Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The 'S' Files: Installment 1

Sometimes you feel like a blurb...sometimes you don't.

In the interest of filling my need for the occasional random musing, I hereby debut the 's' files.

'S,' as in 's'o many topics, 's'o little time....short, scattershot, scootmandubious snippets.


* How ironic, Spike Lee produces an outstanding 4-1/2 hour retrospective on Katrina and the only people who can see it are those who can afford to shell out the extra money for HBO. So much for the commentary about the haves and have-nots.

* The vultures are not done picking through John Mark Karr's bones yet. Now, in an effort to give Nancy Grace and Rita Cosby a reason to exist, we are being treated to what must happen to Karr now for possessing child pornography.

Yes, he does seem rather pathetic and anybody who possesses child porn should have to answer for it, but how many of them are guaranteed to be damaged goods for the rest of their lives?

And is it really worth taking away from coverage of stories that matter? Aren't lives still being lost in Iraq?

Keep those nostrils flared Nancy, and don't lose that husky charm Rita, you'll find a story deserving of your talents soon enough.

* MSNBC covered today, for what felt like an eternity, a police chase of a catering truck, complete with aerial photos from a helicopter. Was this the OJ moment revisited?

Nah, it was a woman avoiding the cops after a traffic incident.

I will admit that I did not check out the other cable news nets for fear that they may actually be following suit. The story was so big that, as of this writing, it has yielded 1 local update in a google news search.

Heckuva job Dan Abrams. That's how to battle Fox and CNN.

*Despite having nothing new on my blog for the past couple of days, I received a huge spike in hits. Upon checking my web-stat records, I noticed it was a slew of folks googling CNN news reader Kyra Phillips.

When Media Matters linked to my Kyra Phillips piece a couple of weeks ago, where I griped that she asked the soldier who exposed Abu Ghraib if he felt like a traitor, it produced virtually no new hits.

Then suddenly, in the past 24 hours, Phillips' name produced a flood.

Unfortunately, it was a flood of people who wanted to know what she said in the bathroom while her microphone was left on.

Imagine their disappointment when their searches led to a story about the disgraceful lack of professionalism, and attendant right-wing bias, in the cable news industry.

Dishing about in-laws is so much more entertaining.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

How The Washington Post Aided Karl Rove Today

In a Washington Post article on Iraq posturing in the upcoming mid-term campaign, comes the following quote:

"They want to give us this cut-and-run moniker and accuse us of a pre-9/11 mentality," said Diane Farrell, a Democrat who is challenging Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.). "I absolutely refuse to be manipulated by Karl Rove and company."

Sad to say, the same can't be said for Jim VandeHei and Zachary A. Goldfarb. Their article plays into Rove's hands.

The piece, titled, "Democrats Split Over Timetable For Troops," starts with the following:

Most Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races are opposed to setting a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, rejecting pressure from liberal activists to demand a quick end to the three-year-old military conflict.

So, the only people who want a timetable for pulling out U.S. troops are "liberal activists?"

In a CNN poll earlier this month, this question was asked,

"Which comes closer to your view about U.S. troops in Iraq? The U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal by announcing that it will remove all of its troops from Iraq by a certain date. The U.S. should keep troops in Iraq as long as necessary without setting any timetable for withdrawal."

The result? By a 57-40% plurality, most Americans want some kind of timetable.

Why, instead of labelling those who favor a timetable with wording that conjures up images of left-wing extremism, wasn't the reality of the polling on this issue part of the story?

Ironically, the following is buried later in the story:

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan polling organization, found this month that the public is evenly split over pulling out U.S. troops, with 48 percent in favor of keeping troops in Iraq and 46 percent in favor of withdrawal. Yet even among those who favor bringing U.S. troops home, only a third support doing so immediately. Asked another way, 52 percent of those polled said they would favor setting a timetable for getting out, while 41 percent would oppose that.

That seems to me to be a rather convoluted way of describing the public's mood in Iraq. And what of even mentioning other polls that clearly support a majority favoring ending our involvement, such as the poll I cited above?

This introduction sets the tone for the entire article.

The 3rd paragraph begins this way:

The large number of Democrats opposed to a strict timeline for ending the military operations runs contrary to the assertion by President Bush and top Republicans that Democrats want to "cut and run" amid mounting casualties and signs of civil war.

One would think that this would be followed up by how Democrats view the official GOP position. For me, the counter to a 'cut-and-run' charge would be 'lie-and-die.' It is no less offensive. If the position on the left is going to be equated with cowardice, why treat the official GOP position with kid gloves? I just don't get it.

