Saturday, May 31, 2008

U.S. Soldiers Launch Campaign to Convert Iraqis to Christianity

Continuing what I posted previously, here is a fine article about a few U.S. soldiers distributing Bibles and other Christian publications to Iraqis.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"An Inconvenient Truth" to be an opera

In perhaps the weirdest item of the year, at least from my eyes, the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" will become an opera performed in Milan, Italy. No word yet on whether Al Gore plans to add "tenor" to his lengthy resume.

U.S. reassigns Marine for passing out Bible verses to Muslims

If you are a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq, and want to leave, here's how: piss off the Islamic natives. Whether it's using a Koran for target practice, passing out coins with Bible verse on them, or something else, offending the Iraqi Muslim community will get you bounced from Iraq in a Baghdad minute.

It also should remind us of something. We think of the "war on terror" in terms of Islamic fundamentalism, "jihad" and what not. But I forget that a lot of people here, perhaps especially in the military, also think of it in religious terms, like a crusade. Bush even referred to waging a "crusade" right after 9/11 happened.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Roads, High and Low

Until reading this article, I didn't know that last week, Obama and McCain had a sparring match on the issue of increasing college benefits for our military men and women. I had read a front-page story in Newsday last month about how our present G.I. Bill barely puts a dent in the costs of attending a four-year college, particularly a private one. Obama supports a bill that would increase the college tuition benefits for the men and women who've served post 9/11. McCain does not.

Obama called McCain out on this, and rightfully so. McCain's response was this: "I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lecture on my regard for those who did.”

So McCain's not only wrong on this issue, he's an asshole too. What does the matter of whether one served in the military or not remotely have to do with having a position, especially a favorable position, on the G.I. Bill? It's ironic, and more than a little typical, how someone who "didn't feel it was his responsibility to serve" supports stronger benefits and incentives for our servicemen and women, while the "military man", the "patriot", does not.

Also, in the runup to Iraq, McCain didn't feel at liberty to criticize the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rove, and all the other chickenhawks who didn't serve, but wanted to send people to die in Iraq. McCain keeps company with a bunch of people who didn't feel it was their responsibility to serve.

Scott McClellan

For the past couple of days, this Scott McCellan thing has been a big story. Briefly, McCellan is a former White House press secretary, under Bush. He has a pending book called "What Happened?", and it's surprisingly critical of the White House. Among the juiciest tidbits, he refers to the selling of the Iraq war as "propaganda", states that the Bush White House operated in "permanent campaign mode", and that he was deceived by some people in the White House, primarily Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby.

Needless to say, this has been a subject of great controversy. This article from Think Progress is funny because it starts with excerpts from Bush and others raving about McCellan when he exited the White House in '06. Then it has some of the same people, two years later, saying that he's "full of crap" and that he's a "traitor." And he isn't the first White House official to come out against this administration either. In the eyes of this White House, going out and speaking the truth about your experiences is considered to be a treasonaous act.

But I also don't agree with the response of some on the Left. While most are praising McCellan, and rightfully so (going out and criticizing this administration is creating a big risk for yourself), some are indignant in that he didn't go out sooner, like when he was serving in his capacity as Press Secretary. That point isn't entirely invalid. But I look at it from my perspective, as someone who has had to do jobs I really didn't want to do. I'm sure everyone could share this sentiment. We've all had jobs that we really didn't want, but we did them to survive. And being a White House Press Secretary is a fairly prestigious job, and without saying, it looks good on one's resume. So he had to do things that were unsavory; so what, we all have.

Although what he's writing about is probably true, I do think it was mainly for the money. This book's probably going to sell a lot of copies. If it was a tome heaping praise on Bush and the White House? No, it wouldn't sell that much.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Dirty Trickster

I don't have much to comment on now, but whenever there is a good piece of journalism, a really good article, I'd like to share that with others who are interested. This is a fascinating piece from The New Yorker about a GOP operative named Roger Stone. A Nixon protege, the parts he's played in some of the biggest political stories (or allegedly played) is very interesting to read. From Nixon's "dirty tricks", to the 2000 election, to Rathergate, to the Spitzer scandal, Stone's had a part to play in all of them. If you can get past looking at his bare chest at the top of the article, there's a nice article for you to read.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

McCain still afraid to be seen with Bush

There was (or is) a fundraiser in Arizona for McCain, with an appearance by George W. Bush. As makes sense, the current candidate, McCain, is strongly trying to distance himself from the increasingly unpopular Bush. To me, it's far too late for that. There are many pictures of the two together that the Democrats can make political hay out of, McCain has voted for most of Bush's agenda, and McCain is basically running a campaign promoting himself as "Bush III".

