Thursday, July 31, 2003

Photos...

A Day in The Life of Africa.

On February 28, 2002, nearly 100 of the world's top photojournalists, representing 26 countries, participated in a historic, one-day documentary of the African continent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Gay High School...Opinion

Jonathan Turley of Newsday writes:

Though billed as a great breakthrough for gay rights, the Harvey Milk High School is built on the most regressive images of homosexuals as fundamentally different and fragile. It also embraces the worse aspects of the notorious separate but equal doctrine, the bane of the civil rights movement.

For those of us who have supported gay rights, the announcement of the new high school is baffling. There is no question that gay students are often the targets of harassment and even violence. But a segregated school is the worst possible way of addressing the problem.

The creation of the school seems to be an acknowledgment that the city cannot perform its mandatory responsibility to supply a safe and healthy environment for all students. The city's chosen solution is not to correct those failings but to remove the students, as if they are the source of the problem.

In the long run, Harvey Milk will prove to be a school that only a homophobe could truly love. Indeed, unless the city reverses this decision, it is a model that could easily be adopted around the country, allowing hostile officials to create "protected" gay zones.


-----
On the one hand heterosexual students still have an issue with homosexuality so these students will most likely feel safer and more comfortable - which is good. I don't see that attitude changing anytime soon. Peer pressure is such that teenagers don't easily accept those whom they consider different than them. Anyone who has been through high school will have to agree that it is not among the more tolerant institutions no matter what teachers and councilors tell us.

But on the other hand this seperate but equal argument is a valid one. And may in fact have something to do with the fact that society's acceptance (or tolerance) of gays is leaning a little more conservative lately.
VW # 21,529,464...

Last VW Beetle Rolls Off Assembly Line

The last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line Wednesday, 70 years after Adolf Hitler's government introduced Germans to a two-door passenger car that became an icon around the globe.

Competition from newer compacts and a Mexican government decision to phase out two-door taxis led Volkswagen to shut down its only remaining ``bug'' production line at its plant in Puebla, 65 miles southeast of Mexico City.

Workers painstakingly crafted the final car: a baby blue version marked No. 21,529,464 that will go to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, home of VW headquarters. Adorned with a Mexican flag made of flowers, the car was serenaded by a mariachi band playing ``El Rey,'' or ``The King.''


----
I grew up with VW's and have traveled many a hot, bumpy mile between Colorado and California in them. If you've ever traveled far with them and have been able to compare them to cars today you'll understand why it makes sense that they will no longer be manufactured. They're fine little cars for short milage and, hey, they will still always be collectors items.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Toon...

Grunt Vision Goggles.

See what's really going on in Iraq.
Trial...

Mistrial Declared in Calif. Police Beating Case

The jury said there was no way it could reach a verdict in the case against Jeremy Morse, 25. The trial has been closely watched in Los Angeles for its possible repercussions in the city's African-American community. The jury was split 7 to 5 in favor of Morse's guilt.

[Thanks to hawkeye Jeff3K I'll clarify]

So the cop was found guilty (by a majority) but it's all or nothing with our jury system so he gets to walk away scott free.
I've seen the tape in question - which shows the police officer rouging up the black teen - and I found it pretty damning. I haven't been presented all of the evidence but I'd be curious to hear the testimony and the argument that the Defense made to sway five jurors to vote not guilty.

Meanwhile...

Remember Afghanistan?

Afghan warlords and political strongmen supported by the United States and other nations are engendering a climate of fear in Afghanistan that is threatening efforts to adopt a new constitution and could derail national elections scheduled for mid-2004, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The report warns that violence, political intimidation, and attacks on women and girls are discouraging political participation and endangering gains made on women's rights in Afghanistan over the last year.


Will we forget Iraq by next year...?

Monday, July 28, 2003

Movie: Criticising the Critics...

Ararat, directed by Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan and just released on DVD, is a great movie that deals with the 1915 Armenian genocide (an act Turkey still won't acknowledge happened) in an intellectually engaging way. It shifts back and forth in time and deftly manages to deal with various characters who are all united (consciously or not) with the making of a film about the genocide as well as dealing with their own personal demons.

But it has been misunderstood by many, many critics.

Some of the criticism is just plain odd. I've included a few blurbs and a translation of how I read their criticism.

