Saturday, August 18, 2007
Does America Really Need Another 9/11 Terrorist Attack?
That was the provocative question posed in the headline of a column by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky.
"America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater," Bykofsky moans in his Aug. 9 column. "What would sew us back together? Another 9/11 attack."
He then goes on to detail the number of juicy targets as yet unhit by Islamic extremists: "The Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, Chicago's Wrigley Field, The Philadelphia subway system." Bykofsky glumly presumes another successful attack is inevitable, and necessary.
Now, to be fair, Bykofsky insists that he wasn't actually calling for another attack on American soil and that the headline distorted what he meant. The true thrust of his column, he says, is that "we have mislaid" 9/11, that the unity we felt after that tragic day has degenerated into "endless sideshow squabbles...we bicker over the trees while the forest is ablaze."
I read Bykofsky's column shortly after I heard this week's announcement of the resignation of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove -- aka "Bush's Brain", aka "the Architect." It was Rove, political observers agree, who was instrumental in engineering George Dubbya Bush's rise to the White House in 2000 and his election in 2004.
Unfortunately for America, Rove did so by engineering some of the nastiest, most divisive campaigns of the last 100 years, campaigns that relied on what was called "energizing the base."
What Rove and company "energized the base" with was fear -- fear of gay marriage, fear of terrorism, and most of all, fear of Democrats. He wasn't above playing to petty racism, either. Rove reportedly organized a whispering campaign in the 2000 South Carolina primary that claimed that John McCain had "fathered a black child." (McCain's' adopted daughter is from Bangladesh.)
Waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 while claiming that the election of a Democratic president or congressional majority would inevitably lead to another attack was a keystone of the "energize-the-base" strategy, and Rove also wasn't above shameless lying in pursuit of it.
A famous Rove quote from a Conservative fundraiser in Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
This was a blatant falsehood that ignored the fact that when the vote came up to authorize a military attack against the al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan, it passed the House 420-1 and the Senate 98-0.
So with all due respect, Mr. Bykofsky, when you say "we" mislaid 9/11, I immediately think of the immortal words of Tonto, "What's this 'we' stuff, Kemosabe?"
It wasn't "we" who ginnned up an attack on a country that had nothing to do with the attack on us on Sept. 11, 2001. It wasn't "we" who encouraged American citizens to call their fellow citizens "traitors," "terrorist sympathizers" and "un-American" for questioning those particular plans of the Dear Leader.
It wasn't "we" who accused 9/11 widows who criticized the administration of "enjoying their husbands' deaths too much." It wasn't "we" who gave the finger to countries who supported us after 9/11 with idiotic stunts like changing "french fries" to "freedom fries."
It wasn't "we" who did this, Mr. Bykofsky, it was Karl Rove and people like him.
The answer to unifying America is not another 9/11. The answer is not to have another few thousand of our citizens die at the hands of religious fanatics.
The answer is, first, to get rid of the people who believe that "leadership" in this country means getting that magical 51 percent of the votes and then afterward telling the other 49 percent to sit down and shut up.
We need leaders who'll remind us that we're all one country, and we're all in this together. We need leaders who'll keep reminding us that, in the words of FDR, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
We need leaders who remind us, in the words of a more recent Democrat, Barack Obama, that "we worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States.
"We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
We don't need more dead Americans, Mr. Bykofsky, we need better leaders.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. His third novel, "Safe and Sound" is available now.
Here's what Harper wrote:
"The president has two distinct looks when he's in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he's opted to look more like 'Walker, Texas Ranger' than a sweaty, tough ranch hand."
Okay, let me get this straight. Being called a liar, a murderer, an incompetent, a draft dodger, a war criminal, the worst President ever, the Chimperor, etc, etc---this doesn't bug him. But let someone criticize the way he dresses, and they get a phone call about how unhappy King George is?
With all due respect, Mr. President, grow the fuck up.
Friday, August 17, 2007
An optometrist is sitting in a Milwaukee jail while he fights extradition on charges that he murdered an online escort who was supposed to marry him in a sham wedding, but left him at the altar..Police say Dr. Dean Barrette, 44, tracked 24-year-old Alison Daniels to a Minnesota hotel room and shot her in the head...
Police say Barrette and Daniels, 24, met after the doctor's relationship with another escort went sour. The pair met in Las Vegas at the end of July and planned to get hitched at the Chapel of the Bells. According to a probable cause affidavit, police believe Barrette gave Daniels $4,000 in exchange for her vows. The documents do not say why Barrette wanted to enter a sham marriage.
Barrette booked two separate hotel rooms in Las Vegas on July 24 using two separate credit cards. A witness told police he saw Barrette give Daniels a large envelope that the witness believed contained a large sum of money. The pair was supposed to get married that day, but Daniels and the witness took off, leaving Barrette at the chapel with the hotel bill and out $4,000, according to court documents.
Later, on Aug. 6, Daniels was working as an escort in room 840 of the University Radisson Hotel in Minneapolis, police say. She called a friend to say that she was "with the guy from 'that situation in Vegas'" and he was holding a gun to her head, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The friend told police Daniels asked him to wire $4,000 to her. The friend, who was not identified by police, said he thought Daniels was conning him and hung up.
