The Norm Coleman Weathervane Project
You know Rumsfeld's career is on the rocks when Norm Coleman starts to join the chorus for his resignation. Minnesotans know Norm as the former Democratic mayor of St. Paul; the national media knows him as a neoconservative Republican senator. Of course, Norm would bristle at being labelled a neocon, but has he ever voted against this administration? Norm Coleman, as a politician, owes his ascendancy to one thing: being able to ride the prevailing winds. Prior to his campaign for re-election, Democratic campaign managers should start selling weathervanes with Coleman's face plastered in the center.
News And Commentary
- Media Matters for America
- The Guardian
- Goderich Signal Star
- The Strib
- The Toronto Star
- The Poutine Diaries
- 917 Press
- Manufactured Environments
- Journal of Genki
- Rick and Heather
- Jason Coleman
- Paperback Writers
Noteworthy & Quoteworthy:
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Friday, December 17, 2004
|Santa's Bag or Santa, Bagged?
The National Rifle association received its Christmas present early from the Bush Administration, thereby guaranteeing us all a merry gun totin' christmas:
The SKS is a precursor of the AK-47 assault rifle. Though it has a longer barrel, it otherwise looks much like the AK-47. It has become popular in the United States among gun collectors, target shooters and some criminals, because it sells for less than $200, or more than $100 less than an AK-47, said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group.
By executive order, President Bill Clinton barred the importing of Chinese- and Russian-made SKS rifles. But the Bush administration, Ms. Rand said, has specifically authorized the importing of SKS's from Yugoslavia and Albania.
Read the NYT article:
This christmas gift has to be seen within the context of the conservative quest to "put the Christ back in Christmas". The Committe to Save Christmas is part of this campaign:
"...The Christian brigades are fighting back. In California, the Committee to Save Merry Christmas has organised a boycott of Macy's department store for wishing shoppers Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Organisers cited "the recent presidential election showing political correctness is offending millions of Americans".
It's obvious what the final solution of these two serendipitous events is:
Pine trees and a pagan god with a mystical sleigh are clear examples of pagan symbols infused syncrystically into the Christian mythology. How is wishing others "Happy Holidays" watering down "the reason for the season"? If you complain about salespeople who say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas", I'm coming down your chimney, confiscating your presents, and dragging your tree to the curb--unless you're packin' heat, that is.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A year ago yesterday, a bedraggled Saddam Hussein was dragged from a hole in the ground to a chorus of self-congratulation from US officials claiming his capture was a turning point in the Iraq war.
"In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over," declared George Bush the day after the former Iraqi leader was seized. "A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can come together and build a new Iraq."
The optimism of US military commanders was extraordinary. Major General Ray Odierno, whose 4th Infantry Division was credited with arresting Saddam, declared a month later that the insurgency was "on its knees" and only "a sporadic threat". He went on to assure the press in Washington that "in six months you are going to see some normalcy".
A year later, American casualties showed how little the war was affected by the imprisonment of Saddam. Of the 1,283 US soldiers who have died in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003, 821 of them were killed since his capture.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
|Who Really Supports The Troops?
Since the statuate of limitations for the classic "Blame Clinton" defense has expired, you can count on conservatives to search out another scapegoat in order to compensate for their own ineptitude. The newest foil for the Iraq debacle is the former democratic challenger.
I don't have to defend John Kerry. The purportedly non-partisan website Factcheck.org does it for me. As some of you may recall, this is the website Cheney attempted to mention in his debate with John Edwards. If it's good enough for Cheney, I would hope that it would be good enough to convince my earstwhile conservative readers.
According to the fact checkers, the Bush ads about Kerry voting against equipping the troops was deceptive and unfair. Republicans often ridiculed Kerry over his comment,
I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it
The fact checkers provide context to this quote:
Kerry was referring to a measure he co-sponsored that would have provided the $87 billion while also temporarily reversing Bush's tax cuts for those making $400,000 a year or more. That measure was rejected 57-42.
For the first time in history, an American president was lowering taxes during wartime, and Kerry was right to sponsor the bill he did. The current fiscal time bomb we're sitting on is a testmony to the folly of the Republican-sponsored bill. Does it make sense that the tax rebates of those making 400,000 a year was more important than Kevlar vests?
