Archive for May, 2004

Honor Those Who Served, Mr. President

Monday, May 31st, 2004

A SoonerThought Editorial

Mr. President:

Memorial Day is not just a photo op, sir. It is also not just a day off from work for everyone else. It is a time to remember those who served, those who lived and especially those who died in service to this country.

It is also a lesson, Mr. President, that war is the last resort, not a preemptive measure. Soldiers are not toys on your living room carpet. They are human beings with families and friends who love them.

And to use their lives in reckless, poorly-considered saber rattling, or worse, all-out war, is a disgrace.

I bow my head to those who served, and pray this nation wakes up and replaces our Commander-in-Chief. A man whose preening, strutting, adolescent behavior on an aircraft carrier all those months ago–wearing a costume that betrays the civilian nature of the presidency–should be retired to the dustbin of history post-haste.

I am humbled by the sacrifice of extraordinary, “ordinary Americans.” I am sickened by our Chickenhawk leaders.


Monday, May 31st, 2004

Questions that Won’t be Asked about Iraq

By Congressman Ron Paul (R–Texas)
U.S. House of Representatives
Originally Published September 10, 2002

Soon we hope to have hearings on the pending war with Iraq. I am concerned there are some questions that won’t be asked- and maybe will not even be allowed to be asked. Here are some questions I would like answered by those who are urging us to start this war.

1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?

2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate- which just confirms that there is no real threat?

3. Is it not true that those who argue that even with inspections we cannot be sure that Hussein might be hiding weapons, at the same time imply that we can be more sure that weapons exist in the absence of inspections?

4. Is it not true that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency was able to complete its yearly verification mission to Iraq just this year with Iraqi cooperation?

5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from Iraq?


History lesson: GOP must stop Bush

Monday, May 31st, 2004 - History lesson: GOP must stop Bush

By Carl Bernstein
Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.
“What did the president know and when did he know it?” a Republican senator — Howard Baker of Tennessee — famously asked of Nixon 30 springtimes ago.

Today, confronted by the graphic horrors of Abu Ghraib prison, by ginned-up intelligence to justify war, by 652 American deaths since presidential operatives declared “Mission Accomplished,” Republican leaders have yet to suggest that George W. Bush be held responsible for the disaster in Iraq and that perhaps he, not just Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is ill-suited for his job.

The End of Killer Salad Bars and “Fat Like Me?”

Monday, May 31st, 2004

CJR Spotlight

You’ve seen the stories: lethal germs on your doorknob, secrets of child abductors, what your nail salon operator won’t tell you, sleeping through smoke alarms, the deadly mold in your house, cell phones and cancer, or, yikes! your thong and your mental health.

Such stories show up like the seasons on local TV news — but only during the months of February, May, July, and November, the so-called sweeps periods, during which Nielsen Media Research measures the audiences of TV stations and cable systems in all 210 markets across the U.S. The idea is to schedule shock-and-awe stories during those four months to boost ratings for those periods and thus raise advertising rates and profits. Everybody, inside the industry and out, knows that this system is a fraud: advertisers are cheated, and the public is either frightened out of its wits by alarmist, hair-raising news features, or inured to real news, or both. “It’s a horrible way to do our business,” says Forrest Carr, news director of WFLA in Tampa, Florida. “Completely artificial. Cheap ratings ploys, sensationalism, turning handsprings during those four months.” Many Americans are fear-ridden, according to Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California, in his book The Culture of Fear. He cites evidence that news media are both the cause of people’s fears and the reason they’re convinced those fears are valid.

But don’t despair! Help has arrived. Nielsen is rolling out a new process for measuring local TV audiences that will abolish sweeps periods in the markets where it is used. Boston has had it since January 2002. Before the year is out Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York will have signed on. The other top ten cities in the U.S. — Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, Atlanta, and Dallas-Ft. Worth — will get it during the next few years.

Bush Keeps Saddam Gun on Display

Monday, May 31st, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Keeps Saddam Gun at White House

A handgun that Saddam Hussein was clutching when U.S. forces captured him in a hole in Iraq last December is now kept by President Bush at the White House, a spokesman confirmed on Sunday.

The magazine quoted a visitor who had been shown the gun, which is kept in a small study off the Oval Office where Bush displays memorabilia.

Bush shows Saddam’s gun to select visitors, telling them it is unloaded, both now and when Saddam was captured, Time reported.

“He really liked showing it off,” Time quoted a visitor as saying. “He was really proud of it.”

White House spokesman Jim Morrell said, “The president was proud of the performance and bravery of our armed forces and was honored to receive it on behalf of the troops involved in the operation.”

“Thank God for AIDS”

Monday, May 31st, 2004

Sick. These (anti-gay) people must have read a different Bible than I did.–Alex

Anti-gay Protest generates a counterprotest

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Kansas church group conducting an anti-gay protest was met with a larger counterprotest during Iowa City High School’s graduation ceremony.

As the 330 graduates marched to their seats at the Saturday event, a group of about 15 protesters, including three children, from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., stood outside denouncing what they said was the school’s enabling of the gay lifestyle by awarding the Matthew Shepard scholarship.

