Saturday, March 31, 2007

The hypocrisy of James Dobson, Newt Gingrich, and the Religious Right

James Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, supports Newt Gingrich for president. Dobson said that Gingrich was the “brightest guy out there” and “the most articulate politician on the scene today.”
(click on cartoon to enlarge ->)

Dobson, who heads "Focus on the Family" states in the very first sentence of the welcome on their website:

"If there's one word that sums up the essence of Focus on the Family, it is commitment."

Let's remember that Gingrich, the man Dobson supports for President, pressed his wife Jackie for a divorce while she was in the hospital for cancer surgery. According to L.H. Carter, his campaign treasurer, Newt said of Jackie: "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer."[7] Newt refused to pay alimony or child support.[8] (More on Newt's exemplary family values here).

That's Dobson's definition of family values and commitment? Newt also admitted cheating on his wife while pursuing Bill Clinton on impeachment charges for a sexual affair.

Gingrich calls foreign language: "the language of living in the ghetto":

"We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto" - Newt Gingrich
Nearly all foreign college students speak English fluently, along with a few other languages. Hmmm... I guess they must be from the ghetto. Funny how these students from the ghetto are academically out performing American students in fields like medicine, engineering, and computer science.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The hypocrisy and failure of GW Bush - FLASHBACK: Bush criticized Clinton for abusing and over extending the military, neglecting healthcare for vets

Consider the following 2000 campaign speech by GW Bush in light of the abuse of America's military, the lack of a plan and equipment in Iraq, and the Walter Reed scandal.

“The facts are stark and the facts are real. . . Our men and women in uniform love their country more than their comfort. They have never failed us, and we must not fail them. But the best intentions and the highest morale are undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, and rapidly declining readiness.”

". . .these are signs of a military in decline and we must do something about it. The reasons are clear. Lack of equipment and material. Undermaning of units. Overdeployment. Not enough time for family. Soldiers who are on food stamps, and soldiers who are poorly housed. Dick Cheney and I have a simple message today for our men and women in uniform, their parents, their loved ones, their supporters: Help is on the way!"

"A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."

"To build morale in today’s United States military we must keep faith with those who have worn the uniform in the past. We must keep faith with America’s veterans. . . And keeping faith also means giving our veterans first-rate health care and treating the veterans with dignity. . . So chaotic is the process there is now a backlog of nearly one half-million claims. This is no way to treat any citizen, much less a veteran of our armed forces. The veterans health-care system and the claims process will be modernized, so that claims are handled in a fair and friendly way."

"In my Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs will act as an advocate for veterans seeking benefit claims, not act as an adversary. Veterans who once stood in the line of fire to protect our freedom should not have to stand in the line of a bureaucracy that is unwilling to help them in their claims."
—George W. Bush VFW Speech - August 21, 2000

The sh*t hits the fan - Accountability Calls: Rice called to testify, Rove in hot water over Attorneygate, Abramoff scandals... and more!

The days of blowing off Congressional oversight may be over for the Bush Administration
Condoleezza Rice called to testify: The Bush administration has consistently refused requests for information from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) regarding the infamous 16 words in the State of the Union address about the Niger/Iraq uranium connection. Since the war began, Waxman has written 11 letters to Condoleezza Rice alone requesting information on how the fraudulent claim regarding the claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for a nuclear device became part of the basis for sending our country to war— she hasn’t responded to a single one. Now, Rice is being called to testify. From Waxman's letter:

"The March 12 letter requested a response by March 23 to several of the inquiries, but the Committee received no response from you. I now request your appearance before the Committee at a hearing on Wednesday, April 18, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building. At this hearing, you will be asked to provide testimony and respond to questions on the subjects outlined in the March 12 letter and the original request letters."
Karl Rove gets in on the fun too. He is implicated in three separate scandals... the noose is tightening around the neck of Rove:

