Sunday, November 26, 2006

Have yourself a guilty little Christmas.

I found myself almost going through the motions on Thanksgiving. We visited some of my wife’s friends, had Thanksgiving dinner, watched a little football, talked about kids. I have been putting time into some of my hobbies, some more useless than others. But always, there was this undercurrent of guilt. Here, at home, we have all indications of “normalcy”. There was the Macy’s Day parade on television, lots more football games whose outcomes seem to be The Most Important Thing Ever, until the next week. I went to a college basketball game and cheered wildly at the halftime half court buzzer beater shot that helped out team win. But it isn’t really normal. We just want to pretend it is.

Our service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan probably did not enjoy Thanksgiving much, and will not enjoy Christmas. In fact, there are probably a few that are not going to be around to see Christmas. This is not to say anything of the Iraqi people that are dying in pretty horrible ways by the day. Upwards of a million people are on the move, trying to avoid a similar fate because of the Sunni/Shia sectarian violence.

Yeah, Saddam was a monster and will deserve whatever he ultimately gets, which looks to be a public hanging. However, I can’t see that the situation in Iraq was any worse than what we have unleashed by invading the country with absolutely no concept of what we were doing and not doing any contingency planning past not getting hit in the eye by all the flowers that were going to be thrown at us.

I really hate this. There are terrible implications if the U.S. stays in Iraq. There are terrible implications if we leave. This is much worse that a “bad situation”. No matter what happens or what we ultimately end up doing, it is going to be a catastrophe.

Thank you, George Bush and all your neo-con warmongering friends. Thank you for bankrupting this country, for making us about the most distrusted and hated country in the world. Thank you for trying with all your might to hold onto the reins of power while doing everything in your power to dismantle a governmental system that had been working wonderfully, more or less, for over 200 years.

Merry Christmas, George. I truly hope that you can't sleep at night.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Let the madness begin!

No, not the war or the secret plot for all Republicans ousted from office to come in and stage a coup to dispose those nasty decadent Democrats who drink champagne directly from the shoes of Warren Beatty and Annette Benning. (Blech....) No, I am taking about the annual madness called Christmas Shopping.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I am already tired of the barrage of television commercials that imply that you can’t really have a Merry Christmas or even Being of Good Cheer, and some go more than just “imply”. Ads for jewelry are particularly noxious. All ads (unless they are of the “cute” variety such as the ad for Aflac where Santa gets stuck in the chimney) are aimed at making the audience believe that the MUST participate in this orgy of spending and buying in order to have yourself a perfect Christmas.

What is amazing about all of this is how at least ¾ of Christmas has become this non-secular “end of the year” holiday and have very little to do with the religious holiday. I am not a Christian, but I can see why Christians are upset. They have had their holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus hijacked by Madison Avenue. There is a bit of a problem with the political correctness of not being able to say “Merry Christmas” during the Christmas season. However, I figure this is probably just karma getting back at them, since most scholars believe that Jesus was not born on December 25th, but sometime in July. The holiday was set on the date it currently has by Constantine, the first Pope, who was hoping to hijack a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. That certainly happened, so maybe a second hijacking is some sort of revenge by the Earth Mother. She’s still annoyed.

Anyway, back to shopping. The amount of focus and energy that people devote to getting that “perfect gift” for their loved ones, or related by unloved ones. Stores are now open at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving for people who just can’t wait for that traditional day of orgasmic consumerism. That is today. There is no way that I am going to go anywhere near a mall this weekend. These people who brave the elements and the huge crowd of savage shoppers don’t fool around. Even if you find a parking place and make it inside the mall safely, that is no guarantee of your continued safety. People will walk right out in front of you like you aren’t even there. They will run over your foot with their shopping cart. In fact, they don’t even seem to be aware that there are any other people in the mall besides themselves, unless it comes to the point where they are both competing for the same product. And I do mean “competing”. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there today and it would be best for you to keep your puppies safely in the confines of your own home.