The bottom line, though, is that nothing in this article comes close to describing the president's position that way.

Part of the problem is that the article is essentially an examination of an unwillingness by many Democratic candidates to call for a pullout in Iraq. Because of this, one almost gets the sense that supporting an end to our occupation in Iraq is a fringe position.

It's rather subtle, but for me, it demonstrates how Karl Rove gets assisted by the Washington Press Corps on a daily basis.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Would Jesus Vote?

At the website for Focus On the Family, one of their FAQs is, "Can you give me evidence to suggest my vote makes a difference?"

The response begins with a reference to some very close elections and then makes the following observation:

It is a moral outrage that more Christians do not take their voting responsibilities seriously. If they did, this would be a very different nation, and a better one. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, evangelicals are either too involved, too preoccupied, or too disinterested to hold our elected officials accountable and keep our democracy on track.
Wow, am I behind the times. Here I thought that the evangelical right-wing was firmly in control. Apparently, not even close.

That point leads to this revelation:

Because so few citizens vote, many of us are unaware that a small minority actually dominates national politics (not to mention local elections).
Gotcha loud-and-clear on that one.

Still later:

And obviously, more is at stake than merely the influence of chief-executive policy for a four-year term -- judicial appointments made by the president can directly impact our culture and our families for half a lifetime or more.
We are most definitely on the same page here!

The final 2 paragraphs of the response sum it up:

Your vote is crucial if we are to reintroduce the traditional, family-friendly values on which our nation was founded. A great member of the British Parliament, Edmund Burke, said something 250 years ago that still resonates today: "All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world is that good men do nothing."

So get involved! The same Jesus who multiplied the young lad's loaves and fishes will be faithful to multiply the efforts of those of us who honor His name in the political arena.
So, here is what I was wondering....

If Jesus were orchestrating the vote, would He be in favor of letting the poor suffer while the rich get tax breaks?

Would Jesus have let New Orleans turn into the tragedy it became in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Speaking of tragedies, would Jesus have invaded Iraq? I realize that the vast majority of Iraqis are muslims and are, if you listen to these people, doomed to Hell. But is that Jesus' desired result if we are the ones killing them and sending them to the eternal hot spot?

What about the babies our bombs have killed? Of course, it's important that our corporations have access to the Iraqi oilfields and that Halliburton get their rightful share of the reconstruction pie, but come on, these babies haven't had a chance yet to fully embrace the love behind the greed and violence.

Given the choice, how could somebody not choose the religion of a nation run by a 'decider' imbued by the spirit of God Himself? Oh, the victims are less than a year old? Collateral damage is part of God's plan, don't ya know.

So, all you spiritual soldiers for God, make sure you go to the polls and vote correctly.

Surely Jesus would not want you to vote for the party that seeks to help the poor, thinks of war as a last resort, practices diplomacy to keep the peace, and asks the rich to pay their rightful share.

Let us pray.

And when you're done, please don't forget to send in your money.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What Exactly Is Ethically Challenging About Embryonic Stem-Cell Research?

It happens so often that it is easy to become immune to major media outlets adopting the language of President Bush and the extremist right-wing of the GOP.

Another example was found today in a story in the Los Angeles Times, concerning a possible new approach to gathering embryonic stem cells that would allegedly not result in the destruction of the embryo.

Right at the start, Karen Kaplan writes, "Scientists announced today the creation of human embryonic stem cells using a technique that does not require the destruction of any embryos, a development that offers a path to break the political logjam over the highly touted but ethically troubled research."

Ethically troubled? According to who? Certainly not the vast majority of Americans who have indicated in polls that they are in favor of such research.

And what about the insincerity on this aspect of the issue from right-wing fanatics represented by George Bush, who himself, equates embryonic stem cell research with murder? For the record, while Tony Snow apologized for using the 'm' word, Bush never did for saying it was the "taking of innocent life."

The proposal for embryonic stem-cell research is to make positive use of the thousands of discarded embryos being harvested at fertility clinics. If the Bushies really thought it was a matter of ethics, why have they not tried closing down these clinics and sought to prevent so many embryos from being harvested and discarded?

It's the same type of hypocrisy one sees when a right-winger says that we had to go into Iraq, but then has no response when asked why we didn't invade other countries ruled by tyrants, such as North Korea.

Back to my question...what makes this so ethically troubling for Ms. Kaplan?

As one reads further into the article, the obligatory moral equivalency comes into play, with both sides getting their punches in. Maybe the L.A. Times science writer should do that with the theory of evolution, too. What's the difference?

