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Monday, July 31, 2006

Join me in condemning Hezbollah as well

We on the left have not hesitated during this war between Israel and Hezbollah to condemn Israel, and justifiably so to a large extent, for waging its war in a way that has a high civilian, thus innocent, death toll. But we also need to fill our credibility gap. Hezbollah's strategy is to fire rockets into Israel indiscriminately...they only have a vague idea where those rockets will land. Their targets with these missiles is the civilian population of Northern Israel; and unlike Israel, they've not warned civilians to leave the area.
It seems to me that Hezbollah's goal is to fire rockets from high-density civilian areas in the hopes (that's right, I said hopes, thus goal) that Israel will immediately retaliate by firing a rocket there, killing plenty of civilians. The more civilians that Hezbollah can entice Israel into killing, the more outrage from Arab and non-Arab nations alike will be heaped upon Israel. But in particular they want outrage from the Arab people. It's a recruiting tool in its effort to at some point trigger a war with Arab nations on one side and Israel on the other because they do not want Israel to exist.
It is a despicable way to wage war. Not only are they hiding behind civilians, their goal is to kill civilians...kill civilians in Israel with missiles that will result in Israel firing rockets at them, which will kill Lebanese civilians. And it's working wonderfully, from a propaganda standpoint and from a purely goal-oriented strategery standpoint.
I confess I have no answers. But let me ask you this: If there was a large terrorist group in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with sympathies among a large portion of the Windsor population, and if that group deployed the Hezbollah strategy and fired inaccurate missiles into Detroit, Michigan, USA, would we feel exactly the same way about the resultant civilian death toll in Windsor from our retaliation as we feel about Israel's?
Just once I'd like to see a television interview or read a newspaper interview where a Shia civilian in Lebanon condemned the actions of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is much more to blame for these civilian deaths than Israel. So while I will continue to point out the folly of Israel's strategy or lack thereof, it's high time we emphasize where most of the fault lies.

On the flipside, it would be nice to hear the right say the things we on the left have been saying from the beginning...that Israel is falling into a centuries' old trap; that the war cannot be won this way; that for every Hezbollah killed, for every Lebanese civilian killed they're creating multitudes and generations of Hezbollahs.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Southampton Dock, The Final Cut

While I'm busy today with resumes and trying to do more networking with Maine Independents, I thought this would be a good time for the next installment of Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut." As the album is laid out, this song immediately follows "The Fletcher Memorial Home," which is in a blog called Overgrown Infants. Enjoy, or about ponder.

"They disembarked in '45, and no one spoke and no one smiled...there were too many spaces in the line (my emphasis). And gathered at the cenotaph all agreed with hand on heart to sheath the sacrificial knives.
But now, she stands upon Southampton Dock with her handkerchief, and her summer frock clings to her wet body in the rain. In quiet desparation, knuckles white upon the slippery reins, she bravely waves the boys goodbye again.
And still the dark stain spreads between their shoulder blades, a mute reminder of the poppy fields and graves; and when the fight was over, we spent what they had made. But in the bottom of our hearts we felt the final cut."

This was obviously written in reference to the boys leaving for the Falkland Islands. So just add another chapter for today's boys who have and will embark.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Barbara Merrill update

I did indeed attend her coffee tour stop this morning, though it became evident to me early on that this was not a good forum or setting to get our questions asked, answered and relayed back to you in an efficient, accurate way. She has graciously agreed to respond to our questions in written form. So I'll spend the day today reformulating, updating and putting those questions into an email that I'll send off later today. So if you've thought of something else you'd like to ask or a better way of asking your question, there's still time.
While we wait for her answers, I would suggest you check out her website, as it does address to a fair degree some of the issues we've discussed.
I did get to sit and chat with her and a couple members of her campaign staff. My take meeting her in person is that she's earnest and genuinely cares about the people of Maine and the issues they face. Perhaps the best way of stating it is that I think she understands those issues, and that is in large part due to the fact that she in my opinion is one of everyday Mainer. She seems informed on the issues, she's intelligent, down to earth and most importantly open minded. She understands that the current political environment is not conducive to change, not conducive to new ideas and, therefore, not conducive to getting things done that will make a real difference in the lives of Mainers.
Obviously it would beg the question of whether, if elected, could she overcome the current intransigence in State politics and get things done. Would she be able to get reforms through. I believe any elected official in a position like governor can get a lot done if it is the will of the people. The electorate can demand, believe it or not, that their elected officials reform government; but you can't put that kind of pressure on politicians by doing nothing, nor by simply voting. If we truly want something done, we need to exert as much pressure as possible through being active in all the ways that are available; and if they don't do what we want, throw them out.
And there's also this from the Kennebec Journal , which Barbara only had a chance to refer to briefly, in that it was taking up a lot of time recently.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Rest of the World

