Thursday, March 30, 2006
Don't click on the link just yet. First the pop quiz. This is a picture that Howard Kaloogian, a conservative Republican candidate, sent out to prove how peaceful and calm where is?
A) Costa Rica?
If you said Istanbul you are correct. In fact you're more correct than Kaloogian, who used the photo on his website to show how peaceful and calm--you guessed it--Iraq is. Of course now Kaloogian is saying that it was a staffer who made the mistake, but what do you expect when the staffer is asked to find a picture of a peaceful Iraq, with a man and woman (who is showing skin by the way) walking down the street holding hands without getting chased by Insurgents, US troops, Sectarians, and kidnappers? You might as well have asked him to find you a picture of Saddam and Rumsfeld shaking hands!!! Oh wait...
Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, explained that she was never harmed in any way through she was never told exactly why she had been kidnapped.
Her kidnapping had been bloody. On Jan 7th she, and several members of her entourage, had been on their way to interview a Sunni Arab politician when their caravan was ambushed. Her translator was killed in the attack.
If there are any unsung heroes in this war, the reporters who travel to Iraq fit that bill. Bush calls them the "chattering class" because of the overwhelming stories of tragedy and pain they file with their respective papers; stories that don't fit the Bush view of a joyous and cheery Iraq. But seeing as how the administration is completely opaque in their information, we citizens of America depend on these people to risk their lives to give us insight into the everyday events of this war. Many have said that there aren't any more Edward R. Murrows in the world today, but as gallant, courageous, and well-spoken as that great CBS correspondent was, today's war time reporters have a mettle that would give Murrow pause. I can not imagine putting myself into that position, and I have nothing but the highest regards for those that do.
In recent days there have been several commentators on the right who have shown hate and loathing towards these reporters, and aid workers who attempt to bring comfort to those innocents caught in the middle of this struggle, and in some cases these so called 'pundits' have even celebrated their deaths. (http://mediamatters.org/items/200603240010, http://mediamatters.org/items/200603270011) This inhuman and malicious glee should not go unrecognized or unprotested. We here at Word of the People think that all human life is precious from our American soldiers to the Jill Carrolls all the way to Christian Missionaries who seek to aid the wounded and the suffering. I have nothing but bitterness towards those few who put the majority into harm's way for their own agenda and greed, but I find that wishing death on those who disagree with your views only leads to more death and suffering. In its own way, violence is about as anti-American as possible. These things that our leaders claim they are fighting for in Iraq are the very principles that insulate us against that violence most foul. Our party system, our Democracy, our Congress and system of checks and balances are all in place to provide us a way to settle our disagreements peacefully and encourages us to, as Lincoln would say, seek the better angels of our nature. To hear such disgust coming from fellow reporters and commentators who lack the strength to go to Iraq towards these brave people, repulses me, and if anything sheds their true skins to expose the snakes that they are.
America, among other things, is a country built on heroism and courage, and these reporters only add to that tradition. Those that seek to defame them deserve only our ire and enmity.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Today the Sec. of Transportation, Norman Mineta, explained that the government is updating its gas standards for pick-up trucks, vans and SUVs, forcing the industry to decrease their gas per mile consumption. The industry standard now is 21.6 miles per gallon, and will be increased each year to 24 mpg by 2011.
This comes after Bush's now famous (or infamous depending on your POV) "addiction to oil," statement in his last SOTU. But standing in the shadows is also NASA scientist, Jim Hansen who has recently made the statement that if pollution is not dramatically controlled in ten years our climate will be irreversibly damaged.
If I may be so bold--increasing the miles per gallon intake of cars by less than 4 mpg is not dramatic change.
Once again we are shown the lack of seriousness by our representatives in Washington. Bill Maher in his last Real Time gave one of the more grave New Rules, focusing on the problems with climate change, and maybe it rubbed off on me. I made a posting about a week ago (http://wordofthepeople.blogspot.com/2006/03/fridge-salesmen-flock-to-arctic.html) about the desperate climate situation and yet we still see only minor change and attention being focused on what should be the number one problem world wide. You know how I know? Because the one solution to this entire matter that would most likely work is the one solution that no one wants to talk about. Repeat after me--Gas Tax.
Yes, I know, politicians talking about tax is political suicide, but you know what? It's the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied and now someone needs to take one for the team. A gas tax will cut the number of SUVs and luxury vehicles on the road, and less SUVs means a cleaner atmosphere. This is not to say that a tax is the only solution--research must also be made in alternative energy sources and our standards of consumption must be raised--but a great starting point is to charge these selfish, bloated, yuppies who buy an SUV like a fashion accessory the appropriate price they deserve for "addicting" my country to oil. We have seen commercials telling kids that buying drugs funds terrorism, but what about buying gas? Does that not support terrorism, and pain and murder as well? Or do we not talk about that because the Bushes are an oil family, or because half our administration has worked or still works for Arab oil interests.
In NYC there has been a huge jump in tobacco taxes, and while it personally hits me (I'm a smoker) I can understand it. Smoking is bad, and it's unhealthy not only to those who smoke, but to those around smokers. The option of purchasing cigarettes is still there, and I believe everyone should have that option, just as I believe everyone should have the option of purchasing whatever car they would like, but at the same time I believe that some options should be paid for at a higher price. It would seem that a tax is truly in the essence of equality, because those who dump the most waste into the air, should pay the higher price to clean up their mess. And this mess needs to be cleaned up soon, because you sure as hell don't want Mother Earth doing it for us.
Outgoing White House chief of Staff, Andy Card, has just placed a "kick me" sign on Pres. Bush's back. That explains why the new Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten looks amused.
Many have considered Card's resignation a sign that Bush and Co. have been taking public criticism to heart. Other's have been more reluctant to call it change, calling it a move similar to changing deck chairs on the Titanic. I happen to fall in this latter category. The Bush administration is about as big of a failure as the New York Knicks. You can add in Steve Francis, you can move around Frye, and add in Larry Brown, but all you still have is a losing team with better stats. Besides, the core of the administration; Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Bush, are cemented into their positions and barring impeachment, that isn't going to change. Even Bush's own advisors have said that this move has in no way changed the President's view of what he calls the "chattering class," a group that includes the press and the Democrats, who don't focus on the "positives" of the Iraq situation. Then again it's hard to find the silver lining in Dog-poo and maybe people are still too burdened down by things like reason and their senses to have this ability that the gang of Bush possess in such copious amounts. Regardless, this move has done absolutely nothing to change my opinion of this administration. There was a song once that said, "you gotta love me or leave me alone." Well if Bush is singing a love song with his Card reshuffle, then I'm handing in my Dear John letter.
Just when I think there's no hope for the Republican party, Mike makes me a believer.
Well, maybe he doesn't make me believe in the Republican ideology, but he sure does make me believe that there are members of the GOP who actually have courage and conviction. Yesterday, Mayor of NYC Mike Bloomberg, who has gained the respect of this blogger before, reinstilled pride in me yet again as he testified, at Congress, against the new gun bill that is being pushed by his GOP peers.
The gun bill will actually weaken existing firearms control laws, by blocking the ATF from offering public crime gun trace data, eliminating the current requirement that gun dealers report multiple handgun sales to law enforcement officials, and creates more loopholes for gun dealers to escape punishment. Bloomberg called the bill a, "God-awful piece of legislation," and attacked its backers saying that, "next time an officer is attacked by an illegal gun--and I say 'next time' because until Congress gets serious about illegal guns, more police officers and many more citizens will be murdered--there can be no denying that those who vote for this bill will bear some of the responsibility."
