Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Good Year, Russell Crowe...

The reviews for this movie were terrible. Lots of bad mouthing Crowe as being bad at comedy. They complained about some technical stuff, lighting, etc.

The movie was directed by Ridley Scott. (The Gladiator, Aliens, Black Hawk Down) Obviously a romantic comedy is a significant move ffom action adventure.

Well, I have seen it. And...I love it. Crowe is very funny. Lots of physical comedy but not so much that it is campy. The other characters are cast perfectly. Jemma, played by Archie Panjabi is wonderful. Marion Cotillard, the love interest Fanny Channel, is one of the most attractive women I have ever seen. She does a good job. But she could have done a horrible job and I would not have noticed.

As for what ever technical problems there were... well I noticed nothing. Movies aren't made for critics to pick about the details. They are made for the every-man. Is a layman can't find the doesn't exist.

Crowe's accent is supposed to be English. It does fluctuate. But if I can stomach an Irish Brad Pitt or an American Colin Ferrel I can certainly give Crowe some latitude.

Movie is set in Provence, France. I am in love with Provence and I have never been there. So the movie does accomplish that. The house and grounds where 90% of the movie takes place is lovely.

Lastly the music/score/soundtrack is fantastic. I will probably buy it.

It is a great movie. To hell with the reviews from "professionals".


Friday, March 30, 2007

The Brits Turn to the UN for help in Iran... What they can expect.

Watered down, ambiguous, face-saving (for Iran) rhetoric that in no way positively influences the out come.

Asking the Security Council to intervene in a matter that is time sensitive is like asking a NYC cab driver to take you to Dublin Ireland. First of all it would take a long time and second and most importantly the vehicle is not designed for that purpose and there is zero chance of success when employed for that purpose. The UNSC is not designed for hostage negotiation. Anytime the Security Council gets bogged down in minutia it fails. Why? It is toothless. There is no real enforcement mechanism. Iran only recognizes the UN when it is to its benefit. Just like every other nation in the world.

The UN has only one weapon. The appearance of authority. If the issue is too large or complicated nations can move around and in between that authority. Or if the issue is to small and complicated it can move in spite of it. (as this one is)

If the UNSC could act quickly and unambiguously it could have some say in this matter. But it has done neither to date. In fact, in the statement that the UN has made about the matter it has chosen the words "grave concern" instead of the Brit suggested "deplore".

I think those poor sailors and marines are in for a long ride in Tehran. The Brits won't go in and get them. (which I kind of wish they would, but again, the "media" would show any casualty as a failure.) The Iranians have NO incentive that I can think of to cooperate. Ahmahdinejad is the media darling. His absence in this matter has been noted. The one thing that has gone right is that the US has stayed OUT of this in terms of any public influence.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Aretha Franklin !!!! Nessun Dorma !!!

If anyone knows where I can get a good copy of this please let me know!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A dream come true!

Last Sunday I did something that most people only get to dream about at 34 years old. I played in a football game. Most of us leave that behind in high school never to return. A very lucky few go on to play college. I am currently a student in Dublin Ireland. As such I participate in Irish American Football League team the Dublin City University Saints as a defensive guard. I also am the line coach for offense and defense.

In the beginning my ankles were (and to some extent still are) very angry with for attempting football after 15 years off. But through a little conditioning and a lot of ankle wrap I am able to play. There are a few other Americans on the team but most are Irish. We even have a Czech player, a German, a Scotsman and a Hollander. We are the UN of football!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Touring Ireland... Trip to Connemara.

Here is a link to all the pics.

Note the Steering wheel on the wrong side of the car I rented.


Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic
hunters/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer
and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer
and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the
beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were
the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1. Liberals; and
2. Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of
agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet,
so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be
they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night
while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as
the Conservative movement.

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off
the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's and doing the
sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became
known as girliemen.

Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the
invention of group therapy, group hugs, and the concept of Democratic
voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most
powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white
wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well
done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare.

Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have higher
testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury
attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are
liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't
fair to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat and still provide for
their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys,
lumberjacks, executives, athletes, Marines, and generally anyone who works

Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work
for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and
decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more
enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in
Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the
Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for

Here ends today's lesson in world history: It should be noted that a
Liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily respond to the above before
it. A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute
truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true
believers and to more liberals just to tick them off.

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of RUM!!! Give me RUM ye hear!

