Monthly Archives: January 2005

CBS lies, Bush lies


There are plenty of folks that seem to think that the media is too liberal or too conservative. I think it’s a bit more complicated. Ultimately I think that it more informative to look at who owns the media. In any case, this cartoon made me laugh and in these times that’s good because if you don’t laugh you will no doubt cry.

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Technorati tags

Corante has a write up on an interesting new development by Technorati for using tags:

Technorati, a site that indexes 4.5 million weblogs, is now enabling us to sort blog posts by tag. This is way way cool. In fact, it marks a next step in the rapid evolution of the tagging economy.

The tags come from three sources. First, if you’ve uploaded a photo to Flickr and have tagged it (or if one of your pals has tagged it), it will show up under that tag at technorati. Second, if you’ve bookmarked a page using del.icio.us, it will show up under that tag at technorati. Third, if your blogging software supports categories, your blog posts will show up under the categories you’ve assigned; categories are now tags in the eyes of Technorati.

Even if your blogging software doesn’t know from categories, you can still tag a post with, say, “weasels” by inserting into it the following line:

Weasly stuff

It’s easy to imagine this become a part of the standard footer of blog entries.

Yeah, this is nifty. I think I’ll be adding a footer with such tags. Why not? Only takes me a few seconds and it seems like this may well benefit how we organize and hravest information on the web. Time will tell. Go check out Technorati’s tag page.

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Protesting the inauguration… and the Democrats

Irregular times has a great post on the counter-inaugurals that will be happening all around the country on January 20. In particular I really enjoyed reading their take on the uselessness of the Democratic Party:

On January 20, The 48 percent of America that voted against George W. Bush is holding a counter-inaugural. Whereas the Presidential Inaugural will be held in just one city, is open to well-connected ticket holders only, and will need to be protected by unprecedented levels of security, the counter-inaugural will be much more democratic: Open to everybody, in cities and towns across the nation, no admission charged, and no formal wear required.

At the same time that grassroots progressives groups are organizing counter-inaugural protests for January 20, what is the leadership of the Democratic Party doing? Well, last night I was contacted by Democratic leadership organizations three times. Wow! Unfortunately, not one of these organizations asked me for anything but money.

Why in the world would any true progressive send any money to a political party that engages in such accomodation of the radical policies of the Republicans? I have supported the Democratic Party in the past, but since Election Day 2004, we have seen little but cowardly retreat from the Democratic leadership. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Democratic Party is devolving into little more than a parasite on the back of the grassroots progressive movement, asking for money, but refusing to stand up for progressive ideals when the going gets rough. The Democratic Party is on the verge of falling apart, and if it does, I say good riddance.

In a month, I’ll be moving into a new house in a new town. When I make this move complete, I will have to re-register to vote. Up until the last few weeks, I had planned on re-registering as a Democrat. Now, I can’t bring myself to register in any way than as a true independent – with no party at all. All across America, other Democrats are doing the same, leaving the ranks of the Democratic Party in search of a way to be true to their progressive ideals.

Participation in the nationwide protests of January 20 is a good first step in a declaration of independence by America’s liberals. If the Democratic Party won’t work for us, then we’ll do the work ourselves. Let James Carville sit in his comfy Washington D.C. office and write checks to do-nothing politicians. America needs leadership that doesn’t wait until an election year to speak up against injustice. The progressive grassroots will be on the streets no matter where we are in the election cycle, and we won’t give up until we get the job done.

George Bush: Arrogant liar and murderer

“Barbara Walters: This was our main reason for going in. So now when we read, ‘Okay, the search is over,’ what do you feel?

“President Bush: Well, like you, I felt like we’d find weapons of mass destruction. Or like many, many here in the United States, many around the world, the United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction, and so therefore, one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. Saddam was dangerous. And . . . the world was safer without him in power.

“Walters: But was it worth it if there were no weapons of mass destruction? Now that we know that that was wrong? Was it worth it?

“Bush: Oh, absolutely.”

In January of 2003 I, along with millions of others in the U.S. and around the world, protested the coming war against Iraq. I did not believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. My memory is that many in the UN did not believe that there were WMD. My memory is that many millions of the world believed Iraq to be a country greatly weakened by more than a decade of economic sanctions. Many millions believed that Iraq and Saddam posed no threat to America. Many millions did and do believe that George Bush lied repeatedly about evidence and that he waged a war of aggression against a country that could not defend itself.

