Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dubya's Rose Colored Glasses


This by Mike Litwinn in this morning's Rocky Mountain News provides a good read with regard to what has come to be called "Bush's Bubble" within which he has sought solace from the reality of the world. The piece reads, in part:

You knew it was a select crowd not only because of the $1,000-a-plate price tag for the Marilyn Musgrave fundraiser - and, for the record, she was not wearing a pink skirt.

No, this was the real giveaway: Many people in the audience - for all I know, all of them - apparently still believe George W. Bush knows what he's doing in Iraq.


I know, it sounds crazy. But I was there to see it myself.

And,

And then there's the nearly 100 percent dissent-free world in which Bush travels. It is Dan Froomkin of WashingtonPost.com who calls this world Bush's bubble - one in which there's almost no possibility of Bush ever hearing a discouraging word.

Bush's post-Thanksgiving-weekend schedule, Froomkin notes, includes speeches at the U.S. Border Patrol office, an Air Force base, the Naval Academy, two Republican fundraisers and one Republican donor reception.

In other words, he's going no place where he might bump into either, say, John Murtha or the Denver Three.

(Picture above from Rocky Mountain News - David Zalubowski@AP)

Dumb and Dumber


I've been fighting the mother of all colds since I returned from Oklahoma (Oklahoma's revenge) and haven't felt much like posting. But, I couldn't pass this one up.

You, of course, recognize our great leader who dropped by Denver yesterday to boost the reelection campaign of Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado's 4th District Congresswoman who, in a prior post, I've described as:

Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado’s Fourth District Congresswoman, believes – as quoted in the Denver Post – that “…Some of the things in the culture wars are not easily understood, but people get this one. And they feel very strongly about it.”

What Rep. Musgrave sees as the latest battle in her “…culture wars…” is gay marriage. She explains in the Washington Times that, “Marriage and family are the most important institutions in existence. Unfortunately, they have come under attack. The traditional values Americans hold are being traded for counterfeit marital unions.” She went on to say, “It is important to secure this institution and protect it from distortion.” To this end, Musgrave has cosponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment which would amend the Constitution of the United States with a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The amendment would further provide that issues with regard to marital benefits would be left to state legislatures and not courts.

Institutions are, of course, fundamental components of a culture. But, then, the American dream, the American promise provides a place for and tolerance of cultural differences. The key to the strength and resiliency of the American republic resides in its ability to embrace, indeed to celebrate the differences amongst us all.

The American experience is, however, littered with the ignoble attempts of the self-righteous to impose upon us all cultural values that belie the essential promise of this nation which is the respect and protection of each person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But, then, we all know that. Or, do we?

I believe what concerns me most about Rep. Musgrave’s stance is that multiculturalism in America is apparently not something she celebrates but, rather, something she battles via her culture wars. One need not delve very deeply into Rep. Musgrave’s comments to understand that this small town champion of conservative Christian values has little tolerance for most other facets of multiculturalism – quite aside from gay marriage. She is a product of small town America where open highways over flat plains seem to lead ultimately, inevitably to an insularism not only of the mind but of the soul as well.

The fundraising for this ignoble nitwit took place in a room in the Comfort Inn directly across the street from Denver's Brown Palace Hotel (Yes, Unsinkable Molly's husband built it). Attendees paid $1,000 per plate for lunch and $5,000 if they wanted to have their picture taken with Dubya.

Those attendees were certainly Dubya's base. How many of us could pay a thousand bucks for lunch? I'm reminded of Dubya's words before another fundraiser: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves -- and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."

(The above picture is from the Rocky Mountain News - Mandel Ngan@Getty Images.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Back from Oklahoma City


Hi. I'm back from my four days in Oklahoma City. I flew in from Denver, my little sister and her two precious babies, Jack and Kate flew in from Rutherford, New Jersey, and my Aunt Blanche (who is 88) flew in from San Francisco because--it had been reported to us--that my Uncle Murlan, who will be 91 in January, was ready to bite the big one; on his last legs and infested with Alzheimer's.

First of all, let me say that in spite of Uncle Murlan's age, physical maladies and the slight stroke that has affected his speech somewhat, he appeared to be in good shape. His color is good, his mind is good (his memory is exceptional) and he--at least, while we were there--showed no signs of dementia.

