Weekend Wonk

(Read time: at your leisure.)

Grab a cup of coffee and check out the headlines you might have missed during the week. If you click on links, hit the “backspace” button to return to blog.

* Aspirin may lower death risks for women. LINK
* Northern Ireland’s bitter enemies reach historic pact. LINK
* Top 5 video role-playing games – RPGs. LINK
* Wynonna Judd files for divorce after husband’s arrest. LINK
* North Carolina man keeps 80 sheep in his home. LINK
* Department of Justice mistakes allow tax cheat to keep $100 million. LINK
* World’s tallest man gets married. LINK
* Last female WWI veteran dies. Only five WWI vets remain. LINK
* Bush gets laughter, applause at annual press dinner. LINK Transcript: LINK Video: LINK
* Bubbly and small talk with Her Majesty. LINK


CNN’s Jack Cafferty, “The Situation Room,” 29 March 2007, 4 p.m. ET, introducing his question of the day (LINK):

“Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, a good buddy of the president's, is calling the U.S. military presence in Iraq an ‘illegitimate foreign occupation.’ The king, of course, a good friend with all the Bush family, told leaders at the Arab League meeting that unless Arab governments settle their differences, foreign powers like the U.S. will keep dictating the region's future.

“And, that's not the only sign there could be problems between Saudi Arabia and the Bush administration. King Abdullah also called on the West to end its financial embargo against the Palestinians, a boycott that both the U.S. and Israel support.

"And, there's more. Abdullah invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Riyadh earlier this month. The Saudis have been willing to negotiate with Iran and Hezbollah in trying to bring some stability to Lebanon. That's something the United States is unwilling to do.


“The U.S. rejected Saudi Arabia's claim today, saying that American troops are in Iraq under a U.N. mandate and at the invitation of the Iraqi people.

“Remember back when they sent the note saying, ‘Please invade us?’ ”

Cafferty’s question: “What message does it send when Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah calls the U.S. presence in Iraq an ‘illegitimate foreign occupation?’”


Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah turns down Bush’s state dinner invitation. For an analysis of “Bush’s Royal Trouble,” read Jim Hoagland’s op-ed column, The Washington Post, 28 March 2007. LINK

Saudi king blasts U.S. on Iraq “occupation.” CNN, 29 March 2007. LINK


Amen, Mr. Maher!

(Read time: 1 minute)

Leave it to comedian Bill Maher to point out the oft-overlooked obvious!

Tuesday night, Keith Olbermann (“Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” MSNBC, 27 March 2007) asked guest Haher for his thoughts on what might be learned from the current Justice Department scandal over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Maher replied, “Well, I hope what comes out of it, first of all, is that Congress learns to start reading the Patriot Act. How long has it been since they have had this Patriot Act and STILL HAVEN’T READ THE DAMN THING? They were surprised to learn - excuse me - they were surprised to learn that the statute was in there that said that the Bush administration was able to fire these attorneys without any oversight from the Senate.” (LINK)

My thoughts, indeed, Mr. Maher!


Listen to his words

(Read time: 2 minutes.)

On Tuesday the U.S. Senate voted 50-48 to block a Republican effort to remove a call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq from a $124 billion war funding bill.

Listen to the words of Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, who along with fellow Republican, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, voted to block the GOP move (LINK):

“It is now time for the Congress to step forward after a disastrous four years in Iraq. The language in the Senate supplemental bill does this in a responsible way.

“The Senate language, Mr. President, does not cut off funds (for troops). It does not impose a precipitous withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This language establishes a limited U.S. military mission in Iraq - counterterrorism, training Iraqi forces and protecting U.S. personnel.

“That is not new, Mr. President. We have heard that from this administration over the last four years. This wasn‘t dreamed up. And, this idea that somehow you don‘t support the troops if you don‘t continue, in a lemming-like way, to accept whatever this administration‘s policy is, that‘s what‘s wrong.”


Of note:

* The GOP could have filibustered to keep this vote from ever coming to the floor. That they did not is a matter of interest.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, claimed a filibuster would have slowed passage of the bill: “It's important to get the money to the troops."

Political observers say GOP senators are worried about voters back home.

* This $124 billion allocation, along with the $70 billion already approved this year for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, brings war spending to date to one-half trillion dollars.


The ring grows heavy

(Read time: 1 minute. Link read time: 1 minute.)

I have a wonderful friend in the next Shire who blogs under the name of “Frodo.”

Frodo, of course, is the Tolkien hobbit selected to save Middle Earth in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

This modern-day Frodo has nicknamed me “Merry.” Having just finished listening to the trilogy on tape – a Christmas gift from my Mississippi friend Annelle – I am honored by the designation.

Merry has been battling orcs, dark riders and ring wraiths at Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and is left wondering if statistics show an inordinate numbers of folks dying from strokes on or around their 65th birthday.

Merry is tired. Frodo knows the ring grows heavy.

So, today, I send you to Frodo, Keeper of the Ring, and recommend his post “I remember when rock was young,” a tribute to an amazing 16-year-old girl.

A blessing for Middle Earth that the young are ready to take up the fight.



Those looking glass blues

(Read time: 3 minutes)


CNN’s Howard Kurtz, during “Reliable Sources” Sunday (LINK), questioned the White House Press Corps “tough” treatment of Tony Snow.

Kurtz, whose conservative bias bleeds through in a program which is supposedly a watchdog against media bias, discussed the “tough questions” in a segment titled “Are media siding with Democrats in subpoena standoff?” This, of course, refers to the current Justice Department scandal over fired U.S. attorneys.

KURTZ: "Ed Henry, you and your colleagues have been going at (Tony) Snow pretty hard on this issue. It sounds like you think the Bush proposal is a terrible idea."

As a journalist, I find it pretty tough to take the current media trend of couching every issue in terms of Democrats v. Republicans or liberals v. conservatives.

Whatever became of a muckraking media which asked the questions, exposed the wrongs and held scoundrels accountable?

Here’s the media’s role, plain and simple:

ED HENRY, CNN White House Correspondent: (Responding to Kurtz) "Well, the bottom line for me is that when you're a White House correspondent, you have a duty to ask tough questions. Earlier in the week, Tony Snow, when I asked him a question about Iraq, told me off camera to "zip it." He later apologized for that, but I think the bottom line is White House correspondents should not zip it, whether they're covering a Republican White House, a Democratic White House."



Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – aka “The Hammer” – has been all over the tube hawking his new book.

In the book and in interviews, he is accusing colleagues, or more aptly former colleagues – Republican and Democrat – of being amoral “sinners” and “hypocrites.”

Unbearable to watch this smirking crook being sanctimonious. If one is not blinded by the sparkle off his pearly whites, one can see through this charade.

DeLay, noted for his strong-arm tactics and House ethics violations, left his post after being charged (in Texas) with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme.

Mr. DeLay, you cannot hide behind your Christian testimony for, as Shakespeare observed, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”



What makes the right-wing tick? In full attack mode, a few conservative commentators – most notably Rush Limbaugh - couldn’t wait to pounce as soon as Elizabeth and John Edwards made public the return of her cancer. The bottom line: these hatemongers are being paid to hurt people for the pleasure of fools who salivate at public hangings.



Attorneygate. Subpoena showdown. DOJ official to “plead the Fifth.” Pat Tillman. More U.S. deaths in Iraq. British hostages. Anna Nicole Smith’s autopsy results trump everything.



My cable company, Charter Communications, has been running a spot on CNN and MSNBC, promoting Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” as “cable’s best morning news show.” The commercial ends with “Brought to you by your FRIENDS at Charter Communications.” (Emphasis in spot.) “Best” is debatable, and the company’s bias has been outted.


The past is prologue

(Read time: 5 minutes, articles 15 minutes)

“That was before I was born!”

Have you encountered this reply from a young person when attempting to discuss history?

What ARE history teachers teaching our children?

History is most enlightening when reviewed in the context of current events and with a heap of hindsight.

Going through my computer files this weekend, I ran across two articles from the recent past which put current issues in perspective.

First, a CBS/Associated Press poll dated 22 March 2003 - one week after the U.S. invasion of Iraq - might, I believe, explain why many lawmakers voted to give George W. Bush authority to declare war on that country.

At the time of Congress’ vote, according to the poll, 67 percent of Americans supported the invasion and the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Once the war began that number increased to 76 percent.

Quoting from the poll:

“Increasing numbers of Americans say removing Saddam Hussein is worth the costs, including that of loss of life.

“Three out of four Americans approve of the U.S. military action against Iraq, and watching the coalition troops' early success has the American public increasingly optimistic about a quick victory.”

Three-fourths of us, including a majority in Congress, had confidence in America, its leaders. its pre-war intelligence and its Department of Defense.


I have to say, at this point, I wasn’t buying it. I knew the history of Islam and the Middle East, and I had read everything I could about the pros and cons and possible outcomes of the invasion.

One particularly enlightening series of articles, by The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, a leading expert on Middle East policy, examined our options and concluded attacking Iraq would be like “throwing a brick in a hornet’s nest.”

Another article tracked our relationship with Saddam Hussein back 40 years, when, during the Kennedy administration, a CIA-conducted regime change helped propel the tyrant to power in the Baathist Party. The writer concluded the article, written two weeks before the invasion, “If a new war in Iraq seems fraught with danger and uncertainty, just wait for the peace.”

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said before the war that a U.S.-led attack on Iraq would spawn “a hundred new bin Ladens.”


The second article I reviewed this weekend is an amazing retrospective - a sane and succinct explanation of why the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq.

Ironically, the article was written in 1998, five years before the war began.

More compelling were its authors: former President George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to presidents Bush and Gerald Ford.

“Why We Didn’t Remove Saddam” appeared in Time magazine, 2 March 1998, and could have been titled “Why Things Aren’t Going So Well in Iraq Today.”


The CBS/Associated Press poll, 22 March 2003, CBS. LINK

“A TYRANT 40 YEARS IN THE MAKING.” Roger Morris, The New York Times, 14 March 2003. LINK

“Why We Didn’t Remove Saddam,” George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, Time, 2 March 1998. LINK


Weekend Wonk

(Read time: at your leisure.)

Grab a cup of coffee and check out the headlines you might have missed during the week. If you click on links, hit the “backspace” button to return to blog.

* State Farm agrees to re-examine Katrina claims. LINK
* Researchers shed light on wandering minds. LINK
* Ohio asks election board members to quit over vote fraud. LINK
* Soldier fathers child two years after dying in Iraq. LINK
* Elton John to release entire music catalog online. LINK
* 10 tips to make your kids money savvy. LINK
* Hooters to open in Israel, India, Dubai. LINK
* Will Houdini’s final escape be from the grave? LINK
* Colts’ Peyton Manning hopes to score on SNL. LINK
* Defense Secretary Gates wanted to close Gitmo. LINK
* Here are recalled cat, dog food brands: LINK


So, what was in those 3,000 emails concerning firing of U.S. attorneys which the Bush administration turned over to Congress? Their content is very revealing. A must-read article. The Washington Post, 21 March 2007. LINK

Oh, and those 3,000 generously handed-over emails just happen to have a gap of 16 days from mid-December to early January – the critical period in which the firings took place and how to handle any backlash would have been discuseed via email. Editor and Publisher, 22 March 2007: LINK


Touching us all

(Read time: 2 minutes)

Early this week I planned today’s post, which focuses on one of the most crucial problems facing our country – affordable health care for all Americans.

Yesterday John and Elizabeth Edwards made health the news topic of the day.

Thoughts and prayers are with this courageous and admirable couple as they face the challenges before them.


A number of presidential candidates will answer questions about the future of health care in America at a live forum Saturday, 24 March, beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET (9:15 a.m. PT).

Participants scheduled are Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.

Noteworthy: all Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls were invited to join this critical discussion.

The forum, sponsored by the Center for American Progress and the Service Employees International Union, will be held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

How YOU can participate:

View the live Webcast of this event: LINK

Learn more about participating candidates: LINK

Be a part of the discussion: LINK


The elephant in the room

(Read time: 5 minutes)

To my last breath, I will remember sitting in the comfort of my living room in the wake of Katrina and watching Americans waiting to be rescued.

