Healers or tormentors?

Like so many who are willing to take advantage of this “great information highway,” I have known about the practice of “rendering” for years - long before the MSM even got a whiff of it.

“Rendering” is the CIA’s practice of moving prisoners (read: suspected terrorists) to “black sites,” prisons in countries which have no laws restricting the use of torture.

That’s why this note from a friend, "the goddess Athena," fired my curiosity:

“Some strangeness happened within the field of psychology last week. There was a big APA conference, and the topic was a task force report on psychologists' involvement in the rendition and interrogation of detainees held in CIA black sites around the globe. The task force was on whether psychologists should be participating in torture. It created a big uproar and debate among psychologists and a protest. Did you hear about it? The crazy thing was that the task force was made up of nine psychologists, and six of them were from the Department of Defense! Well, you can guess that the task force concluded that it is OK for psychologists to participate in interrogations. Go figure.”

“Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman’s column, “Psychologists in denial about torture,” 22 August 2007, (LINK) gives an excellent recap of the "uproar" within the American Psychological Association (APA).

The rift? Goodman writes:

“Defenders of the APA's position are clear: psychologists need to be present at the interrogations to protect the prisoners, to ensure that the interrogators do not go over the line.

“Critics argue that psychologists are there to help interrogators push the line further and further, to consult with the interrogators on how best to break the prisoners.”

The 148,000-member APA “rejected a moratorium that would have prevented its member psychologists from participating in interrogations at U.S. detention centers at such places as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and secret CIA ‘black sites’ around the world.”

The ACLU’s Anthony Romero had warned the APA: "We have found troubling evidence of the collusion of medical psychologists in the development and implementation of procedures intended to inflict psychological harm on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities."

Ms. Goodman concludes her column using Romero’s final plea to the APA:

"The history of torture is inexorably linked to the misuse of scientific and medical knowledge. As we move fully into the 21st Century, it is no longer enough to denounce or to speak out against torture; rather, we must sever the connection between healers and tormentors once and for all. As guardians of the mind, psychologists are duty bound to promote the humane treatment of all people."

How does it go? "First, do no harm ..."


Practice what you preach

“Beat the Press” is a new feature on MSNBC’s 9 p.m. ET slot with Dan Abrams – a segment he calls “our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.”

Here’s a taste (LINK):

“PBS‘s Bill Moyers and FOX News anchor Chris Wallace are going at it after Moyers attacked Wallace over an interview with Karl Rove.

“At issue, Moyers' suggestion that Rove is an agnostic who manipulated the Christian right for political gain. Wallace responded on his show:

WALLACE: “If you (Moyers) had talked to Rove, as I did, you would have found out he reads a devotional every day, and the biggest charitable contribution he ever made was to his church. Of course, you never called Rove. That‘s reporting 101.”

ABRAMS: “That is reporting 101, fair enough. Reporting 102, though, suggests you don‘t necessarily accept everything that Karl Rove or any other political figure tells you at face value.”


Last night in this new segment, Abrams suggested the reporters for Rupert Murdoch’s new Fox business channel might want to get copies of “Finance for Dummies.”

I have seen CNN’s “God’s Warriors,” a three-part documentary, many times now, having taped it both for myself and a friend.

After seeing his ridiculously biased segment Monday night (LINK) on this outstanding six-hour documentary, I think Abrams should pick up a copy of “Objectivity for Dummies.”


A second post follows.

Changing times

If your baby just turned 40, you will remember the lethal odor of the diaper pail and rinsing out dirty diapers by hand before washing and hanging them on the clothesline.

One milestone of women’s lib was the advent of disposable diapers.

Now, there’s a lot of talk in the news about “diaperless babies.” The idea is to leave the diaper off the baby, observe facial grimaces and listen for grunts, then take the wee one to the toity.

Apparently, all this is to prevent diaper rash. And, save money on those expensive throwaways. And, maybe save a few trees in the process.

Doctors say until babies reach a certain age they have no control over the muscles which make all this necessary, and the mother would have to be on guard 24/7.

Who thinks this stuff up? Diaper rash is easily prevented by changing the baby often. Caldesene baby powder, if it’s still around, keeps bottoms dry and rash-free.

I have a great idea for saving money and trees – cloth diapers.

When they make a comeback, here’s a trick for today’s modern mom: running the diaper pins through your hair makes them go through the cloth easily.

The things your mother could teach you!


Outing the sex police

I am no Dr. Ruth, but it’s apparent to me that sexual, cultural and religious suppression forces latent passions to come out, so to speak.

Les liaisons dangereuses have long enhanced history and fiction. Tales of randy dandies and femme fatales with voracious sexual appetites abound in history and literature – even in the Holy Bible.

Sex has been around since the Garden of Eden, where God blessed it for pleasure and companionship as well as procreation.

Lust has long been with us, as has hypocrisy. I have a problem with the latter.

To engage in dalliances that are nobody’s business is one thing, but to condemn others openly while hiding one’s own sexual exploits is another.