I'm taking a hiatus from the Middle East conflict for a few days because the more I watch and read and hear, the more angry and less open minded I'm becoming about the situation. Not that that will help my clarity but it's worth a try, and I'm sure I'll have somewhat of a refreshed opinion soon. If you'd like to see what other people are saying about it, the blogosphere is all abuzz. You can start with the great blogs I've chosen to be in my blogroll or you can click on Global Voices and start there.
Thanks for the questions and ideas regarding Barbara Merrill, and I will be attending her stop tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to find a way to accurately convey everything she's asked and her responses, as I realized last night I no longer have a tape recorder and finances are kind of tight to go buy one.
So I decided to ponder independent politics and also to look around the world news a little. Here are a few interesting things I found.
The Chinese Government accuses the Dalai Lama of having links to the CIA, which is putting the kibosh on talks of a compromise over the future of Tibet vis-a-vis autonomy or independence from China.
Of course, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Malikiis in Washington today and spoke before Congress this morning. "Let me be very clear," al-Maliki said. "This is a battle between true Islam, for which a person's liberty and rights constitute essential cornerstones, and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak." Okay, gotcha. But what about Hezbollah? Oh that's right, I was taking a break from all that. I don't like his position on this issue; but hey, he is the duly-elected leader of Iraq. And all the politicians who voted for this war, "You don't have a dog in this fight." He's the leader of a sovereign nation; he can have whatever opinion he feels is best for his country. (heavy mix of truth and sarcasm) Did you know more people die every day in Iraq than in Lebanon and Israel? Combined both "altercations" are worth in the neighborhood of 150 a day, but neither one's a war apparently.
More Big Dig fun. Apparently an official after a 1999 inspection said he wouldn't be surprised if the ceiling plates came down because he didn't think the bolts were strong enough. As you may know, it did fail and a woman lost her life because of it.
There is a Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, et al rant in my future but I did find this. This link is to a page where you'll find a video link. I can't seem to link the video directly. The video is a teaser clip for tonight's "Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on CNBC, Coulter says, speaking of former President Clinton, "I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality." Do I need to say anything?
And finally, kudos to Republican Senator Arlen Specter. At least someone is finally going to try to do something about at least one area of President Bush's abuse of power, the signing statement. “We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional,” Specter said in regards to submitting a bill which would allow Congress to sue the President over this issue in federal court. You can read more
Opinions, thoughts and perspectives on any of these stories are welcomed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What would you ask?

I will be attending one of Barbara Merrill's Coffee Tour stops tomorrow morning in Winthrop; and if the opportunity presents itself, I'll ask a question or few. My intention is to ask questions of relevance related to the fact that this candidate is an independent running for Governor of Maine. So I'm not planning on asking questions about the Middle East or fires in California.
If you're from Maine and want to know where she stands on an issue particular to us, let me know. If you have a question of national importance that where her answer has relevance, ask away. I intend to ask a question related to Independent election issues...I just haven't framed it as of yet. This is your opportunity to use me as your vehicle of information. So don't hesitate to propose a question.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Representative Government, Part III

As I've said many times in other posts, particularly "Representative Govt," we need to be vigilent. We need to remember what our politicians say, when they say it and why they say it because, if we don't, they'll continue to make fools of us. They know we have short memories.
Why do I bring this up? Take a look at a few of these quotes put together by The Psychotic Patriot and see if that doesn't make your blood boil enough to kick the whole lot of them out. The Psychotic Patriot: Let Us Recall What They Said....
Some examples?
"These international war crimes were led by Gen. Wesley Clark...who clicked his shiny heels for the commander-in-grief, Bill Clinton." Michael Savage
"I cannot support a failed foreign policy...There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory." Tom Delay(R-TX)"
Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." Gov. George W. Bush(R-TX)
"You think Vietnam was bad? Vietnam was nothing next to Kosovo." Tony Snow, Fox News, 3/24/99

And you should keep some things in mind when people tell you they're glad we now have a president who's tough on other countries, tough on terrorists, one who knows there's more to being President of the United States of America than talk; not like Bill Clinton. So there's this from Driftglass. But I'll pull an exerpt:

Jack Kemp "On the horrors of unbridled Executive Power: “What Clinton did to Yugoslavia was bad enough, but what he did to the United States Constitution was even worse. He stole from Congress its constitutional power to decide when and if America goes to war. He stole from the Senate its treaty-ratification power by agreeing -- without Senate approval -- to change the mission prescribed in the NATO treaty from defensive to offensive."