Tough words from a tough guy. And yet we all know that Mike backs up his talk with action. When he first came into the Mayor's seat he promised that he would reform education and strengthen law enforcement, and succeeded in both tasks even without Federal aid. In the last six months or so, several NY police officers have been killed by illegal handguns, and Mike has taken an interest in reducing the number of guns on the street, a task that the Republicans have continuously ignored. Perhaps it is ignored because of the power of the NRA's lobby in Washington, but for whatever reason, gun control, and not gun elimination, needs to be accomplished.
For his efforts Bloomberg is sure to gain the ire of other Republicans, but that has never been much of a problem for the former Democrat who changed parties to run for Mayor. It has always seemed to me that Bloomberg is one of the few politicians who is proudly bipartisan, and not only has it gained him the respect of New Yorkers, but also helped him to win his reelection by the biggest margin ever in NY history. On both sides of the aisle our representatives, and especially the Democrats, need to learn the lessons that Bloomberg displays; that it's not about the party, but it's about your convictions. Bill Clinton, in speaking about Bush, said that the people will vote for someone who's wrong but who stands for something. Well it's nice to have a Mayor who stands for something and gets it right a majority of the time. We give a tip of the hat to someone in office who's giving more than lip service in the fight to save lives.
Monday, March 27, 2006
This is an American story. It's a story that's been told before, and it will be told again. It's a story of suffering, and it's a story of hope, but mostly; it's a story of despair.
If you're a New Yorker I'm sure you're familiar with the story of Imette St. Guillen, the young, attractive, John Jay student, who was found discarded, sexually assaulted, and strangled to death. For the last week or so, we have been flooded with images of victim that are as cute as her accused murder is menacing.
And yet not too many of us have heard the story of young Romona Moore. Described as a "shy Hunter College student," Romona was tortured and raped just as Imette was; only her cries fell on deaf ears. Even before she was murdered--Romona's case was closed by the NYPD.
The police had been warned. Elle Carmichael, Romona's mother, filed a missing persons report with the NYPD, but her pleas were met with insults and sarcasm. The policeman handling her report told Elle that Romona was, "off somewhere with a boyfriend."
In case you don't know that's pretty much code for, "come back when you're a lighter skin tone." If you live in Harlem you'll know that anytime a black person goes missing that's the NYPD response.
In light of these events, Ms. Carmichael has sued the NYPD charging that: "The NYPD has a policy of not making a prompt investigation of missing person claims of African-Americans, while making a prompt investigation for white individuals."
We, the editorial staff of Word of the People, support Ms. Carmichael's suit, and her attempts to bring the public's attention to the racial situation between the NYPD and African-American citizens, a situation that has gone on long enough.
Cynics would say that this is about the money--Ms. Carmichael is looking for over one million in damages. Well let me ask you, what is the price of a life? What is the price of the pain of losing a daughter, when her daughter could have been saved? What is the price of sitting at home, night after night watching the news, watching the Imette St. Guillen case unfold, and knowing that the only difference between the two victims is that one was light skinned and one was dark--which is the only difference between action and inaction, justice and apathy.
Many of us expect these kind of results from our police force. My own father asked me, "Did you expect anything different?" I answered, "I expect nothing different if I don't ask for anything different. Anyway, why do you get upset about Bush? Do you expect anything different from him?"
How much longer can tragedies like what happened with Romona Moore occur without raising our hands in protest? This is the year 2006 and they are still using the same "okey-dokes" they used with Blacks in 1906. How much longer? Tavis Smiley does have it right. It will continue to go on as long as Black's aren't thought of as Americans, but as some separate entity. I am hesitant to think of reform coming from the top down, but something like this must be a grassroots movement, and I hope that Ms. Carchmichael's suit will be the spark that ignites the people. Both Imette and Romona's lives were horribly taken, but the dead not only ask for justice for theirselves but for the living as well. Let's give the parents of both these beautiful girls the respect and comfort that they deserve.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Personally I'm for the building of new nuclear power plants. Hell, I'm for anything that will get us off of oil, which will then allow us to stop screwing in the Middle East. But you see, when you have backdoor deals like this, it hinders free enterprise and competition...you know, those things that Republicans are supposed to believe in? Yeah, and we liberals are all about Communism. I guess none of these guys ever read Wealth of Nations. They must have been busy writing memos to gag NASA scientists from talking about Global Warming--completely understandable.
According to the Washington Post today it appears that the effects of the "controversial" phenonoma called "Global Warming" (quotes provided by the Bush administration and the GOP) have become visible for those who live closest to the Arctic circle. Inuit hunters, who live on the fishing and hunting of bears and seals and fish have found their game moving farther north as the polar ice caps melt.
"The Inuit -- with homelands in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and northern Russia -- saw the signs of change everywhere. Metuq hauled his fishing shack onto the ice of Cumberland Sound last month, as he has every winter, confident it would stay there for three months. Three days later, he was astonished to see the ice break up, sweeping away his shack and $6,000 of turbot fishing gear.
In Nain, Labrador, hunter Simon Kohlmeister, 48, drove his snowmobile onto ocean ice where he had hunted safely for 20 years. The ice flexed. The machine started sinking. He said he was "lucky to get off" and grab his rifle as the expensive machine was lost. "Someday we won't have any snow," he said. "We won't be Eskimos.""
It's last call on our environment folks, and Mother Nature's saying "You don't have to go home but get your ass to Mars." Ever since I can remember Global Warming has been discussed as something as far away as the end of the universe but our industrialized countries have taken it on their selves to speed up this process by leaps and bounds. Now can I say, for certain what is happening? No. Unfortunately, because of this administration's gag on our leading environmental scientists, and especially NASA, even our research has become politically polarized, and the truth has been shoved aside. I love politics but there should be some things that supersede our governmental debate. How can we ever discuss this issue with any authority if evidence is hidden, purged, and ignored? Whether this be disastrous, or negligible is something I would love to look into, but like this issue of the the parenthood of Tom Cruise's child, I have no idea. All I can do is look to the past to realize the follies of the present and it doesn't take a historian to show you that when you turn science into a faith based process you are setting yourself up for a catastrophe.
There have been environmental disasters in the past. The eruption of volcanoes, Katrina, tsunamis, and the list goes on and on, but what sets us apart from our ancestors is the fountain of knowledge that we have at our fingertips. It is our leaders duty to put aside their personal issues to insure our safety, even when it means disengaging from their ideological and religious beliefs. When they are unable to do that it is time for the people for remove them from power. How much longer can we wait for serious and open discussion about climate change to begin? I suppose it will begin when Crawford, TX falls into the sea.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Check out here (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:S.RES.398:) for the actually wording of the resolution. Money Shot:
"Whereas the President's inherent constitutional authority does not give him the power to violate the explicit statutory prohibition on warrantless wiretaps in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978;
Whereas George W. Bush, President of the United States, has authorized and continues to authorize wiretaps by the National Security Agency of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978;"
Feingold for President.
Then again so does NYU (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/N/NY_NYU_GIFT_BAOL-?SITE=NYNYD&SECTION=MIDEAST&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT) to study the anicent world. Specifically to study the new sections of the Anicent world that were just discovered: Central and Eastern Asia. Apparently they had been around before Europe and America needed their oil.
Eurocentrism...feel the magic Mr. Monday!
"The ad copy--by international image consultants Summit Communcations--touts Sudan's "peaceful, prosperous and democratic future" and complains about international media coverage "focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias" in Darfur."
You know alot of people get upset because it's unethical to publispropagandada for tyrannical governments, but I don't see this an a problem opropagandada, this is a problem with fiction and non-fiction. "Peaceful?" "Prosperous?" Calling Jayson Blair! Calling Jayson Blair! You still have a place with the NYT!
