Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Lesson in DoubleSpeak

Anything that comes out of a Bush Administration mouthpiece has to be questioned. If Tony Snow said it's going to be cold and snowy, I'll dress in shorts and a T-Shirt. That's why the exchange between CNN's Ed Henry and Fatherland Homeland Security Department Adviser Fran Townsend didn't surprise me one bit.

CNN Transcript:

HENRY: But now as 2006 ends, Osama bin Laden is still at large. Heading into 2007, how confident are you that he can be brought to justice this coming year?

TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question in my mind that he'll be brought to justice. The real question is whether or not it's going to be this year. I will tell you that I feel increasingly confident, you know, it was interesting. There's a recent poll and the American people said 71 percent of them were optimistic that we can protect the country.

And I think they've got reason to be optimistic. We've made a lot of progress. They see the progress we've made. We've disrupted plots. We've made reforms in our system, in our security system. So on bin Laden, do I think we are going to get him? I absolutely know we're going to get him.

The question is will it be this year. And I will tell you I think there's increased activity both the part of the CIA, JSOC and our partners, the Pakistanis.

HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.

TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.
---My emphasis in bold

Success is failure and failure is success. Orwell couldn't have written it better himself.

A Victory For Net Neutrality

It seems that AT&T is caving to pressure from the FCC and bloggers that are fighting the telecomms that wish to curtail freedom on the internets. Good they saw the light before getting a real fight.

Some of the concessions from the upcoming merger via WetMachine:

1) Network neutrality is required in its fullest form. AT&T cannot prioritize or degrade service based on third party payments or affiliation anywhere between the peering point and the residential “last mile.” So not only has the definition of network neutrality been solidified consistent with that advocated by Save Our Internet and others, but it has been extended from the last mile to the vertically integrated backbone.

2) Residential fixed WiMax is included in the definition of “last mile.” This is the first time net neutrality has ever been applied to a wireless network.

3) AT&T must divest the 2.5 GHz spectrum it would acquire from BellSouth. This addresses a concern raised by Media Access Project and others that AT&T/BS would have an overwhelming spectrum advanatage against other wireless players.

4) AT&T has an agressive build out schedule to provide DSL at 768 KBPS for $19.95/month throughout its coverage area.

5) AT&T agrees to numerous conditions that amount to a return to tariffs and price caps for telecom and DSL resellers and special access (commercial) customers. AT&T can no longer lock competing local exchange carriers (CLECs) or DSL resellers in non-disclosure agreements.

Bonus: AT&T agrees to “repatriate” 3,000 jobs BellSouth had shipped overseas and locate at least five hundred of these “repatriated” jobs in New Orleans.
Great news for the last workday of the year!

Gates Opposes The Escalation

In public newly appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands behind the President, as he serves at his leisure of course. Nonetheless it has been reported by anonymous Administration officials that Gates opposes any additional troops being sent to the quagmire and civil war that is Iraq.

It is obvious to us here that the escalation is a crazy deja vu of Vietnam and completely unwarranted. It is obvious to the troops and of course the American people know it more and more each day as the death toll climbs higher.

From the New York Sun:

WASHINGTON — With President Bush leaning toward sending more soldiers to pacify Iraq, his defense secretary is privately opposing the buildup.

According to two administration officials who asked not to be named, Robert Gates expressed his skepticism about a troop surge in Iraq on his first day on the job, December 18, at a Pentagon meeting with civilians who oversee the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines.

Right from the get go the new Defense Secretary knew that the idea was irresponsible. No additional amount of troops is going to make a difference in the increasingly bloody civil war. The only thing that an escalation can do is increase the death toll of our brave men.

These comments of Gates that defy President Bush have mostly been kept low and out of sight. It is up to the Democrats to pull it out of him and the generals and get it as testimony in front of the new Democratic House and Senate.

The Sun's Eli Lake also seems to hint at this:
Before taking over as defense secretary earlier this month, Mr. Gates had been a member of the 10-person Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton commission. That group has warned against a long-term buildup of forces in Iraq, arguing it would lessen pressure on the elected government in Baghdad to reach a political accommodation there, which the commission says is the only way to stabilize the deteriorating nation.

That's the way many of the Democrats preparing to take over Congress see things as well. Yesterday, in a conference call with reporters, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, a Democrat of Delaware, said he would launch three weeks of hearings on Iraq in January in part to persuade Republicans to go to the White House to oppose a new troop surge for Iraq.

Hopefully he will forget about the strange presence behind his back when he swears an oath to tell the WHOLE truth.

That is what has to be done. This surge escalation needs to be forced off the table and subsequently embarrass the President, furthering his lame duck status. The last thing we need to do is put more of our soldiers in harm's way when there is absolutely no reason they should be there in the first place. It is time to get out now!

Hussein to Hang

U.S. officials (whomever they are) have been told Saddam is going to be executed before Sunday or as early as today. The idea is that the Shia gov't wants to get the job done before the religious holiday of Eid. Since it is a holiday, Saddam is fully prepared to go out as a martyr in a last gasp attempt (yes, pun intended) to stoke Sunni insurgents to fight harder against the Shia and the American troops that are being kept in the middle by our own tyrannical glorious leader.

From the NY Times:

After upholding the death sentence against Mr. Hussein on Tuesday for the execution of 148 Shiite men and boys in 1982, an Iraqi appeals court ruled that he must be sent to the gallows within 30 days. But Mr. Hussein may not have even that long to live, officials said.

A senior administration official said that the execution would probably not take place in the next 24 hours, but that the timing would be swift. “It may be another day or so,” the official said.

So the once powerful Saddam will be no more, as Iraq descends farther into it's chaotic civil war. Now Saddam will meet his fate..... and his lover.