  • ABRAMOFF SCANDAL - It appears the White House, Rove, and his staff are connected to the Abramoff scandal. Former Special Assistant to the President, Susan Ralston, has been called to appear for a deposition on Apr. 5th, as part of the Government Reform Committee's ongoing investigation into the connection between the White House and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ralston, who was a deputy to White House Adviser Karl Rove between 2001 and 2006, appeared frequently in emails collected in the case. The Committee found that Ralston had 69 contacts with Abramoff or his associates during that time.
  • ATTORNEYGATE - A top aide to President George W. Bush's key adviser Karl Rove will soon step down from her job in the White House. The aide, Sara M. Taylor, was identified in yesterday's hearing with a former top Justice Department official as seeking the resignation of a US Attorney in Arkansas. She could face a subpoena. Last week, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees authorized subpoenas of Scott Jennings, a deputy to Taylor, who is a top aide to Karl Rove.
  • VIOLATION OF HATCH ACT - House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is seeking information about slides targeting 20 Democratic-controlled Congressional districts for the 2008 Election. In January, the White House sent J. Scott Jennings, an aide to Karl Rove, to present a slide show to a group of employees of the General Services Administration. Waxman believes the presentation, and subsequent remarks made by GSA Director Lurita Alexis Doan may have violated the 'Hatch Act,' which prohibits federal employees from using their positions for political purposes. Doan is alleged to have suggested that she could use GSA contracts to help Republican Members of Congress hold their seats in the House.

It's about time these manipulative abusers of government power are dragged in front of Congress to account for their deeds. How many of you out there would like to see Karl Rove sweating in front of the Government Reform Committee? I would... it's long over due.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

MTSU Guitar Student Wins International Competition Prize

MTSU Guitar Student, Silviu Ciulei, has won the $2000 Second Prize in the Texas International Guitar Competition in Dallas on Saturday, March 24.

This competition is recognized as one of the the top guitar competitions in North America. The competition is open to guitarists of all ages and has brought competitors in from Uruguay, Brazil, Finland, Nicaragua, France, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and all parts of North America. Silviu, a Junior Guitar Performance Major, is just 21 years of age. He was the youngest guitarist in the competition. This prize is a major honor for him and is the largest cash award ever won by an MTSU guitar student in a competition.

Silviu played last week on WPLN's Live in Studio C. The performance will be available for listening through Monday March 26 (see below).

Hey folks, guitar is really happening at MTSU.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

5th Annual Tennessee Guitar Festival at MTSU
March 16-21 - All Concerts FREE

The biggest event of it's kind in the state - the Tennessee Guitar Festival begins this Friday at MTSU. There will be 5 consecutive nights of guitar concerts, all concerts free and open to the public. Concerts begin at 8:00 pm and are in MTSU's Hinton Music Hall. In addition, there will be 3 public masterclasses free and open to all. [Schedule here]

We are fortunate to be able to present these world class guitarists through grants from the Community Foundation of Middle TN, the D'Addario Foundation, and MTSU.

The next two consecutive Tuesday "Live in Studio C" programs on WPLN FM 90.3 will feature festival artists (11 am and 8 pm).

In addition to the usual excellent solo guitar concerts, look for some interesting stuff on opening night. William Yelverton will be performing on Renaissance lute and guitar and some duos with Deanna Hahn on flute. Roger Hudson will be performing with percussionist David Pruett - their duo 'Bella Musiqa.' Roger has become one of Nashville finest oud players. He'll be performing his own great stuff on guitar and some Turkish music on oud with David playing darbukkah (Arabic hand drum).

Saturday, Steve Robinson will be performing a solo guitar concert ... hailed by the NYT for his "effortless virtuosity with intelligence and good taste." (Man, how'd you like to have a quote like that!)

Sunday brings Mike Chapdelaine.... this will be definitely something different. (Mike has been known to perform on rollerskates) Chapdelaine is the only guitarist to win both the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition and the National Fingerstyle Championships in Winfield, Kansas. He’ll play a program with both steel string and classical guitar that’ll include his own works as well as arrangements of pop/rock standards.

Monday, Richard Todd will be performing. His program looks to be one of the most substantial of the festival. He'll be doing the entire Bach D minor violin partita (including the infamous Chaconne). He's such a flawless player, it should be great.

Tuesday, Mike Patilla will be playing a great program of both European classical stuff and South American Music.

If you like solo/classical guitar music, if you're looking for a cheap date (everything is free) and if you happen to be a guitar player looking to be inspired by some great players, please come. All concerts start at 8 pm. If you're a high school guitarist looking to possibly major in music in college, this festival and the masterclasses are strongly recommended!!

It's only once a year, so come on over. See you there...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Road to Impeachment

AOL Poll:
Should the House conduct a Bush-Cheney impeachment probe?

Yes 64%
No 36%
Total Votes: 107,019 Vote
(unscientific web poll but congruent with recent Bush approval polls - CBS 29%, Zogby 30%, Newsweek 31%)
  • Congressional hearings on Plamegate coming up next week.
  • Congressional hearings on politically motivated firings of 8 federal prosecutors
  • The Justice Department Inspector General has just issued a report saying the FBI has violated the Patriot Act and illegally obtained phone and financial records without a court order.
  • Impeachment resolutions introduced in state legislatures; cities across the USA vote to Impeach Bush - VT WA IL CA NM MN
Considering all of the above, the Libby conviction, the Walter Reed scandal, and Iraq Iraq Iraq - an Impeachment probe is the next logical step - it is what America wants ... unlike when Clinton was impeached with an approval rating of 73%.

