seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Headin' Out

Adam and I hit the road tonight for our annual pilgrimage to the great rocks of New Hampshire for some climbing. No Maine this time unfortunately - not enough time. We will swing back through Pennsylvania on our way back to visit my relatives. Good news this year: my sister Kim is joining us for the whole way and Margot and Ingrid from Macalester fame are going to join us for part of the trip also. Weeee!

Thanks to dead fingers for pointing out Kerry's appearance on the Letterman show. There was a good editorial in the strib the other day which among other things, pointed out that Kerry gets blasted for not having a plan to get us out of Iraq more so than Bush who obviously has no plan and never really did. And Bush is the one that got us into this!

I don't say he got us into this for invading Iraq - rather I would say he got us into this by the manner in which he invaded Iraq. I'm still opposed to those who say this eventuality was pre-ordained. In my mind, a brief American occupation, properly prepared could have improved the lives of Iraqis and resulted in a more stable Middle East.

We'll never know. At any rate, I have to pack. I hope to write more from the road - where Adam and I will be diligently listening to the dramatic audio recordings of books 4-6 of the Left Behind series and reviewing them. Yee haw!

Yawns

Eagles win! Overhyped Monday Night Football game? You betcha! Vikings self destruct? Clockwork. Eagles defense stays strong where it counts and Culpepper's piddly fingers continue to offset his bulky talent. Tice seemed to be throwing the challenge flag at all the wrong times and wasn't ready to challenge a very suspect touchdown while Andy Reid seemed to realize the danger of not rushing the extra point team onto the field. Good coaching is so helpful in games like this.

In others news, I have been slow to post recently as I have been sortof ill. I'm not sure what is wrong with me, but it ain't good. I've been feverish and sleep - touchy stomach and such. But I'm feeling much better now!

Quick update on CBS stuff - it would appear that the docs should not have been used. I'm not sure what has happened in the last few days as I have been out of it, but the right wing blogs still miss the point that the information contained in them is accurate while left wingers seem to be coming more cognizant of the fact that it doesn't matter.

Bush has been a particularly awful leader - his incompetence and that of those below him led to the successful completion of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. He is the first President since Hoover to lose jobs. He insists Americans are safer while Americans in Iraq die at furious rates and those of us in the U.S. are bracing for the next attack.

The supreme irony is that he still has a good chance of getting re-elected. Well America, at a certain point, you deserve what you get.

Death by Overtime

It could have been a great day for Mac soccer. It was not. Not that it was awful, but both the men and the women lost to major rivals in the first overtime period of the game. 2-1. It started at St Thomas, the lame University down Summit from Mac. Poor reffing and Mac's near inability to ever finish anything their dominating midfield starts led to a disappointing overtime loss.

The Mac women played U Chicago at home. U Chicago is ranked number one in the nation, whereas Mac is rated number 6 in the Central Region, not making the national rankings. Mac women decided to challenge their status. They came out quickly, but overall, U Chicago dominated the first half. The second half, Mac played strong and finished regulation tied 1-1. Tied because an otherwise very mediocre ref refused to call an obvious take-down in the box en route to a goal with 20 seconds remaining. The crowd went ballistic as the ref pretended to be deaf - it matched his blindness.

They too fell in overtime. Which is not bad since U Chicago was rated number 1. But a victory would have been nice.

I have posted photos of the Women Mac V U of M, Morris soccer game from Sept 1. I am scanning football shots now

While I am on the subject of sports, my prediction for the big game on Monday Night Football: 3-0 or 6-0. The overwhelming hype of this massive offensive matchup of Viking Vs. Eagles will triggle the choke reflex in both teams. They will each have over 400 yards of offense but suffer massive turnovers in the red zone. One team will get a field goal or two, leading to the lamest overhyped Monday Night Football game ever.

Honestly though, I hope the Eagles crush the Vikings.

Tracking Down Stories

Argh. I try to track down stories and links before I post them here. Both as an exercise in intellectual discipline and so people can follow up on what I saw if they want more in depth info. So I just spent time trying to find a story at the Guardian, a UK paper. I got an email this morning with a Sidney Blumenthal op-ed piece which purported to be from the Guardian but I can't track it down.

At any rate, I have said before, I did not oppose this war against Iraq. My view was, and continues to be, that any change in U.S. policy toward Iraq would be less costly to Iraqis than the sanctions. I wouldn't say I supported the war because it was obvious from the start that the Bush Administration would loot the country for its resources and generally botch any hope Iraqis could have for meaningful freedom.