It’s days like today, and actually the rest of the Christmas shopping season, that people revert to their true selves that hide under the very thin veneer of a polite society. We will no longer starve if we are on the losing end of a competition for food or will be homeless if some brute with a bigger club than we have chases us out of our cave. But that mechanism is still there, buried in our primal psyche, waiting to make itself known. And this is the time. The urge to obtain and retain your “possessions”, whatever those might be, is right out there for all to see.

Heaven help the person who gets in the way. Of course, Heaven may not hear you, as everyone there is currently trying to figure out how to get their holiday back.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More television advertising that really annoys me.

One very prevalent television commercial these days normally seen during football games (and probably NASCAR races which I never, ever watch) is for KFC “Famous Bowls”. Excuse me? So, you can just declare yourself to be “famous” these days? I suppose if Paris Hilton can do it, that opens the field to pretty much anyone or anything, even if it happens to be a bowl full of cold lumpy starch with cheese. Actually, now that I think about it, those two things are somewhat similar….. Paris Hilton…. Bowl of mashed potatoes. Their talent for music is about the same, and they have about the same level of awareness of the universe outside of themselves. However, the big mound of mashed potatoes featured in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND that Richard Dreyfuss prodded so lovingly with his fork could probably out-act Paris Hilton any day.

I already think it is rather laughable that KFC is now a supposedly meaningless acronym, instead of admitting that the “F” in KFC stands for “Fried”. Oh, no. Can’t admit to the truth, you know. I am also very tired of hearing the intro to “Sweet Home, Alabama” as their little “mind hook” into consumers. Playing to the Deep South NASCAR dads much?

I just think that anointing yourself or one of your products as “famous” immediately at the product introduction is a remarkable instance of over-hype. People are famous. Bill Clinton. Luther Vandross. Jerry Mathers as the Beaver. Those are famous people. Historical landmarks like the Washington Monument are famous. Mashed potatoes with some gravy and cheese on top are most definitely NOT famous.

They also never show how big these things are. Whenever you want to hide the true size of the product you are advertising, whether it is a bowl full of mash potatoes or a small pickup truck with a max-cab but a four foot long bed, never show the product in the same frame as something recognizable, like a human. Keep the size very vague and the potential customer will never know, until he/she actually BUYS one, that they are going to be overcharged by a factor of about three.

KFC also had a good advertising campaign a few of years ago for nine different “collectable” tubs of fried chicken featuring pictures of “famous” NASCAR drivers. Collectable? COLLECTABLE?! Cardboard containers with puddles of congealed chicken grease on the bottom are now “collectable”? Please…. If anyone actually tried to display their collection of these things, they would have every stray dog and raccoon in the neighborhood scratching at the basement door trying to get in.

“Famous” bowls…. Sheesh. Yeah, and I am a “famous” blogger.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Draft? What draft? Who said anything about a draft?

Charles Rangel (NY-D) has renewed his call to reinstate the military draft. Predictably, the Democratic leadership immediately came out and said that they would not introduce or pass any legislation that included such a measure.

As someone who just missed the military draft for the Vietnam War era, I would be a big hypocrite to say that I support a draft now. I would really detest to see my kids or anybody else’s kids sent off to fight a “war” which they did not support. Politically, this is about as close to a non-starter as it gets.

However, I think this is a really good dialog to have at this point in time. There are many calls for INCREASING our military presence in Iraq. “Escalation” is the euphemism, I believe. But at the same time, so many knowledgeable people across the political and military spectrum who are saying that this is really not feasible. Our current military structure is at the point of breakdown right now. Where are we going to get 30,000 more troops, or whatever it is they are calling for? They just are not there. We already are seeing mandatory call backs of 40 and 50 year old veterans. That is just plain ol’ scary.

