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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bush's Cabinet Shuffles Again

After only two years on the job as the Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge is calling it quits.

The move was not unexpected; but, damn it, when is Rummy going to take the hint and step down as well? Succumb to peer pressure, Donald: all the other cabinet members are leaving!

Ridge's resignation will be effective Feb. 1. At a news conference, Ridge acknowledged that, while there was no certainty that measures taken by the Department of Homeland Security had prevented terrorist attacks, conditions in the U.S. make it more difficult for terrorists to operate.

“"I am confident that the terrorists are aware that from the curb to the cockpit we’'ve got additional security measures that didn'’t exist a couple years ago, that from port to port we do things differently with maritime security...I am confident they know the borders are more secure. I am confident they know we have developed and are sharing information with state and local law enforcement," Ridge said at a news conference.

I think we, as Americans, should pray to the deity of our choice and ask that Secretary Rumsfeld be overcome with a sudden urge to raise chickens or write an off-Broadway play. If someone has offered up a sound Iraq policy, I wish they'd make it public. I'm not covinced that Rumsfeld has one.

Sorry for the short entry today, folks; I have to pound out my weekly column. I was going to be lazy and just write out an entry here and then cut and paste that entry as my column, but I know my readers expect the very best media and political analysis, and I have no excuse in slacking off from my ongoing hatred of America.





Monday, November 29, 2004

The Supreme Court Hates Conservatives

I love news that makes conservatives angry. Surely the news that the Supreme Court has refused to rule on the Massachusetts court decision that allowed for gay marriage has caused much stress among right-wingers.

This is good news.

Justices had been asked to overturn a year-old decision by the Massachusetts high court that legalized gay marriage. They declined, without comment.

The nut-jobs over at the Free Republic are not very happy with this decision. The news hasn't hit some of the other conservative message boards, but I'm sure it will by tonight.

I keep wondering, why do conservatives oppose gay marriage in the first place? It's not like they treat heterosexual marriage as a sacred institution, considering that the highest number of divorces are in the "morally superior" red states. Hell, if they don't have a problem with getting divorced one, two, or three times, what exactly is going to happen if gay couples get married?

My guess is: nothing will happen. Conservatives seem to think that once gay marriage is allowed, it's going to open the door for worst-case scenario marriages, like a father marrying his daughter. Existing laws would prevent this marriage, and would probably apply to the other marriage scenarios conservatives think will happen with gay marriage.

I've said this before: if heterosexual marriage is so sacred, how come a convicted murderer on death row can be married? There's nothing to stop a woman from marrying a child abusing, drug addicting nut job who in turn molests his new step-children. Conservatives are worried that gay marriage will destroy the moral fabric of marriage. Here's a news flash, right-wingers: heterosexuals have already destroyed the moral fabric of marriage. Sure, some treat the institution with respect, but when you have self-appointed moral leaders like Rush Limbaugh divorcing their third wife, well, what can you say? If it's not sacred to Rush -- and, statistically, not sacred to the Bush-loving red states -- I say, let's give another group a shot at restoring the dignity and sanctity of marriage.

In other news...

The State of Alabama traveled back in time to 1963, with voters in the state voting down a constitutional amendment that would remove segregationist language from state law.

And conservatives wonder why people think they're racist.

Of course, Alabama conservatives will say they voted down the amendment due to the possibility of an increased tax burden. You see, the Alabama State Constitution does not guarantee public education. They're an enlightened bunch in Alabama. If the amendment had passed to remove the segregationist language from Alabama's constitution, taxes could have risen to help pay for schools. God forbid money be spent on public schools.

Readers may remember that in 2000, Alabama voters passed a measure to allow for inter-racial marriage.

Now, that's progress!








Sunday, November 28, 2004

Liberal Bigotry

It turns out liberal bigotry is on the rise. At least, in the world according to NewsMax, it is. When I want real news, I usually turn to MSNBC, and when I want crazy news, I hit NewsMax.

In case you've never been to the NewsMax web site, they often report on how horrible liberals are. Many stories lack any factual attribution, and tend to be sensational. And crazy. Mainly crazy.

While reading NewsMax today, I saw this headline:

Liberal Bigotry On The Rise

Wow! That's a serious charge. Would NewsMax offer up statistics and facts to support the claim that "liberal bigotry" is "on the rise"?

Nope. Just Michelle Malkin. Malkin is a conservative columnist and a graduate of the Ann Coulter School of Liberal Bashing.

I didn't know she was an expert on race relations, but she has somehow determined that "liberal bigotry" is on the rise. Does she rely on facts or statistics? Nah, conservatives don't believe in facts. Their goal is to present their message, regardless of factual accuracy. Like how the conservative media reported that outgoing staff members of the Clinton administration had vandalized the oval office to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, only to learn from the GAO that it hadn't happened.

Here's some of what NewsMax reported on "liberal bigotry," as presented by that race relations expert, Michelle Malkin:

"The underlying liberal bigotry that seems to have shown its ugly face ... is what's really remarkable... We've seen it a lot with how liberal columnists and cartoonists are treating minority conservatives."

Now, as far as editorial cartoons go, I'm going to ignore that as a source of "liberal bigotry." The subjects of editorial cartoons are drawn in an exaggerated style. If you want to see hundreds of examples, check out this archive of editorial cartoons about Bill and Hillary Clinton. And yes, their images are exaggerated in the cartoons.

As far as other incidents of "liberal bigotry," well, there's been...one...recently, when a Madison, Wisconsin radio DJ called Dr. Condolezza Rice "Aunt Jemima."

Does a few editorial cartoons and the comments of a single radio DJ mean "liberal bigotry" is on the rise? Of course not.

Let's face it, there are bigots on both sides. And considering that Malkin supports racial profiling, it seems odd that she would be decrying "liberal bigotry."

Speaking of bigotry, I'll leave my readers with an example of conservative bigotry aimed at comedian Margaret Cho. On Jan. 13, Cho was one of many performers at an event for Move On. Cho's 20-minute routine included a few minutes of material aimed at George W. Bush. Conservatives do not like it when someone attacks young George, and when Cho "attacked" Bush, conservatives came to his defense by sending hundreds of racist e-mails to Cho.

Great bunch, those right-wing nut jobs.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hating America

As far as Fox News goes, there is only one program I like to watch: Fox News Watch, which is probably the least biased of Fox's many biased shows. FNW's intelligent and diverse panel examine the news events of the weeks. Great show.

I mention Fox News as I found a program this evening that really epitomizes the right-wing bias of Fox News: a show called Hating America: U.S. Under Attack. As far as Fox News goes, people "hate" America when they do not agree with the policies of the U.S. government.

It's been a series of interviews with folks that "hate" America, such as Canadian writer Barrie Zwicker, director of the 9-11 conspiracy group International Citizens' Inquiry Into 9/11. Zwicker believes that the U.S. government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11. A little out there, I think, but does believing in a conspiracy theory translate into hating America? No, it doesn't.

