Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday's news

Ok, this is actually Fridayy, so it's four days of news. I had to put the van in the shop and run errands, lots of places for small things. Life is like that, sometimes, just putters your life in so many directions you have to putter to catch up or the list gets longer. And that's only in one direction too. I don't go in more than one general direction in a day, not unless I get to stop at cafes on the way around places.

Ok, enough, the news?

Our trusted Federal Communications Commission, the one who oversee the media and the Internet, held hearings on the Internet providers controlling the speed and flow of the traffic to some, mainly consumers and especially those downloading movies, and allowing others, namely big commercial interests such as Comcast for their On-demand customers. The companies argue for better management of the Internet with flow control for business interests while the advocacy and legal groups argue for net neutrality.

It's an interesting debate and it's not hard to see where each side is coming from and where each side is headed, but the final question is the customer and what they expect for their money, which to me is obvious, equal access and service. It shouldn't matter the size of the customer or the demand they make on the network. If the communications companies sell full service at cheap prices, the consumer is entitled to it or the company can simply charge by usage than control the speed and flow behind everyone's back.

I'm sure it will be an on-going debate for a few years to come as each side fights it out with the FCC.

It seems our trusted Homeland Security Administration isn't being fully truthful and honest. Really? Yes, really. In two ways. It seems the interagency cooperation and communications for intelligence andi information isn't happening. But even worse, HSA isn't including the State and local agencies in any dialog for needs and being less than full in requests from those agencies. Gee, they don't trust those outside HSA. I wonder why?

It seems HSA still hasn't learned the one and first rule of work, human communications.

And now the real scary part. We all know the Social Security Trust fund is ok for awhile and more so with some minor tweaking only - like raising the income limit and contribution a little, not reducing benefits except maybe increasing them less than inflation. But the Medicare system is in serious trouble and this time it's not just the infamous baby boomer generation that's the problem. The real problem is the simple rise of costs of drugs and medical technology.

So, my generation isn't entirely to blame here folks, but the medical equipment and drug companies, the hospitals, the health insurers and everyone else but us baby boomers are to blame. So stop ranting on us for awhile.

Gotta love this one. Remember the Surge offered last year by Mr. Bush? For six months? Yeah right. And then he announced a withdrawal of some of the surge. Except wait, it was a ploy. The generals are saying the surge should stay through the summer. Ok, six months is now 18 months. Army math.

So what about the troops? Aren't they getting tired and want this all to end?

Onward. Bush, who has relied on the states for their vote has a record of ignoring or neglecting the states, pushing the unfunded mandates to them when he wants to cut government spending for tax cuts for the corporations and the rich. And now when we need to really rebuild our aging and sometimes crumbling infrastructure - roads, bridges, water/sewer treatment plants, power grid, schools, etc., he proposing cuts in money to the states.

He wants to give us $168 in tax refunds but won't spend the money for keeping us safe, healthy and secure. One's for votes and the other isn't? We'll need $ Trillions to rebuild the infrastructure. So how much are his friends and cronies getting?

And listening to John McCain speeches. What doesn't he understand? He sounds like more of Bushism and more of staying in Iraq until "We win." Win what? We won't win and what's left to win anyway? And at who's expense? Our children and grandchildren? Is he ready to reactivate the draft? Sounds like he would because there aren't enough troops? Why is the only issues he talks about are Iraq and the tax cut? He was against the tax cuts then but now he for it?

Me thinks McCain has lost his integrity for votes. He wants and needs the conservative and religious right but not alientate the independents. So he lies to one side then lies to the other. Except Iraq. Does he really understand the public wants out of Iraq? And he's promising a another 100 year war.

Something is amiss here with him. Do we really need another 4-8 years of what we've had for the last 7, slowly spiraling into enormous consumer debt, an endless war, huge trade imbalance with China, a declining global acceptance, an ever-increasing military budget, losing good paying jobs for cheap jobs, loss of health insurance for everyone, increasing poverty, increasing illiteracy, increasing crime.

But hey the rich are richer. And we all know where his money comes from, corporations and the rich. Sorry, John, I'm a veteran too, but war isn't the answer anymore. And the rest of your platform is just as bad, but mostly lies to get votes. You'll lost your honesty and integrity.

