Thursday, February 03, 2005

A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

A friend sent me this today, and I liked the analogy so much I thought I would share it here. James Carroll of the Boston Globe likens the situation in Iraq to the train wreck in California last week. Deranged man starts chain of events that results in the death of many, injury of more, while he stays clear of the fallout. But the bit I like the most is in the final paragraph, where the author equates W with the conductor of a push train, one where the locomotive is in the back pushing the rest of the train along.

"Something else about that California train wreck strikes me. As news reports suggested, so many passengers were killed and injured because the locomotive was pushing the train from behind, which put the lightweight passenger coaches vulnerable in front. If, instead, the heavy, track-clearing locomotive had been leading and had hit the Jeep, it could have pushed the vehicle aside. The jack-knifing and derailment would not have occurred. The American war machine is like a train running in "push-mode," with the engineer safely back away from danger. In the train wreck of Iraq, it is passengers who have borne the brunt. The man with his hand on the throttle couldn't be more securely removed from the terrible consequences of his locomotion. "

Bush's entire presidency is like that push train. Put anything unable to defend itself out front, while the administration hides in the rear, congratulating themselves on what a good job they are doing, all the while planning to jump out of the way before the inevitable happens. Case in point, the tax cuts. Bush loved the tax cuts, claimed they would help push the economy out of recession. The wealthy were behind Bush, literally, while the middle class stood out ahead like those lightweight passenger trains, moving further into debt, both personal and national. Want another fine example, how about "No Child Left Behind"? Another train wreak where the most vulnerable Americans were hung out by the Bush administration as a shining example of compassionate conservatism, only to be left to jump the rails by underfunding and poor administration.

But like the war in Iraq, the most telling ineptitudes of the Bush administration will be felt in the future. What legacy is this runaway train of a president leaving to our children? Disastrous national debt and resultant weak dollar which will make the US more vulnerable to the increasing costs of a global economy. Social Security stripped of its ability to act as a safety net for the elderly & disabled, with an ever increasing underclass of retirees who bought tickets for the Bush Express (to the poor house). A court system full of right-wing Christian conservatives who were nominated for LIFE in their thirties and forties and could therefore be making decisions about abortion, stemcell research and the death penalty based on their religious beliefs, for the next fifty years.

When Bush said in his MisStateMent of the UnionExpressRailroadtoHell speech, "Securing the future is our duty," I wanted to cover my ears, hid my eyes and hurl, cuz I can see the train wreck a coming. Instead, I'm going to keep my eyes open, ear to the ground and see if I can't figure out a way to switch the tracks. Hopelessly Polyanna I know, but I'd like it if the deranged guy in California and the one in Washington were both held accountable for their actions.


All You Need to Know About Bush's Social Security Plan

Atrios has a table that you should look at. Make sure to look closely at columns 3 and 4 and compare them to see how much money the Republicans want to screw you out of.


The All Spin Zone

It never ceases to amaze me how gullible we the public are to pronouncements from our government and how pathetically sycophantic most of the media is around these pronouncements. Right after the polls closed on Jan 30 in Iraq there were public pronouncements that voter turnout was more than 70%. This was then lowered to 60% and comparisons were made to the recent beauty contest held last November in our country. However, when you ask how many voters actually voted, no one seems to have that answer. Moreover, these percentages are of "registered voters". When you ask how many registered voters are there, no one seems to know that number either. The following passage comes from Dawn.

As for Iraqis abroad, the up to 4 million strong exiled community (with perhaps a little over 2 million entitled to vote) produced a 280,000 registration figure. Of those, 265,000 actually voted.

I don't know whether those numbers are true, but if you assume they are, voter turnout was either 95% (of registered voters) or 6% (of the exile community).

Needless to say these turnout numbers are all about spin. In the mean time, January was the third most deadly month for US soldiers in Iraq, and based upon my favorite graph on this issue, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Look, in my heart of hearts I want everything to be OK in Iraq. I want there to be peace. I want there to be democracy. I want our sodiers to come home. But I still believe that the war was wrong even if everything turns out right - which it won't.

Aljazeera also talks a bit about this voter turnout issue.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Texas Blogger

Even I don't understand my facination with other Texas bloggers, as I am not much interested in state politics. Anyway the Grand Moff Texan is a new discovery and I enjoyed his first post (Aug 2004) about what Texas used to be and what it has lost. Check it out.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For Some Reason This Shit Freaks Me Out

The left wing blogosphere has been working feverishly on trying to figure out who this guy Jeff Gannon is. For those 99% of you who have never heard of Jeff Gannon, he has been showing up to presidential press conferences (and weekly press gaggles by Scott McClellan) for a couple years now as a representative for something called Talon News. A number of hard core political junkies have tagged him in the past as a shill for the Administration and McClellan’s safety go to guy when the questioning got tough. However, at last week’s press conference he came out with such a fawning, sycophantic question on national TV that a lot of people took notice and started digging to find out who the hell he is and what the hell is Talon News.

That is where the shit starts to get creepy, because Jeff Gannon has apparently been conceived out of thin air through birth by internet in 2003. Jeff Gannon is a pseudonym, and despite a lot of very smart and internet savvy people working round the clock for the better part of a week, no one seems to be able to penetrate the veil of secrecy around this guy. Anyway, he is deeply involved in the Valerie Plame affair, and appears to have heavy cover from the administration. It is almost like he is a planted CIA operative.

I guess the part that freaks me out is the length the administration will go to spin false information. They plant someone in the White House press pool who has a totally false identity created. They then use him in press conferences to get questions asked that they want to answer. Anyway, you can read all about it here at the Daily Kos.


Too Many Good Things Today

Tom Tomorrow has this up - Somehow deja vu just doesn't cut it.

This one's been making the rounds; chances are you've seen it but I thought I'd post it if only to keep my own inbox from overflowing with copies. I held off when I first saw it because it struck me as one of those too-perfect-to-be-true email forwards, like a Nostradamus prediction that a president named for shrubbery shall sow chaos in Babylon, or some such. But it's legit--it's on the Times' own website, and I've seen a PDF of the original article.

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (1967)-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.


Getting Right With God

For all of you who don't know about the Funny Times, it is a jewel of a newspaper that is printed once a month. We have been getting it at our house for 10+ years now (I think). Every month we fight over who gets to read it first. I have given subscriptions to a number of friends throughout the years, and all have loved it (of course none were Republicans or Fundies).

Anyway the the gem below is stolen word for word from the most recent Funny Times. I am sure I am breaking someone's copyright, but hopefully the advertising will overcome this minor law breaking.


"Dear President Bush,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutuional amendment banning same sex marriage. As yoou said, "In the eyes of God, marriage is based between a man and a woman. " I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them:

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchaed from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think a fair price would be for her?

3. I know that I am not allowed to contact with a woman while she is in her period of mentrual uncleanness (Lev. 15:19-24) The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev.1:9). The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a less abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination.

7. Lev. 21:20 sates that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to b e 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev. 24:10-16) Could we just burn them death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Joe Public

Thanks to Ben Rosow, who found this letter mixed in with his mail, and forwarded it to the proper authorities."