January 24, 2009
Super High Resolution Image of the Inauguration
Check this out! You can zoom in so far to see what was going on all over the scene, it's pretty amazing.
November 07, 2008
How the US voted
Here's a great bunch of maps about the way the US voted on Tuesday.
November 04, 2008
Congratulations to Obama. How incredible. Let's hope he lives up to the hype and helps heal a lot of the damage that's been done over the years.
Poor McCain, dude should have been President in 2000. We'd be better off. If only W's henchmen didn't spread all those rumors about the guy.
Now all the W supporters who were saying people should support their president whether or not they agree with him have a chance to lead by example!
March 26, 2007
Me, an advisor to the President
So today I get a very interesting call, from someone representing Senator Kohl. I was asked if I could join a Presidential Advisory Committee of Small Business Owners. I would be the representative from Maryland, attend a dinner in our honor with President Bush, and even receive a National Hero Award for my service.
Now technically I do own a business, but this would be kind of a joke because Darby and I are its only employees. But they told me that Nancy Pelosi is dead set on making people like me, the backbone of our countries economy, pay extravagant taxes and that this Advisory Committee would be our last line of defense.
I have to admit, my interest and curiousity is piqued. Though no fan of Bush, this would be a fun story at the least. But something doesn't sound quite right, so I ask the question. "Is there a required donation to join this Committee?"
Sure enough, yes. They are requesting that every Representative donates $300-500 to take out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal to combat Pelosi's anti-small-business agenda.
Hmm, so that's all a National Hero Award costs these days, huh?
October 10, 2006
More on Columbus
I am glad that Jase posted about Columbus day. Thanks Jase, great job. I started writing a comment to add to it, but it grew very long, and I thought that i should make a full post about it. Warning, don't click the link and read the rest of this post if you like to think of Columbus as a nobel explorer or a good christian spreading the word of God.
I am appalled by the fact that this is still celebrated as a holiday. It is very true that Genocide ensued after european contact, but people should recognize that Columbus himself was more that a mere catalyst. He was a tyrant in the truest sense of the word.
Before Christopher Columbus was a "discoverer" he was a slave trader. In his report to the spanish crown, he said that the people would make poor slaves, but that they did possess riches that Spain could capture.
In 1493, columbus returned to the Americas with an invasion force of 17 ships (appointed at his request). His expressed purpose was to set himself up as "viceroy and governor of [the Caribbean islands] and the mainland" and seize the wealth there by whatever means necessary.
He promptly instituted a tribute system where every native citizen over the age of 14 had to pay a certain amount of gold to him every 3 months. Upon payment, they were then given a token to wear around their neck to show that they had fulfilled their duty. If they did not pay, they were punished by having both hands cut off and were left to bleed to death. In his first 4 years as governor, it is estimated that around 10,000 natives died in this manor alone.
Bartolome de Las Casas was the first european historian in the Americas. He oversaw conducted censuses and documented (in exquisite detail) what was happening in that time and place.
He gives accounts of Spanish colonists hanging Tainos (the native people) en masse, roasting them on spits or burning them at the stake (often a dozen or more at a time), hacking their children into pieces to be used as dog feed and so forth, all of it to instill in the natives a "proper attitude of respect" toward their Spanish "superiors."
Here's another description by another historian "The Spaniards made bets as to who would slit a man in two, or cut off his head at one blow; or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mother's breast by their feet and dashed their heads against the rocks...They spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords."
By conservative accounts based on Spanish surveys, the Taino numbered as many as 8 million in 1493. Las Casas estimated that over 5 million people had been exterminated within the first three years of the Columbus rule. By the time of Columbus' departure, only 100,000 Taino were left, and by 1542, only 200 were left. Within the entire Caribbean Islands, about 15 million indigenous people are estimated to have been exterminated within one generation of Columbus' arrival. This is genocide, the wholesale killing of an entire people group.
Hope you enjoyed your day off.
