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Thursday, July 28, 2005

With apologies to the Bard.

Many years ago - more years than I care to mention - I was a member of a sort of union - the Director’s Guild of America. Those were the days when I worked in television and all of the jobs other than clerical and sales were union jobs. It was the union - in my case the DGA - that negotiated how much I got paid and with what benefits and how many hours a week I worked and how much I got for overtime etc. None of these things had to be discussed by me personally with management. Once I got the job and joined the Guild, it was all out of my hands.

The unions were a jealous lot in those days, protecting their work rules and territory with a vengeance. When I started out as a stage manager, working on the studio floor, I would risk getting my knuckles rapped if I so much as touched a prop - even though the director up in the booth might have been telling me through my headphones to adjust something for the camera. I was supposed to tell a stagehand to do it because that was a stagehand’s jurisdiction. It didn’t matter if we were on the air live and there wasn’t a stagehand close enough to make the change fast enough for an upcoming camera shot. He was the one who was supposed to do it, not me.

That was one of the bad things about unions that still exists today - but no matter how many bad things you can find in union rules and practices, in my mind they are far outweighed by the benefits of union membership. I haven’t been a union member since I left television because I’ve worked for myself ever since I left ABC. But to this day I am strongly pro-union and as such I was bitterly disappointed to see union strength and solidarity further diminish the other day with the defection of the Teamsters and the Service Employees from the AFL-CIO.

It’s difficult for me to understand why unions have lost so much membership and so much clout over the years. It’s true that we’ve had a changing economy. A lot of manufacturing that used to take place here has moved oversees - and manufacturing has always been where unions have been the most organized and the most effective. But even if the kind of work that most people do has changed, they are working - and unless they have ironclad individual contracts with their employers, their job protection is non existent. They have no clout. You don’t have to look very far to find stories of former executives who have lost their jobs, looked for appropriate work for a year or more without success and are currently employed at Walmart or MacDonald’s. And they are people who would have laughed at the idea of belonging to a union when they were riding high - a union that might have protected their employment.

I’m sure that most employers would like unions to go the way of the horse and carriage. But I don’t buy the notion that the majority of working people prefer not to be members of a union. So why has union membership declined from a high of better than 20% of all workers in 1983, to 12.5% last year?

My union membership of years past doesn’t qualify me as any kind of expert on the subject, but one problem that I see is one that Democrats have been suffering from for the past decade or so - that of not having the right kind of leadership that knows how to make the union story an attractive one.

When the Teamsters and Service Employees defected the other day, it was a big story -and somewhere in that story was the name of the AFL-CIO chief - John Sweeney who has just been re-elected to another four year term. For a lot of people, it might have been the first time they ever heard of Mr. Sweeney. This was no household name like labor leaders of the past - George Meeny, Jimmy Hoffa, John L Lewis. This might have been a name known to most AFL-CIO members, but it certainly wasn’t and isn’t a name known to the public at large as a major leader of the American union movement. Can you remember when this man was ever one of the talking heads on the Sunday morning television news programs? Can you remember when any union leader was all over your television screen touting the advantages of union membership?

You would think that union leaders would want to be as well known as any politician or soap opera star - that they’d want to be out there telling their story of the advantages of union membership day after day, but they certainly don’t act that way. Nor do you hear about any consistent or major attempts to organize non union workers. If you’re employed at a non union shop, can you remember when there was an effort to organize your company? When companies announce that they’re laying off 10,000 people or some ridiculous percentage of their work force, which union leader has something to say about it that the networks will automatically include in their newscasts? When was the last time you saw a union leader on the Daily Show, bantering with John Stewart?

The unions that have broken away from the AFL-CIO say they’ve done so because they want to do what the umbrella organization hasn’t been able to do - stop the decline in union membership. It’s an interesting theory - picking separation over solidarity as a way to revive the union movement.

In the Chicago area recently, pharmacists went on strike against Walgreen’s, claiming that they were understaffed and that the pressure of having to fill large numbers of prescriptions in a limited time period increased he possibility of mistakes being made. The company said it was about pharmacists wanting more money. It didn’t matter who was right. The strike was a failure. About half of the union members didn’t go out - and the other half decided to return to work after three weeks and to "continue negotiating." And while the strike - if you can call it that - was ongoing, there was no visible evidence of a labor versus management dispute - other than newspaper ads from Walgreen’s saying that they were open and ready to fill any and all prescriptions. And from rival pharmacies saying they were ready, able and willing to do the same. But there was no sign of labor solidarity. No pickets outside Walgreen’s stores. No support from Walgreen employees around the country. No visible support from other unions. No union newspaper ads making their case. No appeals to the public to support their position. It hardly made the concept of union membership attractive to working people watching this. And yet most people working today owe the conditions under which they work to past struggles of unions. And ironically, it’s because of what unions have been able to accomplish that so many of today’s workers feel that they can get along without belonging to any union.

Maybe the defections from the AFL-CIO - with more rumored to follow - will achieve what the defectors say they hope to achieve - stem the hemorrhaging of union membership. But it sure looks like a strange way to start doing it. I’d be willing to make a small wager that once this story is out of the newspapers and newscasts, the efforts of unionism in this country will go back to where they were before this brief hullabaloo. Out of sight. Out of mind. And for the most part ineffective.

It’s a sad state of affairs for American labor.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I suppose it was inevitable that with a "shoot to kill" policy and with the fear that suicide bombers could attack the London transport system at any time of the day or night, that someone would be shot and killed. And with that kind of tense atmosphere suffusing the city, it was also probably inevitable that an innocent would be killed.

Both the killers and the victim were likely at fault in this incident. The victim for wearing a heavy coat in the middle of summer - a coat that could have concealed explosives strapped to his body. And for running when told to stop by police who identified themselves as such. Not just running, but jumping over the ticket turnstile at a tube station and racing toward the trains.

But he may well have been scared stiff by several - we don’t know how many - police in plain clothes and who followed him from his home, rode with him on the same bus and didn’t try to stop him on the bus or just as he got off the bus, when they would have been right on top of him - but tried to stop him by yelling at him and chasing him as he entered the tube station. He likely panicked, not knowing who they were. Someone on the radio this morning said he was in the country on an expired visa and that may have been the reason why he ran. But whatever the reason, his panic, interpreted by the police as an admission of guilt, cost him his life.

