Friday, June 24, 2005

Weird Coincidence - Leonardo

Weird Coincidence - Leonardo

I bought the most beautiful table candles at a store last week. I brought them home and put one in my bedroom and the other on my kitchen table. When the sun shines through them, the colors in the glass holders become even more vibrant.

I went to Trade Street Journal to do some reading and saw a familiar name. I asked myself, "Where have I seen that name recently?" I looked at the stickers on the glass table candles and sure enough, the name "Leonardo" was on them. It was so strange - so coincidental. On the same day I'd purchased those beautiful glass candle vases, I went to one of my favorite blogs and read about the company who sold them. Not only that, the Dan Brown book "The DaVinci Code" was sitting right by my side. I checked out their website and they have a lot of lovely products.

Kristen Plucks Plumage Off Chickenhawk Rove

The GOP Used NYC
photo by Ethan Camwell, taken April 2001

Kristen Plucks Plumage Off Chickenhawk Rove
Leaves behind a bare little lump of lies in her awesome wake!

Anyone who has read the Iddybud blog for a long while knows how I feel about Kristen Breitweiser, widow of Ron Breitweiser, who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. I believe Kristen is a courageous woman; a voice of reason; an inspiration; an American heroine.

Today at the Huffington Post, Kristen has written her opinion of Karl Rove's recent divisive and ill-conceived comments.She shames Karl Rove - she's the right one to do it - and he deserves it.
"Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't...[..]

.....For the record Karl, does Iraq have any connection to the 9/11 attacks? Because, you and your friends with your collective “understanding of 9/11” seem to be contradicting yourselves about the Iraq-9/11 connection, too.[..].Of course, the Downing Street memo clarifies many of these things, but for the record Karl: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; there were few terrorists in Iraq before our invasion, but now Iraq is a terrorist hot-bed. America had the sympathy and support of the whole world before Iraq. Now, thanks to your actions, we find ourselves hated and alienated by the rest of the world..[..]

....Karl, please “understand” that the reason we have not suffered a repeat attack on our homeland is because Bin Laden no longer needs to attack us. Those of us with a pure and comprehensive “understanding of 9/11” know that Bin Laden committed the 9/11 attacks so he could increase recruitment for al Qaeda and increase worldwide hatred of America..[..]

....what Bin Laden could not achieve by murdering my husband and 3,000 others on 9/11, you handed to him on a silver platter with your invasion of Iraq - a country that had nothing to do with 9/11."
You tell that lying little chickenhawk weasel, Kristen!

A Word of Warning to Democrats Who Won't Stand Up and Fight

A Word of Warning to Democrats Who Won't Stand Up and Fight

John Cory, a Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, asks:
"What the hell is wrong with you Democratic politicians? Why do you turn on each other? Why won't you stand by your own words and ideals? Why do you keep apologizing for telling the truth? And why can't anyone see McCain's true colors? Or Lieberman or Biden?

And why in God's name do you expect folks like me to come support you after you turn tail and run?

We know the truth out here. We will stand with anyone who stands up for us. Where are you?"
I couldn't say it any better. It's simple. I am willing to support Democrats when they show they are willing to support what we can all see is clear truth, regardless of what the cable news networks are screeching on and on about.

9/11 is Bush's political life-saving oxygen. His administration doesn't care who they have to suck the life out of in order to win. Bush’s poll numbers are sinking lower than Great-Grandma's bosom, and Rove is using 9/11 to try to get Bush's poll numbers up again.

I'm not going to get all hot under the collar about Karl Rove's ignorant comments. It's his job to be an asshole and to inflict damage upon the Democrats - if he can. He's very good at what he does. And, as far as the media goes, he gets away with it - even when he's purposefully dividing America. 9/11 is Bush's political life-saving oxygen. His administration doesn't care who they have to suck the life out of in order to win. Bush’s poll numbers are sinking lower than Great-Grandma's bosom, and Rove is using 9/11 to try to get Bush's poll numbers up again. I think many Americans see right through his shenanigans - and you Democrats, by backing down from your own convictions, are showing that you have lost faith in the critical thinking skills of independent Americans. I regret seeing Karl Rove and Company get the better of you.

I'm a lot angrier with Dick Durbin for giving me temporary encouragement for exposing the torture at Guantanamo, and then sending my confidence crashing to the ground with an apology that never should have been made. I've been so upset that I've held my tongue - until now.

Democrats - until you show some moral courage, I do not consider you as individuals who share my personal values.

Where is your conviction? Why is it that you continue to fail to convey your values to the public in a meaningful way? Is it because you are afraid of what CNN's "Inside Politics" might say about you because you got tough with the White House? The cable news pundits are constantly playing catch-up with citizen's media these days. News is being swiftly analyzed and disseminated by the blogosphere, and the talking heads on cable news often focus on the wrong stories - or take too long to get around to talking about the right ones.

Many in media have chosen to deem the Downing Street memos as worthless, and we know that those official governemnt documents contain the proof of the worst deception ever deliberately committed by a sitting President. Just today, Paul Krugman raised the fact that the Fourth Estate is lagging behind the bloggers, and he says: "Once the media catch up with the public, we'll be able to start talking seriously about how to get out of Iraq."

Democrats - you are in danger. You must start trusting and listening to the people you are sworn to represent. You are looking cowed and weak-spined.

Change - or I assure you that you will suffer political death through abandonment.

Ever the optimist, I'd be the very last one to shut the door on you, but I cannot deny there are great rumblings among many Democrats.