The Waters Edge radio program is now online! My good friend LJ Wallace
offers a live two-hour weekly broadcast on Saturday mornings from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. EDT on Real 1340/AM/WQSC, Charleston, South Carolina. Each weekly show features an eclectic potpourri of news, views, interviews and irreverent commentary on everything nautical from coastal living to boating and fishing. But it's not your father's radio show. It's Prop Stoppin', Anchor Droppin' Maritime Mayhem on the Radio.

L.J. Wallace makes no bones about it. He's not conventional or politically correct, and he doesn't pretend to be all things to all people.

"Boating is all about fun," says Wallace, a life-long boater who launched his first radio show nearly 15 years ago from the wharves of Charleston, S.C. "Even if a controversial subject comes up, I try to look for the light side." His show does include a good bit of innuendo, but, he says, "We keep the show pretty clean even when discussing bikinis, cocktails and the fair sex. Boaters aren't prudish and we make the most of that while remaining within the bounds of good taste usually," he adds.

Now you can hear LJ's program online on demand. Streaming (not live) or a download.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On the aniversary of Iraq...remember what kills 1.6 million a year.

As World Tuberculosis Day arrives this Saturday, I can’t stop thinking about the scene described in the opening of Melissa Fay Greene’s book, “There Is No Me Without You.” ...As bad as the situation is, it’s about to get much worse. New strains of the disease, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), are popping up...

read more | digg story

Learn something about TB!

By Misty Fightspoverty (real name tho)

As World Tuberculosis Day arrives this Saturday, I can’t stop thinking about the scene described in the opening of Melissa Fay Greene’s book, “There Is No Me Without You.”

The author was following a middle-aged woman, Haregewoin Teferra, to the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her mission that day was to pick up a two-year-old boy, Mintesinot, who was living on the streets with his father. The boy’s dad, Eskender, had AIDS, was unable to work and appeared to be sick with tuberculosis, the opportunistic infection that is the biggest killer of HIV-positive people. As they coaxed the child into a waiting taxi, Greene gave Eskender the address and phone number for Haregewoin’s home. She relates that heart-wrenching moment:

“Clearly this child was his whole life; he’d raised out of nothing, out of rags and refuse and handouts, a delightful and confident boy. But he knew this day must be coming. He grasped that people in good health had arrived to take away his son. He wearily lowered himself into his lonely knot of blankets. The whole neighborhood looked poorer as we departed with Mintesinot; the father had lost his only treasure, accepting, like a receipt, his son’s forwarding address.”

Eskender eventually died, but Mintesinot was adopted by a couple in Arizona. Millions of other children, however, are not as fortunate. Tuberculosis now kills 1.6 million people a year, most of them adults who are mothers and fathers to kids like Mintesinot. TB does its worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where people with AIDS-weakened immune systems are much more likely to get sick with TB. They could be treated with drugs costing as little as $16, but many nations lack the wherewithal to provide access to treatment for all who need it.

As bad as the situation is, it’s about to get much worse. New strains of the disease, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), are popping up with greater frequency around world, with the greatest concentration of cases in Africa. These strains are virtually untreatable, with patients dying within weeks of diagnosis. Last year, 52 out of 53 patients with XDR-TB in a South African Hospital died. Of the ones who were tested, all were HIV-positive. Because health systems in most African nations aren’t equipped to detect, diagnose and treat XDR-TB, the hundreds of cases identified in South Africa are likely to be the tip of a lethal iceberg.

XDR-TB emerged because health systems around the world failed to effectively treat tuberculosis. Improper or incomplete treatment gave rise to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which resists treatment with first-line drugs. In turn, failure to properly treat MDR-TB causes the emergence of XDR-TB, which is resistant to the second-line drugs used to treat MDR-TB. Once a person has XDR-TB, it is easily transmitted through the air by a cough or sneeze. People with AIDS are especially susceptible to getting infected.

While all this is rather bleak news, we can still avoid a worldwide health catastrophe such as the one we’ve experienced with AIDS the past two decades.