So, the point here is by Congressman Rangel is to point out the complete lunacy of this situation and what some people are openly advocating. It makes about as much sense as a person that wants to go buy a Lamborghini with cash when he only has enough in his pocket to go get a Quarter Pounder with fries. Plus, he is also pointing out the hypocrisy of the ruling class in this country, along with their cheerleaders and enablers, who so boldly support this war and trash anyone who dares suggest that it might not be going so well or that going into Iraq with no planning and minimal force in the first place was not a such good idea. There are very, very few Senators or Representatives who have relatives in harm’s way. There are a few, whose names escape me right now, but not very many.

Let them have THEIR sons and daughters go get shot at or blown up and see how they much they support this war. That’s the good I see coming out of this discussion. But the rest of the Dems in office are not going to let that national discussion occur. Political suicide, I suppose, and there are no doubt better ways to try to deal with the absolute mess that Iraq has become for all involved. But it sure would be fun to see how the Rethugs and neocons would have tried to talk their way out of that one.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More police state action from Southern California law enforcement.

Just a couple of weeks ago, there was another Rodney King-type video of LA police on top of a guy who was laying on the pavement, and the police were whacking his head repeatedly on the ground. Now, we have this video from the Powell Library on the campus of UCLA. The campus police or someone associated with the university came into the library and picked out a student of Iranian descent who was just sitting there at his computer, finishing up his assignment. They demanded that he produce his student I.D. He refused, asking the police to go check a bunch of the white students I.D. as well. The situation quickly degraded into a full-fledged incident where the student was tasered three different times. At no time was he actively resisting the three or four policemen. At most, he just went limp and refused to move, at which point they tasered him again. When other students demanded the policemen’s badge numbers, they were also threatened with the taser.

These things are no joke. It is not just some harmless toy. There have been something like 130 deaths in the U.S. and Canada that have been attributed to the person getting hit with the full effect of a taser. It may not be “lethal force”, but it is close. It is not a joke.

Since when do police have the authority to come into any establishment where there is no incident currently taking place, instigate one on their own by picking out some guy “randomly”, and end up taking such extreme actions when the person, at no time, was violently resisting them? What is this? Has our society gone so far down the road toward fascism and video game violence that people in authority think this is in any way acceptable behavior? And we have some defending their actions? AT THE MOST, the police should have cuffed the guy, if they thought there was reason (and I would argue that not producing a student I.D. while sitting quietly at a computer in a library hardly constitutes a reason to use force), and taken him out of the building. Where do they get off on such violent action?

First off, the guy has retained a very high profile lawyer and plans to sue the hell out of someone. Good for him. If UCLA is smart, they will disavow any connection with this incident, make a public statement condemning the police in no uncertain terms, and fire all the people involved. I hope the guy wins big.

But I always worry about the larger issues when something that seems like an isolated event happens. What does this really say about our society? Where are we going? Before the elections two weeks ago, I was very worried that the future might include a bunch of brown shirts going around and rounding up liberals and gays (the new Jews and gypsies), and sending them off to camps somewhere. Now, it seems like most of the country has repudiated strong-armed tactics out of our government. However, there is a very large percentage of the population of this country that would willing participate in such a round up and deportation. I am convinced of that. Mike Savage, Ann Coulter, and Michelle Malkin would be, out front, leading the cheerleading.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Douglas Feith after 9/11: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s attack South America!”

This is insane. More than insane. There isn’t a word in the English language, or any other language on the face of the Earth, I suspect, to describe how insane this is. And this isn’t coming from a run-of-the-mill nutjob you find on the street corner, yelling at the top of his lungs to no one in particular. This probably came from Douglas Feith, the Defense Under Secretary. You know, one of the neo-cons that worked for Donald Rumsfeld, and who helped lead us into this fiasco called the Iraq War.

The unsigned top-secret memo, which the panel's report said appears to have been written by Defense Under Secretary Douglas Feith, is one of several Pentagon documents uncovered by the commission which advance unorthodox ideas for the war on terror. The memo suggested "hitting targets outside the Middle East in the initial offensive" or a "non-Al Qaeda target like Iraq," the panel's report states. U.S. attacks in Latin America and Southeast Asia were portrayed as a way to catch the terrorists off guard when they were expecting an assault on Afghanistan.