I would encourage you to read these other blogs, as I only pulled out representative samples to make a point. Also, I realize I'm picking on Republicans here this time; but as I've said in previous installments of Representative Govt (June Archives), I find the Democrats just as guilty most of the time. "I voted for it before I voted against it," for example. And I'm sure my conservative friends could give many other examples. Yes, I have conservative friends. This particular post is an effort to show the hypocrisy between two periods of time to make a point.

Overgrown Infants

I've been drawn back recently to the last Pink Floyd album with Roger Waters, "The Final Cut." I wonder why. It was timeless then and poigniant now. I plan to periodically post the lyrics to selected songs, and hopefully they'll make you think as much as they make me think. The first selection I'll post musically starts out with ballroom dancing music, violins.
As you read, you can easily be drawn back 20 years ago when it was written, and you can also easily replace the names to today and get the same effect. In fact, I think he was 20 years ahead of himself in many ways. This album was the final nail for Pink Floyd, as the rest of the boys were tired of this direction in their music. In my opinion it's a masterpiece. It shows the madness and brilliance of Roger Waters, flaming liberal that he is.
If memory serves me correctly, the Fletcher referred to is Roger Waters' maternal uncle who fought in WWII. I don't have the album jacket at my fingertips. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
There is a video for the song but I find it distracting from the lyrics. So I'll link it here if you're not familiar with the song.
The intro is called "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert," which you won't hear on the video.
"Brezhnev took Afghanistan, Begin took Beirut, Galtieri took the Union Jack; and Maggie over lunch one day took a cruiser with all hands, apparently to make him give it back."
Now "The Fletcher Memorial Home:"
"Take all your overgrown infants away, somewhere, and build them a home, a little place of their own; the Fletcher Memorial Home For Incurable Tyrants and Kings. And they can appear to themselves every day on closed circuit TV, to make sure they're still real; it's the only connection they feel.
'Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Reagan and Haig, Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley, Mr. Brezhnev and party, the ghost of McCarthy, the memories of Nixon, and now adding colour a group of annonymous Latin American meat packing glitterati.' Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
They can polish their medals and sharpen their smiles and amuse themselves playing games for awhile...boom, boom, bang, bang, lie down you're dead.
Safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye, with their favourite toys; they'll be good girls and boys, in the Fletcher Memorial Home For Colonial Wasters of Life and limb.
Is everyone in? Are you having a nice time? 'Good time'. Now the final solution can be applied."

I hope that even if you don't agree with this in all its specificity, you'll agree with and appreciate its sentiment.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Barbara Merrill drops by Inside Zebster

Welcome, Barbara, to Inside Zebster! She took time from her busy schedule in the State Legislature and campaigning to respond to my earlier post about her Independent candidacy for Governor of Maine.

"I just wanted you to know I'm listening in and will check back once in a while so I can answer any questions which might arise.

If I could comment on a couple of points, I would like to say that I think looking closely at my experience as a lobbyist is very understandable. I was not a hired gun in the sense that I would represent anyone and am proud of the businesses and nonprofits which I served. But the question always follows, that now that I serve the public as a whole am I able to to seperate myself from this past work. I believe my record in the Maine House demonstrates that. I hope you all come to the same conclusion.

I don't know if you know this but Governor King once worked as a lobbyist before the Maine legislature. He lobbied for environmental groups. He also worked on the inside of government for a brief period as did I. His work was for the US Senate, mine for the Maine Senate. I think the fact the King saw the world as an outsider but had experience as an insider made him effective. I hope my similar experience will serve me as well.