That's the big problem with the "with us or against us" attitude of conservatives and the Bush administration. My disagreeing with the policies of the Bush administration doesn't mean I hate America. Conservatives aren't big on nuance; they're very much binary thinkers, their world view is black or white, with no shades of grey.



Friday, November 26, 2004

Fallujah: The Killing of an Insurgent

Did a U.S. Marine commit an act of murder on November 13? Or was it an act of self-defense?

By now most people are familiar with the story: a group of Marines enters a Mosque in Fallujah and finds a group of injured insurgents, who had apparently attacked U.S. forces from the Mosque the day before.

One Marine spots an insurgent he believes is "playing dead" and proceeds to shoot the man.

Cue the media outrage.

I hadn't commented on this incident as an investigation is still underway. Being a veteran, I want to give the Marine the benefit of the doubt. I know in combat there are times when split-second decisions have to be made.

Why did this Marine shoot the apparently injured, unarmed Iraqi insurgent?

One fact we do know: a Marine from the same unit had been killed on November 12 by the booby-trapped body of an insurgent.

The media, punditry and the Blogsphere have divided into two camps over the shooting: the shooting was an act of self-defense (conservatives); the shooting was an act of cold-blooded murder (liberals).

The embedded reporter with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Kevin Sites. Sites has written about the shooting at his blog. It's worth a read to gain some perspective on the whole incident.

As I've read about this particular incident and shooting, I was reminded of another shooting, from a different war, with some similarities to what happened in Iraq.

The shooting occurred during the Vietnam Conflict. The shooter was John Kerry.

Kerry earned a Silver Star for his actions that day when he killed an enemy soldier. Except in Kerry's case, it is the conservatives who are attacking his motives, and the liberals defending them.

Here's what the Swift Boat Veterans for The Truth have to say about Kerry's shooting of an enemy soldier, from the book Unfit For Command:

"Kerry's boat moved slightly downstream and was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. ... A young Viet Cong in a loincloth popped out of a hole, clutching a grenade launcher, which may or may not have been loaded. ... Tom Belodeau, a forward gunner, shot the Viet Cong with an M-60 machine gun in the leg as he fled. ... Kerry and Medeiros (who had many troops in their boat) took off, perhaps with others, and followed the young Viet Cong and shot him in the back, behind a lean to.

Whether Kerry's dispatching of a fleeing, wounded, armed or unarmed teenage enemy was in accordance with the customs of war, it is very clear that many Vietnam veterans and most Swiftees do not consider this action to be the stuff of which medals of any kind are awarded; nor would it even be a good story if told in the cold details of reality."

John Kerry's Silver Star citation contradicts the Swift Boat Vets claims, as do some eyewitness accounts.

Now, the comparison I'm making has to do with conditions of war and the split-second decisions that have to be made. And while John O'Neill's group would describe the incident as Kerry shooting a "teenage enemy," Kerry believed the man had a loaded rocket launcher and was ready to use it against U.S. forces.

In Iraq, a Marine makes a decision to shoot an enemy insurgent, whose body may have been booby-trapped.

If it turns out the shooting was illegal, the Marine will be punished.

I don't think this should be a liberal vs. conservative issue. It's an ugly war in Iraq, and our troops are in harm's way daily. I wish they could come home now, but that's just not going to happen. And until all of the facts are known, I do not wish to condemn the young Marine for what he did.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanksgiving, 1990, and Other Musings

Kevin Rollins is the editor and publisher of the Washington, D.C. based Free Liberal newspaper and web site. I'm proud to say my most recent column is featured at the web site. If you missed the column the first time around, check it out at The Free Liberal. There's a lot of great content at the web site, as well as information on the print edition. If you live in the Beltway, chances are you'll find the print copy at book stores and coffee shops in D.C. and Virginia.

I spent Thanksgiving in 1990 aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), which was based out of Bahrain for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1990 I was 22 and while I had spent several Thanksgiving holidays away from home, Thanksgiving 1990 was a bit more difficult, as I was so far from home, living with the possibility that we could be called to war at any time.

Most of my shipmates were anxious for any glimpse or opportunity to communicate with our families and friends back home. And while most of us were a little depressed about being in Bahrain for Thanksgiving, we received a bit of news that was pretty exciting: the ABC News program Good Morning America was going to broadcast live from Blue Ridge on Thanksgiving day.

As ship's journalist, one of my duties was to assist in media escorts, so I was assigned to the GMA camera crew.

They arrived early, about 8:30 a.m., and I spent the day with the crew. Nice bunch of folks. The downside was no breaks, so I was with the camera crew the 12 hours they were on board the ship.

A segment was to be broadcast with members of the ship's crew, and I was invited to join in, so it seemed I would actually get to be on TV and have my family and friends see me.

While waiting for the segment to air, I noticed a few of the guys walking around the deck with a woman. Naturally, I wanted to see who the woman was. Turns out she was GMA's Dr. Nancy Snyderman. I didn't know who she was as I hadn't watched GMA, but she was very accessible to me and my shipmates (there were about a dozen of us gathered), posing for photographs and answering questions. GMA host Charlie Gibson didn't interact with any of us.

The big moment came for us to get lined up on deck; the show was about to go live. And a couple of minutes later, it was over. My image did not get beamed back home, unfortunately.

I spent the rest of the day and part of the evening with the camera crew, and they finally left at about 7:00 p.m.

By then, the ship's mess (our cafeteria) had stopped serving food, so I missed out on my Thanksgiving meal. I also was told by my leading petty officer that I had to swab and wax the deck of the passageway in front of our office. Needless to say I was pretty exhausted and not very much in the mood to spend another hour working. But that's the military for you. And I knew the guys on the ground lived in much worse conditions.

With the swabbing and waxing complete, me and a friend decided to head to the small Navy facility in Bahrain for burgers and beer.

Once again, troops are in harm's way in the Persian Gulf. Thanksgiving and Christmas are difficult holidays to celebrate when you're so far from home.

If you have the means, consider sending a care package to the troops this holiday season. They'll appreciate that someone from home was thinking about them.

Contact Any Soldier for information on sending care packages to the troops.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No Rice For Me

First up: I've been searching on and off all day why conservatives have made a fuss over Bill Clinton's library receiving money from "wealthy Arab" contributors. The best I can figure is that liberals are being hypocrites because...well, I don't know. I couldn't find any instances where prominent liberals complained or protested that George H.W. Bush had received contributions from the Saudis, among others, for his presidential library. I'll file this under "bullshit" and move on.

I've been meaning to write on the subject of Dr. Condolezza Rice becoming the United States Secretary of State. And frankly, I don't think she's the right person for the job. I base this on the idea that she is essentially joined at the hip to George W. Bush. She's too close to Bush. She's known him and his family for years. I liked that Colin Powell had opinions and didn't always just blindly push the American agenda abroad (with the exception of WMDs). Gen. Powell brought decades of experience to the position of Secretary of State. Dr. Rice may be a great choice as provost of Stanford, but I'm not sold on the idea that she's the best person to replace Colin Powell.