The idea was to catch all those terrorists “off guard” by attacking remote areas of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, because everyone would be expecting the U.S. to actually hit the country that actually attacked us on that horrible day, like, oh, maybe Afghanistan. Luckily, no one acted on this insane recommendation. Cooler heads prevailed and we attacked Iraq instead.

That worked out well, dontcha think?

CNN: The new Fox News?

You know, I am not terribly surprised that there are many racist, xenophobic and hysterical people in the United States. Fear, ambition, and downright stupidity can work wonders on the human psyche. However, it is amazing to me that a person with his very own television show on (what used to be) a rather well thought of (which excludes Fox News) 24/7 news channel can actually say this when interviewing a newly elected congressman.

"Prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

Yeah, the interviewee happened to be the first Muslim American congressman, but this is ridiculous. Yes, I happened to have caught Glenn Beck’s little shtick several times. I just came away shaking my head thinking, “They gave this clown his own television show?” I guess CNN must be desperate to try to peel away viewers from Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Fox News wingnuts.

“Prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” That’s astounding. However, it is in line with the rest of the thugs running this country these days. The new standard is “Guilty until proven innocent”. You don’t like the way someone looks, or thinks, or the signs they hold up at rallies? Declare them the enemies and make them disprove it.

What a country we are living in these days.

Fear and loathing at the gas pump.

O.K., is it just me? Why have the prices at my local gas station suddenly jumped up 35 cents a gallon the two weeks after the election, after they had been doing down by almost a dollar a gallon the three months just prior to the election?

You would have thought that they would be just a tad less obvious about this. Man. I wish the new Democratic majority would look into this one as well. However, I think they are going to have their hands full with quite a lot of other things for some time.

Bad blogger! Bad!

I haven't been posting lately, for several reasons. Not feeling very well, busy weeknights, tickets to the local college basketball team for three successive nights, and mostly, just a feeling of elation and exhaustion after the election. Sort of like the day after Christmas, I guess.

I'll try to do better. Really I will...... (**whimper**)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Post election thoughts.

Maybe one of these days, I will get around to posting about something else besides politics and elections. Hopefully, things will start going well enough in this country that I have enough energy to devote to some other subjects.

I have seen several predominant suppositions regarding the blowout election. Many passionate people are making the case that their view is “the truth”.

Many of the right wing “pundits” are actually saying that this election really shows that their view was correct all along. The election was a victory for conservatives. This theme has two variations, as far as I can tell. First one goes, the Republican party wasn’t properly “conservative enough and had abandoned its’ conservative roots. I’ll go along with the part about “abandoning its’ roots”. That has been obvious for a while. This current crop of thugs in charge of the Republican party is in no way conservative, other than they think taxes are evil. In all other ways, they are not the party of Goldwater or even Ronald Reagan. This supposition is nonsense, and the people spouting this one are doing what they always do; say the first thing that comes into their minds that they think will validate their position. Truth is secondary.

The other variation on this theme is that large amounts of people voted for conservative Democrats. They contend that these new Democrats, such as John Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia, are really Republicans who ran as Democrats. If this is true, their logic must conclude that Republicans really “won”. Again, these theories are voiced without any supporting evidence. Yeah, Tester has a crew cut and wears cowboy boots. Webb is an ex-Marine and used to be Republican. The fact is that many of their policies that these two endorse are not at all conservative. I won’t go into digging up the proofs here. That has already been done by several other bloggers. Again, this theory is floated out there because it is the only way that some people can conclude that their side actually lost the election and a majority of Americans don’t agree with them on many issues.

So, the theories coming from the Right are, for the most part, complete fabrications. They are just more of the same tactics that people such as Hugh Hewitt have used as long as they have had their mouths open.

There are a couple of competing theories that are coming from the Left, and some people are getting really loud about it. One is that the very Liberal side of the party was very instrumental in winning the election, and there is no way the Democratic party should try to play the middle ground here. The left won the election so they need to play it that way. This argument is being used to say, yes, we damn well should do a lot of investigations into what BushCo. Has been doing the last six years, and while we are at it, we should impeach the President as well. Use the power of the purse strings that the Dems now have in their hands, now that they are in the positions of power in both houses.

