Saturday, June 02, 2007

An Inconvenient Simularity

As Al Gore spoke, I was personally struck by how much he talks like I write - and how LONG he talks. But then, nobody ever once accused me of writing two short. And like me, he tosses out ten-dollar words that are outside the common vocabulary without thinking twice about it. In fact, probably without thinking about it at all; much less that it might affect how people view him. Professor Gore is in fine form here, actually managing to appear as non-robotic as I've ever seen him.

But never mind the presentation. Listen to what he has to say. Take his words at face value - and don't be embarrassed if you have to pause and look up "venial." No one has to know and doing that makes you twice as smart as people who won't, three times as smart as those who will pretend they know what the word means. Because in this case, he's using the word precisely in context, and there is no other word that would mean precisely that.

This is the full, excruciatingly long, way over 15 minutes full version of Al Gore's speech about his new book, "The Assault on Reason," presented May 29, 2007.

You can find all sorts of "condensed" and "highlights" versions on YouTube, but I think it's important to endure the entire thing, rather than going for the largely political applause lines. In fact, the main context of this speech is a completely apolitical history lesson regarding the origins of our political system and the importance it places on a free, fertile and passionate "marketplace of ideas."

He's clearly done his homework, and frankly, up to the point where he starts drawing conclusions from the facts he presents, I don't think it's possible for a reasonable person to disagree. I do not happen to disagree with his conclusions, such as "the invasion of Iraq was a mistake," though we may well have some significant disagreement as to whether his facts or mine were more significant in determining it.

Where we do agree is that reasonable people can - and indeed MUST disagree, that it's their patriotic DUTY to argue in the public square until every angle and objection has been aired, examined and the full truth emerges. If the "truth" is a foregone conclusion, presented you on a platter for you to disseminate, this is not the American democratic process as envisioned by our Founders.

He quotes M. Scott Peck who said in "A Road Less Traveled;" "Evil is the absence of truth." And I find that is a concept I must agree with; from every perspective from practical to spiritual.

Far too much of the "information" presented the American people, the information they need to form reasoned and informed decisions are, in fact, lies; lies of ommission and commission. Furthermore, this rot has been going on for a very long time. I can think of examples dating back to the Spanish-American War.

I have much more to say about this, and perhaps I'll get the chance to expand this further, but it's looking like a long weekend filled with Real Life, so I'll just stop now.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stylin' from Dilation

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by Bob King.

I just got this photo off my phone; that's how I looked after my eye dilation, when my need for cataract surgery was confirmed a month ago. I'm due for surgery in July, but have my first pre-op consultation on the 18th of June. My wife is going nuts because now she's the Queen Of All Errands; I'm not safe to drive until I get my eyeballs working again, which between post-op recovery and new glasses could stretch out to late August.

Right now, one eye is useless for reading and the other is seriously degraded, and since it gets a tiny bit worse every day, my brain just can't catch up and cope. It really makes me tired and cranky.

Cranky enough to look forward to people playing with my eyeballs.

Meanwhile, they tell me that the anesthetic they are giving me isn't exactly - mostly it just makes you forget the whole experience afterwards. Yeah, cold comfort to a multiple - MORE repressed memories! Whee!

But we have to do it for the littles - they are getting seriously reading-deprived. I'm probably going to celebrate by catching up on my Honor Harrington!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CBS fires former general for speaking truth is supporting a petition drive to pressure CBS into re-hiring General John Batiste.

While I think CBS should offer him his job back, I'm not at all certain that returning to work there is appropriate to a man of his stature and dignity. When CBS clearly was more reluctant to dispose of Don Imus for racist remarks than the General for speaking truth to power, CBS declared itself to be on the Bushite side of reality, and no longer worthy of the mantle or privileges of the Fifth Estate.

There are far more worthy outlets for the General's words and I imagine that even now, many are making their wishes clear. He is of course, welcome here - but alas, I cannot pay him what he's worth. These days, military officers who understand their constitutional oaths are depressingly scarce - and like most of such officers, Batiste is not welcome in the military.

Perhaps the Great States of California, Kansas or the City of New York might be interested in acquiring his services to establish "well regulated militias" to fill in for the missing National Guard troops and equipment.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

TPM Via Firedoglake - The AG Scandal Money Quotes

Just when I think I'm done for the day, I run into this:
TPM - Last week, we learned that prosecutor purge scandal had wreaked so much havoc at the Justice Department that no one wants to apply to replace Paul McNulty as the Deputy Attorney General. ("I'd rather trade places with Jose Padilla," joked Viet Dinh, a former senior Justice official under then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.)

