embassies, or being human bombs, or any of the myriad actions that Islam is so proud of. You need to remember how Muslims were dancing in the streets after the events of 9/11.

Also, would you care to provide some evidence that a large majority of our forefathers were deists, agnostics, and atheists? Or is that just an assumption on your part?

• kontrax

This suicidal American obsession with political correctness will be the death of this nation. I keep hearing the liberals say we are not at war with Muslims. Who else are we at war with? Who else has attacked us? Whose countries have we recently invaded and are we now occupying? Where was the peace-loving Muslim outrage with each attack on the U.S.? I seem to recall dancing and rejoicing in the streets - by Muslims. Not only do I not want mosques - I don't want Muslims in our country! Send them back to their wonderful homelands where they can wear burkhas and practice sharia law”

The CNN article cited above is well written and seems to be the response of a learned American citizen who happens to be Moslem. His conclusion is one that I would very much like to be correct. We, Americans, or the West, don’t need to be engaged in a cultural conflict that has become a vicious shooting war. The various urban attacks upon European and U.S. targets, the embassies, war ships, barracks attacked by suicide and other terrorist bombers, and the kidnappings and brutal murders of journalists, aid workers, soldiers, and others, make it difficult to remember that we are being attacked by a group of fundamentalists, not by nations.

I’m able to separate the actions of religious fanatics from the actions of nations. It would be great if we could point to one nation and define it as the source and support of all ant-Western activity. But fundamentalist Moslems come from all sects. Cults, tribes, and nations. They often come from the West, radicalized by local recruiters using web sites to troll for the disaffected and unhappy immigrants and children of immigrants who can be found in the urban enclaves of European cities and in the U.S. as well. Saudi Arabia exports Wahabi Islam, vicious, hate-filled, and anti-Western. The tribal lands of Afghanistan and Pakistan provide training grounds and refuge for jihadis from many nations. So does the failed state of Somalia. But despite our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, military action against a nation is simply a puppet show and waste of the lives of our troops. Bullets and bombs won’t kill cults.

Islam is in need of reform, the process undergone by Judaism and Christianity. It needs to separate the literalists from those who have noticed the advance of science, culture, and politics to a point beyond the 7th century. It is time for reformers to arise from within Islam and the West may be the best place for that, a place with religious freedoms, freedom of speech, and no state religion, no interwoven government and church/mosque. It will not arise in the Arab lands and it will not arise in the Asian “Stans.”

Looking at the bulk of reader comments posted on CNN’s site, the average respondent differs little from the un-reformed Moslems who populate the tribal areas of Afghanistan. Our U.S. citizens fail to realize that they are the mirror image of the people they are complaining about.

A visit to any ER on a weekend will find a steady stream of battered women who’s crime was to be living with, perhaps married to, someone as poorly equipped for modern civilization as the villagers and Taliban of Afghanistan. They will tell you that their male overlords see no reason for them to attend school. They will tell you that their churches tell them to be submissive to their husbands, just as does Islam. That same ER visit will find men whose only response to conflict is to retreat to drugs and violence.

The period since the U.S. became a nation does not provide a picture of civilized and peaceful religion. The churches here have supported slavery, have supported the marriage of adult males to children, have actively campaigned against civil rights for all citizens, have demonized Black Americans, gay Americans, and have supported forced gestation of unwanted children by rape victims. Some Christian cults in this nation have actively championed murder of physicians and other health care providers. Some churches have harbored those who bomb clinics. Others have harbored illegal immigrants because of their particular cult memberships.

In short, the people commenting above are a small sample of an increasingly ugly part of our population. They are willing to disenfranchise part of our citizenry, to support a theocracy and destroy the 1st and 14th amendments while bring forth a Christian theocracy as mean-spirited and backward as the Wahabi and the Taliban.

As an American citizen, they embarrass me. As a member of a minority religion, they make me think of Germany in 1930. As someone who believes in the dream that America still represents for many people around the world, they sadden me.

Pears are poaching on the stovetop. Tomorrow we will dine on linguini with white clam sauce, salad, and garlic toast. I’m looking forward to an enjoyable weekend.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

12 August 2010 Where does my keyboard go when I'm not watching?

12 August 2010 Where does my keyboard go when I'm not watching?

In an effort to log onto the ETSU campus network, I have been locked out of the system. Apparently the request for assistance has gone astray. I can neither access the central system for class registration, catalog descriptions, nor the section that allows me to download class instructions, messages from instructors/professors.