One of the problems I have with her is that she and other members of the Bush administration essentially ignored information passed along by the Clinton administration regarding terrorism. According to the 9-11 Commission's official report:

Within the first few days after Bush's inauguration, (Richard) Clarke approached Rice in an effort to get her-and the new President-to give terrorism very high priority and to act on the agenda that he had pushed during the last few months of the previous administration. After Rice requested that all senior staff identify desirable major policy reviews or initiatives, Clarke submitted an elaborate memorandum on January 25, 2001. He attached to it his 1998 Delenda Plan and the December 2000 strategy paper. "We urgently need . . . a Principals level review on the al Qida network," Clarke wrote.

The national security advisor did not respond directly to Clarke's memorandum. No Principals Committee meeting on al Qaeda was held until September 4, 2001 (although the Principals Committee met frequently on other subjects, such as the Middle East peace process, Russia, and the Persian Gulf ).

Rice later went on to say that it was a complete surprise to her that anyone would attempt to use aircraft to crash into buildings. "I don't think anybody could have predicted...that they would try to use an airplane as missile...had this president known of something more specific or known that a plane was going to be used as a missile, he would have acted on it."

Gee, Condi, maybe if you had listened to Richard Clarke right away, instead of waiting until Sept. 1, 2001, the administration would have had some inkling that terrorists had been planning for years to crash an airplane into a building or buildings.

I know Bush is big on awarding loyalty, but how about nominating someone with more experience into the important position of Secretary of State?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Clinton-Obsessed Conservatives

It's hard to believe (well, not really) that conservatives are still obsessed with every single thing Bill Clinton says or does. The latest object of conservative obsession is Clinton's presidential library. Newsmax is reporting the non-story that the library received donations from (gasp) "the Saudi royal family and other wealthy Arabs."

This from Newsmax reporter Carl Limbacher and the "Newsmax staff."

Who gives a shit? I mean, what's the issue here?

Newsmax fails to offer up an context to this "breaking" news item, other than the donations had actually been featured in a 2003 column by Robert Novak.

Do real journalists actually work at Newsmax? Because, from what I could find, the Novak column appeared in 2002, not 2003. And even it doesn't explain what the issue is with Clinton receiving donations from the Saudis.

It's hardly newsworthy that the Saudis or "wealthy Arabs" would contribute to a presidential library. On November 6, 1997, the Knight-Ridder news service reported on the George H.W. Bush library, and the list of contributors donating $1 million included:

-- Bandar bin Sultan family;
-- People of Kuwait;
-- State of Kuwait;
-- Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates ;
-- Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences;
-- The Sultanate of Oman.

So...if I'm missing something here, can someone explain why the Clinton library receiving similar donations is newsworthy? Apparently Newsmax was having a really slow news day, because for the life of me, it's unclear why Clinton getting Saudi money is a good thing or bad thing.

I'm sure my enlightened conservative readers can inform me why it was bad for Clinton to get the same kind of donations to his library that George H.W. Bush received.





Sunday, November 21, 2004

Conservative Tolerance

First up: my new column has been posted to CounterBias. If you're a new visitor to What's In Scott's Head, give it a read and let me know what you think.

Conservatives like to complain that liberals whine too much, but that's not just true. Conservatives have to be the largest group of whining cry-babies, saying on one hand how they want limited federal government interference in their affairs, and on the other, crying to the FCC whenever their sensibilities are offended. Good grief people, just turn the fucking channel or shut off the radio if you don't like what you're hearing.

I had heard about some sort of controversy at ABC with a commercial that aired during a football game. It was a sort of promo for ABC's show Desperate Housewives (I've never seen that show) and the premise was some woman from the show was trying to seduce a football player. Don't ask me who was involved as I don't care. The woman, dressed only in a towel, drops the towel, we see her bare back, and she and the football player embrace.

Offended conservatives quickly bitched and moaned about this promo. I'm sure some of these folks have the FCC on speed dial. Frankly, I didn't see what the big deal was. I don't think a child watching it would have really understood what was going on. Who knows.

Conservatives have a bizarre fixation with sex. On one hand they're all offended when a network airs a Victoria's Secret special featuring women in underwear, but think watching pro wrestling with the kids is good, wholesome family fun. Yes, a woman in her underwear is a much worse image than a guy being beaten with a metal chair.

Conservatives like to silence anyone who doesn't agree with them. Case in point: the Stop The ACLU Coalition. This group's mission is:

This site exists for one purpose -- to mobilize missions of God fearing patriotic Americans to stand up to the ACLU agenda and consigning it to the ash heap of history (or exporting it to Communist regions). Here you will read how the ACLU is reconstructing civilization and working to conform America previous generations couldn't fathom. (??) But more importantly, you will have the opportunity to participate in two unprecedented activities to send your message that you oppose what they stand for and you will do your part to block their agenda.

Whatever happened to the marketplace dictating supply and demand? You know, good old fashioned capitalism? Does the ACLU really need to be stopped? They have every right to do what they do. Hell, they even defended Rush Limbaugh when the state of Florida wanted to poke around his medical records.

Here's just how crazy the Stop ACLU Coalition is. They claim the ACLU is trying to spread gay marriage across America, and provide a chart where you can see which states the ACLU is hard at work in promoting their "agenda."

So, out of the 50 states, the ACLU has lawsuits in 13 states. That's it. How is this an "assault" on marriage?

The Stop The ACLU Coalition also is really eager to put prayer back in public schools.

Folks, if you're conservative, or religious, and want prayer in school...send your child to a religious school! Homeschool them! There is no law preventing kids from praying, quietly, to themselves. How much more prayer do you want? Do it at church. Do it at home. There are many opportunities for prayer that do not involve getting public schools involved.

Also, if people are so upset over lawsuits filed by the ACLU, how come they're not complaining to the organizations that cave in to the ACLU? How about whipping up a grassroots effort to help out a group or organization that has been sued by the ACLU?

That would be too easy. Conservatives want the world molded to their vision, not anyone else. The fact that so many conservatives are so excited by the number of "red states" just goes to show how intolerant these people are. They don't want differing opinions or debate or discussion.
I'd bet many conservatives would love for this country to become a theocracy. Well, take a look at Saudi Arabia as your example. You can see just how free a nation is living under religious rule.



Friday, November 19, 2004

Stupid Statistics

Fridays are usually slow news days, and that's no exception here at What's In Scott's Head. Well, maybe not a slow news day, but more that I was feeling lazy today. In my defense I did write my column for the week, which should be appearing at CounterBias in the next couple of days.

Speaking of slow news days, Newsmax (think Drudge Report only crazier) has a piece up on how Bill Clinton threatened Peter Jennings in an interview.

To be accurate, Clinton didn't actually threaten Jennings, but then again, this is Newsmax, where a news piece can contain the sentence "A paranoid-sounding Bill Clinton threatened...Peter Jennings in an interview broadcast Thursday night" and still be considered news.

