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Category: insecurity (Page 1 of 8)

peace, love & understanding

I really couldn’t think of words to say how I felt about the terrible event in Boston yesterday.

It was numbing. It made me angry. That any person or people would have such disregard for humanity, for joy, for happiness – it’s simply impossible to comprehend. Whatever message was trying to be sent, it was lost on me and on countless others.

The people of Boston are a tough crowd. In many respects, I see them as tougher than New Yorkers: slightly more resilient, less bombastic and more “dig in, we’re movin’ on.”

I leave it to songs to express the feelings of hope, healing, and promise I wish for the people of Boston, the friends and families of the Boston Marathon runners, staff, and volunteers, and the innocent people who were simply trying to enjoy Patriots’ Day, the race, and their lives.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

“The Boxer”

“Here Comes The Sun”

We share precious little space on this insignificant rock that tumbles through dark space. Peace and understanding – that’s the ticket.

vote yes on no! (election 2012 live[ish]blog)

7:35pm

Polls are closed in Virginia. Results from there are… forming.

But I vote in DC. I arrived at my polling place at 7:02am ad found a queue of over 100 people waiting to cast ballots.

And by 7:30am, I was done and out. Many ovals were filled with the standard golf pencil: Obama/Biden, Grosso, Beatty (simply because a moderate Republican would provide a needed check in the otherwise mono block DC Council), Strachuzzi (because we need new approaches within Congress), Mendelson, et al. I voted for the weak-sauce ethics reform measures because they are, at the very least, a step toward meaningful ethics reform in the DC government.

My reward? A flat white from Filter – yum!

I worked all day at the office.

Now I head to watch the returns with friends dating back to the days of Howard Dean. I’ll keep you posted by updating this post.

8:12

At Tunnicliff’s, drinking a lager. Talking heads on TV are vamping because there isn’t anything to report. Whee. Drink.

10:25pm

Trusty’s has been good. Once the trivia game broke up, it got quiet. Watching results pour in with relative peace. Nice to see Warren, Baldwin, McCaskill, Sharrod Brown win. Interesting to see the national popular vote juxtaposed with the Electoral College.

12:35am

At the White House – four more years!!!

boxing day miscellaney: xmas and paranoia

Happy Boxing Day to one and all!

Christmas was a wonderful day. I’m in Connecticut, with sprite’s family as usual. We slept in, which isn’t too surprising, given that we arrived early on Christmas Eve day – 6:00 am, to be precise.

Yup, we drove through the night, taking shifts on mostly empty roads, listening to XPN‘s “The Night Before”: a 24-hour marathon hosted by DJ Robert Drake. We listened to the first six hours of the broadcast, some of it over the air, most of it via the iPhone (worked like a charm on 3G connections).

After a few hours of shut-eye, I finished up my holiday shopping, which had been postponed by SNOWPOCALYPSE 2009!!!! Even though I’d been in a bit of a funk over what to get folks, it all came together in a combination of lack of sleep and time deadlines.

Anyhow, the holiday went well: presents were well received, dinner was tasty, and family visits were lovely and mellow. I’m stoked that my mom and sprite teamed up to get me The Beatles In Mono, the limited-edition box set of all the monoaural Beatles albums. sprite is stoked that she has lots of lovely new yarn to play with. And we’re both elated to have new cooking and food things to enjoy, DVDs to watch and books to read – and some precious time off from work.

—–

Hopefully, Sarah has made it to Rome on her re-routed trip to Egypt. She’s running about 12 hours behind her original schedule, which can’t be fun. Problems with baggage and aircraft in DC caused re-routing of her flights, as well as other hassles. Good luck, Sarah!

—–

And now I hear that, due to an attempted “pants bombing” of a Delta Air Lines flight yesterday, airport security and overall travel paranoia is back to an unreasonable high. We’re still seeing the after-effects of the failed shoe bombing attempt over five years ago, having to doff our shoes at TSA checkpoints here in the United States. Does this latest bombing attempt mean that we’ll see mandatory pants-dropping at security checks? Whatever the case, the dog-and-pony show that is the TSA security check will become even more comically absurd, still doing precious little to actually make things more secure, making travelers more grumpy, and not really removing the root causes of attacks.

And I’ve already heard that the TSA has imposed in-flight lockdowns of arriving aircraft. Air Canada is already advising passengers heading to the U.S. that, during the final hour of flight, passengers are to remain seated with carry-ons fully stowed and are not allowed to “have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

Is this overreaction? Yes, it is. As David Bernstein (of The FredCast Cycling Podcast) reminds us, Ben Franklin put it best:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The TSA is instilling paranoia in order to try and control the situation. In doing so, they fail to achieve any level of security and only make themselves look absurd.