June 08, 2006
It's not happening here, but it's happening now
Amnesty International has launched a bold, creative, and challenging outdoor advertising campaign. It places real life horrific events on a transaprent clear background, so the terrible event looks like it's happening in a safe, familiar area. It's very effective, and it , for me at least, breaks through the tendency to forget that entire world is not as comfortable as our existence.
Check it out, I think you'll be impressed.
May 03, 2006
What's Going on in Sudan?
So, I'm sure you've heard pieces of conversations, read pieces of articles, and seen little bits on the news, but it's still hard to figure out what exactly is going on Sudan.
It's a genocide. A really confusing one too.
Well, I'm writing a news story on Sudan, and a Delaware student named Mike McKain gave me some backround info on the situation. I would recomend reading it. It's simple, and very enlightening.
What is the current situation like in Sudan?
According to current reports, there are 2.5 million people who have been driven from their homes as a result of violence. Nearly 3.5 million are living in famine or near famine conditions, and around 400,000 have died or been killed so far. Those responsible for the violence continue to plague the people of Darfur; rapes have become common among women who go out to collect wood, fetch water, or work their fields to try to feed their families.
How long has the conflict been going on, and how did it start?
The Darfur crisis originated with a rebellion in the region in 2003. The attempts of the Sudanese government to put down this revolt resulted in many of the present conditions. Part of the program for ending the rebellion was the arming of the Arab Janjaweed militia, which has since used the revolt as an excuse to carry out attacks against black African villages, committing various violent crimes such as murder and rape. These militias have driven people from their homes, and have produced much of the present suffering.
Is there actually ethnic cleansing going on right now? If so, who is behind it?
Yes. Though hesitantly, the United States has come to recognize the present situation as genocide, and rightfully so. The Janjaweed, often with the help and support of the Sudanese government, has used the rebellions of 2003 as an excuse to purge the region of black Africans. However, the militias are targeting civilians, not the rebels who started the conflict. Attacks on civilians are against the Geneva Convention, and as the attacks are with the purpose of driving a particular people from an area through violence or eliminating them through murderous means, this situation qualifies as ethnic cleansing.
How has the west reacted to the situation?
Slowly. With the vast resources of America and Europe, we had it within our power to end this in 2003. And 2004. And 2005. Yet here we are 5 months into 2006 and the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Though the Senate should be applauded for passing the Darfur Accountability Act in 2005, we continue to see no one being held accountable for this genocide.
How do you want America to help?
In spite of the blow our reputation took internationally because of our Iraq involvement, we are still the most powerful and influential country in the world. If George W. Bush or leading Democrats wanted this to be a major issue, it would be. If Darfur were moved to the forefront of American interests, there would be greater pressure for action. However, therein lies the problem: we have no economic interest in Sudan or the surrounding region, so this issue remains on the backburner while more innocent people die.
That is not to say the proper action is to rush American soldiers into a complex and multifaceted civil war in Africa. However, the United States should work to assemble a truly international force, working in concert with the African Union, to protect the people of Darfur and end the genocide.
What do you see as something that every day people can do to help?
Something everyone can do, regardless of their financial situation, is just talk about what is going on. Tell people there is a genocide taking place in the world today. Write your Senator or Congress person, even the President, and urge them to take the lead in this critical issue.
Beyond that, organizations such as UNICEF and many Christian charities are working to provide relief to the region. It is interesting to note that those taking the lead on this issue are a combination of Conservative Christians and human rights oriented liberals. It just goes to show that this issue should bridge partisan divides, for it is truly a stain on all of humanity. It is past time we pay attention and act.
April 21, 2006
Out Of Gas
All of the gas stations in this area are out of gas. I don't mean like they don't have regular or something. I mean they are pumped dry!!!
There is a road in Newark with about 8 or 9 gas stations on it. Every single one is COMPLETELY empty. Lindsay just took our car to try to get gas at another gas station just north of town. OUT OF GAS. She called me to see what she should do. I told her to keep going. She went to the sunoco that is about 8 miles out of town. NOTHING. She continued on to the next place. STILL NOTHING. On and on she went.