Nine minutes later, the door to Daniels' hotel room opened from the inside, according to key-card records, and there was no more activity from the room, according to court documents.
Daniels was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head later that night.
Two questions: What writer could best do justice to this story?
Who do we get to star in the movie?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
See? You CAN try terrorist suspects, to a jury, using rules of evidence, with the defendant represented by counsel and everything right out there in the open. The whole "We have to be able to just grab someone declare them an enemy combatant, and make them disappear or else we can't fight terrorism" bullshit turned out to be completely unnecessary. Something I said back in December 2005 bears repeating today:
Despite the hysterical chest-pounding of the drooling ya-hoos that call themselves “Patriots” or “conservatives,” no American wants to see terrorists just let go. If they truly are terrorists, we want them caught, tried, convicted and put away. We’re just not ready to trust the government’s bald assertion that someone is a terrorist just because Alberto Gonzales or some other appointed or elected official says so.
Denmark's Culture Minister Apologizes for Viking raids on Ireland:
More than 1,200 years ago hordes of bloodthirsty Viking raiders descended on Ireland, pillaging monasteries and massacring the inhabitants. Yesterday, one of their more mild-mannered descendants stepped ashore to apologise.
The Danish culture minister, Brian Mikkelson, who was in Dublin to participate in celebrations marking the arrival of a replica Norse longboat, apologised for the invasion and destruction inflicted. "In Denmark we are certainly proud of this ship, but we are not proud of the damages to the people of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of the Vikings," Mr Mikkelson declared in his welcoming speech delivered on the dockside at the river Liffey. "But the warmth and friendliness with which you greet us today and the Viking ship show us that, luckily, it has all been forgiven."
Maybe the Irish should demand reparations. A supertanker full of Carlsberg would be just the thing.
Hat tip to Jeri Westerson at Getting Medieval.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Readers of this column occasionally ask me, "So when are you going to write about Hillary Clinton?"
It's often delivered with a smirk, as if the person believes that I'm too much of a Clinton supporter ever to say anything mean or nasty about the junior senator from New York. This has always puzzled me somewhat, as I'm really not a big Hillary Clinton fan.
Admittedly, it may sometimes seem as if I'm leaping to her defense. Take for example the recent flap over, God help us, Clinton's cleavage.
In a recent appearance on the Senate floor, The Washington Post reported breathlessly, "[Clinton] was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. ... There it was. Undeniable."
It goes on like this, paragraph after paragraph of sheer raving stupidity. And of course, the so-called "liberal" media picked it up, with story after story discussing the senatorial bust line until you'd have thought that Hillary had done a pole dance on the Senate floor. It was one of the most moronic things I've seen from the American media since the John Edwards haircut fracas.
But calling these so-called "journalists" morons doesn't mean I'm pro-Hillary. It means I'm anti-moron.
I also don't buy the "Oh, she'll never win. No one likes her." This has become an especially strange thing to say since she became the frontrunner and the largest money-raiser. It sort of reminds me of the famous Yogi Berra quote, "No one goes there anymore; it's too crowded."
Still, as I've said, I'm not a fan. So here are my reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton:
First off, there's the whole dynasty thing. I'm really not comfortable with the history of the United States presidency for 27 solid years reading Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. We need some new names in the White House.
Then there's her campaign theme song. I thought the online contest to pick the song was kind of a cute idea, and she pulled it off with some nice self-deprecating humor. She had some great tunes to choose from, like Jesus Jones' "Right Here Right Now" and the Temptations' "Get Ready." And after all that, she chose a song by Celine Dion? Celine Dion is Canadian, for crying out loud. And she, you know, sucks.
And that's a symptom of what really bugs me about Hillary. She always takes what looks like the safe choice. She always goes toward where she thinks the middle of the road is. From their early cheerleading for the Iraq War to her support for the misnamed, anti-freedom "Patriot Act," Clinton and her cronies in the Democratic Leadership Conference keep trying to turn the Democrats into Republican Lite.
Here's a news flash, senator: It. Doesn't. Work.
The wingnuts don't care how many times you voted to send American troops into Iraq, or how many bills you co-sponsor to criminalize flag-burning, or how many hearings you have about racy TV or violent video games. You're still a dirty socialist hippie in their eyes and you always will be. Actual liberals hate you for stabbing them in the back, and centrists think you don't have any principles and will do anything to get elected.
But the Washington pundits say you can't appear "too liberal" or the American people won't love you. (You know the pundits I mean. The ones who were so right about WMDs in Iraq.) The middle of the road, they say, is the place to be. The problem with this is, they don't realize how far the so-called "middle of the road" has moved.
You say supporting national health insurance is "too liberal"? In a CNN poll taken in May, a whopping 64 percent of those polled said "yes" to the question, "Do you think the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes?"
You say distaste for George Dubbya Bush and his corrupt cronies is "too liberal"? Do the words "25 percent approval rating" strike a familiar note?
You say wanting the troops out of Iraq immediately is "too liberal"? Well, 59 percent of respondents told an ABC News/Washington Post poll that, and I quote, "the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored there."
Sen. Clinton and the "middle of the road" crowd don't seem to understand this simple fact: The majority of us are dirty socialist hippies these days. And unless she gets that, I'm not voting for Hillary.
At least in the primary.