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.

five years wasted

It’s been five years since George W. Bush and his theocon cronies, with the complicit support of congressional Democrats, brought the United States to war with Iraq.

A needless war.

A senseless war.

A deliberate diversion from the real war on terror and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

A war that was more about family honor and potential oil revenue than actual world and regional security.

A war that had cost this country the lives of 3,990 of its own people.

A war that has wounded over 40,000 U.S. soldiers, many severely, and has provided little to no services to them once they return from the theatre of combat.

A war that has killed hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of innocent Iraqi people.

A war that has not achieved any of its purported goals.

A war that was launched with inadequate funding, insufficient troop levels, little strategy, and no exit plan.

A war that, combined with ill-conceived tax cuts and increases in wasteful spending, has destroyed the economy of the United States.

There is no stability in Iraq since the fall of Hussein and the Ba’athists.

The price of oil has not fallen as a result of the “liberation” of the Iraqi oil fields.

The security of the United States has not been improved due to our presence in Iraq – if anything, things are far less secure on a global scale.

In going to war with Iraq, President Bush and his advisers did not remove causes of terror. To do so would have required introspection, something that none of the current occupants of the executive branch seem to be able to do, as it shows them as spineless, rudderless hypocrites.

Our war in Iraq has hastened the development of a civil war in the country. And as was the case in Vietnam, we have no business being involved in a civil war on foreign soil.

It is time to end this war and bring our troops home in an orderly way. At this juncture, as was the case in 2003, we can only cause more harm than good.

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.

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.

again, olbermann is spot-on

Keith Olbermann is a rare entity in journalism these days: a man who knows no fear, and who is willing to speak things that the corporate shills who run the major media outlets dare not say for fear of offending the Bush propaganda machine.

And last night, as he has many times before, Olbermann said what needed to be said: rather than choose a scapegoat for his own failures in foreign policy, war and statecraft, Mr. Bush should:

Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations…. Go there and fight, your war…yourself.

It’s a great piece – read and see the whole thing at Crooks & Liars.

I’m very glad that the powers-that-be at NBC Universal are giving Olbermann a platform with which he can bring us his commentary, reporting and interviews.

workout log: 4 july 2007

Activity: road cycling
Location: Dupont Circle > Mt. Vernon, VA > Dupont Circle
Distance: 37.9 miles (moderately hilly)
Duration: 2:23
Weather: mostly cloudy, 80 degrees
Avg HR: 135 (max 161)
Type: aerobic

A solo ride down the Mt. Vernon Trail to George Washington’s estate in Virginia. The crowds along the stretch of trail closest to DC were thick, but past Alexandria the trail was fairly open. I rode down to Mt. Vernon into a steady headwind, which meant for an easy, tailwind-aided return leg. The security around The Mall was tight and, to my estimate, somewhat overkill and useless. Sure, it’s a dog-and-pony show that makes some folk feel safe. But for locals, it’s a pain and stupid.

Case in point: on my return trip, I decided to go through the secure area to save a few minutes. Getting into the area was easy: no line at Memorial Bridge, friendly security folk, and no traffic on the bridge. Getting out of the secured area on 23rd and Constitution, on the other hand, was not easy. I was stopped by a Nat’l Park Police officer who insisted that I couldn’t leave the secure area until after the fireworks. I calmly pleaded with her to let me out, as I’m a local (the aforementioned address is about a mile from The Burrow), but she kept saying no. I asked to speak with a supervisor, but the officer kept trying to have her way with me. Eventually, after five minutes of waiting, a supervisor was contacted and I was allowed to pass.

If the Nat’l Park Service would simply post at the entrances that it’s not possible to exit before the end of the show, that would be fine, and I would’ve diverted to Key Bridge for my return. But given there was no such warning, I didn’t know that the useless security measures would cause me such grief. And, frankly speaking, the measures taken for security didn’t seem too likely to prevent anything from happening: if somebody had wanted to cause mayhem, it would’ve been fairly simple.

That said, I found it somewhat funny that, less than 20 minutes after I’d made my way home, the NPS evacuated The Mall because of an incoming storm. So all of the people who had dealt with the NPS “security” had to get screened once more.

Later on, sprite and I got on our bikes to ride to a proper viewing area for the big fireworks display. We were a little late getting out of the house, so the fireworks were scenery along the way to the Kennedy Center, where we watched the last third of the show.

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