Here’s Robert Denerstein of the Rocky Mt News.
- Egoyan's movie is too complicated to sustain involvement, and, if you'll excuse a little critical heresy, too intellectually ambitious.
Translation: I couldn't follow the logic of the film and I'm admitting it in public.

Here’s Roger Ebert:
- [It] is couched in such a needlessly confusing film that most people will leave the theater impressed, not by the crime, but by the film's difficulty.
Translation: I'm impressed by how confused I was by this film - and you will be too.

Daniel Eagan of Film Journal International, writes:
- Just about all of the film is confusing on one level or another, making Ararat far more demanding than it needs to be.
Translation: I don’t like demanding films; give me popcorn.

Desson Howe of The Washington Post writes:
- "Ararat" devolves, almost from the get-go, into a didactic exercise, full of informative chatter, and all but leading to midterm questions for the audience.
Translation: I don’t like movies that make me think and neither do my readers.

Todd McCarthy of Variety writes a fair minded review but then drops in one of the more bizarre concessions:
- Nor has [Egoyan] felt inclined to leaven the proceedings with the slightest trace of humor, irony or everyday interchange between individuals; never is "Ararat" not directly about Armenia and Armenians. Thesping that is uniformly emotionally sincere rather than naturalistic can't tilt the balance back the other way.
Translation: If a film is too serious then I don't take it serious (and) I’m making up rules about art and cinema to justify my review.

The one review to really get the film is Stephen Holden at the NY Times:

Like all of Mr. Egoyan's films, ''Ararat'' is a multilayered work that burrows ever more deeply into its subject as it goes along. This director has always been fascinated with how film and video distort the reality they purport to reveal. A searching question embodied in the very structure of the film is how a historical trauma like the Armenian catastrophe should be represented in the movies and television. As ''Ararat'' follows the making of a movie about that catastrophe, titled ''Ararat,'' it suggests how films process unimaginable horror into high-minded but manipulative entertainment.
[He adds]
''Ararat,'' is hands down the year's most thought-provoking film. But it pays a price for its intricate intellectual gamesmanship.

Part of that price is how the film ‘sacrifices’ the audience by daring to make them think.

I don’t know about you but for me that is a good thing; especially with regards to something as horrible as the Armenian genocide. It is exactly why I recommend this film. Filmmaker Egoyan makes us sit up and take notice on an intellectual level rather than coping out and letting the audience slide off into undemanding emotional territory.

And by the way it is not a 'difficult' film. It is instead a film where you are not allowed to check your brain in at the door. This isn't James Bond vs. the Turks.

I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Cartoon Hack Investigated...

Michael Ramirez Conservative cartoonist over at the Los Angeles Times has been investigated by the Secret Service for his truly disturbing cartoon.
I think it is wrong to investigate a cartoonist – no matter how out-of-touch they are but I have to laugh that Ramirez is being questioned by the very Administration he whole-heartedly supports.

There is some sort of justice there.
FCC and the Media...

John Nichols over at The Nation has a great column explaining the significants of the House of Representatives bipartisan effort to curb the FCC's recent airwaves giveaway.

In an unprecedented rebuff to the agenda of big media, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved by a 400-21 vote an appropriations bill that includes languarge blocking implementation of a Federal Communications Commission rule change designed to allow a single corporation to own television stations that reach up to 45 percent of American viewers.

While the Bush White House continues to promote the big-media agenda as part of an overall strategy of reworking regulations to favor large corporate campaign givers -- raising the prospect that the president might veto Congressional moves to prevent the FCC from implementing this rule change -- veteran Capitol Hill observers say public opposition to the FCC rule changes has grown so powerful that even the president could change his tune.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Recall...

California will have to decide in October if they want to recall Democratic governor Gray Davis and replace him with any number of Republican businessmen (or a movie star) who can get themselves on the ballot.

This is what is called reactionary politics.
This recall is not about the people's choice. The Republicans lost the November election fair and square (this ain’t Florida) but they can't accept that. Instead this is about one man in San Diego with a shit load of cash who wants to buy the governorship through dubious channels.

What's worse is that the Republicans in California have been sitting on their hands completely unwilling to work with Davis and the Democrats to get the state out of fiscal trouble.
It’s a shame and a sham that unfortunately for voters will leave them holding the bag.
What’s more is the election will cost a cool $35 million and divert time spend solving the state’s crisis over into another political campaign.

