Tuesday, January 27, 2004

CBS Axes anti-Bush Super Bowl Ad...Censorship Beyond Sanity?

What harm could be done by a 30-second ad with one statement of fact and one question?

MoveOn.org is one of the most interesting Internet success stories. Created in the midst of the "Clinton under Siege" days, its intent was to convince media to "move on" to more important issues. In the process, MoveOn.org has become a political juggernaut by attracting a very diverse, vocal, and passionate membership. With the current Bush administration providing a non-stop torrent of decisions, appointees, legislation, policies and statements which threaten our rights, reduce our freedoms, alienate the world, and kill our children, MoveOn.org was provided a better, larger reason to continue to live and breathe than could have been envisioned.

As the issues have multiplied, so have MoveOn's ranks. With the news that our nation's deficit would reach beyond a trillion dollars over the next decade...after the Bush administration inherited a budget SURPLUS from the Clinton era...MoveOn began a competition, inviting submissions for a 30-second ad. Once a sufficient number had been received, a judging process would produce a single ad which would be aired during the Super Bowl, during time paid for by MoveOn. MoveOn received many submissions, and decided on one to air. The ad depicts young children...dressed as adults...doing adult jobs. Hot, sweaty, thankless jobs. Normal jobs. The ad noted that the President's policies would produce a trillion dollars in deficits over the next decade. (True according to the White House Budget office...in fact, they now say that it will be much more than that) The last line of the ad is a question, "Who is going to pay for Bush's deficits?". Seems a fair question.

CBS, the venerable TV network once considered the best example of TV journalism, hosts this year's Super Bowl. CBS is also very interested in the FCC relaxing rules on things they don't like, such as limiting how many TV stations they are allowed to OWN, and limiting how many other media outlets they can OWN. The reason for the limits is simple...the freedom of speech we enjoy is only possible when our news and information is provided by diverse, independent sources. Getting ALL our news from one, or even two or three sources, especially sources who are owned by very large corporations, creates a Constitutionally corrupt, biased system. CBS announced that they would not air the ad. Originally, the reason was stated as, "it is controversial". The fact is that refusing to air this ad will help CBS show the White House that they are a "team player", and perhaps improve their chances of getting the rule changes they want. Of course, I could be wrong, but the original reasoning is untrue. Several LOCAL CBS affiliates have stated that they will air the ad. This makes it obvious that the refusal to air the ad is NOT due to policy. It is a single decision, made to grease the wheels of further media consolidation.

What I find most disturbing is that the ad...called controversial...simply states a fact and asks a question. If that is too controversial for television...even during the Super Bowl...then what other "controversial" issues are we being "protected" from? And if the ploy DOES result in the easing of the FCC rules, where will CBS go from here? What other "controversial" issues will we only get to see in the wee hours...or during Star Search...the TV equivalent of page 14 of Section B?

Visit www.moveon.org. You'll learn a lot, like I did.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Planet Bush - Alien life found here on Earth?

Today, I watched video of President Bush holding a "photo opportunity" after meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In the midst of answering a question about the questionable statements made in the State of the Union address, Bush made the following statement,"The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region".

Read this carefully...it is a direct quote of our President. He states that Hussein wouldn't let inspectors in. I do not believe I'm being a "revisionist" to say that Bush and our government told the inspectors to LEAVE Iraq, while the inspectors themselves felt that they were making good progress. WE told them to leave or face the dangers of war. What planet is Bush from?

Are the lies of this administration piling up so high that they can't remember what is the truth anymore? What could Bush have possibly have meant that could explain this blatantly ridiculous statement? Or are these statements in an alien language that SOUNDS like English, but is actually some kind of alien code?

Hans Blix, the former head of the UN weapons inspection team, has made public comments about his belief that the US bluffed its way into this war, and bluffed the American people AND Congress into supporting it. He has repeatedly said that he felt that Iraq had dismantled or destroyed most if not all of the banned weapons that he had supposedly possessed.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly denounced the intelligence that Iraq sought uranium from Niger, saying the intelligence was based on proven forged documents, well BEFORE the State of the Union Address.

Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector, has flatly accused this administration of lying to the American people, Congress and it's allies to push a case for war.

These aren't rabid liberal Democrats, folks. These are the people that were THERE.

Since the fall of Baghdad, we have heard the President say that WMD HAD been found...it turned out to be two trailers used to produce hydrogen for weather balloons, and the technology to build them was given to Iraq by...Britain!

We have heard Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say that the airstrike on a bunker...on the first day of the war...was clearly successful, and that they had photos of what took place. Now we know that when troops dug out the area which was bombed, they found nothing...no bodies, no bunker, just a big hole in the ground.