Hill Clinton turns husband into a hand puppet...Bill Clinton says, "If you did that before I would have never needed Monica!"
The NY Daily News reported today that Hillary Clinton has slapped her husband with a gag, ordering him not to make any public statements until it has been cleared by her office.
"He knows it's Hillary's time now," said an adviser close to both Clintons who expects to play a key role in her likely 2008 presidential campaign."
This comes after Bill Clinton made statements that disagreed with Hillary's position regarding the Dubai port deal, which he supported.
This was not the first time they have disagreed publicly. Bill has more than once displayed his criticisms of the Iraq war, while his wife supported and continues to support the war.
Politics...it can make War of the Roses look like a spat between June and Ward Cleaver. Fact is, this schism is more likely to hurt Hillary than Bill, who image is frozen in carbonite for both Republicans and Democrats. Hillary has the star power, but like Starbury (that's Stephon Marbury for non-Knick Fans) she's stuck on a losing squad, with great talent but not much team work. Yesterday my father did the 180 regarding his stance on the Democrats now that he's seen pretty much all of them run from Feingold like he had Avian Super AIDS. And for die-hard Democrats and people looking for real opposition, not only is this story pointless it only shows that our leadership way too obsessed in posing rather than action and solutions.
Monday, March 20, 2006
In the film there are several depictions of torture used by the government against its own citizens who are accused of sedition--sounds familiar? Yet everything about it seems so oddly...everyday that it was particularly, some pun intended, terrifying. When I watched it I couldn't help but think, "this is real...this is what actually goes on in our installations, in our prisons, with our mandate. This is sick."
It's made even sicker when I come across this little pic (http://securingamerica.com/geneva.htm) titled "The Enemy in your Hands." It's a copy of a pamphlet that was given out to American troops during the Vietnam War showing them how to treat POWs, and at the bottom it reads, "Always treat your prisoner humanely."
Maybe if Bush, or Cheney, or Rumsfeld had gone to Vietnam they might have learned something.
What amazes me is that stuff like this has become standard in the way our government is run. We're not talking about the office of the Department of Agriculture, but the FBI...In NEW YORK CITY. Hotmail can give out free e-mail addresses like Jay-Z gives out turkeys on Thanksgiving, but the US Government can't provide e-mail addresses for its agents? Whoh...I don't know what's the bigger threat; terrorism or our leaders' incompetence.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I was watching Real Time last night and Maher interviewed Pete Rose. Their conversation turned towards Barry Bonds and the whole steroid controversy, and Maher said something that I thought was particularly interesting. He asked Rose, "Don't you think that cheating really is the American pastime?" Rose laughed it off, but the question set off a chord within me. Maybe cheating really is the American pastime.
Think about it. Steroids in baseball is only one example--the proverbial tip of the iceberg--But there's also Enron, Abramoff, Bush, Worldcom, Global Crossing, Frist, Bill Clinton etc etc...and when you put it all together you realize that cheating--far from being punished--is rewarded highly, and the more deceitful the greater the prize.
The funny thing is, I bet half of you are saying, "Well, Duh!" and the other half are saying, "Come on, you're exaggerating!" And that right there is the essence of the problem. It's not that people cheat and get away with it but it's the schizophrenia regarding our feelings towards cheating that has led us down this road of hypocrisy towards madness. We're taught at a young age Sesame Street values and end up with Machiavellian principles. The fine veneer of morals and ethics are slowly being shed as we speak, and, no, I don't think its because we're becoming more secular as a country, and I don't think its because of Hip-hop or Grand Theft Auto, or Marilyn Manson, or Reality TV or Michael Moore. I think what's happening stems from the same things that make this country great: our consumerism and our desire to succeed. By itself ambition is a wonderful trait, but it must be tempered with ethics and morals. Not because its the Christian thing, but because when ethics have vanished the system itself collapses upon itself.
Look at baseball. Some people would say that steroid use should be allowed. Some people would say that the juice makes the game more exciting. And watching some drug inflated freak hit a ball 700 yards is pretty interesting, but while you're busy doing that the entire sport falls apart. Baseball, as Pete Rose noted, used to be a sport of values where the players gave something back to their communities and encouraged others to get in the game. This week the USA got their asses handed to them by the world in the World Baseball Classic because we'd outsourced half our players. We forgot about the fans and it shows.
Not only that but we also forget that (Regardless of what Jose Canseco says) steroid use is BAD. It will KILL you. When professionals endorse steroid use, and the public embraces them it encourages kids to juice up.
Starting to see a cycle appear?
And no I'm not blaming Baseball and Barry Bonds for the disintegration of America. For that I blame the Neo-conservatives.
And I'm not kidding. They are the Barry Bonds of politics. The policies they embrace are the political equivalent of steroids. Their belief in preemptive wars, weakening social programs, might makes right, increasing executive power, and lack of international respect shoots the crap outta the spirit of America like Cheney shoots his friends. Constitution? What Constitution? To this crew, the Constitution is a annoyance that hinders their agenda. When you look at baseball all you are seeing is the microcosm of the greater infection that assaults America. The irony of Bush using the steroid issue to distract from his policies nearly slays me as much as him telling me about my oil addiction, and as my father says it would be funny if it weren't so serious.
So to cheat or not to cheat, that is the American question and how we handle these issues in the next couple of years will determine the fate of our country. If baseball legalized steroid use in the majors our pastime would become a side show, but if the cheating continues in DC then entertainment will be the furthest thing from our minds.
Anyway I wanted to post up the above link to Digby's blog where he gives a great break down of Feingold's censure motion and its political repercussions. It's turning out to be a really weird mess--it makes Democrats run for the hills, and unites the GOP, yet we should still all get behind it. Yeah, it's that twisted...
Tip of the hat to Raven's View for the link...
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I just wanna know...if God is so lenient about this, could some one talk to Him about abortion, or birth control, or gays?
Indulgences for corned beef...Martin Luther roll over in his grave...
This is a very difficult post to write. It is difficult to write because I have tremendous conflicting ideas regarding the butcher of Baghdad, and these ideas aren't only my own.
If you've been watching Bill Maher's show then you've noticed that it's been his running gag to joke about how the US should return Iraq to Saddam. Ha ha right? But as recently as two weeks ago, Maher has become more serious about the idea as the violence has escalated in Iraq. Bill and I are of the same mind on this one.
Is Saddam Hussein a bad man? There is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the most evil people on Earth. But to leave the subject at that is a fallacy, and might I add, its the very same fallacy that the Bush administration made when making their pre-war plans. We've fallen in love with the idea of freedom and Democracy without looking to the past and seeing what the role of a dictatorship is, and how, at times, the people want a dictator. Ironic when you think about it when you realize how much our own political debate is centered around the idea of strengthening executive power, thus creating a de facto dictator right here in the United States.
When you think of Iraq you have to realize that you're dealing with three factions: the Shiites, and the Sunni, and the Kurds. Now the Kurds are the smallest of the three factions, and largely oppressed by the other two. But when you think of the Shiites and Sunni, you should immediately link them to the Crips and the Bloods, two gangs which exist to destroy the other. Blame it on politics, blame it on religion, but this is the way these groups interact. Now ask the LAPD what would happen if they went to them and said, "ok, guys, um, we need you all to get along." First they'd laugh, and then they go on a rip roaring war. They wouldn't even respect the outsiders because they aren't even "bangers" or gang members, much like the US isn't Islamic. When Saddam was in power he held the two sides in check with terror and fear and then topped that off with a heavy slice of murder. When one stepped out of line Saddam was there with the rape rooms and the torture chambers all to, as we would say in the hood, "hold things down." When the US destabilized the region they put themselves in the precarious position of having to "hold things down," but couldn't use Saddam's methods. Now am I saying that the Shia and Sunnis aren't human, or don't have humane traits? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that humans go through phases. You have to learn to walk before you run. And you must first learn to overcome your hatred before you can love. This was not the right time for Democracy to be brought to them, to be forced upon them, and it's blowing up in our faces.