Waiting in hellish and inhumane conditions without food or water. Waiting on an Interstate bridge in the hot sun. Waiting for endless days. Americans.

In America, would I be listening to doctors and nurses at New Orleans' “Big Charity” hospital pleading, in tears, with news reporters to get the word out their patients were dying?

Brave and overwhelmed reporters and camera crews, sloshing through body-strewn and infested water in the streets of one of America’s oldest cities? If they were there from day one, where was the federal government?

In a twist of irony, the victims of this storm, Mississippians and Louisianans living in the very heart of Bush country, had no electricity and could not see this human misery unfold in real and endless time.

I believe Lt. Gen. Russell Honore’s cavalry charge into New Orleans could have come at least a day sooner and was timed to coincide with the president’s first visit into the area that same day, Friday, 2 September 2005 - the fifth day of the disaster. I will always believe it. I know the 120-mile route from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to New Orleans, and it’s not like Honore had to move his troops through the Khyber Pass or cross the Alps on elephants. LINK

The person in charge throughout this nightmare is still in charge today.

Katrina hit New Orleans at 6:10 a.m., 29 August 2005. Incredulously, four days later, George W. Bush said, “I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” Hell, I had known that was a possibility for years.

In his first four years in office, Bush’s administration scored 34 major scandals. These scandals have been fully documented by Salon.com, which succinctly lists each, with its effect and outcome, at this site: LINK

Since the beginning of his second term, we have seen the incompetence of FEMA. We have seen a covert CIA operative outed apparently for political revenge. We have seen the Patriot Act abused in some inexplicable and zealous attempt to spy on Americans. We are now learning that U.S. attorneys might have been fired because they didn’t play along with, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ recently departed chief of staff put it, “the Bushies.”

Looming over all these scandals is Bush’s neocon-inspired, misbegotten mission in Iraq: to spread democracy throughout the Middle East while securing this country’s insatiable “addiction to oil.”

In 1968, a very popular book by Dr. Laurence Peter laid out “The Peter Principle,” which basically asserts that every employee in a structured hierarchy, i.e., the federal government, rises to the level of his or her incompetence.

Maybe George W. Bush is not an evil man. If “evil” means putting ambition and ideology above moral and humane ideals, then, in my opinion, Bush has surrounded himself with evil persons and has allowed them to tarnish the lustre of what Ronald Reagan, in John Winthrop’s words, called "this shining city upon a hill.”

Winthrop went on to say that if we forsake the moral high ground, “we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

People high up the hierarchy of this administration have fallen by the wayside, have resigned, have been convicted of criminal behavior, have fallen on their swords.

Three who were with Bush from the outset remain entrenched in his inner circle: Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

When are Americans going to face reality: that the man in charge, the man in the Oval Office simply reached his level of incompetence when he took on the highest job in the land?

When is anyone going to blame the elephant in the room?


Some thoughts and then some

Thought No. 1: Tuesday morning Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham (“American Gospel”) told Don Imus (MSNBC’s “Imus in the Morning”) that very few people online are willing to read more than one paragraph. This must be the same folks who read USA Today, which, to me, is like reading a cereal box. What was the last book they read? “My Pet Goat?”

Thought No. 2: When my two boys were small, I read a little poem which stayed with me all these years:

“Why?” a small voice asks.
Impatiently I turn.
Then, suddenly I realize:
How else can he learn?

I am a constant learner willing to read more than one paragraph to get to the “why” – to fully understand a subject and determine its truth.


I have just read on the official White House site the four speeches George W. Bush has made to mark the first four anniversaries of the war in Iraq. Here are excerpts from each speech, now heard with the clarity that comes from hindsight.


Bush devoted the first half of his speech to the “war on terror,” then, for the remainder of the speech, linked the wars in Afghanistan AND Iraq with that “war” and al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. and other countries.

“Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East, and a crucial advance for human liberty.”

“It is a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.”

“With Afghanistan and Iraq showing the way, we are confident that freedom will lift the sights and hopes of millions in the greater Middle East.”

~ George W. Bush, “President Bush Reaffirms Resolve to War on Terror, Iraq and Afghanistan: Remarks by the President on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,” The East Room, 19 March 2004. LINK


“We knew of Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew of his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction, and we know that September the 11th requires our country to think differently.”

“Because of our actions, freedom is taking root in Iraq, and the American people are more secure.”

~ George W. Bush, President’s Radio Address, 19 March 2005. LINK


This year Bush made a very brief speech in which he thanked the men and women who volunteered to serve their country in the military – “many of whom volunteered after 9/11.”

Absent was his previous focus on linking the war in Iraq and, with the one exception above, 9/11.

~ George W. Bush, “President Remarks on Third Anniversary of Beginning of Iraq Liberation,” The South Lawn, 19 March 2006. LINK


Another brief speech stressing continued funding for the war and once more giving our troops and their families just praise.

“I want to stress that this operation (sending new troops) is still in the early stages, it's still in the beginning stages. Fewer than half of the troop reinforcements we are sending have arrived in Baghdad. The new strategy will need more time to take effect. And there will be good days, and there will be bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds.”

“It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country. In time, this violence could engulf the region. The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan, which they used to plan the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.”

~ George W. Bush, “President Bush Discusses Fourth Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Roosevelt Room, 19 March 2007. LINK


Throughout the early speeches, the constant theme is to instill fear in Americans.

By returning to the 9/11 theme, Bush can only be attempting to rally his loyal far-right base, which has followed blindly – or fearfully - with no attempt at finding facts.

Thought No. 3: Reading time for this post: 3 minutes, but, hey, I’m a slow reader.


A timeline to keep

And, so begins the fifth year.

Leave it to the Center for American Progress to come up with a one-stop, fully documented reference site - an outstanding TIMELINE of photos, events and quotes; a diary of the war we call Iraq and the administration that took us there. Take a look: LINK

Dear reader: I clicked on “edit,” then “select all,” “copy” and “paste special” (“unformatted Unicode text”) and transferred this timeline to a new Word document. (If you want the photos included, select “paste special,” then “HTML format.”)

This is all the record and reference you will need when future queries about this war arise. Again: LINK


Any wonder?

