Friday, April 20, 2007

U.S. walls off Baghdad neighborhood

AP reports :

U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area "trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," the military said.

Read Full Story

Related :

Divide and rule - America's plan for Baghdad


The New York Times reports :

"The wall has already drawn intense criticism from residents of the neighborhood, who say that it will increase sectarian tensions"


"A doctor in Adhamiya, Abu Hassan, said the wall would transform the residents into caged animals.

“It’s unbelievable that they treat us in such an inhumane manner,” he said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to isolate us from other parts of Baghdad. The hatred will be much greater between the two sects.”


“The Americans and Iraqi government should be able to control it.” without building a wall, he said

The AP reports that Sunni residents are complaining, calling the wall "collective punishment", saying the construction was begun without the neighborhood council approval.

"This will make the whole district a prison. This is collective punishment on the residents of Azamiyah," said Ahmed al-Dulaimi, a 41-year-old engineer who lives in the area.


"Khalid Ibrahim, 45, said the Americans were working hard to divide Baghdad's neighborhoods _ something he said he wasn't sure was a good thing.

"This is good if it is temporary, to help the area with security problems. But if this wall stays for the long term, it will be a catastrophe for the residents and will restrict our movements," said Ibrahim, an Azamiyah resident who works at the Interior Ministry."

UPDATE : Al-Maliki: No Wall in Baghdad Community
Alberto Gonzoles Fails To Convince His Critics

- The Attorney General's "Tremendous Credibility Problem"
- GOP Senator Calls for Gonzales to Resign
- Gonzales Lied To Senator About Plan To Install Rove Protege As U.S. Attorney
- Attorney general doesn't satisfy critics
- Alberto Gonzales is bloodied by his trip to the Senate

Thursday, April 19, 2007

1,001 Ways To Say "I Don't Remember"

No one wants to see an innocent man get hung, but no one wants to see a guilty man go unrestrained either.

I'm going to have to read the transcripts more than once after the hearing is finished before I can come to my own conclusion. Initial impressions of the first part of the hearing are below.

Republican Senator Arlen Spector told Gonzales near the beginning of his hearing that “I’d like you to win this debate, but you’re going to have to win it.”

Indeed, for someone who spent weeks preparing to testify Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seemed ill prepared for the hearing.

-"I have no recollection of how that occurred."
-"I don't recall."
-"I don't recollect."
-"I'm having trouble recalling."
-"I don't recall being aware"
and my personal favorite - "I don't recall remembering."

And any other combination of words that can express a person not remembering something.

Over 50 times before the lunch break Gonzales claimed that he had no memory of events that had transpired surrounding the forced resignations of US attorneys.

For someone who is in charge of the Justice Department Alberto Gonzales seemed to know and recollect remarkably little about what was happening in the Justice Department and what he did or didn't do or when he did or didn't do it.

Does Gonzales have that bad of a memory? Does he really have that little of involvement at the Justice Department? I find all that pretty hard to believe, and if his memory is that bad I can hardly see how he is fit to serve in such a high office.

Furthermore it was painful and confusing trying to listen to Gonzales explain himself. Many of his own statements seemed to contradict and eat themselves reminding me of "doublespeak".

To risk sounding presumptuous it does appear at times (specifically in his interaction with California Democrat Diane Feinstein) as if Gonzales is playing dumb and stalling for time. After all Gonzales is an attorney so he knows all the tactics. He also knows that each member only has a limited amount of time to question him.

We are getting nowhere slowly.

The hearing was expected to resume at 2 PM. You can watch it on this link at C-SPAN.
Gonzales Does The Double Talk Dance

Watch the Gonzales hearing at C-Span 3.

Gonzales has already contradicted himself several times.

Developing ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blaming Victims For Their Victimhood Is Disgraceful And Tasteless

I don't know if a John Derbyshire is the name of tractor equipment or the name of a blogger ... I guess I am not as familiar with the garden variety right wing scumbags that make their natural habitat on the Planet Earth as I should be.

The guy with the tractor name, John Derbyshire wrote the following of the young men and woman who experienced the recent massacre at Virginia Tech :

"As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22."

Is this self admitted chickenhawk actually suggested these students (students, not trained Marines) were supposed to "rush the guy" who was shooting at them?