Today Saddam began his testimony, and as usual, the proceedings had to be halted as Saddam launched into a tirade, against the US, instructing the Iraqi people to cease fighting amongst themselves and attack their invaders. Describing the trial to one of my co-workers, I told him that Saddam has no respect for his captors because he's the OG in the country. He's held it down for so long, and understands his people so much more than the US that he feels that the conclusion is inevitable. Oh, there's no doubt that I'm sure whether it be by lethal injection, or a Jack Ruby, Saddam will be dead by New Years, but he knows that he will be a martyr. He knows that he fills that gap between what the Iraqis are and what they could be. Regardless of the trial he is that dark side, that ghost that haunts Iraq, that the US ignores and the insurgency embraces. And he will continue to be unabashed and unashamed until America turns into the shadows to deconstruct his necessary evil.
Milosevic would be laughing right now, but he's getting gang raped by demons.
Sorry I've been a little late following this story, but between the war and Dubai, this one managed to get past me.
A couple of days ago a happy Jay Bennish, the Colorado teacher whose now famous lecture containing comments critical to the Bush administration was taped and distributed by one of his students, was reinstated by the Colorado school board.
If you've checked any of the Right-wing blogs they'll all tell you anything from what a travesty this is to how the Colorado Educational system is going straight down the tubes. But I feel this is a great victory for free speech and critical thinking. If you've been following this case you'd know that Bennish's lecture was not partisan ranting but was meant to stimulate serious thinking about the war and our foreign policy. Congratulations to Jay, and hopefully this decision will allow educators at all different levels to have the confidence to bring up and vocalize subjects that are important to the future of America.
Monday, March 13, 2006
“The president has broken the law and, in some way, he must be held accountable,” Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told The Associated Press in an interview.
I was looking over Sullivan's blog today and it seems he's got an ongoing post regarding the supposed pre-war activists who stated that Iraq didn't have WMDs. The whole debate was ignited by the above New York Times article that states that Saddam himself lied to his military advisors about having WMDs in order to bolster their confidence. Sullivan, moderately I kindly add, gives a little wag of the finger to those who claim that they knew, or had evidence that showed Saddam's lack of weapons. He and his readers attack such guys as Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, who did a couple of flip-flops during the years from 95-03. Fine, I'm not going to object, and in fact I might even say that there wasn't one person who knew--for sure--that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction other that Saddam. And you know what? It doesn't make a lick of difference. I thought back then that Iraq didn't have WMDs, and the only intelligence I had was common sense.
So what made me so bright? It's not brightness at all. It's only the bitter, bitter cynicism, that I have for this administration and this Congress.
I've spoken before about it, but allow me to present my point again. Confidence and faith is created by experience and reputation. It sounds so simple but for so many it seems the hardest thing in the world. Now I'm not talking about a faith in a Deity. That lies in the plane of metaphysics and who can tell what about that. No, what we are talking about here is material reality, and none but the foolish can ignore experience. Our experience with government has taught us that they are fickle, ignorant, short-sighted and corrupt.
During Reagan's tenure we "fought" the Cold War, which should be restated as "fed" the military industrial complex. Documents, such as the ones discussed in former Sen. Daniel Moynihan's book Secrecy, have shown that most intelligence agencies knew that the Iron Curtain was coming down decades before Reagan "fought the good fight." Then there was Panama, Grenada, the First Gulf war, yadda, yadda, yadda. Each of these Presidents fed us alot of jingoistic, nationalistic, fearsome nonsense, and then the respective administrations went on and did what they wanted to do regardless of dissent. So there wasn't hard figures to back up or negate the charge that Iraq had WMDs? So what? The only thing that seems to matter is the whims of those in power. Not the troops that have to fight, not their families and sure as hell, not you and I. If you have a wife who's cheated on you 20 times, are you going to ask for a DNA test when the 21st time comes up? We don't. We're more cuckoded than King Arthur and Hilary Clinton put together, but we always take our mistress back. Frist wins the straw poll, Bush wins in 2004, DeLay gets the GOP nomination in TX, and the wheels go round and round.
We have become the country that cried wolf! Pundits may still want to wag fingers, but we have a greater issue confronting us. In a time where we need the aid and support of international allies we cannot afford to have our own people second guessing our leaders. We have spent a good amount of time and money trying to develop a strong intelligence system. But what good will intelligence be, if no one believes the messenger.
Sorry, but this pic just seemed so right...
In case you don't follow The Hotline (like the 99.99999 % of the rest of the world) the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, put down their Bibles and walked out of their tents yesterday in order to cast their votes in the "Straw poll," an informal consensus to see who GOP'ers would like to have run for President.
The race was close as they attempted to find someone in the Republican party who wasn't under inditment, but in the end they ended up with Bill Frist, who besides being corrupt and has criminal charges pending also has the almost Godlike ability to diagnose patients through videotape.
I really don't know why they would have chosen Frist over all the other honest Republicans, like John McCain, or John McCain, or John McCain...ok, really you guys suck...can we all admit to that now? No? How about that Iraq was...no? Not that either? Sigh...
Well at least Newt Gingrich only got 13 votes, the least except for Chuck Hagel...does that mean anything, not really...Bill Frist, wow...I hear the Democrats are going to nominate Satan and the Green party is going to nominate Ralph Nader. In the end, Jeb Bush will win by a single tampered vote.
Remember when Greg Norman had like a 100 stroke lead over Nick Faldo in the 96 Masters, and he bungled it? Well it turns out that the prosecution in the Moussoui trial is trying to challenge Norman title as greatest choke artist of all time.
Yesterday the judge in the Moussoui trial stopped proceedings to investigate that charge that the the prosecution had been coaching at least four witnesses. This coaching included giving witnesses actual pieces of evidence, trial testimony, and perhaps classified information--something that the judge expressly forbade.
This is the second time that the judge has had problems with the head prosecutor, David Novak, who last week asked a question that the judge had overruled. And the dual issues could lead to the judge taking the death penalty off the table.
I'm still not sure how the case is looking right now, but it would be a gross bungling of the prosecution if Moussoui is convicted and execution was taken off the table, because they failed to follow procedure. Personally I'm opposed to the death penalty except in rare, rare exceptions, this being one of them. It seems pretty obvious that he knew 9/11 was going to occur and his silence led to the attacks. Now if we can just prosecute this case with more competency that the way we fought the Iraq war, he should be in his grave by summer. You shouldn't have to be Tiger Woods to get the win here.
Ok, not really, but a couple of us guys got together to do our little take of Bush's reaction at the Pre-Katrina meeting. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but mostly you'll cry. Click on the link above to check it out. Big props to the Captain and Bagby Bush for making it happen.
Friday, March 10, 2006
According to the lastest AP poll, the President's popularity numbers have been dwindling even farther, but the greatest surprise is his drop with Republicans going from 82% to 74%, and 70% think that Iraq has been mishandled. The new numbers have forced many Republican party leaders to distance themselves from the President with the midterm elections rapidly approaching and the 2008 presidential campaigns about to begin.
This is really disappointing I mean he's been doing such a good job, its just a shame to see all his friends abandon him. A real tragedy...