Whatever else you can say for mankind, whether we’ve risen to the heights of perfection or lowered ourselves into the hellpits of degradation and destruction, we have built.

Since the first bored man crawled out of a cave, picked up a round stone and discovered it would roll, we have built archaeological layers of momuments to our own ingenuity.

Now, you can help determine, in a worldwide online vote, which of 21 manmade monuments will be chosen “The New Seven Wonders of the World.”

Many of these wonders, forged of skill and sweat, are so familiar they are recognizable by form or outline.

I have long been intrigued by the nominated statues of Easter Island, but personally regret my choice is not listed: the terra cotta warriors and horses of Xi’an, China, which in my opinion represent man’s monument to man.

Rather than list the 21 finalists and deprive you of suspense, here are the attributes they represent:

Civilization, democracy, dignity, dialogue, beauty, sanctity, worship, knowledge, welcoming, openness, joy, suffering, mystery, awe, and

Challenge, progress, perseverance, persistence, faith, respect, clarity, serenity, fortitude, symbolism, community, dedication, fantasy, imagination, and

Engineering, protection, immortality, eternity, generosity, hope, intrigue, endurance, abstraction, creativity, love, passion, intellect and mysticism.

If you’re a constant learner like me, a history buff or just nuts for trivia, go to the official Web site (LINK), wait for the brief video, then, by clicking on each of the 21 photos, you can read a brief and fascinating history of each nominee. Then under any history, click on “Vote Online” to register and vote.

The “Seven New Wonders of the World” will be annonced 7/7/07. To date, 28 million votes have been cast.


Click on “Comment” below and tell us your top pick!

(Aside to that undeterred little hobbit, my friend “Frodo:” Dolly Parton doesn’t count.)


Weekend Wonk

Grab a cup of coffee and check out the headlines you might have missed during the week. If you click on links, hit the “backspace” button to return to blog.

* Critics howl over Halliburton move from Texas to Dubai. LINK
* Mayan priests to “cleanse” holy site after Bush visit. LINK
* Israel recalls naked ambassador. LINK
* Viacom sues Google, YouTube for $1 billion. LINK
* Clock is ticking for old-fashioned analog TVs. You must request aid coupons available to every household. LINK
* Hillary: ‘Great right-wing conspiracy is back.’ Remarks made in reference to her proposed bill to make Election Day a federal holiday and make it a crime to send misleading or fraudulent information to voters. LINK
* Disabled veteran saves his drowning dog with CPR. LINK
* Heads or tails? Denver couple finds faceless coin. LINK
* Stray cats strut into home, injure three people. LINK
* Poland honors woman who saved 2,500 Jews. LINK
* Billy Walkabout, highly decorated veteran, dies at 57. LINK
* Oklahoma girl wins $100,000 science prize. LINK
* Probe heats up over fired U.S. attorneys. LINK

READ OF THE WEEK: Kalid Sheikh Mohammed, referred to as KSM, confessed in a statement Saturdy before a military tribunal to more than 30 acts or planned acts of terror, including the planning of 9/11. Mohammed said he had been tortured, but freely confessed to the list.

The list was so extensive, Don Imus’ crew on MSNBC joked that he had confessed to being the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby, being the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby and being on the grassy knoll in Dallas.

According to a report in The New York Times, “It is not clear how many of Mr. Mohammed’s expansive claims were legitimate. In 2005, the Sept. 11 Commission said that Mr. Mohammed was noted for his extravagant ambitions, and, using his initials, described his vision as ‘theater, a spectacle of destruction with KSM as the self-cast star, the superterrorist.’ ”

Read the NYT article with the list of confessed activities or planned activities at the bottom: LINK


Following true tenets

An organization boasting millions of members has taken a strong stand against the Bush administration’s use of torture and has acknowledged that global warming exists and must be curbed.

Is this some so-called crackpot, pinko, tree-hugging bunch of far-left liberals?


The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 churches and some 30 million church members has endorsed a statement titled "An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror.”

The statement, in part:

* The United States has crossed “boundarie of what is legally and morally permissible” in treatment of detainees and war prisoners.
* Christians have an obligation to help Americans “regain our moral clarity.”
* Anti-terrorism efforts “must not include measures that violate our own core values."
* “Our moral vision has blurred since 9/11.”
* Condemns the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year. The Act “guts habeas corpus and allows testimony obtained from torture.”

Read Associated Press coverage of the complete statement: LINK

The NAE has declared that protecting the environment is a “moral conviction” and supports efforts to curb global warming. Washington Post, 11 March 2007. LINK


Talking points smackdown

RIGHT-WING TALKING POINT: “Clinton replaced all 93 U.S. attorneys in 1993.” Some pundits and “news analysts” went on to say that Clinton did keep one – now Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Fox News' Chris Wallace, in a telephone interview with Don Imus yesterday, took it a little further, "This had never happened before."

FACT: What Clinton did was SOP – standard operating procedure. What they don’t say is presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush did the same thing. All three asked all U.S. Attorneys to resign at the start of their respective administrations.
Clinton did not specifically fire any U.S. attorney for political reasons, as email exchanges between now Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ office and the White House proposed to do.

FACT: The author of the AG emails, Gonzales’ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson, resigned Tuesday.

FACT: Republican Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire has called for Attorney General Gonzales’ resignation, And, Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada wants the reinstatement of fired Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden.

Ensign further said the attorney general’s office needs “to restore my U.S. attorney’s reputation, because it has been damaged, and it was wrongfully damaged. ,,, I’m waiting for the attorney general to correct this final mistake, what I believe to be the final mistake, and that is to make this guy’s reputation whole.” (Ensign interview: “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” MSNBC, 14 March 2007)

THE BROUHAHA: The content of the released email exchanges and the involvement of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, adviser to the president. Plus, email comments about using a little-known Patriot Act provision which would allow the president to sidestep Senate confirmation of “temporary” U.S. attorney appointments. The Washington Post report on content of emails, 13 March 2007: LINK

BACKGROUND ARTICLE: Associated Press, 13 March 2007: LINK

UPDATE: “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” CNN, 14 March 2007, devoted most of the 5 p.m. ET broadcast to this developing controversy. Transcript: LINK BREAKING NEWS: The Senate Judiciary Committee today authorized the use of subpoenas to elicit testimony from five current and former Justice Department officials in the probe into the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys. Subpoenas were authorized for six of the attorneys as well. LINK


'Ain't no sunshine ...'