In addition, the fact-checkers further articulate the context:
...But it's also true that as many as 40,000 US troops were sent to Iraq without the best-grade body armor. Frontline troops had the new vests, containing ceramic plates that can stop assault-rifle bullets, while others had only older designs that offered protection mainly against shrapnel and lower-velocity projectiles.
The appropriations bill did pass, without Kerry's vote, but who deserves the blame for the current state of affairs? Shouldn't the fools who sent troops off to battle without sufficient armour deserve scrutiny, rather than the member of their relatively powerless political opposition?
In the right-wing bizarro world, Kerry is more to blame than Bush. You know who we should ask "Who supports the troops"? The Disabled American Veterans. Here is what they have to say about the Bush Administration:
The President's budget for FY 2005 proposes deep cuts in funding for veterans' programs. The President recommended only a $310 million increase for veterans' medical care, which would represent about a 1% increase over the FY 2004 amount but would actually amount to a net reduction in funding because it does not cover the costs of inflation. The Administration's budget again seeks legislation to increase co-payments and impose a $250 annual fee for medical care. The budget would reduce staffing in the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) by 540 full-time employees (FTE) and would cut funding for medical and prosthetic research by $50 million.
It all comes down to who you believe. As for me, I tend to not put much stock in the veracity of political advertisements, no matter who the candidates are. A nonpartisan citizen's advocate group, such as the Disabled American Veterans, seem far more trustworthy.
It's very clear to me who doesn't give a damn about our soldiers: The Bush administration. I will gladly, and politely, welcome all challenges to this assertion.
Thursday, December 09, 2004|
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
|Rummy's Pep Talk to the Troops
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, which is made up mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the war started.
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.
"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.
Rumsfeld replied that, "You go to war with the Army you have," not the one you might want...
And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.
"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.
What an inspiration Rumsfeld must be to the brave men about to redeploy to Iraq! Don't worry about the armour, boys. It's not like it's going to defend you against the weapons of the insurgents. Have a great time fighting for Bush! Gotta go...Time to get that Christmas shopping out of the way!
Just what would it take to get him fired, anyway?
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
|The Really, Really, Ridiculously Good News From Iraq!
I'm being sarcastic...That was my Chrenkoff impersonation.
A classified cable sent by the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Baghdad has warned that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon, according to government officials.
The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq...
Together, the appraisals, which follow several other such warnings from officials in Washington and in the field, were much more pessimistic than the public picture being offered by the Bush administration before the elections scheduled for Iraq next month, the officials said...
A separate, more formal, National Intelligence Estimate prepared in July and sent to the White House in August by American intelligence agencies also presented a dark forecast for Iraq's future through the end of 2005. Among three possible developments described in that document, the best case was tenuous stability and the worst case included a chain of events leading to civil war.
Today's Globe and Mail reports:
The Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is being challenged by 12 gays who have been separated from the military because of their homosexuality.
They planned to file a federal lawsuit today in Boston that would cite last year's landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned state laws making homosexual sex a crime.
Instead of "Don't Ask Don't Tell", why not fight for a higher principle like "Thou Shalt Not Kill"--particularly in an ill-conceived neo-colonial oil grab?
|Top Five Military Lies
Australian Disinformation Publicist Chrenkoff is famous for his blog that touts "Good News From Iraq". What Chrenkoff and the mass media never mention is that the military lies repeatedly,unabashedly, and compulsively to the American public. Despite claims to the contrary, these lies are geared toward building American support for Bush Administration policy domestically rather than deceiving the Iraqi insurgency. Consider these incidents in light of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, the WMD claims prior to the Iraq war, and Rumsfeld's statment before the war quoting Churchill that "sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies."...You can't say he didn't warn us!
Here's the list:
1. Pat Tillman:
The citation for Tillman's Silver Star stated that "his voice was heard issuing commands to take the fight to the enemy forces." What he was actually shouting, according to a fellow Ranger at the scene, was "Cease fire! Friendlies!" as he tried to stop the other element of his divided platoon from mistakenly engaging them with machine-gun fire. Such after-action mendacity not only taints Tillman's posthumous decoration but could have kept the Army from learning lessons from the incident, particularly about small unit maneuvers and communications in hostile terrain, that may save other soldiers.