Finally, mention is made of the fact that the state got into financial problems in King's second term and that things have improved under Gov. Baldacci. I agree with the former and strongly disagree with the latter. In King's defense, he was the first Governor elected after the Maine government shut down and as such was understandably worried about pushing back too hard on a legislature which wanted to spend more. Having observed this first hand, I have made clear that when I am elected, there will be no budgets passed by a simple majority and I will veto any budget which isn't fiscally responible.

It is very important to avoid any shut down of government services but it is even more important to fashion a government which we can afford which is managed soundly. "
8:41 AM, July 20, 2006

Thank you, Barbara. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Barbara's website has been updated here, and I see she'll be in my area on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be able to attend one of the stops on her coffee tour, and better yet maybe get a chance to ask her where she stands on independent issues like election reform. And she must be doing something right, as I see on the website that the Governor's staff felt it important to "take issue" with her current campaign ad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lighter, not necessarily brighter

The Daily Show - Taint

I just really felt the need to lighten things up a great deal. This clip is hysterical. It's a little off color but clean...everything's just implied. If you don't know what your taint is, it taint your scrotum and it taint your butt. Enjoy. It is political...sort of.
I'll be mostly blogging for the next couple of days about the British Open on All Things Zebster. Come over for an update.

Also, if you can't watch the video, like at work -- like you're actually working at work -- please enjoy these links:

I found all of these on
"SYDNEY, Australia - A man caught with six eggs from endangered species in his underwear as he was preparing to fly to Bangkok was fined 25,000 Australian dollars (US$20,000) Monday by a judge who rejected his claim that he only wanted to surprise his girlfriend." Is that an endangered species in your pocket?

Since I'm from Maine, I had to include this story about the two-toned lobster. "BAR HARBOR, Maine - An eastern Maine lobsterman caught a lobster last week that looks like it's half-cooked."

From the definitely not brighter category, "BERLIN - A 61-year-old German on trial for theft got himself into more trouble when he stole from the judge during his court hearing, police said Thursday." Read more here Look also on this page and you'll see a link about a woman in Oregon who called 911 trying to get a date. Unfortunately it's a video and I can't figure out how to link it here. Basically police came to her house to tell her to turn down her music. After they left, she called 911 because she thought he was cute and wanted him to come back.

"FULDA, Minn. - It's probably not a good idea to switch drivers while the vehicle is moving." At least they had the cruise control set. Don't laugh too've done worse while driving; haven't you?!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Two questions

Can someone explain to me how Israel's strategy in its war against Hezbollah is in Israel's best interests? I understand that getting rid of Hezbollah or weaking them and getting them away from the Lebanon/Israel border is in Israel's best interest. But I'm talking about the strategy here, the mechanics, as it were, of accomplishing this task.
A prosperous, stable and democratic Lebanon is in Israel's best interest as well; a country on its border that does not learn or re-learn to see Israel as its enemy, as an invader. Is it in Israel's best interest to be at war with the government of Lebanon, the people of Lebanon and even the military of Lebanon? How can bombing the airport, bombing ports, destroying roads, bombing military installations and killing Lebanese soldiers be in the best interest of Israel?
Isn't it more likely that the result of this strategy, whether the stated objective is achieved or not, is that the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government will see Israel as a threat? Isn't it likely that from these ashes will be born new members of Hezbollah or new hezbollahs? Doesn't this play into the hands of Syria and Iran? How can Lebanon ward off the influences of Syria or more importantly defend itself from Syrian-backed terrorists and infiltrators when the Lebanese government is weakened, when its people grow to hate Israel and respect Hezbollah because of the humanitarian things that Hezbollah has done in Lebanon?
There are members of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government. Do you think this strategy that is harming the citizens and government of Lebanon as much as it is hurting Hezbollah will result in more or less members of Hezbollah being elected to the Lebanese government?

Is the United States strategy, or lack thereof, of standing by Israel while not seeming to be standing by the people and government of Lebanon a smart one? Is not Lebanon an ally of the United States? Is not a stable, democratic, prosperous (stop me if this mantra sounds familiar) Lebanon, a good neighbor and friend of Israel, in the best interest of the United States? Can't we support Israel and yet be supportive of Lebanon? Can't we do more than publicly tell Israel to use restraint as it pummels its neighbor, a neighbor who is an ally of the United States.
You wonder what our strategy is, what our government thinks is in our best interest in this situation as we watch Israel bomb the Beirut airport, destroy roads and other infrastructure, even bomb military installations that result in the deaths of Lebanese soldiers.
Shouldn't we at the very least appear to care about what's happening to Lebanon? The result of standing by and appearing not to care is that we'll have one less ally in that region, actually likely one more enemy...another nest of future jihadists and killers of infidels, terrorists, insurgents, etc. Wasn't and isn't our purpose in being involved in this part of the world to make us safer at home?