To their credit, the London Metropolitan Police didn’t opt for the standard reaction to foul ups that we have become so used to in this country - the full court press cover up. They used words that can’t be found anywhere in the vocabulary of our esteemed President or any of his supporters. They said, unequivocally and without hesitation - we goofed. We made a mistake. We were wrong!! And we’re sorry beyond words.

Not that it makes the killing any less of a tragedy, but the candid statement of the Police demonstrates a standard of honesty in dealing with the public that many in power in this country could learn from and do well to emulate.

And The Plame (affair) Goes On

Blinkered Republicans will say that former CIA operative Larry Johnson is only making a big deal about the "outing" of Valerie Plame because he’s a bleeding heart liberal and a Bush hater, But his Republican credentials seem to be intact. I heard him being interviewed on the radio the other day and he mentioned his political activity in helping to elect a Republican governor and that his introduction to the CIA was through Senator Orrin Hatch . It was pretty much along the lines of the interview I’ve linked here, but one thing he said stuck in my mind. I don’t remember his exact words but the substance was that he deplored what he saw as a virtually total lack of integrity among Congressional Republicans.

I need to have pen and paper near me when I’m listening to someone being interviewed who might say something worth repeating - here or in political discussions with friends and relatives. I hate to misquote anyone, but I know what Larry Johnson was trying to say.

Where is today’s Howard Baker from the Republican side? Where is the integrity of a John McCain who was trashed by Carl Rove in a presidential primary - accused of being a traitor and of fathering a child with a black prostitute - and who now supports the man who employed Rove and doesn’t ask what Rove was doing talking to press people about an undercover CIA agent.

Indeed, where is any Senator or Representative who will stand up and put country above party?

Friday, July 22, 2005

"There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder."

That’s a line in Thomas Friedman’s column in today’s New York Times. I’m no great fan of Friedman and the Israeli authors of Mideast On Target think he’s full of beans, but I concur with his selection of the quote to summarize the problem of today’s terrorists. We search in vain for reasons that make any kind of sense for these murderous attacks but maybe it’s just that simple. It’s their way of life. It’s what they do.

Other columnists, writing in greater detail than anything I say here, agree with what I have said. That England - and some other European countries - turned a blind eye to the growing menace in their midst - and that it’s too late for the sort of precautions that might have worked before the cancer erupted.

Georrgie Anne Geyer hit the nail on the head in her column today.

But what hit me this morning like a ton of bricks was the story of a suspect on the London Underground shot dead by police. I know that the average London Bobby still doesn’t carry firearms - only special forces with special training, but to me, a former Londoner, yesterday was a watershed moment. It seems like forever that London’s Metropolitan Police have been able to control virtually any street situation without the need to resort to the use of firearms. Police shootings were unheard of.

But I fear a new era began on 7/7 and was fully revealed to us on 7/21. It will take police with guns to battle the new kind of criminals that have crawled out from under their hate nurturing rocks. Death by gunfire - on the streets, on buses, on the Underground - will no longer be unheard of. And I can visualize a day when the patrolling Bobbie without a firearm, will become the exception. And more than almost anything, this makes me angry. This is what the terrorists have made us become. Something that is anathema to our very nature. That British police now need to be armed with deadly weapons to enforce the respect and compliance to the laws they represent that was once at the heart of what it meant to be British.

The bastards!!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It seems that hard as I might try to move my focus away from the eruption of terrorist violence in England, events won’t let me, with another - apparently failed attempt - at attacking London’s trains and buses. Or maybe it wasn’t a failure but a warning of things to come? Or maybe to show how easy it is to send the city into a panic?

What a mess.

I can’t remember his name but the British M.P. rabble rouser of a few years ago who wanted to put a stop to immigration and believed that immigrants from Islamic countries were harmful to the nation is beginning to look good. His name will come to me later I’m sure, but it’s ironic that this morning I actually heard the word "deportation" being bandied about on the airways and it didn’t appear that the source was any kind of rabble rouser.

England is in trouble, I’ve written here a few times about how the country has changed over the past three or four decades. Every time I’ve visited, it’s seemed less and less like the country I once knew. So many of the faces that I ran into on the street in London’s West End and other parts of the city were increasingly black and brown and olive and yellow - and the languages they spoke were foreign to my ears. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but I never got the feeling that this was a healthy cultural mix - rather the slow descent of the country I once loved into something alien - a dangerously unhealthy balkanization.

Not knowing how else to react to the increasing influence and demands of its growing Islamic population over the years, the British government simply gave in. "Bobbies in Turbans" - which you can click on if you look at the left of this screen, was written somewhat tongue-in-cheek back in June of 2003, but is typical of the surrender to demands of Muslims living in England. From special foods that they demand be served in schools, to the wailing of the call to prayer at the local mosque - the powers that be have bent over backwards to accommodate their culture. And in doing so that have helped erect the Trojan Horse from which the vermin that their culture nurtured are now spilling out to attack their fellow citizens riding on the buses and underground trains of the city.

How they couldn’t have seen this coming is beyond me. These people are British subjects but it is clear that they are Muslims first - Britons second - and that’s a problem that they’re going to have to find a way to deal with. I don’t have any ready made solutions, but here’s a couple of suggestions. Close off simple access to your little Island from people wanting to pour in from Islamic countries to take up permanent residence. I don’t say stop them from coming altogether, but treat each such person as a potential problem.

Stop pandering to your Muslim citizens. They need to be pushed in the direction of integration rather than be helped to live separately from the rest of the population. And put pressure on the Muslim community to clean up it’s act. This isn’t a problem that can be solved or contained by Scotland Yard alone. With appropriate legislation to back them up, the police can get the known nuts off the streets and into the padded cells where they belong - those who stand up and cheer the murderers and call for more murders under the cover of guaranteed freedom of speech. But the nuts who arenot preaching from the pulpit - like the four who committed the attacks of 7/7 - must be known by enough people in the community who can stop them - and there won’t be any solution to the problem until British Muslims become the front line against their home grown terrorists. Expressing sympathy on their multiple web sites is fine but it won’t prevent a single terrorist attack.