Well, Turkey attacks the Kurds, or the PKK as they say, in Iraq with out tacit blessing and now they won't quit the attacks or leave the temporary staging areas they established in northern Iraq. Hmmm, me thinks the mess gets messier? We have two allies fighting each other and there is no middle ground, so Secretary Gates talks with Turkey to say go home, but they snub his suggestions.

And now we think the Kurds will trust us when we promise them their protection and autonomy?

The Homeland Security Administration announced using new technology to allow people in remote offices to watch real-time video by field officers. The goal is to watch terrorists and share the information in real-time, and it can be expanded into other areas of fighting criminals, finding missing people, and so on, as they say, but also to just spy on anyone using cellphones. They could equally use it to simply collecting information on people without their knowledge and a warrant.

We all know this is common in other areas anyway, but this is a step forward in sharing real-time video using off-the-shelf technology and HSA's own communications network. So no one would know, let alone people and the courts. HSA wouldn't need to ask, wouldn't need to justify and wouldn't need to tell, they could simply do it and then archive the information in your file.

And we were worried about Big Brother? Like, Dude! They're watching now, that guy with the cellphone...

A report on the Iraqi police found 15-20% of the force don't exist, either they're dead or left the force. These officers weren't removed from the rolls and their paychecks being kept by others. In addtion, much of the reconstruction money we're giving Iraq is going to bribes and other non-work that hasn't happened along with the many promised jobs which the construction was supposed to happen.

In short, much of the money we're spending isn't going where it's supposed but into people's pockets, the insurgents and criminals. And there is nothing we can do and little the Iraqi's want to do. And we still want to stay there, writing checks for this?

Well, that's the news of note, or at least I noted, so far this week. I'm off for the rest of it and the weekend.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Things you gotta love

Ok, the Sunday news from the four newspapers (the two Seattle ones in a combined print) was interesting but nothing I could find to write home about, especially after Friday's news and some notes I have for new columns. But now and then, something shows up that is a real, "Huh?" moment.

The US Army has announced a $800,000 contract to Disney for improving morale at Walter Reed Hospital. Yes, really. And in response, "Col. Patricia D. Horoho, commander of the Walter Reed health-care system, said the goal is to change the culture there. "When you enter the hospital, we want it to be the best experience possible," she said. "Disney fits that."

I don't know about you, but if I were an injured soldier from the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq or a disabled soldier undergoing rehabilitation for past injuries, would I want my help to sound like Mickey Mouse? Smiling faces and cheery attitudes still won't make up for poor or inadequate service and care. While I won't argue there are some benefits to getting the doctors and staff to rethink or see things anew, but do you need Disney to do it?

I'm not arguing against humor or a positive attitude, that's essential in many situations. The positive attitude can help the patient, which Disney calls "guests", really that's a bit over the top for a hospital, through difficult treatments, pain, recovery, rehabilitation, and so on, but it has to be based on the individual patient and realistic expectations. Humor, I've found, is often useful to take the edge off something at the right time. Often patients get too fixated on something, humor breaks it to bring them back.

Anyway, it was interesting. And on the other side of life, South Africa has decided to allow killing elephants again. The herds are of sufficient size now they're not endangered. But who do you kill? We know elephants are very intelligent with terrific memories, not that far removed from humans with respect to consciousness and memory. So, who (elephant) do you kill to make another suffer the loss?

Apparently our planet is too crowded to allow for a few thousand elephants. Never mind they numbered in the hundreds of thousands in past millenia and eons, while we were just speck on the scale of species. So now, we command the planet and decides who lives and who dies, not realizing we're all in this together. Maybe it's not the elephants who are the problem?

Another, signing statements. For a number of reasons I like John McCain. I'm not sure he would make a good President, but I like his mavrick attitude and views on things. He said he wouldn't write any signing statements while Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama said they might or would sometimes.

We know Bush has signed more than all the previous Presidents combined, including ones stating while signing an act into law he doesn't have to abide by it or won't follow it. He considers himself above the law, even those Congress passes to exercise their right over the Administrtive branch of our government. It's within their powers and authority. But Bush says no. It's why we have an imperial presidency now.

And now Clinton and Obama have said they wouldn't return the power of signing statements. And Congress won't pass a bill outlawing them? Gee, maybe they're not separate branches of government after all? Why, when a bill or act in passed and signed into law all of us have to abide by it, except the President who can say he or she is above it, can ignore it or simply not follow it? Did the founding fathers really want an imperial President?