Curiously, my cousin Bobby told me that he and his brother Mike had, not so long ago, purchased a fifth of bourbon for Murlan to consume at his leisure. Well, uncle Murlan--loving bourbon as he does and did throughout his adulthood--downed the fifth fairly quickly (no mixer) and, as a consequence became the mean drunk that appears to run in the family (except for me--I just get sleepy or horny) and Uncle Murlan--drunk as a skunk at 90 years old--identified his son, Mike, as an enemy of George W. Bush's America and vociferously demanded he leave the premises. Well, cousin Bobby and Mike, got Uncle Murlan in his pjs, put him to bed and listened for almost an hour to Murlan's raving that he was being held against his will and please, please, wouldn't somebody help him escape the confinement. Suffice it to say, cousin Bobby has decided that Uncle Murlan will no longer be allowed the sublime pleasure of another fifth of bourbon.

All in all, the trip was okay. More on this later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Off to Oklahoma


I'll be leaving tomorrow morning for Oklahoma City and will return on Monday. Sweet Melissa will be in charge while I'm gone.

And, no, one doesn't just go to Oklahoma City for the fun of it. It ain't fun. But, my paternal uncle turned 90 recently and, well, I do think it's better to let them know they're thought of, prayed for, remembered while they're still with us rather than once they're gone.

My little sister, Michelle, and her two precious babies Jack and Kate will fly in from New Jersey and my favorite aunt, Blanche, will be coming in from San Francisco. Blanche is 87 or 88 herself, but maintains the energy level of a forty year old who has never tired of the fascination of this world. Indeed, Blanche is one of the co-founders of the International Federation of Women's Travel Organizations.

Suffice it to say, it will be great to see the family, but Oklahoma... Well, let me just provide a portion of a short story I wrote some time ago that deals with my stint in the U.S. Army.

After Basic Combat Training at Polk, I headed for a short stay at a base out in the hell-hot Northeastern Texas scrub. The base was so close to Oklahoma that it might as well have been in Oklahoma.

It was on this base in Texas that one of my fellow soldiers -- who happened to be a Texan... born and bred-- was so distressed at being that close to Oklahoma that everything that bothered him about the Army was not the Army fault, but the fault of that, "Goddamned, tes-tic-u-lar, red-dirted, pile-of-shit-- I can fuckin smell it man!-- OK state with its hardon hangin over Amarillo." I wasn't really sure what he was talking about until I took a look at a map of the United States. "Yessir," he would continue, "when an evil Texan dies he don't go to hell. No sir, the Good Lord sends that bad boy straight to Oklahoma!"

And, that pretty much sums up my feelings about Oklahoma.

(But, I'm taking a travelling bottle of Wild Turkey 101 with me to ease the pain!)

See you, Monday.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One of the Reasons Dubya Sits at 36% Approval

I'm sorry, but I just love this little ditty from our great leader. Thanks to DubyaSpeak which I've added to my links.

Monday, November 14, 2005

To Bill O'Reilly - Get Outa Denver, Chump!

Clear Channel's premiere talk radio station in Denver, KHOW, has booted Bill O'Reilly off the air in this city. They've replaced him with Glenn Beck out of Philadelphia. Beck is, alas, another conservative commentator, but it appears as though he is a reasonable man who actually attempts to look at both sides of issues.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Intelligent Design - Fool Me Once...

"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once -- shame on -- shame on you. You fool me, you can't get fooled again."

George W. Bush, September 17, 2002
(Just thought this bit of wisdom from our leader was appropriate here.)

Listen to audio.

I have been thinking a bit about the Intelligent Design (ID) imbroglio after noting that Pope Benedict XVI quoted a fourth century saint, Basil the Great, to support his remarks. What the Pope said was that the universe was created by an "...intelligent project..." The Pope went on to quote St. Basil the Great (via Live Science): ",,,saying some people, 'fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance.'

"'How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it's scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order,'' he said.

"With the sacred Scripture, the Lord awakens the reason that sleeps and tells us: In the beginning, there was the creative word. In the beginning, the creative word -- this word that created everything and created this intelligent project that is the cosmos -- is also love.''

I suspect there are a whole lot of scientists who believe profoundly in Darwin's THEORY of evolution and who are NOT atheists, as the Pope apparently believes. However, I suspect those same scientists (whatever their religious beliefs may be) do not believe Intelligent Design belongs in public school classrooms--even in Topeka.