The list continues to grow of persons who, on the one hand, claim to be keepers of “moral values” while indulging in, to quote Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, “loo-ewd and lascivious” conduct.

The tote board is heavy on the side of the morality arbiters of the right-wing.

Sex sells. Cable news knows what appeals to prurient interests – whether peddling the latest sex scandal or exposing sexual predators.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, in my opinion, has a perverted obsession with all things outside what he deems the sexual “norm” - falafel fetish notwithstanding.

When public figures such as evangelists and politicians get caught practicing what they so loudly preach against, well, that’s one thing.

To enjoy a little healthy canoodling sans hypocrisy is another.


Flotsam and jetsam

“After months of unfair treatment that has created harmful - a harmful distraction at the Justice Department, Judge Gonzales decided to resign his position, and I accept his decision.”


"It's sad we live in a time when a talented, honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeding (sic) from doing important work because his name has been dragged through the mud for political reasons.”


dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot

Skipper here, sir, she’s sinking fast.

Have you ever heard of C-SPAN? Might surprise you to know that some Americans actually stay on top of what’s going on in your White House.

The “harmful distraction” at the Justice Department, according to testimony, seems to have come from Gonzales himself – for, in your words, “political reasons.”

Stop blaming the Democrats for the imcompetence and deceit of your administration. They are doing their job. Republicans failed this nation when they didn’t hold you accountable.

No more B.S. We have had enough! Better prepare, sir.

Oh, and that’s not mud. That’s sand. One by one, the beached flotsam and jetsam – washing ashore after jumping or being thrown overboard from this sinking ship of your failed administration.

Swim for the shore, Mr. Gonzales! Don’t look back! That’s not a shark behind you, that’s Cheney.

Stop shifting the deck chairs, Mr. President, it’s time to go.

Fasten your life jacket, matey, and tell me quick, is that “mission accomplished” banner across the bow your legacy – or is it a mirage?


During the Miss Teen USA Pageant Friday night, Miss Teen South Carolina, 18-year-old Lauren Caitlin Upton, was asked what the judge called a “thought-provking” final question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

The apparent crème de la crème of South Carolina’s education system answered:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and that I believe that our education, such as in South Africa and Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should - our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.” LINK

At least she didn’t say her platform was to promote “whirled peas.”

Miss Upton was third runner-up to winner Miss Teen Colorado, Hilary Carol Cruz.


Humor heals

What is it in the makeup of a man who would kidnap, rape and bury a little girl alive?

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”

In the press conference following John Couey’s death sentence, Jessica Lunsford’s father, Mark Lunsford, made an impassioned statement.

Throughout the judge’s explicit recounting of the horror and Lunsford’s choked back tears, everyone held a collective breath.

Then, a reporter asked Lunsford: “Mark, it's the question a lot of us think at home, who are watching this around the country, and are afraid to ask, but I’ve got to ask it. You're sitting 20 feet away from the man who savagely murdered your daughter, how do you hold yourself up?

LUNSFORD: “I get between an FBI agent and a detective.”

There was laughter, and everyone released their breath in the light moment.

The human spirit is an amazing thing, isn’t it?

Mayhem and mirth

“Mayhem Moments” in the morning news was the subject of Mike Nizza’s “The Lede” blog on 16 August 2007 (New York Times).

Earthquake in Peru. Flooding in North Korea. Tropical depression in Texas. Hurricane in the Caribbean. U.S. stocks set for heavy losses. Deaths in Mosul, Iraq. Trapped miners in Utah.

Make you want to go back to bed and pull your security blanket over your head!

Comments left by visitors are often better than the blog author’s efforts. To-wit:

“If you think this is mayhem, just wait a few more weeks.

“I predict a global economic crisis. Fuel prices will rise to $14 a gallon. An explosion in Iraq that will kill 10,000. Karl Rove will announce he is running for president. Hillary Clinton will scratch Obama’s eyes out with her fingernails. Bush will survive a falling tree at the ranch. 9/11 will be revealed as an inside job. Florida will submerge all the way to Apalachicola. O.J. Simson will do it again. And, Don Imus will be chosen head of the FCC.

“Of course, I could be wrong. ”

- Posted by Jason Wolffe

“Where’s Pat Robertson when we need him to tell us that some great big invisible paternal figure who lives in the sky, who created the entire universe, has nothing better to do than to exact retribution on his children by orchestrating the confluence of these horrific events?

“The pasty, Bible-wielding manics, driving gas-guzzling SUVs with a lead-painted, Chinese-made ‘Support Our Troops’ yellow ribbon on the tailgate, must be swooning at the prospect of the End Times. Proclaiming their faith, they’ll soon be plucked from the face of the Earth in their birthday suits and be relieved of these hellish gasoline prices forever, all the while denying that global warming is a reality and that we’re sacrificing inordinate blood and treasure in Iraq for oil.