For the unitiated, this is “Sunshine Week.”

The special week has nothing to do with a Florida tourism campaign or nudists trying to get in touch with themselves in Sedona.

Nor is it a celebration of journalists, although they’re directly involved. The week celebrates YOUR “right to know” what’s going on in YOUR government.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 - landmark legislation which opened government records to the public.

“Because of FOIA,” the Progress Report of 12 March 2007 (LINK) says, “Vietnam War veterans learned about their exposure to Agent Orange, reporters learned that the military had given U.S. troops in Iraq body armor that failed ballistics tests, and the public learned how many times Jack Abramoff had visited the White House.

“Unfortunately, under the Bush administration, federal agencies have stalled or ignored an increased number of FOIA requests, classified a record number of documents, stepped up punishment for whistleblowers and tightened secrecy in the name of national security.”

Always the increased secrecy and infringement on YOUR rights – clamoring to classify - is wrapped in the cloak of “post-9/11” necessity.

The Progess Report continues, “A new study by the National Security Archive finds that just one in five federal agencies posts on its Web site all the records to file FOIA requests and just 6 percent ‘tell people how to request what does not appear there.’

“Another study by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government ‘found that 26 federal agencies were processing fewer FOIA requests, making petitioners wait much longer for responses and releasing less information than they were nine years ago. …’

“Sens. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) plan to reintroduce legislation that will strengthen FOIA by giving agencies ‘strong incentives to act on FOIA requests in a timely fashion.’ It will also ‘ensure that Internet-based journalists and people who write Web logs (blogs) are given the same reduced FOIA fees as other members of the press’ and will establish an FOIA hotline to track requests.”

So many people going to bat to bring government secrecy to light. Lucky you!


“Ain’t no sunshine … only darkness every day.”

How important is an unfettered press to a free society? How important is it to you?

For an in-depth and fully documented report on the relationship between the Bush administration and the media, read “Government: The Dark Ages.” The Progress Report, 13 March 2007: LINK


Last laugh

A little bitty tear let me down,
Spoiled my act as a clown.
I had it made up
Not to make a frown,
But a little bitty tear let me down.


I have this weird thing about stand-up comedians: I hold my breath for fear they’ll bomb. After seeing more than a few flops on Carson, Letterman or Leno, I came to expect the worse as each took the microphone.

In the 90s, I went to Characters, a comedy club in Greenville, S.C., and heard a funny comedian, and he’s still getting laughs – Jeff Foxworthy.

But, that was a rarity, and when a young friend inquired why I didn’t like Comedy Central standups, I had to tell her, “They make me nervous!”

One night a few years back I stumbled across two 30-minute comedy specials, and when they were over I called my son Ladd to tell him I had found a comedian who made me laugh out loud – Richard Jeni. “One of my favorites,” he said.


"I think that's how Chicago got started. A bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.' “

"It is a sad fact that 50 percent of marriages in this country end in divorce. But, hey, the other half end in death. You could be one of the lucky ones!"


What a rare talent to make others laugh, full belly laughs born of joy and the appreciation of sharp wit.

Richard Jeni died Sunday – an apparent suicide from a gunshot wound.

His work and the laughter will live on in CDs and films and hearts he made happy.

At the Pearly Gates may he hear, “Send in the clowns … there ought to be clowns.”

Jeni obituary: LINK


Sphere of influence

An intriguing little tale was told by Michel Duffy of Time magazine, on “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” 8 March 2007. Duffy repeated the anecdote from his Time cover story this past week on Vice President Dick Cheney. LINK

Seems that when he was president Bush I put the word out to his top aides that he wanted to dump his vice president, Dan Quayle, from his re-election campaign ticket. Bush I wrote in his diary that picking Quayle as his running mate was the worst mistake he ever made. Duffy stated that Bill Kristol, then Quayle’s chief of staff, found out about it, leaked the subterfuge to the press and put the skids on Bush I’s strategy.

Duffy was making the point that the son would not follow the father in his desire to dump his veep. But, it was the mention of Bill Kristol that stopped me short.

Like the ripples from a stone thrown into an otherwise peaceful pond, the sphere of influence of neocons on this country’s policies – foreign and domestic – is ever-expanding.

I am convinced there is nothing they won't do to keep it so.

Don’t know who the neocons are and how they have wielded power in Washington? Shame on you! It’s “Google” time!

From years of studying them, I assert the neoconservatives – or neocons – are a bunch of pseudointellectual war hawks who, when the Cold War ended, decided to take U.S. military might out for a spin, force a “Pax Americana” on the Middle East and, as a result, have screwed this country for years, yea, decades to come.

Turns out, they’re just a bunch of goofballs.

No surprise then, after what Duffy reports, that Dan Quayle ended up being one of their founding fathers.

The man who kept him on the ticket is Bill Kristol. LINK Kristol is the godfather of the neocons. The neocons led us into their long-planned war with Iraq. Ripples.

There are plenty of Web sites available to tell you who these people are, what their plans for this country’s future are, and how they wield their influence on U. S. policy through their think tanks, publications and high positions in government.

One particularly informative site is the Christian Science Monitor’s “Neocon 101: Empire Builders.” LINK

Think tanks, periodicals and key documents: LINK

While the folks over at Fox News are frothing at the mouth over that “left-wing wacko” George Soros, guess who’s funding all this? You guessed it, Rupert Murdoch. “Fair and balanced,” my foot!

That’s a start!

In the meantime, here are prominent neoconservatives – the founding fathers who signed their “Statement of Principles.” LINK Recognize anyone?