Intelligent Design is religion. If the Pope quotes a fourth century saint to support his argument then, yes, there's a wee bit of a suggestion that ID harks from that thing we call blind faith which is the fundamental component of religion, all religions. That's fine. Preach ID from the pulpit; holy roll it and speak it in tongues; let Pat Robertson, once again, make himself look foolish (maybe a bit of demetia setting in) when he pontificates on the subject. This is all okay. But, keep it out of the schools. It's religion.

An excellent article in Live Science reports that: In an August interview with National Public Radio, Republican Senator and ID supporter Rick Santorum stated exactly what he believed those implications were for evolution. Asked why he, a politician, felt compelled to weigh in on what was essentially a scientific debate, Santorum replied:

"It has huge consequences for society. It's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us."

By adding morality to the equation, Santorum is giving the scientific theory of evolution a religious message, one that does not come on its own, said Kenneth Miller, a biologist at the University of Colorado.Like Santorum, Miller is a devout Roman Catholic, but he believes evolution can only explain how life arose and how it diversified. Why there is life at all is another question entirely, one that Miller believes is outside the realm of science.

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, expressed a similar sentiment. "The questions of purpose are not part of science," Krauss said. "How you interpret the results of science is up to you, and it's based on your theological and philosophical inclinations."

Indeed!

Another
article in Live Science provides an excellent explication of why Intelligent Design (ID) is NOT science. The article takes pains to provide both sides of this issue and focus on two principles which are key to the argument: irreducible complexity and specified complexity. If you have the time and want to understand the meat of this issue, you really ought take a look.

Finally, Live Science provides the following conclusion:
After examining ID's two main arguments, the answers to the original questions--what does ID offer? And what can ID explain that evolution can't?--is not much and nothing, leading scientists say.

"The most basic problem [with ID] is that it's utterly boring," said William Provine, a science historian at Cornell University in New York. "Everything that's complicated or interesting about biology has a very simple explanation: ID did it."

Evolution was and still is the only scientific theory for life that can explain how we get complexity from simplicity and diversity from uniformity.

ID offers nothing comparable. It begins with complexity--a Supreme Being--and also ends there. The explanations offered by ID are not really explanations at all, scientists say. They're more like last resorts. And, scientists argue, there is a danger in pretending that ID belongs next to evolution in textbooks.

"It doesn't add anything to science to introduce the idea that God did it," Provine told LiveScience. Intelligent design "would become the death of science if it became a part of science."


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Colorado's Senator Wayne Allard - Flatlander Extraordinaire

One of Colorado's U.S. Senators, Wayne Allard, once again shamed us (Coloradans) in the United States Senate this week. Firstly: This Bush boot-licker was one of only nine senators to oppose the McCain amendment to the defense budget bill that would mandate in no uncertain terms that the United States will not torture prisoners of war. Allard--once again, one of only nine senators--voted against the amendment. Secondly: This flatlander dullard reintroduced his Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S. Senate, clearly in an effort to divert attention from the disintegration of the Bush administration.

This morning's Rocky Mountain News includes an excellent piece by columnist Bill Johnson on the shameful and embarrassing behavior of this ignoble politician.

P.S. Flatlanders are those, usually from rural, flat land areas of the country, who, indeed, believe the world is flat; that Dubya is doin' a fine job; and that gay men and lesbians have never worn a uniform and died in defense of their country. Additionally, flatlanders believe in intelligent design, as the good folks in Topeka have made abundantly clear.

France Burns

AlterNet, this morning, provided this excellent explication of what's going on in France with non-white disaffected youth who, as Fracois Mitterrand--Socialist President of France at the time--noted in 1990:

"What hope does a young person have who's been born in a quartier without a soul, who lives in an unspeakably ugly high-rise, surrounded by more ugliness, imprisoned by gray walls in a gray wasteland and condemned to a gray life, with all around a society that prefers to look away until it's time to get mad, time to FORBID."

Whatever efforts Mitterrand made to address the "gray" lives of these forgotten people failed.

This is a good read and does quite succinctly describe what's going on in France today.

Monday, November 07, 2005

O Holy Cow!

Ain't religion wonderful! The following came from this morning's Rocky Mountain News. (I don't eat red meat. Not because of any religious mandate against the practice but, simply because--I guess I must admit--I like cows. Period.) I guess the following story didn't really surprise me. Looking around the world, including here in our own great country, the only thing that comes to mind is, ain't religion wonderful!