It is no surprise that Kaplan gives the evangelicals the following parting shot:

Richard M. Doerflinger, secretariat for pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., said the safety of the single-cell biopsy procedure had not been scientifically established.

"Some embryos do not survive the process, and some survivors may have long-term effects later in life," he said.

Fertility specialists who perform the procedure — dubbed pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD — acknowledge that there have not been any scientific efforts to study its effect on embryos or to track the children after they are born.

Between 20% and 25% of couples that use PGD to make sure their children don't wind up with genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis end up with healthy babies through in vitro fertilization, said Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, an OB-GYN and professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. That compares to a success rate of 28.3% for all IVF patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There's every reason to think that it's safe," Simpson said. "But the bottom line is, there are insufficient data to prove that it's safe or not safe."

Whether stem cells derived from this technique could be eligible for federal funds may hinge on that question. Congress forbids the funding of research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.

"Can I reassure people who have put this language on our appropriation that not even one time in a thousand a single-cell biopsy won't harm an embryo?" said Dr. James F. Battey, who chairs the stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health. Without the necessary research, he said, "I can't do that."

This man is concerned with 1 time in a thousand when there are millions that would be helped if embryonic stem-cell research led to cures?

Maybe somebody can pose the following question to this representative of the American Taliban...why can't you share the same concern and compassion for living Americans with incurable diseases and debilitating conditions, as you do for embryos that are harvested and later destroyed?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Senator McCain's Doublespeak On Iraq

I find it rather humorous that Sen. John McCain finally criticized President Bush on Iraq today.

According to the Associated Press, Sen. McCain said, "I think one of the biggest mistakes we made was underestimating the size of the task and the sacrifices that would be required. Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be."

Well, yeah, John, that's correct. You didn't.

And what motivated McCain to speak out today? A campaign.

McCain made his remarks campaining for GOP Sen. Mike DeWine, who is in a tight race for re-election in Ohio.

But, one could argue, he was out stumping for himself and posturing for '08.

Here's the problem...McCain isn't offering any solutions. It's nice that he finally admits that there's trouble in Iraq, but McCain seems to think the main issue is that Bush didn't say what the real task was and does not communicate the tasks ahead.

There's far more to it than that, of course. If Bush had suggested going into Iraq to do nation-building,he never would have been given the authorization to do it. We were brought into Iraq under false pretenses. And now, it would seem, the GOP would like us to remain indefinitely.

Further, according to AP:

"McCain said at an appearance in suburban Cleveland that if U.S. troops announce a specific date to leave Iraq, insurgents will bide their time until they have an opportunity to act without interference.

"'The chaos that would ensue would have direct implications for our national security,' McCain said."

What exactly does that mean? We will never be allowed to leave until every last "insurgent" is eradicated? On that platform, we would never be allowed to bring our troops home, or redeploy them.

And what about the sectarian violence Mr. McCain, or do you agree that this is not a civil war?

I tried to get more answers by going to McCain's 'Straight Talk America' website and getting a better idea of what John McCain would do in Iraq.

At his site, you will find where to send will read about all the people who have praised will get ads for McCain books and t-shirts.

But good luck on finding anything meaningful, or substantive, on Iraq.

Straight talk? Doublespeak is more like it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Bush Show: Let's Go To The Transcript

I will make things easy for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and give a short definition of torture. In its purest form, torture is being subjected to a George Bush press conference where he smirks at the worst possible moments, goes into occasional bouts of inarticulateness (alternating with petulance), and continues to pronounce 'nuclear' as 'nucular.'

Thankfully, I don't have to watch the display again, as there's a transcript to refer to. So heres a look at some of the key points from today's event.

1) Over 3,500 Iraqis were killed last month, but it's still not a civil war. No, it's just the work of "extremists and terrorists."

It's a good thing the man gets daily briefings, because, he admits, "I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course."

To a degree, that is correct. Bush is merely concerned about people talking about civil war. As far as civil war itself, he could care less.

I am not sure how many Iraqis need to die in sectarian violence before the president would be able to acknowledge that a civil war is already in place, but I suspect he would sooner admit that maybe God needed an extra day to fashion the universe.

2) The occupation of Iraq will have no end under the policies of the Bush Administration.

Bush says "we are not leaving." Despite the fact that it is clear we are not wanted there...despite the fact that our presence was never about nation-building...we are to remain there indefinitely.

The implications, obviously, are enormous.

Our economy will get drained, our military will remain targets, and our ability to successfully fight Al Qaeda and terrorism will continue to be compromised, because of the enormous resources being used to prop up the Iraqi government.

