He's back!

Just in time for Halloween, one of the most intriguing characters in the whole Iraq war debacle has once more found favor with U.S. forces in that country.

When I first began to study the neocons – during the run-up to the Iraq war – a man’s name kept surfacing.

This man is an MIT-trained mathematician and a wealthy businessman.

He was an exiled Iraqi and president of the Iraqi National Congress, set up with funds from the CIA. The INC pushed for the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Among this Iraqi’s staunchest supporters were neocons and high-ranking Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.

Pre-war intelligence provided by this man was stovepiped by the Pentagon’s Douglas Feith directly into the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Those notions that Saddam had WMD and U.S. forces would be greeted with flowers – he’s your source.

With his mission accomplished, this man - who sat in the president’s box with the first lady at Bush’s January 2004 SOTU address - in February 2004 told Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

“We are heroes in error. As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.”

“Heroes in error.” The man then insisted the interview had never occurred!

Why would anyone put such trust in a man with an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Jordan – charged with embezzling $300 million from his Petra Bank? He was sentenced in absentia to 22 years. He filed a lawsuit in the U.S., claiming this was “a smear campaign.” Jordan’s king eventually pardoned him.

Here the plot thickens to the density of osmium.

Back in his homeland of Iraq, the man didn’t exactly do what the U.S. expected of him. The inticate details: LINK

Soon there were other warrants – in Iraq.

The man, accused of counterfeiting, said the bogus money was “samples” from his new job overseeing the country’s central bank. LINK

An arrest warrant for murder was issued in Iraq for the man’s nephew, then head of Iraq’s War Crimes Tribunal. The nephew, in London at the time, said the warrant was “an effort to discredit the tribunal.” LINK

The man’s Baghdad home was raided by Iraqi police and U.S. troops. U.S. officials accused the man of passing secrets to Iran. “Ridiculous,” he said. LINK

Remember this man’s name: Ahmed Chalabi.

On Monday, the Progress Report, Center for American Progress, reported:

“On 28 October 2007, McClatchy (newspaper group) revealed that Ahmad Chalabi, the disgraced Iraqi politician who embellished reports of Iraq's WMD to encourage an American attack, has ‘re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq.’ As the new head of the services committee, charged with bringing electricity, health and other services to Baghdad, Chalabi serves at ‘the heart of the surge plan.’ Col. Steven Boylan, spokesman for Gen. David Petraeus, heralded Chalabi as ‘an important part of the process.’ "

In again, out again, this man is once more in U.S. favor. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


A brief and entertaining post follows.

Welcome to America

Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” feature on MSNBC is always entertaining, but Monday night’s winner was just too good not to pass along:

“The winner, your Department of Homeland Security. For the second time in a year, it has detained at a U.S. airport a Mr. Shahid Malik of Great Britain; this time searched Washington Dulles for explosives.

“Last year he said it happened at JFK. This time he said the other two men detained with him in the interrogation room were black men with Muslim names.

“Couple of problems here, Mr. Malik was in our country to meet with the Department of Homeland Security. He‘s not just some British guy with a Muslim name. He‘s with the British government. You know, Mr. Bush‘s partners in the war on terrorists. In fact, he‘s the British minister for international development. He‘s in the cabinet.

“And, we patted him down for explosives at Dulles, again!

“Your Department of Homeland Security, inspiring new anti-American terrorists since 2001, today‘s Worst Persons in the World!”


Hired guns of fake news


By now, you know about FEMA’s staging of a fake press briefing, using FEMA staffers instead of journalists, on Tuesday, 23 October.

The FEMA employees lobbed softball questions about the Agency’s response to California’s wildfires. (Read the “briefing” Q&A: LINK)

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said FEMA had, in its own words, made “an error in judgment,” and red-faced Agency officials issued a public apology.


These pseudo-journalist shenanigans by the Bush administration are nothing new. Let’s examine the background on this issue:

At the risk of seeming immodest, may I quote myself?

In 2004-2005 I authored a blog, “Vocal Yokels,” described thusly:

"Chronicling the absurd, the obnoxious, the outright lies, the occasional truths and the downright mystical out of the mouths of politicians and pundits."

For example:

"I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'What did he say?'"
- George W. Bush,
Beaverton, Oregon, 13 August 2004


On 27 January 2005, under the post title, “Bush and the press,” I wrote about Bush’s press conference of the previous day (LINK). Watching the Q&A with Bush, I was stunned by an unidentified male reporter’s question:

"Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock-solid, and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work - you said you are going to reach out to these people - how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

I concluded the post with “Don't know where this reporter went to journalism school, but he obviously missed Objectivity 101.”


A couple of weeks later news broke that the reporter who asked that question was Jeff Gannon, aka James “J. D.” Guckert, a phony journalist who had somehow secured White House Press Corps credentials. Far from having attended any school of journalism, Gannon/Guckert was a former male prostitute complete with nude photos on the Internet! LINK He obtained Press Corps credentials after setting up a right-wing propaganda Web site.


This sort of slanted journalism continues. At his press conference of 20 September 2007 (LINK), Bush fielded the “final question” from White House shill Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner, a Fox News analyst and author of pro-Bush books (LINK).

Bush calls the tall reporter “Super Stretch” or “Big Stretch.”

Sammon, whose new book is titled “The Evangelical President: George Bush's Struggle to Spread a Moral Democracy Throughout the World,” lobbed the president a question about MoveOn.org’s General Petraeus ad in the New York Times, giving Bush the opportunity to conclude his press conference with sharp criticism of the “Democrat” (sic) Party.


On 6 January 2005, I wrote in “Vocal Yokels:”

The White House paid a prominent black pundit $250,000 to use his influence among blacks in garnering support for its education reform law - Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB), USA Today reports. LINK

To earn the money, Armstrong Williams, one of the nation's most influential black conservatives, was required to promote NCLB on his television broadcasts and to run interviews with Secretary of Education Rod Paige during 2004.

As part of the deal, Williams - a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, host of "The Right Side" and op-ed columnist - influenced his colleagues to promote NCLB.

According to USA Today, "Williams' contract was part of a $1 million deal with Ketchum (public relations firm) that produced 'video news releases' (called VNRs) designed to look like real news reports. The Bush administration used similar VNRs last year to promote its Medicare prescription drug plan, prompting a scolding from the Government Accountability Office, which called them an illegal use of taxpayers' dollars."