We have heard the President say without a doubt that Iraq possessed weapons which posed a direct and imminent threat to the security of the US. We have thus far found NOTHING to support this claim.

We have heard Rumsfeld state that perhaps the WMD were hidden or looted. Of course, if these weapons had been looted, why haven't those that looted them used them on the American troops. Instead, they have used guns, grenades, mortars, etc. Why would Iraqis allow these weapons to rot underground or hold them and not USE them? Even now? There is only one compelling answer...

The President stated that there were several reasons for war IMMEDIATELY...

Weapons of Mass Destruction which posed a direct threat to the US.

The liberation of the Iraqi people.

The failure of UN weapons inspectors to root out and destroy the WMD.

Now we are seeing the truth...

The WMD, if they existed at all, may never be found and were certainly not used at any time, even as we marched on Baghdad.

The Iraqi people are in utter chaos, and certainly not welcoming our troops as liberators.

The weapons inspectors appear to have done their jobs exceedingly well.

Am I being a revisionist to say that the administration misled us into war? Am I being revisionist to say that this administration continues to assert truths that are at the very least questionable?

Am I being a revisionist to suggest that the administration had ulterior motives for engaging in this war, motives that they dared not raise along with the other, presumably NOBLE, motives?

Then call me a revisionist. Just don't call me blind, deaf and dumb.

Or better yet...call me a Canadian. It feels cleaner.

Luckily, we still have elections. My vote counts...er...well, okay, call me a Canadian...I'd rather BE an alien than live in a country run by one.

The big question...is he the only one or is the invasion already in the advanced stages?


Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Freedom - The American Definition

They were a proud, simple people. They lived off the land, they warred with neighbors, and they held very different beliefs. We began to perceive them as a threat. We eventually felt compelled to eliminate this threat.

We sent in troops with superior training and superior equipment to eliminate this threat. We never stopped to question our motives, or to try to understand their ways...we didn't have to. Our motives were just...because they were OUR motives. Understanding their ways was silly...their ways were not going to be around anymore.

We fought battles on many fronts. We suffered casualties...they suffered more. We imposed a new government on them.

We used many justifications...they were savages; they hated us; they had brutal leaders; they didn't worship our god. In the end, they gave us the best justification. They began to fight back. In small skirmishes, night-time raids, one by one, making life frightening for our guys. They were terrorists. No more justification needed. We began to root them out, eradicating the threat.

We sent in people to rule them...people not of their land. We sought to teach them the "error" of their ways. We tried to convince them that we were "liberating" them...showing them a better way. We offered them "freedom".

Soon, we proclaimed the "war" over, and moved on to the next "threat".

The people we "liberated" were under our control, allowed a modicum of "freedom", but within a framework of OUR creation.

They're much better off.

As we begin another week of the Iraqi occupation, it would serve us well to remember this story.

As you see the news about our guys being shot or shelled by small bands of "terrorists", remember this story.

As you wonder what these people could have against us, why they could be anti-American, remember this story.

As you wonder how a leader could attempt to systematically exterminate an entire race within his own borders, remember this story.

As you wonder why anyone questions our motives...our way of life...remember this story.

Remember this story well. It has already been taught to you...probably in elementary school...while it may have been taught in a different way, using different words. The story doesn't take place in Iraq. It is an American story...THE American story.

It is the story of the Native Americans.

We have shown the world what kind of people we are.

Any questions?


Friday, May 30, 2003

Back in the saddle...again. :^)

Your resident curmudgeon returns with a vengeance...and a mouthful.

On partisan politics...I received an e-mail today which re ignited the increasingly tiresome Democrat/Republican debate. While I will rarely shy away from a debate, it is becoming plain to me that the issues we are all beginning to face are several levels above the "partisan politics" milieu. It may be just me, but I find that more and more, the stuff I hear politicians talking about seem totally irrelevant to the real dangers we face today. It's as if the steady chatter of Dems reaming Reps, and the Reps reaming back is just to keep us occupied.

I got this feeling very strongly after 9/11. I read where the President had been at a school when the planes started hitting the buildings. He knew a plane had hit the Trade Center before he went into a classroom of small children to participate in a reading program. At the time, it was assumed that the crash had been a terrible accident. As soon as the 2nd plane hit however, and it was clear that we were under attack, Andy Card steps up to the President and whispers, "Another plane has hit the tower, we are under attack". He absorbs this statement, tenses, and then relaxes again and resumes listening to the children read...for 20 minutes.