Having said that, I have to admit that British citizens who also happened to be Muslims, are very likely to be upset when they see the different reactions of the press and of the general public to suicide attacks in Iraq and the ones that have occurred in London. Hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis have been killed by dozens of suicide bombers - and these events, horrible as they are, have become routine news items, reported on the inside pages of most western newspapers - not given major headlines. A rare exception was the attack the other day that killed a crowd of Iraqi children. That made the front page of many newspapers with big headlines. But for the most part, it’s not hard for a British Muslim or an American Muslim to draw the inference that the death of innocent Muslims in an Islamic country is somehow less tragic than the death of innocents in a western nation.

But that dismay, if it exists, shouldn’t prevent them from being as outraged as Britain’s Christians and Jews and members of other religions and to do everything in their power to stop the madness in their midst.

I don’t doubt that "there’ll always be an England," but for it to be a terror free England, the song and the words of it’s last stanza will have to mean the same to all of its citizens

There'll always be an England,
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To give you an idea of the difficulty the United Kingdom has in looking at itself in the mirror when it comes to the issue of terrorism on their doorstep, read this scary piece in the Jerusalem Post about the BBC and the Associated Press.

We have our own home grown irresponsible print and broadcast "news" nuts - but they’re easy to identify and their intent obvious - almost laughable. But the BBC and the AP are among the premier news services of the world, if not the premier news services of the world. If they aren’t able to get a handle on what we’re dealing with and distinguish between factual events and terrorist generated propaganda, we’re going to have a hard time pulling together the world wide coalition - REAL coalition - that is needed to deal with these monsters and the culture that nurtures them.

And for sure it doesn’t help when - in the wake of the London atrocity the Mayor of that great city is giving aid and comfort to Palestinian suicide bombers.

Was Judge Tatel "leaking" From the Courtroom

When you read through the Appellate Court’s decision in the Miller/Cooper case(s), it’s pretty clear that they believe something serious took place with the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name and identity even without knowing what was in all those redacted pages. The judges had total access to the grand jury testimony, so they know what information Patrick Fitzgerald has accumulated and perhaps what conclusions he has reached . But I want to draw your attention to Judge Tatel’s wording on page 82 and in particular the phrase "the plot against Wilson."

He could have said the "alleged" plot against Wilson. Or the "putative" plot against Wilson. Or any other qualifying word . But he didn’t. In a carefully prepared opinion where I am sure every word was parsed, he chose to refer to the plot against Wilson!!

A throwaway phrase or a judicial "leak?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It gets a little scary when I find people like Tony Blair and Charles Krauthammer more or less agreeing with me that the problem with the "war on terrorism" is that it is a war within a war, the real war being the clash of cultures - our western world and the world of Islam which provides the breeding ground for the terrorists.

Of course Krauthammer, in his latest opinion piece , had to include the nonsense that we’re in Iraq because of terrorism and that "there as in Afghanistan, we have enlisted millions of Muslims on the anti-Islamist side." I kid you not. The man actually wrote that - presumably with as straight a face as Ken Mehlman used on Sunday’s "Meet the Press" when he said that rather than the White House launching attacks and smear campaigns as their response to the Rove affair, they are cooperating, cooperating, cooperating!! Well, I suppose someone could say that the "talking points" being fed to the right wing radio and television ranters and ravers aren’t being mailed with a 1600 Pennsylvania return address, but I think even Stevie Wonder could see the connection. That would make him one of 75% of Americans in the latest poll who do not believe that the White House is cooperating, cooperating, cooperating.

But I echo Krauthmmer’s dismay at the way Britain has been treating it’s radical Muslim cleric population that call for the downfall of the country they live in. With kid gloves. With unemployment compensation. With respect!! It’s ridiculous and it has to change. Unfortunately, they’ve already started to debate what kind of legislation they might pass to deal with the problem - and there may be something ready to vote on by December. I’m not suggesting that they rush to throw guaranteed freedoms out the window for any citizens caught wearing turbans or burqas, but they need to stay up late at night to fashion rational limits on those freedoms and make damned sure that anyone stepping outside of those limits knows he or she will have to defend their words or actions in a court of law..

A "Brief" Encounter??

It’s rare that I use this blog to pen a comment about local (Chicago or Illinois) affairs, but there’s one going on now that I find too hard to pass up. A state Senator who is also a minister and who happens to be black, gets pulled over by a Chicago cop who happens to be white. An incident occurs during the stop and the reverend Senator is crying racial profiling!! By itself, that wouldn’t be much of a story, but the reaction of the Mayor of Chicago and its Chief of Police is getting to be one hell of story.

Here’s the incident, the way it’s been reported so far. The police car is sitting at an intersection. The car in which State Senator, Reverend James Meeks is riding, pulls around the cop and allegedly commits some traffic violation or violations. The cop pulls him over, whereupon, the reverend gets out of the car and approaches the cop. The cop says get back in the car. According to Meeks, he tried to identify himself but the cop cursed at him, pulled his gun and said get back in the blankety blank car and called for back up!! While this was going on - or maybe before it had unfolded in any way close to Reverend Meek’s description, another car or cars which had been following the Meeks car, stops and people get out and approach the cop. Some news stories report that it was just two off duty black cops who asked what was going on and were told to mind their own business.

That’s more or less the way the story is being reported. We’ve yet to hear the cop’s version.

What disturbs me is the immediate response of Mayor Daley and Police Chief Phil Cline, condemning the "incident" - and by implication the cop, with Cline putting in a much publicized appearance at Meeks’ church, appearing with him on the pulpit and talking about "learning from this episode."

Say what??

Let me acknowledge two things right away. I have no doubt that people are still being pulled over by white and black cops for DWB - Driving While Black. And without question, a cop should not swear at a motorist when answering questions or giving instructions.

I suppose it’s possible that there was no traffic violation and that the cop pulled Meeks et al over because he was short on his ticket quota for the day or was just in a bad mood and wanted to vent his anger on the nearest potential offender. But the stop in itself wasn’t an "incident" and there was no evidence to support Meek’s allegation that it was "racial profiling." What made it into an incident was Meeks committing the cardinal sin of first getting out of his car and approaching the cop - and then trying to pull "do you know who I am" rank.

You never get out of your car and approach a cop when you’re pulled over. How is he supposed to know what you’re intentions are? His automatic response would be to tell you to get back in the car. And if you don’t do it immediately - if you start to argue, you can expect the cop to start acting more forcefully. I have seen a young woman in my suburban neighborhood, cuffed by police when she wouldn’t get back in her car and stop arguing after being stopped a block from my house. She was white and the cops were white.

