Monday, April 28, 2008

The Out-of-Touch News Industry

It used to be “If it Bleeds, It Leads”. The new formula is: If We Dread It, We Spread It. The Sean Bell verdict was all over the news last week when an NYC judge acquitted the cops who pumped 50 bullets into Bell who was black. The news guys predicted riots in the streets. But a report to me from Harlem Saturday night said all was serene. On the day George W. Bush announced he was going to invade Iraq, the news guys said there would be rioting at ground zero between protesters and war-mongers. I was at ground zero that day. There was nothing. But nothing. No protesters, no war-mongers. NOTHING! And no one in NYC was even talking about the war. The news guys have been hyping the candidacies for the election next November in the same way. Perhaps it’s actually wishful thinking. Perhaps the news guys wish to hell they had something juicy to write about. But what’s happening at the grassroots level of politics and our lives is definitely not juicy. And it’s not sexy. And no matter how much the media amps it up, it is not going to be juicy or sexy. Folks are going to go to the polls in November and they are going to vote. That’s it. And racism, feminism, black power, white power and born-again Jesus power aren't going to have very much to do with the outcome. Folks hate the George W. Bush administration. Folks hate the war in Iraq. Folks want relative peace and equality in their lives. Folks want ministers to bug out of politics. Folks want the US government to comport itself with intelligence and rationality. That’s it. And by August, at the latest, most folks will have ceased watching the pundits, analysts and news idiots on television, because whatever it is they are reporting, whatever it is they are yammering about, whatever it is they have decided is panic-worthy has very little to do with what is going on in people’s lives. And it has very little to do with how folks think and feel. I am somewhat ahead of that schedule. As of yesterday, I have sworn off the Sunday morning talk shows and anything on CNN except Michael Ware. May they all live and be well, but they will have to do it without me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Bush Stink is on the Candidates

There is little doubt that the last eight years of Bush, Cheney and Karl Rove will go down in history as one of the worst (if not the worst) presidential administration in the history of the United States. Bragging rights to successes for this executive branch are few and difficult to find. But now that its fowl are coming home to roost, and now that it’s floundering, and now that the men behind the Great George’s curtain are in full view and mostly naked, it’s beginning to be evident that fallout from the Bush administration’s modus operandi is leaking into everything. An article in this morning’s New York Times (“Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand”) about how the Pentagon co-opted its military analysts, quotes Fox analyst Robert S. Bevelacqua saying, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you’.” And it worked. the Pentagon and Karl Rove & Co. were able to stick their hands up news organizations backs, up TV studios, up Congressmen, up generals’ backs, up the Bush Cabinet, up the CIA, up the FBI, up the Justice Department and they spoke for everyone. The results were and are horrendous, and yet...getting those results is mighty tempting. And that is exactly what Hillary, Obama and McCain’s strategists are doing. All strategists for all the candidates are sticking their hands up the candidates’ backs and moving their mouths for them. And it has become a horror show. We no longer hear what the candidates think or want to say. We hear what their strategists and polls and focus groups think the candidates should think and want to say. If there is an honest, heartfelt thought arising in any candidates mind, it will not be heard. Some strategist will think a thought and that will be heard because the strategist is dead certain he/she knows what the nation needs to hear and what will get votes. Yes, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove & Co. can be blamed for the woeful state the United States is in. But one unintended result that is rippling through our lives is that good people are using Bush administration tactics because they were successful. And it’s heartbreaking to watch. It’s now way beyond candidates getting botoxed and having work done, being coifed and looking fit and smiling and laughing and joking and making one-liners and wearing attractive clothes and pretty ties. Now it's remembering talking points and most particularly, trying not to let the strategist's hand show.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pope’s Hubristic Twaddle

