Archive for February, 2007

GOP’s Four Pillars Fallen

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Is the GOP rank and file running away?

Check this out:

ACCORDING TO the latest Gallup survey, Republican self-identification has declined nationally and in almost every state.

Why? The short answer is that President Bush’s war of choice in Iraq has destroyed the partisan brand Republicans spent the past four decades building.

That brand was based upon four pillars: that Republicans are more trustworthy on defense and military issues; that they know when and where markets can replace or improve government; that they are more competent administrators of those functions government can’t privatize; and, finally, that their public philosophy is imbued with moral authority.

The war demolished all four claims.

In uniform or out, Americans think Iraq is a disaster, oppose escalation and blame Bush and his party for the mess in Mesopotamia. Heading into the 2006 midterms, polls showed Republicans trailing Democrats as the party most trusted to handle Iraq and terrorism. Nationally, Bush’s war approval ratings hover around 30 percent.

Military members are skeptical, too. A Military Times poll released in December revealed that only 35 percent of military members approved of the president’s handling of the war — despite that 46 percent of them are self-identified Republicans (down from 60 percent in previous Military Times polls), and just 16 percent are Democrats.

According to a recent Zogby survey of troops serving in Iraq, 72 percent want American forces home within a year.

Congressional hearings last week on war contracting dispel the second claim. Billions of dollars appropriated for Iraq cannot be accounted for, and contracts have been doled out with limited oversight and little regard for competitiveness.

Robert Greenwald’s powerful documentary “Iraq for Sale” exposes many of the absurdities. You wouldn’t sign a three-year $250,000 lease for a vehicle you could buy outright for $50,000, but our government does. The “cost-plus” procurement protocol pays contractors a fixed percentage on top of whatever they spend, encouraging them to spend as much and as inefficiently as possible. So rather than vehicles with minor mechanical damage being repaired, many are junked in favor of expensive replacements.

Meanwhile, the same troops Bush brags he will do “whatever it takes” to support often wait in two-hour chow lines or shower in bacteria-contaminated water.

Watered-Down Joe?

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

This leaked Starbucks memo is very interesting….

First Guy in is First Guy Out

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Tom, we hardly knew ya.

Happy Birthday Jake & Brain

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Couple of SoonerThought contributors blowing out the candles…

The Brain celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday–besides being one of the best guys on the planet he’s also the creator of SoonerThought Podcast Star Eurosatan.

As of today, Jake, creator of the new blogbuster site RavelBabel is…well, older than dirt. But he is the kind of guy who, if you needed a ride to Tijuana at three a.m., he would take you–no questions asked.

Great guys. Happy birthday, pals.

Hybrid Blog Encourages Submission of Video Comments

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Jake Lowrey, the creator of the website below is a friend of SoonerThought’s. Check it out! 

Web site combines the best features of a regular blog with that of a video blog to create a hybrid blog, or hyblog, that encourages viewers to submit video comments.

NORMAN, OK (PRURGENT) — A new web site has combined the best features of a regular blog with that of a video blog to create what they are terming a “hyblog.”

“We wanted something a bit different for our site, www.ravelbabel.com” said webmaster Jake Lowrey, “and after a bit of brainstorming we came up with the ‘hyblog’ idea.”

While not the first to use the term hyblog, Lowrey believes his site is the first to be a true hybrid blog by encouraging the submission of video comments.

“We are not a video blog site, but rather more of a hybrid; part regular blog, part video blog. A hyblog, if you will,” he said.

Lowrey said the popularity of video hosting sites helped give his team the concept of offering a place for people to leave video comments.

“From the success of these video hosting sites, it appears there are a lot of wannabe film makers out there,” he said. “What about those who aspire to be TV pundits? Well, now they have a place to practice their craft.

“And it’s a great place for those who just want to voice their opinions either through video or the written word,” he said.

Like a regular blog, RavelBabel features commentary on current news stories and opinions in today’s media through standard written posts and rss feeds, Lowrey said. It’s like a video blog in that the site also features video commentary.

“The hybrid part is that we allow viewers to upload video comments,” he said.

Painless Process

The process of adding video comments to RavelBabel is virtually painless, Lowrey said.

“If you want to add a video comment, all you have to do is record it, save it and upload it to our server,” he said. “Our team of highly trained editors will review it to make sure it meets our guidelines, then post it on the appropriate page. Our goal is a turnaround of 24 hours, but in most cases it is a lot shorter than that.”

Comments uploaded on the weekends will be reviewed and uploaded on the following Monday.

“It seems the Video Comments Editors union has a strict rule against working on weekends,” Lowrey said, “but we’re negotiating with them on an ongoing basis and hope to have an agreement in the coming days.”