Williams, who is a regular political contributor on MSNBC, after being investigated twice before, has been issued a citation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

On 19 October 2007, PR Watch reported (LINK):

“Perhaps, in the case of Armstrong Williams, the third time will be the charm.

“The first two official investigations failed to hold anyone accountable for what can only be described as a textbook case of government propaganda. The results of the third investigation, by the Federal Communications Commission, were announced recently. The FCC found Williams and two media companies to be at fault, issuing a citation against Williams and proposing fines of $40,000 against Sonshine Family Television and $36,000 against Sinclair Broadcast Group.”


On 26 June 2005, New York Times columnist Frank Rich sounded the tocsin about Bush loyalists’ efforts to expunge public broadcasting - PBS and NPR - of liberal voices:

Stating the future of Big Bird was secure, Rich added, “That doesn't mean the right's new assault on public broadcasting is toothless, far from it. But, this time the game is far more insidious and ingenious. The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers' expense.

“If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations - or thrilled to the ‘journalism’ of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies - you'll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio.”

I recommend you read Mr. Rich’s exposé of right-wing efforts to take over public broadcasting: LINK


The conservative coup continues at PBS and NPR with five Republicans controlling the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, chaired by Cheryl Halpern, a former Republican fundraiser. Read more: LINK


Finally, the FCC has ruled against “corporate propaganda disguised as news reports.” These video news releases, or VNRs, are “fake news,” and you see them every day on TV.

The Center for Media and Democracy reports in an emailed newsletter, “The FCC now requires that radio and TV stations, as well as individuals, disclose on-air when they have received compensation to talk about a product or an issue.”


On 29 September 2007, the Denver (Colo.) Post reported (LINK):

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week levied its first-ever fine against a cable-TV operator for running a "fake news" report without identifying it as such.

“The FCC proposed a $400,000 fine against Comcast, Colorado's largest cable company.

“Comcast ran a video news release, or VNR, for a sleep aid as part of a program the Philadelphia-based cable giant produced, but it didn't state the news report was produced by the third-party company.”


Remember the FCC ruling mentions “issues” as well as “products.” It remains to be seen how far the FCC will go in excluding propaganda from America’s airways – soon going digital - while protecting free speech and a free press.


"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)"
- George W. Bush, Greece, New York, 24 May 2005: LINK


If all this is OK with you, if it fits your political agenda just fine, you do not want facts, you do not want real news, you want validation.


Bush WH: the naked truth

If you need singular proof that the Bush administration is FUBAR, read Bob Woodward’s third book on the Bush presidency, “State of Denial.”

In the meantime:

Open your eyes to the truth.

There are eight million stories in the naked truth about the foulness of this administration, and this has been one of them:

KEITH OLBERMANN, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, 23 October 2007 (LINK): On July 13, 2003, Valerie Plame Wilson was the chief of operations for the Joint Iraq Task Force of the CIA’s counter-proliferation division. Only a handful of people outside the CIA even knew this. For 15-plus years she had used various cover stories to conceal her identity as a CIA operative and to cultivate a network of contacts and sources as part of America’s effort to prevent the spread of nuclear and other nonconventional weapons. She was, in short, a rare and valuable commodity in the battle against weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

On July 14, 2003, an American blew her cover to the media, trying to tarnish the credibility of her husband, who had just called out President Bush’s 16 words about Iraq’s pursuit of yellow cake uranium as the lie it was.

(BJ note: the parenthetical information in this transcript is mine. “16 words” background: The 16 words in Bush’s 28 January 2003 State of the Union Address – “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” – previously had been pulled from a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati, because the CIA determined intelligence surrounding them was shaky. Following the 16 words in Bush’s SOTU address, powerful words which wooed a nation to war with Iraq, CIA Director George Tenet stated he had not followed SOP and vetted the SOTU beforehand. It wouldn’t be the last time Tenet fell on his sword. A few days after Wilson’s op-ed piece appeared, the White House and the CIA conceded the 16 words – based on forged documents - should NEVER have appeared in the SOTU.)

OLBERMANN: The White House lied again, denying its self-involvement (in the Plame leak). A lengthy criminal trial later, and we learn that one State Department official and no less than three top White House aides had peddled Plame’s identity to the media.

Despite his pledge to fire any leaker or leakers, Mr. Bush fired neither Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove nor Lewis “Scooter” Libby. And, when Libby compounded his sin by lying to investigators, President Bush commuted his sentence, removing the one incentive Mr. Libby might have ever had to tell the truth.

No one ever apologized to Valerie Plame Wilson or her husband or her family. Today, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, after some battling with her former CIA employers, her new book is finally out, “Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.” I spoke with her earlier this evening:



OLBERMANN: The news of the month, let’s start there, Iran. David Shuster had reported that when you were outed, it damaged our ability to track nuclear ambitions by Iran. Give me your professional opinion: is this entire experience, Iraq, repeated right down to the cherry-picking of intelligence and eventually the picking of a fight with a foreign government?

WILSON: Yes, it certainly appears to be that way. I resigned from the CIA in 2006, so I, of course, do not have access to any current intelligence. But, it does seem eerily reminiscent of the run-up to the war with Iraq. And, I hope that we have learned some lessons.

OLBERMANN: Any indications that we have learned some lessons? Another professional opinion; we watch the vice president threaten. We listen to the president make references to World War III. We see the press secretary very politely drumming the beat for a war or conflict of some sort with Iran. Those are sort of a layman’s point of view.

You have dealt with intelligence. You’ve dealt with Iran. What should we be looking at professionally? What are the questions that we should be asking that we haven’t been asking, yet, about this topic?

WILSON: There is no doubt that there is malevolent intent on behalf of Iran, that they are seeking nuclear weapons. There’s no question about that. But, we are a great country, and I believe that as a great country, we can afford to speak to everyone, even our enemies. And, the idea of not using every single tool that we have available to us, primarily diplomacy, is unfortunate. And, obviously our international credibility, moral authority has been severely eroded in the debacle in Iraq.

OLBERMANN: Let me turn to the book, and your story of this last four years. One particular thing jumped out; how much do you believe, with all the information that you have had about this, that your boss at CIA, George Tenet, knew about the province (scope) of the leak when he asked for the investigation of it?

