Saturday, December 31, 2005

Kids before Criminals

Here's more goody on the Roane County jail situation:

Anyone who has been inside a Roane County School knows we have higher needs than a Taj Ma Jail...And we certainly don't need to pay $650,000, that's $24,000.00 an acre, for land with a building that has to be torn down before construction can start. That tract of land is right next to Roane State Community College, anyway.

With a 250 acre brownfield site less than four miles away, why are our commissioners being so dumb? My theory is that they are just being mentally lazy and are letting themselves be led around by folks with an agenda that is not in Roane County's best interest.

Let's help them out on this one.

Here is a printable petition for those who want to help force the jail construction issue to a public referendum. It Is our money they are spending, after all!

Jail Petition


Sign the petition.

While most of the world worries about the shadow government running America into the ground, us citizens of Roane County, Tennessee have learned that we have a shadow government of our very own...the Jailbaiters.

These are folks who want the taxpayers of Roane County to build a new jail. That, in and of itself, is no big deal. The problem is that the jailbaiters want to build a Taj ma Jail and plop it down in what might be the worst location in the whole county. We have a lovely community college here with a beautiful campus, and yep, right next to that wonderful facility is where the jailbaiters want their jail.

I don't really understand why.

First of all, there are alternatives to building a new jail in the first place. Sure the one we have is overcrowded but it is less overcrowded than our school system and there doesn't seem to be any screaming rush to fix that glaring problem. Well of course not, silly reader... If there's one thing everybody knows, it is that if you care about community development, you borrow all the money you can and raise property taxes so you can have the finest jail facilities anywhere around. When people look at a community, we all know that the first thing people check out is how nice the jail is.

If everything goes perfectly, the increase in cost to the taxpayers will be roughly two million bucks a year...essentially forever...about half for the building and the other half for the increase in the operational cost of running the much larger jail.... If everything goes perfectly....With an average jail population of 120 denizens, that is an increase of $16,666.66 per each. Not total cost per each...this is the proposed increase in spending.

Just for fun compare $16,666.00 to the per capita income for Rockwood, TN, one of the towns in our county. The average Rockwoodian makes $13,000 a year. I'm guessing a little schooling could help that, but the commissioners aren't proposing any additional school funding.

"We borrow and spend on criminals" the Commissioners say.

Why do we want to increase spending on the worst segment of our population? The local joke is that there are only eight people in favor of the jail...and all eight are County Commissioners. Is there something we don't know? Why do these folks want a Taj Ma Jail? It's not like they're gonna spend any time there....oh wait....Hmmmm?

Well, in an effort to take this matter to the voters of our fair county, a resolution was introduced before the commission that called for a referendum. "Let the people decide" was the call. It failed to pass after one commissioner switched his vote from what he had promised. "I lied" he is fond of saying...he has such a cute way of posing when he's caught in a lie...Anyway, the vote was eight to seven to deny the voters the chance to decide.

How can eight people be so out of touch with what their constituents want? Who knows but there's something we can do. Sign a petition asking the commission to let the voters decide.

You must be a registered Roane County voter. I need someone to post it on the web so I can link to it. For now, I have to email the petition to folks who want it. Let me know.

We have a week. We can make sure this goes before the people for a decision. In one hour, yesterday, we got 250 signatures. The citizens of thios county seem to have different priorities from the Commissioners. I think they mean well,actually. Most of them are friends of mine. Let's just hope they listen.


Drip Drip

I fell asleep with the TV on. At some point I crawled up to bed, woken in all probability, by a dog protecting the house from some heinous member of the rodent family. As of 8:26 this morning I still do not know who won the Peach Bowl. I'll find out soon enough.

It is now New Year's Eve and football is all that will be on the broadcast channels with the occasional break for some program pretending to be a news show. There won't be much actual news...Mostly these things are just for entertainment purposes. President Bush seems to be involved in a domestic spy scandal that would ordinarily result in his impeachment but instead we will hear "How to pick a puppy" and a hangover quiz.

The Justice Department has a full scale investigation going on, but not on the Presidential violation of the Constitution. Nope...The investigation is all about finding that hater of America who LEAKED that the President was violating the Constitution. Do you think the laws of our once great nation are upside down when lesser laws can be used to punish people for passing along the knowledge that "High Crimes" are being committed? And by someone who went in front of the American people and swore, with his hand on a christian bible, to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America?

Well now you know who the true enemies of America are...The tattle tales.

Well in spite of this, let me wish a Happy New Year, to all...Especially whoever it was that leaked all over George Bush.


Friday, December 30, 2005

After a grey Day

Hand held from the deck on Friday, Dec. 30, 2005.

Soon it will be the second half of this decade. Doesn't 1999 seem so recent? Did we party well enough? Let's not make the same mistakes in the last part of what may go down in history as the Last American Decade.

Why do we pursue wealth so vigorously and happiness so ineptly?




Everybody in Tampa said to tell you folks Hi.

Ok, that's not true but you enjoyed it for a second there now didn't you?

Things are almost back to normal in this SNAFU world we live in. By the time we got back in town, most of the presents we had ordered had arrived...a week late. One very important present that I purchased for the wife arrived while we were gone...Our former housecleaner, who has retired, took a substantial bribe to clean up the house while we were out of town. It's amazing!

I hate cleaning, but I appreciate a clean house. Some people have more than just a knack for tidying things up and Rose is the best. When she closes the door on her way out, not only are those little black things that grow in small dark corners gone, but the cushions on the couch are artfully arranged, my underwear folded in the dresser drawer, and the dogs have had a special treat.

I personally have never folded an underwear.

I have tried to think of a way to tell you what the experience of walking into a house that has been Rose'd and all I can come up with is that everything has become art. The magazines haven't been stacked neatly but are now a presentation. Getting out of the shower this morning I hesitated to take a towel from the wooden dowel rack. Each towel was folded and placed just so. I dripped silently for several seconds before violating the scene, cold but appreciative.

We have managed to set a new record for maintaining an immaculate house this year. It was easy, too. The secret was, after Rose cleaned the house... We stayed at a motel in Tampa as long as we could.



Monday, December 26, 2005


Why I live here:

click to see the larger image. This one looks like dog.....I'll try to work on it over the next day or so. I'm traveling so no time now. Sorry.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Card from Robert

I want to share this card from Robert.

Wish Upon a Star

Know what? I say we put away all the crap for a day or two and just be nice to each other, whaduyasay?

"Tis the Season, for lack of reason"

There's so much bs being tossed around, it's hard not to get hit with some of it. Why do folks want to whip up grief this time of year? I mean that war on Xmas thing? It's really the other way around, what with Xmas being a war on the traditional winter solstice celebration of the god, Mithra.

Let's not worry about little things like facts in this season of celebration.

Most of the Xmas story is just a pleasant little myth, with little basis in biblical fact. No two biblical books come anywhere close to agreeing on anything, including which town Jesus was born in or even the virgin birth itself.

...You know those "Wise men" who rode in on camels? No camels, actually, and to consider the five miles they traveled "coming from a far"...well they had to be toady old things for what should be a nice before breakfast walk to seem like any distance at all. They definitely weren't kings...they were astrologers, you know, and real "Wise" men don't pay much attention to astrology, now do they?

There is a great divide amongst christians, conveniently labeled "conservative" and "liberal." The conservative or fundamentalist view is that the christian bible is unerring and true in all aspects. Liberals tend to own up to the glaring inaccuracies and contraditions, though not always.

Belief defies reason and we can just leave it at that. It's ok.

I like some aspect of nearly all winter solstice traditions. There is a commonality that transcends dogma. It is best said in a phrase that conservatives do not seem to believe and liberals seem incapable of bringing about. Nevertheless, I hold it in my heart and wish, for whatever good that will do, to all humankind and every other denizen of this beautiful suffering planet:

Peace on Earth, Good Will toward All!

Merry Christmas!

It is not the tangible, but the transcendant, that heals our hearts.



Further reading is here:
religious tolerance

Taken just now.

Quote of the week

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." -- George Bush, April 20, 2004


Here's something fun to play with. Replace my answers with yours and post them in the comments at the blog:

Four jobs you've had in your life: Process and design consultant, engineer, rock musician, short order cook

Four movies you could watch over and over: F9-11, The Helstrom Chronicles, Help, Young Frankenstein

Four places you've lived: Dublin, Ga. Winston Salem, NC, Memphis, TN, Long Creek, SC,

Four TV shows you love to watch: The Daily Show, C-span, Gol TV, Freeview Concerts

Four places you've been on vacation: St. Simon's Island, Ga, Costa Rica, Santa Cruz, Ca, Lilly Spring, Santa Fe River, Fla.