Last year, the 10-year Global Plan to Stop TB was launched at the World Economic Forum. If fully implemented, the plan will:
· Expand access to high-quality TB testing and treatment for all
· Save 14 million lives
· Treat 50 million people for TB
· Treat all MDR-TB patients and put 3 million patients co-infected with TB and HIV on anti-retrovirals
· Develop more effective tools to diagnose and treat TB and develop a new vaccine

The cost of the plan over the next decade is $56 billion, but a funding gap of $31 billion currently exists. Closing the gap requires that the U.S. and other donors triple their investments in global TB programs. To meet our share of support in 2008, Congress needs to allocate $400 million for bilateral TB programs and provide $1.4 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

This isn’t just about helping poor people in distant lands. Supporting the Global Plan to Stop TB is also an investment to protect the lives and health of people here in the U.S., where XDR-TB is only a plane ride away from starting an outbreak. And many Americans serving in the armed forces will soon be deployed in Africa, where XDR-TB could soon spread out of control without prompt action. To borrow a line from the war on terrorism, we have to stop XDR-TB over there before it comes over here.

But the biggest reason for stopping TB, however, is that millions of children won’t have to stand by helplessly and watch their parents die.

Misty Fightspoverty is a student attending Georgia Perimeter College and a member of RESULTS, an advocacy group working to end hunger and poverty.


The first Atlanta TB Awareness Walk takes place Saturday — World TB Day — at 9 a.m. in Grant Park near the Cyclorama. Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC, will speak before the walk.

More information about TB is available from the Stop TB Partnership at

Find out how citizens can support TB efforts at

Monday, March 12, 2007

The first chink in Obama's armor.

I happened across this little tid bit.

From Columbia School of Journalism website:


Obama came to the dinner at the invitation of West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who also commandeered him for a fundraising event earlier that day that raised $2,500 per person. This was not the first time he had helped Byrd: In March 2005, Obama sent out a letter in praise of Byrd through Two days later, Byrd had raised more than $800,000, according to The Charleston Gazette. Byrd hardly needed Obama’s help to keep his seat—he has been in the Senate since 1959 and is currently enjoying an almost 30-point lead in the polls. But it is capital in the favor bank...

So, Obama doesn't mind raising money for a former klansman and one of the most "colorful" fixtures in the Senate since Strom Thurmond was elected for his last two terms.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Powerful questions that require difficult answers!

Found on this blog.

Why does The Times recognize Israel's 'right to exist'?

The paper consistency [sic] adopts Israel's language, giving credence to an inaccurate, simplistic and dangerous cliche.
By Saree Makdisi, SAREE MAKDISI, a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA, writes frequently about the Middle East.
March 11, 2007

'AS SOON AS certain topics are raised," George Orwell once wrote, "the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse." Such a combination of vagueness and sheer incompetence in language, Orwell warned, leads to political conformity.

No issue better illustrates Orwell's point than coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States. Consider, for example, the editorial in The Times on Feb. 9 demanding that the Palestinians "recognize Israel" and its "right to exist." This is a common enough sentiment — even a cliche. Yet many observers (most recently the international lawyer John Whitbeck) have pointed out that this proposition, assiduously propagated by Israel's advocates and uncritically reiterated by American politicians and journalists, is — at best — utterly nonsensical.

First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years — and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since?

If none of these questions are easy to answer, why are such demands being made of the Palestinians? And why is nothing demanded of Israel in turn?

Orwell was right. It is much easier to recycle meaningless phrases than to ask — let alone to answer — difficult questions. But recycling these empty phrases serves a purpose. Endlessly repeating the mantra that the Palestinians don't recognize Israel helps paint Israel as an innocent victim, politely asking to be recognized but being rebuffed by its cruel enemies.

Actually, it asks even more. Israel wants the Palestinians, half of whom were driven from their homeland so that a Jewish state could be created in 1948, to recognize not merely that it exists (which is undeniable) but that it is "right" that it exists — that it was right for them to have been dispossessed of their homes, their property and their livelihoods so that a Jewish state could be created on their land. The Palestinians are not the world's first dispossessed people, but they are the first to be asked to legitimize what happened to them.

A just peace will require Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile and recognize each other's rights. It will not require that Palestinians give their moral seal of approval to the catastrophe that befell them. Meaningless at best, cynical and manipulative at worst, such a demand may suit Israel's purposes, but it does not serve The Times or its readers.

And yet The Times consistently adopts Israel's language and, hence, its point of view. For example, a recent article on Israel's Palestinian minority referred to that minority not as "Palestinian" but as generically "Arab," Israel's official term for a population whose full political and human rights it refuses to recognize. To fail to acknowledge the living Palestinian presence inside Israel (and its enduring continuity with the rest of the Palestinian people) is to elide the history at the heart of the conflict — and to deny the legitimacy of Palestinian claims and rights.