Is he f#cking kidding me? Human beings instinctively run away from and not strait towards the maniac who's shooting a gun.

Ahh, but tractor boys insane hyperbole is easily dissected with the single statement "Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals"

Oh, I get it. Wet-pants is afraid that gun laws might change in wake of this tragedy and he thinks students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. The man is clearly a genius if your comparing his intelligence to that of an earthworm.

"At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands." Dipshitshire writes.

Oh yeah, because we all know how many bullets are in a clip because were all just rootin' tootin' cowboys.

"I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat." - Derbyshire

That's probably because he's shortsighted.

"I doubt this guy was any better than I am." - Derbyshire

He was "good enough" to kill over 30 people.

"And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad." -Derbyshire

Yeah, because ... you know, bullets don't hurt, that's a Liberal lie!

PS: Dear Derbyshire, before calling yourself a chickenhawk you may want to know there are is more than one definition for the word chickenhawk, neither is good. One definition is one who "advocates military force to carry out a foreign policy but has never served in the military" and the other is "a man who seeks out boys or young men as his sexual partners." Take your pick, Rambo.

The young men and woman who were victims in the Virginia Tech shootings, their friends and their family deserve nothing less than our thoughts and prayers in this time of grief.


Any number of right wingers are coming out and insulting the young adults who survived this tragedy. I don't care what kind of justification they use, it is tasteless and tactless to attack victims.

Some of the same far right wingers are claiming that if there was not a weapons ban on campus that other students would have had guns and would have been able to "fight back". In other words there could have been a "wild west shootout" instead.

Does anyone seriously think that allowing students to carry weapons on campus is a good idea? That has got to be one of the most insane things I have ever heard in my life.

What was once a fist fight or verbal confrontation would quickly turn deadly if students were allowed to carry guns at school.

Can you imagine the danger and climate of intimidation?

But here the right wing extremist are, advocating that students should be allowed to carry guns in schools, right after a mass school shooting. Crazy.
I Have Definitive Proof The Surge Is Working

I told you the surge is working ...

- 4 bombs kill 178 people in Baghdad
- 17 Decomposing Bodies Found in Ramadi
- Al-Sadr followers quit Iraq Cabinet posts

Oh, and don't forget the attack on the Iraqi Parliament inside the so called "Green Zone" or the explosions that destroyed a bridge in Baghdad, all of which has happened within the last seven days.

Yeah, things are going real well in Iraq...
Defending Imus Is Lame And A Shame
There is a fundamental difference between priviladge and right.

"Economic McCartyism" Ted Rall says of the deposition of the dreadful Don Imus. Well, I never liked Rall's cartoons anyway so it doesn't surprise me he is taking up a losing argument.

Just listen to these crybabies whine about how Don Imus should be allowed to broadcast bigotry that, well, most people just don't want to hear.

So if a rock radio station chooses to quit broadcasting a certain rocker because the listeners find it lame or offensive, is that "economic McCathyism" or is it a rejection of the product?

For one, there is no such thing as "economic McCathyism", it's a made up term for Americans who don't like boycotts on their products. They carry some kind of logic that suggests "Well, I don't care if you don't like my product, I'm going to shove it down your throat anyway."

Imus had the privilege, not the right to be on television and radio.


In America, privileges can be taken away, rights cannot be.

Imus may have been exercising his right to free speech by making such inflammatory remarks, but those who condemned his remarks and demanded his ouster were also exercising their right to free speech.

Just because speech is free in this country doesn't mean it is without it's consequences.

Just because you have the right to say something doesn't mean you have the privilege of being on the television or radio when you say it.

Let's not forget that Proctor & Gamble and Staples pulled advertising from the Imus show before Imus was fired. Once the advertisers start leaving the networks start losing, so let's not beat around the bush here, at the point Imus was more offensive than profitable he was out of a job.

That my friend, is not "economic McCarthyism". Companies have the right to not want their product associated with perceived bigotry and citizens have the right to voice complaints against open bigotry.

Only Don Imus is to blame in the firing of Don Imus. Imus' freedom of speech has not been infringed upon because Congress never made a law against Don Imus or what he said, READ THE CONSTITUTION PEOPLE!!

