Saturday, January 28, 2006

Will Hamas Blow Up Mid East Peace?

Hamas won the Palestinian elections with an overwhelming majority of the vote. Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, when interviewed by Newsweek reporter Christopher Dickey characterized this percentage more as frustration over Palestinian policy, and less as support of militant Hamas.

You’ll always have that dissent vote, that frustration vote in place. In Palestine it turned out the frustration vote was 70 percent.
Hamas is historically committed to terrorism in order to promote the end of the Jewish state of Israel, and in its place a Palestinian state. This platform negates coexistence of a Palestinian state and Israel.

On Friday, the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, set a high standard for discussions regarding disarmament. "Europe and the United States must ask Israel to withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to international legitimacy, before they ask Hamas to disarm," he said.--CNN, 1/28/06

The United States, along with other countries, is committed to its policy of not negotiating with terrorists. Bush made these remarks at a news conference:

Asked in a follow-up question if he was ruling out dealing with a Palestinian government that was made up partly of Hamas, he replied: “They don’t have a government yet, so you’re asking me to speculate on what the government will look like. I have made it very clear however that a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of a platform is a party with which we will not deal.”--MSNBC 1/26/06

The evolving situation since the Hamas elections may hinge more on the reaction of the world to Hamas, than on how Hamas approaches the world. If all sides refuse to bend in order to meet in compromise, the so-called roadmap to peace is nothing more than a hallucinatory dream.

There is a glimmer of hope in the midst of all the political statements—at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, reporter Dickey managed to get an on-the-fly video clip of a thoughtful overview from Tel Aviv University president Itamar Rabinovich. He concedes that the election of Hamas is a “negative event,” describes the reaction of diplomats looking for a “silver lining,” and despite the track record of Hamas as terrorists opposed to the existence of Israel, sees a possibility to “find a way to overcome these technicalities…”

There is no other choice than to find a middle ground on which to start communicating. The modern state of Israel itself was born on the back of terrorism. That doesn’t make killing innocent people right, but it proves that there is always room for movement within a mood of intransigence. However, without a lot more intelligent diplomats like Rabinovich, an ultimate solution for peace and cooperation in the Middle East will remain dishearteningly far off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nazi Wannabees In Orange County

Posted by Picasa
Gilchrist Founder of Minutemen
In Chicano folklore, Aztlan is often appropriated as the name for that portion of Mexico that was taken over by the United States after the Mexican-American War of 1846, on the belief that this greater area represents the point of parting of the Aztec migrations.—
“Aztlan” is a term sometimes used by anti-immigrationists to bolster their viewpoint that unlike their own forefathers and mothers, this new generation does not want to assimilate but would rather initiate a separate entity within the United States.

Well folks, it looks like that schmuck Gilchrist is out to get press attention again. Some crypto fascists just don’t know when it’s time to move on. Here’s the scenario:

LAGUNA BEACH – The founder of the Minuteman Project said his group is being discriminated against by the organizers of the Patriots Day Parade after its application to join the March event was denied.

Charles Quilter, spokesman for the parade association, said the nonprofit's bylaws state that no group with a political or religious agenda is allowed. Since they refused the Minutemen, Quilter said he has been subject to racist e-mails and phone calls from supporters of the anti-illegal immigration group.

Quilter said the decision was partly based on Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist's run for Congress. Also, the group is "a well-known political organization with political goals," Quilter said.—Orange County Register, 1/24/06

Gilchrist is the organizer of the "Minutemen,” not to be confused with the patriots who fought at Concord and Lexington. His band of KKKr's-without-the-hoods simply wants to take the law into it's own hands, scour the US-Mexican border for hopeful immigrants, legal or otherwise, who might come here to pull weeds out of their garden and possibly pollute their inbred genes.

I’m not overreacting—check out this anti-American web site devoted to anarchy which appeared when I googled Minutemen and Gilchrist:

According to reliable sources, the U.S. Senate is about to block border security measures in H.R. 4437, especially the border fence. Instead this millionaires club will tack on a guest worker (amnesty) provision. Indications are that the House will reject this measure, sending the entire issue into limbo. If this happens, Mexico wins because time is on their side. Wait another few years and they will simply outnumbers us.—

They’re already about to “outnumbers” us in California. Why is such racism surprising? Only 65 years ago German Nazis took fellow citizens from their midst, who were accomplished people—doctors, lawyers, business-owners—removed them from society and killed them in sequestered areas called concentration camps, because they were Jewish. Gilchrist hates Mexicans, whether they're American citizens, or immigrants with or without documentation—because he is full of fear, just like the Nazis.