What balls! Before Joseph Cardinal Aloysius Ratzinger became Pope exactly three years ago, he was called Pope John Paul II’s “Enforcer”. And if he learned anything as one of Hitler’s Nazi Youths (oh yes, I know he says he was forced into it), he learned that freedom of choice is a bad thing and that people’s freedom must be curtailed or they will start thinking for themselves and making personal decisions. Which is why he was called John Paul’s Enforcer. As Ratzinger’s biographer, John L. Allen has said, “Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesial totalitarianism. In other words, he believes the Catholic Church serves the cause of human freedom by restricting freedom in its internal life, thereby remaining clear about what it teaches and believes. “ As the keeper of the Roman Catholic Church’s arrogant, mythical and patently silly dogma and hype that it alone is the one true religion, Ratzinger was and is unbending, dictatorial and mean as a snake. But yesterday, this nasty piece of work pontificated before the General Assembly at the United Nations: “The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security,” Pope Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger Benedict XVI wouldn’t understand human rights if it bit him in the ass. Barack Obama and his preacher-friend Reverend Jeremiah Wright have gotten in so much hot water over Wright’s fiery prose from the pulpit. And yet, who is calling the lying, oppressive, bigoted, greedy, Prada-wearing sinners in the Vatican to account? NO ONE-NO ONE-NO ONE-NO ONE-NO ONE-NO ONE-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Catholic churches are being closed down all over the US. There aren’t enough priests. And the nuns have finally gotten wise that they were performing free cleaning, washing and ironing for these cigar-smoking, good wine and spirits drinking guys who were too holy to wash their own underwear, so nuns have called a halt on their menial services. The Catholic Church is falling apart from the inside. But the CEO’s and CPA’s and MDivs and Cardinals and THE POPE in the Vatican are still living high. And they would no more think of divesting themselves of one ounce of gold or one gem, or one piece of art, or one foot of real estate than they would think of scrubbing their own floors or servicing their own computers. There is no moral difference whatsoever between the Vatican and a company like Exxon. Both organizations lie and screw the little guy. I will say, the Pope’s hats are more fanciful than those worn by moguls in mega-corporations, but that’s the sole dissimilarity.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

NYT’s Rich: Petraeus/Crocker Show is Dead

And the reason it’s dead is because Americans are so sick of the Repubs’ war in Iraq that they don’t even want to hear about it. Today, the New York Times Sunday Op/Ed Columnist Frank Rich said (“The Petraeus-Crocker Show Gets the Hook”) that even if John McCain becomes president, the US will have a new policy as soon as next January, including serious troop withdrawals in Iraq and serious talks with Iraq’s pals in Iran. The part about the possibility that McCain might become Prez is a horror I can’t even remotely entertain, but Rich is right about everything else. Iraq has come to mean guilt and shame to Americans. As a nation, we want out. In addition to wanting to have done with a war that most Americans feel should never have happened, the US can’t sustain the war and also have even a semblance of readiness to engage in other threats that may arise. As Rich says, “No war can be fought indefinitely if the public has irrevocably turned against it.” And this public has turned against it. The Senior US Commander in Iraq David Petraeus and American ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker looked ridiculous and sounded like robots repeating nonsense phrases and meaningless sophistry at the Congressional hearings last week. Rich said, “The best General Petraeus could muster was a bit of bloodless Beltway-speak — ‘national interests’ — followed by another halfhearted attempt to overstate Iraq’s centrality to the war on Al Qaeda and a future war on Iran. He couldn’t even argue that we’re on a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people. That would require him to acknowledge that roughly five million of those people, 60 percent of them children, are now refugees receiving scant help from either our government or Nuri al-Maliki’s. That’s nearly a fifth of the Iraqi population — the equivalent of 60 million Americans — and another source of our shame. “The prevailing verdict on the Petraeus-Crocker show is that it accomplished little beyond certifying President Bush’s intention to kick the can to January 2009 so that the helicopters will vacate the Green Zone on the next president’s watch. That’s true, but by week’s end, I became more convinced than ever that in January we’ll have a new policy that includes serious withdrawals and serious conversations with Mr. Maliki’s pals in Iran, even if John McCain becomes president.” And both Colin Powell and the army’s vice chief of staff General Richard Cody said the current troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be continued. Even a Republican prez will find he can’t sustain vetoes, Rich said, “after the Democrats increase their majorities in Congress in November.” And that’s pretty much where it’s at. Or as Rich put it, “Unable to even look at the fiasco anymore, the nation is now just waiting for someone to administer the last rites.”

Friday, April 11, 2008

President Petraeus, Chairman of Lunacy Bush

Yesterday our Chief Lunatic said that Acting President of the United States and Senior US Commander in Iraq David Petraeus could “have all the time he needs” before reducing US troops in Iraq. The Lunatic spoke at the White House to a small group including VP Dick Cheney, the secretaries of State and Defense and representatives of veterans’ organizations. Bush defended the lives lost and the money spent on his unnecessary war in Iraq. He said that his “surge” last year had averted potential defeat and that withdrawing troops would be catastrophic to American interests. All of which, of course, only an insane man and his insane cohorts could claim. American forces have been defeated in Iraq. And the entire Iraq operation from beginning to now (there is no end in sight) has been catastrophic to all American interests except Vice President Dick Cheney’s companies that profit from war and the consequences of war. Bush said that Al Qaeda and Iran are the biggest threats facing the United States. He said, “If we fail there, Al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States, our friends and our allies,” he said. “Iran would work to fill the vacuum in Iraq, and our failure would embolden its radical leaders and fuel their ambitions to dominate the region.” The US has already failed in wiping out Al Qaeda and will continue to fail. And wiping out Iran is the success Bush and Cheney envision, which, of course has failed and will fail. All of the failures feared by George W. Bush have already happened. The only way he can keep from acknowledging that his worst fears have come to pass is to keep stating that they will come to pass unless the war in Iraq goes on for the next 100 years. Six more months. And then voters have to decide whether they want John McCain to prolong this madness or if they want it to stop.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Madness of John McCain (and Others)

