Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Pendulum Swings Back

and it is getting ugly in Iraq.

BAGHDAD - The killings of three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 47, making it the deadliest month since September.

Does this mean the surge is no longer working, or was never working or is still working?

No, it just means more people are dying.

The number of dead is not now, nor has it ever been, an effective way of evaluating the surge. The dynamics are to complex for such a simple indicator to apply. That truth has not stopped the Republican leaders from making such false claims, and it has not stopped the traditional media from echoing them. It does lead me to wonder; Since so many on the right (Including John McCain) claim that the falling death relates meant the escalation of force was working, will this change in reality led them to now claim it is failing?


Monday, April 28, 2008

A Pair Of War Crimes Questions

has been asked at Crooked Timber.
I have two main questions:

1. Where, if at all, might charges be brought against Bush and others?
2. How would the hearing of these charges be prevented?

I suspect that the comments will be worth following.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Forcing God On South Carolina

Our Senators, always looking for ways to waste time and money, have produce two more silly and potentially costly pieces on legislation in their continued efforts to use to power of the state to jam Christianity down the throats of the citizens.

The SC Senate is now acting in an effort to allow the use two traditional dishonest christian ploys, and both are mistakes.

PUBLIC PRAYER: The state Senate has approved a bill that would allow prayers before public meetings. The legislation says public bodies can adopt policies to let members take turns giving an invocation, elect a chaplain or create a pool of speakers from faith groups to offer the prayer. The bill also calls for the state attorney general to defend public bodies if they face constitutional challenges.


RELIGIOUS DISPLAYS: The Ten Commandments could be displayed in South Carolina schools and courthouses as long as they are posted with other historical documents like the Bill of Rights, under a proposal a Senate panel took up Thursday. No vote was taken. The legislation, approved by the House last year, would allow the Judeo-Christian cornerstone to be displayed as long as it is posted with a dozen documents that influenced U.S. law and government, including the Constitution and Pledge of Allegiance.

The proposal about public prayer is just foolish. The Federal courts have been consistent on this issue, it is not allowed. No law, passed by any state, has the power to override Federal standards. All this proposal will do is expose the state to the cost of defending foolish local governments, like Great falls, when they decide to be stupid.

The second one is most likely legal but still foolish. The argument goes that the 10 commandments are part of the bedrock standards that our nation was founded on. If you actually look at the 10 commandments, it is clear this is utter foolishness. Of the commandments, only 4 seem to have any historic legal standing in the US. These are Murder, Thief, Adultery and Lying. The trouble with trying to tie this into the history of law in the US is, these are basically universal concepts that are found in all societies no matter their faith construct. Two (or three) more of the commandments deal with personal behavior and thoughts, and have no relevance to our judicial history and no mention in our founding documents. These are honoring your parents and coveting your neighbors possessions (and spouse). The other ideals in the commandments are not found in our founding documents and in many respects run counter to these.

Lets start with the first (or first and second, depending on the version of the commandments you care to use); I am the Lord your God, You shall have no other gods before me, You shall not make for yourself an idol. In many respects the constitution was implicitly putting a man made document ahead of God. Our founding fathers were creating a nation of law and those laws were the laws of man, not God. The other two are; You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God, Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. I don't think that either of these commandments can be found to be reflected in any of the documents that our nation was founded on.

So we have 4 commandments that apply, but these ideals are expressed in almost every society, and are commonly found in non christian societies. The argument that they had anything to with the establishment of law in the US is weak is best. 2 of the commandments deal with internal thoughts and behavior to relatives. It is difficult if not impossible to see any tie between them and the laws of our land. The last 4 deal with our relationship with God, and it can be argued that the founding of the US as a nation where law is supreme is in violation of the ten commandments.

To try to sneak the 10 commandments into governmental buildings on this basis is dishonest, silly, time wasting and indicates a lack of understanding of the history of our country. So, it is the perfect way for our elected officials to spend their time.

Maybe, one day, we will focus on education, or health, or infrastructure, or employment, but for now, we will keep trying to find way to force God down the throats of the people of the South Carolina.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday; Some Links For Your Enjoyment

The SC Prog Blog points out how our Traditional Media and the Pentagon tagteam to lie us into and about that Iraqi war

Of course the media dishonesty has nothing on the dishonesty of some SC Christians, just ask Snead: Live and Uncut.

On health care for all, Science Shrimp and Grits points out that one of the best reasons for universal care is; its the right thing to do

McCain's kindness to lobbiest goes well beyond the Keating Five and continues today, check out Crooks And Liars.