WILSON: I don’t know about that. As I write in the book, the only senior agency official that I spoke to after the leak was the head of the DDO (deputy director of operations, CIA), Mr. Jim Pavitt.

(Background: Pavitt, a 31-year veteran of the CIA, resigned as DDO in 2004, announcing his resignation on June 4, the day after CIA Director George Tenet resigned. Pavitt had served as DDO longer than any other person in 30 years.)

WILSON: So no one ever reached out to me. I have no idea. All I know is that the CIA referred this to the Justice Department at the end of September of 2003, because they thought that a crime should be investigated.

OLBERMANN: The promotional material about this book says some accounts have come close to the truth. Others have veered from it. Anybody get it right? And, in the whole process, has this given you insight that maybe we don’t have about the nature of the news media and whether or not we can rely on us?

WILSON: Well, the different accounts that I have read—and there is so much in the public domain—I sure was surprised. Some of it gets it really right. Some of it is way off base. It has been interesting to see as it all sort of washes over. As far as the media in the Libby trial, I think there was—that was sort of laid bear, the sort of symbiotic relationship between the media and the White House and their need for access. I was—what I was taken with was how easily the mainstream media took what was spoon fed from the administration without digging deeper, without using shoe leather to investigate, talk to maybe mid-level managers about the preparation for the war in Iraq, post-war planning, that sort of thing.

(This is exactly what Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial,” published three years after Plame Wilson’s identity was leaked, does.)

OLBERMANN: Is there anything from the entire experience that stands out at you at this point and makes you say, I can’t believe they got away with this? Or, I can’t believe the media or the politicians ignored this? Any of the things that happened to you that still are somewhat undervalued in this story?

WILSON: Well, I’m just coming off a really—what felt to me like a very ferocious battle with the Agency (CIA) over the censorship. As you know, there are lots of black lines in the book, and I would maintain that most of those redactions deal with the Agency’s position that I’m not permitted to acknowledge my Agency affiliation prior to January 2002. And, I would say that they (the redacted lines) have very little to do with national security, and everything to do with further punitive action by this administration toward me and Joe (Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson).

And, furthermore, I think it also was an attempt to diminish me and my responsibilities at the CIA, because if you diminish me, then the crime is diminished.

OLBERMANN: How antithetical to everything you were trained to do, everything you’ve done for 20-plus years before this happened, is the process of a book? I mean, you were on the side of the people putting the black lines over the books, not the people writing the books.

WILSON: Indeed. If none of this had happened, probably right now I and my family would be serving overseas. And, I would be working on something from which I derive a great sense of satisfaction: counter-proliferation issues. So, all of this is really strange. But, I am—finally, after four and a half years of everyone else talking about me, I get to tell my story, and it is an important one, because it is a story of the consequences of speaking truth to power and the importance of holding your government to account for its words and deeds.

OLBERMANN: Was it worth it?

WILSON: Which part?

OLBERMANN: Knowing that you had an impact on holding the government to its words and deeds when there were probably about 10 people in the country even trying?

WILSON: Absolutely. If we, you know, knew what we know now, then would we still do it? Absolutely. Joe wrote his op-ed piece (“What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” New York Times, 6 July 2003, LINK) as a matter of principle and conscience. We have small children that we have to answer to one day when they grow up and read about this, and ask us, “Well, you mean, you knew this, and you didn’t say anything?” So, there is no question.

And, Joe and I have always been very clear that although everything that has happened to us, and it has been very painful—it’s been a long, strange journey—that is, it is mere inconvenience compared to the news of American families who have their sons and daughters fighting in Iraq, and they get the worst possible news, because of the policies pursued by this administration.

OLBERMANN: Valerie Plame Wilson; the new book is “Fair Game.” It will certainly be one of the great original sources of American history as we live it. Great thanks for coming in and all the best.

WILSON: Thank you for having me.


To order:

“State of Denial,” Bob Woodward: LINK

“Fair Game,” Valerie Plame Wilson: LINK


My beef with J. K. Rowling

“Harry Potter” author J. K, Rowling told 2,000 fans at Carnegie Hall Friday night that the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts is “gay.”

I’ve read the 4,000-plus pages of Ms. Rowling’s seven books, and, as she states, there is no reference whatsoever to Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality.

I have no problem with Rowling’s perception of Dumbledore. My beef with the author is: why bring it up now?

When the first book was released there was a loud, right-wing outcry against teaching little kids to love witchcraft. The roar of the Religious Right died down in the face of Ms. Rowling’s genius – she had created a master work of wizardry for the ages – and for all age groups.

Now, the protests will rise again as fundamentalists ponder, in their own weird way, the “damage” these books have inflicted upon a generation of young readers.

All this from folks who’ve never read the books. I need a butterbeer!

If Rowling’s revelation deters one reader – young or old – from Harry Potter’s magical pages, one of the most rewarding literary experiences ever will be lost.


Please take my poll to the left, and don’t miss the next post.

10/24/2007 update:

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly aired a segment last night titled, "Harry Potter's Gay Agenda." I saw that one coming a mile away.

O'Reilly's guest from Entertainment Weekly "opined" that she thought Rowling was trying to teach "tolerance."

What she should have told O'Reilly, who stated he didn't have time to read books about wizards, was, "It's not in the damn books, Bill!"

Bloviate that!

If it's Tuesday, it's OMST!

My dear Sir Cumspect:

I am a couple of nip/tucks away from getting a cable news assignment, LOL.

Lots of confusion this past week over three little words: “can,” “may” and “might.”

Simply put, “can” denotes the ability to do something. “May” gives permission; “might” is supposition.

“Can” and “may” are not interchangeable. Ditto for “may” and “might.”

You might think this is elementary, my dear, but one can hear examples 24/7 on cable news.

Yes, you may quote me.




Bush v. America

After six years of a Republican-controlled Congress, George W. Bush located his veto pen. He has used it four times to date: twice on stem-cell research, once on Iraq redeployment and now on a health insurance program for children.

In doing so, Bush has pitted himself against the will of the American people.

To rationalize his SCHIP veto, Bush lied. Here’s an example:

The president told Americans that families making $83,000 a year will receive help from SCHIP. “That doesn’t sound like poor children to me,” he said.

The $83,000 was a waiver which New York State applied for and failed to get.

Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas attempted to bust this myth:

“This bill does not grant SCHIP coverage to children whose families have incomes more than $40,000. In fact, the only way a state can cover children in families at higher income levels is if the administration grants approval for the state to do so. This is already current law, and this bill does not change that. However, this bill for the first time puts tough standards into place to ensure states are truly focusing their programs on low-income children.” LINK

A sufficient number of Republican House members, as well as two Southern Democrats, bought this myth and other talking points, including claims the bill would cover children of illegal immigrants, which it does not.

I have a serious question for my representative in Congress, J. Gresham Barrett, 3rd District, South Carolina, and I want a serious answer:

Sir, are you a member of the legislative branch of government, or the executive?

Who voted against overriding Bush’s SCHIP veto? LINK


A brief post follows.

Rupert's chump change

Don’t misunderstand Rupert Murdoch’s $2,500 donation to Hillary’s campaign.

Murdoch has never been accused of being stupid.

He knows conflict sells, and he knows Fox News’ rating will go through the roof if Hillary is the Democratic nominee.

For Murdoch, it’s a small business (as usual) investment.


RESTORE insanity

Thursday’s post, “Unspinning FISA lies,” was written around 11 p.m. Wednesday, then posted shortly after midnight. At 8:59 p.m. ET, the Associated Press reported that a Republican gambit had caused Democratic leaders in the House to pull the RESTORE Act of 2007 legislation, which would have come to the House floor Thursday.

The RESTORE Act of 2007 is best explained by its name: "Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective Act of 2007."

The bill would bring the Bush administration’s secretive, warrantless wiretapping of American citizens’ phone and email conversations back into the auspices of the FISA Court.

While the ACLU protests the legislation – calling for blanket rather than individual warrants - doesn’t go far enough, the RESTORE Act is a step toward restoring Constitutional protections to domestic electronic surveillance.

The Associated Press report explains the Republican gambit:

“The House's Democratic leaders pulled the bill after discovering that Republicans planned to offer a motion that politically vulnerable Democrats would have a hard time voting against.

“The amendment would have said that nothing in the bill could limit surveillance of Osama bin Laden and terrorist organizations. While Democrats say their bill already provides that authority, voting against the amendment could make it seem as though a member of Congress were against spying on al-Qaida.

“Republicans sought to play down the amendment's role in causing the bill to be pulled. Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the bill was losing moderate Democratic votes because it was fundamentally flawed.

“Passage of the Republican amendment would have sent the bill immediately back to committee, effectively killing it. Key Democrats believed they were short of the votes needed to defeat the move.”

In other words, the Republican amendment would have made a vote against it appear to be a vote for bin Laden. Devious, those Republicans. Tp bad they’re not as skilled at interpreting the Constitution.

Read the complete Associated Press article, which clarifies a rather complex issue: LINK


The bill, which Bush threatens to veto, could come up for a vote as early as next week. The following post is germane in that it attempts to debunk spin and lies about the issue, and points out that Bush was using secret domestic eavesdropping as early as six months before 9/11. Read on.


Unspinning FISA lies

No need to read this if you prefer to live in constant fear and forfeit your civil liberties.

This week Congress will begin the fight over whether to restore Constitutional requirements vis-à-vis wiretapping surveillance of U.S. citizens.

To “put a human face” on their efforts to continue warrantless domestic spying, Republicans are spinning the deaths of three U.S. soldiers in Iraq, using them to promote their political agenda.

On October 16, The Progess Report, Center for American Progress, unraveled the lies being spread from the halls of Congress to the right-wing media and across the blogosphere.

To know the TRUTH about what you’ll be hearing from Republicans and right-wing commentators this week, read on:

From The Progress Report (LINK) – links to sources in text are active:

Rationalizing Incompetence

Conservatives on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a fight this week over proposed changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would restore court oversight to the administration's wiretapping program. In an effort to grant the Bush administration broad, unchecked wiretapping authority, conservatives are planning to use the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three U.S. soldiers in Iraq earlier this year to put a "human face" on the issue.

Last month, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress that "a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured." Further examination of the incident following McConnell's testimony, however, showed that FISA requirements had nothing to do with the administration's inability to rescue the soldiers. Nevertheless, conservatives seem intent on distorting the facts to use the kidnapping of these soldiers for their own political agenda.

INCOMPETENCE AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: On May 12, 2007, U.S. army soldiers Alex Jimenez, Joseph Anzack and Byron Fouty were abducted in Iraq when insurgents attacked a military outpost in Baghdad. Three days later, at approximately 10:52 a.m., "the NSA notified the Department of Justice of its desire to collect some communications that required a FISA order." Surveillance did not begin until almost 8 that evening. In his testimony, McConnell attributed the delay to problems with FISA. But, the delay in obtaining the order can be traced to red tape and incompetence within the Bush administration. Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department, filled with inept political cronies, wrestled with "novel legal issues" that it was not prepared for, creating a four-hour delay. Under FISA, the administration could have obtained an emergency warrant to allow for immediate surveillance of the target. This required only a senior official to sign off on the wiretap. Mired in scandal, Gonzales was speaking to a group of U.S. attorneys and could not be reached. "Deputy AG Paul McNulty had resigned already; Solicitor General Paul Clement 'had left the building' and the other responsible official, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein, was not yet authorized to approve the emergency order." Wainstein had in fact been authorized by FISA to sign emergency warrants, but the "Justice Department had not yet altered its own internal regulations to allow him to do so." As a result, it took over two hours to find someone who had the authority to sign the emergency warrant.

CONSERVATIVE RHETORIC: Despite McConnell's version of events having been thoroughly discredited, conservatives are getting ready to recycle the information to fight the proposed changes to FISA. The New York Post embraced the conservative PR campaign and published a politically charged article reiterating the conservatives' talking points. The New York Post writes, "U.S. intelligence officials got mired for nearly 10 hours seeking approval to use wiretaps against al Qaeda terrorists suspected of kidnapping Queens soldier Alex Jimenez in Iraq earlier this year.... 'The intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law,' a senior congressional staffer with access to the classified case told The Post."

Other conservative news outlets have also been following the right-wing script. Shepard Smith insinuated on Fox News Monday, 15 October, that FISA was ultimately responsible for the deaths of the three soldiers. In response, members of Congress who support the changes to FISA are accusing the administration of a "cynical and transparent attempt to use the lives of American servicemembers for partisan political gain." Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Monday that the RESTORE Act would "eliminate the requirement to obtain an individual warrant, based on probable cause, for targets outside the U.S." This means the so-called "problem" Gonzales's Justice Department faced would be remedied by the very bill against which conservatives are rallying.