Elliott Abrams
Gary Bauer
William J. Bennett
Jeb Bush
Dick Cheney
Eliot A. Cohen
Midge Decter
Paula Dobriansky
Steve Forbes
Aaron Friedberg
Francis Fukuyama*
Frank Gaffney
Fred C. Ikle
Donald Kagan
Zalmay Khalilzad
Lewis “Scooter” Libby
Norman Podhoretz
Dan Quayle
Peter W. Rodman
Stephen P. Rosen
Henry S. Rowen
Donald Rumsfeld
Vin Weber
George Weigel
Paul Wolfowitz
* Fukuyama publicly denounced the neocons for their botched Iraq policy. LINK

There are many other notable neocons, including Richard Perle, Max Boot, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer to name a few.

Get to know these guys – they pretty much run your country.


Weekend Wonk

Grab a cup of coffee and check out the headlines you might have missed during the week. If you click on links, hit the “backspace” button to return to blog.

* Heart transplant recipient conquers Andes climb. LINK

* Baby gorilla raises hope for threatened species. LINK

* Tranquiliized moose downs helicopter. LINK

* High Court nixes WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers’ appeal. LINK

* Poll: Sex stereotypes still rule at work. LINK

* Three rare lions killed, mutilated at India sanctuary. LINK

* Tamiflu side effect worries grow after plunge deaths. LINK

* GM targets 2010 for electric car. LINK

* Daylight Savings glitch threatens mini-Y2K. LINK

* Complex credit card rules scrutinized. LINK

* Alleged DC madam might expose 10,000. LINK

* FBI misuses Patiot Act to get personal information. LINK

* Hmmm – rats capable of thinking like humans. LINK

READ OF THE WEEK: A friendly reminder of the parallels found in our situations in Vietnam and Iraq to be found in John Kerry’s 1971 testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Grab pen and paper and make notes of the many similiarities found throughout the transcript. Prescient and uncanny. C-SPAN: LINK



I’m caling for a new consumer advocacy group: Rapidly Advancing Technology Sucks! – or RATS!

Approaching a new century and a new millennium, I decided in 1998 to buy my first computer, determined I would not let new technology pass me by!

For six months, I didn’t have a printer, which is like using a typewriter without paper. (Remember typewriters?) Then, for Christmas, my niece gave me a Hewlitt-Packard printer plus a scanner, and I was in business!

Having dodged the Y2K bullet, I marked the special year by publishing a monthly family newsletter throughout 2000. I was learning how expensive anything to do with computers can be.

To save my newsletter pages - large files with graphics and photos - off I went to Office Depot and laid down $170 for an Iomega Zip Drive and storage disks.

All went well until 2001, when a local repairman was holding my computer hostage, prompting my son to send a new Dell for my birthday. I shipped my first computer off to my best friend’s husband, who just wanted a computer “to play with.”

The new computer’s one parallel port meant swapping out the Zip Drive, which I used every day to store files, and the scanner – no easy matter getting to the back of the tower.

In December 2006, after a crash, I got a third computer, only to find out new computers no longer come with parallel ports. (Nor do they come with floppy disk drives, unless you pay extra.)

There go the Zip Drive and the scanner. Thank heavens, my printer was convertible from parallel to USB, but it wouldn’t operate without an “outside power source” - the purchase of a USB hub. Are you following me?

I can either throw the Zip Drive and the HP scanner in the dumpster or decoupage them in some Christo-inspired decorating fit!

Remember those newsletter pages and years of accumulated saved files? All irretrievable on the Zip Disks!

My friend Charlie’s son-in-law volunteered to install the Zip Drive on his computer, which still has a parallel port, and transfer all my filss to CDs.

How wonderful to have my files back!

Everything was fine untll I tried to open a newsletter page and got a message that I would have to install components of Microsoft Word 2002 to read the file. OK, I have Word 2000 and Word 2006. Damn!

The reason I bought the Zip Drive in the first place, I yelled out loud, was to save the family newsletter!

I’m not even going into my home video collection. I read once in Entertainment Weekly there will be whole cities in Arizona built from VHS cassettes. Now, there are DVDs, and my friend Shari mentioned some new “Blu-ray” technology!

And, by the way, are you ready for the transition from analog to digital TV broadcasts?


This is a conspiracy to get your money!



Anyone with a Microsoft Word 2002 CD, snail mail it - remember snail mail? - and I’ll return it ASAP.


What price glory?

Wounded American soldiers have been testifying on Capitol Hill. One by one, these veterans of Iraq have voiced personal tales of neglect in VA facilities created for their care.

“As a veteran and one who feels this anger, I would like to talk about it. We are angry, because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.”

The neglect of wounded veterans is nothing new. Such deplorable treatment is graphically depicted in Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic’s story, “Born on the Fourth of July” - one of Tom Cruise’s best performances.

Administrative and legislative Johnny-come-latelys are scurrying like the rats at Walter Reed to rectify the horrible conditions there, and possibly other VA facilites across the country.

Only after Dana Priest and Anna Hull of the Washington Post sparked a media firestorm and an I-rant, did those responsible for veteran care seem to get a clue.

“So many of those best men have returned as quadriplegics and amputees, and they lie forgotten in Veterans' Administration hospitals in this country, which fly the flag which so many have chosen as their own personal symbol.”

Since “shock and awe” lit up a nighttime Baghdad sky, I have sat at my computer and read story after story of administrative cuts to Veteran pay and benefits.

One I remember told of avoiding the payment of “missing in action” benefits by changing that classification to “whereabouts unknown.” No sensitivity whatsever about taking away the “lost in battle” distinction and making soldiers sound like truant schoolboys.

Will America correct the injustices that have plagued our veterans – past and present?

“There is nothing (in this war), nothing which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And, to attempt to justify the loss of one American life … by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom … is to use the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.”

As I watched these wounded vets who lost limbs and eyesight in Iraq, I could not help but wonder: should any one of them, say 20 or 30 years from now, decide the best way to serve one’s country is to run for public office, will there be a “Swift Boat Vets for Truth” group waiting to lie them out of any chance at serving?

A young veteran with a powerful voice and powerful words went before Congress in behalf of returning heroes. His compelling testimony got the lawmakers’ attention.

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

The quotes in this post are the words of that young man, and the right-wing still makes a mockery of his service and his medals.

The prescient passages of John Kerry’s April 1971 testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations are even more compelling when read in the light of what’s unfolding in Iraq.

