WE’VE MOVED: SoonerThought Migrating to Blogger

September 6th, 2007

Time for an easier blogging program!

Check out the 24option latest on SoonerThought at http://soonerthought.blogspot.com/

This site will serve as an archive for a while…but will eventually come down. So come on over to the new site!

Actor Duvall Endorses Rudy

September 6th, 2007

Hmm. I hope I can forget that while I enjoy his acting. It will be tough. Then again, Frasier is a favorite of ours here at SoonerThought–and Kelsey Grammer is a huge Repub. That’s America.

Republican Debate Primer - The Fix
Seeking to blunt the star power of soon-to-be presidential candidate Fred Thompson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is set to announce that actor Robert Duvall has endorsed him in the 2008 presidential race.

Duvall, an Academy Award winner perhaps best known for his portrayal of Tom Hagen in the “Godfather” movies, 24 options is not only endorsing Giuliani but will also host a fundraiser later this month at his Virginia home for the former mayor.

“I don’t normally get involved in politics, but I think the stakes are too high this election,” Duvall said. “Rudy has consistently proven he’s ready to confront tough challenges.”

The Duvall endorsement comes just hours before Thompson is set to enter the race in an appearance on “The Tonight Show.” Thompson has used his celebrity status — and the name identification that goes with it — to catapult himself into the top tier of candidates, which is led by Giuliani. Within Thompson will be a formally announced candidate and will have to prove whether there is any steak behind the sizzle.

All of the other Republican candidates, except for Thompson, are gathered in New Hampshire tonight for another debate hosted by Fox News Channel.

Why is this Man Smiling?

September 5th, 2007

Excerpted from Truthdig:

Meanwhile, the Democrats are totally cynical about this continuing waste of taxpayer dollars and of American and Iraqi lives, and, wanting Bush to hang himself with his own rope, they will deny him nothing.

In the effort to retaliate against terrorists who hijacked planes six years ago with an arsenal of $3 knives, this year’s overall defense budget has been pushed to $657 billion.  We are now spending $3 billion a week in Iraq alone, occupying a country that had nothing to do with the tragedy that sparked this orgy of militarism.  The waste is so enormous and irrelevant to our national security that a rational person might embrace the libertarian creed if only for the sake of sanity.  Clearly, the federal government no longer cares much about providing for health, education, hurricane reconstruction or even bridge safety, as the military budget now dwarfs all other discretionary spending, despite the lack of a sophisticated enemy in sight.

Numbers are boring, and the media act as if there is no difference between a million and a billion dollars thrown at the military—let alone the trillion-dollar projected cost of the Iraq war.  That last figure is well documented in a solid study out of Harvard co-authored by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz but ignored by the mass media So too a recent authoritative report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office that, despite the $44.5 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars already poured into reconstruction, little detectable progress has been made in Iraq’s crucial oil and electricity systems.

Remember when Paul Wolfowitz, then the Pentagon’s resident neocon genius, assured Congress that Iraqi oil money would easily bear the entire cost of America’s Iraqi adventure?  Now the GAO tells us that, even after spending an additional $57 billion on the Iraqi oil and electricity infrastructure, and assuming peace is restored, Iraq would still not produce enough oil and electricity to meet local demand until the year 2015.

Aside from corruption and the lack of security, the biggest problem in supplying Iraq with electricity is that the national electrical grid has broken down, and different factions, divided largely along ethnic and religious lines, are grabbing what they can.  This kind of anarchy is emblematic of the new, emerging Iraq, in which the central government has declining sway over the nation’s decisions.

That latter point was underscored this week by Bush’s happy-faced visit to a highly fortified and isolated American outpost in Anbar province.  After posing gamely with the troops at the Al-Asad base, Bush celebrated the return of Sunni areas to the control of U.S.-armed militias—composed largely of former insurgents who have at least temporarily decided that their Shiite rivals, currently in control of the central government, are a more pressing enemy than the American occupiers.  Speaking of one such group of Sunnis trained by the Americans and dubbed the “Volunteers” by their instructors, a U.S. soldier told The Washington Post, “I think there is some risk of them being Volunteers by day and terrorists by night.”