Fight for us - fight for America.

May I suggest reading Sun Tzu's "Art of War"? In order to be successful leaders, you must be convincing ones.

Listen to John Cory. Listen to Hoffmania. Listen to Markos.

Liberals aren't killing our troops. I'll give that credit to the war cheerleaders who couldn't give two shits about the lack of armor for our forces in Iraq, or about the lies that put them there for no discernable reason. The same people who couldn't care whether this administration has a victory strategy, or whether we have the manpower to fight the war effectively.
American politics has reached a new low these past two three days. And given the desperation of the war cheerleaders, it's only going to get worse. It's the only way they can cover their spectacular failures.

The best way to tell the anti-war folks to fuck off would be to succeed. Pacify Afghanistan. Defeat the insurgency in Iraq. Destroy Al Qaida.

But that would require a level of competence utterly and completely absent in this administration.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"It's hard to stop suicide bombers, and yet they're able to do incredible damage."

-George W. Bush, in a press conference today

A suicide bomber in a vehicle killed six U.S. Marines today (three of them women) when it exploded near their convoy in Falluja. Incredible damage, indeed.

Growing Freedom Through the Diversity of Free Press

Growing Freedom Through the Diversity of Free Press

Why would some Egyptians, many of whom you might think would welcome Condoleeza Rice's call for political reform in their nation, denounce the secretary of state, instead? What moves them to make racist and sexist comments about her for meddling in Egypt's domestic affairs?

At The New Republic, Joesph Braude points out that the popular media in Egypt, while not being particularly accurate, does not suffer from what Paul Krugman calls "the tyranny of even-handedness", a disturbing media-trend which results in the effect of ethical numbness and intellectual paralysis when viewing most American cable news shows and stories. The claim to "fair and blanced" may be a great cover for the radically conservative Fox News network, and the Wall Street Journal may try to tell you that most Egyptians appreciated and loved Condi's recent message to the Egyptians, but the truth is that the majority of Egyptians are not hearing rosy stories - and this is probably for the best. Although many of the news stories coming from the Egyptian media have been "wildly inaccurate", they still capture grains of truth. Braude writes:
By delivering her speech when she did, Rice walked into the middle of a nasty schism within the country's media. Neither side in this conflict thinks particularly well of the United States. And yet for precisely the rationales that undergirded Rice's speech, it is in America's interest to see the conflict grow.
One line from the article jumped out at me, and reminded me of how the stupidity of the Bush foreign policy in Iraq has, for the most part, damaged world perception of our best intentions to support democracy around the world (Although I realize there has been a long-standing anti-American sentiment to begin with, the conniving Bush and the neocons have made things harder for everyone in this world, including our own U.S. military):
"...the article asserted that Egyptians do not want "American-style democracy, like the kind one finds in Afghanistan or Iraq."
If America is not particularly worried about Egypt's political reform being a carbon-copy of American-style democracy, then there could be an upside to all of this. According to Mr. Braude, "some of Rice's bad press in Cairo should be viewed as an acceptable price to pay for the political reforms the U.S. government has been demanding" in the region.

Overall, I think Mr. Braude brings about an important lesson for us all. Delivering the news isn't supposed to be a squeaky clean process where you can present every point of view in every story - and still expect that story to make sense. Media, when editors are only concerned about what is viewed as "fair and balanced", does not inspire a population to change. It doesn't educate the public, but serves to confuse them. It doesn't inspire them to dream about what could be - it is a perfect vehicle for political stagnation and propaganda. The current that is moving political reform along in Egypt may be hastened when the public is given straight stories and are trusted to use their critical thinking skills to decide what is right for their own political culture. That's what democracy is all about.

There is one (uneven/loose) parallel I draw, between U.S. media and Egyptian media, from reading that "tens of millions of Egyptians get their news not from any newspaper but from the national radio and television stations owned by the government."

In many ways, especially in the U.S. Cable News business and "talk-radio", the "free" media seems to have become little more than a tool for government propaganda - especially in the case of Fox News, which is the most highly-rated TV news network. Even in White House press conferences I have watched these past five years, American reporters do not seem to sufficiently challenge or question the White-House line. Their supine obedience helped to buy us a war we never needed to wage in Iraq.

Think of America and American media when you read Mr. Braude's final paragraph:
If Rice's clarion call for democracy in Cairo is to be honored, the United States should be prepared to exert considerable pressure on Mubarak to loosen his grip on the fourth estate--not tighten it, as he and his apologists may be tempted to do after the election. Either way, America is in for some unwelcome headlines in Cairo. But some of those unwelcome headlines will be a sign of growing freedom--and therefore welcome indeed.
The Bush administration has an invisible grip on American media. There are elements of White House intimidation and fears of market retribution in the stifling of the American press. The recent assault upon public broadcasting should be ringing alarm bells. There is a flaw in the system of capitalism that is severely damaging our First Amendment rights. If we Americans do not yet see that, in the aftermath of being deceptively thrown into an unecessary war that has taken so many lives and promises to take more, then God help us, we will lose the freedom for which our ancestors fought and died.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Braude's appeal to the White House to put pressure on the government of Egypt to loosen their grip on the media, I think we'd best look at ourselves and clean our own house. As trend-setters in the world, we Americans should serve as a wonderful example of freedom of the press. Instead, our own Fourth Estate lies in shame. It's been placed in the laps of the Fifth Estate - the second superpower - the Internet - to deliver the truth.