Finally, in a small town about 15 miles north of Newark, she found one place with a little bit of ultra high octane gas left. She was able to fill up, so she didn't run out, but what on earth is going on? Is this a new trend we will see continue?
April 17, 2006
I just thought you all should know, I think that we will soon be at war with Iran.
Everything is going down just like it did before we went to Iraq. Call me a pessimist, but I think we'll be in another, much nastier war very soon.
March 20, 2006
The Perfect Script for Getting out of Iraq
OK, I think it's becoming more and more apparent that we ought not be there anymore. We can argue about whether we should have gone there in the first place. Regardless, it's fairly obvious that the US has screwed up the post-war effort beyond saving. There were too few troops to ensure stability, allowing scores of terrorists to seep into the country. They lost any moral authority they might have had by creating a climate that encouraged torture. They simply failed to anticapte a number of likely scenarios that are now bitter realities.
Iraq is on the verge of a civil war, while also being a terrorist hotspot for all those who hate the US. Their own government has asked us to leave. Maybe we thought it would be great to plant a real prosperous democracy in the Middle East that would serve as a beacon of light to show them how great it would be not to live under religious dictatorships. But they tried, and they failed, and it's now costing us billions of dollars, loss of life (our troops and Iraqi civilians), and any kind of worldwide goodwill we might want or need.
So I think we need to get out of Iraq.
How can Bush do this without looking like a miserable failure?
First, he needs to address the reasons we went in there. I think he should directly admit that the WMD intelligence was faulty, and that he now regrets that his administration was wrong in what they believed at the time.
He should mention however, that the US wasn't alone in their belief that Iraq had WMD, that other major world powers believed the same. But he could just say, "We were fairly certain that they had them, and honestly any doubt that we had at the time didn't justify the risk associated with being right about our best educated hunches. We had to act."
Oh, and then he should add really we didn't go in just for the WMDs. We went in because we should have gotten Saddam out of their earlier, but we stopped just short. Saddam was a killer, and needed to be brought to justice. And you know who he should have up on the stage when he's giving this speech? The Kurds. All that talk of being welcomed with open arms and applauded like heros actually did bear out in Kurdistan, the province of Iraq that suffered the most under Saddam's rule. They do view the US as liberaters. Why Bush hasn't pushed this so far is crazy.
And he should push for independant statehood for Kurdistan. yes, that's right.
Look, the country is going to collapse into civil war anyway. Bush went into this war to liberate a country and create a state favorable to the US. If Kurdistan walks away as a free nation (they are a distinct people from the rest of Iraq), he will have done that and maybe this will salvage something positive out of this nightmare of an experiment.
And then our troops leave, in the course of 6-9 months, replaced by a non-US led UN contigent that won't be the same terror-magnet the US has become. People may counter "oh and leave the Iraqis completely alone, to be slaughtered." I would counter then that I might have agreed with you 6 months ago, but it's becoming increasingly clear to me that our presence there is adding to the slaughter, and with recent mass executions and bombings we aren't doing much to prevent it anyway.
If the US leaves, Iraq isn't nearly the al queda mecca it's become. If you take away the beer from a bar, soon the drinkers will stop showing up.
I actually think if Bush realizes his mistake now, just into its 4th year, and doesn't extend the confusion and the death, history will treat him more kindly. Vietnam was a disaster, and we should heed the lessons. In the end, Bush will not have enacted a draft (thank goodness), will have kept American casualties relatively low, and will have a strong ally where an enemy once stood. At least they could spin it this way (not mentioning the billions of dollars wasted, the distraction to bringing bin Laden to justice, the thousands of innocent civilians dead, and the hell of our making in Iraq).
But hey, it's better than staying there without any strategy, continuing to burn through people and money while accomplishing nothing.
That's my opinion now.