It’s almost a universal rule - for your safety and that of the cop’s. No matter how strongly you feel you’ve done nothing wrong, you wait in the car for the cop to come to you.

The second rule that should be universal is that no matter how large your clout, if a cop feels he needs to write you a ticket, take it with a smile and use your clout later. Or not. Depending on what kind of a person you are. Trying to use your clout to avoid getting the ticket is more likely to end up the way this incident did - with four tickets being written.

I don’t know if any racial profiling was involved in this traffic stop. It’s certainly not the policy of the Chicago Police Department. And with black and white cops working out of the same districts, I can’t imagine it being unofficial policy in any police district either. But both the Mayor and the Police Chief have been acting as though that’s exactly what it is. Because the Reverend Senator says it was.

Daley has been feeling the heat from the Feds as scandal after scandal is uncovered with those implicated being closer and closer to his inner circle. If he wants to run again - assuming the Feds don’t catch him in their web, he will need as much of the black vote as he usually gets. His success in election after election has been largely due to his policy of inclusion - sharing the spoils with all racial and ethnic communities - and I see his instant condemnation of events that have yet to be determined as nothing less than pandering to the black community and to clout heavy black officials. Without his and Cline’s instant over the top response, this wouldn’t be a story with legs - front page news locally and spread from coast to coast.

The emphasis coming from the mayor and his police chief has been on ways to improve relationships between police and the communities they serve - and to have better training for how police should conduct themselves during traffic stops. That’s all fine I’m sure, but what I think should be "learned from this episode" that is just as important - maybe more so, is that motorists should never get out of their cars and approach the cop after being pulled over. The cop is someone engaged in a dangerous business . He doesn’t know if you’re a crazed criminal or not - and in his mind, for his own safety, he has to act as though that possibility exists. And if you give him the slightest reason to think that it’s more than just a possibility, you should consider yourself lucky if what ensues is no more than an "incident."

In the incident under discussion, the cop may have done something wrong. Maybe more than one thing. We don’t know. But we do know that the Reverend State Senator James Meeks defintely did something wrong. And that should be as big a part of the story as anything.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I am getting sick and tired reading op-ed pieces and letters to the editor about how bad national health programs are in countries like Canada and England.

Again and again they cite horror stories about how long patients have to wait for an operation or a test and how bad their statistics are compared to ours. In a recent piece by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman, he had glowing figures about how well we’re doing compared to these other countries in terms of survival rates from such things as breast and prostate cancer. And just a couple of days ago, Cory Franklin, a physician who has written several op-ed pieces for the Tribune, was recounting a horror story of a woman in England who was told she had to wait 80 weeks for a brain scan after being in an automobile accident and how, when the story was (allegedly) publicized, the hospital relented and reduced the waiting time to 26 weeks.

I’m sure Steve Chapman and Cory Franklin have studied the topics they write about, but obviously their studies are conducted from a distance and the information they include in their writings isn’t first hand information. They haven’t lived in Canada and England and used the national health systems in those countries. Which is why they convey an image of these systems that probably wouldn’t be recognized by people actually living there and using the systems.

It reminds me a little of an experience I had when I first moved back here from England at the age of 22. I had lived here as a child, but had been taken to England after my mother died and spent most of my childhood there. I had just arrived back in the country and was coming to Chicago by train from New York. I had picked up some papers to read on the journey and I was particularly interested in a couple of stories by London based foreign correspondents. Perhaps interested isn’t exactly the right word. I was amused. Or surprised. Or maybe perplexed. The stories were about the country I had just left, but I didn’t recognize the place. It was almost as though they were writing about a foreign country that I had never visited.

I can’t say for sure, but I would imagine that a great many people living in Canada and England would react the same way to Chapman and Franklin’s stories about their medical systems. I haven’t had any personal experience with the Canadian system, but I got a glimpse of it a couple of years ago while I was visiting the dealership where I bought my 2001 Toyota Camry, I wanted to say hello to the salesman who sold me the car. He’s not there any more I was told. He moved to Canada. Canada? Why on earth would he move to Canada? Well, it seems that his daughter had some sort of serious medical problem and even though the dealership had a medical plan with pretty decent coverage, he had researched his daughter’s medical needs and costs and concluded that insurance or no insurance - he just couldn’t afford to take care of her in the United States, but could in Canada. He had a pretty good career going here, but he gave it up - sold his home and started again from scratch -just to be relieved of the worry of how to pay for his child’s medical needs.

When it comes to England, I do have personal experience and I have a brother and two sisters who live there. My brother and his wife are both seniors and both have severe medical problems, particularly his wife, who has had several major operations. Her operations have all been without cost, and none were delayed any longer than would be the case here when scheduling both a surgeon and an operating room. She’s had some problems in recent weeks that put her in the hospital twice, each time for a few days and each time after either a nurse or doctor came to her home to check on her. Yes, doctors still will visit patients in their homes when necessary and visiting nurses are standard. And when someone needs to be hospitalized they are hospitalized. There may be occasions where there is a delay because no beds are available - but that happens here also.

Any medical equipment they need is also supplied without cost - and when they need to fill a prescription - both are on multiple medications - they trot on down to the local drug store and pick it up. That’s all. They just pick it up. No money changes hands. Prescription medications for seniors are supplied free of charge.

Unlike the Canadian system, UK citizens can use private insurance or their own cash resources and not use the National Health system if there are any delays or if something isn’t covered or not sufficiently covered, as is the case here with Medicare.

There are waits to see certain specialists - they call them "consultants" - but have you tried to get an early appointment to see a specialist here lately? My daughter wanted to see her gastroenterologist the other day. She’s been the guy’s patient for years but that didn’t cut any mustard with his schedule. He was booked so far ahead that he wasn’t even taking emergency cases. Call your primary care doctor was his suggestion.

Many hospitals in England are old and some have few private or semi private rooms. But when you’re sick and need to be hospitalized, having to be in a large ward doesn’t seem to be too much of an inconvenience.

