Friday, August 20, 2004

New Contest

As those of you who read my blog regularly (Sandy, Emery, who else?) know, I have a thing these days about oil prices and world oil supply. I know that most of you are bored silly about this. However, I am starting a new contest:

Guess how high the price of oil will go before 12/31/04. The winner gets their choice of t-shirts from Jesus' General store paid for by yours truly.

Contest will run through the month of August - that is you don't get to guess after that. And no cheating, you only get one guess (yeah sure). Just leave your guess on the comments section below (along with an email that I can contact you on). I will keep track of the guesses and inform you if you won.

Winning criteria - the closest (high or low) to the highest FUTURES price that WTI light, sweet crude reaches at any point on the NYMEX between now and midnight on 12/31/04

I'm really hoping a Republican will win this, because I would love to send them some merchandise from Jesus' General.


How Badly do the Republicans Hate Me

Well I finally put a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on my car. My teenage kids have warned me that in our neighborhood in West Houston, my car is going to get "keyed" by the local rabid Republican Taliban. Well, I guess this is a test. How tolerant are they of a dissenting viewpoint? Based upon the fact that another Kerry supporter in the neighborhood just had their yard signs uprooted and destroyed, I kind of expect the worst.


Showcase Blog of the Week

Go check out fellow Houston blogger gaijin at Somethings Got to Break. He's a prolific writer, and writes about both local and national political issues. Well worth the click.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

An American Hero? or An American Traitor

Have you ever heard of Joe Darby. Of course you haven't. If you were his parent you would be proud of him. He stared evil in the face and decided he had to do something about it. What he did was to change this country forever. He made us confront the fact that in war bad shit happens, and sometimes Americans are the bad guys. Joe Darby is why you know the word Abu Gharaib.

He never wanted to see them. They almost literally fell into his lap. It was early January 2004, and his unit had been at Abu Ghraib for three months, when one of his unit members, a guy named Charles Graner, handed him a couple of CDs to duplicate. So Joe went down to the Internet café near the sleeping quarters and started duping the discs. Graner hadn't given him any warning about special files or secret folders, and Joe was sitting there scrolling through the images, mindlessly, when bam!, the first hideous photo came up. Then another. Then another. Then another.

"He said, 'What the heck is this?' " remembers Janis Karpinski, the Brigadier General who ran Abu Ghraib. "It was very innocent. He was absolutely shocked by this."

He was also unsure what to do about it. He took the discs back to Graner and told him what he'd found, but Graner just said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it," adding, "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'"

Then the discs disappeared. Days went by and nothing happened, and Joe kept thinking about it. Well, how could he forget? Graner's comment was bad, but the pictures were a whole lot worse, some of the same images that the world has now seen on 60 Minutes II and in newspapers and magazines, pictures of hooded figures, naked prisoners piled up, and detainees being terrorized by dogs. It was enough to unsettle him at the most elemental level, not only as a military policeman but also as a man. Maybe in another time, in another situation, with pressure from the rest of his unit to keep quiet, Joe could have found a way to move on. But the way it unfolded, finding it alone and then looking at the rest of the unit each day, wondering which ones knew and which were guilty, he couldn't keep it to himself. He decided to take the next step.

Late one night, he slipped a copy of the disc under the door of the army's Criminal Investigation Division. It was an act of conscience unobstructed, one of the most dangerous things in the world.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Going to the RNC to Protest Republicans: New York wants to give you a discount.

Mayor Bloomberg, in anticipation of 200 to 500 thousand protesters decending on New York to protest at the Republican National Convention, will be offering discounts and free stuff to the protesters. Here is a list of some of the things you can get by wearing a Peaceful Activist button (according to the Washington Post):

.....a free glass of Montepulciano wine with dinner at La Prima Donna, rent a room at the boutique Dylan Hotel ($150 a night) and get dibs on discounted theater tickets. Perhaps "42nd Street" for the Quakers from Kansas and "Naked Boys Singing" for the South Beach set?

The Museum of Sex offers the same $5 discount to Republicans and protesters.

Terrible cynics all, they (the activist groups) assume Bloomberg wants to divert attention from his politically unpopular battle with United for Peace and Justice, the largest of the antiwar groups. Organizers want to end their Aug. 29 antiwar march -- which is expected to draw a quarter-million or so people -- in Central Park. But Bloomberg rejoins that so many feet would chew up the grass.

He has offered the organizers, take it or leave it, a spot along the West Side Highway. They've refused and called him "Mayor Meanie." Polls show about 80 percent of New Yorkers agree with the demonstrators.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Bush is dragging two huge weights -- and he has no one to blame but himself.

David Broder of the WaPo is the ultimate Washington insider and middle-of-the-road commentator/columnist. He is usually a strong advocate for the status-quo and a mouth piece for the power elite. If he is starting to bad mouth Bush, Dumbya is in real trouble.

The factors that make President Bush a vulnerable incumbent have almost nothing to do with his opponent, John F. Kerry. They stem directly from two closely linked, high-stakes policy gambles that Bush chose on his own. Neither has worked out as he hoped.

The first gamble was the decision to attack Iraq; the second, to avoid paying for the war. The rationale for the first decision was to remove the threat of a hostile dictator armed with weapons of mass destruction. The weapons were never found. The rationale for the second decision -- the determination to keep cutting taxes in the face of far higher spending for Iraq and the war on terrorism -- was to stimulate the American economy and end the drought of jobs. The deficits have accumulated, but the jobs have still not come back.

The president has suffered other blows to his credibility -- a survey of seniors earlier this month showed major doubts about his touted Medicare prescription drug plan. But they pale in importance compared with Iraq and the economy. In The Post's polls every month since January, more voters have voiced disapproval of his performance on those two issues than approval.

Time is short for changing people's minds. Bush is dragging two huge weights -- and he has no one to blame but himself.