“What better reason to invade Iran than to hasten the Second Coming, making all the consequences of gaining and burning their oil irrelevant? That is, unless you’re a heathen Muslim or Jew or Hindu or — gasp — atheist, in which case you’re in for a good ass-kicking by an omnipotent being when all this happens.

“That’s gonna hurt — on second thought, I’d better send Robertson a tithe - and quick.”

— Posted by trippin

In my experience, if you don’t read the comments posted here, you’re missing the better part of my blog.


Sanity's warriors

Dear reader, my mind has not been on my blog these last few days.

What has occupied my thoughts has shaken me to the core.

The last three nights I watched “God’s Warriors,” sure to win awards for CNN’s Christiana Amanpour. On Tuesday night the two-hour segment was “Jewish Warriors;” on Wednesday night, “Muslim Warriors;” and last night, “Christian Warriors.”

Up front, I am Christian with liberal convictions and a belief that the Democratic Party’s social consciousness most closely adheres to the true tenets of Christianity.

In the words of one of the Christian youth leaders featured, that makes me a “virtue terrorist.”

I believe in each of these major religions there are good, moral people with kind hearts, all of whom find favor in God’s eyes.

Two common themes running through all three segments: hatred of others and a belief by zealots in each religion that all people should believe as they do and should be converted or annihilated.

This is not the world I was reared in, and I have both my parents and my church to thank for that.

My church has changed. I didn’t leave it: it left me. Former President Jimmy Carter, another Southern Baptist, calls it a “radical departure” from the faith he grew up in.

I will speak to the segment on “Christian Warriors.” These fanatics won’t stop until this nation is a theocracy, all the while claiming their way was the intention of its Founding Fathers.

They have been so programmed to focus on abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, sexual abstinence and evolution, they are overlooking the most powerful words of Jesus the teacher.

Where is the love? The Jesus of my New Testament loved the unloved.

It might surprise them to know the subject Jesus spoke of most – some 700 times – was “the poor.”

He taught love, peace and forgiveness, and that appeals to me. Pretty good foundations for human relations.

Have they not read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”?

While they seek to subjugate women, are they ignoring Jesus’ attitudes?

These so-called Christian soldiers, to advance their agenda, helped put George W. Bush in the White House and Republicans in Congress, and the social consciousness of the nation haa suffered for it.

Is the value of human life, in their eyes, only limited to the womb?

They depict Democrats, liberals and progressives as having no moral values – godless foes out to destroy religion. They are talking about Americans.

Do these zealots have the right to vote? Absolutely.

Are they a wake-up call for the 36 percent of voting-age citizens who did not vote in 2004? To be sure.

“God’s Warriors” will re-air on CNN Saturday and Sunday nights at 9 EDT.

Sanity’s warriors will be both shaken and inspired by this exceptional documentary’s message.


Larson's gift

On the western coast of Africa, a butterfly flits around the left side of a tree instead of the right; a teeny ripple of a breeze begins.

This simple act of nature resulted in the deaths of 8,000 to 12,000 persons in Galveston, Texas, as a hurricane, born of a gentle African wind, hit the island on 8 September 1900.

In 1999, I ordered a book because Entertainment Weekly had named it the non-fiction book of the year. The title, bearing the name of my father and brother, caught my eye.

Erik Larson is not just a storyteller; he pulls you into the story with him, and he doesn’t let you go until the last page and maybe not even then.

“Isaac’s Storm” is not just the story of Galveston’s “weather man” and its people: it is the story of the hurricane itself – from little breeze to killer blow - in breathtaking detail.

Larson cannot write books fast enough for me! In 2003, his “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” was equally engaging.

The major player in this true tale is a Chicago racing from Gilded Age into the 20th Century and daring to host the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, “The White City.”

Against that backdrop Larson tells the stories of the indefatigable architect who brought the fair to glory and of the serial killer whose macabre hotel brought only horror to his young female victims.

The perfect blending of history and humanity - it’s Larson’s gift.


Another post follows.

'I got my dog!'

I am so grateful my closest circle of family and friends is made up of animal lovers.

Last night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” a brief clip brought me to sweet tears of joy.

The clip was of a boy holding his 14-year-old Dalmatian just rescued after four days of being stuck in a drainpipe. The boy, through tears, happily exclaimed, “I got my dog!”

Several years ago, my son Ladd’s Boston terrier DuPont, named for Jeff Gordon’s race car, went missing.

“I know DuPont is somewhere where you can’t get to him,” I kept telling Ladd.

DuPont had a bad habit of scratching under the backyard fence and taking off. Once, he had crawled into the back of a pickup truck and ended up 15 miles away. Thankfully, because he wore an ID tag, the truck’s owner was able to bring him home.

Days and weeks passed, but I couldn’t give up hope that Ladd would get his beloved dog back.

Exactly one month to the day after DuPont went missing, I was online when my CallWave answer machine took the call: “Mom, I hope you’re sitting down. DuPont is home!”

I cannot write here words to describe the tone in Ladd’s voice.