If Gilchrist took a minute to read (well, one can always dream) any of the statistics involving immigration into this country in the last 20 years, he would kiss the border clay they tread on as they add to our economy, tax base, and overall lifestyle.

Gilchrist has plenty of support, in case you thought he might be an aberrant outcast. When he ran for congress in the special election in Orange County’s 48th district last fall, to replace SEC appointee Christopher Cox, he got a nice showing of voters:

JOHN CAMPBELL (REP) 46,184 44.4%
STEVE YOUNG (DEM) 28,853 27.8%
JIM GILCHRIST (AI) 26,507 25.5%

It’s the most right-wing district in the nation anyway, but still, for a racist to do so well is scary.

Gilchrist and his band of cronies is just a copy of the age-old need to build fences in order to keep out what they consider riff-raff. As history has proven over and over, all these fences do is corral the idiots. Fear will out, as always.

Maybe not this time—the real heroes deserve recognition as much as the demons: The organizers of the Laguna Beach Parade for Patriots Day are to be honored for their quick and courageous decisive action to ban Gilchrist and his group from marching in their midst. After all, we true patriots look back at the legacy of our nation of immigrants, and the prosperity and freedom that came from them.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Big Pharma & Insurance Co’s: 1, Seniors: 0

The lobbying clout of big pharmaceutical companies and the corresponding medical insurance companies is only too obvious with the enactment of the Bush drug plan. This blog has well noted the failings of the plan, both on a monetary and humane basis, due to Bush’s catering to the bottom line of the drug companies at seniors’ expense--42 million senior Americans, to be exact.

In case all of the carping on both sides of this issue sounds like partisan politics, here is a clear-cut opinion written by a member of the medical profession. He’s really displeased with the way congress let the constituents down—or sold them out:

From Los Angeles Times Op-Ed January 21, 2006:

It's a benefit, but for whom?

By Daniel J. Stone

DANIEL J. STONE is a internist and associate medical director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group.

January 21, 2006

AS A GERIATRIC medicine specialist, I am confronted daily by the chaos and confusion of Medicare's Part D drug benefit. The program should reflect President Bush's ideals of "compassionate conservatism." Compassion would mean user-friendliness and easy access to affordable drugs. And a conservative plan would maximize "bang for the buck." Instead, the priorities of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies have trumped these objectives.
Economics 101 tells us that the largest purchasers have bargaining power to get the best prices. Medicare could have used this power to gain large discounts on behalf of seniors. Similar national bargaining entities in Canada and Europe allow foreign consumers to pay a third to one-half of U.S. drug prices. A single Medicare bargaining entity, however, threatened to place unprecedented price pressures on drug companies and might have reduced or eliminated the role of private insurers.

So Congress sacrificed Medicare's bargaining power in favor of a system in which multiple private insurers offer competing plans. This decision will ultimately transfer billions of dollars from seniors and the government to insurers and drug companies. Some claim the industry needs these resources to finance tomorrow's drug breakthroughs. Although the need for research dollars is real, it seems unfair for Medicare seniors to shoulder costs that also subsidize Canadian and European consumers...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Jack Bauer and the Pres: Life Immitates TV

Posted by Picasa
George W. Bush-POTUS; Gregory Itzen-Actor POTUS

Buzzflash noted the following news story in today’s email:

George W. Bush assured the nation that his wife was not planning to run for the Senate. (Who asked?) "She's not interested in running for office. She's interested in literacy," Bush said during an appearance at JK Moving & Storage. Hey Laura, literacy begins at home.

Does literacy include reading the newspapers? Last week Bush admitted he was not aware that German intel usefully filled in gaps for unmanned target strikes in Iraq shortly after the initial invasion.

Question: “From your knowledge, did the German intelligence help the U.S. before and during the Iraq war in Baghdad?”

