Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brokeback Jokes...

Alright...I swear no more Brokeback Mountain jokes. I know, I know! They're tacky, tasteless, and sophomoric. They don't belong anywhere on a serious political blog, and now I'm letting them go...

...God, I just wish I knew how to quit you!

Enough is enough....

Tacky? Yeah, but this little cartoon on the left is inciting fierce violence against...yep, you got it the Danes.

All over the Arab world Danish visitors are getting beaten after this and other Arab critical satirical cartoons were run in several Danish newspapers. The Jordanians feel that such cartoons are heresy, while the left...well the left seems pretty dammed absent from the whole debate. The Danish papers have been apologizing for the whole thing, and Bill Clinton (now staring in Brokeback Mountain 2 with George Bush Sr.) chimed in with this:

"None of us are totally free of stereotypes about people of different races, different ethnic groups, and different religions ... There was this appalling example in northern Europe, in Denmark ... these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam."

Look, I love me some Bill Clinton. No seriously, if I could vote the man back in as President I would, but some one has got to step up to the plate to defend free speech. The ACLU? Anyone?

This is one of the things I hate about modern politics. It always seems as if you have to be on one side of the fence at all times. If you're liberal then you have to be as PC and apologetic as possible, and if you're on the right you're a complete dick who doesn't have the word sorry in their vocabulary (Bush! Cough, cough). We're worlds away from a time when someone said "tread softly and carry a big stick." Listen, I love my free speech even more than Bill Clinton. If other countries don't want it then I can respect that, and I'm not going to bomb them to enforce my love of free speech. But at the same time, I'm not going to change, within my own borders, my rights either. There is a certain respect that the law must be given and a certain respect that life must be given, and never the twain shall meet. I still believe that it is Western politics that have shaped anti-westernism in the Middle East, but if it so happens that a few of them get upset over a comic strip, then pull the Danish out and cut trade. It's one thing to invade one of their countries, but screw 'em if they can't take a joke.

Iran says: Stop snitching!

There's more drama coming out of Iran than Brokeback Mountain, and sadly they can't win an Oscar. Earlier today Iran threatened to halt surprise UN inspections if any report was made to the Security Council. This comes on the heels of the US asking the rest of the SC to review Iran's status and to talk about possible embargos on the region. Read more about it here:


Alito's In...

Today, in one of the closest partisan votes for a Supreme court nominee, Judge Samuel Alito became the 110th Supreme court justice taking over the vacancy left by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The vote was 52-48--all but one Republican voted for Alito while four Democrats broke from the party and gave their stamp of approval.

The Alito nomination was hotly contested by the Democrats mostly because the social conservative for the former Regan administration was seen as a tipping vote on many issues that are guaranteed to come before the court such as abortion, executive power and affirmative action. However, during the nomination process the Democrats had a hard time pinning down Alito's convictions. Many of his answers were vague, and he refused to give any concrete response on whether he would overturn Roe V. Wade, vouching that he would have to rule on a case by case basis.

Yet was there really any doubt that Alito wasn't going to be confirmed? Alito has a nearly spotless record, with the exception for his short stint as a member of the Conservative Alumni of Princeton, an organization known for anti-feminist and anti-gay views. He also comes on the heels of the Harriet Miers nomination that frightened both parties with its obvious croneyism, and I think that every one was happy to have at least a competent nominee. Ultimately though Alito is a man who was in the right place at the right time. In this election year the Democrats know they need to chose their battles wisely, and though they tried their best even the most liberal among them know attacking Alito was a fool's errand. He was about as flammable as water, and quickly the whole circus was taken out of the limelight by the wiretapping scandal. It's sort of sad to me that this whole thing was pushed aside by the press since the Alito confirmation could quite possibly be the pivotal vote on so many important issues, the most important being Executive powers (Alito believes in a strong executive by the way), but no matter how you look at it this has been yet another whopping defeat for the Democrats who still have not been able to mount a front anywhere.

Monday, January 30, 2006

US Government gags NASA scientist. He chokes on his own ozone layer...

On Sunday the NY Times reported that the Bush administration attempted to stop a top climate scientist at NASA from speaking out about Global Warming. This comes in a torrent of charges claiming that the US government has been silencing many other scientists in regards to the same issue:


You know, believe it or not, after reading Michael Crichton's last book "State of Fear," I actually have a few doubts of my own regarding Global Warming. That is not to say I don't believe that the climate is changing because of human actions, but what these changes are and what possible danger this can pose to us and nature I think is open to debate, and more open and free research must be done. The issue has become almost more stigmatized than racism, and any outward dissention or cynicism towards it is responded to with the harshest of reactions. Then we get movies like "The Day After Tomorrow," that stokes this fear, unfounded on any scientific research or theory, and the population remains just as ignorant as before, but twice as terrified. And either way nothing substantial or concrete gets accomplished. This is the danger that comes with silencing opinions. If you think that we haven't changed our environment with industrialization then you're only fooling yourself. Whether or not this change is dangerous or fatal must be investigated, but our President, who has admitted that he doesn't like to read, has pandered so much to elements of the US that are so anti-intellectual that he chooses intelligent design over actual intelligence.