A woman had found the little fellow, half-starved and quivering, under her car and was kind enough to bring Ladd’s “baby” home. She refused his proffered reward money. I’m certain the joy as man and animal made contact was enough.

DuPont was only a few miles away – on the other side of a major highway. Although he had lost weight, the vet pronounced him in good health.

A certain wish of animal lovers: if animals could only talk.

I kept Ladd’s phone message for a long time (until my computer crashed) and listened to it often. It brought tears of joy and a reminder of hope.


'Karl Rove never apologizes'

If it’s Sunday, I’m cooking breakfast - and it’s “Meet the Press.”

I was in the kitchen when Sunday’s edition came on, with guest host David Gregory. As I settled down to eat, I heard the guest’s machine-gun pom-pom of Republican talking points.

“WHO is this guy?” I asked out loud. He had the talking points down pat! I walked to the TV to try to catch his voice.

Of course, he did – he wrote them.

Karl Rove.

Most of Monday’s media reports on the Rove appearance concentrated on what he had to say about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Overlooked was Rove’s “he said, I said” tap dance around what he told columnist Robert Novak about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

NOVAK: “I mentioned I had heard that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA in the counterproliferation section, and that she had suggested Wilson be sent to Niger. I distinctly remember Rove’s reply, ‘Oh, you know that, too.’ “

That, Novak said, was “a confirmation” for what he was about to do – out a covert CIA operative.

Was it a confirmation?

ROVE: “No. And, I, I remember it slightly differently. I remember saying, ‘I’ve heard that, too.’ ”

As Gregory pursued the point, Rove then ducked behind the “ongoing legal matter” shield.

Did he owe Ms. Plame an apology? “No.”

Drum roll. Later in the program, enter Conde Nast Portfolio’s Matt Cooper, formerly of Time magazine.

COOPER, commenting on Rove’s earlier appearance: “Yeah, I think he was dissembling, to put it charitably. Look, Karl Rove told me about Valerie Plame’s identity on July 11, 2003. I called him because Ambassador Wilson was in the news that week. I didn’t know Ambassador Wilson even had a wife until I talked to Karl Rove, and he said that she worked at the agency, and she worked on WMD. I mean, to imply that he didn’t know about it, or that this was all the leak ...“

GREGORY: “Or, that he had heard it from somebody else ...”

COOPER: “... by someone else, or he heard it as some rumor out in the hallway is, is nonsense.”

GREGORY: “But, he makes no apologies to Valerie Plame.”

COOPER: “Karl Rove never apologizes. That’s not what he does.”

TRANSCRIPT, Meet the Press, NBC, 19 August 2007


One month in 1969

This nation needs the passion and social commitment that marked the 1960s – maybe the most volatile, certainly the most inspiring decade of my lifetime.

With a level of selflessness and dedication not seen since, Americans supported those who fought and died in Vietnam, fought against that same war, fought and died for civil rights.

Our collective heart stood still for four days as we mourned a slain president who had promised to put an American on the moon by decade’s end.

In a few years, more assassinations caught our collective conscience.

By the ‘80s we had evolved into the “Me Generation,” a self-absorbed lot with runaway consumerism and a cultural and educational dumbing-down – a “don’t give a damn” attitude toward environmental issues, workers’ rights, education and integrity in government.

There was a flicker of hope in the early 70s when hard-hitting investigative reporters uncovered the Republican “ratf*cking” of Watergate – the flicker rose to a fiery crescendo and just as rapidly faded out.

A new century, a new millennium and an undoing of the struggle, an unraveling of the nation’s soul.

Looking back on this date in 1969, possibly the last great decade of my lifetime was winding down. A month of headlines mark that it did not go quietly:

July 21: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon.

July 25: Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts pleads guilty to leaving the scene of the Chappaquiddick car accident which took the life of Mary Jo Kopechne

August 9 – 10: The Tate-LaBianca murders occur in California, the culmination of Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter.”

August 16 – 18: In a muddy field near the village of Bethel, New York, 400,000 young people celebrate drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll at “Woodstock.”

August 17 – 18: Hurricane Camille, the second category 5 hurricane to hit the U.S., wiped out the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (After riding out 160 mph winds at Monticello, Miss., the first news I got the next morning was “The Coast is gone.”)

August 20: Camille moves into the Atlantic and regains strength after crossing Mississippi, western Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia. Torrential rains and flooding claimed more lives. Total damage: $1.5 billion, total dead: 248.

One month in 1969. One American decade that never let up.


The Coal Miners Prayer

The Coal Miners Prayer
by W. Calvert

Each dawn as we rise, Lord,
We know all too well,
We face only one thing –
A pit filled with hell.
To scratch out a living
The best that we can,
But deep in the heart,
Lies the soul of a man.

With black-covered faces,
And hard-calloused hands,
We work the dark tunnels,
Unable to stand.
To labour and toil
As we harvest the coals,
We silently pray,
"Lord, please harvest our souls."

