The Skunk and Tiger

"Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."-Horace Mann

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sam at the Country Mill 2006

Goat. Weeds. Apples.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It is Banned Book Week!

My friend Rachel reminded be that this week is Banned Book Week. Everyday at least one book is challenged in a Public School or Library. People who fear alternative ideas, beliefs, or information being available to their neighbors and or children wish to impose censorship on all. Here are the five most threatening books of 2005.

- "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris'was the most challenged book of last year. It is about puberty.

- "Forever" by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;

- "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;

- "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language; and

-"Whale Talk" by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language.

Go spread some fREADom!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clinton Defends self on Faux News.

Chris Wallace another bobble head on Fox News tried to smear the former president regarding his efforts to prevent terror and capture terrorists. But unlike many Democrats, President Clinton has a spine and he defended himself, you can read the transcript at Think Progress

Sam the Sailor

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Currently Reading: Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman and Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg

I am reading two books regarding Christianity. Misquoting Jesus addresses the alterations made to the Bible and how political, theological, and cultural influences along with human error have manipulated scripture for over two thousand years. Goldberg's book takes a freighting but not surprising look at Christian Nationalism, or Dominionism in America. The Militant "Christianism" that has warped and radicalized traditional Christianity has become a strong political base for the GOP's NeoConservatives and together they are steering the focus off solving the real and emerging issues of our time. We now have a single party system striving towards a single branch government that is highly influenced by fundamentalist Christians. I suppose this is a good thing since we are fighting radical Islam, or can you not fight fire and brimstone with more fire and brimstone? As some who have criticized Goldberg's book as sounding paranoid or full of hyperbole. I urge anyone to read these books and also listen to one weeks worth of mainstream Christian radio (Focus on the Family, Truths that Transform, Point of View, etc) and then tell me who is exaggerating or unrealistically suspicious.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keith Olberman's thoughts on 9/11

(I don't watch much cable news anymore. Print media and radio has been my source for news, perhaps it is time to switch to MSNBC instead of CNN)

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Some Thoughts on 9/11

Another anniversary of that autumn day in 2001. Five years have past and we still have not captured Osama Bin Laden or his real #2 guy, Ayman Al Zawahiri. Early into the War on Terror the United States diverted resources from tracking down al-Qaeda to focusing on Saddam Hussein, a terrible dictator but someone who had nothing to do with 9/11 or al-Qaeda. September 11 is something I think about daily as we are constantly living in its aftermath, and not just an event that I ponder on year anniversary. My grief for the people who have died has slowly escalated to anger, disgust and disappointment with the GOP, a party that has done nothing but squander the world support we had in the immediate aftermath and the sacrifices of our fellow Americans serving in the military.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sam in the Keweenaw

Sam, his Mom, and Great Uncle Jim. Sam refereed to his Great Uncle at 'Guy with the Big Boat' after riding in his sailboat apply named Oenone. See photo of Oenone in post below.

On Northern Waters

Lighthouse on Eagle Harbor and Oenone on Tourch Bay.

Back From Vacation.

We are back from a week vacation in the Upper Peninsula visiting Sam's Great Uncle, Great Aunt, and Great grandmother. I will be posting photos soon. In the meantime check out the Quincy Mine, one of the places we visited in the Keweenaw Peninsula.