3) Those who oppose the war are "good, decent people." case anybody thought that those opposed to the war were helping the terrorists.

I am glad he repeated it more than once. 3 times in fact.

He also made clear the disaster that would happen if we pulled out.

Interestingly, resultant instability did not enter the minds of the neo-cons before they stepped in.

If only George had listened to dad.

4) One very important reason we must remain in Iraq is that "it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales."

And we all know that the Iraqi oil is the reason we went in. After all, lots of nations have been ruled by tyrants, but invading them will not benefit the corporatists at ExxonMobil. If the Sudan's exports included petroleum, to go with their cotton and peanuts, we'd be there too.

5) Halliburton and friends need more revenue sources.

As Bush bluntly states, "I'm announcing that America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million. These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities. The funds will help the Lebanese people restore key bridges and roads. The funds will help the Lebanese people rehabilitate schools so the children can start their school year on time this fall.

"I directed that an oil spill response team be sent to assist the Lebanese government in cleaning up an oil slick that is endangering coastal communities; proposing a $42 million package to help train and equip Lebanon's armed forces."

What is never said by Bush is how those millions will be spent...which companies will get the money and contracts. He knows that as long as there is total GOP control, nobody will even investigate this. Certainly, the news media won't.

After all, nobody was ever held accountable for the misuse of funds in Iraq, not to mention misuse of funds after hurricane Katrina.

So why start now?

I am so glad that there are transcripts to refer to. Wouldn't it be nice if news organizations examined prior transcripts and held this administration accountable for all of their prior deceits and failures?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

When is a Civil War Not a Civil War?

As recently as August 7th, president George W. Bush made the following incisive comment on the state of affairs in Iraq: “You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.”

Which brings us to a story published in today's New York Times, concerning the fear Iraqis have that even prevents them from worshipping at their neighborhood mosque.

According to that story:

Across central Iraq, more and more Iraqis associate the neighborhood mosque, the cornerstone of life in the Muslim world, with the Kalashnikov rather than the Koran.

Exploding sectarian violence has undermined the mosque’s traditional role as a gathering place, further unraveling the country’s communal fabric. Mosque attendance has plummeted, according to clerics and government officials, as tens of thousands of Iraqis like Mr. Ali choose to pray at home out of safety concerns. Gatherings at Friday Prayer are sometimes one-tenth the size of what they once were, and parents no longer send their children to mosques for spiritual lessons.

The report adds:

The decline in mosque attendance is a noticeable reversal of a trend that began right after the American invasion of 2003, when religious freedom flowered and worshipers, especially long-oppressed Shiites, flocked to mosques.

Now, however, mosques have become a frequent flash point in the widening Sunni-versus-Shiite warfare.

Assaults on mosques have risen steadily since 2003, but soared after the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra last February, which unleashed a torrent of sectarian bloodletting. There were at least 60 major attacks on Shiite mosques and scores of minor ones in the first half of this year, a figure equivalent to the total in 2005, according to statistics from the Shiite Endowment, which administers Shiite mosques for the government.

Earlier this month, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt outside the revered Shiite shrine of Ali in Najaf, killing at least 35 people and wounding more than 120, including Iranian pilgrims.

About 160 Sunni mosques were damaged by rampaging Shiites in the immediate aftermath of the Samarra bombing, a spokesman for the Sunni Endowment said. Shiite militiamen also seized and kept at least 24 Sunni mosques.

Militias regard mosques as either places of refuge or tempting targets. Entire congregations have been wiped out by car bombs. Gunmen abduct imams, and sometimes shoot them outright. American and Iraqi forces often storm the buildings hunting for guerrillas. Airstrikes obliterate minarets.

Sunni mosques have become rallying points for neighborhood militias, blaring “God is great” from their loudspeakers to warn of the approach of Shiite gunmen. Violence around mosques is so rampant that in June the government imposed a curfew on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the peak prayer time.

Imams walk around with handguns stuffed into their robes, and many mosques look more like prisons than prayer halls, fortified with concertina wire, metal detectors and guards behind mounted machine guns.

So, what are we to make of this, President Bush?

If it is not civil war, exactly what the hell is it?

Friday, August 18, 2006

This Is News???

Does anybody else think the unholy trio of pseudo-news networks are beginning to resemble a macabre 3-ring circus?

All it takes is the tiniest oozing of sleaze and the sharks at Fox, CNN and MSNBC smell the blood and go into a veritable feeding frenzy.