The precedent that this will set too could be very problematic. If you don't like election results and you are a milionaire all you have to do is go out and get a few thousand signatures and force the state to call an election.

Bill Maher chimes in.

Here's why the economy turned: The dot-com bubble burst. (Obviously on the orders of Gray Davis.) The airline industry collapsed. (Just as Gray Davis planned.) We fought two wars. (Playing right into Gray Davis' hands.) And Dick Cheney's friends at Enron "gamed" the energy market and ripped off the state for billions.

So you can see the problem: Gray Davis.

Anyone who thinks this recall is some great affirmation of democracy should review early American history. This is precisely the kind of direct involvement by the howling masses that the framers wanted to avoid.


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Election Strategy...

How to keep protesters at bay during elections?

Draft elephants.

Cambodia's tough-talking chief-of-police is so keen to keep the lid on any possible violence after this weekend's general elections he is even thinking about drafting in riot elephants.

"We are ready to crack down if there are any violent demonstrations after the election results have been announced and accepted by national and international observers," police chief Hok Lundy told a meeting of around 200 security officials on Tuesday.

"Our policemen have 30 dogs at hand and the military police have even asked me to buy elephants to stamp on protesters," he added.



Aren't you glad our elections aren't this controversial?

(Thanks to StoutDem for this link)
Plan...

Fred Kaplan over at Slate has a solution for Iraq.

Send in the UN.

It is becoming increasingly clear that, at some point, the United Nations will have to take over the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. The only question is whether Kofi Annan ends up rushing in on his own terms to fill the gaps of a desperately overwhelmed American occupation force—or whether President Bush comes to his senses, realizes that the task is much harder than his advisers had predicted, and admits that he can't manage it by himself.

He then goes on to write that the U.S. must be willing to work with other countries through the auspice of the UN if they want to gain peace and stability in the region.

How long will it be before Bush get's this into his thick head?

Friday, July 18, 2003

Pipe Dreams and Politics in Iraq...

A commentary today in the Toronto Globe and Mail by Isam al-Khafaji tells why the U.S. plan isn't working in Iraq and why he resigned from the Iraq Reconstruction and Development Council.

On July 9, with deep sorrow, I respectfully submitted my resignation as a member of the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
(...)
I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned -- working with allies in a democratic fashion -- to collaborating with occupying forces.
(...)
I accepted the fact that we were a defeated country, and I had no problem working with the United States to pull my country out of a quagmire. But there seemed to be no interest on the part of the coalition in involving Iraqis as advisers on the future of their country.
(...)
There was so much euphoria when Baghdad first fell, but the Americans came in and acted with arrogance. While many Iraqis are relieved to see Saddam out of power, and accept the fact that the U.S. is the only power than can secure some semblance of order, they now see the U.S. acting as an occupier.
(...)
Many reports have noted that even the soldiers here bluntly say they take their orders from their general, not from Mr. [Paul] Bremer. Bitter disputes between the defense department and the state department, which were evident even before the war began and duly reported in the U.S. press, continue to affect the situation.
(...)
Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We're not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a superpower that can amass all that military might can't get the electricity turned back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam's ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the U.S. to do so now. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many wonder if the U.S. has a reason for not wanting the electricity back on.
(...)
There are many signs that Iraqis are working together, without serious tensions between ethnicities. All this is good news for a future Iraq. In the short term however, I fear there will be more conflicts run through with both Iraqi and American blood.
(...)
I hope the day will come when I will return to Iraq. I miss it already.



I got this from The Agonist.
Cheney Watch...

Judicial Watch a Conservative group that went after Clinton is now going after Cheney to release his Energy Task force documents.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

As Daily Kos points out the oil fields were unattainable due to the sanctions. Now in a post-war, post-sanction Iraq the oil fields are ready to be tapped.

Although the evidence is hardly damning yet it is certain to raise the eyebrows of the anti-war crowd many of whom are convinced that our war in Iraq is more about securing the oil fields than liberting the people.

This story via thismodernworld.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Evidence of lies...

The article of the day regarding Bush’s assertions in his now scrutinized State of the Union Address comes from the Washington Post.

…a review of speeches and reports, plus interviews with present and former administration officials and intelligence analysts, suggests that between Oct. 7, when President Bush made a speech laying out the case for military action against Hussein, and Jan. 28, when he gave his State of the Union address, almost all the other evidence had either been undercut or disproved by U.N. inspectors in Iraq.
By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. That may explain why the administration strived to keep the information in the speech and attribute it to the British, even though the CIA had challenged it earlier.