Another, ENDA and the HRC. Last October and November I wrote about the proposals for additions to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, see "ENDA" in my columns. I don't think anything should be done until at least the fall of 2009 when everyone can be included in the new Act. But what I think is interesting is the continuing view by the Human Rights Campaign Director Joe Salmonese, who orchestrated the exclusion gender identity, expression and behavior in ENDA, to redirect or misdirect the discussion away from his stupidity.

While talking at a meeting in New York City, see article, he said, "I understand and I hear every day that some members of our community are feeling forgotten or left behind. It is easy to understand why," Solmonese told a crowd approaching 1,000 in the ballroom of the Hilton on February 23. But he also said, "We have to overlook our differences and we have got to see instead of our individual wants and immediate desires... a vision for the America that we all want to live in."

Gee, that includes just the people you argee with or want to associate with? And doesn't include other people? This is a way simply to deflect the argument from his decisions and actions then to disassociate the HRC and himself from transpeople. But he is neglecting his very own people, as many LGB people are trans or express some degree of non-stereotype expressions or behavior. What doesn't he understand all inclusive is what it is and exclusive hurts far more than you think, including your own friends?

Anyway, in the end it's just things you gotta wonder what they are thinking. You just gotta love human stupidity. It's always there in all of us, the question is when and how we express it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Thoughts

Ok, it's been awhile. I've been busying learning. Yes, really, learning. And what prey tell? Ok, printing. I decided to move my work indoors this winter. The photo is by a member of a group on Mt. Rainier, taken at Longmire, the lodge just inside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest corner. It's at 2,700 foot elevation (Paradise is at 5,500 foot elevation). And that's the second floor windows if you haven't grasped that yet.

Ok, on to the news.

First, reading the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a good local paper and with the Seattle Times gives you a good cross-section view of the world. The PI is a union-organized, nationally owned paper with a liberal-Democratic view and the Times is a non-union, family owned with a Conservative-Republican view, there were articles in the world summary page from four countries, Brazil, Venezula, Philippines, and Madagascar where events killed 102 people. Such is the nature of the world, many people die every day and we seem to only note a few and the rest all into the fine print.

Think about these people when you hear, see or read stories. They're just like us, people just living and wanting a better life, and now they're gone. And their families, friends and others who knew them are the ones left to adjust life without them.

Second, the British admit the CIA has used US-leased bases to service planes used with their extraordinary rendition program. Gee, and we trusted our governments to be honest with us? We knew this, so why did they deny it all this time? The CIA reported the oversight in reporting this to Congress was a clerical error in the information database for these flights. So where were those planes going to and coming from? Secret prisons in Eastern Europe no one wants to admit exist?

Third, did you know the CIA has been operating covert spy and surveillence bases in Pakistan for remote controlled Predator drones? Apparently an under the table agreement with Musharraf allowed them in the northwest provinces in search of Taliban and Al Qaeda camps. Now with the new government and likelihood of a new President, those bases may have to be closed or we'll have to pay the new government more money. Gee, spying isn't cheap anymore in the face of demcracy.

Fourth, Starbucks fires 600 people, really 220 and 380 unfilled vacancies, in a work staff of 144,000 employees in the US. A sneeze. But what's interesting is the talk of reorganization. The rule in management when faced with problems, reorganization. It doesn't actually do anything or change anything, but only gives the appearance of change and improvment. In many cases it doesn't work beyond reducing employees, in most it does nothing, and only in a very few does it work. So, don't hold your breath Starbucks will be different in 6-12 months, the minimum time it takes for change to be seen.

Fifth, Microsoft promises in a letter made public to cooperate with third-party software developers to provide more details of Vista's operating system and inter-working and operabitlity of the various packages in Windows. Gee, where have we heard this before over the last 10+ plus years of lawsuits against them? They've never complied with the decisions and only have kept promising more details. But they've never delievered.

Seems like a good snow job to me. Think they could use some at Longmire?

There's a story in the NY Times about a kinder chisel and the company's long road to gain acceptance in stores. The chisel has a large cap and wrapper which absorbs a little of the impact while protecting the fingers. It's been well received by users, but not by potential buyers who think the plastic looking cap wouldn't last. It does last a very long time.