This week, we learn that no one wants to be a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney, either.
Well, now; ain't THAT a fine kettle of fish. Whoda thunk that being a US Attorney could be a bad thing to have on your resume. Today, it seems, it means you are either a completely unethical Bush hack, or so desperate for a job, you'll do anything for money.
Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Tales From The Department Of Justice: "The fact that even conservatives are running away from the Bush-tainted DoJ in droves, and refusing to be considered for positions either at the Department itself or as USAs ought to be of great concern to all of us. (H/T TPM.) Prosecutions for criminal conduct must be undertaken with seriousness, and where positions remain unfilled, the communities that are meant to be served suffer. Everywhere. After reading through all of this, and considering that Rep. Conyers has asked for more testimony from Moschella and McNulty, and has expressed concerns about testimonial veracity questions about AG Gonzales as well, I can only say: more of this openness from folks who are fed up and disgusted, please. It is about damned time — because only full and complete sunshine on all of this is going to save the DoJ. "
Gee, I wonder what would happen should it become apparent there was equivalent unrest at the Pentagon and CIA.

Looking back at the Iraq War, and who's on record

I found this, unattributed, on the web. Given how old it is, it's astonishing how little effect all this good advice has had.

Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Head of Central Command for U.S.:"It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot, and are hot to go to war, see it another…We are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started."Hawks in the Bush administration may be making deadly miscalculations on Iraq, says Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's Middle East envoy. "I'm not sure which planet they live on"

James Webb, former Sec. of Navy under Ronald Reagan, Decorated Marine Veteran: "Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years? …In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets…. Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall."

Norman Schwarzkopf - Four Star General:"The general who commanded U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War says he hasn't seen enough evidence to convince him that his old comrades Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz are correct in moving toward a new war now. He thinks U.N. inspections are still the proper course to follow. He's worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan, and even more by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq….(And don't get him started on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld)"

Col. David Hackworth;:"Should the president decide to stay the war course, hopefully at least a few of our serving top-uniformed leaders - those who are now covertly leaking that war with Iraq will be an unparalleled disaster - will do what many Vietnam-era generals wish they would have done: stand tall and publicly tell the America people the truth about another bad war that could well lead to another died-in-vain black wall. Or even worse."

Republican Dissent on IraqFull page ad in Wall Street Journal by major GOP contributors: "Mr. President, …The candidate we supported in 2000 promised a more humble nation in our dealings with the world. We gave him our votes and our campaign contributions. That candidate was you. We feel betrayed. We want our money back. We want our country back…. A Billion Bitter enemies will rise out of this war." - Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2003

General(ret)William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency:"Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends…. I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defense and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaeda. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic."

An invasion of Iraq would isolate the US from the rest of the world and ... Any attack would also further destabilize a Middle East..."

In 1999, Dilip Hiro, a veteran Middle Eastern observer, wrote, "How will such a new ruler cope with inevitable bloodletting as thousands of Iraqis who have suffered under Saddam's rule, kill intelligence agents and Baath party officials? How will Iran, with a network of agents and sympathizers among Iraqi Shi'ites, respond to a pro-US general in Baghdad? How will Syria’s President Assad, surrounded by hostile Israel, unfriendly Turkey and an untested young King of Jordan, react to the emergence of a pro-US regime to the east? No prizes for the answers, which, point toward a civil war in post-Saddam Iraq, which will inevitably draw in Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and destabilize the whole region."

Dick Cheney in April 1991, then Defense Secretary:If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein,you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists?How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?

President GHW Bush, 1998;"Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Brent Scowcroft, one of the Republican Party’s most respected foreign policy advisors, and national security adviser under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush: "Don't Attack Saddam It would undermine our antiterror efforts. "Our pre-eminent security priority--underscored repeatedly by the president--is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken."

”We have a stronger jihadi presence in Iraq today than in March 2003,” noted Roger Cressey, the former director for Transnational Threats in Bush's National Security Council at a briefing at the libertarian Cato Institute earlier this week.

Worldwide terrorism-related deaths on the rise

/US Losing the War on Terror in Iraq; The invasion of Iraq has increased, not decreased. the threat of terrorist attack

Occupation Made World Less Safe, Pro-War Institute Says

Iraq Invasion Hurt War on Terror

Musharraf: World more dangerous because of Iraq War

Blix Says Iraq War May Have Worsened Terror Threat

Poll: Aussies, Brits, Italians say Iraq war increased terrorism

Iraq "intervention" increased threat of terrorism

UK Government; Iraq war 'increased terror threat'

Iraq war has swollen ranks of al Qaeda,3604,10...

US State Department Corrects Report to Show Rise in Terrorism

/Iraq has become a terrorist spawning ground, CIA admits

Amnesty Slams "Bankrupt" Vision of US in Damning Rights Report

Poll: Bush 'Biggest Threat to Justice and Peace'

'SQUANDERED SYMPATHY'; Poll reveals world anger at Bush,3604,13...

For the first time, statistics show world's dislike of Bush translating into dislike of Americans in general...,12271,1394393,00....

I think that given all the predictions of disaster, it's prudent to assume that just such a disaster was the intent.

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