Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

An Historic Day

Today is an historic day. We've once again seen the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next and the next just happens to be an African-American in a country where a generation ago, discrimination and 'separate but equal' was the law of the land. It truly is amazing.
I thought I'd post an email I recieved from a friend who is British and a doctor living in London:

i'm on night shifts and i watched the election. quite exciting. it was covered the whole way through.
obama is inspitarational. it is amazing. it showed everybody a different america. normally the rest of the world doesn't get to see the good qualities of ordinary americans, but i think this campaign will change all that. the energy of the campaign, as well as the victory, and the turnout showed the world that americans are brave, and bold, and full of energy and belief in change and a better future, a better wold. that the young, and the old and the african american vote, and former hardcore republicans as well as the majority of regular fair-minded democrats could mount this take-over is testament to a national faith and intelligence that the last eight years had cast into doubt. that barack hussein obama was chosen, despite public announcements that he was a socialist and a terrorist, makes this a transformative moment for America and therefore the world. well done you.

I had previously written to my friend that my hope was that at long last, our eight year national embarrassment would soon be over. And it is...who knows what is to come. But what I believe is that IF things can change, the best hope is Obama. Maybe things won't and it will be business as usual -- do nothing government that is out for interest groups and not the American people. If so, we'll have lost nothing. But the chance there is something better out there was too much to deny.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Scott McClellan....

Better or worse than the Bruce Ismay (White Star Lines executive) character from Titanic who boards the life raft with women and children?


You see, thats basically what Scotty's done. Scotty was part and parcel of the Bush Administration. Right in the thick of it...standing at the podium and feeding the MORE than willing press corps, and the American people, lie after lie, after lie.

But now, the ship is going down. Some people have gotten to the life rafts already, to try and salvage their reputations, or what is left of them. But there aren't enough life rafts for everyone and time has already expired for anyone with a conscience to have spoken up about what actually was happening in the inner circle of the White House.

Enter Scotty. He'll be damned if he's going down with the ship. So he slyly jumps on board the last remaining raft to salvage his reputation. Unfortunately, as with Ismay, trying to save yourself this late only makes you look infinitely worse.

Because, now you see, we already know what you are trying to do. We see your shame for what it is. We know you SAT BY IDLY while this was going on. Worse than that, you participated fully in feeding it all to us. All the lies. All the propaganda. All of it. Its more than too little too late. The horse left the barn and you are trying to shut the door.

If you read one article about McLellan, and of course, his detractors and the defenders (still!) of the Bush Administration, read this one:

We confess that here at McClatchy, which purchased Knight Ridder two years ago, we do have a dog in this fight. Our team - Joe Galloway, Clark Hoyt, Jon Landay, Renee Schoof, Warren Strobel, John Walcott, Tish Wells and many others - was, with a few exceptions, the only major news media organization that before the war consistently and aggressively challenged the White House's case for war, and its lack of planning for post-war Iraq.
* The Bush administration was gunning for Iraq within days of the 9/11 attacks,
dispatching a former CIA director, on a flight authorized by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to find evidence for a bizarre theory that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. (Note: See also Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on this point).
* Bush decided by February 2002, at the latest, that he was going to remove Saddam by hook or by crook. (Yes, we reported that
at the time).
* White House officials, led by Dick Cheney, began making the case for war in August 2002, in
speeches and reports that not only were wrong, but also went well beyond what the available intelligence said at that time, and contained outright fantasies and falsehoods. Indeed, some of that material was never vetted with the intelligence agencies before it was peddled to the public.* Dissenters, or even those who voiced worry about where the policy was going, were ignored, excluded or punished. (Note: See Gen. Eric Shinseki, Paul O'Neill, Joseph Wilson and all of the State Department 's Arab specialists and much of its intelligence bureau).

Hungry for more? Read the whole thing. There were dissenting voices at the time. I didn't make up my mind based on fantasy to protest this war or to oppose it at time. The media, the administration and yes, you Scotty, are responsible for this entire debacle. No life raft will save you now.

hat tip Glenn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interesting perspective on the Immigration debate

One of the points I keep hearing being raised in discussions with people over immigration is that they are afraid that our "way of life" will change should we keep allowing all of this immigration. My point was always that we need to do something about illegal immigration, but that it was silly to think our way of life would change. I always figured that common sense would say that within one or two generations, those immigrant's children and grandchildren would be just as Americanized as you or I. Now, there is proof.

Immigrants of the past quarter-century have been assimilating in the United States at a notably faster rate than did previous generations, according to a study released today.