Give Me Some Of That

Old Time Religion.

Alonzo Burke, 44, is accused of fighting his two daughters in a parking lot in the family car. And it's how the fight started which makes it even more bizarre.

A police report states Burke says he started pushing and hitting his 18-year-old daughter to get her to pray. She responded by punching him in the face.

I have no idea what religion demands physical punishment for failing to pray properly, but it is one I will try to avoid.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

CNN Says It All

Clinton wins, Obama still leads.

Pennsylvania played out as most expected, a Clinton win, but not near enough to change the dynamic of the race.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Acquaintance Recommends Expelled

Last night I had an acquaintance come up and tell me that there was a movie that I should go see. He said it was a powerful examination of science.

Within seconds of his recommendation it was clear that he was talking about Expelled. What he did not know is that I was far more aware of what was in, and , not in Expelled. This guy is not religious, but is a huge anti climate change nut and this attack on science fed right into that foolishness. He loved much of the film, until I took it apart, bit by bit.

By the time we had quit talking, he was, at least as expressed to me, no longer a big fan on the attack on evolution in the movie but still wanted to see an expelled type of film done about climate change.

This one conversation does confirm one of my concerns about this tripe. The film not only rings true to the under educated religious right, but also to the general anti science crowd. We will now see the climate change, vaccination and many other anti-science groups use aspects of this piece of trash to buttress their flawed thinking.

Just another step toward drooling stupidity.


Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Monday, and I Got Nothing

Maybe its just a little spring fever or the resurgence of an chronic case of cynicism, but nothing in today's news surprises me.

We have a kid trying to blow up his school, we have nasty politics, we have recession, we have corruption, fraud, and mayhem.

So in many respects it is just another Monday morning.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday's Links

Check them out.

Dispatches from the culture wars gives us a much needed history lesson on how some of the leading founding fathers viewed the Divinity of Jesus Christ

Some more information about the strength and scale of Al Qaeda in Iraq, from the Agonist

From the Big Brass Blog, a look at ABCs performance in the Democratic Debate.

And AmericaBlog checks out the state of the Iraqi Army.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

They Lie, They Cheat, They Steal

and no, this time I am not talking about the Bush administration.

This time it is the folks form the movie expelled, who have been accused of stealing some of the animation used in their film.

But then, what do you expect from a group that thinks it is ok to lie for Jesus. Go check out the the documentation of the lies in the movie expelled, it is a very nice example of this dishonest behavior.


It appears that these less than honorable self professed christians have also stolen the music used in the film.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Countering Those Lying For God

On Friday a movie is being released whose only goal it to attacks science. It is the effort of a group of religious persons, mostly Christians, who feel threatened by evolution. Their lack of understanding of the basics of science has grown into an irrational fear of any science that threatens their faith based understanding of the universe, and that has let to this foolish lashing out in mocumentary fashion. Unfortunately for them the only avenues of attack on evolutionary science are those that are based on lies, so that is what they they do, a lot.

It is a traditional, if rather disgusting, habit of to many self professed Christians; lying for god.

So if you do have questions of about the movie Expelled this site will be able to cut through their lies and help you counter the distortions of those who think it is OK to Lie For God.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Delta and Northwest

How can anyone in their right mind think that the merger of two of the larger airlines in the US can in any way be a benefit to the American consumer?

Further consolidation of an already over consolidated and incredibility poorly preforming industry makes no sense, so I am sure it will be amazingly popular in both Wall Street and DC.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Fridays Places To Visit

The serial dishonesty of the anti ACLU crowd is pointed out at Panda's Thumb.

Barbecue & Politics looks at South Carolina politics, astroturf 'grass roots' groups and the money that Howard Rich pumps into his favored candidates.

The ironic meeting of Free Markets, Ayn Rand and the bribes being paid to force college students to read Atlas Shrugged are discussed at Crooked Timber.

At FiredogLake, a look at President Bush's dishonest proposal to reduce combat tour time in Iraq.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

War Criminals

There is now clear evidence that most of the senior members of the Bush administration are, by our nations own definition, War Criminals. This includes, but is not limited to:

Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet and John Ashcroft

They engaged in detailed planning and approved "specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency".

As a reminded, the US has agreed to a set of standards that defines torture as:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity

After WWII we held trials and held accountable the leaders of Germany, Japan and Ital for their actions. Members of the Bush administration appear to have engaged in many of the same types of acts that we accused, convicted and punished some of these people for. Who is going to hold them accountable for this vile behavior?