This is exactly what Israel wants. Indeed, its demand that its "right to exist" be recognized reflects its own anxiety, not about its existence but about its failure to successfully eliminate the Palestinians' presence inside their homeland — a failure for which verbal recognition would serve merely a palliative and therapeutic function.

In uncritically adopting Israel's own fraught terminology — a form of verbal erasure designed to extend the physical destruction of Palestine — The Times is taking sides.

If the paper wants its readers to understand the nature of this conflict, however, it should not go on acting as though only one side has a story to tell.

Fred for Prez? "This will get out of control..this will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Right Ideas.... continue.

Right Ideas, Wrong Time

By Fareed Zakaria

March 19, 2007 issue - President Bush has done the right thing in going to Latin America. He's visiting the right countries, and he has sounded the right themes, emphasizing that the United States supports democratic government, open markets and "social justice" (a phrase I have never heard Bush use before, and which must be causing ulcers in some of his right-wing fans). But Bush's new look at the region will not do much good. It's too little, too late.


I hope you take the time to read this entire article or my points won't make much sense.

Bush has made many mistakes. No doubt. A poor plan for Iraq. Under estimating the insurgency. Keeping Rumsfeld a year longer than he should. Allowing the democrats to frame the Katrina response as a failure. Being too nice to the Saudi's and the Pakistanis. But to criticize Bush for neglecting Latin America in the years following 9/11 is a bit silly. Please point me to the post 9/11 articles that called on the US and GW to forget the terrorists and redouble our efforts south? I am sure I don't remember one from Fareed. In fact, I remember he and others concentrating almost exclusively on how the US would return "fire".

It would be nice is we lived in a world with super presidents. Ones that can both coerce and attract. Or maybe it would be nice if we had super neighbors. Ones that could play nice with each other and feed and employ their own citizenry. As it is we have neither. GW and the US almost unanimously selected to take our eye off of latin america and on to terrorism. To arm chair quarter back the game in the fourth quarter is not impressive. You have three quarters to base your judgments on. It is also like the fans that want you to go for it on 4th and long and you don't get it. Then the fans that advocated the risky play get mad at the coach when it doesn't work.

This article has a silly premise. That Bush is alone and only now makes good decisions. Bush has been alone since 2003 maybe since the day after the liberals decided that "selected not elected" was their slogan of choice only to be taken over by "bush lied people died."

It is lonely at the top. Especially when you are faced with history making decisions every few years. Katerina, 9/11, and the response to both, a recession in early 2001. Most presidents are remembered for one or two of these. Bush has all five. Bush also has the distinction of being the first president in the global information age. Clinton wasn't even close. Maybe the last year of his presidency counts. But all of Bush's presidency has been under the close scrutiny of the WORLD. No president before has had his actions laid out and scrutinized like Bush. Bad or good. They are all out there for comment. Even the "secret" stuff with a little help from the NYT.

So Fareed, my friend who's opinion I admire so much, you wasted your time on this one. Silly, Silly, Silly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Turkish court bans YouTube access

Turkish court bans YouTube access

Access to the popular video-sharing website YouTube has been suspended in Turkey following a court order.

The ban was imposed after prosecutors told the court that clips insulting former Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had appeared on the site.

According to Turkish media, there has been a "virtual war" between Greek and Turkish users of the site, with both sides posting insulting videos...

France becomes a little less democratic

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dublin Craic. A few nights out on the piss!

First up is a party that a few of us American's got together to throw. We served margaritas and quesodillas. (What could be more American than Mexican?) There was lots of tequila on hand. A few Irish had their first margarita.

Iulia, Julia, Molly and Matt

Next is a night at Shay's house. He and his wife were fantastic hosts. 20+ bottles of wine and a case of beer later...we struck out for town.

Jackie and Me

The Gang...

And as a special surprise here is a very dark video of Maria strutting her stuff! (notice she molests some boy on the way up the stairs!)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Interesting article from

Now, understand that Salon is a leftist website. Don't think you are going to find a fair shake when you visit. BUT, this piece is great. Evan Kohlmann lays it out there in bold fashion. It is not what many want to hear but it is what everyone needs to hear.