The study, sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, a New York think tank, used census and other data to devise an assimilation index to measure the degree of similarity between the United States' foreign-born and native-born populations. These included civic factors, such as rates of U.S. citizenship and service in the military; economic factors, such as earnings and rates of homeownership; and cultural factors, such as English ability and degree of intermarriage with U.S. citizens. The higher the number on a 100-point index, the more an immigrant resembled a U.S. citizen.

The report found, however, that the speed with which new arrivals take on native-born traits has increased since the 1990s. As a result, even though the foreign population doubled during that period, the newcomers did not drive down the overall assimilation index of the foreign-born population. Instead, it held relatively steady from 1990 to 2006.
"This is something unprecedented in U.S. history," Vigdor said. "It shows that the nation's capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong."

I don't think that there is any denying that something must be done about illegal immigration. But the sentiment that we should stop immigration, particularly from Mexico, because somehow our way of life is threatened, seems to be to more fueled by the color of the immigrant's skin rather than whether our way of life is actually threatened.

Which Category does this fall into?

Is it the "ticking time bomb" scenario whereby torture must be legal in case a hypothetical person knows of a hypothetical incident that we could hypothetrically stop?

Or is it the Rush Limbaugh "fraternity hazing" type of torture?

The alleged torture, which he detailed in a written statement, included being beaten, restrained for long periods in uncomfortable positions, threatened with dogs, exposed to loud music and freezing temperatures and stripped nude in front of female personnel.

Either way, I guess it was our bad, eh?

The Pentagon has dropped charges against a Saudi at Guantanamo who was alleged to have been the so-called "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks, his U.S. military defense lawyer said Monday.

How anyone could not be ashamed that their country is behaving this way is beyond me. This administration is chock full of war crimials, and there is really no other way to say it.

The attorney said he could not comment on the reasons for the dismissal until discussing the case with lawyers for the other five defendants. Officials previously said al-Qahtani had been subjected to a harsh interrogation authorized by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Then again, I guess it was just "harsh interrogation".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

This made me want to post...

This is a wonderful, inspirational story that shows what a small group of people can do...they can make a difference. Or at least start to make one...

South African port and truck workers are refusing to move weapons from a ship that docked in the country on its way to Zimbabwe, union officials said Friday.

The move could add to pressure on South African President Thabo Mbeki to take a harder line on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of withholding the results of an election his opposition says it won. Mbeki has argued that Mugabe is unlikely to respond to a confrontational approach.

..."How positive it is that ordinary dockers have refused to allow that boat to go further," Robinson said during a conference in Senegal on governance in Africa. "They as individuals have taken the responsibility. Because they believe it's not right."

One should note of course that China is the country supplying weapons to Zimbabwe...and also the country hosting this years summer Olympics. I don't agree with disrupting the Olympics, as atheletes have been training for this stage their whole lives and have no say in the host-country, but I also believe that protesting, without disruption, is appropriate. China shouldn't get a free pass -- the world's eye is on them, and the view isn't pretty.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

L'Affaire Spitzer

So Eliot Spitzer resigned today. I have no sympathy for him at all. He is no less of a hypocrite than Larry Craig and David Vitter and the family-values-loving Republicans who talk a good talk but don't feel that they have to walk the walk.

Like most, I feel extremely sorry for his family and especially his wife. I agree this practice of trotting out the wife for her public embarrassment must stop. Its utterly contemptable that he brings his wife to stand there at a news conference while he apologizes to his constituents. I'd wonder what she was thinking to agree, but I tend to think it was something along the lines of "my entire family is ruined, my marriage is a sham, my children are hurt beyond words, ...oh, what was that? Stand here? ok...what do I do now? How can I repair my family...". You get the point.

The absolutely WORST part of all this is a little nugget that came out today which indicates that as Client 9, Spitzer asked a prostitute about some "dangerous" activities. It turns out, that activitiy was "bare-backing", or having sex without a condomn. You know what Eliot? Do whatever you want to your own body. But potentially exposing your spouse to STD's or any other consequences of having sex with someone who has sex for a living is downright, utterly reprehensible. I was about to say there is nothing worse about this scandal, but then I saw that Dr. Laura was on the Today Show this morning speaking about why poor, little, victimized men cheat:

Dr. SCHLESSINGER: Men do need validation. I mean, when they come into the world, they're born of a woman and getting the validation from Mommy is the beginning of needing it from a woman. And when the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings, sexually, personally, to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he's very susceptible to the charm of some other woman making him feel what he needs. And these days, women don't spend a lot of time thinking about how they can give their men what they need.

