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Category: government (Page 2 of 6)

pics from a wonderful weekend

Rudi and spriteIt really was wonderful, that’s for sure!

And I had my cameras – the Canon and the iPhone – with me throughout the fun, capturing moments that I won’t soon forget.

You can see all of the pictures by clicking here. They’re split up by day and/or event, so have a look around!

seven years later, i’ve moved on

I read a newspaper story today that said

“The world hasn’t stopped turning since the towers came down and the Pentagon smoldered and the earth was torn in a Pennsylvania field.”

Yet for the Republican party (and certain Dems and “independent Democrats”), it’s as if the world did stop, then and there.

Or if it did, they continue to rewind in times of political insecurity.

As Keith Olbermann said in a “Special Comment” segment on last night’s Countdown, to the GOP “9/11 has become… 9/11, with a trademark logo.”

I’m reminded of this as I remember September 11, 2001. I remember the horror and confusion created by the attacks, the anger the generated, and the hope that things would not get worse. On that day, I was teaching a class in Metarie, Louisiana, and it was tough to concentrate on my curriculum when my mind, as well as the minds of all my students, was focused on lower Manhattan, Arlington and Pennsylvania.

As time went by, I saw some of the best of America come forth: community efforts to help the victims’ families, a re-visitation of how people viewed being “American,” and a non-partisan unity of spirit and resolve.

But this feeling didn’t last long. Partisan bickering and misguided revenge put the United States into a war with a country that had nothing to do with the Al-Quaida attacks. Racism revealed its ugly face as civil liberties were undermined and the Constitution weakened in the name of so-called “security.” Fear was used as political capital, to the detriment of the foundations of this country.

And still, seven years later, many people – politicians, the media, victims of the attacks and those who still harbor feelings of anger and revenge – re-open the wounds of the attacks. These people keep looking backward, trying to find closure to a wound that they refuse to let heal.

I prefer to look forward – and I think that I’m not alone in that sentiment. During this hectic election time, I wince whenever any of the candidates lean on “remembering 9/11” as a justification for misguided military spending, detrimental expansion of domestic oil drilling, subsidizing bankrupt entities, propping up outmoded business models, and instilling fear in the voters.

But the politicians serve it up, aided by the waitstaff that is the media, and many members of the public lap it up like manna.

Except for the fact that this manna is no less off-putting than Soylent Green: not the food of the gods, but an empty form of sustenance brought forth via the most foul and despicable means imaginable.

The people of the United States can be better than this. They’re being sold out by misguided trust: in the media, in the pundits.

As far as 9/11 is concerned, I’ve moved on. While I will never forget the tragedy – I reflected on the events of that day during a slow, quiet ride to work this morning – I prefer to look forward, to move toward something better and not dwell on the mistakes and horrors of the past.

If only more people in this country felt the same, perhaps we would be asking the right things of our politicians rather than the non sequitur. At least I can hope that’s the case.

that well is dry, media folk and mccain handlers

I’m sorry, but John McCain was a POW over 30 years ago.

That’s a lot of time for recovery, and he seems to have done just fine compared to some Vietnam vets who are still suffering from PTSD and other major psychological and physiological side-effects from their service – and sometimes imprisonment – in Viet Cong prisons.

But many in the mainstream media and McCain’s camp say it’s unfair to attack the senator’s frequent gaffes and lapses in basic logic by saying it’s unfair to attack the man “because he was a POW.”

What the fuck?

Is this even relevant?

Being a former POW is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for every slip-up in a person’s life, personal or political. Sure, you can use it for certain things that are directly correlated to the trauma of war. But it’s not a catch-all excuse for a person who has proven completely unqualified to be President of the United States.

Gen. Wesley Clark was correct: being a POW does not automatically qualify a person to be President, any more than spending a night in jail for public drunkenness qualifies a person to be the Chief of Police or head of ATF.

It’s too bad that most in the mainstream media don’t seem to give a rat’s ass. So to my graduation speaker from 1996, Tom Brokaw, it is with a bit of sadness that I can no longer take you seriously as a reporter when you, too, subscribe to the “POW=untouchable” theory.

So to anybody who is using the POW excuse for McCain, please stop. Show me a reason why he’s qualified to be President, because I can’t see any.

friday my:dc : the bureaucratic queue

Number 51, your time is upDo you need to get a new driver’s license, or renew your car’s registration, or apply for a vanity plate? Prepare to wait in the queue.