The real danger in my eyes, at this present point, isn't what will happen to our global climate. The Earth is a hardy and rugged thing that endures. The immediate threat is to our civil liberties, especially free speech. If our experts cannot discuss and debate issues relevent and vital to our lives then we are all the worse off. It's become pretty obvious (just look at my last post) that when it comes to intelligence this administration his more leaks than Karl Rove on the Titanic, and silencing the issue does not make it go away. In the age of globalization, it becomes exponentially more important to keep our debate as open as possible to find solutions and intercept possible problems before they occur. The only question is; is the Bush adminstration willing to combat the problems facing the world that don't require bunker busting missles or making record profits for Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil?

You mean the Palestinians don't like the Jews? Get outta town!

When I read reports like this one in the NY Times, I am astounded by the ignorance of our state department. Then again these are the people who said that Iraq was going to greet us with honey and roses when we invaded. I wish I could live in their world.


Price gouging? What price gouging?

Yesterday, the Exxon-Mobil Corp reported record profits in its fourth quarter--a whopping 10.71 billion dollars. This brings E/M's yearly profit to 36.13 billion, which is the highest annual reported net income in American history. This record overtakes the previous record of 25.3 billion set by Exxon in 2004.

The highest growth period for the company was, predictably, during the 2004 quarter during the Katrina and Rita disasters, when production decreased by 1 percent, forcing prices up to yet more record numbers. In some places in New York City a gallon of gas rose to above 3.50$

Though there hasn't been an official White House response to this, there has been a huge murmur of disapproval regarding how the government handled the gas crisis during Katrina, leading many to believe that Exxon practiced wanton price gouging. In an unofficial poll conducted on MSNBC.com, of 43,840 responses, 92% believed that the oil industry was taking advantage of consumers.

At moments like this I think of Chris Rock's last HBO special "Never Scared" when he asked the question "Where are the low gas prices?" His point? Look everyone knows we went into Iraq for the oil, but now that we're there, why aren't the prices lowering? Good question, and one that deserves a response from the Bush administration. Are there any good defense that oil companies can use to counter the accusation that they are abysmally greedy? During the whole Katrina disaster the calls of price gouging were ringing loudly, not only from consumers but from Exxon clerks as well, who were given memos telling them to raise prices even though their storage tanks were full. This led Bush, speaking on Good Morning America on Sept 1, 2005, to say that "I think that there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency...Whether it be looting or price gouging at the gasoline pump..."

Yet nothing was done, and consumers were bled to marrow over the next two or so weeks.

Can you trust anything this man says?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Giuliani who? Bloomberg's the man...

Yesterday's State of the City by Mayor Mike Bloomberg should be a beacon, not only to all GOP leaders across the nation, but to all leaders of all parties.

As you know I'm a registered Democrat, though on occasion, I, like any good rational American citizen should be able to cross partisan lines to elect and praise those from other parties who's views I respect and are reasonable. In the past I've voted for Ross Perot (during his first campaign before he fully lost his mind) and in the past year I voted for Mike over his lame duck opponent Ferrer. Since he's taken the reins of New York City I've been extremely impressed on his record, his statesmanship, and his compassion. For such a rich guy he's been able to make me believe that he's more of a man of the people than such self-endorsing populists like the weasely Gifford Miller. He's a guy who knows that big business can be a boon to the average man, as long as the average man is respected, and further more can see both of those things as a series of long term goals. To me he's a return to what true conservatism should be--not some draconian set of morals, but fiscal and personal responsibility. Something that Bush and his cronies need to investigate. Former mayor Giuliani is given way too much credit for his supposed "helping the city to overcome 9/11/" status, for much of the reason that Bush is given that same status. But unlike Bush, Bloomberg took the ideas of the 9/11 commission to heart and installed many of their suggestions and more into the NYPD, making our new police force not only the best ever in the city's history, but one of the best intelligence forces on the planet, that is looked to by nations for counsel and support. When the Federal government didn't provide for our safety Bloomberg took it on his team to seal the holes, and he's done it well. And at the same time he's made our city safer from international threats he's also cut down domestic crime to some of the lowest levels on record, lower than the Giuliani administration, without the humiliating "Street Sweeps," or Gestapo tactics that our former mayor brazenly used. If people want to know why Mike took in so much of the Latino and black vote in NYC last year all you have to look at is his track record when it comes to dealing with people. When a black or Latino has been unjustly shot by police he finds time to deal with both sides, and shows respect, and respect will get you votes.