From my journal, August 16

Listened to Halberstam’s “The Fifties” until 4 p.m., when I switched to the news shows. Halberstam is now focusing on civil rights violence, particularly in that old kicking-boy Mississippi. So far, he has talked about the murder of Emmett Till and has mentioned William Bradford Huie, who wrote a magazine article about the Till murder.

In the summer of 1960, when I went off to USM to try to find a job and work my way through college, my friend and Jackson CHS classmate Ronnie had gotten a job at the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American. We were staying with Ronnie’s mother, “Cricket.” Ronnie and I did research work and typed notes for William Bradford Huie, who was there doing research for a Cavalier magazine article about the racial murder of Mack Charles Parker. Huie wrote “The Execution of Private Slovik” (1954), “The Americanization of Emily” (1959), “The Hero of Iwo Jima” about American Indian Ira Hayes (1962) and many other books and articles.

Interestingly, we didn’t get the job through the newspaper. Cricket was a good waitress at a restaurant on Broadway Street and told Huie we were available and qualified to help him with his research. Nothing like a good cup of coffee to influence a writer!

I did get a parttime job with a lawyer, but Cricket said he was a “skirt-chaser” and advised against it. Went back to Jackson, Miss., got a job and finally entered USM in 1978! Ronnie, by the way, named her only child, a girl, Cricket.


Later. Three events of the 50s shaped American culture to come, Halberstam writes: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas; the invention of the mechanical cotton picker and the migration of blacks to the north; and Elvis Presley.

Halberstam has now moved on to Elvis and James Dean, “the eternal rebel,” and those wonderful GM cars of the 50s.

Interesting to be revisiting my youth on the anniversary of Elvis’ death. What fate to be born at just the right time to be a teenager in the 50s!

Media whacking Wikipedia

This infoholic often goes to Wikipedia to read about some obscure subject, say “The Brinks Robbery,” “The Boy in the Box” or some old Scotland Yard case.

Although my friend Bill warned me about trusting Wikipedia, I’ve found most of the entries I’ve researched have been thorough and interesting.

What makes them so is reader input, the ability to edit the entry and add your “two cents” – your own knowledge and research.

FishbowlNY's Neal Ungerleider (LINK) writes about "Wikipedia vandalism" with news outlets going after the competition: primarily employees of Fox News and The New York Times.

Ungerleider has posted a list of Fox News' extensive Wikipedia edits - which include “false information about the ratings of Fox News shows.” Traced through its IP address, FNC employees posted “accusations that MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann made light of Peter Jennings' death and deleted ratings info for MSNBC programs."

He continues, “Now, over to the New York Times. Right-wing blog Little Green Footballs found that someone from within the New York Times edited George W. Bush's entry to call him a jerk. Classy. But, more interestingly, employees of the Times are apparently editing the Wall Street Journal's Wikipedia entry. Hmm...”

These modern-day “Kilroys,” like “forum freepers,” are the same folks who write on bathroom walls. Wasting all that precious time on pettiness, when they could be investigating real issues and scandals.

God knows, there’s plenty to go around.


Elvis and me

A young woman named NANCY J. BURDINE married ABNER HAMPTON TACKETT, both b. 1825, and they begat:




ELVIS ARON PRESLEY (b. January 8, 1935 d. August 16, 1977)


NOW, start with that same young couple: NANCY J. BURDINE m. ABNER HAMPTON TACKETT and begat:




ISAAC LAFAYETTE TURNER (b. 1905) m. RUTH MARIE TIMMONS (b. 1907) in 1925 and begat:

BETTY JEAN TURNER (B. J. Trotter) (b. 1942)


The daughter of my father's cousin, Hazel Wright Jones of Oxford, Miss., spent a quarter of a century compiling a 500-page book* tracing our family tree. I treasure my copy. One of the interesting persons she found in our family tree is Elvis Presley!

Abner Tackett and Nancy J. Burdine Tackett were my great-great-great- grandparents on my father's side and Elvis' great-great grandparents on his mother's side.

I remember my daddy’s stories about “Grandma Pennington” – Serena - moving her children by wagon after her husband was killed in the Civil War and fighting off Indians along the way.

And, I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Elvis on the car radio and exactly where I was when I heard he had died – 30 years ago today.

Thanks, Hazel, for the family tree! And, thanks, Elvis, for the thrills.

* LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CALL NUMBER: E548 .W55 1991. 11. 92-125897: Jones, Hazel W. (Hazel Wright), 1931- ) Wright-Tubbs family tree and related branches. Memphis, TN (5049 Haleville Rd., Memphis 38116): H.W. Jones, c1991, 474 p.: ill. (some col.).


BBC’s “This Day in History, August 16, 1977, article and broadcast: LINK


Cheney on Iraq, 1994

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under the first President Bush, has said of his old friend, then secretary of defense, “This is not the Dick Cheney I knew.”

The following is an excerpt (LINK) from a 1994 interview with Dick Cheney. The interview has been featured recently on C-SPAN and is now on YouTube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that U.S. or U.N. forces should have moved into Baghdad?