I am so joking...this is wonderful! Call me a bad winner, call me bitter, but as much as he's screwed up this country, I hope his poll numbers fall into the negatives, and he can't get an invitation to Bob Jones university. Bush on welfare, now that would prove to me that there really is justice in the world.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, two people whose music is not in my CD player, said something which helps me remember that the legacy of Johnny Cash still lives on. During a press conferance the natives of Lousiana and Mississippi, were brought nearly to tears when asked about Katrina, calling the clean up effort "embarrassing and humiliating."
Expect their CDs to be banned and torched all across the South.
Well it looks like Abu Ghraib got the same treatment. The US military announced plans to move all their prisoners from Abu Ghraib to the lesser known Camp Cropper, where Saddam Hussein is being held. This move is about as staged as a Tommy Tune production. The Bush administration has shown no willingness to change its methods of interrogation, but by changing prisons it must believe that its giving the old okey-doke to the rest of the world.
The old okey-doke by the way, is when you tell someone you're going to do something with absolutely no plans of actually doing it.
KFC and Camp Cropper, the same ole shit, totally new day.
Another great slogan! I should do marketing.
Today the company, Dubai Ports World, has rescinded their offer to buy several US ports as Congress intensified their objections to the deal. Bush originally said that he would veto any overruling of the deal by Congress, and then backed down after seeing the opposition from both parties.
The news of DPW's decision came to Senate floor to mixed reviews. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, who was one of the leaders of the opposition said:
"This is obviously a promising development, but the devil's in the details...Those of us who feel strongly about this issue believe that the U.S. part of the British company should have no connection to the United Arab Emirates or DP World."
Yet Schumer's feelings don't reflect my lack of satisfaction to this result. Look, once the press got wind of this and the deal became public knowledge, I don't believe that anyone in their right mind thought that it would go through. In fact, considering the climate of the country right now, the suggestion, regardless of its racial and nationalist overtones, was completely inane. "I have an idea, lets sell our ports to the Arabs!" It's sounds silly when typed out, and yet we have spent another two weeks fleshing the entire idea out while (fill-in-the-blank of your favorite world catastrophe) occurred. And two weeks before that we had to deal with the moronic Cheney shooting scandal, and the idiocy of the Winter Olympics, where the only think more interesting than watching grown men brush the ice out of a rolling rocks way, is watching another grown man throw himself down a mountain wearing nothing but a pair of waxed skis. And don't even get me started on that Bravo show they call ice skating--put two cowboys in it and they would nominate it for an Academy Award. Anyway...
I'm unfulfilled much like Patrick Bateman is at the end of American Psycho. The conclusion of the Dubai deal brings epiphany and no closure, because there was nothing to close. Nothing has come to an end. The real problems facing America are still facing America and nothing's changed. Some have suggested that because we turned UAE away Western companies will be denied business with the Middle East. That's bunk. Pure bunk. I am reminded of that old joke about Israel and the US talking after Israel is founded, and the US telling them, "well I hear you have some problems with your neighbors. We could loan you some Generals if you'd like." and Israel says, "Sure. Can you send General Dynamics and General Electric our way?" We've created a system within the Middle East that forces them to purchase their most important goods and services from the West, and it will continue that way as long as we continue our foreign policy. Of course this is the same policy that makes them hate us. Good for Halliburton, bad for you.
Now that would be a great slogan for the Iraq war.
According to scientists, water has been discovered on Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn. The streaks you see on the picture next to this are geysers of water that explode from the surface of the moon periodically, much like Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
Because of this scientists have now placed Enceladus on the top of the list of places that could possibly contain other life forms.
Yet my father has a bit of a sagacious quality about him. He knew in 2000 that George W. Bush, if elected, would be the worse President of all time. And further more, he knew that Bush would go on to beat Kerry in 2004. To my father this isn't just a partisan battle, but views the Bush administration is a referendum on the future of America, and that, should the GOP be tossed out and Bush impeached, it wouldn't be just about a changing of the guard, but it would be the next evolution of America, just as World War II, and FDR echoed in our technological age.
Of course, I'm a bit simpler than he is. I just see two boxers in the ring and I want one to knock the head off the other. But where as I see that Bush hurts America, and I want the hurt to end, my father sees America as infected, and he wants a cure. Who's right? I wish I knew, but at the least I think I should give some credence to my father's experience. I only wish I believed that the leadership of the DNC was as wise.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
If you're from New York, you'd know that Mafia kingpin John Gotti used to be called the Teflon don, because of the way nothing incriminating could stick to him. It seems now that the nick name can suit Tom Delay as well. Not because he'll escape his charges (though I bet he will), but because no one seems to care whether he's a criminal or not. Or, at least, Texas Republicans don't seem to care.
In his first election since his charges, Delay beat out three other Republicans to get his party's nomination for reelection, garnering 62 percent of votes. Delay has been in Congress now for 22 years.
I'm sure there are many reasons why Texans would support this crook and creep. Perhaps it's loyalty, or maybe its their way of slapping Democrats and the liberal media. But regardless it seems that there's this infection in the minds of voters, and especially Republican party voters, to stick with the wrong person, reminds me of the old story about the person who cut of their nose to spite their face. I'm not sure when this infection began, but its undoubtedly negative for America. I mean there's nothing wrong with spirited debate or ideological differences but this adherence to corrupt officials has grown into madness, and sadly it seems that this infection, like the several corruption scandals that have arisen in recent months, is a Republican trait. And before you can mention Clinton, let's just recall that his scandal didn't bankrupt Indian tribes and help maintain a system of forced prostitution and abortion in an American province. Delay is a scoundrel and a bane on American politics. I only hope he is defeated by his Democratic challenger and beaten badly. Should he be reelected his victory will be a mandate of corruption in Congress, and that will be a loss for us all.
I had to post this if only for the reason to post a pic of Jessica Alba. If you haven't heard, she's suing Playboy for using a pic of her on the cover of their last issue. She doesn't appear nude inside and she says that it misleads readers.
You go Jess! I say you pose naked in Hustler just to show Hef what's up!
One can only dream...
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I was watching the McLaughlin Group on Sunday, and, while discussing the US treaty with India that allows the US to share Nuclear technology with the Indians, Elenanor Clift made the statement that the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty is hopelessly outdated. I completely agree and I think the events of the last month or so have proven her point.
It seems to me that nuclear power is a natural offshoot of mankind's intellectual evolution. From fire, to the wheel, to calculus and so on, all the nations of man will eventually go on to nuclear power, and then hopefully anti-matter reactors, warp drives and then we'll meet the Vulcans. (If you don't know Star Trek then forget the reference). In any event the entire matter of dispersing nuclear technology needs to be rethought from the top down. One way or another, any country desiring nuclear power will find a way to get nuclear power.
The US has rethought it, and have changed their stance, although our leaders remain as Janus and arrogant about their new policy as the old. Before, the UN Security Council dictated who would have the power and who wouldn't. Now the US, as shown with their India treaty, seeks to be the sole marketers of nuclear technology, while at the same time putting their feet down in regards to Iran.
This schism is now reflected internationally. Most of the EU and the US supports a ban against Iran if they continue their program while Russia and China seek to move the program to Russia where they will oversee Uranium enrichment to make sure that it is used for research and not weapons. Do they have ulterior reasons for wanting to keep Iran's atomic program running? I'm sure they do, even it's just for the juicy contracts for Russian and Chinese energy companies (Much like GE should be moving into India right about now). There's also a geo-political strategy going on here, seeing as how Israel creates a nice buffer for the US in the Middle East, I'm sure Russia would like to have a close ally down there as well. And considering its historical anti-Semitic views I don't think Russia has a big problem with Iran's hatred of Israel.