Oh no, a plane is landing with just 3 wheels...please, oh please...let this end badly so we can have news footage to sustain us for days, weeks, months. In the meantime, let's show nothing else for 2 hours, or however long it takes the plane to land/crash.

A pretty, young, causasian woman is missing on an exotic island. Does anyone have rights to the reality series? Why that footage of her in the back seat of a car is just so photogenic. One could almost think she was once actually...alive. Just how many ways can we beat this dead horse? Hmmmm, maybe "The Ghost Whisperer" can step in and help? Is John Edwards available?

And now, stepping-up-to-the-plate, JonBenet's secret admirer, Kid killer Karr.

So what if he mentioned picking her up from school (isn't Christmas recess in Colorado longer than 1 day?), drugging her (those invisible drugs that don't show up in an autopsy report) and accidentally killing her (I thought the garotte was supposed to twist the 'other' way)?

Hey, maybe he did it, maybe he didn't, but damn, he looks like a modern-day Norman Bates. Let's squeeze all the juice out.

Besides, covering this story non-stop gives everybody a break from the gruesome realities of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Israel.

Oh, and are people still dying in Darfur?

Coverage would be so much more viewer-friendly if the victims were white, don't ya think?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Enter Michael Schiavo

In the Terry Schiavo case, the GOP was very quick to insinuate itself into the very private matter of whether a person could be allowed to die with dignity, or have their life unnecessarily prolonged with virtually no quality to that life.

Who can forget the diagnosis made by Sen. Bill Frist who determined that she was "not in a persistent vegetative" state on the basis of watching a highly-edited home video?

According to a Washington Post account at the time:
"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

Of course, other members of the GOP were falling all over themselves to exploit the issue, until they looked at their internal polling and realized that they were committing political suicide. It's hard to say which of the Bush brothers looked stupider, Jeb, or meddler-in-chief George, who cut short a vacation to sign emergency legislation on Schiavo that would press federal courts to intervene.

It was a private battle between Terry Schiavo's parents and Terry's husband Michael, who was demonized in a manner the GOP usually reserves for Democratic politicians who have served in our nation's military.

Unfortunately for the GOP, they found out that the public was overwhelmingly behind letting Terry Schiavo die with dignity. It helped that they lost every single court battle on this. Considering how the Republicans have been stacking the judiciary, that's saying something.

So now, Michael Schiavo is back. Amy Goodnaugh has an excellent piece in the New York Times on Mr. Schiavo's commitment to return the favor by fighting against those who tried so desperately to intrude on his life and force Terry Schiavo to exist with no quality of life, complete with a feeding tube eternally lodged down her throat.

Schiavo appeared on behalf of Ned Lamont in his successful race against Joe Lieberman and he plans many more campaign stops on behalf of efforts to defeat others who played politics with the life of his brain-dead wife.

If this man only swings a couple of seats over to the Democrats he will have accomplished an awful lot. We should all wish him well. The Times story refers to a PAC he has set up. Contributing to it would be money well spent.

As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. I see some Republicans getting a veritable blizzard heaped upon their dinner plates.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Kyra Phillips to Joe Darby: Do You See Yourself As A Traitor?

I had CNN on in the background at work today and was modestly interested in catching Joe Darby being interviewed on CNN by midday anchor Kyra Phillips.

Mr. Darby was the American soldier responsible for exposing the scandal at Abu Ghraib. He had inadvertently been given a CD containing the incriminating photos and, after some soul-searching, reported them.

For his trouble he got outed by Donald Rumsfeld, while he was still with his unit, and came home to the scorn of his neighbors. It got so bad for him that he had to leave his home.

Darby is back in the news because of a piece on him that is going to run in GQ next week. He is scheduled to appear with Anderson Cooper later this evening.

During the course of the interview, Phillips brought up the troubles that Darby faced for having the courage to expose what happened at Abu Ghraib. She then asked Darby the following question: "Do you see yourself as a traitor?"

My jaw dropped. I was dumbfounded.

Normally, the question would be, 'do you see yourself as a hero,' or perhaps, 'what do you say to those who have called you a traitor and questioned your patriotism?'

But this person, who passes for an anchor at a major news network, deliberately worded it to put Darby on the defensive.

Not knowing much about Phillips I checked out Media Matters and found that she had been singled out previously for alleging that Karl Rove was being smeared as part of an organized campaign.

Not really surprising then that she demonstrated such a high level of insensitivity. I suppose she is a partisan GOP hack, after all. Hopefully, somebody will take her to task for her highly offensive question.

