Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tony Snow and a Law and Disorder guest

Snow: Black Underclass Is "Most Dangerous Thing In Our Lifetime"
Tony Snow is already coming under scrutiny for a series of controversial comments he’s made on his radio program. Just last week, he shared these views: "People like Jesse Jackson who have committed themselves to a view that blacks are constantly victims, have succeeded in creating in the United States the most dangerous thing that we've encountered in our lifetime; which is, an underclass that doesn't seem to be going anywhere." Tony Snow went on to criticize what he described as: "the idiotic culture of hip-hop": "You have people glorifying failure. You have a bunch of gold-toothed hot dogs become millionaires by running around and telling everybody else that they oughtta be miserable failures and if they're really lucky maybe they can get gunned down in a diner sometime, like Eminem's old running mate."

This is the man who would save the Bully Boy administration. (Item from Democracy Now!)

First off, Proof (DC12) wasn't at a "diner" but I know facts don't matter a great deal to the right wingers. But what this is really about is a White man who doesn't want to acknowledge that African-Americans do suffer racism. We suffer it all the time. It's not wallowing in victim-hood but it's also not denying a very real fact of life. I think that Snow should go to FX and ask to be in that show where the people switch races (via make up).

He's a White man who misses the good old days of separate water fountains and lynchings. He probably wets his pants anytime he's walking down a sidewalk and sees a "brother" up ahead.

If you're one of those people, let me continue my series of tips by offering you one. I'm not robbing anyone, I'm not mugging anyone. But if you see Black and think "crime," here's a tip, do not immediately pat your wallet to make sure it's still there.

You're saying to the world (of all races), "I got a wallet and it's right here. Must be something in it because I'm real worried about having it stolen."

For more on the laughable Tony Snow, check out Wally's ""THIS JUST IN! "BROKEBACK EACH OTHER'S MOUNTAINS!" SCREAMS SNOW."

Now let's talk Law and Disorder which aired Monday on WBAI. Heidi Boghosian had a remote (from the streets of NYC -- Brooklyn, I think) interview with Bill Brown about the spy cams going up all over NYC. And there was a lot more worth hearing. But Mike and I both were bothered by the contractor issue. I can feel bad when anyone dies. But I'm not going to work up a great deal of sympathy for the employees of Blackwater USA or any other contractor employee in Iraq. No, they aren't all torturing and killing.

But they went over to make money. On some level, whether they believed in the war or not, they had to grasp they'd be profitting while others suffered. The guy made a point to go over there. People are dying over there. He wanted to make a fast buck. He died in Falluja.

Like Mike, I was raised hearing how there was no such thing as an easy buck. The man had kids. He should have thought about them. You don't say, "Fast buck!" and rush to a war zone.
It was a mistake on his part. He lost his life largely because of what others had done. But to try to profit from a war is wrong and that's if it was Dick Cheney or Joe Blow down the street.

Had everything gone well, had he made it home, he would have made a fast buck off the suffering of others. I don't agree with doing that.

I'm sorry he's dead. I can pray for him. But whether or not contractor employees are screwed over isn't my concern. It's like debating the "strategy" for the war and not noting that the war is illegal. At the root, all the "fix its" that argue we can and should stay in Iraq, don't get to the root: the war was illegal.

Profitting from the suffering of others is wrong too.

That's a lesson he should have known just as surely as he should have known that there was no free ride. That doesn't mean he deserved to die a violent death. It just means that some things aren't all that surprising and I won't spend a lot of time worrying about someone being screwed over by a division of Haliburton when, at the heart of it, that person went to Iraq to make money.

Those are the breaks.

I also don't know that I feel he was targeted for being so smart. If he had conflict with his superior, well no one wants someone in a group that's always saying, "Oh, here's how it should be done." For a trained military person, he seemed to have a really hard time following orders.
If he was, as some of the stories seem to indicate, someone who "always knows best," it's not surprising that he had conflicts with his superior.

If his superior was petty and used that to put him at risk, that's not right either.

But there are some real problems in the world. I'm just not seeing this as one that I'll worry a great deal about. If he'd gone there to witness to people or to aid them or to report on what it was like in Iraq, I'd feel different. But his own mother was talking (on Democracy Now!) about how he needed to make some quick money.

I hear that a lot. Some of the guys I went to school with don't see their kids now because they wanted to make some quick money. They ended up behind bars. When one of them tells me that it's not fair, I tell them that they made choices (stealing mainly, one was armed robbery) without thinking them through. At the most basic, they should have realized that if something goes wrong, they won't see their kids.

Being blinded by dollar sides doesn't excuse your obligation to your children. Kids like things, no question. But ask a kid who has lost a parent and most (if not all) would tell you that they'd rather have a parent around.

We have a hideous economy, no question. And the way things are set up, the rule breakers and law breakers at the top get slaps on the wrists, while on the lower rung, they get sent to prison.
But when you have kids you need to give up the American b.s. fantasy of a "quick buck." That's the sort of nonsense you can hold out for when you're a kid. Growing up means learning that some responsibilites go beyond things and that maybe it's better to be poor and do without if you can be with your kids.

I don't blame him if he was focusing on the big easy because we're conditioned to. But that's as much a part of the story and to hear "Oh, it's awful, he just wanted to go to Iraq and make some fast bucks but he was killed" isn't really the story, not the whole story.