In January 2003 I was fairly certain that Bush was lying about his evidence and that no weapons would be found. What do you know about the evidence? If you are certain Bush was telling the truth, I ask: What do you really know about the evidence? I want to know why anyone would support this man and his evidence. For those that may be new to this blog I’ll add for a sense of context that I also protested Bill Clinton and many of his policies many times. I’m an equal opportunity anarchist. I detest not just the Republicans but the Democrats as well.

Quote via Juan Cole who had this to say:

When is someone going to call him on this inanity? The Belgians didn’t have intelligence assets inside Iraq that could have given them an independent view of the question. Whatever the world believed, it mostly believed because the United States disseminated the information.

Moreover, it is not true that there were no dissenters. The State Department’s own Intelligence and Research Division dissented. French military intelligence dissented. What Bush is saying is either untrue or meaningless.

As I have pointed out before, Saddam without weapons of mass destruction could not have been “dangerous” to the United States. Just parroting “dangerous” doesn’t create real danger. Danger has to come from an intent and ability to strike the US. Saddam had neither. He wasn’t dangerous to the US. It is absurd that this poor, weak, ramshackle 3rd world state should have been seen as “dangerous” to a superpower. That is just propaganda.

Calling Saddam “dangerous” as an existential element without regard to the evidence falls under the propaganda techniques of name-calling and stirring irrational fear.

I could not agree more.

A haunting end to hunt for WMD

The Virginia Pilot has an excellent story about the end of the search for WMD in Iraq:

This week’s news that the Pentagon has officially ended its search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was the quiet denouement to one of the most contentious issues in our nation’s recent history.

While the beginning of the hunt for Saddam Hussein’s rumored chemical, biological and nuclear weapons came in like a lion, it went out like a lamb.

The CIA’s head weapons inspector is back home. President Bush’s Iraq Survey Group has decided to call it a day.

And America is left with a seemingly endless war in Iraq, but without a rationale for it.

A senior intelligence official told The Washington Post that chief weapons hunter Charles Duelfer’s interim report to Congress, which contradicted nearly every prewar claim of the Bush administration, will stand as the group’s final conclusion.

While the official end to our hunt for weapons is a sad, significant milestone, almost more noteworthy is our — Americans’ and the media’s — muted reaction to that news.

As I’ve been writing here recently, the question on my mind is why are the American people so easily fooled? I’ve come to expect the majority of corporate media to go along for the ride so that’s not a surprise. The corporate media has an agenda and generally speaking it is not seeking to be neutral, objective, or informative. It is designed to indoctrinate, not inform.

What is most disappointing is that in the year 2004 we humans are seemingly incapable of thoughtful and critical analysis of what is going on around us. Perhaps it is just an American phenomena and the product of a vast propaganda machine? I think there is some truth to that statement yet I also believe that most Americans have the common sense and resources to break through the indoctrination. Perhaps we should be asking: Do Americans want to know the truth in the first place?

What do I know? What are my sources? Have I corroborated my sources? Have I examined the sources of my sources? What about the social-economic background of my sources? Who funds my sources? Who owns the source? These are just a few of the questions I think we should be asking ourselves when we think we know something about something.

Bruce over at This is Class Warfare has added an excellent post on this discussion.

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How do you know?

A question I’ve been pondering lately: How do I know? How do you know? Everyday we make claims about reality and what we know about it. I’ve claimed George Bush is a war criminal but how do I know? I believe that global warming is a real phenomena and that it is quickening because of human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels but how do I know? Further, I believe that this phenomena could endanger humans ability to survive on the planet. How have I formed this opinion or any other that I hold? How do you form your opinions? What are they based on? What are your informational sources? The internet, nightly news, magazines, word of mouth? Do you ever make a conscious effort to corroborate via multiple sources? Once you’ve formed an opinion on a topic do you remain open to the possibility that it may not be entirely accurate?

I suppose I’m suggesting that it is likely that many of us do not follow a rational process for information gathering and source checking when we form the opinions that we hold. Of course, how can I make that statement? How do I know?