Four websites you visit daily: Buzzflash, Kos, Allhatnocattle(?), The Illustrated Daily Scribble

Four of your favorite foods: Salmon, Tom Yum, Thai Curry, turkey-toe peas

Four places you'd rather be: Costa Rica, La Seo D'urgel, Spain, Cumberland Island, GA, Gibson Ridge, Cumberland County, TN

Friday, December 23, 2005

Each and every one, a Champion!

"You're not one of those people who believes human beings came from worms, are you?"

(Oh, yes. I am, actually. )

"You aren't one of those people who believes in the Talking Snake Theory, are you?"

Darwinian Theory is so simple that it is a constant source of consternation that anyone bothers to claim that it is false. Here it is in a nutshell:

1. Every child of any organism is born different in some way from its parent(s) and siblings.

2. Sometimes life gets tough, for one reason or another, and not all offspring survive long enough to make their own offspring.

3. The ones that do survive make offspring that look more like the parents than the members of the previous generation who didn't reproduce.

4. After enough generations of being born different, the current crop of offspring in any lineage will not look much like the founding fathers and/or mothers mentioned in item 1.

There you go...That's all there is to it. gets complicated from there. Just as any conceivable number may be correctly written by combining only two symbols, one and zero, There is no life form yet encountered on this planet that is not formed under the direction of its own personal genetic code. Every living thing we know of on planet Earth has DNA.

A most obvious example of what is called "Natural Selection" is the race to fertilize an egg. We are all victims of this process. At some point prior to our birth, a race was held between a few million sperm with an egg as the finish line. The winner was crowned champion by being allowed to supply the missing chromosomes needed to produce a viable ovum, and TA DA, We began our unique existance, at some point, hopefully, ready to hold another race.

There are and have been gazillions of such races. Here is the story of some of them that includes the "worm" mentioned at the start of today's blatherings.


Science Friday

Season's Greetings!

(anything wrong with that?)


Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Breathtaking Inanity"

The creationist lie exposed in penetrating brilliance.

In the case of "Tammy kicks School Board Butt", Judge Jones has written a new chapter in the bible of American free thought. While the FundXtians blather incessantly with open mouths and closed minds, others see this as a watershed event that may help drive another nail in the coffins of those who would study ignorance and force into the same cesspool of darkness, not only their own children, but, and more purposefully evilly, the children of the otherwise enlightened. Creationists want to force science teachers to spout creationist idiocy, and thereby attempt to make your child as superstitious and incapable of critical thought as they wish to make their own.

The Federal Court ruling against a Pennsylvaia School Board action that attempted to force science teachers to teach "Not-science" has given his Rudeness the opportunity to interpret the Federal Court decision in words that the immoral pushers of intelligent design can understand, those craven hypocrites.

Of course, the Judge, himself a Bush appointee, has a way with the word also:

"...this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better..."

"Breathtaking inanity"...How that phrase rolls through the mind when considering the creationist viewpoint.

Cutting to the meat of the ruling, Judge Jones wrote...

"Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. "

It has been a while since I quoted the Rude Pundit, but here is my opportunity. The Rude Pundit has a slightly different turn of phrase that communicates essentially the same thought:

"Hey, Churchy, shove yer pandas up yer lyin' asses, and stop wastin' everyone's time ..."

Laced with profanity well used, you may read the rest for yourself:

rudely put

Judge Jones, however, has written a beautiful piece of legal opinion that really should be bound and published, but of course, I have it for you fine people. It makes excellent reading for anyone who wishes to understand how immoral the creationist movement is, and to what lengths of a black art they are willing to raise the skills of lying.

The Opinion

Peace comes to those with courage. Good will toward all, but especially toward Tammy Kitzmiller, who had the courage to stand up for the teaching of reason, and to United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, who so eloquently turned the proper phrase in the pursuit of Truth, Justice, and the American way.

From now on, when someone says "I am a creationist", It will be tantamount to saying, "I am ignorant, and will do whatever it takes to remain that way."


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's the Fascism, Stupid

Winter means ice in the South. Sure it gets a little colder but nothing like 35 below up north where they go ice fishing. (What kind of bait do you use to catch ice, anyway?) We get decent snow some years but mostly we get ice storms. Ice doesn't bother the deciduous trees but the pines, still having their needles, suffer greatly.

So last Thursday we had our first real ice storm of the season and lots of folks are still lacking electricity almost a week later. Here at the cabin in Long Creek things are fine, except for a few limbs to clear away, but intown Greenville got hammered. Our friend Joe's neighborhood was elderly and distinguished with a canopy of beautiful mature trees. I hope the damage is not so bad as to change the character of that fine place. The South loses too many trees each year as it is.


Another old institution has fallen in America, and that is the free press. Having been handed documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act indicating that President Bush ordered secret spying on American citizens, the NY Times refused to print the information until they were forced to by one of their own reporters. There are several implications to this that bother me, notwithstanding the President's defense that he is allowed to make up his own laws in time of war...absolutely ridiculous in the light of day and even more frightening.

No, what really bothers me is what is essentially a cover up in which the NY Times participated. The ACLU provided the government documents to the Times prior to the last Presidential Election. Government officials demanded that the Times not run the story under the auspices of National Security (bogus reasoning given even a moment's thought) and Bush won the election. Would the information that George Bush had committed a possibly impeachable offense have changed the election result? It would have taken less than one percent of the voters to reverse the result, remember, notwithstanding the "I've got capital" B S from Bush.

The New York Times has failed America. Who do we turn to?

I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, as you should already know. I have a question for them. Why did they only give the information to the NY Times? The Times after all, is not the bastion of fair goevernance they once were. I realize that printing the facts is considered "Liberal" but here we have another instance of failure to do so, to put up alongside Judith Miller's and Armstrong Williams' prostitution for those in power. The electorate of America has the right to know what was going on at the very moment of the one decision it is allowed to make in its own governance. Why didn't the ACLU provide these documents to George Bush's hometown newspaper in Crawford, Tevas? They've done a fine job of printing the facts.

America will always, from time to time, have evil people in high positions. If we ignore truth...they will get away with their evil deeds and the next villian will feel even more emboldened.

It takes courage, Mr. Editor...Do you have it?

It takes courage, Mr. Lawyer...Do you have it?

It takes courage, Citizens...



Here's the bottom line on why Bush wanted secret spying. There is no other reason except to cover up their actions.

Under the actual law, they can act immediately but have to get approval by the court within 72 hours. But there is a paper trail. That's the only difference. The checks and balances part of our legal system is what George Bush finds inconvenient and wishes to eliminate.

Here's Charlie's take on it:

Sunday, December 18, 2005

From Toccoa

Sue sent this Doonesbury Cartoon to us:

Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas

We're putting the Christmas tree up today. One of the benefits of waiting until after both boy's birthdays is that the trees go on sale...if you can find one, that is.

I like the tree. It is a good pagan symbol co-opted several hundred years ago by christian religious officials who figured Easter was too long to wait for a good party.

"Why miss a good excuse to eat a pig?" they were probably thinking. "It's really dark and cold and we could use some fun, eh?"

(For convenience I have taken the liberty of translating the Northern European "Ja" into the more familiar "eh", which is Canadian, as you well know, eh?)

The currently popular traditions of eating ham, burning a log, hanging evergreen boughs, holly, mistletoe, and of course, "Da Tree" are derivations of the good old "Feast of the Pagan god, Jul. The Jul feast seemed like way to good a deal to leave to the pagans, so Pope Gregory told Mellitus to get out in front of the celebration and get those heathans to convert to christianity and start sending their monetary patronage to Rome...or else the pope's kind and loving god would have them killed. Mellitus told the pagans that they had been wrong about the winter solstice thing and the party was really about the birth of christ.

(The pagans might have asked Mellitus if christ were simultaneously born at a different time in the southern hemisphere, but they only had astrologers to make stuff up at that point in time, having not yet imported astronomy from Greece in its logical form, and so they didn't know that the winter solstice happened at a completely different time of year in Terra del Fuego.)

The pagans, being pretty tipsy with all that meade, ham, and turnip greens coursing through their veins, decided that there was no sense in letting some fanatical weirdo in a red suit and funny hat kill a good buzz, so they told Mellitus, "Sure, whatever, Dude. Take a load of your sandals and have a hit off the old horn of plenty, or something like that." ( you believe me about the turnip greens, don't you?)