Today Cheney said that should Iran continue its enrichment program there will be "meaningful consequences." I don't even know what that means. Surely Cheney isn't talking about military action. We're stretched to the limit already, and I don't think we should start a new war until we've finished with our last war. Maybe Cheney means that he's going to invite the Ayatollahs hunting. Now that's a meaningful event with serious consequences. But his war horn is squeaking right about now, and the tough rhetoric isn't even respected on a world stage where our own President has to slink around like a snake in the grass. His words reflect the old era of American foreign relations, and he's writing checks we just can't cash. Either we make a one-eighty on our policy, or our ancient methods will leave us in the dust.
According to a report from the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, by 2010 nearly half of the children in North and South America will be obese, and in EU 38 percent of children will be obese. This trend continues in poorer nations such as Brazil, Egypt, Mexico and the Middle East. Money quote:
"They're being bombarded like they are in the West to eat all the wrong foods. The Western world's food industries without even realizing it have precipitated an epidemic with enormous health consequences."
You know, when people talk about the "decline of the West," you notice that no one ever mentions our eating habits? If Al-Qaida really wants to screw us over, they should just wait twenty years and wait for us all to get heart attacks and strokes.
Oh and by the way, Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world. When I was over there I don't recall seeing one overweight person. Then again every time I saw people they were jogging, or rafting, or playing sports when they were off work. And to think of all the TV they were missing!
Monday, March 06, 2006
"This group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the back of theaters."
These were the remarks that George Clooney gave after his best supporting actor win for Syriana, addressing the supposed liberal leaning that Hollywood shows that makes them "out of touch" with mainstream America. Personally, I'm extremely proud that he got up there and said that. Statements like that remind me of how much good Hollywood can provide socially and culturally as a progressive unit.
There is not a doubt in my mind that on some level, Hollywood was out of touch with mainstream people of America, although it was lock step in the political climate. Movies like Syriana, Munich, Goodluck and Goodnight were on the forefront of criticism of Bush policy and the state of fear that grips us. Crash and Brokeback Mountain covered the fog of prejudice that haunts our streets. Both were movies of the times. But as great the social criticism was, social criticism does not draw people to the theatres. Contemporary Hollywood is like a college literature book list, and most people can't find this type of cinema enthralling enough to sit through to get the message, and a lost message is no message at all.
This isn't about people being stupid and Hollywood being smart, nor is it about the people being lowbrow and Hollywood being intellectual snobs. This occurs for the same reason that foreign movies don't do well in America. They are in a different language. They're not communicating well.
Movies like Brokeback Mountain, which did surprisingly well in the red states by the way, still don't have the pull of a King Kong, or the grittiness and the realism of a Crash. In NYC we pay somewhere in the realm of 10 to 12 bucks to see a film. I've personally stayed away from Brokeback, not because I didn't want to see it, but because if I'm going to the movies, for that money, I want an entire experience that's audio, and visual--intellectual, and adrenaline pumping. I want my money's worth, and I think extravaganzas are what people desire if, and I stress the word if, people are going to shell out the cash. The long ball is what matters, not the line drive.
I saw Crash on DVD, and I loved it. Would I have seen it in the theatres? Not sure.
But even the money issue might be a red herring. What Hollywood sells short is that "mainstream" or "commercial" cinema, can be used as a tool for social catalysts as well as "artisy movies" Crash definitely had commercial elements involved (hell, Ludacris was one of its stars) but a witty intelligentnt plot with tremendous suspense at every turn I believe resonated more with the academy that the uber romantic gay cowboy movie. Not to say that Brokeback wasn't a wonderful movie, but if your point is to address social change than bringing your plot back to Earth might help.
Another example: I saw 16 blocks this weekend. It was an excellent movie. It won't get an academy award (although watch for Mos Def to get nominated in the next couple of years, and if you haven't seen him in the Woodsman, check that out as well), and it's a "commercial movie"but it makes very socially relevantnt points. The man who directed it, Richard Donner also directed the Lethal Weapon movies, which practically created the "commercial" genre of cop buddy movies. Now analyze the subtext of those movies. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, a black man and white man, learn through each other an appreciation of life and happiness (and blow up alot of bad guys, including in Lethal Weapon 2 fighting against an apartheid South African Diplomat) concluding in becoming a sort of extended family with one another. These were incredibly popular movies, that taught lessons of racial harmony and teamwork, presenting in its own way the same lessons as Crash but with a positive and hopeful resolution.
You might say that I'm looking too deep into the movies, but I would say you're not looking close enough. Brokeback Mountain may have been great, but has it done more for gay relations then say, Will and Grace? Which by the way, has been critically acclaimed. To stimulate social debate you don't need a sledgehammer when sometimes a chisel will do, and you don't need tears and blood when a laugh will suffice.
I am glad we had the year we had in movies, both because of what came out of Hollywood, and the lack of money that went in. I just think we can get more movies out that are progressive that can give the general population--literally--more bang for their buck.
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that colleges must allow recruiters from the Armed Forces onto their campuses or forfeit Federal funds.
It seems to be that the decision was more pragmatic and political than reported on the above msnbc.com link. Recruitment for the AF is at a low point with the Iraq war having become an unpopular quagmire. Allowing colleges to ban recruiters would only lead to a domino effect which would then spread to High Schools, further reducing numbers.
The colleges' main objection was with the military's discriminatory policy on gays, but the Supreme court wasn't buying it. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the decision:
"a military recruiter's mere presence on campus does not violate a law school's right to associate, regardless of how repugnant the law school considers the recruiter's message."
He went on to say:
"Students and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military's message."
Which I sure they will. If any one is familiar with college campuses, on thing they love to do is whine and bitch about stuff, and during club hours you'll find the Communist Party protesting Capitalism next to the Economic club. It's what they do.
But yet the real loser in this argument, aren't the big law schools which brought up the case in the first place. Let's face it, you may get FBI, CIA, even NSA recruitment at Harvard or Yale, but I doubt the Army or Navy or Marines show up. Why? Ask yourself why half of Congress wasn't in the Armed Forces and you'll know why. Usually people who have the most to gain out of life aren't too willing to sacrifice their lives, although they're more than willing to sacrifice your lives for their ideology or greed. No the real losers are the poor state and public colleges that can't do without federal aid. They are the ones with the gun to their heads, and their students; the poor and minority, who are the back bone of the military, are once again at the whim of a powerful system. I have nothing against the Armed Forces, or against people who want to serve in the Armed Forces. I think everyone should have a chance to serve if they choose to whether they be gay or straight, rich or poor. But the system that pressures one particular segment of the population to serve rather than another is unfair and anti-American, and colleges should be able to decide on their own what groups they would want on their campuses in order to establish the type of atmosphere they feel is conducive to the educational process.
But what do I know? I'm not on the Supreme Court...
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The link above takes you to a copy of Bennish's syllabus. I'd like to quote one section of it here:
"More than answering the question "what is where," this course adopts a conceptual approach to understanding and explaining the dynamic human and natural features of the earth’s surface. Particular geographic themes will be emphasized and applied largely to the regions of South, East, and Southeast Asia, the Middle East (North Africa & South West Asia), Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia, and Australia. Important themes include: population, religion, human rights, notions of development and underdevelopment, impact of colonialism historically and currently, sustainability, impacts of modernization on developing countries, globalization of economy and culture, political and international conflict, cultural diversity, and global environmental concerns. To that end, a deeper understanding of current events from a historical and geographical perspective is imperative. Thus, timely issues and events in the news will be tied into the overall framework of the course."
While I admit that this stuff might be over the head's of most High Schoolers, this is precisely they type of curriculum that needs to be taught in High Schools. This is engaging material, that works on everything that the American education system lacks--critical thinking and reading ablity, rhetorical skills, and creating rational arguements.
