Sunday, March 19, 2006


Numbers. Math. Numbers. It always comes down to the numbers.

Administration poll numbers are down and the number of Americans dead in Iraq are up (2311 earlier today and counting), but no one counts the maimed, the injured or the irreparably damaged on both sides, the number of years it will take to rebuild Iran, the number of hours of electricity that can be counted on each day or the number of children who will be born with defects due to the use of depleted uranium by US forces.

The debt ceiling has been raised to $9 trillion so that we can keep spending money, money that belongs to my granddaughters and their granddaughters.

Three years on and the world is worse than ever -- Iraq, Gaza, America, the real Triangle of Death. Cheney, Rumsfield and Rove -- the real Axis of Evil. Washington, DC and Crawford, TX -- the real Outposts of Tyranny.

Today the talking heads on the morning shows were debating the definition of a civil war and analyzing the success of the latest air war in the so-called Sunni Triangle. Reading River's blog at "Baghdad Burning" and wondering if anyone at CNN, MSNBC, or even the Pentagon, has spoken with a real live Iraqi in the last three years. Not the Iraqi talking heads living in the relative comfort of the Green Zone or the Iraqi exiles who returned after the Mission was Accomplished, but a real Iraqi, living somewhere in Baghdad or Ramadi or Samara. But guess what, folks, it's hard to get the opinion of the man or woman on the Arab Street if the Iraqi is terrified to leave the relative safety of his/her home or apartment and if the one asking the questions never steps foot on the street without a military or paramilitary escort and a team of translators and the experts reporting from Baghdad each evening never leave the roofs of their hotels.

(Three years on and we still don't have an Arabic speaking military. It's not brain surgery, guys. It's a language. Children learn it. Or are they busy studying Farsi in anticipation of the next great experiment in forcing democracy and "civilization" down the throats of yet another people -- more on the looming threat to Iran later ...)

Meanwhile, the third anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie by Israeli forces using a Caterpillar bulldozer went largely unmarked in the mainstream media. This was supposed to be "Sunshine Week", the week in which the media would shine some light on what goes on behind the scenes in government. But that's a bit hard to do if the Senate is proposing legislation that could result in the arrest and jailing of journalists who disclose information about government surveillance programs or any other information which could be classified or re-classified at a later date (retroactively making the disclosure of same a crime).

Al-Jazeera is reporting that the UN is warning that starvation is just around the corner for 1.5 million souls in Gaza since for the past two months the border crossings are not allowing wheat flour to enter the Strip (nor allowing greenhouse grown produce to get to market, thereby strangling any hope of an economically independent Palestine). Forty percent of the children in Gaza already suffer from malnutrition. Palestinian funds are frozen and the Israeli ministers are calling the lack of flour and foodstuffs "a diet". I don't see too many Israeli politicians going hungry ...

Secretary of State Rice has testified that there is no greater threat to America and Israel than Iran but no one -- and I truly mean no one -- has offered a shred of proof to back up her statement that Iran (whose clerics have issued fatwas against nuclear weapons) is hundreds of times more dangerous now than ever. Hundreds of times? A hundred times zero is -- well, zero. You do the math.

(A snarky aside that I just can't resist -- Speaking of math, last year CNN's Kyra Phillips did an interview with a spokeswoman from the Texas Eagle Forum who was trying to pass legislation in Texas to prevent homosexuals from fostering and/or adopting children. She claimed to have a study that showed that children raised in gay and/or lesbian households were 11 times more likely to become gay -- not 11%, 11 times! Phillips did not ask the name of the study nor did she question the math. Okay, folks: Social scientists agree that one in ten people (that's 10 percent) of the general population, worldwide, is homosexual. So, following the math presented on CNN if one in 10 children are gay and the other nine are 11 times more likely to become gay if raised in a homosexual environment, then 99% of non-gay children raised in a homosexual home will become gay. Didn't anyone bother to check the facts or the numbers on that one?)

The only number which seems to have any meaning anymore is the number of days left before the next presidential election, which I believe is 963 and counting down ... Feel free to check my math and get back to me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tone Deaf? Tone Deaf??

If I hear one more pundit say the Administration and/or Bush is "tone deaf" I may never be able to stop screaming. Bush is to tone deaf as Ray Charles was to near sighted! Where do they come up with these inane phrases? Is there a committee? Or can anyone submit the phrase of the week: We do not do torture. We don't want to play the Blame Game. You're either with us or you're with the enemy. We can't comment on an ongoing investigation. Freedom is on the march. We'll stand down when the Iraqis stand up. No one imagined that the storm would breach the levies. We've turned a corner.

Well, there's a corner I'd like for them to turn (180 degrees) -- tell the American people the truth. Bush is not Jack Nicholson and Americans can handle the truth. Don't compare apples and tennis shoes. There is no comparison. The truth is the truth; there are no mixed realities. Keep it simple.

We've gotten into Iraqi based on lies and greed and hubris. We don't know how to get out. We've wasted billions in funds, buckets of blood, tons of depleted uranium and thousands of lives. All of the reconstruction money has gone into building prisons, hard bases and outsourcing security. And there is no "coalition of the willing" -- only the "coalition of the oops, where did everybody go ..." We can't keep trying to micro-manage the world, the United Nations, South America and the Middle East. It's not what the American people want. (And no one else wants us meddling in their business.) We've done some very, very bad things but we'll own up to them if given the chance. Truth and reconciliation can work.

Instead of threatening the press with sedition for publishing leaks, we should be rewarding whistle blowers. And it's ridiculous and confusing to classify then declassify and then reclassify bits of information at whim. Who the hell can keep track? We should all stick our heads out the window and yell, "What part of 'bend over' are we not understanding?" 'Cause we're all getting screwed by an administration that believes that the only entitlements are their own, that a plant can be called a leak, that poverty is a crime, that plausible deniability is equal to ignorance as an excuse for stupidity or cupidity, that blatant racism can be covered up, that it's okay to practice selective ethics, that hubris is a virtue, that liberal is a four-letter word, that torture and extraordinary rendition and wiretapping are acceptable practices that can be excused because of a fabricated war on an unknown enemy for an endless amount of time, that tapes and transcripts will and can disappear and, that if caught, one can plead that one is tone deaf ...