The Pope got his money, the pagans got their party, and Mellitus died and got to be a saint.

And after centuries of tortured history, I have a tree in the living room. We decorate it and watch the needles fall off. It's a grand tradition based, not on popes or pagans, but in family togetherness.

I like it for several reasons. It brings back childhood memories of times when I didn't understand how screwed up adult humans really are. There's food and drink and good smells...and... Everybody tries to be nice to each other.

Well not everybody but we ignore those people. They can kill their own happy buzz, but not ours, right? I mean, anyone who wants to puff up and be offended when someone else wishes for their happiness is simply unworthy and forgets the original meaning of christmas...

War on someone else's winter holiday traditions and beliefs.

So let the meade flow. Peace on Earth and Good will toward all...



Kurt Vonnegut makes a few political observations:

Loaded pistols are good for people unless they're in prisons or lunatic asylums.

That's correct.

Millions spent on public health are inflationary.

That's correct.

Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.

That's correct.


From our "All Morality comes for God" Department, this news report:

The End of the Case - Sat, Dec 17, 2005

Accused sex attacker Peter Braunstein was captured yesterday after a two-month nationwide manhunt. He was reading Lee Strobel's The Case for Faith, which, as I noted here, has an interesting take on the problem of evil -- including an enlightening chapter explaining why we should worship a God who kills little children.

I bet if he were reading The End of Faith, we'd never hear the end of it.

I watched a Sam Harris speech this morning on C-span. He is the author of The End of Faith. More here:


Friday, December 16, 2005

Ice, would too suffice

Just got the report that the power is out at the cabin in Long Creek. (SC) from and ice storm. I wish I were there.

The houses I migrate between are at the end of the road...and then some. Power outages are inconvenient but not much more that that. As for ice storms themselves, except for the damage to the pine trees, I love them. Nothing in my experience can top the beauty of a moonlight walk in an ice covered forest. Last night was the longest night of full moon this year. Roughly thirteen hours and a bit of full moon, while today we'll have just over ten hours of sun...which just popped over the eastern ridge three minutes ago...that would be 7:54 am here in TN.

Cold, clear night, full moon overhead, the forest beasties were running about the gorge exciting the dogs, which bark and yip and keep a safe distance. I like waking up at night, wondering what it is that Casper and Kuma are protecting the house from? The wife is not as happy about it..."Would you go yell at those damned dogs?" she says, hoping to get one more power snooze before the little black radio starts talking.

"President Bush gave in to pressure from Senator McCain and accepted a ban on torture" the little black box on the bedside table said.

My country is run by the insane.




Dan Kurtzman has a list of the 25 Mind Numbingly Stupid Quotes" of 2005. Tennessee's Senator Frist is near the head of the class with TWO mind numbingly stupid quotes...the first, unintentional...the second, downright meanspirited...the crassest sort of politics of which he should apologize, which he has not, and be ashamed. I don't think Republican leaders have that particular emotion in their makeup. Human tragedy is simply the stage set for their manifest greed.

Cases in point from "Doctor" Frist:

23) "Get some devastation in the back." --Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to a staff photographer as he posed for a photo op while visiting tsunami-ravaged Sri Lanka, Jan. 6, 2005


15) "I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office. She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli." --Sen. Bill Frist, diagnosing Terri Schiavo's condition during a speech on the Senate floor, March 17, 2005


I think the biggest lie this year was this one:

"Congress saw the same Intelligence I did." George W. Bush justifying his war.

This is just plain not true. The President has all kinds of writers wo make things up for him and I don't think he thought of this himself because I've heard it repeated by several Republican mouths. No matter how many times they say it, though, It is still not true...It's a Lie!

Of course we all knew that, but just to make it official, here's the Report to Congress:


Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I had a great insight during the night. Woken up by the flying squirrels wintering over in the eave, here at the cabin in Long Creek.

It was so clear...obvious...I was in that demilitarized zone between sleep and wakening, each set of forces battling for superiority. I was pulling for sleep to win, so I ran the concept through my brain a few times, promised to write it down in the morning, and surrendered.

I'm quite rested now and clueless to whatever it was.

Probably just dreamed I had a great idea. This happens in the daytime sometimes, even when I'm fully conscious. "Seemed like the thing to do at the time." I tend to say later.

This happens to other people too..."Hey! You know what would be a good idea? Let's invade Iraq, get rid of Saddam, move all our military bases out of Saudi Arabia like Osama wants us to and set them up in Iraq. It'll be fun!"

History books get written on such matters.

No book will be written on my incredible insight which would have required immediate action... It has evaporated, In the twilight of the predawn.

Might be for the best. It's a beautiful morning in the winter woods, and even five minutes is well spent wandering.




President Bush gave figures for the Iraq war dead yesterday that were different from mine. He used the number of verifiable and identified civilian deaths, which is just under 31,000, and doesn't include all casualties from all war related causes. The biggest difference appears to be in who is counted as a civilian and who is counted as an insurgent.

Also, I don't understand the difference in the Administration figures in the American wounded. How can they list tens of thousands of medical evacuations and say there are only 9,000 wounded? What's up?

Monday, December 12, 2005


Orion doesn't actually look like this to the nude eye. It will be tilted 90 degrees to the left tonight and only the brightest stars will show up.

Go outside and look up.



More like that. And that's Rigel at top left and Betelgeuse at lower right.


That's Venus beaming at us in the evening sky. Mars is still up there but it's losing brightness at a fast clip, as the Earth outruns it on the planetary merry go round. I did manage to see a few Geminids in the wee hours after moonset. It's been mostly cloudy so this morning was a bust. If you can roust yourself before dawn and look east you'll see Jupiter rising a couple of hours before the sun.

Friday night, we were returning from the Hal Holbrook/ Mark Twain performance, headed East on I 40. A large meteor crossed the sky and broke into two pieces before flaming out. It had to be large in order to be seen through the light pollution of downtown Knoxville.

Friends ask me why they don't see these things and I do, often pointing them out for others to catch the last instant of meteor flight. I don't know, really, but I think it is because I look for them. I have actually pointed out more than one person's "first" falling star. Is the sky really that easy to ignore?

The winter is a wonderful time to look up. Here is the easiest unwordly ting to see...the Orion Nebula. There are three bright stars all lined up in the southeastern sky about ten tonight or most nights if this one is cloudy. To the right of the three stars that make up Orion's belt, you can see three more stars angled down to the right. Take your binoculars and look at the middle star. Not a star is it?



Sunday, December 11, 2005


(I didn't research this but I think it's pretty accurate. I have noticed my memory getting a tad convenient as I grey up.)

President Bush was in Minnesota yesterday making speeches to boost support for his senseless and unpopular war. As Bush made his tour to support a Republican candidate for Senator, a man who had formerly held that senate seat, and who had opposed the previously most unpopular war in American history, Eugene McCarthy, died.

I remember the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Lyndon Johnson assumed the Presidency. The Vietnam war raged on and as Americans started to die in large numbers, it became clear that there was no real plan to win that war and that the Johnson administration had not told America the truth.

As the Presidential election neared, Eugene McCarthy publicly opposed his own party's president because of the war. Johnson announced he would not run for reelection, a monumental event in American history. Johnson was a conflicted man of high pricipal in some respects, and low principals in others. He was a Texan. Eugene McCarthy wore his principled idealism as a badge and ran for President against a field including Hubert H. Humphrey, the Vice President, and Bobby Kennedy, brother of the slain, John.

Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in the third most tragic day of my life up to that point. I had lost a father and a president...As boyhood friends began to die in a war that had no point, one of the two men I was counting on to save us was killed. Eugene McCarthy was the other one. He went to the American people and simply told the truth, quietly and eloquently. Backed by money from defense contractors and others in the business world and lacking the moral imperative against telling a political lie, Hubert Humphrey won the nomination but was unable to shake his association with the failed war effort and lost the election to Richard Nixon, who had told the American people he had a "Secret Plan" to end the war.

More Americans were killed in Vietnam after Nixon was elected than before. Defense contractors made billions. In the next election George McGovern ran against Nixon on an anti war platform and was beaten by Nixon, who's campaign strategy was to state, "We have to fight Communism over there, so we won't have to fight it over here," or words to that effect. Nixon then proceeded to do exactly what McGovern said and pulled out of Viet Nam in the most shameful day in American Military history, as far as defeat is concerned, essentially beaten by Ho Chi MIn.

Nixon was forced to resign as his continued operation as if the laws of America did not apply to him caught up with him. It was the honorable actions of a few Republicans that tipped the balance in favor of justice. At some point, the American people just had enough of being lied to.

