Sunday, December 31, 2006


In the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a grand total of 2,973 people died.

As of today, 3,000 American troops have died in Mr. Bush's Iraq war.

Who is the bigger Queada or Bush?


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The War on Earthquakes

While watching a science show the other night, the Ivory Madonna heard the following statement about earthquakes:

We know that there are going to be large earthquakes, and that they are going to injure and kill thousands of people. The best we can do is to study earthquakes, learn as much as we can about them, and take whatever steps we can to minimize the risks to those who are caught in them.
Two thought experiments spring to mind.

First, in the statement above, replace the word "earthquakes" with "terrorism."

Okay, have you thought about that for a moment? Good. Here's the second thought experiment. In the phrase "War on Terrorism," replace the word "terrorism" with "earthquakes."

The War on Earthquakes.

The notion of conducting a "war" on earthquakes is so patently absurd, that it's hard not to giggle. Whatever the appropriate response to earthquakes, war is obvious not it.

So when those in power speak of a "war on terrorism" (or, more frequently, a "war on terror"), why don't we all giggle and dismiss the notion as the absurdity it is?

Study terrorism. Learn all we can about it. Take whatever steps we can to minimize the risks to those caught in it. But don't make war against it, and don't think you're ever going to eliminate it entirely.

What's next, a war on volcanoes? Military campaigns against blizzards? More troops to eliminate the threat of tsunamis?


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What To Do About Iraq

Everyone says that nobody has a solution to the mess in Iraq. Well, they haven't asked the Ivory Madonna.

In June 2005 she told you the solution, and she's going to repeat it here. Take notes, folks, because there will be a quiz.

Step One: Admit that the presence of US troops makes the problem worse, and commit to getting them out of Iraq as soon as possible.

Step Two: Go to the United Nations and apologize. Apologize for creating this mess, apologize for making it worse, apologize for saying nasty things about the U.N. If Bush must go, hat-in-hand, then so be it. Let him wait in the snow for the Secretary-General to admit him. If his stubborn pride won't allow him to go, then send Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The world must see that we know we've made a mistake, and we're sorry.

Step Three: Ask the U.N. to take over in Iraq. With any luck, they'll put together a multinational force with lots of representation from Muslim nations, but it's not our place to tell the U.N. how. We've screwed up so badly, it's not our place to tell anyone how to clean up.

Step Four: Pay for it. Make a national commitment to provide the U.N. with the money to get the job done. Yes, that's going to mean higher taxes, elimination of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and we will have to give up some of the things we were hoping we could accomplish. Tough. We broke it, we need to pay for it.

Step Five: Shut up and get the hell out of the way. We can't be telling people what to do and trying to impose our will on the world any more. The U.S. has no credibility on the world stage right now. Now is the time for us to follow orders, not give them.

Step Six: Get U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as the U.N. thinks we should...but make it sooner rather than later. Months, not years.

If we follow these recommendations, we have a chance of getting out of this in an honorable, workable fashion. We have a chance to begin repairing the damaged reputation of the U.S. We have a chance to start getting the world back on our side.

There, that wasn't too difficult, was it?


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The question of the day seems to be, how is the US going to keep out all those Hispanics who sneak in, wanting nothing more than a better life for themselves and their families.

Conservatives are full of solutions. Throw the undocumented/illegal immigrants in jail. (Conservatives love anything that will give them an excuse to build more prisons.) Send them back to their home countries. (It's free trade, you see.) Beef up the borders: build a fence (yeah, that will work), build a wall (hey, it worked for Hadrian!), hire more border guards and have them shoot to kill (on the plus side, it would mean more men with guns and more people getting killed in Texas; on the minus side, where are we going to get all the extra border guards? I know, we'll hire illegal aliens!).

None of these solutions are really workable. Yet there is a philosophy there that might be useful if we just look at it the right way. That philosophy is, "stop them before they get here."

Why do people come into the US illegally (and often at great physical risk)? Why will they keep coming, even if we build a Great Wall across the southern border? Because they're looking for a better life than they have at home.

The obvbious solution: Make their home lives better.

Okay, these folks come into the US from all of South and Central America. And the Ivory Madonna is willing to admit that it's a little extreme to think of raising the standard of living in all those countries. Thus, she presents a more modest proposal. Call it The Great Wall of Mexico.

Let us embark upon a Marshall-type plan to raise the standard of living in Mexico to the equivalent of (at least) Europe's.

What does this do? First, it removes the incentive for Mexicans to come into the US. Why go through all the trouble of illegal immigration if things at home aren't so bad? (We don't seem to have a problem with millions of people sneaking across the northern border from Canada.) Second (and this is the key bit), it makes Mexico the target from the rest of Central & South America. After all, most US-bound immigrants pass through Mexico on their way (kinda hard to cross the southern US border without going through Mexico). If life in Mexico is good, why won't they stop there?

In effect, we could turn Mexico into a "wall," a thousand-mile buffer zone that would soak up potential immigrants before they get to the US.

As time goes on, we could continue the Marshall-type plans southward, eventually to raise the standard of living for all of Central & South America.

Yes, the Great Wall of Mexico would cost a lot -- but so would prisons, armed guards, and border fences from San Diego to Brownsville. And this way, the money would go to productive uses.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rising Tides

The catchphrase among conservatives is "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Our experience during the Bush years has showed that while a rising tide may lift all boats, a tide that rises too high also overtops the levies and drowns low-lying houses.

In other words...conservative economic policies are great if you're on a boat (particularly one you inherited from your rich parents or grandparents) -- but hell if you're in a low-lying house with no realistic means of escape.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Secularizin Religious Holidays

We are coming out of a winter holiday season in which the Christianists made themselves extraordinarily obnoxious over the "secularization" of religious holidays, particularly Christmas. (The Ivory Madonna prefers to call it Krismas, a celebration of the birth of Kris Kringle . . .but she's also rather fond of "Happy Chrismahanukwazakah" as a greeting.)

How odd, then, that St. Valentine's Day came and went in a thoroughly secular fashion, without a murmur from the Christianists. How odd that they aren't out in the streets protesting the secularization of St. Patrick's Day.

Or, perhaps not so odd. They realize that Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, like Christmas, have become the property of the larger (secular) culture, and that they'd sound pretty silly protesting that no one honors the "sanctity of St. Valentine's Day" or the "deeper meaning of St. Patrick's Day."

What they don't realize, is that their identical arguments about Christmas sound equally silly.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

South Dakota

So the South Dakota legislature has passed a bill outlawing abortion, and the Governor seems certain to sign it into law.

This kind of theocratic, non-inclusive politics no doubt explains why South Dakota is such an economic, intellectual, and cultural powerhouse.

The phrase "cultural wasteland" springs to mind....


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.