Saturday, December 15, 2007

Once Again...Steroids and Baseball in the News. (When will the Neo-Puritans give it a rest?)

According to the New York Times, “…Former Sen. Mitchell's 300-plus page document on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, 21 months in the making, claims that nearly 90 players -- most notably Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Miguel Tejada -- are guilty of using some form of PEDs.” [Perfomance Enhancing Drugs]

When Mark Magwire was hounded by the press for using Androstendione ( a substance that was legal and sold over the counter in Golds Gyms, GNCs, and Drug Stores across America), it was easy to point the finger an “One Bad Guy.” When Barry Bonds was fingered as a steroid user, the writers at Sports Illustrated (sports nuts who cant play, but who delight in the catty process of creating legends and then destroying them) frothed at the mouth, issue after issue, because they could crucify One Bad Guy.

But, now it appears that steroids have appeared in major league baseball across the spectrum of teams. Surprise, surprise.....

TWO YEARS AGO I wrote about the prevalence of steroids in sports, and also proposed that it really is Not a crisis in need of ‘fixing.’ I know I went against the flow by writing that. But I maintain my stand, and repeat what I wrote then:

“…Sitting on my shelf is a bottle of ProLab ThermaPro, a thermogenic designed to raise metabolism and help burn fat. I used this (same basic ingredients as the old Hydroxycut and Xenadrine) several summers ago, while running in the hot Dakota sun every morning while trying to lose weight and tone up (mission: successful!). Ah, but this product contains ephedrine!!! [crowd gasps in horror in the background.] When I used it in 2002, I was using a sports supplement. When the FDA banned it last year (in 2004), I became the possessor of an illegal substance. When the Court overturned the FDA ban, I was an upstanding citizen again. Then the FDA declared that my 20 mg ephedrine was greater than the amount in the court case, and was illegal, and presto-chango, I’m a criminal again.

And this has been the history of steroids and sports supplements. The non-steroidal Androstendione which was available in every health and vitamin store a few years ago, all of a sudden disappeared because the FDA arbitrarily decided that since it was only “one step away” from a steroid, it is now illegal. However, DHEA, which is two steps away from a steroid, is still OK (for now…stock up while supplies last….)The steroids that Jose Canseco mentions being used in MLB were by and large completely legal in 1980. Many of them are still legal in much of the world, including industrialized nations such as Germany and Holland. Some (Fina) can be made of 100% legal substances in your kitchen. Others are legal as veterinary substances.

The history of Sports is the history of going the extra mile and being slightly better than anyone and everyone else. Athletes give up much of their personal lives and incur a great personal cost in training. They regulate what they eat. They take vitamin supplements such as Calcium. They take Glutamine to prevent muscle breakdown. They take Milk Thistle and ALA to keep their livers healthy. They take Glucosomine to help repair their stressed joints, and if they’re in trouble, they get shots from their doctors. Some take “stacks” to raise metabolism and speed weight-loss (like my illegal aspirin-caffeine-ephedrine stack). They use Creatine as a muscle volumizer and NO2 to increase muscle pump, while downing extra-heavy whey-protein isolate shakes to increase food to muscle cells. Somewhere along the line Congress is going to find out that many use insulin to increase food nutrition entering the muscle cells as well. Some use 2-step-away prohormones like DHEA, others used 1-step-away-prohormones.’

And yes, some use steroids.

Yes, the bar is constantly raised. In the effort to be bigger, better, stronger, greater. And if anyone thinks that taking steroids means you take a pill and you’re suddenly Hulk, they are sadly misinformed. Guys who take steroid injections and just ‘wait’ for the effects find themselves fat and tired. An athlete who has chosen to use steroids will be working his butt off 5-6 days a week in grueling workouts. There is no ‘free ride’ by using steroids.

It is amazing, isn’t it? If someone goes to Beverly Hills and forks over $10,000 to a surgeon to have 40 pounds of lard sucked out of their gut in a two-hour operation, that is not only legal, it’s indicative of being One of the Beautiful People. But if you work your tail off during a 12-week steroid cycle to reduce your body fat from 15% to 6% through arduous workouts, well…..”that’s illegal! That’s immoral! That’s just not right!!!! We must punish baseball players!”