I hate having to use Newsmax as a source, but unfortunately, ABC has not yet posted a transcript of the exchange. So, let's roll the tape:

JENNINGS (Discussing rankings by presidential historians]: They gave you a forty-first in terms of moral authority - after Nixon.

CLINTON: They're wrong about that. You know why they're wrong about it? They're wrong about it.

JENNINGS: Why, sir?

CLINTON: Because we had $100 million spent against us in all these inspections. ... In spite of it all, you don't have any example where I ever lied to the American people about my job, where I have let the American people down. And I had more support from the world when I quit than when I started. And I will go to my grave being at peace about it. And I don't really care about what they think.

JENNINGS: Oh, yes you do.

CLINTON: They have no idea ...

JENNINGS: Excuse me, Mr. President. I can feel it across the room. You care very deeply.

CLINTON: No, no. I care. I care. You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what your people did. And the way you - your network - what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he did. No one has any idea of what that's like.

I'm assuming the comment "you don't want to go here, Peter" was the threat. As to what kind of threat, Newsmax didn't say.

Now, what ABC News, and Newsmax, fail to mention is that presidents are rated on other areas, in addition to moral authority. Yes, ABC News, of the so-called liberal media, grilled a popular Democratic president on his morals.

So, how did Bill Clinton rank in other categories? Here's one example:

Economic Management: 5

That's a pretty important piece of information, I think. Of 41 presidents, Bill Clinton ranked 5th in economic management.

Now, how about the Gipper? How did he rank for economic management? Surely higher than Slick Willie, right?

Wrong.

Ronald Reagan
Economic Management: 21

Ah, now we have a different story. Ronald Reagan, considered by conservatives to have led an economic revolution in the 1980s, ranked at #21 in managing the economy.

Reagan, in fact, scored worse than Richard Nixon, who came in at #17.

Bill Clinton also beat out Reagan in the category of administrative skills: Clinton at #21 and Reagan at #32; and in the category pursued equal justice for all, Clinton came in at #5 and Reagan at #25.

Is it really a big deal that Clinton was ranked last in terms of moral authority? I don't think so. What the hell does it mean, anyway? Me, I more concerned about a strong economy than if the president has "moral authority," whatever that might mean, and moral authority is so subjective as to render it meaningless as a measurement of ability or character. What's interesting about that category is that Ronald Reagan was ranked at #11 (with Jimmy Carter at #10) and George H.W. Bush at #19, despite Iran-Contra. Apparently in the eyes of presidential historians, lying about sex is much worse than deceiving the nation, and the Congress, about an illegal racket to sell weapons to Iran and funnel funds covertly to the Contras in Nicaragua.

Strange that Peter Jennings of the "liberal" ABC News didn't bring up any of Clinton's other rankings in that poll.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Clinton Library Opens; Conservatives Complain

The Clinton Library Opens; Conservatives Complain

Bill Clinton opened his presidential library today, to an audience of about 30,000 people, who all endured a steady, pouring rain to listen to Bill Clinton speak. President Bush, his father and Jimmy Carter all addressed the crowd. Former President Gerald Ford, 91, was unable to attend due to health problems.

Conservatives, of course, were quick to attack the library, apparently because they wanted on display Monica's blue dress and a re-telling of all the groundless "gate" controversies which were investigated at a cost of $70 million dollars.

In fact, one group of conservatives is leading an effort to build a "counter" library where they can present what they deem the "truth" about the Clinton administration.

The Counter Clinton Library group's mission is, according to their web site is to "...be a permanent thorn in the side of the Clintons as they try to hide and distort their anti-American, anti-family, anti-military legacy. Our goal: to let not one Clinton lie go unanswered, to let not one Clinton evasion go unquestioned and to let not one Clinton slander go unchallenged. It is up to us – regular Americans who care about the truth and about our country – to build from scratch the first-ever counter library."

Give me a fucking break.

"Supported by citizens who refuse to allow the Clintons to erase their White House record."

Funny how George W. Bush had his records as governor of Texas sent to his father's library and sealed. Isn't that erasing a record? Why are Bush's records sealed?

When are conservatives going to get over this bizarre obsession with Bill and Hillary Clinton? It just goes on and on and on, as if nothing else in the world mattered.

It's time to move on, conservatives. Look towards the future. I'm personally looking forward to the unveiling of the George W. Bush presidential library, which will most certainly have a wing of comic books (not the good ones) and pop-up books. You know, because Bush is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

If conservatives were expecting the Clinton library to have an extensive Lewinsky exhibit, maybe the Bush library can have a wing dedicated to Bush's failures: the Abu Ghraib photo exhibit; the names and photographs of all the soldiers killed in Iraq looking for Bush's WMDs, accompanied by the video footage of George W. Bush's appearance at the Radio and TV Correspondent's dinner on March 24, where he presented a slide show of pictures of him on his hands and knees, looking through the Oval Office, saying "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." That should be good for a laugh.

Maybe we'll even get a "Bushisms" display, where we can hear a man with an Ivy-league education speak as if he had been lobotomized.

Better yet, someone will build the "Counter Bush" library. I'll head up that effort.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Right-Wing Selective Outrage

First of all, I'm back home, and it's great to be with family again. AND having the fat bandwidth of a cable modem to use is also nice. But if I had put that first, well, you probably would question my priorities.

Oh, and getting to play Halo 2 is good, too.

Poor Rush Limbaugh is all up in arms over the "racist" treatment of Dr. Condolezza Rice. It seems some editorial cartoonists have created editorial cartoons of Dr. Rice where her features are -- get ready -- exaggerated! And Rush is pissing and moaning as if just today he saw his first editorial cartoon. Here's poor Rush on Condi's treatment and how evil the left is:

No American, certainly not a person of Dr. Condoleezza Rice's stature, should be treated like this. It is a new low. It is an absolute new low for the left.

I would tend to agree with Rush but for one point: his treatment of Hillary and Bill Clinton during most of the 1990s. For him to complain about someone in the Bush administration being the target of an editorial cartoon reveals the depth of his hypocrisy, as he and his fellow conservatives had no problem with mocking Bill and Hillary Clinton, or mocking Bill Clinton's accent, every aspect of their lives was subject to ridicule, and still is.

As a comparison, check out this archive of Hillary Clinton editorial cartoons, and this archive of cartoons aimed at both Bill and Hillary. I don't recall Rush shedding crocodile tears over the treatment of the Clintons.

Back to Rush's babblings:

Now, it seems to me that if the liberals are honest, and they really do want advancement and affirmative action and all this sort of thing then they would be praising these people and congratulating them and they would want their constituents in the black community to know that they're proud that this is happening. But, oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, ladies and gentlemen. They can't afford that! They have besmirch these people. They have to try to destroy the them. They impugn them. They grotesquely distort them as human beings and as Americans, and this is being done under the eyes of everybody in this country, black Americans included.