There's a story in the Washington Post about the Census Bureau which may not have the new handheld computer data collection field equipment ready for the 2010 census. They plan to buy 500,000 of the units adding $1 Billion to the $12 Billion to the cost of the census. The reason cited is the Bureau doesn't have the necessary IT specialist to make the whole thing work. Like Duh?

President Bush and even some member of Congress have another bright idea, again. We know the Republicans and some Democrats haven't like the Public Broadcast System (PBS) - the TV arm of the publically funded media. While National Public Radio programs and audience has grown, PBS has declined to mainstay programs and some occasional series programs. And while they've tried to kill PBS, they haven't succeeded, until now.

It appears with the advent of cable and Internet media, PBS is approaching becoming meaningless, and this time around some more democrats are joining the call. When was the last time you watched PBS? Is it time for PBS to become self-funded? It's an interesting debate. I only watch it now for the Charlie Rose show and the one hour news show. Almost everything else now is on the cable channels.

Parting jesture, read the February 17th editorial of the NY Times about Iraq. We need real answers from the candidates. I like this column, but will the candidates?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quick thoughts

Some quick thoughts in the news.

First and foremost, Representative Tom Lantos passed away yesterday. We should all be grateful for his service in the name of people and human rights. All the news stories about him will say far more than I could ever imagine. I never knew or met him, and only know him by his work. And that's enough for us citizens and human beings in this country.

On other issues you could argue about his personal goals and agenda. But that's being a human being, you have to take everything they are, all the good, bad and indifferent about them. I would disagree with him on some issues, but that's just my personal view. But I will agree with him on many others, more than enough to say, "Thank you Mr. Lantos."

And it raises the question, where will the next Representative who fights for people come from without sacrificing their own values to all of us and politicizing the issues in the name of some agenda. We are richer as a country and a nation because of Mr. Lantos, and the next person has to carry the torch farther and stronger. So who will step forward?

Second, and something against my own values. I saw an ad on TV about the Divided We Fall campaign with a logo saying it was sponsored by the AARP. Well, it turns out it's more than sponsored, it is part of it. And while I may agree with their goals and agenda, I can't support in the name of the AARP.

Harsh you say? Well,I joined the AARP when they opened it up to those 50 and over, down from 55. I left it two years later when I realized they're not an organization which supported older people, they're a corporation which markets and sells insurance and other services to older people. While they may do good for many people, a scam is still a scam. And that's what they are, pure and simple a commercial scam.

And to create another organization in a disguise for values and issues is just another way to scam people into becoming members to market products and services to them, both their own and others. They don't have older people in their hearts, but ways to sell to older people under the guise of help. The AARP has a history of supporting commercialization of healthcare industry to get more money for themselves and other companies.

Don't buy that? Well, they supported the Prescription Bill with the hole where many people paid more for their drugs with it than without it. Why? Because they knew those over the hole would enrich themselves and the other insurance companies at our and the government's expense. Our pocketbook.

And they're doing this with healthcare again. They'll support healthcare reform if it enriches themselves to market new services. They won't represent the people for a better healthcare system, just a better one at our expense. Watch and read the fine print of the statements, press releases, etc., and you'll see the disguise. If you want a good healthcare system, don't follow AARP's leadership, express your own views directly to your elected officials.

Be a citizen and don't be scammed by the AARP.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Earmarks and Veterans

The New York Times has an excellent article about earmarks in the budget of the federal government. Congress can put earmarks for funds for pet projects for their district in two ways, directly into the budget - which rarely done as it takes a vote to include it, or in committee reports which are attached to the budget sent to the President and the most common method.

We heard the President rile at the the use of earmarks in his 2008 State of the Union address. Congress promised to cut them in half with the 2007-08 Congressional session. They suceeded in reducing them by 43% when the Republicans had been increasing them every year to record levels from 2001 to 2007 when the Democrats took over Congress in the 2006 elections. President Bush didn't blink an eye when signing budgets with all those Republican earmarks, most of which were put into the budget after it had passed Congress and just before being sent to the President.