With all that, I still fear that McCain will win in November. I have zero faith in our electoral system; who knows how many GOP operatives are in place, ready to disenfranchise voters or erase votes? But the far more pressing problem surrounds the opinions of these stupid white people regarding Obama. As I'd posted previously, a significant number of people supported Clinton in primary states like Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, etc. because of Obama being black. They said that they wouldn't vote for him on that basis. A large amount of those people also still believe that Obama is a Muslim. There's no excuse for this. There's so much information available now. In a simple Internet search, anyone who is interested can surf and find out that Obama is not a Muslim. But these people will continue on the wrong course, due to their narrow-minded, ignorant beliefs. Unbelievable.


I saw the film "Recount" on HBO the other night, and it was tremendous. It was the best political film I've seen in some time. I still think of how much different our country would be today if the real winner of the election, Gore, had actually won the White House. Iraq wouldn't have happened, the response time to Katrina would have been better, we wouldn't be paying 4 plus dollars for gas. The U.S. wouldn't be a utopia by any means, but it would certainly be better than what we have right now.

So yes, it's kinda heartbreaking to think about. And "Recount" isn't a partisan hitjob; I felt the Democrats came off worse than the Republicans, truthfully. Bush's soldiers, led by James Baker (played by Tom Wilkerson in the film) always went for the jugular. They wanted to win, and rightfully so, it is politics. Whereas some of the older Democrats, primarily Warren Christopher (John Hurt), were weak at the knees. They were talking about being "dignified and doing what's best for the country". Although there were many other factors at play that unfairly went against Gore, the Democrats attitude and lack of spine was just as significant a reason as any for why things played out as they did.

But it was a really good movie. Kevin Spacey stars; he's one of my favorite actors, and I barely see him in anything anymore, so it's a treat to see him here. If you have HBO, keep your eyes peeled for it, it's really worth watching.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Iraq, a Surge in U.S. Airstrikes

I'm not sure if I'll blog tomorrow, on Memorial Day. I hope to. But if I don't, I wanted to post this article I found in the Post on the increasing airstrikes in Iraq, particularly in Sadr City, a clerical stronghold in Baghdad. I always appreciate a good piece of war journalism, and this delivers. Anyway, when celebrating Memorial Day, it's important to take a moment to not only reflect on the sacrifices made by our military, but by the many unwilling sacrifices of others due to our foriegn policy. How many people killed in these air strikes, that are considered to be "collateral damage", actually welcomed our presence in Iraq? So all deaths should be memorialized tomorrow, not just those of "our troops."

Further reflection on this article: how come, after six years, we're still launching airstrikes to eliminate these so-called "terrorists"? Surely we've had more than enough time to work on the hearts and minds of the Iraqi populace to be able to maintain a significant ground presence in order to apprehend these guys? Rather than just launch missiles indiscriminately and kill more innocents. But that sounds like a winning strategy: limit our casualty rate by increasing their's.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thirty Days

I just watched the pilot, which is a few years old, of a documentary program called "Thirty Days". It's from Morgan Spurlock, the guy who did "Super Size Me", the documentary where he ate nothing but McDonald's food for a month. Anyway, in the pilot of "Thirty Days", he and his financee take on the task of living on minimum wage for 30 days. It's only 45 minutes, so it's like a mini-documentary, but it's terrific. It really shows what you would expect the life of a minimum wage worker in America to be. And I think it's only worsened since then, when you consider the runaway inflation and $4 a gallon gas prices. The lesson you come away with, is that you can never really get ahead. Morgan Spurlock took on 2 jobs to get some extra money, and he got it, but then he'd gotten hospital bills for when he and his wife had to go to the ER due to their respective health aliments. They totaled around a thousand dollars. They got charged approximately 400 dollars for walking into the hospital, and Morgan got charged 40 dollars for "medical supplies", which consisted of an Ace bandage.

It's very fascinating, and I could certainly relate right now. A few months ago, due to being unemployed, I had to ditch my health insurance. I'm looking for a summer job, and I already know that it's going to be difficult. And I'm educated, articulate, and white. Imagine how someone else who isn't feels, and what kinds of hurdles they have to face.