Bush’s great ambition: wealthy boredom

September 3rd, 2007

From the Guardian: 

Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life after the White House to conflict resolution around the world. Presidents George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton have campaigned together on behalf of communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. So how does President George Bush junior imagine spending his retirement years?

“I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch,” he says. He also has big plans for making money. “I’ll give some speeches, to replenish the ol’ coffers,” says Mr Bush, who is already estimated to be worth $20m. “I don’t know what my dad gets - it’s more than 50-75 [thousand dollars a speech], and “Clinton’s making a lot of money”.


During the course of six one-hour interviews, Mr Bush, feet up on his desk, munching on low-fat hotdogs, tells Draper of the loneliness of the US commander-in-chief. “Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency. This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity,” Mr Bush says.

When it all gets too much for the president, his wife Laura storms to the rescue. “She reminds me that I decided to do this,” he tells Draper.


There is at least one point on which the president and his detractors will agree. In a moment of breathtaking candour, Mr Bush laments the fact that the media no longer listens to him. “I’ve been here too long,” he says.

GOP Faces Growing Peril In 2008 Races

September 3rd, 2007

GOP Faces Growing Peril In 2008 Races - washingtonpost.com

Republican campaign operatives are privately fretting about a political environment that could remain deadly for their party.

“About the only safe Republican Senate seats in ‘08 are the ones that aren’t on the ballot,” a GOP operative with extensive experience in Senate races said. “I don’t see even the rosiest scenario where we don’t end up losing more seats.”

“Try to go into your home and we’ll arrest you.”

September 3rd, 2007

Greg Palast

It wasn’t a pretty statement. But I wasn’t looking for pretty. I’d taken my investigative team to New Orleans to meet with Malik Rahim. Pretty isn’t Malik’s concern.

We needed an answer to a weird, puzzling and horrific discovery. Among the miles and miles of devastated houses, rubble still there today in New Orleans, we found dry, beautiful homes. But their residents were told by guys dressed like Ninjas wearing “Blackwater” badges: “Try to go into your home and we’ll arrest you.”

From a Firefighter Friend…Rudy Giuliani Urban Legend

September 3rd, 2007

Check out the link below about Rudy the Urban Legend… sent to us by a genuine American hero…a firefighter.

Rudy Giuliani Urban Legend

“Rudy has used the horrible events of September 11 to create a persona that is an elaborate fabrication,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “He is nothing more than a shameless self-promoter.”

HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads

September 3rd, 2007

Brain says:

It appears, as suspected, that the Bush administration cares more about their PAC cronies than they do American children…Not a big surprise with the school system a shambles, the health care system an embarrassment, and American children dying in Iraq every day…

Editor Says:

Agreed, Brain. Ridiculous and transparently mendacious. 

HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads - washingtonpost.com

In an attempt to raise the nation’s historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

Not so fast, Christian soldiers

August 27th, 2007

Not so fast, Christian soldiers - Los Angeles Times

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that’s the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the “Military Crusade.”

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word “crusade” and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.

In the end, the Defense Department realized the folly of participating in any Operation Straight Up crusade. But the episode is just another example of increasingly disturbing, and indeed unconstitutional, relationships being forged between the U.S. military and private evangelical groups.

Take, for instance, the recent scandal involving Christian Embassy, a group whose expressed purpose is to proselytize to military personnel, diplomats, Capitol Hill staffers and political appointees. In a shocking breach of security, Defense Department officials allowed a Christian Embassy film crew to roam the corridors of the Pentagon unescorted while making a promotional video featuring high-ranking officers and political appointees. (Christian Embassy, which holds prayer meetings weekly at the Pentagon, is so entrenched that Air Force Maj. Gen. John J. Catton Jr. said he’d assumed the organization was a “quasi-federal entity.”)

The Pentagon’s inspector general recently released a report recommending unspecified “corrective action” for those officers who appeared in the video for violating Defense Department regulations. But, in a telling gesture, the report avoided any discussion of how allowing an evangelical group to function within the Defense Department is an obvious violation of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment.