If you are confused please refer to South Park

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fucking our country

This video isn't exactly G-rated, no nudity but parents might want to shield their children's young innocent eyes. Definitely worth watching for the laugh.

And Edwards Makes Three

Ok so he's the fourth candidate to be considered in the race, but who really counts Vilsack? No offense to the governor, but lets be realistic. Due to an email glitch he announced a day early to keep the story straight with his staffers' snafu. Of course this can hardly be called news as most people knew he was going to throw his hat into the ring again this cycle.

From New Orleans, he released this video on YouTube to announce his candidacy. Edwards has been talking a lot about poverty and bring our Red/Blue society back towards a 'One America.' The former Senator has been criticized in the past as being too green, though this doesn't really apply anymore IMO.

With all the commotion over Obama and Clinton, it was the right time for Edwards to get the ball rolling towards 2008. The Newsweek cover from last week picturing Hillary and Obama put the media's coverage into crystal clear vision about who is being highlighted early on in the race. If I were on the Edwards campaign, I'd be steaming that John's signature smile wasn't right in the middle of the other two.


Btw, just found my picture on the Edwards site, sad to say the photographer didn't get the money shot I was hoping for.

Newsflash: Global Warming is for real!

There are plenty of naysayers out there that try and fight the reality that mankind is destroying its environs. People like Senator James Inhofe, Big Oil and the like keep on sipping the kool-aid that makes them believe everything is A-O.K. no matter how much greenhouse gases they put in the air.

Well it seems for the first time we have lost a formerly inhabited island off the coast of India. Lohachara once had over 10,000 people. Now it is gone, forever, at least until the next ice age or if a nuclear holocaust inadvertently causes one. Don't think it will stop there either, whole island nations will be swallowed up by the rising seas.

From the UK Independent:

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

The article highlights the island chain that Lohachara was once a part of. Seventy thousand people live on these islands and in a matter of years they will all be made homeless. This is not a joke people, Global Warming is for real.

And don't think that just because this is happening in India that it can't happen to communities all over the world. If you are in the majority of inhabited areas that are by the coast, watch out for rising seas near you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Prince Harry goes to war, where are our Princesses?

In case you haven't heard, Prince Harry is reportedly getting ready to go fight in Iraq with his cavalry squad this spring. After a big New Year's bash 'Haz' is joining his fellow troops to start training for battle in the mess that is Iraq.

Many different papers across the United Kingdom are printing the story as the news comes from his long-time girlfriend shared the Prince's intentions to serve his country. Now as an American, the first question that pops into my head is....where is Barb and Jen?

From The Sun:

Officially, the Ministry of Defence insists that a final decision about whether second lieutenant Harry will be allowed to fight in Iraq has yet to be made.

The Prince has always said he is determined to do battle with his 100-strong unit, A Squadron of the Blues and Royals — part of the Household Cavalry.

They begin a six-month tour of Iraq in the spring. And before that, they are expected to take part in war games and exhaustive preparations for conflict.

The decision over the young Royal is deemed so important it will be made by the Army’s top man, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt.

Now the article does note that the Ministry officials are hesitant to send Harry into a high-risk situation. This is especially true considering a soldier of his status can attract un-due attention for the 100-man force.

The Times did an article about this in the spring:

But a defence source told The Times: "We can’t have a situation where Prince Harry’s presence draws enemy fire." He said that the Army hierarchy faced a huge problem as Prince Harry’s unit, The Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, was set to go to Iraq next year. The MoD had a "duty of care" towards every member of the Armed Forces. If Prince Harry’s presence in an operational area attracted undue attention, "we will have to see what mechanics might be needed to deal with that".

Clarence House said: "Prince Harry is very clear that he is joining the Army, and the Household Cavalry in particular, to serve his country as an operational soldier. On occasion, there may be some circumstances in which his overt presence might attract additional attention and increase the risk for his regiment and for himself. In these instances, it is a judgment call which would principally be made by his commanding officer."

As the article in the Times notes, Harry is very determined to fight and threatened to resign if he isn't allowed to see action.

Also from the Times article:

Prince Harry said in an interview to mark his 21st birthday last year: "There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country . . . That may sound very patriotic but it’s true."

On this side of the pond the royals have a much different attitude. Though to be fair, their father did tell us to shop or else the terrorists will win. The twins are certainly not letting their father down. Seriously though, it is time they leave their ridiculously lifestyle and show that they stand behind Daddy's unjust and illegal war. Now get your uniform and head for basic training, before you know it you'll be facing the hell that George sends the 'volunteer' army into every single goddamn day.

And no, these aren't the helmets they should be wearing.

Now this is my kind of Xmas


A Capitalistic Christmas

Well it is finally over I am glad to say. The holiday marts around the city have closed, all that is left is the after-Christmas madness where all the stores try to dump their left-over merchandise. I'll be avoiding Midtown Manhattan at all costs for a few days, though if I do have to trek through it I'll walk fast and be sure not to trip over the gawking tourists that haven't gone home yet.

It will be interesting to see the reports from the retail world on how the season went for them all. Our economy runs on service and retail now and a good report on Wall Street will prop up the well-to-do's earnings and keep the hollow American economy going for now. Of course the manufacturing sector has been wiped out and globalized off to China and developing countries so many of the former employees of those sectors are left out on their arse.

Plenty of economists protest that globalization is the way and this is part of the change that will make America great and blah blah blah. Yet the way it is happening helps no one but the rich. Free trade isn't the answer, fair trade is. We need real change that helps everyone, so cut the trickle-down economics shit and start looking to help all boats rise and not just your own.

Ok, enough ranting for now, I hope everyone had a nice, quiet day-off yesterday, whether you celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah the week before, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day (today) and any holiday you might observe.