VIEIRA: But you--are you saying the women should feel guilty, like they somehow drove the man to cheat?

Dr. SCHLESSINGER: You know what, the cheating was his decision to repair what's damaged and to feed himself where he's starving. But, yes, I hold women accountable for tossing out perfectly good men by not treating them with the love and kindness and respect and attention they need.

Why is this vile woman on national TV? Why is she validated by being given a platform? Absolutely disgusting.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I liked this

Haven't been leaning Hillary lately -- but had to post this because its great...and true.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some quick hits


"This is where I get to be honest and I hope I'm not out of school here. I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel. If we cannot have a honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we're not going to make progress. And frankly some of the commentary that I've seen which suggests guilt by association or the notion that unless we are never ever going to ask any difficult questions about how we move peace forward or secure Israel that is non military or non belligerent or doesn't talk about just crushing the opposition that that somehow is being soft or anti-Israel, I think we're going to have problems moving forward. And that I think is something we have to have an honest dialogue about."

More, please. Its not that Hillary Clinton believes or doesn't believe this. I have no idea. What I do know, is that she would never say it. I'm tired, so tired, of having politicians who are afraid of speaking the truth, because it might not sit well with certain constituencies.

Have we all successfully formed opinions on Obama and his dressing in traditional Kenyan attire? As if it matters? No, you haven't? Well, good. Because Hillary's flacks are here to help you form one:

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones: "I have no shame, or no problem, with people looking at Barack Obama in his native clothing, in the clothing of his country." Hmmm, last time I checked, Obama was born in the USA.

As I said to my mother and aunt the other day, for God's sake Hillary Clinton's team does nothing but make her look bad. So either she has horrible judgement skills on who is spinning for her, or she's really trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and yell "boo...Kenya...muslim" and hope people vote for her. Sad. Better put by Christopher Orr:

"At this point, it seems to me there are really only two plausible interpretations: Either Stephanie Tubbs Jones is an imbecile, and the Clinton campaign is enormously unlucky that it keeps looking as though they're trying to paint Obama as an exotic, probably Muslim foreigner. Or the Clinton campaign is trying to paint Obama as an exotic, probably Muslim foreigner, and they think they can get away with the smear as long as they add, "not that there's anything wrong with that."

One of the reasons I lean towards Obama is that try as everyone might, he never seems to take the bait. He never pulls the typical, Democratic, tail-between-the-legs, bullshit responses. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, he responds exactly as he should. On the holier-than-thou flag lapel pin controversy, intead of insulting my intelligence and telling me how much he loves America and hates The Terrorists, he said:

"A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans' benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?
"That is a debate I am very happy to have. We'll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism."

Exactly right. Obama has been taking some ugly attacks. So has Hillary. One has responded in the way that I have been wanting people to respond to these right-wing attacks for the past 7 years -- since 9/11, and thats Obama. The pickup of the Dodd endorsement today only strengthens his case, in my mind. Chris Dodd has not been very popular on the campaign trail, but he's been doing the unpopular work on the FISA debate and is not afraid to stand for something that others will mischaracterize as "giving the terrorists our rights"!

There are plenty of reasons to vote for Hillary. She is just not making her case very well, in my opinion and trying to scare people into thinking Obama is some exotic Muslim foreigner only makes her seem like a right-wing hack.

Things that Piss Me Off

You're pro-choice. Does that interfere with being an evangelical?

Well, I don't like the [pro-choice] label. I guess the reason I wrote about abortion the way I did in the book is because I have serious moral concerns about abortion, but I don't believe that it should be illegal. And that puts me in the vast majority of Americans. But unfortunately, there's no label for us.

Yes, there is. You are PRO-CHOICE.

This is the crap that pisses me off -- when right-wing nutters who want to change the debate start using the phrase "pro-abortion" it makes people believe that if you are pro-choice, that must mean you just love abortions.

Abortions are just awesome, aren't they? When my sister got pregnant, I told her I was pro-choice (meaning pro-abortion, natch) and suggested she get an abortion. She didnt...alas, that must make her pro-life.

This is stupid. If you are pro-choice, it means you do not think that it should be illegal to get an abortion and that if a woman wants to get an abortion, that option should be available to her. END of STORY. Women who allow others to change the definitions of what "pro-choice" means, only demonize other women and allow those that would take that choice away from you more power. Get a clue Amy.


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