It is precisely because of episodes like this that I find CNN almost as hard to digest as Fox. After all, isn't another anchor there Limbaugh's ex, Daryn Kagan?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Joe Just Doesn't Get It

David Lightman has an interesting piece on Joe Lieberman in today's Hartford Courant.

I think the story was ostensibly written to draw a bit of sympathy for Sen. Lieberman. It basically concluded that he only found his comfort level at the very end of the primary and, after personal tragedies and failures, was morphing back to the Old Joe.

I think that's what I found so's always about Joe.

I am pretty sure I know why Joe Lieberman lost and why I can't see him staying in the party. It's much more than the fact that he supports George Bush on the war. It's the total lack of respect he displays to those of us who are anti-war. That is his unpardonable sin.

Here's an especially illuminating passage from Lightman's report:

But by fall 2005, Lieberman had become even more vocal about Iraq, and those longtime friends tried to advise him to keep quieter, or at least emphasize his other work.

Instead, Lieberman returned from a trip to Iraq and seemed more alone than ever in his party. He detailed his views in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, and a few days later, President Bush quoted his Democratic friend extensively in a highly publicized speech.

The old friends called and visited and pleaded with him to trot out his Democratic bona fides. Churn out press releases, they said, make a major speech - anything to cement the idea in the public mind that he voted against Bush on nearly everything else. Stress your Democratic loyalty on other issues, they urged.

Instead, said one friend, "We saw a level of righteous indignation. You can call it hubris, or you can call it simply someone who believes in what he's doing." But he thought he was right on Iraq, "and that was that," the friend said.

It was more than Lieberman thinking he was right on Iraq, it was his using the dirty GOP tactics of questioning the patriotism of those who are anti-war. It was his public assumption that anyone who questioned the competence or tactics of George Bush was only doing so for partisan reasons....that it was somehow un-American.

Lightman writes:

The old Joe seemed to be back. Certainly the moral side was there. "He truly believes in public service, and truly believes things have become too partisan," said Riddle. "He believes it in his bones and in his core."

I think Mr. Lieberman has his priorities misplaced.

What he still doesn't understand is that there is no bipartisanship because the voice of the Democrats have been entirely shut down in Washington. The GOP controls the whole ballgame and, at a minimum, half the country have been silenced and cowed into invisibility. Lieberman's buddies have allowed no investigations to go forward, no room to debate.

The Senator from Connecticut doesn't want bipartisanship, he wants people to accept our presence in Iraq because he feels it's valid. In the face of everything we now know about what got us in, the lies and deception, and what keeps us there, sitting ducks in a civil war, Joe thinks we should just shut up and get behind George Bush in lockstep.

While more blood is shed, and money sucked out of the economy, with each passing day.

That's not bipartisanship Mr. Lieberman, it's insanity.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Newsday's Craig Gordon Allows GOP Talking Points To Go Unchallenged

The GOP cannot distort the public dialogue on the so-called War on Terror alone. They need assistance from the media. And they receive plenty.

On page A19 of Saturday's 8/12 edition of Newsday, Craig Gordon has the byline on a story headlined, "GOP may get a boost."

This is the same man who Friday wrote, "Terror War Doubts Rise." Somebody must have gotten to him.

Some nuggets from Saturday's column (not labeled as an op-ed, by the way):

"In one remarkable sign of public discontent with Bush, voters actually give Democrats a slight edge over Republicans on who is better equipped to handle terrorism in some recent polls."

(why is it so remarkable? Didn't 9/11 happen on the GOP watch?)


"Republicans have wasted no time trying to turn the defeat of Lieberman by anti-war newcomer Ned Lamont and the foiled British plot into a political one-two punch to whack Democrats.

"Republican pollster Whit Ayres argued that the two events taken together remind Americans - even those who have soured on Bush's position on the Iraq war - of the imminent threat and why they supported Republicans in the past to stand up to it.

"'The country is not going to turn to the anti-war party in the time of war,' Ayres said."

This was not a story that was devoid of Democratic representation. However, certain key GOP themes are allowed to float by, unchallenged. Again, why should an article indicate that it would be "remarkable" for the public to perceive Democrats as stronger against terrorism. It is the media who are responsible for continually hammering out the GOP message that they are somehow better for National Security when nothing could be further from the truth.

Also, why is the Ned Lamont win being portrayed as a negative, as if the anti-war view does not have broad and popular support?

We really cannot allow the media to become co-conspirators of misinformation, along with the GOP.

We need to call them out every time they insult our intelligence this way.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Impossibility Of Winning The War On Terror

Every day we are bombarded constantly in the media with the words 'war on terror.' However, nobody ever addresses the question of how we can know that the war is won.

