Thursday, September 28, 2006

U.S. Weighs Moves Against Sudan Over U.N. Force

The United States is considering a series of punitive steps if the Sudanese government fails to agree to a U.N. peacekeeping force to end the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, U.S. officials said yesterday. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled the new approach in a speech yesterday in which she demanded an immediate cease-fire and warned that Khartoum faces "a choice between cooperation and confrontation."

U.S. officials said the options under consideration include reimposing sanctions that had been eased when Sudan signed a peace agreement last year with southern rebels, as well as taking action against top Sudanese officials who have been implicated in what the United States has labeled acts of genocide in Darfur.

Another option that has received renewed consideration is establishing a "no-fly zone" over Darfur, mainly because the Sudanese military has restarted attacks. But there are practical obstacles to a no-fly zone, including the effect it may have on humanitarian missions, so officials said that decision is not imminent.

Although Rice's Washington speech to the African Society's National Summit on Africa held out the prospect of improved ties between the two countries, relations have worsened dramatically in recent weeks.

U.S. officials detained Sudan's deputy foreign minister at Dulles International Airport for several hours last week and also restricted the travel of Sudan's president, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and his entourage when he came to address the U.N. General Assembly. Bashir was so angry that when he returned to Khartoum, he announced restrictions on the travel of U.S. diplomatic personnel and official U.S. visitors.

Full Article

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Coming Clean

Since I regularly post about politics and this being an election year I feel that it is important to declare which candidates/501c3 organizations I have donated to.

1: Pete McCloskey(R) in the Republican primary in CA 11
2: Kinky Friedman (I) running for Gov. inTexas
3: Barbara Ann Radnowsky (D) running for the Senate in Texas
4: Jerry McNerry (D) running for congressman in CA 11 (after McCloskey lost the primary)

Public Campaign Action Fund
The Sierra Club
The Centrist Coalition
Unity 08

Friday, September 22, 2006

Virgin Mogul Donates Three Billion to Combat Global Warming

Billionaire business mogul says 100% of future proceeds from certain divisions of Virgin Group will go towards tackling problem.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Billionaire Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson Thursday committed an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years, or all of the profits from his airline and rail businesses, to combating global warming.

"We are very pleased today to be making a commitment to invest 100 percent of all future proceeds to the Virgin Group from our transportation interest, both our trains and airline businesses, into tackling global warming," Branson told a news conference at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Watch the annoucement.

"We have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels. Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the will power to do so."

Most international experts say emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, are the primary cause of a 1.1 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperatures over the past century.

A dwindling group of scientists says that the dominant cause of warming is a natural variation in the climate system, or a gradual rise in the sun's energy output.

"We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment. We must hand it over to our children in as near pristine condition as we were lent it from our parents," Branson said.


Of course we all know that Branson, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet all got to where they are by listening to misinformed leftist conspiracy theorists.

What's Shaking With Chavez?

After visting his ailing dependent Fidel Castro Mr. Chavez went on to attend a summit of enemies of the U.S.A after which Mexico decided to re-evaluate its diplomatic relations with Venezuala due to Hugo's accusations of unclean presidential elections which was followed by Senor Chavez accusing George W Bush of being the devil incarnate at the annual U.N. summit.
Ya know, I'm starting to think that if Mr. Chavez had another brain it'd be lonely.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards in Memoriam

One of America's most interesting political figures former Texas Governor Ann Richards passed away today. Please take the time to read Maverick Views refectiona on her. She was an original and she will be missed. She became the stick by which Texas Democrats are measured and they have all been found lacking. None since have had the cajones she did.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Comment on Previous Post

I mentioned in my previous post that I am not normally prone to anger (I mean the last time I was angry was in Feb of 2001). And what has surprised me since I, for the first time ever, opted to vent my anger in a public forum received zero disagreement despite posting it at Donklephant and my post here having been mentioned at Sideways Mencken.

Unlike Mr. Olbermann I don't blame the lack of progress at ground zero on W. But we have had a general lack on the part of our elected leaders to deliver on the promises they gave us shortly after 9/11. For that we should all be angry. It is in part our fault for allowing our leaders to exploit 9/11 for political means, for permitting them and the media to paint the event in partisan terms, and for allowing our leaders to fail to keep the promises they made without consequence.

Those that died on 9/11 deserve better than that. Until we the people begin holding our leaders accountable for their failures and choose to demand they honor their promises and the memory of the victims of that day nothing will change. Until we choose to actually be The United States of America rather than red states and blue states nothing will change. There will be no meaningful victory and no tanglible memorial to the fallen.