The great thing, is that you can watch this online. Just go to, click on the TV show area, and you'll see 30 Days. It's the first episode. There are a few good movies I want to watch this weekend. Tonight, on Showtime, at 7:30, there's a documentary called "Maxed Out" that's airing. It's about how Americans are mired in bottomless debt to these credit card companies. These guys are predators. Yes, I know it's our responsibility to use our money wisely and to only buy that which we can pay back. But who teaches us these things? Our culture encourages us, at every step, to spend money on things we don't need. But I don't want to go on a spiel. I just want to see this documentary tonight, it sounds really good.

Oh, and on Sunday night, there's a premiere of a movie on HBO called "Recount", about the Florida election in 2000. I'm so glad this story's being told. And Kevin Spacey's in it, so I just have to see it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gay Marriage

This is sorta old news, but last week, there was a big story coming out of California that their Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. All I can say is, good for them. I support equal rights for everybody, and am against so-called "conservatives" turning to federalism and the state when something happens that they disapprove of. Also, don't gay people have the right to be miserable along with all the heteros who are married? I think so. And finally, what is with the conservatives who maintain that if gay marriage becomes a way of life, than next we'll be promoting beastility and incest? Yeah, today you're kissing another guy, tomorrow you're mounting a horse.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Current Happenings


I know that I resolved last week to post more, but alas... it's almost over. On Monday, I have a final and a quiz, and that should be it as far as this semester goes. Then it's the summer, where I'm planning to take one online course and hopefully find a job, and then onward to fall, where I'll hopefully finish this program. But come Monday, hopefully (there's that word again), I'll be able to post more. I miss blogging terribly.

Anyway, I realized this morning that I haven't really talked much about what's on everyone's minds, the ever-rising price of filling up your car at the pump. This might not affect me as much as it affects you, since I don't drive, but my family drives me often to places, so it's easy for me to understand. Every time there's another increase, I see an article in the paper outlining all the reasons why it's going up. It's everything from speculation by investors, the fall of the dollar, turmoil in oil-producing nations, and all these other reasons. It could very well be these things. But personally, just judging from my gut instinct, I can't say that I buy it. Again, I could be wrong, and call me crazy, but there are two factors that come to mind when I think of this.

For one, in 2000, there was the coup and Bush was selected by the USSC against the will of the majority of Americans. When he entered the White House, gas was in the $1.40 per gallon range. Fast-forward to the present, 7 years later. Gas has nearly tripled in that time. Prior to entering the White House, Bush was an oilman. His family comes from that world. Cheney also has connections to Big Oil. With all that, does anyone think that the guys occupying the White House have absolutely nothing to do with why gas has tripled in 7 years?

Also, if there are all these factors behind the rise in oil prices, as the media explains to us, wouldn't it make sense for the oil companies (Exxon, etc.) to be feeling the pinch too? But no, every few months, when a quarter ends, what do you read in the business section? That these companies are realizing record profits. As well thought-out as these other theories may be for the rise in oil prices, and they could well be true, what do I know? But these 2 points that I just raised are never brought up by the media. It just seems strange, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this.

Prior to blogging, I did read a snippet of an article that in Wisconsin, people are now connecting with each other online to share the ride to work and in the costs of gas. That's very encouraging. There aren't a lot of solutions to help manage the pain at the pump, but that's one sure-fire way to lower the costs of driving your vehicle. I remember after Katrina happened, and gas prices first started spiking up to 3 dollars or so a gallon, and on one of the news programs, people were being asked whether they'd consider carpooling, and the response was almost entirely negative. They seemed to really value their independence and at the time, I found it very foolish to not even consider that common-sense idea. Maybe now with gas prices having increased by at least another dollar since then, people will rethink some of their opinions. It's time to get over our perpetual distrust of people and realize that we're all in this together, that we're all being boned up the ass.

Sorry, I know that's an unpleasant image. But that's as simple and blunt as I can be. Now, I'm about to cover some previously unexplored territory in this blog, and I hope I don't frighten some of you off. But I am hoping that this worsening economy will make more Americans realize the totally unequitable relationship between capital and labor. No, I'm not a socialist or a commie, you'll have to take my word for that. But capitalism has its deep flaws as well, and I don't think it ensures long-term prosperity in any society, at least for the vast majority of us. But I'm digressing.