Ill Logic...or hoax?

Metallica sues over misuse of chords.

This is posted on MTV News (although the url line says sccopthis.com):

Metallica are taking legal action against independent Canadian rock band Unfaith over what they feel is unsanctioned usage of two chords the band has been using since 1982 : E and F.

"We sent a demand letter and haven't reached a resolution, so we had to sue," she [Metallica's Lawyer] said. "They continue to shamelessly feature the two chords on their website song samples and we just can't have that."

According to the drummer, the continued use of the two chords causes "confusion, deception and mistake in the minds of the public".


A friend tells me this is a good hoax but adds that Metallica brought it on themselves.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Lies etc...

A letter on Buzzflash takes a close look at Bush's State of the Union Address and comes to the conclusion that it had 117 misleading words (or lies if you will); not just a mere 16.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Deficit...

Check out this graph.

The White House is expected on July 15, 2003 to project record-breaking budget deficits this year in excess of $400 billion. Just six months ago, the White House said it expected a deficit of $304 billion for the current fiscal year.


I guess when we get a Democrat in the White House and all is fiscally well again the Conservatives will say that it is because of the Bush Administration's long term planning.
A Tale in Headlines:

On Reuter (via Yahoo) headlines this morning these were the top two headlines.

- W. House: Iraq Intelligence Uproar 'Bunch of Bull'

- U.S. Loses 32nd Soldier in Iraq; Council Starts Work



And the W House wonders why we are skeptical, why we question their motives and why the use of forged documents to justify a war is an outrage.

On Atrios / Eschaton the header says: Bush lied, Soldiers Died.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Clarification...

MSNBC reports on Rice’s assertions and Tenets mea culpa.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other officials asserted this week that the president’s statement was justified at the time because the CIA cleared the address in its entirety, including the uranium claim. They said the CIA never told the White House that the claim was suspicious.
But U.S. officials told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that Tenet himself advised Rice’s top deputy, Steven Hadley, to remove a reference to the uranium report from a speech Bush delivered Oct. 7 in Cincinnati, establishing that the nation’s top intelligence officials suspected that the allegation was false more than three months before they approved Bush’s repeating it in his nationally televised address on Jan. 28.
(emphasis mine)


And then there is an awesome piece of reporting at truthout.org by William Rivers Pitt that lays out a timeline showing Cheney most likely knew all the way back in February (or March) of 2002 that the Niger documents were forged.

February 2002: Ambassador Joseph Wilson is dispatched by Cheney to Niger to investigate Iraq-uranium claims. Eight days later, he reports back that the documentary evidence was a forgery;


Rashomon Alert!!!

Just who knew what when?
This whole CIA / Bush / British intellgence issue over the Niger Uranium is the perfect Rashomon scenario. Everybody has a different story to tell all of which support nothing but self interest.

Bush and Rice Say C.I.A. Approved Uranium Comment

But...

The CIA tried unsuccessfully in early September 2002 to persuade the British government to drop from an official intelligence paper a reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa that President Bush included in his State of the Union address four months later, senior Bush administration officials said yesterday.

and...

...the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.

So NOW CIA Director George Tenet takes the fall:


But questions certainly remain.
For instance in the CBS story it notes that Powell didn't use the Niger info in his presentation to the UN:

“There was no effort or attempt on the part of the president or anyone else in the administration to mislead or to deceive the American people,” said Powell.

But eight days after the State of the Union, when Powell addressed the U.N., he deliberately left out any reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa.

“I didn’t use the uranium at that point because I didn’t think that was sufficiently strong as evidence to present before the world,” Powell said.



Okay, wait. So it wasn’t good enough for the Secretary of State to present to the U.N (who the Administration knew would question it) but it was good enough for the President to convince and scare the American people so that he could hastily go to war?

Makes sense.

And I'm not buying that the CIA had that much control over what went into the State of the Union address. Either does Atrios.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Essay...

Here’s an excellent (pdf file) essay by David Neiwert titled:

‘Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis:”

Neiwert - who has a fine, well respected web site in the blogosphere - gives good background information on the history or fascism as both a word and a phenomena of the 20th century. He also picks apart Rush Limbaugh and other Right-Wing personalities who misuse the word whenever they want to demonize their opponents.