March 17, 2006
A Tyrant Deposed
Let's face it. Iraq is in chaos. On Tuesday, 85 unidentified bodies showed up in and around Baghdad. 27 more showed up since then. The strange thing is that these people were not killed in air strikes, they weren't killed in battle, they weren't even killed in any known military actions. They were executed.
15 bodies were found piled in the back of a pickup truck, 29 more were found in a shallow, roadside grave tied hand and foot and shot. The bodies show the marks of torture and execution. Bullets through the head, throats cut and strangled with razor wire. Nobody is taking responsibility.
The media is offering very little insight into the situation, maybe because there’s not much light to be shed on it. Shiites seem to be blaming Sunnis. Sunnis say it looks the work of “police commandos.” I can't even find out what party the executed belong to.
The New York Times reported this week that Iraq is on the verge of civil war. Shiites and Sunnis are slaughtering each other in ever increasing numbers. On February 22 a Shiite masque was bombed, presumably by angry Sunnis. The Shiites have been fighting back killing Sunnis in their masques, in the neighborhoods… anywhere really. Over 500 people have been killed in the aftermath of the bombings.
Meanwhile, Saddam is in on trial. Personally, I hoped that he would get into that court room and be charged with all sorts of atrocities. We all heard that he was a heinous villain, committing genocide against his own people with chemical weapons. He threw people in pools of acid until they were just skeletons. Or did he?
He’s being charged with crimes against humanity for being connected with the execution of 148 Shiite Iraqis in retaliation to an assassination attempt in 1982. 148 people…
In the last 3 years a bare minimum of 33,000 civilians have been violently killed. Let’s keep in mind that this is a very low estimate and that the BBC estimated well over 100,000 innocent people had been killed as of October 2004.
So now after spending $250 billion. (again a low estimate). Losing thousands of Americans, and killing countless Iraqis we’ve got a country slipping into a religious civil war.
What has been gained? We’ve ousted a tyrant authorized the killing of 148 people. I hoped for more.
Never mind that North Korea is sitting on its Nukes (the same ones we knew they had when we invaded Iraq. Plus some new ones…). Never mind that Osama Bin Ladan is hiding in Pakistan. Never mind that some 400,000 people have been killed and over 2 million displaced in an ongoing genocide in Sudan. We really took care of Iraq. There is one lest terrorist state in the world we have to worry about, and there’s one less tyrant still in power.
November 17, 2005
America's Torture Policy
We've discussed the Torture issue on this site before. Newsweek magazine's recent issue has some excellent articles to consider in forming an opinion on this.
The first is John McCain's take on the matter. He should know more about torture than any of us, seeing as he was actually tortured during Vietnam. In short, he believes that "we're better than this" and actually, it doesn't even work. When tortured to give up the names of his commanding officers, he would give the names of the Green Bay Packers' Offensive Line. The more I read from John McCain these days, the more I get the sense I'm looking at the next President of the United States.
Another analytical, well-researched article is called "The Debate Over Torture". One quote that I found particularly interesting was the following:
Torture still works to extract the truth in the movies and on TV shows like the popular '24,' but not in real life, say the experts. A prisoner who has his fingernails pulled out or his genitals shocked will say (and make up) anything to make the pain stop.
Why do we talk about this and why does it matter? It matters because there is right and wrong in this universe and there are consequences to actions. How can a nation truly be considered great and moral and good if it tortures people? People that could be innocent.
November 08, 2005
Senator Arlen Specter Supports Drilling ANWR
Today I got an email response from one of my senators, Senator Arlen Specter. I had written to him last week about my thoughts on the ANWR issue. As it turns out, he supports drilling ANWR and was one of the ones who voted to start selling of parts of this valuable reserve.
I thought it was pretty nice of him (or one of his secretaries) to take the time to write back and tell me his thoughts on the issue. It was a pretty long and detailed letter though, and I started to get suspicious. I google searched a line from the letter and found the same letter, word for word, posted on 10 other people's weblogs. Well, even if it is just a form letter that he has one of his secretaries send out to the environmental crazies, it was still nice to get a response. And you have got to give him props for being honest and not just saying something like. . . "thanks for your thoughts. I will definitely take that into consideration for my future votes."