When we were in London on vacation a few years ago, my wife had an accident. She slipped on a sidewalk and cracked her head open. An ambulance showed up and she was taken to the nearest hospital. She wasn’t seen immediately. There were people ahead of her in the emergency room. But it didn’t take long and no one asked what kind of insurance she had or who was going to pay for her treatment. There was no charge. How different from what would happen here. When my older daughter injured her arm many years ago, we took her to the emergency room at our closest hospital. We weren’t greeted by concerned medical personnel but by clerks who wanted forms filled out and insurance details conveyed while my daughter sat waiting in pain. I made it very clear that it wasn’t going to happen that way. And it didn’t, but only because I was angry enough to make them think that I was going to turn their emergency room inside out if they didn’t stop their nonsense and get my child to a doctor before any insurance questions were answered or forms got filled out.

There are a lot of drawbacks to the British National Health System, but none of my family member there has ever been faced with unconscionable delays for emergency surgeries or tests or knows anyone who has had the kind of problems cited by Dr. Franklin. Elective procedures - yes. And some elective procedures are denied altogether under the National Health system. A form of healthcare "rationing" if you will. But if private insurance covers them or you are willing to pay out of your own pocket and can find doctors willing to do the procedures, no healthcare is totally unavailable.

One thing the Brits and Canadians know is that they will never be denied needed care or medications because they don’t have the funds to pay for them. Of course you could make the argument that needed care is available to everyone in this country, even if they don’t have insurance or personal funds - but that’s only if you’re willing to spend hours waiting in line at your local county hospital - to see a doctor or to fill a prescription!! We may have the best medical care in the world - but we’re also the only country in the western world that doesn’t have a national health plan. Those other countries have somewhat different priorities from ours. They have the quaint idea that having a national healthcare plan is as important as having overwhelming military power. Maybe more important.

One kicker to these thoughts. My wife works but I’d like her to retire on her next birthday. She’d get a somewhat reduced pension and social security (she’d just hit the minimum SS retirement age), but it would be worth it to have the freedom to do things we’d like to do. But she pointed out that when she retires, we’d no longer have the medical insurance we now enjoy. We could get private insurance, but very likely without the prescription coverage we now have. And like my brother and his wife, we both take a variety of medications, the retail cost of which would add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars monthly without insurance. Hundreds that would have a profound effect on our lifestyle.

As Shakespeare said, "Aye, there’s the rub." And when you think of things that way, those terrible national healthcare systems don’t seem that bad at all.

2.30 p.m. And here's another kicker. I had to go to the doctor today after a bad night of pain and spiking temperatures. I may have a kidney infection or a kidney stone. We'll find out. Meanwhile, I've been put on a seven day course of an antibiotic - Levaquin. One pill a day for seven days. When I went to have the prescription filled, I balked at the $25, insurance co-payment amount, until I was told that there was no generic for this drug - which would have cost me $10. Then, out of curiosity, I asked what the cost was without insurance. Eighty two bucks and change plus tax. For seven pills. Eighty two bucks!!! Does anyone not see something wrong here?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This is second hand information because I really haven’t been paying any attention to current movie offerings, but this morning I heard two things about a movie called "The Fantastic Four." One was that it had been almost universally panned by the critics, those people who study movies, who know the difference between a good and a bad movie, and who know when true movie making expertise has been applied and when the people involved in making a movie are faking it because they have no idea what they’re doing.

The other thing I heard is that it was the biggest money maker over this past week-end, raking in fifty six million bucks.

And it kind of struck me that here was the perfect analogy for the phenomenon of Bush elections one and two. Specially election two!!


There’s no way in the world that I could ever be induced to watch Jerry Springer’s television show - if indeed it’s still on the air. But the other day I caught some of his morning radio show, which I gather is part of Air America Radio. Springer is actually a pretty bright guy, well educated and well informed. His television show was a contrivance of its producers to attract an audience that would allow it to pull in bigger syndication and advertising bucks and Springer went along with it.

But I didn’t find Springer bright when I heard him talk about terrorism and attribute it - 9/11 and the UK’s 7/7 - to anger at the western world because of our "occupation" of Muslim countries. He could see no other reason other than our unwanted presence (by some) in Muslim countries.

Would that it was that simple.

I have written here on more than one occasion that our "war" against "terrorism" is a conflict within a conflict, the larger conflict being the clash between cultures that continues to grow in the 21st century - geographically and philosophically.

If the information turned up by the British authorities regarding the perpetrators of the 7/7 monstrosity turns out to be irrefutably correct, I think we will have a classic example of the enormity of the problem, Here are four young Englishmen - born and raised in England, who, for reasons that are not yet known, looked upon their own country as their enemy - and with such hatred that they were willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to kill as many as possible of their fellow countrymen. All we know about them so far is that they were of Pakistani descent and that that they were members of the Muslim faith.

It is presumed that there was a "master mind" behind the attack - that someone or some ones had indoctrinated these young killers - that they had been brainwashed into believing that they were doing something noble and holy and would be rewarded in "paradise."

Whether or not that is the case or whether or not the "master mind" - if there is one - was home grown or residing in a Muslim country, the Brits are now confronted with a problem that I think they believed they could avoid and that will call on them to re-think everything they have believed for decades about freedom of speech and religion. During World War II, the British government interned Fascist leader Oswald Moseley and hundreds of his followers without trial, but this was during a time when the nation was at war with a definable enemy and when the identities and sympathies of the Black Shirts were known.

Today, some of Britain’s radical Islamic preachers of hatred are known - and for years have been allowed to spout their garbage, praising acts of murder and mayhem and urging their followers to join the battle against the infidels. They have been allowed to do so in the name of free speech. They have been allowed to hide behind the protection of their mosques in the name of freedom of religious practice. There have been some crackdowns. London’s notorious Finsbury Park Mosque was closed last year and its radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri arrested , but who knows how many, not so well known or not known at all, are sowing the same seeds of maniacal hatred for all who do not believe as they believe?

July 7, 2005 was a wake up call that needs to be heeded. It needs to be greeted not just with words of defiance from Tony Blair trying to become the Winston Churchill of his day. It needs to be greeted not just by televised pictures of stiff upper lipped Englishmen going about their business on the busses and underground trains on July 8, 2005 so that all of the western world can admire the resilience of the British public. It needs to be greeted with the acknowledgment that the enemy of civilization is among them and that the limits of tolerance for free speech and free religious practices have to be re-examined and re-defined. And now. Not after endless debate and hand wringing. Not until the next outrage is upon them - and it will come you may be sure, whether or not they do anything.

