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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Final Debate before Super Tuesday.

I just finished watching the last Democratic debate prior to the big primary on Tuesday that will, most likely, allow a front runner to emerge. It is down to just two now Obama and Clinton, and after this debate I am happy with the choices on the left. While I don't agree with any current candidates 100%, I would be comfortable with either as president. If any thing Obama and Clinton proved tonight that they have much more to offer than any republican. Both have clear plan in regards to health care, immigration, and the war. It goes beyond just having a plan however but understanding the real problems. When I look at McCain or Romney it is almost as if they are running for president of a different country. They are delusional about the war on terror and how to successfully fight it. They have no interest in middle class or social justice. When it gets down to the wire the republicans will run on nationalism and fear of government. If the democratic party is successful in showing that their plan will reinvest in the commons instead of special interests and corporations then I think they can win.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Martin Luther King is remembered today. Best known for his figth for Civil Rights, the fact that he was against the Veitnam war is often overlooked or forgotten.

"The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. 'Ye shall know the truth,' says Jesus, 'and the truth shall set you free.'"


Martin Luther King,
"Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"
April 30, 1967, Riverside Church, New York

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fuzzy Ears & Marie Antoinette

Our daughter has fuzzy ears they are so cute. She continues to sleep all day and is up most of the night. It seems as soon as one kid is asleep the other one is up and ready to go.
Anne and I watched Marie Antoinette last night. I enjoy Sofia Coppola's directing much more than her acting. Then again has she stared in anything else since Godfather III? Maybe its unfair to judge her acting abilities on a movie that is over fifteen years old. The movie dialogue is in modern english and much of the music is 80's new wave, which somehow fits well with the 17th century costumes and scenery.

A year from now we will have a new president. I was just reflecting on that.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Saw Cloverfield tonight with my brother in law. He hated it of course. I did not find it as bad as my friend Jerry posted, although my expectations had been lowered by some negative reviews. Yes the characters are all one dimensional, and you don't ever care for any of them. There is way too much exposition in the beginning. The giant monster is awesome and not comparable to Godzilla except in size and path of destruction. The face looks like Ultron with a body of sort a sea spider if that makes sense. The smaller monsters were just as eerie, but all scares are the "gotcha" kind and you can see them coming. I was also disappointed that most of the special effects had already been reviled in the short trailers. I still had fun and hope the DVD gets a Rifftrax soon. The jerky camera cave me a headache but the monster made my white and nerdy heart pound so I would grade this move a B-.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bush plays with swords.

It was embarrassing to watch Bush's trip to the middle east this week, especially when he visited "His Majesty" at the Al Murabba Palace to beg him to please, please lower the price of oil. Anyway Bob Cesca has a graet Op-ed at Huffington Post Below is an excerpt

There's a rule -- something about running with scissors -- which ought to have applied here. But the implicit hazard of an accident-prone Ruprecht waving a sharpened blade in the vicinity of living humans fails to underscore the true danger and indignity of the event -- the real-world horror of our constitutional defender and chief diplomat dancing and smirking while brandishing those Saudi weapons.

They're called "Chop Squares", Mr. President.

While the sword President Bush had slung over his shoulder like a clump of Crawford scrub wasn't specifically an executioner's sword -- in the same way a looped and knotted length of rope isn't specifically a hangman's noose or a Teflon-coated hollow-point bullet isn't specifically a cop-killer -- the resemblance was striking enough to send a message that the United States -- the "shining city on the hill" or whatever the hell Saint Reagan called it -- is willing to toss aside its commitment to human rights, justice and democracy in order to sniff the taints of our true global masters: the House of Saud which, last year, conducted at least 136 public beheadings in these so-called Chop Squares. It's also worth noting that during the same year in which President Bush delivered his second inaugural, the Saudis publicly beheaded 191 people.

Meanwhile, we're in the business of invading and occupying nations like Iraq even though the House of Saud helped to finance the 9/11 attacks. We're in the business of selling our national sovereignty to the Saudis at discount prices -- prices which were driven down by corporate malfeasance -- malfeasance which was encouraged by Bush Republican deregulation. We're in the business of merrily pumping Saudi oil into our cars while refusing to seriously conserve and, with our ridiculous hillbilly-defiance, we fool ourselves into believing that driving these vehicles is somehow "patriotic" while we accuse men like Al Gore of being unhinged.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy Religious Freedom Day.

Ed Brayton at Talk to Action posted about the significance of Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. This vital document became the basis for the separation of church and state, and led to freedom of religion for all Americans as protected in the religion clause in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

January 16th is National Religious Freedom Day, the day the Virginia Assembly passed Thomas Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson had tried to get it passed once, but failed. By the fall of 1785, he was in France as our ambassador, but his protege and close friend James Madison championed the bill to passage. He did this in response to a bill by Patrick Henry that would have forced Virginians to support Christian ministers with their tax dollars. Ultimately, Henry's bill lost and Jefferson's bill won, initiating a major societal change away from established churches and toward true religious freedom. This bill would become the model for the first amendment religion clauses and the trend would sweep throughout the states, resulting in the disestablishment of one state church after another until, in 1833, they were all gone. This is a day worth celebrating.