The scholarship is a state award given to a high-achieving openly gay student. It is named for a gay Wyoming college student who was tortured and killed in 1998.

Across the street from the church’s protest was a counterprotest of about 75 people supporting graduate Ilse Bendorf, who was presented with the Matthew Shepard scholarship last week.

Connie Concepcion of Iowa City was part of the counterprotest. She said she was there to support Bendorf and counter the Westboro church’s message.

“You can protest, but don’t expect us to be silent,” Concepcion said. “These people do not go away. There are too many (gay) youth who are struggling in high school.”

Westboro member Charles Hockenbarger said the church was serious in telling the Iowa community about the consequences of what it called a sinful lifestyle and God’s hate for America. He carried a sign that declared, “Thank God for AIDS.”

The President: Paying the Price . . .

Sunday, May 30th, 2004 The President: Paying the Price . . .

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

When presidents take big chances, they have two choices. They can take all the responsibility on themselves and hope that when things go well, they will reap allthe rewards. Or they can choose to draw in the opposition from the beginning and count on some help and a feeling of solidarity if things start to go wrong.

President Bush took his big chance in Iraq without buying himself an insurance policy. He could have patiently built a coalition of the many — not only abroad, but also at home — rather than slapping together a coalition of the few, including the not-entirely-willing. He could have made clear, as his father did a decade earlier, that a decision to go to war is so momentous that Congress should consider the matter under circumstances that would encourage genuine deliberation.

Legislators from both parties will tell you that the congressional debate over the 1991 Persian Gulf War was one of the most ennobling experiences of their political lives. You don’t hear much of that this time around. That’s because approval was shoved through Congress by a president only too happy to turn war into a campaign issue.

Hello to Men’s Health Readers

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

We seem to be getting a lot of visits from a link on the Men’s Health forum. While we don’t think we are the “Sooner” in question, we welcome your visits. Hope you’ll read what we have to say and come back often–because there is nothing “healthier” than the Liberal point of view!

Moore Interviewed Berg for Film

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

Japan Today - News - Moore interviewed Berg for ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ - Japan’s Leading International News Network

In an unused interview shot for Michael Moore’s latest film, the American who was beheaded in Iraq said he was concerned about security there as he prepared to seek work as an independent businessman, his family said Saturday.
Moore’s crew shot the 16-minute interview with Nicholas Berg during an Iraqi business conference in Arlington, Va, on Dec 4, said his brother, David Berg.

Wanna Match Photo for Photo?

Saturday, May 29th, 2004

Attention Ditto-Head Dumb-Butt Wingnuts: You wanna play?

I’ll see your photo of Kerry with Ortega and raise you a Rumsfeld glad-handing Saddam. How’s that?–Alex | Politics
The photo is of familiar men, in another time and place: U.S. Sen. John Kerry shaking hands with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, while U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin looks on.

It is Managua, Nicaragua, in April 1985, and the freshman senators have traveled from Washington to meet with Ortega in advance of a crucial vote in the Senate. Lawmakers are battling over proposed $14 million in U.S. aid to “Contra” guerillas seeking to overthrow Ortega’s leftist government.

“Who’s Sharing in Wal-Mart’s Success?”

Saturday, May 29th, 2004

Responsible Wealth

Shareholders will ask the Company that Question at the Wal-Mart Annual Meeting on June 4 in Fayetteville, Arkansas

WASHINGTON - May 28 - A resolution filed by members of Responsible Wealth asks Wal-Mart to report on the distribution of stock options awards by gender and race.

According to the 2004 proxy statement, Wal-Mart distributed nearly 14 million options to employees in 2003, with 13% going to the five highest paid officers, who are 0.00033% of the company’s employees. All five are men.

Margaret Covert, Shareholder Action Coordinator of NorthStar Asset Management, lead filer of the proposal, says, “Wal-Mart puts forth an advertising image of improving the lives of all its employees. Our resolution simply asks them to explain how much or how little of their tremendous stock option wealth ends up in the pockets of women and employees of color.”

Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the U.S. with over a million employees, could be credited with single-handedly widening the national wealth gap.

Krugman: Bush Got a Pass from Media

Saturday, May 29th, 2004

To Tell the Truth
by Paul Krugman

Some news organizations, including The New York Times, are currently engaged in self-criticism over the run-up to the Iraq war. They are asking, as they should, why poorly documented claims of a dire threat received prominent, uncritical coverage, while contrary evidence was either ignored or played down.

But it’s not just Iraq, and it’s not just The Times. Many journalists seem to be having regrets about the broader context in which Iraq coverage was embedded: a climate in which the press wasn’t willing to report negative information about George Bush.

People who get their news by skimming the front page, or by watching TV, must be feeling confused by the sudden change in Mr. Bush’s character. For more than two years after 9/11, he was a straight shooter, all moral clarity and righteousness.

But now those people hear about a president who won’t tell a straight story about why he took us to war in Iraq or how that war is going, who can’t admit to and learn from mistakes, and who won’t hold himself or anyone else accountable. What happened?