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Stupid or Dishonest?

I know I have used this phrase a number of times, with a number of public officials, but it applies oh so often. In this case, Sen. Graham's overblown cheerleading for the war in Iraq (and the Petraeus and Crocker testimony in congress) is perfect example of a man who is clueless about the truth, or willing to lie to support his past and current beliefs.

When you listen to Graham you get the feeling of great success and overwhelming victory, but when you listen to the officers in charge you get a much more restrained, nuanced and ultimately somber review:

This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable, however it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought so far and sacrifice so much to achieve.

We have not won, we are not kicking Al-Qaeda's rear. We are, at best, fighting a holding position that offers little hope for long term improvement. The problem is, Graham (and McCain and Lieberman and many others) fails to recognise that the key to victory is not on the field, but within the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Until the people of Iraq embrace their government, until the Iraqi government becomes viable, functional, and semi-competent, there is no way the surge will work. And all of the cheerleading and pretending that all is well just makes those who engage in this foolishness look either stupid or dishonest.

So, Sen Graham, what is it, do you truley not understand the nature of the conflict and just how remote that chance is that we will 'win', or are you lying to us?


Monday, April 07, 2008

South Carolina; Fighting Hard For 50th

A couple of news stories about the SC state budget clearly define what is wrong with our state.

Fearing tight economic times, and trying to act in a proactive nature, the Senate has cut millions from the state education budget.

Details of the budget released Friday afternoon show spending eliminated or cut for young adult education, hydrogen research, computer systems at The Citadel and a College of Charleston science center.

This is a huge mistake. We can not afford to continue to cut our already grossly underfunded educational programs if we want want real long term economic growth here is SC. But what makes this action far more than the normal political stupidity we face, it is how these folks are handling their own pension program.

IT’S BAD enough that our part-time legislators want to sweeten up their uber-generous legislative pension system — the one they shouldn't even have to begin with, the one taxpayers subsidize at three times the rate we subsidize the pensions for career state employees, the one that lets legislators draw a larger state paycheck after they retire than they do while in office, and even lets them keep growing that pension at taxpayer expense even after voters kick them out of office.

But the House is poised not only to approve the plan this week, but to do so without a bit of debate. That would have happened on Thursday, but for a procedural delay. And the Senate might not be far behind.

Yep, 3 time the state contribution rate for real employees, higher pay upon retirement (or being voted out of office) and all done without debate, while cutting other vital programs because of 'tough time ahead'.

Disgusting, isn't it.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Science Saturday

More evidence is in on the the Hobbit discovery, the sick human hypothesis has taken a hit.

A very interesting fish has been discovered in in Indonesia.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Fridays Links of Note

Oh My God, is this funny, Evolving Thoughts displays just how stupid Ben Stein and the Expelled crew's argument about nazism and evolution truly is.

In SC we are having to deal with issues with police over enthusiasm, This is why Orcinus's repeated examples of racism within these forces is important.

Jesus General recommends that John McCain create a new position on his, that of Jew Counter, since he already has the perfect man for the job working for him.

And Crooks and Liars brings a poll of historians who are considering who is the worst president ever.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

We Have Not Looked In A While

So how are our armed forces doing these days?

Well, according to General Cody, it could be better. In his testimony to congress he has given us a clear, if not implicitly stated, warning; We are very close to having to resort to a draft or we run the grave risk of breaking the armed forces.

Today’s Army is out of balance. The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies. While our Reserve Component (RC) are performing magnificently, many RC units have been assigned missions as an operational force, when they had been resourced as a strategic reserve for decades. Current operational requirements for forces and insufficient time between deployments require a focus on counterinsurgency training and equipping to the detriment of preparedness for the full range of military missions.

Now, he never says draft, but it is clear that his message is we have to reduce deployments or find many more troops.

And I would not bet on any reduction in deployments.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Signs Of The End Times Here In South Carolina

I almost agree with one of our states most foolish politicians. It seems that Mike Fair is proposing a tax increase on adult oriented magazines. I have always considered the old fashioned sin tax a reasonable means of raising income. I myself would have aimed this money into the general fund, not into a specific program but this is one Mike Fair proposals that could be workable.

I wonder how he feels about another sin tax the state should be considering? I suspect that in this arena where he may be a touch more reluctant to embrace the whole sin tax concept.