Iraq 'surge' Commander Gen. Petraeus: "No military solution..."
Iran begins to take political control of Iraq

The Iraq Study Group said it, John Kerry said it, Chuck Hagel said it, John Murtha said it .... now the leader of the "new Iraq surge strategy", General Petraeus has said it, "There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq." Yet our leaders continue to send our young people to die.

In the madness of King George and his neocons worshippers, the main goal is to save face for a failed plan. So they desperately throw American lives and money at the problem instead of doing what Gen. Petraeus and every thinking person has stated from the beginning, pushing a political solution with Iraqis and countries in the region. But, in the words of cowboy diplomats, 'ya can't negotiate wid dem terrists'.

Iran understands this and now they are quietly taking control of Iraq through political means.

The Bush failure in Iraq is multifaceted. This is the price we pay for cowboy diplomacy. More than 3 US soldiers have been dying everyday, 24 killed the first week of March.

Sending Little Girls to Die

In this photo we see Cpl. Jennifer Parcell, a pretty and petite 20 year old from Bel Air, Maryland. Gosh, she looks so young - she could be 14. She was killed in Iraq by a bomber on February 7.

Does it bother you that our leaders who refused to serve in combat are sending little girls to fight and die in Iraq without proper equipment, support and a plan?

It bothers me, a lot.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Libby convicted, gov't investigated for politically purging prosecutors and veteran neglect, more death in Iraq ... just another day under Bush/Cheney

What can you say about:
Utterly repugnant is a description that comes to mind.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Creationism/Intelligent Design hoax persists, why?
Our culture: Scientifically illiterate Americans embrace psuedoscience - National Science Board

Debating whether religious concepts should be taught in science class has become a political issue in TN ... again. A TN Senator has proposed a resolution that seeks an examination of this issue by the TN Department of Education. Why do these things keep happening? Haven't we learned anything since 1925? Apparently not. This is a familiar matter of religious beliefs and agenda attempting to break into secular education - aided by a culture that embraces religion and psuedoscience.

Even the Vatican's chief astronomer says 'Intelligent Design is not science'. Enough already! Do I have a problem with people's religious beliefs? No, when it's not forced on me or others. But I do have a problem with children being taught that the world is 6000 years old.

Polls clearly show most Americans believe humans were created directly by God in the present form. Are we surprised!? This relates to two independent factors: America is a religious culture, and... Americans are also scientifically illiterate and embrace psuedoscience, according to a report by the National Science Board. A portion of this report found [here] on the government's National Science Foundation website, deals with public scientific literacy. Some quotes from the report:
"In addition, belief in pseudoscience (an indicator of scientific illiteracy) seems to be widespread among Americans....Studies also suggest that not many Americans are technologically illiterate... Researchers have concluded that fewer than one-fifth of Americans meet a minimal standard of civic scientific literacy ... it is possible to conclude that most Americans (two-thirds in 2001) do not have a firm grasp of what is meant by the scientific process. This lack of understanding may explain why a substantial portion of the population believes in various forms of pseudoscience. "
It is clear that the concepts of evolutionary biology are clearly not within the grasp of most Americans. The National Science Board says that it is important for basic scientific literacy to be better able to"participate in public discourse on science-related issues." However, most Americans believe the dinosaurs and humans coexisted, most do not know that electrons are smaller than molecules, and barely half know that it takes one year for the earth to orbit the sun. 70% of college aged adults (18-24) could not find New Jersey on a US map, 87% could not find Iraq on a world map. Take into account, these are national polls, the scores for ... say, east Tennessee - I dare say would be much lower.

So, as one conservative TN blogger suggested, East Tennessee Republican Senator Raymond Finney should trust the judgement of his constituents on the merits of teaching creationism/ID along side evolution in schools. Consider this in light of the fact that TN remains near the bottom in academic achievement nationwide. Should Sen. Finney also try and legislate his constituents' views on future initiatives of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, or NASA?