What Bush didn't say in his address is that President Bush's administration has sneaked more earmarks into their budget sent to Congress than the Democrats had in their 2007-08 budget. It's really a "What the Fuck" moment. I mean how can a President rile at Congress for doing something he knows he's done more than them. It's like a drunk criticizing an alcoholic for drinking too much. Someone needs to hit the President with a baseball bat and tell him, "George, what are you thinking? Can you really believe that selling an idea you equally break is a good way to lead this country?"

What's ironic is that while Bush threatens to veto funding authorizations with earmarks not in the actual funding bill, meaning in committee reports, he's asking for many of the same earmarks in his spending requests to Congress. So, while he riles at Congressional representatives helping their districts, he doing the same thing in the name of Republicans to win votes in the next elections. And he talks about the Democrats doing the same? Give me break.

Ok, enough about George. Something serious for a change.

Henry Richard Landis, one of the last two surviving US World War I veterans passed way this last week at the age of 108. And now there is one, Frank Buckles.

Last year on Veterans Day I listened to a broadcast of a documentary about the surviving British WWI veterans, about a dozen to date then, and rapidly declining with each year. And there was one thread these and every veteran knows, no matter how old or even how forgetful they get, you never lose your memories of your time in the service.

This sounds odd, especially as you get older you forget the past, but it's true, these memories stay with you because they're wired into your memory of your youth. I'm not sure if or how neurobiologist can explain it, but it happens. The British WWI veterans remembered the places they were, people and friends they knew, and especially the events, meaning battles, deaths, etc., with fairly good recall. All as if it were yesterday.

I remember my time from the day I enlisted on March 7, 1969 to the day I was discharged, January 2, 1973, and everything in between. As for the WWI veterans, in the near future, there will be none. We will lose a legacy of veterans who experienced war as we've never known since. And all the books, audio and video won't replace the human being.

Friday, February 8, 2008

End of the week thoughts

Ok, it's Friday. And the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday are history, with all the pundits talking about what they think they said and didn't and what they think will happen now. Or so they think. And the weather has been rainy and windy all week with more for the weekend. Such is life in paradise, except the candidates are making their appearances here for the caucauses and primary over the next two weeks. Like we need to hear more of the same campaign rhetoric.

And the other news I saw, read or heard?

Well, we all heard about the President and his senior advisors and Cabinet Secretaries say they don't have "secret" prisons anywhere in the world. The EU investigation found no creditable proof any exist in their provinces, except they didn't say they didn't exist, only their evidence wasn't sufficiently complete to say there were prisons, meaning, it's likely there are but no one is saying for the record.

But now we hear about one at Guantananmo, Camp 7. And sure enough they admit it exists and holds about 15 known Al Qaeda prisoners. Gee, what will we believe next?

Ok, the CIA Director says waterboarding is not legal. The FBI has long said it's not legal and more than not, not effective or productive to get information, but the White House says it is and had the Justice Department, remember our trusty Attorney Generals, verify it is. So, who's right? Try the Geneva Convention which banned it.

Somehow this all seems surreal to me. All these people trying to justify something long banned as legal and effective in the face of experience to show it's quite the opposite. What don't they understand about the integrity of the United States in the world view? How can we use the most inhumane torture methods and demand our soldiers and citizens be treated fairly? And then take suspected terrorists, many - in fact most - not captured on the battlefield but in other countries, and send them to nations known for the worst terrorist methods imaginable.

What have we done in the name of what? And we're no better now than then, and no better than our enemy, who by the way also has God on their side too. So, what's been gained? Or lost?

This one is interesting. Ok, you have to listen to the interview with Fred Kaplan. And you still think they had a plan for the occupation? And all the blood has been spilled, in the name of what, self-glorification of some unrealistic ideal?

This one I love. Not really but as a sign of the entrenched isolation mentality of the White House. Congress passed a law with the President's signature to create a position of Ombudsman to mediate disclosure disputes for public information requests for documents and information. We know the history of the White House's record to secure several times more documents as non-public than previous Presidents combined.

So, they agreed to the Ombudsman to resolve issues and disputes, to be in the National Archives where all the official government documents are housed in perpeturity. Bush agreed except afterward he switched the position to the Justice Department. If there disputes about public disclosure, the requester can sue in court, except now they'll face the same Department who denied the mediation in the first place.

What's that about the fox guarding the henhouse?

Ok, enough Bush basing. But he's so gullible to it. He's either extremely brillant to appear stupid or he's so stupid not to know how stupid he really is. But he has his faith that God tells him he's not stupid. I don't know, but I do know my God wouldn't tell someone to do the things Bush tells him his God says is ok. We must have different Gods.