I was able to access this about two weeks ago. Tuesday I noticed that I couldn’t. Wednesday I got through to a help desk and was told I was locked out for security reasons. The promised reset has not materialized.

Even more disturbing is the problem that popped up yesterday. After trying to access the campus net, my keyboard seemed to be de-activated, unable to input any data or to maneuver around the screen except by mouse. Restarting worked last night and this morning. But I worry this is a computer problem developing.

Norton tells me no viruses have made their way onto my computer. More phone calls to 18-20 year old ETSU IO help desk staff return me to the land of the linked, as far as the university is concerned. Mechanicals are still a possible problem. Toshiba monitoring software suggests that the cpu is overly warm. I’ve detached the external hard drive, tried to increase cooling airflow to the notebook and so far I have no idea if it is working.

An attempt to update GPS maps with Garmin results in notification that updates are available but trying to download yields a failure notice, runtime error that can’t be copied or printed so that I can refer to this when I manage to contact Garmin’s tech support.

Tonight we will feed on beef with tofu, mushrooms, & scallions over brown rice. We’ll also have green beans in black bean and garlic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

11 August 2010 Why the GOP really wants to alter the 14th Amendment

11 August 2010 Why the GOP really wants to alter the 14th Amendment

Why the GOP really wants to alter the 14th Amendment

Harold Myerson 11 August, 2010


“As Lindsey Graham and his fellow Republicans explain it, their sudden turn against conferring citizenship on anyone born in the United States was prompted by the mortal threat of "anchor babies" -- the children of foreigners who scurry to the States just in time to give birth to U.S. citizens.

The Republican war on the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause is indeed directed at a mortal threat -- but not to the American nation. It is the threat that Latino voting poses to the Republican Party. “

Like most Americans I am concerned about the problem of illegal immigration. Primarily, I’m concerned about the flood of illegals coming in from Latin America. I’m far less worried about Canadians pouring south into the U.S. Quite frankly, most Canadians would be foolish to immigrate to the U.S. In fact, my older son is immigrating to Canada. Not that he needs or wants my encouragement; but I think he’s well advised to be doing so.

The Latino influx is made up of too many people who are trying to escape the oligarchic third world nations that are their places of birth, places of poverty, gang violence, drug cartels, and the crushing social injustices created by the Spanish Catholic churches in alliance with European royalty and industrial war-lords. The influx is made up of people who are not only illiterate in Spanish but also in their tribal languages. They want work that allows them to send money back to Mexico. They want to bring their families to a place where most newborns survive, where the poor are helped with housing, food, education, and healthcare. And coincidentally they like the anchor baby provision of the 14th Amendment.

A legal action undertaken to make freed slaves citizens if they were born here has far wider reach than anyone thought at the time it became law. I can’t begin to guess the number of “anchor babies” who became citizens at birth despite the non-citizen status of their parents. I doubt that anyone can. But the “GOP and the Tea Party mobs are willing to blame the 14th for “millions” of anchor babies who are entitled to the rights of citizens, and who’s citizenship makes it difficult to deport their parents.

The illegals do impose a heavy burden on the social safety net, upon the healthcare and educational systems. I’d like to see that burden decreased. All of us would.

The GOP and Tea Party mobsters conveniently forget that the senile Saint Ronnie is responsible for the last amnesty granted to millions of illegals, mostly Mexicans. The GOP has no problem with illegal Mexicans working for slave wages in Florida tomato fields, Iowa slaughter houses, Georgia constructions sites. The GOP has no problem with illegal Latinos filling factory and other jobs at sub-minimum wages, paid daily in cash, to allow loyal GOP members to keep their business costs down and their profits up. The GOP has no problem with Latinos living in shotgun houses in company towns, working as waiters, cooks, dishwashers, Wal-mart 3rd shift janitors, or any other back-breaking or menial job that can be paid off the books,

But like all immigrants who came here for a better life, some Latinos were able to learn the ropes and become citizens, learning English, educating their children to be informed, responsible voters. They’ve paid their dues, worked the dirty jobs, and added their bit of culture brought from an older society to our melting pot. A portion of this group was able to stay here because of the 14th Amendment. Those anchor babies are responsible for enriching the mix, not just draining the budget. And when the GOP screams about stripping anchor babies of citizenship and deporting them and their families, these are the people who will become the deportees. Gutting the 14th Amendment won’t create a flood of illegals moving back to Mexico and parts south. What it will do is gut the nation of a hard-working, group of people who value education, believe in this nation, and who have increasingly laid their lives on the line for it in the latest two foreign wars, also a gift of the GOP.