No Such Thing as ‘Silent Majority’

“There is no longer a silent majority,” Lowrey said. “The Internet is today’s great equalizer, where you can state your opinion and have it read - or viewed - by potentially millions of people throughout the world. Now that is truly empowerment.”

He added, “Human nature being what it is, we all want to leave our mark on the world in some way. By allowing people to add their comments in video form, we give people an alternative venue to do just that.”

Shame, Mr. Bush. Shame on the Treatment of Our Veterans

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

This is beyond words bad. Shame, Mr. Bush. Write your Congressman. No, better yet, call your Congressman and express your outrage.

EXCERPT:
For the past three years, Michael J. Wagner directed the Army’s largest effort to help the most vulnerable soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His office in Room 3E01 of the world-renowned hospital was supposed to match big-hearted donors with thousands of wounded soldiers who could not afford to feed their children, pay mortgages, buy plane tickets or put up visiting families in nearby hotels.

But while he was being paid to provide this vital service to patients, outpatients and their relations, Wagner was also seeking funders and soliciting donations for his own new charity, based in Texas, according to documents and interviews with current and former staff members. Some families also said Wagner treated them callously and made it hard for them to receive assistance.

Mercifully, Cheney’s Influence Seems to Be Waning

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Check out this article on Cheney’s loss of juice…

Excerpt:

“There’s no question in the current political situation that Cheney has lost clout,” said Leslie H. Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “He’s lost clout because Bush has to prove he’s not an international confrontationalist, warmonger and diplomatic bungler. If you have such a reputation, you can’t function as president.”

It hasn’t helped Cheney that his former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby — who had aggressively advanced the vice president’s interests through a sometimes hostile bureaucracy — has been sidelined because of his role in the Valerie Plame case. The government’s perjury case against Libby will go to the jury this week after a trial that exposed the vice president’s large behind-the-scenes involvement in seeking to discredit Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who accused Cheney and other administration officials of twisting intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Some conservatives close to the administration see Libby’s resignation after his indictment in late 2005 as part of the unraveling of a Cheney network, leaving a void that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the engineer of the North Korea deal, has exploited. Others who have departed include Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz; and lower-level aides with long-standing ties to Cheney.

Dems Bite Back

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden said Congress should “repeal and restate the president’s authority” to make clear that the U.S. mission in Iraq is “to protect against al Qaeda gaining chunks of territory, (and) training the Iraqi forces.”

U.S. has more science smarts - sort of

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

U.S. has more science smarts - sort of - Yahoo! News

Excerpt:

People in the U.S. know more about basic science today than they did two decades ago, good news that researchers say is tempered by an unsettling growth in the belief in pseudoscience such as astrology and visits by extraterrestrial aliens.

Gore’s Out

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Too bad. We could use his voice in this campaign.

Excerpt:

Former US vice president Al Gore has ruled out a bid for the White House in the 2008 elections and will carry on his fight against global climate change.

“I have no intention to run for president,” Gore said in an interview conducted in Los Angeles and broadcast Thursday by the BBC.

“I can’t imagine in any circumstance to run for office again,” said the former Democratic vice president under then-president Bill Clinton.

Gore was defeated in the 2000 presidential race by Republican President George W. Bush.

He has since been crisscrossing the globe with his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” a blistering indictment of pollution that warns against ecological catastrophe by climate change.

 

Missouri’s Emanuel Cleaver II on the Iraq Resolution

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Excerpts of eloquent and impressive remarks (emphasis mine) from Missouri’s 5th District Representative Reverend Emanuel Cleaver:

Mr. CLEAVER. Mr. Speaker, as I began to consider the comments I would make during this debate tonight on the occupation, escalation and gravitation of the U.S. military action in Iraq, I concluded that my visit to this well must somehow echo the threat and frustration of the people who sent me to represent them in the people’s House. /archives/date/2007/02/official_pic.jpg 

   Tomorrow, the United States of America should begin a massive and voter-mandated salvaging operation in Iraq. Yes, as bad as conditions have gotten, there are important and valuable things that could be salvaged. A tarnished international image clings to a nation like a shadow to a human being. It follows a nation to the next world crisis. It cannot be blamed for faulty intelligence, and it spoils opportunities to influence a world desperate for direction. Henceforth, we must conduct our foreign policy in a manner which salvages our sunken international image. 

   Because of the way we launched a long-range military action in Iraq, our prestige among the community of nations has surely suffered. Nothing deflates as a punctured international image. We can salvage our image not only by de-escalating in Iraq but also by reestablishing desperately needed dialogue with all the sovereign nations in the neighborhood with Iraq. It takes many, many people, and not just one to put a policy together. 

