Monday, May 28, 2007

A not-so-good salute to the nation

Before any of you "God-Bless-America-and-no-place-else" folks out there get offended by this video (*ahem, Mr. "Anonymous"), let me point out beforehand that this is a mockery of the no-talent 'divas' who often abuse the National Anthem; not the National Anthem itself. With that disclaimer out of the way, enjoy! Thanks Kim.

I wanna also wish you all a Happy Memorial Day!


Friday, May 25, 2007

The Demo-cowards

In a previous post, I pointed out how the Democrats would only support the troops to an extent where it does not jeopardize their political chances in ’08. Sadly, they just recently proved me right.

In a sickening and cowardly display, the sad bunch of weaklings we put in power last November essentially ignored the very mandate that put them in control when they recently gave in to President Bush by settling for a bill that will not only continue to fund this nonsensical war in Iraq, but to do so without timetables. Despite rallying support from the majority of the country with the promises to end this war, the Democrats have – in turned – thrown in the towel, allowed for additional funds to continuously pay for the war, and have not set any reasonable times for us to get the hell out.

On the one hand, I understand how the President’s vetoes and having too many of Bush’s buddies in Congress to override those vetoes would lead to a certain level of nihilism from the Dems. But is this really why we tried to clean house last November? The Dems have completely relinquished any legitimate chances they had to ending this war. In doing so, they validated everything that Bush, his buddies, and virtually every Republican pundit in the nation has been saying about them.

Simply put; much like the Cowardly Lion depicted above, the Democrats are pussies.

Keith Olberman, justifiably, didn’t let them off the hook. Neither should we.

Stories like this only fuel my contention that having legitimate third and fourth parties is critical if we are ever to restore a sense of functionality in our political system. What the American political system needs now more than ever are independent parties who are not scared of standing up for what’s right and taking on those in the mainstream; even at the risk of losing ground politically.

To the Democrats’ credit, they were right on one thing. The people did speak during the last election. But sadly, nobody; not the President, not Congress, not anybody; was listening.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Freedom of the press: A casuality of war

A little while ago, the Hippie Conservative wrote a series of great pieces (here, here, and here) about the role of the government and media when it comes to disseminating information to the masses. Though I agreed with every aspect of these observations (which is starting to happen a lot more often lately. Am I becoming HC, Jr.?!), I still find myself increasing frustrated at the extent to which agents in the government and the media have highjacked our understanding of the world's issues.

Ostensibly, journalists have an obligation to uncover and report the truths and -- most importantly -- to do so without bias or apprehension. Doing so leads the rest of us to make informed decisions about our day-to-day activities; particularly related to our response to our elected officials. But what I''ve started to notice lately is that when it comes to reporting; especially with the so-called "War on Terrorism", the hurdles that journalists face not only impact our ability to know what our elected officials are doing on behalf of all of us, but these obstacles also establish a pattern that should make anybody who is committed to democracy shake in their books.

Just the other night in class, for example we watched a powerful, but unnerving documentary that pinpoints the process by which the lives and activities of millions of normal citizens are being closely monitored by the government in a pre-emptive effort to alleviate possible terrorist threats. It's frightening to think that this type of intrusion by the government is allowed to be implemented; though it clearly annuls the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the ultra-scary USA PATRIOT Act allows for a gag orders to be placed on the person being violated if a special subpoena known as a National Sercuity Letter is utilized to obtain the information. Let me put this another way: The government can essentially dredge into our personal lives without our knowledge or consent and is not required to provide justification for doing so. Furthermore, if we are ordered to relinquish personal information to the government, we're not at liberty to tell other people about it.

Not only are we not allowed to know what the government is doing with our personal information, we are often left in the dark about what they can (and actually do) to those who are committed to reporting the truth. I was shocked to hear that in the UK last week, two reporters were imprisoned for divulging a confidential memorandum (the infamous 10 Downing Street memo) which detailed a 2004 exchange between Pres. Bush and former British PM Blair; where Bush reportedly suggested stricking Qatar; where the Al Jazeera Network is located; because of how the station's coverage of the war could possibly cause major impediments to the public perception about what's actually going on in Iraq. Though the specific contents and tone of the memo have been argued (folks in the Bush Administration say Bush was only joking. Of course we'll never know since the documents have been sealed), the end result of the memo could have easily led to dire international consequences. Not only has Qatar been an outsider in the Middle Eastern conflict in which we're currently engaged, but they have actually allowed for many progressive movements (both in the media and in government) that are close being held in the same regard as the West. Some would make the argument that this is exactly why this type of information should not be leaked; so as to avoid causing an international incident. I say this whistleblowing needs to happen so we can bring our leaders to bear on the actions they take; which could ultimately put us all in a terrible bind.

In another case, I was pretty suprised to hear during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, snippets of a report where Alberto Gonzales had his hand caught in the cookie jar, though much of the media was blind to it in their reporting. Gonzales (who was the White House counsel at the time) and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card essentially tag-teamed against former Attorney General John Ashcroft while he was hospitalized in an effort to get him to approve wiretaps from the NSA. Interestingly, Ashcroft was against it (who would've thought that...?). It was only after I watched an hour of C-SPAN coverage that I found that out. To my knowledge, nothing was reported about this on CNN, MSNBC, or -- no suprise here -- Fox News. Who at these networks would want to potentially damage their reputation by stepping up and uncovering this news?

Speaking of ruining repuations, I would be remissed if I didn't mention the notorious Valerie Plame affair. In an attempt to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson (after he refuted the Bush Adminstration's reports of Iraqi yellowcake uranium purchases from Niger), top White Officials leaked the identity of Wilson's wife; a then CIA-operative. In doing so, they not only jeopardized her life, but the lives of all of her international contacts and the hoards of anti-terrorist intel she accumulated during her tenure. This was a clear indication that openly expressing the truth was not without its consequences.

After the attacks of 9/11, President Bush told the world that the terrorists hate us because of our freedom; which includes the freedom of the press. This idea, however, is highly predicated on whether or not policies are enacted that actually DO protect those freedoms and more importantly, whether or not oversight is allowed for the officials we elected to protect those freedoms. But when I hear stories where the media is regulated and the Constitution is pissed on (i.e. when due process is tossed out the window or when Habeous Corpus is mere afterthought), my faith in our "freedoms" and those who "protect" them becomes more and more scarce.

Perhaps the best way to keeping people from hating us because of our freedom it to take it away.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Olly olly oxen free

What's up, party people?!

Your boy's alive and well. No need take out a missing person's ad.


I'm not hiding out from the world. I haven't forgotten about the folks out there in the cyberspace. And I certainly haven't been without my fair share of rants and observations about all the shit that's been going on in the world. It's just that I've been SUPER busy with the job, my studies, and life in general. But this is the life I chose, so I'm left to deal with it the best way I can.

I'll be back pretty soon with lots to talk about. I promise.