Confession of an X Files addict

Okay, yet another non-political post and the second one in two days. This is something I’ve wanted to mention before but didn’t.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday night I stay up till 3 or 4 am watching the X Files. On at least a couple of occasions I have stayed up till 5 am. Thankfully those are the only nights it is on because I simply cannot resist. I’ve just recently discovered that the Sci-Fi channel shows the X Files from 4-5pm every day so that’s another hour per day. While I’m at it let me admit, if I happen to see that The Crow is on I’ll watch that too. I’ve seen than movie 10 times in the past 10 months and yet I know I’ll continue to watch it every time it is on.

In fact, I’ve become something of a sci-fi junkie. I can’t help myself. Star Trek Next Generation? I’ll watch it. Star Trek Original? I’ll watch it. What worries me is that I’ll start watching more. No. Must. Turn. Off. TV.

Just one more episode… this one is great… Mulder and Scully are trapped in an arctic research center and…

The new Mac mini

It’s been a while but I’m going to offer up a non-political post! Several months ago I set up a blog specifically for geek and Mac related info. Since then I’ve not posted that kind of content here. I thought I’d make an exception for the readers of this blog that may not read the other. If you’ve ever thought of buying a Mac but didn’t because of the cost, this one may be for you.

The Mac mini is Apple’s grand slam. Assuming that Apple can keep up with the demand I think it is a safe bet that the Mac mini will be the Mac that pushes Apple far beyond its historical level of market share. At $499 these little Macs are the least expensive Mac ever made and they are going to sell faster than any other Mac ever made. In fact, they’ll sell far more of these than any previous model.

The Mac mini is, in essence, a portable Mac. 2 inches high and 6.5 inches on the four sides, weighing in at 2.9 pounds, this Mac can easily be transported room to room or even taken to work or along for vacation. Hook it up to any usb keyboard/mouse combo, add your monitor or TV, and you’re set to go. Like all recent Macs, you can add wireless connectivity with a Airport Extreme Card or Bluetooth. It comes with a DVD/CDR with the possibility of upgrading to a SuperDrive that will also let you burn DVDs. A final thought, a wish really: I think it would be cool if Apple would include a battery for even easier mobility but that’s just me and it’s certainly not a complaint.

The mini Mac is not perfect though and I’ll offer a bit of advice for those planning to buy one: add RAM! My main complaint with Apple’s computers is insufficient RAM in the base configuration. OS X is an absolutely fantastic operating system but it really needs a minimum of 512 MB. You’ve been warned. If you go with the 256 MB you will likely be very frustrated if you try doing anything beyond web browsing and email. In general your Mac mini will run much slower and as you open up multiple apps it will crawl. Upgrade to 512 MB and you’ll be fine and the machine will perform at the speed it is capable of even with 6 – 7 open apps. I regularly run my PowerBook (768 MB of RAM) with 8-12 open apps with no problem at all. Of course you can add more than 512 but I think most folks will be happy with that.

The Salvador option and Iraq

According to Newsweek the Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq:

What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called “the Salvador option”—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. “What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are,” one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. “We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing.” Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking “the back” of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

What, you may be asking, is the Salvador option? Well, let me tell you. First, in regards to the use of the name it is a rare acknowledgment of truths formerly covered up by the U.S. government regarding its role in El Salvador. Second, it is the method itself which was first exposed by Allan Nairn in a 1984 article(pdf) in The Progressive Magazine in which he detailed the CIA’s role in the El Salvadore death squads. Democracy Now! covered the Salvador option in todays show:

Within the Pentagon, the tactic is named “The Salvador option” after the strategy that was secretly employed by Ronald Reagan’s administration to combat the guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. The U.S.-backed death squads hunted down and assassinated rebel leaders and their supporters.

The current US ambassador in Iraq is John Negroponte. As ambassador to Honduras, Negroponte played a key role in coordinating US covert aid to the Contras who targeted civilians in Nicaragua and shoring up a CIA-backed death squad in Honduras.

It is important to note the word “supporters” in the above. The death squads did not target just the militants, it targeted activists of all kinds. We have created a mess in Iraq and few will deny that. The truth is that the mess we have created is a downward spiral that has resulted in the deaths of many thousands of civillians, possibly more than 100,000. This to supposedly bring them “freedom” and “democracy” though many would argue the truth is that we are murdering them for the oil their country sits on.

I wonder, what would Jesus say about the Salvador option and Iraq?