I’m not suggesting that they need a Patriot Act or multi color coated terrorist danger alerts. Their dangers are different from ours . Among their approximately 1,700,000 Muslims, they have a home grown fifth column that they’ve allowed to nurture in the name of British tradition. It’s time for them to introduce a new tradition. Call it the Seven Day a Week Universally Applied Finsbury Park Tradition. If you use your mosque to urge murder of your fellow citizens, or any kind of Jihad, your mosque will be closed and you will go to jail. Not after some outrage has been committed and you have been found to have some connection to it - but the next time you open your foul mouth to praise the "Martyrs" of 9/11 or the "heroes" 7/7 or to urge your followers to engage in like activities. Even if you do it outside of your mosque, you will be arrested and sent to rot in jail. Even if you say it standing on a soap box at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park on a Sunday morning.

If there isn’t an appropriate law to cover those kind of defensive actions, for heaven’s sake stop bickering in the House of Commons and enact one. Call it the United Kingdom anti Jihad Jihad Act. And advertise it on the side of London’s double-deckers. These bastards may be ignorant, but that’s the kind of language they do understand and we’d better start using it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

July 8 is my older daughter’s birthday. She isn’t hooked up to the Internet, so she will have no knowledge of the celebration taking place around the world in honor of that day. She also wouldn’t have anything in common with those who will be doing the celebrating - a gang of slack jawed, bug-eyed, lice infested, unwashed, unemployed computer hacker nerds. They’ll be celebrating because, depending on the nationality of the rock under which they crawl after a hard day’s fun and games trying to disrupt as much of the world’s order that they can, they know that they will never be punished for any harm they’re able to cause. July 8th will henceforth be known in their circles as "Screw the World and Get out of Jail Free" day.

A precedent has been set. One of their own, the punk who created the Sasser Virus was caught, put on trial in Germany - and given a suspended sentence. He’ll have to do some community service - but apart from that, the punishment for causing millions of dollars in damage world wide, is being told that he is a naughty boy. He’s 19 now but was a minor when he did his dirty deed, so the German authorities decided to give him a break and not send him to the hoosegow. If they had, it wouldn’t have been for more than five years - and that as far as I’m concerned, would have been a walk in the park - or as we used to call short sentences in the army, a shit, shave and a haircut. This spoiled brat needed to have his ass whacked at high noon in the public square, then locked away until his 21st birthday and then have a judge figure out what kind of sentence to give him for his act of terrorism.

Yes, it’s terrorism. Not the kind that hit us on 9/11 and the UK on 7/7, but terrorism nonetheless - the kind of terrorism that could result in physical harm as well as world wide financial disruption. I won’t suggest how, but it isn’t that hard to figure out.

Some other sentences for these acts of terrorism have come closer to being appropriate for the magnitude of the crime and the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would send a malicious computer hacker to jail for life!! It now goes to the Senate where it should pass just as easily.

This kind of crime has to be stopped in its tracks so future Sven Jaschans will think twice before taking up computer crime as a hobby. At least not in this country. I swear, it almost makes you wish there was some version of the Gestapo still in existence. Who would have thought that the nation that spawned the Nazis would be a safe haven for the criminals of cyber space?

Speaking of harsh jail terms, one crime fighting Congressional cheesehead doesn’t think our courts are tough enough - and he doesn’t just make vague and veiled threats of retribution to judges who don’t judge the way he thinks they should - as Tom DeLay did during the Congressional Schiavo fiasco - he sat down and wrote the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals a long letter telling them they were wrong about a particular jail sentence and demanding that they straighten out and fly right!!

Of course that would be the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. That‘s the same James Sensenbrenner who chaired a hearing not that long ago on the Patriot Act, called by Democrats, but after a couple of hours of hearing things that he didn’t like, decided that he didn’t want to hear anymore - from witnesses or from Democratic committee members, took his gavel, shut off the mikes and went home. If you want to look at the video, fast forward to about the 1 hour 47 minute mark and watch and listen to the end. It made for a great bit on the Daily Show and it didn’t need any editing to make the point that John Stuart articulated at the end of the clip. "We’re being governed by children!!"

But those judges at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals better watch it. Children can be dangerous. Just look at what Sven Jaschan did and all that the courts could do to him was take away his lollipop and give him a time out. But in this case, it’s not the courts that are doing the judging, but the Republican Congressman from the Fifth Congressional District of Wisconsin. Let’s hope that the good folks of Waukesha and West Bend and Menomonee Falls and other towns in Wisconsin’s Fifth District have been watching young Jimmy play his games on their behalf and conclude that maybe it’s time to give him a well deserved time out the next time he comes asking for an extension of his contract and look for an adult to take his place who is familiar with the rules and the courtesies of the House of Representatives and the concept of the separation of powers.

Friday, July 08, 2005
" 7/7" - LONDON’S "9/11"

Although I hate to do it, I have to cut back on blogging for a while and concentrate, as I mentioned some time ago, on trying to resolve a serious medical problem. So while I continue to have more to say than I can find time for to record here, my comments will have to be brief and spasmodic for a while.

Meanwhile, about yesterday…..

I was able to get a call through to one person in London and learned that all members of my English family were O.K. Later, I sent an e-mail to my brother and two sisters there in which I said:
There are no words to describe something like this. How do you wage war against sub-humanoids when you don't know who they are or where they are? I'm at the tail end of life but I feel sorry for the young people who have to face this kind of world for the foreseeable future and frustrated that I have no advice to give them that would help or make sense.
There will be millions of words written about the horror that engulfed London yesterday morning - as there will be spoken over the airways and in homes and pubs and in the halls of power in the civilized world. There have been and will be the useless but obligatory words of defiance uttered by our political leaders. Those kind of words will accomplish nothing - but of course we need them to express our grief and horror - and yes, defiance. But now, as in the days after 9/11, the words need to be said that make clear the true battle that the world is facing - the war, if you want to use such a word, between the civilized peoples of the world and the madmen whose minds are mired in the sixth and seventh centuries while their bodies are able to be transported around the globe with ease in jet planes and trains and automobiles and with access to twenty-first century weaponry.