Click here for the full story.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hillary Gaffe Hunting

Big Media is trying to drive a wedge between Clinton and Obama camps by creating a circus over some statement that Hillary made about Martin Luther King. If her statement is offensive, which I do not believe it was, it was certainly not meant to be. And from what I can understand Hillary Clinton's statement was historically and philosophically accurate and does not take away from any off MLK's accomplishments.
“Dr King’s dream began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”

I think it is exciting that we have the possibility of the first African American or woman president, but I am sick of the television news media making Obama and Hillary's run for office nothing more than "He's black!, She's a woman!" I would like to think voters are smarter than this, but it is amazing how the most important events, such as elections, are dumbed down by our once responsible journalists and newscasters.

I hope both candidates rise above the mudslinging the infotainment industry salivates for, but I am prepared as always to be underwelmed and disappointed!

If you live in Michigan you can vote tomorrow, if you remember your ID.

Clinton, Obama issue calls for Democratic unity
From Raw Story
Mike Sheehan
Published: Monday January 14, 2008

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in an attempt to ease tensions between their campaigns after several days of contentious bickering, are calling for Democrats to come together.

"Over this past week, there has been a lot of discussion and back and forth - much of which I know does not reflect what is in our hearts," Clinton said in a statement. "And at this moment, I believe we must seek common ground."

She continues, "Our party and our nation is bigger than this. Our party has been on the front line of every civil rights movement, women's rights movement, workers' rights movement, and other movements for justice in America.

"We differ on a lot of things. And it is critical to have the right kind of discussion on where we stand. But when it comes to civil rights and our commitment to diversity, when it comes to our heroes - President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King - Senator Obama and I are on the same side."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Iran showdown has echoes of faked Tonkin attack

Nick Juliano
From Raw Story

A dramatic showdown at sea. Crossed communication signals. Apparently-hostile craft nearby. Sketchy intelligence leading to ratcheted up rhetoric.

The similarities between this week's confrontation between US warships and Iranian speedboats and events off the coast of North Vietnam 44 years ago were too hard for many experts to miss, leading to the question: Is the Strait of Hormuz 2008's Gulf of Tonkin?

On Aug. 2nd and 4th, 1964, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy, patrolling off the North Vietnamese coast, intercepted signals indicating they were under attack. Within days, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paved the way to the escalation of the Vietnam War. However, as some intelligence agents suspected at the time, the Aug. 2nd attack took place after the USS Maddox fired first, according to a National Security Agency report released in 1995.

This week another NSA report surfaced, confirming suspicions that the Aug. 4th attack never happened.

The researcher who uncovered the most recent NSA assessment tells RAW STORY that the Strait of Hormuz confrontation, and the immediate saber-rattling from the Bush administration and its allies, demonstrates the extent to which officials must be wary about politicizing shaky intelligence in times of war.

"The parallels (between Tonkin and Hormuz) speak for themselves, but what they say is that even the most basic factual assumptions can be made erroneously [or] can prove to be false," Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, told Raw Story. "Therefore extreme caution is always appropriate before drawing conclusions ... that might leave to violent conflict. That's almost so obvious that I feel embarrassed saying it, but there is a history of mistaken interpretations of these kinds of encounters that ought to teach us humility."

Humility and caution, of course, don't seem to be the most popular buzz words in the Bush White House.

"It is a dangerous situation. ... I think it was a provocative act," Bush warned two days after a handful of small Iranian speedboats spooked a fleet of US Navy warships.

The Pentagon's initial account of the Jan. 6 confrontation said the Iranian boats "charged" the US ships, dropped boxes in the water that were thought to be mines and threatened to set up "explosions." An unnamed US Defense Department official told the Associated Press the day after the incident that it was "the most serious provocation of its sort" in the Gulf, although Iranian officials tried to downplay the incident as a simple misunderstanding.

It was not until Thursday, after the Pentagon and Iran had each released videos of the encounter, that the US acknowledged the verbal threats they had associated with the Iranian speedboats from day one could have been broadcast from virtually anywhere.

"I am coming to you .... You will explode after a few minutes," a voice says on the audio recording but Farsi speakers and Iranians have said the voice did not sound Iranian.

Aftergood said he was surprised at the uncertainty regarding the origin of that message, which was broadcast on a public communication channel and superimposed onto the end of the Pentagon video.