* Of interest Neiwert lists Umberto Eco's 14 points about Fascism written in 1995 each with notes - by Neiwert - comparing Limbaugh-speak and today's post 9/11 world with Eco's points.

1) The cult of tradition.
[Who are the folks who beat their breasts (and ours) incessantly over the primacy of ‘traditional Judaeo-Christian culture’?]

2) The rejection of modernism.
[Think ‘feminazis.’ Think attacks on the NEA. Think attacks on multiculturalism.]

3) Irrationalism.
[G.W. Bush’s anti-intellectualism and illogical, skewed speech are positively celebrated by the right.]

4) Action for action’s sake.
[Exactly why are we making war on Iraq, anyway?]

5) Disagreement is treason.
[“Liberals are anti-American.”]

6) Fear of difference.
[Again, think of the attacks on multiculturalism, as well as the attacks on Muslims and Islam generically.]

7) Appeal to a frustrated middle class.
[See the Red states — you know, the ones who voted for Bush. The ones where Limbaugh is on the air incessantly.]

8) Obsession with a plot.
[Limbaugh and conservatives have been obsessed with various “plots” by liberals for the past decade — see, e.g., the Clinton impeachment, and current claims of a “fifth column” among liberals.]

9) Humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
[Think Blue states vs. Red states.]

10) Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy.
[The very essence of the attacks led by talk-radio hosts against antiwar protesters.]

11) Life is eternal warfare.
[This perfectly describes the War on Terror.]

12) Contempt for the weak.
[Think both of conservatives’ characterization of liberals as “weak spined,” as well as the verbal attacks on Muslims and immigrants from the likes of Limbaugh and Michael Savage.]

13) Against ‘rotten’ parliamentary governments.
[Remember all those rants against ‘big government’?]

14) Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
[Perhaps the most noticeable trait in the current environment. The destruction of meaning by creating “empty phrases” combining opposite ideas has, as we have seen, become a prominent strategy deployed by the conservative movement.]


- I'll grant you that Neiwert does a bit of his own demonizing here but read the essay for yourself and I think you'll agree that he has done a thorough job.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Riposte post...

Needlenose finds an apt response posted by a woman on the Nashville Tennessean website about Bush's statement to, 'bring them on.':

As a mother of one of our brave troops in Iraq, may I just say, Mr. President, perhaps you truly do believe in the invincibility of our military. However, the next time you invite attacks on my son, and others, kindly stand in front of our soldiers, rather than hiding behind.


Right on.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Backtracking...

The White House is admitting they stretched the truth.

The White House acknowledged for the first time today that President Bush was relying on incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information from American intelligence agencies when he declared, in his State of the Union speech, that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Africa.
...after Air Force One had departed, White House officials issued a statement in Mr. Fleischer's name that made clear that they no longer stood behind Mr. Bush's statement.



Robert Scheer has some thougths:

...the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office were all informed that the Niger-Iraq connection was phony. No one in the chain of command disputed that this "evidence" of Iraq's revised nuclear weapons program was a hoax.


Josh Marshall - who has been following and reporting on this longer than anyone - has plenty to say also.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Fool Fired...

Here's Michael Savage talking to a caller this weekend on his MSNBC show The Savage Nation:

"So you're one of those sodomists. Are you a sodomite?" Savage asked.

The caller replied: "Yes, I am."

"Oh, you're one of the sodomites," Savage said. "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."

He asked for another phone caller who "didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse who's angry at me today."

These bums "mean nothing to me," he said.


(MSNBC fired him today for this...'bout time).

Equality...

Last month Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent of the Texas Sodomy case:

Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.

What Scalia admits here is that the he does not believe in equality for gays. The 'so-called homosexual agenda’ has always meant nothing more than equality. And that equality means - in the long run - marriage. But let's face it. Will gay marriage hurt America?

No. Only Right Wing Christian Conservatives - who seem gladly ready to make America a hell for everyone not sharing their views - have real opposition to gay marriage. Some believed America was headed that way when Blacks and women were given rights. But, indeed, we have survived and are a better country now (at least in terms of equality) than at any time in our history.

In short, Scalia has no problem with homosexuals he just doesn’t believe they should be treated equally. His opinion is not unlike the old slave owners who said pretty much the same thing during the Reconstruction era about blacks. Not realizing, of course, that holding an entire segment of the population down due to atavistic, myopic-brained laws is as malevolent as putting them behind a wall.