Odd, though, that up until a certain point, Americans seem to choose the Liar...And they have always known better. Instead of Eugene McCarthy, they chose Humphrey. Instead of Humphrey they chose Nixon. Instead of Carter, they chose Reagan.

And recently, instead of Gore and Kerry, they chose Bush. (Well they didn't, actually, but they let the election be close enough to steal, so in effect they did choose the liar)

Eugene McCarthy died an honorable man, to the end. Unchosen by America.



Saturday, December 10, 2005

What light through yon forest shines?

...Tis the dawn, and the hot tub calls me, siren like, to its enveloping wetness, where, having returned a womb of my own devise, I watch woodpeckers, possessive, repel the chickadees from the suet log...Juliet. I have my coffee. You are forgotten.

Saw Hal Holbrooke last night at the Tennessee Theater. Sam Clemmens died 100 years ago but his words are current. He seems to have disliked poiticians, lawyers, and criminals. Of the three, I believe he considered criminals to be the least disingenuous group.

Here is a Presidential quote from the previous week. It was relayed to the public via at least three Republican sources. three republicans telling the same lie is certainly not unusual, but they seem to have been stunned at the words of George W. Bush:

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

If confirmed as can any American NOT call for his resignation?

He Said what?



Friday, December 09, 2005

Yay! We make the top ten...

And then click to see who it is:

Pollution Scorecard

You say you want a Resolution?

So I have a question...

Since Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham has resigned in disgrace and is going to jail for bribery, it is apparent that his votes in Congress were the result of criminal activity. The Congressman's vote was paid for by Corporations, through lobbyists. His was not the only one.

Tom Delay represents K street lobbyists, not the people in his district. None of his constituents have contributed to his defense fund (ok, one...but he is a crook). Almost all of Tom's defense money comes from corporations...out of state corporations.

Several other Republican Congressmen are under investigation and will probably be arrested or forced to resign. (Now don't think I'm letting the Dems off the hook. It's just that Dems are small time at stealing money. The Republicans are soooo much better at it.)

So the votes were bought. Republican Nick Smith was reported to have even been bribed on the floor of Congress, though he refused. (This is under investigation with charges expected)

So many bills have passed by one or two votes...bribed it turns out.

And the Republican House Leadership has continually violated rules in order to pass legislation and deliver the goods to their corporate puppetmasters.

Now that all this is coming to light. Here's my question:

Shouldn't we go back and recount the votes?

Wouldn't that be the honorable and fair thing to do?

Here's the bottom line: The Conservative agenda cannot be supported without corruption and lies. If we allow the fruits of corruption to stand, the corporate criminals win. A huge case in point is the "Prescription Drug Bill", and Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution listing and condemning the rules violations and corruption involved in passing that bill.

A resolution condemning corruption!

Failed to pass by a party line vote. Now ask yourself another question...If all the congressmen who are indicted or under investigation were prevented from voting. would the Resolution condemning corruption have passed?

I am not personally in favor of Capital punishment, but I might be persuaded if it applied to public officials who accept bribes.

Imagine, if things were fair,



Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stats and Comments

Statistics first:

U.S. military dead in Iraq, including suicides, 2,125;

US military amputeed, wounded, injured, mentally ill, all now out of Iraq, 49,500;

Iraqi civilians dead, 118,900.

Now the comment:

The Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, in his acceptance speech to the Nobel committee.

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," he said.
"The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public ... a formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people, and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.",2763,1661531,00.html

And now, from our shop 'til you drop Department...The perfect gift for Christmas:

The Scribble

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why I Live In Tennessee

And why you should come visit!


And...You folks who live here and who haven't been to every single one of these places...You should be flogged daily until you remedy this egregious error in your personal experience.



Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Brass Frog Greets the Dawn

It's so unusual to have a normal winter in the gorge, so far this year. We have forgotten what to do in preparation for cold weather. I left the well house open and the water was frozen when Thomas turned on the shower.

The good part about this...I went outside in the cold before dawn. Orion is just starting to hide behind the south face of Walden Ridge and there's a deer below the house whistling at my intrusion on what ever was going on before I headed out to the well house with a kettle of boiling water.

Later, I took this shot. It looks over the garage and music room. The brass garden frog never stopped playing his banjo.



Monday, December 05, 2005


I've had my fix.

This is the time of year I need it and by golly I deserve it. The woods are bare, except for a few oddball shrubs that haven't gotten the message. The dark of winter season has taken over...maybe not officially with the winter solstice, but go out side and you'll see for yourself...The dark is here. So how do I fix it? I find a Witch Hazel tree and get my spirits lifted.

Some of you may remember the Witch Hazel tree next to the creek that was cut down by some brain dead fisherman. I mourn at the stump every time I walk by the water. I was concerned that this might be the only witch hazel near the house, and that i might not be cheered by the blooms springing forth in the darkest of seasons...fortelling of the solstice and lighter days ahead. Then I took some good friends on a hike to the overlook above the house.

The ridge has had a rough time in recent years. Arsonists set fire to five or six thousand acres back there and the ridge got burned over several times. The pine beetles killed the larger fire resistant trees, and with their falling, the ridge has been nearly impossible to hike through. This year, finally, the fallen trees have decomposed to the point we can crash through and remake the trail. Several plants have sprouted from the roots that survived the fires. As we crawled over the rock at the top of the ridge, there were several head high branches that had sprouted from the earth...and they were blooming.

I am surprised at what simple things make me happy. Now I know where the Witch Hazels are living and blooming in their fall rites. They are small, but they have survived.

We probably will too.




David Letterman: Top Ten New Strategies for Victory in Iraq:

10. Make an even larger ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign.

9. Encourage Iraqis to settle their feud like Dave and Oprah.

8. Put that go-getter Michael Brown in charge.

7. Launch new slogan, it’s not ‘Iraq’ it’s ‘Weraq’.

6. Just do whatever he did when he captured Osama.

5. A little more vacation time at the ranch to clear his head.

4. Pack on a quick thirty pounds and trade places with Jeb.

3. Wait, you mean it ain’t going well?

2. Boost morale by doing his hilarious locked door gag.

1. Place Saddam back in power and tell him, ‘It’s your problem, dude.


The Oak Ridge School paper scandal has hit the airwaves. #9 has the transcript at the Blab Forum: ( just scroll down til you see it)

The Blab Forum

Friday, December 02, 2005

Breaks the Ice at Parties

Someone asked me how I figure out what to write about. Actually, it is more like figuring out what NOT to write about. As a self styled warrior for "Truth Justice, and the American Way," there's plenty to attack, but sometimes you just gotta have fun.

Having fun sometimes means getting involved in civil conversations with actual conservatives. It is a vile philosophy, what with its hatred and lying, but the folks serving in the trenches of conservatism are usually just followers and not necessarily evil unto themselves. Having a couple of glasses of wine and laughing at them can be fun. Here's a party game you can play with conservatives. AS soon as someone asks a question about politics, start your stopwatch. Conservatives usually cannot go more than sixty seconds without lying. This equires a bit of actual factual knowlege on your part, but then that is why you read this blog, eh?

One thing you will notice, by the way, is that a Conservative never admits being wrong. Caught in a bald faced lie, they tend to start shouting about Bill Clinton.

Start the clock.

Usually, the first lie you will catch a conservative saying involves the old "Liberal Media" myth. No peer revued study has ever found this to be true, and in fact, things are quite the opposite.

Fox News is the most obvious right wing outlet outside of Rush's daily foamings. Anyone who gets their "news" from Fox is simply misinformed. Testing of people who watch various news programs demonstrated that the most informed people in America actually watch "The Daily Show" instead of news. This is even funnier because this is a Fake news show and which apparently presents more facts than the real ones. Weird huh? Fox news watchers were significantly more the point of believing things that were not just false, but that could be true only in an alternative universe.

Now we are seeing the solidly right leaning MSNBC channel attack the Whacko Right, Fox News talking heads for, of all things, lying. Fox isn't just right wing...If you are on Fox, your totter never comes close to a "teet"...It's "Tot's" only for you, or else they kill your children.

Keith Olbermann, of MSNBC, has a war going with Bill O'Reilly, of FOX News. Olbermann is playing the game in a big way. He calls O'Reilly , "The worst person in the world!" Quite a tag to sport around. World championship "worst-ness" is dificult to acheive. Here's one big "O" going after the other:

Bill O'Reilly. On the Today show, no less. Now how the hell did that happen? Says, quote, "These pinheads running around going, 'Get out of Iraq now,' don't know what they're talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in World War II that were saying, 'Ah, he's not such a bad guy.' "


That's a lie, of course.