This is a war that started long before 9/11 but that we weren’t that aware of because its beginnings were in an age before the world had shrunk - when an ocean was considered an insurmountable barrier against invaders, an age when the French believed that the Maginot Line would protect them - until the German army simply went around it.

As I said in my e-mail to my English family, the sub-humanoids who are attacking targets in the civilized world are faceless. We know that they are part of the Muslim world but beyond that, we don’t know who they are. We don’t know where they are. And we have no idea when or why they will attack again. That makes it one hell of a Herculean task to defend ourselves and an even tougher one to launch counter attacks.

But defend ourselves we must and do battle with them we must. The problem facing us is how to go about it and so far we haven’t done a very good job. Invading Iraq did nothing to put a dent in world wide terrorism. On the contrary, it acted like a magnet for terrorists who are swarming all over that country like bees drawn to an abandoned cache of honey. Osama Bin Laden is still at large and for all we know planning more attacks like that of yesterday’s. And Afghanistan, which President Bush has been touting as an example of the "progress" we are making in the "war on terror - is all over the news in recent days as something far different than an example of how we’re "winning" the "war on terror."

So what the hell do we do? I wish I had answers. I don’t. But I’m pretty damned convinced that what we have been doing so far isn’t the way to go. We can be as conciliatory as we like toward the millions of Muslims who we profess to admire as peace loving citizens while condemning the bad guys, but I doubt if we have any real idea of how many jihadists are among them or among us for that matter.

Of one thing I am sure. It is not enough to track down individuals who are planning attacks against us or to increase our vigilance against suspicious looking characters doing suspicious things. We have to come to grips with the fact that we are engaged in a massive clash of cultures between the world of Islam and the western way of life and we have to find a way to communicate with that culture and find common ground with it. For sure we can’t destroy it, nor can we stop terrorists by invading countries that we think support, harbor or sympathize with terrorists. All that does is create more terrorists. But we need to recognize that our battle is not just with terrorists but with the culture that spawns terrorists who commit their crazed acts of terror in the name of that culture.

As I say, this humble blogger doesn’t have any answers. I just know that the confident rhetoric of George Bush and Tony Blair notwithstanding, we are not "winning" any kind of "war on terror" with whatever methods we are currently employing because each time terrorists are able to attack and cause death and destruction, they "win." They win because their goal is not the impossible goal of destroying western society, which George Bush and Tony Blair defiantly say they will never do - but to cause death and destruction and watch us writhe in agony over our losses.

One final thought. I agree with those who have been expressing admiration for the way Londoners absorbed this shock and are already bouncing back with the busses and underground trains packed as tightly as they were yesterday. And, as an ex Londoner, I am proud of the calmness of survivors as they told their stories to the cameras yesterday. London survived the blitz in World War II and years of IRA bombs and scares. It will survive this and other terrorist attacks that may come. Londoners will bury their dead and move on. We can only hope that their and our leaders will not only have the same resolve - that’s a given - but will find ways other than military action to engage and influence the culture that spawns these terrorists.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I don’t know what it is about the French that makes them shoot themselves in the foot so often. Maybe it’s because they use Champagne as a table wine and drink too much of it, starting somewhere between the occasion of taking their first unaided steps and shedding their diapers. Considering Jacques Chirac’s age, he’s probably arrived at a point where it is difficult to tell whether anything he says is the product of his thought processes or the accumulated blood levels of the bubbly stuff. Why else would he pick this moment in time to make ridiculous comments about that paragon of Epicurean virtuosity - British Cuisine?

As his booze infested brain was sending the nonsensical messages about British cooking to his vocal chords in Kaliningrad, Russia - I am sure to the delight of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin - the International Olympic Committee was meeting in Singapore to decide the winning venue for the 2012 Olympic Games. At that moment, New York had been eliminated, despite the efforts of Hillary Clinton to bribe the more horny members of the committee with Bill’s address and phone book of Available International Interns and Mohammed Ali’s threat to sting every member’s butt with a still effective one/two - and it looked like Paris was home free. I doubt if Ladbroke’s would have taken more than an odds on bet on the City of Light and would likely have given you six to four on London.

But Frere Jacques forgot, as his champagne diminished memory often forgets - that the world has reached the twenty-first century - the century of the Internet, the Cell Phone , satellite broadcasting and Connie Chung. When he spoke to Schroeder and Putin, he spoke to the world. His ill advised comments were flashed around the globe in an instant, arriving in Singapore almost before he had finished with his foul mouthed attack on the gustatorial splendors of the Mother Country - (ours, not his).

Had his French excuse for spies done their homework, Monsieur Chirac would have been made aware of the food preferences of each and every one of the 115 IOC delegates charged with making the selection of the 2012 Olympic Game city. He would have known for example that member "X" - my lawyers have advised me that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald monitors my blog and may give my name to Robert Novak if I "out" anyone in this post - is a Tripe and Onions junky. Member "YQ" (very close to his real name), eats Bread and Dripping for breakfast every Thursday - and Madame "De P," who considers Welsh Rarebit superior to Chateaubriand , can often be seen wandering the streets of London’s East End with newspaper wrapped fish and chips in hand.

The news of Chirac’s culinary faux pas hit the committee room like a bomb. Although a majority were sold on Paris for 2012 and couldn’t care less what Chirac said about stale cheese sandwiches and warm beer in ye olde Dill and Pickle Tavern, the stunned true food lovers were adamant. There was no way that they would allow the noble games to go to the country of this charlatan, this flavorless nitwit. Once the rest of the committee members saw the determination in their eyes - the Chirac goose was cooked.

And that’s the inside story - so help me Emeril!!

And while I’m on the subject, maybe we could get the IOC to pick our next Supreme Court Judge?

I suppose the resignation of Sandra Day O’Connor can be considered an event in "the passing parade" about which this blog was created to comment - and even though my comments will have no influence whatsoever, along with what I imagine are hundreds of thousands of like comments in the blogosphere, I’ll pen a few brief words anyway.

In a logical world, the business of finding an appropriate replacement for the retiring judge wouldn’t be in the least bit controversial. Since our system calls for the advice and consent of the Senate, a logical and practical President would consult with members of that body and, with their input, select a nominee who would receive the same kind of endorsement as did Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981 - a unanimous confirmation.