In yesterday's State of the City he's continued on this far reaching, compassionate path. In light of several cop killings he's declared a war on illegal firearms in the city, calling for a Megan type law for those who have gun related crimes, stiffer sentences, and more technology to seek out gun crimes when they occur. I would have also like to have seen added to this more legislation and penalties for gun dealers, but it's a start for a problem that his haunted this town long before 9/11. Speaking of which he's asked for the time table to be stepped up for Ground Zero development, something that should have been dragging its feet for years, and has vowed to build seven new academically selective high schools in the city, creating more space for students to succeed at higher levels than before. While I've had issues with the way that Bloomberg has reformed NY schools, I still say that I commend him for at least trying something new with a department that was tremendously stagnant. I'm not sure that standardized tests are the way to go, but with the way that the Board of Ed was being managed, any change is a step in the right direction, and creating schools, instead of prisons is always aces in my book.

The only thing I can say I have an issue with Mike on is his proposition that Union workers should pay more into their Health care funds. Now this is a direct response to the TWU/ MTA war that's brewing right now, and while I think that more care should be taken to provide workers with appropriate health care I understand that as Mayor, Bloomberg's first priority is to keep the city running, and that this is an issue that primarily is out of the Mayor's hands. Affordable, universal health care is a Federal problem, and until they get on the ball in providing some type of system that addresses this issue everyone will be behind the 8-ball.

Damm did I just praise a Republican that much? Well I guess I can't let Bush and Cheney and DeLay, and Frist, and Santorum, and Rice, and Chambiss, and...well you get my point, spoil the entire barrel.

Obama--McCain for President!

You can read the entire State of the City speech here:


Just when you think it can't get any more ironic...

Check out Article 38 of the Iraqi constitution, which of course was passed with the authority of the United States government:

"The freedom of communication, and mail, telegraphic, electronic, and telephonic correspondence, and other correspondence shall be guaranteed and may not be monitored, wiretapped or disclosed except for legal and security necessity and by a judicial decision."

If they get Universal Health Care before we do, my head is literally going to blow up like a land mine.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

And now for celebrity news...

Who cares?

Hamas wins...was anyone surprised?

Yesterday the Hamas party scored a dominating win in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Of course the White House is shocked. What? Did you think the Let's-all-get-along-with-the- Jews-and-see-Brokeback-Mountain-party was going to win? What's really shocking is how both GOP and DEM politicians can't understand Palestinians' endorsement of violence. This coming from the guys who said they would "hunt down and kill" any terrorists wherever they exist. The wheels go round and round.

The MTA offers the Treaty of Versailles to its Union...

Yesterday, the MTA offered their Union a harsh deal, proposing a contract that would give MTA workers much less that previously arranged.

Now if you're not from New York, you may not be aware that last month the MTA union went on strike, shutting down public transportation in the city for about three days at a cost to NYC of around 1 billion dollars. The strike was ended with the hopes that the MTA and the Union would be able to get back to the table and hammer out a mutually acceptable deal. (As a friend of mine said, "we thought this was over.") However now that seems to be as unlikely as Israel and Palestine peace treaty. Some of the new measures are as follows:

1) New hires giving 6% of earnings towards pensions. (As opposed to the MTA's previous offer of 1%)

2) New hires giving 1.5% towards health insurance.

3) Assigning token booth clerks and other workers more tasks such as cleaning subway stations.

4) No pension refunds and no Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday.

My own opinion: This is ridiculous. The deal is one of vengeance, politics, and greed. The MTA figures that it has public opinion on their side and this gives them the right to inflict harsh penalties on the transit union. This is a complete Treaty of Versailles.

Look, just like every one in NYC I was put out by the strike, and I understand that some people lost quite a bit of money. However, to me, the union's situation boils down one basic question: Are they entitled to their benefits? With the MTA's lack of good faith when it comes to disclosing its finances, plus the gross fare hikes made, without significant advances in the transit system, and the fact that services have been cut (the largest being the phasing out of the token booth clerk), I cannot say that their deal is fair in the least. Yet, that is the deal, and the Union cannot hope to strong arm both the city and MTA. They simply don't have the manpower or the finances to do so. If they do try then the biggest losers in this conflict will be the entire city.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Looks like I'm not alone...

...in thinking that the US and Western powers need to change their attitudes and policies towards Iran. Check out this article in Newsweek from Fareed Zakaria, and pay attention to the closing paragraph. Hopefully, if real reformers take a new position about Iranian nukes there might be a complete turnaround in regards to the Middle East's feelings towards us. Give diplomacy a chance? It might work.


All in? Should have called it Dead Money

I gotta tell you, every time I see Dennis Miller I feel as if I'm transported back to a better age. I think of his halcyon days on SNL, the quirky laugh, the head bob, the jokes that make you feel like a member of MENSA if you could identify what the hell he was talking about, and I'm happy.

Then he opens his mouth.

Like many comedians who've been around the industry for decades, survived their drug addictions, and the multiple sexual escapades of life on the road to go on to have kids, a wife and a nice house with the white picket fence, Miller, as shown in his last HBO special "All In," seems to have thrown away all shred of his creative former non-conformist persona and traded it for the security of stereotypes and jingoistic material. He's become the Kid Rock of the comedy circuit. The Toby Keith of chuckles. He's a Republican, and a conservative and he wants everyone to know it.