The answer, if we dare to be truthful, is that there is no practical victory in a war on terror.

The only way to win such a war would be to incapacitate every fanatic. And fanatics, including those of the suicide martyr variety, are created anew every day.

What military action against terrorist groups has done is exponentially increase the number of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. How many hearts and minds have we totally lost in Iraq? Sadly, Israel may have committed the same blunder with Hezbolah. Destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon, with the high number of civilian casualties will only make more people inclined to be martyrs.

A military response to terrorism is not the solution, but when such action is warranted there should be a specific goal of destroying the leadership and infrastructure of the terrorist groups that threaten us. In Afghanistan it made sense to go in after 9/11 because the country was essentially a training ground for terrorists, and we could not let that slaughter go unanswered. It was a specific response to an attack.

But where is Osama bin Laden? He is still at large. And, because we have spread out our focus and resources, the Taliban and fanatical warlords are once again building their power base in Afghanistan.

Additionally, what have we done about the Afghan contribution to the world opium supply?

Sadly, with the war on terror a never-ending proposition, all we sacrifice is our civil liberties.

We are constantly being asked to give back freedoms that have always been our way of life. But when will we get them back, if the war on terror will truly never come to an absolute end?

The bottom line; for every civil liberty we agree to part with we give the terrorists a victory. Because they will have found a way to transform our way of life.

And not for the better.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Importance Of Watching The Media: Case in Point -- Mike Allen

One of the reasons I have such high regard for Media Matters for America is their commitment to the pursuit of truth through documentation of the media.

The news that gets made is only part of the equation. If the transmitters of that news send it out through an altered lens, we risk the revision of history. That is something we cannot allow to happen. At least, not without a fight.

A perfect example of the occasional disconnect between news and reporting is what happened this week in Connecticut.

First, and most importantly, news was made. Ned Lamont made a thunderous political statement with his defeat of incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary.

However, news was also distorted. Time magazine White House Correspondent Mike Allen in his web column, The Allen Report, issued what seemed like a summation of GOP talking points on the election result.

It is one thing for a Fox pundit to regurgitate GOP talking points; it is quite another for an allegedly impartial journalist to do so.

So what does one make of a web column that has the Time White House correspondent voluminously quoting GOP operatives while only choosing to give mainstream Democrats a solitary comment to counter it? And then editorializing that comment in a manner that plays into Republican spin.

Essentially, Allen's column reported on how the Lamont victory was somehow going to be to the detriment of Democrats and the GOP will spare nothing in capitalizing on that. If one follows the distorted logic, left-wing extremists have allegedly hi-jacked the party. Additionally, the implication is that taking an anti-war position is somehow akin to being against national security.

Somebody needs to remind Republican talking heads, and reporters like Allen, that the majority of Americans support a pullout from Iraq. It is hardly a fringe, or extremist issue.

For one of the most comprehensive refutations of the Mike Allen article, you can read the Media Matters post on it here.

The good news is that we are now alert enough to not necessarily rely on Media Matters alone to speak out on this abuse of the public's trust. Before I had read the MM piece, I had seen at least a half-dozen other blogs that commented on the same thing. The Huffington Post alone had a batch of blogposts on the subject.

Now it is up to us to contact the editors at Time and voice our displeasure.

Interestingly, the Allen column supposedly allows for comments. When one goes to post, the following message appears: "Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them."

Guess what? 2 days later and not a single comment has been posted.

To contact Time directly send e-mail to

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Timmerman Goes 'Nucular'

Ken Timmerman, right-winger from, just did something unintentionally hilarious.

The man who wrote, "Countdown To Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran," just promoted his book on MSNBC's Tucker Carlson program, using King George's pronunciation of 'nucular!'

It should be noted what WaPo said about his book (I am quoting the review found on

Timmerman's thesis is simplistic and provocative: Iran is America's most militant, relentless enemy and has been involved in nearly every terrorist attack against the United States since 1979. Iran is also actively seeking the bomb -- not for deterrence, but to menace the United States and its allies. After all, as the author suggests, "Only one Iranian nuclear-tipped missile needs to penetrate Israel's Arrow antimissile defenses to devastate Israel's highly concentrated population, destroy its economy, and effectively smash the state. Israel is a 'one-bomb' country and the Iranians know it." Timmerman dismisses any challenge to such claims as evidence of the pusillanimous nature of the U.S. intelligence services, the fecklessness of American politicians and, of course, the crass inclination of European appeasers to subordinate principle to commercial gain.