Someone close to me told me the other day, that it makes him laugh when the reasoning for increasing the prices at the grocery store, is due to the gas prices and how companies have to pass their costs on to the customers. He asked, "who do I pass my costs on to"? For the most part, I haven't been working for nearly a year. I'm in this program, and it's been my life, pretty much. But the key reason behind my leaving my job, was a conflict with my employer. It wasn't something I initiated, mind you. My everyday costs were increasing. My health insurance had recently gone up by over a third. So I'd asked for a one-dollar raise. A few weeks went by, I didn't hear anything. Then one day, I had an argument with another employee, and the circumstances behind that (I strongly believe) were chereographed by my employer to force me out. We did talk about my asking for a raise before I'd left, and he told me that I wasn't worth 12 dollars an hour. So, my costs went up, and I couldn't pass them on to my employer. But when the prices of the goods he ordered went up, the first thing he'd do is raise his prices, and pass them on to the customer.

So that's what I mean by there being an unequitable relationship. When our costs of living go up, we can't approach our employer and explain that to them. They'd likely laugh and say "don't let the door hit you on the ass." But when their costs go up, they don't hesistate. And in a lot of instances currently, these companies will use the situation to gain. This is their opportunity to charge even more, on top of what they're apparently losing, and then wrap it all in a ball and tell us, "we have no choice, our prices are going up."

So that's all I have to say at the moment. Again, I hope to update more over the coming weeks. I appreciate your patience.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Noam Chomsky on 1968

The New Statesman has an issue out commentrating the 40-year anniversary of 1968. As you probably know, '68 was an eventful year (to say the very least). There was My Lai, the Tet Offensive, the riots at the Democratic Convention, etc. So there are various writers penning essays on their reflections of 1968, Noam Chomsky being one of them. He looks back very fondly on it, and even goes so far to state that we're much more democratic today than we were back then. Some may argue with that. After all, there was a coup here less than 8 years ago. Inequality runs deeper than it has since the Depression. Business has never been more powerful and had a greater voice in our government.

But, he does raise some valid points. Widespread domestic opposition to Vietnam only began to spread after the mounting troop deaths and the draft really became a big thing. Before then, there were no marches or huge gatherings of opposition. With Iraq, there was a presence even before the invasion started. Also, it was taboo for a presidential candidate to even talk about "withdrawal" of troops from Vietnam in 1968. Now, it may be timid, but it's there. Sadly, the candidates who make no bones on withdrawing soldiers (Ron Paul, Kucinich) have long since ended their camapigns.

So I don't know how to feel about Chomsky's observation. I could go either way, I guess. I wasn't around in 1968, so I'd have a limited opinion just based on that. There may be opposition now, and it may not have taken 6 years to begin, but it isn't as widespread. The government isn't worried about not having enough troops to suppress the domestic population, like they did in 1968. There are small pockets of peace activists, but enough to have a meaningful impact? No. I think what really seperates these 2 eras is the presence (or non-presence) of the draft. The opposition to Vietnam was due to self-preservation; young people didn't want to be sent to Vietnam to die. But as we have an all-volunteer military now, today's youth don't have that worry. So that's why Iraq is probably the last thing on most young people's minds.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Back in my undergraduate days, I guess I could say I was lazy. I was smart, and I passed mostly everything, but I was content with that. I never felt the urge to go further and really apply myself. I regret that now, but it was also part of being young, you think it's going to be forever. And now, I'm a little older, and realize that it isn't like that. And so, in order to really rise above, you have to apply yourself. An instance of that is my attitude towards an internship. As an undergrad, it just wasn't something I was interested in. Plus, I didn't believe in serving as someone's free labor. I believe if someone needs you there to work for them, you should be compensated.

But I understand that it's something to put on a resume. And as I sorely need some legal experience, I felt that I had to bite the bullet and explore doing an internship. However, I only found out recently that in a college internship, not only do you typically work for free, but since it's credited (you get 3 credits like if you were taking a class), you pay for it! It really sunk in today when I got a bill for $454 for the internship I'm scheduled to take in the summer.

As I'm already taking a class in the summer, I realized that I really don't have the money to take both. We're talking 900 dollars, and I'm not exactly liquid right now. Until I find something, I'm trying to hold on to every last penny. What's the worst thing, besides having to pay to take the internship, is that I'm doing virtually all the legwork. The college isn't even helping with placing me somewhere. I was in the office of the career counselor a few weeks ago, and she showed me a list of law firms and governmental offices that have employed interns. It was really nice, but she told me that they don't give the information to students, and she only allowed me to look at it for a minute before putting it back in the cabinet. I felt like one of the salesmen in "Glengarry Glen Ross" after being told that the leads "are for closers."