Wanna know who went to war to defeat Hitler? America's Super Liberal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Democrat...Founder of Social Security.

Wanna know who was saying, "That Hitler, He's not such a bad guy."? Geroge W. Bush's dear old grandfather, Prescott Bush who made a fortune dealing with Hitler and sent George to Yale.

Somewhere today, if you run into a conservative, you will hear a conservative tell a lie. Get your buzzers ready, folks...and hey! Have some fun out there!



ps: And try to remember that most conservatives aren't bad people just ignorant...though usually by their own choice.

Here's the Olbermann riff:

O'Reilly's the Worst!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Here's the artcle in the Oak Ridge School newspaper that caused the confiscation. I'm going to make sure my sons read it.

By the way...It seems about as fair and balanced as an article can get, makes no moral judgements, and does not advocate anything other than providing information. Sure it's a bit delicate, but I'll bet nearly every kid in the school needs to know the info, and I'll also bet that danged few parents haved told their own children this stuff.

Just so you'll know: I've covered most of it with my two boys. I must admit that I learned a thing or two, though, about just how lucky I was when I was their age.


The Oak Leaf

Save the Children

Ah, Roane County, Tennessee. Balmy weather this morning and the creek is running high enough to talk to me when I go out on the deck.

"Go kayaking..." the creek says.

I think about making a few calls and canceling appointments, but I shouldn't. Life intrudes on my fun.I have obligations that can't be put off until tomorrow, so I'll just take a quick hike and morn the loss of a play day.

Later, I promise myself.

Roane is a good place with just a little more than its fair share of shallow thinkers. Lots of those seem to wind up in our political offices. If a thoughtful person does have a stupid moment, run for office and get elected, by some weird coalescence of cosmic forces, it is difficult for them to change the direction the county is headed. If one of the city or county officials actually has an idea, which is not quite rare enough to be odd... but almost, the other officials will pounce on him like chickens on a dropped egg.

"Ideas are supposed to come from consulting firms," the other officials will say. "They have things to sell our county and our fair cities. Therefore, it is the consulting firms that know best what is good for us..." Then they will vote to reduce spending in the offending official's district, especially if the idea was a particularly good one.

Now, Roane County has a jail. Not a fine Taj Majal Jail, just a plain old jail. It is a bit too small for the number of guests inside. It sits about 150 feet away from the famous Roane County Courthouse, where girlfriends of inmates come to shoot their boyfriends out of prison.

You may have seen us on TV. A prisoner from the next county was visiting us and his girlfriend decided it was time for her fifteen minutes of fame and tragedy ensued. An officer was killed...He was a good man, by all accounts. Shot dead in the parking lot during the transport of a prisoner to and from a jail many miles away. This apparently gave our officials an idea..."Hey!" they said. "Let's build a new jail for ourselves and we can put it many miles away, too. This way, Roane County can be on National TV over and over again, when girlfriends of prison guests come to shoot up the place." Since this was a perfectly bad idea any way you looked at it, all the County officials nodded their heads. Nobody's district was going to lose money over this turkey.

It was a jewel of a bad idea.

The new jail is proposed to cost $18 million. That is the proposed figure and you can imagine what the actual cost will be. A phrase you will never ever hear in regard to a County project is, "On time and under budget." The average number of guests in our prison is 120. I know you guys have started scratching on your napkins so I'll do the math for you. 18,000,000 divided by 120 is 150,000. You can think about it sort of like our county fathers are proposing that we build a hundred and twenty houses for our prison guests that might cost as little as (but probably more than) $150,000.00 each. Nice!

There's more.

Right now, as I said, the current jail is 150 feet from the Courthouse. It is also next to the Sheriff's office, two blocks away from the police station, firehouse, etc. etc. etc. And smack dab in the center of a business district. In the world of County officials, this is a bad place for the jail and where they propose to build the new jail is adjacent to Roane County Community College and adjacent to a residential neighborhood. Sounds like the perfect place for society's worst, don't you think? Property values should skyrocket, eh? The Community College Administrators, having several campuses to put their efforts into in the future, will certainly want to build up the campus located next to the jail, right?

There's more.

Roane county has another crowding problem that involves society's best as opposed to its worst. We have two elementary schools that have almost twice as many students as they should. We need two new schools right now and at least two more in the near future. Let's see, now...Where should the County put its money? Into the criminals, or into the children?

In a room in the Roane County Courthouse, the Roane County Commissioners sat in a sort of semi circle , facing each other as they search for leadership. (Why do Committees look at the inside of their tiny little circles when they search for ideas? Shouldn't they look the other way? At the rest of the world?)

"Let's spend our tax money on the Criminals!" they all agreed. "We'll get to raise property taxes by ten percent,... Even better...We get to screw the kids, and the consulting firms get a bunch of money. It's Perfect!" they said.

Yep, they did!



Monday, November 28, 2005

Students miss first Period

The Principal at Oak Ridge High School searched teacher's desks after hours and confiscated copies of the high school newspaper from kids that had gotten one already. Then the kide were ordered to bring them back from home and turn them in as if these pieces of paper were contraband.


Is this what information has become? When did the Taliban take over?

The offending articles involved tattoos and birth control information. Here's what the Director of schools said about the tattoo(from the Oak Ridger newspaper):

"Bailey said the feature about tattoos and body piercing featured a photo of an unnamed student baring a tattoo that her parents didn't know about, and that was the only concern.

"I have a problem with the idea of putting something in the paper that makes us a part of hiding something from the parents,'' he said. "

I simply must point out the stupidity of that statement...mainly because it indicates to me that Director Bailey might have been sleeping through the class on Critical Thinking. If you put it in the is no longer being hidden, I would think. Let me make this easy:

Tattoo...Photograph...Newspaper...DUH!!!...Bull Poopie, Mr. Bailey.

Now the real reason...An article in the student paper had information that was definitely useful to nearly all students...It concerned birth control:

"The article says many Oak Ridge High students may be having sex. It lists success rates of different birth control methods and reports that contraceptives are available from doctors and the local health department. "

And in the American spirit of freedom of information...

..."Administrators late Tuesday searched through teachers' rooms and desks and seized copies, they said. "

Score another one for the forces of ignorance. I mean everybody knows that if you don't tell kids about birth control they won't have sex, right? And schools aren't supposed to give you the knowlege you need for life itself, right? And students don't have first amendment rights anyway, right?

Oak Ridge High School is in Anderson County in Tennessee. It is a good school in most respects. The teen pregnancy rate for Anderson county is about average in the state of Tennessee, and that is not good.If you were to walk into a freshman English class and look around at the girls, you would see about 14 of them. Odds are, one of them will get pregnant before she graduates.

(I checked and that's correct. Do the math. Each year in your county, out of each one hundred teenaged girls, 3.24 of them get pregnant. In the four years of high school that works out to 13 out of a hundred)

Principal Erwin, whatever you are doing now...It's not working. ...Here is some information you should know:

* Three in 10 (27 percent) 13- to 16-year-olds are sexually active.

* 33 percent of teen pregnancies end in abortion

* Three out of four teen births are out of wedlock

* 65 million people in the U.S. have an incurable STD like HPV, HIV and herpes

* 80 percent of mothers who are under 18 years old will raise their children in poverty and will receive $39 billion in government support.

Ignorance doen't seem to be working for us, Principal Erwin. AS an educator, why don't we try a little knowlege? Everyone knows information is the answer. Everyone except for the ignorants among us. And as I am fond of saying,

..."Ignorance is curable...Not so, Stupidity!"

Courage, Pricipal Erwin. The good news is that you are now in the running for the "Barefoot and Pregnant" award.


Here are links to the info...Other Tennessee counties are included. There's tons of info and it aint exactly flattering:

County Data

Knox News article

And as a public service, all the information that was kept from the kids can be found here. (The Scarborough household donates to these fine people):

Planned Parenthood

Update: My dislexic self corrected a few names...Thanks to the the comment from Insider. Check that comment for additional info.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Sermon

Okay...Felber says it better than I, so here...and NO LAUGHING! This is serious stuff here:

Intelligent Design



(and yes, I'm at a a soccer tournament, I'll actually write something later on. For now, Felber's a hoot.)

Friday, November 25, 2005


Buy camoflaged shotgun.

Give to 16 year old son, who has hunting liscense.