At this moment, I wondered, why wasn't the President whisked away by a bevy of Secret Service men? Why was he sitting there while the remaining planes homed in on their targets? Why? Because he wasn't really in charge anyway. The mechanisms that began turning in the wake of the attacks was not under the control of the President. He had no way of knowing what was going on, no way of ordering ANY action, and no one seemed to think that was odd. For him to say it was to keep from frightening the children is too ludicrous for words. Any previous President would have been quick to gracefully excuse himself from the classroom, and immediately expect a full briefing. Once it was clear that planes were in the air that had deviated from their flight paths, and were unresponsive to communications, he would have made a grave decision to have the planes shot down. Perhaps they wouldn't have made it in time. As it is, it apparently isn't anyone's concern. The President demanded to be returned to Washington, and was denied. He was shuttled to two different bases...all the while invisible to the people. And no one seems to think that's odd. We have effectively been weaned from the President. We all know deep down that he doesn't run the country. He is advised by his oil patch buddies, and policy is created to benefit these corporations that spent so much money to get them in there.

This isn't a rant against George Bush. I have no malice there. I have seen the enemy...and it is what Republican President and General Dwight Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex". The ones that run this country.

On the grocery shelf...I picked up a package of "Uh-Oh Oreos" the other day. The cookie part is beige shortbread, and the filling is chocolate. They're not bad, but they remind me of a cookie I used to get when I was little...it had the same shortbread cookie, but with some kind of "starburst" pattern, and chocolate filling. Odd, but I remember those old cookies being better than these new Oreos. Maybe it's just the weirdness of eating a "backwards" Oreo, though.

And tonight, I picked up a package of Chocolate Cream Oreos...with "double-stuff"!!! NOW, we're talking! We're back to the great chocolate cookie, but with a nice, chocolate double-shot of cream filling. Yum!!!

On fast-food...We have been picking up food from drive-through windows for over 30 years. Computers, wireless communications, nutritional advances, and competition have increased both the quality of fast-food and the efficiency with which it may be produced. So, why is it that we can't seem to reliably get home with what we ordered and paid for? Out of the past 4 times I bought fast-food, from 4 different restaurants, twice the order was incorrect. And guess which way? Nope, neither time did I get anything EXTRA!! The error always seems to benefit the restaurant. But how can this be? With the computerized, modernized, infinitely quantized state of the art in fast-food, how does a double cheeseburger appear on the cook's screen, appear on the display at the order menu, appear on the receipt, and not make it into the bag? And when you add up ALL the errors, is it enough of a profit center to suggest that it is intentional? Are they possibly shorting a percentage of meals...knowing that the vast majority will just cuss and get on with it. I don't know, but it would be interesting to know what it costs us in total nationwide. I'm cynical enough to believe that this isn't only a localized problem. :^)

On the radio...The doctors in Iraq, who had been treating Jessica Lynch, offered the hospital keys to the soldiers who came to "rescue" her. They turned down the keys, opting instead to bust down the doors. Further, there were no Iraqi soldiers there, and there was no resistance mounted, save the stunned doctors who figured they were about to die when the commandos stormed the place. I have nothing to say to that. But I wont forget it.

On CBS...Due to an "11th hour" change in the great TAX CUT, millions of lower income, WORKING families will not receive ANY benefit from the cut. Of course, Ari Fleischer said that it wasn't the fault of the President. Nope. Not his fault or responsibility. Those expert representatives in Congress, wanting to be sure to hold the cut to $350 billion, lopped off a few million potential beneficiaries. Of course, they lopped the millions off the bottom of the pile, ensuring that the wealthy will get their money. I hope they all enjoy it.

Until next time. Great to be back!


Sunday, April 27, 2003

George Bush believes that helping rich people will get him re-elected.

The President's tax cut proposal has as its centerpiece the elimination of income tax on stockholders' dividends. This disproportionately benefits the top 1% of taxpayers.

The country is reeling...from job market uncertainties, residual mistrust in the financial industry, and Congressional shell shock. Into this mix, add the costs of 911, the airline bailouts, the creation and staffing of the Homeland Security Dept., and the massive costs of the war. Now, the President is proposing a $700 billion tax cut. There is...understandably...a growing suspicion that the administration is grossly out of touch with the realities of post-911 and post-Iraqi Freedom America.