BUSH MISLEADS PUBLIC: This is not the first time that conservatives have lied about the wiretap program to further their own political agenda. In court documents released last week, former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio revealed that "the NSA approached [the telecom firm] Qwest more than six months" BEFORE 9/11 "about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records." Bush has long insisted that the wiretapping program was put in place in a response to 9/11. As recently as last year, he said that "after September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack. As part of this effort, I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations." The fact that the Bush administration had the wiretapping program in place six months BEFORE 9/11 suggests that Bush has been misleading the American people about the origins of the program. It also shows that his wiretap program "objectively failed to prevent 9/11."


SCHIP action alert!

Republicans and conservatives claim a monopoly on Christian values.

With deference to visitors of other religions, faiths and creeds - and as a Christian – I submit to them Jesus’ “Sermon the Mount:” LINK

Jesus Christ spoke on one subject more than any other in the New Testament – the poor. He mentions the poor more than 700 times.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program – SCHIP, pronounced s-chip – provides for the children of those who work hard, but still cannot afford health coverage.

President George W. Bush, in vetoing legislation to extend SCHIP coverage, claims Democrats want to use the program to assist the “rich” and promote “socialized medicine.”

The SCHIP program was developed to help working parents who make a decent living, own their own home, but still cannot afford health insurance.

With his veto, Bush has cut out assistance which would have been extended to some 4 million children in need, not children of the so-called “rich.”

Bush would like to see every government service privatized. Yeah, that really worked well with Halliburton and Blackwater in Iraq.

As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed out last night on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” Republicans and conservatives are frantic because “a human face” is being put on the program.

Waging a smear campaign against children who have been helped by SCHIP – a campaign, in fact, based on lies – might be the lowest right-wing effort yet, and that’s saying a lot.

One conservative publication, the National Review, suggests if one little girl’s parents couldn’t afford her health care, they shouldn’t have had her in the first place.

HOUSE IS EXPECTED TO VOTE THURSDAY ON WHETHER TO OVERRIDE BUSH’S VETO: some lawmakers say they are 12 votes shy of the 2/3s majority needed to override the veto!

ACTION ALERT: Take five minutes today to phone or email your member of the House of Representatives and express your views about their vote to override Bush’s veto.

Members of the House have Web sites with phone numbers or email forms for your convenience. Just google your congressman’s name and follow it with “contact information.” Use the site link which ends with house.gov.


TO READ MORE about the smear campaign against a child being helped by SCHIP , go to my reading room: LINK


Little girl's pride in military

‘Roy and Sis’

Elowease (cousin), 16; Betty Jean (‘B.J.’), 3; Martha (sister), 15; middle row: Sarah (aunt), 18; Ruth (friend), Mary (sister), 17; back row: Leroy (‘Roy’ - brother), 19, in his Navy uniform; and Gilbert (cousin’s husband). Younger brother Isaac was born shortly after this family portrait. Photo: 1945.

This column was published in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail, 29 August 1987:

A little girl grew up with pride in the military

By B. J. Trotter

Recently I made what our boys in white would call “one helluva mistake.”

I identified a group of sailors in a photograph pertaining to the USS Stark incident as marines.

I received a friendly note from a chief petty officer, retired, U.S. Navy, advising me, “Marines would never dress like sailors, nor would sailors permit them.”

The feedback from my boss, an ex-Navy man, was somewhat sterner.

I regret the error. I know a sailor when I see one.

My appreciation of our men in service goes back as long as I can remember. An early photograph, a favorite, was made the day my brother Roy came home from the Navy. In it I am a happy, cotton-topped, 3-year-old, posing with Roy and family, and wearing one of his white sailor hats.

Roy had been stateside and was being shipped out for combat duty when WWII ended. He experienced the horrors of war in Corpus Christi, Texas, when two PVMs – sea planes – collided, and Roy was a rescue team member who helped retrieve 25 bodies and rescue four survivors.

My mother gave Roy a lucky silver dollar when he left to join the Navy. He brought it home to his “Sis,” and I have it still as a reminder of his service to his country.

I have other reminders. Two brothers-in-law have shared their memories of that war and long ago cemented my appreciation for things military.

Paul sailed aboard aircraft carriers, the USS Hornet (commissioned after the first Hornet was sunk) and the USS Tarawa, and on what he calls a “tin can,” the destroyer USS O’Hare.

A Kamikaze pilot changed Paul’s looks. His suicidal strike came in too close for comfort under the ship, and my brother-in-law claims his hair turned gray overnight.

Along with gray hairs, Paul brought back another souvenir, a kaleidoscope made from a spent shell’s casing. Despite its lovely changing colors, it left an unpleasant metallic smell on my fingers. But, the little girl could see no contrast of patriotism’s beauty and war’s ugliness in the toy.

Brother-in-law Harold was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne, Rainbow Division. Harold met America’s enemy coming over a hilltop in West Germany. He was among the first Americans to enter Germany just prior to Hitler’s suicide and the fall of the Third Reich.

Shot in the eye with a wooden bullet – with supply routes cut off, the Germans were out of ammunition - Harold’s souvenir of the war was a Purple Heart.

I learned early that “War is hell” from sneaking looks at his Division albums with photo after photo of boxcars filled with emaciated and naked dead men – victims of the Holocaust.

I also learned early that this country must be pretty special for men to endure so much to protect it.

Their tales of war served me well in later years. When I entered college at age 34, I opted to take ROTC. This choice was not some patriotic gesture on my part: I wanted to get out of Tennis and Badminton 101. I could never see the ball or birdie!

Despite my pointed questions – “Why doesn’t this military textbook include the air raid on Dresden, Germany?” – I won the Military History Award.

One thing has impressed me most in the four decades since those guys went off to war: their memories of their military days have remained with them – living not in protest, but in pride.

I grew up with their pride, and it didn’t take a chief petty officer, retired, or a boss to remind me of that.


2007 UPDATE:

Brother-in-law Paul, 85, retired postal worker and National Guardsman, is a good man who has always done for others. He is a skilled baker of beautiful cakes. Paul now bears tragedy and pain with grace and strength.

Brother-in-law Harold was a dynamic salesman – a Buick Salesmaster – who died of complications from Alzheimer’s. I could always count on Harold for help.