The hearing transcript is incredibly long for a slow reader, but I could not tear myself away from the senators’ questions and Kerry’s responses – almost every word uncannily applicable to our situation in Iraq.

If you’ve never read the transcript of this hearing, it’s time. There are answers to be found within! Read on C-SPAN: LINK


'Libby, the Fox Version'

Scene opens with a closeup of a tattered and thick manila folder.

FILE STATUS: For public release.

FILE NAME: Libby Verdict: Fox News Fact Check.

FILE AUTHOR: B. J. Trotter, who has followed the Valerie Plame Wilson-CIA leak saga since its inception.

CONTENTS: Random notes.

FOX NEWS: Valerie Plame Wilson was NOT a covert CIA operative.
FACT: Well, yes, she was. Her status at the CIA was “classified.” The Washington Post editorial on the verdict points out that Ms. Wilson’s CIA status was not revealed at the trial. That’s because the judge would not allow it to be introduced. Ms. Wilson worked for a CIA front company, whose purpose was to investigate the proliferation of “non-conventional weapons,” including WMD in Iran. When her cover was blown, the front company and the intelligence it had gathered were compromised, and the lives of anyone working with the “company” or having contact with it were endangered.

FOX NEWS: Richard Armitage outed Valerie Plame Wilson.
FACT: The sources for Robert Novak’s column of 14 July 2003 were Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, and Karl Rove, Bush’s chief adviser. Nine government officials testified, under oath, that Vice President Cheney and Libby were obsessed with discussing Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, prior to Novak’s column outing her. Libby was talking with reporters about Ms. Wilson before Novak’s column appeared.

FOX NEWS: (In reference to the outing of Ms. Wilson) No crime was committed.
FACT: Yes, a CIA covert operative was outed. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said the investigation into that matter was hampered by Libby’s lies.
QUESTION: What does Fox News think the charge “obstruction of justice” means?

FOX NEWS’ BRiT HUME: Shortly after the verdict was read, Hume told an FNC anchor, “The jury felt sorry for Mr. Libby.”
FACT: The full statement: Juror Denis Collins said "a number of times" jurors asked themselves, "what is HE doing here? Where is Rove and all these other guys? ... I'm not saying we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was, as Mr. Wells (Libby’s lawyer) put it, he was the fall guy." Collins said the jury believed Vice President Dick Cheney did “task him to talk to reporters.” Read juror Collins’ full comments in Editor & Publisher: LINK
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: (paraphrasing) There’s a difference between “a fall guy,” which denotes a participant in a crime taking the fall, and “a scapegoat,” which denotes an innocent person charged wrongly.

FOX NEWS: In support of the possibility of Bush pardoning Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Fox News anchors and contributors have made many references to President Bill Clinton’s pardon of billionaire financier Marc Rich.
FACT: What they are not telling you is: Marc Rich’s lawyer was none other than Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who represented Rich dating back to 1985, but stopped working for him in the spring of 2000.
IN TESTIMONY BEFORE CONGRESS: Scooter Libby defended Marc Rich saying facts about him were “misconstrued.” CNN transcript of Libby’s testimony at that hearing: LINK

Smoke curls up from an ashtray as a sleepy-eyed woman hits "Publish Post."

“Mission Impossible” theme plays. Fade to black.


'The Good Crazies'

When Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (LINK), I emailed all on my list: “Keep an eye on this guy: he’s going places!”

On Sunday, I watched C-SPAN and CNN coverage of the 42nd anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march. A dark day in our nation’s history - “Bloody Sunday” – resulted when then Alabama Governor George Wallace ordered state troopers to beat back the marchers with teargas and batons. But, they kept marching, their ranks swelling to more than 20,000 as many joined along the way. (History of the march: LINK)

Barack Obama’s address to the Brown Chapel congregation evoked for me images of great orators past.

How can Hillary top this? I asked myself – head and heart filling with Obama’s passion.

But, at nearby First Baptist Church, Hillary held her own, her every sentence punctuated with applause. (Beyond the soundbites of both speeches: LINK)

Back at the Chapel, Obama prefaced his speech by commenting that he really didn’t want to thank Dr. Lowery, because “he stole the show.”

And steal the show he did.

Dr. Joseph Lowery was appointed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as head of the delegation on that march determined to deliver voting rights demands to Gov. Wallace.

On Sunday, he told the crowd at the Chapel he could have made other plans, but he “wanted to be here with the crazies.”

“When Ebony magazine named Joseph Lowery one of the nation’s 15 greatest black preachers, they described him as ‘the consummate voice of biblical social relevancy, a focused voice, speaking truth to power.’ When the NAACP gave him an award at its 1997 convention, he was called the ‘dean of the civil rights movement.’ He is a co-founder with Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and served as president and chief executive officer from 1977 to January 15, 1998.” More on Dr. Lowery: LINK

Lowery had recently had a medical checkup where his son-in-law, a physician, explained about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.

Using the analogy, he said people who have left their mark on history could be divided into “the good crazies” and “the bad crazies.”

He then named many who fought untiringly, often giving their lives, for civil liberties and were, in their time, labeled “crazy.”

These were “the good crazies,” Lowery told the laughing and cheering crowd.

Many on the Selma-to-Montgomery march – “good crazies” – are dead now. Some were in the congregations of the two churches.

As with fighters for human freedom throughout history, this country owes much to those marchers in those dark days.

Such sacrifices have paved the way for the possibility of a first African-American president. A first Hispanic president. A first female president.

As both Clinton and Obama pointed out, the “march” to ensure and preserve civil liberties and equality continues today.

It begins with the first step.


George Wallace personally apologized to Joseph Lowery in 1995 as the civil rights leader led the 30th anniversary re-enactment of the march.


Monday a fun day for one day

Why Computers Crash

By Anonymous (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort,
and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash,
and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash,
and your data is corrupted ‘cause the index doesn't hash,
then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house,
says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol,
that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall;
And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse;
then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang,
'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk,
and the macro code instructions are causing unnecessary risk,
then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM,
and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Well, that certainly clears things up for me! How about you?


Weekend Wonk

A new weekend feature dedicated to headlines that might have grabbed you, in case you missed them. If you click on links, hit the “backspace” button to return to blog.