Living in Houston, a center for several industries, including Petrochemical, IT, and Space Science, it has been difficult seeing companies like Enron, Dynegy, Compaq, NASA, and many others finding massive lay-offs the only way to survive in the "post/post" economy. Very few of my friends and acquaintances have been unaffected by this downturn.
The outlook in other nearby cities, like Dallas, is very similar...bleak. When jobs are found, the pay rates are considerably less than before. The relative casual-ness has been replaced with a frenzied, frantic race to protect one's own turf, or to promote popular ideas at the expense of good ideas. Those hired are expected to do the work of several, and are often given conflicting directives from the various layers of middle-management.
The result is a streamlined, efficient, tight-knit operationally effective unit...yeah, right. The result is a level of very bright, capable employees forever doomed to the bottom rung by barely-older managers jockeying to cement their own positions. The result is a workforce cynical of working for anyone. Anyone who followed the American Airlines story can see the hypocrisy at work. the executives told the unions they HAD to accept huge pay cuts to avoid bankruptcy. Three unions agreed to these pay cuts. Shortly afterward, American revealed a secret pension fund, to be for the benefit of 47 specific executives, and protected even if the company declared bankruptcy. It was also revealed that American was planning to pay millions of dollars in "retention bonuses" to a number of executives. The unions were...understandably...outraged that they had been so duped. As each of the unions planned to re-vote on the pay cuts, American agreed to eliminate the retention bonuses, but the pension fund remained. Since then, the CEO of American has been replaced, and the unions reaffirmed the paycuts, so perhaps in the end all will be well. The sting however, and the cynicism remain.

In the wake of Enron, and the other high-profile financial scandals of the last couple of years, there is still a deep-seated mistrust of the financial industry. As thousands saw their investment and 401K savings evaporate, high-level executives seem to have sold their shares in time to reap huge profits. The war seems to have been waged, in part at least, to secure the flow of oil from Iraq. Also, the war has been...or promises to be...a profitable thing for a number of companies with ties to people in the administration. I think we all see a troubling sign there. If we acted in Iraq on false pretenses, i.e., disarming Iraq of WMD that they don't appear to have, then one very obvious motive arises in the lucrative contracts for rebuilding what we just spent millions of dollars bombing...albeit with precision. ; ^ )

The Congress, after granting the President broad powers...of questionable Constitutionality...to wage war in the wake of 911, furthered the damage by passing the Homeland Security Act, and then the USA Patriot Act. Please read these laws if you are able. This is sobering stuff, and strikes at the very heart of what we supposedly were "preserving" after the tragedy...the American way of life. Osama bin Laden could hardly be happier with the result of his 911 "folly". We have responded by creating the closest thing to a police state since our founding as a nation. In fact, the laws currently governing our land make the President a virtual dictator. Any dissenting view can be construed as a "threat" to "National Security". The President is culpable for asking for these powers and laws. Congress, in passing them, has acted reprehensibly. They acted out of false patriotism, in haste, and in the extreme...just as bin Laden SAID we would. Al Qaeda 1...US 0. In the final analysis, the first casualty of 911?...the America we once knew.

The times since 911 have been very expensive...the clean-up of the Trade Centers, the bail-out of the airlines, the Bureaucracy created to ensure Homeland Security, and of course the war itself. These have all contributed to the disappearance of the budget surpluses we enjoyed just before 911. We are back to decifit-spending...something that seemed to have gone the way of polio or ironically, smallpox. Defecits have been revived with a vengeance, and to consider a massive tax cut whose main beneficiary would be the wealthiest 1% of the populace would be ludicrous. To put it simply, this tax cut will increase federal deficits. Increasing federal deficits forces interest rates to go up. Rising interest rates make homes and cars more expensive. Rising interest rates make college unattainable to all but the wealthiest. This tax cut will benefit the wealthy at the expense of those that have to borrow to live. The tax cut will benefit those who don't need to borrow. You and I will pay more for the things that define the "American Dream", if we can afford them at all. Meanwhile, we will all have to wait patiently for the tax benefit given the wealthy to "trickle down" to us underlings. Fat Chance. Remember "Reaganomics"? Let's see, wasn't it known better as "Voodoo economics"?

None of this of course even begins to include the cost of the ongoing "War on Terrorism". Remember, we haven't caught Osama bin Laden, or the Anthrax terrorist, or Saddam Hussein. We still have work to do rebuilding Afghanistan, and then Iraq. We appear to be heading toward conflict in No. Korea, and possibly Syria and Iran, and just today there's indications that we are heading toward trouble with Cuba. What will be the costs of these battles, whether fought militarily or diplomatically? Is the current environment conducive to granting "bonuses" to the rich, while increasing the costs to those most in need?

This tax cut is too expensive. It will drive up prices to those that can least afford it, and increase the wealth of those that least need it. How does this make sense? After all of the above, how can we afford this, too? The CEO of American Airlines was sacked for less.

Unfortunately, I'm in the wrong 1% of the populace, and can only sit and wonder. Oh, and I can vote in November.