Now I don't mean to go on a rant here, but I'm personally getting sick of guys who spend the first thirty years of their life sniffing, smoking, and sexing everything that comes across their path, only to have a kid, marry the only woman who can tolerate their antics, and then thinks that the world revolves around them like they were some throwback to the Cartesian universe, and the seven spheres encircles them with righteousness. Come on booby! Pooky? You hear me out there ruffles! You know who you were back in the days playing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Robin Williams. Did you ever think back then that you be playing Billy flag bearer for the preppie princess President we've got today? Ah huh, don't think so. Most likely you'd be ogling Jenna's legs and wondering where the SNL after party was.

Look, no one is saying that you can't love and care about the welfare of your family. But God knows your libertarian ideals would be appalled by the concept of anyone infringing on your freedoms, so why endorse the concept by preaching the word of Bush? The man who, as you said, "Put honor and respectability back in the White House." Sure I guess he did if being dishonorable and unrespectable is being honorable and respectable. He's flipped more on the reasons of the war than a IHOP pancake, and has more listening posts than Liz Smith on crack. If life was the beginning and end of America then there never would have been a revolution, and we'd all be British subjects, safe and secure living under the Union Jack. But our founders had something greater, something wonderful, in mind when the Declaration was signed. They had a dream that life would not be worth living if it was done under the tyranny of the rich, and subject to their whims and desires. Your whole routine is a retrograde back to a surf mentality, where as long as we do what the boss wants we'll all make out fine, just getting along to get by. If I need to hear that crap I'll just turn on Fox News.

I suppose I get upset about Miller only because I expect more reason and intelligence out of my childhood idol. But perhaps getting disappointed is really what getting older means, and you truly reach maturity when you discover that your heroes have been taken over by pod people from planet nine. But not to worry, there's always George Carlin.

Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong, and I am outta here.

Say it ain't so chief!

Last night, New York Knicks President Isiah Thomas was hit with a charge of sexual harassment by a former senior female employee. The charge goes on to say that Thomas also worked with hotel concierges to get visiting players passes to strip clubs and bars.

As if things couldn't go any worse for the struggling franchise. Guess the wait for next season begins early this year.


Is there anything that this Government won't sell?

First there was the automobile industry. Then agribusiness, then telemarking and customer service. Now torture. For God's sake! There's plenty of good, homegrown lunatics in the US who love to break bones and humiliate people!


Monday, January 23, 2006

It's Monday, so I Meet the Press

Well it's another Monday which means I have my weekly comments about yesterday's Meet The Press. I was pretty excited since the line up included one of my favorite statesmen, Barack Obama (D-IL), and a roundtable with James Carville, Paul Begala (miswritten on Msnbc.com hysterically as Paula Begala) and Mary Matalin, who of course is good for a few laughs and some honesty political commentary.

What this week summed up, in my opinion, is that the Democrats are still an unorganized group, which doesn't bode well for them in this election year. I'm awestuck at this, considering what a horrendous year Bush and the GOP are having. With their backs against the ropes the Democrats should be making a full frontal assault, but yet they still seem to be confused, keeping one eye on Bush and the other on the opinion polls. Obama isn't the most aggressive politician, but with all these openings he still seemed intent on jabbing rather than delivering haymakers. The interview started off well with Russert setting up this volley for Obama's to spike over the net:

"The question is, here at home what are the politics, and you said this according to the Chicago Tribune. “It is arguable that the best politics going into ’06 would be a clear, succinct message, ‘Let’s bring our troops home.’ It’s certainly easier to communicate and I think would probably have some pretty strong resonance with the American people right now.” Why do you think that’s the best political message?"

This is a softball question if I've ever seen one. Obama's quote here is precisely what the Democrats need to make, (although it doesn't necessarily have to be in regards to Iraq--as I'll discuss later) however once making that point in the Tribune Obama continues the mistakes of Kerry and Hilary by back pedaling against the issue:

"Well, you know, one of the things that I think in politics you’re always looking for is contrast, and obviously that gives a sharp, clearly-defined contrast to administration’s policy. Keep in mind, though, that that quote was presented in me explaining that that’s actually not the approach that I’m pursuing. My position has been that it would not be responsible for us to unilaterally and precipitously draw troops down regardless of the politics, because I think that all of us have a stake in seeing Iraq succeed. We need to get the policy right, and it’s inappropriate, I think, to have politics intrude at this point in such a critical stage and in the development of the Middle East."

He's exactly right that "you're always looking for...contrast," but then says "...that's actually not the approach that I'm pursuing." Once again we're back to square one regarding troop withdrawals. Look either you're in or you're out. This waffling about troop withdrawal is KILLING the Democrats. If you're for leaving troops in then say so and find that "contrast" on another facet of the GOP agenda. If you want stark contrast then say you're for pulling out, and if you do want a gradual withdrawal then state that and give an exit strategy, and how this exit will be militarily backed up. The problem with this whole issue is that no one seems to have a concrete plan and that's exactly what both sides need. There's a saying in poker that "first one to bet wins the pot." Well both sides are checking around the table to see who cracks first and that's not good for America. We see what's going on and it encourages more apathy by the population.