2. The Fallujah Assault:
The U.S. military is reportedly distributing misinformation to the media as part of a campaign of psychological operations. This according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The paper has uncovered incidents where the military has sent spokespersons to major news networks to deliberately lie about military operations in Iraq in an effort to deceive the Iraqi resistance.
In one case, on Oct. 14, a Marine spokesperson appeared on CNN from Fallujah and said "Troops crossed the line of departure." CNN was soon reporting the battle for Fallujah had begun. In fact it wouldn't begin for another three weeks.
A senior Pentagon official told CNN that Gilbert's remarks were "technically true but misleading." It was an attempt to get CNN "to report something not true," the official said. The military claimed it wanted to see how Iraqi fighters responded to the so-called news report.
Anyone who repeats the claims of the military without independent confirmation is either a witless nitcompoop, or believes that a higher strategic purpose can be achieved through deception.
3. The toppling of the Saddam Statue:
Earlier this year, another Los Angeles Times scoop (6/3/04) revealed that one of the most enduring images of the war-- the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in a Baghdad square on April 9, 2003-- was a U.S. Army psychological warfare operation staged to look like a spontaneous Iraqi action:
"As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel-- not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images -- who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking."
4. There is no draft:
David M. Miyasato enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1987, served three years of active duty during the first Gulf War and received an honorable discharge in 1991. He remained on inactive status for five more years, until 1996. Since then, the Kaua'i resident has married, started an auto window tinting business and this year, he and his wife had their first child.
But in September, Miyasato received a letter from the Army recalling him to active duty and directing him to report to a military facility in South Carolina on Tuesday.
"I was shocked," Miyasato said yesterday. "I never expected to see something like that after being out of the service for 13 years."
Miyasato is now suing the Secretary of the Army, asking a court to prevent the Army from ordering him to active duty. He is also asking for a court judgment declaring that he fulfilled all his obligations to the military.
5. Isolated Individuals Did It:
A former military spokesman in Iraq said Saturday new pictures showing apparent abuse of Iraqi prisoners were the acts of an isolated few but will be used by some to try to tarnish the entire U.S. military.
Gen. Mark Kimmitt, now based in Qatar, spoke on the pan-Arab television network a day after the U.S. military launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees.
Other photos show what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.
Chrenkoff and the mass media repeatedly repeat military spin as if it were the gospel truth. Anyone who believes what the military says without independent confirmation is either a witless nitcompoop, or is willing to lie for strategic purposes. The price we pay is lost credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world as we view our own actions through blood-coloured glasses.
"When you trade your values for the hope of winning, you end up losing and having no values, so you keep losing." -- Howard Dean, "You Have The Power"
Monday, December 06, 2004
|We Heart Torture
More than 2,200 military veterans have signed a petition opposing the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to be the next U.S. attorney general.
Gonzales gained notoriety earlier this year with the revelation of the so-called torture memos -- a series of legal opinions that suggested the Geneva Conventions could be selectively applied to the global war on terror and the treatment of prisoners, and which parsed the meaning of "torture" under the treaty.
Gonzales is expected to be easily approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Read the Press Release--You Won't See It In Your Local Newspaper!
Remember when your parents told you not to stoop to the level of the school bullies?
What will we tell the children now when our own government stoops to the level of the former Hussein regime?
THE Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the "self-serving hypocrisy" of George W Bush's administration over the Middle East.
The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank "strategic communications" report, written this autumn by the Defense Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.
On "the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds", the report says, "American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended".
Now that Tommy Thompson has resigned as secretary of Health and Human Services, has anyone in the mass media mention that he was responsible for failing to obtain sufficient flu shots? Did anyone mention that his famous recommendation to use duct tape as a defense against the anthrax mailer?
Did anyone mention incoming Homeland Security Czar Bernard Kerik was in charge of Iraq security forces prior to accepting the post? That seems to be an unmitigated disaster, but the Today Show glossed it over, opting to show Kerik side by side with Rudy Guliani at the World Trade Center instead.
These are just two examples of convenient omissions by the mass media where the failures of Bush proteges are glossed over. Care to mention any others?
|Buy Nothing Christmas
The brilliant web provacateurs Adbusters.orghave launched a new campaign for the holiday season following on the heels of their "Buy Nothing Day" campaign. Because I have two wonderful nieces, and like a good excuse to give them gifts, I'm not going to particate fully. My siblings and I have agreed not to give eachother gifts this christmas, however. What's important to us is being able to be together for a few days during the holiday, and cheap crap from Wal-Mart made by Chinese slave labour would do nothing to make our time together any better.
