Saturday, May 29, 2004

Sole reliance on government or military sources of information makes for poor journalism and an even worse basis for life and death decision-making. Yet this is largely what happened in the run up to the Iraq War.

Most independent thinkers were at least skeptical, if not doubtful, when the Bush Administration claimed that Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq threatened America. This skepticism didn’t extend to the mainstream media, which dutifully repeated claims without doubts being expressed. There was a desire to avoid confrontation with the government at a time when bullying and jingoistic cheerleading was the norm after September 11.

Taking advantage of the public’s fears may be the job of the politicos running the Bush Administration, but the job of the press is to question the supposed “facts” touted by government flacks.

It’s nice that the New York Times and other news sources are now recanting their stories about WMD and the “Iraqi threat,” It would be better if the press now put the government’s feet to the fire in the present tense going forward.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I suspect that John Ashcroft has more in mind than simply catching Al Queda suspects when he makes his now annual statement of summer terror warnings to start us off on the Memorial Day weekend. I wonder if perhaps the beating his boss is taking in the headlines isn’t some little morsel of motivation to grab ink? Ashcroft reminds everyone how vigilant and indulgent we must all be in support of efforts he can’t even mention to us, lest he have to kill us.

However, one thing I do agree with John Ashcroft on is that it’s high time the American people were given some credit for our ability to help win the war on terror. When Ashcroft stood up with FBI Director Mueller in front of pictures of seven suspects, he at least gave a nod to our role in helping.

Now, for some more serious help we might give:

1- A patriotic energy conservation program. We won the space race, why not the energy race?
2- Scholarships for students who contribute to learning new energy technologies to lead us forward to energy independence. Again, Americans flocked to university science departments in response to grant offers during the Cold War, why not now to meet our most pressing need?
3- First Responder grants to cities to fight the battle at home. Why not fund fully the efforts of cities like New York to steel our police officers, firefighters, and EMT’s?
4- Fully protect and begin moving away from dangerous nuclear power generation. We are most vulnerable at these homeland ready-made WMD sites.
5- Beef up Peace Corps programs abroad to spread the power of American ideals, not just American might. Give young Americans a way to contribute to the war on terror that isn’t at the barrel of a gun. And let’s give developing nations a reason to love American values.
6- Take up Thomas Friedman’s ideas mentioned yesterday to expand programs in embassy libraries abroad and encourage the purchase of hybrid cars at home.
7- Stop giving up huge amounts of our tax dollars to the filthy rich when we need money to fight this war. If this really is a national emergency to fight terror, isn’t it worth paying for?
8- Look to our allies for ways we can all cooperate to fight AIDS, poverty, and illiteracy in the developing world. The madrassas flourish where there is no real alternative educational opportunity, radical religious movements succeed where no logical hope exists. These are the serious long-term battles to win.
9- Offer our support to employ and occupy the minds of scientists abroad. If we want to keep WMD from being made for Al Queda and its future spawn, we need to offer work to employ the weapons-makers of today and tomorrow.
10- Re-fund the buyback of existing nuclear stockpiles abroad. These programs have been bizarrely abandoned in the post-9/11 world. Where will these stockpiles go if not bought and diffused?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thomas Friedman-NYTimes today- op ed-- read it. This is what we need to be discussing as the home front and other fronts on the war on Al Queda and radical Islamic violence.

I don't often agree with him, but he's right about this. We need to be looking at long term solutions and advancing the cause of American idealism as a defense against Neanderthal terror.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Look for more info to come to light about what happened to the rest of the Taguba Report about Abu Ghraib prison. Rumor has it that huge sections of the original report were excised by Pentagon officials before it was released. This thing is going to get much worse—even if Bush can’t pronounce Abu Ghraib, (anyone notice the three separate—and different— mispronunciations last night in his address?) he’s likely to remember it for a long time.

This stuff will come out. Why do the folks at Defense think it will look better if they stonewall?

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