"One might've thought that they would be able to pinpoint it exactly, but it turns out that's not so," said Aftergood, who runs FAS's Project on Government Secrecy. "It's also surprising that President Bush was permitted to get so far out in front on this issue, even though there were significant uncertainties on what transpired."

Others have questioned the supposed mines that were claimed to be dropped form the Iranian boats.

"The bit about the 'white boxes' being dropped into the water seems almost equally dubious," writes Glenn Greenwald. "Neither the video of the incident released by the U.S. military, nor the video version released by the Iranian government, includes any such event, nor are there any references to it at all on the audio."

Aftergood said the information should have been more fully vetted before the White House began warning Iran of "serious consequences" of future showdowns.

"What you hear talking is the child on the schoolyard, not the sober national leader," he said. "And i don't think that serves anyone's interest."

Aftergood noted that America is less poorly equipped to avoid international incidents than it was during the Cold War.

"The credibility at least of the administration has taken a hit by the way this episode played out," Aftergood said, but the near-confrontation could provide an opportunity for Bush to learn from his mistakes.

The US has largely given Iran the diplomatic silent treatment during the Bush years, which Aftergood said increases the likelihood that the next Strait of Hormuz-type incident won't de-escalate so quickly.

"If we could have a hotline with the Kremlin while they had thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at our country, one would think we could do the same for Iran," he said. "With some skillful statesmanship ... this could serve as the impetus for that, but it would be one way to turn a negative into a net positive."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chill'n With Adele & Sam


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

NH and MI Primary

Larry David turned out to support Barack Obama at Dartmouth College. Right now the vote count is too close to call with Clinton at 39% and Obama at 37%. I want to go to bed but I can not without knowing who won. McCain won the republican NH primary. now it looks like clinton won.
It ticks me off that I will not be able to vote for my candidate on January 15 because the Michigan Democratic party broke the rules and moved Michigan's primary up. While I believe Hillary Clinton is very qualified to be president and I like Edwards strong attacks on the Corporate control over our government, I think Obama is still the best choice. It bothers me that Hillary supported the war originally and did not question Bush and the Neo-Concervatives push to preemptively attack a sovereign nation. Bill Clintons support of NAFTA has been disastrous for our nation has also diminished her favorablness with me. Everything that I have heard from Obama has been pro-middle class, ands reinvesting in the people not the gigantic corporations that continue to weaken our democracy, and push for privatization of all government institutions. Because I can not write in Obama on the 15th I plan to vote uncommitted, but I may change my mind as I am still listening to all the candidates.

'Uncommitted' is a vote for Obama, in Michigan primary
(From Our Michigan by Celeste Whiting)

Voting "uncommitted" is as close as Sen. Barack Obama's Michigan supporters can get to casting a vote for their man in the state's Jan. 15 primary.

As excitement builds for Obama in New Hampshire's primary, his Michigan supporters hope Michigan voters will be savvy enough to vote "uncommitted" in the state's misfit Democratic primary.

"I'm doing a lot of extra work to make sure everyone in Michigan that wants to support Sen. Obama knows they must vote 'uncommitted,' " said U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. "Voters can't write in his name because that will be considered a spoiled ballot."

"No matter who you are supporting there is a spot on the ballot you need to check off," said state Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Dist. 5, who endorsed Obama more than 10 months ago. He speculates that an "uncommitted" vote of 15 percent would be a setback for Sen. Hillary Clinton, the only front-runner on the Michigan Democratic primary ballot.

Johnson thinks the uncommitted votes will ultimately translate into delegates at the Democratic nominating convention, even though the Democratic National Committee has officially withdrawn Michigan's delegates. "We have way too many powerhouses in Washington to stand by and let Michigan go unrepresented at the national convention," he said, listing Conyers and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., and Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.

Kilpatrick, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she is waiting to endorse a candidate until after the Democratic debate in South Carolina on Jan. 21. Regarding the Michigan primary, she said, "It is confusing to say the least. I'm an elected official and I have to explain it everywhere I go. It is unfortunate for the state and for the candidates."

Conyers finds the situation exasperating. "It's insane when we are trying to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, if what we do is make it weirdly complicated, so that for lot of people it is discouraging." He says constituents have been calling his office suspicious of how the election is being run.

Obama, former Sen. John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Joe Biden removed their names from Michigan's ballot in response to Michigan's decision for a Jan. 15 primary. The early date breaks Democratic National Committee rules. In addition, all candidates agreed not to campaign in Michigan prior to the primary. Clinton argued that she need not remove her name from the ballot, only refrain from active campaigning to be in line with national party rules.

Even so, Obama's Iowa victory encourages Michigan supporters. "I listened to his speech and I wondered is this what Dr. Martin Luther King talked about being judged on the content of their character not the color of their skin," said Johnson.

