Monday, February 26, 2007

The Pathetic Swiftboating of Al Gore

As if he were running for office, the GOP smear machine is up and running - fueled by the jealousy of Academy Awards for "An Inconvenient Truth" - Al Gore's movie on Global Warming, and apparently fueled by jealousy of Gore's success and lifestyle. Thanks to Terry Frank and Drudge for the swiftboats. Unfortunately, these types of pathetic attacks wreak of jealousy, desperation, and ignorance. When I tried to present an opposing view, posts of mine on Terry Frank's blogs were deleted on this and other subjects - perhaps as colleague Jon remarked, "GOP denial syndrome." So, don't post too convincing of an argument over there - or it will be deleted. Lest we forget, much of the Republican War on Science depends on ignorance. Major KUDOS to Brittney, using that Terry Frank "stain" quote on your blog header was brilliant... awesome, love it!

First, let's cut to the chase on the politics of Global Warming. In case you've not discovered why Global Warming has become a political issue ($) , I summarized it neatly in a previous blog as follows. (Please visit the link for a thorough explanation):
GOP War on Global Warming = War on Al Gore = War on Dems = War on the Environment = More $ for Polluting Industries = More Campaign $ for GOP

Gore's office responds to the charge (from thinkprogress):

1) Gore’s family has taken numerous steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their private residence, including signing up for 100 percent green power through Green Power Switch, installing solar panels, and using compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving technology.

2) Gore has had a consistent position of purchasing carbon offsets to offset the family’s carbon footprint — a concept the right-wing fails to understand. Gore’s office explains:

What Mr. Gore has asked is that every family calculate their carbon footprint and try to reduce it as much as possible. Once they have done so, he then advocates that they purchase offsets, as the Gore’s do, to bring their footprint down to zero.

It’s the latest in a series of desperate attacks by Drudge to paint Gore as a hypocrite. Some other examples:

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These are the lengths that climate skeptics must go to suppress action on global warming. There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community, so the right-wing busies itself with talk about how much electricity Al Gore’s house uses — and even then they distort the truth.

Friday, February 23, 2007

History Review: Bush warned repeatedly & specifically about "spectacular" al Qaeda attack in '01 - then he went on vacation ... for a month

By the time a CIA briefer gave President Bush the Aug. 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief headlined "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US," the president had seen a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions. - 9/11 Commission, 4/12/04

So had Vice President Cheney and Bush's top national security team, according to declassified information released by the 9/11 Commission in April, '04.

After discussing this with a few wingnut bloggers, I have been inspired to do a history review.

Anti Terrorism Director Richard Clarke repeatedly asked for a meeting with Bush on the bin Laden threat but was denied.

The PDB Bush received a month before 9/11 was entitled "bin Laden determined to strike in US" mentioned specifically:
  • "a Bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks"
  • "Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft"
  • "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."
  • "Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef"
The amazing thing is that Tenet warned Bush 40 times. Yes, count them - 40 times bin Laden was mention in Presidential Daily Brief's from March 23-Sept 10, 01. For example:
  • April 20, '01 briefing entitled: "Bin Ladin planning multiple operations."
  • May 16 - "Bin Ladin supporters were planning an attack in the United States using high explosives."
  • May 17 - "UBL: Operation Planned in U.S."
  • June 22 - "intelligence suggesting a possible al Qaeda suicide attack on a"
  • A terrorist threat advisory distributed in late June indicated a high probability of near-term "spectacular" terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties. Other reports' titles warned,"Bin Ladin Attacks May be Imminent" and "Bin Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats."
  • June 25 - Clarke warned Rice and Hadley that six separate intelligence reports showed al Qaeda personnel warning of a pending attack.
  • June 28 - Clarke wrote Rice that the pattern of al Qaeda activity indicating attack planning over the past six weeks "had reached a crescendo." "A series of new reports continue to convince me and analysts at State, CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and NSA that a major terrorist attack or series of attacks is likely..."
  • July 5 - CIA briefed Attorney General Ashcroft on the al Qaeda threat, warning that a significant terrorist attack was imminent. Ashcroft was told that preparations for multiple attacks were in late stages or already complete and that little additional warning could be expected.
  • July 23, the lead item for Counterterrorism Security Group discussion was the al Qaeda threat,and it included mention of suspected terrorist travel to the United States. Tenet told Bush that "the system was blinking red." By late July, Tenet said, it could not "get any worse."
What did our commander in chief do after receiving these dire warnings for months? He went on vacation - for a month.

So... the next time you hear wingnuts blaming Clinton for 9/11, review a little history. It's amazing to recall that many chose to reelect Bush because he is supposedly "strong on terrorism" - read the above, and then tell me that.