This was the situation on Wednesday, March 18, at the Georgetown branch of the DC DMV. Usually, this is the most efficient of the DMV branch offices, and it happens to be close to my office. All I needed to do was renew my registration. I’d procrastinated beyond the point where I could renew online, and given that I was heading to Utah for the Easter weekend and my registration expired the following Monday, I figured renewing it before leaving town was the best option.

So I meandered down to the DMV for my lunch break.

A break that took almost three hours.

Ugh.

It didn’t help that the one person processing registration renewals (there are 12 window locations at this DMV branch, and most were moving folks through at a decent clip) took 30 minute breaks between each customer.

30 minute breaks. I shit you not.

Needless to say, it’s done. Whew!

Other folks sharing a window on their world: Hillary, sprite, Sweetpea and MsP.

friday my:dc : the queue

The line inside St. Thomas'This was the scene on Tuesday at my local polling place: a long queue to vote. And this was just the indoor portion, as the line snaked outside and down the block a stretch.

It’s a good sign that people are showing up to vote in the primaries. And I’m really pleased that the front-loaded primary schedule didn’t result in a candidate before the citizens of DC, Maryland and Virginia had a chance to vote. For once, I don’t feel completely disenfranchised.

to all voters (especially those in prince william county)

So the racist wingnuts won their races in Prince William County, Virginia. I’m not pleased.

But what’s even more infuriating? Only 17 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

17 percent!

That’s criminal. I mean, one of the few freedoms to remain these days is the right to vote. If you’re over 18 and a citizen of the United States, you have the right – and the responsibility – to vote in elections. Even the trivial elections matter: today’s sanitation commissioner is tomorrow’s state representative, who in turn is tomorrow’s senator or representative – or even president down the road.

It all brings me back to the oft-cited saying: if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome of the election.

Or put more simply: if you don’t vote, don’t bitch.

(And worry not: my oft-delayed workout logs will be posted, as will a recap of my recent trip to Florida.)

shut up, george!

George W. Bush should simply shut up.

I mean, c’mon: calling Iran’s development of nuclear technology (which is equally likely to be for energy needs as weaponry, if not more so) a potential catalyst to World War III is ludicrous, reckless, and pedantic.

You, Mr. Bush, are a fool. You’re trying to pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight. It’s the same smoke screen that you brought up after things got boring in Afghanistan and you threatened Iraq, which we all know had nothing to do with the events of September 11, 2001!

And witness the quagmire we created: a civil war in which we play no role other than as catalyst for violence.

Iran is no pressing or major threat to the United States. Yes, it is a state that neither has a system of government that is like ours (though it’s not overly far removed, given the current situation in Washington, DC), nor is it fanatically Christian (two things that Bush and his neo-con buddies seem to think are the linchpins to “proper” government). But it is a state that is remarkably stable – something that should be lauded in the region, not demonized.

I know that Bush and his cronies – Cheney and Rice, as well as Rove, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz in the past – know nothing other than the “us-versus-them” politics of the Cold War, and have been trying their best to re-create the old system by creating a New American Empire. It’s foolish and amazingly shallow, and when Bush says that it’s his calling to do this, he inserts his religion into the matter.

Here’s a big clue for you, Mr. Bush: most of the people of the United States – to whom you should answer – do not ascribe to evangelical crusades in our name. Indeed, there are many of us who don’t ascribe to your god or to religion, in general.

And guess what: those of us who aren’t religious are not amoral heathens. As has been the case many times in history, having religion does not guarantee moral character. And in that way, Mr. Bush, you give a very bad name to Christ’s teachings.

I doubt Christ would’ve wanted you in his church.

And if you dangle the prospect of World War III over our heads in what seemed like a flip comment at your afternoon “presser,” you come across as a man so removed from morality that it leaves me wanting your input out of our international affairs equation as soon as possible.

As one of your predecessors once said: “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Don’t spout words out of your ass, because it makes you look like one.

And one more thing, Mr. Bush: if you’re going to bash public health insurance, then I encourage you to drop the health care that you get with your current occupation. That is public health care, after all, and if you’re against it, put up or shut up.

i did not vote for this president

He does not speak for me.

He does not speak for intelligent people.

He lies.

He lies to his advisers – as they undoubtedly do to him.

He lies to the people of the United States.

He lies to the world.

Under his watch, the United States has become less safe from terrorism.