Wait for loud noise.

Help clean gobbler and put in freezer.

Cut firewood and save small hickory, cherry, and walnut limbs.


Nov. 23, 2005, take turkey out of freezer to thaw.

Nov. 24, 2005, get up early and start fire in smoker.

When temp in smoker steadies at 210, put secret rub and spices on turkey and put in smoker.

Wait...Hours only seem like months.

When cook can't stand it any longer...remove turkey from smoker. Place inside house on butcher block table in kitchen.

Test small piece. (Dang, that's good!)


When friends show up with vintage wine, take short hike to overlook above Whites Creek global headquarters.

Admire world.

Hike back to kitchen.

Wait no longer!

...Eat turkey, drink wine, eat other stuff, cancel afternoon hike.

Sit and talk with friends and children.

Be thankful.

Clean kitchen tomorrow.

Loud noise yeilds proper results

See below for aftermath.



Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Blogging

Let me count my blessings!

Wine maker friends who name vintages after the blogger!

Thanks, Kevin.


Outside early friends coming over and a turkey to smoke. This is the time of year I can't sit still. Just like the rest of the times of year, but late November gets me supercharged. I think it's because of some deep racial memory that knows the dark gray Ides of December are crawling up from hades. Persephone and Zeus are back at it and the rest of us are going to have to deal with it.

Something in me just has to cut firewood. At this point it will be next year's wood because the rick is overflowing. Unless it's colder longer than it has been for the last twenty years, I'll have plenty for a while yet. Still, I take the old truck up on the hillside and shorten some logs. Cut and load, cut and load, that's the cycle... rest breaks are built in. During one of the breaks, when all around me was the sound of the forest, there was a croak from on high that got my attention. I didn't recognize it at first and it seemed to be coming from the ridge top, several hundred feet in elevation above me. Then it was nearly above me in the low clouds and I knew what it would be. Out of a cloud flew thirty or so Sand Hill cranes on their way to the Hiwassee refuge, only thirty miles left in a thousand mile flight. I took the binoculars and watched them fly, like pogo sticks with wings. Cranes are easily identified by the long legs extended out the back, never tucked under. Their large body bobs up and down in counterpoint to the methodical wing flap, each one taking turns singing the not quite hoink, not quite croak that carries them along. With the binoculars I could see their heads turn, showing the long feathers on their heads. It is cold if you aren't moving so I set the glasses down and went bask to loading firewood.

But I was accompanied by Crane-song now. Aldo Leopold wrote of "goose music" and the possible tragedy that could befall the world if no goose music were left for future generations. They hunt Sand Hill Cranes now, in Wisconsin. The cranes are now a commodity and someone will pay to keep them around. I am saddened that commerce is our one true religion in this world, for now, but so it is and we must deal with it.

For now, I can be happy watching the young button bucks play fighting on the driveway and wonder what it was that the hawk just screamed across the gorge to kill under the canopy of brown hickory leaves.

I have music for Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's the Ignorance, Stupid!

I met Robert Kennedy Jr. a few years back in Utah. When he started speaking, I wondered why everybody had made such a big deal of the so called "Kennedy Mistique." By the time he was through talking, I was ready to run outside and scream in some polluter's face. I just read a speech of his that's I'll tell you about in a minute.

In contrast to Bobby Kennedy Jr., Yesterday I had lunch with a U. S. Congressman from Tennessee and heard him say several things that point out exactly why we have such a mess on our hands. He said "Developers have their hands tied because of the environmental regulations" and he said that he can't back Nano technology too hard because of the moral issues involved. Why do we have so many of this guy and so few Robert Kennedy's?

It's not stupidity...It is ignorance.

Did you know that some religious nuts, of which we in Tennessee have way too many of, believe that Nanotechnology is too close to becoming the Intelligent Designer? Huh? Talk about an uninformed group!

And frankly folks any developer, and I am one, who had his hands tied because of environmental regulations under George Bush...ought to! We're down to only a few forms of wanton destruction actually being illegal.

Why are we so ignorant? What is this disease that we as a society have contracted?

It all boils down to the same few diseases that are causing all of our symptoms.

First of all is the infamous "K" Street. This is the lobbyists row in Washington, D.C. where all the money is handed out to the politicians who sit up, beg, and do tricks for billions of dollares in corporate donations. Tom Delay has been the faucet keeper for this money, which is his source of power. Tom is a crooked a guy with little moral restraint and no vision of the America he is helping to create. I suspect his days of power are over but someone else will fill the vacuum unless the power to bribe our lawmakers is handed back to the people.

Secondly is the combination of removing the "Fairness Doctrine" and allowing the ownership of our information providers in America to be consolidated into the hands of so few corporations. I didn't say "So few people" you should note...I said "Corporations."

Except for the one percent or so of all people who are sociopaths, most people have a conscience of sort. There is some guilt felt in doing wrong. For corporations there is only celebration in profit...monitary profit. There is no corporate joy at eradicating a terrible disease for instance. Unless there is money made in the process.

"Hey Boss, We can eliminate half of all asthma cases by reducing our profits a over the next few years."

Can you imagine a CEO thinking this is a good idea? Neither can TVA!

The antidote to corporate greed is an informed electorate. For instance, George W. Bush's approval rating is about 34% in the general population. Among the group of people who can name President Bush's first business partner it is nearly ZERO! This would be an informed group. (George's first business was Arbusto Oil and his backer was Salem Bin Laden, Osama's big brother...but you knew that, right?)

Or are you ignorant. too?

This is curable.



Here is an excerpt from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.s speech:

This all started in 1988 when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine said that the airwaves belong to the public. They were public-trust assets, just like our air and water, and broadcasters could be licensed to use them but only with the proviso that they use them to promote the public interest and to advance American democracy. They had to inform the public of issues of public import. They had to have the news hours. (None of those networks wanted to show the news, because it's expensive, and they lose money on it.) They had to avoid corporate consolidation. They had to have local control and diversity of control. That had been the requirement of the law since 1928.

Today, as a result of the abolishment of that doctrine, six giant multinational corporations now control all 14,000 radio stations in our country, almost all 6,000 TV stations, 80 percent of our newspapers, all of our billboards, and now most of the Internet information services. So you have six guys who dictate what Americans have as information and what we see as news. The news departments have become corporate profit centers. They no longer have any obligation to benefit the public interest; their only obligation is to their shareholders, and they fulfill that obligation by increasing viewership.

How do you do that? Not by reporting the news that we need to hear to make rational decisions in our democracy but, rather, by entertaining us, by appealing to the prurient interests that all of us have in the reptilian core of our brain for sex and celebrity gossip. [applause] So they give us Laci Peterson and Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, and today we're the best-entertained and the least-informed people on the face of the earth. This is a real threat to American democracy.

I do 40 speeches a year in red states, and there is no difference between how Republican audiences and Democratic audiences react when they hear what this White House and this Congress are doing. There is no difference except that the Republicans come up afterward and say, "Why haven't we ever heard of this before?" I say to them, "It's because you're watching Fox News and listening to Rush." Eighty percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on. [applause]

(JR sent me this so blame him) Here's the rest of the speech:


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Early Bird

It's cool and brisk this morning. Sitting with me at the breakfast table, my youngest son caught sight of an eagle trying to fly around the back side of the house without us seeing him. Headed back up the gorge this early probably means that the eating is good out on the lake right now. Nothing like a washed up two day old dead carp to fill up a hungry symbol of this proud nation on a cold Fall morning!

Actually it is the wind that determines where the big birds fly. On calm mornigs they travel against the cliffs that the sun hits first, riding what there is of the lifting currnts generated off the rocks as the sun warms them up. Even slight temperature changes work for them. On breezy days like this one, the wind rips down the creek and they have to travel against the near cliffs using the eddies to boost their efforts. This is another way of saying they are lazy.

I identify with the eagles in this respect.

I'm going for a hike.




OK, I admit that I like Hugo Chavez, the Democratically elected President of Venezuela. I've even taken to buying gas at Citgo when I can. He's thumbing his nose at Bush/Cheney and their big oil machine. Cheney, of course, hates Chavez. That's enough for me to be on Chavez' side right there, but actually I like Chavez public commitment to his people. Unbridled capitalism has failed them and he proposes to change his country. Most movements of this type start out altruistically but often end up in some form of totalitarianistic governance. Our own is dangerously close to falling over that drastic edge, as so many have pointed out. We'll see how it goes with Chavez and Venezuela. I do hope things stabilize enough for me to visit Angel Falls one day without fear of getting caught in somebody's revolution.