I know that it is exactly these types of teachers that I remember from school, who challeneged me to do more than memorize material. Hell, I used to try to instigate conversations in History and English classes about politics and the first Gulf war which was going on during that time. Sure I had my opinions, but I wanted to know more--I wanted to hear other thoughts on the subject. Now where would I go to stimiluate my mind? Guess it can't be school!
Bennish is far from some insane ranter, trying to promote his perticular agenda. He answers questions rationally, and listens to dissenting opinions. He is completely respectful to his students. But I think the thing that bugs me the most, and is really the key to what makes this situation so tragic, is what he says at the end of the lecture:
"Alright, and so this becomes very, very muddled. And I'm not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think, right, about these issues more in-depth, you know, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions, because they're very good, legitimate questions. And hopefully that allows other people to begin to think about some of those things, too."
Thinking. That's what this is all about, and something that's become an anathema in the US. Heaven freaking help that a TEACHER, presents an IDEA to his CLASS. Especially if that IDEA, doesn't state that America is the greatest thing since Jesus Christ to hit the world.
We all pray to have a better system of education. We all say we want bigger schools, with more facilities and more teachers. But all that will be meaningless unless we allow ideas and thoughts to be freely discussed by both teachers and students and encourage critical thinking.
And that's why I support Jay Bennish.
Friday, March 03, 2006
One student faces expulsion and 20 students have been suspended as a local school board investigate the charges that a student set up a group on the popular website myspace.com to celebrate their hatred of another student. The group they set up included various anti-semitic references and explicit depictions of actions people would like to have done to this person.
"Who here in the (group name) wants to take a shotgun and blast her in the head over a thousand times?"
The person who set up the site is the one facing expulsion--the rest are people who had joined the group.
Look, when I was in High School I wasn't all that popular (unlike now, where I'm so dammed popular that it's silly) and I'm sure if there had been a myspace back then I might have had a group dedicated to me. It sucks to be a social pariah, and especially so in High School where kids are particularly cruel, but this seems like a standard case of censorship and a curtailing of freedom of speech. As long as they never acted on it, they should have the right to post anything they like about anyone. Hell, half they Internet posts crap about Bush, and I can personally say I've wanted to blast him in the head with a shotgun about a thousand times. (Though I never would!) Should stating my feelings and opinions be criminal if they don't conform to our societies vision of 'happiness?' And how can we teach the Middle East about freedom of speech when we haven't mastered it ourselves? The all too simple fact that if you want freedom, you have to take the good with the bad, and the intelligent with the out-and-out offensive.
Besides, if there's anything to worry about in Myspace it would be the crapload of pedofiles patrolling its virtual halls. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11644084/).
Oh and Kraut, your "democratizing paragon," Hamid Karzai...former oil man and UNOCAL offical (http://sandiego.indymedia.org/en/2002/01/402.shtml).
Yeah, Syriana--total bunk.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I came across this link on Petterico.com (http://patterico.com/2006/03/02/4279/la-times-dishonestly-portrays-contents-of-video-in-which-bush-is-warned-about-katrina/) another pro-Bush conservative website. I give him props for at least addressing the Bush video story and not dipping his head in the sand like so many others. Of course he puts his particular spin on the issue, focusing primarily on language.
He has a copy of the transcript of the tape (http://patterico.com/2006/03/02/4279/la-times-dishonestly-portrays-contents-of-video-in-which-bush-is-warned-about-katrina/), and uses it to say that the LATimes report that Bush lied about anticipating the breach of the levees, is untrue because the word "breach" was never used, but instead they were worried about the levees "topping."
I read over the transcript and yes, this is true. But what is also true, is that in the same transcript Bush is also told by National Hurricane Center's Dr. Max Mayfield:
"Right now this is a Category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in maximum intensity, but there is a big big difference. This hurricane is larger than Andrew ever was."
He goes on to say:
"I also want to make absolutely clear that clear to everyone that the greatest loss of life is still in the coastal range from the storm's surge."
"The big question is going to be: Will that top some of the levees? And the current track and the forecast we have now suggest that there will be minimal flooding in the City of New Orleans itself, but we're -- we've always said that the storm surge model is only accurate within about 20 percent."
So yes, in language, if the President was a machine or a moron, he couldn't have anticipated a "breach," but only a "topping." But if we look at the big picture, one can only wonder, with the evidence presented, and the US Corps of Engineers report that said that the levee system was out of date for the last 10 years, how no one could have not inferred that the levees could break. If I told you, "If you get in the ring with Mike Tyson, he might knock you out and there's a 20 % chance that he could kill you," and you got in the ring, and he knocked your head clean off, and in heaven you said, "man I had no idea he could tear my head off my body!" St. Peter would roll his eyes in dismay. The difference in the language used is trivial. The fact is that more than enough information was provided for every one to know that a) there was a chance of the levees breaking, and b) Federal Aid was positively needed, and people would die if it wasn't provided.
Then again, to infer something requires thought and energy, and both seem to be lacking with this President.
Andrew Sullivan: (I almost hate listing him as a conservative, and it takes a while to remember that you can disagree with Bush and still be a conservative, if only a moderate conservative, something that the mainstream seems to have forgotten. ) Anyway his assessment of the situation seems perfectly reasonable:
"Four days after the storm, Bush declared "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." He was either lying or had slept through his pre-storm meetings. The latter is possible. The record shows he asked not a single question in the pre-Katrina briefing. Maybe he was miffed his vacation had been spoiled. Michael Brown seems on the ball in comparison."
Now compare that to Glenn Reynolds, at Instapundit:
"WE'RE BACK TO HEARING ABOUT KATRINA, which is a pretty good sign the media is trying to gin up an other anti-Bush swarm ("While the information in the video has been public for months, and was the subject of hearings and reports by Congress and the White House, the footage is giving new life to charges that the administration was detached and unresponsive in the face of one of the nation's worst natural disasters." In other words, there's no news here, but we hope it'll have traction anyway.) "
Oh boy here comes that media again beating up poor GWB. Look, if it's been around for months I can't help that FOX News didn't report it, but don't tell me it's not news. This video is proof that the Bush team straight up LIED about their reaction to Katrina, and when a President lies it's news. Of course you have those who think Nixon caught a raw deal. Things certainally are wonderful on Pluto where these guys are from.
And then there's my sweetie bird, Michelle Malkin who led out with this:
"This story is big here in Denver (where my flight has been canceled this morning...grr): A 16-year-old World Geography student, Sean Allen, taped his Bush-bashing, capitalism-hating high school teacher's screeching diatribe."
I'm sorry, is Denver trapped in a force field that keeps cable, Internet, phone and radio waves from entering? The big story is a Bush-hating teacher who rants? Good grief--then I must be the story of the year in NYC.
I know it's a bit unfair...I mean after all it's noon EST and I'm sure that alot of these guys are still asleep, or reading their Bibles, or writing thank-you letters to James Dobson, but whether you like it or not news is still news and you should at least report it.
MediaMatters.com is going to have a field day.
PS: About that supposed "rant" of the Denver Teacher. I suggest checking it out. Some of the things that the teacher, Jay Bennish, said were a bit over the top (especially about Drugs and Cigarettes) but I think he brings up issues that you should talk about in a 10th grade geography class. Not only that, but when the snitch who leaked the tape asks questions and disagrees with points, the teacher addresses his points and reacts--not stifles and rejects. Hell, I wish I'd had some more teachers like that back when I was in High School. Maybe I would have stayed awake.