Village attacked after rumors of cow killings

LUCKNOW -- A Hindu mob attacked a Muslim village in northern India, torching homes and killing three people after hearing rumors that cows, considered holy by Hindus, were slaughtered for Islamic celebrations, police said Sunday.

Hindus from neighboring areas attacked Mehndipur village in the northern Uttar Pradesh state on Saturday night and set fire to dozens of houses after being told villagers had killed the cows for a feast to mark Eid-al-Kitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the day before, said S.B. Shirodkar, a local police chief.

He said a police investigation revealed that no cow had been slaughtered in the village.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Burnt Buddha Through the Looking Glass

West Highlands


West Highlands, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

One of the beautiful homes in our Northwest Denver neighboorhood this morning.

Deeds of Maniacal Insanity - Men Become Beasts



Okay. Now I understand.

I posted recently on Denver’s passage of an citizen-initiated ballot measure that decriminalizes the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The measure passed, by 53% of the vote.

Today, perhaps ironically, the Rocky Mountain News reported that the first arrest in the United States on a charge related to marijuana possession occurred in Denver on October 2nd, 1937. The News story reports that: “On Oct. 2, 1937, in the somewhat shady Lexington Apartments at 1200 California St. in Denver, Samuel R. Caldwell became the first person in the United States to be arrested on a marijuana charge. Caldwell, a 58-year-old unemployed laborer moonlighting as a dealer, was nailed by the FBI and Denver police for peddling two marijuana cigarettes to one Moses Baca, 26."

“If you're wondering why it took the U.S. government so long to bust a pot dealer, it's because until the Marijuana Stamp Act was passed - on you guessed it, Oct. 2, 1937 - cannabis wasn't illegal. Certainly, it had been vilified in newspapers with headlines such as ‘Murder Weed Found Up and Down Coast: Deadly Marijuana Plant Ready for Harvest That Means Enslavement of California Children.’”

The News story went on to report that: “Harry J. Anslinger, for example, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was a vociferous foe of cannabis. In his book, Assassin of Youth, he labeled marijuana ‘dangerous as a coiled rattlesnake,’ and anguished, ‘How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries, and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can be only conjectured.’

“Indeed. Texas cops insisted that because it fueled a "lust for blood" and imbued its imbibers with ‘superhuman strength,’ pot was the catalyst for unspeakably violent crimes.”
The News story reported the sentencing judge’s remarks: "’I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics, far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine,’ thundered Symes from the bench. ‘Under its influence, men become beasts…’”

So, now I understand.

The first picture, above, shows Samuel R. Caldwell prior to smoking that doobie; the second picture shows him after finishing that doobie.

Oh, the humanity!

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Profile


A Profile, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Friday's Sweet Melissa greeting.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pot Passes - Hickenlooper Poo Poos the Vote


Someone obviously let this dog smoke a joint!

I can count on one hand the times I've smoked a little weed. It really irritates my sinuses which may be more of a Catholic guilt thing instilled in me by my mother rather than a real physical reaction. Mother was the last of the big time prohibitionists, placing marijuana just a wee bit higher on the mortal sin ladder than alcohol. My father was a cop and, though he enjoyed his booze (never within the presence of my mother), his passion in enforcing the law against drug use was rabid.

My parents have passed on (is there weed in heaven?), but I do wonder what their reaction would have been this morning after reading the newspaper and discovering that Denver voters passed an "Initiated question" (that means folks walked the streets and hung out at Safeway getting signatures on a petition) to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana? The Denver Post reported thusly.

I suspect my mother would have wondered what the world is coming to. My father, who had mellowed immensely before he passed, probably would have shrugged his shoulders with the understanding that the only constant in life is change.

Our Mayor, John Hickenlooper, who became a millionaire brewing and selling beer, booze and bar food, devalued the vote as something just "...generational..." and "...symbolic..." Federal and state laws still prohibit the possession of marijuana. Politicos have been quick--their backs stiff with the righteousness of it all--to declare federal and state law will be enforced in spite of the Denver vote.

Gotta wonder, though, how many folks have stumbled out of one of Hickenlooper's bars and have climbed behind the wheel of car and, well... You know where I'm going with this.

Oh, well... Why do I care? The stuff bothers my sinuses.