Ok, other notes.

Polaroid Corporation is getting out of the film business, noted by the Boston Globe. To most folks, it's a huh, but to large format photographers, they make some great film. They plan to sell the rights so we may see a new company start production, but it's unlikely. Agfa tried this with little success, but there are some small positive signs film may just become a small line product of bigger companies or main line product of small companies like vinyl records and other older technology products.

Hey, we can all hope.

This one is frightening. TSA can and will confiscate your electronic devices, eg. cell phones, laptops, palmpilots, etc., if they feel you are a suspect or they feel the device has information in the fight against terrorists. No, you say? Read this story and ask yourself if you trust your government.

Talk about violating privacy righs.

Ok, back to Bush. The government is holding a real estate fire sale, see story. It seems during the last year of his presidency they plan to ransack the government resources, regulations and laws for the corporations and others for profit. Somehow they're acting like overdue renters who destroy the house just before skipping out, leaving you the bills and cleanup.

Me thinks it's only the tip of the iceberg as we have another 10+ months of this in the name of something. What I don't know, but it sure smells bad to me.

Ok, enough of this. We're having huge snow problems. Passes are closed for avalanches or just too much snow. And it's rainy and windy. Did I mention winter weather here in paradise? Well, it's beats tornadoes. I'm sorry for the loss of life and property in the four states hit recently with record intensity storms and tornadoes. Many in rural areas with inadequate insurance. So where's FEMA now?

Take care, have a good weekend, and stay warm and dry. Parting jesture. They found the photograph of Ernie Pyle, reporter killed in WW II. If you don't know him, do your homework.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday Thoughts

Ok, the Giants won. It was a great game for the Super Bowl. And sorry, while I like the Patriots, I like the Giants a little more, and I especially like underdogs winning. It makes life interesting and teaches people humility. The Giants were outmatched and played with heart. Were the Patriots overconfident? I think they were maybe a little too confident to realize they could be beaten. But they should have known since the Giants were one of the few teams who really challenged them during the season.

Anyway, we now have nearly 15 feet of snow, slightly ahead of normal. Such is life in paradise, which you can see at the Webcam and weather.

Ok, the news.

Did you know the Departmet of Defense isn't going to report next year budget estimates for spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They'll simply said, "Sign the check and we'll keep you posted." How's that for truth in government? They report if they expect to run out of funds to request more, meaning they're the fat kid in the orphanage.

Did you know while we can't import drugs from overseas, the drug companies get ingredients and sometimes whole drugs from overseas to resell here at US prices? And the FDA doesn't have enough inspectors to certify the overseeas plants and import companies. We easily could be getting some of the ingredients if not the actual drugs from China that are causing them problems.

What a concept, our government doesn't want us to know what companies are doing and they'll help them sell us potentially bad drugs but not protect us. Who's paying taxes? They're not. Who's creating this mess? Congress who's not funding the FDA adequately for the new work they're demanding the agency do. Estimates to fix the problem are increasing the funding and staffing by 50% in the next 2-3 years to get even, not any new work.

So why can't we buy drug imports while the drug companies can sell us drum imports?

Did you know we're not winning in Afghanistan? No? Well, it seems we have two enemies now, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, both reinforcing their forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 2007 was the worst year for deaths and casualties in Afghanistan and the commanders are predicting it won't get better. The Taliban are rich with drug money - remember we're protecting the country now so they can become the world's supplier of heroin (90+% in 2006). And Al Qaeda is settling into the Taliban controlled and proteced areas of Pakistan.

On top of that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are borrowing the tactics of the insurgents in Iraq. Makes you wonder if we'll ever get a chance to leave either country for the long forseeable future.

Did you know that some of the 9/11 hijackers were helped into and supported in US by Iranian, Hezbollah and Saudi government people here? Yup, not Iraqi's here but mid-level members of the Saudi government along with people associated with Iranian and Hezbollah extremists. And this was known before 9/11 too. Don't buy the idea, listen to story and book.

We don't need more technology and money to fight terrorists, just better communications between agencies. If we had all the surveillence and Patriot Act we have today before 9/11, we still wouldn't have done a better job than we did then. We had everything in front of us, and even people connecting the dots, but we didn't have the system for people to understand what to do in management.