Actually, it seems a hell of a lot more honest to me.Of course, why stop at baseball players? Does anyone really believe thatfthe models on the cover of Mens fitness magazines get that way from situps and spinach? Have they asked the Governor of California how he got that big? Wake up, folk: when you outlaw a substance, you don’t make it go away….you make it go underground. Anyone remember Prohibition?

What’s more important, is that no one has been able to tell me just who is so harmed by an individual athlete’s choice to juice that it requires federal robocops. Have these sports figures killed anyone? Assaulted anyone? Robbed anyone? Maimed anyone? Can you point to any damage they have caused? ?

There are those who will say that when young people emulate these guys, they are hurt. But that’s like saying that NASCAR should be responsible for kids who drive fast , that McDonalds should be responsible for obese slobs who sit and eat Big Macs every day, and that Clint Eastwood should be responsible for a kid who shoots someone.

If the Players are upset, or the union, or the fans, or the owners, they have immediate remedies and avenues. If they have chosen not to pursue them, perhaps Congress should realize they’re barking up the wrong tree.We don’t need Congress to decide who should be and shouldn’t be our sports heroes. We’ll do that for ourselves, thank you..”


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Massachusetts Highway Bureaucrat is Clueless...

My award for the most ridiculous, petty, ivory-tower Fiat pronounced by a Bureaucrat goes to Louisa Paiewonsky, the Massachusetts Highway Commissioner, who has determined that signs, flags, ribbons, and sheets welcoming troops home must all come down from highway overpasses.

The welcome-home signs have sprung up all over Massachusetts (as well as other parts of the country.) Home-made and heartfelt, they are a visible reminder of the Human connection between troops serving halfway around the world and the communities and families that anxiously await their return.

But, according to Ed Abell of the MHD, "Homemade signs and other items posted on overpasses pose a potential safety hazard to vehicles on roadways..."

Yeah, well deer crossing the road, branches blowing off of trees, and distracting commerical signs 'pose a potential safety hazard.' But Perfection and Utopia are not options. "Safety" is NOT the issue - everyone agrees that highways should be safe. The question is, "How much safer will the highway be by taking this action...and at what cost?"

MHD has yet to offer a *single* instance of a yellow ribbon, or a flag, or a sign flying off the overpass and causing an accident. By contrast, many instances of deer crosing the road and falling/blowing tree branches *have* caused accidents. By MHDs reasoning, the trees along the Highways should be leveled - because after all, they are a 'potential' safety hazard. (I'm sure that would go over well with the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs....)

And its not surprising that these welcome home banners have stayed put - after all, the people placing them there have a vested interest in making sure they are readable, secure, and can withstand the elements. They *want* the signs to remain and be visible. No one pours their heart and soul into one of these signs and then does a half-ass job affixing it to a fence on an overpass in a haphazard manner.

The degree of bureaucratic presumption - and cluelessness - is best displayed by the MHD's own suggestions for 'alternatives.' They have offered to place Generic, state-approved signs in Rest Areas.

MHD specifically opposes 'home-made' signs - suggesting, with incredible arrogance, that the State can somehow do a better job of making a "Welcome Home, Daddy!' sign than a soldiers' family. It also completely escapes them that the purpose of the sign is NOT simply to convey Formal Information ("Have Your Passports Ready, Please take your LapTop out of its Case, and Welcome Home Soldiers...') Rather, it is a human expression of hope and thanks and wishfulness and prayer and longing...something no Bureaucracy can even begin to express.

You would think that with the crazy placement of a traffic light on Rte 2 around a blind bend near Fitchburg, multiple lane crossings at the merger of Storrow Drive Eastbound and Interstate 93, A Pandoras Box of forks on Soldiers Field Road, and a minefield of jersey barriers on any given block in Worcester, that Mass Highway would have something real to worry about.

Guess they'd rather pick a battle they think they can win.....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Emotion and Bad Law: The Snyder v. Westboro (Phelps) verdict

So, the US District Court (Baltimore) has awarded Albert Snyder $10.9 million dollars. The verdict came against the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, a fundamentalist cult operated by the Fred Phelps family. Phelps is well-known for his anti-homosexual rantings, which he takes to an extreme: in the current case, he and his church members protested outside the funeral of Lance Cpl. Mathhew Snyder, a young soldier who died in Iraq in March 2006. Phelps and his minions regularly protest around the country carrying signs that proclaim, "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates America." They believe that the carnage in Iraq is God's condemnation on the United States for this country's toleration of homosexuality. The dead soldiers father (Albert) sued for emotional distress, and won.