They know that they will not get a majority of Latino votes. Other than the 70-year-old Cuban super-patriot-would-be army in South Florida, who hate the Democrats nearly as much as Castro, the majority of Latinos will behave like the majority of other thinking voters in this nation and vote against the GOP. They know that it is the GOP that keeps the company towns, the slave wages, the skinflint wages, and the miserable migrant conditions from being dealt with appropriately and legal. They know that it is the GOP and the Tea Party who see the color of their skins and move to block them from their country clubs, schools, hospitals, and the ballot boxes. The Latinos know that the GOP’s aging WASPs and the Tea Party mobs’ hate-filled racists who have kept them from good jobs and good wages, like black Americans before them, the Latinos know that success in this nation depends on breaking the hold the GOP has on the legislative process. They will vote and they will vote against the GOP and Tea Parties. There’s no point in sending Palin down to prance across the stage and wink at the Latinos. They won’t be voting their genitals.

It’s a mess of your own creation, you theocrats, racists, and fear-mongers. You’ve tried to scare all the voters into voting as you would like. But mostly, you’ve scared your selves. You should be frightened. It is going to be an interesting election.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10-Aug-10 Who needs education to run a city, state, or nation?

10-Aug-10 Who needs education to run a city, state, or nation?

“Manager: Levi Johnston to run for city office in Alaska


The Associated Press

Monday, August 9, 2010; 10:57 PM

JUNEAU, Alaska -- Levi Johnston may be following in Sarah Palin's footsteps.

Johnston's manager, Tank Jones, on Monday confirmed a report on Variety magazine's website that Johnston is planning to run for city office in his hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, as part of a reality TV show. “


The decision to a run a high school dropout for local political office so that he may appear in a television reality show is yet another reason to despise the Palins and their extended clan. While it can be claimed that Sarah Palin is not responsible for the actions of Levi Johnson and his hangers-on; she is in fact, at the root of the problem. She has done everything in her power to trivialize the electoral process while keeping herself in the money and celebrity stream.

If Palin had not pushed her pregnant daughter and her boyfriend onto the stage to demonstrate her adherence to the “family values – theocratic” platform, she’d have delivered another anonymous statistic and he’d have spent his adult years reminiscing into his cheap beers about how great he was on the ice and how his hockey prowess got him laid repeatedly. Whether or not he would have finished high school is uncertain but would have been of no concern to most of the nation.

But while the McCain/Palin ticket was rejected by the voters, Palin got enough attention from a press corps that was desperately trying to find some substance in her candidacy. She reverted to archetype and the attention-craving beauty pageant contestant demanded the spotlight while spiraling toward self-destruction because of ethics violations, abuse of power citations, and the inability to make her view of reality coincide with the political office she no longer found to be satisfying, fun, or easy.

GOP backers found her a book deal, signed her up to make canned speeches, and reinforced her craving for attention. Unable to face real reporters and journalists, she has found parasitic attachments to Fox News and hands out pronouncements concerning her own princess personae from the journalistic pinnacles of Facebook and Twitter. Since she, or her minions, can prevent her seeing anything that resembles truth, she’s free to utter nonsense, provoke division, and pander to racists, anti-intellectuals, anti-Semites, and Tea Party mobsters.

Because she has retained celebrity, the miscreant daughter and the former fiancé have also been able to milk the media, particularly tabloid media. They are being provided more money than either would have ever learned in two lifetimes to keep the try pots boiling as the tabloids look for more scandal or ignominy.

The announcement that Levi Johnson plans to degrade the already damaged political entity that Sarah Palin did not finish ineptly destroying is a symptom of how poorly informed our electorate has become, how low the bar has been dropped by the GOP and its southern strategy. From railing against education and intellectualism, the GOP has now offered candidates of such poor quality that most voters with any education can’t imagine they are viable.

But here it is, folks. America has no talent, no education, no future, and no ethical values if any municipality allows such a charade to take place during its elections. What we’re encountering is a former. often resigned, political puppet/hack who has managed to become a demagogue to the illiterate, the ill-informed, the false patriots, and the bottom of the electorate. She’s managed to cheapen her candidacy and that of others by reducing the election of political officials to something akin to “American Idol.” If we let them get by with it, we’ll be too far down this road to ever successfully turn back. Armageddon or at least 3rd World America is likely to begin in Wasilla AK.