Monday, July 17, 2006

The price of right?

Regardless of the intent of Hezbollah in taking Israeli soldiers, the intent of Iran and Syria in backing Hezbollah and the right of Israel to defend itself, the bigger picture of this back and forth is one of diminishing returns long term. Israel now has the mind set to hopefully cripple Hezbollah or at least get their rockets and Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon where they aren't nearly as much of a threat, but in so doing Israel has undertaken a strategy which I fear falls right into the hands of all those who hate Israel, the Zionists. Every Israeli bomb that explodes in Lebanon seems to kill civilians, and every time that happens a whole new generation of revenge is born. On top of that the haters of Israel are smiling, knowing how Israel's reaction is playing in the Islamic world. They can envision future generations of jihadists eagerly waiting to take part in their war on infidels.
On top of that our government in the United States has been disengaged from the politics of the region since the current administration took office, yet President Bush blindly supports Israel's right to defend itself. Yes, Israel does; but there we are unhesitatingly, unwittingly even, taking Israel's side without publicly addressing all the other issues that are involved in the situation. So in the eyes of the Arab world, much of whom already wishes us harm, there we are taking Israel's side again as if no one else in the region mattered.
There is no easy solution to any of this, but I for one fear that bombs over diplomacy will again hurt Israel and the United States for generations to come.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Middle story, old story

The more I watch the news, read editorials, blogs, historical backgrounds I come to the conclusion that this situation in the Middle East, while more complicated because it's been going on back and forth seemingly forever, is no different than any conflict between peoples and nation states and countries throughout mankind. It is about not taking responsibility, not really wanting peace more than wanting revenge. It is about who has been more wronged, whose cause is more just, which people and which religion is more right and holy. It is about power, yes; but also self-preservation too. But it most certainly is not about truly wanting peace. People and countries who want peace find peace. Those who want to dominate, control, blame, be more powerful and influential will not find peace.
Israel in the name of self-preservation gives up (well, on paper) Gaza, the West Bank but will not recognize its people as people. So while self-preservation is valid to a degree; the way it's being handled is counter-productive to say the least. Many of the Arab nations of that region, the people and the leaders, do not feel the Jews and the nation of Israel should exist. Well, that's a fine attitude to have if you really care about the safety and well-being of your own citizens. Let's talk again about being counter-productive. If you threaten the existence of a people and a nation, don't be surprised about the response...but then don't be surprised at the response to the response...
Too simplistic and naive? Perhaps, but it's not like this is a situation where there's a clear culprit that starts something new. This has been, again, going on back and forth for generations. It takes courage, I know, to stand against convention, to put aside perhaps nationality or family or religion to insist and do all that's necessary for peace. So who will it be that ultimately gets this going in the right direction? Israel, Hamas, Jordan, Iran, Hezbollah, some mullah or other, the United Nations -- don't get carried away, Zeb.

Updated today, July 17, to include a link to a blog by Jonathan in Israel that I think everyone should read. Intellect or Insanity

Trying to understand it all

Or at least enough to try to talk intelligently about it and have an opinion...the latest crisis in the middle east, that is. Aside from most of yesterday when I was visiting family at camp, this is what I've been doing instead of blogging here.
Hopefully I'll have something intelligent to say soon. Please feel free to jump in with your opinions though, or perspective or facts. I would welcome any information I can get.
While I do this, I'm sampling the special release of Samuel Adams Brewer Patriot Collection, which I've started to review at All Things Zebster So if you like good craft beer or just are interested to reading something light for a while, you could jump over there. Hopefully I won't get less intelligible as I drink more.