Give it a rest, Rush. Pop a couple of Oxycontins and relax. And think back over the years and all of the things you've said about Hillary Clinton. Like a pig wallowing in a puddle of its own shit, Rush wallows in a puddle of his own hypocritical excrement. If you think Limbaugh is color-blind, here are some quotes by Limbaugh assembled by the media watchdog group FAIR.

For instance, early in his career, in the 1970s, Limbaugh told a caller, "Take that bone out of your mouth and call me back."

In 1990, right after Rush's radio program went national, Rush made this observation: "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

Wow, Rush, that's pretty racist! All blacks look alike, is that what you meant?

On Spike Lee, who had urged African-American kids to skip school and see his film Malcom X in 1992: "Spike, if you're going to do that, let's complete the education experience. You should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out."

On the NAACP: "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

Of course, Rush would just say he was "joking" when he made those comments. Rush is quite the comedian.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Cabinet Resignations Score Card

Secretary of State Colin Powell is the latest Bush administration cabinet member to resign. Pretty standard for a president's second term, but Bush's second term is certainly going to be very different. Not only will there be new cabinet members, but it's also possible Bush will be naming new members to the Supreme Court.

Here's the breakdown of resignations:
Attorney General John Ashcroft
Commerce Secretary Don Evans
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman
Education Secretary Rod Paige
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham

Hopefully Donald Rumsfeld will succumb to peer pressure and join in the departures. I was kind of half-hoping that George W. Bush would jump on the resignation bandwagon. Probably no chance of that.

Powell was chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff while I was in the military. Although I didn't get to meet him, I did catch a glimpse of him when he came to my ship, USS Blue Ridge, for a visit during Desert Storm. General Norman Schwarzkopf also visited Blue Ridge during the war. My shipmates and I were pretty impressed to see the brass up close.

It's a shame that Colin Powell, who I understand was not as sold on the idea of going to war with Iraq as Bush's other advisors, had to address the U.N. security council and tell them that our intelligence about Iraq WMDs was factual, and not assertions. Turns out it was assertions. I don't know how much of it Powell believed.

Powell's successor may be Dr. Condolezza Rice. Whoever it is, they'll have a tough job ahead of them in restoring America's credibility to the world. Of course, Republicans do not seem to care what the world thinks of us. But we need the support of many nations, especially in Iraq, where we're footing the bill for the operation and are providing the largest number of troops, and sustaining the largest number of casualties. I'm going to be very surprised if the Iraq elections are held without incident.

I'm still out of town, and still stuck with the crappy dial-up connection in my hotel room, so it's hard to say how extensive updates to the site will be.

Now to spend the next hour publishing this entry...

Oh, I just realized something: Half-Life 2 is out tomorrow, and I have a copy on my hard drive, courtesty of Valve Software's Steam service, ready to be unlocked. So I guess I will not be posting here for the next month or so. Well, maybe not tomorrow.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Dial-Up Sucks

I'm out of town this week, and my hotel room only has a dial-up connection. I've had a cable modem now for at least two years, and dropping down to the slums of the dial-up world just sucks. I mean, here's how bad dial-up is, compared to broadband:

Download 5 MB file
Broadband: 30 seconds
Dial-Up: Eight days

This is all a round-about way of saying my entries may not be daily. Just publishing the blog with dial-up takes a long, long time.

This very slow connection to the Internet I have now reminds me of my first PC and my first modem, which would have been a 2400 baud modem. I remember back then (1993 or 1994) I had an AOL account and Apogee Software (now 3D Realms) had a new shareware game for download called Blake Stone. The file was one or two megabytes. I downloaded it, and it took at least six hours to download, maybe longer.

For those of you in the 21st century still using dial-up, I feel for you. Really. You get spoiled on broadband. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a file to download that is going to take a couple of days. More to come later.



Friday, November 12, 2004

President Bush (Kerry) Outlines Agenda

First item: my column for this week is up at CounterBias. Head on over and take a look, and let me know what you think. Also, try to take a few minutes and check out the columns of my fellow writers at CounterBias. They're a fantastic bunch with a lot to say.

On to business:

After ridiculing John Kerry on the campaign trail and in the debates, President Bush today announced in a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he looked forward to using the "...combined strength of Europe and America" to advance the cause of freedom.

Conservatives, I'm sure, are applauding Bush for his great leadership skills. We'll get the world involved in advancing the cause of freedom! Brilliant. Of course, John Kerry saying the same thing revealed his weakness as a leader. I love conservative double standards.

Bush also pledged to help in creating an independent Palestinian state, which would be good, but Bush had to blow the moment by saying the United States would "hold their (Palestinians) feet to the fire to make sure Democracy prevails."

When Bush mentions "fire" and "Democracy" in the same sentence, I'd make sure the bomb shelter was built, as we all know Bush likes to spread democracy by blowing shit up.

Bush also pledged to "finish the job" in Iraq, and on that I am hoping that Bush will indeed work towards that goal. Once we have the Iraqi police and military trained we can begin to pull out some troops. Capturing and controlling Fallujah is essential, but we've paid a high price for doing so: 22 American troops dead and over 170 injured.

The insurgents in Fallujah are determined to destroy the U.S. forces there.

It's a huge mess in Iraq, despite the Bush administration's portrait of Iraq marching steadily towards democracy.

Can you imagine if any of this had happened while Bill Clinton was president? Republicans would not only have impeached him, but they probably would have thrown his ass in jail. If you recall the "Black Hawk Down" incident from the military operation in Somalia in 1993, you know that Republican members of Congress demanded that Clinton's Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, step down, though only a couple dozen American forces were killed. Different standards now, I guess, on what constitutes a massive failure.

Oh, and Scott Peterson was found guilty in his trial. In case you were following that. Court TV is probably going to go off the air now that the trial is over. What else can they cover 24/7?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A liberal veteran's perspective: Veteran's Day, 2004

During my first month of high school in 1986, I decided to join the Navy. I came from a poor family, and since there was no money for college, the military seemed a good choice.

As I went through the process to enlist (I was only 17 at the time), I very stubbornly insisted that my recruiter put me in for the military journalist program. He kept telling me I'd never get in, but since my aptitude test scores were high enough, he'd try. A few weeks later, I received the news: I was accepted into the journalist program.

Boot camp started in July of 1986, and in September of that year, I reported for duty at the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

Upon graduation I was sent to the Commander In Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet public affairs office at Pearl Harbor. It was a great tour. By 1990, it was time to pick my next duty station. One choice was USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. I accepted the assignment.

Soon after, Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait.

USS Blue Ridge was sent to Bahrain to coordinate the U.S. Navy's operation in the Gulf.
In October, I made the journey to Bahrain to meet up with my ship.

1991 arrived, and we all knew that something was about to happen. Something big. We knew that we would soon be going to war.

At about 1:30 a.m. on January 16, 1991, general quarters was announced. General quarters is the signal to man battle stations. This time the announcement was accompanied by a terrifying sentence:

This is not a drill.

Although I was assigned to the ship as a journalist, my role during combat was to administer first aid. In fact, Blue Ridge was to be a backup to the hospital ships in the area if the casualties were high.