The guy that President George W. Bush turned the Iraq war over to when he abdicated all responsibility for his unnecessary and illegal attack on Iraq, General David Petraeus, is in Washington, DC for two days of hearings before Congress. The hearings started yesterday. Petraeus acknowledged before the Senate, “We haven’t turned any corners. We haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel.” He said any new withdrawals of American troops should be delayed until the fall. As in, after the election. And yet, according to the New York Times this morning, Senator and candidate for president John McCain (R-AZ) said at that same hearing: “We’re no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.” Presumably McCain was talking about the war in Iraq. Although he could have been talking about some war game he’s got going in his addled brain. Who knows? The Prez steered clear of the hearings, but will make a speech tomorrow regarding his Iraq policy for the coming months, However, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) said in frustration, “A year ago, the president argued that we wouldn’t begin to withdraw troops from Iraq, because there was too much the president argues we can’t begin to withdraw troops, because violence is down.” The April 14, 2008 issue of The New Yorker reported that when General Richard A. Cody appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, he said, in essence, Iraq and Afghanistan have so weakened our defenses that we’d be up the creek if we need our army to protect us. “Today’s army is out of balance,” he said. And he went on to say, “The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply, and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies.” We can’t defend ourselves, the nation is bankrupt, the President lives in an alternate reality of delusion, his clone and Republican candidate for president John McCain not only loves war, but he lives in permanent nostalgia for war mode and he is also seriously demented. Last Sunday, Frank Rich said in his New York Times Op/Ed column that the Dem candidates for president Senators Obama and Clinton are doing John McCain a disservice by constantly saying McCain “is willing to send our troops into another 100 years of war in Iraq.” Rich reported that McCain actually said in the New Hampshire town-hall meeting that he “could imagine a 100-year-long American role in Iraq like our long-terms presence in South Korea and Japan”. Fair enough. But when reviewing what people say and have said, it is also necessary to review the mind-set of that person. And John McCain’s unsettled mind is obsessed with war. The other day he said he hates war. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! John McCain would sink into a morass of elder depression without a war on which to feed his Vietnam POW neuroses. Today, General Petraeus and American ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker will take their Iraq war song-and-dance to the House of Representatives. I have two memories of these two men. Alas, they are my only memories of these two men. One is of Petraeus handing out bags of money from the backs of trucks to any and all comers in Iraq, friend and foe alike, as bribes. The other is of the pretentious little putz Crocker holding piss-elegant soirees in the safety of his mansion in the Green Zone in Baghdad as a way of coercing visiting Congresspersons into prolonging the Iraq war and ponying-up more money for the Republican’s ridiculous war. McCain, Petraeus and Crocker—what embarrassing specimens they are.

Friday, April 04, 2008

You’re Not Alone

Headline in the New York Times this morning: “81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on the Wrong Track” The NYT reported: “In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed ‘things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,’ up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002. “Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.” And a news aviso from the NYT at 8:50 this morning said: “U.S. Economy Shed 80,000 Jobs in March. U.S. employers cut payrolls for a third month in a row in the biggest monthly job decline in five years, government data showed.” So, who are in the 19% who think everything is just ducky? For certain, the folks in the White House who haven’t already jumped ship would be in that group. And the folks who are stumping for delusional loose-cannon John McCain to continue the Republican track record of the last 7 years would be in that elite number. And the born-again warmongers who think God has it in for everyone but born-again warmongers would be part of that crew. The NYT went on to say: “A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.” What’s it all mean? Well, our nation is in really bad shape. And the world knows we’re in bad shape, which makes us vulnerable to economic, and security disasters, of course. And the world and compilers of facts that become the tomes of history know that the whole nasty shebang is due to the Bush administration. But more than that, it means that everyone in Congress is going to have a very tough time getting re-elected and that is good. Throw the bastards out is a healthy national attitude. Of course, the real culprit in the downfall of the nation is the entire Republican Party. But the Democrats in Congress who let the Repubs get away with it for 7 years cannot be ignored. So what about the three who are now candidates for president? They were part of the out-of-control Congress that brought the US to grief. That’s true. But this democracy thing is a work-in-progress and very imperfect. However, it’s the system we’ve got. And the system we’ve got needs a lot of improvement.