Political veteran Conyers envisions Obama gaining momentum after a New Hampshire victory. "The general consensus is he's likely to win and if he does this is going to give him a real big bounce as he goes into South Carolina," Conyers said

Monday, January 07, 2008

Melting Snowman

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Reading

My folks stopped by with one of my brothers this weekend and we had a belated CHristmas, Sam has had about seven Christmas's this year with all the different visitors and parties. Baby Adele continues to be a day-sleeper and an all night party girl. It will be rough going back to work tomorrow. My parents got me a subscription to The New York Review of Books, I have already started reading it and it is full of interesting articles. Some are posted on their website.

As Iraqis See It By Michael Massing is a very good read about the point of view that is rarely covered by American mainstream media.

Another good article is Romney and JFK:The Difference

My brothers got me 40 years of X-Men, a DVD collection of every issue from 1963-2005. So I am in geek heaven.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Iraq Blogger Major Andrew Olmsted Killed in Ambush

Major Andrew Olmsted who posted a blog since May 2007, was killed in Iraq on Thursday, Jan. 3. Major Olmsted, who had been based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq with the mission of helping to train the Iraqi Army.---from Rocky Mountain News

Major Omsted was able to leave a post regarding his own death and last thoughts on his experiences in Iraq. Here is an excerpt from hisFinal Post

This may be a contradiction of my above call to keep politics out of my death, but I hope not. Sometimes going to war is the right idea. I think we've drawn that line too far in the direction of war rather than peace, but I'm a soldier and I know that sometimes you have to fight if you're to hold onto what you hold dear. But in making that decision, I believe we understate the costs of war; when we make the decision to fight, we make the decision to kill, and that means lives and families destroyed. Mine now falls into that category; the next time the question of war or peace comes up, if you knew me at least you can understand a bit more just what it is you're deciding to do, and whether or not those costs are worth it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama takes Iowa

We stayed up last night with our baby and watched the Iowa Caucus results. I am very pleased that Obama won but I know it is still very early in the race and anything can happen. Baraks speech reinforced my belief that he is the candidate most knowledgeable of the change that is needed and the most committed to protect the middle class and strengthen our American democracy. Last night Obama was one of the only candidates that laid out what he plans to do with his presidency. (I thought Edward's gave a good speech too and has been very clear about his platform.

....We are choosing hope over fear. We're choosing unity over division,

You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don't own this government - we do. And we are here to take it back.

The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you, even when we disagree, who won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.

And in New Hampshire, if you give me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that president for America.

I'll be a president who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American, the same way I expanded health care in Illinois, by by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done. I'll be a president who ends the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans who deserve it.

I'll be a president who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.

And I'll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home who restores our moral standing, who understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century. Common threats of terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.

Tonight, we are one step closer to that vision of America because of what you did here in Iowa...

When you look GOP front runner, Huckabee, there is a sharp contrast. Huckabee's campaign is reminicent of George W. Bushes first run for office, with even less vision for change. Other than his passive agressive style, that some mistake as charm, Gov. Huckabee presents with few ideas and his only solid stances are that taxes are bad, Christmas is good, and Chuck Norris has a nice chin. Then he gave a speech that is completely fluff and devoid of any information about what needs to happen, other than him "going all the way". To the White House, not with Chuck.

Here are links to the transcripts of bothHuckabee and Obama speeches, if you would like to see the differences for yourself.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Adele with Mom

We kept the Christmas tree long enough so Adele could enjoy it too. She loved looking at the lights. I was thinking of the similarities between having a baby and college. I am up all night, sleeping until noon, minimal showering and shaving, running around getting people bottles, getting puked on, and falling in love all over again. Awwwww.

Obama grabs Iowa lead from Edwards

from Reuters
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama surged to a four-point lead over John Edwards in Iowa, with Hillary Clinton fading to third just hours before the first presidential nominating contest, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

Obama and Edwards gained ground overnight in the tracking poll, and Clinton fell four points to third place -- a finish that, if it held, would deal a dramatic setback to the one-time Democratic front-runner.

Obama was at 31 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers, Edwards at 27 percent and Clinton 24 percent. No other Democrat was in double digits.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Adele & Big Brother Sam

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sunrise '08

Took this from our window this mornig, the first dawn of the year. We had a lot of snow, at least six inces and have more coming. The baby is adjusting well and Sam is enjoying the weather, while I shovel.

All is quiet on New Year's Day.
A world in white gets underway.
I want to be with you, be with you night and day.
Nothing changes on New Year's Day.
On New Year's Day.

I... will be with you again.
I... will be with you again.

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it's true, it's true...
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one.

I... I will begin again
I... I will begin again.

Oh, oh. Oh, oh. Oh, oh.
Oh, maybe the time is right.
Oh, maybe tonight.
I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.

And so we are told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage
Though I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes
On New Year's Day
On New Year's Day
On New Year's Day