So I have been torn watching recent developments there. What would happen if the U.S. cuts and runs? This passage is one of the best I have seen on the subject - it comes from the piece I discuss above.

"I see no exit," said Record. "We've been down that road before. It's called
Vietnamisation. The idea that we're going to have an Iraqi force trained to
defeat an enemy we can't defeat stretches the imagination. They will be
tainted by their very association with the foreign occupier. In fact, we had
more time and money in state building in Vietnam than in Iraq."

Couple this with the fact that Bush is started to divert money ear-marked for infrastructure repair into security and the sad fact is that U.S. troops there are causing more harm than good. And it is getting worse.

This was totally unnecessary from the start. As I stated in an earlier piece, the failed occupation in Iraq is a direct result of the Bush Administration's high handed approach to international politics. They built a shoddy "coalition," without preparing for the most difficult period of the war - after it was won. They did all this while ignoring their own people and reports, all of which predicted today's situation if Bush and Co did not plan for post-war Iraq.

Whatever, Bush's kids and the kids of those around him won't be fighting and dying over there - they will be richer from war profiteers like Haliburton. Ironically, it is the boys from the red states that are dying in Iraq - and they'll re-elect Bush for it. So why am I upset?? Cuz it is unnecessary!!

My point? Bush failed. Time to withdraw the troops before more die. Before more are wounded (wounded permanently in many cases). Before more families slide into bankrupcy because the breadwinners are fighting for Halliburton's guaranteed profit.

Soggy Soccer

Technical problems last night prevented me from posting this last night:

Tonight was the Mac men's home opener. The Fightin' Scots took on St. Mary's in a sopping game played in solidarity with Florida soccer teams. The first half ended 0-0, the rain ending quickly after. Mac came out strong and continued to dominate, putting 2 goals in when it should have put in 5. Should have is a funny word - as if the team you are rooting for shouldn't miss any opportunities.

In other news, CBS's 60 Minutes aired more evidence that Bush did not faithfully complete his Guard Duty even though he was Honorably Discharged as those of the right love to keep pointing out. They seem to miss the point that his being Honorably Discharged is a part of the problem.

At any rate, the partisans at places like the Powerline Blog act as though they have conclusively proven CBS doctored the documents themselves. Being totally unaccountable to anyone makes "proving" things quite easy. Not allowing comments or feedback on their site shows how sure of themselves they are. That is one of the reasons I love indymedia.

The Powerline blog and others like Drudge can easily build readership by attacking established media and government. Americans tend to be distrustful of those in power - though they do seem to fall for the wolf in sheep's clothing at most opportunities. Thus when Bush grabs that distrust by talking of government bureaucrat and uses it to radically expand Ashcroft's powers to limit everyone's freedom, they react slowly.

At any rate, attacking big media corporations and government is popular, but I don't see it doing anything constructive. Should Powerline blog publish their blueprint for a better society, I don't see them winning any converts. It takes longer to build something than it does to destroy it. Enjoy your moment in the sun right wing bloggers - it is fleeting. And thanks for weakening the strength of centralized news sources.

Over time, freedom wins out over tyranny. Kings and monarchies are now elected rather than inherited. It is a small step, but more will follow. I believe this a fundamental fact. Oppression spawns resistance and resistance creates progress. These things are not linear and we often repeat mistakes, but over time, we figure things out. The fact that bin Laden's ideas of a proper world are so strongly rejected bodes well for the future. Now we have to point out that Billy Graham's ideas are not so different from bin Laden. The Crusades were a dark time for the world and for Christianity. Let's not repeat them.

Still Tired, but different

I'm still a tired in the sense I wrote about yesterday. But better. For one thing, I'm going out with Andrea. Having someone there for you is incredibly important. Michael Franti (of Spearhead) is a great lyricist in my humble opinion. In a song entitled "Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury," he notes that many on the left can verbally describe how all people should interact in a better society - but cannot maintain their own relationships.

I'm happy to say that Andrea and I have been together for almost 2 years now. We are stronger together. As someone who truly tries to do everything by myself, it is hard to get close to someone - but Andrea makes it easy.

Getting comments on my blog helps to give me energy to wake up, think, and write - so thanks to those who comment - especially klink and dead fingers =)

Right now I feel overwhelmed with work. It is the work outside of the bookstore which leaves me weary. But I have a day off from the bookstore Wednesday. I hope to get a handle on my web design work and perhaps make a substantial post to the blog. We'll see. Few things are more fun than finishing a task.