The other side of this argument is the election was won by the fact that very many “middle of the political spectrum” independents and even some Republicans supported the Democrats. This argument goes that the Dems should be very careful that they not “overreach” like the Gingrich Revolution did, lest their new supporters abandon the party in 2008. Take the high road, try to be conciliatory and try to reach across the aisle in a bi-partisan way. Try to keep the “big tent” open to all who voted Democratic this year, and try not to alienate those supporters whom the Dems would not have won without.

Frankly, I am not sure which one of these competing theories is correct. Truthfully, I don’t think they are necessarily mutually exclusive; I think there is a more than a little truth in both visions. I think that it was necessary to get the very liberal, anti-war part of the Democratic party energized in a way they have never been since the Clinton election. But, I also think that there was a substantial part of the voters who voted not so much FOR the Democrats on the ticket. They voted AGAINST the Republicans. An example of this is Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, a very moderate Republican and the only one who voted against the war from the outset. Yet he lost. I think people in RI were voting against the national Republican party.

I would hate to see the Democrats start warring among themselves about which way to play this. Maybe playing it close to the vest is a good way to start. I think Nancy Pelosi has been doing a good job so far. But if the Rethugs start playing games again, even though they are now in the minority with a lame duck President, the Dems should not hesitate to play hardball.

In the words of a very good Republican president, maybe the best way to proceed is “Walk softly but carry a big stick”.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fundamentalist beliefs as seen in bumper stickers.

I probably should have posted this one prior to the election, but I was too wound up about the election to think about much else. Maybe now the election is over and “the people have spoken”, I might be able to concentrate on some other stuff.

Anyway…… I was stuck in very slow traffic the other day behind a car whose driver (unless he just bought the car and hadn’t taken off the bumper stickers, which is a possibility but I doubt it) was obviously one of the right wing, NASCAR, fundy, gun loving types. Among several bumper stickers that I could only sort of understand but were obviously tied to racing and race cars, there were a couple of really big ones that really stood out. One said “REAL MEN LOVE JESUS”. Right next to that one was one that had the traditional red, white and blue donkey symbolic of the Democratic party, shown as being viewed through a gun site, and it read “GOT AMMO?”

For me, that encapsulates the basic, very real danger that fundamentalist thinking in this country presents. One on hand, this person obviously thinks he is very religious and is the very role model of today’s Christian. On the other hand, he is also so convinced that he is morally right on every single subject that exists that he is a proponent of shooting his political adversaries. Oh, sure. If you were to confront this guy, he would say that it is a “joke”. However, jokes like that always reflect what a person ultimately believes. That’s why the person thinks something is funny.

I believe that Jesus existed. I very seriously doubt he was the Son of God. He was just a guy who went around preaching things that the Romans and their supporters didn’t like and were fearful of, so they killed him. But I do believe he existed. As such, this is what I think. Jesus probably never imagined something like a gun that can be used to kill other people with ease. However, I just cannot see Jesus, in any manifestation that you might like to see him as, would condone stoning someone to death just because they didn’t believe in him. I just don’t see it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The New Truthfulness: Lie and then admit you are lying, but you’re O.K. with it.

The fallout of the blowout election is occurring all over the place in the ranks of the Republicans and their conservative followers. It is all very amusing to watch. But a couple of nuggets really hit me when I saw these.

Rush Limbaugh, Mr. “Dittohead” himself, just admitted that he is full of crap and doesn’t believe at least some of the stuff he says to literally millions of his listeners. This is what he said the other day.

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat [sic] Party does and liberalism.


I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to? I'm not under that kind of pressure.

So, here is Rush saying that he said what he needed to say because he needed to support his Republican party. No matter that he didn’t believe in what he was saying, he said it out of necessity. Hey, lying is lying; the circumstances in which the lie was told do not matter. In fact, the more serious the situation you are lying about, the more serious the lie. “White lies” that ultimately don’t do much harm are still lies. But when you are lying about the big stuff, hey, that’s some serious lying going on.