My brother Roy, 81, was a car salesman, civic leader, ski club president and Grenada (Miss.) Reservoir water rescue team member. A deadringer for Frank Sinatra, Roy is ever jolly and fun-loving. He still calls me “Sis.”

Good fathers all.

The little girl, now a retired newspaper editor, is 65 and today fully understands the expression, “Hate the war; love the warrior.”


The real Jimmy Carter

Vice President Al Gore has been the brunt of right-wing jokes dating back to the Bush-Clinton run for the White House.

Gore will donate the $1.5 million awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize to an environmental organization. He has been rewarded for dedication to a good cause.

Now, there is much speculation about whether Gore will enter the race for president. I submit that the people of this country will never elect a perceived “anti-war” president. The war Gore is fighting is not limited to the U.S. of A. But, that’s not the subject of this post.

Only three presidents and now one vice president of the United States have won the Nobel Peace Prize: “Teddy” Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Gore. (Charles Gates Dawes won the year before he began serving as vice president under Calvin Coolidge - for the Dawes Plan for Germany reparations after WWI.)

Let’s talk about Jimmy Carter, who has been under attack from the right-wing since he was awarded one of the world’s top distinctions over their man, George W. Bush. Bush was so ticked off he prevented Carter from attending the pope’s funeral.

The furor of the right ratcheted up over the title of Carter’s last book – “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Out came the “anti-Semitic” card. Apparently those raising hell never looked up the word “apartheid” in a dictionary.

Discord is bred in hunger and ignorance, and this country has no shortage of the latter.

With Carter’s recent criticism of the Bush administration – no matter how true - those on the right have gone ballistic. Their new catchprase for Carter is “senility.”

So, why DID Carter win the Nobel Peace Prize?

The answer is simple: for his altruism worldwide – you know, the rest of this Earth which lies beyond America’s borders.

Yet, the media prefer to focus on criticism rather than accomplishment, and the majority of Americans remain in the dark on what this man has done for the world.

The Carter Center, located just east of Atlanta, has a primary goal: the alleviation of human suffering.

Here are a few facts about the Center:

* Founded in 1982 by Jimmy and Rosalind Carter, its mission: helping those less fortunate in the world, promoting peace in the 21st Century and preventing human suffering.

Carter writes: "Preventable disease and suffering still cripple hundreds of thousands of lives each year, and forces of hate and violence still make freedom a distant dream in too many places. What's more, when conflicts erupt - whether in Kosovo, Macedonia, Rwanda, Liberia, the Middle East or anywhere in our world - for every soldier killed, nine civilians perish from stray bullets, bombs, landmines and deliberate deprivation of food and medical care.

"By preventing disease and suffering, promoting democracy and nurturing hope and freedom, The Carter Center makes the world a safer place."

* Within our own country and in other nations, The Carter Center forms partnerships with organizations, corporations, foundations, officials and individuals.

* The Carter Center has played both public and behind-the-scenes roles in conflict resolution in many countries.

* "In Haiti,” Carter writes, “my colleagues Gen. Colin Powell and U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and I helped negotiate the departure of military leaders so Jean Bertrand Aristide could return as the nation's first democratically elected president."

* "Half a world away, in North Korea,” he continues, “the Center helped ease tensions over a probable confrontation on the Korean penisula and prepared the way for the first talks between the United States and North Korea in more than 40 years. Many of the relationships forged by our efforts can be important in resolving the current impasse."

* "The Center observes elections, helping to ensure that the democratic process is free and fair. In Nigeria and Indonesia, just two examples of election missions in more than 20 countries, the Center helped to end many years of dictatorship and let free people choose their own leaders."

* "In Sudan and Uganda, we and other partners are building on the momentum of a Center-negotiated agreement among factions that once refused even to talk to one another. The signing of an historic peace accord in Sudan on January 9, 2005, not only ends Africa's longest running civil war, but it also paves the way for global eradication of Guinea worm disease, enabling Carter Center health workers to reach areas previously inaccessible due to conflict."

* "In a number of African and Latin American countries, The Carter Center works to give people hope for a healthier future by preventing disease.

"A worldwide campaign, led by The Carter Center, has reduced the known cases of Guinea worm disease by more than 99.5 percent in less than 20 years. People become infected with Guinea worm when they drink water contaminated with microscopic larvae that migrate through the body and grow into worms up to three feet long. A year after infection, the worms emerge from the body through painful blisters, causing permanent scarring and, at times, temporary crippling.

"This horrible disease still affects people in 12 African nations. Though no cure exists, the disease can be prevented by teaching villagers how to filter their water to make it safe for drinking. As a direct result of Carter Center efforts, Guinea worm cases have fallen from 3.5 million in 1986 to fewer than 15,000 from January through November 2004 - a dramatic reduction in human suffering. We hope that with continued efforts Guinea worm will be the next disease eradicated from the earth."

* "The Carter Center also is playing a role in the fight against river blindness, a parasitic disease spread by bites from blackflies that breed in fast-flowing water. Victims experience chronic and severe itching, skin rashes and eyesight damage that can lead to permanent blindness.

"The World Health Organization estimates that 17.7 million people are infected and 120 million are at risk. In some communities, 15 percent of the population is blind and up to 40 percent of adults are visually impaired.

"In short, river blindness causes the social and economic fabric of entire communities to unravel. Agricultural production drops. Children must care for their sick parents, and adolescents concerned about the stigma associated with the disease and fearing they might become blind or disfigured, leave home.

"All of these ruinous outcomes can be prevented by giving people a single yearly dose of Mectizan, a drug donated by Merck and Co., that eliminates the terrible progression and symptoms of river blindness.

"The Carter Center has made distribution of this miraculous medicine the centerpiece of our assault on river blindness. So far, we have helped to provide more than 64 million treatments to people in Nigeria, Sudan, Cameroon, Uganda and Latin American countries. The Carter Center is the only non-governmental organization fighting river blindness on a global scale - an approach that's needed to combat this dreadful disease."

Carter concludes: "These are just a few of the ways The Carter Center wages peace, fights disease and builds hope for people in need. ,,, We will all benefit from a world filled with peaceful, healthy, hope-filled and productive people."

Does this sound like the work of a “whacko,” as the right-wing would have you believe? At least Carter is DOING something while those who denigrate him sit on their butts and let the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannty and O’Reilly do their thinking for them.