Mike and I agreed immediately when we discussed the show on Monday. I wanted to think about it a little before writing because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say here on this part but I'll share. My father died when I was little. He didn't die in Iraq. He did think he was going to make a quick buck. He worked himself crazy driving this route in really limited time and he had a car accident and he died. The only reason he pushed himself like that was because he thought, "Money for my kids!" We didn't end up with money but if we had, it wouldn't have brought him back or made it okay that he was gone. That influences how I'm seeing this (and may influence how Mike sees it because he knows my life story). My mother never said a word against him. But when I was 10, my grandfather (my dad's father) sat me down and explained the thing in terms of "lust and greed" (for money) and how that will lead you to make choices that are wrong for you and will hurt the people around you. I don't remember what the shoes were that I was whining about but I had been on my mom's case about it and how a real mother who loved me would get me those shoes. My grandfather didn't pull any punches. He told me that kind of thinking was the reason my dad, his son, wasn't with us. He really believed that he had to try to provide us with everything.

Given the choice, I'd go through life shoeless if I could just have my dad for even a year more than I did. So I don't blame the guy for thinking Iraq was a "quick buck" and I know it's conditioned in us. But I'm not going to sit here and act like he didn't have other options or he shouldn't have thought them through before he went over there.

I also don't get the whole, "He was supposed to be a bodyguard for Paul Bremer!" Was that supposed to be safer? Or is it that he didn't get what he signed up for? Talk to the soldiers over there and ask them if they got what their recruiters promised them.

Think about your own work and see if someone who's always arguing with the boss ends up getting the wanted task. There are other details to the story. I don't care for the lawyer representing the guy either. He did this with Amy Goodman (maybe Juan Gonzalez too, I think Juan was in that interview too) and he did it with Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian. It was a, "Oh good question, now instead of answering, let me get my soundbyte in." It's like he has a script whenever he appears. I think going to Iraq for a quick buck was foolilsh (my grandfather would call the guy a fool) and I think it was his choice. The same choice my father made in pursuing that quick buck. Those choices lead down a path and, at the end, there's no point in wondering how you got there.

I also thought if you were going to stress "He was a trainer for Demi Moore" you'd get her name right. If you're throwing out that detail (and it was tossed out over and over), learn the woman's name. It's not "Dem-me." It doesn't rhyme with Emmy. It'd be like saying, "He was a trainer for Cheryl Stone." Who? Sharon Stone isn't Cheryl Stone and Demi Moore isn't Demmy Moore.
(And Mike made me laugh when he noted that was a huge pet peever of C.I.'s. It really is.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cell Phone Use Tips

Over the past five-plus years, the American people have gotten a taste of what a triumphant George W. Bush is like, as he basked in high approval ratings and asserted virtually unlimited powers as Commander in Chief. Now, the question is: How will Bush and his inner circle behave when cornered?So far, the answer should send chills through today's weakened American Republic. Bush and his team -- faced with plunging poll numbers and cascading disclosures of wrongdoing -- appear determined to punish and criminalize resistance to their regime.
That is the significance of recent threats from the administration and its supporters who bandy about terms like sedition, espionage and treason when referring to investigative journalists, government whistle-blowers and even retired military generals -- critics who have exposed Executive Branch illegalities, incompetence and deceptions.
CIA Director Porter Goss, a former Republican congressman long regarded as a political partisan, has escalated pressure on intelligence officials suspected of leaking secrets about Bush's warrantless wiretapping of Americans and the torture of detainees held in clandestine prisons in Asia and Eastern Europe.

That's from Robert Parry's "Bush Brandishes Jail Time at Critics" (Consortium News) proving I'm not all talk. (Link takes you to a roundtable where I said Robert Parry was the online version of Seymour Hersh but that he gets far too little links.)

"So what's your beef?" That's what David Letterman used to ask Jay Leno when Leno was a guest on Letterman's show and not a host of The Tonight Show. Leno would go off on some topic. I bring that up because I'm about to go off on a topic.

Do you have a cell phone?

There was a time when a considerate person was someone who turned their ringer down low. (Better yet, put it on the vibrate option.) Those were the good old days.

Now days, something's new is happening and someone needs to note it so leave it to me and "my beefs" to cover it.

Everyone's got to have a tune on their ring tones. Everyone needs a song snippet that goes off every time the phone rings. Fair enough. If you've got a favorite song, go with it.

But here's something to remember -- a cell phone does not come with great speakers.

So when you have that thing up full blast and you think you look so cool, guess what? You don't. You sound like the fool with the tape deck in a Ford Pinto, blasting the music as loud as it will go, while everyone you drive past thinks, "What a crappy set of speakers."

That is reality, guys and gals. Your speakers suck. Unless you're going to hook up a set of speakers to your cell phone, turn the damn ringer down.

It doesn't sound cool. It sounds like crap. It's sound like a busted speaker and with all the crackling, it just makes people think, "You need a new sound system."

Maybe an elevator music version of "Hot in Here" isn't meant to be played full blast from your cell phone. Something to consider.

Let me offer one more tip. This is just for those of you using the walkie-talkie option on your cell phones. We all know you're desparately lonely and fear the world gets that you're a pariah. But hearing your friend, at full blast, respond, "Nothin', what you doing?" over and over does nothing to change our minds. In fact, we not only don't envy you, we wonder how lame you and your friend are that you have to talk, right then, at that moment, while you're on the train or in the grocery store, and yet you have nothing to say. You two don't seem exciting, we're not envious. We're just thinking, "What losers."

The Bully Boy and the NSA not withstanding, a phone conversation is supposed to be at least semi-private. Take that as a guideline.

Things to check out: C.I.'s "NYT: Taking a look at the pipeline, ignoring other things"; Mikes' "Law and Disorder, Iraq and more (including Jane Fonda quote)"; Rebecca's "flashpoints and the threepenny opera" and her "flashpoints (rita moreno) cover to cover with denny smithson (jane fonda)"; Elaine's "It's never up to an administration... It all depends upon what people force them to do."; Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE DEALER IN CHIEF"; audio interview "Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson (Interviewing Jane Fonda)"; and audio, video or transcript of Amy Goodman interviewing "Antonia Juhasz on The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."