The place my group met for drills was outside on the main deck of the ship. It was pitch black when I reached the deck, and a few of the chiefs petty officers were directing us with the dull light of a glow-stick. I found my team and we waited. We didn't know what was going to happen to us. We all were scared, although if asked, I'm sure we would not have admitted to being afraid.

When my eyes had adjusted to the darkness I was able to see the sky, full of starlight. I had never seen so many stars before.

It ended up being a quick war, and casualties were light.

That's not the case today.

Conservatives like to say we liberals hate America, or that we hate the troops, because most of us do not support the war in Iraq.

No, we don't hate America, or the troops. We want them to come home, safely and uninjured, to their families.

Since this stupid, senseless war started, 1,155 U.S. troops have been killed; thousands have been injured, many gravely; and countless thousands of Iraqis have died.

All of this loss of life, wasted in a snipe hunt to find imaginary weapons.

And what did the Bush administration do when they realized that Iraq did not have the weapons it said Iraq had?

Nothing.

They just changed the reason we went to war. Each day that passes brings the possibility that another life will be lost.

All for the vanity of a man who didn't have the guts to fight for his country when it was his time to do so.

The blood that has been shed is on George W. Bush's hands.

I wonder how he will sleep tonight? I suspect with no difficulty.

Veteran's Day, 2004

Today is the day we honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's veterans. This is the second Veterans Day in a row where we have troops in harms way. Many have given their lives to fight the war in Iraq, and several thousand more have come home paralyzed, burned, brain damaged or missing limbs, blasted away from an Iraqi insurgent's RPG.

Conservatives like to imagine that liberals hate the troops, as many of us do not support the war in Iraq. But we support our troops. We want them to come home safely, and as soon as possible.

It's very lonely for the young soldier, away from home for the first time. Today would be a great day to send a care package to the troops. Here are some ways to do that:

Any Soldier
Any Soldier was founded by a family with a loved one in Iraq. The site provides the names of soldiers requesting care packages, with instructions on how to get the package to the troops.

Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude provides care packages for the troops containing "food, toiletries, necessities, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation." Sending a care package is about $30.00.

Books For Soldiers
Send books, DVDs, music CDs and other items to the troops.

Operation USO Care Package
From the web site: "With a donation of $25 you can sponsor a care package and include a personal message of support and encouragement. These USO Care Packages at minimum, include requested items such as pre-paid worldwide phone cards, sunscreen, travel size toiletries, disposable camera and a message from the donor thanking them for their service and sacrifice."

Support U.S. Troops
A family effort started in 1994 by Pamela Valdez-Wascher, offering a variety of care packages.

If you have the means, please take a moment to get a care package to the troops. I'm a veteran of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and I know how much it means to receive a care package from home. When you're lonely and thousands of miles away from your family, receiving a package from home makes a huge difference in morale.









Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Why I Hate the Red States

Okay, I don't really hate the red states, just the voters.

I'm kidding again. Well, a little.

I've accepted the fact that George W. Bush won the election fairly. I don't believe there was any sort of conspiracy involved or some other dubious plan to give Bush the win.

What I do not understand is the why behind the victory.

Why did people vote for George W. Bush?

The main reasons seem to be related to moral issues and Bush's leadership as it relates to the war on terror.

The moral part I do not understand. Frankly, I don't see what it has to do with being president. People seem to have this perception that Bush is a pious, devout man of faith who spends time with orphans when he isn't bombing oil-rich middle-eastern countries. Yet Bush was a drunk for most of his adult life. Yes, a drunk. Up until becoming a partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush's reputation had more to do with his ability to party the night away than any sort of leadership qualities. I guess Republicans are a forgiving bunch -- at least when it comes to other Republicans or conservatives.

Bush promised an ethical administration, but dragged its feet when events occurred to reveal the administration had a few ethical problems, such as the outing of a CIA agent named Valerie Plame. Most folks know the story already, so I will not rehash all of it here. The simple version is that a man named Joe Wilson was sent to Africa to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase materials to make nuclear weapons from the nation of Niger. Wilson found no evidence and then penned an op-ed piece critical of the Bush administration. Soon after the editorial was published, someone in the Bush administration (the slow-as-molasses investigation seems to point at someone from Dick Cheney's office) revealed to the media that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative. Well, that someone tried a few different media outlets before finding a sympathetic ear in Robert Novak, who wrote a column revealing the name and position of Plame.

The loud cry of objection by conservatives was...well, there wasn't much of a loud cry of objection, and conservatives began playing a semantics game, since at the time her name was leaked, Plame was working as an analyst, not an operative. As if that really made it okay to reveal her name. Ironically, Plame had been working on the Iraq WMD issue in her role as an operative. We can flush all of that intelligence down the toilet. Thanks, Bush administration, for ruining the career of a woman who had been working towards on the very issue we went to war over.

Back in 1996, Republicans were singing a different song, when it was discovered that several hundred FBI files had gotten into the hands of some members of the Clinton administration. Much like in old cartoons, the tops of many Republican heads popped off and steam poured out of their ears over this horrible infrigement of privacy.

But hey, it's a new century, and leaking the name of a CIA operative isn't that bad. Right?

Iraq WMDs should have been enough all by itself to send Bush packing. And when it turned out that Iraq did not have the weapons we said it did, the administration simply changed the reason for going to war, with no explanation. It was a war to fight terror and free the Iraqi people! No one in the administration talks much of WMDs. No reason given why the intelligence was so horribly wrong, no apology to the American people for the deception...they just shifted gears and pushed aside the whole WMD mess.

Speaking of the war on terror, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against America is still at large. Yes, Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and still determined to kill us. How are we safer with Bush in charge? Even Dick Cheney has said that at any time terrorists could come into the United States and kill us all with nuclear weapons. That doesn't sound very safe to me.

Tomorrow: more Bush-bashing.

A Quick Look At Pop Culture: Halo 2

Normally I talk about politics and the media, but today I wanted to touch on a less serious subject, video games. Specifically, the game Halo 2.

What you are about to read will undoubtedly be considered blasphemy by the Halo community.

Here goes.

What's the big deal?

Like many Xbox owners, I plunked down cash to reserve Halo 2 a few months ago. I had played the original Halo, and thought it was an okay game. I can think of several games I've enjoyed more: Deus Ex, Half-Life and Max Payne come to mind.

But, like most robots influenced by advertising, I thought, why not?, and plunked down some money back in June to reserve my copy.

The big day came. And no, I did not wait in line at midnight to pick up my copy. I made my purchase, came home, played for about an hour, and thought, Okay...and?

I don't know, maybe I'm in the wrong age demographic. Here's an amazing fact: over 1.5 million copies of Halo 2 were pre-ordered.

Here's another amazing fact: sales for the title were expected to reach or exceed 100 MILLION dollars.

Pretty amazing.

I was expecting price gouging at Ebay, but prices were roughly what you'd pay at a store. Expect the Ebay price to rise once retailers run out of copies of Halo 2.