Is this what now passes for remembering the honored dead?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11 Reflection and Rage

I tried to avoid commenting today. I really really did. Because as sad as this day was 5 years ago those feelings do not exceed how angry I am now. I am not normally prone to anger. Most people would describe me as a mellow, happy go lucky, funny, thoughtful kind of guy. I have always maintained that if you can actually do something to make me angry then you have seriously fucked up.

Why am I am angry? Because 5 years later ground zero is still a hole in the ground, because our government squandered the international goodwill and national bipartisanship born on that day, because 5 years later we still haven't succeeded in Afghanistan, because 5 years later Bin Laden isn't in custody and we missed the chance to bag him and now he is quite possibly out of our reach, because America was mislead into a war against Iraq and as a result Al Qaeda in Iraq now controls FIFTY THOUSAND square miles of territory within Iraq's borders 3 years after our leader declared “Mission Accomplished”, because the wars that we have waged in the name of those that died this day five years ago have been so grossly mishandled that real victory is no where in sight.

For those that perished five years ago this day there is no real victory, no concrete memorial, and no meaningful plan to bring either into existence. And those that died on 9/11/2001 deserve far better than that.

And you can call me partisan and you can call me unpatriotic but I have always tried to “call 'em as I see 'em” and in this instance if you don't like what I see right now then either get your glasses checked or piss off.

And while I may be a small fish in a big pond there is at least one larger fish that agrees with me, Keith Olbermann, who I have watched maybe four times in as many months, but today he came as close to mirroring my anger as any talking head ever will :

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Maybe there is Hope

I watched the 1.5 hour long Town Hall meeting on Ted Koppel's The Price of Security and I must say that it gave me more hope than anything I've seen or read in a long time. Because if these people:

Zoƫ Baird, President, Markle Foundation

Bradford Berenson, former Associate White House Counsel

Lanny Davis, Member, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Jim Dempsey, Policy Director, Center for Democracy & Technology

Viet Dinh, former Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy

Clark Kent Ervin, former Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security

Alamdar Hamdani, Civil rights attorney

David Holtzman, author, Privacy Lost

Paul McNulty, Deputy U.S. Attorney General

Alberto Mora, former General Counsel of the Department of the Navy

Nuala O’Connor Kelly, former Chief Privacy Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ted Olson, former Solicitor General and member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University Law School

Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security

Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center

Rep. Chris Shays, Chairman House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threat and International Relations

George Soros, Founder and Chairman, Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.), former Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Colin Powell

Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.), former Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)

Dr. James J. Zogby, founder and president, Arab American Institute

can ALL agree that there must be oversight of the executive branches surveillance powers, that partisan bickering is doing more harm than good, and that the war against terror requires a new approach both strategically and legally then things may not be as bad as I have been fearing.

One additional thing that everyone agreed on is that if we don't have the civil liberty vs national security debate before the next successful terrorist attack we never will.

(I'm planning on getting a copy of the transcript.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Have We Lost the War on Terror?

Donklephant has a great post on recent events regarding Pakistan's involvement in the War on Terror:

I don’t think people are getting the seriousness of this.

In a move that some say appears ‘a total capitulation’ to pro-Taliban forces, Pakistan signed a peace deal with tribal leaders in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan Tuesday, and is withdrawing military forces in exchange for promises that militant tribal groups there will not engage in terrorist activities.

To understand what this means, go back to our original purpose in invading Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, had an intimate relationship with Al Qaeda in the years leading up to 9/11. The Taliban gave Al Qaeda a safe haven in which to train and house recruits, a ‘home’ where Al Qaeda leaders could meet and plan.

If you read only one blog post today, make it this one.

The Path to 9/11: Propumentary or Docuganda?

Clinton Administration Officials Assail ABC's 'The Path to 9/11'

Top officials of the Clinton administration have launched a preemptive strike against an ABC-TV "docudrama," slated to air Sunday and Monday, that they say includes made-up scenes depicting them as undermining attempts to kill Osama bin Laden.

Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright called one scene involving her "false and defamatory." Former national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger said the film "flagrantly misrepresents my personal actions." And former White House aide Bruce R. Lindsey, who now heads the William J. Clinton Foundation, said: "It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known."

ABC's entertainment division said the six-hour movie, "The Path to 9/11," will say in a disclaimer that it is a "dramatization . . . not a documentary" and contains "fictionalized scenes." But the disclaimer also says the movie is based on the Sept. 11 commission's report, although that report contradicts several key scenes. more

Former Clinton officials claim that certain parts in the movie are blatantly false. Since I haven't seen it I can't really say too much about it but what is disturbing is that ABC had whipped up packs of educational materials to go along with the docudrama. Somehow I doubt that they are geared towards film schools. Seems like they are trying to pass it off as true by going that route. I'm smelling a huge libel/slander type suit coming once/if it airs.

What I find most disturbing is that again the lines between history/truth/entertainment are being blurred even further. And thats pretty high on my list of Last Things We Need.