Later in the show Begala picks up on this point:

"...about that campaign (2004 Presidental). But the—the Democrats blew it, let’s face it. They blew it, and it’s not that people think that we’re too liberal. It’s that they think we’re too weak, because we don’t stand up and say clearly and plainly what we stand for. And that’s really the thesis of the book. It’s that our problem is not ideological, it is anatomical. We need a spine. And a party that allows someone who has won five major medals, who three times has shed blood for our country, and won the bronze star and the silver star to be positioned as weak and woffling and weird is—it’s a sin. It’s awful. And Democrats have got to learn from that if we’re ever going to take it back."

Thanks Paula.

What astounds me is that you don't have to be either Karl Rove or George Stephanopoulos to figure this stuff out. After the 2004 election people were constantly thinking that Bush's win had to do with this puzzling thing known as "values" when any one who thought about it for more than 5 minutes could have told you that they only value people cared about then was determination and vision. In order for the Democrats to win anything both this year and in 2008 they have to present some vision and plan that, as Obama says, has "contrast." As we have discussed, Iraq is one of those issues out there but there are many more, such as:

1) Competency
2) Corruption
3) Taxes--(Repeal the Bush tax cuts immediately)
4) Freedom at home vs. Freedom abroad (Basically Bush's policies have denied freedom for Americans, and the Democrats can insure these freedoms)

And most importantly,

5) Universal Health Care.

Yes folks remember that one? Remember when the Democrats were the party of social reform? What can be any more important (especially now that Congress has screwed up Medicare) than providing the most basic of human needs for our population. The Democrats need to publish a Universal health care plan as an united front and have every Dem, both in office and running, endorse it. Make it known that a vote of the Democrats is a vote for health insurance, and watch the support gel around you.

Look I'm not saying that any of these points alone will ensure a Dem. victory in 2006. But together, in the right proportion, they should begin to give the Democrats a spine and more importantly piece together the only platform that can defeat the Republican's fear machine, which is hope. Hope is the only thing that can defeat fear, and unless the Democrats have some plan for hope this year, the GOP's steam engine of terror will roll over them, and us, once again.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Just a brief link...

I just got my hands on the Gore speech that he made on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. It's a great speech, and it makes me think that if he'd had this fire in his belly the first time around maybe we wouldn't be going through this mess at all.


Democrats pledge Honest Leadership and Transparency in Government...

Yesterday a group of Democratic members of Congress, calling themselves Honest Leadership, Open Government (as opposed to Live Aid or We are the World) signed a pledge promising to create reforms to combat the current scourge of Republican corruption that has broken open with the DeLay, Frist, and Abramoff scandals.

According to Democratic Leader Harry Reid:

"There's a price to pay for this corruption in Washington, and we can see it in the state of our union...From seniors who cannot afford their prescription drugs to soldiers sent to war without body armor and middle-class families living on a financial cliff, the cost of corruption is very real. Today, I challenge President Bush the head of the Republican Party to match our commitment to honest leadership. When leaders are accountable to people, not lobbyists, there is no limit to how far America can go."

It sounds like a good start but the question is whether this is too little, too late. Later that night I caught Senator Reid on Bill Moyer's show, and a question was asked, which I believe cuts to the heart of the problem. Why now? Didn't the Democrats know that this was going on before, and if so, why was it not addressed then? Reid provided good answers, albeit very political ones. Lobbyist corruption is pretty much a Republican problem, as the current scandals have proven. This is not to say that Democrats don't have their hands in the cookie jar, but the hallmark of a good politician (or hustler, ask Damon Dash) is not to kill a sheep but to shear it, and the Republicans, since Bush has come into office, has been having, on all different levels, lambchops and applesauce every night. This slaughter of the American political system is what is pushing these reforms, as well as the opaqueness of the administration. Now whether this will make a difference in legislation is up for debate, but in an election year, with a very unpopular President one can only say that the Democrats' move is very shrewd and sets off the year on a rebellious note that the heart of the party has been waiting for.

As a side note, there were a couple of other things I noted in the Moyer interview with Sen. Reid that I think are worth mentioning. The first was in response to the volley first fired at the Bush Adm. by Al Gore four days ago regarding the constitutionality of secret wiretaps. In case you haven't heard (and you wouldn't be the only one, since the major news organizations have barely touched on it) former Vice-President Gore accused Bush of, "breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." When asked about this Reid, in a lateral move, sidelined Gore and instead quoted Bob Graham, former Senator and head of the Senate Intelligence Committee (yes I know, an oxymoron, har har) who also has said that Bush's actions are unconstitutional. It seemed like the long way to back up Gore, but whatever works I suppose. Also the idea of having Bush impeached was brought up. Reid claimed that it was, "...way, way to early for that." But seeing as how the Democrats are only now getting onto the field to battle lobbyist corruption, perhaps the correct answer is that we are way, way too late.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Hey everyone. Hope everyone had a great MLK day. You did? And what did you do? If you were like most of us you did what you do on any other holiday, which is nothing. Sat around in your boxers (or panties for you women out there), scratched your ass and watched TV. Maybe you even rented Roots, or, as Chris Rock suggests, read a Jet. I happened to be one of those people in my boxers actually, though I took a nice walk with my girlfriend down in the Village of New York City. However as I walked around the frozen city, there was one word that was bouncing back and forth in my mind, and that word was accountability.