Emotional issue. Terrible Verdict.

I agree, Phelps is a madman. A raving lunatic. An obsessed crusader. His antics are disgusting. His mere appearance at these funerals is disgusting, despicable, heartless, and mean-spirited. His theology is off the wall.

It is also protected by the US Constitution.

That speech which is most abhorrent is precisely that speech that must be protected.

If we begin to punish speech which is heartless and meanspirited, we have started down a slippery slope. Does that mean that members of the US Nazi party should *not* have the right to parade, if it upsets Jewish residents or holocaust survivors? Does it mean that racists should no longer have the right to give political speeches if it upsets a black citizen who remembers the days of southern lynchings?

Lets take it further: Does it mean that cities should be able to ban Gay Pride parades and festivals because it deeply offends its religious citizens? Think about this, we really want to punish and ban and fine speech that is found to be 'offensive?'

Once we say that offensive speech is not protected speech, we have destroyed the very concept of Freedom of Speech. What Phelps does is repugnant, and he is properly vilified in the media for his nonsense. Frankly, I wouldnt even mind if someone decked him. I might even be tempted to deliver the blow myself....

But the government must not punish offensive speech - or we *all*in trouble - especially those of us who find ourselves in minority communities.

The verdict does not mean that the Snyders will receive compensation. the Church and the Phelps' will assuredly hide most of their assets, if they have any. But it does cast one more dangerous precedent that will come back to hurt us all. 9/11 became an excuse for chipping away at civil liberties.. We now readily engage in the very activities we used to chide the Soviet Union for (warrantless wiretaps, secret prisons, torture, passports requirements, Real ID). The banning of 'offensive' speech is simply one more step down the road towards a totalitarian society.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Random Collection of my Favorite Quotes

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow - What a ride!'"

"Forgiveness is usually easier than permission"

"There's only now, there's only this, forget regrets, or life is yours to miss..." (from Rent)

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" (Ben Franklin)

"The Market will always prevail over the Law."

"I'm a Libertarian. I'd like to get the Republicans out of my bedroom, and the Democrats out of my wallet."

"The only difference between guys in jail and us is that they got caught and convicted."

"In all numerous assemblies, of whatever characetr conposed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from Reason." (James Madison)

"But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt, and by their vices brought to servitude, Then to love bondage more than Liberty, Bondage with ease then strenuous Liberty."
(John Milton; Samson Agonistes,1671;lines 268 - 271 )

If I Was Inside Out
Barnes & Loudboy

If I was inside out
Would you love me like you do?
If I was inside out

If you could see my heart
And the Truth was in plain view
If I was Inside Out

I peel back the layers and lies and disguises
Open my soul to the light of your eyes


If you enter to the very heart of me
Would you understand the ugly mess you’d see?
See my anger, feel my passion
Burning raw like the sun deep inside

I was Inside Out
If you looked into my face,
Would you have to turn away?

Would you know what I’m about?
Could you stand and swallow truth?
If I was Inside Out?

I peel back a lifetime of lies and disguises
Open my heart to the light of your eyes


All my Skin & bones,
Every silent scream
If I was Inside Out
Every choked back word,
Every strangled dream
If I was Inside Out

If I was Inside Out
So could you see my heart
Would you love me?
Could you love me?

If I was Inside Out
And you could see my heart…


If I was Inside OutIf I was Inside Out
My Naked-Ass Truth kickin’ you in the balls

Would you hold me?
Would you love me?
Could you love me?
If I was Inside Out?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig and the Real Crime...

OK, so Senator Larry Craig, a long-time conservative politician and family man from Idaho, was caught and pleaded guilty to a most chilling crime:

He tapped his foot in a mens room stall.

Well, OK, it was probably a signal to see if the guy in the next stall was interested in giving or getting a blowjob. As far as I know, no patron was scandalized, no one's money was swiped, no one is bleeding, no one was hurt, no one was in any way impacted by it. But the howl from the media and politicians on both the left and right have to make one stop and pause.

Here, to me, are the real crimes:

That a man who is innately homosexual must spend his life deeply closeted and hiding it.

That society can so quickly turn on a man who's sexuality is 'different.'

That a man grows up loathing himself, ashamed of himself, and struggles his whole life. That he is reduced to furtive, secretive trysts that only drive him deeper into shame and dangerous sex.