So, at this point I'm leaning towards going to a temp agency and trying to get placed at a firm. It doesn't necessairly have to be as a paralegal, I'll do filing work or whatever. The important thing is getting an in and having something to put down.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Thoughts on the Obana-Clinton Campaign

Although I haven't been following this a great deal, I tuned into MSNBC in between commercials of Hell's Kitchen to observe the results from North Carolina and Indiana. The results from Indiana kind of surprised me. First, Obama was supposed to carry it. Than, after Philadelphia and then Wright, Hillary was supposed to win handily. And she ended up winning by a hair. The momentum from Philadelphia, and the gap in delegates that she had begun to close, was wiped out last night. And now the media is being forced to admit what any of us who have been following this knew all along: that it's mathematically impossible for Hillary to get the nomination.

George McGovern, the Democratic nominee for President in 1972 and a one-time supporter of Clinton's campaign, has called on her to drop out and I think this will be the beginning. Let me put on my pundit cap for a moment. I think that Hillary should either drop out now, or after West Virginia and Kentucky, which she's expected to win. That way, she could go out on a high note. Then, if Obama loses in the general, she could say to the party, "I told you so", and begin to run again for '12. I really enjoyed this campaign. It was very nice to see it go this far, and have the candidates go out into states and areas that are usually totally irrelevant by this time in the primary.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Stupid White Men

I read today in several articles that the Obama campaign is facing trouble up ahead, due to the racism of small-town American voters. This article from MSNBC says that it's due to Reverend Wright and the "bitter" comment. Or at least that's what Keith Wolfe thinks. "It's the stuff about his preacher ... and the thing he said about Pennsylvania towns, how they turn to religion. I don't think he'd be a really good leader." And what does Mr. Wolfe, 41, do for a living? He stocks shelves at a supermarket. Another person quoted in the article, a politicial science professor, thinks that Obama isn't doing well because he doesn't do a good enough job of addressing rural America's economic needs.

But deep down, we know better. This is another article from the New Yorker. In it, a volunteer for Hillary in Kentucky states that he'd never vote for an African-American, and has said that other people have told him the same thing. But you won't hear that reported on MSNBC or the nightly news. They'll give all these other reasons for why Obama won't do well in these states, but it has nothing to do with an incindiary preacher or his off-the-cuff comments. These people are just racist, hick morons.

I know that I'm being harsh. 10 or so years ago, I probably wouldn't be. But after 8 years of Bush, I'd take any improvement, no matter how slight. I don't like Obama, (not due to race, mind you), but he'd be much better than Dubya. For small-town America, too. How many people have jobs similiarly mimimal and unrewarding as Mr. Wolfe's in small town America? Quite a few, I'd imagine. And yet they'd rather keep going down the direction they've been on, which will get even more steep and difficult, just so a black man won't be commander-in-chief.

I don't know what Obama could do. There's probably nothing. Small-town America is dimwitted and full of hate for any candidate who isn't a white Christian. So they'll vote McCain, and take themselves further down. Hopefully they won't take the rest of us with them.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

U.S. has Mandela on terrorist list

The ineptness of our police state never ceases to amaze me. Their latest blooper is putting Nelson Mandela, a symbol the world over for justice and equality, on the terrorist watch list. Elsewhere, I also read reports of U.S. marshals, the guys who are supposed to be protecting the planes, being put on these lists because their names are too close to others who are on the list. And I should feel somewhat assured that America's being protected?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Verve Earth

I'm very happy whenever this blog gets any attention. Last week, a gentleman from a startup company called Verve Earth emailed me and told me that he'd discovered my blog, and offered me an invitation to join it, which I proudly took. It seems like a really cool website, it groups blogs together based on geography. So you can go to any part of the global map (which is the center of their homepage) and see which blogs are taking part.

So this falls in line with hopefully my (eventual) expanding of the blog. I really want to add some bells and whistles, but not too much that it'd denigrate the experience.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

US says cocaine routes shifting from US to Europe

The latest casualty of our falling dollar may be the availibility of illegal drugs like cocaine, as drug traffickers are now siphoning their shipments away from the U.S. towards Europe, where they'd get more money due to the relative strength of the Euro.

This is encouraging; with any luck, DEA agents would be laid off and would have to get real jobs.

Biggest Political Liability of the Campaign Season? George W. Bush

For all the hemming and hawing by the media about the various scandals and concerns surrounding the 2 Democratic candidates (Obama and his "bitter" non-story, and Reverend Wright, and Hillary's tale about being pinned down by sniper fire in Bosnia), the biggest concern of the public surrounding the 3 candidates is the current occupant of the White House. 43 percent of people polled say that McCain's ties to Bush worry them more than the media concoctions that they are trying to spoon-feed to us.

And if any of you doubt that they're close, remember this?