And as I was thinking of this word, by sheer coincidence we happened to pass the funeral home where the body of Nixzmary Brown was being laid to rest. For those you don't know the story, Nixzmary was a 7-year old New Yorker who was horribly abused by her mother and step-father and finally died from her injuries last week. The story is one of those unfortunate tales too often told in poor 'hoods around America, the abused child who "fell through the cracks," ignored by child welfare, and the institutions meant to prevent these tragedies from occurring. In the last week the NY press has been in an uproar over this mess, crying out for convictions of the parents and for someone, anyone, to be held accountable for what happened. And there's that word again: accountability.

When I think of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, his fight, his victories and defeats, I think of the word accountability over and over again. Of course this word gets easily overlooked when we think of Dr. King's struggle, especially since our schools, and media focus on the beginning and middle of his mission. It's like once the Civil Rights amendment was passed MLK passed into that great unknown with a satisfied smile on his face. But this was not the case, and Dr. King's mission was only half complete.

Once the CR amendment was passed Dr. King was working on economic equality for blacks and the poor--one that was based on that very word; accountability. It seems like nowadays it's in vogue to dismiss the idea of accountability--to say that accountability is something that is beyond human expectation. We talk about issues that face cultures in the world from the Middle East to the Native and Black Americans and we say "Well...What's past is past." We shrug and say "That was then and this is now, and we have to focus on solutions!" But this line of thinking is dangerous and illogical because one can neither learn or correct the mistakes of the past without knowing where those mistakes were borne from. Accountability, when tempered with mercy, is a trait that benefits society. It provides closure.

The thing that strikes me to the core is the sheer hypocrisy between what we learn as children and what we practice as adults. You learn that its a good trait to be able to apologize for what we do wrong, and even better to be able to forgive such mistakes and to pass out just sentences. In the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" one of the skills you are supposed to practice is to immediately and empathetically apologize for wrong doing. Yet the opposite of this--arrogance and egotism--is practiced every day by our leaders, and none as great as our President who seems incapable of self-criticism.

I say this to say that MLK's dream, of a world of equality and justice will never be realized until we all start standing up and taking accountability for our actions and our inactions. There can never be an ending without a beginning. We'll be mired in Iraq and more unless someone can say that it was a mistake being there in the first place. Well have more Nixzmary's on our hands unless someone can stand up and say that they ignored her silent pleas for help. And we'll have more poverty, more crime, more suffering unless we can all rise up and take some blame for the way things are today. And yes, to some extent we are guilty. When we pass a homeless man and we have an extra dollar in our pocket. When we disagree with our politicians and we don't vote. When we stay silent when we view a crime. When we don't care about our fellow man, we share a part, albeit a small part, in the suffering of the world. Admit it, stop it, and then we can go on with life.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Evidence of US's torture cover up...

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan's blog for this one. Documents procured by the ACLU prove the cover up of torture and human's rights violations in Iraq. Check them out here:


Love in Iran...

Recently I was discussing the movie Munich (which I highly recommend by the way) with my friend. We both agreed that the movie excellently described the FUBAR situation in the Middle East but then my friend said something that stuck me deeply. He said, "No saying I'm taking their side, but damm! the Arabs get no love." I thought about it and then woefully nodded my head. "No love. Word."

Today Iran threatened to end their nuclear inspection program to the chagrin of the Western world, as it has leaked out how far along their program has progressed. Last night on Hardball Chris Matthews discussed with Andrea Mitchell Iran's reasons in going through with their program, stating that its almost illogical for Iran to go nuclear. After all, if estimates are correct and Iran does develop about 9 airborne nukes in 5 years what good would it do? Any preemptive strike by Iran on any nation would guarantee their complete annihilation. In the case of the old USSR and the US there was at least the MAD policy to hold both sides in check, but in the case of Iran their meager stockpile would be (in a global sense) only an annoyance and any use of them would be suicide. So why continue? Well David Kay, head of the UN Nuclear Inspection team, theorizes that becoming a nuclear power would help Iranian Ayatollahs consolidate the power within their own borders. Right now the theocratic regime is very unpopular with a population that cries out for modernization and secularism (or at least that's the US's view), and Kay believes that having nuclear weapons will deter Western powers from interfering with their domestic agenda. Kay might have a point, if Western powers are truly interested in the domestic policies of the Middle East. Yet we have a horrible track record of doing business with countries with human rights violations (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China...), and so I don't see how Kay's logic works in this situation, since it seems to me that we'll continuing buying Iranian oil no matter what the Ayatollahs do to their own population.