So, Rush has come out and rather admitted that he will say whatever he feels necessary in order to bolster what he believes in. Doesn’t this call into question everything that he says? Literally, everything he has ever said on the radio is now suspect.

The same goes for President Bush. Many people are now pointing out that, several days prior to the election, Bush gave both Cheney and Rumsfeld a ringing endorsement and said that both of them would be in is administration until the end. Fast forward now to one day after the incredibly devastating election. Devastating to the Republicans, anyway. Rumsfeld is gone, resigned and/or fired. When asked about it by a reporter, who pointed out the contradiction with what Bush said just days earlier, Bush replied that he responded the way he did was to deflect the question and get on to another question. Bush already knew that what he was saying wasn’t true. He said he didn’t want to get into telling the truth about Rumsfeld right before the election. End of story.

Bush apparently didn’t have any sort of problem with this. He lied when it suited him. He had already been caught out in a similar situation during the Plamegate debacle. Bush already knew that Rove and Libby were involved in leaking Valerie Plame’s name to the press when he said in a press conference that he would fire anyone in his administration who was involved. And he also knew that he wasn’t going to fire them. He said whatever he felt was expedient at the time.

Al Franken nailed it with the title of his book, “Lies And The Lying Liars That Tell Them”. These folks have now admitted that they lie whenever the need arises, and they do so without any sort of guilty conscience about it whatsoever. They see nothing wrong with this. By extension, everything that the Bush administration or Rush Limbaugh is now suspect. (As if we didn’t know that before.) Everything. Truth is secondary to supporting whatever it is you believe in, in whatever way necessary. The war in Iraq, outing Valerie Plame/Wilson as an undercover CIA agent, tax cuts for the top 1% of the country, being concerned about the devastation and anguish caused by Hurricane Katrina, everything. Every single thing that these people have ever told us is now under suspicion, by their own admission!

At least they are straightforward enough to admit it. However, I just can’t understand how they think that the country will casually accept being lied to as a matter of policy. That is what we came to expect out of the Soviet Union and Pravda. That is not what we expect out of the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I went to bed last night (after the election) jubilant, and I am not in that mood very often. Just not my style, really. I just hope that we can get Senate wins in both Montana and Virginia. Both are leading, but Tester apparently has only about a 2000+ vote lead. How can so many elections across the country in the last few years come so close? I know that the country is “divided”, but to have so many races come down to tenths of percentage points seems, to me, to be statistically very improbable.

Anyway, I wonder what Bush and his cronies are thinking today. Somehow, I doubt he is going to come off as a conciliatory, gracious loser. That’s not HIS style. (As an aside, as much as I wanted to see Santorum lose in Pennsylvania, he certainly did give a very gracious concession speech.) I almost would like to see Bush come out today as some sort of wounded dog, snapping at everything that comes into range. And Tony Snow, the Presidential Press Secretary, is also going to have an interesting couple of weeks or months.

Maybe he could get caught making passes at some young lady (or guy), blame it on his “drinking problem”, and disappear into “rehab”. That’s what everyone else seems to be doing these days.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Soldier commits suicide after two days of administering Cheney’s “aggressive interrogation techniques”.

This is a repost of this one from a few days ago. Blogger seems to have mysteriously "disappeared" it.)

This story, via Taylor Marsh, tells about how a young woman in the military apparently became so despondent after two nights of interrogating prisons at an air base at Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. I say “apparently”, because the military has again tried to hush the story up, just as they did in the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman and no doubt countless other stories. Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, died September 15, 2003 due to “non-hostile weapons discharge.” The reporter that uncovered the story only did so after years of digging around, trying to uncover the truth, and after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Here is a snip from the story at Editors and Publishers.

She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq, so her death drew wide press attention. A “non-hostile weapons discharge” leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials “said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian.” (Her parents now say they were never told about her objections to interrogation techniques.)

