Gone Termite Fishing

  • A friend’s grandfather used to delight in making me use utensils with my right hand (I’m a lefty). If he were still with us, I’d probably never hear the end of this. (Photo from here.)
  • Wow. Who knew we even needed a “urine-powered paper battery”?
  • Tom Engelhardt has a good piece on what Cindy Sheehan is accomplishing:

    …However the media deals with her, she embodies every bind the administration is in. As with Iraq (as well as Iran), the administration can’t either make its will felt or sweep her off the landscape. Bush and his pfficials blinked at a moment when they would certainly have liked to whack her, fearing the power of the mother of a dead son from their war. And then, completely uncharacteristically, they vacillated and flip-flopped. They ignored her, then negotiated. They sent out their attack dogs to flail at her, then expressed sympathy. Officials, who have always known what to do before, had no idea what to do with Cindy Sheehan.

    The most powerful people in the world, they surely feel trapped and helpless. Somehow, she’s taken that magical presidential something out of Bush and cut him down to size. It’s been a remarkable performance so far…

  • Now, about that “magical presidential something”…
  • As Eric Alterman wrote, “Ooops, Sorry…” The Bush administration is lowering expectations of what can be accomplished in Iraq. That should go a long way toward answering the concerns of families like Cindy Sheehan’s. (If it’s any consolation, he feels really bad about all the deaths. But he has priorities: “…it’s important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.”)
  • Justice Sunday II, like so many sequels, didn’t generate quite the same buzz as the original. But we really have to admire the chutzpah of a party that keeps trotting the cherubic Tom DeLay out to religious fundraisers and morale boosters.
  • In fact, last week was a big one for DeLay and the other members of God’s Own Party. DeLay’s PAC was found to have broken election laws, his close associate Jack Abramoff was finally indicted, Ohio governor Bob Taft edged closer to an indictment of his very own, and it was revealed that the GOP has been paying the legal bills for the man who coordinated a suppress-the-Democratic-vote scheme in New England in 2002 (he was so effective that he went on to work for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign). These are dazzlingly tangled webs: Abramoff might have trouble striking a plea deal because of his far-reaching associations with an already-troubled White House. (DeLay has been trying to put some distance between Abramoff and himself, to comical effect.)
  • “This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight.” Or even “ever,” for that matter. However, it will provide billions in tax breaks to energy companies, and that is, after all, the important thing.
  • I agree with reader “Duff” in the comments below that Dems have no charismatic leader at present. But we’re starting to get some clear thinkers, and that gives me hope. (Now, for some real entertainment, read the comments from “trolls” at the end of that second Nation article. What is it with wingnuts and their CAP keys? Do they speak the way they write? Sign me, an “angry chiwawa.”)
  • While Bush considers opening yet another front, the Army has finally admitted that it won’t meet recruitment goals this year (despite the much bally-hooed announcement that it met its targets this month), and is so increasingly desperate that it has raised the maximum age for recruits; there is even a bill pending in the House of Representatives – the Military Readiness Enhancement Act – to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!”
  • A digression (but related) from the Department of ‘Says It All’: a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story detailed the tribulations facing military recruiters today, and included this gem:

    Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

    It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect’s mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

    “I want you to know we support you,” she gushed.

    Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

    “Military service isn’t for our son. It isn’t for our kind of people,” she told him…

  • At its national churchwide assembly last week, my own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, voted on several resolutions concerning the church’s treatment of gay and lesbian members and clergy. To the surprise of probably no one, the two key proposals — allowing ministers to bless gay/lesbian unions, and allowing gays and lesbians in committed (and, specifically, non-“chaste”) relationships to be ordained as clergy, fell far short of the 2/3 majority required to pass. There are those who see cause for hope in the nearly even 49%/51% vote split, and I might occasionally count myself among them. But I will also occasionally count myself among the disgusted. Tonight, for example. So let me steer you back to Father Jake’s more constructive thoughts. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if my co-blogger ‘abc’ has her own to add when she returns.)
  • 3 thoughts on “Gone Termite Fishing

    Add yours

    1. Regarding homosexuals in the military: isn’t it interesting that even SLDN is focusing its numbers strictly on gay men? I attended a debate on this in which a speaker who did extensive research on this topic discussed the congressional hearings on the don’t ask, don’t tell policy. As she put it, you could read the entire debate (which lasted several days, as I recall) and not see a single mention of lesbians. Conclusion? No problem with allowing lesbians to serve openly. There’s an equal protection argument against that (a good one, mind you), but it is interesting.

      I’d like to see the estimate for the number of lesbian women currently serving in the military, as compared to the total number of women. I would be surprised if the number isn’t significantly higher than 1.4%.

      Why doesn’t SLDN also think lifting the ban would increase the number of lesbians serving? It undoubtedly would. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to avoid the issue as homosexual women are more likely to “fly under the radar” in the military today. That said, as a percentage of the service (and maybe even overall) more women are kicked out of the military under the DADT policy than men. It is distinctly possible that the DADT policy, which is aimed primarily at men, actually hurts more in recruiting (and retaining) women.

      To be clear, I agree with the proposed legislation (and SLDN) that the ban should be lifted. I just found their statement only half (or less) of the story and [intentionally?] discriminatory.

    2. Interesting point, Duff. There is another version of the story here, in which one of the SLDN report authors addresses that, but I’m not sure how satisfactorily: Gates said it isn’t possible to measure the increase in the number of lesbians who would serve if the restrictive law were repealed.

      “The thing with lesbians is that even with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ they’re four times more likely to serve than straight women,” he said. “I have no way of estimating how many more [lesbians would serve] because their service rates are already so much higher than other women.” I’ve re-read it several times, and I still can’t quite get why they can’t estimate from there. Maybe I need to caffeinate…

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