That Republicans can be so self-righteous and hypocritical (conservative leadership, PR men, and pundits have always been rife with homsexuals at the highest levels) as to turn so quickly. That they can be so beholden to an ignorant and shrill right-wing base that they will shoot their wounded and never examine their own consciences.

That liberals will stand by and gloat, because 'he's not one of us.'

That gays will join in the blood-letting, because revenge is so much more exciting than teachable moments.

And lastly, that Larry will swear to his dying day that he is 'not gay," (or worse, that he's been 'cured), because he just can't accept himself.

The longer the closet door stays shut, the more the suffering will go on.

The sooner we put on army boots and smash that damn door to splinters, the easier it becomes for the next person to live the life they are meant to live without daily fear and anxiety.

The best reason to come out, Larry? To make sure the kids in the next generation dont live through the hell you have.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Hampshire enacts Civil Unions

Today, New Hampshire became the first state in the country to adopt civil unions for gay couples without a court order or a pending lawsuit against a marriage statute. And the bill even uses the term, "spousal union" to describe gay relationships. Once again, the Granite State stands in the vanguard of liberty for all.

Two years ago, state lawmakers held a series of "information gathering" meetings around the state. I attended the meeting held in Keene, NH, at the Keene Public Library.

The 'agenda' was set from the beginning. The overflow crowd of residents who had come to make their opinions known were told they would have to wait until the 'special guests' got to speak. The 'guests' were anti-civil union activists from Massachusetts.

That's right, New Hampshire legislators came to gather public opinions...but the residents of New Hampshire who took the time and effort to stand up in public and offer their opinion were delayed until the out-of state, non-resident, non-voting 'experts,' chosen by the panel itself, could tell us all what a disaster civil unions would be.

As the panel then turned to the audience, we were warned over and over that any disruption or impoliteness would result in the panels getting up and leaving. (Now there's a great example for lawmakers to set, huh?) Mere objections to allowing out of state testimony were promptly classified as disruptions, and people who's voices were shaking with nervousness at their first 'public hearing' were nastily shot down by the panel chair.

Predictably, the panel recommended a ban on same-sex unions.

Appropriately, the residents of New Hampshire threw them out at the next election.

Throughout the national media, one hears tales that New Hampshire has gone from 'conservative' to 'liberal' in one election. In actuality, nothing is furter from the truth: New Hampshire never *was* conservative. New Hampshire was, is, and remains, a libertarian state. In the area of taxes, firearms rights, and government regulation of business, the Republicans were the guardian of libertarian values. But today, as big brother Federal government pokes it nose into our library reading lists and our bedrooms, the Democrats are our best bet for guarding our liberties.

The average Granite Stater doesnt care who their neighbor sleeps with. And they dont care to have the government telling them what to do. For years, we relied on Republicans to carry the torch of liberty. Now, the Democrats have their chance....and this was another step in the direction of liberty.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

And some more Ink (yes, it's addictive...)

My newest addition...a Tribal Tattoo.

No, it doesnt have a specific meaning, except for the images one conjures up when one thinks "Tribal" (instinctive, ancient, mystical, community, warrior)

And now, for something completely (well almost) non-political...

My Bear Paw Tat, courtesy of Gina at Mom's Tattoo Studio in Keene, NH:

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

General Pace and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Well. This will not have to be a long post for me to make my point.

By now we have all read comments by the Marine Core's General Peter Pace in support of the Military's "Don't ask Don't Tell" policy . He stated,

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," said the General, and "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

Now, in response, many in 'Gay Leadership' (HRC, GLBT Task Force, the usual Pink Mafiosos) went ballistic, and, in an almost habitual self-defeating way, went after the *wrong* issue. They immediately jumped on *what* he said, in proclaiming homsexuality to be immoral, instead of faulting his illogical reasoning as to how it relates to the Policy.

Like it or not, a lot of Americans agree with him on the 'it's immoral' issue. It is not a crime to think differently, or have different opinions abut 'morality,' no atter how odious they might seem. If we focus on the issue of whether or not homosexuality is 'immoral,' we become bogged down in an unwinnable arguement. People will believe what they want about sexual morality.

No, friends, the greater point is this: the good General proclaimed that it is necessary to keep any 'immorality' out of the military: "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way." And this was his arguement in favor of DADT.