I disagree with many of his conclusions but he makes a damn fine argument.


The Iraq insurgency for beginners

A leading expert on the insurgency clarifies who is shooting whom in Iraq, the growing power of al-Qaida, the influence of Iran, and the only thing left for the U.S. to do.

By Kevin Berger

March 2, 2007 | For somebody in America, Evan Kohlmann has a remarkably intimate view of the Iraq insurgency. In 2004, he founded, a clearinghouse of virtually every communiqué -- video, audio, Internet, printed -- issued by insurgent groups in Iraq. For three years, Kohlmann has pored through every one of them, with the help of Arabic translators, and emerged with a clear-eyed view of who is fighting whom in Iraq and why. Given his insights, Kohlmann has been put to work as a consultant by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the CIA.

Spending time in Kohlmann's archives is an extraordinary experience. It strips away the cloudy myths of the insurgency steamed up by U.S. politicians and pundits and leaves you with a bracing portrait of roving insurgent groups, more like neighborhood gangs, with their own identities and insignias, progressively growing more violent. I wanted to talk to Kohlmann for the simple reason that as much as I follow the news about the Iraq war, I have always felt slightly frustrated at not knowing who the enemy really is. Kohlmann says I'm far from alone. And he's talking about people way over my head. "I find it tragic that people in Washington, D.C., who are the heads of major congressional committees, and deciding things about Iraq, don't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites," he says. Kohlmann insists he is nonpartisan. He spoke from his office in New York.

Every day you look at Iraq through the lens of insurgent videos and Internet postings. What do you see?

A picture of fundamentalism. Shiite fundamentalism clashing with Sunni fundamentalism clashing with American fundamentalism. We have tried imposing things upon Iraq that are totally foreign to it. Now each side is unwilling to acknowledge the right of the other to have a voice in what's going on. It's a disaster.

Describe the insurgency.

You have to be careful when you say "insurgency." You have to distinguish between the Shiite militias and the actual insurgency, which is the Sunni groups. Most of the Shiite militia activity is not directed at the U.S., it's directed at the Sunnis. The Sunni insurgency, meanwhile, is directed at everyone -- the U.S., the Iraqi government, the militias.

The best way to divide it up is into three camps. You have Sunni nationalists, initially a large portion of the insurgency; the moderate Sunni Islamists, who use Islamic terminology and talk about establishing a government based on Sharia law; and you have the Salafists, like the group Al-Qaida in Iraq. To them, the fight is not about preserving the borders of Iraq, it's about revolution, about rebuilding something completely new on the basis of some kind of idyllic Muslim empire...

Rant! Hit pieces that suggest that US forces don't show restraint.

Here is the perfect example of the GROSS and OBVIOUS media bias against the US.

Recently the US was attacked by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. They were simultaneously attacked by small arms fire. (standard guerrilla ambush) The Americans returned fire at anything that looked suspicious and many civilians were killed. None of this is in dispute.

What drives me NUTS is that the only reason the incident receives anything above the standard mention is that the US killed civilians. The slant and angle of the stories (story is such a good word for these pieces) suggests that the US doesn't use restraint. WTF! I am sorry that civilians get killed. If it were my mother or brother that was killed I would be pissed as well at the US. But do you know who would have the lion's share of my anger....the suicide attackers. But no. Can't say anything bad about those that purposefully engage US forces in crowded places so that as many civilians get killed as possible. No. We can't do a full expose on that phenomenon. Can't talk about the remarkable restraint the US military shows on a daily basis. If the US wanted to we could cut the number of our dead in half or more by being less discriminant in our work. But we don't. We risk our soldiers lives so that civilians are protected. Certainly not targeted. We can however focus on "news worthy" events that impassion an audience that is not aware of the fact that this story as told is void of the needed context and perspective. The result of which is biased public debate about important issues.

Here are some interesting stories I would like to see presented in depth.


US invasion brings women's rights back to Afghanistan

US invasion brings education back to Afghanistan

US invasion brings music back to Afghanistan

Afghanistani people stop trying to undermine their own freedom. (wishful thinking)

US forces' job hard enough without being undermined by the media.

International media decides to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, report on successes for once.

We are all aware that the media gives us what we want. Not what we need. We do not need to hear that a truck caught fire on the interstate. We want to hear that. Cause if it were in perspective. The report would say that millions of trucks made it home today. One didn't. The media's bias for reporting the trivial as news infuriates me. Trivia does not equal news.