The people in the system failed, not the system or anything else. Just human beings. That's not technology, but intelligence, old fashioned human intelligence. The Patriot Act didn't solve that, and neither did the Homeland Security Administration.

Ok, enough for a Monday. Parting thoughts?

They found the photo about Ernie Pyle. And here's an interesting story about Ramak Fazel photographing all the capitols in the US.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday Thoughts

Ok, it's been a few days. I've been busy in the studio and life's errands. But I did manage to get and read the newspapers and listen to the news on the radio. I just didn't get a chance to think through things enough to write them here. I like to think that much about what I write, I have to have a certain level of angst and anger at the world. And doing my photography loses those emotions and feelings, or at least sets them aside for awhile.

But life and the world will always, ever so incessantly, sneak into your existence, like it or not. It's the reality of being alive today. And yes, I also listened to the President's State of the Union address. And if that doesn't make you angry I don't know what will. Being his last it was a pure and simple rerun of highlights of the last 7 years of failure, summed up by the man who created it.

Gee, almost Fox style show, "Live from the House, George Bush!" Be there for the former popular President's review of his career, the disasterous wars, the selling of fear of pseudo-terrorist attacking American values and way of life, the selling of selling out the citizens to the military control of our government, the selling out of the middle class for the profit of the rich and corporations, all his friends. But hey, we'll make it all sound so rosy and cheerful, you'll want to sign up for more with the next President?

Maybe George could be a contestant on some "Lost in Iraq" show, to see if he can make it to Kuwait on his own without being kidnapped? I wonder what the rating would be for the series. Think maybe Jack Bauer could save him? I bet George thinks he exists to do that, save him and America from the insurgents, the evil-doers? Or maybe George could actually do what he pretends to think he's doing, fighting evildoers? How about making him a real soldier and sending him into Sadr City looking for them Al Qaeda terrorist, all by himself?

And give him a cellphone that only calls one person, Dick Cheney. Dick could inspire him with all that bullshit rhetoric he's been spouting for years. Dick would easily show him every non-Christian was an evil doer, after all they're living in the Middle East? Aren't all Iraqis insurgents?

Or maybe Rambo would team up if George to save America from the terrorists wanting to attack America? Or better, George gets captured and Jack Bauer and Rambo have to team up to find and save him before he converts to Islam? Enuf stupidity and silliness. Not!

Ok, I'm listening to the Live at the Met opera of Wagner's Die Walk├╝re. Way cool for writing. I've long forgotten my German so it's the music that's iinteresting. A different world to hear while thinking. Keeps those synapses dancin', except when you want to shout, "Ok, die..." so we can get on with it. Why do operas have to prolong the death scene to death? That's where the drama is, in dying, singing your end about your (character) life.

Anyway, onward.

Did you know in the 2008-09 fiscal budget we''ll spend $500 Billion on the Department of Defense and another $250 Billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? This includes all the capital expenses (new stuff) along with construction we destroyed in our invasion. That's one quarter of the entire buget and more than all the rest of the federal government programs and agencies combined, and more on the military than the next top ten nations' military budgets combined. Are we a military nation or a peace and freedom nation?

Makes you wonder we're spending nearly $1 Trillion for military and security, one third of the entire budget. Add another over one third to entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, and interest on the debt. That leaves about 25% for everything else. That's everything else our federal government does for its citizens. It's never been so lopsided since WWII. Is this what you expect from your government?

Did you know George increased the size of government more than any previous president? He increased government spending more than any previous president? He increased the deficit more than any president? He inherited a surplus and spent it on tax cuts to the largest deficit in history? He increased military spending outside of the wars more than any previous president? He even increased entitlements more than any previous president?

Gee, I thought he was a republican? Isn't that what they espouse their political view? So what happened? Just a thought about your tax dollars. It's not about that 25% but that 33+% spent on the military and security. Is it what we really need?

I guess listening to ole George just kinda' blew the anger synapses out and I can't be mad at the rest of the world. And now I'm listening to a Prairie Home Companion radio show. So, it's hard to be mad at Garrison and the criew and guests with song, stories, and whatever else happens.

So, parting jesture. Don't forget Valentine's Day coming in about two weeks. Cherish those you love.