CHENEY: Because if we had gone to Baghdad, we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world. And, if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it, the Syrians would like to have, to the west. Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years.

In the north, you have got the Kurds. And, if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact that we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But, for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war. And, the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein was: how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

And, our judgment was not very many. And, I think we got it right.


In a recent interview on ABC, Cheney was asked to respond to similar comments he had made after “Operation Desert Storm.” His reason for a change of heart? “9/11” – once more making the connection between the 2001 attacks and Saddam Hussein.

That is just bullsh*t! Cheney signed the “Statement of Principles” (LINK) of the “Project for the New American Century” (PNAC) – official think tank of the neoconservatives - on 3 June 1997 and had his sights on Saddam from that day until we invaded Iraq.

Stop lying, Mr. Vice President, and stop using 9/11 as an excuse for imperialism.

The I-man Cometh

Good News, Bad News

NEW YORK (AP) - Don Imus has reached a settlement with CBS over his multimillion-dollar contract and is negotiating to resume his broadcasting career. FULL STORY

NEW YORK (AP) - A member of the Rutgers women's basketball team sued Don Imus and CBS on Tuesday, claiming the radio personality's sexist and racist comments about the team damaged her reputation. Kia Vaughn filed the lawsuit alleging defamation of character in state Supreme Court in the Bronx. FULL STORY


Hurry back, Don Imus, your faithful fans know you’re not racist or sexist.


Will we ever learn?

A little quiz, dear reader: what EVENT precipitated the following quoted assessment? (I have used ellipses for proper names to avoid giving clues.)

“The national security complex became … a fast-growing apparatus to allow us to do in secret what we could not do in the open. This is not just an isolated phenomenon, but part of something larger going on in Washington, a transition … to America the international superpower, from Jefferson democracy to imperial colossus.

“A true democracy had no need for a vast, secret security apparatus, but an imperial country did. As America’s international reach and sense of obligation increased, so decreased the instinct to adhere to traditional democratic procedures among the inner circle of Washington policy makers.

“Our new role in the world had put us in conflict … with our own traditions. What was evolving was a closed state within an open state.”


“American foreign policy was changing. It was doing so very quietly with very little debate taking place - in fact, almost no public debate, for that was seen as something that aided the enemy.

“The president himself and many of the men around him … believed they were operating in a period that was, in any true sense, a continuation of the wartime period when America had struggled against totalitarian governments … now they believed the same struggle continued. …

“Because the enemy was cruel and totalitarian, we were justified in responding in kind. Our survival demanded it. There were no restraints on the other side; therefore, there should be no restraints on us.

“The men who were the driving forces of this new philosophy … as well as the president himself were from a generation profoundly affected by … attack. … They worried endlessly that the very nature of a democracy – the need for the consent of the governed – made this nation vulnerable. … Therefore, in order to combat the enemy, the leaders of democracies would have to sacrifice some of their nations’ freedoms and emulate their adversary.

“The national security apparatus in Washington was, in effect, created so America could compete … and do so without the unwanted clumsy scrutiny of the Congress and the press.

“Given the nature of the … war and domestic political anxieties, the national security apparatus gradually grew richer and more powerful, operating under a separate set of laws – on occasion, it would become clear, under no laws at all. In any crisis, if there was an element of doubt about legality, it was best to press ahead, because that was what the other side would do.”


The men: President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his inner circle.

The enemy: The Soviet Union

The goal: oil.

The date: August 1953.

The EVENT: the successful U.S.-led coup to overthrow the prime minister of Iran, gaining control by the British and Americans of Iranian oil and strengthening the weak Shah. Following the coup, British Petroleum took 40 percent of the oil; U.S. companies, 40 percent, and Iranians, 20 percent.

Subsequent event: U.S.-led coup in Guatemala in behalf of United Fruit Company. But, that’s another post.

Source of quotes: David Halberstam, “The Fifties,” 1997.



Comes the news that “Bush’s Brain” is leaving the administration at the end of the month.

With Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and "Scooter" Libby gone, and Condi Rice marginalized, the post-operative days of the Bush White House – all 507 of them – will find the “inner circle” of neonconservatives reduced to one – Dick Cheney.

One cannot underestimate the impact of Karl Rove’s legacy on this nation. Bush has called him “The Architect” – a nom de guerre from another period of empire building.

Karl Rove did his job. He put all the players in place. That things went terribly awry can only be blamed on the fact that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Now, Bush’s “Turd Blossom” will “spend more time with family,” and we are left to count down the days until, hopefully, America takes a turn for the better.

Express yourself!

A Texas megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy vet because he was gay. Click HERE to vote on whether you side with the church or the vet’s family. Of 410,600 votes on AOL, 78 percent sympathize with the family.


Side effects

A few years back I had an unsightly black fungus under my thumbnail. I called to get a free VHS tape about Lamisil, a prescription drug for such a condition.

Right up front on the video were the “side effects.” When I got to “could cause retina damage,” I tossed the tape.