President Bush: “I have no idea about the latter. [Laughter.] You did say, secret intelligence, right? [Laughter.] I understand. I really—the truth of the matter is, the chancellor brought this up this morning. I had no idea what she was talking about. The first I heard of it was this morning, truthfully.” –MSNBC Shadowland, Target Practice, Christopher Dickey, 1/19/06

Newsweek reporter and terrorism expert Chris Dickey’s reaction in his latest Shadowland column:

Apparently the president’s public position on such sensitive matters is don’t ask, don’t tell. But given the American track record, maybe it’s time the rest of us took a closer look.

I watched Bush, live, make his remarks at the podium with the German Chancellor. I thought I was watching one of those made for TV movies where the president drank some bad stuff planted by terrorists and he lost his mind. This is because of the huge amount of media coverage one day prior, devoted to the German intel Bush now claimed he never heard of.

The image immediately came to mind of the actor, Gregory Itzin, who plays the character of President Charles Logan on the Fox TV series, “24.” While the “24” show episodes center around good guys--Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) and main man Jack Bauer--fighting the bad guys—sub-human lethal terrorists—the character of the president, Logan, is key to plot movements based on his temper tantrums and cumbersome inability to take on the leadership role in tight spots. This fictional president’s foibles and failings keep the fictional story more interesting and suspenseful.

Itzin’s character Logan is so inept, so scattered and erratic, that occasionally my wife complains about Itzin’s acting. I have reassured her that the acting is right on the money. Itzen is depicting a person who has no spine, who is totally self-centered and opportunistic, and who would have outlasted Hamlet in a contest for “person least likely to make a decision.”

When we, the audience, are treated to an insider viewpoint of President Logan and his cronies on “24,” as they discuss events behind closed doors, one can imagine how that same activity plays out with Bush and his crew in the real world.

After Bush admitted he hadn’t heard about the German intel in Iraq until the morning of last week’s press conference, even though the media were splattered with references the day before, what might have happened back in chambers? What did Bush and his aides discuss? Did it go like this, as if from an episode of “24?”

Bush [to Andrew Card, Chief of Staff]:

Do you think they bought that about me not knowing about the German intel? I looked like a jerk out there.

Card [nodding the knowing look while reaching out to

It was in your briefing papers yesterday that the press got hold of it. Only yesterday, so you could conceivably not have known about it until today. I don’t think you looked that jerky.


Hell I can’t get through the briefing papers anyway—I’m the President of the Free World! Do you people think I have time to read, get dressed, do my exercise routine, listen to Laura’s lectures, AND run the country in one day? Plus dad’s on my ass about the polls. Half the time I can’t even remember what I said to who…


…”Whom” sir…


..”whom” what?


You said “what I said to who,”—it’s “whom.”


What you said to what? Andy, what are you talking about? You
are really confused. Never mind anyway--Someone’s gotta brief me on the briefing papers, ‘cuz I don’t have time to read both pages. And don’t leave out stuff like this German intel shit again or we’re all gonna start looking stupid!


Yes sir Mr. President. I’ll let the Vice president know you want him to
read to you some more.

The producers and writers of “24” are well aware of politics and current events in order to keep their plot lines a step ahead, or at least in tune with, the times. That’s why the President Logan character is coming off so much like a mockery of Bush, who plays the US President in real life. Even in the background profile on the “24” web site, Logan’s resume is short on political experience, and long on executive level activity in the energy field--too similar to the real guy to be a coincidence.

I usually attribute the nervous feeling I get watching “24” episodes from the suspense created by true TV professionals. The added reason for the queasy upsetting sensation I get lately, comes from the idea that what’s happening for entertainment in my living room, could be a horrible foreshadowing of reality to come—especially when Itzen’s President Logan character screws up big-time, which he does all the time. It’s too real.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Dec 22, 2005 Encinitas

Surfing in the fog in 20 foot swells Posted by Picasa

Malibu, January

Surfers with Santa Monica in distance Posted by Picasa

Iran: What Do These People Want with Nukes?