In the meantime, I will gladly sell you my copy for, oh, I don't know, $200.

Just kidding.

Coming up next: I bitterly attack the red-state voters. Yes, I mean YOU. I just have to get in some quality Halo 2 time first...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Good Bye, Johnny!

Don't let the door hit you in the Ashcroft

America's top cop, Attorney General John Ashcroft, has resigned from Bush's cabinet.

I'm crying right now.

Okay, that part was a lie.

And Ashcroft's reason? He had successfully secured America from terrorists.

When did this happen?

In his letter of resignation, Ashcroft said, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

Someone should have told Dick Cheney this. Seems like it would have been good information for him to take on the campaign trail. Instead, Cheney delivered uplifting campaign speeches where he basically said America was an open target for any terrorist to come into the country and kill millions of people.

Cheney talked about this subject a lot.

Maybe the Justice Department and the Office of the Vice President didn't communicate well with each other?

Frankly, I'm glad to see the architect of the ironically-named Patriot Act hitting the road. (Yes, I know that Congress actually was responsible for it, but I'd rather blame Ashcroft.)

Another little bit of trivia about John Ashcroft: he lost his Senate re-election bid to a dead man. Yes, Missouri voters decided a dead man, Mel Carnahan, would do a better job in representing the interests of Missouri than Ashcroft.

In fact, the election of Mel Carnahan was the first time in American history that a dead man had won a seat in the Senate.

Perhaps the resignations will become the new fad in Washington. I've got my fingers crossed that Donald Rumsfeld will be next.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Art of Failing Upward, Pt. III: We Ain't Got No Stinkin' Scandals!

A case study: Les Aspin and Donald Rumsfeld

October, 1993. Mogadishu, Somalia. U.S. forces are sent to Somalia on a peacekeeping mission. Somali gunmen shoot down two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The attacks of the Somali gunmen result in the deaths of 19 soldiers.

Secretary of Defense Les Aspin comes under Congressional attack for the deaths of that mission, and is blamed for not sending enough military equipment or troops to Somalia.

Congressional Republicans called for Aspin's resignation.

"He should be removed . . . he sat on his hands," Sen. AlfonseD'Amato said in a CNN interview. On the Senate floor, D'Amato declared: "He should be fired now, he should resign now, and if he doesn't resign, then the president should remove him."

Newt Gingrich called for hearings to determine if commanders in the field are given the "support they need."

Aspin later resigns as secretary of defense, due to the fallout of the deaths of 19 soldiers.

October, 2002. Cincinnati, Ohio. President George Bush is speaking at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Bush tells the audience, "Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations -- in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it."

January, 2003. Washington, D.C., State of the Union Address. George Bush states: "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them."

March, 2003. The United States attacks Iraq, with two goals: disarm Iraq of its WMDs, and remove Saddam Hussein from power.

No WMDs are ever found.

During the war, soldiers find they lack basic equipment, like body armor. Some troops resort to having family and friends purchase the body armor for them.

Military commanders state publicly that too few troops were sent to Iraq; deployments are extended for most troops. L. Paul Bremer, who had served as the interim Iraqi governor, also stated that the troop levels were too low to secure the peace in Iraq.

As of today, 1134 American troops have died in Iraq.

And as of today, Donald Rumsfeld has not stepped down as secretary of defense.

If 19 dead soldiers and insufficient equipment in a military conflict were enough to cost Bill Clinton's secretary of defense his job, how come 1134 dead and insufficient equipment and personnel in a military conflict isn't enough to force Donald Rumsfeld to resign?

Tomorrow: FBI files and the ouster of a CIA operative.



Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Art of Falling Upward, Pt. II

First up: my new column is up at CounterBias. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was in Sarasota, Florida, scheduled to appear at the Emma E. Booker elementary school, where he'd observe students practicing their reading skills.

At 8:46 a.m., the first plane struck the north tower of the Twin Trade Center. Bush is en route to Booker elementary school.

At 9:03 a.m., Bush was listening to the students reading when he was approached by his chief of staff, Andrew Card. Card whispered in Bush's ear: "America is under attack."

Bush did nothing.

Not having been programmed for such an event, Bush sat in the classroom for several minutes, a grimace on his face, taking glances at a book called My Pet Goat.

At an April 11, 2004, press conference, Bush was asked about the Presidential Daily Briefing memo of August 6, 2001, the memo titlted "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US," and what his reaction would have been if he had known that terrorists would attack the United States. Bush said, "Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people..."

Except, when he did know, he did nothing.

Bush's handlers finally got about the task of making Bush presidential, and sent him off to ground zero on Sept. 14, where he spoke with the firefighters and other rescue personnel.

It wasn't long before we knew who was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attack: Osama Bin Laden.

Initially, Bin Laden was public enemy #1, and Bush vowed to capture him. Evoking the Old West, Bush responded to a question at a press conference on Sept. 17:

Q: Do you want bin Laden dead?
THE PRESIDENT: I want justice. There's an old poster out west, as I recall, that said, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

By 2002, Bush was no longer concerned with capturing Osama Bin Laden. At a March 13, 2002 press conference, Bush was asked about the hunt for Bin Laden:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Meanwhile, members of Bush's cabinet were busy preparing for a war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein would be our target, not Osama Bin Laden.

Tomorrow, Pt. III: Scandals? We don't have any stinkin' scandals!







The Art of Failing Upwards: Pt. I

George W. Bush is a skilful politician. There's no doubt in my mind that his charm and connection with the "common" man won him the election.

Not that he'd ever admit it, but the best thing to happen to George W. Bush was the attacks of Sept. 11. Remove Osama Bin Laden from the picture and what's left is an incompetent president who, in reality, cares only for his wealthy base and not ordinary folk. Bush's blood is just as blue as John Kerry.

Bush did not campaign on any issues; he had no record to speak of, which left him a platform based on fear, which he exploited to its fullest potential. During the campaign, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney spread the message about the dire threat of another terrorist attack against America, implying that a President John Kerry would not do anything to stop the attacks.

Fear is a powerful motivator, and the fearful masses cast their vote for George W. Bush.

Bush is a lucky man.

I wonder how many of his supporters have actually looked back at the events in his life that made him the man he is today?

He attended the best ivy-league schools, Yale and Harvard, and attended the prestigious Andover Academy.

Faced with the possibility of being drafted into the armed forces during the Vietnam Conflict, Bush was admitted to the Texas Air National Guard as a pilot, despite scoring only 25% on the pilot aptitude test. After six weeks of Air Force boot camp, Bush was commissioned an officer and trained to fly the F-102. Bush receiving a commission was highly unusual, as he did not have any officer training. Contrast that to John Kerry, who spent eight months in training to become a Naval officer.

Following his tour in the Air National Guard, Bush went to Harvard for an MBA and spent much of the 1970s doing nothing. Well, drinking. He was good at that. Good enough to get a DWI. Bush loved the booze.