But it seems that we are not living in a logical world - not if we can believe all of the noise already being generated over who the President will nominate and talk of millions of dollars that will be spent trying to influence his decision by people from the far right who would like a court that reflects their ideas of what kind of country this should be - something approaching a Christian theocracy - and by those on the left who will be spending their bucks urging Mr. Bush to nominate someone like Sandra Day O’Connor - a much more sensible suggestion.

Some member of an advance race of beings arriving today from another galaxy via the 4 p.m. hyperspace express, would look at the situation and sum it up in a matter of seconds. The President of course should nominate someone with all of the appropriate legal skills who could be approved by all factions in the Senate. Someone who doesn’t throw any kind of scare into Senators from the far left, the far right and those in the middle. Someone whose views on controversial and non controversial issues will win nods of approval from the left, right and center of the Senate chamber.

There is a slim possibility that Mr. Bush will surprise the heck out of everyone, including the holy rollers who think he owes them a judge who reflects their beliefs - as if a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court can be thought of as a reward for political support - and nominate someone who will win Senate confirmation 100 to zip in a twenty minute session. If he did that, I would have to re-think my appraisal of this President while sipping my afternoon tea and nibbling on a slice of humble pie. But he won’t, which is why, as I have said many times here before, they - the aliens - won’t come.

And really. Think about it folks. If you were an alien from an advanced race of beings, would you want to risk your neck visiting this nuthouse???

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A theme that I have visited several times on this blog - and that I imagine I will continue to visit, is the mindset of newspaper editors in charge of the "letters to the editor" section of the paper and what possesses them to publish certain letters.

A couple of examples. On May 7, 2003, I suggested that perhaps some editors used the "letters" section as a way of "saying" things that they wouldn’t dare say in the news sections or even in the editorial and op-ed sections. However outlandish or bigoted or historically revisionist a commentary or an idea might be - it was O.K. to publish because it wasn’t the paper saying it. It was just the opinion or analysis of a reader.

On March 9, 2004, under the headline SILLY LETTERS THAT GET PUBLISHED - BUT WHY? I didn’t suggest any clandestine reasons for publishing silly letters, but I gave an example of one piece of silliness and wondered whatever would possess an editor to publish it. I speculated on some reasons but none of them very convincingly. I said then that I just couldn’t imagine why some editors publish ideas from readers that they know are just plain ridiculous - and in many cases, insulting to any reader with no more than average intelligence.

And now, here we go again. Of all days, the daily paper that I read, the Chicago Tribune, chose July 4th - Independence Day, to publish a silly letter from one Donald Froelich, that has to rank pretty high among the collection of silly letters published by that paper over the years. And the reason for this particular silly letter’s selection may well be found in the theory I advanced in my blog of May 7, 2003 referenced above. Maybe someone involved in letter selection at the Tribune actually believes that one can put the deaths of our service people in Iraq "in perspective" by comparing the numbers to other death numbers and that there is some value in doing so!!

It’s difficult to respond to anything so ridiculous in a serious manner, but I’ll try nonetheless. The letter writer’s "point" - if you can call it that, is that there are large numbers of deaths from all sorts of causes that are not highlighted by the media. He cites deaths from automobile accidents as an example and asks "where the outcry is to ban cars." He might as well have asked where is the outcry to control the price of lobster tails for all the sense his "comparison" makes. One has to wonder why he simply didn’t cite the universal death rate from all causes to put the deaths of our service personnel in Iraq "in perspective." That would surely make the point about all the belly aching over a lousy seventeen hundred Americans who happened to get killed in Iraq. Why, there are hundreds of thousands of people who die every day - so, according to Mr. Froelich, "God should bless President Bush and our military leaders for keeping the casualty rate so low in Iraq."

That’s the sort of reasoning found in the confessed murderer of his parents who asks the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. Except that there’s more to it with this letter writer. Mr. Froelich reveals himself and the philosophy behind his reasoning by comparing the mere 1700 military deaths in Iraq with the "deaths" of 1.4 million "unborn American babies" killed each year by abortion and complaining that those "deaths’ aren’t considered news. Here is the convoluted morality of the extreme right that wrings its hands and sheds tears over "killing" of the "unborn" but thinks it’s perfectly O.K. to say that because other wars and other sets of circumstances have produced large numbers of American deaths, 1,700 deaths in Iraq are somehow less tragic, less overwhelming, when considered "in perspective."

Well Mr. Froelich, here’s a "perspective" for you. Since we weren’t able to stop the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11/2001- even though we might have been able to do just that if Mr. Bush and his advisors had heeded the warnings they were given when they took over the White House - there was no way to prevent the death of close to double the number of Americans killed in Iraq. In World War ll, we were attacked by Japan and had war declared upon us by Germany. The deaths that we incurred in the battles of Iowa Jima and the Ardennes, were in a war not of our instigation. We were attacked and we responded.

But Iraq did not attack us. Iraq had nothing to do with the attack of 9/11 to which we responded slowly but at least appropriately in Afghanistan. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction with which it was preparing to attack the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country. They weren’t ever 45 minutes away from a launch of anything against anybody. While the desire for regime change in Iraq was the stated policy of this country during the Clinton Presidency, achieving it by military intervention was not. President Bush, who is as deeply concerned over the "killing" of millions of "the unborn" as you are, had a different idea. It was an idea that he had from the moment he took office - probably even before - and the outrage of 9/11 provided him with an excuse to turn his idea into action. Encouraged and emboldened by advisors who have become loosely identified as "neocons," he sent our military forces to attack a nation that had not attacked us, killing countless thousands of Iraqis in the process, creating a battleground for terrorists that had never before existed and sacrificing the lives of over 1700 American men and women, injuring thousands more and with more being added to that death and injury casualty list every day

Here’s your perspective Mr. Froelich. There was no need for any of those young people to die or to be blinded or paralyzed or to lose limbs. The evidence is overwhelming and is still growing that Mr. Bush had made up his mind to attack and overthrow Saddam Hussein long before he sought Congressional approval to do so and that the justifications he proffered for launching the attack were without substance. That he continues to proffer them as our young continue to fall on the battlefield of his creation is beyond forgiving.

And I feel the same way about whoever at the Chicago Tribune gave the green light to publishing this piece of nonsensical non-reasoning. It’s a good paper, but when it comes to Mr. Bush and the Iraq adventure, its editors have their collective heads buried in the sand of Lake Michigan’s beaches.