Read the letter after the link:
Dear Mr. Palkovitz:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding the possibility of opening a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to energy exploration and development. I appreciate hearing from you.
In my twenty ‑four years in the Senate, there have been few more heavily lobbied issues than ANWR exploration. I have personally visited the area and my support for oil and natural gas exploration in ANWR is a tough policy choice for me, but one I view as necessary in light of the rising costs for home heating oil, diesel fuel, gas at the pump, and our long-range national security needs. It is especially difficult because of my commitment to protecting the environment for future generations, as evidenced by my strong environmental voting record.
On one occasion in the past, I voted against exploration in ANWR, but the time has come where we must reduce our reliance on OPEC oil through a number of means, including at least limited oil exploration in ANWR. Of course, this must be done with the maximum protection for the environment that is possible, which would be required under Federal law. Past energy bill proposals would limit acreage eligible for exploration, which, combined with today's technology can mitigate environmental impacts of exploration in the area. Such technological advances include: the extended reach of multi-directional drilling, which can decrease "footprints", reduce waste, and increase the amount of product recovered; high resolution imaging that produces more precise well locations and consequently reduces the number of wells needed to access reserves; and the use of ice roads and winter season drilling techniques to maximize the season and reduce the amount of time to bring the reserves to market, while recognizing the needs of wildlife.
Tapping domestic supplies is only one of many steps that must be taken to free the U.S. from dependence on OPEC. To rely on the Saudis and Iran is to court disaster. Our reliance on domestic oil has broad ‑ranging implications on our policy in the Middle ‑East including our support for Israel. While debating energy policy during the 107 th and 108 th Congresses, I supported significant increases in renewable energy, generated from wind, the sun, biomass, hydro and geothermal sources. I have also supported expanding tax credits for clean coal technologies and I led efforts to mandate a reduction of U.S. oil consumption by one million barrels per day by 2013. It is only through concerted efforts to reduce projected U.S. oil consumption and to utilize domestic energy resources that our nation will be able to become energy independent.
Again, thank you for your thoughts on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Rest assured that I will take your thoughts into consideration if the Senate debates this issue in the 109 th Congress. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office or visit my website at http://specter.senate.gov .
Apparently he thinks the potential of making money and becoming more autonomous as a country (no matter how small of a step it is) is worth going back on the Government's word and re-writing history. The fact that much of the land in question was legally set aside as land belonging to the native people living there doesn't matter to him. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The American Government has been stealing land they designated to native people since our country's foundation. Nothing new there.
I also thought some of his lines were entertaining and revealing. . . Here is my personal favorite. "To rely on the Saudis and Iran is to court disaster."
November 04, 2005
Senate Approves Drilling ANWR
Yesterday, by a 52-47 vote, the US Senate directed the Department of the Interior to begin selling oil leases within four years in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), with the goal of lowering the deficit and helping to pay for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Oil would not be available for another ten years, and according to a 2003 DOE report, opening the Alaska refuge to drilling would only reduce U.S. dependence on imported crude oil in 2025 from 70 percent to 66 percent. The House of Representatives decides next week on whether to keep the drilling measure in the bill.
This is what ANWR currently looks like.
These are pictures of current oil facilities in Alaska. These facilities meet the same environmental regulations the proposed drilling would. This is considered "clean" drilling.
So, over the next 20 years, if we get the most we possibly can out ANWR, we may reduce our dependency on foreign oil by 4%.
There are several reasons why I find the whole concept of drilling in Alaska to be disturbing.
1. This land was set aside as protected land in 1960 by the Eisenhower administration. Drilling it would be blatant disregard for a legal contract that protects the land. What good are laws and legislations if we can simply overturn them when there is money involved?