Timmerman, the author of earlier books attacking France and Jesse Jackson, begins his book with the outlandish claim that Iran was complicit in the Sept. 11, 2001, atrocities. In his retelling of history, a craven CIA, determined to exonerate rogue states that sponsor terrorism, has deliberately withheld this information from the American public. The conclusions of the numerous congressional investigations and journalistic inquiries into Sept. 11 are simply ignored. The one independent examination that Timmerman does cite, the 9/11 Commission, is faulted for missing what he considers the all-too-apparent Iran link. The reader gets the impression that Timmerman would rather not bother with facts precisely because they undermine his conspiracy theory.

So why is this genius, who can't even pronounce the word 'nuclear,' though he has written a book on the subject, being given so much time on MSNBC at all? So much for credibility, Tucker (not that we expected much).

Aren't there saner individuals who can talk about the arrests in Britain over an alleged conspiracy to blow up planes with liquid explosives?

People wonder why the left has lost all confidence in the cable news networks.

Maybe it's just that we're all going 'nucular.'

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Lieberman's Bush Democrat Tactics

Sen. Joe Lieberman is showing himself to be a Bush Democrat in more ways than one.

On Friday, trailing in the Connecticut primary to Ned Lamont by double digits in the latest polls, Lieberman chose to appear with Ed Schultz, but not Randi Rhodes. Rhodes, while interviewing Lamont, claimed that a call to Lieberman's people to appear had not been returned. Meanwhile, he had been on shortly before with Schultz.

On the Ed Schultz program yesterday. Listen to this audio link from 9:13 in and you will hear Schultz painfully get Lieberman to say that Rumsfeld should be replaced.

You will notice that he doesn't call for Bush to ask him to go, as he indicates, "Rumsfeld serves at the President's pleasure." Even more importantly, Lieberman says that a change at the top will "open some minds and rebuild some public support here in America." In other words, replace Rumsfeld as a public relations move to get support for the invasion in Iraq.

Lieberman's decision to avoid a challenge from Democratic hosts who are not Lieberman-friendly was echoed in today's Connecticut Post.

In an article entitled,"Lieberman, somehow, resists Cocoa Puffs' call," by Pam Dawkins, she writes this, concerning Stephen Colbert's attempts to get Lieberman as a guest on "The Colbert Report," on Comedy Central:

"Marion Steinfels, Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman, said she believes the senator knows about the invitation, that he heard it from a reporter. When asked whether he was going to appear, or why not, Steinfels said the senator is in the midst of a 10-day bus tour of Connecticut.

"'We are focused on in-state media' rather than national shows, because the campaign is about getting out Connecticut voters', she said."

Hmmm. Sen. Lieberman wasn't shy about being on with nationally-syndicated Ed Schultz and we know his fondness for Sean Hannity.

Considering that George Bush has made an art-form of appearing with a very select hand-picked few, it is clear whose style Joe Lieberman is emulating here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hoyer Calls Out Cynical Republicans On Minimum Wage

I have to admit, Democrats seem to be rising more to the challenge these days, and forcefully responding to the GOP shell game.

Nothing was as nakedly obvious about where the GOP's heart lie than in the dubious intermingling of a minimum wage bill with the proposed reduction of the estate tax.

Do they really think that they will be able to go to the voters in November and charge that it is the Democrats who are opposed to an increase in minimum wage? If the Dems use the right strategy...pull back the curtain and show exactly what the GOP is doing...this will boomerang. When Sen. Frist goes on record saying that linking a minimum wage increase to a repeal of the estate tax is "all-or-nothing" than it is relatively easy to connect the dots.

For a change, it seems that the Dems are learning how to counter such chicanery a bit more forcefully.

In that spirit, witness the following statement from House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer:

“Republicans cynically linked an increase in the minimum wage to a virtual repeal of the estate tax, intending to give political cover to their most vulnerable Members while ensuring that no increase would be enacted and hoping to blame Democrats.

“This Do-Nothing Republican Congress has such misplaced priorities that they refuse to pass a minimum wage increase even though the overwhelming majority of the American people and bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate support it. Republicans point to small businesses to justify their unjustifiable opposition, but 86 percent of small business people say that an increase won’t affect them.

“Holding a pay increase for millions of Americans hostage for huge tax breaks for the wealthiest estates was a cynical game that left working families on the losing end once again. Americans are tired of the game playing and are looking for a change. Democrats will take our country in a new direction, including a fair increase in the minimum wage.”

Since it's all about sound bites, the "Do-Nothing Republican Congress" has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?