Pat Robertson, that jolly old man of god, has called for Hugo's murder. Hugo has offered to do the Christian thing and has offered to help Pat...right after Robertson gets extradicted to Vezuela for making terrorist threats. That's International Law in the treaties the U.S. is still party to. That's how we can bring terrorists to the US for trial. It looks to me like Hugo has a point!

Check this:

Sunday, speaking to foreign delegations attending a meeting of the Organization of American States in Caracas, Chavez said Venezuela will "exercise legal action in the United States" against Robertson.

"Calling for the assassination of a head of state is a terrorist act," said Chavez, an outspoken critic of President Bush who has forged strong relations with communist-led Cuba.

"We could even request his extradition," he added.

..."We could offer him free psychiatric treatment ... but he could be a lost case" Chavez said sarcastically of Robertson and controversial statements the conservative commentator has made in the past.

Vice President Cheney has gone all war and fuzzy on us, too. Especially if your idea of of warm and fuzzy is the Republican know...Warm and Fuzzy equals "Oozing with sickly green putrid Bile." Yep! That's Dickie, all right.

Charlie Fincher, my favorite "Drawyer", notes a resemblence to another Veep from years past.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Body Armour

OK, So why can't OUR troops get this stuff, George?

Juanita Jean on Mean Jean

Bagdad Versace

The Bottom Line

I watched Congressman John Murtha talk for a bit last night. He's the person that
Congresswoman Mean Jean Schmidt called a coward because he says his vote to go to war in Iraq was wrong. He served 37 years in the Marine Corp, fought in two wars, and was given the Bronze Star for valor. Yep! Sounds like a coward to me.

(Jean Schmidt, meanwhile, served on the agriculture committe for her county and was being investigated for ethics violations)

John Murtha is an imposing man. He stood in front of reporters and talked about visiting wounded American troops in the hospital...about a soldier lying in bed trying to learn to put on three plastic limbs with the one arm he had left. He talked about visiting a soldier who was parylized from the neck down...the boy's family was beside him and they were all crying because of what the future held for them. John Murtha did something Jean Schmidt has not done...He asked the boy's family if there was anything he could do?

"Get him a Purple Heart" the boy's mother said.

"He was wounded by friendly fire...they won't give him a Purple Heart because it was his own people that did this to him."

Murtha went to the Commandant and told him, "Can't you get that soldier his Purple Heart? If you don't do it, I'll give him one of mine!"

In addition to his Bronze Star for valor, John Murtha was awarded two Purple Hearts for being wounded in action. He is a very brave man...And, he was standing up proudly in front of those reporters doing a very brave thing...Admitting he was wrong about voting for the Iraq war. He went through a list of mistakes and documented incompetencies by the Bush administration in the conduct of the war and gave a reasonable plan for getting us out over a period of six months.

"Our presence in Iraq is the cause for the terrorism" he said. Virtually every other analyst has said the same thing. "We have to leave" he said. "We have no clear mission."

Murtha said that with a straight face. When he was talking about his visit with the wounded soldiers, he was sniffing back tears.

With his vote, Murtha knows that he helped send those soldiers to Iraq, some to die, some to return in pieces. Rather than hide behind pomposity and refusal, he stood up in front of reporters and said he was wrong and that it is time to rectify that mistake.

For me personally, here is the bottom line: "We have no clear mission."

Every minute we remain in Iraq, we are asking American troops to face being wounded or being killed. Ask yourself this question:

"Would I sacrifice my own child's life to this cause?"

Would you?



Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Sermon

I am often amazed at how little people know of their own religion.

I tend to view the supernatural with serious skepticism,marveling that humans would rather believe the unlikely than accept the obvious. It is like the old movie cliche of the white explorer flicking his lighter and having the savages ascribe the flame to "Magic" as opposed to a simple chemical reaction of fuel, oxygen, and spark.

If religion were truly a matter for all eternity, I would prefer to think for myself rather than sitting quietly in the pew and aquiescing to someone else's predigested message. Give me the information and I'll draw my own conclusions, thankyou. Every sermon, however, is edited for the purposes of making us accept a certain viewpoint.

Ok,'s everyone's choice as to which pew they sit in. You want to believe someone is (a) smarter than you and (b) is truthful, and (c) has your best interests at heart...well go ahead. Except for one little thing...You maybe ought to make sure about a, b, and c before you sit there quietly and soak up what is to become your own viewpoint.

Why we tend to follow other's viewpoints instead of always developingour own has a basis in human phisiology. There is a group of cells in the hippocampus area of the human brain that allows us to conceive of large social groups and interactions. This part of the brain facilitates human functioning in groups greater than eight individuals. Without it we can't conceive of things like extended families, trade unions, religious groups, or political parties. Humans divide the world into essentialy two groups, "US" and "Them." This group of cells in the human brain alow us to make the "Us" part of the world much much larger than it could be otherwise. Communities, States, and Nations, could not exist without it. An interesting observation by neuroscientists is that a human's religion can be sugically removed...So can politics.

I think that we could categorize people's political philosophies based on how they establish their Us's and Them's.

What are our criteria for placing people in one of these groups? And...Are you sure this is based on the truth? Those seem like questions we should ask ourselves, early and often.

In today's world, the majority of the information we are fed seems to be personal attacks as opposed to facts of any sort. The Us-Them nature of our current society seems to have rendered the American electorate incapable of penetrating the political mud and making an informed decision. The evil of politics is hellbent on building the numbers of "Us" at any expense...the truth and the future be damned. Want to build a church really fast? Claim righteousness for "Us" and bombasticly ascibe all sorts of evil to "Them".

This tactic tends to work for a short while no matter what. If you can prevent any contradictory information from reaching your "Us" group, you can keep it going for quite a bit longer.

For example, if you tell children that evolution is godless, and that god wants you to accept creationism, you can get away with this as long as you can keep the overwhelming mountain of evidence supporting Darwinian theory from reaching them. And if you can bombard them with nonsense long enough, they will lose the ability to think for themselves and maybe they will never have that "Aha!" moment, such as the one they should be having right now, as the world trembles in fear while waiting for that moment in human history when the virus that causes avian flu evolves the ability to transmit itself from human to human. As of now, it can't. It must evolve...But there's worse, according to the intelligent designers. The intelligent designer may well choose to redesign the bird virus to transmit from human to human, himself, in his own loving way...thereby killing millions upon millions of humans on a whim.

But that's off topic for this sermon...ahem...

Back to determining Us and Them.

I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I ain't no FundXtian Death cult Armageddonist. But I'm am an optimist and I think we can save it. All we have to do is get enough Us's together, sort out the facts, and act collectively in our best interests. (that would be HUMAN best interest, not that of corporations. If Satan walks the earth, he is in corporate form! )

The facts are essential to this process as is critcal thinking. If Fox News won't give them to us, we will dig them out ourselves, but we must be receptive of the facts and not give in to our tendencies to believe in what is nothing more than gossip. We can't let our judgement be swayed by name calling, and more than that, if some tries to use name calling as a tactic to cloud our judgement, they must be condemned! We must condemn people like Representative Jean Schmidt for standing on the floor of Congress and calling Representative John Murtha a coward for presenting an idea. We can not fear ideas. If we are to be saved, it is ideas and knowlege that will be our weapons. We can not wish for salvation... We must create it. Our judgement must be accurate and those who would try to hide the truth from us must be pushed aside.

With that, I leave you with a quote from the King James version of the Judeo Christian bible. I started this piece with how little people know about their own religion and this sums it up. I looked at several versions and translations and they are all virtually identical. from Psalms 82:

"How long will you judge unjustly, And show partiality to the wicked? "




"President Bush is on an 8-day tour of Asia. He's visiting American jobs. He's spending 8 days in the Orient, and as we all know, he's spent the last four years in disorient." --David Letterman

"Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he wants to be president. Well that's good, somebody will have to pardon his brother." --David Letterman

Here's a site I'm checking on regularly. You can tell a good site by the intelligence of the comments, usually. I love the comment from Julie about bumperstickers...Julie made her own that says,

"My Bush,
Makes Love...not War!"

Works for me! (figuratively, folks....only figuratively!)

Tennessee Jed

"With all due respect, Mr. Fitzgerald, I believe you are being had."

...John Dean, Whitehouse counsel to richard Nixon.

To right-minded Americans, the idea that Administration officials have betrayed their national security obligations, yet remain in their jobs, is nothing short of appalling. Beyond politics is patriotism: Patriotic Americans want to see you not only prosecute those who compromised and endangered Valerie Plame Wilson, but also force the Administration to clean house with respect to those who did this, which you can accomplish through appropriate civil action.

