Thursday, September 28, 2006

And the Foot In Mouth Award Goes To....

Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) was quoted today as saying he didn’t understand why Sunni and Shiite Muslims are killing each other in Iraq. Does he really mean this? I hope to heaven he’s attempting to make some other point. Because, if he really doesn’t understand this, then we are in far worse shape than I thought.

Mr. Lott's direct quote,

It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.

was reported today by CNN after a meeting at the Capitol with the President. He also responded that the subject of the Iraq War didn't come up and that the media was the only group obsessed with the war and that
We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

Oh, really? It would seem that perhaps Mr. Lott and whoever makes up the mysterious "We" he refers to would be wise to obsess over Iraq. After over $300B spent and almost 3 thousand dead US soldiers, one would hope that the United States Senate,

The Most Deliberative Body in the World


would spend some time figuring out why Sunnis and Shia's are blowing each other up.

The statement Mr. Lott makes would almost be funny if it didn't portray the type of institutional ignorance our government has regarding other cultures. This isn't the first time Mr. Lott has opened his mouth and inserted his wingtip. Most of us recall the lauditory comments regarding Strom Thurmond that got him stripped of his Senate Majority Leader post.

Mr. Lott, it's not hard to understand sectarian violence. It's not hard to understand the violence between the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq. One simply has to read. There's this thing called the library. You might want to try visiting one some time and taking advantage of the people who have actually taken the time to understand the problem. Your decisions and votes might just be a little better informed and the people of Mississippi might be a little less embarassed that one of their elected officials is without a clue as to what is going on in Iraq.

If Mr. Lott's comments are indicative of the opinions held by the majority of our elected officials in the Congress, then this provides a terrific example of why the incumbents in Washington need to be run out of town on a rail.

Either Mr. Lott is a total ignoramus or simply attempting to distract the electorate from the cesspool that Iraq has become.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lord Byron


Texas lost another giant yesterday. Byron Nelson died at his ranch at the age of 94. Byron wasn't just a professional golfer. He was one of the best golfers who ever played the game. Nelson's record 11 tournament victories in a row and 18 victories in a season may one day be eclipsed, but the grace, class and overall character of the man will never be diminished. One of golf's greatest ambassador's, Nelson was a man of moral conviction. He had steadfast beliefs in right and wrong. He once returned advance money from an endorsement for a cigarette company because he thought it would be a bad example to set for kids to see him advertising cigarettes.

Nelson was friend and coach to many. Tom Watson, Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods were all great friends of Byron's.

I know exactly where he is right now. He's striding up to the first tee box with that big smile of his and Ben Hogan is standing there waiting with his customary impatience saying "dammit Byron, it's about time! You have the honor".


Hit away gentlemen and enjoy your round.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Something to Consider

Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Bill of Rights

Sometimes, it's just worthy of repeating.


THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

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The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.


Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

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This is probably the most important document in our history. It is being attacked from many different perspectives and positions. We need to pay close attention these days to what is happening to the Bill of Rights.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Special Comment by Keith Olberman

Editor's Note: Keith Olberman is one of the few news reporters that I have some respect for. His commentaries are razor sharp and he doesn't not cower from telling truth to power. I'm posting his special comment here on his outrage of the current state of the site of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. I couldn't state it better so am reposting the transcript here. Thank you Keith.

And lastly tonight a Special Comment on why we are here. 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.
And 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 can not dedicate - we can not consecrate — we can not 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 can nto 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-Qaeda 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 areseen, 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.