Friday, February 16, 2007

AT&T Whistleblower Exposes Secret Domestic Spying

The government is watching every email you send, every phone call you make, every website you surf - illegally.
Is this possible? Yes, according to Mark Klein - 22 year AT&T technician who has submitted key evidence in a class-action lawsuit by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T. It is alleged that AT&T helped the US government through the National Security Agency invade its customers' privacy. Klein reveals details of a secret room where equipment was installed in the facility at AT&T in San Francisco. Such devices allow the operators to record e-mails, web-surfing history and internet phone calls - every word we speak or type, and every website we look at. Klein says: "The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room."
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap ... a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed..." - GW Bush, April 20, 2004
Reminds me of this cartoon ... where the government keeps saying, "just trust us." How did we get to this point? What would persuade Americans to give up their civil rights to privacy? In a word - fear, instilled by our leadership. John Dean in his book, "Conservatives Without Conscience" details the authoritarian movement where conservatives willingly relinquish their rights of privacy to the authorities. Dean coins this new conservatism - Authoritarian Cultism described in this review by civil rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald:
"There is seemingly no limit -- literally -- on the willingness, even eagerness, of Bush supporters to defend and justify even the most morally repugnant abuses -- from constantly expanding spying on American citizens, to a President who claims and aggressively exercises the "right" to break the law... those who submit to authority necessarily relinquish their own conscience (in favor of serving the conscience of their leader and/or their movement), those who are part of this movement are capable of acts which a healthy and normal conscience ought to preclude. They can use torture, break laws, wage unnecessary wars based on false pretenses, and attempt to destroy the reputation of plainly patriotic and honest Americans..."
No wonder the American Bar Association's Presidential Taskforce has determined that Bush's actions "undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers."

Hundreds of TONS of cash - down the toilet

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did." - Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

In case you missed it... on Thursday, White House spokesman Tony Snow was asked, what went wrong in Iraq? His response: "I'm not sure anything went wrong." (Hmmm... reminds me of this book).

Imagine if you will, so much cash that it required forklifts to lift the giant pallets of bills weighing hundreds of tons onto military transport planes. These shipments, the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, were sent into Iraq with no system to account for it. About a third of the reconstruction budget for 2003 is unaccounted for: $12 billion, (... and that's just '03). The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State Department officials condoned & allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses, payments for shoddy work & work never done. More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported. So what did we get for our $ ?

An example, the $75 million Baghdad Police Academy was so poorly built that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks.
"This is the most essential civil security project in the country -- and it's a failure, the Baghdad police academy is a disaster."
-Stuart W. Bowen Jr., inspector general for Iraq reconstruction

Imagine the benefits to America that could have come from the half-trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war (...with no end in sight) !! For example: John Kerry's plan to provide American children with health insurance for a decade costs about half of what America has spent in Iraq... so far. 1 in 3 American kids go without health insurance and we are sending pallets of cash to Iraq with no way to account for it? Meanwhile, no-bid war contractors like GW Bush's Uncle Bucky are profiteering $millions from the Iraq war.

But... Tony Snow says he's not sure anything went wrong in Iraq.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Science Education Returns to Kansas

In an age where American high schools are falling behind Asian and European education standards in math and science, a battle against the Republican War on Science is won in Kansas.

Kansas School Board Repeals Guidelines Questioning Evolution

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas state Board of Education on Tuesday repealed science guidelines questioning evolution that had made the state an object of international ridicule.

The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of "intelligent design," who had helped write the standards that are being jettisoned.

"Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is," said Jack Krebs, a math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Bush Administration's use of fear

Many Bush haters have likened him to a Nazi. Seems a bit severe and far fetched .... until you read this quote from infamous Nazi Commandant Hermann Goering on how to bring the public to support a war. Does this method of operation sound vaguely familiar, particularly in light of the previous post on the Pentagon Inspector General Report?:
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after
all, it's the leaders of a country who determine policy...
Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought
to the
bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have
to do is tell them
they are being attacked, and denounce
the pacifists for lack of
patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same in
any country."
- Hermann Goering
2nd in command of Nazi Germany

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Rodrigo Guitar Concerto Performance with the TN Philharmonic

Last night, Monday Feb. 5, I performed the Fantasia para un gentilhombre - by Joaquin Rodrigo with the Tennessee Philharmonic. This guitar concerto, based on themes of 17th century Spanish guitarist Gaspar Sanz, takes the form of a Baroque suite. The setting was wonderful, acoustics excellent and the performance very good considering we had just one rehearsal. I played an encore, a flamenco dance called a Farruca. Look for a review in the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. The attendance was quite good considering it was one of the coldest nights of the year. Thanks to all that attended, and those who missed it, you might have to wait another several years to see me in tails again. It's rare to get an opportunity to play a guitar concerto in one's home town.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Would you believe it? My parents hit by natural disasters twice in 7 months

Well, from initial unconfirmed reports, it seems it could have been worse this time. We weren't saying that last June when my parents house on the Susquehanna River in upstate NY flooded for the first time ever. Land that hadn't flooded in perhaps many hundreds of years was flooded. My parents were spared the actual event as they were at their new vacation house in FL. My brother was carried off the roof by boat and enjoyed brief notoriety on both the Weather Channel and ABC World News Tonite as a flood victim. My parents just returned to their wonderfully rebuilt house in NY to find that their new Florida house had been damaged in last nights tornado in The Villages, FL. The total extent is not known but their house has been reported to be standing with just minor or moderate roof damage. Some windows and a screened porch may be gone. Parts of their immediate neighborhood were devastated. No doubt it's a helluva mess. At least I'm thankful they are safe and that they did not have to endure the terror of the 3:30 am tornado that killed 20. As a storm chaser, I personally think it would have been exciting to be there. I know my brother would have enjoyed it. A Groundhog Day that will live in infamy. Here is a photo of the Mallory Hill Country Club just a short jog from their house:

Friday, February 2, 2007

Snow on the homestead

Rare Tennessee snow. It looks beautiful in my forest but I sure hate the cold. I took a little ride down the path on my Suzuki.