The extent to which such relationships have damaged international goodwill toward the U.S. is beyond measure. As the inspector general noted, a leading Turkish newspaper, Sabah, published an article on Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, who is the U.S. liaison to the Turkish military — and who appeared in the Christian Embassy video. The article described Christian Embassy as a “radical fundamentalist sect,” perhaps irreparably damaging Sutton’s primary job objective of building closer ties to the Turkish General Staff, which has expressed alarm at the influence of fundamentalist Christian groups inside the U.S. military.

Our military personnel swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the Bible. Yet by turning a blind eye to OSU and Christian Embassy activities, the Pentagon is, in essence, endorsing their proselytizing. And sometimes it’s more explicit than that.

That certainly was the case with Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. The Pentagon put him in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in 2003. The same year, Boykin was found to be touring American churches, where he gave speeches — in uniform — casting the Iraq war in end-times terms. “We’re in is a spiritual battle,” he told one congregation in Oregon. “Satan wants to destroy this nation . . . and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.” The story wound up in newspapers, magazines and on “60 Minutes.” And, of course, it was reported all over the Muslim world. The Pentagon reacted with a collective shrug.

American military and political officials must, at the very least, have the foresight not to promote crusade rhetoric in the midst of an already religion-tinged war. Many of our enemies in the Mideast already believe that the world is locked in a contest between Christianity and Islam. Why are our military officials validating this ludicrous claim with their own fiery religious rhetoric?

It’s time to actively strip the so-called war on terror of its religious connotations, not add to them. Because religious wars are not just ugly, they are unwinnable. And despite what Operation Straight Up and its supporters in the Pentagon may think is taking place in Iraq, the Rapture is not a viable exit strategy.

Michael L. Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wrote “With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military.” Reza Aslan, author of “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” is on the MRFF advisory board.

Young Workers: U Nd 2 Improve Ur Writing Skills

August 27th, 2007

Young Workers: U Nd 2 Improve Ur Writing Skills - New York Times
In a survey of 100 human resources executives, only 5 percent said that recent college graduates lacked computer or technology skills, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the outplacement firm.

The problem now is more basic. Nearly half the executives said that entry-level workers lacked writing skills, and 27 percent said that they were deficient in critical thinking.

It seems that some young employees are now guilty of the technological equivalent of wearing flip-flops: they are writing company e-mail as if they were texting cellphone messages with their thumbs.

In response, employers are sending a message of their own: When you’re in the office, put on those dress shoes and start spelling your words correctly, and in full.
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Bourdain keeps it real on ‘No Reservations’

August 27th, 2007

One of our favorite shows… 

Bourdain keeps it real on ‘No Reservations’ - Destinations - MSNBC.com

Anthony Bourdain suffered quietly as he dined on wart hog — encrusted with sand, fur and fecal bacteria — in the African country of Namibia.

Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” finished the meal knowing he would become terribly ill. But who was he to complain as a VIP guest of the same arid landscape where Angelina Jolie delivered Brad Pitt’s baby?

Spitting out nasty bits of wart hog would be rude to the locals he was dining with.

Still Singing Those Post-Katrina Blues

August 26th, 2007

Still Singing Those Post-Katrina Blues - washingtonpost.com

President Bush said, “Great job, good job!

“What the levees have done to this poor Creole’s land . . . .”

Backstage, in between sets, the Virgin Mary gazes down from her perch on the wall while the bar’s managers count the proceeds, every single, every fiver, every ten-spot, counting aloud, one, two, three, four . . . $147. They count again . . . $147. And then hand the loot to Boutte, the son of seven generations of musicmaking New Orleans Creoles.

“I’m rich,” Boutte says sardonically, fanning out the bills in his hands like a deck of cards.

Two years post-Katrina, it’s like this for the city’s musicians: New Orleans may be the music mecca, the birthplace of jazz, the place where you go to get your juice. But it’s no place to make money.

“People tell me I should get the [expletive] out,” says Boutte, at 48 and 5-foot-3, a bronze-skinned, bellicose, curly-haired Pan.

“Hell no. Why should I leave? This is my home. My ancestors’ bones are here. . . .

“They’ve squashed my joy. But I’m not extinguished yet.”