Under his watch, the moral footing of the United States has been completely eroded.

He has done nothing to help the people of the United States who need help.

He has spent more money and effort on propping up a corrupt régime in Iraq, one that is not our ally in any sense, rather than help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the Gulf Coast states.

He has allowed Osama Bin Laden to run free because he needs a “them” for us to have a de facto enemy – this to satisfy his military “strategists” who know only Cold War politics.

To that end, his meddling in Middle Eastern affairs has, in large part, reignited the Cold War – something his own father helped bring to an end.

The president has no idea of where the actual first line of securing our country lies: in dealing with the causes of why other states and organizations dislike us.

Here’s a hint: it’s not Iraq.

This president is a complete and utter failure on all counts.

He is disingenuous.

He is disgusting.

And he needs to be told that he is no longer the only cowboy in town.

To the Democrats: taking cautious, calculated, semi-coherent baby steps is not leadership: please grow a spine and stand up to the criminal activities of the executive branch.

To all members of congress: do not heed the president’s plea for more funding for our misguided adventures in Iraq.

Cut the funding.

He keeps saying “give it six more months.” Time and again, our congress has rolled over and bought the lies.

And that’s what they are: lies.

Bring our troops home now.

End this madness before it completely destroys our country.

tuesday quick quips

Some things that have crossed my mind today:

  • WAMU’s decision to relegate their bluegrass programming to the HD range is flat-out stupid. The powers-that-be at WAMU continue to prove that they know how to implode a local radio station, creating more of the same (political talk radio and over-syndicated NPR content) rather than provide a format that’s unique. If anybody from the “home of Kojo” is reading this: take a long, hard look at WFUV, KRCL or WXPN to see how independent public radio is done. Seriously: we don’t need rehash of stuff that every other NPR affiliate is doing.
  • The first public beta release of Eudora’s new mail client, code named “Penelope”, is a major letdown. Let me summarize: it’s essentially Thunderbird with Eudora’s icons and sounds. If I were a Eudora user, I’d be miffed that we’ve waited all this time for a version of Thunderbird with new curtains. Where are the features of the old program that made it a standout? Are they in some internal build that will see the light of day in 2012? Disappointing, Mr. Dorner and open-source dev crowd – simply disappointing.
  • It was refreshing to hear a Republican consultant on this past Sunday’s Meet The Press admit that Fox News is the official media outlet for the GOP. Finally: a theocon who says something that isn’t mealy-mouthed and half (if that) true!
  • I’m still not sold on any of the current crop of presidential candidates. However, there are some who continue to inch their way down in favor, including Bill Richardson (miffing the question on whether being gay is a choice or genetic, and doing an “I don’t know” on the $50 billion Iraq funding bill).

Now, off to a ball game….

a request to all congressional dems (and free-thinking republicans, too)

If you believe that we are going the wrong direction in our Middle East military engagements, please vote against President Bush’s request for an additional $50 million in emergency war spending.

That the president is already requesting such funding before the Patraeus shill report is issued shows that Bush will turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation in Iraq. We are losing this war, we have exhausted all military options, the surge is not working (nor will it ever work), and democracy can’t be force-fed to those who don’t want it.

Mr. President, your allusion to Vietnam was ironic, especially given that Nixon was loathe to accept the reality that our vaunted – and supposedly “perfect” – system of governance is not a cookie-cutter solution to the world’s political ills. Perhaps, Mr. President, you would have learned this first hand had you not evaded your military responsibilities.

But no. You have shown that history is not something to be learned and used as a roadmap for progress, but some fictitious fairy tale that can be re-interpreted to serve your own gains. It’s a strategy that was used to great effect by such leaders as Lenin, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Mao, Pinochet and Amin:

  • distort history
  • create an “us vs. them” conflict where one did not previously exist
  • try and frame the issue as a “holy,” ideological struggle
  • fight symptoms rather than fix causes

It’s time for congress to listen to its constituents: stop this madness now.

It’s not true that voting against this funding is a sign of weakness on national defense. Spending additional, obscene amounts of money on Iraq is not defending our home soil. All it is doing is entrenching our men and women, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors in a land where they serve no purpose other than to reduce our country’s favor in the world view. All the additional spending does is further weaken security on our home soil: not just the decimation of the National Guard, but vital services that the middle class needs in order to survive.

So, dear members of congress, please do something to help all of the citizens of the United States: vote against the continued funding of the Iraq military action.

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