How does this happen?

Information overload. I'm exhausted right now. I biked too far today - thank you weird construction around the 35E bridge. I spent too much time trying to fix a computer (belonging to a friend of Andrea) when I should have formatted and reinstall windoze straight away. Working on that left me distracted from the Monday Night football game and I'm not into it.

So I sit here thinking about how sick I am of defending these CBSNews memos. And thinking of the memos. I don't care that Bush didn't "serve honorably." I couldn't care less that he is not comfortable with his past and lies to cover it up. I don't care that with all the focus on the documents, everyone is ignoring all the over evidence CBS noted in its report. I don't care that what Bush did seems somewhat similar to what draft-dodging Slick Willy Clinton got blasted for.

What drives me nuts is that the people who do care about this crap, who attacked Clinton because he lacked integrity (duh, politician!) are the ones who totally ignore Bush's lies.

I'm so tired of trying to figure out why all of this happens. I'm tired of trying to think of ways to make this a more free society. I'm sick of simple solution bumper stickers. I'm tired of the same people who brag about us being the free-est nation on earth trying to ban books they don't like and (in the words of George Carlin) turn women in brood mares for the state.

Honestly though, I'm tired of reading things I disagree with, posted by people who have read more about an issue than I have. In many cases, I know they are wrong and are pushing an agenda. Incidentally, most of these types of places don't allow response comments. But I also know I work for a living and don't have time to read enough to rebut them.

NFL on FOX: Suxxorific

The NFL on Fox is the worst thing to happen to the NFL since the "In the Grasp" rule went into effect. I don't know if they are incompetent for a reason (such as underfunding), or by accident, but it is something awful. There are minor annoyances, such as the 18 million sound effects they have for everything. Somewhat more important, but not major annoyances, like poor announcers and technical gliches. Then there is their near total inability to reply interesting plays. If anything interesting happens, like a play that might be challenged, they often don't bother to replay it. Hey Fox, we might want to see it so we can talk about it!!

Today, their feed from Philly was messed up so the football game was many decibels lower than the commercials. Interestingly, when they had their "game break" cutaways to other stations, the audio was at the same level as commercials are. Today's theme seemed to be, don't put down that remote! You need to adjust the volume again!

Boondocks, RNC Recap, and notForged Docs

If you don't read the Boondocks comic strip, you should. It's funny. Looking for something more meaty? Check out this excellent critical recap of the Repub National Convention.

Incidentally, the blowhards over at powerline blog are claiming the documents are definitely faked and offer their proof. However, CBSNews has a pretty good reaction to this supposed proof.

Rumsfeld Rumsfeld Rumsfeld....

What can you say about a man who appears to honestly believe only he stands between freedom and the terrorists who hate it? Rumsfeld is either a cynical man with great control or a total fool who honestly believes the manure he shovels by the ton. Either way, he sure is entertaining to watch. You have to have a sense of humour about this stuff or you'll go crazy.

What I am saying is not a joke. If you literally want to avoid becoming crazy and freaking out, you have to avoid taking modern politics seriously. Yes, the results of politics are serious, often deadly depending on where you stand. Yet, words from a live Indigo Girls show echo in my head: "You have to laugh at yourself. You'd cry your eyes out if you didn't."

Rumsfeld is funny because of how absurd he is. He is possibly the most earnest man you'll find on television - the runner ups are likely also in the Bush Administration, but I think Rumsfeld wins.

That is why I am going to respond to portions of Rumsfeld's recent address to U.S. troops on "Patriot Day" which is what some are calling Sept 11 now.

Speech courtesy of Defenselink.mil

As you know, this week we lost the thousandth servicemember in Iraq. Some ask whether the global war on terror is worth a thousand American lives. It's an understandable question, but the answer should be clear to all who have studied our nation's history.

...

First, we need to recognize that we passed the thousandth casualty mark in the global war on terror a long time ago. On September 11th, 2001, alone, we lost over 3,000 men, women and children.

Speechwriters forgot to include the interesting tidbit that although Rumsfeld and others claim that U.S. troops are fighting a War Against Terror, U.S. Armed Forces casualties are not counted in the tally of victims of terrorist attacks. This is likely done to avoid increasing the already ballooning number of victims of terror under Bush's leadership. Earlier this year, the State Department issued a report declaring the number of terrorist attacks in 2003 were at an all time low.