Lack of scientific literacy and religiosity are independent factors, but religion trumps all. Sen. Finney is a highly educated man. What would cause him to promote such psuedoscience? Answer: religion. Perhaps religious people see the teaching of human evolution as contradictory to their religion. As an example of their defensiveness and mindset, you can see numerous examples of religious fundamentalists falling all over themselves to discredit Sunday's Discovery Channel documentary on the finding of the Jesus Family Tomb - well before the airing of the program. Endeavoring to explore this mindset, I submitted a comment to a conservative fundamentalist blogger, Mark Rose on the subject of his post attacking the Discovery documentary:
"The very nature of religion doesn't allow for unbiased historical research and critical thinking as presented in this documentary under discussion. Those indoctrinated will never believe otherwise no matter how compelling the facts and evidence. How could they, many have based their lives on these beliefs."
His eloquent response:
"I plead guilty. I have been saturated by the teachings of Jesus Christ and will forever be 'tainted' by those beliefs. Christ represents the undeniable truth through which I endeavor to filter everything."
It is clear that you can not argue with this position, and that we all must respect his right to believe it. The problem is not the belief, the problem is 'the evangelical commission' to push Creationism/ID into these inappropriate venues: school science education, politics, and law. Such an effort in the 10 Commandments Case in Rutherford County, cost the county taxpayers $50,000 (to settled the ACLU suit). Teaching the story of the creation of the earth based on ancient scrolls, written during a time when many believed the earth was flat, does not seem to represent sound science appropriate to a school science class ... in my humble opinion, but I'll save that discussion for another post. (BTW - Jesus Tomb skeptics have been debunked).

Check out this funny cartoon (that sums up the Republican War on Science).

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Bush approval polls: DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
Iraq poll: it's a lost cause

Bush Approval Rating Polls:
New York Times/CBS News Poll - 29% approval
Newsweek Poll - 31% approval

  • Iraq war - lost cause: only 23% approve
  • Bush loses substantial support among Republicans
NYT: Bush has lost substantial support among members of his own party, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. Mr. Bush’s approval rating dropped 13 percentage points since last fall among Republicans, 65 percent of whom now say they approve of the way he is handling his job as president, compared with 78 percent last October. Over all, Mr. Bush’s job approval remains at one of its lowest points, with 29 percent of all Americans saying they approve of the way he is doing his job, compared with 34 percent at the end of October. Sixty-one percent disapproved, compared with 58 percent in October, within the margin of sampling error.

Twenty-three percent of those polled approved of the way Mr. Bush is dealing with the situation in Iraq. Twenty-five percent approved of his handling of foreign policy. Even the president’s campaign against terrorism, long his signature issue, is seen positively by only 40 percent of those polled, while 53 percent disapprove.

Three-quarters of those polled say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq, and only 23 percent say the efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq are going well. Seventy percent, including 52 percent of Republicans, say there is not much the United States military can do to reduce the sectarian fighting in Iraq. Over all, 23 percent of the public say the country is going in the right direction and 68 percent see it as “on the wrong track.”

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Weather geek software - severe weather update

For fellow weather geeks, check out this software - GRlevel3.
It's basically takes NWS radar and allows you to add geographic info to your selected maps and gives the user the capability to zoom in - right to the street level like those fancy Vipir systems used on TV. Not quite as sophisticated but it's only about $70. It shows a host of info like storm attributes (hail size, shear/rotation), storm relative velocity, storm rain, cell tops and a whole host of other good stuff.

Here's a screen shot of GRlevel3 radar taken at 11:19 am from Columbus AFB, MS.
Notice that there was a TVS indicated - tornado vortex signature with this thunderstorm complex moving into Middle TN. The TVS has not remained constant but there is strong rotation (a meso) indicated at the tail end of this complex on the MS/AL border (as of 11:51 am - click on pic to enlarge)

March comes in like a Lion - Severe Weather Day in TN - AL - MS

Yea, I'm a weather nut. March is coming in like a lion. Don't ya love it?
It's relatively rare that the Storm Prediction Center issues a convective outlook that shows a 'High Risk' area of severe weather. The following map and forecast will be updated again later this Thursday morning. Here's the cut and paste from the SPC:

Middle Tennessee is considered to be at moderate risk, enough so that the NWS in Nashville has issued this forecast:
The first wave of storms will be coming into Nashville around 3 am Thurs and may provide a rude awakening. Severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued for a few counties. There is some shear present but no tornados now in the wee hours. (occasional 3-D Correlated Shear but no Supercell Mesos ... yet). I'm guessing the Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Middle TN til 8 am Thurs might be upgraded to a Tornado Watch at some point.
Stay tuned.

*UPDATE* Tornado Watch number 44
NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK
730 am CST Thu Mar 1 2007
The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a
Tornado Watch [for the Middle TN Area]

Damn weather radio - I never sleep.