Let's be frank, General: soldiers don't have affairs, right? They don't visit brothels. They don't sow their oats when given a pass off-base. They wait until they're 21 to get drunk. They never smoke pot, or send drugs home. Those sailors-in-port stories are just that - stories. The army never talks to its soldiers about STDs or provides condoms, and never treats syphilis. Nope, never happens.

General, would you favor dismissing every soldier who visited a whorehouse? Smoked pot? Got drunk? Had sex with someone not his or her spouse? After all, if immorality is bad for military personnel, why not get rid of all the sinners in the armed forces?

Get off it, General. The most glaring point here is that there is a double standard: we wink at the boys who are off getting their rocks off when they're so far from home...we excuse it - even expect it - from red-blooded American soldiers. But God forbid one of those soldiers might have different inclinations - THAT's immoral, and they must be kept out of the army.

On it's face, the policy is riduculous, and must fall.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mitt Romney: Like Nailing Jello to a Wall....

Mitt Romney's interview with George Stephanopoulos this morning was a remarkable study of a Teflon Candidate who spoke passionately about having strong convictions about many issues, while leaving the viewer in total confusion. From abortion to the federal role in education, Mitt seemed to be all over the board, each sentence contradicting the one before. But my favorite part of the interview was his internally inconsistent and thoroughly illogical perspectives on gays in the military and gay marriage (which, I guess, could be expected when you're the Mormon Governor of the most Liberal state in the union).

His comments on these issues, with my own comments added, are these:

Concerning Gays in the military, Mitt said:

"Well, "don't ask, don't tell" has worked well. "

"I must admit, I was somewhat uncertain as to whether that would work and I was skeptical as to whether that policy would work. "

"I don't have a policy posture as to allowing gays in the military to serve there openly."

(So, if I have this right, Mitt, you didn't think it would work, but now you think it has worked, and you don't want gays to be 'open')

Mitt continued: "But I can tell you that I'm against discrimination against people who are gay and lesbian." don't want Gays in the military to admit to any soul in the military that they are gay. But you are against discrimination. So, it would be OK to admit you are Catholic, Democrat, or of Croatian ethnic heritage; you could admit to being heterosexual and discuss in lurid detail your exploits with those of the opposite sex in the barracks; you could wolf whistle at the strippers in the club and place dollars in their long as it was a dancer of the opposite sex. So tell me again how you are 'against discrimination against people who are gay,' but believe that gays and ONLY gays must be silent about their lives to remain on the job?

And for what its worth Mitt, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" has NOT all. But we will save that issue for a separate blog entry.

Then, on marriage:

"...I do favor and have always favored traditional marriage and oppose same sex marriage.
..... I've felt marriage is between a man and a woman and not between people of the same gender. "

'....two people can enter into a partnership, whether they're people who love each other or whether they're just friends. They can enter into a contract and have contractual relationships with one another. ... But that doesn't require a sanction by the state and so that's a decision each state would have to make. I wouldn't seek to impose, at the national level, a prohibition on contractual relationships between two people...But my view is, at the national level, we should define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman..."

Whooa! "It's a decision each state would have to make" and "I wouldn't seek to impose, at the national level...," followed by, "At the national level, we should define marriage."

Mitt, old boy, do you see any contradiction there? Appealing to individual contractual rights and states rights on one hand, and supporting a national policy on the other hand? All things to all people, buster? Or Nothing to Anybody?

But here's the real exciting part:

"... And this isn't about adult rights. A lot of people get confused that gay marriage is about treating gay people the same as treating heterosexual people, and that's not the issue involved here. This is about the development and nurturing of children. Marriage is primarily an institution to help develop children and children's development, I believe, is greatly enhanced by access to a mom and a dad. I think every child deserves a mom and a dad, and that's why I'm so consistent and vehement in my view that we should have a federal amendment which defines marriage in that way..." My view is that the right model for the nation and the right standard for the nation is marriage is between a man and a woman and a child deserves a mom and a dad.."

Well, Mitt, you have pretty clearly stated that marital rights are about 'the development and nurturing of children." So if that's what marital rights are all about, I have some questions for you:

Does that mean you would revoke marital rights for heterosexual couples who are unable, or choose not, to raise children?

Would you revoke marital rights for couples once their children are grown and out of the house?

Would you make adoption by single parents illegal?