President GW Bush, on signing a historic treaty with India that allows the US to share nuclear technolgy with India, even though India refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Could some one get the President a speech writer? Or at least a copy of Shrunk & White?
Turns out they have even more problems than I thought.
I just found this little diddy in Newsweek. It's another one of those special conspiracies that map out like a Family Circus cartoon so see if you can follow it.
After Porter Goss took over the CIA he named a man named Kyle (Dusty) (Yeah, he was the guy on GI Joe. True story.) Foggo to act as the CIA executive director. Now Foggo, who had been a mid-level official, was now the 3rd man in charge.
With me so far? Ok, now it gets interesting.
Turns out that Foggo was old friends with a guy named Brent Wilkes. Wilkes was accused by Federal prosecutors (though not indicted) of participating in a scheme to bribe Randall (Duke) (No, he unfortunately was not a Joe) Cunningham (seen in photo), the former GOP Congressman who resigned his seat after pleading guilty to Federal Corruption and tax charges.
Ok you ask, so what does Foggo have to with all this?
Well it turns out that Wilkes ran a network of companies that did business with defense and intel companies, and according to Newsweek's sources Foggo's name has surfaced in their investigations, compelling the CIA to open its own investigation. Wilkes is also being looked at for corrupting unnamed Defense Department officials as well as part of a pay-for-government contracts scam.
DeLay and Abramoff. Foggo and Wilkes. You know if we could get like 3 more pairings we could make a TV show. It would be called Dancing with the Crooks.
Yes folks the new 10 dollar bills are in, so take your old ones and torch 'em! Because Lord knows, we needed to issue new cash. Last Thursday the Federal Reserve sent out 800 million of the new bills, and they should soon be coming to a Wal-Mart near you.
On a historical note; any one remember the Civil War? When, on its last legs, the Confederacy was issuing worthless money in an attempt to keep its war machine moving? Not saying that we're doing that or anything, I'm only saying it reminded me of that.
I must admit they are pretty, just don't expect them to spontaneously turn into Euros.
Today outside of the US embassy in Karachi, Pakistan a suicide bomber crashed a car full of explosives into a US diplomat's convoy killing four people including the diplomat. This all comes hours before the President was scheduled to visit Pakistan on his tour of South Asia.
According to sources at MSNBC, counter-intelligence officials knew that there were a number of extremist groups in Pakistan that posed a threat, though they didn't know when or where they would strike.
What amazes me is that after 9/11 our intelligence is still as shoddy as ever. Yet I'm not so quick to pin blame to the CIA, who I think is doing the best job they can. Because of the mismanagement of this administration, we've put our eggs in too many baskets. Trying to run a war in the middle of another civil war, plus the numerous other plans we have in action, plus tax cuts have left America shorthanded. You know things have gotten stretched to the breaking point when the President and State department officials can't look after their selves. And if they can't do it, what chance do civilians have?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Now we don't even try.
Disclaimer: Don't read this post on a full stomach. You may experience projectile vomiting that will shoot you through your roof and into orbit.
Just when you can't think of another reason to hate Bush, here comes another one. A video just came out (click on the link to view) that showed the conversation between Mike Brown, President Bush, DHS Director Michael Chertoff, and other officials a day before Katrina hit. On it Brown and other officials give the President dire warnings regarding the destructiveness of Katrina. President Bush didn't ask one question during the meeting but said that "We are fully prepared."
Bush telling me that "We fully prepared," is like someone at the Pentagon telling me that the Iraqi police force did a "tremendous job" the last week. (See previous post if you can't catch the reference.)
Far from validating anything that the adminstration has stated, the video gives startling insight into the administration's lies, proving that R. Kelly isn't the only one who shouldn't make videos. The Bush team's statement that no one foresaw the levees breaking is disproved, as the National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned, "I am sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done."
The blame that the Feds put on local administrators was also unfounded. The video showed that everyone around that table knew that Federal assistance was needed and catastrophe would occur without their support.
In fact the only person who comes out a winner in this tape is Mike Brown, who repeatedly urged the President to send aid, warned that this was going to be an epic disaster, and begged the President to bend the rules if he had to:
"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."
Someone should have told Brown that this was a meeting about a hurricane and not Iraq.
He went on to question the safety of the Superdome, which had been selected prior to Katrina as a refuge for the New Orleans population:
"The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane."
"Not to be (missing) kind of gross here," Brown interjected, "but I'm concerned about the medical and mortuary resources, and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."
Not to say that I owe Brown a apology--I still think he was out classed and in the wrong place at the wrong time--I do think that on both sides have scapegoated him unfairly. It does seem as if he was one the right side of the fence at this particular junction and his cries went unheeded. Then again, heaven help that the President actually listens to his advisors.
I cannot express my loathing of this President without blowing my brains out with a shotgun. He is dishonest, incompetent, and apathetic to anyone except his immediate intrests. His poll ratings are down to 36% and expect them to drop at least 5 to 10 by tomorrow when this hits. How much longer can we go before there's a mob outside of the White House with pitchforks and torches? One can only wait and see.
So what do you guys want first? The bad news or the bad news?
Today 26 were killed today in Baghdad while another barrage of mortar bombings hit homes in the surrounding regions.
Look I'm not going to burden you guys down with the details, and I don't mean to make light of the subject. As we've talked about before this is deadly serious business and I think everyone is addressing it as such except for the administration and Congress, but they live on Mars, which is really distant from Iraq. Just in the past week alone the numbers of dead have been growing at a substantial rate, yet the media can't seem to recognize that Iraq is in a state of Civil War, except for FOX News which thinks that's a good thing. If you need to know the details of today's bombing you can click on the link up there and find out the whole thing. What I want to focus on today is the complete lack of understanding that the administration shows in handling the situation. It's so grossly inept that it's on par with sheer callousness and apathy.
Despite what's going on in Iraq the Pentagon seems to be hell bent on dropping troop levels over there. In fact it's already begun moving troops away, lowering the number from 160,000 in December to 133,000, and if we're to believe Army Gen. George Casey more will be pulled out come the Spring.
Now you might say, "Well didn't you think that troops should be pulled out? Isn't this a good thing?" Well that's like torturing me for a week, telling me I'm going to die, and then ripping the electrodes off my chest and kicking me out the door naked. We destabilized the region, we infuriated the entire Middle East, we were wrong about WMDs, and after all that Bush swore that we were going to stand by the Iraqi people. Now, after three years of this crap, it finally gets back to him what we were saying all along, and he's leaving the region with an IOU. Should we leave Iraq to fend for itself, not only are we telling the world that we're undependable and we don't give a damm about any foreign nation, but we're creating a country that will truly hate our guts and be terrorist-friendly. Just because we pull out doesn't mean that Al-Qaida will follow. Now is the time when we have to get our NATO allies involved and turn this into a peacekeeping mission. We can't continue to go at it alone, but we sure as hell can't just turn around and forget it ever happened.
Another piece of news that made me think that I was three neurons short of a brain was a defense official, speaking off the record (and if I said what's to follow I would speak this only with my head dunked underwater), who claimed that the Iraqi police force did a "tremendous job" containing the sectarian violence in the last week. Well if a "tremendous job" is keeping Iraq from flipping upside down and burrowing itself in the Earth thus creating a race of mole people, then yes they did a "tremendous job." Telling the Iraqi police force they did a "tremendous job" last week is like telling that autistic kid who scored six three pointers in a game that he's going to be an NBA all-star. It was good for what resources they had, but it ain't the US marines. And by the way, this statement is coming only a week after the Pentagon dropped the level of Iraqi battalions that could fight without US troop support from 1 to 0.
0. That's just about the amount of time America has left to do the right thing.