Veteran Middle East reporter and my good friend, Chris Dickey, has written a story with other top Newsweek correspondents, that explains the highly confusing signals coming from Iran lately regarding developing nuclear capability. The clear-cut summation is this:

Iran's ultimate goal in this complicated game of chess is to win security guarantees from the United States at a time when American troops are in several countries on Iran's borders.-- Iran’s Rogue Rage, Newsweek 1/23/06 issue

As the article points out, even the Iranian people who are not aligned with the erratic new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the Islamic Mullah leadership, have a nationalistic desire to be masters of their own destiny, which includes having nuclear power. As one young Iranian says,

We are a nation with an ancient civilization and rich culture. I think it's really hypocritical of Mr. Bush to criticize Iran for having nuclear technology while Pakistan, India and Israel have nuclear bombs.-- Iran’s Rogue Rage, Newsweek 1/23/06 issue
Well, yeah, except what do you need an A-bomb for unless you plan to use it? All this saber rattling doesn’t help to urge the Bush squad to want to abandon Iraq very soon, either. Although the Bush doctrine, unstated though evident, has always been to gain and keep a physical foothold in the oil-rich Middle East.

It would be better for the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad to make nice with the anti-war crowd in the US, while as time goes by, the movement to bring troops out of Iraq grows, and the apparent danger to Iran softens. And the Bush crowd and their followers slither out of office through impeachment, the ballot box, and the end of their terms.

Breaking News: Seniors Can’t Afford Drugs Under Bush Plan

Top news stories today:

Miners Funeral

Comet Dust Probe Returns

Iran plans Holocaust Conference while threatening nuclear capability

Feinstein Warns Against Alito Filibuster

None of these stories immediately affects as many people as the Bush drug prescription plan, yet that headline is not even on the grid.

Once again dad has brought a perspective to the issues of the world that seems to be missing from the media reports of late: seniors can’t afford the drugs they need under the new Bush drug prescription program. Maybe his interest is due to his holding a license as a pharmacist for 60 years. Or maybe he doesn’t like seeing the underdog, in this case the American senior citizen, treated unfairly. Or maybe he doesn’t trust Bush, or most politicians for that matter, when statements are made saying,

"Some older Americans spend much of their Social Security checks just on their medications. This new law will ease the burden on seniors and will give them the extra help they need." (George W. Bush at bill signing ceremony, December 8, 2003 2)

The facts: Most Medicare beneficiaries will end up paying MORE for
their prescriptions. (

Here’s the enactment of the Bush drug plan:

Since Jan. 1, countless low-income Medicare patients have been turned away from druggists' counters or forced to come up with large sums of cash for crucial drugs. Despite emergency measures announced Thursday by California officials to cover the costs of drugs for this group in the short term, relatively few patients were able to take advantage of the move Friday. Many didn't know about it.

Indeed, hundreds of pharmacies — including stores operated by at least two major chains, Long's and Rite Aid — apparently hadn't received word of the last-minute guarantees by the state and were charging regular prices for the drugs. Some people went away empty-handed; others dependent on vital drugs such as insulin dipped deep into limited savings or borrowed from others. Still others made tough choices, forgoing asthma medication, for example, for blood pressure pills.

Even when glitches in the new drug plan were resolved thanks to the emergency measures, many seniors were overwhelmed by new co-payments they didn't realize they would have to pay.Medicare Situation Still Chaotic, Los AngelesTimes, 1/14/06

Dad’s reaction:

Isn't it awful to read this and realize nobody (not even Diane Feinstein [Democratic Senator-CA]) cares? I was waiting until this plan come into effect to see how the poor are affected and now see it clearly---where they got medi-cal free and other states have medicaid--they are now pushed into this plan where they have to pay a co-pay (I worked in a welfare drug store in Hartford and know these people don't have any money for Rx)--so what happens today on the talk shows Feinstein appears on CBS and says our big problem is the gov't invasion of privacy.
Feinstein did have something to say about the Bush drug plan for which she voted:

On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the few Democrats to vote for the prescription drug plan pushed by President Bush in 2003, described the program's faulty debut in dire terms."The result is a major health emergency in California, particularly for people with chronic and debilitating diseases who rely on multiple medications daily to keep them alive," she wrote. L. A. Times

Multiply the following story by millions:

Henry Cook, 52, of Los Angeles, who has had diabetes since age 6 and was disabled by complications of an aneurysm, chokes up as he talks about what happened to him.