You know what else is trivial by comparison...the successes reported from Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not trivial in number...only by comparison in number reported. Sad.
The picture painted by the media has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Where did this unrealistic deadline of 3,4,5 years come from? Who in their right mind thinks that Iraq or Afghanistan could ever be much further along than they are now in terms of democracy, freedom and economy? What precedent is there to suggest otherwise. Please let me know. In fact, the precedent is that this is the work of decades. Not years. That is the investment that must be made.

This is NOT to say things have gone well in Iraq. Or that things couldn't be improved in Afghanistan. Far from it. This is about viewing things from the proper perspective. If you are the media...providing the proper perspective. Which it has failed at miserably.

Please tell me you see the contradiction in advocating intervention in Darfur and denying it in Iraq or Afghanistan. The scholarly argument is that countries progress on their own time. Iraq would have eventually found democracy on its own. That is bullshit and is intellectually dishonest. First is suggests that Iraq evolves on it own in a vacuum. Not the case for any of us. The world has never been more connected and in the business of its neighbors. What is more likely is that without pressure of one kind or another (read intervention) countries that are not liberal in the conduct of their economies and governance have very little incentive to change. We are talking about an intervention being the work of decades compared to "lets wait and see" being the work of generations.

Where is this perspective in our darling media? Does this perspective not fit into a 24 hour news cycle? Can't encapsulate this in a sound bite? Can't quite squeeze it in before the commercial? Perhaps this kind of perspective requires too many words and doesn't fit the cookie cutter mold of an online or printed piece?

Or perhaps the media just gives us what we want. The "highlights" or the "basics". When what we need is in depth analysis of the context and perspective. Media by nature plays to the masses. It needs to play to those that want the context and perspective. Perhaps thereby lifting the standard of the masses with it? Who pays for that? Advertisers play to the masses. That is just good business. I don't think enough Advertisers will pay money if the average Joe is turning the channel because he is bored with the context and perspective. Joe just wanted the highlights before dinner not the reasons behind the attacks and the back story that spans decades.

If the media is going to be the fourth estate it needs to be included in the checks and balances system. Who checks the media? Who balances it? The answer is finally here. It is imperfect and raw...but it is slowly refining itself. It is the new media. The problem is that this is still a VERY NEW media. The New Media does not yet reach a critical mass of people. It also is without editorial restraint. That on the one hand is a good thing (relieves institutional bias) and is also a bad thing (promotes personal bias). Luckily no one bias is in charge. As access to information penetrates new and "affected" areas we hopefully will see a change in the standard coercive dialog, that in my opinion is woefully misreported and even instigated by the legacy media, to a more attractive dialog that is not constrained by news cycles or column length.

3 Cheers for SC Senator Jim DeMint!

Robert Novak has an interesting piece in the Post today about a few congressmen going against the grain and taking care of their own problems before they get out of hand. The jist is that Senator DeMint and Senator Clyburn of Oklahoma stopped a wasteful spending project of another Senator. Here is the kicker. They are all republican. Not only is it rare that any Congressperson gets in the way of another's pet project but it is all the more rare that it happens within the same party.

Even more encouraging is that Senator DeMint is now and was before know as a Senator that crusades against pork barrel spending. Now, if we just had 99 more of those.



A Senator's Railroad No-Brainer

Monday, March 5, 2007; Page A15

The Federal Railroad Administration handed a rare victory to the American taxpayer last week by denying a questionable $2.3 billion loan application by the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) Railroad. What makes this news of special interest is the paramount role Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) played in boosting the loan. Here is a cautionary tale of political life in Washington and how it corrupts.

Thune guided through Congress legislative changes that made the loan possible. But an assessment that DM&E was a poor credit risk was shared by two other conservative senators -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina -- who took the extraordinary step of advocating rejection of a colleague's pet project. Making matters worse, Thune worked as a paid lobbyist for the South Dakota-based railroad before his election to the Senate and has received political contributions from company executives...

Whether this qualifies as an earmark is a matter of opinion. Coburn and DeMint contend that the loan is about policy. Normally, when senators dislike a colleague's protected project, they follow the chamber's politesse and swallow their objections. Not Coburn and DeMint, who since their election in 2004 have waged war on pork...