But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, unsatisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told E&P today. He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...".

She was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

This is such a tragedy, albeit a small one in the midst of the much larger tragedy that is Iraq. This fine young woman joined the military as a translator. She was fluent in Dutch. She looked to be equipped to go amazing places in this world. And yet, the Army assigned her to a detention center to help wring “the truth” out of detainees who have not had a day in court and had not been found guilty of anything. She killed herself after only two nights, and the Army once again tried to hush it all up, lie about it if necessary and hope it all goes away. Which, in this particular case, it almost did.

This is the policy that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney have gone to great lengths to defend. This is what is vitally important to our country, something that makes a young lady kill herself after her participation.

I feel sick over this.

“Oh, Lord. Please deliver me from your True Believers!”

There is so much hypocrisy in the Republican Party and their supporters these days. You can hardly pick up a newspaper or go on-line without tripping over yet another story involving the Republicans and/or their evangelical supporters saying one thing and getting caught in another. Rush Limbaugh and his “drug problem”. Anyone involved in the Abramoff scandal. Duke Cunningham and his program of legislation for profit. George Allen, the candidate for the Senate in Virginia, and his history of nooses hanging in his office, his love for the Confederacy, his famous “macaca” statement. The list goes on and one.

This latest one (via Huffington Post) has me simultaneously rolling my eyes toward the ceiling and laughing hysterically. Ted Haggard, the leader of about the biggest evangelical groups in the country and who is said to meet with Bush or his advisors on a weekly basis, has been forced to resign because it appears that he paid for sex from a male prostitute. Oh, yes. He also bought crystal meth from the guy. His excuse? He didn’t have sex with the man, only got a massage. And he threw away the drugs, even though he “was tempted”. Yeah, sure. I really believe that. What do you bet that he will now go into a drug rehab center for about three months until this all dies away?

This is all starting to look like a pattern. Several years ago now (it seems like a thousand), we had “Jeff Gannon” and his extremely bizarre questions to the Presidential Press Secretary. He was a male prostitute with his own website, and yet continually got a “freebie” pass to the press briefings in the White House, when reporters from legitimate news organizations could not get them. And then, just recently (also seems like ages ago), we have the whole Mark Foley chasing young male pages around, sending them really creepy and disturbing e-mail, offering up his house for an ex-page to stay in if the said ex-page would perform sex on Foley. That’s just icky. And now, we have this one. Haggard was dismissed from his post after all this went public.

"It was an easy decision once we discovered there was a sexual immorality," Ware said, noting that Haggard agreed dismissal was the right course. "He has a concern and a love for this church. He knows he has hurt people and he needs to heal."

Ware said he believes Haggard was not honest in his statements to the media last week because of the stress and pressure on him.

"This is a clash between divinity and humanity," Ware said. "We're all human, and we make mistakes."

The oversight board will continue to investigate Haggard so "a plan of healing and restoration can begin.”

What IS it with the Republican party and the evangelicals and homosexuality? There has been some things written lately about the possible psychological makeup of people like this. They have such desires (i.e., lust) that they may or may not act upon. Many times, it appears they do act upon them. But apparently, they feel so guilty and immoral about it, they go out and use the position of power (i.e., the bully pulpit) to go disparage gays and try to make them seem like inhuman monsters.

Almost like a projection of self-hatred, yes?

When I heard about this last week, I will admit that I said to myself “Oh, boy. I really, really hope this is true.” I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning. It smells like victory. Hopefully on this coming Tuesday, but perhaps also for the ultimate smashing open of the dark soul of these True Believers. That might show the country what they are truly made of.

Read more in this story at Huffington Post

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ouch! NY Times throws a right hook to the chin.

Here’s the link.

As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.


In Mr. Bush’s world, there are only two kinds of Americans: those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don’t. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don’t support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.