* Man lost three children in tsunami now father of triplets. LINK

* Man dies from online gambling binge. LINK

* Inpector ‘off duty’ after OKing rat eatery. LINK

* Thieves nab $66 million Picasso paintings. LINK

* Voice of Keebler elf dies at 81. LINK

* Swiss soldiers get lost, invade tiny Liechtenstein. LINK

* Nuke lab develops power dust rag LINK

* And finally, full lunar eclipse Saturday night. LINK

READ OF THE WEEK: “But, Did Ginger Rogers Wear Flip-Flops?” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank gives us the “low-down” on what went on at the Conservative Political Action Conference - CPAC (“see-pack”) – this week’s gathering of serious conservatives:

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) rattled off a long list of “labels” he’s been called, then said he “wears some of them proudly.” Global warming, he told the crowd, “is the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people.” They should stop worrying about polar bears, he said, passing out documentation, including the claim, “Mars has global warming despite absence of SUVs.”

Ann Coulter, sweetheart of the session, called Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards “a faggot.”

And, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney of Massachusetts put his foot in his mouth by putting his foot in high heels.

Who were the no-shows? Read Milbank’s full account: LINK


'Garry Owen!'

This is a post about heroes.

Several years ago my young neighbor Cindy came over with a book. “B.J., I want you to read this book. My daddy’s in it.”

I began the read and, discovering it autographed with many names, took it back, explaining I couldn’t be responsible for something so dear to her.

She told me the author had extra copies, so I placed a phone call and met one of the nicest and busiest men I’ve ever known.

The autographs in Cindy’s book were those of survivors of one of the fiercest battles in Vietnam. Her daddy, Larry Gilreath, fought in the battle of Ia Drang, near the Cambodian border. Gilreath fired the first shot at the enemy in the first ground battle in that war. Reunion buddies kid him that he started it all.

The writer I called is Joe Galloway, one of the military’s staunchest champions. A Texan with family ties to the Lees of Virginia, Joe braved that battle as a young UPI reporter. He, along with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, wrote one of the best books about that period in our history, “We Were Soldiers Once … And Young.” The book later was adapted as the movie “We Were Soldiers” starring Mel Gibson as Gen. Moore, Barry Pepper as Joe and Greg Kinnear as the daring helicopter pilot Bruce Crandall.

These men of the 7th Cavalry rode into hell on helicopters with their battle cry, “Garry Owen!” From time to time, the men of that battle, Joe included, surface in the news to remind us of the collective heroism that came together on that hot landing zone.

Rick Rescorla, pictured front and center on the book’s dust jacket, survived the Ia Drang Valley and was a hero of 9/11. As head of security for Morgan-Stanley/Dean-Witter, the WTC’s largest tenant, Rick gave his life saving 2,700 co-workers. A documentary, “The Man Who Predicted 9/11,” is Rick’s story. Read more: LINK

On Monday, 41 years later, another hero of that battle, the helicopter pilot Ret. Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall, 74, was awarded the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military distinction.

The Associated Press reports:

“The medal recognizes Crandall for his valor in repeatedly flying into enemy fire to bring in ammunition and supplies and evacuate the wounded. Crandall completed 22 flights in a 14-hour period on Nov. 14, 1965, most under intense enemy fire.” Read the full AP article on this fearless pilot: LINK

Crandall rescued 70 wounded Americans during those flights.

Capt. Edward Freeman, who flew the missions with Crandall, receive the Medal of Honor in 2001.

I haven’t talked with Joe in a while. The last time we talked he was headed to Atlanta, where this longtime war correspondent, decorated for bravery, was grand marshal of the city’s Memorial Day parade.

I know he was there, in the White House East Room, standing in the background as Crandall received his long overdue medal. And, I know he continues to make certain these men get the laurels they deserve.


The Mel Gibson movie was good. The book is so much more powerful, because you really get to know these guys. You learn a lot about how we got into the war and how our troops prepared for a new way of fighting. You wait with wives and children as Yellow Cab drivers deliver dreaded telegrams. You hear the bullets of battle. And, finally, you learn to accept that the “enemy” were soldiers, too.

“We Were Soldiers Once … And Young.” A highly recommended read!


Real world v. Fox News

Friends ask why I bother to watch certain Fox News programs.

The answer is simple: I believe it’s imperative that we know what a great many Americans are getting in the way of “news.”

As an “infomed citizen,” I am aware there’s the real world and there’s Fox News. But, Roger Ailes and company have managed to convince their viewers that all other U.S. news outlets are anti-American.

Bill O’Reilly has been on a one-man campaign to convince his fans that NBC is out to destroy our American way of life. NBC!

Here, my friends, is why you need to know what Fox News is saying:

Nielsen Media Research has released its “Competitive Program Analysis” for the month of February 2007. LINK

Here are the top 20 Nielsen-ranked news programs, out of all regularly scheduled news programs airing M-F from 6 a.m. through midnight:

1. The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News)
2. Hannity & Colmes (Fox News)
3. On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (Fox News)
4. The Fox Report with Shepard Smith (Fox News)
5. Special Report with Brit Hume (Fox News)
6. Larry King Live (CNN)
7. The O’Reilly Factor (11 p.m. repeat) (Fox News)
8. Studio B with Shepard Smith (Fox News)
9. The Big Story with John Gibson (Fox News)
10. Your World with Neil Cavuto (Fox News)
11. Fox News Live (Fox News)
12. America’s Newsroom (Fox News)
13. Live Desk with Martha MacCallum (Fox News)
14. Fox Online (Fox News)
15. Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN)
16. Deal or No Deal (CNBC)
17. Fox and Friends (Fox News)
18. Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC)
19. The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (CNN)
20. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)

It’s a given: Fox News viewers are spoon-fed right-wing propaganda, and owner Rupert Murdoch laughs all the way to the bank.

Whether your politics are left, right or somewhere in the middle, if you limit yourself only to news sources which subjectively support your political leanings and agree with your ideology, you are not interested in news, you are only looking for validation.


Don’t care to contribute to Fox News’ ratings? Visit newshounds.org, a media watchdog site whose slogan is “We Watch Fox So You Don’t Have To:” LINK