This is a man who has no problem setting this country back 40 years and it's scary that he is one step from being Chief Justice.

Fortunately, California believes in equality.

Weeks before the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law against sodomy, gays and lesbians were already making unprecedented headway toward complete legal equality in California.

They may reach that goal in almost every way by the end of this summer - ironically, just three years after voters here passed an initiative banning gay marriages by a 61-39 percent margin.


Someday we will look back at all this and wonder why it took so long to accept the equality of gays.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Talk is...

CNN International had a TV interview with President Bush today about the current situation in Liberia.

One of the first things Bush said was:

"I'm the kind of guy who likes to have all the facts before I make a decision."


I'll just let that sentence stand by itself.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Your Tax Dollars at work…or not

The World According to Halliburton: A map of the world according to Halliburton.

‘Halliburton has been having a very good couple of years, thanks to the Bush White House -- and your tax dollars’ writes Michael Scherer of Mother Jones.

And this...

Taxpayers for Common Sense tell us why they are upset about the billion dollar Boeing lease giveaway

By most estimates, including the General Accounting Office, the tanker-refueling leasing arrangement will cost taxpayers billions more than if the government simply modernized existing KC-135E tankers. In fact, the Office of Management and Budget reports the current tanker fleet is in good shape, and the Air Force has said that there is no need to start replacing the KC-135Es before 2012. Even more troubling is the fact that this apparent sweetheart deal was awarded on a sole-source, non-competitive basis, reinforcing an increasingly widespread perception of, at best, excessive and unnecessary waste.


Meanwhile The Army Times (!) goes after Bush for recent cuts in benefit payments to soldiers fighting in Iraq. (From This Modern World)

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.

[T]he administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Ill Logic...

Danegerus a decidely Right wing blog routes the reader to this naive article by Dinesh D'Souza.

It's one of those Right-wing-happy-face-pollyanna-America-is-great-so-stop-complaining-and-enjoy-the-sunshine articles.

While I'll agree that there are great things about this country I cannot take the kind of drivel-headed nonsense that spills out of D'Souza. At one point in the article he praises the virtues of America by writing:

...what distinguishes America is that it provides an impressively high standard of living for the "common man." We now live in a country where construction workers regularly pay $4 for a nonfat latte, where maids drive nice cars and where plumbers take their families on vacation to Europe.

Now, I'm not sure what he means by the 'common man' but last I checked the cash that plummers rake in is far more than average. And living here in Los Angeles I see hundreds of maids many of whom don’t even have cars. Most take the bus.

What does D’Souza say about workers at WallMart, waiters and waitresses all across the heartland or people working for under $24K a year – of which there are millions - or retired families who have to go back to work because the likes of Enron bankrupted them? Nada.

Sure, some workers buy an occassional latte but that's because in many areas there is a Starbucks every few blocks. That's hardly a reason to signify the virtues of a booming economy. The question is can these same workers afford a house or easily fork out money for college or pay for health care? Maybe they should be drinking water instead, huh?

Yes, the common man is heathier and richer than they are in...say...Africa or India but does that justify a reason to celebrate when it's easy to see how much more others - who do far less - make in this country? We all know that the 'common man' in America today is not getting much in the form of Bush's tax cuts and the disparatity between rich and poor is more glaringly apparent than it was a mere three decades ago.

We can do better.

But D’Souza saves the best for last. This floored me:

About America's foreign policy he writes:

America has the kindest, gentlest foreign policy of any great power in world history. Critics of the United States are likely to react to this truth with sputtering outrage. They will point to long-standing American support for a Latin or Middle Eastern despot, or the unjust internment of the Japanese during World War II, or America's reluctance to impose sanctions on South Africa's apartheid regime. (Emphasis mine)

Yes, Mr D'Souza and you forgot Korea and Vietnam.

In the very next sentence he writes:

However one feels about these particular cases, let us concede to the critics the point that America is not always in the right.

Wait, so if America 'is not always in the right' then why fallaciously even use such words as 'kindest' and 'gentlest' about our less than stellar foreign policies?

From this logic I'm supposed to believe that since we are (arguably) better than the Romans and the Ottomans we should stop complaining about all the death and destruction wrought by our policies and military actions?

Read the rest of the article and if you want to write a letter to Mr. Dsouza (thedsouzas@aol.com) telling him what you think.