Bush made a stab at the oil business but failed. Bush had ran for office and failed. Bush finally saw some success when he became a partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, investing about $606,00 in 1989. Several years later, when the team was sold, Bush pocketed a cool $15 million.

Bush went on to become governor of Texas, and his record as governor seems to mainly to be his unconditional support of the death penalty, signing over 152 death warrants.

Bush, a political novice, somehow managed to become the Republican candidate for president in the 2000 election. Running against Vice President Al Gore, Bush lost the popular vote and won the election by a little over 500 votes in Florida.

Once president, Bush didn't accomplish much. He spent a lot of time at his "ranch" in Crawford. An August 6, 2001 presidential briefing memo, titled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in U.S.," warned that the FBI was monitoring terrorist groups apparently intent on conducting hijackings; 70 FBI investigations were underway at the time the PDB was given to Bush. No action was taken by his administration.

A little over a month after the PDB was prepared, Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist network struck the United States.

Tomorrow: Pt. II: Bin Laden escapes; Bush administration misleads America about Iraq WMDs and goes to war.





Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election 2004: Finally Over

John Kerry gave it his best shot, but in the end, fear ruled the day and George W. Bush won a second term as president.

John Kerry just could not convince voters that he'd been a better choice at fighting the war on terror than George W. Bush.

For a while, it seemed we might have another Florida 2000 on our hands as the voting in Ohio was very close, and at first John Kerry did not concede his loss. However, it wasn't long before Kerry accepted his fate and called Bush to congratulate him.

I know there are liberals who are angry right now, perhaps even emotional, over Kerry's loss. And I feel bad, too. Unfortunately, I cannot change what happened and will deal with the reality of Bush's win as best I can. The voters spoke and they picked the man they thought best able to do the job of running the country.

I'm hoping that Bush will turn his focus on domestic issues over the next four years. There's a lot of work left to be done in the United States. Here are some things I'd ask Mr. Bush to address if I ever had the opportunity to speak with him:

-- Ensure the VA is funded fully, and that no veteran loses health coverage at VA hospitals.
-- Work to restore the peace in Iraq quickly and begin the process of bringing troops home. The reserve force has been stretched thin, with many reservists pulling multiple tours in Iraq.
-- Ensure the troops have everything they need to be safe, from body armor to armored vehicles.
-- Capture Osama Bin Laden.
-- Fully fund "No Child Left Behind."
-- Reign in unnecessary spending to help prevent deficits.
-- Offer tax incentives to corporations that do not send jobs overseas.
-- Raise the minimum wage. $5.15 an hour is not a wage families can live on. If one of this country's economic goals is to have consumers spending their money on goods, the minimum wage has to be higher. It wouldn't be unreasonable to raise it to $7.00 an hour.

There are more things to add to the list, but hopefully Bush can work on some of those issues over the next four years.

I think Democrats have a very good chance of winning back the White House in 2008. Dick Cheney has said on many occasions that he is not going to seek a higher office.

I can share with my fellow Democrats the disappointment over our candidate losing the election. But I'm not angry. For me, anger wouldn't be very productive right now. I know people do not want to hear "let's move on," but that's exactly what we need to do.

On a happier note: here in Oregon, almost every major Democratic incumbent or candidate won election or re-election: Ron Wyden in the U.S. Senate; and in the House of Representatives: David Wu; Darlene Hooley; Earl Blumenauer; and Peter De Fazio.

Here's hoping the next four years will be productive for the entire country.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Send Bush Back to Crawford

Tomorrow is the big day, election 2004, and America finally has a chance to give the boot to one of the most incompetent presidents in recent memory.

Let's face it, Bush is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Do we really want someone of his intellect to lead this country for four more years? What has he accomplished in the four years he's been in office? Can anyone name anything this man has done to improve the lives of Americans? The truth is, he hasn't done a damn thing. Just tax breaks for the wealthy. That's his legacy. It reminds me of Al Franken's book Why Not Me?, which imagined Al Franken as a presidential candidate running on a single issue: ATM fees. Bush's single domestic issue has been tax breaks for the wealthy; his one foreign policy issue is fighting terrorism.

Bush has operated his presidency under a veil of secrecy, not wanting to involve the American people in government.

Bush likes to talk about John Kerry's so-called "flip-flops," but Bush himself has done the same on occasion. His administration initially opposed a public investigation into the attacks of Sept. 11. That's how concerned he was to get at the truth, folks. Dick Cheney, according to CNN, said he would "actively" discourage creation of an independent panel to investigate the attacks of September 11.

Bush also likes to bring up the fact that John Kerry voted against $87 billion to fund the war in Iraq. But Bush himself has threatened vetoes of key legislation -- such as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Bush wanted the power to control all hiring and firing of personnel working in the Department of Homeland Security, and threatened to veto the homeland security bill before the House of Representatives on July 26, 2002.

Not that the Bush white house was initially interested in creating a department of homeland security. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer addressed the issue on March 19, 2002:

"Q But if we're talking about consolidating all of these agencies, why not create a Department of Homeland Security, as many lawmakers have suggested? And rather than take Customs, Border, whatever, and put it all under DOJ, why not bring it all under the auspices, under one umbrella of Homeland Security?

MR. FLEISCHER: The reason for that, John, is if you take a look at how the federal government is set up across the myriad of agencies, there are more than a dozen agencies, many of which have components that deal with homeland security in one form or another. I'm not aware of a single proposal on Capitol Hill that would take every single one of those agencies out from their current missions and put them under Homeland Security.

So even if you took half of them out and put them under a Cabinet level Office of Homeland Security, the White House would still need, in the President's estimation, an advisor on how to coordinate all that myriad of activities the federal government is involved in. So creating a Cabinet office doesn't solve the problem. You still will have agencies within the federal government that have to be coordinated. So the answer is, creating a Cabinet post doesn't solve anything. The White House needs a coordinator to work with the agencies, wherever they are."

Another failure of the Bush administration is the war in Iraq. We went in looking for weapons of mass destruction -- not that anyone from team Bush would now acknowledge WMDs as the reason we went to war -- and as a result, over 1,000 American forces have died, and no WMDs have been found.

Another truth the Bush administration refuses to acknowledge is that many Iraqis do not want us there. And they're fighting back. Hard.

We also neglected to capture the man responsible for the deaths of 3,000 people on Sept. 11, Osama bin Laden. He's still at large and had a new message for America, which aired last week on Al-Jazeera, promising more attacks. And the Bush administration's response? They're happy to see bin Laden. As one Bush campaign official told the New York Daily News, "We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days...and anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

Another GOP official told the Post that the bin Laden tape was a "gift" to the Bush administration: "...anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

So, there you have it. A few reasons to vote out of office a man who has done more harm than good to the United States. A man who will exploit your fears to his advantage. Bush wants all Americans terrified that terrorists will attack again -- and only team Bush can stop them. Which is bullshit.

Whatever your opinion, vote tomorrow. This is an important election with huge ramifications for the next four years.