UPDATE: The United Nations Security Council unanimously condemns North Korea regarding the launching of their missiles and demands it suspend its ballistic missile program and stop procurement of weapons of mass destruction. It's about time, China and Russia. Will North Korea comply? I suspect they won't but this is a necessary step in getting them to realize we're serious.
Well, that was fast...45 minutes later North Korea rejects it and storms out! No surprise, I guess.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time, The Revelator

As Gillian Welch and David Rawlings write, Time is the Revelator; and so it is and will continue to be with this current Administration. We are hearing more and more proof that Karl Rove was involved in leaking Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Novak...something the President said wouldn't happen, didn't happen and wouldn't be tolerated in his administration. He has said that anyone who leaked would be punished. Well, Karl Rove's still around, as close to the President as ever...doing everything but swapping spit with each other. (Yes, the same Karl Rove who leaked during the previous Bush administration) Their talking heads say he did nothing illegal. Well, if someone from the other side of the aisle had done the very same thing and the Special Prosecutor didn't feel it was a slam-dunk case, this group would be screaming about the morality of it.

Their arrogance is unbelievable and frightening. The deceipts and cover-ups are rampant, and they'll do anything but take responsibility. Where's Harry Truman when you need the buck to stop where the buck should stop? No reason that we were given for going to war in Iraq has proven to have any basis. I said all along the war hawks in that administration, the President included, always wanted to go to Iraq and take out Hussein to fix his father's legacy and write his own; and they frankly didn't care how they got there or the consequences of this misguided action, such as the toll on the soldiers, incidents like Haditha and Abu Graib, the fact that we opened the place up to al Qaeda, that Iran and North Korea know we're preoccupied, even though they were bigger threats to begin with, to -- unfortunately it's a seemingly endless list. Oh, I'd me remiss if I didn't include the fact that the Taliban has gotten stronger since we took our eye off Afghanistan and Bin Laden and focused on Iraq.

So when Joe Wilson exposes another falsehood that was the basis for going to war, what's their reaction? Gee, maybe it's a good idea to leak the identity of his wife, who just happened to be a "Non-official cover operative." An explanation here And over and over the White House howls about the press revealing secrets that weren't secrets, yet it's okay for them to use the press to leak the CIA wife of a whistleblower in an attempt to discredit the whistleblower. Well, if you have the goods that the whistleblower is wrong, then why didn't you release that information?
It's all about credibility and this administration has none for most of the country. Raise your hands all of you who voted for Bush in the fall of '03 who would've liked to have known this information before you voted.

And time will be the revelator about this so-called supply-side robust economy just as it was with Reaganomics...lots of low-paying jobs, high prices, the everyday working schmuck unable to make ends meet because there's been no real rise in wages since they took office...coupled with an ever-increasing deficit that will strangle any real growth. So rejoice investor class...the rest of us are unimpressed.

UPDATE: And this just in, Valerie Plame has filed a civil suit against Cheney, Rove, Libby, et al. So I'll be writing about this in the near future.

See my previous rant on this issue Leakergate

Updates and such

As many of you know, I am a huge Pink Floyd fan and am saddened to learn that Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett died yesterday at the age of 60. I include here a snippet to think about "and did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in the cage?" My favorite line from my favorite Pink Floyd song, a song that I feel lyrically is in the top 5 all time. And even though that song was written by mostly Roger Watters with David Gilmore for Syd, it is a metaphor for life like no other and sums up in many ways the life of Barrett. Another great and obvious choice of a song to quote as a tribute would be "Shine on you crazy diamond."
A quote from the band, “Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire.”

Hao Wu was released, according to his sister. Ethan ZuckermanYou can learn about the release of Hao Wu here. It would be nice to think that those of us who got involved in trying to pressure China to release him had some effect, but we'll never know why he was released.

Do you want to talk about the viability of Danica Patrick having success in Nascar, as it's rumored she will be "heading south" next year? Is she the one to prove that women can succeed at the highest levels of auto racing? I believe a woman can but I'm not sure it's her. Since I'm much more a Nascar fan than other racing series, I'd prefer a woman come to Nascar with a proven record of success. As of yet, that's not Danica.

MSNBC The President of FIFA is quoted as saying that Zinedine Zidane could be stripped of his MVP trophy.“The winner of the award is not decided by FIFA, but by an international commission of journalists,” Blatter said in Wednesday’s La Repubblica. “That said, FIFA’s executive committee has the right, and the duty, to intervene when faced with behavior contrary to the ethic of the sport.” Let's hope they do the right thing here.