   Now, with regard to peace in the Middle East, it has become crystal clear that the United States cannot whistle a symphony.  It will take an orchestra of many international players willing to make music in the same key. The days of the international soloist or a conductor without an orchestra are past. We must salvage our relationship with the family of nations. We must salvage what is left of our Treasury. 

   Mr. Speaker, for most Americans war does not pay, but it must be paid for. And, to date, we have spent billions and billions of dollars that could have been spent for valuable programs to set this Nation on the right course. We must salvage soldiers. Yes, thousands of brave young U.S. soldiers have been killed, and Iraqis are dying weekly by the hundreds. If this conflict continues, there will be only two classes of young people, one half in graves, the other half in hospitals. 

   Some have said this conflict will last for decades. Nevertheless, that kind of policy or lack thereof has caused young Americans to ask: Will we ever see the last of this war, or will it see the last of us? 

   The Kansas City Chiefs is my team. The general manager, Carl Peterson, would never go to the sports editors of the local media and admonish them not to criticize the game plan of Coach Herman Edwards, because to do so would demoralize the players. Such a warning by the general manager would be ludicrous, if not loony. Why? Because the players of the Kansas City Chiefs are professionals who cannot be so easily defamed. And, friends, neither can the men and women who form the fiercest fighting force in the history of this planet. 

   After all the ethnic and sectarian human butchering, after all the billions spent, after all the children of God killed, after all the maimed who have been hospitalized, after all the dissenters who have been heard, after all the purple thumbs that have been raised, the war drum still throbs, the sabers still rattle, and the blood still flows. Yet, we can salvage the soul of the Nation, even though at this hour we seem to have lost our way. 

   Tomorrow, this Congress must adopt House Concurrent Resolution 63 as bold and beckoning to begin salvage operations.  Mr. Speaker, as I began to consider the comments I would make during the debate on the occupation, escalation, and gravitation of the U.S. military action in Iraq, I concluded that my visit to this well must somehow echo the fret and frustration of the people who sent me to represent them in The People’s House. 

   For more than 132 years, the steamboat Arabia lay beneath the fathoms of the waters of the mighty Missouri River. Not until Bob and Florence Howley committed their life savings to a massive salvaging operation, did the rusting of this once stately riverboat cease. Today, the salvaged cargo of this retrieved vessel is on display in Kansas City’s Historic River Market. Since I first walked into the Arabia Steamboat Museum in 1992, I have become a serious supporter of salvage operations. Anything of great value that is lost or damaged is worth salvaging. 

   Tomorrow, the United States of America should begin a massive and voter-mandated salvaging operation in Iraq. Yes, as bad as conditions have gotten, there are important and valuable things that can be salvaged. 

These Bloggers An Unimpressive Bunch

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Kansas City’s own Bruce Rodgers makes some great points about bloggers. I’m a blogger, and I agree with him. I think my major criticism of political and news blogging is that it is frequently (okay, mostly) done by people with little or no journalistic training. Sorry, call me a heretic, but when a blog goes beyond talking about hobbies, life observations or pictures of your cat and ventures into news and political king making, then perhaps some understanding of libel laws, journalistic ethics, basic sentence structure and a sense of fair play is in order. But that’s just me. Hey, I make no claims about being politically neutral on this site, but I do make an effort to check facts, play fair and write decent sentences. Bloggers and their readers need to keep that in perspective. Rave on, Bruce!  

Publisher’s Note

EXCERPT:
It had to be meant for the faculty seated up front when Dr. David D. Perlmutter, professor of journalism and mass communication, pointed out that the people he was introducing weren’t “in pajamas or wearing pointy tin-foil hats.” The rest of the audience — a majority of KU students — had no such image of the five bloggers before them, or any blogger for that matter. The blogosphere, and with it the territories of MySpace and Facebook, are the realm of the young, fulfilling their need to speak about and beyond themselves to others like themselves…as every generation does.

Billed as “Blog to the Chief: The Impact of Political Blogs on the 2008 Election,” the Feb. 13 panel seemed a fitting presentation amid the right-of-center confines of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. Any notion of fireworks between the right and left bloggers on the stage — two liberals, three conservatives — vanished quickly as Perlmutter tried to give weight to this techno-driven voice of expression still sorting out its relevancy in the political arena. As moderator before a sizable crowd, Perlmutter seemed well rehearsed in steering questions to “the country’s top political bloggers” as an earlier press release had described them.

Various words like “adviser,” “operative” and “consultant” were scattered about in the Dole Institute program’s biographical characterization of the bloggers. Though some had written books or contributed columns or essays to traditional media outlets, the word “journalist” — whether intentional or not — was not used to describe any of the five.