More than half of a drug commercial is devoted to the rattling off of such effects, most far worse than whatever ailment you have.

One drug touted to “control your blood sugar level” actually says “could cause low blood sugar.”

Ambien is my favorite: commercials now warn you can “sleepwalk, eat or drive without being fully awake, with amnesia of the event being reported.” Perfect for anyone who lives alone.

Mirapex for “restless leg syndrome” might “increase sexual or gambling urges.”

Pharms have apparently caught on and made the names of drugs more pleasant. Remember Creomulsion and Imodium AD? Now, you can match your color scheme with Nexium, “the purple pill.”

Not so pleasant are their warnings of vomiting, headache, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, constipation, diarrhea …

I’m thankful my medicine cabinet contents are limited to three-grain generic aspirin and Pepto-Bismol tablets.

Holy Rayovac, Batman!

Homeland Security “is developing a new weapon to fight the bad guys: a flashlight that makes a person throw up. The bright light pulses, which vary in color and duration, induce disorientation, vertigo and nausea.” LINK

'A tale told by an idiot'

GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) proclaimed this week that the U.S. should bomb the holy Muslim sites, Mecca and Medina, as a “deterrent” to an Islamic fundamentalist attack on the U.S. Tancredo adviser Bay Buchanan concluded, “This shows we mean business.”

A State Department spokesman called Tancredo’s statements "reprehensible" and "absolutely crazy."

Incredible how claims of bringing “democracy” to the Muslim world are being skewed by the right wing’s blurring the distinction between Muslims and Islamic Jihadists.

Many on the right went after Barack Obama, claiming he is a Muslim educated in Muslim schools and calling him “B. Hussein Obama.” For a while, Pat Buchanan, who must hold the record for MSNBC appearances, referred to Obama as “Osama.”

Fox News, The Rev. Pat Robertson, Bo Dietl, Michael Savage, Pat Buchanan – all need to decide if we’re in this God-awful mess in Iraq to free Muslims or not.


'The Book Lady'

There was a time wherever I went my books went with me – to the University of Southern Mississippi, then Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

A friend kept telling me, “You can find all these books in libraries, you know.”

When I left Carbondale to join that friend at the University of Wisconsin-Plattville, I decided to sell my books, to unburden myself of moving them from place to place.

I boxed up special books from my boys’ childhood and shipped them to their dad for safekeeping. I gave the other children’s books to a neighbor’s kids. “We’ll keep them forever,” she said.

I called the organizers of an antiques show coming up at the nearby Ramada Inn and asked if I could sell my books there. With their gracious consent, I asked for a big table by the exit.

I reasoned that many who came to admire the treasures of old estates and attics would find the price tags beyond their reach and, not wanting to leave empty-handed, would buy a book.

So, on an early February morning, I moved 72 boxes of books down two flights of snow-covered stairs, making many round-trips to the Ramada Inn.

Throughout the day, I became known as “The Book Lady,” as hundreds of book lovers obliterated my library. The joy on their faces alleviated the pain of parting with my own personal treasures.

“I’ve always wanted ALL of Frank Yerby’s books,” a woman exclaimed.

A sociology professor bought my 1908 Sears & Roebuck catalog. “Guess this one escaped the indignity of the outhouse,” he chuckled.

“She wants to learn French,” a Japanese man said of his wife while purchasing two years of French textbooks. “Merci,” she said softly as they walked away.

From classics to bestsellers, fiction and nonfiction, one by one my books found new readers, and the day turned out to be one of the most satisfying of my life.

Today, my two-story townhouse is once more filled with books, old companions who have taken me places I’ve never been and let me experience life as I might never have known it.

I’ll keep them close.

Selling them on eBay just wouldn’t satisfy like the joy I brought to others on that cold February day.

An essential catchphrase


Any presidential candidate who uses that catchphrase would get my attention.

With so many issues of the day, the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is, in my opinion, essential to a stronger citizenry, national safety and sane spending

At each end of the Mississippi River are prime examples of what that “ounce of prevention” could have meant.

In health care, imagine the reduction of both expenses and grief if problems were prevented or caught early rather than relegated to major medical status.

There’s a far-right tendency to poke fun at a formal education, and that’s just lunacy. The value of a well-rounded and liberal education for Americans is immeasurable, both in leadership abilities and quality of life.

Even the ever-present dilemma of abortion would be lessened by birth-control education. Abstinence as an alternative is whistling in the wind.

Remember that other old adage from Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack:” “A penny saved is a penny earned”?

Mr. Frodo's mission

Mr. Frodo, irrespressible hobbit, faithful visitor, frequent commenter and nonpareil blogger, has found those missing weapons allegedly shipped to Iraq.

You’ll love his report: LINK


'I used to feel so uninspired'

From “A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton” by Carl Bernstein, 2007:

“Hillary is neither the demon of the right’s perception, nor a feminist saint. Here is a story of strength and vulnerability, a woman’s story. She is an intelligent woman endowed with energy, enthusiasm, humor, tempestuousness, inner strength, spontaneity in private, lethal (almost) powers of retribution, real-life lines that come from deep wounds, and the language skills of a sailor and of a minister, all evidence of her passion—which, deep down, is perhaps her most enduring and even endearing trait.”