If marriage rights and benefits are predicated on the notion of raising children, then by your own standards childless couples should not have these rights. If you favor the adoption of a child by a single woman, how could you logically oppose the adoption of that child by a single woman and her partner? Further, under your own standard, if a state permits gay couples to adopt...wouldn't they have a stronger claim to marital benefits than a heterosexual couple with no children?

At some point, Mitt, you will need to stop sticking your wet finger in the wind while whispering contradictory sweet nothings into three different ears at once. And when you do, then we'll examine your stands on the issues. Until then, we'll give you some time to think about the logical conclusions of some of your 'positions.'

Courage and Independent Thinking in Wisconsin

Lately it's been refreshing listening to politicians out of Wisconsin. Both Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold and former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson have staked out positions on Iraq that place them at odds with their respective parties - positions that show both the courage of their convictions and pragmatism.

The Democrats took control over state legislatures and Congress largely on a wave of public dissatisfaction with the Iraqi mess. But Democrats can not just point the finger at the Bush - they, too, went along with most of this program, and gave been voting to continue it. This week, Democrats tried a lame resolution in Congress - one that passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. The Resolution disagrees with Bush's troop escalation, but does nothing about it. Even if passed, it's merely as if they are children saying "I don't like this!," but nothing happens as a result. It is a mere 'opinion' with no force or effect.

Russ Feingold is a Democrat who insists on 'walking the talk.' Rather than just offering non-binding opinions, Feingold is pushing for Congress to cut off funding for the Iraq war. While the President is the Commander-in-Chief, the House holds the purse strings. That is part of the checks and balances that the Founding fathers built into the Constitution.

If Democrats really want to stop the war, they can support Feingold. I suspect that what they really want to do is *complain* about the war, but not actually stop it. And for that reason, Feingold's bold proposal will probably not be supported.

Then there's Tommy Thompson's approach to Iraq. Thompson shows himself to be the ultimate realist when he sees Iraq not "as we want it to be," and not "as it ought to be," but as it truly is. And in so doing, he has called for the division of Iraq into three separate states rather than trying to hold it together as a single nation.

From the late 1200s until World War I, the land we call Iraq was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. And during the time, there were three states in the region: Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. That's a long time, folks. After the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in WWI, the European victors tried to create a sovereign nation - Iraq - out of these disparate pieces. One of the casualties of carving up the Ottoman Empire was the separation of the Kurds across four nations: Iran,k Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Since then, the Kurds have been one of the most harassed people-groups on earth. In 1925 Turkey suppressed the Kurds, and outlawed their language and cultural expressions. In 1961 the Kurds began rebelling against the Iraqi government, and fighting has continued in fits and starts since then. In 1979, when Islamic Fundamentalists took over Iran, Kurds fought the Islamicists and were brutally suppressed in that nation. In 1988, Iraq engaged in "Al-Anfal," ('The Spoils of War'), and slaughtered thousands of Kurds. One and a half million Kurds fled to Turkey, which, at the time, was the lesser of four evils. During the first Persian Gulf War, the Kurds supported the US invasion and rebelled against Saddam Hussein. Their reward was to be slaughtered when Saddam was permitted to remain in power. Throughout the 1990s, Kurds were subject to raids by Turkish forces crossing the border into Iraq. Finally, in the most recent Iraqi engagement, the Kurds steadfastly opposed Saddam (after thousands had been maimed, killed, and gassed with toxic chemicals by his regime), and assisted the American and European forces.

Since that time, the Kurdish region of Iraq has been stable. The sectarian violence that plagues the Shiites and Sunni Muslims in Baghdad is practically non-existent in Iraqi Kurdistan. While the Kurds live in relative autonomy right now, it came at a price: they still have no homeland of their own, and the oil-rich lands around Kirkuk and Mosul - traditional Kurdish cities - have been wrested from them and given to the Sunnis & Shiites who continue to be engaged in a civil war with each other.

For over 700 years, Iraq existed as three states. Today, the Kurds have suffered at the ends of Iraq and the surrounding states, bore the brunt of Saddam's cruelty, have assisted the west in every endeavor, and have shown themselves capable of peaceful and effective government - and yet, their reward is still to be a people without a homeland, in an Iraqi nation with make-believe borders imposed by Britain after WWI.

It's time to listen to Thompson, give the Kurds their own homeland, and let the Shiites and Sunnis fight their own battles with each other. And time to listen to Feingold, and not just talk about ending a war and whining about it, but actually doing it.