MSNBC A suspect in the India train bombings yesterday has ties to al-Qaida. Dawood Ibrahim apparently tops the list of suspects responsible for the bombings that took place along many points of the commuter rail line in Mumbai, formerly Bombay, bombings which killed 183.
We've always known terrorists like to target trains. Have we done nearly enough or as much as can be done in this country to prevent attacks like that here?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Open mic night, Zinedine Zidane

Since this incident happened on the world's biggest sports stage, I feel this is a social issue. How on earth can you award an MVP trophy, in this case the World Cup Gold Ball, to a player who head butted another player during the championship game between his team, France, and Italy, ultimately won by Italy on penalty kicks?
If we were talking about an incident that had nothing to do with the game or at least didn't happen on the playing field, perhaps there could be some varied opinions. But as I said, this incident occurred during overtime of a tie game, the championship game no less. Many people feel this cost his team the victory. That's debatable. But the argument can be made that France was outplaying Italy during the final minutes of the game when this happened. Instead of scoring the winning goal, they had to play the rest of the way a man down because Zidane was given a red card for this stupidity, which also meant he wouldn't be available for penalty kicks; and the game was ultimately won by Italy on penalty kicks.

What kind of message does it send to the youth of the world that you can do something like that in front of millions and still be awarded for it? Does it really matter what Marco Materazzi might have said to possibly instigate such a deplorable reaction? So this is how the soccer community punishes these kinds of actions?

I'll be spending the day out at camp with the family. So you folks take it from here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lt. Ehren Watada

Lt. Ehren Watada

I would ask that people look at this situation with an open mind. It is a provocative issue, a polarizing issue in many ways. Neither side should be discounted out of hand, which is why I'm including his statement, encourage people to discuss it and will try to lay out my feelings on this as a liberal, a patriotic American and Marine (there is no such thing as former Marine).
It is a very brave thing he is doing. He must know how it will end. We are a country of laws but he must understand and should understand that when you sign up for duty in the US Armed Forces, you relinquish some of those rights.
He signed up for duty after we invaded Iraq. This is an all-volunteer force. So any sympathy I would have had had he been on active duty before we went to Iraq don't count in this situation. Be that as it may, once you sign up, your duty is to do your duty. You can be a participant in a so-called illegal war, do your duty and not commit war crimes, as he alleges he would be doing.
He should have chosen to be a conscientious objector as a civilian, not as an active duty member of the military. He can call it a breech of American law, but not while he's on duty, especially an officer, a leader of men.
Joining the military takes a lot of soul searching; and again, given that we were already involved in Iraq before he joined, he had plenty of information with which to search his soul. This kind of second guessing by officers is what gets those who are supposed to follow him innocently killed.
I felt very strongly before we went to Iraq that we shouldn't have gone to Iraq; that the reasons the American public were given for going were deceiptful at best. But I can tell you this: Had I still be on active duty at the time we went, I would have done my duty, followed those orders that were legal (which would've been 99.999999% of them); and honored my commitment and my country, and then came home and done a much better job and honorable job of objecting to this war.
That's as even handed as I can be about it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My early travels in the blogosphere

Having just read a fascinating blog at Global Voices about the recent elections in Bolivia, I was initially struck by what a fascinating and wonderful site that is; that someone in Maine can within a click or two of a mouse be essentially transported to another part of the world, learning about that area through the eyes of someone who lives there and lives what they're writing about. On the front page of that site today you're within a click of learning about refugees in Kazakhstan or monsoons in India...again, from people who are there, people like us.
Soon thereafter, it occurred to me how much I've gotten out of blogging and reading blogs in just a short time. It is a place, the blogosphere, where you can write about what interests you; and there are people who will read it who are as interested in it as you. It is a very good tool as well to hone your writing skills and bring out the creativity even in someone with very little. Maybe this endeavor will lead to work in a field I'm finding I should have pursued years ago. (I still need a job!)
I've had a similar but narrower experience with the internet, as I wrote about recently in All Things Zebster about my 10 year relationship with Nascar friends I've made on message boards.
But this is much larger. I've started to make some new friends like Robbie and Ingrid; I've found a community of like-minded political independents, such as Nancy The Hankster. I have been in touch with some of them and will soon hopefully meet someone here in Maine who is active in independent politics through the Committee for a Unified Independent Party. So that's very exciting. I've started a blog with my brother, my cousin and a friend where we talk about our beloved Red Sox at BoSox Tavern. As my map shows, I've had people "visit" from many parts of the world. And I've found some very clever and interesting blogs, such as Useless Advice From Useless Men.
I've learned much about myself, the world and the people in it in a relatively short period of time. I highly recommend it. The more that people in this world learn about each other and the world they live in, the greater the likelihood we'll someday learn to get along. Computer The smilie's for you, Dog!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A momentary lean to the right