Imus' privilege of being broadcast by MSNBC and CBS may have been revoked, but his right to freedom of speech has not been revoked.

If Imus can find any advertisers willing to take him on (besides the KKK or Aryan Nation) then I am sure he will again have the privilege of using the airwaves to exercise his right to freedom of speech.

Otherwise Imus needs to get a blog where he can say any old thing he wants or fade into the background for a while and give everyone else some time to cool off.

With that said, people have the right to boycott anything they like, whether it is a product or a person. Products and people can be rejected for any number of reasons, and you can't force people to consume a product or person they don't like.

Don Imus was wrong to say what he said and he paid for his comments with his job. Imus has a long history of making inflammatory remarks about African Americans, Jews, and woman so let's cut it with the rhetoric and freedom of speech conspiracy theories.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tragedy At Virginia Tech - At Least 32 Students Dead After Rampage

Related :
Officials: Gunman dead after bloody campus rampage
Gunman kills 32 in Virginia Tech rampage

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their friends and family in this time of grief.


Turns out there were various warning signs that should have sounded alarm bells with the University. The shooter, now identified had raised concerns of a teacher over a year ago with disturbing writing. Furthermore there was an incident with a dorm room fire and increasingly erratic behavior, including stalking young woman and a brief stint in a mental hospital.

Still, he was able to get not one, but two handguns. Nice. Immigrants who have been in mental hospitals can get guns now. Wow, that's ... smart gun control laws for you.

It also looks like the authorities handled the situation in the worst possible way. The first shooting occurred at the Ambler Johnson Dorm where it appears only two people where killed. Authorities only locked down the single building opposed to the entire campus.

This allowed the shooter to go back to his own dorm, reload, write a note and resume his rampage a full two hours later. Over 30 lives could have been saved if authorities had been quicker on the ball.

Furthermore the failure to act proves the security for our nations universities is lax to a point of nonexistence.

What if the rampage had been organized by a group of terrorist opposed to a lone gunmen? The authorities did not even have control of the situation with only one loose gunmen, how would they have handled it if it had been a dozen extremist? Even worse.


- Gunman had stalked two female students
- World Reacts to Tech Shootings
- Quiet loner's writing dwelled on violence
Jon Stewart And Steven Colbert Viewers Better Informed Than FOX Viewers?

Editor & Publisher reports :

"Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct.


Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. ."

[ ... ]

Men scored higher than women, and older Americans did better than younger, on average. Democrats and Republicans were about equally represented in the most knowledgeable group but there were more Republicans in the least aware group.


You can take the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press News IQ Quiz At This Link. I am proud to announce I answered every question correctly and found the "quiz" to be quite easy and was very surprised to read the high percentage of adults who preformed poorly on the quiz.


I always knew FOX wasn't real news and the results only confirmed what I had already believed about the enterprise.

I was not surprised that "morning network news" scored the lowest in nearly all the provided categories. I have always been turned off by the perky pop culture "news" of morning talk shows that resembled entertainment and celebrity gossip than it resembled informative news, and now I know why.

So not only is FOX biased, but their viewers walk away with less information and knowledge regarding current events than those who get their news from comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.

Why do FOX News viewers generally walk away with less retained information than those who watch comedy shows? Is it because FOX pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity spend more time trying to distract from the facts and focus in on partisan red meat?

Why do more Republicans, who would generally watch FOX news, tend to be in the least aware group? Does the fact that they are least aware have anything to do with the fact that they continue to support President Bush and a thus far failed policy in Iraq? It's all food for thought.

Overall though, I am seriously disappointed with the results of the test.

Disappointed that both Democrats and Republicans, no matter what news source they watched, were ill informed or lacked the capacity to retain the information they had been presented with.

The results of the quiz indicate that barely half of Americans only vaguely know what is going on in their own country, even in a time of war.

These Americans know who Beyonce Knowles is, but don't have a clue who runs their country. That's pitiful, and it's useless information to know. Great, Beyonce Knowles is pretty and can sing, but that information has nothing to do with the big picture, in fact it only serves to distract people from the big picture and the seriousness of the time we live in.

The results also indicate that people who lived in 1989 were more knowledgeable about current events and politics than the people of 2007. This is despite all the 24 hour news networks and frequently updated Internet news sites. I guess you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.