The Year of the Spiders

I am a stationary observer of nature, having been in the same home, surrounded by a sanctuary of plants and trees, for 22 years.

Through the years I have noted that in any given year certain insects are more prevalent than others.

Years ago I began referring to such annual occurrences as “The Year of the Flies,” “The Year of the Wasps,” and so forth.

For 21 years, insects prevailed, but not this past year.

Never in all these years has there been an overabundance of arachnids - until this past year.

There are, apparently, spiders in my home, and I’m delighted I cannot see them. But, they weave and leave their calling cards in the form of cobwebs.

There is a distinction to be made between spider webs and cobwebs: spiders spin orbs of insect-catchers while cobwebs are tightly woven clumps of the sticky, silky substance.

For a year now I’ve waged a one–woman war, cleaning out corners, nooks and crannies filled with cobwebs. Come morning, busy little eight-legged night visitors have replaced them.

A couple of days ago I asked the pest-control guy about this infestation, but he seemed oblivious to the phenomenon.

So, it was with a great deal of interest and amusement, that I read an email this morning from my friend Andrew, editor of the online Red Dirt Report, an Oklahoma- based news site.

Apparently “The Sooner State” is experiencing this problem later.

Crawl over to Andrew’s “Red Dirt Report” (reddirtreport.com) and read “What’s with all the spiders?” by Michael Gamino: LINK

So, readers out there: is this just a problem specific to Oklahoma and my apartment, or is this a world wide web? Comments welcomed!


The Hillary myths

The anti-Hillary crowd - and, yes, Democrats are in its ranks - is making two arguments against her which, when examined, are moot points.

Argument #1:

She is too polarizing. The most polarizing president since maybe Abraham Lincoln has been in the White House since 2001. This nation is and will remain polarized as a result of Bush’s policies no matter who is on the tickets – Democrat or Republican.

Argument #2:

Her disapproval rating is 48 percent, and no one can be president with that kind of disapproval. Oh, yeah? Call (202) 456-1414 and ask for the man of the House. Let’s turn that figure around, 52 percent is all any candidate will need to win in 2008: 48 percent of the electorate is going to be disgruntled with the winner – whoever that might be.

With that criterion, is there any one candidate in the field who can miraculously heal this nation? I think not.

We are, in Lincoln’s words, “a house divided.” We are polarized. Let us not burden the shoulders of our new president – Democrat or Republican – with the sins of the predecessor.

The healing will not begin until Americans stop lying about fellow Americans, until Americans stop spinning the issues, until Americans understand this nation must regain the trust of the world.

No healing can occur until Americans accept, through their fog of apathy, neglect, blind acceptance or misguided ideals, their share of blame for the way things are.


Read on for a myth of a different color.

First time ever?

A tip of the hat to MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, who, in his “Beat the Press” (LINK) segment Monday night, blasted Fox News anchors’ bias.

“The attack team over at Fox News,” Abrams said, “is trying to get traction out of comments Chris Matthews made at the “Hardball” 10th anniversary party last week. He made reference to this administration, quote, “finally getting caught in their criminality.” He‘s talking about Cheney aide “Scooter” Libby‘s conviction.”

Fox News had been on a campaign against Matthews moderating yesterday’s GOP debate, pointing out they would only use “news” anchors as moderators.

Abrams played a clip of a Fox News anchor, who incredulously stated, “For the first time ever, a political party may have a network news organization in its pocket.”

For the “first time ever?” Why Abrams didn’t choke is beyond me! He pointed out that the Republican Party has had Fox News in its pocket since 1996.

Abrams then delivered the coup de grace, playing just one example of “news” anchor Brit Hume’s less-than-objective attacks on Democrats.

How is it possible that Fox viewers cannot detect the bias? Kool-Aid. It has to be the Kool-Aid.


If it's Tuesdy, it's OMST!

My dear Sir Cumspect:

There was much on cable news this week to catch a grammarian’s ear - until I got out my ear plugs!

A couple of distinctions for those who are getting paid to inform;

Farther and Further

Farther refers to physical distance. He walked farther today than he did yesterday.

Further refers to an extension of time or degree. She will look further into the matter.

Over and More Than

Over is not interchangeable with more than. Over refers to spatial relationships. More than is used with figures.

The cow jumped over the moon.

More than 100 delegates attended.

It’s October, and I’m using my church fan!

Until next week, I remain



Imploding star

For a while there it appeared Fred Thompson would be the GOP's "Great White Hope." Now, it has become clear that Mr. Thompson needs a script. He's not familiar with the Terri Schiavo case? He would involve the "Soviet Union" in the fight against terrorism? Mr. Thompson, it would seem, is "a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more."

My friend, Mr. Frodo, is at his satirical best on the subject. Highly recommended. Enjoy his wit at: LINK


Have fun with the next post!

2008 GOP Logo

View the logo (LINK), then get creative and come up with a slogan!

No need to sign in, just type your slogan, select “Other,” go to the bottom of the screen and type in your name, then click on “publish.”



Forget all you know about Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Bring out the clichés. O’Reilly has gone ‘round the bend, lost his marbles, and looped the f***ing loop!

If the O’Reilly segment I watched last night wasn’t so scary, it would have been comical. Instead, it left a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

First, O’Reilly lied about the “oppostion’s” ratings, then claimed the “elite media” – you know: “CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times,” etc. – is “DYING” because of the “attacks” on him and Rush Limbaugh over the last 10 days.

He made Bernie Goldberg seem the voice of reason when he tried to set O’Reilly straight.

Read the brief analysis of this freaky segment by the ever-alert folks at newshounds.org – “We watch Fox News so you don’t have to” and be afraid, be O’really afraid: LINK


A second important (to me) post follows.

Do me a favor, please!

Yesterday I was asked to fact-check an email circulating on the Internet – in this case since 1999.

And so it begins, the continuous forwarding of those undocumented and unsigned emails which go around the world spreading lies with no regard to the human beings they harm.

When a political ideology cannot stand on its own merits, apparently lies and smear campaigns are necessary to defeat the opposition. Such campaigns bank on the inability of persons who pass this crap along to think for themselves. I commended the recipient of this particular email for a desire to verify its veracity.