Mr. Bush has been pushing these divisive themes all over the nation, offering up the ludicrous notion the other day that if Democrats manage to control even one house of Congress, America will lose and the terrorists will win. But he hit a particularly creepy low when he decided to distort a lame joke lamely delivered by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry warned college students that the punishment for not learning your lessons was to “get stuck in Iraq.” In context, it was obviously an attempt to disparage Mr. Bush’s intelligence. That’s impolitic and impolite, but it’s not as bad as Mr. Bush’s response. Knowing full well what Mr. Kerry meant, the president and his team cried out that the senator was disparaging the troops. It was a depressing replay of the way the Bush campaign Swift-boated Americans in 2004 into believing that Mr. Kerry, who went to war, was a coward and Mr. Bush, who stayed home, was a hero.

It’s nice to see that most of the country is now fully aware that, not only is the emperor sans clothes, he would stand out in a nudist colony. Only about six years too late, but still, it’s nice to see.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Some conservatives are truly upset with Bush and the current Republican party.

Boy, this conservative is really upset. I admire John Cole for writing this and admitting his disillusionment with his identified political party. That takes a lot of guts, as well as the ability to go back and reexamine your belief system. That is never easy. He is already getting his very own personal character assassination from the attack dogs on the extreme right. Andrew Sullivan, whom I read on a regular basis and quote from often, is another person who regards himself as a conservative but has totally lost faith with the current Republican party. Almost daily, he says something like “Abstain from voting, or vote Democratic”. Those things must be hard for a person to say after a lifetime of saying you are a Republican.

Here is a reply to John Cole’s post from Kos. It’s quite nice. I didn’t realize that Marcos used to be a Republican.

Here is how I guess I view it. Although I do consider myself a liberal and a Democrat, I wonder how much of that is really saying “I am against everything that the current conservatives and Republicans stand for”. I don’t really want to make the same mistake that the Republicans always make (if it can actually be called a “mistake” and is not, in fact, a cold calculation). Hardly anything is a “black or white and that’s the only choices you get” proposition. There are all sorts of shades of gray in this society of ours. So, just because I am infuriated with this current crop of Republicans, I wonder if that automatically makes me the Democrat I think I am. Yeah, I am rather liberal when it comes to social issues. For instance, I think what gay people do is their own business and the government has no damn business interfering. When it comes to fiscal matters, I think I am more on the conservative side. We have no business giving huge tax cuts to anyone, much less the top five percent of this country, at a time we are running up huge deficits. That is more than just irresponsible. That’s criminal. I don’t know what that makes me. I know I just feel much more comfortable with the label of liberal Democrat than I do with “independent”.

Anyway, although I don’t agree with a lot of things they say and think that they tend to be overly patronizing and insulting at times, I do commend John Cole and Andrew Sullivan for coming out as strongly as they have, publicly, when they know they are going to get slammed by the thugs of the Republican party for it. I believe there are many, many very principled people who are just as mad at how the Bush administration and his enablers are manipulating this country down a very dangerous path.

One of Sullivan’s regular readers makes this point about the need for principled people to come together and really get this country back pointed in the right direction.

I do not agree with all your views on particular policies - but that's not necessary, because I respect and trust your good intentions and good faith, your essential humility and humanity.


In any case, we agree on the bedrock issues, which utterly transcend left and right. We can agree to disagree on particular policies here and there - and get on with it. The challenges we face in the coming years - from global warming to nuclear proliferation to economic instability - will require us to meet on common ground.

This country really need two healthy, principled, and respectful political parties in this country. They act as a constant check that neither goes too far astray, which is unfortunately what has happened now with the Republican party. They do not stand for the same things now as they stood for in the past. No, things will never, and have never been in the past, ideal. There has always been and will always be people who try to manipulate the system for their own gains. However, the system we have now has not just jumped the tracks but has fallen off the cliff into the river. We need to find a way somehow to get back to political discourse as a way to resolve issues. Vowing to destroy your enemies, which are defined as “anyone disagreeing with you about anything”, and doing whatever you can, no matter how devious, cynical or manipulative just to stay in power, is not how this country became great.