The State Dept. nearly immediately offered" a retraction claiming that honest mistakes prevented them from counting a number of attacks correctly. This was of course, after Bush administration officials had used the data to claim it was proof that Bush was "winning the war on terror." The corrected report, showing a higher number of attacks by 100% (oops!) apparently did not indicate to those same people that Bush's war on terror has not made anyone safer.

President Bush was faced with a choice – to confront a repressive dictator plotting to get his regime out of the international inspection and to amass the world's most lethal weapons – or wait until Saddam had succeeded. The president was faced -- as presidents always are -- with the risk of acting versus the risk of failing to act. But after September 11th, our country could no longer accept the risk of failing to act.

Bush was faced with a tough choice. Focus on terrorism issues as encouraged by members of his staff, or sideline terrorism and vacation in Crawford, Texas even though PDB's warned "Bin Laden Determined to Strike inside U.S." The ranch fared much better than NY.

As for "waiting until Saddam succeeded," well, given what we now know, Saddam Hussein was nowhere near amassing the world's most lethal weapons. That was not really knowable then though, so let's not count it against Bush. What was known was that all of Iraq's neighbors were more powerful than its pitiful army of starving barefoot recruits using ancient weapons which even if they worked, were no match for the arms the U.S. sold Iraq's neighbors.

Even if Hussein had amassed the weapons, it was not clear he would have used them. Though he has famously used them in the past, he has tended to only use them in situations where doing so would not threaten his survival. The man was an asshole, not suicidal. It would have been incredibly unlikely he would have provoked the nuclear wrath of the U.S. by using those weapons anywhere. Perhaps this was too big a risk to take - fortunately, he had not amassed any weapons - a fact missed by the apparently most overpaid intelligence agencies in the world.

Kudos to Rumsfeld by tying 9-11 into this by saying it was a new world after the attacks. The new world is much like the old in that war profiteers like Cheney and the first love of his life, Halliburton, will not miss any opportunity for no-bid contracts.

I wonder if that was a difficult question for President Bush. Do I hand over the reconstruction to Halliburton and allow them to handsomely profit, giving kickbacks to Cheney, and therefore insure the few areas of Iraq that area actually rebuilt will be done so shoddily? This will of course result in alienating even more Iraqi people which will encourage attacks against the troops that I command and claim to hold in such high esteem (while cutting all their veteran benefits). Fortunately, Bush could count on a practically free pass from the media (which treats dems and repubs alike when it comes to supporting our troops by not probing the stories of why they get shot at).

Because of your courage and commitment, some 50 million people from Afghanistan and Iraq are now experiencing freedom.

If that what they have in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is regaining control and life has not changed for much of anyone since the Taliban lost power, then thank the Lord for our lack of freedom here. I would argue (a difficult argument) that life has improved on the whole for Iraqis and Afghanis, but they damn sure don't have freedom yet.

Because we are eliminating the havens of those who seek to terrorize our nation, our country is safer today.

Only we are not eliminating havens. Resources that were eliminating the haven in Afghanistan were diverted to Iraq long before they could even mount a serious search for bin Laden! Iraq is a major breeding ground for terrorism now whereas before it was controlled by Hussein who did not encourage the fanatic, bin Laden terrorist types because he could not control them.

Demonstrably, our country is not safer. People continue to live in fear - largely due to ignorance, but at least partly legitimate since Bush has given terrorists recruitment offices in every Iraqi city. What has the Dept. of Homeland security been saying? Major attack before the elections likely. If we were safer, they would be saying major NFL upset before elections likely!

I want to thank the troops who are fighting the wars of this country. Not because I think they are giving me freedom, but because they are stuck in a horrible place. They are paying the price for the lifestyle that Bush defends. If it was not for those troops, we would not be able to run our air conditioners when it is 75 degrees outside. We wouldn't be able to drive to work along each day on crowded highways. We wouldn't be able to own multiple computers, TVs, and the other niceties that make living at the center of an empire worthwhile. In short, those troops fight wars that keep the rest of world from ruining our lifestyle.

Not all of us like this lifestyle, but we can't get pissed at the troops for that. They are earning money for college and/or learning skills to fill voids that no one else bothered to fill. A few of them are over there because the thrill and danger appealed to them - this is another aspect of our culture which should cause alarm.

At any rate, the troops do not really fight for us. They joined up, made friends, and got put in a dangerous situation. Whatever they started out for, they fight for each other now. They fight to stay alive and come back and enjoy cheap gas and the society that thrives on it.

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