A natural woman, a natural leader.

'Give 'em an inch ...'

Back in the 1870s fundamentalist Anthony Comstock mounted a one-man campaign against all things sexual. The resulting Comstock Laws were so radical that shop owners were arrested for displaying naked mannequins in their windows and any information about birth control was banned from the mail.

Many women knew little about personal hygiene and were destined for subservient roles, multiple pregnancies or $5 back-street butcher-shop abortions.

The indomitable birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger went after the Comstock Laws in an editorial. In part, she wrote:

“Women should look the whole world in the face with a go-to-hell look in the eyes. to have an ideal, to speak and act in defiance of convention.”

Oh, and title pun intended.

Election Day, 8/8/67

Lordy, lordy, Ladd is 40!

Happy Birthday, son, I love you.


No offense, but ...

Turns out Rudy Giuliani and Fox News guru Roger Ailes are old buddies. Turns out Rudy has received more air time on Fox News than any other presidential candidate.

According to a report by Russ Buettner (NYT 8/2/07), “Mr. Ailes served as the media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, officiated at Mr. Ailes’ wedding and intervened on his behalf when Mr. Ailes’ company, Fox News Channel, was blocked from securing a cable station in the city. This year, they were tablemates at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner , which Mr. Giuliani attended as a guest of Fox’s parent company, News Corporation.”

Fox News' political editor Brit Hume denies any connection between the friendship and Rudy’s coverage.

Here’s the kicker: the NYT article said other Republican candidates are keeping an eye on the situation, "though none wanted to speak publicly for fear of offending Fox News."

And, these men want to be president of the United States? Imagine a president who wouldn't want to OFFEND Fox News!

Why I love Dickens

From his “Appendix,” “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens:

“I spend many hours of every day in solitude and study, have no friends or change of friends, but these; only see them at stated periods and am supposed to be of a retired spirit by the very nature and object of our association.

“We are men of secluded habits with something of a cloud upon our early fortunes, whose enthusiasm, nevertheless, has not cooled with age, whose spirit of romance is not yet quenched, who are content to ramble through the world in a pleasant dream rather than ever awaken again to its harsh realities.

“We are alchemists who would extract the essence of perpetual youth from dust and ashes, tempt coy truth in many light and airy forms from the bottom of her well, and discover one crumb of comfort or one grain of good in the commonest and least regarded matter that passes through our crucible.

“Spirits of past times, creatures of our imagination and people of today are alike the objects of our seeking. And, unlike the objects of search with most philosophers, we can ensure their coming at our command.”

Don't eat your words

Remember this email?

“If you look at my lovely FEMA attire you’ll really vomit. I am a fashion god.” The words of ole “you’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie” himself.

Email is permanent, searchable and can be altered, and people often have to eat their words.

Will Schwalbe, editor in chief of Hyperion Books, and David Shipley, deputy editorial page editor at The New York Times, have written “Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.”

The authors want you to tell them about annoying emails and “any kind of obnoxious or toxic disaster, trivial or huge.” LINK

Theirs is not just another “how to email” book. The emphasis is on people skills, both for personal and business emailing. Great new tips in this MSNBC.com review: LINK


I goofed!

I accidentally disengaged my comment function on the next three posts. If you care to comment on any of them, you may do so on this post. Thanks. BJ

Answering to Americans

Bush didn’t care for it.

Republican hopefuls, most notably Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, have left the GOP version, originally scheduled for Sept. 17,, an uncertainty.

Robert Novak said of the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate, "I thought it was really disgusting. ... The reporters were terrible, but this was ludicrous." Novak argued, "You know when we did away with the monarchy and went through democracy, there was a lot of fear that this sort of thing would happen. It took 200 years, but we got there."

Novak recently said heaven would be a "place where there are no blogs." He previously explained that bloggers "bloviate. They give their opinions. They don't try to find things out." LINK

Republicans have come a long way since, as historian Doris Kearnes Goodwin writes, the ordinary citizen could walk into the White House and ask to speak to Abe Lincoln.


Or …


Slow down, guys, the sites don’t exist, but it’s not a bad idea!

The last time a woman’s neckline got so much attention, she was wrongfully pegged with "S'ils n'ont plus de pain, qu'ils mangent de la brioche."

As for the recent inane “cleavage” commentary, let them eat cheesecake.

'No other course'

With conservative pressure mounting on President Harry S. Truman to build “The Super” – the hydrogen bomb – in the face of what was perceived “the Soviet threat,” the secrecy surrounding the debate made it seem a “fait accompli.”

David Lilienthal, then chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, noted in his diary: “We keep saying we have no other course; what we should say is we are not bright enough to see any other course.”

(Source: David Halberstam’s “The Fifties”)

Prescient words.