The Rite Aid drugstore he has patronized for years told him he owed $250 because his deductible hadn't been covered to pay for insulin and related supplies. He opted to forgo his blood pressure medicine, but still had to borrow money. By the time he got home to measure his blood sugar, it had soared.

He has since resolved some of the problems after spending hours on the phone. "What's worrisome is that any time I'm going to have to get the prescriptions refilled, I'm going to be sweating bullets because I'll never know what to expect," Cook said. L. A. Times

As George W would say, the Bush senior prescription initiative is a heck of a plan.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Nixon: King = Bush: Dictator

Nixon, Kissinger, Cheney, Rummy, W.

My 8 year-old going-on-30 bought herself an Atari video plug-in for the TV at Toys R Us tonight. Now Mom and little girl are playing Pac Man and the hourglass of time is turned upside down 26 years. It’s that easy to bring on the past.

I know it’s that easy because the rumblings of bugging by the NSA with the blessings of the Bush people rings up the same old transgressions of the plumbers trying to plug the leaks in the Nixon years. And that was reminiscent of the surveillance that took place illegally during the case against Alger Hiss brought by the republican communist witch-hunters led by McCarthy and Nixon’s HUAC in the late 1940’s.

Nothing much has changed—even the players come from the same old schools. What’s new is the extent to which Bush thinks he can get away with it. And the lack of opposition to his maneuvers. Much has been written in the blogs and the press about the lack of scrutiny and public decrying by the democrats about the Bush steamrollering of civil rights. Therein lies the problem—and as much as the lobbyist pocket-greasing is getting the once-over right now, so should the spotlight shine on congress and the democratic opposition who are too afraid to lose their perks and stand up for American values, which includes most importantly keeping presidential power in check.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

 Posted by Picasa

Winston Smith

“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.”Chapter 4, 1984, George Orwell

Winston Smith rewrote history. In 1984, he worked in a vast bureaucratic environment where he would take old newspaper articles and change some of the facts to fit what the “Party” policies were at any given time.

Andrea Mitchell works for NBC News and is the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent. AmericaBlog today caught a gaffe in a transcript of an interview Mitchell was conducting with New York Times reporter James Risen, who first broke the story 2 weeks ago about Bush authorizing spying on domestic communications soon after 9/11. Evidently one of Mitchell’s questions was deleted from the interview transcript “1984-style.” You don’t have to wait months or years anymore for history to be rewritten—it’s done on the fly, now (From AmericaBlog):

Well this is getting interesting. NBC just delete two paragraphs from its Andrea Mitchell interview, the paragraphs that talked about whether Bush was wiretapping ace CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour (kudos to Atrios for spotting this).Here's what the NBC "official" transcript used to say (I copied this text from NBC's own page only 2 hours ago):

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

Here's what it says now:

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You are very, very tough on the CIA and the administration in general in both the war on terror and the run up to the war and the war itself the post-war operation. Let's talk about the war on terror. Why do you think they missed so many signals and what do you think caused the CIA to have this sort of break down as you describe it?

Risen: I think that, you know, to me, the greater break down was really on Iraq. It's very difficult to have known ahead of time about these 19 hijackers. They were, you know, probably lucky that they got through and they did something that no one really assumed anybody would ever do. And I think that made 9/11 a lot like Pearl Harbor. That even when you see all the clues in front of you that it's very difficult to put it together.

Then there is the interesting and pointed possibility of a “subplot,” to quote Newsweek reporter Christopher Dickey’s The Shadowland Journal blog. Was the entire story of the surveillance and bugging, along with a story that implicates the CIA in handing over information to Iran about how to build an A-bomb, held up until the publication of Risen’s book concerning it all?

A lot of this sounds like a really poorly-played game of telephone. By the time we read what might be known by whom and when—does Mitchell know more than she lets on about surveillance of Christiane Amanpour; are millions of Americans’ civil liberties being violated; will the nukifying of Iran give Bush the excuse he needs to stay on in the Middle East?—the mire of mud obscuring our view reduces the significance of the facts to a confusing blur.

Here’s an important simple truth: in our delicate system of checks and balances, congress needs to scrutinize the potentially illegal goings on of the renegade Bush administration, before Caesar-like, a dictatorship-for-life slips in under all of us, and by then it’s too late for the fear-mongered mob to react.