Frankly I believe Iran continues on their program for the very point my friend made. Right now Arab nations aren't shown love by the rest of the industrialized world (read that as Western Society). They feel ostracized and threatened, especially with what his happening in Iraq and our uneven support of Israel. When this happens people have the tendency to feel humiliated and weak and will look to almost suicidal means to "toughen up." I don't believe that people in Iran (or anywhere in the Middle East for that matter) are stupid or insane. They know exactly what the implications of using their weapons would mean for Iran. But at the same time having nukes allows them to maintain their international dignity, while becoming a potential pinyata of trouble for the Western world, meaning that if attacked, or punctured, nuclear technology will come popping out, landing in every terrorist's pocket in the region. It is quite a mire that is developing over there, and it has to be handled with a delicate and caring hand. Although knowing our President he's most likely to take a sledgehammer to the whole country and call it a tenderizing.

It might be time to show a little love.

Read more about Iran and the whole situation here:


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A few quickies...

Hey loyal readers,

Just a few stories I gleamed off of msnbc.com today that I thought were a bit interesting. Today the Gubanator Arnold was in a motorcycle accident with his son who was riding in the sidecar. What makes the story interesting is that Schwarzenegger, who had to have 15 stitches in his upper lip, didn't have the proper endorsement on his Cali license to operate a motorcycle. Didn't anyone in the State DMV ever see the Terminator?


The second is that the state of Israel has pulled the plug on Pat Roberson's Holy land project there after the beyond ultra-right wing minister made a claim that suggested that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was caused by the hand of God. (The Christian God I'm assuming). My real question is, why is Israel making deals with this moron anyway since one of his beliefs, or goals, is to get every person of Jewish descent into the Holy Land so that the rapture might begin? Religion and Politics sure do make strange bedfellows.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just a thought...

This morning, when I crawled out of bed, I had an interesting thought.

What if, in the 2004 1st Presidential debate, John Kerry had led off his closing remarks with this homey anecdote:

My fellow Americans, I had some closing statements prepared, but during the debate, while I listened to Governor Bush, a story from my childhood came to mind that I would like to share with you. When I was young, back in Denver, there was a boy who lived three blocks down named Harold. Harold, you see, was a "special" boy, who today we would call mentally challenged. I remember till this very day his simple, innocent, toothy grin, and the shine of the sun on his silver helmet that he wore on his head to protect him from further injury. Ah, that Harold was always falling over something! He was quite a klutz. Anyway, Harold's parents, like many of you here tonight and watching on television, were poor hardworking people and both his mother and father and older brother worked full time jobs, though usually they had at least one member of the clan stay at home to watch special Harold. But one day each member of Harold's family had to go to work, forced by their bosses to show up or be fired.

This presented quite the dilemma for the family. They had never left Harold alone, and they were worried that their "special" little boy might hurt himself. They even tried to get someone to sit with him but their neighbors had jobs of their own. So giving their boy strict orders, they all went to work, silently praying that their child would have the good judgment to take care of himself and their home.

You can see where I'm going with this.

Harold, getting hungry, thought to himself that he would make a bowl of soup for himself. He'd seen his mother cook, and saw how you turn the gas on, and place a lit match onto the stove top. Beyond that though Harold thought he was a grown man and that he was capable of cooking for himself. So he turned the gas on. But Harold didn't know where the matches were. He looked all over the kitchen for at least ten minutes, with the gas on, searching for matches. He finally found them (they were next to the stove) and after a few tries lit it.

Boom! The house explodes in flames, shooting "special" little Harold out through the kitchen window onto the lawn, where his head was protected with his helmet, and when the fire department arrived they found Harold, eating grass and smiling happily saying, "Pretty fire, pretty fire."

Yes, Harold reminds me a great deal of George W. Bush.

I'm not saying by any means that Governor Bush is mentally challenged, though he might not be the brightest star in the sky, as his high record of scholastic, and business failures, his inability to defend the country during 9/11 and likewise develop an exit strategy in Iraq shows us. But what I am saying is that some people are just incapable of doing some jobs. Like Harold's family we trusted him not to set our house on fire and just like Harold's family we now find our president sitting in front of the wreckage, grinning, and telling us that it is a pretty fire. This is not a pretty fire, nor a game, but a conflagration that threatens to consume us all, and unlike George we don't have a helmet for protection. Now is the time to take the Harold's of our nation out of office and replace them with competent and bold leadership. I am that leader.

Goodnight, and may God bless you all.

Now that would have been something.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The McCarthy Age--Redux

Yesterday I picked up a really interesting book called The Age of Anxiety, by Haynes Johnson. This book deals with the McCarthy era and parallels that time with our age of Terrorism. Now its become nearly a cliche to compare the two (and if you're really on the edge, you could add Nazism to the mix), but I don't believe any of us really know the depth of Joseph McCarthy's deceit, nor do we want to believe that what we are seeing today is that same situation emerging over again.