2. Part of the reason it was designated as a wilderness area was to protect the lands where one of the last surviving indigenous tribes lives in much the same way as they have for centuries. If we drill for oil, they will be forced to leave their homes and their land. They will literally be rounded up like cattle and forced onto a reservation.
3. There are endangered species that live exclusively in that part of the world. Drilling would ruin their habitats and disrupt their migrations, thus making extinction virtually inevitable.
4. There is inherent value in preserving wilderness as it was created. ANWR is literally one of the last great wildernesses.
5. No matter what you hear, drilling for oil is NOT clean and WOULD severely damage the environment. The current alaskan drilling projects have shown us time and time again, that despite the best efforts of science and industry, terribly damaging spills happen with regularity and frequency. On average, there is one oil spill of 2000 gallons in Alaska every day. This is considered routine and clean.
6. Although I don't think drilling would be worth it at any cost, WE WOULD ONLY REDUCE OUR FOREIGN DEPENDENCY BY 4%!!!! Also, because drilling in that environment would be so expensive, there would be NO drop in gas prices.
7. There is only enough oil in ANWR to sustain US oil consumption for 6 months. Drilling there would ruin it forever.
If you want to do your part in trying to stop this, please email your representative and let your voice be heard. While we do not live in a democracy, many voices can still change minds. Congress will vote next week. This is not a done deal. Congress could overturn the senate vote. YOUR OPINION MATTERS!!!!!!!
Click Here To write to your representative who will vote next week.
Here are email addresses for the senators of some states where I know we have a lot of readers. Please take the time to write to them too. Let them know if they did not vote in such a way that represents you. Perhaps your thoughts will influence how they vote in the future.
Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter
Delaware Senator Joe Biden
Delaware Senator Tom Carper
Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes
Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski
New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg
New York Senator Hillary Clinton
New York Senator Charles Schumer
The Republic for which it Stands
When I pledged allegiance to the U.S.A. I took the words at face value. I thought "the republic for which it stands" was something more than just empty words. I thought it was a nation that valued human life and dignity, a land of opportunity. A country that offered liberty and justice for all.
Did I pledge allegiance to a dream?
Check it out.The Associated Press points out that:
Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration is floating a proposal that would exempt covert agents outside the Defense Department from a Senate-approved ban on torturing detainees in U.S. custody.
Again, according to the The Jurist points out:
The White House recently proposed absolving CIA agents abroad from proposed legislation advanced by Senator John McCain barring the "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of detainees.
So in a nutshell, the government is asking permission of itself to torture terrorists suspects. Not convicts. Suspects.
They are holding them without trial for undisclosed amounts of time in top secret prison camps scattered around in different countries.
Is this liberty? Is this justice?
Go ahead, read about it.
The Central Intelligence Agency has held and interrogated some of its most important al Qaeda suspects at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
According to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents, the secret facility is part of a larger covert prison system that has set up compounds at various times in Thailand, Afghanistan, and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The existence and location of these facilities, called "black sites" in government documents, are known to only a few US officials and are indicative of the CIA's unconventional war on terror.
There is mounting evidence that countries known to practice torture have been specifically selected to receive certain suspects for interrogation in an attempt to distance the USA from the abuse, the rights organization said. This is outsourcing torture.
First off, it’s sick, inhumane, and terrible. It’s against everything I thought that America stood for.
Second, how is this going to help to stop terrorism? This is only going to fuel anti-Americanism.
Since when did the land of the free arrest and torture suspects with no trial? And when did the home of the brave start slaughtering people from the air?
The Post mentions that about 20 people were killed late yesterday by two U.S. airstrikes. "The people gathered to rescue people whose house was bombed in the first strike," said one neighbor. "A short time after they gathered, another plane came and bombed the house again, killing most of them."
America, do not be deceived, you reap what you sow. Stop sowing hatred! Stop sowing violence! Stop sowing seeds torture and injustice. Stop slaughtering the innocent, the civilians.
Stop sowing terror.