Dean's essay

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Frankly folks, I've seen backstabbing cheerleader moms at a small town redneck highschool behave less childish and catty than the Republicans in the US Congress did last week.

What do you think happens after a Congressman with 37 highly decorated years in the marine Corps come to grips with his conscience and calls for a careful pullout from Iraq? Do the Republican Congressmen act like mature thinking adults or childish corporate prostitutes?

Interestingly, not one single Republican Congressman that called John Murtha a coward has ever served one day in the armed forces of America.

From our "Republicans are Idiots" Department, here's a fair account of the stupidity in the House of Representatives after Congressman John Murtha introduced his resolution. Of course it comes from the British Press and not the American media!

You say you want a Resolution?


OK, So...This blog is often about my view of the natural world so I guess I need to put something in here that's natural...Problem is, there's not much left that is natural. Humans dominate the forces at work on planet Earth. Another way to look at it if the very selfish and self destructive, "It's All about Us, Now!"

That was the subtitle of a book called "The end of Nature" a few years back. I wish that it weren't so damned accurate. The only thing surprising to me is the source of the word...A Scientist from Alabama!

I thought science was illegal in Alabama...

"Thugocracies and other non-democratically accountable governments . . . have no real incentive to create a healthy populace with free markets and therefore free people."

.... John R. Christy, a climatologist who directs the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Global warming is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year..right Now! But it's OK...Most of them are poor. read on:

Killing me softly


I love these mornings we're having... Good freezing temperatures in the 20's (Below Zero if you are a Celsius keeper like me). I've taken the time to watch the dawn come by most mornings this week and I've watched from several different locations. Wednesday morning, driving up Highway 27, was the best so far. The first red light was hitting Walden Ridge at the edge of the Cumberland Plateau, turning the last hanging oak leaves back to glowing red under the sun rise as the full moon set overhead.

I had an appointment to keep two states away. I didn't stop and take the picture. My bad! I keep telling myself,

..."Time is too precious not to waste!"



Friday, November 18, 2005

Highland Reserve Images

I'm posting these from my steam powered dial up in the woods of South Carolina. I'll fix them later. I took them Wednesday at sunset in Roane County Tn. The moral of the story is that I need to keep a tripod taped to my camera bag. I'm too shaky, in my old age, to shoot hand held.


How can 19% of Americans be so Dumb?

Ah! Life in the woods!

I have limited contact with the outside world here, but too much gets through for me to remain ignorant.

I had a friend cut off our discussion with the comment, "You don't understand! You need to listen to Rush Limbaugh more and you'd understand!"

Why don't you google "Rush Lie" if you have a few days to waste. Then you'll understand why I cracked up laughing.

There's no help for the helpless.


Vice President Richard B. Cheney amazes me. he just effectively called the majority of Americans, "Traitors."

You disagree with him? You're a traitor.

81% of all Americans do!

With that said, let me remind you folks of the obvious. All of the indictments in the Traitor gate scandal, the outing of a covert CIA perative Valerie Plame, have so far been inside Dick Cheney's staff. Dick Cheney is often mentioned as a possible indictee. Cheney was the main person pushing for the CIA intelligence report to leave out all evidence contradicting his rationalle for the Iraq war. No caveats, nothing, made the report. There were plenty!...Including the fact that the one person, who claimed Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, made that claim while being tortured.

Got that? Cheney is the main advocate for torture. He had a guy tortured to give the evidence he wanted. It wasn't true!

You are a traitor if you question Dick Cheney...Even when he's lying.

Here's a little list of Cheneyisms:

Cheney Fact Check

How dare someone who personally fought in two wars, is much decorated, and a conservative (albeit a Democrat), publicly contradict dick Cheney and George Bush!

As always, one of my favorite tooners, Charles Pugsley Fincher, has beaten me to it. (I'm going to have to stay up later at night.)

The Scribble

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

When Friends Attack!

There is a movie out telling everyone what a great and courageous man Edward R. Murrow was. He was the TV newsman who called a U.S. Senator a liar on live television. I remember Edward R. Murrow on television in the fifties. It's not that I would have chosen him to watch so much as there was only one tv channel in Winston Salem. there were soap operas until five oclock, a half hour of Mickey Mouse Club and cartoons and then the news. My kids don't understand the time before satelites and 150 channel mind numbing noise from talking heads with perfect hair and teeth who graduated from canned "journalism" schools as opposed to the school of World War II.

My mom and dad sat in the TV room after supper and watched Senator Joe McCarthy be dismantled by a man who felt he carried the burden of telling America the truth on his shoulders. The adolescent I was then didn't understand what was going on but I could tell which man was lying. His career was essentially over after that night because American news people stopped reporting what he said. He was a Liar, after all!

We seem to have lost the ability to be outraged at liars along about the same time as the news people lost their honor and courage.


Yesterday's News.

Dick Cheney was in Knoxville yesterday and the TV said he was heckled. He was here to speak nice things about former Senator Howard Baker who was having a University School named in his honor. Here is what the U T web site says about it:

In early 2003 the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy began operations at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The mission of the Baker Center is to develop programs and promote research to further the public's knowledge of our system of governance, and also to highlight the critical importance of public service. The Baker Center will also place a special emphasis on examining the role of the media in society.

Senator Howard Baker rose time and time again above party or ideological lines to craft workable solutions to critical problems facing our country. With this center, we will strive to honor him and to carry on his service to the people of Tennessee and America.

In a speech to 400 people gathered in a public building that holds 25,000, Dick Cheney said things like this:

"Howard did as he has always done: he put the country's interest above all else," Cheney said.

There were only 400 people in the building. They were rewarded with the spectacle of seeing the grand hypocrisy of the most self serving vice president in American history praising the selfless public service of the good man, Howard Baker.

There were only 400 people there but several of them shouted at the Vice President, who, as it has become known, is most responsible for starting the Iraq war. They were taken outside by the security people. Who were they and how did they get in there?

"War! What is it good for?" they said. Security took them away.

"Peace Now!" they said. Security took them away.

"Stop the war!" they said. Security took them away.

In contrast to Howard Baker, today's Republicans do not tolerate the opinions of those who oppose them. Their events are well screened for protestors and only loyal Republicans are allowed inside. This is so that George W. Bush and dick cheney can bask in the love of their sycophants. If the arena in ahich Dick Cheney spoke had been opened to anyone who wanted to see him, I believe there would have been 24,600 more people in there and nearly every one of them would have been shouting at him.

Now here's my observation. They didn't let everyone inside...they never ever do. The people that screamed at Dick cheney must have been...


... at least until recently.

Dick Cheney was attacked by his own kind!

Long ago, we spoke to them but they would not listen. Perhaps they'll listen now.

It is our only hope...and theirs, too!




the evening News showed Bush saying this:

"Let me give you some quotes from (a)... Democrat leader...: First, and I quote, 'There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons.'

But they Dear President left out a few words that were also contained in that statement! Jay Rockefeller also said in that same speech:

"Preventing a war with Saddam Hussein -- whether now or later -- must be our top priority, and I believe this resolution will strengthen the president’s hand to resolve this crisis peacefully."

Sort of had a different gist compared to what the President would have you believe, doesn't it? his Rudeness does it better than I:


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

News of the Weird

Americablog has a new Dem TV up. TV from the web is best in broadband and fun:

Dem TV

The Washington Times is essentially a Republican newspaper. How are we supposed to read this?:

Other stuff from Americablog:

"President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity."

The Druge Report, not noted for honesty but Wingnut loyal nonetheless, has this to add:

"The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions."

So...George Bush is only speaking with women? How weird is that?

At fafblog...this amazing piece. Why dispense with the Bill of rights for mere Terrorists?...:

"...But why stop with terror when the same tactics could aid America so much more in its war on crime? A lean, streamlined criminal justice system could skip straight from arrest to imprisonment without the lengthy hassle of a criminal trial, while simultaneously eliminating the dangeous possibility that any guilty suspect could evade justice through the loophole of being innocent. Mr. Graham would protest that at Guantanamo "we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals," but the fact of the matter is that common criminals are far more dangerous. In 2003 alone, over seventeen thousand deaths were the result of homicide in the United States - nearly six times the total domestic body count of terror so far. If we insist on denying the most basic rights of an old man randomly pulled out of an Afghan village, can we ask any less of the two hundred million potential criminals roving America's streets?"

Medium Lobster