The "Buy Nothing Christmas Campaign" is a great idea to the extent that it challenges us to consider the true reason for the season. This holiday season, my gifts will better reflect my values.
|Which Christianity Do You Believe In?
Christianity: Version One represented by Rev. Jerry Falwell
Falwell's comment came on "CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer" in a debate with Baptist minister Jesse Jackson, who called the Iraq war "a misadventure" that isolated the United States politically and cost the country lives, money and "our character."
Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchnurg, Va., responded: "I'd rather be killing them over there than fighting them over here, Jesse. And I think you would. ..."
"Let's stop the killing and choose peace," Jackson responded. "Let's choose negotiation over confrontation."
"Well, I'm for that too," Falwell added. "But you've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord."
"Blow them all away in the name of the Lord". Is that an actual quote from scripture, Jerry? Was that the part right after "Blessed are the meek" part of the Beatitudes?
Christianity: Version Two represented by the United Church of Christ
The recent rejection of a controversial United Church of Christ (UCC) ad by two major television networks has spurred widespread disapproval from Christian moderate and liberal denominational communicators nationwide.
The contested ad is a 30-second feature that expresses the all-inclusive mentality of the liberal UCC. In the ad, there are two bouncers standing before a picturesque church, halting people from entering behind the velvet ropes. The bouncers, clad in dark sunglasses and black clothing, reject a homosexual couple, two black children and a Hispanic girl. However, they let down the ropes to let a well-dressed white family in. A black screen with the words, “The words, “Jesus didn’t turn people away ... Neither do we” appear, as a voice reads, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”
Pretty radical stuff. I mean, we can let anybody into church nowadays, can we?
The UCC ad was banned by both CBS and NBC on November 30 – a day before the ad’s scheduled airing. In their statement to the UCC, both CBS and NBC noted the ad was “too controversial.”
The CBS further explained that the ad’s reference to homosexuals in a time of debate over a federal marriage amendment is too sensitive an issue to air.
Which version most accurately represents Christianity today? If we base our judgement on who gets more airtime in the media, it would seem Falwell does. What criteria should be used to evaluate Christianity today? You be the judge!
Thursday, December 02, 2004
|My Abstinence-Only Program for Teens
One of President Bush's first paybacks to the religious right groups that figured so prominently in the election was to halt the teaching of "safe sex" in favour of "abstinence only" education. It may come as a suprise to many of my readers, but I'm going to cross the aisle and do what I can to make this program successful. The Bush Administration needs a seasoned (former) abstinence practitioner like myself to make it work.
The Bush administration has pushed the use of abstinence-only education and more federal dollars have been devoted to the cause in recent years. Congress recently included more than $131 million for abstinence education programs in its spending bill.
Many people regard this shift of focus to be a tragic public health blunder. They claim that abstinence-only sexual education means that once teens succumb to natural urges, they are far more likely to become pregnant or contract STDs, and research on the subject seems to support this hypothesis.
What would the Bush Sex Ed. program look like? If a recent report conducted by Congressman Waxman's office oncurrent abstinence-only programs give us any indication, we're in trouble:
The report found errors or misrepresentations in more than 80 percent of 13 popular curricula used by most of the 69 school districts, hospitals and community groups that received funding from the Special Projects of Regional and National Significance Community-based Abstinence Education, a federal initiative to encourage young people to abstain from sex.
It found that the lesson plans included false information about the effectiveness of contraceptions, the risks of abortion and other basic scientific facts. The report also claimed that the curriculums relied on religious beliefs and moral values instead of scientific fact and that it wrongly promoted gender stereotypes.
Read the Article:
If this type of abstinence education is promoted nationwide, it will have dire consequences for our nation. I don't agree with Bush on this one, but I'm willing to humbly offer up my own abstinence curriculum to the general public. The curriculum is multi-media, interactive, and technologically based, and parents can be sure that their sons and daughters will remain chaste for the forseeable future.
Here are the items in my curriculum kit for teens:
12-sided dice for Dungeons and Dragons
Star Trek Voyageur Season Four DVD
This loveable Patriotic Kitty T-Shirt
...And Dan Fogelberg's greatest hits.
It's not too late to save the children!