Though this wouldn't be the smartest thing to do given our worldwide lack of popularity right now, part of me wants to say to that whackjob in North Korea, "Hey, do you remember what happened in the past when a much less powerful country threatened a powerful country?" "Yeah, that's right, your country wasn't yours anymore, KIM Jong Il!"
Threatening your neighbors by sending missiles into the Sea of Japan and attempting to produce missiles that threaten us will not get us to the bargaining table, quite the opposite. I'd be tempted to give President Bush permission to pull a Crocodile Dundee on their asses by saying "No, this is a missile" and fly one armed with a non-nuclear warhead right into an unpopulated part of North Korea. And say, "There's more where that came from and they're aimed right at you."
Phew, now that's off my chest. Diplomacy is always the best way to proceed but their threats should not get them anything.

My wife will kill me when she reads this. Though I think she'd agree with its sentiment but not its implementation (nor do I), her son, my stepson is stationed in Korea right now and she's mighty nervous about that.

Some background info

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hao Wu

The plight of Hao Wu, a Chinese editor and blogger at Global Voices Online, came to my attention through Ingrid at Blogger Roundtable, in which she encouraged others to do like she and many others did and write the Wall Street Journal to plea for the release of Hao Wu, who has been imprisoned for "state secrets" by the government of Mao Zedong.
So on our Independence Day I would ask others to join us in writing a letter to the editor of the WSJ, which has done much in publicizing this issue, asking for the release of Hao Wu. Below is the letter that I wrote. Feel free to copy it.

"To the Editor:
The Government of China needs to understand that this is a small world, that taking away the freedom of one without due cause and due process threatens us all. If we in our comfortable country can take notice of the plight of a man who loves his country but stands for making it better, then perhaps the Chinese Government will realize that nothing will go unnoticed.
If China wants to be viewed as a world power, then they must care about their reputation within the most powerful and influential nation on earth. If they want to grow their economy, then they must care about their reputation within the most powerful economic nation on earth.
So on this day, Independence Day in the United States, I am appealing to the Chinese Government through the efforts of the Wall Street Journal to release Hao Wu or to at the very least make public the charges against him and try him on those charges.
About which we will watch as well.
I will also post this letter on my blog and request my readers, few that they are, to do the same."

Also read Ethan Zuckerman's blog regarding the situation with Hao wu.

Monday, July 03, 2006

On this Independence Day

I thought I'd take a few minutes to express my thoughts regarding what Independence Day means to me in 2006. Despite the fact that I've been out of work for far too long and the prospects for a good job look bleak, this is still the Land of Opportunity and it is that fact that produces much of my ongoing optimism. Despite the fact that the divide between the haves and have-nots continues to grow, we are all in the category of haves compared to most of the rest of the world.
This is the country of open and free debate, where you don't have to look over your shoulder when expressing your views; where the freedom to express your views and disagree openly with the policies of your government has changed little in over 200 years. This is a country where having a far left and a far right truly produces a working, successful center; and it is this open and ongoing tug of war that makes this country continue to grow and excel.
I realize we have Memorial Day, but we should always remember on Independence Day the sacrifices of those in the past and ongoing that have made and continue to make us free and independent.
On this Independence Day though I think we should also resolve as a country and a people to temper our arrogance and that big chip on our shoulder. We are a better country when we see our flaws and are willing to consider how we are truly viewed by other countries. Being the best and strongest is a great thing; but if we are never willing to see the chinks in our armour, then our chinks can grow and we cannot continue to grow as a nation. That also is good advice for us as individuals. We need to recognize that the biggest strength this country has is its diversity of its people and its diversity of ideas and ideals.Let us have a safe and happy but reflective Independence Day...reflect on what has made this country great but resolve to not sit on our laurels. There is plenty of room for improvement. Those who do not grow will stagnate and eventually weaken and perhaps die.
So let's be vigilent and do our part, each and every one of us, to see to it that the sacrifices of so many is never wasted.
I would encourage anyone who reads this blog to leave a comment and better yet to backlink to it and write your own thoughts on what this Independence Day means to you...almost like a blogger chain letter. Remember, whoever breaks the chain will have 10 years of bad luck or something dumb like that. And please don't blow your hand off playing with fireworks!