First off, the neo-conservatives have embraced McCarthy and his cronies (Richard Nixon, Hoover) as heroes and right-wing hacks like Ann Coulter have gone as far as to call McCarthy a a "patriot." Much of this rhetoric exists not because of his legacy of success, but his legacy of tactics, which our current administration emulates. Let's not get things twisted--were there Soviet spies in America? Absolutely, much like there are members of Hamas, Al-Qaida, and other terrorist organizations somewhere within our borders today, yet McCarthy brought no new revelations regarding communist agents to the light, and if any one was discovered it was only because he was like a fisherman using depth charges to catch a couple of trout. Instead, McCarthy used the Red Scare to intimidate, frighten, and bash his way into power, becoming the most influential first term senator ever, while simultaneously tainting and weakening American values. His words were complete fabrications and lies, right from the moment he ran for Senate (he claimed he was a war hero who supplied the Air Force with documents he forged with his commanding officer's signature) to the moment he made his way to the Senate floor with his supposed list of Soviet agents in the State Department (It was a 10 year old list and the overwhelming majority of the people in it had either left the SD or had never been hired in the first place.) The boldness of these actions seem nearly comic in their audacity. It feels like something in a SNL skit, but it was as real as gravity and as deadly as cancer.

Undoubtedly though the most shocking realization (for me at least) was Johnson's statement that US intelligence knew that the USSR had been in decline since at least the mid-70s and sinking even before then. His source on this is a little known book by the late Senator Daniel P. Moynihan (considered one of the Senate's greatest statesman, and definitely one of the most popular NY Senators) named Secrecy (Yale: 1998), which states that the "Culture of Secrecy" kept even presidents uninformed of the facts. This is very reminiscent of the battles and the miscommunication that went on between the FBI, NSA, and CIA prior to 9/11 (And continues on till today though they now added the HSA to the mix). The whole thing leads me to wonder was any of this worth it? Is it worth it today? And our officials wonder why we don't seem to trust them.

Anyway The Age of Anxiety is a wonderful read and should enlighten anyone about McCarthyism while sparking thought about our current age. Though I have come to the conclusion that Joseph McCarthy was just about as monstrous and deceitful as I could imagine, and maybe even insane (he nearly beat a reporter to death), his story illuminates what happens when politicians are cowardly and a population is terrified. It's a tale that begs us to study it meticulously for fear that we will slide down that dangerous slope again.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm back...Yet again

Ok, I swear this will be the last time I will ever use that title again. :)

What's up everyone? Sorry to be away for so long, but since I made my last posting I went on to write another novel, apply to grad schools, get my novels rejected about a zillion times, and then I started a new book. I do try to keep myself busy, and as such I've gotten away from my civic duty of monitoring what's going on over with the Bush boys in Washington DC.

Seems though, our President has been much more zealous in his vigilance.

I suppose in a year that has been so catastrophic for this country--over 2,000 Americans killed in Iraq and countless billions spent on a war whose beginnings are a mystery that not even the Law & Order teams could solve, the washing away of a major American city, the inditements of Delay and Frist, and of course the whole Valerie Plane scandal--a reversal to an earlier time might have appeared to be a comfort. That is if that particular era wasn't the Nixon administration. Now faced with yet another criminal action, Bush, the most historical revisionist since Reagan ("We did not sell arms to the Contras"..."Oh wait we did, but I didn't know."), has even more domestic problems to answer for, and all the while these issues not only feel to this writer that they could have been avoided, but threaten to lead us astray from the real crisis facing America. Then again, perhaps this is the crisis.

When Bush took his oath of office (Twice, just in case he forgot it the first time), he swore to do one thing; uphold the Constitution of the United States. Often you hear him and his toadies talk about the President's job as the defender of American life, but according to his oath, he has one job and that is it.

Though it tends to be a bit ideological, one must concede the point that America, the nation, and Americans, the people, are one and the same and each is wrapped and mired in the Constitution. The defense of the Constitution is the defense of American life, because without the Constitution we are no longer Americans. Without the Constitution we no longer enjoy the things that make this country great and respected throughout the world, such as the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of the press. But Bush and Co. feel that it is within their power to shred the Constitution at their whim and hide behind it when it suits them. When Katrina occurred and this administration failed miserably to "defend American life" by claiming that the state never asked for Federal aid, they rolled out the separation clause in the Constitution like it was Harry Potter's invisible cloak, but wiretapping domestically without a warrant that's a-ok. Running in rhetorical circles like this demoralizes the country and takes us farther away from the challenge of our forefathers, which is to create a more perfect union. We have not progressed, but regressed and now our swiftly tilting planet threatens to spin into oblivion unless a semblance of fairness, and justice is reinstalled.

If America is to be preserved then we will have to return to the foundation of our principles of our nation to light our darkest hour. After all, that's the purpose of the Constitution.

Wow, my first rant of the new year, and Bush is in office and possibly drinking again. This is going to be a great year! See you in the fallout shelters!

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