This one has a number of key words which easily can be entered into snopes.com’s search engine: Hillary Clinton, Black Panthers, Paul Harvey, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

As an example of just how far the right-wing will go to vilify the Clintons, here’s the email in its entirety – with its last sentence declaring, “This is proven right by snopes.com:”

(Begin quoted email, emphasis is in original)

Subject: Hilliary


Conveniently Forgotten Facts

By Paul Harvey

Back in 1969 a group of Black Panthers decided that a fellow black panther named Alex Rackley needed to die.

Rackley was suspected of disloyalty. Rackley was first tied to a chair. Once safely immobilized, his friends tortured him for hours by, among other things, pouring boiling water on him.

When they got tired of torturing Rackley, Black Panther member Warren
Kimbo took Rackley outside and put a bullet in his head.

Rackley's body was later found floating in a river about 25 miles north of New Haven, Connecticut.

Perhaps at this point you're curious as to what happened to these Black Panthers? In 1977, that's only eight years later, only one of the killers was still in jail. The shooter, Warren Kimbro, managed to get a scholarship to Harvard and became good friends with none other than Al Gore. He later became an assistant dean at a Conneticut State College. Isn't that something? As a '60s radical you can pump a bullet into someone's head and
a few years later, in the same state, you can become an assistant college
dean! Only in America!

Erica Higgins was the woman who served the Panthers by boiling the water
for Mr. Rackley's torture. Some years later Ms. Huggins was elected to a California school board.

How in the world do you think these killers got off so easy? Maybe it was
In some part due to the efforts of two people who came to the defense of the Panthers. These two people actually went so far as to shut down Yale University with demonstrations in defense of the accused Black Panthers during their trial. One of these people was none other than Bill Lan Lee.

Mr. Lee, or Mr. Lan Lee, as the case may be, isn't a college dean. He isn't a member of a California school board. He is now head of the United States Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, appointed by none other than Bill Clinton.

OK, so who was the other Panther defender? Is this other notable Panther defender now a school board member? Is this other Panther apologist now an assistant college dean? No, neither!

The other Panther defender was, like Lee, a radical law student at Yale University at the time. She is now known as the "smartest woman in the world." She is none other than the Democratic senator from the State of New York - our former first lady, the Incredible Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And now, as Paul Harvey said; "You know the rest of the story."

This deserves the widest possible press. (Where is our press???)


You must send this on to everyone you know.

This is proven right by SNOPES.COM

Contrary to the email author’s final words, snopes.com says the content of this email is “FALSE.” The site has an excellent report debunking this skillfully worded trash. Read the snopes.com report: LINK

If the persons who read, accept and forward such emails with no regard to authenticity would spend that time reading Bill Clinton’s “My Life” and “Living History” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, they would discover the good these two have done for both America and the world.

Do me a favor. If you receive such an email, don’t just delete it. Go to snopes.com, enter a few key words in the search engine, and inform its sender if its “status” is “FALSE.”

I have done this for years. It only takes a minute, and I promise it will make you feel good!


The Sears 'Wish Book'

“For decades, the Sears Wish Book was a holiday treat, scrupulously studied, dog-eared and circled by generations of children hoping for the best on Christmas morning.

“Now, 14 years after Sears shelved the catalog, the retailer is reviving the holiday tradition as it struggles to attract new shoppers.

“‘We all get lots of gifts, but wishes are a special thing,’ said Chief Marketing Officer Richard Gerstein. ‘And, I think that's what this book used to embody and that's why we're bringing it back.’"
- The Associated Press, 3 October 2007

One of life’s great joys, even more than those of childhood, is the parents’ role as Santa Claus. My sons Michael and Ladd were always very specific about their Christmas wishes.

Family photo albums aren’t complete without those photos of your children sitting on Santa’s lap.

One of my favorites is of my boys going through the Sears “Wish Book” with Santa to be certain the jolly old elf made good on all their wishes. They had insisted on taking the catalog along to the local Sears store.

The magic book is back! What’s your wish?


If it's Tuesday, it's OMST

My dear Sir Cumspect:

Where do they find these TV news reporters, anchors, producers and show hosts? Do they roll them off assembly lines in Atlanta? Can they not, then, be programmed in proper use of the King’s English?

And, don’t even get me started on bloggers!

This grammarian finds it amusing that some lawmakers want to make English the national language when it’s simply slaughtered by so many Americans – not to mention the president. (I call attention to his recent “Childrens is learning” comment.)

Ever hear those MSNBC producers talking on camera about such “breaking news” as the latest fiery crash or bomb threat? “We are efforting to get video.” Efforting?

And, those reports on how to “raise” children: do they furnish fertilizer? Children are reared; corn is raised!

“Crawler” editors take note: canceled has one “l.”

My biggest pet peeve and the most frequently abused word is “whether,” which is quite sufficient to stand alone:

“We are waiting to learn whether or not he will enter the race or not.”

Sufficient: “We are waiting to learn whether he will enter the race.”

Makes me cringe!

Until next week, I remain




They're shooting Buddhist monks!

From AVAAZ.org:

“Burma is ruled by one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world. For decades the Burmese regime has fought off pressure - imprisoning elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy activists, wiping out thousands of villages, imposing forced labour, creating refugees.

“But, last Tuesday Buddhist monks and nuns, revered in Burma, began marching and chanting prayers. The protests spread as hundreds of thousands of ordinary people and public figures joined in, finding the hope they’d lost. Now they’re facing crackdown – so please, show your solidarity to this movement towards reconciliation and democracy and sign the emergency petition supporting the Burmese people. The petition will be delivered to United Nations Security Council members and international media all week:

“In the past, Burma's military rulers have massacred the demonstrators and crushed democracy. The world must stand with the Burmese people at this time, to show the military rulers that the world will not tolerate repression and violence.”

The global community, the free press and world leaders must show Burma's military junta a willingness to act in solidarity with the protesters.


· The Associated Press reports “UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari began his mission to Myanmar (Burma) on Saturday, hoping to convince the military junta to end its brutal crackdown that has virtually strangled a people's movement to end 45 years of military rule. … Buddhist monks who had spearheaded the movement during the past month, galvanizing crowds of some 70,000 to denounce the military regime, have been sealed in their monasteries.” LINK
· The BBC’s in-depth report on the Burmese ruling junta’s bunker mentaility: LINK

Join in SOLIDARITY for the Burmese people yearning to be free. Sign AVAAZ.org’s petition here: LINK